Is GMO Food Safe | Natural Health Newsletter

Date: 03/01/2014    Written by: Jon Barron

GMO: It May Not Be What You Think

Last issue, we talked about the hysteria surrounding "heavy metals," and how the issue is far more nuanced than the knee jerk fear that most people have when they hear those words. Today, we're going to do the same with "GMO." As it turns out, while it is true that the blanket claims of safety for GMO foods made by many government agencies and the food industry as a whole are nonsense, so too are the blanket claims of danger by the natural foods industry. Yes, there are serious reasons for concern, but the issue is too nuanced--and too important--to be argued in terms of extremist positions. The bottom line is that no matter how much we might scream to the contrary, GMO is not going away. There is too much money invested in it, and despite its dangers, too much potential in its future. As an example, even as the council of Hawaii’s Big Island signed a bill banning GMO crops from being grown on the island, they exempted the highly GMO’d papaya industry because it has 200 farms on the island.

Even more disturbing is the fact that if you think you’re covered by just going to Whole Foods and buying nothing but non-GMO products, you will be sadly disappointed. Because they can spread on the winds and swim through the oceans, GMO products can impact you no matter where you go and no matter how high you build the wall around your house. Finding non-GMO soy is becoming ever more difficult as organic crop after organic crop is becoming contaminated by GMO pollen from conventional farms. And GMO salmon are potentially just days away from being unleashed on the world’s oceans. As the saying goes, you can run but you can’t hide.

On a more positive note, even though it can’t be stopped, it can be managed. If enough people shift their efforts from fruitlessly trying to hold back the tide to instead working to effectively regulate it, GMO can be safely controlled...more or less. And thanks to General Mills and Cheerios, GMO is once again front and center in the news as General Mills rang in the New Year by announcing that their Original Cheerios would soon be GMO-free. In fact, the company announced this as a major event that would include "significant investment" in non-GMO ingredient sourcing and in changes to their production facilities so that they would be non-GMO too. The natural foods industry was all a Twitter, speculating as to whether or not this was the beginning of a trend and whether or not it ultimately spelled doom for Monsanto.

The truth, of course, like everything about GMO, is something other than it first appears. For General Mills, the changes required to make Cheerios non-GMO were almost non-existent. The ingredients in Cheerios are whole grain oats, corn starch, sugar, salt, tripotassium phosphate (a buffering agent), wheat starch, and a vitamin/mineral mix. Let's take a look at these ingredients individually.

  • Oats. The simple fact is that there is no such thing as GMO oats, and it's unlikely there will ever be. Quite simply, there's no money in it. There simply aren't enough oats grown in the world to create sufficient demand to justify the cost that goes into developing genetically modified seeds. It's also a pretty hardy crop that's naturally pest resistant.
  • Corn starch. According to the USDA, 86% of the corn grown in the US is genetically modified, this was the "big" change in Cheerios ingredient sourcing. But in truth, it represents a very small part of the formula. The most common modification in corn crops is the addition of Bt bacteria. Bt bacteria release a toxic protein that kills pests such as the corn borer. As it turns out, the pollen of GMO corn is harmful to other insects as well. It kills 44 percent of the Monarch butterfly larvae in the area. It also may be harmful to people, but more on that later.
  • Sugar. Since General Mills previously used beet sugar (almost entirely GMO) as their sweetener, they simply switched to cane sugar. Obviously, high fructose corn syrup, because it is made from corn, was not an option.
  • Salt. A non-issue.
  • Tripotassium phosphate. Also a non-issue. (Note: tripotassium phosphate is NOT the same as trisodium phosphate, the industrial cleaner known as TSP. Just because compounds are chemically similar does not give them similar properties. For example, the components of salt (sodium and chlorine) are highly toxic if eaten individually, but necessary for life when eaten in combination as salt…at least in moderation.)
  • Wheat starch. As of yet, there is no genetically modified wheat commercially available because of protests from farmers. (However, Monsanto is still in the game and predicts that they will be marketing a GMO wheat within the next decade.) But for now, for General Mills, it was a non-issue.  
  • Vitamin mineral mix. A non-issue.

The bottom line is that making Cheerios non-GMO was not a big deal for Cheerios.1 It was already 97% of the way there. This was purely a marketing ploy--a testing of the waters, if you will. But it has reignited the discussion about GMO, so let's now explore that issue in a little more detail.

GMO Defined

As the saying goes, you can't tell the players without a scorecard. In order to proceed with a discussion of GMO, we all have to be using the same working definition. Believe it or not, it's not actually defined as "an evil plot by Monsanto to take over the world while at the same time dramatically reducing the world's population." And no, Monsanto does not get a free pass here, but more on that later. It's just that we need a more functional definition of GMO. So let's go with the dictionary definition: GMO (genetically modified organism) refers to an organism whose genetic material has been altered using genetic engineering techniques. That's it.

And that said, it's important to understand that the underlying principles of genetic engineering have been going on for thousands of years. All of the different varieties of vegetable seeds, rose bushes, fruits and vegetables that you buy in the supermarket are the result of genetic engineering in the form of crosspollination. And it's not just plants. Many breeds of cattle, dogs, and cats etc. are the result of crossbreeding, all designed to enhance certain traits and suppress others. And the results of natural crossbreeding can be quite extreme. All of the dogs that you see in the world today are descended from the original domesticated grey wolf. Think about that the next time you look at a Chihuahua or a Shar Pei. So what's different today?

And the answer is that with crosspollination, despite what you may think on seeing a Chihuahua or Shar Pei, the limits on what nature allows are much narrower than what can be accomplished in a lab. You can't crossbreed a tomato with a flounder, for example. Natural crossbreeding doesn't allow it. Now, however, through the miracle of gene splicing, you can force nature to accept it. And in fact, tomatoes have been grown with flounder genes inserted in them to keep the tomatoes from freezing. By the way, this is not necessarily as bizarre as it might first sound. The truth is that animals and plants share about 25% of their DNA in common. Or to put it another way, a human being and a grain of rice share 25% identical DNA. You can swap any of those genes back and forth between people and rice without skipping a beat. Things, of course, get more interesting when you start swapping any of the other 25%. As you get closer in species, the number of genes in common climb. Humans and chimps, for example, share better than 98% of their DNA in common. Obviously, a lot can happen in that unshared 2%.

Is this swapping of unshared DNA necessarily bad? No, not necessarily. Just because nature allows something through crosspollination doesn't automatically make it good. Nature allowed African Bees and Honeybees to crossbreed and produce Killer Bees, and the result wasn't really that pleasant. On the other hand, some of the results of gene splicing have been positive.

  • GMO crops that resist freezing are a positive, and wouldn't the farmers back east appreciate those during the last few weeks?
  • Drought resistant crops would certainly be appreciated in California right now.
  • In fact, some GMO plants already do these things, and more are in the pipeline.

Don't get me wrong. There are concerns. Strains of biotech corn have had unintended consequences such as poisoning butterflies, as we've already mentioned. But far and away, the biggest concern is the uncontrollability of the process. Already, scientists are pressing into some very dangerous areas. They are exploring the possibility of using genetically engineered plants to "grow" medicine. The problem is that if this is done, it is virtually guaranteed that at some point these "medicine" crops will escape. And what's medicine for one person is poison to another. Already, it is virtually impossible to find any soy (organic or otherwise) that has not been tainted by genetically modified soy. Quite simply, it's impossible to prevent the pollen from being carried on the wind and "infecting" clean fields.

Not to be overly dramatic, but the book/movie Jurassic Park was about this very problem. And as the Jeff Goldblum character keeps saying about the inability to control the spread of new life-forms, "Life cannot be contained. Life will find a way."

Incidentally, Monsanto has actually sued farmers for infringing on their patents when their fields have become contaminated by Monsanto's genetic plants.2 What this means is that if pollen from Monsanto plants blows in and contaminates an organic farm, the farmer can actually be sued Monsanto for violating its patents--and that's on top of the fact that the organic farmers crop and livelihood have been destroyed. That's just evil!

For Better or Worse GMO Is Inevitable and Here to Stay

Genetic engineering is already widespread. Today, despite the Cheerios announcement, around 70 percent of all the processed food that you buy in America contains genetically engineered ingredients, including soft drinks, ketchup, potato chips, cookies, ice cream, and corn flakes. Crops in the US that are now largely GMO include alfalfa, canola, corn, cotton, papaya, soy, sugar beets, and zucchini and yellow summer squash. General Mills merely took advantage of a low cost, low risk option to see if labeling Cheerios non-GMO gave it a meaningful marketing edge over the competition. They most decidedly did not extend that decision to more costly changes such as would be required to make Kix non-GMO. Unlike Cheerios, the first four ingredients in Kix are all GMO: whole grain corn, corn meal, beet sugar, and corn bran. When General Mills announces that Kix is going non-GMO that will actually mean something. But I wouldn't hold my breath.

Ultimately, GMO will keep moving forward because it often fills a particular need (resistance to pests, drought, freezing, etc.) or is economically preferable. Look at the European Union (EU), which regulates food stuffs for all its members. The EU has the toughest standards in the world for getting GMO products approved. Nevertheless, as of 2012, they had already approved 48 GMOs, although mostly for animal feed. More to the point, they have indeed approved several GMO food crops for cultivation in the EU including a Bt expressing corn that provides resistance to the European corn borer (fills a particular need) and something called Amflora potato, which was developed by the German company, BASF, that has a higher than normal yield of potato starch (economically preferable). So much for the EU's total resistance to GMO.

The other thing to keep in mind, is that genetic modification is now so easy and inexpensive to accomplish, that it is impossible to stop. Stop it in Europe and the US, and it will continue in Africa and Asia. Keep in mind that whereas DNA sequencing once cost millions and millions of dollars and took many months of super computer time, it can now be done for $99--and still turn a profit.3 Trying to stop GMO is a bit like ordering the tide not to come in. Just ask King Canute how well that works.4 The bottom line is that given the inevitability of its coming, we need to figure out better ways to regulate it, label it, and prevent dangerous iterations of it from destroying the environment.

Is GMO Safe

GMO plants designed to resist harsh environments or produce more proteins or starches and the like appear to be safe to consume, for the most part. In this regard, they are no different than natural organisms or organisms produced through crosspollination. Keep in mind, just because something is natural or organic is no guarantee that it's safe. Or to put it another way, it's unlikely that you'll ever see all organic, natural angel mushrooms5 in your Whole Foods produce section anytime soon.

But make no mistake, GMO products do not get an automatic clean bill of health. In fact, there is a heavy cloud that hangs over all of the GMO plants designed to resist pests--at least so far.

Earlier, we mentioned Bt expressing corn and cotton. Let's talk a little more about them now in terms of safety. Bt refers to a bacterium known as Bacillus thuringiensis that produces a toxic protein that is activated in the insect gut, which is alkaline. The theory is that humans can safely eat these crops because the human gut is acidic. Unfortunately, that's not entirely true as pH varies in the human intestinal tract and can actually be slightly alkaline in parts of the tract such as the ileum. But anyway, back to the corn borer. In the alkaline environment of its intestinal tract, the protein partially unfolds and is cut by other proteins, forming a toxin that paralyzes the insect's digestive system and forms holes in the gut wall. The insect stops eating within a few hours and subsequently starves. Actually, spores of the bacteria have been sprayed on crops since the early 1900's as a pesticide. So it's not like you haven't been consuming them for decades. GMO Bt crops simply eliminate the need for spraying by expressing the Bt protein throughout the plant. Is it safe? There are rat studies that indicate Bt corn can cause liver and kidney damage.6,7 To be precise, these are limited rat studies, and as I've discussed in previous newsletters, rat studies are hardly definitive when it comes to people. But there is more disturbing evidence available concerning the use of the Bt gene in crops. Studies and field observations in Andhra Pradesh and other states in India have shown that sheep, goats, cattle, and buffalo populations exhibit morbidity and mortality after continuous and cumulative exposure to Bt Cotton.8 Again, not definitive for people, but certainly disturbing.

When it comes to resisting weeds, which are another type of pest for farmers that reduces profitability, Monsanto took a different approach. Instead of building the toxin to resist the weeds into their GMO corn, they instead genetically built resistance to Round-Up weed killer into the plant. This allows farmers to douse their fields in weed killer without harming the crop. And here too, the evidence, although not conclusive, is disturbing.

The primary evidence against Round-Up Ready Corn is a rat study published in 2012 in Food and Chemical Toxicology that found that rats fed on it seemed to have more tumors than a control group. But, again, a solitary rat study is hardly definitive. In fact, statistically, rat studies have only about a 20% chance of relating to humans. Also, it needs to be noted that Roundup Ready Corn was first commercialized in 1998. In other words, it's been eaten en masse for some 14 years, and there's no sign yet that it's producing results in humans anything like what was seen in the rat study. Are cancer rates up? Absolutely, but they were up for years prior to the introduction of Roundup Ready Corn. There is no evidence of any spike since its introduction. There is the question of time, of course. Perhaps not enough time has elapsed to notice its impact. But so far, there is no indication that the results of this study translate directly to humans.

Furthermore, the rats in the study fed higher doses of Roundup pesticide or GMO corn didn't consistently get sicker than those fed lower doses. In fact, some rats fed higher doses had better health outcomes. Another curiosity is that the study got the identical results from two entirely independent treatments. The rats fed straight Roundup and the rats fed Roundup Ready Corn, but with no Roundup in it got exactly the same tumors. That's pretty much a nonsensical result.  And maybe most important of all, the strain of lab rats used in the study (Sprague-Dawley albino strain Crl:CD(SD)IGS BR®) is predisposed to tumors, especially mammary tumors such as those seen in the study rats. By about 2 years of age, on average, about 80% of this strain of rats will get tumors--just from being alive--regardless of what they eat or are exposed to. Since the study ran two years, you do the math.

And that's not all. There are other serious issues with the study's methodology and assumptions that render its conclusions somewhat less than definitive. But for those, you can check out the newsletter where I explored that issue in some detail. But that's not the fascinating information associated with the study. In December of 2013, Elsevier, the publisher of Food and Chemical Technology retracted the article because it "felt" the study's results were inconclusive, and therefore did not "reach the threshold of publication for Food and Chemical Toxicology." At first, this might seem to be in agreement with my assessment of the study, but not so. In fact, it was retracted under the pressure of a viral campaign spearheaded by a public relations firm that specializes in viral marketing…and that is frequently employed by Monsanto. But wait, it gets even better. Elsevier's retraction closely followed the appointment of a new associate editor to Food and Chemical Toxicology.9 And guess where that new editor used to work? That's right! Richard E. Goodman came to Elsevier right from Monsanto and is still an affiliate of the GMO industry-funded group, the International Life Sciences Institute. It's also interesting to note that since Goodman's appointment, another study that associated GMO corn with thrombosis also was retracted. That's just evil.

The bottom line is that when it comes to safety in terms of human consumption, the vast majority of GMO products appear to be relatively safe--or at least benign--with the exception of those GMO products designed around herbicides or pesticides such as Bt corn, Bt cotton, and Round-Up Ready corn.

GMO and the Environment

When it comes to GMO, human safety is only the tip of the iceberg. To me, the biggest problem with genetically modified organisms is their real and potential impact on the environment, which ultimately seriously does impact human health. Quite simply, life has a mind of its own. As Jeff Goldblum repeats over and over in Jurassic Park, "Life will not be contained." This is not theoretical. We've already seen it multiple times. Forget GMO for a moment and just think of Kudzu in the South,10 Asian carp in the Great Lakes,11 and Pythons in the Everglades.12 Despite the best human efforts and millions and millions of dollars to prevent their spread, all three are relentless spreading throughout the United States. And when it comes to GMO, we've already discussed the contamination of organic soy crops by GMO variants. And it's not just plants, GMO animals too represent a huge environmental threat. GMO salmon have already proven uncontainable in their pens and have escaped into the wild where, with their larger size and more aggressive sexual natures, they are able to outbreed the local wild salmon and are decimating their populations. Yes, but how does aggressive breeding decimate salmon populations? Wouldn't you just be replacing one variety with another? No! The GMO salmon are sterile. When they breed with the wild population, the result is no offspring, and that's why local populations are decimated.

How widespread is this? Not very--yet--but that's because GMO salmon hasn't been formally approved for commercial farming by the FDA. That approval, however, despite the extension under public pressure of the comment period by 60 days,13 is currently moving inexorably forward. Once approved for commercial farming, its impact on wild salmon populations is likely to be catastrophic. Again, as Jeff Goldblum said, "Life cannot be contained. Life finds a way." And we all know how that worked out in Jurassic Park.

GMO and Local Farming Economies

One of the major problems with GMO is that most of the work is being done by for-profit companies like Monsanto and AquaBounty. There's nothing inherently wrong with that. If they're spending the research dollars to produce something valuable that doesn't kill people or destroy the environment, they deserve to get paid for it. In large countries with well-developed agricultural systems, that's not such a big problem. Their pricing structures and farm subsidies make it economically viable. But in less well-developed countries, where agriculture is the province of much smaller farmers who function at slightly better than subsistence levels, the effects can be devastating.

The problem with Monsanto's methods for guaranteeing their profits is that once you buy into their seed program, you are locked in for life. To replant your fields, you have to rebuy Monsanto's seeds every year…again, for life. And if, in the end, you can't afford it, you're screwed. You go into debt; you go bankrupt; you go under. In India, for example, Monsanto charges 1600 rupees, or about $26, per 450 gram packet of seed. That may not sound like much at first, but for the farmers who switched to Bt cotton, it meant a jump of 8000% in the cost of their seed. They bought into this because Monsanto's representatives convinced them that the reduction in pesticide costs and the improved resistance of the crop to cotton bores would more than offset the price differential. For large mega farms, it may do that. But for small farmers, the return is much more problematic. The net result is that 284,694 small farmers in India have, in recent times, committed suicide because of the debt trap they were led into.14 That's evil.

So What Exactly is my Position on GMO?

I believe that it is inevitable and unstoppable, so we need to figure out how to deal with it.

GMO is not as universally repugnant and dangerous as many in the alternative health community believe; nor is it by any means as safe and controllable as genetic engineering companies and many governments would have us believe. We need to figure out how to take advantage of the good while minimizing the harm from the bad. I know it feels good to take an absolutist position and "insist" that all GMO be banned forever, but, as we've already discussed it's not going to happen. It can't happen. The genie's out of the bottle. And if you keep insisting on the impossible, you never get to accomplish the useful.

GMO is too important to leave in the hands of for-profit companies. More GMO development of useful, non-toxic, non-environmentally damaging products such as faster growing and drought resistant crops must be undertaken by governments and non-profits, as opposed to the Monsantos of the world, so that at least some of the fundamental benefits can be made available to small farmers throughout the world without bankrupting them by repeatedly requiring them to buy sterile seeds year after year, merely so a company can guarantee reorders. Again, I have no problem with Monsanto making a profit. I do have a problem when hundreds of thousands of small farmers are squeezed into switching to their GMO crops only to lose their farms and commit suicide. That's just evil.

We also need to move GMO away from the herbicide and pesticide versions. This is where most of the possible health and environmental issues lie. And the benefits, other than for the companies that make them, are questionable. In fact, some studies suggest that the traditional methods of breeding corn and soy actually increase yields more than Monsanto's GMO versions.15 Why risk health, environment, and the lives of small farmers merely so one company can make huge profits. 

I also believe that we should never allow the use of GMO crops for producing medicines. Given the Jurassic Parkian uncontrollable nature of life, it is simply too dangerous.

The future of GMO lies in creating crops that can better withstand our changing environment and that have higher nutritional value. Make no mistake--and political pundits can argue the cause--but climate change is upon us. The need for crops that can withstand unprecedented droughts and temperature swings is now undeniable. And the future of GMO also lies in developing crops with higher nutritional value. Obviously, you can't make crops increase their mineral content if the minerals are no longer in the soil, but you can develop crops that have increased antioxidants and phytonutrients. These are the two areas in which GMO has a future that is beneficial to people, doesn't kill them, and could enhance rather than destroy the environment. 

Despite what some people viewed as my opposition to GMO labeling (Prop 37), on the contrary, I am 100% in favor of it. In fact, I believe that proper GMO labeling is mandatory. I'm just opposed to bad laws.

  • I believe that labeling has to be regulated nationally, not locally, or regionally. If every state in the United States has its own regulations, no one would actually know what a GMO label or statement meant since each local government would define its terms differently.
  • Whereas some GMO foods such as certain varieties of soy and corn can be easily strip tested for identifying protein markers, others not so much. And as the number of GMO crops increases, the ability to accurately test will progressively become more difficult and more expensive to test at the local level.
  • Also, local or state-by-state regulations of this type are simply unenforceable. No state or city has the money to make sure everyone is properly complying. They would be forced to turn to bounty hunters and carpetbaggers as California has to enforce Prop 65. This does nothing to improve safety. It merely serves as a windfall for class action lawyers looking to extort money from companies that have done nothing wrong but need to avoid litigation. In the end, it crushes smaller companies (which include many of the more conscientious and creative companies), while allowing larger companies with deeper pockets to survive. Bottom line: it costs you more without improving your health. (Note: I do not have a personal stake in this issue. Although Baseline Nutritionals was approached by these lawyers, we were easily able to make them go away without even involving our legal teams. My concern is for all of the other good companies I know that were not so fortunate.)
  • It would also be a nightmare in terms of ingredient sourcing with each state imposing its own standards, while many states would have none at all. Forget just worrying if your nutritional ingredients come from China, now you would have to verify sources state by state, or even city by city. And companies and manufacturers would have to track that too. It's not as simple as it sounds--and it doesn't sound that easy. Frequently, larger manufacturers have to acquire their ingredients from multiple sources to fill their needs. How would you label an ingredient that was a blend from sources in several states?

Again, I am passionately in favor of proper GMO labeling, but it must be national or regional. And it must be all inclusive, without bought and paid for exemptions as we saw with Prop 37 in California. There should be no exemptions. If any GMO ingredients are included in a product, we should know about it.

We should have access to all study data, not just what Monsanto decides is in their best interest to release. Without that information, it's impossible to make an intelligent decision as to what GMO ingredients you're willing to eat and which ones you want to avoid…or even boycott. The bottom line, as we've discussed, is that not all GMO is the same. When you think about it, is drought resistant GMO corn, really more dangerous to your health than the high gluten, high gliadin wheat that is now sold in stores as the result of centuries of natural crosspollination? We need to make rational choices here, not emotional ones. The free market needs access to the information that will allow it to make an informed decision as to what it wants to buy.

I also believe that if we had a true, all-inclusive national GMO labeling law, it should include a provision that bans the use of labels such as either "non-GMO" or "does not contain GMO ingredients." Hey, I understand, I use that label now on my own products, but that's because there is no mandatory GMO labeling. We need a way to inform our customers. But given a true national GMO labeling law, calling things non-GMO merely creates clutter and confuses the issue. There are far, far more non-GMO than GMO ingredients. Before you know it, people will be marketing non-GMO water. You think that's over-the-top and will never happen? On the contrary. Some bottled water companies are already marketing their water as "gluten free,"16 which is pretty nonsensical when you think about it. Can non-GMO water be far behind? If the use of the phrase "non-GMO" is uncontrolled, it eventually destroy any meaning associated with any GMO labeling.

A viable enforcement mechanism needs to be installed. As currently constituted, with only 14,000 employees total17 including office staff, secretaries, filing clerks, etc. , there is no way the FDA can take on something as complex as overseeing the enforcement of GMO labeling along with the other tasks it already has.

  • Oh, and whoever is in charge of enforcement, whether they work for the FDA, the EPA, or the USDA, they absolutely, categorically, and unequivocally cannot be retired Monsanto executives,18 which seems to be the current job requirement. That's just evil.

And while everyone is focusing on satisfying their need to buy non-GMO products for personal consumption, it is imperative that we do not lose sight of the larger environmental issues associated with GMO. If enough GMO salmon escape into the wild, where will you be able to buy non-GMO salmon in the future? Already it's becoming almost impossible to buy non-GMO soy as more and more organic soy crops are becoming contaminated by GMO pollen drifting in on the wind. And this is just a hint of what's coming--the first chill of winter if you will. If we don't keep our eyes on the big picture and get GMO addressed nationally AND honestly, if we think we're okay as long as we can personally buy non-GMO labeled products in a health food store, we may find that in a few years we're knee-deep in snow, metaphorically speaking, unable to find 100% non-GMO products no matter how hard we look…or what store we go to.

  • 1. "Cheerios and GMOS: FAQS." Cheerios. (Accessed 16 Feb 2014.) http://www.cheerios.com/en/Articles/cheerios-and-gmos#.UwF9cNGPKbg
  • 2. radyananda. "Monsanto can still sue farmers for GMO contamination event." Food Freedom News 10 Aug 2013. 16 Feb 2014. http://foodfreedomgroup.com/2013/08/10/monsanto-can-still-sue-farmers-for-gmo-contamination-event/
  • 3. Andy Coghlan. "23andMe ordered to stop selling $99 genetic test." 26 Nov 2013. NewScientist. (Accessed 23 Feb 2014.) http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn24656-23andme-ordered-to-stop-selling-99-genetic-test.html
  • 4. Kathryn Westcott. "Is King Canute misunderstood?" 26 May 2011. BBC News Magazine.  (Accessed 26 Feb 2014.) http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-13524677
  • 5. "Destroying Angel." Wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Destroying_angel
  • 6. Gilles-Eric Séralini, Dominique Cellier, Joël Spiroux de Vendomois, "New Analysis of a Rat Feeding Study with a Genetically Modified Maize Reveals Signs of Hepatorenal Toxicity." Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology. May 2007, Volume 52, Issue 4, pp 596-602. http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs00244-006-0149-5
  • 7. Joël Spiroux de Vendômois, François Roullier, Dominique Cellier, Gilles-Eric Séralini. "A Comparison of the Effects of Three GM Corn Varieties on Mammalian Health." Int J Biol Sci. 2009; 5(7): 706–726. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2793308
  • 8. "Mortality in Sheep Flocks after grazing on Bt Cotton fields --Warangal District, Andhra Pradesh." Report of the Preliminary Assessment April, 2006. (Accessed 18 Feb 2014. http://indiagminfo.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/April-2006-FFT-rpt-anthra-csa-union.pdf
  • 9. Robinson, Claire. "Journal retraction of Seralini study is illegal, unscientific, and unethical." 27 November 2013. GM Watch. 30 November 2013. http://www.gmwatch.org/index.php/news/archive/2013/15184-journal-retraction-of-seralini-study-is-illicit-unscientific-and-unethical
  • 10. Wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kudzu_in_the_United_States
  • 11. Added by Robert Shepherd. "Asian Carp Taking Over Lake Michigan." February 18, 2014. Liberty Voice. (Accessed 22 Feb 2014) http://guardianlv.com/2014/02/asian-carp-taking-over-lake-michigan
  • 12. "Burmese Pythons." National Park Service. (Accessed 22 Feb 2014.) http://www.nps.gov/ever/naturescience/burmesepythonsintro.htm
  • 13. "FDA Extends Comment Period on AquAdvantage Salmon Documents." FDA February 13, 2013. (Accessed 22 Feb 2014.) http://www.fda.gov/AnimalVeterinary/NewsEvents/CVMUpdates/ucm339270.htm
  • 14. Dr Vandana Shiva. "Seed Monopolies, GMOs And Farmers Suicides In India." 10 January, 2014. CounterCurrents.org. (Accessed 22 Feb 2014.) http://www.countercurrents.org/shiva100114.htm
  • 15. Jack A. Heinemannab, Melanie Massarobc, Dorien S. Corayab, et al. "Sustainability and innovation in staple crop production in the US Midwest." International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability. Published online: 14 Jun 2013. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/14735903.2013.806408#.Uw0bkdGPJxR
  • 16. "Defining Gluten-Free: An FDA Conundrum." 3 May 2011. Wellness Made Natural. (Accessed 22 Feb 2014.) http://wellnessmadenatural.com/2011/05/03/defining-gluten-free-an-fda-conundrum/
  • 17. http://www.fda.gov/downloads/AboutFDA/ReportsManualsForms/Reports/BudgetReports/UCM301553.pdf
  • 18. emmaspeaks. "The Revolving Door Between Monsanto, the FDA, and the EPA: Your Safety in Peril." January 15, 2014. A Sheep No More. (Accessed 22 Feb 2014.) http://asheepnomore.net/2014/01/15/revolving-door-monsanto-fda-epa-safety-peril

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Comments

  •  
    Submitted by Lawrence Wallman on
    March 2, 2014 - 7:41pm

    Very good. No explicit mention of glyphosate environmental damage, though.

  •  
    Submitted by Annw on
    March 2, 2014 - 10:15pm

    More than I can plow through.....

  •  
    Submitted by rayross on
    March 11, 2014 - 9:36am

    For me too. If it were spoken, I could read it with my ears. I'm an Auditory.

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    Submitted by Paul Johnson on
    March 3, 2014 - 4:29am

    The definition of GMO is inadequate. The methods of modification are irrelevant. The fact of being GM is. Using the term "genetic engineering techniques" maligns engineering with a misnomer extreme. The techniques may be used by engineers but I doubt they originated any of them.

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    Submitted by Lori Lamb on
    March 3, 2014 - 5:00am

    You fail to mention that it was discovered last year that the zein in corn is just as bad as the gliadin in wheat that you seem to give a pass. Wheat may not be GMO but it was hybridized and crossed with azide back in the 70's and put into our food in the 80's. since the 80's we've had the low fat/no fat lie, the hybridized wheat that they knew was making us fat and sick and yet they pushed on with their high yielding wheat. Soy never has been or ever will be a health food, regardless of whether or not it says it's organic. Unless it's fermented, it's not fir for human consumption. Soy lecithin used to be a book binder and now it binds all of our cookies, crackers and chips. I'm no longer focused on Non-GMO, I seek out only organic and I am gluten sensitive and also sensitive to corn products. We have had skyrocketing obesity, diabetes, skin disorders, ADD/ADHD, Autism, Alzheimer's, Heart Disease and a 400% increase in anti-depressants in people aged 18-44. Look at what has been done to our food especially since all of this crap hit the fan in the 80's. Prior to that they told us that vegetable oil was the prime oil to cook with and that turned out to be a big lie to simply once again sell more corn products. We subsidized and focus on the wrong products in this country that are killing us. Wheat, corn and soy instead of subsidizing fruits and vegetables. People need to completely avoid all processed food and get back to real whole food and start growing our own. The problem is that we are being bombarded from all fronts with our health. From the chemtrails sprayed on us in the skies to the herbicides and pesticides, to the fluoridated water and water that contains jet fuel and pharmaceuticals that we bathe in, the fracking, it's out of control. How many morbidly obese people did we have 40-50-60 years ago? I don't remember any and I'm 58. You can't go through the grocery store with bumping into motorized wheelchairs with people too big to walk. Cos and pigs are fed corn and soy to fatten them up, when are we going to learn that they are doing the same thing to us.

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    Submitted by Lienca on
    March 3, 2014 - 7:48am

    I want total ban but I respect the arguments. Careful legislation is needed and corporations cannot be trusted about managing GMOs. But if a legislation allows some kind of a compromise instead of being firm or banning it, then food corporations will take advantage of it to push GMOs for profit regardless public health.

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    Submitted by smrak on
    March 3, 2014 - 8:52am

    The problem with meeting something evil halfway is that you'll end up somewhere around the one-quarter mark of your goals. If you fight back 100%, you stand a chance of 50% success -- and maybe better. This is a fight worth fighting for and not rationalizing.

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    Submitted by nohammet andrews on
    March 3, 2014 - 1:45pm

    I am not against "G M O" all together. What I am against is the sneakiness that has been use to push the product on us consumer without proper labeling. I think it is only fair to let us know what are we ingesting, it should be a matter of personal choice to pick such a product; not a political or a financial gain matter.

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    Submitted by abinico warez on
    March 3, 2014 - 2:38pm

    Ancient Rome fell because its leaders all went nuts from the effects of drinking wine from lead goblets. GMO is the modern day lead goblet.

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    Submitted by J Reis on
    March 3, 2014 - 4:18pm

    I found this article very interesting & enlightening. Had previously only heard about GMO from the Dr Oz show.

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    Submitted by Harald on
    March 4, 2014 - 1:28am

    A very good article derived from countless hours of soul searching and researching, no doubt. Thank you, Jon.
    I do, however, also find, that glyphosate is conspicuous by its absence. It is a poison, that does not "go away", but stays in the environment. Also this poison ends up in the water everywhere, including the oceans. There, a life form known simply as "sea algae" is being decimated. These algae produce 80% of our oxygen on this planet and when they die, the planet will die. It will become impossible for any and all life forms to survive. Yes, this planet did not always have oxygen in its atmosphere, but then neither did it have all these life forms then. Do we really want to support this mass murder, including taking the life of every man, woman, child, animal and/ or plant, just to satisfy the greed of some corporate tycoon?

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    Submitted by Walter Goetz on
    March 4, 2014 - 5:31am

    I'm not a specialist in this field, when I was still working I was a mechanical engineer. Witnessing the increasing problems coming from the food industry, I told my family all along we may not die from natural old age, we will die as a result of the chemicals around us.

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    Submitted by john kassel on
    March 5, 2014 - 11:23am

    Nature is the blueprint. The biosphere a reflection of ourselves. Billions of years in the making.Why tweak it. The whole 7 billion could be fed from an area of land the size of California, no meat involved.- fact.

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    Submitted by Frank Escalante on
    March 5, 2014 - 7:42pm

    Dear Mr. Barron,

    I have been reading and using your products for several years. I have been very happy with all your post up to now.

    Your current stance on GMO as being here to stay and we have to deal with it is not a good position. I understand your point of view, it is very realistic. However there are some stand that we must take even if they are not realistic.

    The question of Genetically Modified Organisms is one of them. There is a big difference to use selective cross breeding and the use of corporate use of laboratories or any other laboratory to alter an organism. I the natural selection in a cross pollination to get an specific outcome is a natural process. whereas a laboratory approach is a synthetic process devoid of any natural redeeming quality.

    As you have stated the testing of GMO thus far has been inconclusive one way or the other. I am not willing to bet my life on the possibility that the corporate sponsors are telling the truth.

    Thus far corporations are beings under the laws which created them. Their main motive is money, in terms of profits. Corporations are not working in altruistic fashion for the betterment of the human raze.

    I give you points for the stand you take. It is realistic.

    However a few years ago I was suffering under the many bad decision I had made concerning my life. Some how I started to take responsibility for my actions and applied many things I learned in your web site and others. I also used some of your products and a few others and now, the result is that I am now a healthier person. In the process I have lost a lot of weight. I am not about to compromise my health or the progress I have made for a REALISTIC STAND.

    Yes in the future it may be very hard to come up with real food. I do not what I will do then but at this point I am not willing to roll over and play dead, because I have no other option. I will to the best of my ability will continue to contact companies to tell them to produce real food. I will continue to support small organic farmers or grow my own.

    The Government, Corporations have lied and continue to lie to the general public (me). There is no trust in what we are being told. People like me will continue to fight for real food and options to get it. In the words of Sir. Winston Churchill "We will never surrender". Like me there are many others. We shall continue to struggle, for us compromise is not an option.

    Sincerely,
    Frank Escalante

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    Submitted by BaselineFoundation on
    March 11, 2014 - 6:07pm

    I certainly appreciate the fervor or your position. But let me counter with some thoughts.

    • For several years now, the alternative health community has been fervently opposed to GMO, and yet it has marched forward relentlessly. Even Europe, which is considered  a bastion of anti GMO sentiment has already approved 48 GMO crops.
    • People in the alternative health community tend to read blogs and newsletters largely written within the community and so tend to think that everyone thinks the same as they do. Thus, it’s all of the people against the corporations—certainly a winnable battle. But the fact of the matter is that organic foods only represent 2.5% of the total spent on food in the United States. That means it’s 2.5% against the corporations because 97.5% don’t care, and of that 2.5%, the vast majority are passive. This tilts the battle in favor of the corporations and the politicians they help put in office.
    • And this makes it unlikely that GMO will be flat out stopped. And if we keep holding out for an all or nothing position, we may end up with nothing--other than perhaps some form of labeling and some chains refusing to allow GMO products in their stores. This may protect you temporarily, but it won’t protect you as more and more “organic” crops like soy and corn are contaminated by GMO pollen, or if GMO salmon decimate all the earth’s wild salmon populations.
    • The bottom line is that if we as a community don’t engage in the process and work to control what can be controlled, by default we are leaving it up to Monsanto. I’m guessing they will not look out for our interests, nor care a fig about our fervor.

    Or let me put this another way.

    • How many representatives and senators have you contacted to ask them to ban GMOs?
    • How many major food chains have you contacted to tell them that you will no longer shop in their stores or allow your friends to shop in their stores if they allow GMO products onto their shelves?
    • How many protests against Monsanto have you participated in?
    • How many picket lines at AquaBounty have you walked in?
    • How many letters have you written to the UN asking them to take a stand against GMO?
    • How many times have you participated in FDA open comment sessions concerning GMO issues, which you can do on the net?
    • How many letters have you written to ambassadors of countries that are actively bringing GMO to their agricultural industries to express your displeasure?

    I ask these questions not to embarrass you—in fact, you may have done them--but because 99% of the people I’ve talked to who are fervently anti GMO and object to “practicality” haven’t done any of these things. For the most part, all they’ve done is leave their opinions in comment sections on anti GMO websites. That’s certainly not nothing, but it’s much less than could be done…and it’s much less than Monsanto is doing spreading its millions around to advance GMO. And that’s the problem, isn’t it? It’s not a fair fight. 

    Someone else commented that they prefer to aim for 100% when it comes to ending GMO because that way they might end up with 50%, whereas if you aimed for 50% (which is what they accused me of doing), you’d end up with 25%. I suggest that the scenario might play out differently. If you aim for an unwinnable 100%, you have a good chance of ending up with 0, but if you aim for an achievable 50%, you could very well end up with that 50%--and possibly even more over time as you get to build on that victory. The longest journey begins with a single step. You can’t get from here to China by just saying that you insist on it being so. You have to take a series of practical steps to get there. Just a thought. In any case, time will tell how this plays out.

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    Submitted by kenlys on
    March 7, 2014 - 6:25pm

    Only in the USA:
    Abraham Lincoln, 1862: "Government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the Earth."
    Monsanto, Haliburton, Wall Street, etc. 2014: "Government by the corporations, over the people, to maximize corporate profit at the expense of the people, even if the people suffer or life on Earth perish."
    No one was asleep at the wheel: both the liberal and conservative governments welcomed these corporate giants, appointed their employees to major decision making government positions, and passed laws protecting them if their actions or products at a later date are found to be detrimental to people’s health or the environment.
    Is there any party that represents the people anymore? How do we the people get the power back?

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    Submitted by Eternal Vigilance on
    July 19, 2015 - 10:46pm

    I have been watching your articles for a little while...your point of view is confusing to the ignorant reader...and DANGEROUS...the point that all of us experts (and I am not sure what your expertise is and if you have any qualifications whatsoever- or have you?) in the alternative health field should be making is QUITE CLEARL, that is, that GMO foods are NO GOOD for anyone but those WHO make huge profits from it and not only financial...the fact that those in power are trying to shove crap down our throat by any means, and more so because they have the power to do so, does not mean that we should give up on our relentless resistance until these monster foods are completely banned...I HOPE YOU PUBLISH THIS POST.

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    Submitted by BaselineFoundation on
    July 21, 2015 - 1:26pm

    We have no problem publishing your post. Unlike many alternative health sites, we are happy to publish contrary points of view. That said, it seems a bit arrogant on your part to imply that every reader other than yourself is ignorant, especially when the readers on our site include thousands of scientists and alternative health experts from virtually every country in the world. Jon’s position is very clear and hardly dangerous. GMO foods should be transparently labeled so that everyone can make their own decision and so that actual scientific data can be collected. Jon does not believe that people in the alternative health community should dictate to others what they can and cannot eat any more than he believes governments should. A dictatorship is a dictatorship, no matter who does the dictating. We can’t help but notice that you’ve adopted the nom de plume “Eternal Vigilance.” It’s worth noting that the phrase is attributed to Thomas Jefferson, when he said, “The price of liberty is eternal vigilance.” Note: Jefferson was in favor of liberty, not dictatorships, no matter how benign their initial intent.

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