Evaluating the toxicity research of GMO foods or GM (genetically modified) food crops is complicated and controversial, but based on the evidence we do have it seems that GM plants are possibly toxic.
The majority of animal studies assessing GM food crops on health effects are short term, however, there are a proportional number reporting negative health effects. To my knowledge, there are no human epidemiologic studies evaluating the link between GM food crops and health. But, the absense of long term animal studies or human studies doesn’t equal safety, especially with the current animal evidence.
It seems that as with most issues that involve Industry and environmental health science, the Precautionary Principle is thrown out the window.
You are regularly exposed to GM food crops if you eat the typical American diet. The FDA first approved GMO crops in 1994, and currently about 90% of corn and soybeans are now grown from genetically modified seeds. Other common genetically engineered crops include alfalfa, canola, cotton, papaya, zucchini and sugar beets, which are used to make sugar. And don’t forget about the conventionally raised live-stock that chows down on GM feed.
The process of how the FDA evaluates the safety of GM food crops is part of the problem and contributes to questions of safety. FDA’s policy asserts that GM food crops are “substantially equilvalent” to the conventional non-GM crop and therefore do not require pre-market approval. Basically, if the biotech company can establish substantial equivilance to the FDA the GM food crop is considered to pose no new health risks, no biological, toxicological and immunological tests are required and it can be marketed.
GM food crops are developed to be resistant to pesticides and herbicides. For example, Monsanto created Roundup Ready seeds to produce plants that can thrive even when the powerful Roundup weed killer is applied to the fields. Increased pesticide use accompanies GMO food crops, which poses additional health risks as pesticides have been linked to adverse health effects such as, fetal toxicity and certain cancers. A recent small study is the first to document pesticides associated to GMO foods in the blood of non-pregnant and pregnant women and their fetuses.
More than 40 countries already label GMO foods and there is a movement in place in the U.S. to do the same since the health effects are unknown and proponents feel that people have a right to know if the food they are eating contains GM food crops or if the meat, milk, eggs and cheese came from GM-fed animals.
Bottom line: What to do?
Apply the precautionary principle and avoid GMO foods as best you can. The best options if you are looking to avoid genetically engineered foods are to buy USDA certified organic as the USDA organic standards prohibit the use of GMOs (look for verified Non-GMO products) and to buy unprocessed foods such as fruits, vegetables as few whole foods are genetically engineered. If you feel strongly that people should have the right to know what is in the food that they are buying, support the Just Label It campaign (justlabelit.org). The campaign is calling for mandatory labeling of genetically engineered foods and has petitioned the FDA to require that genetically engineered or GMO foods be labeled.
This is a general guide to GMO foods. A full discussion on FDA regulatory policies, a full research review on GM food crops and health and environmental concerns, environmental toxins and health effects, etc. etc. is beyond the scope of this page. For more information, check out my reference guide and other website pages.
Some References: Nestle, M. What To Eat, 2007; Alschuler L. The Definitive Guide to Cancer, 2010; Millstone E et al. Beyond substantial equivalence, Nature, 1999; Butler D. Rat study sparks GM furore, Nature, 2012; Woodruf TJ et al. An evidence based medicine methodology to bridge the gap between clinical and environmental health sciences, Health Affairs, 2011; CSPI/Surian-Sherman D. Holes in the biotech safety net: FDA policy does not assure the safety of genetically engineered foods; Dona A. et al. Health risks of GM foods, Crit Reviews in Food Sci and Nutr, 2009; Verma C. et al. A review on impacts of GM food on human health, Open Nutr Journal, 2011; Aris, A et al. Maternal and fetal exposure to pesticides associated with GM foods in Eastern townships of Quebec, Canada, Repr Toxicology, 2011; Chu, L. GM food labeling through the lens of public health,www.ucsf.edu/news/2012/11/13058; Food & Water Europe, GM Food: human health risks fact sheet, 2013
Each month I’ll bring you the latest research related to natural healing and nutrition in a way that will be of use to you.
Sign up for Natural Healing & Nutrition Update here...