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GMO Health Risks

In the first article of my GMO series, I gave a descriptions of what GMOs are and touched briefly on health and environmental issues that are a result. In this article, I’m going to go much more in-depth into the health issues.  Because many commodity GMO crops are specifically altered to allow Monsanto’s RoundUp to be sprayed on the plants, or the plants have been genetically modified to actually produce a pesticide, I’m including health issues with Roundup in this article as well. Hang on, it’s going to be bumpy.

This article references animal studies since most studies first take place in animals, and they are a viable means of determining areas of issues for humans.

So what are the prevailing health issues with GM foods and the herbicides that are used on them?

GENETICALLY MODIFIED ORGANISM

Commercial GMO crops are killing us and we don't even know we are eating them.

Organ Damage

The reasons get complicated, but basically in order to gain FDA approval for GM corn, Monsanto conducted a 90 day test. Rather than conduct its own test or even draw its own conclusions, the FDA accepted Monsanto’s published results. Monsanto kept the study data private, only giving it up in  2005 after a court case in which Monsanto had to produce the data. The study was published in 2009 in the International Journal of Biological Sciences and concluded that 3 varieties of GM corn (NK 603, MON 810 and MON 863) all of which were modified to be tolerant of the herbicide Roundup, were associated with damage mostly to the kidneys and liver. Damage was also noticed in the heart, adrenal glands, spleen and blood flow system. This data was derived the same data that the United States used to approve those corn varieties in the first place. Keep in mind that it is very rare for chronic issues to show up after 90 days (more likely after a study that goes for at least 2 years), the fact that the study found this many problems is stunning. It’s also possible that longer term damage is even more problematic.

Sterility and Infant Mortality

Many people in the United States are facing infertility. Its been a big issue for those around me at various times of my life. Speculation on the reasons range from STD’s to the electronics we work with everyday, but did you know:

In 2005, a Russian scientist, conducted a study using rats. This study showed that more than half of the babies who were born from rats fed GM soy died within three weeks.  This is compared to the 10% death rate of babies from rats fed non-GMO soy. In 2009, another Russian biologist conducted a study on GM soy (which accounts for 91% of the United States soy bean production) on hamsters.  Within 3 generations, those hamsters on the maximum soy diet became infertile. These hamsters were also slower to grow and the pups had a very high mortality rate. Italian scientists found that male rats had sperm cell damage, resulting in infertility. In 2008, an Austrian government study shows that the more GM corn mice ate, the fewer babies they had and the smaller the babies were.

There is other anecdotal evidence specifically that many farmers are noticing that their livestock, pigs and cows are becoming sterile after being fed GM corn feed.

Birth Defects

In Argentina, a study done on GM soy which was doused with RoundUp (glyphosate) has been shown to cause brain, intestinal and heart defects in amphibian fetuses.  (The study actually used lower levels than that which is actually used in the soy fields).

Immune Reactions and Allergies

Allergies and Food sensitivities are rising:

A research study inserted a gene from a Brazil nut into soybeans.  After tests verified that people who are allergic to Brazil nuts would also react to the GM soy.  The study was canceled, but it does verify that genetic engineering can transfer allergens to other crops. A year after GM soy was introduced into the British diet, researchers at the York Laboratory reported that soy allergies had gone up by 50% in a single year.  While no tests have been conducted, there are several ways that GM soy might have been the culprit.  The proteins produced in GM soy (but not conventional soy) are identical to shrimp and dust mite allergens. So if a person was allergic to either shrimp or dust mites, then eating GM soy could trigger the same reaction.

Although there is no definitive study done, it should be noted that in the five years after GM soy was introduced in the United States, peanut allergies in the US doubled. There is a protein in natural soy beans that cross-reacts with peanut allergies.  At this time, there have been no studies that I could find which investigates whether this cross-reaction is amplified in GM soy.

Increased Cancer Risks

In the district of Ituzaingo, in Argentina, over 300 cases of cancer have been reported in the areas where the pesticide Roundup is being used. (Approximately 5000 people live in this district which equates to a cancer rate of 6% of the population.)

In 1996, rats fed GM potatoes engineered to produce their own insecticide developed potentially pre-cancerous cell growth as well as other issues, most notably organ damage. The research determined the cause was not the insecticide, but was the process of the genetic engineering itself

Milk from rbGH treated cows (which is not labeled) show much higher levels of a hormone (IGF-1) which is considered to be a high risk factor for breast, prostrate, colon, lung and other cancers. The milk also is lower in nutritional values, has increased antibiotics and more pus from infected udders (another reason to drink raw milk from cows that aren’t injected with rbGH). Most commercial dairies in the US have routinely used rbGH injections on their herds to increase milk production.

Accelerated Aging

According to the American Academy of Environmental Medicine, certain animal studies of GMO’s show altered structure and function of the liver as a result of eating GMO foods, which include altered metabolism and cell changes which could lead to accelerated aging.

Immune System Dysfunction and Increase of Diabetes

In 2008, a study of mice fed GM corn showed that over 400 genes were different in the mice fed GM corn than the mice fed conventional corn. Some of these genes control cholesterol and insulin regulation. The studies also showed intestinal damage in the animals fed GM foods, which included disruption of the intestinal immune system.

Other Symptoms

Many of the symptoms identified in the UK soy allergy study could be those related to glyphosate (RoundUp) exposure.  ”The allergy study identified irritable bowel syndrome, digestion problems, chronic fatigue, headaches, lethargy, and skin complaints, including acne and eczema, all related to soy consumption. Symptoms of glyphosate exposure include nausea, headaches, lethargy, skin rashes, and burning or itchy skin].

In 2003, approximately 100 people living next to a GM modified corn field in the Philippines developed skin, respiratory and intestinal reactions when the corn was producing pollen. Blood tests of 38 people showed antibodies to the Bt-toxin which supported (but did not prove) a link. The symptoms reappeared the following year in at least four other villages which planted the same variety of GM corn.

Death

When plants (such as Bt cotton) are modified to actually produce pesticides inside the plants, it not only kills or deters insects from feeding on the plants, but it renders the plant itself toxic. In India, farmers who let their sheep graze on their fields of Bt cotton after the harvest, saw thousands of the sheep die.

GMOs

Part of the issue for us with GMO foods, is that the genetically modified proteins we ingest don’t go away. There is only one published human feeding experiment and that showed that the genetic material inserted into GM soy transfers into the bacteria living inside our guts and continues to function. While we don’t know yet what that actually means, the implications of it are dangerous.

Conclusion

Even though GMOs have neither been around very long nor been well-studied, the implications of the studies done are horrendous.  So why does our Government allow this?  That will be the part of the subject in the next installation of the series, GMO’s and Monsanto.

Links

 Series

This is the second in a series of articles that I am releasing over the next few months on the subject of Genetically Modified Foods.  As I started the research, the subject became too large to be written in one post. The series consists of:

  1. Whats’s all the Fuss about GMOs
  2. GMO Health Risks
  3. GMOs and Monsanto
  4. Identifying Sources of GMOs in your Food.

One Response to “GMO Health Risks”

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