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GMO Foods Q & A


  1. Over 60 countries have banned GMOs, Why?
  2. Why haven’t we banned them in the U.S?
  3. Do you think we should ban them? Why?
  4. Do you think consumers understand what a GMO is?
  5. What foods have the most GMOs in them?
  6. Are there any health risks in consuming large amounts of GMOS? Or is there not enough research?
  7. Anything else you want to add.

The American Academy of Environmental Medicine published a paper in 2009 which is just as valid today as it was then. In this position paper we relate the more than casual association between GMO foods and environmental illness, through immune system dysregulation and chronic inflammatory diseases (asthma, irritable bowel, allergies). I highly recommend this paper (which you have probably already read) with its references.

When you ask “why” questions, you are opening a basic philosophical debate.

On the one hand is the precautionary principle – if we have no idea how modifications may either change the foods or change the organism which eats them (whether it be cows or people), we would be well advised to figure that out first.

On the other hand, we do not have absolute proof that GMO foods cause disease in humans. We have not fed a group of humans GMO foods for their whole lives, and another group non-GMO foods for their whole lives, with sufficient numbers to determine statistically whether the two groups are different in their health status or development of illness.

And if our livelihood depends upon the proliferation of GMO foods, we will probably not be so quick to espouse the precautionary principle.

Nevertheless, I would urge caution, since we already appear to have initiated the biggest unfunded human experiment in history – The title of this experiment is: “What happens to animals and human beings when they eat crops genetically modified to contain herbicides/insecticides or to be resistant to herbicides/insecticides?” And the answer is very much unknown.

Why do countries ban GMOs? Probably for the same reason that I do my best not to purchase them. I have read the literature, and I am not at all as convinced about their safety and lack of allergenicity as the manufacturers of the GMO products seem to be. I have read the stories of farmers in India. I have read the promotional literature on vaccination (both lay and medical) and I have seen patients who have been injured by vaccines. I have too many patients who fall outside the 95% “normal” range to believe that one size of anything will fit all people.

Why haven’t we banned GMOs in the US? Perhaps for the same reason that we insist on giving our healthy patients statin drugs which have a very real potential of giving them muscle aches, brain fog and heart failure, even though there is no demonstrable benefit (no reduction in the development of heart disease) when the drugs are given to the healthy. The statin industry has been a multi-billion dollar industry for many years. It is a powerful industry. Doctors like to have patients in their offices, that’s how they make money. The American Medical Association was the driving force behind starting patients on statins in the late 80s. The GMO manufacturing industry is very powerful and very wealthy.

Who are the spokesmen for the GMO industry now? Monsanto, Bayer, Dow, the sugar beet association, all those industries listed below.

Over 60 countries in the world have banned GMOs. Why?

The Environmental Working Group website in a post dated September 10, 2015, states that more than 60 nations in the world require labeling of genetically modified food. I was not able to confirm that all those countries have banned GMOs from cultivation or import.

It is interesting that a website called “GMO Answers” starts itself out with a provocative question: “How many nations REALLY either label or ban GMOs”. I do not know the source or the authors of the website – It is funded by the following: GMO Answers is funded by the members of The Council for Biotechnology Information, which includes BASF, Bayer CropScience, Dow AgroSciences, DuPont, Monsanto Company and Syngenta. That would appear to be organizations which have a stake in promoting the use of GMO crops.

Supporting partners listed are the following: The American Council on Science and Health, The American Farm Bureau Federation, American Seed Trade Association, American Soybean Association, The American Sugarbeet Growers Association, Minnesota Crop Production Retailers, National Association of Wheat Growers, National Corn Growers Association, National Cotton Council, Ohio AgriBusiness Association, South Dakota Agri-Business Association, The U.S. Beet Sugar Association, Western Sugar. Same comment, these all appear to be organizations which have a stake in promoting the use of GMO crops.

From the FAQs the following information is obtained:

- Is GM food and feed labelled?

The EU legislation imposes GM labelling on any GM food and feed containing, consisting of, or produced from a GMO, except if the presence is below 0.9% of the food/feed, or the ingredient is adventitious or technically unavoidable.

The EU legislation does not forbid the use of "GM-free" labels signalling that foodstuffs do not contain GM crops, or were not produced using GMOs, provided that they respect the general rules on food labelling, in particular that the information provided to consumers is not misleading. Some Member States have adopted GM-free labelling schemes for their food and feed products.

- The Union livestock sector is therefore highly dependent on third countries' production for its vegetable proteins. In 2013, the Union imported 18.5 million tonnes of soymeal and 13.5 million tonnes of soybean, representing more than 60% of the Union plant protein needs.

These imports mainly originate from four third-world countries where the cultivation of GMOs is widespread - 90% originate from four third-world countries where the percentage of the soybean-cultivated area planted with GM soybean is around 90%. In 2013, 43.8% originated from Brazil, where 89% of soybean cultivation was GM – 22.4% originated from Argentina, where 100% of soybean cultivation was GM – 15.9% originated from the US, where 93% of soybean cultivation was GM – 7.3% originated from Paraguay, where 95% of soybean cultivation was GM.

-58 GMOs are authorised in the EU for food and feed uses (covering maize, cotton, soybean, oilseed rape, sugar beet). 58 application files are pending, out of which 17 have a positive EFSA opinion and 1 has an inconclusive opinion. The list of authorised GM plants and the precise scope of their authorisation is available in the EU register of GM food and feed, which can be found here:

  • Besides cultivation, the placing on the EU market of GMOs and the use of their derived products in the food and feed chain is subject to an EU authorisation, conditional upon the demonstration of an absence of risk for human and animal health and for the environment, following a thorough assessment by the European Food Safety Authority in collaboration with Member States' scientific bodies.

- One GM maize –MON 810– is commercially cultivated in the EU. This product's genetic modification aims to protect the crop against a harmful pest – the European corn borer. It was authorised in 1998.

MON 810 is cultivated in 5 Member States with a total coverage (in 2013) of almost 150,000 hectares (including 137,000 hectares in Spain). That's less than 1.5% of the total EU maize surface. GMOs were cultivated on 175 million hectares worldwide in 2013 (mostly soya, maize, oilseed rape and cotton). For the record: in 2010, a GM starch potato, known as "Amflora" potato, was authorised for cultivation and industrial processing in the EU. It is no longer authorised in the EU.

There are 8 pending applications for GMO cultivation in the EU, including renewal of MON810 authorisation. 4 have had a positive EFSA opinion; 4 are awaiting an EFSA opinion.

  • The newly adopted Directive (EU) 2015/412 gives Member States more flexibility to decide on the cultivation of genetically modified crops, under certain conditions, at two distinct points in time:
    • during the authorization procedure: a Member State can ask to amend the geographical scope of the application to ensure that its territory will not be covered by the EU authorisation;
    • after a GMO has been authorized: a Member State may prohibit or restrict the cultivation of the crop based on grounds related amongst others to environmental or agricultural policy objectives, or other compelling grounds such as town and country-planning, land use, socio-economic impacts, co-existence and public policy.

From the Organic Consumers website we learn the following information:

  • Regional bans of certain GMO crops in Italy, Austria, Frace, Germany, Luxemboug, Portugal, Greece, Spain and the UK.
  • Some countries have banned the import of GE crops – Norway, Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Brazil, Paraguay.
  • The USA and tried (and failed) to pass numerous GMO labeling bills. A great deal of money has been spent to persuade people to vote AGAINST GMO labeling bills, with the reasoning that no harm has been proven, therefore they are safe until proven otherwise.

Do I think we should ban GMO crops?

I think we should educate people as to what they are, how they are produced, and what the risks and benefits are, and let the people make their own decision. The tricky part comes in whom we educate, who does the education, and how the information is slanted or spun.

If you have a lot of money, it’s easier to slant the information in your favor. My state senators, every time I write them with concerns about GMO crops, send me back a form letter which says, in essence, that no harm has ever been demonstrated (not true, I have plenty of literature from scientific publications that contradicts this statement) and that GMO crops have a higher yield, producing more food for the starving world (also not true, and I have that literature as well). They do not mention the heavy spraying with glyphosate (also produced by a GMO seed company, to spray on its glyphosate-resistant GMO crops). Glyphosate has been associated with development of kidney disease, inflammatory bowel disease, and a host of other ills seen in human beings. It changes the human microbiome (our gut bacteria), thus altering the internal milieu which is supposed to sustain us. If the gut is not working well, the brain is also not working well, and there is a good deal of literature on the influence of the gut microbiome on the rest of the human body.

And now glyphosate is found contaminating organic grains which have never been sprayed. Glyphosate is apparently commonly sprayed on grain growing in the field just before harvest, because as the grain is killed, it dries out and can be harvested earlier. So now glyphosate, a known teratogen, is found in the urine of almost all pregnant women in the United States.

Do I think consumers understand what a GMO is?

Probably depends on the consumer. For those who are willing to do the research, it’s pretty easy to get information on both sides of the aisle. For those who are swayed by “public opinion” then it depends on which public they expose themselves to.

My patients are all very well aware of the issue. They have done their research, and have made their choices.

What foods have the most GMO in them?

The major GMO crops are corn (88% of the US crop), soy (94% of the US crop), canola (90% of the US crop), cottonseed (90% of the US crop), sugar beets (95% of the US crop)

Also zucchini and yellow crookneck squash, alfalfa (first planted in 2011), papaya (most of the Hawaiian crop).

Think about snack and processed foods – most of them contain some oil blend with corn, soy, canola or cottonseed. And they are generally not labelled. So if you see one of those ingredients on a list of ingredients for a given processed food, you can pretty much assume that the processed food is made with GMO ingredients.

Thus, pretty much anything processed by the food industry, unless specifically labelled otherwise, is going to contain GMO ingredients.

This Non-GMO Project website has useful information:

Are there any health risks in consuming large amounts of GMOS? Or is there not enough research?

There is a tremendous amount of research linking consumption of GMO products, or consumption of glyphosate which automatically accompanies the GMO products, with disease in animals.

Corn, cotton and soybeans have been genetically modified to contain the Bt toxin. This toxin injures the gut mucosa of the larval insects which eat it, causing them to die. Of course, when humans eat the toxin, the amounts are relatively low, so generally humans do not explode from the inside out the way insect larva do. However, I think it fallacious for us to think that it would have no effect on our intestinal tracts – particularly given the increasing incidence of irritable bowel and GI cancers that we have seen in recent years. I personally choose NOT to eat products which have the potential to injure my gut.