This week's Wellness Wednesday is brought to you by BioStar Performance Whole Food. A new report written by two genetic engineers (GMO Myths and Truths: An evidence-based examination of the claims made for the safety and efficacy of genetically modified crops), published June 12, 2012, pulls together over 600 reports and peer-reviewed scientific articles and literature on genetically modified organisms. The two authors are Dr. Michael Anoniou, Ph.D molecular genetics, of Kings College London School of Medicine in the UK and Dr. John Fagan, Ph.D molecular biology (Cornell University) and formerly a researcher in genetic engineering for the National Institute of Health (USA).
The key points of this new report are:
- Genetic engineering as used in crop development is not precise or predictable and has not been show to be safe. The technique can result in the unexpected production of toxins or allergens in food that are unlikely to be spotted in current regulatory checks.
- GM crops, including some that are already in our food and animal feed supply, have shown clear signs of toxicity in animal feeding trials — notably disturbances in kidney and liver functions and immune responses.
- Biotech companies have used patent claims and intellectual property protection laws to restrict access of independent researchers to GM crops for research purposes. Scientists whose work has raised concerns about the safety of GMOs have been attacked in orchestrated campaigns by GM crop promoters.
- Most GM crops (over 75%) are engineered to tolerate applications of herbicides. Where such GM crops have been adopted, they have led to massive increases in herbicide use.
- Roundup, the herbicide that 50% of all GM crops are engineered to tolerate, is not safe or benign, but has been found to cause malformations (birth defects, reproductive problems, DNA damage, and certain types of cancer in test animals). Human epidemiological studies have found an association between Roundup exposure and miscarriage, birth defects, neurological development, and certain types of cancer.
- A large number of studies indicate that Roundup is associated with increased crop diseases, especially infection with Fursarium, a fungus that causes wilt disease in soy, and can have toxic effects on humans and livestock.
- Bt insecticidal GM crops have been found to have toxic effects on laboratory animals in feeding trials. Bt toxin is not fully broken down in digestion, and studies in Canada show that it has been found circulating in the blood of pregnant women, and in the blood supply of their fetuses.
Since the US does not have labeling laws on GMOs, as the EU and other countries do, it is up to each of us to read labels. If a feed or a supplement or a food product contains: soy, corn, canola, as well as some of the wheats, and some rices, and does not say GMO free or the word organic is not used with one of more of these particular foods, it is GE or a GE and hybrid mix. One of the challenges for many feed companies is that grain mills do not separate hybrids and GE grains; they are all mixed together.
Alfalfa and beet pulp (sugar beets) can also be GMO. However, Speedi Beet from England is GMO-free, and a good alternative to regular beet pulp. You need to check with your feed stores and hay suppliers to find out if the alfalfa they purchase is GE. Similar to grain mills, some hay bales and some beet pulp may be grown conventionally without GE seeds, but are stored and shipped in large batches making it impossible to know which bales or which batches of beet pulp are GE or conventional. An alternative is to use timothy and coconut meal (Cool Stance). To increase calcium if you can’t find a GMO free alfalfa, is to add some sesame seeds, or almonds, or whole flax seeds. Feed sesame or almonds at ¼ cup per day. If you choose to use whole flax seeds for added calcium, feed 1/3 cup twice per day. There is no calcium in flax seed oil.
Choosing to go GMO free is a personal choice, of course, and there are still seeds that are not genetically modified: oats, barley, flax, chia, hemp, and the grass (not legume) hays.