As I write this, I’m 21,000 feet altitude on my way to training for IFM. The topic is on everything and anything there is to know about hormone health. The geek in me is jazzed. In fact, my inner nerd is even overriding my prefrontal cortex nit that won’t quit pestering me about why I didn’t ensure that my connecting flight wasn’t longer than 30 minutes in an international airport. What will be will be, right? If you’re reading this, I eventually got online to post, so that’s a good sign.
On another note, it’s been an interesting month with health news. There were so many headlines on the quality of our foods, the GMO controversy, and the levels of toxicant in our world. Soon, I’ll be posting on my homepage blog the top news for June in nutrition, health, wellness, and nutrigenomics, so make sure to check it out.
In the meantime, here’s a little bit of a taste of some of the top news from this month on the “war” for real food. Yup, we are in the midst of another health fight relating to GMO labeling. Ever since Vermont passed the first law for labeling with “no strings attached,” advocates outcries for and against placement of visible notification on “food is produced from plants, animals, and microbes that have had their genetic code modified by the selective introduction of specific DNA segments through the use of gene splicing” have peppered the media.
Both sides of the issue are equally loud in their claims of either touting that consumers have a right to know what goes in their mouths or a dreary warning of a hit to their pocketbooks due to an alleged and unsubstantiated difference.
I believe the real issue is the “precautionary principle” versus “evidence of no harm.” According to a recent consensus report, it’s not just politics that aren’t aligning, even the scientific community still lacks agreement. Here’s the full abstract below:
A broad community of independent scientific researchers and scholars challenges recent claims of a consensus over the safety of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). In the following joint statement, the claimed consensus is shown to be an artificial construct that has been falsely perpetuated through diverse fora. Irrespective of contradictory evidence in the refereed literature, as documented below, the claim that there is now a consensus on the safety of GMOs continues to be widely and often uncritically aired. For decades, the safety of GMOs has been a hotly controversial topic that has been much debated around the world. Published results are contradictory, in part due to the range of
different research methods employed, an inadequacy of available procedures, and differences in the analysis and interpretation of data. Such a lack of consensus on safety is also evidenced by the agreement of policymakers from over 160 countries – in the UN’s Cartagena Biosafety Protocol and the Guidelines of the Codex Alimentarius – to authorize careful case-by-case assessment of each GMO by national authorities to determine whether the particular construct satisfies the national criteria for ‘safe’. Rigorous assessment of GMO safety has been hampered by the lack of funding independent of proprietary interests. Research for the public good has been further constrained by property rights issues, and by denial of access to research material for researchers unwilling to sign contractual agreements with the developers, which confer unacceptable control over publication to the proprietary interests.
The joint statement developed and signed by over 300 independent researchers, and reproduced and published below, does not assert that GMOs are unsafe or safe. Rather, the statement concludes that the scarcity and contradictory nature of the scientific evidence published to date prevents conclusive claims of safety, or of lack of safety, of GMOs. Claims of consensus on the safety of GMOs are not supported by an objective analysis of the refereed literature.
Not So Happy Evidence
However, there is evidence of difference with GMOs. There’s the issues of nutrition (organic seems to far better on this side), pesticide exposure, and the use of glyphosate on GMO foods. Glyphosate is linked to disruption of several biochemical and biotransformation pathways, including altering vitamin and mineral absorption, as well as disturbing our precious microbiome. There is also the countless studies on rodents with tumors and other symptoms reported after being fed a diet of GMO chow verses conventional. Finally, one study correlates the rise in glyphosate with an increase in 22 diseases!
To further put a dent in the anti-labeling side, recently, the $500 estimate a year cost to consumers was reported to most likely be overestimated. According to the Washington Post:
The $500 figure assumes that companies will switch to more expensive, non-genetically modified ingredients, and then pass all the incurred costs to consumers. It also assumes that all extra costs to stock, warehouse and produce new, non-genetically modified products will translate to higher prices at the cash register. It is difficult to imagine all of these assumptions will materialize for every company…
Update: William Lesser, who conducted the Cornell study, provided the following response to this fact check.
April as we know brings showers, leading to May flowers. As of late though April is also bringing a host of state-based bills to require labeling of many foods containing GMO ingredients. There are many issues involved in such discussions, but those receiving special attention are ‘the right to know’ v. labeling costs. The polar points of the cost debate are the $ 2.30 annual per capita from Consumers Union and my estimate for N.Y. of $125 [Note: Lesser said he reduced his $500 estimate for a family of four to $125 per capital to compare to the Consumers Union estimate.], which estimate received a triple ding from The Fact Checker (Would GMO labeling requirement cost $500 more in groceries per family a year?, April 6).
Should we have the right to now?
Now, as promised, it’s time for some of the latest news in the food fight.
In this corner, lawyer turned consumer advocate fights for the right to know what is in our food.
Author and Lawyer Challenges Monsanto in Open Letter
But I do not want to receive more of Monsanto’s misleading pronouncements that are passed off as genuine facts. Instead, I’m requesting some information that you had not planned to send. I want you to inform me of any inaccuracies you can find in my book. I want you and your colleagues to attempt to refute Altered Genes, Twisted Truth in the same manner this letter has refuted two of the main assertions in the brochure you submitted. Moreover, I challenge you to do so. I challenge you to read the book and send me a specific list of any inaccurate statements of fact that you detect in it, accompanied by an explanation of why the statement is erroneous and a reference to the evidence that conclusively corroborates your claim. (Altered Genes, Twisted Fate, Drucker, May 19, 2015.)
The results…..still waiting to hear…
6 months, 75 school lunches, 3 hidden video cameras, 1 fourth grade kid!
It seems like the grownups aren’t the only ones rallying and speaking up on food quality. In this other corner, we have the 4th grader who takes on higher education in order to determine what we are really feeding our children.
I encourage you to check out this 20 minute documentary, “Yuck” and witness the savviness of a fourth grader turned undercover reporter. Watching this may help you fill in the knowledge gaps why our nation of children are growing more obese and unhealthy, similar to us adults.
Armed with a concealed video camera and a “healthy dose of rebellious courage,” he embarked on a covert mission to collect video footage of lunch–narrowly escaping encounters with the Lunch Lady that would end with embarrassing marches to the principal’s office. Six months and 75 school lunches later, Zachary turned his secret footage into a short and funny but very eye-opening documentary named “Yuck!,” about New York City’s school lunch program.1
(Mercola, June 27, 2015)
So, considering the fact that GMO labeling might not cost the consumer as much as expected, that there is some evidence of harm, that even 4th graders know there’s something not right with our food supply, let me ask you, should we know?
Also, do we need to fight or can we just make decisions for ourselves, with all the information available?
Remsen, N. Lawsuit challenges Vermont’s GMO labeling law [Website]. The Burlington (Vt.) Free Press. USA Today.: http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/06/12/lawsuit-challenges-vermonts-gmo-labeling-law/10402301/ Accessed December 8, 2014.
Uptown, J. GMO labeling becomes law in Connecticut [Webpage]. Grist. http://grist.org/news/gmo-labeling-becomes-law-in-connecticut/ Accessed December 8, 2014.
Westervalt, A.With California Prop Defeated, GMO Labeling Proponents Look to Farm Bill [Webpage]. Forbes. http://www.forbes.com/sites/amywestervelt/2012/11/13/with-california-prop-defeated-gmo-labeling-proponents-look-to-farm-bill/ Accessed December 8, 2014.
Center for Food Safety. GE Food Labeling: States Take Action [Webpage]. Center for Food Safety site. http://www.centerforfoodsafety.org/fact-sheets/3067/ge-food-labeling-states-take-action# Accessed December 8, 2014.
Oregon Right to Know. Recount! [Webpage]. Oregon Right to Know site. http://oregonrighttoknow.org/challenge-ballots/Accessed December 8, 2014.
Maui v. Monsanto: Hawaii County Voters Defy Agri-Giant’s Spending to OK Landmark Ban on GMO Crops[Webpage]. Democracy Now. http://www.democracynow.org/2014/11/6/maui_v_monsanto_hawaii_county_voters. Accessed December 8, 2014.
Hilbeck et al. No scientific consensus on GMO safety. Environmental Sciences Europe. 2015; 27:4. DOI
Winter, C. Safety of Genetically Modified Foods. Regents of the University of California, Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources. 2006. Agricultural Biotechnology in California Series. ANR Publication 8180. http://anrcatalog.ucdavis.edu/pdf/8180.pdf
FDA. Questions & Answers on Food from Genetically Engineered Plants [Webpage]. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. http://www.fda.gov/food/foodscienceresearch/biotechnology/ucm346030.htm. Accessed December 8, 2014.
FDA. Genetically Engineered Animals: General Q&A [Webpage]. U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
http://www.fda.gov/AnimalVeterinary/DevelopmentApprovalProcess/GeneticEngineering/GeneticallyEngineeredAnimals/ucm113605.htm. Accessed December 8, 2014.
Outcomes in Correlation to 22 diseases tested: Genetically engineered crops, glyphosate and the deterioration of health in the United States of America. Journal of Organic Systems, 2014; 9(2).
USDA Approves New GE Corn and Soy, Triggering Onslaught of Millions of Pounds more Pesticides [Webpage]. Center for Food Safety site. http://www.centerforfoodsafety.org/press-releases/3467/usda-approves-new-ge-corn-and-soy-triggering-onslaught-of-millions-of-pounds-more-pesticides. Accessed December 8, 2014.
Mercola, J. Herbicide and Insecticide Use on GMO Crops Is Skyrocketing, and Rubber-Stamped Approvals Now Usher in Next-Gen GMOs [Webpage]. mercola.com. http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2014/10/12/herbicide-insecticide-gmo-crops.aspx.
December 8, 2014.
2014 News Releases: 10/15/2014: EPA Announces Final Decision to Register Enlist Duo, Herbicide Containing 2, 4-D and Glyphosate/Risk assessment ensures protection of human health, including infants, children. 2014. Available at: http://yosemite.epa.gov/opa/admpress.nsf/596e17d7cac720848525781f0043629e/72fde554930f3f6985257d7200591180!opendocument. Accessed January 16, 2015.
Wells, L. EPA ignores health and safety risks; approves drastic increase in use of toxic pesticide 2,4-D. 10/15/2014. Available at: http://www.panna.org/epa-ignores-health-and-safety-risks-approves-drastic-increase-use-toxic-pesticide-24-d. Accessed December 8, 2014.
Ackermann, W, Coenen, M, Schrodell, W, et al. The Influence of Glyphosate on the Microbiota and Production of Botulinum Neurotoxin During Ruminal Fermentation. Current Microbiology. November 2014. doi:10.1007/s00284-014-0732-3
Ji, S. GM Food Causes Deadly Bacteria To Grow In Your Gut. GM Food Causes Deadly Bacteria To Grow In Your Gut. 2014. Available at: http://www.greenmedinfo.com/blog/gm-food-causes-deadly-bacteria-grow-your-gut-1. Accessed January 16, 2015.
GMI Reporter. News Release: GMOs Linked to Exploding Gluten Sensitivity Epidemic. 2013. Available at: http://www.greenmedinfo.com/blog/news-release-gmos-linked-exploding-gluten-sensitivity epidemic-free-pdf1. Accessed December 8, 2014.
Samsel, A & Seneff, S. Glyphosate’s Suppression of Cytochrome P450 Enzymes and Amino Acid Biosynthesis by the Gut Microbiome: Pathways to Modern Diseases. Entropy. 2013;15, 1416-1463; doi:10.3390/e15041416.
Samsel, A & Seneff, S. Glyphosate, pathways to modern diseases II: Celiac sprue and gluten intolerance. Interdiscip Toxicol. Dec 2013; 6(4): 159-184.doi: 10.2478/intox-2013-0026
Gannon, M. 4 New Substances Added To List Of Carcinogens. 2014. Available at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/10/03/new-carcinogens-ortho-toluidine-cumene-_n_5926936.html?utm_hp_ref=health-news&ir=Health+News. Accessed October 2, 2014.
HHS. HHS Releases 13th Report on Carcinogens. National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences. October 2, 2014. Available at: http://www.niehs.nih.gov/news/newsroom/releases/2014/october2/index.cfm. Accessed October 2, 2014.
Differences in Nutrient Content: Compositional differences in soybeans on the market: Glyphosate accumulates in Roundup Ready GM soybeans. Food Chemistry. 2014; 153; 207-2015. Available at:
http://farmandranchfreedom.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/glyphosate-accumulates-roundup-ready-gmo-soybeans.pdf. Accessed January 16, 2015.
Institute for Responsible Technology. 65 Health Risks of GM Foods. Institute for Responsible Technology site. http://www.responsibletechnology.org/gmo-dangers/65-health-risks. Accessed
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GM crops and the rat digestive tract: A critical review. Environment International. 2014; 73: 423-433. doi:10.1016/j.envint.2014.08.018
Sean Poulter for the Daily Mail. World’s largest inquiry into safety of GM crops will use thousands of rats and cost £156million . Mail Online. 2014. Available at: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2830199/world-s-largest-inquiry-safety-gm-crops-use-thousands-rats-cost-15-6-million.html#ixzz3ixp85bkp. Accessed January 16, 2015.
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Accessed January 16, 2015.
Ye Hee Lee, H. Would GMO labeling requirement cost $500 more in groceries per family a year?
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EconNorthwest. GE foods labeling cost study findings. Executive summary to Consumers Union. September 12, 2014.