Illustration of gluten-free claims on food
Why are so many people becoming sensitive to gluten in their diets? A new report suggests pesticides used on GMO crops may be to blame.

New report links gluten disorders to GMOs

26 November, 2013

Natural Health News — A new report suggests there may be a link between genetically modified (GM) foods and gluten-related disorders.

Gluten sensitivity is on the rise and the report, which draws on data from a wide range of sources including the US Department of Agriculture, Environmental Protection Act records, medical journal reviews, and international research, has concluded that eating GM foods is linked to:

  • Intestinal permeability
  • Imbalanced gut bacteria
  • Immune activation and allergic response
  • Impaired digestion
  • Damage to the intestinal wall

These conditions are known to either trigger or exacerbate gluten-related disorders, including the serious autoimmune disorder, coeliac disease, which is on the rise in developed countries.

As a result the market for gluten free products is also growing In the US  sales are expected to exceed £3.3 billion ($5 billion) by 2015. In the UK (the third biggest market for gluten-free products after the USA and Italy)  the gluten-free market is worth £288 million ($446.6 million) – a figure that has grew by more than 25% between 2011-12. Countries like Australia are also seeing dramatic rises in demand for gluten-free products.

The pesticide connection

The link between GM and gluten sensitivity is not immediately obvious given that wheat is not genetically modified. Globally there are only four commercially available GM crops  soy, corn, cotton (and cotton seed oil), canola (and canola oil). Additionally in the US beets (and beet sugar), courgettes (zucchini), yellow squash, Hawaiian papaya, and alfalfa are also genetically modified.

Most GMOs are engineered to tolerate big doses of a weed killer called glyphosate (the active ingredient in Roundup). They contain high levels of this herbiicide at harvest. Corn and cotton varieties are also engineered to produce an insecticide called Bt-toxin. The report focuses primarily on the effects of these two toxins.

Executive Director of the Institute for Responsible Technology and lead author of the report, Jeffrey Smith, explains: “The Bt-toxin in corn is designed to puncture holes in insect cells, but studies show it does the same in human cells. Bt-toxin may be linked to leaky gut, which physicians consistently see in gluten-sensitive patients.”

A chorus of support

Stephanie Seneff, Senior Research Scientist at MIT, adds: “Glyphosate is a patented antibiotic that destroys beneficial gut bacteria. An imbalance of gut flora commonly accompanies coeliac disease and other gluten-related disorders.”

Others have chimed in in support of the report’s findings.

Dr. Tom O’Bryan, internationally recognized expert on gluten sensitivity and Celiac Disease, says, “The introduction of GMOs is highly suspect as a candidate to explain the rapid rise in gluten-related disorders over the last 17 years.”

Internist, Emily Linder MD who helps treat people with gluten sensitivity, says, “Based on my clinical experience, when I remove genetically modified foods as part of the treatment for gluten sensitivity, recovery is faster and more complete. I believe that GMOs in our diet contribute to the rise in gluten sensitivity in the U.S. population.”

Keeping GMOs out of your diet

Even in the absence of clear labelling by manufacturers, there are several ways to avoid GMOs in your diet:

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  • Buy organic – organic standards prevent the use of GMOs at any point along the journey from farm to fork
  • In the US look out or products certified by the Non-GMO project You can download their shopping guide online or there is also a free iPhone app, ShopNoGMO.
  • Change your shopping habits and diet. As the illustration above shows some foods are more likely to be GMO than others. By removing GMOs from your diet you will be improving your health.


>> Click here to download a copy of the report Can Geneticaly Engineered Foods Explain the Exploding Gluten Sensitivity?

>> Get informed! Click here to find the GM articles you should read.