Bad seeds – GMO health risks hit the mainstream

1 August, 2013

GM foods are safe to eat – that’s what we are told time and time again.

So many people have eaten them that if there was any possibility of health problems we would have seen it by now – that’s what our regulators and politicians keep saying.

And yet an article published in of all places, the fashion magazine Elle, suggests that the cracks are beginning to appear in that fairy story.

This remarkable tale by Caitlin Shetterly details her effort to regain her health by eliminating GM corn from her diet.

The diagnosis and eventual prescription didn’t come easily. Shetterly tried many doctors before a last ditch attempt with an allergy specialist who was sensitive to the issue of GM. Her story is both heartbreaking and inspiring.

GM foods are associated with multiple health concerns.

In Shetterly’s case her doctor believes that proteins expressed by the herbicide tolerant variety of GM corn acted as allergens, provoking a multisystemic disorder marked by the overproduction of a type of white blood cell called an eosinophil, resulting in what falls into the category of allergenic eosinophilic disorders.

Such disorders have been on the rise since the introduction of GM crops, as have food allergies, autism, reproductive disorders, autoimmune and digestive problems.

Does the link prove causation? We’ll never know until we actually start doing the human studies that should have been done in the first place – BEFORE any of us started eating this stuff.

Elle is not the first ‘beauty’ magazine to take on big biotech. In 2009 Vanity Fair published a blistering investigative piece on Monsanto’s Harvest of Fear (I urge everyone who wants to understand what we are dealing with to read it).

Perhaps not so widely read but just as revealing was a 2012 article in Vitality Magazine. In it Executive Director of the Institute for Responsible Technology (IRT), Jeffrey Smith explained how doctors who ‘prescribe’ GM-free diets are seeing amazing recoveries, often in just a few days.

Smith outlined several documented cases in which hard-to-treat patients with bowel conditions, cramps, cold hands and feet, allergies, congestion, migraine headaches and asthma have improved by going GM-free.

It’s not just people who get better when they are taken off GM foods. Animals do better too and both research and anecdote abound to show that pigs and cows and even domestic cats and dogs are both healthier and happier on a GM-free diet.

These things take a long time (maybe too long) to rise to the surface of mainstream consciousness.

In 2009 the American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) issued an extraordinary and fully referenced statement on the health implications of GM foods asking for a moratorium on GM food and, among other things:

  • Physicians to educate their patients, the medical community, and the public to avoid GM foods when possible and provide educational materials concerning GM foods and health risks.
  • Physicians to consider the possible role of GM foods in the disease processes of the patients they treat and to document any changes in patient health when changing from GM food to non-GM food.

Years of campaigning have taught us that physicians – who are both busy and under heavy pressure to conform to the status quo – are often the last to know what is really making us ill. So we would add that as consumers and patients we also have a duty to insist our healthcare providers get informed and take these actions seriously.

With GMOs so widespread in the farming and food chain a non-GM diet can be difficult to organise, but initiatives like the non-GMO project are helping people make wise decisions about the foods (and other products) they buy. IRT also produces useful guides for going GM-free.

The tide is turning and where we lead politicians, doctors, regulators and the media have little option but to follow.

Pat Thomas, Editor