Considering the mounting evidence that genetically modified (GMOs) food crops are having a negative health impact, it’s really hard to believe that these foods are still in our diet. I’m glad to see that the global stance on GMO foods and crops continues to evolve for the better. While Europe has always held higher restrictions on GMOs — compared to, say, the United States and Asia — 2015 has seen European countries outright banning their use.
Most recently, Russia, France, Greece and Latvia have taken strong steps to curb GMOs from being either grown or imported into their food streams. I’m also pleased to report that earlier this summer, the White House even said it would be rethinking how the biotechnology industry is regulated in the United States. Bravo!
Health Risks and Consumer Habits
Politics aside, this increasing awareness of the health risks associated with GMOs will only serve to bolster consumer habits — and that’s a very good thing. Meanwhile, health experts continue to report the benefits of a GMO-free diet for both the healthy and, perhaps even more importantly, those battling everything from cancer to heart disease. The American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM), for example, has published a report asking physicians to begin educating patients on the risks of GMOs.
Another advocacy organization, The Center for Food Safety (CFS), has categorized and documented the unexpected effects and health risks posed by GMOs. Here are some of the more crucial points to keep in mind:
- Allergic Reactions: Genetic engineering can transfer allergens from food to food, along with the prospect of creating new and unknown allergens.
- Antibiotic Resistance: There is growing evidence that GMOs result in bacteria gaining resistance to current antibiotics. A GMO corn variety, for example, is engineered with a gene resistant to ampicillin (a highly-used antibiotic).
- Immuno-Suppression: A study has shown that laboratory rats consuming potatoes engineered with a particular biopesticide showed significant decrease in immune function.
- Loss of Nutrition: Scientists have warned of GMOs ability to alter and deplete the nutritional value of foods.
GMOs and Cancer Risk
In Episode 3 of The Truth About Cancer: A Global Quest, Ty Bollinger investigates the hidden dangers of GMOs and their potential impact on cancer. In the video, expert after expert discuss the serious downsides of genetic modification and its links to cancer.
Numerous studies are now showing the cancer-causing potential of crops that are resistant to herbicides and produce their own pesticide. In 2012, the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology published an article that demonstrated the tumor causing potential of corn modified to be resistant to glyphosate (a herbicide that kills weeds but not the plants bred to be resistant to it). Unfortunately, this published article was retracted as part of the controversy over GMO crops, despite the fact that the difference between the rats fed GMO-corn and the rats that were not (control group) was marked, and that many fewer control rats developed tumors. But the good news is the study was continued and republished in Environmental Sciences Europe in 2014, adding to the evidence that GMOs have not been studied enough to support their use in our food system.
As compiled in an article for Collective Evolution, other studies have found equally damning evidence against GMOs: multiple toxins from GMOs detected in maternal and fetal blood, DNA from genetically modified crops can be transferred into humans who eat them, new study links GMOs to gluten disorders that affect 18 million Americans, glyphosate induces human breast cancer cells growth via estrogen receptors, chronically ill humans have higher glyphosate levels than healthy humans, and many more. Add in the case of a Spanish young man who died from anaphylaxis after eating a recently developed tomato modified with fish genes, and I don’t need much more scientific evidence to convince me to avoid consuming genetically modified foods. It’s just not worth the risk to my own health or my family’s.
Building a Safer Kitchen
While government regulation may be slow to move, you and your family can begin building a GMO-free kitchen today. For starters, there are a variety of different resources to point you toward GMO-free options at your local grocery store:
- Center for Food Safety Shopping Guide
- Non-GMO Project Verified Product List
- Environmental Working Group – Shopper’s Guide To Avoiding GMO Food
- Institute for Responsible Technology
Better Safe Than Sorry
Unfortunately, we don’t know what the long-term unintended consequences of GMO plants might be. But we can take steps today to choose GMO-free ingredients and to continue to request access to organic foods, which continue to be free of genetic modification. At Hope4Cancer, we only serve organic, non-modified foods to our patients as part of our anti-cancer diet. We can’t even imagine putting our cancer patients at risk with foods that are potentially harmful to them. We hope you will also consider the potential dangers of GMOs in your own diet and seek ways to keep them off your plate.
What are your concerns about genetically modified foods? Do you think they should be labeled clearly? Let us know what you think by tweeting @Hope4CancerMex or commenting on the blog.