What are GMOs? A Review of Genetic Roulette

Is it just me, or does America seem to be getting sicker? I don’t remember so many kids having autism or food allergies when I was a kid.  And it certainly seems like infertility problems have skyrocketed in my lifetime.  Apparently, I’m not crazy, because, in fact, since the mid 90s, the number of Americans suffering from at least 3 chronic illnesses has nearly doubled. Oh, and the infant mortality rate is increasing, even though we are supposed to have better medical care and technology than ever.  So, what’s changed?  A few months ago, I watched a documentary (and did some research of my own) that opened my eyes to an interesting coincidence, pointing to what has changed in our environment that could be causing these health epidemics in America. Genetic Roulette, directed by Jeffrey Smith, won AwareGuide’s Top Transformational Film of 2012 award – to get the word out about the film, they are making it available to watch for FREE, this week only (through Feb 10), hereGenetic Roulette: The Gamble of Our Lives may be the best documentary I’ve seen. It’s filled with testimonies from farmers & moms and facts & explanations from experts to back up everything it claims.  I’m going to give an overview of the film, but I’ll never do it justice.  So make time for about 80 minutes this week to sit down and watch; I promise you won’t regret it.

So what’s the coincidence?  It was the switch from eating whole foods to scientifically altered foods – the increase in Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs). GMOs were created by putting the DNA from one species into another to get benefits from both.  For our food and farming purposes, this means creating a seed that makes a plant produce its own pesticide or making it pesticide resistant so that farmers have an easier time fighting off bugs and weeks.  It sounds like a great idea, except that it’s all a science experiment in genetic alteration, resulting in mutations and unpredictable side effects, creating toxins, allergens, carcinogens and triggering inflammation.  It creates a new genetic sequence that our body doesn’t recognize as food and so attacks the foreign object.  Wait, so how did all this get approved by the FDA?

I love me a good government conspiracy theory, but get the facts on this one: The FDA has claimed overwhelming consensus from scientists that GMOs are safe since 1992, but when internal memos were released to the public during a lawsuit, it was discovered that their research staff actually expressed health and safety concerns about GMOs.  Unfortunately, their concerns were ignored because the FDA Deputy Commissioner, Michael Taylor, was also a former attorney & Vice President at Monsanto Chemical Company, the company that manufactures and sells GMO seeds to farmers.  And Michael Taylor’s not the only commercial GM advocate that’s been appointed to a high government position in charge of our safety (ahem, Dept of Agriculture).  Actually, the FDA doesn’t regulate these seeds; they ask these companies to do their own studies and remind them of obligation to provide safe food to the public. If you’re not familiar with Monsanto, they’re the same company that said Agent Orange & DDT were safe – do you trust them?   Unfortunately, companies are motivated by money, so when they perform their own studies, the statistics are likely skewed to get the product to market faster.  Often they are too short to identify cancer, birth defects, and infertility effects.

Interestingly, independent studies (those not funded by companies making money from GMO foods – look carefully when you research) show that since GMO corn and soy started increasing in farms in 1996, America has seen a huge rise in problems with the gut – inflammatory bowel disease, gastrointestinal disease, Chrohn’s disease, chronic constipation, reflux.  For your reference, today, about 88% of corn and 94% of soy is GMO; while you may not think you eat a lot of corn or hate soy milk, the products of corn and soy are in almost every processed, pre-packaged food item that you eat.  Oh, and there seems to be a shared rise in diabetes, autism, alzheimer’s, heart attacks, thyroid issues, allergies, and autoimmune diseases as well.

The movie covers a variety of topics, each building upon the last… here’s a taste of what you’ll learn:

  • Insecticide in Food: The BT toxin used in GM corn & cotton is designed to break open the stomachs of insects to kill them.  Seems to do the same to us, making our intestines leaky and allowing food to enter the body before our flora have a chance to respond.  Stat: A Canadian study found BT toxin in the blood of 93% of pregnant women sampled.
  • Intestinal Damage: Many diseases on the rise are connected to intestinal permeability – the food is leaking into body and we are creating antibodies to those foods, naturally developing food intolerances & allergies.
  • Allergies: Food allergies are on the rise today due to intestinal damage.  Although the allergic reactions to certain foods may not reverse, symptoms decreased when prescribed a high-quality, organic, non-GMO diet. I don’t want to be the mom who said: “What have I done to my children?  What did I unknowingly consent to?”
  • Autism: The rate is sky-rocketing and one of the main health issues autistic people have are intestinal.  Parents have seen great results switching to a non-GMO diet.  Not saying this is the cause, but I certainly wouldn’t risk it.
  • RoundUp: Monsanto’s best selling herbicide to kill weeds is based on glyphosate, which steals nutrients.  Plants treated with RoundUp will have reduction in available nutrients, so the animals eating it become weak and sick… and then we eat the plants and animals, making us weak and sick. When you are deficient in essential trace minerals and nutrients, diseases worsen and can become impossible to cure.
  • Birth Defects: Workers on farms sprayed with RoundUp suffered birth defects.  Lab animals suffered severe birth defects and fertility problems from GMO soy; by the 3rd generation, some rats even lost the ability to have babies.
  • Mystery Organism:  When researching the epidemic of livestock fertility problems, scientists found a NEW, unidentified organism with similar properties of fungus in a miscarried fetus.  These livestock are eating high concentrations of roundup sprayed on corn & soy and GM alfalfa hay.
  • Cancer from Dairy:  Scientists use the E.Coli bacteria to produce a hormone to increase metabolism and milk production in cows.  Unfortunately, this causes painful mastitis in the udders, meaning more antibiotics and bovine growth hormone (rGBH) in the milk.  IGF-1 (insulin-like growth factor), found in these hormones, is known to cause cancer, especially in milk-duct tissues.  After studies showed a 55-60% increase in breast cancer for women over 50, rGBH was finally banned in many countries outside of the US, though some American companies have stopped using it.  Even several Monsanto scientists admit they won’t drink non-organic milk.
  • Kids & GMOs: Kids grow fast and have a higher metabolic rate, so they eat more and need more nutrition from their food. Their immune system is also under development, making them more susceptible to toxins.  And epigenetics has proved that pregnant women can pass many of these toxins onto their babies.
  • Infant Formula: Most formulas have rGBH dairy and GM corn in them, and the soy-based ones have GM soy.  Babies are the most vulnerable of all to these toxins.
  • Why GMOs? They say it’s the best way to “feed the world.”  But really, we are using chemicals that cost more money, require more work and destroy the soil. “Just because science can do something, does that mean it should?”
  • GMO Myths:
    • Increases Yield (seeds are not sustainable; organic outperforms in droughts; all independent studies prove not economically better)
    • Increases Exports (we’ve lost 99% of corn exports to Europe)
    • Reduces Need for Herbacide (after few years, weeds change and no resistance; more pesticides applied to GMOs than conventional)
    • The government and scientists have reviewed and approved (Many scientists who have spoken up or disagreed with GMOs in the past have been attacked and had their reputations destroyed.)
  • Lastly, a few farmer testimonies:
    • GMOs in India – When BT toxin took over cottonseed industry, thousands of field workers & farmers complained of skin allergies & rashes and animals grazing on BT toxin fields got sick and died. BT cotton is unpredictable and when crops failed, farmers went into debt, creating a huge suicide increase – BT cotton farmer suicides account for 75% of the country’s suicide rate.
    • GMOs in South Africa – GM corn fed to cows and pigs had reproductive failure, pneumonia and cannibalistic tendencies; problems disappeared after weeks on non-GMO and then when ran out of seeds and started using GM seeds again, the symptoms reappeared in 60 days. All 50-60 farmers on a GM corn farm ate the corn 3 times per day; they suffered from severe headaches, flu like symptoms, and a few died; sickness cleared up after removing GM corn, then returned when GM corn used again.
    • GMOs in America – A miniature steer ranch started on GMO corn to save money and the cattle began to bloat up and die; they also became really irritated and angry. Another pig ranch reported that their pigs were happier and healthier, eating more, calmer, and incurred less medical costs after only 3 days just by switching to non-GMO corn feed.  Later, the conception and liter rates increased and birth defects decreased.

My favorite quote in the movie is when an expert refers to GM science as “tobacco science.”  For years, everyone (and their mom) smoked cigarettes, even pregnant women, without any idea that it caused cancer and birth defects.  These tobacco companies were allowed to self regulate until enough scientists and medical professionals spoke out to prove otherwise, causing a tipping point.  It finally forced the government to require companies to put warning labels on packages and advertisements.  I’m hoping that we are nearing a similar tipping point for GMOs.  People have the right to know what these products are doing to their bodies.  If you get a chance, vote for required GMO labels on all food, and pray that someday we’ll live in a world where our kids won’t grow up with commercials for high-fructose corn (syrup) flakes all over tv.

But, friends, there is hope!  Studies have shown that many health problems reversed when GMOs were taken out of the diet. So how can you avoid GMOs?  The main offenders are: Soy, Corn, Cottonseed (oil), Canola (oil), Sugar Beets (sugar), Papaya, Zuchinni, Yellow Crookneck Squash, Alfalfa, and Aspertame.  But ingredient labels can be confusing and indirect, so it’s best to look for the Non-GMO Project Verified label.  You can even find an easy shopping guide, or download the phone app here.

Have you ever heard of GMOs?  Will you watch the documentary?