What is a GMO?

The fight for labeling GMOs (genetically modified organisms) is far from over. As a matter of fact, the fight is gaining momentum as more Americans are being educated on how their food is being altered. Studies dating back to 1996 have shown that genetically modified foods are NOT safe.

Arpad Pusztai’s ground breaking study, published in Lancet, showed that after just 10 days of eating potatoes that contained GMOs, that multiple organ systems in rats, including the stomach, small intestines, livers, brains, spleens and immune systems were adversely effected.

So what is a GMO? GMOs are plants or animals that have been altered genetically with DNA from bacteria, viruses or other plants and animals. The outcome is essentially a new species that would not otherwise occur in nature.

There are two types of GMO crops.

1) Those that are genetically altered to withstand large amounts of toxic herbicides, namely glyphosate.

2) Those designed to produce their own poisonous insecticide in each cell. The insecticide called BT(Bacillus thuringiensis)is a toxin that works by punching a hole in the gut lining of insects once consumed by that insect.

The food that you are consuming might, unknowingly, be laden with GMO ingredients. This is because, in America, the food industry is not currently required to label these foods as such. The Non-GMO Project has been working to change that.

The Non-GMO Project launched in 2010 as a result of consumer demand to know which products are free of GMO ingredients. They offer third-party verification and labeling for non-GMO food and products.That being said, the Non-GMO Project reported, “we have gone from 194 verification program enrollment inquiries in the second quarter of 2012 to 797 inquiries during the same period this year.” That’s more than a 300% increase, which shows promise for possible future legislation.

The current GM (genetically modified) crops in America are: alfalfa, canola, cotton, papaya, soy, sugar beets, zucchini and yellow summer squash. It is important to note that eggs, meat, and milk are at risk as well since animal feed often contains GMOs. This means each time a processed food is consumed, you are most likely ingesting some a GMO ingredient.

How bad can this be? Is it really bad to eat just a little genetically modified oil or perhaps just one GMO egg per week? The answer is unknown. Currently we are unaware how long it takes the body to remove the effects of a genetically modifiedfood. It’s also unknown how quickly the adverse effects, as presented in Arpad Pusztai’s research (and numerous studies thereafter) mayeffect humans. The fact is, the studies on the long-term effects are being done now—and the subjects are the people who are currently eating these foods. It’s people like you and me who are being studied by the companies producing these genetically modified foods. Its one of the largest ongoing human clinical trials ever to take place on this planet. And it’s happening without the awareness of many.

Having said that, currently there are virtually no published human clinical trials that have tested the safety of genetically modified crops. The only published human feeding study occurred in 2004. It looked at the survival of the transgene epsps from genetically modifiedsoy in the small intestine of 7 human ileostomists (i.e. individuals in which the terminal ileum is resected and digested material are diverted from the body via a stoma to a colostomy bag). The researchers found that the genetic material in genetically-modified soy is transferred into some of the bacteria living inside the intestines and then continues to function leading to the possibility of antibiotic resistant super diseases and intestinal flora that become living pesticide factories.

It’s data like this that has empowered 64 countries, to date, to either ban or severely restrict GMOs from entering their food supply as well as requiring labeling.

So, why is America not one of these countries?

Most American consumers are not completely aware of the health consequences of consuming genetically modified foods nor which foods contain them. It is our job, as health professionals, healers, parents, and friends to educate others about the known health risks and uncertainty this food brings to us.

In 2009, The American Academy of Environmental Medicine called for a moratorium on genetically modified foods on the grounds that “GM foods pose a serious health risk in the areas of toxicology, allergy and immune function, reproductive health, metabolic, physiologic and genetic health.” They went on to suggest that: physicians educate their patients about GM foods, and consider the role of GM foods in their patient’s disease process. The Academy’s believes the public should avoid GMO foods, entirely.

While GMO Awareness Month just ended, we all need to do continue to do our part on an ongoing basis. Actively support labeling in your community (the first step).

For more detailed information see these helpful websites:


Written by Debi Smolinski, ND and Kathleen Audette, ND of AZNMA
This blog was written by an outside source. This blog does not necessarily reflect the views or positions of Natural Partners.