Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Understanding GMOs: Part 2

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Welcome to Part 2 of our GMO series. Last week we discussed what GMOs are, how they are created, and how the creation process is different from natural selection. This week we are focusing on how GMOs are regulated and how they got into our food supply to begin with.

How are GM crops regulated for consumer safety?
Great question! GM crops aren’t subject to safety standards or government regulation standards! Say what!?! How is a food product not subject to safety regulations?? Unfortunately, science and common sense were somehow blindsided in the early 90’s when the FDA issued a “Statement of Policy” supporting Monsanto’s claims that the technology used to create GMOs was no different than hybridization, which is why they do not have to rigorously test their products for safety before putting them on the market. In Europe, the burden of proof is on the company to prove their products are safe, but in the U.S. the burden is placed on the government to ensure safety. In the case of GM food products, something interesting happened, these biotech companies were given a hall pass and currently do not have to prove anything!! Crazy, right? Here is the FDA statement that made this possible, excerpted and explained from Genetic Roulette by Jeffrey Smith:

May 29, 1992 “Statement of Policy”:
“The agency is not aware of any information showing that foods derived by these new methods differ from other foods in any meaningful or uniform way.”

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Wait a second – didn’t we say in last week's post that there were memos from FDA experts reporting the opposite? That they ARE different and that there are different risks? The answer is YES! This argument is documented in several memos and documents; yet, this 1992 statement resulted in the final policy. It should make you wonder WHY they made a policy supporting the opposite. Below is an excerpt explaining how this simple Statement of Policy has changed our food system in a precarious way:

“This sentence in the 1992 FDA policy, which still stands today, is the reason why GM crops are on the market. On the basis of this statement, the FDA said no safety testing was necessary. If Monsanto or the other biotech food companies say their foods are safe, the FDA has no further questions…..”

Say what?!  I’ll leave it to you to dig deeper, but the information is out there on who let this happen, as well as their affiliation with GMO biotech giants. Remember, this isn’t a political post, but now you are in "the know". Go fish!

I’m dying to know – why GMO? How did GM food crops get started in the first place? How prevalent are they today in our food supply?
GMOs began in the late 80’s in an effort to create tobacco plants that were resistant to herbicides. They were later made insect resistant too. As of August 2012, the FDA had approved 144 different GMO crops that are either allowed for human consumption or for animal feed.  You can find a list here to break it down: 

GE Crop
# of FDA approvals
Food Product
Other Uses
Seeds, sprouts, leaf meal used for fortifying baby food and other special diet foods
Animal feed
Canola (rapeseed)
Cooking oil, mayonnaise, salad dressing
Animal feed

Cottonseed oil for fried foods
Cloth, animal feed
Oil as a supplement, meal added to grain products
Animal feed, cloth
Corn (maize)
Cooking oil, corn products, corn, corn syrup
Animal feed
Papaya, juice

Plum, jelly, jam, canned plums

Potato, potato chips, flour
Animal feed

Rice, crackers, cereal, flour
Animal feed
Cooking oil, tofu, soy sauce, lecithin, soy nuts, soy milk, infant formula, cereal products, flour, soy protein, mayonnaise, salad dressing
Animal feed

Sugar beet
Anything that contains beet sugar
Animal feed
Tomato, tomato sauce, paste, ketchup, canned tomato


Source: FDA: Completed consultations on bioengineered foods

A recent report from the USDA shows approximately 93% of our soy, 88% of our corn, and 94% of our cotton in the US was genetically engineered. In comparison, when the crops were first being introduced to the market in 1996, less than 10% of soy, 20% of corn, and 10% of cotton was genetically engineered. That’s a HUGE shift! While not all of these crops are approved for human consumption, many are, and the ones designed for animal feed still get into our food supply by way of meat, eggs, milk and mild products. We eat what our food eats (you are what you eat…you get the gist).

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A final key point I want to leave you with - Not only are GMOs present in our food supply both directly and indirectly, but GMO animal feed changes the quality of the animal's tissue. Grain fed cattle have higher concentrations of omega-6 and omega-9 fatty acids in their tissue, opposed to the higher quality, essential omega-3 oils found in grass fed cattle. Let me explain why this is important - our cell membranes are made up of omega-3 fatty acids. When we don’t have enough, alternative fats are used in the cell membrane, resulting in molecules (such as neurotransmitters) being unable to attach to their receptor sites. Can you see how that would be REALLY, really bad? Even if your blood work does not show you as being deficient in the molecule, the fact of the matter is that if the molecule can’t get into the cell, you’ll be deficient regardless (and some pathway for disease will be triggered over time). So when I say GMOs negatively impact us at the cellular level, this is exactly what I'm talking about!

Next week, we'll look at the types of GMOs out there, their relation to disease, and how they impact the health of our children. The data is out there – it’s just not mainstream yet. That's where I come in!

References for this series:
2   "Genetically Modified Organisms and the deterioration of health in the United States” N.L. Swanson, 4/24/2013, Seattle
3   A Samsel and S. Senef Glyphosate’s Suppression of Cytochrome P450 Enzymes and Amino Acid Biosynthesis by the Gut Microbiome: Pathways to Modern Diseases.
7   V. E. Prescott, et al, “Transgenic Expression of Bean r-Amylase Inhibitor in Peas Results in Altered Structure and Immunogenicity,” Journal of Agricultural Food Chemistry (2005): 53

Shanna Wahlquist is a Certified Holistic Health Coach specializing in empowering women to adopt a sustainable and healthy lifestyle without dieting or feeling deprived, and supporting them in balancing their gut-mind-body relationship, which she believes is the foundation of every chronic disease and ailment.  She is the mother of two toddlers, ages 4 and 2.5 years old; her happy place is in the ocean surf, and her guilty pleasure is red wine – especially if it involves a limo with a group of friends! Shanna found her path to holistic healing after discovering the benefits of vegetable juicing in February 2012, a journey inspired by her desperation to discover the cause of the sudden onset of recurrent chronic respiratory illnesses suffered by her children. She used that experience as a launchpad for a career change and ended up discovering her true authentic self and life’s purpose. She’s always had a passion for science, food, healing and stewardship, and has created a business where she can enjoy them all simultaneously while making a difference in the lives of her family, friends, clients and community. You can find her on facebook at “NourishingMySoul”,  her blog at or her website,

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