Tuesday, June 26, 2012

GMO's, the poison in your food

Some of you might have heard me rant about GMOs on Facebook, or in conversations. If so, you might have picked up on my frustration and anger about the whole issue, and you might even have been annoyed and bored with my public display of indignation. I have been meaning and wanting to write a blurb about this for a long time. In fact, this is a major factor in why I decided to start blogging on food. Posts like this need some thoughtful consideration, preparation, and presentation, which is why it's taken me this long, but here I am.

This is my attempt at reaching a few more people in the awareness of what they are ingesting and how it is affecting their body in a negative way.

So what are GMOs, and what's all this noise about? GMO stands for Genetically Modified Organisms, and they are made by forcing genes from one species, such as bacteria, viruses, animals, or humans, into the DNA of a food crop or animal to introduce a new trait. The result is foodlike substances that our body didn't evolve to recognize or metabolize. The reason for creating GMO crops was to increase production and create a more resistant crop. A crop that would resist the powerful pesticides and herbicides that are being sprayed over them and killing bugs and weeds. But what it really does, is that it produces a pesticide in the cell of the plant, and that plant itself becomes a living pesticide. So guess what happens to you, when you eat that plant? You are eating pesticide that continues to live inside of you and that binds to the nutrients in your body, depriving you of these essential nutrients. The genetic material inserted into GM foods transfers into bacteria living in your gut and continues to function, even long after you stop eating GM foods. The GM proteins of those foods continue to get produced inside us. Scary, right?

What are the health implications of this process? Unfortunately, only one study has been conducted on human beings and the impact of GMOs. However, many animal studies have led to alarming results. Quoting from this website, here are a few examples:

  • Thousands of sheep, buffalo, and goats in India died after grazing on Bt cotton plants
  • Mice eating GM corn for the long term had fewer, and smaller, babies
  • More than half the babies of mother rats fed GM soy died within three weeks, and were smaller
  • Testicle cells of mice and rats on a GM soy change significantly
  • By the third generation, most GM soy-fed hamsters lost the ability to have babies
  • Rodents fed GM corn and soy showed immune system responses and signs of toxicity
  • Cooked GM soy contains as much as 7-times the amount of a known soy allergen
  • Soy allergies skyrocketed by 50% in the UK, soon after GM soy was introduced
  • The stomach lining of rats fed GM potatoes showed excessive cell growth, a condition that may lead to cancer.
  • Studies showed organ lesions, altered liver and pancreas cells, changed enzyme levels, etc.
The American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) has reported that “Several animal studies indicate serious health risks associated with GM food,” including infertility, immune problems, accelerated aging, faulty insulin regulation, and changes in major organs and the gastrointestinal system. 
Before the FDA allowed GMOs into food, several FDS scientists had warned that GM foods can create unpredictable health issues including allergies, toxins, new diseases and nutritional problems. The long-term safety studies they recommended were ignored.

Not to mention all the environmental side effects and dangers that GMOs are presenting, which I won't get into here, but they are huge, and they are scary. The powerful pesticides and herbicides are creating what we call super weeds, and super bugs, that are becoming resistant to those powerful chemicals.

GMOs are practically impossible to avoid in America, because the FDA has not yet approved a campaign to label the GMOs in our food. According to justlabelit.org, studies show that 90% of Americans support mandatory labeling of Genetically Engineered foods. Unlike most other developed countries – such as 15 nations in the European Union, Japan, Australia, Brazil, Russia and even China – the U.S. has no laws requiring labeling of genetically engineered foods. Infuriating, right? As a European, and as a mom, let me tell you that this issue has me very passionate. The thought that if I was raising my kids in Europe, they would be exposed to more than 50% less toxic crap in their food is nauseating enough that I am willing to spend hours researching, sharing resources and cooking whole organic real foods in my kitchen, even though it is time consuming and sometimes exhausting.

You may have heard of Monsanto, which is a multinational agricultural biotechnology corporation. It is the world's leading producer of the herbicide glyphosate, marketed in the Roundup brand, and in other brands. Monsanto is also the second largest producer of genetically engineered (GE) seed; it provides the technology in 49% of the genetically engineered seeds used in the US market. They are very powerful and have a lot of money. They are slowly defeating numerous local organic farmers who are being forced to bankruptcy because they simply cannot compete with Monsanto.

Enough technicalities though. If you are interested in learning more about what GMOs really do to your intestinal tract, and what the long term side effects could be, check out the links and resources at the end of this post, or post a comment on this blog, letting me know you'd like to know more, or asking specific questions.
But for now, what you really need to know, is how to avoid them when you shop. GMOs are everywhere, in every kind of processed food you can think of. It's in your blueberry muffin and caramel macchiato latte at Starbucks, it's probably in that turkey roll you bought at Vons for your lunch, it's in your salad dressing, and in most of the foods that you buy at restaurants.

The best way to avoid GMO's is to only eat and cook organic whole foods. Real food. But that's not always realistic, possible or affordable. However, I urge you to look at the labels, and absolutely avoid buying and consuming high risk ingredients.

The NonGMOproject.org came up with a little flyer that I picked up at one of my favorite coffee shops, that is really helpful. I will share from that, and you can check their website and download their Non GMO Shopping Guide for more info.


- The 8 GM food crops are corn, soybeans, canola (oil), cottonseed, sugar beets, hawaiian papaya (most) and a small amount of zucchini and yellow squash.
So for these ingredients, make sure you ALWAYS buy organic. If that box of crackers says it contains canola oil and sugar, there is 90% chance those two ingredients are from GM crops. Also note that corn, soybean, canola and cottonseed oils are vegetable oils. Watch out for that in the labels!
- If a non-organic product made in North America lists "sugar" as an ingredient (and NOT pure cane sugar), then it is almost certainly a combination of sugar from both sugar cane and GM sugar beets.
- Dairy products may be from cows injected with GM bovine growth hormone. Look for labels stating No rBGH, rBST, or artificial homrones, or check brand listings at NonGMOShoppingGuide.com
- When you buy fruits and vegetables, look at those stickers on the produce, with numbers on them. Ever wondered what those mean? Here is the breakdown:
  •  4 digit numbers starting with 4 mean it's a conventionally grown produce 
  • Numbers starting with 8 mean it's a GMO
  • 5 digit numbers starting with 9 mean it's organic

Here is a little trick to remember these numbers: 4 is a bore, 8 I hate, 9 is fine.
You might notice certain numbers starting with 3 or 5. I was told that 3 is organic, and 5 as well, but that was just in an online discussion and not from an official source. So basically, stay away from even numbers and prefer the odd numbers!

Just to give you an idea of how infested with GM ingredients our food is, here is a sample of them which may be made from GM crops or GM micro-organisms:
Aspartame, baking powder, caramel color, citric acid, condensed milk, dextrin, erythritol, glutamate, glycerin, hdrolyzed begetable protein, isoflavones, lactic acid, malt, maltodextrin, modified starch, shoyu, tamari, tempeh, teriyaki marinade, tocopherols, whey powder, xanthan gum...

For those of you who are desperate for time, hate cooking or can't stay away from processed food, shop at Trader Joe's. Supposedly, anything that carries their label is guaranteed to be made with non-GMO ingredients. I asked a store manager if this was true and he said yes. But I also thought this was the case for Whole Foods, and a recent short documentary showed me that I was wrong. I went back to Trader Joe's with new eyes and realized that any processed foods, unless it's fully organic, is a risk. Sigh! I know, quite a headache for the busy working mom!

More links and resources:

Resourceful websites:

Jeffrey Smith is the author of "Seeds of deception". He is the expert in that matter and while I own his book but haven't read it yet, I highly recommend listening to some of his talks on youtube. Here is the one I listened to: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LWt0BdMsu0A&feature=related

If you don't have time to listen to the whole thing, go here for a 13 min presentation on the dangers of GMO

For additional info on the effect of GMO on farmers, the environment and our health, check out these movies: 



Stay healthy! Do it for you, for your kids, and spread the word. Don't get overwhelmed. I didn't change my diet overnight. I didn't learn all of this overnight. It's a process. Take it one step at a time, and share the results around you. Thanks for reading me and letting me share and make my little difference in the world :)

If you too, would like to take action, go here and follow the steps to make a difference and let your voice be heard. And go voting on this issue in November. 

Update: Here is a link to an article that talks about the future of GMOs and what else is in the process of being created as a GM crop. Stay informed and make sure you know the source of these foods: http://wakeup-world.com/2012/03/29/twenty-genetically-modified-foods-coming-to-your-plate.

For more interesting post on diverse food issues, as well as awesome recipes from other food renegades, click here.


  1. Alexine this is so helpful for me. You really helped make the issue simple to understand. I had no idea! We mostly eat non-processed food from our farmer's market, but Leo is on a "gentle" formula that has whey protein for it's main ingredient! Your research helped me decide to make sure to switch back to organic as soon as his little stomach can handle it.

    Thanks for this.

    1. Kari, I am so glad this was helpful. This whole issue is really alarming and I am dedicated to raising awareness. I was at the Altadena farmer's market the other day and picked up a flyer about baby formula made from raw milk, which is even better than simply organic. It's a bit of a pain cuz you would have to make it yourself, but here is the link to more info on that: http://westonaprice.org/childrens-health/319-recipes-for-homemade-baby-formula.html

    2. Do you think raw milk I safe for a baby? He is only getting about 6oz formula a day, because I pump the rest of his feedings. I will research this a bit more. Thanks for the tip!

    3. Good question! I am not an expert, but I would imagine that this recipe is for infants, since after the age of 1, babies can drink real cow's milk and mostly don't need formula. In terms of raw vs. pasteurized, I need to write about that too, but if you are interested in finding out more about the benefits of raw milk, and the risks or absence there of, compared to the risks of pasteurized milk, let me know. I am thinking of inviting Mark McAffee, the owner of Organic Pastures, to come down and give a talk about that, and turn it into a little event at my house. in the mean time, check out their website at organicepastures.com
      In a nutshell, pasteurized milk is dead milk, stripped of all its nutrients and beneficial bacteria, and it is the reason why a lot of people are allergic to milk. Raw milk on the other hand, is full of wonderfully beneficial bacteria for our gut, and causes way less allergic reactions in people. If handled properly (and I visited organic pastures farm and believe they do), it is absolutely safe to drink raw milk. My neighbors in Switzerland grew up on it, they would go and pick it up from the farm down the street. But I understand your concerns. I am still learning about all this. You guys should come camping at the farm with us, next time they have a camp out with the cows. I think you would love it!

  2. Thank You! Thank You! Thank You! I totally agree! I am juicing a great deal and sometimes I get lazy or am not able to get to TJ, and I buy the produce off the street here in NYC. I'm sure that's bad!! How about produce with thick peels? Like bananas, mangos, etc? Probably not, cuz it's what's IN them, not so much about the pesticides on the outside, right? Either way, I'll be better because of what you've posted. It was very very helpful! Thank again!

    1. You are so welcome Charlotte! It is so gratifying for me to get such feedback and see that what I am writing and sharing is making an impact, that people are getting informed, empowered and inspired to live healthier lives. As far as I know, the only produce, AT THE MOMENT, to watch out for in terms of GMOs, are zucchinis, alfalfa, papaya, sugar beets, soy anything (soybeans, edamame), rice and possibly potatoes. But as this article reveals (http://wakeup-world.com/2012/03/29/twenty-genetically-modified-foods-coming-to-your-plate), there is more coming our way. In terms of which produce to buy organic or not, check out the dirty dozen and avoid buying those non organic. I personally buy non organic bananas, oranges and mangoes, but I make sure apples, pears, peaches, nectarines and plums are organic. For a list of the dirty dozen, just google those words, you will find plenty of resources. Good on you for juicing and researching, and keep up the good healthy habits :)