Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
17 Oct

Should You Worry About Genetically Modified Food?

labworkA new study came out last month out of France. In it, researchers found that rats on diets consisting of 11%, 22%, and 33% Roundup-resistant genetically modified corn developed far more mammary tumors than control rats on non-GMO corn diets. GMO diet rats died earlier and in greater numbers. Why is this study notable amidst all the other studies that seem to show the safety of GMOs? Well, it’s one of the few long term GMO feeding studies, lasting a full two years, which, to a rat, is the equivalent of 60 of our human years. The other safety studies which found no evidence of toxicity in GM foods tend to last just 90 days, or 15 rat years. In other words, the French study studied rats over the course of an entire lifespan, whereas other studies have looked at rats for a relatively brief snippet of their lives. Cancer generally develops over a lifetime, as you probably know, so this would appear to be more relevant to human health than the shorter trials.

Of course, there has been a huge outcry against the study and its author. Critics have said the sample sizes (ten rats per group of each sex) were too small, but judging from the official guidelines of the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD), which states that oral toxicity experiments using rats must use at least 20 animals per group (10 males and 10 females), the French study was just doing what other GMO studies have done. Even if the sample sizes are inadequate, couldn’t that be rectified by running a longer, larger, later study to attempt to replicate its findings?

Obviously, genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are a testy subject, and people from both sides of the argument make articulate, seemingly logical points about why the other side is completely and utterly wrong. I don’t claim to have the answer either way, but hopefully this post will help you make a decision that works for you.

To date, it’s true that there exists no conclusive hard evidence that GM foods are dangerous to people. There are no human feeding trials, and, because GM foods aren’t labeled (at least in the United States) and people don’t know what they’re eating enough to give an accurate account of their food intake, epidemiological studies on the effects are impossible to conduct. You can’t ask people how often they’ve eaten GM foods over the past ten years if the average person doesn’t even know what GMOs are. There are some animal studies, like the one mentioned above, but there have been mixed results, with some independent studies showing potentially problematic differences in health outcomes between GMOs and non-GMOs, and industry studies showing no significant differences.

Personally, I’m not so worried about a fish gene being put into a tomato, or insect genes in strawberries on their own merits. I’m worried about whether that particular gene codes for the production of a lectin that might harm the person that eats the crop. I’m worried about the amount of Roundup that farmers will therefore spray on the crops, having been given carte blanche to use gallons of the stuff. I’m worried about the Roundup-resistant weeds and Bt-resistant bugs that are popping up in response to all the Roundup being applied and Bt-crops being used. I’m worried about the more toxic herbicides and pesticides being used to take care of these new superweeds and superbugs. Didn’t a wise man once say that “Life finds a way“? Though he was a fictional character talking about the unintended consequences of using frog DNA to “plug” the holes in dinosaur DNA, I think he was right.

A lot of people are worried about the potential of unintended effects to arise. I think John Hagelin said it well in his statement to the EPA:

Numerous eminent molecular biologists recognize that DNA is a complex nonlinear system and that splicing foreign genes into the DNA of a food-yielding organism can cause unpredictable side effects that could harm the health of the human consumer. Yet, the genetic engineering of our food – and the widespread presence of genetically altered foods in American supermarkets – is based on the premise that the effects of gene-splicing are so predictable that all bioengineered foods can be presumed safe unless proven otherwise.

Take a recent example of transgenic modification applied to cassava, a staple starchy tuber for millions (if not billions) of people across the globe. This is the stuff that’s high in cyanide, requires extensive processing to remove said cyanide, and has an extremely paltry protein content (the lowest of all staples foods, in fact). Transgenic insertion of a gene into the plant increased the protein content four-fold and reduced the cyanide content by up to 55%, turning a decent staple into a fantastic, protein-rich one – at least on paper. The increased protein came from a novel chimeric storage protein called zeolin, which was cobbled together using zein (from corn) and phaseolin (from beans, used in “carb blocker” products). For someone who relies on cassava for, well, everything, the increased protein is welcome and perhaps even necessary. But zein (also known as corn gluten) is a prolamine, a type of plant protein that many people have trouble digesting, as well as an herbicide in its own right (PDF). Wheat gluten is another (in)famous prolamine. Phaseolin is a “carb blocker”; it literally reduces your absorption and digestion of glucose. The zeolin may not have the same properties as zein or phaseolin, and even if it did, those properties may be worth it if it’s the best source of protein in the area, but I think this example shows that genetic engineering has the potential to have unintended effects.

Plus there’s a lot of sneaky stuff that makes you go “Hmm…” It’s just circumstantial, sure. There are no smoking guns, but it’s worth considering:

  • Before being allowed to purchase GM seeds, customers (including farmers, scientists, and other researchers) must sign an agreement that limits what they’re allowed to do with them. For instance, customers can’t replicate the genetic alterations – a perfectly reasonable kind of patent protection. These legally-binding end-user agreements also forbid the seeds from being used in independent research, thereby severely limiting independent researchers from conducting any meaningful tests unless they get permission.
  • After a leading bee research firm published results implicating it in colony collapse disorder, Monsanto simply bought the entire company. That’s one way to do it, I suppose.
  • Following previous stints as VP at Monsanto, lawyer for Monsanto, and administrator at the USDA, Michael Taylor, is now the chief commissioner of foods at the FDA. As chief commissioner, Taylor will be protecting all of us from dangerous food.
  • A veritable who’s who of processed food manufacturers and GMO firms are contributing over $25 million to stop CA proposition 37, which will force companies to label foods that contain GMOs. Monsanto has ponied up over $7 million alone.

It certainly brings to mind Gertrude’s famous line from Hamlet, “The lady doth protest too much,” doesn’t it?

At any rate, you can simply avoid GMOs, and sticking to a Primal way of eating gets you most of the way there. After all, the most prevalent GMOs in the United States are:

  • Soybeans – 93% are GM
  • Corn – 86% are GM
  • Sugar beets – 95% are GM
  • Canola – 87% are GM
  • Cotton – 93% are GM
  • Hawaiian papaya – 80% are GM
  • Processed food – In 2003, it was estimated that 70-75% of processed food contained GMOs. That number is probably higher now.
  • Potatoes and alfalfa – Unknown, but at least some are genetically modified.

Almost without exception, the fruits, the vegetables, the nuts and the seeds you come across and which form the foundation of many of your meals and snacks are not GMO. No need to worry about those. If you’re eating processed foods, however, even so called “healthy snacks,” you’ll likely be eating GMOs.

Unless you’re still cooking with canola, sneaking corn tortillas, eating out at places that cook with soybean oil, making papaya smoothies every morning, and losing bets that have you eating articles of clothing made with GMO cotton, you’re avoiding 99% of genetically modified food simply by going Primal. You’re definitely not eating diets consisting of 11% or 22% or 33% GM corn or soy, so I really wouldn’t worry too much about the occasional bite. Stick to organic potatoes when you eat them and you’re golden. Of course, conventionally-raised, grain-fed livestock are eating almost entirely GMO feed, but I’m unaware of any evidence that this affects the health of those who eat their meat and milk (and grass-fed and pastured animal products are healthier, anyway). Anyone know?

Is there a bottom line to all this? A definitive answer? No; not yet.

But I think at the bare minimum, GM foods should be labeled so that people can make decisions about the food they and their families are eating. With so much uncertainty, I think the only fair thing to do is give people a choice in the matter. Not everyone avoids grains and legumes in general, like us.

Well, I hope this was helpful. I’ll probably get criticized from both sides – for not completely and unequivocally condemning GMOs and for failing to pledge my undying support. Not everything has a clear conclusion, though. So it goes.

By all means, though, get it going in the comment section! I want to hear evidence and arguments from both sides. Just try to be respectful, and Grok on!

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. all good and true, but that soybean/corn is being used to feed every animal in the US.

    charlie wrote on October 17th, 2012
    • Not true, buy pastured animal products. A local farmer raises all his own animal feed (not GMO).

      Paleo Bon Rurgundy wrote on October 17th, 2012
      • This is what my husband and I do. We are by no means wealthy but it is totally worth the sacrifice to buy farmer’s market grassfed goat (and really, not THAT much more expensive!)

        Christina208 wrote on October 17th, 2012
        • I love grass fed goat in a coconut curry! We have plenty of them running around New Zealand, so when ever we have an unsuccessful deer hunt, there’s always a few goat around so our freezer is full of goat meat(because they don’t run as fast) haha

          Isaac Warbrick wrote on October 17th, 2012
        • We buy it in bulk from our farmers! It is a great way to get a discount. You can get a good chest freezer for a few hundred dollars and stock it with a half pig, quarter cow, and lots of wild seafood. :)

          Team Oberg wrote on October 18th, 2012
      • That is one way of looking at it and yes there are farmers that raise cattle without corn but not many and none at scale. The problem, if it is a problem, with MG foods and especially corn and soy beans is that you can barely find a food that doesn’t not contain some corn or HFCS or soy. At least not processed food and organic is not much better. if you look carefully at what constitutes “organic” or “free Range” from a government perspective you would be shocked. The problem is one of scale and what we have gotten use to in terms of buying food that has been processed, packed, shipped, frozen, hormone induced, etc. I for one still buy these products out of convenience/price.

        Tom A wrote on October 17th, 2012
        • Tom,

          Your right it’s hard to find a processed food that doesn’t contain corn or soy. I’d bet the majority of those products wouldn’t be good for you even if they didn’t have corn or soy in them. You mentioned we’ve gotten used to the convenience and price of food. I’m not sure eating primal will ever be as convenient or cheap as processed foods but things like “cow-sharing” can help. Once you’ve made that purchase its pretty convenient since you’ll have a couple months worth of meat in your freezer! I also think the results are what make it worth the extra bit of effort/money.

          luke depron wrote on October 17th, 2012
        • isn’t it more convenient to do nothing compared to working out? yet, people do work out – for a reason. price? eat less but of better quality – that way you won’t pay more and get the benefits of caloric restriction too. anyway, it is anybody’s own decision and everybody is on his own here. i am glad to live in Europe where GMOs are forbidden, but still envy the Kiwis for all that grass fed beef running around over there :-)

          einstein wrote on October 18th, 2012
        • It really comes down to lobbying (your government, food companies, etc) for the better quality food and ingredients. When you buy the products that are GMO’s and products that are filled with HFCS and other crap, you are essentially voting to keep these foods in the market. You are voting with your dollars. No demand = No point in the company making the product since there is no profit.

          Metric wrote on October 18th, 2012
        • Find your own farmer and support them. Trust them. You don’t have to go into a store and buy the things with “Pasture-Raised” stickers neatly placed on packages. Go get muddy and pet some cows while spending time with the people raising them.

          ikaika wrote on October 25th, 2012
        • Seems lots of people really don’t know what’s going on with GMOs. In the USA apparently there’s no labelling but in Europe at least one poster here thinks we have no GMOs. Wrong! We have stricter legislation. A 1% maximum tolerance on other crops nearby getting contaminated (something else you might want to think about when buying food, though how you could tell what was planted near GMOS crops I don’t know) and GMO food is legally supposed to be labelled. Although there’s talk of current policies changing. GMOs are not banned in Europe, unfortunately.

          Hope wrote on October 27th, 2012
        • It really comes down to eliminating the gubmit agencies that facilitate these problems. If there were no USDA, Monsanto could be voted out by people not spending money on them, but the USDA has created un-constitutional regs to protect Monsanto, and I suspect if you could overcome the gubmit propaganda and mis-info about GMOs, the gubmit would bail Monsanto out w/ our dollars.

          Eugene wrote on February 19th, 2013
      • But they are now trying to get gmo Kentucky bluegrass out there. If those seeds spread, there will be no way to know if the pastured cows are eating grass or frankengrass. I know one farmer who had to basically decide to manually pollinate his corn and then destroy the original plant later. His corn got contaminated by monsanto’s and he wanted (but it’s impossible to do so) sue Monsanto for messing up his organic corn.

        Julie wrote on October 27th, 2012
    • well of course animals who are feed gmo grain feed would be an unhealthy option for us to eat, if you are eating the meat, you are eating the gmo grain=you are eating gmo….

      jessica wrote on October 17th, 2012
      • That’s not exactly right. I owned goats and the goats ate poison ivy regularly. When I ate one of the goats, it certainly wasn’t the same as if I’d eaten the poison ivy directly.

        Vidad wrote on October 17th, 2012
        • Check out “Milk Sickness” Abraham Lincoln’s mother (along with thousands of others in the Ohio River Valley) died of this. The cows eat white snakeroot and pass along the poison in the milk and meat

          Jeff wrote on October 17th, 2012
        • That may not be the most apt analogy. The goats are not putting on flesh in any significant quantity, if at all, by eating a leafy green food. As I understand it, grain is fed to animals to make them put on fat and muscle, and the proteins in the grain are the raw substance of it.

          chironsdaughter wrote on October 19th, 2012
        • we don’t have a clue whether eating meat from GMO fed animals is harmful to us and ivy eating goats and snakeroot eating cows are not relevant.

          Rick Mehaffy DC wrote on October 24th, 2012
        • “we don’t have a clue whether eating meat from GMO fed animals is harmful to us and ivy eating goats and snakeroot eating cows are not relevant.”

          Yes, it is relevant.

          It’s true that we don’t know, but the fact remains: what has been processed through an animal’s gut does not come to us in the same manner as if we consumed it directly. I’m absolutely no fan of GMOs, but I do know that an animal’s digestive tract is an amazing food conversion machine.

          Vidad wrote on October 24th, 2012
    • And anything with any kind of corn syrup or soybean oil in it probably contains GMOS

      SIrrom wrote on November 1st, 2012
  2. I guess I’m not surprised that GMO have a negative health impact. The most disturbing thing is that the companies that sell GMO seeds won’t allow independent research to be done. That is like a car company forbidding safety tests without their permission. I think we have a right to study the negative effects of the products we use or eat.

    It is a relief to find out that most of the foods in a paleo/primal diet are non-GMO. Thanks for a great article.

    Wayne wrote on October 17th, 2012
    • I love the analogy with the cars! That’s a great way to put it.

      For me the biggest outrage is that people care to limit the information being provided…people should be enabled to make informed decisions.

      Danny wrote on October 17th, 2012
    • I am also extremely disturbed that Michael Taylor is the commissioner of food at the USDA. These conflict of interest situations seem to occur much more frequently than I would prefer :(

      Ben Hirshberg wrote on October 17th, 2012
      • I’d rather rely on mother nature any day. If I have a choice between a naturally grown piece of broccoli and lab-manipulated “food” I’ll be grabbing my broccoli and running for the hills!

        Tiffani wrote on October 17th, 2012
        • I just totally envisioned that!
          Haha!
          You have my virtual hi-five!

          On a more serious note, however, I also refuse to eat all those artificially created foodstuffs, especially GMO.
          We are yet to comprehend all of the consequences of these modifications and chemical treatments of food. Unfortunately as time passes, the image becomes clearer: these things WILL damage us in the long run, hence the fight of the companies over labeling and free information. They wouldn’t be hiding anything if they wouldn’t have something to hide…
          We might reach a point where we would literally be running to the hills with handfuls of broccoli…
          Uphill sprinting anyone? :)

          Primal Wanderer wrote on October 17th, 2012
      • Totally. Same with the banks and the financial “oversight” in gov. We like to think there’s a Left/Right battle going on but in reality, we’re missing the big picture. Big Gov/Big Biz have mutated into a single malevolent entity. There’s no real socialism or capitalism anymore… it’s all fascism. Even Supreme Court Justices have ties to big business. Thomas served a stint with Monsanto when he was younger.

        Vidad wrote on October 17th, 2012
    • Well said, I completely agree with you.

      Mike wrote on October 17th, 2012
    • The answer is to steal the seeds you research.
      Then you can only be charged with petty larceny, not sued for breach of contract.

      Anon wrote on October 17th, 2012
      • That’s an idea, but I wonder if that would cause the farmer and his family to be in danger of getting their knee caps broken by goons sent out from the company.

        Jeff wrote on October 19th, 2012
    • Great analogy, Wayne!

      Michael H. wrote on October 17th, 2012
    • Not so… GMO’s cross pollinate, that’s how mother nature works>>>
      Eventually the genes will pass on Through the species & to like species of plants, & the likes of those like species>>>
      Once unleashed, its almost gameover until the next round of GMO’s>>>
      I wonder wheather big pharma has stakes in GMO products (Pharmaceutical industry is = oil companies)>>>
      Follow the money (Who makes a profit, is the instigator), it makes sense

      William wrote on October 18th, 2012
      • And when those GMO’s cross pollinate into a field of grain belonging to a farmer who refuses to use GMO, and then the seed kept from that field is used to plant, the resulting grain is also GMO. Then this poor unsuspecting farmer, who thinks he is planting healthy seed, is sued and ruined by Monsanto suing him for patent infringement.
        http://www.monsanto.com/newsviews/Pages/why-does-monsanto-sue-farmers-who-save-seeds.aspx

        Recently farmers banded together and tried to sue Monsanto to stop these lawsuits and protect their livelihood, but they lost.

        Megan C wrote on October 18th, 2012
        • Too bad they can’t sue Monsanto for ruining their crops by contamination. That is what is happening after all.

          Sandra wrote on October 19th, 2012
        • I believe I saw a documentary on that grain issue. It was SO insane! I had such a difficult time coming to grips with the outrage of those farmers NOT winning that case! How dare we Americans allow such injustice to run in our country! The level of corruption among our law makers, law keepers and within our government agencies (USDA, FDA) is just astounding! These people should be outed and damn near lynched! I agree with the comments above that we are missing the big picture when we blame the conservatives or the liberals for all our problems! They are certainly all in cahoots with Big Business, Big Ag, and don’t forget the military complex!

          Rich wrote on October 19th, 2012
        • ^^The documentary is called “The World According to Monsanto”. It’s pretty good, and I watched it online for free at some point (google?).

          As for this question Mark posed: “Of course, conventionally-raised, grain-fed livestock are eating almost entirely GMO feed, but I’m unaware of any evidence that this affects the health of those who eat their meat and milk (and grass-fed and pastured animal products are healthier, anyway). Anyone know?” I believe the documentary King Corn talked briefly about this issue. Also, a documentary I really want to see is Food Matters–it’s about how the food and pharmaceutical industries are tightly linked to each other.

          Charlayna wrote on October 24th, 2012
        • Thousands of farmers in India have committed suicide because they got forced into using Monsanto seed and then the next season when they tried to use the seed from the previous crop, they were legally told they couldn’t. They could not afford to buy more seed, as re-using seed was what they had done traditionally and for 100’s of years.

          Janet wrote on October 24th, 2012
    • If you haven’t already, take the time to watch “Genetic Roulette” on youtube. It’s a real eye opener.
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wnlTYFKBg18

      Greg wrote on October 24th, 2012
    • If you haven’t already, take the time to watch “Genetic Roulette” on youtube. It’s a real eye opener.

      Greg wrote on October 24th, 2012
    • Great response… Thank you..

      Susan wrote on October 25th, 2012
  3. Let’s all be smart and forage and garden for ourselves :) Then only buy what we absolutely need to buy (because it isn’t around us, or we can spend all day hunting), and then watch this “GMO” thing disappear. We need to use Nature more, and Civilization less.

    Matt wrote on October 17th, 2012
    • i agree with matt- I would love to live this way- dang cement city

      lockard wrote on October 17th, 2012
      • Taking our chances with the Australian bush fires, snakes and spiders over the nuts involved with our ‘care’ in the cities. Getting so far out of control in the cities. We’re letting it, the longer we stay in here and accept the madness.

        Mad Am Flintstone wrote on October 17th, 2012
      • You can garden on top of the cement. Don’t let anything stop you from growing your own food, even if you live in a highrise building. Use your windows and fire escapes. Plant everywhere.

        Cag3db1rd wrote on October 24th, 2012
        • Yeah, that doesn’t work in the northern climates in winter though.

          Our food supply, it seems to me, has become a two class system. The “clean”, grass fed/pastured, organic for the “haves” and the rest for the “have nots”. It’s terrible and a shame, but so many can’t afford the good stuff even if they are aware.

          MaryB wrote on October 25th, 2012
    • Agreed! If EVERYONE relied less on these large companies, at some point they wouldn’t be able to function anymore.

      Laurel wrote on October 17th, 2012
      • unfortunately, getting the “gibsmedats” to stop relying on large corporations and governmental entitites to give them their unearned sustenance is a monumental feat that I don’t see being accomplished. The companies will stay in business because too many ppl are too lazy to do anything for themselves anymore.

        Cag3db1rd wrote on October 24th, 2012
        • Geeze, glad you live way out back, as you sound very unpleasant.

          Janet wrote on October 24th, 2012
    • civilization with nature?

      pixel wrote on October 17th, 2012
    • I’m with you Matt…We’re pretty lucky here in New Zealand that we have relatively easy access to hunt, fish, dive and grow our own food…If I’m not eating goat or venison that I’ve hunted myself, I’m swapping it for lobster or mussels that a friend gathered…Bring back the barter system!

      Isaac Warbrick wrote on October 17th, 2012
      • Monsanto just opened a office up in south auckland curtious of our government subsidies>>>
        I wish they would be run out of town, but the problem is no one knows about this issue, let alone cares>>>
        There all to drugged out on the Fluoride & chlorine there own government feeds them>>>
        Not me Fuck Fluoride>>>

        William wrote on October 18th, 2012
    • Matt, here in the Central Valley in California, farm land is being covered with huge houses that are scarcely a few feet apart. Barely enough room to grow a tomato on the patio. We could begin by stopping this trend, which only exists to assuage the greed of developers, and give future generations a chance to grow some of their own food.

      Janice James wrote on October 18th, 2012
  4. I like the “patent” angle into labeling GMO foods. If the GMO companies want to continue their patent protection of their “inventions”, then the inventions should be required to be labeled when sold and resold. They claim that their invention is not the new seed per se, but the genetic information contained in the seed. Therefore, any product containing any DNA from the invention should be required to be labeled with the patent number for every invention whose DNA is included in the processed “food”.

    Labeling should not be just about GMO / non-GMO. The question should include “which GMO?” After all, chances are that among the many GMO varieties of many products, there is probably something that isn’t toxic!

    And speaking of patent protection, the law as currently written (by and on behalf of Monsanto) has it backwards. When genetic material “leaks” from their field into someone else’s field, it isn’t the fault of the farmer whose field the GMO genes leaked onto that is at fault. It is the fault of the “leaker”, and they need to be held responsible for allowing the leakage.

    Speaking of which, there is probably a lot more leakage of GMO DNA than is widely realized.

    PhilmontScott wrote on October 17th, 2012
    • Completely agree with this. I think we run a risk of throwing out the baby with the bathwater. GMO is relatively new, and as we get a better and more complete understanding of DNA and what each gene does, and as technology improves, it may become entirely possible to know WHY various GMOs cause cancer increases — and HOW to avoid doing that.

      To throw the whole science out the window is short-sighted. We absolutely need labeling, we need independent testing, we need transparency in order to learn what works, what doesn’t, and how to move forward.

      I think GM foods are potentially a way to save the human race and give it a platform to reach into the future, but that doesn’t mean it’s flawless yet. Just like early days in any new technology, there will be missteps. The more transparent we are today, the more this could actually benefit us in the long run.

      Joe wrote on October 17th, 2012
      • We have had and still have the most effective method of genetically engineering our food (plants and animals) since grok figured out the trick to organized agriculture. Slow and successive cross breeding of traits into and out of species by careful inbreeding, yes INBREEDING. Look around you in your office or park or mall or where ever you are. How many red heads do you see? Not the fakers the real red hair, super white skin lacking melanin in all but the spots (freckles or fairy foot prints, as you wish) and blue eyes. Each of these traits is a doubly recessive trait. In order to breed such magnificent specimens of human perfection requires inbreeding direct at the early introduction of the genes and more distant but still there to get them to express. This method has proved successful at creating some amazing things, red heads, Bananas, Grapefruits, Tangelos seedless grapes and watermelons though that trait seems quite futile from a propagation stand point. There may come a time when science has caught up with the arrogance of some men/women at these companies but until then the old ways are better and in many cases way more fun!

        James wrote on October 17th, 2012
        • The problem with breeding and hybridization is that it’s slow at best, a horrifically blunt instrument at worst. With modern hybrids, they’ll expose them to toxic gasses or high pressure to cause massive mutations and see what comes out with something useful. That’s no better than GMO and how we ended up with modern wheat.

          Aria wrote on October 17th, 2012
      • You’re dreaming Joe. All due respect.

        Mad Am Flintstone wrote on October 17th, 2012
        • Joe IS dreaming — Dreaming of a day when food is abundant, safe, nutritious, and available to everyone. That’s a good thing. If everyone on the planet had to eat primal tomorrow (or next year), we would see mass starvation. I doubt the earth could sustain anywhere close to the current population if we so much as took grains and starches out of the equation. If we want to push for a healthier human diet, we should recognize that it will require major shifts in food production that will almost certainly involve genetic modification of our crops and livestock. Being fond of my fellow man (most of them) and not wanting even the less likable ones starve, I’d rather have a gradual shift that takes the best of what science and technology has to offer. This doesn’t excuse Monsanto (“Round-up Ready” for their first GMO product? What were they thinking? “Let’s start out with something that will really rile folks up and turn them against GMO for decades!”), and it’s not a reason to not label, restrict independent testing, etc. But every new technology has drawbacks, hazards, and risks (“Don’t you dare bring that fire into the cave, Grok! We’ve got kids in here!”)

          Ann wrote on October 17th, 2012
        • It’s propaganda that we’d all starve without GMOs. Food surpluses rot. People starve due to government related central planning failures and restricted access to resources. For example, all acorns are edible, as are rose petals, nasturtium flowers, dandelions, sweet potato leaves, and kudzu and there’s so much more. Too good for squirrel or snake or rat stew now? People have blinders on thinking it’s not food unless it has a General Mills label on it and comes from the grocery. People waste massive amounts of space to grow grass that has no function with lots of chemical sprayed on.
          If the food situation got dire, people are going to remember or adapt quickly.

          Oly wrote on October 17th, 2012
        • And there is no research that I’m aware of to show that GMOs have reduced malnutrition in any significant way in the third world; and even if they do, why are they needed in the US?

          Anon wrote on October 17th, 2012
        • Ann, we produce and waste way more food than we need. And if we weren’t growing grains to feed to animals to make them sick & fat too we could use that land to grow or graze: http://www.ted.com/talks/tristram_stuart_the_global_food_waste_scandal.html

          Yvette wrote on October 17th, 2012
      • I get so concerned about the effect GM is having on our planet. It’s easy to say ‘we can avoid these foods’ but what about the crops that spread into non GM farms (the ones that don’t get picked up and sued)? What are they doing with the good crop? Are they cross pollinating? Are their genetically engineered seeds killing other varieties? When the GM salmon gets released into the pacific ocean how will we ever be able to determine what salmon is GM or organic (god created kind) and what will happen when all the bees die and our ecology system is destroyed leaving us with no flowers or pollinating fruits/veg? Monsanto cannot/should not be able to buy a research facility without the findings being well documented. Monsanto didn’t suddenly become God.  Maybe Satan? and anyone who supports Monsanto has an agenda I believe, such as Bill Gates, I mean, why is he heading up a foundation to immunize millions of people in 3rd world countries and a heap of them are ending up with worse disease like nasty strains of polio? And Monsanto, best buddies in finance are hiding facts of the long term effects of genetically modified food consumption. It all sounds a little eugenics to me. I fear we will all be in poverty over this – and with no roses to smell!

        Kelly wrote on October 17th, 2012
      • I studied evolutionary biology and botany for 6 years at the university level. Life is a huge, beautiful, complex puzzle that I am utterly infatuated with and amazed by, and I find emerging genetic science absolutely fascinating. That said, I’m not so impressed with our species.

        The same arrogance and hubris that give us the confidence to explore and manipulate our world also cause us to overestimate our comprehension and abilities. We don’t completely understand the bodies we live in and the genetics that affect our own species, yet we feel confident that we can change other species on such a level and see all the ramifications of those changes, including their interaction when consumed by other species.

        If nothing else, growing up on a mid-western farm and then studying biology/genetics all my life has convinced me that mother nature knows what she’s doing, and that humans are nothing more than very curious idiots playing with dangerous tools we really don’t know how to use.

        I love your vision; so do the scientists who are developing GMO products. Unfortunately, the bio-tech companies that sign their paychecks are more interested in profit. Just like longevity studies interfere with fast return on dollars invested, transparency is just not good for public relations or for getting a leg up on the competition.

        Megan C wrote on October 18th, 2012
        • Thank you for making this point! I’ve often had the same dispiriting thoughts about how ‘evolved’ we really are. It reminded me of my favourite quote:

          “Humans are the only species clever enough to make their own food, and the only one stupid enough to eat it.”

          I wish I could remember where I first read it so I could give proper credit. But I repeat it to myself whenever I’m tempted by non-primal food choices. Smartens me up every time!

          Kelly wrote on November 4th, 2012
      • You mention that you think GM foods could save the human race. But save us from what? And with over 7 billion people, how is the human race even in danger? Even if some terrible event wiped out 6 billion people overnight, the human population would be similar to what it was in 1800, when humans were still doing pretty well as a species.

        John wrote on October 18th, 2012
  5. Reason.com had a good article on the labeling of GMO products. Their take was that we don’t need labeling but we need to remove the current restrictions that the FDA is placing on producers that prevent them from touting the absence of GMO products in their foods. That would take care of the problem without creating more regulation.

    Scott Kimball wrote on October 17th, 2012
    • This makes so much sense. Regulations regarding labeling will likely benefit large corporations by putting smaller farmers out of business due to the cost of dealing with the regulations anyways.

      Maxwell wrote on October 17th, 2012
      • Yeah, a few words on a label are a real big cost of doing business (sarcasm intended). Funny how Monsanto doesn’t see the big benefit to corporations.

        BillP wrote on October 17th, 2012
        • Its not the wording on the label that increases cost, instead it is the fear that the words “genetically engineered” strike into those who have no idea what that even means. Think of how many uneducated consumers there are in California that buy based on price and convenience alone. They will likely not buy the product because those words sound scary, or be able to afford the alternative. Therefore, potentially decreasing sales of smaller companies. One of the biggest problems with labeling is that it will also increase costs for companies shipping food from outside of California. They will now have to have an entirely different label just to be sold in the state. That price will then trickle down to the consumer. The responsibility does not fall on the shoulders of Monsanto, but rather on the the shoulders of the consumer who eats food from the farmer who planted the GM seeds that were purchased from Monsanto. We as consumers have told the farmers that its OK to grow GM crops by continuing to purchase food made with these products. I myself try to eat as primal as possible, but the occasional diet coke, or the occasional order of french fries sends a clear message that the consumers of the US will continue to eat this way. If we want to see a change then we need to start educating, and i don’t think that will be done effectively through labeling. I am in the food business and i can see how ineffective and destructive labeling has the potential to be. In addition, the cost of regulating this from a state perspective is ridiculous. I think that the consumers need to vote with their wallets if they are concerned with what is in their food, rather than leave it up to the government, the same government that most people think is out to kill them by not protecting the foods allowed to be produced.

          cdub wrote on October 17th, 2012
        • Yeah, I addressed the argument that people don’t know what GMO really means here: http://gapsfort2.blogspot.com/2012/09/patronizing-scientists-part-2.html

          And franly, having DONE recombinant DNA work, I’m opposed to GMOs: http://gapsfort2.blogspot.com/2012/09/patronizing-scientists-part-1.html

          jpatti wrote on October 17th, 2012
        • Actually, yes those “few words” are a big deal. You see, there is the government entity that likes to go after companies that do not get the wording “just right” or somehow miss a dotted I or crossed t. That means those words require a stout legal team and keeping up on the latest regulatory changes. That is no insignificant cost. A company the size if Monsanto already has a large legal department and thus has zero increase in cost. A small farmer does not, and could not afford to have one.

          This has happened before in many industries, even in this one. It will sadly happen again without proper vigilance and understanding.

          TheRealBill wrote on November 2nd, 2012
    • So… there are restrictions that PREVENT people from labeling food as NOT GMO? I don’t even understand how that is posssible!

      Jeff wrote on October 17th, 2012
      • If you label a food product as non-GMO, you probably need to be able to prove it. Hence the regulation – otherwise companies could use it as a marketing tool without ever actually confirming that all of their ingredients are non-GMO.

        MarkA wrote on October 17th, 2012
        • How is that different from ‘no trans fat’ and other labels?

          Jeff wrote on October 18th, 2012
      • People will start voting with their wallets as soon as they have a target… In our household to a very large extent we don’t use processed food, we have a few tinned goods and a few gravy mixes on hand in case we need them. We grow some veggies and buy others at local farmer markets, but we don’t buy packaged foods because some ingredients are or could be GMO. If they label GMO containing products I will avoid them, that’s a given, but I may buy non GMO products, although if they go on much longer here in Australia I won’t need any commercial product. So you see I already vote with my wallet.

        Mark wrote on October 17th, 2012
    • The pressure on the FDA for this came directly from the large food companies and Monsanto and it’s ilk. And since these govt. places are larded with industry hacks, the scientists get over-ruled regularly.

      Janet wrote on October 24th, 2012
  6. I’m new to this but my wife and I just saw the documentary “Food, Inc” and it makes us want to not eat anything we didn’t grow or have seen it walking around the pasture first!

    Ken wrote on October 17th, 2012
    • If you liked Food Inc, check out the following documentaries: Fresh (similar to Food Inc) and Ingredients. I loved Ingredients.

      Metric wrote on October 17th, 2012
      • Thanks, I’ll look those up tonight.

        Ken wrote on October 17th, 2012
      • With hardly a word of narrative in the whole film, the German film ‘Our Daily Bread’ hit me at least as hard as ‘Food, Inc.’ Will definately check out the other two you mentioned.

        vacexempt wrote on October 18th, 2012
      • Fresh is SO GOOD!

        Charlayna wrote on October 24th, 2012
  7. I was scared that our views were going to clash on this one, but happy to see your well-balanced approach to GMOs!

    I just wrote an article about GMOs and prop 32 on my website. I personally believe that no harm will come from consuming GMOs based alone on the fact that they’re GMOs, I do understand your concern about pesticides and whatnot though. That in itself is a slightly different issue in my mind though than whether or not GMOs will have a negative impact on our health.

    It’s a very topical item since we will be voting on Prop 37 in California regarding the labeling of GMOs. I personally will be voting no, there are a few different reasons in my mind to vote no on 37, the first being it’s possible to avoid GMOs already or buy food labeled as GMO-free, organic, or grass-fed. But mostly on my belief that there’s no harm in GMOs themselves.

    Gotta jet, but just wanted to leave my 2 cents!

    Jesse Geron wrote on October 17th, 2012
    • I won’t argue with your personal belief that there’s no harm in GMOs. However, I hope you will reconsider your intended vote on Prop 37.

      It’s actually quite difficult and much more expensive to consume exclusively organic or grass-fed foods (I’ve never seen a product labelled GMO-free). Full organic certification is very expensive and includes a number of things that I’m not as concerned about as GMOs. And while you have the right to not be concerned about GMOs, your own belief should not impinge on my right to avoid them if I so choose.

      I haven’t seen any estimates of how much labelling would add to costs, but I can’t believe it would be more than a penny or so for any given product. So my question to you is: What’s the harm in labelling?

      Robert wrote on October 17th, 2012
      • I totally agree with you. Labeling GMOs does not keep people from eating them if they want to, but it does allow those who want to avoid them the ability to do so for themselves, which is only fair, to say the least. We all deserve this choice, whether we are for or against GMOs. Please vote yes on 37!

        Kristi Cooke, NTP wrote on October 17th, 2012
        • They sell the same products in Europe GMO-free, I demand the companies do the same here for us. Not asking too much, in my opinion. At a minimum, labeling should be legal so we can make our own decisions, as has been commented before here.

          Janet wrote on October 24th, 2012
      • I thought that you would be interested to know Robert, there is in fact a ‘Non-GMO Project’ label out there! It’s an organization that verifies, at different times during any processing, that there are no GMO in that product. You can search their site under the label name. The label has a large butterfly on it which helps make it stand out!

        PaleoCaveGirl wrote on October 17th, 2012
      • My thought is that MAYBE there are more GMO products out there than we can even begin to imagine and the industry knows this which in turn would really cause an uproar from consumers if the labeling requirement is pushed through.
        It is possible that there are more people out here that would not purchase GMO products than would. This would be very bad business for all those companies using GMOs.

        Cindy wrote on October 24th, 2012
    • I respect your personal belief about the safety of GMOs, but why not give everyone the benefit of making their own choice through labeling? The question presented in Prop 37 is whether or not to label GMOs, not whether or not they are safe. Like all the other nutrition info on the label doesn’t pass judgment on the merits of the ingredients, just that they are there, GMO labeling would just provide another piece of ingredient info to the consumer. With a clear label then, people can then make their own informed choice. Since I have a horribly dysfunctional immune system, and I’ve been told by my doctor NOT to consume GMOs, I personally need the labeling. As it stands now, I have to avoid most packaged foods since they contain corn, soy and other crops that are 80-90% GMO. A label would make my life SO much easier!! Please vote yes!

      Dara wrote on October 18th, 2012
    • Why would one actively prevent “consumers” from attaining correct information – especially in cases of consumables where the scientific data regarding the health risks are inconclusive?

      Laughlyn wrote on November 26th, 2013
  8. This is a very interesting debate. Like you said, both sides make valid points. I am also torn, being a native californian, but having an ag degree from a great CO school and being friends with numerous farmers. I really appreciate you taking an unbiased approach and aiming to educate not persuade your readers either way.

    Merky wrote on October 17th, 2012
    • I agree; this is one of the most balanced posts I’ve seen on prop 37.

      jpatti wrote on October 17th, 2012
    • Thanks for the link to the artical. I agree that it was informative and unbiased. My big concern is the unintended consequences. Such as Lawyers gone wild. Being from CA, litigation opportunity is always abused and in OC we have as many lawyers as real estate agents. I’m not paleo yet but this conversation is important. An informed public is a good thing but what can we do about all the damn lawyers?

      Kathie Sotelo wrote on October 17th, 2012
  9. Great article. I prefer to air on the side of caution. I agree that GMO’s should at the very least be labelled so that people can make their own choice.

    Metric wrote on October 17th, 2012
  10. The focus on GMOs is silly. As Dr. William Davis points out, the genetic modifications done using chemical and radiological mutation are no safer than genetically engineered modifications, and may well even be worse.

    Where’s the outrage against these products? Why aren’t they prohibited from using the Organic label?

    Dave Sill wrote on October 17th, 2012
    • “If you’re eating processed foods, however, even so called “healthy snacks,” you’ll likely be eating GMOs.” While most people consider the foods MDA listed it goes far further because their derivatives appear in almost all packaged products. Some derivatives from corn alone include: Corn syrup, corn oil, HFCS, maltodextrin, dextrose and corn starch. While most of these derivatives don’t appear in Primal/Paleo options, they are prevalent in the grocery store today and in those foods that your friends and family may still be consuming. If you consider pepperoni and other poor food meat options in the grocery stores, you will often find dextrose as an ingredient. Even white vinegar in US products in generally made from corn….And Dave is correct, this early genetic manipulation of wheat is just as scary. Eating wheat free certainly helps eliminate the modifications made to wheat. But what other foods are being treated with these chemical and radiological mutations? Does anyone really know how far that reach is in our food production?

      Mira & Jayson Calton wrote on October 17th, 2012
    • You’re not allowed to label radiologically mutated seeds as organic. That would be why there’s no outrage.

      Liz wrote on October 17th, 2012
  11. Mark-You asked if anyone knows if GMO fed animals affects the health of humans eating them. If you watched Genetic Roulette by Jeffrey Smith (of Seeds of Deception fame), you would learn that a decade before it was patented as a herbicide , glyphosate (Round-Up) was patented as a chelating agent. This means it latches onto and holds minerals like calcium, magnesium, zinc etc. and prevents the plant from absorbing those types of nutrients. It also prevents the animal from absorbing those same nutrients and if we consume the animal, or the glyphosate drenched plants, it may deprive us of those same micronutrients. BT toxin shows up in a Canadian study in 93% of the pregnant women’s blood from that study and 80% of their infants. No studies have yet been done to factor out if the toxin was from consumed foods, or if the BT gene somehow made it into the DNA of the women’s gut bacteria, thus setting up the gut biome to become a pesticide producing plant inside of us.
    I think I want some of those questions answered before I make my final decision on GMO’s. in the meantime, as you suggested, eating paleo and organic should keep you fairly safe.

    BJML wrote on October 17th, 2012
  12. Great piece, really gets to the heart of the matter. Love the quote from Hagelin, and love the fact that Primal eschews most GMO foods.

    Not to put too fine a point on it, but Monsanto is the devil.

    Finnegans Wake wrote on October 17th, 2012
    • Amen. The devil. And I would consider that a measured assessment..

      Anais wrote on October 17th, 2012
    • Pure evil, you hit the nail on the head!

      Vicki N. wrote on October 17th, 2012
    • I think the problem is, Monsanto is practically a monopoly. They went after Microsoft, and all they had a monopoly on was software, not our food!

      Aria wrote on October 17th, 2012
    • My Satan. Monsanto. My saint. Psychotic humans whose souls have been well and truly disconnected from the aether.

      Mad Am Flintstone wrote on October 17th, 2012
  13. “I’m not so worried about a fish gene being put into a tomato”

    Imagine the other way round. That would be something to worry about.

    Remember the cartoon Attack of the Killer Tomatoes? We may be in danger.

    brian wrote on October 17th, 2012
    • Where is my tomacco!?

      Paleo Bon Rurgundy wrote on October 17th, 2012
    • Piranhatoes!!

      Kitty =^..^= wrote on October 17th, 2012
    • Tomackerel!

      Lady Grok wrote on October 17th, 2012
      • I would eat that; it’s sounds delicious!

        ajt wrote on October 17th, 2012
    • There ARE Frankenfish–genetically modified salmon that reach market size in 1 year instead of 3-5… Which (I believe) have been approved for sale in the US.

      Charlayna wrote on October 24th, 2012
  14. Thanks for a common sense article on GMO’s. It’s a breath of fresh air compared to some of the more extremist, sky-is-falling websites that would have us believing there is nothing safe to eat.

    Shary wrote on October 17th, 2012
  15. Grass fed beef seems to be gaining in popularity, a handful of others raise their own non GMO grain for livestock feed, but a BUNCH of the livestock in the USA are currently being fed GMO grain. I wish more tests were done on cattle, pork, poultry, etc. that consume GMO grain verses those that do not. As Sisson pointed out… Research seems to show that grass fed beed & butter seems to be healthier anyway. Still it would be nice to know the impact that GMO’s have or do not have on people who eat the animals consuming GMO’s.

    T J wrote on October 17th, 2012
  16. Amen

    Anais wrote on October 17th, 2012
  17. That study is definitely nervous-making.

    There are a lot of things that can happen even when we don’t artificially splice DNA. Genetic factors that are increased and modified by traditional breeding programs can be dangerous too. You might want to track down the recent findings that microRNAs found in grains can regulate human LDL metabolism, if you haven’t written about it before. My plant geneticist pals say the microRNA involved is also linked to high yield. Here’s a starting point for the story but it spreads well beyond the initial finding.

    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=vitamins-minerals-and-microrna

    Cynthia wrote on October 17th, 2012
  18. The FDA has been involved in GMO coverups since the 1980s with the Show Benta company and their GM tryptophan (source: Jeffrey Smith).
    You can easily search the web to find info from Jeffrey Smith (Seeds of Deception) or Dr. Mercola’s website to find out more.

    Vicki N. wrote on October 17th, 2012
  19. “GMO diet rats died earlier and in greater numbers.”
    That’s just not true. There was 1 control group and 6 GMO/Roundup groups. Some GMO diet groups fared better than the control, some worse. The worse ones are the ones the author paid close attention to, and he said nothing about the others, which had a longer lifespan than the control, and the rats which lived longer than average weren’t even included in the analysis. The rats used in the study were an inbred line genetically inclined to developing cancer, so that was just a matter of statistical abberations. There was no trend showing any danger of GMO. And, moreover, all the rats which died were euthanised so that the researcher could influence death rates at any given period of time. Not that it helped him to justify his claims in any way.
    Also, I’ve heard there were both longer and larger studies, at least in Russia, which showed no danger in GMO, they are just not so well known among general public.

    Unfortunately, it’s the “sensational” statistically incorrect studies like this one that shape the public opinion on the matter.

    facedancer wrote on October 17th, 2012
    • Avery short Youtube film made by the research team shows a graph of the rats’deaths – it is noticeable that for almost all the test groups, tumours occurred at a much younger age than the controls. Their tumours also grew much larger. Rats only had to be euthanised because their tumours grew so large that they were the size at which it is standard practice to euthanise them. This didn’t happen for any of the controls – their tumours were much smaller. There is detailed information about this research on the GM Watch website.
      The rats used were Sprawley rats, the same type of rats used by Monsanto in their original 3 month long research. So if they were the wrong rats in the recent research, they were also the wrong rats in Monsanto’s own research, which had declared the corn safe. Interestingly, in the recent study, the first tumour in the GM fed rats occurred after 4 months. The usual length of research by industry has been 3 months.
      One has to at least wonder if this could have been a reason for choosing 3 months as the standard length of studies, so as not to find any health problems.

      Perhaps you could give us a link the the Russian research if it exists? The only Russian research I am familiar with is the independent study that found that almost all hamsters became totally sterile after 3 generations of being fed GM food.

      Liz wrote on October 17th, 2012
      • That’s population control right there huh Liz. Neat. My husband and I recently realised we should keep our mouths firmly closed when it came to vegetarianism/veg*nism too, because there is a reason for it. We may not like the reason. We may want to appeal to friends better judgement and the bigger picture. What a bind.

        Mad Am Flintstone wrote on October 17th, 2012
        • More like extinction of the human race if the same happened to humans!

          Liz wrote on October 17th, 2012
      • PS The hamsters fed non-gm food didn’t become sterile.

        Liz wrote on October 17th, 2012
      • That Russian study reminds me of ‘Children of Men’ the roads we walk do take us somewhere. If it’s not the place we want to go we should choose a new road.

        -Tim

        Tim wrote on October 18th, 2012
      • I don’t say they are wrong rats, what I’m saying is that the interpretation of the results is deeply flawed. There were little rats in the control and many rats scattered among the GMO groups, so some GMO groups did naturally worse than control but the author gives no adjustment for the scale effect. If, say, there were a clearly visible linear trend the sizes and amounts of the groups would be alright, but there just isn’t any. Also, the information that doesn’t benefit the author like average lifespan in any group besides control is just not included in the text. It’s like he takes lots of measurements but only those that fit in his theory are published (like, months when the death rates were as he likes, or organs which to test for tumors — he tested almost all of the rat, but included only several cancer varieties in the resulting study). The level of significance of these results is negligible.
        I don’t have the link for the Russian research, I’ll look up where I found mentions of it. Biology is not my specialty, I studied maths.

        facedancer wrote on October 18th, 2012
        • “…what I’m saying is that the interpretation of the results is deeply flawed.”
          Couldn’t agree more! This study is what some people like Tom Naughton would probably call “bad science”. It just aimed at an emotional response with those photographs (usually there are no photos in serious studies) and they got it: “Look at those poor animals! It’s horrible! Look at what is awaiting us if we eat GMO food!”.
          I’m French and I can say that I am still in doubt as to the innocuity of GMO; but prejudiced “scientists” conducting biased studies will not get us nearer the truth about them.

          Raynote wrote on November 1st, 2012
      • Here are some links on research made by Nadezhda Tyshko:

        http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19514339
        http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19514340
        http://narod.ru/disk/62637020001.222f0aaf5c2c9cc3f719c9048d033334/3860142_gmo_feed_generations_studies_1.pdf.html

        She studied several generations of rats. The 2009 study included 1500 rats, the 2011 study 630 grown-up rats and 2837 youngs. But to be honest I don’t know whether the corn strain is the same as in Seralini research.

        facedancer wrote on October 18th, 2012
      • All in all, I fail to see why GM-foods should be treated any differently from other varieties. Selection and hybridization is not a gentle process either and often includes unpreditable mutation-inducing activities.
        As for food labeling, I agree that all the foods should have information about possibly allergenic and harmful substances included but I don’t really care if they are GM or “old-school”.

        facedancer wrote on October 18th, 2012
      • I don’t know anything about a hamster study. Was it a study made by Ermakova? She is a well-known science freak and no one takes her seriously except gutter press.

        facedancer wrote on October 18th, 2012
  20. Did I miss in your article that Monsanto had to get a patent on their GM corn seed under pesticide? You can’t patent food produced by nature.

    If you think about it, when an insect or worm eats the GM corn, they die – why, because they ingest a killing pesticide.

    Lel wrote on October 17th, 2012
    • thank you! i appreciate the article, but can’t believe one word didn’t indicate WHY ‘they’ want to produce gmos in the first place. feed the world? i don’t think so. look at the track record of biotech companies. they want to sell more chemicals, and perhaps in the process control the entire human food supply. hm, should i choose the plant that makes the insect’s stomach explode, or the one that doesn’t? even though we choose to eat primally, isn’t anyone concerned what these companies are doing to the less fortunate in our world, who don’t have internet access or the ability to look up different studies and their effects? these foods are being forced onto an unknowing population, and that’s the real crime. one we haven’t seen before in history.

      adriane wrote on October 17th, 2012
      • I agree!!

        Yvonne wrote on October 17th, 2012
      • Sometimes I wonder if its the grains themselves that are positioning to rule the world, not people.

        They have us turning them into the master-monocrop, impervious to everything. Amber waves of it, from coast to coast. Nothing else will be allowed to survive. In turn they feed us up but at the same time weakening and fattening us.

        Staff of life? Hardly. I’m starting to think of it as a whip over our backs.

        Kevin wrote on October 17th, 2012
        • “Amber waves of grain” ? It used to be before the geneticists got hold of it. It’s now a stocky 2ft plant with enhanced yield & easy harvest. Never tested on humans. Causes mega damage & should not be part of our diet – which, of course, it isn’t for some of us, is it? We can do something about grains in not eating them. Other GMOs though, that scares me some. I was thinking; no-one really has the right to mess with our food supply, do they? It’s quite criminal to my mind.

          Robin wrote on October 30th, 2012
  21. 50 other countries label these foods and some ban them as well. I do not want my children to be guinea pigs for biotech. Watch Genetic Roulette: http://geneticroulettemovie.com/

    Free to view through today, and don’t by the lies of the biotech companies – they are spending a million dollars a day to confuse voters – vote YES on Prop 37 if you’re a CA voter. :-)

    Sheri wrote on October 17th, 2012
  22. Years of GMO’s in agriculture. Years of pesticide herbicide use. Years of chemical dosing the atmosphere. Years of ocean pollution. Years of toxic vaccinations.
    Mom Nature is trying to prevail ” life finds a way “. Natural selection vs artificial mutations.
    I’d like to bow out of being part of the one big petri dish experiment.

    humanexperiment wrote on October 17th, 2012
  23. Dear Mark,

    Re: Topic of GMO-fed animals consumed by humans is addressed in a new movie I just saw, ‘Genetic Roulette': http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vv96D_ZURzs. Well done, and super informative.

    Love your site – our family has been Primal for three years now (and my previously severe allergies are now all gone – thank you!!)

    Michelle Fisher wrote on October 17th, 2012
  24. Californians! If you want to see labeling of GMOs, vote yes on prop 37.

    Many of the GMO crops now produce pesticide constantly. Insects die when they eat it. Are you so sure it’s harmless when YOU eat it? Also consider paleo eaters may not always be safe in the future. They are working on GMO tubers like potatoes as well as GMO rice and other crops and they are working on GMO animals!! Paleos can’t sit and assume we are safe.

    Remember that science behind “GMOs are safe” is likely no better than the science behind “Wheat is good for you.” When science is done only by the product owners, it’s really not science, it’s advertising. They do small test studies, find the parameters needed to not find any harm, and do their research accordingly. They are looking to NOT find any problem and they are careful not to find it. Then they can say ‘no evidence was found’ of any harm. Of course, by law they are not required to do ANY safety testing at all!! They can just make this stuff and feed it to you without any studies whatsoever. Anyone who DOES find harm is fired or bought out quickly, their evidence buried, etc. Top researchers in their fields have lost tenure and fired ONLY for doing research showing GMOS are unsafe. Thus other researchers are scared silent. I personally don’t want to be the human test subject, thank you very much, especially knowing that Monsanto is not concerned with my health or what is right and fair, only their bottom line. I think we all have the right to know what is in our food, even those who do not spend weeks, months, years researching food and health, so I am voting yes on 37. I do not think they should be sneaking GMOs into our food. Asking for a label is not much. Give the people the right to choose!

    Eva wrote on October 17th, 2012
  25. I recently watched http://geneticroulettemovie.com/

    It made me very sad!!!

    In January I broke out in hives and had hives for 8 1/2 months. testing reveled I was allergic to corn and milk. I have been eating paleo for the past 2 1/2 months and eliminated all the offeding foods and my hives have disappered. Is it because of GMO’s???? I believe it is.

    shajorah wrote on October 17th, 2012
  26. In November California voters will consider Proposition 37 to establish if they wish to require labeling of food products containing GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms).
    Monsanto provides most GMO seeds which include Roundup Ready (RR) soy, corn, canola, sugar beets and more. Many RR crops are genetically engineered to survive insects and spraying with Roundup herbicide during weed abatement efforts.
    Monsanto asserts that GMO laden food requires no labeling because ‘they have not been proven to be harmful’. Industry insiders, the FDA, EPA .et al remain so infused with employees from each other’s organizations that consumer safeguards are severely compromised. Example: The FDA recruited Michael Taylor, a Monsanto attorney, to manage the creation of its GMO policy, a policy in effect today that empowers biotechnology companies to establish if their GMOs are nontoxic. Taylor then departed the FDA to become Monsanto’s vice president.

    Since the introduction of GMOs in the 1990s rates of autism, allergies, obesity, cancer and assorted health issues have soared. There is no definitive proof indicting GMOs; nevertheless the biotechnology industry is circumventing labeling that would facilitate the necessary research. Why? Is there a stench here reminiscent of tobacco companies?

    Independent research and case studies raise alarms worldwide. Many RR GMO crops have genes inserted into their DNA structure that manufactures an insect-killing toxin known as Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) in every plant cell; insects ingest the plant and poison tears open their stomach to exterminate them. Bt produced from soil bacteria has been employed by organic farmers as a spray for natural insect control for decades. The primary distinction here is that Bt-toxin in GMO plants is thousands of times more potent than Bt spray and can never be washed off the plant prior to eating like the spray version. Despite industry assurances to the contrary, several studies confirm that the GMO Bt toxin survives the human digestive process as well; one study reveals that the gene inserted into GM soy transfers into the DNA of our intestinal bacteria to function in our gut as a living pesticide factory [Nature Biotechnology 2004]. In May 2011, the Canadian journal Reproductive Toxicology published a study revealing the following: 93% of the pregnant women they tested had Monsanto’s corn derived Bt-toxin in their blood; 80% of their unborn fetuses did as well. Autism related? Again there is uncertainty.
    The American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) recently warned physicians “to educate their patients, the medical community, and the public to avoid GM foods when possible….,”further stating “Several animal studies indicate serious health risks associated with GM food,” including infertility, immune problems and gastrointestinal issues, concluding that “There is more than a casual association between GM foods and adverse health effects. There is causation.”

    Ohio allergist Dr. John Boyles asserted “…now that soy is genetically engineered, it is so dangerous that I tell people never to eat it.” Salk Institute biologist David Shubert cautions that “children are the most likely to be adversely effected by toxins and other dietary problems” related to GM foods. In March 2006, Dr. Irina Ermakova from the Russian Academy of Sciences published a report to the European Congress of Psychiatry disclosing that rats and their offspring fed GM soy displayed anxiety and aggression, while a control group fed non-GM soy failed to exhibit such aberrant behaviors. Similar health concerns prompted the American Medical Association on June 19, 2012 to call for mandatory pre-market safety testing of GMO foods.

    Why are we learning of such concerns now? Media intimidation – Monsanto’s lawyeristic bullying behind the scenes for decades.

    Before 1980, patent law did not apply to living organisms. Now farmers suffer bankruptcy after being devastatingly sued by Monsanto for cross-pollination of their non-GMO crops by neighboring GMO plants. Incredulous as it sounds, the exploitative use of patent law permitted Monsanto to successfully sue farmers for patent infringement, even though they never planted GMOs. The threat here is doubly apparent to organic farmers.

    Consumers currently enjoy rights to determine which foods contain MSG, dyes, artificial sweeteners, peanuts and other additives that they want to avoid. It must be our right, not Monsanto’s, to determine likewise with GMOs. Polls confirm that a majority of Americans desire this. Fifty countries, including China, Russia and the entire EU require GMO labeling, such labeling is not costly, but impending TV ads from Monsanto will endeavor to persuade you otherwise, much like Monsanto’s costly propaganda campaign to defeat Oregon’s 2002 GMO labeling measure.

    Tony Favero
    Freelance Writer and Researcher
    Half Moon Bay, Ca

    Tony Favero wrote on October 17th, 2012
    • A statistic: according to a newspaper more than half of Canadians are diabetic.

      Animanarchy wrote on October 17th, 2012
      • I’ve also read that after three generations of cats living on kibble the line becomes sterile.

        Animanarchy wrote on October 17th, 2012
        • The big push to spay all female dogs is partly due to a supposed reduction in mammary tumors. The only explanation I can find is that spaying supposedly reduces an overload of cancer-causing estrogen in unspayed dogs. Based on this article, I now have to wonder if the real culprit is the crappy grain-based diets most people feed their pets.

          Shary wrote on October 24th, 2012
    • Wow, I had no idea about the Bt toxin. I thank my lucky stars I live in Australia. I am not sure of the laws, but there are plenty of products labelled as GMO free on the shelves, not that I buy them. There has been a case that has gone to court about cross contamination between a conventional farmers GM canola and his organic farming neighbor in Western Australia, not sure of the outcome. For me it’s the potential of super weeds, the the incursion of these weeds onto my land. I also feel sad at how these big multinationals are screwing over subsistence farmers, not allowing them to store seed for the next crop and having to pay royalties for the crop they have grown. I feel that this mass population wide uncontrolled experiment will end in tears, and we can only educate our kids in the hope of effecting change at a non GMO grass roots level.
      Cheers

      Heather wrote on October 17th, 2012
      • Same here, I also live in Australia and see many foods labelled GMO free. There are also a lot of grass fed animals in Australia, I know as I have farmed animals and worked on large scale farms where all of the livestock were grass fed, particularly in Tasmania and where I am now in northern NSW, livestock only finished on non GMO crops like oats and lucerne /pasture mixes.
        I agree that we are entitled to informed choice with everything in our lives, it is a free world, is it not?
        Does that make Monsanto and food giants dictators, I think so.

        Lynn McNair wrote on October 17th, 2012
    • Great info, where were your sources derived? I’d love to be able to share it on is all.

      Kelly wrote on October 17th, 2012
  27. The other issue with GMO foods is it’s solving a problem caused or exacerbated by industrial agriculture and the need for one company to reap more profits. We don’t need GMO foods. We need saner farming practices.

    Diane wrote on October 17th, 2012
    • +1

      BillP wrote on October 17th, 2012
  28. I am not going to say the sky is falling per se, but I will note the increasing prevalence of leaky gut and food intolerances. Of late, the media and some friends and family seem to have decided gluten-free is a fad and that food intolerance only exists in true celiacs. This is disheartening to someone with a healing leaky gut who gets hives, migraines, and feels like she’s been hit by a bus if she eats an offending food off a long list. Logic tells me that if a food is altered to make it more weather, pest, or chemical resistant, it would also likely be more difficult for humans to digest. Is it possible GMO food has made us more prone to food intolerances as the proteins may be bigger, sturdier, and thus more likely to get through the gut wall?

    Ms. Zing wrote on October 17th, 2012
    • Exactly! Spot on! And don’t you think that the increase in gut related illnesses is how our bodies are telling us not to eat these foods? If an animal eats something that makes it sick, it stops eating it…humans not so much!

      Tania wrote on October 17th, 2012
      • Agreed, Tania! We seem to be getting sicker and sicker without mainstream medicine and nutrition ever really questioning why, at least not audibly.

        Ms. Zing wrote on October 18th, 2012
  29. Products with the USDA ORGANIC label are not allowed to contain GMOs. How much of a guarantee that is…who knows.

    Toni Patrick wrote on October 17th, 2012
    • Actually, pretty sure they are allowed to contain at least some… Go to your USDA Organic foods and look for Carageenan. That is GMO seaweed extract. Known to cause intestinal inflammation.

      James wrote on October 23rd, 2012
  30. Jurassic Park reference — YES!

    Amy wrote on October 17th, 2012
    • “…. Clever girl.”

      Kevin wrote on October 17th, 2012
  31. So if a produce is labeled organic, does it mean it is not GMO?

    V wrote on October 17th, 2012
    • In order for something to be labeled Organic is must be grown in a place that has not had any herbicides, pesticides or fertilizers for 5+ years. The plant stock can not be GMO. It, the plant, must occur in nature on its own.

      Christine Dennis wrote on October 17th, 2012
      • I wonder about “wild” blueberries. They’re sold in huge amounts and so is their juice. You can find them at just about any grocery store. How is the supply maintained? I find it incredulous that people are able to go out in the wild and pick that many blueberries consistently.

        Animanarchy wrote on October 17th, 2012
  32. Yeah I bet Michael Taylor, the chief commissioner of foods at the FDA and former VP @ Monsanto, will “protect” us from dangerous food….so long as his paychecks are protected.
    I also think Santa and the Easter Bunny are real.
    Thank you for the article, Mark. Amazing the greed and corruption.
    Grok on,
    Christine

    Christine Dennis wrote on October 17th, 2012
    • Well Said Christine!! So so sad!!

      Yvonne wrote on October 17th, 2012
  33. There’s an organic farmer in Australia whose crop was contaminated from a neighbor’s GMO field. He is suing the neighbor. http://stevemarshbenefitfund.com.au/

    ValerieH wrote on October 17th, 2012
  34. Personally, I want to know any time someone or something has changed what I am about to eat from its original form. Because any time that happens, it’s going to affect me in a negative way. Even though it may not be detectable, every variant is going to affect me on a cellular level, the exact same level where cancer begins.

    Dr. Mark wrote on October 17th, 2012
    • Cows, sheep, pigs have all been bred away from their original forms of aurochs, mouflon and boar. (And just as well, imagine trying to farm wild boar!)

      Similarly, modern breeds of apples, bananas, peppers, oranges are all very different from their wild cousins.

      Therefore the idea that it is harmful any time something is changed from its “original form” just doesn’t fit the facts.

      Tim wrote on October 17th, 2012
  35. The city I live in has banned GMO produce being grown here, to prevent the organic farmers from being cross contaminated with the GMO’s being grown around them. It’s a start. After watching Food Inc, I also agree that basically Monsanto owns the wheat industry in the USA. Up here in Canada it’s not quite as bad, but getting there, as most of our grain products are GMO.

    Trish

    Trish wrote on October 17th, 2012
  36. Government crop insurance encourages grain production for the benefit of Cargil, ADM, and Monsanto. Without the insurance the GMO grain market would evaporate.
    http://www.usda.gov/documents/FEDERAL_CROP_INSURANCE.pdf

    DRK wrote on October 17th, 2012
  37. Another issue to keep in mind is that the law relating to these GMO strains makes it very difficult for the organic farmers we support. The issue being that this science is so new (relatively) and long lasting effects unknown, and in many cases the harm is not reversible. Canadian law seen below shows how a corporation like Monsanto can use classic legal doctrines to avoid the inevitable damaging effects of their GMOs. Those of us following a primal diet still need to care about the long term effects of GMOs if only for their prevalence (and potential contamination) around our own food sources.

    [10] … the appellants and other organic grain farmers suffered financial losses as a result of the introduction and commercial use of Roundup Ready and Liberty Link canola. More particularly, the statement of claim alleges that these strains of genetically modified canola, which are open-pollinating, inevitably find their way onto their fields, thus preventing them from producing and marketing organically grown canola, and putting them to extra expense in producing other organically grown crops.
    [63] As for the causes of action in nuisance and trespass, and again by way of brief elaboration, we agree with Justice Smith that they lack proper foundation and do not, therefore, provide a plausible basis for supposing the defendants [Monsanto] might be liable on the bases of these torts. The defendants are not alleged to have grown Roundup Ready and Liberty Link canola. Rather, they are alleged to have made these varieties of canola seed available to farmers who then grew it on their own lands, which is to say on lands occupied or controlled by them not the defendants. As Justice Smith noted: “The implications of holding a manufacturer, or even inventor, liable in nuisance for damage caused by the use of its product or invention by another would be very sweeping indeed.”

    Judgment found: http://canlii.org/en/sk/skca/doc/2007/2007skca47/2007skca47.pdf

    Dianna wrote on October 17th, 2012
  38. Hubs and I eat mostly grass fed organic bison at home, for the past several years (From North Star Bison in WI)… last spring as part of a fund raiser we bid on and won 31lbs of local beef- we were told it was grass fed, grain finished. Of course only after we won the bid did we find out the details… grain finished is an understatement. How about grass started for a day then grain the rest of their lives. Anyway, we absolutely could feel the difference after a handful of meals made with this meat. Not sure if they’re fed GMO grains or not, but I would bet so. Just my 2 cents :)

    Geri wrote on October 17th, 2012
  39. Who stands to gain by GMOs not being labelled? – probably only the GM companies. When people realise how little research has been done into the effects on humans of eating GM food, and how most of what has been done has been only about 3 months long, how the GM companies haven’t had to publish any research if it didn’t show favourable results, they may not want to buy it. While they don’t realise it’s there, people keep buying. If it’s not labelled we can’t know what adverse reactions people get short term or long. We can take the attitude that by eating Paleo we are OK, but this is a short term solution. The GM companies will almost certainly be genetically modifying many other foodstuffs as fast as they can, so they can earn even more from the patents, and it will in future very likely affect paleo foods. meanwhile, Grok on indeed!

    Liz wrote on October 17th, 2012
  40. All part of Agenda 21 folks. Depopulisation via cancers & sterility.
    TOTAL EVIL – DO YOUR HOMEWORK!

    Hugh wrote on October 17th, 2012

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