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Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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October 17 2012

Should You Worry About Genetically Modified Food?

By Mark Sisson
281 Comments

A 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!

TAGS:  big agra, GMO

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281 thoughts on “Should You Worry About Genetically Modified Food?”

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

      1. 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!)

        1. 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

        2. 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. 🙂

      2. 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.

        1. 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.

        2. 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 🙂

        3. 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.

        4. 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.

        5. 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.

        6. 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.

      3. 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.

    1. 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….

      1. 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.

        1. 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

        2. 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.

        3. 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.

        4. “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.

    2. And anything with any kind of corn syrup or soybean oil in it probably contains GMOS

  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.

    1. 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.

    2. 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 🙁

      1. 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!

        1. 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? 🙂

      2. 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.

    3. The answer is to steal the seeds you research.
      Then you can only be charged with petty larceny, not sued for breach of contract.

      1. 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.

    4. 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

      1. 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.

        1. Too bad they can’t sue Monsanto for ruining their crops by contamination. That is what is happening after all.

        2. 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!

        3. ^^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.

        4. 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.

    5. If you haven’t already, take the time to watch “Genetic Roulette” on youtube. It’s a real eye opener.

  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.

    1. i agree with matt- I would love to live this way- dang cement city

      1. 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.

      2. 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.

        1. 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.

    2. Agreed! If EVERYONE relied less on these large companies, at some point they wouldn’t be able to function anymore.

      1. 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.

        1. Geeze, glad you live way out back, as you sound very unpleasant.

    3. 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!

      1. 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>>>

    4. 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.

  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.

    1. 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.

      1. 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!

        1. 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.

        1. 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!”)

        2. 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.

        3. 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?

      2. 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!

      3. 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.

        1. 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!

      4. 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.

  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.

    1. 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.

      1. 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.

        1. 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.

        2. 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.

    2. So… there are restrictions that PREVENT people from labeling food as NOT GMO? I don’t even understand how that is posssible!

      1. 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.

      2. 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.

    3. 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.

  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!

    1. If you liked Food Inc, check out the following documentaries: Fresh (similar to Food Inc) and Ingredients. I loved Ingredients.

      1. 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.

  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!

    1. 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?

      1. 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!

        1. 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.

      2. 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!

      3. 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.

    2. 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!

    3. 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?

  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.

    1. 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?

  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.

  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?

    1. “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?

    2. You’re not allowed to label radiologically mutated seeds as organic. That would be why there’s no outrage.

  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.

  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.

    1. Amen. The devil. And I would consider that a measured assessment..

    2. 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!

    3. My Satan. Monsanto. My saint. Psychotic humans whose souls have been well and truly disconnected from the aether.

  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.

    1. 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.

  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.

  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.

  16. 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

  17. 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.

  18. “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.

    1. 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.

      1. 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.

        1. More like extinction of the human race if the same happened to humans!

      2. 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

      3. 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.

        1. “…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.

      4. 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.

      5. 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”.

      6. 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.

  19. 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.

    1. 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.

      1. 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.

        1. “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.

  20. 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. 🙂

  21. 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.

  22. 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!

  23. 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.

  24. 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

    1. A statistic: according to a newspaper more than half of Canadians are diabetic.

      1. I’ve also read that after three generations of cats living on kibble the line becomes sterile.

        1. 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.

    2. 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

      1. 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.

    3. Great info, where were your sources derived? I’d love to be able to share it on is all.

  25. 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.

  26. 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?

    1. 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!

      1. Agreed, Tania! We seem to be getting sicker and sicker without mainstream medicine and nutrition ever really questioning why, at least not audibly.

  27. Products with the USDA ORGANIC label are not allowed to contain GMOs. How much of a guarantee that is…who knows.

    1. 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.

    1. 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.

      1. 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.

  28. 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

  29. 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.

    1. 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.

  30. 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

  31. 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

  32. 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 🙂

  33. 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!

  34. All part of Agenda 21 folks. Depopulisation via cancers & sterility.
    TOTAL EVIL – DO YOUR HOMEWORK!

  35. GMO’s have always scared me. Ever since I started researching them a few years back, I’ve been on a constant mission to let all my friends and family also know of the dangers. Thanks for the post Mark, it’s a goodie that I’ll definitely share with others 🙂

  36. I believe there is actually an increasing emergence of GMO fruit. Lots of research (engineering) on grapes….to save the vineyards in Napa from the ravages of global warming. Lots of research (engineering) on Apples!

    Don’t blame the government…enough already! Blame the corporations and their greedy executives and shareholders. Blame the money that’s allowed into politics….Citizens United was a complete game changer and now corporations rule like never before.
    Demand a change in government….get the corporations and lobbyist out of DC and out of every state capital!

    1. Why is it fair to criticize corporations for being greedy but not politicians and bureaucrats for being greedy and/or corrupt? The people who signed off on a Monsanto VIP being the FDA’s chief commissioner of food are just as bad as the people at Monsanto pushing and pulling to make that happen.

  37. To be brief and blunt: Anyone who can vote in California and cares about the present and future of our food supply would be STUPID not to vote YES on Prop 37 next month.

  38. I live up in the Great White North, in Richmond, British Columbia. This was passed less than 6 months ago, and while there was some outcry from the farmers that were growing GMO’s, it basically passed without too much public ranting. There’s now an attempt to ban shark fin soup, but that’s getting far more public outcry, as I live in the heart of the largest China town in North America.
    Trish

  39. I’m a northern Californian who will vote for Prop 37. It’s our right to know what we are putting into our bodies. Also, as goes California, there goes the entire US. It would be cost prohibitive to just make special labeling for CA., as we are a huge percentage of sales for the food industry. If Prop 37 passes you should expect all states to benefit from the labeling law.

  40. If you want to really learn about GMOs, watch the documentary “Genetic Roulette”. It’s free to watch on youtube – just google it.

  41. Why isn’t wheat on this list? Isn’t virtually all of the wheat grown around the world now GM dwarf wheat?

    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
    Potatoes and alfalfa – Unknown, but at least some are genetically modified.

    1. I believe there is some kind of loophole with wheat: they claim that the dwarf wheat was created through a hybridization process, rather than GM.

  42. Monsanto wants everything their way, if people get out of line they sue them or buy them :/ They say their “foods” are similar to other foods so they don’t require testing, yet they also say they are different and therefore are eligible for patents. Which is is? I’m sorry but I’m uncomfortable with eating food that has NO testing whatsoever.
    Also there have been some studies done in Europe (where GMO IS labelled) and the studies are just pushed out my Monsanto’s lawyers. I watched a documentary about GMO where European pig farmers fed their pigs GMO corn/soy and the pigs couldn’t conceive. Once they switched the pigs diets to non-GMO within 6 months they were fine and reproducing again. However they cannot say it’s the GMO foods because Monsanto will sue their ass!
    How about in the LAND OF THE FREE we get to choose what we eat?

  43. We are GE free here in New Zealand. However, the supermarkets are full of imported foods that may or may not have GMOs but without labeling there is no way to tell. So the best way to avoid GMOs here is to eat Primally and avoid imported food.

    I fully support labeling. In my (not so humble) opinion to not label is underhanded, unethical and arrogant. People have the right to choose.

    1. Kitty. You’re dreamin’ buddy. GMO’s are rampant. Everywhere.

    2. And the people who put out products, do they have a right to choose? That is the beauty if true choice – either it applies to everyone invoked in an issue or it doesn’t.

      If “people have the right to choose” then people have a right to choose to label or not label, just as we have the choice to eat a product or not eat it. Sadly, this seems lost on people these days. Choice only applies to the people who can muster enough populous support for taking the choice away from others. We lament how supposedly evil others are for making choices we don’t like but turn a blind eye to our doing of the same,

      The ends do not justify the means. A solid case can, and has, been made that much of our current diet is due to well meaning but ultimately bad choices to force or coerce a nation along a path of specific diet structure. We should be extra vigilant that we do not repeat this mistake.

  44. Horizontal gene transfer is the passing of a gene to another species. It was established that this was happening 7-8 years ago. In particular, a British study found that the gene from GM corn was passed to the intestinal bacteria of people who ate one meal of GM corn (this was back when it had recently come on the market). Since our intestinal flora have a huge impact on our health, this is serious. Alo note, this is not passing from corn to rye, this is from corn to bacteria. How close to us does the organism have to be to pass directly to Humans?
    The old mechanism of inserting the gene into the nucleus of an egg or gamete w/ micropipettes is too cumbersome to be used anymore. The genes are now “shot” into the organisms w/ little air guns. And how does the gene insert itself into the target genome? It’s attached to a portion of DNA matching the target organism, which is patched into a virus (usually a plant virus , but they will probably use animal viri for animal mods.)
    What this means is that not only is the modified organism a new form of life, but the gene/virus itself is a new, independent form of life capable of independently propagating into other species. This includes soil bacteria, so that a whole field may become GM permanently.

  45. Look into this. Scott, the makers of Miracle Grow have GMO grass coming to a lawn near you. It is Round Up resistant.
    That’s a potential big threat to grass fed meat.

  46. Just a side note : the cafeteria at Monsanto’s research facility where the scientists eat boycotted to have it serve only
    GMO free foods. That has to say something…

  47. It seems there are some legitimate concerns about the method of the study, the validity of the findings and the impartiality of the researchers involved. New Scientist magazine had this brief analysis. http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn22287-study-linking-gm-crops-and-cancer-questioned.html

    None of this detracts in any way from the criticisms of the business practices of GM companies and certainly doesn’t negate the need for clear labelling so consumers can make their own choices.

  48. I buy my beef 100% grass fed from a local place. Tastes better and its so much more tender than grain fed beef.

  49. so instead of pesticides, why not let the farmers go back to burning their fields. It was way cheaper and better for the environment–the by-product was smoke, which is far less harmful. Current laws make it nearly impossible to fieldburn and permits are so much more expensive than chemicals.

  50. I saw on the news that here in New Zealand they’ve been able to genetically modify a cow to produce milk that those with milk-allergies can drink…just one thing, the scientists couldn’t explain why the cow didn’t grow a tail.

    Although I don’t have a tail, the risk of something else (more important) falling off, is reason enough to not go anywhere near it’s milk or meat hahaha

  51. Ha! I’m glad I’m not the only one who heard a snarky mathematician’s voice preach Chaos theory. Crichton left big shoes behind 🙁 — I can just imagine the novel he would have delivered: a “well meaning” billionaire named Will Bates decides reducing the world’s population by 2 billion will prevent climate change. His millions pumped into alternative vaccine delivery methods and human sterilization solutions take a turn for the worse when the technology is seized by a greedy chemical company…

  52. I really appreciated a well-tempered, balanced article that presented the evidence as it stands and raised concerns for future consideration. I happen to agree that just because it’s GMO doesn’t mean it’s bad. Humans have been tampering with food forever, and this is just the next step in the process.

    As for Monsanto, I get it. They’re evil. They are the devil incarnate. But who is REALLY doing something about it? I can sit there and watch another documentary, read another book, see another news report, and mildly adjust my ways accordingly, and that’s great. But for everyone who is talking like GMOs are the zombie food apocalypse, who is doing something about it?

    1. Me and my family. Packing up and bailing the city to grow our own.

    2. If you get that they’re evil you should report it to everybody…. but meanwhile, quit the system and grow your own food. If you do not allow it to get contaminated by GMO pollen you will have a solution. Google “The seed savers’ handbook” to know how to avoid contamination.

  53. The control group size is within OECD guidelines, but only technically. Seralini was running 3 different experiments and using the same minimum control for one. He also used an animal model famous for getting tumors – in most countries his experiment would not have been allowed for animal cruelty reasons because the rats were going to get tumors after 2 years 70% of the time, regardless of feed.

    That said, thanks for caring about the science. It’s good that people are discussing this and thinking critically.

    1. To reiterate, the rats were the ones which are used as standard in toxicology studies – Monsanto used them too for their very brief studies – too short to show any increase in health problems. See earlier posts.

      1. The process of introducing a foreign gene into seeds for for gm crops is described in the Report “GMO Myths and Truths” co-written by an eminent genetic scientist, and available to read free on the internet. It describes how each gene is responsible for a number of effects – not just the effect that the gm companies are seeking to produce. It also describes how the methods used can lead to unstable results – it’s not an exact process, and can lead to toxicity and allergies.

        Animals are used for testing new drugs. And as unpleasant as it is to use animals for testing, if we don’t, then humans are the lab rats for gm food instead, as they are already. If food isn’t labelled, we can’t know what effects are caused by eating gm food.

      2. I understand other studies but using them for this study was a crippling error. That Monsanto used them for a shorter study is not the issue, the issue is that 70% of those rats were going to get tumors after two years regardless.

        The study is so flawed that because one group only had 50% cancer it could be argued GM food made male rats safer at 2 years. I assume that is not the argument the Seralini group wanted to make.

    2. Seralini used 20 rats per group, so twice the number required. Monsanto only used 10.

  54. Why, on that list of GMO foods did you leave off the hybridized wheat which is everywhere? It needs to be repeated often and firmly that the current 18 inch wheat isn’t anything like it used to be and poses significant threats. And, it was and has never been evaluated.

  55. I think really doesn’t exist evidence to freak out about GMO foods. There’s a lot of more important things to care about in optimizing health.

    Anyway, there’s positive effects caused by GMO foods, at least in theory or in the future: less pesticides, bigger productivity, and we’re going to badly need all of these to sustain the world population AND to degrade less the environment.

    1. I think the positive benefits are what are known as “blue skies thinking”. So far they haven’t materialised. meanwhile there are agro-ecological methos producing real increases in yield, and being more drought tolerant. Why not concentrate on these?

      1. the gains of a technology aren’t linear. why to abandon this new technology that is just in its start? I can imagine people thinking it was blue skies thinking the flying machines created by Santos Dumont and the Wright brothers would have practical uses.

        1. The lonterm INDEPENDENT safety studies need to be done first before wasting money on researching more new gm foods.

  56. We have to bear in mind that some people who post on ordinary sites like this, may actually be posting on behalf of the GM industry, with the ulterior motive at present, of persuading people to vote against the labelling of GM foods, as California votes whether to have them labelled or not. These hidden influencers were highlighted in 2002, after it emerged that two apparently ordinary citizens posting messages criticising research unfavourable to GM were actually posting from an organisation called the Bivings Group, which specialises in internet lobbying – “persuading without being seen to persuade”, which had been employed by Monsanto, the biggest GM company. (George Monbiot “The Fake Persuaders”). The GM companies have multi-millions to spend on influence and even more money at stake, so it seems very likely that similar tactics will be being used now.

  57. Don’t have time to do the research?
    Watch “Food Incorporated”
    You will come away with an entirely different view
    of your supermarket, your government, and your food.

  58. I would like to see follow up studies on the health of (rats?) or other animals fed grass fed meat vs GMO fed meat. I see that Mark said that there is no evidence of problems, but again, this is such a new technology and those studies have not been done. I have to believe that those engineered DNA segments or the BT toxin gets incorporated somehow into the meat that we ultimately eat. I have been neatly having depression since watching Genetic Roulette. Just try to feed a family of 5 non-GMO food, it is a CHALLENGE. I haven’t been able to do it 100% yet. I have managed to eliminate all grains by eating primal, and the grains my kids still eat I make sure are organic, But the meat… that is tougher. do get grass fed beef for the family, but I haven’t found organic lunch meats or bacon yet. Its tough. I feel so sad that our food is so corrupted and that it is so hard to find good things. Thanks for reading my venting. Thanks Mark, keep it up!!!

  59. We live in a world that is growing in population and that population is increasingly urban so big agriculture is a necessary evil for our population to survive. Survival and optimum health are, however, two different areas of scale in terms of diet and food sources.

    Marketplace (APM/NPR) had a similair story this morning. My gut, hopefully non-leaking, tells me this is an issue of concern. Labelling appears to be a good decision to allow customers who choose to do so to refrain from GMO food products.

    1. Do you realize that ‘Marketplace’ on NPR is underwritten by Monsanto?

      Not surprising that they’d call big ag a ‘necessary evil’ and put it ahead of ‘optimum health’……

  60. I’m surprised by the # of you that are against labeling it. It is being done in 50 other countries without the repercussions you speak of. The average consumer can’t avoid them if they dont know that they are in the product. It WILL decrease GMO consumption.

    This crowd should understand how playing around with genes can have far worse consequences then increased pesticide use, super weeds and super bugs. It’s not a simple science where you change one gene… everything is connected and you don’t know what their doing. Feed lot animals have gotten sick, and infertile due to GMO foods. Which has caused some farmers to switch back. When they switch back and forth the changes are immediate. Then you have the farm workers in india getting allergies and other sickness working on GMO cotton. Not to mention all the n=1 from people switching off GMO and getting healthier.

    You can watch Genetic Roulette free all the time on you tube. Mark you missed a lot of the negatives and evidence. I’m surprised. I recommend watching:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wnlTYFKBg18

    1. A long video, but worth it. I am encouraged that as consumers, ‘we’ have been able to get rBGH out. The Tillamook Creamery Assn here in Oregon had an interesting go of it; some dairies not wanting to give it up, but economics finally tipped the scale. I totally agree that if GM is the panacea Monsanto says it is, go ahead and label it and be proud of it. I, for one, want to know if it’s there.

    2. “This crowd” has seen and recognized the effects of a government pushing a particular “nutrition” or “health” agenda, and we don’t like it. I would, expect a bit of leeriness from anyone familiar with this information of letting yet another agenda from government get going,

      Keep in mind you are asking the same agencies that push what we believe to be an unhealthy, deadly, and poisonous diet on an unsuspecting populace to get even further into the room. A story of a scorpion and a fox comes to mind.

      So what if other countries do it and you don’t see the effects? That doesn’t make it right. Nor does it apply to the U.S. which has a different legal environment.

      Ultimately I see the forced labeling as having the opposite effect allegedly intended. As Mark points out, good luck avoiding GM foods once the labeling is mandatory. The story of chicken little comes to mind here. When the populace sees nearly everything labelled GM and is being told it is bad, they’ll by and large conclude it isn’t worth the fuss and continue buying that food anyway.

      Labeling GM foods won’t make it easier to avoid, it will point out the difficulty of it.

  61. Mark-
    It is BECAUSE you always choose to NOT advise taking a definitive stand in either direction, on any subject, in the face of a lack of definitive research, that I choose to “follow” your recommendations for the subjects you DO suggest definitive stands against or for. Also, your frequent re-visiting of topics you already had a definitive stand for or against, to review new developments and research; as well as your willingness to CHANGE your previous stand if new information comes along that warrants such a change, egg-on-face be damned! I, for one, think egg-on-face is an awesome use of egg for us PBers:-). Ha!
    In all seriousness, we are all human and quality research into almost all health topics regarding nutrition, minerals, herbs, etc. are severely underrepresented and lacking. All anyone can do is look at a particular subject and review it’s value independently, then review any studies and data that does exist, and make an educated choice based on circumstantial evidence (for the most part). Any subject that contains a slew of shady supporters, lack of independent studies, and almost all data available being published by those that stand to benefit in some way from promoting the product, is subject to intense scrutiny as far as I’m concerned. I know that almost ANY American, regardless of choice of lifestyle or “diet”, applies that principal to any other subject matter; why should the matters concerning our health, vitality, and well-being be any different? It shouldn’t! Those matters should be scrutinized even MORE. None of us purchase or get behind the wheel of a vehicle without at least HAVING AVAILABLE to us a million different studies, tests, user reports, deficiency lists, safety rating, etc., whether we choose to read them or not. The nourishment we place into our mouth to fuel our bodies with immediately and long-term should be no less rigorously studied, with BETTER requirements for independent studies! Since this (sadly AND ironically) is NOT the case, the best method is the tried and true one of sticking with what HASN’T been killing human for thousands of years-naturally occurring fruits, herbs, and vegetables, unmodified in any way, and the animal products that consume the same for their nourishment.
    I can’t always afford grass-fed and finished beef and other natural and organic meats, but I certainly do get the “best of the lesser quality” when necessary. When I can’t get meat from a local farmer, I buy chicken that has a “vegetarian” diet and no hormones and steroids; I stock up most of this type when it’s about to reach its sell-by date and is heavily discounted and stock the freezer with it. It’s not the BEST, but it is superior to the $.99 per pound chicken legs in bulk. This works well to fill in the gaps, without compromising every health variable I am attempting to protect. The key there is that the chicken IS labeled. We should all have the right to know what our food consists of.
    Of course, I am not so naive to say GMO is a complete waste. If I lived in Ethiopia right now, I would eat the corn even if I knew it was GMO, because surviving immediate starvation is more pressing than surviving potential cancer 60 years down the road. However, I would STILL want the information and to make that choice knowingly And as an American, I actually consider it a violation of our rights as consumers to NOT have this information readily available to us; if not on packaging, then a comprehensive onions resource of all products currently for sale using GMOs. SOMETHING!
    Anyway, removing self from soapbox. Phew-I suppose I really needed to get all that out of my system or something! I had no idea I had such vehement feelings on the subject! my point to all this is DON’T STOP doing what you do! If you suddenly started forming definitive stances on everything (proof be damned), where in the HECK would I turn for my objective, handy, translated to layperson, comprehensive, Op-Ed with links so conveniently embedded to review the materials myself?!?!?! The one thing that will always be is SOMEONE that knows more than someone else and, therefore; criticizes. They just need a real good spanking with some of those GMO pesticide-laden, superbug-infested corn stalks and you are just the person to make it happen! Ha!

  62. I live in the land of where gmo corn and soybeans are exclusively grown. It was a bright spot, though, when I heard that the local National Wildlife Preserve was ONLY planting non-gmo corn for the wildlife–apparently it’s a mandate.

  63. Danish pig farmers report birth defects when the sows are fed GM soy. Turns out it’s from Roundup residue, not the soy itself. This could be the real danger.

  64. I was blown away by this: The World According to Monsanto, a film made by a French independent journalist Marie-Monique Robin. Just as everyone should see “Food, Inc.” and “King Corn” and its follow-up documentary, “Big River” AND should read Lierre Keith’s “The Vegetarian Myth” 🙂 – EVERYONE should watch this documentary (are you listening, Mark :-):

    HER MONSANTO DOCUMENTARY (posted by Dr. Mercola on 6/18/12):

    http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2012/06/09/monsanto-roundup-found-to-be-carcinogenic.aspx?e_cid=20120609_DNL_art_1

    After watching this, I looked her up on Wiki. Wow. Have you heard of her?

    The documentary is…harrowing. I’m passing it on because I don’t want to be the only one of the people I know who has seen it.

    (FYI At 1:21:57 Marie-Monique Robin mentions and interviews the amazing physicist Vandana Shiva of India.)

  65. After reading so much about GMO’s, I have to wonder…when the GMO seeds and ground get watered, has anyone done a study on the nearby water supply and the fish? Also, what happens to the birds who used to help the farmer by eating the nearby insects? If there is so much GMO in cotton, are we at risk when we wear clothing made of it?

    It seems to me that GMO food used to be labeled when it first came out years ago. Why isn’t it labeled anymore? That way there wouldn’t be any question or problems with labeling something non GMO.

  66. I suggest checking out the Institute for Responsible Technology at http://www.responsibletechnology.org/.
    Jeffrey Smith and his group have linked to several studies and other articles of information. Even talking about reporters and researchers getting fired for talking about the truth. Or research findings that didn’t support what the company (Monsanto) wanted to be shown, i.e. safe GMOs. The law of unintended consequences…there is no true way to predict what gene expressions will be turned on or off and what will truly happen. Man really has limited understanding although he would like to convince one otherwise.

    I’ll stick with organic, pastured and grass-fed as much as possible. The DH and I are in the process of buying a home and have the large freezer (2) lined up and garden space planned in my mind. We also moved south for a longer growing season. So excited!!

  67. The food the animal eats does affect he consumer. I have an uncle that is allergic to corn, SEVERE anaphylactic reaction. If he eats beef that has been fed corn he still has a reaction.

  68. When you said that you didn’t think milk and meat from GMO fed animals affect the health of those who eat them, I would tend to be wary. I am so gluten sensitive that I can’t eat the meat of grain fed animals (even better quality ones from Whole Foods), or I have gluten problems and the arthritis in my hands gets really bad. So I’m thinking we react more to what animals are fed than it may be thought.

  69. Love the Jurassic park reference. 🙂

    I reread Jurassic Park about a year ago, and Michael Crichton was ranting about GMO’s in the beginning of the book. Jurassic Park was written 22 years ago. Amazing foresight.

  70. Do you homework folks. GMO’s are bad news and will result in cascading catastrophic failure in the food supply eventually. There is conclusive evidence much more then just the article cited. Nature took millions of years to create what works for our bodies and there is much more to it then just inserting genes… And GMO’s are far more prolific in our food then most people realize. Also with current law the label organic does not exclude GMO’s from that label.

  71. GMO Food – The Greatest Threat to Health in the History of Western Civilization

    Jeff Smith’s book, Seeds of Deception, compiles 20 years of data on the health risks of genetically modified foods from scientists such as Arpad Pusztai and Trudy Netherwood who reported that feeding GMO food to laboratory animals resulted in thousands of sick, sterile and dead laboratory animals. The greater health issue is the increasing food allergies resulting from consumption of GMO food in the US. While American consumers remain oblivious, GMO Foods have been introduced into the US food supply without safety testing or even labeling. Already 80% of our US food supply is GMO, affecting corn, soy, cotton seed oil and canola oil. Many civilized nations have banned GMO Food. The British Medical Association has asked for a moratorium on GMO foods.

    To Read More…..

    http://jeffreydach.com/2008/08/14/genetically-modified-gmo-food-the-great-scandal-by-jeffrey-dach-md.aspx

    Jeffrey Dach MD

  72. http://geneticroulettemovie.com/ THIS Documentary tells the tale in an easy to understand way..all about GMO’s its well done. Free viewing online thru the end of October, pass it on ! Say NO to GMOS and the criminals who put them on us without our knowledge!

  73. Normally I agree with your articles, but not this one. You say that there is no definitive answer that it is harmful… I don’t see any mention in your article about BT Toxin. We are seeing cases, and RCTs demonstrating, that BT Toxin(which they have modified their plants to produce) and which they swore is safe for human consumption and would be fully broken down in the digestive tract is showing up in human blood samples. I don’t have the figure in front of me but I seem to recall it was 70% of women, or 95% of pregnant women. They have also found that it shows up in fetal blood, and that it continues to show up even when all sources of BT Toxin have been removed.

    Not just that but Roundup, BT, and a number of their associated pesticides have been shown to delay apoptosis, damages embryonic kidney cells, causes necrosis…

    I am going to rephrase the conclusion here the way I think it should go.

    Is there a bottom line to all this? A definitive answer? Yes.

    While it may be possible to have GMO foods that benefit humanity or are at least safe, at present all GMO foods must be viewed with, at the very least, extreme caution and skepticism. Until such time as GMOs are not being developped by people out to make money off them, and by people who’s financial interests(and the lack of repercussions) make them inclined to hide all negative evidence, all GMOs are a bad idea.

    Not only that but our understanding, as advanced as it is, is still hugely lacking and this field, like all others, is subject to the law of unintended consequences.

    Are GMO foods bad? Yes.

  74. I live in CA where right now they are trying to pass a proposition to label GMO foods. I want to vote for yes for it, but as it is written, I can’t.
    As it’s written all items containing GMOs will be labeled but meat/egg products are EXEMPT from needing to label them as GMO if they are fed or INJECTED with GMO products.
    As this article points out, I can reasonably avoid GMOs by eating Primal but it’s my meat products that I want to know about as well.
    Why is it okay for a Rancher to feed cattle candy to substitute for corn and not have that labeled but every box of Cheerios out there will be stamped with a GMO label?
    I fully agree with a right to know what is in what we are eating, but if we are going to force corporations to label foods they need to label animal products based on what they are fed too.

  75. In order for GMO treated crops to be approved a 2 year study on rats would be required. This study would probably be conducted to OECD 453 combined chronic toxicity and carcinogenicity study, which under group size states:

    “For such reasons, each dose group and concurrent control group not intended for earlier sacrifice should contain at least 50 animals of each sex. A high dose satellite group for evaluation of pathology other than neoplasia should contain 20 animals of each sex, while the satellite control group would contain 10 animals of each sex. A moderate increase in group size
    will provide relatively little increase in statistical power of the test. If interim sacrifice(s) are included in the study plan, the initial number should be increased by the number of animals scheduled for the interim sacrifice(s).”

    This means that your statement of 10 rats being a valid group size is misleading. For a 2 year study, at least 50 rats per dose should be allowed the potential to live out the full 2 years of the test. Sample sizes as small as 10 would never be accepted in a 2 year regulatory study. Such groups sizes are only applicable for short term studies, which are another OECD guideline entirely. It is only fair to compare a suitable guideline that covers the duration of the study.

    GMO is a very misunderstood area of science. It is simply doing what breeders have done for decades previously by breeding varieties that have desirable traits. Naturally there will always be some genetic variation. Conventional breeding randomly selects this with no further testing being required. GMO selects traits in a controlled way and significant testing is required.

    I have no affiliation to GMOs nor such testing and I am not saying I would select GMO produce. Living in Europe we do not have significant exposure as you potentially do in the US. However, I feel that the above article is quite heavily biased and does not really give a balanced view. The other side of the coin is would you select something that is genetically modified and not tested (conventional breeding) or genetically modified and is tested (what we refer to as GMOs)?

  76. Well done. I suspect that the people now diligently avoiding GMO foods because their gut says that they may be dangerous would have trusted the same instinct to avoid smoking cigarettes before it it was definitively proven that they posed a health risk. You gave an honest and fair appraisal of the known situation with enough information to guide thinking people to a sound conclusion.

  77. I suspect that the people now diligently avoiding GMO foods because their gut tells them they may be dangerous would have trusted the same instinct to avoid smoking cigarettes before it it was definitively proven that they posed a health risk. You gave an honest and fair appraisal of the known situation with enough information to guide thinking people to a sound conclusion.
    Well done.

  78. I always wonder about farmers markets too though… so they make a little sign that says ‘organic’ — isn’t that tempting if they know that’s what people are looking for? Any suggestions? I’m in SoCal…

  79. Mark, stating that there are no conclusive studies that GMO harms humans is the argument the tobacco industry used for decades. Non-industry studies (except Arpad Pusztai’s of course) have repeatedly raised alarming concerns. The numerous countries that outlaw GMO clearly have read these or why else would they resist a profitable enterprise in their countries?

    Considering how GMOs are produced, in addition to the viral vector mentioned in a post above, the piece of DNA inserted is not exact. It is a section that contains the desired gene sequence, along with starter and stopper signals. Anytime the stopper signal does not get in properly the gene sequence produces unknown molecules with unknown consequences – rogue chemicals if you will.

  80. Why buy organic? There’s only one Earth. Less about my dinner plate, my health, my pocketbook…More about the health of the dirt all creatures share, the sustaining ocean, the air. And when given a choice, I take a local peach over an organic, trucked strawberry anyday. Recommend Animal, Vegetable, Mineral by Barbara Kingsolver if ya want a good read that’s thoughtful, funny at times and never preachy. Can you be primal AND eat within 100 mi radius? Good challenge, y’all.

  81. I will be starting my own square foot gardens next spring…I will be able to control how my garden grows…and I will be sure to purchase non-gmo seeds and plants. 🙂
    I guess it all boils down to the little things.
    Oh…I also purchase grass fed/finished meats from local farmers. Definitely worth the extra money!

  82. My comment isn’t about GM but rather about free roaming grass feed cattle vs corn feed cattle which I assume is kept in confined spaces of some sort. I live in NZ so all our cattle is in paddocks so not sure about overseas methods of farming anyway a work colleague of mine raised an issue with grass feed which initially outraged me as I have always been of the opinion that grass feed is better. In NZ we have the issue that because all our cattle are grass feed we have a pretty big water quality problem in alot of our waterways due to cattle effluent and fertilizer run off. He was of the opinion that if we condensed our cattle and corn feed them similar to the states and china we would solve that issue. After thinking about it for a while I concluded it was a fair point although I would hate to see NZ go this way the fact is that our current farming methods are negatively impacting our water ways.

    1. Joel Salatin’s book “folks this ain’t normal” covers this nicely, I don’t have a link but the point was: The land use and subsequent damage to the environment for grain fed feed lots is far more devastating then any grass feed operation. You also have to look at how the grass fed operation is managed. Ideally it should be “intensive rotational grassing”. “Intensive” might sound bad but it is attempting to reproduce natural ecosystems that allow for large herds of ruminant animals. An example would be the buffalo herds of the western US. He also goes into how much carbon will be sequestered and general ecological benefits if you follow that rout as well.

  83. Fortunately i live in Thailand and the peasant farms grow all their own food in tiny plots, they are unable in most cases to buy expensive herbicides and all the other shit that is prevalent in the UK. and the US. Here they save seeds and sell their produce in the local markets 10/ 15 small stalls put up at the road side every where.

    Ask them is this organic and they look blank. Ask them have you put any chemicals on this or that to stop weeds and they look blank. How do you control the weeds, pull them up. DO you put any fertilizers on the food you are selling ,yes we pee in a bucket and add water ,that folks is your nitrates. Monsanto will never crack this market. They have more chance of kissing the pope arse on sundays in saint peter’s square Rome. Thank god for peasants.

  84. Ever heard of survival of the fittest? It takes on a new meaning today – that fitness needs to come via the ability to navigate safely through our toxic new world.

    Be informed, boycott GMO’s until real safety evidence is available and support initiatives like CA Prop 37!

  85. But rats have very different IMMUNE SYSTEMS than humans. I’d be more impressed if the French had used pigs.

  86. Mark do you eat GMO foods? Go out of your way alittle to get 100% organic food stuff? Either way each of your actions clearly state what you stand for. GMO foods are not for human health, nutrition, longevity or other optimal wellbeing ideal. They are simply for profits and control. If human trials and studies were to be done on humans, which humans should we experiement on? My vote would be to frist study all CEO’s of Monsanto, there family members then all employees at Monsanto or other biotech company. Next would be all Federally appointed officials involving agrobusiness, chemical business, and their families. That would be the experiement. Ah I feel better. I stand for and respect Nature.

  87. We recently moved to Catalina Island and my husband, a wonderful gardner, has put in an organic garden using heirloom seeds wherever possible. We gather seaweed to use as fertilizer and a japanese form of composting using food scraps and bacteria and he’s managed to turn the clay soil here into wonderful, organic, dark, rich growing medium. We go to the mainland to get grass fed beef and bison from Whole Foods and are about to start fishing. I’ve eaten organically for all of my adult life and have never trusted to the kindness of strangers, especially where it comes to profit motive. That’s what chemical fertilizers are all about. It’s ruined farmland and water sources and human health. Eat paleo and don’t look back!

  88. According to Mr. David Wolf, potatoes are antiviral all the way down to their DNA, which basically means that they cannot be genetically modified at all.

  89. Lots of awesome comments on here glad most of us are against gmos, any groks in San Antonio Texas?

  90. Hi Mark. I am new to this Paleo diet. I have a question on corn. If the product states that it is Organic and free from GMO, would it be OK to consume on a Paleo diet?

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  93. Where did you get 80% of Hawaii’s papaya is GMO? Everywhere else I read says 50%. And I live here, have all my life.

  94. I for one do not want a fish gene,frog or any bug gene in my food.its not natural to have these genes in food,mabe we should breed the cat and rabbit together like they have done.well keep them for pets.so natural?

  95. GMOs are dangerous. Check out the Jurassic World trailer.
    And just look what happened on Middle Earth after Sauron tinkered with Elf DNA to create the Orcs!