Earlier this summer, Monsanto was ordered to pay over $250 million in damages to a groundskeeper who developed terminal cancer. He used Roundup weed killer an estimated 30 times a year, and the defense team was able to prove that his cancer was not just linked to its use but could have also been prevented if Monsanto had proper warnings on the product label (Robbins, 2018).
Why does this matter and what does it have to do with consuming GMOs? One of the main reasons GMOs or genetically modified organisms have been created in agriculture is for them to be resistant to Roundup type products.
Roundup is sprayed over crops to prevent weeds, insects, and other pests and diseases to develop in the crop. But, they are so effective they can also kill the crop. Crops from GMO seeds are able to withstand the onslaught from Roundup.
The problem is that we then consume produce and food that is laden with Roundup and other pesticides. The journal Environmental Sciences Europe predicted that 1.8 million tons of chemicals similar to Roundup were used in 1974 compared to 9.8 million in 2016 (Main, 2016). This chemical is named glyphosate.
Glyphosate is sprayed on 89% of corn and 94% of soybeans grown in the United States (Robbins, 2018). It is so prevalent in our food, that in a recent test conducted by the Environmental Working Group, the chemical was found in 31 out of 45 breakfast cereals (Robbins, 2018).
One of the most effective ways to avoid consuming glyphosate is to avoid consuming GMOs and to opt for organic foods.
Quick Review: What are GMOs?
I have written about GMOs in the past. GMOs were created to be resistant to pesticides and other chemicals, to increase the nutritional value they deliver, and to increase crop yield. The problem is that GMOs haven’t delivered on some of these promises, especially in their ability to increase crop yield (Hakim, 2016).
Other Problems with GMOs
Toxins and pesticides have also been linked to increased levels of estrogen and lowered levels of testosterone in our bodies, as have gut problems and other health issues (Geary & Cohen, n.d.).
For instance, animals exposed to GMO feed have been found with an overgrowth of a pathogenic bacteria called Clostridium botulinum. This is the bacteria that produces botulism, and Roundup seems to have contributed to this overgrowth (Ji, 2018). These chemicals and bacteria are then believed to be passed on to humans when we eat the animals, although I must clarify that studies haven’t yet linked infected animals to an increase of these bacteria in humans.
GMO Foods to Avoid
However, studies have linked an increase of GMO to an increase in the amount of chemicals found in our food. The most common GMO foods, and consequently the foods we should avoid, are:
- Beef, unless it’s grass-fed and antibiotic free
- Canola and canola oil
- Cotton and cottonseed oil
- Corn and anything that contains corn, unless it’s marked as non-GMO
- Hawaiian Papayas
- Infant formula unless it’s organic
- Milk, unless its organic, grass-fed
- Salmon that is farmed
- Soy or anything containing soy, including soy lecithin, unless it’s marked as non-GMO
- Sugar, particularly that originating from sugar beets, unless it’s organic, and particularly if it’s unbleached cane sugar or coconut sugar
- Sugar beets
- Summer squash
All of these are safe to consume if we purchase organic, GMO-free, biodynamic, grass-fed, and antibiotic free options (Jeff Hays personal communication June 21, 2018; Robbins, 2018).
It is important to note that corn and soy are incorporated into many other foods and food additives such as sodium ascorbate, vitamin C, citric acid, sodium citrate, ethanol, natural and artificial flavorings, high fructose corn syrup, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, lactic acid, maltodextrin, monosodium glutamate, sucralose, textured vegetable protein (TVP), and xanthan gum (Robbins, 2018).
Make sure to read the food labels of all the products you purchase. It may take more time to get through your shopping, but it may be well worth the time for the benefit of your health.
Geary, M. & Cohen, R. (n.d.) 9 chemicals that are killing your testosterone levels and stealing your manhood. TruthAboutabs. Retrieved on September 6, 2018 from http://www.truthaboutabs.com/chemicals-harming-testosterone.html?hop=haysgeary
Hakim, D. (2016). Doubts about the promised bounty of genetically modified crops. The New York Times. Retrieved on September 6, 2016 from https://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/30/business/gmo-promise-falls-short.html
Ji, S. (2018). Eating wheat fuels staphylococcus clostridium, and Klebsiella growth, study suggests. GreenMedinfo. Retrieved on Septmeber 6, 2018 from http://www.greenmedinfo.com/blog/eating-wheat-fuels-staphylococcus-clostridium-and-klebsiella-growth-study-suggest
Main, D. (2016). Glyphosate now the most-used agricultural chemical ever. Newsweek. Retrieved on September 6, 2018 from https://www.newsweek.com/glyphosate-now-most-used-agricultural-chemical-ever-422419
Robbins, O. (2018). What the $289 million verdict against Monsanto means to you. Food Revolution Network.Retrieved on September 6, 2018 from https://foodrevolution.org/blog/monsanto-lawsuit-dewayne-johnson/