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Raise awareness of environmental health issues in order to better protect our children and future generations.

29 May 2012

Monsanto's Genetically Modified Corn: A Risk to Human Health?

Monsanto continues to bully us into planting and consuming its genetically modified (GM) products. The European Union has blocked France’s recent ban on Monsanto’s GM maize or Bt corn (MON810).  France had requested a ban on this crop due to health and environmental concerns. The EU agency responsible for the decision, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) stated, “Based on the documentation submitted by France, there is no specific scientific evidence in terms of risk to human and animal health or the environment”. 

The United States is pressuring EU countries into accepting GM crops. Some of its diplomats actually work for Monsanto. To quote from an article in Wake Up World, “the United States ambassador to France, Craig Stapleton, stated back in 2007 that nations who did not accept Monsanto’s GMO crops will be ‘penalized’” – threatened with “military-styled trade wars.” 

Just two weeks ago, Poland banned Bt corn after beekeepers showed that it was killing honeybees. Poland is the first country to formally acknowledge the link between the GM corn and Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) that is devastating bees worldwide. Monsanto may have known the danger their GM crops pose to bees because it recently purchased a CCD research firm, Beeologics which government agencies, including the U.S. Department of Agriculture, had been relying on for help in solving the mystery of the disappearance of bees.

Monsanto’s Bt corn accounts for 65% of all corn grown in the United States. It has been genetically engineered to produce a mutant version of an insect-killing bacterium called Bacillus thuringiensis or Bt. This toxin or pesticide breaks open the stomachs of certain insects and kills them. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is now warning that Bt corn is responsible for the development of “mutant” resistant insects. 

Bt corn entered the food supply in the late 1990’s. Researchers are finding that the Bt toxin can affect human health. A 2011 study at Sherbrooke University Hospital in Quebec showed that the Bt toxin could be absorbed into the blood after it found the substance in 93% of pregnant women, 80% of umbilical blood in their babies, and 67% of non-pregnant women. GM corn is present in most processed foods and drinks in the form of high fructose corn syrup. The toxin may also have come from eating meat from animals fed with Bt corn. This suggests that Bt corn might turn human intestinal flora into a sort of “living pesticide factory”, manufacturing Bt toxin from within the digestive system on a continuing basis. This could result in gastrointestinal problems, autoimmune diseases, food allergies and childhood learning disorders, all health problems that are on the rise. 

Peer-reviewed research shows that the Bt toxin binds with the small intestines of mice and with intestinal tissue from rhesus monkeys. A February 2012 study published in the Journal of Applied Toxicology has found that the Bt toxin kills human embryonic kidney cells. Combining Bt toxin with RoundUp, as is now commonly done with GM crops, can delay apoptosis (the normal and natural death of cells that occurs as a routine and controlled part of an organism’s growth or development) which can promote cancer. The study also found that the active ingredient in RoundUp, glyphosate, can causes necrosis (the death of tissue) on its own in amounts lower than that used in agriculture.

The American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) called for a moratorium on GMOs and requested long-term independent studies and labeling, stating: “Several animal studies indicate serious health risks associated with GM food, including infertility, immune problems, accelerated aging, insulin regulation, and changes in major organs and the gastrointestinal system… There is more than a casual association between GM foods and adverse health effects. There is causation…”

We must keep fighting for labeling of GM foods and in the meantime, avoid products (mainly processed foods) with corn, soy, canola and any of their derivatives listed as an ingredient, unless it’s labeled USDA 100% organic. This includes sweet corn as Monsanto has introduced a new GM sweet corn called Seminis which contains two types of Bt toxin and the RoundUp gene for weed control. (See the Non-GMO Shopping Guide created by the Institute for Responsible Technology). 



by Meris Michaels

“GMO Alert: Startling New Research”, Wake Up World, 18 May 2012

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