Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Do You Want Genetically Modified Foods in Your Kids' Lunchbox?

A new article released by the Organic Consumers Association raises some alarm bells on this subject today. In this article it is reported that science experiments done by elementary school and high school students (and repeated every year) have shown that mice fed genetically modified (GM) foods -- particularly those found in the junk foods most of us eat every day -- dramatically changed their behavior.

In one study, done in Appleton, Wisconsin, students fed three mice a diet of "junk food" (the article does not state what those foods were) and fed control mice a normal diet of nutritious whole foods. Within a short time the junk food -fed mice became violent. They destroyed a cardboard shelter in their cage, dramatically changed their sleep patterns, fought with each other, and eventually two of them killed the third mouse and ate it. The control mice exhibited none of these behaviors and remained happy and calm. I have problems with this study because it is not clear whether the GM content of the food had anything to do with this behavior or if the foods chosen were things a mouse would ordinarily choose to eat. Perhaps, the mice were starving?

But another study cited in the article is even more startling because its methodology seems more correct. Students in Holland chose to do a similar study but they focused on GM versions of food mice might reasonably expect to be eating (corn and soy) and compared the results to mice fed the same foods without genetically-modified content. The mice fed GM soy and corn stopped playing together, acted fearful and tried to climb the walls of their cage. One mouse was found dead by the end of the experiment. The author of the article didn't say so but I'm assuming the non GM-fed mice did not or the study would not have made it to the public eye. (I hate great articles on important topics that leave out important details!)

The reason I have chosen to report on this article is because in our practice we have come to believe that changes in our food supply have led to an increase in ADD (attention deficit disorder), autism and other rapidly emerging epidemics of the modern age. Other factors, too, like mercury-tainted vaccines, foods eaten by mothers when their babies were in the womb, and factors beyond the control of the average American to take hold of given our propensity to trust in authorities to protect us.

But when multinational corporations with budgets larger than most countries are involved in the game it makes sense to pull out the stops to make sure the games they are playing come to the public's attention. In Europe there is a significant and growingly successful movement to ban GM foods from schools. Until Monsanto and other companies like them are held to the same standards of safety we demand from anyone else, I'd suggest we do the same.

Long-term studies on the effect of eating a diet high in GM content have never been done from an epidemiological standpoint. It can't be done because that would require subjecting entire populations to experimental conditions not unlike what the children in Wisconsin did to those mice. Do you want that happening to your children? Do you want it happening to you?

Surprise! If you're eating a typical Amercian diet already laden with heavily processed foods -- the typical American junk food laden diet -- you are already participating in an uncontrolled experiment of major proportions. Most of us under the age of 50 have been participating our entire lives.

1 comment:

maurac said...

Excellent article! Thanks for reading the research and summarizing it for us. Great blog article!