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 Natural Awakenings Lancaster-Berks

Health Effects of GMOs

Jun 26, 2015 02:22PM ● By Jaclyn Downs

Childhood obesity, food allergies and sensitivities, immune disorders, learning disorders and attention problems have skyrocketed in the past 20 to 30 years. Is it just a coincidence that this began about the same time as the advent of genetically engineered food? While there certainly are numerous possible reasons, all of which are likely contributors, studies have shown that genetically modified organisms (GMO) may pull their fair share of weight in many health issues.

While these studies reveal various negative impacts on our health, they also have shown detrimental impacts on the health of our offspring and even their offspring. Various scientific, medical, agricultural and environmental journals have all concluded that pesticides, including the ones associated with genetically engineered crops, are linked to hormonal and reproductive problems in both men and women. The journal Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology stated that reproductive toxicity begins with parental exposure to toxicants. Preconception, conception, prenatal and postnatal periods are all windows of opportunity for adverse reproductive outcomes.

Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup and other herbicides, is a known endocrine disruptor, meaning it interferes with hormone balance in the body. It is able to introduce health issues with even a small amount of exposure. Aside from hormonal imbalance and infertility, endocrine disruptors can affect mood and metabolism and have been linked to some cancers as well.

We have seen proof that glyphosate does bioaccumulate in the body, despite what Monsanto has stated. A study published in 2011 in the journal Reproductive Toxicology found Bt toxin—a pesticide produced from genetically engineered corn—in 93 percent of blood samples of pregnant women and 80 percent of umbilical cords tested. It has been found to be toxic to human umbilical, embryonic and placental cells and has also been found in the breast milk of mothers.

Other reproductive outcomes that have been associated with GMOs are low birth weight and preterm labor and birth, increased rates of miscarriage, infertility and third generation sterility, high infant mortality and a decrease in sperm production, quality, motility and morphology—plus an overall decrease in testosterone.

The birth defects associated with genetically modified foods can vary from neural tube defects and malformations in reproductive organs to major portions of the brain and skull being unformed.

Aside from health impacts, genetically modified crops are disrupting the ecosystem. Glyphosate is known for causing declines in birds and insects, aquatic life and beneficial microorganisms in the soil. It is present in our water.

By improving the factors we have control over—the food we choose to buy—we can lessen the incidence of endocrine and reproductive disruption. Here are some tips for achieving this.

  • Buy organic products or ones that have the Non-GMO Project label. Instead of stressing out trying to buy all organic, at least buy organic for the foods that you eat most often.
  • Spread the word. Raising awareness creates change. Many countries in the world have partially or completely banned and rejected GMOs, and many others require labeling.
  • Support GMO labeling. If we can’t stop Monsanto, we can at least ask that they be held accountable for transparency and require labeling. We are just asking for our right to know what is in our food.
  • Consult with a natural health practitioner for recipes, meal plans and ways to upgrade your diet.

When we choose non-GMO items, we are supporting our health and the health of future generations. It creates more of a demand for local farming, organic farming and small farmers, all while driving the cost of organic down. If we each make the personal decision to vote with our forks, we’ll begin to drive business away from Monsanto.

Jaclyn Downs is a board certified holistic health coach based in Lancaster County. She works with individuals and groups and leads workshops on food and wellness. Connect at 717-575-9616, [email protected], or

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