Americans have been eating genetically modified (GM or GMO) foods for over 10 years, mainly in the form of corn, soy, canola, and cottonseed oil. Most Americans are unaware that GM foods are a new introduction to the human diet, and that they are guinea pigs in one of the largest food experiments of all time. Because GM foods are not labeled in this country, consumers are not able to make an educated choice and avoid GM ingredients when they purchase food.
While a variety of studies done over the past 20 years have indicated that GM foods may be harmful to animals, very little research has been done on the specific health effects on humans. In fact, not a single human clinical trial on GMOs has been published. However, despite this lack of conclusive human health evidence, the American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) felt strongly enough that there is serious cause for concern to release a position paper last month calling for a moratorium on GM foods. In this paper AAEM stated, “GM foods pose a serious health risk”. The Irish Doctor’s Environmental Association (IDEA) has also backed these calls for an immediate moratorium (as reported in Irish Medical Times, June 12, 2009).
Why the concern?
Citing several animal studies, the AAEM concludes “there is more than a casual association between GM foods and adverse health effects” and that “GM foods pose a serious health risk in the areas of toxicology, allergy and immune function, reproductive health, and metabolic, physiologic and genetic health.” Additionally, the AAEM states that doctors should consider the role of GM foods in the “patient’s disease process.”
Wow. That’s significant. In fact, these areas cover such a broad category of health issues that it seems there could be links between GM food consumption and many of the chronic illness currently plaguing our population, such as heart disease, diabetes, overweight, and obesity.
As a Holistic Health and Nutrition Counselor, I see many clients who struggle with the health conditions mentioned above. Could there be a link between their unwitting consumption of GM foods and the health concerns that bring them through my door? Obviously we will not know for sure until there are more human health studies available for review, but in this case it seems the wisdom of the precautionary principle dictates that we’d want to do everything we can to avoid these foods until we do know more!
I am glad that medical organizations such as the American Academy of Environmental Medicine and The Irish Doctor’s Environmental Association are starting to stand up and take note, joining the voices of consumers and consumer-advocacy organizations world-wide, who have been expressing concerned about the potential health effects of GM food consumption for over a decade.
Here are my Top 5 Tips for Avoiding GM Foods:
• Scan the labels of packaged foods for corn, soy, canola or cottonseed, and if you see any of these on the label, avoid purchasing the product.
• Buy organic versions of corn, soy, canola and cottonseed.
• Choose dairy products that carry the “rBGH-free” label.
• Look for the “GMO-free” or “non-GMO” label on foods.
• Choose whole ingredients whenever possible. If you purchase whole foods such as fruits, veggies, beans, nuts and seeds you will be avoiding GM foods.
Enjoy the process of ensuring greater health for yourself and your family by following these simple tips!