It’s no secret that the FDA has approved a long list of cancer causing foods.  For a federal department charged with protecting public safety by regulating food safety, this may seem like a dereliction of duty, and now comes the issue of genetically modified foods, aka GMOs to most of us.  For the most part, the FDA, which some may some isn’t a reliable source anymore, has held the position that GMO plants and animals are just as safe as normal plants and animals, as they explained here:

“GE (genetically engineered) foods don’t present greater safety concerns than foods developed by traditional plant breeding,”

This view has been fiercely debated in the past few years, but given that genetically engineered foods are in their relative infancy, anyone with a concrete viewpoint should be accused of coming to a premature decision given the dearth of comprehensive studies performed. Even though I will touch on recent scientific studies in this article, I do it with the knowledge that we as a society will not know the full consequences of genetically altered food for many years, if not decades.

The FDA has routinely held that companies are responsible for testing and ensuring the safety of their products, not the FDA. Essentially, companies spend millions of dollars creating a product, test it, and then tell the FDA if it is safe. I think the problem with this process is quite obvious. In other words, companies are supposed to self-regulate, and if that is the case, then why is the FDA still in existence? The FDA can claim that a certain GMO is safe, but the hard truth is that the FDA is simply regurgitating the words of the company selling the GMO product – there was no independent testing done by the FDA to confirm that a GMO is actually safe for human consumption on a long-term scale.

If you choose to research this topic more, you will find numerous “studies” disputing the points being made here, so I ask you to do one thing when deciding who to believe – find the source of the studies.  My only involvement with the food industry is that I eat food; however, many of the pro-GMO studies are performed by the companies and industry groups profiting from GMOs, so don’t blindly believe a scientific study performed by Monsanto and the like that is not independent and is nothing more than a marketing technique promoting a company’s product.

With that in mind, let’s look at Monsanto’s genetically modified corn, NK603, which approved on the basis of being substantially equivalent to normal corn.  According to a peer reviewed study from King’s College, which is widely regarded as one of the most prestigious universities in the world, NK603 was found to not be substantially equivalent to regular corn. Shocker. Now, I’m not one to leave you with a conclusion like that without highlighting some of the interesting findings the researchers stumbled upon. For starters, NK603 had a 28 fold increase in the compound cadaverine. Why is that important? Well, Cadaverine is toxic in large doses, so a 28 fold increase is not a laughing matter. If you don’t believe me, just check out the National Library of Medicine‘s take on cadaverine. The page reads more like a poison label than a food label, and NK603 has 28 times more of it than normal corn.

NK603 also contains 2.9 times more putrescine than normal corn. And again, this chemical compound is also toxic in large doses. Ultimately, the label of “substantially equivalent” is viewed through the eye of the beholder, but the sizeable increase in the prevalence of toxic compounds should make you question how equivalent it truly is.

Unfortunately, GMOs don’t stop at corn, and when you combine the GMO planted corn and soybeans, they account for 83% of the GMO planted crops.

According to a study reported by in 2011, they reviewed 19 GMO studies, and of the 19, only 2 studies, which were both non-food industry sponsored, looked at data for longer than a 90 day period.  When looking at the safety of a food that could be served to people for decades or even an entire lifetime, its safety over a 90 day period is totally irrelevant.  The fact that a food doesn’t show adverse health effects after 90 days, though the shortened studies still showed signs of kidney and liver problems, of consumption does not make it safe for years of exposure.  If you don’t believe me, take it from the researchers:

“The 90-day-long tests are insufficient to evaluate chronic toxicity, and the signs highlighted in the kidneys and livers could be the onset of chronic diseases. However, no minimal length for the tests is yet obligatory for any of the GMOs cultivated on a large scale, and this is socially unacceptable in terms of consumer health protection.”

Or in other words, eating GMO corn and soybeans for longer than a 90 day period, say years or decades, could easily cause issues in the kidneys or liver, and to many, those are kind of important organs. 90 days may be a long time when studying high school dating relationships, but when looking at food you could eat multiple times a day for decades, 90 days just isn’t long enough, and it is rather embarrassing that someone actually that it was long enough.

Like I mentioned before, the proliferation of GMO food is so new that there is no way to determine the long term effects of repeated exposure to it. Unfortunately for average people like us, the real study on the effects of GMOs is currently ongoing, and we are the lab rats.

I will finish this with one final question in reference to Congress trying to pass a law allowing companies to not have to declare if their products are genetically modified.  If GMOs are completely safe and truly equivalent to the normal version of the food, why is their such a push to remove the GMO label on the food?

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Title Image “No GMOs”“No GMOs” by Timothy Valentine is licensed under CC BY 2.0