The Secret Ingredient in Engineered Food
The last poll I saw a few weeks ago was from MNBC surveying people in the USA asking if they wanted to know what is in their food, i.e. would they support some legislated mandatory food labeling policy. Ninety three out of 100 people (93%) voted their concern and distrust of the food supply by voting yes. I have seen many surveys like this over the last 10 years and the people have consistently expressed their concern and anxiety about GMOs.
And the Industry and its governmental regulatory agencies in Canada and the USA laugh it up, because they have science on their side. They know very well that science has demonstrated time and again that GMOs are safe, that there is absolutely nothing to fear or be concerned about.
The secret - what is not being discussed in the open, is that practically all engineered food crops and a good number of non engineered food crops are routinely sprayed with a powerful antibiotic that doubles up as a popular herbicide. There is so much of it in bread and all processed foods that contain cereals, soy and corn, canola oil and sugar, that the EPA had to raise the legal residue levels in all food and feed crops in 2013 – and Health Canada of course follows their guidelines for MRL (Maximum Residue Limits). For example, soy can now contain 20 parts per million (ppm) and cereals (wheat, oat, and barley) can contain 30 ppm. Think if you were a bread eater, someone who gulfs half a loaf every day, what your intake of glyphosate would be. With animal feed that can legally contain up to 100 ppm, imagine the residues in dairy and meat products.
There are lots of areas in the USA and Canada where RoundUp Ready crops are grown, where 75% of samples of the water or the air contain traces of glyphosate. The EPA MRL for glyphosate in drinking water is below 0.7 ppm. Beyond that the EPA warns you that you will get severely ill quickly. The MRL in Europe is considerably less, in case you are interested to know what you are drinking.
All this doesn’t tell you much until you learn that one part per million is antibiotic to most bacteria - glyphosate is actually a powerful antibiotic that has been masquerading as a herbicide for over 40 years. Then you learn that you and everybody around you, have a hugely diverse community of bacteria in your lower intestine, that is now commonly referred to as the Microbiome. When I was a kid my mother used to call it the intestinal flora, and somehow it was part of good health, but we did not know how important it actually is. We all have 100 trillion bacteria inside – with the same weight as our brain, that basically direct the show of our body. All those autonomic functions we have, guess what, or rather guess who. The heart, the lungs, the digestive system, all this seems to work well without us having much to do about it. It is becoming obvious that the biochemical language of the Microbiome to each of our major organs is required for proper function. The diversity of the Microbiome is essential to the health of many organs; particularly sensitive are the brain, the immune system, and of course the digestive tract. So when you eat every day foods containing more than 1 ppm of glyphosate – the level where it kills all bacteria in the lab, you should logically expect antibiotic damage to the Microbiome with consequences of celiac, Crohn’s, allergies and asthma and many other immune deficiency symptoms, Alzheimer and dementia and autism, and eventually all manners of cancer. And that’s just for humans. We know that fish and frogs and rats and pigs become ill and die promptly. You can easily google the published and peer reviewed studies that support every word of this statement. You can also watch my lecture on YouTube “Engineered Food and your Health: the Nutritional status of GMOs”.
It appears that we are back in the 1970s when the tobacco industry was spewing safety statements with the studies to prove it every few days. In this millennium the strategy about the safety of GMOs is slightly different. The Industry – read essentially the chemical company Monsanto, is keeping the public and the media focused on the engineering technology and GMOs. And they have all the studies to prove their safety. I also suspect that the Industry actually generates much of the anti-GMO rhetoric we see in the major media and on the Internet. I call it controlled opposition. Their job is to remind you that there is an intense debate about GMOs, with lots of public opposition. This Industry regularly fuels the debate about the safety of GMOs. Apparently anything goes, as long as it is keeping the focus away from the antibiotic in the food system. Only very few people bother to question the huge increase in this antibiotic - masquerading as a herbicide, in our environment, and particularly in our food where it reached toxic levels many years ago. The levels are probably so scary that Agriculture Canada or Health Canada or the USDA or the FDA, dare not even go there. Practically all agricultural chemicals of concern are measured every year and kept in check, except for glyphosate. It is regarded as completely innocuous since its first registration as a herbicide 40 years ago. Therefore there is no need to monitor its use and residue levels in food and water. The recent classification by the World Health Organization that glyphosate is a “probable carcinogen” should definitely be the trigger in Canada - as it is in many other countries. If not triggering an outright ban, at the very least the chemical residues of glyphosate in the food will be documented and made public so that the right debate can take place
If I was the vice president for promotion at Monsanto I would do a number of things to keep this secret from going public.
I would do all the standard things of course, like hiring the best advertising brains in the business, emphasize safety and sing the wonders of the genetic engineering technology. I would also keep your attention on the debate about the engineering technology - i.e. are GMOs good or bad for you. I would spare no trick of the trade to keep your attention away from the toxicity of the herbicide that is sprayed on your food. I would create a small army of graduate students (and scientists of course - only the size of the bursary differs) and other mercenaries, to engage with the anti GMO “activists” and constantly remind you of the insanity of your fear. Most of the pro and anti GMO rhetoric is just that, a lot of hot air and a lot of fear. Anything goes as long as it keeps your attention away from the secret ingredient. I would even have books published on the topic, some with all the available evidence of corporate malfeasance exposed in plain view, as long as the emphasis stayed away from the secret.
But I am not a vice president – although I was, more than once in my science days, but that was another millennium. Aside from being a concerned consumer, I now find myself in some leading role to alert you of this sordid story of corporate greed that causes so much illness. All I can do is to speak and write publicly about this issue and hope that you will do your part.
Dr. Thierry Vrain