Nature magazine study finds “Roundup-Ready” corn to be substantially different from regular corn

That title sounds so click-bait-y. Normally I don’t like to share other people’s articles… But I think this one is pretty important to read about. Nature magazine published a peer-reviewed study in their magazine that tested a variety of roundup ready corn and found it to contain more toxins than regular corn. They also showed that the proteins within the corn are significantly different, and that toxins in the corn could also trigger a stronger allergic reaction than normal. The corn processes energy differently than regular corn and the corn basically suffers from oxidization damage. Ultimately, rats fed GMO corn for two years compared to the control group fed the nearest-genetically-similar non-gmo corn.

Here’s a link to a study summary.

Here’s a link to the actual article.

Incidentally, according to gmoanswers.com, a generally pro-GMO site, the longest safety tests required for corn like this is 90 days.

Now here’s the run down on some things that I think are important to consider about this study;

  • This is a test done on a single variety of corn. This does not speak for all types of genetically modified crops, nor even all types of modified corn.
  • The toxins produced are naturally formed in nature. This does not make them safe, but they are “naturally occurring”. It’s not like Mad Cow is jumping to corn suddenly because an amino acid from cow genes was added or something like that.
  • This study does not state whether similar toxin levels could result from doing a more natural hybridization of plants or from standard development of vegetable varieties.
  • The reason the FDA would not notice this is simple. The FDA requirements are a 90-day safety trial and a glorified nutritional analysis (pro-GMO source). Basically they say if it looks like a corn, has the nutritional content of corn, and feeds for 90 days like corn, then it’s corn.
  • This study HAS been peer reviewed prior to publishing and (so far) has held up to scrutiny. (This could change, but the study seems legitimate as of writing this article.)
  • The person who preformed the study has been an anti-GMO and anti-pesticide advocate for some years, but holds the appropriate degrees and scientific background to comment on it.
  • One study, alone, does not debunk dozens of other studies that show GMOs to be generally safe. However, if the study is repeated and shows similarly higher levels of kidney/liver damage, then the study must be considered valid. A good scientific study is hallmarked by repeatability. If a study cannot be replicated by someone else and get the same results, it’s just a single study in a sea of studies. (This is a phase of research we often lack in the scientific community. Studies are rarely repeated.)
  • A pro-GMO source claims that findings like this which are “pleiotropic” (or, essentially, are complicated and cause multiple problems) would show some sort of significant plant damage elsewhere and therefore would be noticeable at a glance (ex; the plants would grow poorly, which is bad for business). The study published in Nature found plant damage on a cellular level from significant oxidization. Oxidized tissue looks normal at a glance, but the tissue later dies. Plants may not live long enough to die from oxidization.

(This is just very interesting to me because of it’s links to cancer and so it’s something I know a lot about. For example, oxidization is one of the causes of cancer. It’s also one of the cures of it. To help prevent cancer we’re encouraged to consume “antioxidants” to remove oxidization from our cells, because oxidization can damage them. Damaged cells can mutate into cancer cells. If you have cancer and are receiving chemotherapy or radiation you are NOT permitted to consume anti-oxidant rich foods, because you are trying to kill cells because cancer cells die faster than regular cells. So you just kill all the cells and hope the non-cancer cells survive longer than the cancer cells. This is also why you loose your hair and get sensitive skin and lack immune responses, because those sorts of cells also die very quickly. You kill them, in part, by making them super-oxidized. So consuming anti-oxidants makes chemo and radiation less effective. No citations here other than this wiki link about it, but you can look it up. This is just stuff I learned from the five years of caring for my mom while she had cancer. So the tl;dr is, these plants had invisible cellular damage that, if left long enough, may have killed the plant. But plants don’t live that long.)

So in conclusion, this study alone is inconclusive. But it does draw whether GMOs are safe into further and legitimate consideration. Studies like this address concerns that haven’t been well researched in previous GMO studies. For better or worse, it gives a solid piece of science, a real leg to stand on for anti-GMO groups, if it holds up to scrutiny and replication.

(In case you were wondering, I read through the “methods” and “results” part of the actual study myself to confirm that, in my own opinion, it seems legit and that I’m reporting as accurately as I can. But I’m no PHD in biochemistry.)

For me, it’s one of the concerns I have stated in the past that has led to me to support labeling laws and have been attempting to move away from GMO products myself. For example, a different protein structure as shown in this study may mean that a person can develop an allergy to GMO corn that they would not otherwise have developed (and because of the way allergies work, that reaction may spread to regular corn) and now someone can’t eat corn at all. A different set of toxins may cause an animal that normally feeds on corn or corn pollen to refuse to eat it or experience health problems from it. A different set of nutrients (like sugars, which are processed differently in GMO corn according to this study) may cause an animal that normally avoids corn to try to eat it more often, causing behavior changes in wildlife. Frankly, we don’t know all the multi-faceted and subtle (or “pleiotropic”) ways GMOs could effect our lives.
And perhaps most importantly, they have led to a multi-billion dollar industry that regulates itself, relies on illegal labor under nearly slave-like conditions and holds the keys to our nation’s food security. We are limited lifespan creatures and will die someday whether GMOs are helping us along or not. But the nation’s food security, sustainability, and our compassion for other humans, is a legacy that carries on long beyond our lifespan. I’d like to see the next generation own the keys to those things, not a self-regulated company.

So give the study a gander, take it with a grain of salt, and come to your own conclusions about it. It’s a very interesting read.

New Produce Regulations Threaten Small Farms

I hate to have such a news-y blog post but our great, grand money-grubbing government and FDA has done it again. They’re overhauling our food regulation system only for fresh produce, and it could seriously effect small farms. Some of us could loose our only real opportunities for profit because of this bill they are proposing. Currently it has a heavy focus on regulating fresh produce production with no focus on regulating big industry farming with accountability in areas such as corn or dairy.

The bill is called “Standards for the Growing, Harvesting, Packing, and Holding of Produce for Human Consumption”.

Things like this slip by many of us who are just getting into the industry (and many of us who aren’t) with no notice. This bill has been in proposal for months now and yet I am only just now hearing about it? They’re not making these things known to small farmers. This does not show up on the evening news. There’s nobody delivering pamphlets about it. And because of a lack of exposure there’s no campaign to make these terrible regulations STOP before they get worse. The best part is? It takes the better part of a week to read all the nearly 550 pages of the bill and understand them all. How on earth are we supposed to even propose a carefully written comment to our government about the poor management of a bill that, because we spend all our time farming, we don’t even have time to READ THE BILL. Ignorance is how they push it past us, and we should not tolerate it!

This bill will cost small farmers thousands of dollars a year. In the proposal itself it says that it will cost “very small farms” (previously in the bill suggested to be people who SELL less than 25K/yr in produce, not even who make 25K/yr profit) nearly $5000 annually. That means it could take what little profit you make and sweep it away if you’re a very small farm, especially an urban farm.

The bill is very vague on it’s regulations in regards to small farms. Most of us have direct accountability for our food anyhow. If I sell you a chicken and it makes you sick, well, then I’m screwed. You know exactly where that chicken came from and you’re gonna tell everyone I sell chickens that make people sick. We don’t need more regulations because we already have the highest standards from the highest level of accountability and transparency in our food production.
Now they’re imposing regulations on small farms that, due to poor wording, could make it so that many farms cannot sell “value added” products such as chopped bagged salad mixes, jams, jellies, pickles and other canned goods, grain mixes, milled grains, dries fruits or roasted nuts. These products would make your small farm a “food production facility” and subject to dozens of more regulations that would cost you thousands of dollars to meet each year; more than what most of us make profit-wise. Some small farms may not even be able to sell regular produce because they use things like saved rain water for their plants.

This same bill is coming from the organization that has allowed companies like Monsanto to control our food supply, that has banned raw milk because factory dairy production can’t meet safe raw milk standards, that is run and paid for by nothing but retired big agriculture CEOs pushing their own agenda… By the same organization that thinks it’s OK to pump our animals full of hormones, to feed calves cow’s blood in place of milk, and has NO regulations on a whole range of chemically and genetically “enhanced” plants that are banned in over 50 other countries. You’ll notice that this bill does NOT regulate those things at all. It almost exclusively effects fresh produce.

Please note that the comment period for this bill is only until September of this year. It’s only open that long because of a 90-day extension and it’s only JUST NOW showing up in our news at all. Take a moment out of your day, even just to write a few lines on this to our government and the FDA to express our displeasure with them once again trying to run small business farms into the ground. If you want to take more action, contact all your family and friends. There are less than two thousand comments on it right now, and we can make that number skyrocket. Share this through your social media, through e-mail, ask people to just take ten seconds out of their day to write something as simple as “Please re-word this bill to make sure that small farms are protected. I support my local small farms and they are concerned about how this bill will impact their already small profits.” It only takes a moment and it makes all the difference in the world.

Support your local small farms and businesses. Write a comment. Make sure the FDA knows how you feel about it. Do you eat local, organic, sustainable produce? If you don’t say something that could no longer exist in just a few years. Don’t let that happen; make sure your voice is heard!

Huffpost article on the bill;

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/stacy-miller/for-farmers-farmers-market_b_3716429.html?utm_hp_ref=green

Comment on the bill now!

http://www.regulations.gov/#!submitComment;D=FDA-2011-N-0921-0087

The entire 547 page proposed bill can be seen here;

https://s3.amazonaws.com/public-inspection.federalregister.gov/2013-00123.pdf

 

Let’s fix this!