What's behind the wave of allergies, intolerances & disorders?

A few weeks ago I received this flier in my inbox from the lovely folk at

Hamilton's branch of the Weston A. Price Foundation

:

.

Looks interesting huh? So last Thursday I hitched a ride with a friend and went along for a listen.

I'm going to be honest, the evening was not what I expected. The talk was intense and at times frightening.

There were things that I really didn't want to hear, and some of what I heard is pretty controversial. But having said that, I believe the speakers are talking sense, and there are some questions we should be asking the food industry.

So what is causing the wave of allergies, intolerances and disorders affecting our children today? According to the speakers it's the growing use of GMOs (genetically modified organisms) in food and the use of glyphosate (Roundup) in food production and harvesting.

GMO foods

A number of crops across the globe (yes, in New Zealand too) are genetically modified. The purpose of genetic modification is to increase yield and resistance to pests, disease, chemical treatment (e.g. herbicide), environmental conditions. and more.

In most cases genetically modifying crops involves changing the DNA of a plant and introducing a new trait that does not naturally occur in the crop.

There are many purported benefits to genetically modified crops, but what about the health risks? According to speaker, Dr Michael Antoniou, we should be concerned about the lack of long-term research on the affects of GMO food on humans. Dr Antoniou also stated that genetically modifying foods runs a risk of creating new toxins, GMO foods are often lacking in vital nutrients, and GMO foods (because of their high resistance to herbicides) are generally more heavily sprayed with glyphosate (Roundup) than other crops.

Glyphosate

Glyphosate (Roundup) is a herbicide used in farming across the globe (including in New Zealand). It is used not only to kill pest plants, but also to control crop growth and as a drying agent - i.e. it is applied to crops prior to harvesting to dry them ready for harvesting.

All three speakers raised serious concerns over the use of glyphosate, stating the following:

  • Glyphosate has an antibiotic affect on the body, killing good gut bacteria which is needed for a healthy gut biome (the biome is essential for good health), causing food allergies and other ill health
  • The use of Glyphosate has not been tested long-term
  • Glyphosate is a chelator - meaning that important nutrients in crops - like manganese and zinc - are wrapped in the glyphosate molecules and become unavailable for use by the crop (and subsequently the crop ends up low in nutrients)
  • Studies into Glyphosate use have shown side-effects in test rats such as cancers, obesity, and hormone disruption (causing infertility, premature birth, and birth defects).

Speaker Zen Honeycutt also showed a slide displaying Glyphosate residue levels in breast milk from feeding mothers in the US. The levels suggest that Glyphosate accumulates in the body more than what previous research has suggested. This led Honeycutt and action group 'Moms Across America' to

call for an inquiry

by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

In order to protect children from the side effects of GMO foods and the use of glyphosate, all speakers emphasised the importance of eating organic and avoiding processed foods.

Reflection

It's taken me days to write this post. As a non-scientist it's difficult for me to give a fair review of the information presented. I don't know enough to judge what is and isn't good science-based research. But this doesn't mean that I'm willing to blindly accept that GMOs and Roundup are safe either.

Are we really sure we know what we're eating and the effects it has on our bodies? If the facts presented by these speakers are correct, why are we allowing the degradation of our food (and health) in this manner?

I'd like to see more long-term research (unfunded by industry) on the effects of GMO food and glyphosate use on crops.

On reflection, I'm going to do a few things:

  • Start a vegetable garden - and not use spray on it 
  • Continue to avoid eating processed food (most of the time)
  • Eat organic where possible.

Organic food is something I want to learn more about too. Organic crops are often sprayed with organic pesticides and herbicides. But are these sprays any safer than glyphosate? I think we need to look at everything that's going into our food.

If you missed the talk, you can watch a video of Dr Perro speaking on the topic here:

Other related resources:

Moms Across America

GMO Myths and Truths

Incidentally, the

TPPA

if adopted in New Zealand could remove the current requirement to label genetically modified food.