Monthly Archives: May 2015
Corn is one of the staple crops of the United States. Wait! That’s not actually correct. Genetically modified corn controlled by Monsanto is one of the staple crops of the United States. In fact, it is only second to wheat in total worldwide production. While the original corn plant was a viable food source, the genetically modified corn of today is a completely different substance and should not be eaten. However its use as bio-diesel fuel may not be so bad (note the sarcasm).
From a native plant in Mexico to Genetically Modified Corn
If someone can say something better than you can, then sometimes you just have to step aside and let them say it. Here is a quote directly off of Monsanto’s website about corn. If you think you are eating the same thing that you ancestors ate, Monsanto would like to tell you otherwise.
“And humans are responsible for how corn came to be. Corn’s ancient relative is teosinte, which was a grass found in Mexico. Thousands of years ago, teosinte produced a very small ear—about the size of a pinky finger—with very small kernels. Through human intervention, teosinte was bred to produce larger ears and larger kernels. Today, we have a corn plant that produces an ear about the length of a forearm with more than 700 kernels.”
There you have it straight from the horse’s mouth that you are not eating the same things that your ancestors ate. So why should you be concerned about eating genetically modified corn?
Roundup Ready Genetically Modified Corn
Genetically modified corn has been altered at the level of the genes to make it able to withstand direct application of Roundup. Many might recognize roundup from your local home improvement store as something that you spray on your lawn to control grass in areas you don’t want it to grow. This is the same thought process for genetically modified corn. If you can spray the corn with Roundup, yet not kill it, but at the same time kill the underlying grasses and weeds around the corn, then the corn has a better chance of surviving and yielding higher production. This is all good in theory.
The problem and what you have not been told about genetically modified corn is that when Roundup is applied to it, the nutritional value of the corn is negatively affected. In short, Roundup binds up many of the minerals in corn while also changing the interaction of the plant with the beneficial microorganisms in the ground around it. These organisms have a beneficial relationship with plants. Not only is Roundup good as an herbicide at killing weeds and grass, it also has pesticide properties that killing bugs, and not just the bad ones. These genetic changes that influence the nutritional composition of food are likely part of the reason nutritional deficiencies are rampant.
Genetically Modified Corn – Cross-Breeding Bacteria with Corn
This may sound like science fiction and something that should be on the SciFi channel, but you just cannot make this kind of stuff up. Part of the genetic modification process blended the bacteria Bacillus thuringiensis with corn to produce what is known as Bt corn, or simply genetically modified corn. This bacteria is known to act as a natural pesticide. However, when the genetic modification process took place, there were unintended consequences. Not only does the bacteria genes allow the corn to have negative effects on the pests by producing its own inherent pesticide, it also destroys red blood cells. While the studies are not there to support this in humans, animal studies clearly show this. (Toxicon. 1988;26(12):1177-85.) As mammals with red blood cells, there is little reason to think that it does not do the same thing to us when we consume it. Thank goodness some nutritional factors that support our cells appear to be able to offset some of these changes.
The effects are not just limited to red blood cells. They have also been seen in white blood cells, or our immune system cells. The effects in this population are on the lymphocytes that account for our specific, rather than generic immune response. Additionally, bone marrow is also affected (Environ Toxicol. 2015 Apr 21.). Admittedly this happens at higher dosages, but with prevalent use of Bacillus thuringiensis coupled with other applied toxins to crops such as Roundup, the synergistic effects of the toxicity increase the potential harm to unsuspecting humans consuming the crops.
Another critical point to realize is that much of the safety data is based off of short term observation of the consumption of these crops. Long term studies are limited. The consumption of a small amount of poison over a long time is where problems begin to arise. Short term studies do not show this and falsely make the consumption of Roundup and genetically modified corn appear safe. A testimony to this statement occurred in 2012 when a team of scientists at the University of Caen published findings that long term Roundup and genetically modified corn caused cancer, hormone and kidney problems in rats, which like humans are mammals. However, due to great criticism this articles was retracted by the publisher. The irony is that nearly all of the criticism was from the GMO industry and Monsanto. Even more questionable is that the original article did not meet any of the criteria for being retracted, suggesting that the publisher gave it to the pressure of Monsanto. Even in the face of professional assault, the researchers held their position and stood by their results. While Monsanto may be able to minimize the results from a credible study, not all of the populace is as uninformed as they would like.
Genetically Modified Corn is not Gluten Free
If all of the aforementioned problems were not bad enough, corn is being used as a gluten free alternative. This is not technically true. As you will likely recognize, the major crop that brought forth concerns about gluten was wheat. Wheat has been correlated to Celiac Disease, but not all those that react to wheat have Celiac Disease. Regardless, the stimulus for the reaction is gluten, or a prolamine more specifically. Herein lies the confusion. Wheat is not the only grain that contains prolamines. Prolamines are common to grain. In fact, the one in genetically modified corn is zein. Therefore, since corn has zein, a prolamine, it is not gluten free. If you are eating genetically modified corn, you are eating gluten and have the potential for a reaction similar to that found with wheat gluten.
Now, you may say to yourself. No problem. I will avoid the genetically modified corn and just eat the original forms of corn. While not easy to find, the problem is that these forms of corn also contain zein. If your immune system has developed a reaction to zein, the source is irrelevant. Each time you consume it, your immune system is triggered. This makes corn of all sources a likely environmental trigger for an autoimmune response, regardless of whether it is genetically modified corn or not.
Follow the Money Trail
In combing around through different articles I came across one on the Evolution of Corn from the University of Utah Health Science. They state that the evolution of corn to the form that we know it today involved many of the genes in the genome. The change of these genes have resulted in five significant changes.
- Changes to the type and quantity of starch
- The ability to grow corn in different regions and climates. (Remember, it is the second most produced crop worldwide)
- Increased number of kernels per ear of corn
- Change to the kernel size, shape, and color
- Less susceptible to the effects of pests
Ironically, each of these five could also be argued as ways to increase the monetary yield per bushel of corn produced. This is money that is not going to the farmer, but to the industry and entities that control the crops. Some may call this conspiracy. I prefer to simply call it the truth. Genetically modified corn should be questioned as an option for human consumption. It is likely better stated as a science experiment for which we don’t know the outcome. Until we know more, I would advise following the principles of the Paleo Diet that avoids the consumption of grains.
With all of the fancy packaging and marketing that goes into food, it may be difficult to determine what is gluten free. Gluten free has become a catch phrase that is being used to drive the sale of many alternative grains. Until recently, many of these grains would not have been considered an option in most individual’s diets. Now, with all of the attention on gluten and the many ill effects that it has, finding gluten free options has become easier. However, when you closely examine the labels of many of the gluten free items, it quickly leaves you asking the question, “What is gluten free?”
What is gluten?
To better understand how to be gluten free, you have to know where gluten is found. The easiest
place to start is wheat. Wheat is the primary food that you worry about with gluten simply because it is the most prevalent. Wheat is added to multiple foods as a thickening agent. It gives the food more of “chewiness”. The part of wheat where gluten is found is the kernel. On a shaft of wheat, the kernels are at the top. The largest portion of each kernel is the protein where gluten is found. This protein is then refined and the gluten found in it is used by the food industry in many applications. However, don’t be fooled, this is by no means the only source of gluten in the standard American diet.
What is Gluten Free?
Gluten free is a marketing catch phrase these days that has very little real meaning to it. For the most part, it means wheat free. But in reality wheat free and gluten free is not the same thing. Something can be wheat free, but still have gluten in it. Herein is the problem. The adage “buyer beware” has never been more applicable than in the arena of gluten free. What is gluten free? The best answer to this question is to say grain free. I am often perplexed when I pick up items that say gluten free, only to look at the label and see that the first ingredient is corn. Corn has gluten. Corn is a grain and grains have gluten.
Grain Free is Gluten Free
If you are truly concerned with trying to figure out what is gluten free, let me give you some simple direction. Avoid grains if you want to be gluten free. Grains are a unique category of food in that they have a high amount of carbohydrate with a little amount of protein, but yet the protein that they do have is high in gluten. High carbohydrates and inflammatory proteins are a recipe for weight gain and diabetes. If you think this sounds ridiculous and is just part of the gluten free fad, ask yourself what the cases of diabetes continues to increase the more prevalent grains become in the standard American Diet.
You have been indoctrinated. I would even go as far as to say lied to about the qualities of grains. “Grains are high in fiber and should make up the majority of your diet as a healthy carbohydrate source”. This is the typical non-sense that you will hear from advocates of the RDA food guide pyramid, which I will remind you is sponsored by the food industry. The fact is that you can completely avoid grains and still have a healthy diet. Thousands of people do it every day and have been for years, and when I say years I mean since the dawn of this earth age. It is called the Paleo diet. Paleo diet principles provide quality carbohydrates without the harmful effects found with grains. If you want to avoid having to ask, “What is gluten free”, do yourself and family a favor and go Paleo.