Archive for June, 2013

This afternoon, Moms Across America published an Open Letter to Monsanto and announced the publication via a nationally distributed press release.  The group hopes that the press release will help to increase the growing awareness of GMO food hazards as well as bring attention to the problems associated with increased pesticide use. You can see the actual press release here:  http://www.prweb.com/releases/2013/6/prweb10876514.htm.

Read the Open Letter to Monsanto on the Moms Across America blog here:  http://www.momsacrossamerica.com/open_letter_to_monsanto_from_moms

Let’s keep working to improve the safety of our food supply and remind legislators and corporations that U.S. citizens have a right to know exactly what is in their family’s food!

Happy Friday,

Muckraking MavenImage

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I live in Fresno, California right in the heart of bread basket of the West coast.  I can walk to Fresno State’s agricultural fields and regularly drive past their corn, cotton, and alfalfa on a regular basis.  There are beautiful orchards blooming in the springtime and large plots growing famous California raisins all around the neighborhood.

These are amenities that many might think I should appreciate more fully.  However, since I became aware of GMOs and the resulting increased pesticide use, I look around our town and cringe, wondering exactly how this could be adversely affecting my family every day.

Here are some enlightening facts about Fresno, California:

  • As featured in a recent WebMD article, Fresno is one of the worst smog cities in the country, ranked #4 in the nation, “High traffic and heavy farming make ozone a big challenge in this city.  Nearly 1 in 3 children in Frenso has asthma.”
  • Fresno also received a mention in an article presented by Scientific American, “Autism Clusters Found in California’s Major Cities,” By Marla Cone & Environmental Health News.  According to this article, “The ten clusters were located in Los Angeles County, the Laguna Beach/Mission Viejo area of Orange County, the La Jolla/Del Mar area of San Diego County, San Francisco, the Sunnyvale/Santa Clara are, the Redwood City area, and Fresno.”
  • Additionally, the LA Times cited the percentage of children in my regional school districts (Clovis/Fresno Unified) as averaging 0.6% of all children with an Autism diagnosis.
  • Finally, recent research this February 2013, entitled, “Air Pollutants Linked to Asthma-Related Epigenetic Changes,” suggests that, “In Fresno, not only do they have to deal with a lot of pollution, but the children have higher rates of asthma as well as allergic rhinitis and other allergies, including food allergies and atopic dermatitis, ” said Dr. Kari Nadeau.  “Compared with the usual rates of asthma (12%_ and allergies (30%) in California, the rates are 22% and up to 70% in Fresno,” she explained.”What we have the most unique data on is to be able to trace a molecular level change at the DNA level to a cell function change, which was then associated with a health outcome such as asthma,” said Dr. Nadeau, emphasizing that, “The changes in the DNA are not at the sequence level, but rather at the methylation level.”

Historically, the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) is charged with implementing restrictions and regulations concerning TACs (Toxic Air Contaminants) resulting from the Toxic Air Contaminant Act.  A paper titled, “Second Hand Pesticides:  Airborne Pesticide Drift in California,” points out that the state of California leads our country in overall use of pesticides.  More than 315 million pounds of these chemicals were sold in 2000.  I tried to find some more recent figures, however these are pretty scarce online.  What is clear is that the DPR seems to prefer changing the conditions of use to enable increased use of TAC-labeled pesticides with fewer restrictions – and this is a growing trend that began in 1995.

I’m sure you’ve guessed that I’ve already worried my poor head about which surrounding crops could be GMO – and most especially Roundup Ready.  Did you know that right now, the EPA is considering increasing the allowable levels of Glyphosate (Roundup) in our U.S. animal feed and food supply?!  Recent studies have proven that Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, may be one of the worst toxins to be regularly exposed to – let alone consumed daily.  I don’t like to even consider the potential for drift occurring in our hometown, but it’s ever-present.

Don't forget to tell the EPA no before July 1, 2013.

Don’t forget to tell the EPA no before July 1, 2013.

Learn more by reading these recent and condemning studies:

June 2013, Journal of Food & Chemical Toxicology, Highlights mention that Glyphosate initiates breast cancer cell growth.

April 2013, Entropy, Highlights conclude that this toxin induces systemic inflammation and may trigger G.I. disorders, heart disease, diabetes, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and more.

So, just like the FDA believes GMO foods are safe, the EPA believes that Glyphosate is safe.  However, if you really want a detailed explanation of just how unsafe and biased these beliefs are, spend some time reading this excellent article where Mike Adams breaks it down in simple terms.  The only reason why GM foods and Glyphosate are currently deemed safe is because the supportive research was completed and likely manipulated by biotech manufacturers – like Monsanto.  The increased allowances for Glyphosate residue on foods, edible oils, and animal feed is nearly 1 million times the confirmed amount needed for causing cancer!

Please take a few moments to learn more about the dangers of Glyphosate – whether consumed in the food we eat or breathed in from airborne pesticide drift – it’s definitely not an acceptable decision to increase the allowable levels!  Visit the EPA regulations page to include your comment.  Let the EPA know that we have had enough of this shoddy protection before their July 1st deadline!  It’s time to take a stand & restore the health of our nation.

Don’t forget to drop by the Moms Across America page for updates from Zen on her cross-country trip and to check out current parades planned across our nation on July 4th!

Have a wonderful night!

Muckraking Maven

Like any kiddo there are many foods that my son has come to prefer over the past 4 years. Since I became aware of genetically engineered food and its potential for harm, I have become adamant that he not eat GMO-containing foods. Let me tell you this is neither easy nor pleasant for its a very tough change for my 4 year old with Autism to understand why he can no longer have his Kinnikinnick animal crackers or chocolate-vanilla sandwich cookies.  What’s worse? We deal with some pretty severe picky eating and have already invested in several rounds of food therapy…making this switch even more challenging.

My little guy can read exceptionally well. He’s informed me that he doesn’t want any veggies in his juice. (Already checking out the labels…) He’s begged me to bring back his Juicy Juice and even argued with me at the store telling me, “Look, it’s 100% natural for 100% kids!”  Now he responds with, “Oh no! GMOooos!” Still not totally getting it, but I simply won’t budge on this one. It’s truly in his best interest to eat organic whole foods. His health has improved immensely since this dietary adjustment was made last August. He gets sick less often, has less upset tummy, and genuinely seems to feel better.

I decided to contact the food companies with products my son misses most and was seriously disappointed with the results. At the very start, I don’t even understand why it’s that much harder to find GFCF foods without GMOs. The children that eat these foods already have many issues with food allergies, G. I. complications, and the like. Why would genetically engineered food be considered a good idea?

What really got me going was the Ian’s website, which allows for a convenient search by allergen. They even have a checkbox for GMO Free, and yet when I click this box in combination with Gluten Free and Casein Free the results equal a big fat zero. From 18 products down to none! Why do they only offer GMO free/organic selections for the products containing wheat, gluten, milk, etc., and not the allergy-friendly selections?

Here is the handy search page for Ian's foods.  You can see that I've checked off 4 allergens - wheat, gluten, milk, and casein free.

Here is the handy search page for Ian’s foods. You can see that I’ve checked off 4 allergens – wheat, gluten, milk, and casein free.  There are 18 products available within these search parameters.

Here, I've performed the same search with the addition of GMO-Free.  18 choices disappear...

Here, I’ve performed the same search with the addition of GMO-Free. All 18 choices disappear…

Why is it so much more difficult for food producers to source GMO-free ingredients for children with food allergies?  There are 5 choices available - unless you're allergic to wheat, gluten, milk, or casein.

Why is it more difficult for food producers to source GMO-free ingredients for children with food allergies? There are 5 choices available – unless you’re allergic to wheat, gluten, milk, or casein.

I called Kinnikinnick to discuss their foods and got a scripted response from their customer service rep. She shared that their products are 80% free of GMO ingredients and that if they do decide to change and source non-GMO ingredients it will be a long transition-likely 5 to 6 years or more to complete. She encouraged me to believe the FDA position on GE food safety and also discussed the standard-BS-rhetoric everyone seems to spew about labeling costs, package redesigns, and other complications.  Oh well Mr. W, it looks like we’ll be waiting 5-6 years before we try another Kinnikinnick cookie or cracker.

I was so fired up after that call that I drafted and sent an email to the president yesterday at Kinnikinnick. You can imagine how surprised I was to get a fast reply. He agreed that the labeling issues were minimal, but shared his insight to the underlying problem concerning the economics of sourcing non-GMO ingredients. Now, I understand the basic concept of supply and demand, but was disappointed at his complaints concerning premium cost for the purchase of said ingredients. I don’t know about you, but if your child is on the same diet as mine (GFCF) you’ve been paying premium prices all along. In fact, for $5.99+ for a small box containing only 10 or so graham crackers, I’m surely paying premium pricing for Kinnikinnick.  Why should I feel sorry for a lucrative corporation that wishes to cut more corners under the guise of necessary profit when the health of my child is at risk?! Bah!!  Work it out, and faster than half a decade people! We Mothers have become intolerant to the industry’s lackadaisical attitude surrounding the elimination of genetically modified ingredients!

Here is an excerpt from the President’s email (Jerry Bigam):

The packaging is only a minor problem and easy to resolve1I will talk to my staff to make certain that they have the proper response2.  The only problem is that there is not a simple answer to your question.    The major problems associated are primarily economic.   In short, non-GMO ingredients are considerably more expensive than regular products –  Generally speaking most of these ingredients are at least 25% to 30% more expensive. In addition the supply of many of these ingredients is not as reliable as with conventional products3.  At the moment, food processors like ourselves must rely on the supply of ingredients from independent suppliers.  There are simply not enough non-GMO ingredients to meet market demands and until farmers decide to plant much larger crops of non- GMO varieties the processing industry will have great difficulty sourcing the necessary ingredients.   Since the GMO varieties generally provide a significant increase in crop production for farmers it has proven very difficult to reverse the trend since these varieties provide better returns for their annual farming efforts3.  On a side note, a recent article I read noted that GMO varieties are responsible for about 25% of the world’s food supply and a shift to non-GMO will have major problems around the world…

I might add that in the cookies you mention that all the items are non-GMO except for the Canola, glucose and soy lecithin4.  I would also add that we have taken a great deal of time and effort to make allergy friendly foods.  All of our foods are gluten free, dairy free, tree nut free, peanut free and some are also egg free.  The addition of the non-GMO condition to all of these allergy friendly foods is a major problem which is just becoming an issue5.   If consumers in general decide that non-GMO is the way to go then that may force many of the ingredient manufacturing companies to produce the varieties that processors like ourselves would prefer to source.”

Now, I have several things to point out from the above statement:  1. First, here is another insider’s admission that the labeling/packaging complaints are a minor problem.  2. The awareness of GMOs and their potential for harm is spreading – so much so that this food manufacturer has provided their representatives with a script.  3.  Non-GMO crops have been proven to provide better yield with increased nutrition as compared to popular GMO crops.  There is no truth to the supply of non-GMO crops being less reliable than competing genetically engineered varieties.  See this comprehensive info sheet for more detail from The Non-GMO Project.  The President does discuss an important point regarding the need for farmers to make a definitive switch to non-GMO crops before food producers will begin switching out GMO-containing ingredients for more “real food” choices.  This is an unfortunate, but true fact. However, I’d like to point out the truth that our momentum continues to grow and pressure these companies with each passing day.  We simply will not give up on labeling GMOs, in fact, a large number of us want them banned entirely!

4. Any amount of GMO ingredients will not work for my son – so it’s not comforting to hear that only 20% of the ingredients are GMO.  As if the presence of genetically engineered glucose (from corn-likely RoundUp Ready or BT), soy lecithin (from likely pesticide-resistant GMO soy varieties), and canola (from rapeseed – likely pesticide-resistant varieties).  20% risk is too much for me!  5. I’m still getting over my initial shock that GMO foods entered the market as early as 1992 with little notice or knowledge.  I’m glad to see that this is becoming a bigger thorn to our food producers – that means we’re getting closer to that tipping point we’ve been striving for.

Goodbye Kinnitoos

It looks like we need to continue reaching out to one another, our lawmakers, and even the manufacturers producing our foods.  We need to correct the false technical information (Like Jerry Bigam’s perception that non-GMO foods are less reliable and productive than the GMO counterparts or that a global switch to non-GMO crops might harm the state of our world.), continue spreading awareness, and growing in numbers.  For this week, I find myself back in the kitchen to plan my own homemade animal cookie recipe. I thank Trader Joe’s for their awesome, new GFCF Oreo-style cookies to replace the old Kinnikinnick ones getting more stale by the month in my pantry. There’s no way my son would even eat his veggies without the standard, one cookie reward! Out with the Ian’s chicken nuggets and off to my local GFCF bakery with GMO info in hand. Remember to do your homework and be thorough when checking ingredients, sadly there’s more to be wary of than just the basic allergens we’ve come to live with.

Love the Trader Joe's Version!

Learn more about GMOs:

Visit http://www.momsacrossamerica.comand join with others helping to make positive change within our food supply.

Spend some time on the Institute for Responsible Technology to learn the science and hazards of genetically engineered foods.

Here is an excellent resource for GMO Myths and Truths.

Contact your child’s favorite food manufacturers and tell them you’re opting out until they make this right!

Happy Friday,

Muckraking Maven

Last Tuesday, my oldest son graduated high school.  I am so proud and excited for him – although like most parents I hold my breath just a little as he begins his transition into adulthood, meaningful responsibilities, and accountability.  College is all lined up for this fall and he’s working hard over the summer to balance two jobs, some downtime with great friends, and creative projects.  Despite my overfilling pride for CJ’s accomplishments, there was a small part inside that feared the requisite traditions and events – the graduation ceremony, party, crowds, and temporary changes in routine through my youngest child’s eyes and with the all-encompassing veil of Autism.  These were not Autism-friendly functions, and yet, I was not about to miss CJ’s special moment.  So, I did what I do best, and got down to the business of writing social stories, sharing YouTube videos, discussing expected manners, and more for the weeks leading up to this special day.  Yet, for all the preparation in the weeks leading up to this event there was nothing I could do to prep my little guy for those times when the adults break the social rules – sending my W into overload at hyper speed without the logic, order, and calm he craves.

DSC05293

It’s true that all parents possess a huge responsibility in teaching our children how to behave well.  It’s also true that both typically developing and children with Autism must overcome challenging behaviors in a variety of social scenarios – but life on the spectrum presents a real landslide of unique and often misunderstood experiences.  Our children’s needs are diverse as the million-billion snowflakes in a blustery winter snowstorm!  With my son, we cope with sensory dysfunction on a daily basis – this means that he experiences life differently through his senses.  Some things that seem normal volume to many people are excruciating for W.  Too much visual stimuli results in an overwhelming brain fog and desire to run away and hide from the offending sensory input.  His body needs movement to regulate his senses when overloaded.  This is simply not possible at some events.  Combine the sensory challenges with communication delays, OCD, and anxiety and I’m sure you begin to understand the level of predictive thinking I must employ to arm him with the coping skills necessary for something as socially challenging as a graduation ceremony.  I’ve written over 50 stories for my little guy over the past three years.  We practice and learn social skills through role playing, creative floor time, and even sharing educational videos or iPad apps.  These are not measures that most parents of typically developing children must initiate.

In hindsight, I regret not wearing my boldest Autism regalia to perhaps generate a little more compassion and awareness to those surrounding us in the stands.  Maybe I would’ve avoided the ogling stares, hushed discourse, and aggravated harrumphs that we encountered with each trip to the restrooms.  Has no one else attended a public event with a preschooler-in-potty-training?!  Would these individuals prefer I sit still, clean up any resulting accidents right in the stands, and simply let my son scream out in protest at inopportune moments (like the Valedictorian’s speech) while engaging in self-injurious behaviors that draw even more of the above split-second judgment?

We were in high alert before we ever found a seat.  Too many people were pushy and rushing, which resulted in both me and W getting jostled about on the way to the entrance.  There were air horns, and whistles, loud uproars, and much stomping.  Ten minutes into the event, my youngest turned to me and said, “Okay, I’m done with the graded-i-cation.  Now let’s go home.”  I distracted him with snacks and encouraged him to cover his ears with hands when the noise became too much, but it wasn’t long until we began our many trips to the restroom – part escape and part functional.  I can’t complain when he’s actually going potty each time; so it’s unfortunate that our row didn’t have a little more consideration for a young child that was rightfully overwhelmed and coping the best way they knew how.  There was actually one man toward the end of our row that gave me a nasty look and refused to move his foot tripping my four year old.  W got a nice scrape on his leg.  This guy did this to us on two trips to the bathroom.  While sitting there with his wife and younger children.  I wish I’d stepped on his foot now –  I wish I’d stepped hard and aimed right for his little pinky toe where it would be certain to hurt!  What a jerk!  Way to live with a kind heart…but I digress.

At one point, my W bit down on his lips until they became bloody as he looked at me with tear-filled eyes asking me if we could go take a break away from this ceremony.  I scooped him up and away we went – our fifth trip through the crowd.  There weren’t many quite spaces to find, so we secured a little corner tucked a bit away from the bathroom.  I sat down with him, criss-cross-applesauce, and took a deep breath myself.  I was sad because I thought after all this chaos, I’m going to miss seeing my CJ get his diploma & do the walk across the stage.  W and I talked about the crowd and noise and even the mean man.  He asked me why no one was following the house rules – why they didn’t have quiet mouths?  I could not satisfy his desire for a logical answer – in his world adults make the rules, establish the norm, and are dependable to uphold this routine.  Today, the adults were unruly and loud and some were outright rude.  He asked me how we get back home from this ceremony that he did not like.

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Overwhelmed at the graduation ceremony and taking a break in a quieter corner of the stadium…

Overall, we made it through the entire ceremony – even fighting through the thick, elbow-to-elbow crowd to congratulate CJ after the event!  I was sweaty, exhausted, and strung out from my diversionary work, but we made it and without having to leave early or go sit in the car.  (I owe a big thank you to W’s oldest brother Jeffrey for his awesome shoulder ride to our destination!)  Luckily, I did get to return to the stands in time to see my son receive his diploma and to my surprise, actually enjoyed the fireworks display at the ceremony’s close, which totally changed Mr. W’s mood from overload to happy.  What have I learned from this experience though?  No matter how I try to prepare my son, there will always be the presence of the unexpected.  There will always be stares and snapshot judgments based on appearances alone, and the next time I will be certain to step on that a-hole’s pinky toe – so that I don’t sit stewing on the matter for over a week and a half.

We need to get out of default mode and open our hearts to a more generous form of understanding and compassion.  If 1 in 88 children, or 1 in 50 as updated by a recent CDC study,  are diagnosed on the spectrum than we have no choice but to appreciate the different and diverse perspectives within our society.  Please, the next time you’re at the store, some public event, or even on an airplane and you find yourself lapsing into a split-second judgment of your own – try first, to consider the deeper truth that may be present.  Try to offer compassion and love instead of critical stares or comments.  Give that Mom struggling with a crying baby a knowing smile – remember when your own were itty-bitties, too.  Offer a welcome, yet friendly distraction to the overwhelmed child and genuine understanding to their Mother or Father.  Oh, and please move your feet out of the way if you encounter an overwhelmed preschooler and Mom trying to get out of a stadium before full-out meltdown ensues.

Muckraking Maven - Family Photo

Congrats to CJ! We’re so proud and happy for your accomplishments!

Take care,

Muckraking Maven

A colleague shared a letter that she received from Senator Landrieu today in our Facebook Group, Major Moms.  I was deeply disappointed to see the misinformed perception of this legislator.  They were not in support of the Sanders Amendment, which would permit states’ individual rights to determine GMO labeling laws, because they believed labeling would be a burdensome cost to businesses, farmers, grocers, and food manufacturers.  Furthermore, this Senator stated their belief that this labeling legislation is not based on science because the FDA, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and EPA have all deemed genetically engineered foods to be safe.  Well, I’m certain you can understand how this got my blood boiling – within seconds of reading her posting!

So, for those who may not know,  I spent many years working in what is known as the identification industry – around 14 to be exact.  I was a marketing manager working for a leading marking equipment manufacturer.  Much of our strategy was focused on providing the maximum performance benefits for our customers at the lowest cost per “code.”  This industry is full of manufacturers who focus on providing solutions centered around the identification and tracking of produced products throughout a wide range of industries – including food packaging.  The sordid truth of this matter is that it would likely cost less than a penny to produce the necessary three character mark we’re all praying to see on the food sold in our country.  I’ll break it down as simply as possible to make the issue of labeling cost crystal clear.

Start looking at the products in your pantry and I'm certain you'll find the identification marks I'm discussing here.  How hard do you really think it would be to add three additional characters to indicate a product contains GMOs?

Start looking at the products in your pantry and I’m certain you’ll find the identification marks I’m discussing here. How hard do you really think it would be to add three additional characters to indicate a product contains GMOs?  We’re talking about a minuscule cost to implement!

1. Most foods require some kind of batch, best buy, or expiration identification on each individual package sold.  You’ll find this type of mark when you purchase nearly any perishable food – such as milk, eggs, or even beer.  Because this tracking is required for consumer safety, most food manufacturers and packaging/distribution houses already possess the necessary inkjet printing equipment to print these codes.  It’s even common today to find fruit packers making use of automated inkjet printing equipment for date and batch coding of produce.

2. Technically, the packaging design doesn’t need to change to accommodate the first wave of GMO labeling.  It would be extremely simple to add just three characters, “G-M-O,” right with the existing batch/expiry/date coding on products containing GMO ingredients.  These three characters, likely to be printed at a minimal size of 1/16″ in height would likely not add substantial or tangible costs for food producers, grocers, or farmers as is charged by Senator Landrieu.  Literally, the equivalent of a single drop of ink could achieve thousands of “GMO” prints on product packages.  I’m not sure about you, but I don’t really care about which ingredients, specifically, contain GMOs.  If any food includes them, I don’t want to touch it. If food manufacturers were required to include three additional characters on their existing marking – this would not strain the system with undue burden.

3. Grocers don’t stand to experience any cost in legislative efforts to promote GMO labeling.  Most food products will arrive on the truck with proper labeling in place.  Additional products that need to be packaged within stores could accomplish the necessary objectives by simply modifying the basic information printed by simple label printers – like most of us encounter at a deli counter, meat department, or even throughout produce sections.

There simply is no burden of cost for any of the concerned parties!  The biggest burden is the fact that unpleasant truths will be revealed to consumers – and we’ll truly reach the tipping point of change that so many of us are working toward.

In response to Senator Landrieu’s statement regarding our labeling movement not being based on science, I’d like to inform this lawmaker that the proof of safety rests on the very corporations that have been proven to conduct unethical business holding profits above people at every turn.  Sure the FDA and EPA have approved GMO foods, but more and more studies reveal unbiased, independent research from around the world every day that condemns the consumption of these foods.  More countries ban the import or growth of GMO crops as more damning evidence is revealed.  I’d like to know how this loose regulation, its compass of substantial equivalence, and lack of proper safety testing offer any real science to U.S. citizens!  I throw the statement regarding government’s efforts to remain based on science right back at this Senator.  Sure it’s based on science – the science of manipulation and fraud.  Despite any setbacks on the Sanders Amendment we’ll continue to fight and spread awareness.  Learn more about how Moms and others that care are really making an impact – visit www.momsacrossamerica.com today!

Happy Friday,

Muckraking Maven

Want to know more specifics on GMOs?  Read GMO 101 for a nice overview with links to additional information…

For those of us parenting children with Autism, we understand that every child is unique – like a snowflake.  However, for many of us, there are also many possible areas in common, particularly:

1. Recurring G.I. problems.     Autism, allergies, G.I. distress

2. Food allergies and intolerance.

3. Weakened immune system.

This list is not all-inclusive, and yet I know a lot of children on the spectrum that share many of these ailment “categories” with my own son.  Genetically, my family has no history of food allergies, intestinal diseases, or Autism.  Our history proves we’re more likely to suffer from heart disease and high blood pressure due to a natural affinity with down-home southern comfort foods.  Truly, healthy eating was not something I was ever concerned with before Wyatt.  At least, not beyond the grade-school-food-pyramid and hype on low fat and low cholesterol choices.

During my single days, I sustained myself on coffee, Diet Pepsi, SlimFast shakes, Special K bars, and Lean Cuisine dinners.  I only cooked on holidays or when I craved Betty Crocker brownies.  It was only when I got pregnant that I started really caring about the food I chose to eat.  My OB gave me the low down on the dangers of aspartame and I became friends, at last, with water.  I ditched the coffee and began my affair with herbal teas.

I made sure to eat a balanced diet; even drank V8 to ensure I consumed enough vegetables, carried around a huge cup of water, and tried to get my full day’s servings.  I ate fruits and salads, while avoiding sushi and aspartame – and always took my prenatal vitamins with a big glass of orange juice.  I did the same while nursing my son and quickly adopted an elimination diet upon the first hint of trouble.  After months of G.I. distress that included two hospital stays, recurrent intestinal bleeding, and far too many courses of antibiotics we switched to Elecare formula. (Available by prescription for $55/can.)  Slowly, his gut began to heal.

My little guy was always sick – fevers, runny nose, cough, ear infections, sore throats…  He had over 20 courses of antibiotics during his first year and a half of life, while also coping with emerging food allergies and recurring  Clostridium Difficile infections.  His doctors placed tubes in his ears, completed a tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy, and we added gluten-free to our dietary mix, which ultimately led us to a more organic path of eating.  We were never 100% organic though until last fall.

During our journey, I’ve seen the power of nutrition make a positive impact for my son Wyatt.  Diagnosed with Autism at age two, he’s come very far through long hours of early intervention, speech/OT therapies, and aggressive dietary changes.  We never cheat – not a morsel – not even when it comes to Play-Doh, sunscreen, my cosmetics, or any personal care products.  I am a watchdog with his school and other caregivers.  And yet, until last October, I was completely unaware of the presence of GMOs in our foods.

Let me tell you, just because something is labeled as gluten-free and casein-free does NOT mean it’s GMO-free.  In fact, it felt like I was walking on eggshells when I started reading labels to determine if a product contained genetically engineered ingredients.  Trust me, my son is one very picky eater.  However, upon learning about the risky business of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), I became determined to eliminate GM foods from our diet.  As a mother to a child with Autism, I know every child is different, but there is little risk in dietary improvement.  Good nutrition is important for all children, whether neurotypical or on the spectrum.

Did you know that independent research has noted the following concerns in animal trials utilizing GMO feed?

  • Agitated and anti-social animals
  • Distressed intestines, permeated guts, and digestive problems
  • Increased incidences of tumors and auto-immune diseases

Do you see any parallels here?  I sure do and although it may only be a small piece to the puzzle of Autism, I wholeheartedly believe that this neurological condition results from a variety of sources – genetic and environmental.  GMOs are in everything from the foods we eat to the vitamins we feed our children.  They’re used to culture vaccines and form medicines for a full range of ailments.  Now I’ll agree that some of these medicines have sustaining medical purpose (like insulin and other critical biologics), however, much of the biotech industry is more concerned with profit than safety – and the demonstrated ethics of corporations such as Monsanto prove a need for caution.  (Did you hear about the march against them held around the world on May 25th?  This was the largest peaceful protest ever launched against a single corporation in our planet’s history!  Over two million people joined together to further the movement supporting the labeling and safety research of GMOs produced by this corporate giant.)

Consider spending some time learning more about GMO foods.  It’s true that they’re approved by the FDA, but if you dig a bit deeper, you’ll see how the risks outweigh the benefits.  These foods have not been properly tested and the safety assurance sits in the hands of the chemical company that’s behind a food product’s genetic engineering.  Since I have improved my son’s diet, introduced quality natural supplements, and gone 100% organic, his immune health has improved, his sleep has improved, he is more verbal, and seems to genuinely feel better.  I know his progress is due to a combination of factors – but he is able to learn much better when he is not chronically ill.  It may not bring about a miracle transformation, but it’s worth your time to learn more about your food today.  Join thousands of Mom’s that demand labeling of GMO foods – it’s in our children’s best interests to do so.

Check out these excellent resources for more information on GMOs in general, and their potential involvement in the puzzle of Autism causation, increased allergies, and much more:

All my best,

Muckraking Maven