Archive for the ‘Food allergies’ Category

Never

Posted: June 10, 2015 in Autism, Food allergies, Parental Rights

Something I don’t share very often is my love for creative writing and poetry. I’ve been so shaken after the California Assembly Committee voted “Yes” to SB277. Truthfully, I’m sad that so many lawmakers think it’s okay to ignore their constituents and eliminate basic constitutional rights.

There is enough evidence out there to prove vaccines are neither safe, nor effective. Don’t believe me? Consider just a few undeniable facts. 1) Doctors and pharmaceutical manufacturers are exempt from any liability to adverse reactions. Claims are tried in private court without true discovery or jury. 2) Whistleblower William Thompson, a key CDC scientist has come forward admitting CDC willfully manipulated data of safety research to skew intended results. Additional whistleblowers from Merck have come forward accusing company of fraud & “fixing” efficacy data for Mumps. 3) There have been no measles deaths in US in over 10 years, yet 108 deaths to adverse reaction to MMR vaccine.

In fact, vaccines can and do cause harm for some – it’s time that all of this collateral damage be respected and considered. Severe adverse reactions have rocked my family’s world. It’s all laid out in his medical history in stark black and white. And yet, despite the horrible history of life threatening hospitalizations resulting from vaccine adverse events…including intestinal bleeding…and the knowledge that milk proteins (ingredients my son is SEVERELY allergic to) are present within most of the recommended CDC vaccines; including DTaP, Hib, Hep A, IPV, MMR, Varicella, & Pneumococcal. I have to continuously remind his doctors that these ingredients are present…they are completely unaware. As was his first pediatrician in 2008.

Never

Never would I ask you

To set your own child ablaze

Giving warmth to my own.
Or, harbor fierce judgement

When you don’t understand

This life I have witnessed.
Lucky, you can afford

The willful ignorance

Like I once had before.
Never would I ask this if –

It might cause harm again.
You dare judge my choices

And never felt that fire

Burn your soul with dogma

Hot with lies forcing you

To face conflict every day?
Never would I expect

You to risk your child’s health

In exchange for my own.

All my best,

Muckraking Maven

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Many years ago, I was a marketing manager at a global manufacturer of industrial marking and coding products.  I also spent several years working with a bar code scanning manufacturer who was very involved in providing innovative automatic data capture solutions for a large number of challenging industries – including packaging. In my experiences working in these roles, I learned about how all manner of product was required to be marked or identified in some way.  Our clients needed to mark individual products with expiration dates or best buy codes.  They needed to identify entire lots or batches of products produced.  They not only needed to mark the products, they needed to track them through the manufacturing and distribution process.  Today, even the U.S. government tracks parts and assets used throughout the military with item unique identification codes (IUID) throughout their full life cycle of usage.  Whether for compliance to various regulations or conscientious safety reasons, these identification marks are made on parts and products from glass to metals to pharmaceuticals and even food products.  Today, you only need to look on the bottom of any can of soda to see a small inkjet print providing this identification.  Open your fridge and look at a container of milk or juice – you’ll likely find another inkjet or laser mark providing the product’s expiration date.  These marks are everywhere.  We rely on them to keep us safe.

Close-up view of actual existing identification marks on juice box.

Example identification mark as printed on typical juice box with batch, expiry, country of manufacture, and other information. This article proposes that the food industry could easily add three additional characters to identify various products as “GMO,” for far less than one penny. In fact, a typical industrial small character inkjet printer may print up to 85 million marks per single liter of ink – with one liter of ink priced at only $90 on today’s market. Most food manufacturers and distributors already have this type of equipment in place on their production lines.

Time and time again, pro-GMO food manufacturers present the suggestion that requiring labeling on GMO-containing foods is too cumbersome, expensive, and unproductive.  They suggest there are a great many hardships that must be overcome before the adoption of GMO labeling could be fully implemented – that the cost of food would soar, small producers would be overtaken with burdensome cost, and some retailers may be unable to accommodate mandated regulations.  The real truth to the cost myth associated with labeling GMO foods is that the biotech and food industry have been feeding us lies designed to emotionally impact voting participants.  They know that we are all affected by the fears associated with rising prices or economic hardship.  They know that these lies influence voters and have been effective in defeating both Prop 37 in California and I-522 in Washington in the past two years.

I am here to share some of the truth behind these labeling lies.  I have worked in the identification industry for well over a decade and the most constant thing I’ve learned in this time is that just about every company has a need to produce some kind of identification for tracking every product they manufacture.  The framework for this level of identification is already in place for most manufacturers – especially those within the food industry.  Regulations and industry quality standards require most foods to be tracked by production batch, provide an expiration date, and more, so that safety concerns can be controlled quickly and thoroughly in the event a recall becomes necessary.  Most of these manufacturers, and even many distributors, already possess the identification equipment to make these marks on products and packages within their facilities.

There is absolutely no hardship in requiring such manufacturers or distributors to add three characters to their existing identification mark.  In fact, we’re talking far less than a single penny to produce millions of such markings.  In this industry, our customers often look at a metric defined as the cost per mark.  This takes into account the actual cost of the proportion of ink, or other necessary material, required to produce actual marks on a customer’s packages.  Of course, we also consider the cost of maintenance and other important factors, but remember, these guys already have this type of equipment sitting in their production/distribution facilities, right now.  They don’t have to go and buy a new machine – it’s likely already there and has been printing batch, expiry or best buy date codes for years.  They just need to update the equipment’s existing programs to include three little letters, “G-M-O.”  I asked for estimated “cost per mark” figures from a number of companies on LinkedIn.  I would like to quote one leading manufacturer’s quoted cost per mark metric to ensure you understand how minuscule this labeling cost really is, “85 million marks per liter of ink with one liter of ink approx. $90.”  This cost is projected for small character inkjet marking, however another marking manufacturer suggested laser might be the best method of coding such information because these marks are impossible to tamper with after printing.  Either way a company might chose to go, the cost is not a factor.  Laser doesn’t use ink and the cost of ink to produce three additional characters alongside existing individual product coding is a non-issue!  Take 85 million marks and divide this number by three and you’ll agree we’re talking well under a penny for basic GMO labeling per item.

So how is it that representatives from the Grocery Manufacturers’ Association and big biotech corporations continue to threaten voters with increased cost myths?  How do these distributors or manufacturers suffer from any hardship in adding three additional small characters to their existing coding process?  They only get away with this ruse because most people have no way to know or understand the actual cost of such things.  Why would an individual even care about the story behind the tiny marks on packages they encounter every day?  I didn’t until I entered the identification industry many, many years ago.  Seriously, think about these facts and share this article so that others may also understand the issue of cost is a myth and what’s worse, I believe this is a well known truth throughout the packaging industry by its biggest stakeholders.

These companies don’t need to incur costs redesigning packages or producing fancy new labels.  They don’t even need to provide extensive information, because for most consumers it only matters if a product contains GMO ingredients – not what percentage is present or specifically what ingredients are classified as GMO.  Three little characters printed by existing manufacturing equipment on individual product packages solves the debacle completely and without additional cost.

The real cost is the perception and recognition that these foods may not be “substantially equivalent” as the industry would like us to believe.  Ultimately, they are afraid that more of us will stop buying these products if such a label is enforced and mandated.  If it becomes even easier for us to avoid it because it’s clearly labeled.  If this “hyped up” issue becomes a reality that is spelled out on packages where consumers notice – if it’s mandated by state-level or federal government – then it must not be just a bunch of hullabaloo!

A close family friend once said to me in jest, “Well my kids haven’t started glowing yet, so I’m not really worried about it.”  But, I guarantee that the presence of such labeling would give validation and credibility to growing consumer concern surrounding GMO foods and may give more shoppers, like my good friend, some pause within the store aisles.  These are the REAL truths behind the industry’s myths.  Many corporations have spent millions of dollars repeatedly to keep consumers in the dark – not because the actual labeling process is costly or burdensome, but because it may be the death of their profits and they know it.

Yours truly,

Muckraking Maven

Learn more:

  • Want to understand more basics on the potential hazards of GMO foods?  Read GMO 101 here.
  • Are you coping with food allergies, Celiac, or other health concerns?  Did you know GMOs may be hidden these specialty foods too? Get information here.

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

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

There are still so many people that are completely unaware of the genetically engineered foods all around us.  I wanted to provide a brief overview that may help others to understand the critical need for all of us to examine our family’s nutrition amidst the chaos of daily life.

What is a GMO and why would it be in my food?

A GMO, or genetically mutated organism, is scientifically altered changing the DNA of a plant or animal.  Using genetic engineering, it’s possible for biotech companies to insert genes from various bacteria, viruses, and other resources, forcing them directly into a plant’s DNA.  Once the gene is integrated into the DNA of a plant cell, the cell can be cloned into a complete plant.  Although the biotech industry describes these processes as exact and scientific – the truth is that it’s very primitive and randomized.  Such insertion of genes is often facilitated with the use of a gene gun, literally shooting the desired genes into a plate of cells.  The process is rife with scientific uncertainty and risk.

Today, the most commonly grown GM crops include soy, corn, cotton, and canola.  Processed foods are full of variations of soy and corn ingredients.  If you produce dinner from a packaged box off the grocery store shelf, there’s a high probability that the meal contains GMOs.  If your favorite foods are produced by companies like General Mills, Pillsbury, Betty Crocker, and Campbell’s then it’s a pretty safe bet that you’re consuming genetically mutated organisms.

So, What’s Wrong with GMOs Anyway?  Didn’t the FDA Approve these Foods?

Let’s travel back in time to the year 1992.  During this time, policy was being written for how the FDA would evaluate and regulate the release of GMO foods.  Scientists at that time had some very powerful concerns and criticisms of policy in development.  In fact, the general consensus among FDA scientists was that consuming these foods may lead to unexpected, difficult to detect side effects; including allergies, toxins, new diseases, and other nutritional concerns.  Scientists at this time urged the agency to force longer-term studies regarding safety.

Here are some quoted concerns from actual FDA documents circulated in the early 90’s:

  • The possibility of unexpected, accidental changes in genetically engineered plants justifies a limited traditional toxicological study.
  • Increased levels of known naturally occurring toxins, appearance of new, not previously identified toxins, increased tendency to gather toxic substances from the environment and undesirable alterations in the levels of nutrients.
  • By trying to force an ultimate conclusion that there is no difference between foods modified by genetic engineering and foods modified by traditional breeding practices, the agency was trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.
  • There is no certainty that [breeders] will be able to pick up effects that might not be obvious.  This is the industry’s pet idea, namely that there are no unintended effects that will raise the FDA’s level of concern.  But time and time again, there is no data to back up their contention.
  • What has happened to the scientific elements of this document?  Without a sound scientific base to rest on, this becomes a broad, general, ‘What do I have to do to avoid trouble’-type document…It will look like and probably be just a political document…It reads very pro-industry, especially in the area of unintended effects.

The Division of Food Chemistry and Technology recommended that the FDA test every GM food before it enters the marketplace.  They never did any testing.  Instead, they threw the ball back into the biotech company’s court and relied on companies like Monsanto and Dow to prove that such foods were safe.  How did this happen?  Well, it’s easy when the man placed in charge of the FDA, Michael Taylor, was Monsanto’s former attorney and later, their Vice-President.  All FDA conclusions regarding the safety of GMO foods are based on superficial, biased data and manipulated research.

How trustworthy is a company like Monsanto?  Responsible for Agent Orange, hiding PCB pollution, and now Glyphosate (RoundUp) pesticide and genetically engineered foods?  Well, they’re bad enough that two million people from 52 countries in 436 cities marched in protest against them last Saturday, May 25th.  This is the biggest demonstration of protest against a single company in our history!

So, how safe does the FDA policy statement, “The agency is not aware of any information showing that foods derived by these new methods differ from other foods in any meaningful or uniform way,” leave you feeling?  It’s a blatant lie if you examine the concerns brought up by Linda Kahl, Louis Pribyl, Gerald Guest, and other FDA administrative professionals, scientists, and specialists during the development of 1992 policy.  (Would you like more specifics on all the above?  Download the free presentation that’s offered by the Institute for Responsible Technology.  It contains an elaborate and helpful explanation of how our food system enabled GMOs, their potential for harm, and the research that proves a need for extreme caution.)

We truly have a revolving door between the government officials sworn to protect us through various protective agencies (FDA, EPA, USDA, etc.).  A true boycott is the only way we can really generate the consumer tipping point needed to remedy our food supply.

We truly have a revolving door between the government officials sworn to protect us through various protective agencies (FDA, EPA, USDA, etc.). A true boycott is the only way we can really generate the consumer tipping point needed to remedy our food supply.

What’s the Worst thing that Could Happen?

Well, there are a whole range of independent studies that have been performed around the world that correlate many health problems with the consumption of GMO foods.  They have been linked with potential causation to cancers and other auto-immune diseases, food allergies, various G.I. problems, Autism, ADHD, gut dysbiosis, and worse.

Let’s take a closer look at the three major types of genetically engineered crops to understand better, how their “unintended” effects may harm us:

1. Poison drinkers:  RoundUp Ready soy, corn, etc. with genetically engineered herbicide tolerance.  Poison drinker crops are able to withstand increasing amounts of herbicide applications.  However, they’ve left us scratching our heads due to herbicide resistant weeds and numerous health problems – including increased pesticide residue on our foods.

2. Poison producers:  BT Corn and cotton with genetically inserted BT toxin pesticide producers.  These GMO crops are gifted with the ability to produce BT toxin right within every cell of the plant they’re transferred to.  Although the EPA/FDA believe these foods are safe, because they claim it’s impossible for BT toxin to randomly mutate within our digestive tract.  However this assumption is founded on Monsanto’s research.

3. Virus-based:  Yellow squash, zucchini, and Hawaiian Papaya are genetically engineered by inserting target transgenes into a virus, which infiltrates the cells and possesses the potential for random and unexpected mutation.

Did you know that most of the corn grown in the U.S. is GMO BT corn, a poison producer?  This has the BT toxin gene inserted into every cell of a plant – you can’t wash it off – there is no way around consuming it.  It’s even regulated by the EPA!  However, the FDA considers it substantially equivalent to conventional corn.

Studies have proven that BT toxin, which is expected to be destroyed during its travels through the human digestive tract, may instead survive and be detected in human blood – it’s even been detected within the blood of unborn fetuses!  It’s quite possible that it adversely affects human DNA, resulting in a problematic imbalance within the gut that contributes to a wide range of serious conditions or worse.

However, the biotech companies don’t like to present any information that sheds a negative light on their products.  In fact, they often launch misinformation campaigns (like they did in California over Prop. 37), criticize and threaten credible, independent resources (Dr. Arpad Pusztai), and remind the concerned people that the FDA has verified their products as safe for human consumption.  Remember the FDA’s position, “The agency is not aware of any information showing that foods derived by these new methods differ from other foods in any meaningful or uniform way.”  When these tactics don’t work, biotech lobbyists and game players are not above strong-arm techniques to sway political and legislative influence. (Monsanto Rider in 2013 Ag Bill)  Remember, in this business it’s profits over people…

Pro-GMO critics have been hard at work trying to discredit Seralini's study that proves GMOs may cause serious harm through consumption.

Pro-GMO critics have been hard at work trying to discredit Seralini’s study that proves GMOs may cause serious harm through consumption.

This, my friends, is why I am so compelled to write about this subject.  I feel this betrayal deep within my bones and I want our legislators to do what is right for our world’s health.  How dare they approve untested foods and medicines – and then not even tell us about it!  If my Fairy Godmother popped up and offered me a wish right now, I swear I’d ban GMOs from the entire planet.  Penny for your thoughts on these matters?! Leave me a comment!

How Can We Get Rid of GMOs in our Food Supply?

First, we must become educated on the issue.  Next, we generate increased awareness within our own circles of friendship and boycott GMO containing products and companies that contribute funding to thwart the legislation of labeling initiatives.  We vote for progress with each trip to the supermarket through the choices we make for our family’s dinners.  We make noise about the issue and continue to stay connected to remain aware of important calls to action.  When we band together, we help to create a consumer tipping point that forces profitable food manufacturers to commit to eliminating GMO ingredients throughout their food products.  This momentum, creates a cascading movement for more and more food producers to source non-GMO ingredients to meet our growing consumer demand.  This issue is far too big for our government to remedy alone.  It’s up to us to show them exactly how serious we are about these matters!  Visit Mom’s Across America March to learn how you can get involved with change today!

Learn more about GMOs by browsing these excellent reference sources:

All my best!

Muckraking Maven