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Monday, September 26, 2011

Genetically modified food crops are safe??!?

The announcement has been made. The pillars of medicine have decreed it ya gotta believe it!

These two rates are littermates, both 19 days old, the larger one fed standard rat chow, the smaller one also fed genetically modified soy. H'mm - GM foods are safe?

We now have an epidemic of chronic non-communicable diseases in the world. This includes diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease among others. As a medical doctor with a keen interest in nutrition it strikes me as quite a coincidence that this is occurring and escalating rapidly just a few decades after we began introducing, and widely distributing genetically modified foods into the diet of the world's people.

Years ago when I first learned about the genetic modification of food I wondered (a) if it would work and (b) why it was needed and I even wondered (c) whether it would be a risk to life and health on the planet. I understood Mendelian genetics and with the hybridization of plants by cross-pollination I felt that agricultural science probably already knew the best ways to increase crop productivity and increase plant resistance to pests.

Plants have been genetically modified in order to increase crop yields and decrease susceptibility to pests. By far the most common genetic modification to these plants is the addition of a gene that codes for a pesticide. Pesticides kill microbes and insects by inhibiting their living enzymes. Apparently our government believes that pesticides won't affect our enzymes or that we can wash off the pesticides from the plant foods that contain them. When it comes to genetic modification, this is one thing that cannot be washed off because the insecticides are already inside the cells of the plants.

     The majority of the soybean plants grown in North America contain genetic modifications. For corn it's the same thing - even now with sweet corn.These two are the most successful genetically modified crops. Among other noteworthy GMOs were the frost tolerant tomato plants which were not successful, because they didn't taste so great with a salmon gene spliced into them. Genetically modifying or splicing of genes is done through a DNA virus which can insert the desired gene into the target plant or organism.

Though there is no hard evidence it has anything to do with genetic modifications, along a similar line comes the issue of soy formula and the dramatic increase in type I diabetes among children who were fed soy based infant formula. The world medical community is well aware of this. I agree wholeheartedly with European Pediatricians who now strongly discourage the feeding of soy formula to infants. Because of the coincidental timing of the epidemic of chronic diseases and the mass introduction of GMO foods, I strongly encourage the agriculture and food industry researchers to explore this coincidence to find any link that may exist.

What can we do in the meantime? We can vote with our pocketbooks, and simply refuse to buy any foods which have been grown from genetically modified crops. Check out our website, Food 101, for more information on genetically modified foods. 

Jonathan B Murphy, MD


  1. You do that rat study yourself?

  2. The study comes from Russia, and was taken from the Institute for Responsible Technology website (

    I quote the webpage:
    Years of Reproductive Disorders from GMO-Feed

    In 2005, Irina Ermakova, ... with the Russian National Academy of Sciences, reported that more than half the babies from mother rats fed GM soy died within three weeks. This was also five times higher than the 10% death rate of the non-GMO soy group. The babies in the GM group were also smaller and could not reproduce.

    In a telling coincidence, after Ermakova's feeding trials, her laboratory started feeding all the rats in the facility a commercial rat chow using GM soy. Within two months, the infant mortality facility-wide reached 55%.