Barbeque season is finally upon us, and the staple item at millions of outdoor family picnics around the nation will be golden cobs of plump corn, glistening with buttery glaze and bursting with the flavors of spring.
Even if fresh corn doesn’t whet your appetite, perhaps you’ll be surprised to discover that if you’ve eaten yogurt, ketchup, barbeque sauce, diet soda, farmed beef or poultry, fruit juice, salad dressing, breakfast cereal, tortilla chips, jam, honey roasted nuts, wraps, canned fruit, soup, baked goods, mayonnaise, candy, peanut butter, bread or even milk today, then you’ve already eaten a serving of corn and corn derivatives. In fact, you’ve most likely—and unknowingly—already eaten several servings of corn today.
Corn is one of the most widely produced, used and consumed foods in North America, by animals and humans alike. But the corn we are eating today is extremely different from the original, ancient vegetable that once nourished our ancestors long ago. The vast majority of modern-day corn planted in the U.S. – approximately 88% of it – has undergone extensive genetic modification (known as genetically modified organisms, or GMO). GMO corn is a crop that has been artificially engineered for agricultural warfare, designed to survive through lethal attacks of weed-killers and to murder marauding insects by destroying their intestines upon ingestion.
But while the North American governments continue to protect—and to even subsidize—the growth and consumption of GMO corn products, a growing body of research is revealing that these vegetable super soldiers aren’t just conquering the laws of nature. Studies on the effects of GMO corn are showing that these Franken-stalks are also quietly conquering our own health, and could possibly lie at the heart of growing mass-epidemics of illness, disease and cancer.
Turning a Deaf Ear to the Effects of Modern Corn
Science is still uncertain as to whether genetically modified foods are safe to be consumed by humans. Lack of long-term GMO studies and health effects has made the true extent of long-term health consequences unknown. Therefore, the European Union has leaned on the side of caution by banning the use of all GMOs, as has the UK, Japan, Australia, and two dozen other countries around the world, seeking to protect the well-being of their citizens.
Meanwhile, in North America, the majority of corn and other crops that we regularly eat come from genetically modified seeds, most of which were created in the laboratories of Monsanto Company, a multi-million dollar biotech agro-corporation that controls most of the U.S. farming industry. Moreover, Capitol Hill has recently approved an annual agricultural bill that not only allows GMO corporation like Monsanto to plant and sell GMO crops without federal approval, but also disables federal courts from stopping the planting and selling of these potentially hazardous plants “even if in the course of its assessment the [U.S.] Department [of Agriculture] finds that it poses previously unrecognized risks.”
In light of such drastically opposite approaches when it comes to this nation’s health – and in light of Monsanto’s past track record of creating products that later resulted in disastrous, health-damaging effects – we cannot possibly go on trusting our health and safety to the hands of such bottom-line ethics. Before you purchase your next ear of sweet corn (or one of the thousands of products made with corn meal, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup and other corn-based ingredient), take a closer look at the scientific research examining modern corn, and some of the terrifying effects it could be having on your health.
Some Kernels of Truth about GMO Corn:
- A 2008 long-term study commissioned by the Austrian Agency for Health and Food Safety looked at how Monsanto’s genetically modified corn, currently eaten and sold in the world today, affects the fertility of mice. The mice which were fed the GMO corn had significantly lower fertility rates than the mice fed natural, non-GMO corn. Disturbingly, this declining ability to have babies continued down through future mouse generations as well.
- A comparative analysis published in the International Journal of Biological Sciences examined the health effects of three different varieties of Monsanto-developed GMO corn on mice. While the specific effects differed depending upon the variety of GMO corn that was eaten, the dose that was consumed, and the sex of the mammal, all three varieties of GMO corn caused damage to the animals’ major detoxifying organs, namely the liver and the kidneys. Other effects were also found in the heart, adrenal glands, spleen, bone marrow, lymph nodes and other blood-making organs—all of which are signs of severe toxicity.
- This past year, Food Chemical Toxicology published the results of a two-year study conducted by scientists at the University of Caen, Institute of Biology in France, looking at the effects of genetically modified corn. The research showed that, in both male and female rats, the death rates for the animals fed GMO corn was two to three times higher than the animals eating non-GMO corn. The GMO-fed mice were also four times more likely to develop tumors. GMO-eating females developed more mammary tumors, as well as pituitary gland and hormonal abnormalities. GMO-eating males developed significantly more cases of liver damage, liver failure and severe kidney malfunctions.
- Monsanto’s GMO corn is engineered to be immune to glyphosate-based weed-killers, such as Monsanto’s trademarked Roundup® herbicide, used on crops and fields nation-wide. This saves farmers the trouble of having to till their soil and de-weed their fields first, allowing them to bathe their lands with abundant amounts of glyphosate herbicides in the presence of corn, without concern that their corn crops will be killed. However, this also means that modern corn is laced with extensive glyphosate residues that we eat on a regular basis. Research shows that regular, long-term intake of glyphosate is linked to increased risks of gastrointestinal disorders, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, depression, autism, infertility, cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease.
- The glyphosate-resistance of GMO corn has encouraged such an over-abundance of glyphosate-based herbicides to be dumped into the environment worldwide that nature has started to respond in kind, with the evolution of “superweeds.” A report published by the National Academy of Sciences Board on Agriculture and Natural Resources found at least nine species of weeds that have naturally evolved to withstand glyphosate weed-killers. Other studies are beginning to discover certain insects that are adapting to GMO corn’s inherent insecticide abilities. As nature starts to catch up to our laboratory antics, the agricultural and economic advantages of GMO corn are starting to become obsolete, and are forcing farmers to dump even more varieties of toxic chemical herbicides and pesticides on our foods in order to stay ahead of nature’s race.
- GMO corn contains an extremely high level of formaldehyde, a chemical linked to adverse health effects and various forms of cancer. While one study found that 0.97 ppm of formaldehyde is toxic to mammals, GMO corn was found to contain 200 times that amount.
- Profit Pro, a crop analysis and management company, recently released a report that showed staggering nutritional deficiencies in GMO corn when compared to non-GMO corn. For example, while average non-GMO corn contains 6130 ppm of calcium, GMO corn contains 14 ppm, four-hundred-and-thirty-seven times less than the original vegetable. Non-GMO corn contains 113 ppm of magnesium, and GMO corn contains 2 ppm, which is fifty-six times less. Non-GMO corn contains 14 ppm of manganese, while GMO corn contains 2 ppm. Deficiencies in these vital nutrients are associated with increased rates of osteoporosis, cancer and other diseases.
Navigating through the Maïze of the Massive Corn Industry
With GMO corn appearing in almost every packaged food and beverage in the grocery store, as well as being the staple feed of the cattle and poultry that most of us eat daily (the industry is even trying to get farmed salmon to eat corn), it’s extremely difficult to escape consuming this Franken-stalk in one form or another.
However, there are a few steps we can confidently take to protect ourselves and our families from over-consuming genetically modified foods. Firstly, join the ongoing fight raging in several states right now that are lobbying for clear labeling of all genetically engineered ingredients. We, as consumers and as citizens, have a right to know what we are being sold and what we are being fed.
Secondly, make a point of purchasing organic, non-GMO corn when possible. Farmers that are fighting against the countless financial pressures and sanctions that Monsanto uses to monopolize North American agriculture deserve your support in being allowed to provide you with natural, healthy and nutritious food options. Buying your vegetables and fruits at farmers markets is a fantastic way of supporting local farmers, while also ensuring that you and your family are eating foods of the highest quality.
Thirdly, now is the season to try your own hand at vegetable gardening! There are many heirloom varieties of corn and other crops that have been naturally developed by organic farmers over hundreds of years, which have been proven to be safe and naturally resistant to various pests and other problems. Growing your own food is not only a fun and fulfilling activity, but it allows you to control what other chemicals and products your vegetables are being exposed to before you eat them.
Lastly, use this information as a push to buy less processed and refined foods, which are the worst culprits when it comes to concentrated exposures of sneaky GMO corn-based ingredients. In general, processed foods run rampant with countless harmful ingredients, additives and preservatives, and contribute heavily to weight gain and obesity while lending almost nothing nutritionally. Eat a diet of whole, unprocessed foods, and purchase organic foods when possible to ensure that you are reaping the maximal health benefits of your food, while also protecting yourself from harmful products and man-made laboratory experiments that have yet to be proven safe.
Related Reading: What is a GMO?