Q: What is your opinion of GMOs? I understand they are a superior product because they are less likely to be attacked by bugs and so will keep our food costs down.
A: GMO is an acronym for “genetically modified organism.” GMOs are created by taking the genes of one species and placing them into the DNA of a food, or even an animal, to introduce a new trait. Sort of the way Wolverine got those incredible claws.
GMOs are superior in the sense that they can produce higher crop yields, as they are better able to tolerate toxic herbicides and are less likely to be affected by E. coli and salmonella. Crops can become resistant to threats from pests when they are injected with Bacillus thuringiensis, a soil bacterium. When insects try to eat the crops, the insects die.
If you’re living in the United States, you probably don’t know you’re eating GMOs because there are no laws requiring food manufacturers to tell consumers that their foods contain them. What’s more, an estimated 70 percent of the foods on supermarket shelves contain GMOs, including soy, corn, oil made from canola and cottonseed, sugar made from sugar beets, Hawaiian papaya, zucchini and crookneck squash. In fact, 91 percent of soy products and 85 percent of corn products in the U.S. contain GMOs.
One of the foremost experts in the world on GMOs is Arpad Pusztai, Ph.D. In the ’90s he and his research team were the recipients of a $3 million grant from the United Kingdom to safety-test GMOs. Their research showed that when genetically modified potatoes were fed to rats, the rats developed problems in the liver, brain, testicles and immune system as well as precancerous cell growth. Other researchers have found similar problems, and then some.
In a study published in the International Journal of Biological Sciences, rats that were fed genetically modified corn had disorders of the liver, kidney, heart, adrenal glands and spleen. Likewise, a Russian study reported the effects of feeding genetically engineered soy flour to female rats before, during and after gestating their young. The result was that 55.6 percent of the rats died after eating the GMO soy flour compared to 9 percent in the control group, which got soy flour that hadn’t been genetically modified. Of the GMO-fed rats that survived, 36 percent were underweight, compared to 6.7 percent in the control group. As for larger animals, there is much empirical evidence available. For example, in 2008 a farm allowed 13 buffalo to graze on genetically engineered cotton plants—and all 13 animals died within three days.
To help you find out what foods are GMOs, you can download a free guidebook from www.ResponsibleTechnology.org. Also, there are a few tricks you can use to get around the problem of hidden GMOs, such as buying organic foods, looking for products that say they are non-GMO, consulting a non-GMO shopping guide and avoiding foods that are likely to contain GMOs.
Editor’s note: Charles Poliquin is recognized as one of the world’s most suc-cessful strength coaches, having coached Olympic med-alists in 12 different sports, including the U.S. women’s track-and-field team for the 2000 Olympics. He’s spent years researching European journals (he’s fluent in English, French and German) and speaking with other coaches and scientists in his quest to optimize training methods. For more on his books, seminars and methods, visit www.CharlesPoliquin.com. IM