The Third Generation & Health

by Catherine Haug

In my post The Diet of Traditional Peoples: the Work of Weston Price & Frances Pottenger (May 21, 2009), I made a point about Dr. Pottenger’s 1930s research: he found that by the third generation on the wrong kind of diet, his cats had serious problems with their health including infertility and skeletal deformities. While it can be dangerous to extrapolate from cats to humans, Dr. Pottenger’s conclusions were born out by Dr. Price’s study of humans consuming a traditional (non-modern) diet vs those on a modern diet.

Now researchers in Russia have found that GM (Genetically Modified) soy products (grown from Monsanto’s seeds) also produce health issues in third generation hamsters fed a GMO diet. These health issues include sterility and infant mortality.

The Russian Study

Dr. Alexei Surov’s experiment was carried out jointly by Russia’s National Association for Gene Security and the Institute of Ecological and Evolutional Problems. In this 2-year study over 3 generations, they used Campbell hamsters, with a fast reproduction rate, divided into 4 groups. (1,2)

For the first generation, they used 5 pairs of hamsters per group, each of which produced 7-8 litters, totaling 140 animals. All were fed a normal diet, but:

  • control group’s diet was without any soy,
  • a second was augmented with non-GM soy,
  • a third used GM soy, and
  • a fourth contained higher amounts of GM soy.

For each successive generation, they selected healthy pairs from each parent group and fed them the same diet as the parent group. They monitored their behavior, how they gain weight, and when they give birth to their cubs.

Second generation: no serious health issues were noted. However, the growth rate was slower and they reached their sexual maturity slowly in the GM soy groups.

Third generation: distinct differences between the four groups were noted. They selected new pairs from each 2nd generation group, which generated another 39 litters. The new groups were fed the same diet as their parents; reproductive results were noted as follows.

  • Control group: produced 52 pups with a 5% death rate;
  • non-GM soy group: 78 pups;
  • GM soy group: 40 pups; of these 25% died, a five-fold higher death rate than the control group;
  • high-GM soy diet: only one female hamster gave birth, total of 16 pups, of which 20% died.

Quoting from Dr. Surov, speaking to the Voice of Russia, “The low numbers in F2 [third generation] showed that many animals were sterile.” (2)

Other Evidence about GM Feed

From Jeffrey Smith’s post (1):

“In 2005, Irina Ermakova, also 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 (see photo) and could not reproduce. …

An Austrian government study published in November 2008 showed that the more GM corn was fed to mice, the fewer the babies they had (PDF), and the smaller the babies were.

Central Iowa Farmer Jerry Rosman also had trouble with pigs and cows becoming sterile. Some of his pigs even had false pregnancies or gave birth to bags of water. After months of investigations and testing, he finally traced the problem to GM corn feed. Every time a newspaper, magazine, or TV show reported Jerry’s problems, he would receive calls from more farmers complaining of livestock sterility on their farm, linked to GM corn.”

One scary aspect is that even GM bedding (not feed) can lead to trouble (1):

“Researchers at Baylor College of Medicine accidentally discovered that rats raised on corncob bedding ‘neither breed nor exhibit reproductive behavior.’ Tests on the corn material revealed two compounds that stopped the sexual cycle in females ‘at concentrations approximately two-hundredfold lower than classical phytoestrogens.’ One compound also curtailed male sexual behavior and both substances contributed to the growth of breast and prostate cancer cell cultures.

Researchers found that the amount of the substances varied with GM corn varieties. The crushed corncob used at Baylor was likely shipped from central Iowa, near the farm of Jerry Rosman and others complaining of sterile livestock”

Generational Effect: Ticking Time Bomb?

So, just why does it take three generations for the problems to appear? We humans are in the middle of our first generation consuming GM foods and giving birth to the second generation. Our third generation won’t be ready to reproduce for 20 – 40 years, a long time to wait to see if humans will have the same reproductive issues as observed with the hamsters. By then, if we don’t put a halt to use of GM crops, it could well be too late to save humanity.

However, we can look to the past to see this generational effect in action with processed foods.

Processed Foods and Health

Processed foods, such as margarine and extruded breakfast cereals (Cheerios, etc.) were introduced in the early years of the 20th century, but did not come into common usage until after WWII. Now, for many of us, a good portion of our daily food intake is processed foods: ‘fast food,’ frozen dinners, commercially canned foods, packaged cookies and crackers, cold breakfast cereals, ‘meal in a box,’ pasteurized milk products, packaged soy milk, and so on.

Indeed, we baby-boomers are the first generation to have wide exposure to processed foods. Our third generation (great-grandchildren) are now reaching reproductive age.

Already we are noting that diseases such as heart disease and stroke, which once struck only those in old age, are now affecting high-school age children, our third generation.

Another disease – type 2 diabetes – was virtually unheard of prior to the early 1900s, and then only in the aged. And now it is rampant in our society, showing up in adolescents. True, some of this could perhaps be credited to improved diagnostic technique. But not entirely. One clear indicator of type 2 diabetes is obesity, and there are far more obese children today than there were when I was a child, or when my parents were children.

No time like the present

Do we need more examples before we wake up and take note? Do we need to see more innocent children suffer and die because we’ve lost our dietary way?

It’s time to return to a diet of sustainable, traditional foods grown and raised at home or by local farmers, and prepared from scratch. A time to return to proven Organic growing methods and spurning newfangled technology such as genetic modification, or toxic treatments such as herbicides and pesticides.

Let’s stop this third-generation mystery dead in its tracks.


  1. Genetically Modified Soy Linked to Sterility, Infant Mortality in Hamsters by Jeffrey Smith, as posted on the Huffington Post, April 20, 2010. Mr. Smith is Author and Founder of the Institute for Responsible Technology
  2. The Voice of Russia (a member of the National Association of Television and Radio Broadcasters, the European Broadcasting Union, Digital Radio Mondiale, and the Conference of International Broadcasters’ Audience Research).

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