Health Hazards of GMO Foods & Crops

by Catherine Haug, May 31, 2011

What is GMO?

Do you really know what GMO means? The acronym means Genetically Modified Organism. A related term, GE, means Genetically Engineered.

Do you think GMO & GE are just fancy terms for genetic breeding to perfect a desired trait in a plant or animal? If so, you’d be wrong. And it probably isn’t good for you or your family.

While genetic breeding combines the DNA of two varieties of the same species, or of two related species by normal sexual breeding, genetic engineering removes part of the DNA of one species, then combines it with the DNA of a totally different species. This is done by manipulating the biochemistry of the DNA during cell division (splitting of one cell into two new cells) and DNA replication (producing two identical copies of the cell’s genetic material).

For example, Bt corn:

The bacteria Bacillus thuringiensis (or Bt) produces a Bt toxin that is deadly to pests, and is sprayed on crops like corn, to protect the crop. It is considered an Organic pesticide. The biotech industry decided it would be much easier (and make more money for the biotechs) if the corn would produce its own Bt toxin, so farmers would not have to apply the spray.

To do this, they removed part of the DNA from Bt bacteria, and inserted it into the DNA of corn, to produce a totally new species of corn that produces the Bt Toxin as a built-in pesticide. (However, the new species is not given a new species name because the biotech industry wants people to believe it is the same as regular corn).

Bt corn is a primarily a field corn, used mainly as a feed crop for livestock (so if you buy commercial beef from your grocery store, you will likely be getting some GMO Bt toxin in the meat). Bt corn is also used to make corn flakes and other corn cereals, corn starch, corn tortillas, corn syrup and more. So be sure to buy Organic versions of corn products, if you want to avoid GMO Bt corn. [NOTE: even sweet corn is available in a Bt version, so be sure to buy only Organic corn for your dinner or picnic.]

What GMO foods are on the market now?

The following GMO foods have been available for some time now:

  • Corn, primarily a feed livestock such as beef, hogs, dairy cattle; it is also used to make Corn Flakes, corn oil, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, corn starch, corn meal, tortillas, and other corn-based foods that are not Organic. Sweet corn may also be Bt corn;
  • Soy, a popular ‘health’ food used to make cooking/salad oils, salad dressings, margarines, soy milk, tofu, gluten-free flour, textured vegetable protein (TVP), soy lecithin, and many more products;
  • Canola, another popular ‘health’ food used to make cooking/salad oils, salad dressings, margarines;
  • Cotton, while not a human food crop, is an important crop for clothing, bedding, etc., and is food for some animals (like sheep). The animal is then contaminated with the GMO products in the cotton, and if you eat the meat of that animal, you might be contaminated too. (See the ‘Human and Animal Studies’ section, below, for more on how this contamination can spread from one species to another).
  • Dairy, from cows treated with rBST, rBGH hormones

And the following GMO foods have been recently approved for production; some may already be in production; and the list gets longer every day; for example, GMO salmon is awaiting approval (1):

  • Wheat
  • Rice
  • Alfalfa
  • Flax (linseed)
  • Sugar beet – (all kinds of sugar)
  • Tomato
  • Potato
  • Cantaloupe
  • Radicchio
  • Papaya
  • Squash

Many more foods such as commercial eggs, milk and dairy products, meat (especially beef and pork) from animals fed on GMO corn, soy or alfalfa feed will likely also contain GMO substances.

Sugar beets and corn are our greatest source of inexpensive sweeteners. Corn sweetener is already GMO, not only as a crop, but also in the processing of the grain into HFCS using GMO bacteria. The same GMO bacteria are used to produce much of the Agave Nectar on the market (see my article: Sweet Cravings Part 2: Corn Syrups, Agave Nectar & Aguamiel for more).

Why is our government protecting bio-tech and big AG, at the expense of the American people, by NOT requiring GMO foods to be labeled? Because these industries have penetrated deep within our government, and we have allowed this to happen.

See my article Why are GMO Foods NOT Labeled? for more.

Human and Animal Studies

Human Studies

Despite the widespread, and ever-increasing deployment of GMO/GE foods, there have been NO direct studies of the impact of GMO foods on human health. However, there have been observations on this topic, and those observations are far from encouraging.

Can genetically modified DNA from one species transfer into that of another species on its own? The answer appears to be yes.

In a recent human feeding study involving Roundup ready soy (GMO), some of the test subjects were “found to have Roundup Ready gut bacteria!” Gut bacteria are a most important part of our immune system, our first line of defense against infected foods, and now these important bacteria are contaminated with GMO product? What?

Have you consumed soy milk from GMO soy? If so, then you probably have these mutant bacteria too!

Should you be concerned? I think so: “[This research] means that long after we stop eating GMOs, we may still have dangerous GM proteins produced continuously inside of us.” (3a) If it’s too late to save ourselves, perhaps we can save our children and grandchildren from this threat to our food supply.

Earlier this year, pre-natal doctors at a Canadian hospital noted Bt toxin in the blood of their pregnant patients and their fetuses. (GMO Bt corn produces Bt toxin as a built-in pesticide that tears apart the stomach of the pests). What about the stomachs of these fetuses? What kind of damage is being done there?? [NOTE: As of this writing, these findings have not yet been published, but have been accepted for publication in the peer reviewed journal Reproductive Toxicology.]

Animal Studies

There have been several studies on GMO foods using animal subjects; these, too, are very troubling.

Perhaps one of the most significant involves GMO soy fed to hamsters. “After feeding hamsters for two years over three generations, those on the GM diet, and especially the group on the maximum GM soy diet, showed devastating results. By the third generation, most GM soy-fed hamsters lost the ability to have babies. They also suffered slower growth, and a high mortality rate among the pups.” (6)

Other studies using mice and rats fed GMO corn or soy also showed significant harm to the animals’ ability to reproduce.

Thousands of sheep allowed to graze on Bt cotton plants after harvest; post mortems on the sheep showed significant intestinal and liver damage, damage that is typical of Bt toxin. (7)

In analysis of the livers of study animals fed GMO feed, some showed signs of toxicity from eating the GMO feed; some were smaller (partially atrophied); and some were significantly heavier (possibly inflamed). (3b)


  1. Physicians and Scientists for Responsible Application of
    Science and Technology (PSRAST): GE foods on the market
  2. Mercola:  Study Found Toxin from GM Crops is Showing up in Human Blood
  3. (a) Institute for Responsible Technology: Dangerous Toxins From Genetically Modified Plants Found in Women and Fetuses and (b) GMOs Linked to Organ Disruption in 19 Studies
  4. Dr Fankhauser: Hazards of Genetically Modified Crops and Foods (1999)
  5. Seeds of Deception (Jeffrey Smith’s website):
  6. Huffington Post: Genetically Modified Soy Linked to Sterility, Infant Mortality in Hamsters
  7. Pub Med: Sero-biochemical Studies in Sheep Fed with Bt Cotton Plants

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