Are GMOs causing an increase in allergies?


According to a recent national survey, the potential that GMOs might cause allergies is a prime concern of consumers. The survey was conducted by GMO Answers, an initiative of the Council of Biotechnology Information, an industry trade group. Scientists and experts provide answers but are not paid to do so. The answer to that question is “no”, writes Lisa D. Katic, a food policy consultant:

No commercially available crops contain allergens that have been created by genetically engineering a seed/plant. And the rigorous testing process ensures that will never happen.

Food allergies are tricky issues. According to Food Allergy Research and Education, “nearly any food is capable of causing an allergic reaction.” Most allergens are proteins, and the organization states that ninety percent of food-allergic reactions in the United States are caused by allergens from only eight foods: peanuts, tree nuts, milk, eggs, wheat, soy, shellfish and fish.

Of those, only soy is commercially available in genetically modified varieties. But if a person is allergic to conventional soy, s/he will also be allergic to GM soy as it is not different compositionally. The Food Allergy Service, maintained by the Institute of Food Research in the United Kingdom, asserts that “to date, no food derived from GMOs has been found to cause new allergies.”

The AllergenOnline database at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, independently managed by a panel of internationally recognized allergy experts who review and vote on allergen inclusion, does not list any allergens coming from GMOs. The database “lists every known protein that has been shown to cause an allergy and or even might be suspected of possibly causing a reaction,” said Richard Goodman, a food allergy research professor who runs the database at the university. Three main tests are conducted to ensure that any new proteins from GM foods do not cause allergies: in vitro test, in silico test and digestion.

The in vitro test introduces new proteins into serum from people with existing allergies. The new proteins pass the test if the antibodies in the serum do not attack it. The in silico test compares the new proteins to known allergens, making sure that they are not similar. Finally, digestion involves destroying the proteins with heat, acid and stomach enzymes, going by the rationale that many allergens are resistant to digestion.

These tests kept the only documented case of a GM soybean that was potentially allergenic off the market. Researchers who tried to improve the nutritional quality of soybeans using a Brazil nut protein realized that they were working with an allergen and immediately stopped the work. This is strong evidence that scientific methods to prevent allergy-causing GMOs from reaching consumers are robust and work.

But these existing tests are based largely on comparisons with known allergens. What about unknown allergenic proteins that could be introduced? GLP executive director Jon Entine investigated an article in Elle magazine written by Caitlin Shetterly, who claimed that GMOs caused her allergies. If the claim had been true, it would have been the first documented case anywhere in the world. In the story, Shetterly went to a doctor who encourage to pursue alternative medical treatments for her allergies, saying he believed her condition might be linked to GMOs. Shetterly says she stopped eating any foods with GMOs–a prodigious challenge in the United States as an estimated 70% of foods contain genetically modified ingredients–and was cured. She’s now writing a book that claims that GMOs are causing random allergies. But experts, including Goodman, told Entine in his investigation that Shetterly’s claims, commonly echoed by anti-GMO activists, are scientifically far-fetched–“a fundamental misunderstanding of the science and of risk.”

“Yes, in principle, you might find a heretofore unknown reaction in some individuals to a protein not yet listed in the database. Certainly not every protein of the millions of proteins from every food or inhalation source of allergy has been tested for allergies. But those proteins occur in non-GMO sources” as well, he noted. When a new genetically modified crop is created, “only one or a few new proteins are made,” he added, “and those are evaluated specifically for potential risks of allergy.”

Steve Taylor, food allergies professor and co-director of the Food Allergy Research and Resource Program at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, said that “while the (testing) process might not be as robust as many would prefer, I am not aware of any other test methods that I would recommend for use.”

The potential for allergies in genetically modified foods is less than in new conventional foods introduced into the marketplace. “The risk of novel allergens in GMOs is actually quite low, in my opinion,” Taylor said. While the novel proteins in genetically modified foods go through rigorous testing, conventional foods including organics are not tested. “It’s much riskier to introduce a new food from another country, each of which contains hundreds of new proteins,” he added. For example, when the first kiwis were introduced to the United States in 1962, they weren’t tested because they were an established food, but as it turned they did cause allergies in some people. Some GMs don’t have new proteins; the flavr Savr tomato is an example.

Speculation that GMOs might produce new allergens has been challenged by scientists. Kevin Bonham, a Harvard immunologist, responds to one such claim by the Union of Concerned Scientists:

Before getting started, let’s go back to the statement from UCS that I find so objectionable:

[GE crops] may produce new allergens and toxins

This is patently false – genetic engineering techniques allow us to precisely add genes of known structure and function to crops. It would in principle be possible to engineer corn that expresses anthrax toxin, or introduce peanut allergens into soybeans, but this would have to be by malicious intent of the scientists, not some accident. We know how genes work, and we know what kind of protein an individual gene will make.

A recent widely circulated report claiming to link GMOs with celiac disease, a severe form of gluten allergy, by Jeffrey Smith, who heads the one man Institute of Responsible Technology, is absurd because there is no approved GM wheat on the market. The claim was immediately challenged by the Celiac Disease Foundation’s CEO Marilyn Geller, who stated, “there has been no scientific evidence put forward for a GMO/celiac disease link that is supported by the CDF Medical Advisory Board.” Yet the claim still shows up on many anti-GMO websites.

Genetic engineering can even help to reduce allergenicity in foods. Geneticists are experimenting with highly allergenic foods like peanuts to develop versions that do not contain the allergen proteins. Although they are not yet fully tested and approved for commercial sale. horticulture expert Peggy Ozias-Akins at the University of Georgia has made and tested peanuts that do not produce two proteins that are among the most intense allergens. The next generation of GM foods might cause less allergies than conventional or organic foods.

 Additional Resources: 

  • RobertWager

    Another good article exposing the lies of the anti-GMO industry.

    • You mean the anti-GMO organic industry of course.

    • David Gandar

      I dispute the claim repeated in this story that GM proteins are rigorously tested. There are a few comments made here that are not substantiated. There has been a study showing that GM soy containing brazil nut gene protein does cause allergic reaction

      • Mackinz

        …which was brought up in the article itself as an example of science recognizing potential allergens and ruling them out from development. You won’t find other examples of allergenic proteins in “GMOs” because potential allergenicity is heavily monitored.

  • Ben L

    It’s what we call a ‘cheap correlation’; GMO use increased at the same time that ‘perceived’ allergies increased. Therefore causality is claimed. The reality is, it’s multifactorial and the evidence is that it’s really things like: being too clean, not being exposed to enough pathogens, the use of hand sanitizers, triclosan in consumer care products, etc.

  • lorac

    Even the StarLink scare of the late 1990s didn’t result in a single documented, evidenced case of allergic reaction.

    I don’t understand why those so worried about food allergies aren’t lobbying to rid our grocery stores of foods that can cause death! (e.g., peanuts) or are dangerous (e.g. raw eggs). It defies logic. IMO, anti-GMO people are reacting emotionally, and it is difficult (nearly impossible?) to counter emotion with facts.

    • Reese

      I think a person should do their own research. I have done research on this topic- the good and the bad. Unfortunatly, the bad far out weighs the good. I have dedicated my time to research this because of the numerous links of when food allergies became prevalent. I’m not saying people have never had food allergies, but what I am saying is the numbers have drastically increased since 1996. I can personally attest to this, because I developed food sensitivity/allegies then. I was tested for everything under the sun, and as you can imagine, it is very frustrating not knowing what is wrong with you.

      Lobbying stores of peanuts and raw eggs is silly. However, lobbying stores to protect the rights of the people and properly labeling GM foods is not. Knowledge is power, and people are catching on. If I gave you an ear of corn dipped in roundup would you eat it? Probably not.

      • The only foods that include GMOs in any large numbers are those made with soybeans. There is no evidence of soy based allergies increasing in the United States at rates higher than in any other country (such as those in Europe) in which GMO soy is not used in food. There is very little if any GMO based corn for food (and no higher incidences of corn allergies in US vs. other countries). There is no GMO wheat. If I gave you organic corn dipped in copper sulfate or rotenone, would you eat it? Probably not. (But it would be a lot more dangerous than eating corn dipped in glyphosate–even though farmers use about an eye dropper full of glyphosate per acre of land….you need to freshen up on your knowledge of farming!)

      • Leo Taylor

        I think that you haven’t paid attention to the fact that genetically modified foods have been out since the 80’s so the fact that allergies have increased since 1996 is a fallacy because the dates don’t correlate.

  • Healthyeater

    Interesting fact, I have cut out all GMO’s in my diet (not an easy feat!) and I no longer have seasonal allergies. I used to live on Zyrtec and Sudafed, but I haven’t had any in four months. It wasn’t the reason I quit eating GMO’s and IDK if they are related, but it’s what happened.

    • Seasonal allergies have nothing to do with food–they are related to spring or fall grasses–so you have to look for another bogeyman. GMO foods are chemically identical to non-GMOs in most cases, so they couldn’t be causing allergies regardless.

      • reese

        I have eliminated all gmo’s from my diet. I no longer suffer from gastrointestional issues, or have a weakened immune system, nor do I get the rash that once covered my body. I have had extensive testing done, blood and panel sceenings for food allergies. After elimanting the items I am allergic to I began to feel better.

        So, I thought what would be a good controled experiment? I decided to incorporate Non-GM Wheat, organic cane sugar, and organic eggs back in my diet and get retested 6 months later to compare the results.

        Can you exlain why I have allergies to the GM counter part, but not the organic?

        A study by the American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAME) advised precaution because GM foods have not been tested for human consumption and there is significant evidence of probable harm (AAME, 2009). The harmful effects that have been brought to consumers attention is geneticall modified food can cause food allergy reactions, indirect effects on the rate of cancer. The unknown
        effects on human health and malfunction immune system. According to a study conducted by Dr. Árpád Pusztai at the Rowett Research Institute in 1998, the result of his research showed feeding GM potatoes to lab rats led to a break down of the immune systems (Arpad, 1998).

        Over the past few years, a number of countries have completely banned GMO’s and the pesticides that go along with them, and they are doing this for a reason. The latest country to consider a complete ban is Russia after top government scientists recommended at least a 10-year ban.

        If GM foods are safe, why won’t large GM companies do a full 2 year study on the effects?

        Oh wait.. they have. In November 2012, The Journal of Food and Chemical Toxicology published a paper titled ‘Long term toxicity of a Roundup herbicide and a Roundup-tolerant genetically modified maize’ by Gilles-Eric Seralini and his team of researchers at France’s Caen University. It was the first and only long-term study under controlled conditions examining the possible effects of a diet consisting of GMO maize treated with Monsanto roundup herbicide. This study has since been retracted.

        This study was recently released by the Institute for Responsible Technology (IRT) uses data from the US department of Agriculture, US Environmental Protection Agency, medical journal reviews, as well as, other independent research. The authors relate GM foods to five conditions that may either trigger or exacerbate gluten-related disorders, including the autoimmune disorder, Celiac Disease:

        *Intestinal permeability

        *Imbalanced gut bacteria

        *Immune activation and allergic response

        *Impaired digestion

        *Damage to the intestinal wall

        I have more, shall I keep going?

        • There have been numerous two year studies of GMOs by independent scientists and none has shown any harm from GMOs. Some are linked in my article in Forbes:

          The Institute of Responsible Technology is not an “institute” or a research organization. It is the fake name for Jeffrey Smith, a former flying yogic instructor and cult follower. He is a well known anti-science crank. I would suggest sticking to research from real scientists with independent global science organizations, such as the National Academy of Sciences and the European Commission:

        • Reynard Vulpes

          Good for you, we are finally being heard, even if we are no more than a whisper as yet.

          My bet is a good deal of what you have gotten out of your diet is Bt… as Bt GMO corn is so prevalent it’s nearly unavoidable, and we can tolerate the Bt in very small doses.

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          • John

            Due to the acidic environment (low pH) of our digestive system, Bt does not affect humans. We naturally have the ability to break it down without any consequences.
            However, Bt does affect insects due to a very basic (high pH) digestive system.
            This is basic anatomy that can’t be refuted due to strong beliefs against GM products.

        • Leo Taylor

          Your tests and data from the Dr. Árpád Pusztai are from 1998 these tests are clearly outdated considering how much we have changed the modification of plants and animals in the past 16 years. As for the AAME they have stated there has not been tests for human consumption and the unknown connection between cancer and GM foods. I can tell you with all confidence and knowledge that this is in fact a fanciful way for the anti GMO groups to scare people into boycotting the GMO’s altogether. There have in fact been 1783 tests that were made over the course from 2002 to today that agencies and scientists from around the world from america to china have all researched and proved that there are no significant harms to human beings. This is also painted by the fact that over the course of 30 or so years the number of deaths caused by GMO’s are next to none. Those few incidents that had in fact occurred were cause of early and inexperienced testing of these GMO’s as was made evident by the fact that they occured in the 1980’s.

      • Reynard Vulpes

        You are not telling the truth. Anything that attacks the immune system then weakens it, and makes it more reactive to other protein allergens. Go read a book.

        When you say chemically identical please explain how Bt, a bacteria, is the same as NO Bt, as in Bt GMO corn and Non GMO corn. That would be a miracle of science to see.

        There is, with the Bt corn, an express inflammatory that kills insects. While we are not insects WE too respond to things that inflame tissue.

        I am a living example of it. And have certainly had to research corn .. which to me is a virulent poison that has put me in intensive care, and many times down for the count for up to ten days with severe gut reactions.

        No other cause through medical testing has been found, and little research in medicine has dealt with this new food industry introduced demon.

        It’s time we put a stop to this… and no, I am NOT part of the anti GMO industry, if such an industry even exists. If someone is making a living fighting this monstrosity good for them. But that does NOT prove they are lying, or wrong.

        I’d look to the other wage earning “scientiests,”

        the ones that profit from protecting the food industry from being exposed as the baggers they are.

      • kelly

        Isn’t wheat pretty much grass

    • Leo Taylor

      It is possible that they may be related but even if they are it doesn’t mean that you are allergic to GM foods themselves you just may be allergic to one characteristic which is highly possible. Though this is not the fault of GM foods they did not cause you to have these allergies you just may be allergic to one of the ingredients

  • dee

    Every time I eat a food by Hershey I break out in a rash all over my body. Does anyone know why this is happening? It doesn’t matter what the food is it happens everytime. I heard they use GMO sugar and wondering if this could be the cause.

    • Jon Entine

      There are no allergies linked to any approved GMO food, including GMO sugar beets, that are also not linked to their non-GMO counterpart, so no GMO would be causing any allergy. There are not even traces of the DNA from genetic modification after it is processed. Regardless, Hershey uses regular sugar in its chocolate.

      • Reynard Vulpes

        Such a claim, Jon, is very misleadiing. For one allergies are NOT the only problem. Some inserted genetic material into the genome of a food plant express poisons.. the Bt toxin for one, that in it’s unjoined natural form is used to kill sucking chewing insects, such as the aphid and the corn root borer.

        It does so by inflaming their gut, and if they don’t explode first (which most do) they die of starvation.

        And we have the genetic material in us on a near constant basis. Take an over the counter med, or a prescription either in pill form and you are eating corn. And there is no organic corn used for those product binders.

        Eat any process and cantainerized food, even restaurant shredded cheese in an omelet, or prepackeged french fries, or hash browns with your eggs and you ARE getting corn … it’s used for separation and moisture handling.

        It’s everywhere.

        As for sugar, most all mixed pre prepared foods that use sugar use beet derived sugar and that is ALL GMO now. There is no such thing as GMO free beet sugar, and you can be sure to that there is no GMO free corn products.

        Wake up world. You are and have been for almost thirty years (possibly more) been used as lab rats by the food industry giants. And it’s going to get worse.

        • Leo Taylor

          The BT toxin was used to get rid of the European corn borer this insect destroys crops. This BT toxin also has a specific selectivity so this toxin also avoids insects such as the bee which then makes no interruption with natural pollination. In addition to this you may bring up that it also has been researched to kill monarch butterflies. Be that as it may it has been proven by German facilities that it only effects 0.012% of Monarch butterfly larvae so the threat is insignificant. Also without this BT toxin the normal marketable crop portion is around 18% because of over use of pesticides and crop destruction caused by the insects that the BT toxin is made to kill off. With the BT toxin however, The average percentage portion of corn out of a crop is 99-100%. So you are saying that this may be worse and that for 30 years we have been nothing but lab rats it is obvious that we have not only created more food but we have also created the need for less pestecides.

        • Farmer Sue

          Any cheese you eat, regardless of where you get it, is likely genetically modified. 90% of cheese is made from GE chymosins.

      • Donald Sutherland

        Soy is listed by the US Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the FDA as one of the top 8 food allergens in the US.

        The rate of food allergies has more than doubled over the past decade, and there are now an estimated 5.9 million children in the United States with food allergies (along with another 2.3 million adults).

        The rise in children food allergies has become a national concern with almost every school in the US experiencing this health risk according to the US Department of Health and Human Services. briefs/db10.htm#howdoes

        Highlighting this health concern is a spike in children food allergies in the US which was revealed in a 10 year CDC study showing an 18 percent increase in children food allergies from 1997-2007.

        This spike of food allergies came after federal agencies approved and permitted the introduction of a new species of laboratory created genetically engineered/modified (GE/GM) soy plants and their products in 1996.

        These GM soy plants and their GM soy products have had been identified by the CDC as allergens, but the CDC admits they have never tested for their allergen effects on children.

        Since the early 1990’s the FDA, USDA, and EPA have approved the use of patented new species of corn, soy, sugar beets, canola, and other plant species which have had their DNA genes spliced and proteins bioengineered in laboratories to produce a pesticide (ie. Bacillus thuringiensis bacteria) and to resist being harmed by herbicides manufactured by a few Fortune 500 companies.

        • Donald, you have spammed the GLP website with this exact post and on other sites across the web. This is complete bull. Allergies have shown increases in, for example, India, where no soy is even eaten and there are no GMO food crops. Allergies have increased in Korea and there is no US soy sold or consumed there. There has been an increase in food allergies in China that began more than two decades ago. GMO soy is a tiny, tiny fraction of the Chinese market and only over the past few years. Your “theory” is just scare mongering. We could easily and more rationally link allergies to the mass production and consumption of poorly regulated organic foods, as a majority of organic foods consumed in the US and most countries is grown in poorly or unregulated areas (China, eastern Europe), in poor soil and often with uses of unregulated and untested pesticides. So…no more spamming to this junk correlations. It’s goal is to frighten and not educate..that’s antithetical to the mission of the GLP.

          • Donald Sutherland

            Good Morning Jon,
            You are entitled to your opinion. And it is an opinion.
            The CDC allergy data and GMO soy is worthy of GLP discussion.
            I respectfully disagree with your position.
            You’re old boss ABC news wouldn’t edit it out of discussion.


    • bella

      Yes it is the cause as I had experienced it as well. Hershey among “others” are loaded with horrific GMO’s. Check out link to find out more and become more educated on the subject (they’re hoping you don’t)

      As far as Jon Entine bogus comments, he probably works for a GMO company or group…so BEWARE!!!

      • Farmer Sue

        Dee and Bella: You are both highly uninformed about “GMO sugar.” GE sugarbeets, after processing into sugar, are transformed into a sugar that contains NO genetically engineered material. Look it up. Or talk to a farmer.

        And your speculation that Jon Entine “probably” works for a “GMO company” reflects your closed-minded inability to recognize that there are hundreds of thousands of people who do not work for a “GMO company” who support biotechnology.

        And your website, the boycott list? Supported by organic industry. Just so you know. (not that this makes a whit of difference to your snapped-shut minds)

        I repeat: Talk to a farmer.

    • Doug

      Have you been tested for allergens? Go to the doctor first, don’t ask on here if it’s something to do with GMOs. You are being irresponsible and it’s your health that’s in danger. Hersheys has more in it than just sugar, there’s palm oil and cocoa. Get tested if you’re worried, or avoid Hershey chocolates (which I do anyway because IMHO they taste disgusting), continue to be rash and get a rash!

      • doug

        . . .tested for allergies, not gens . . .

  • LaurentD

    Another great article written by Monsanto & Cie.

    • Guest

      Another boring example of the shill accusation tactic, employed when you have no facts or evidence to substantiate your position.

  • David Gandar

    The industry trade group mentioned as the Council of Biotechnology Information has these members: BASF, Bayer, Dow, DuPont, Monsanto, Syngenta all of whom are active in promoting GMOs.

  • David Gandar

    The simple connection between inflammation & health effects is well understood. The connection between genetically altered foods & inflammation is poorly understood. The often-repeated statement that GMO foods are “substantially” the same as organic foods has been rebutted many times. They are not the same.

  • Leo Taylor

    As I said before BT corn will only effect those people who are allergic to an ingredient inside of it. If you want to fight GMO’s you must come up with more of an argument that BT corn can cause issues with your allergies.

  • Explain the bee population die off , please.

  • wes

    I went to a allergy specialist. I told him it was GMO and he asked what’s that. Like he never read about it. the lady taking my blood believied its a possibility. I got everything prescribed epipen and all. Conclusion is I have a visible allergic rash bad enough I got a epipen. Then I pass the blood test negative on everything. I think the blood test is oldschool testing for organics. Like organic tomato. Doctors can’t figure it out. It started when Monsanto introduced GMO in 1996. I used to never break out. Also its the food. So what is different about the food to greak me out after 1996? Its obvious, not a mystery. EU banned all gmo crops. Thats every country in Europe. Europe found it causes cancer in mice. They got fed healthcare and don’t want to pay for the health problems.

    • Farmer Sue

      Wes: You are probably consuming more organic food. Look up rates of recalls of organic food due to e.coli and salmonella contamination from improperly composted manure.
      “Obvbious” schmobvious. And don’t increase your ignorance factor by citing the hyped Seralini rat “study” — what a sham that is.

  • This is BS from the beginning… when you stated that only soy is a genetically engineered crop… what about the food the dairy cows eat? GM Corn and grains? And the rBGH which is a genetically engineered growth hormone that is and was injected into the conventional dairy cows which messed up their genetics???? What about that? My son has anaphylaxis to all cow dairy thank you very much! All due to rBGH!

    • Eco-Sustainable

      Seriously, rBGH doesn’t mess with cow genomes. Nor does GM corn. Genetics doesn’t work that way. Where are you getting that kind of misinformation?

  • William Drummond

    GM corn makes me ill and sometimes rashes, organic corn does not give me any reaction. Any byproduct of a gm corn will always 100% of the time cause a reaction in my system. Organic corn does not.

    I would say, for me, that is very definitive proof that I have a problem with GM corn.

    • Farmer Sue

      And just how do you know you are getting GM corn? Most GE corn is field corn, meant for livestock.

      You do show proof of problems, but they are not with GE food.

    • Guest

      Double-blind diagnostic testing, performed by a competent laboratory, will help you get to the bottom of your problem.

  • Darla Ng

    I cannot eat gluten or dairy, I get horrible gastrointestinal problems. These problems started in the 1990’s for me. My gasterinterologist couldn’t figure out my problem, so I stopped dairy and gluten. Now I am feeling good.

  • hehe

    it’s NOT that GMO causes allergy because it “contains” allergen but it can weaken our immune system…etc to cause allergic reactions.

    • Genetic modification is a process not an endpoint. There is no such thing as a GMO. It is biologically impossible for a particular crop to weaken the immune system. What causes allergies are specific proteins. That’s it.

  • Stevert

    GMO may not or may not be bad in itself but the fact that a GMO plant that can grow in a field saturated in Roundup toxins is unsafe. Why then did the FDA in 2010 waive the required time to research human effects of Monsanto seeds passed by congress in the 2010 US budget vote? WalMart (a huge GMO product supporter)markets a Gravy I used made with flour that put my immune system in a tail spin! I broke out in very bad hives every time I ate this gravy. So bad I also became allergic to eggs, nuts, shellfish, strawberries, tomato’s, flour or anything that had seeds. My esophagus even swelled up so bad that not even water went down and the pain was horrible and I was in extreme agony! I had to take Prednisone & bath in cortisone cream for a year to calm down the reactive response when I ate any of these foods. Like a cold virus, your body develops genetic alterations and changes in immunity. Can GMO’s do the same? In my case YES! GMO’s = better faster yields and longer shelf life resistant to pesticide’s which in turn = $$$ at the expense of unknown health effects. The anti-obesity drug combination fenfluramine/phentermine, called fen-phen was an awesome drug but a handful of reactions & even death despite the thousands this drug helped, was pulled by the FDA and a 14/21 billion lawsuit was settled. Lobbyist for the Agriculture politics and the hiring of ex government congressional employees is very bad optics and Americans need to wake up and take a stand like California Genetically Engineered Foods Labeling Proposition 37 despite their loss.

    • Farmer Sue

      “….saturated…” ? Drops. Read up on it.

      There is no genetically modified wheat on the market. Your flour may have been infested with cockroach or rat feces.

  • Ace Monroe Zamora

    2012 Lobbying Information:

    Lobbying Firm: Olsson Frank Weeda Terman Matz PC
    Amount Reported: $80,000
    Issue: “Assist client in raising visibility and acceptance of agriculture biotechnology”.

    The following “Big 6” Biotech Corporations are listed as members of CBI (Council of Biotechnology Information) as of July 2012:


    The following industry front groups were also formerly listed as members of CBI:

    Formerly Listed Members:
    -Biotechnology Industry Organization
    -CropLife America

    • Guest

      I’m sure you have also investigated the lobbying information of the organic industry? Care to post it?

  • Donald Sutherland

    My wife is a Girl Scout troop leader and this is the time of year she orders cookies for her troop to sell. One Girl Scout in the troop has a soy allergy, and she along with millions of other children with food allergies have to be diligent in reading the food labels to avoid eating a food ingredient which will trigger an allergen health risk. Many brands of cookies use soy products such as soy lecithin in their manufacture.

    Soy is listed by the US Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the FDA as one of the top 8 food allergens in the US.

    The rate of food allergies has more than doubled over the past decade, and there are now an estimated 5.9 million children in the United States with food allergies (along with another 2.3 million adults).

    The rise in children food allergies has become a national concern with almost every school in the US experiencing this health risk according to the US Department of Health and Human Services. briefs/db10.htm#howdoes

    Highlighting this health concern is a spike in children food allergies in the US which was revealed in a 10 year CDC study showing an 18 percent increase in children food allergies from 1997-2007.

    This spike of food allergies came after federal agencies approved and permitted the introduction of a new species of laboratory created genetically engineered/modified (GE/GM) soy plants and their products in 1996.

    These GM soy plants and their GM soy products have had been identified by the CDC as allergens, but the CDC admits they have never tested for their allergen effects on children.

    Since the early 1990’s the FDA, USDA, and EPA have approved the use of patented new species of corn, soy, sugar beets, canola, and other plant species which have had their DNA genes spliced and proteins bioengineered in laboratories to produce a pesticide (ie. Bacillus thuringiensis bacteria) and to resist being harmed by herbicides manufactured by a few Fortune 500 companies.

    91 Percent of all soy grown in the US is genetically modified according to the USDA and one company (Monsanto) with its’ GM patents controls 93 percent of soy seeds sold in the US.

    Food companies have manufactured GM soy into multitudes of food products successfully spreading GM soy products into the majority of processed foods kids and adults eat from baked goods, breakfast cereals, baby formula, to snack bars. Product names including hydrogenated oils, lecithin, emulsifiers, tocopherol (a vitamin E supplement) and proteins.

    The government bodies entrusted to ensure the public’s safety (CDC, FDA, EPA) admit they are solely relying on the GM safety studies conducted by the same companies which manufacture genetically modified plants and their by-products such as soy protein, corn syrup, and sugar.

    Under federal law children are protected from food allergens that can bring on severe or life threatening reaction under the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act of 2004 (FALCPA)2 (Public Law 108-282) which requires the labeling of allergens on manufactured food products.

    In the US kids with a food allergy are alerted to danger by reading the list of CDC identified soy allergen ingredients posted on processed foods.

    Unlike the US, food labels in 64 countries list all science engineered genetically modified (GM) ingredients including GM soy products. In China GM soy is banned from direct human consumption.

    A shopper in Europe, Japan, and China can pick up a food item and its’ label can read, “genetically modified soy products, genetically modified corn syrup, genetically modified sugar”, etc. That’s a lot of attention to genetically modified organisms (GMOs), and for most Americans they are largely unaware that they are eating GMOs with every bite of most processed foods.

    In 1992 the FDA established a policy that says genetically engineered and or modified organisms are developed in the same process as mother nature’s, and do not need to be labeled as a different food because they are “substantially equivalent” to its natural counterpart.

    This concept of “substantial equivalence” was endorsed by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), and the World Health Organization (WHO) in 1996. The seal of “substantial equivalence” by government bodies permits the marketing of new GMO foods in the same process with respect to safety as conventional food or components, and thus saves the biotechnology companies and federal government the expense and time required to do additional safety studies for a new and different food.

    Since the rapid and controversial approval of GMO food into the American food market, scientific, environmental, and consumer safety organizations have opposed the entry of GMO foods largely on concerns that the long term consequences from bioengineered foods will have adverse health and environmental effects which have not been adequately tested.

    These organizations cite internationally recognized clinical data showing the harmful impact of genetically modified food in laboratory studies, but still the FDA says data hasn’t been presented to them to sway them from their current label policy to identify GMO foods.

    Despite national polls showing the majority of the American public want GM food to be labeled, biotechnology industries and the food companies are opposed and have been lobbying Congress, government regulatory bodies, and the public to oppose any GMO food label law that would permit a girl scout troop leader, parent, or consumer to read genetically modified products in a label.

    Fanning the public’s health and environmental concerns about GM foods was a 2013 federal rider called the Farmer Assurance Provision. The measure was removed from the US budget funding legislation by Jon Tester, a farmer and Democratic Montana senator because it assured a lack of corporate liability and undermined the Department of Agriculture’s authority to ban genetically modified crops, even if court rulings found they posed risks to human and environmental health.

    Current public pressure to have GMO free products has resulted in General Mills recently announcing it will be offering GMO free Cheerios.

    In 2014 Maine joined Connecticut in passing a state GM labeling law.

    On May 8, 2014 the governor of Vermont signed into law the state’s GMO labeling law.

    Maine, Connecticut and Vermont are the only state legislatures to pass GMO labeling bills but similar legislation has been introduced in 30 states, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

    This year Massachusetts state legislature will be addressing GMO labeling bills.


    China bans direct human consumption of GMO soy and GMO corn