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September 29, 2009

Autism and Genetically Modified Foods.

It is common for a person with autism to have certain food allergies.  And it is also common, within the community, for those individuals to be on very restrictive diets; the more popular being GFCF (Gluten-free Casein-free).

Although, precautionary measures are taken to ensure one does not consume foods containing any triggers, some thought may not be given to whether or not the allergen-free foods are manufactured by companies who do not use genetically modified ingredients.

Although, I’m very particular about what my family eats but there have been times when I’ve “caved” and bought a treat.  Little did I know those treats were doing more harm than good.

As a active advocate for human rights & the environment, I was somewhat taken aback when I learned that some of the companies I support (by way of my weekly grocery shopping) actually use GM ingredients.

So what exactly is GM, and why should you care?

What’s wrong with genetic engineering?

The products of genetic engineering are living organisms that could never have evolved naturally and do not have a natural habitat.

These genetically modified organisms (GMOs) can spread and interbreed with natural organisms, thereby contaminating non ‘GE’ environments and future generations in an unforeseeable and uncontrollable way. This ‘genetic pollution’ is a major threat because GMOs cannot be recalled once released into the environment.

Because of commercial interests, the public is being denied the right to know about GE ingredients, thereby losing the right to avoid them despite labeling laws in certain countries.

Threats of genetic engineering

Crop genetic diversity is critical to the continuing development of varieties resistant to new pests, diseases, and changing climatic and environmental conditions. In this way, diversity is essential for global food security. The lack of genetic diversity, in fact, can be linked to many of the major crop epidemics in human history. Biological diversity must be protected and respected.

If threatening biodiversity wasn’t enough, the biotech giants make farmers pay for the privilege of using these human-made organisms. Farmers in North America and Latin America, where most of the world’s GE agriculture is, must sign a contract that specifies that if they save the seeds to plant again the following year or use any herbicide other than the corporation’s own, they are likely to be prosecuted.

{Source: Greenpeace USA}

The damage caused by GM/GE foods is irreparable.   Additionally, prolonged consumption can effect future generations as well (through gene transfer).

We have become a society that relies too heavily on what we’re told vs. researching said information for ourselves.  We are also too reliant on our government, perhaps, even too trusting that we’ll be taken cared of.

I didn’t transition to a holistic lifestyle until 3 years ago.  Meaning I was having my fill of foods that were ultimately not providing me with sound nutrition.

I was completely oblivious to any harm my food was causing.  Oblivious? More like I didn’t really care.

I’ve since learned that GM/GE foods are dangerous on many counts; they wreak havoc not only on a personal level but an environmental one as well.

Health Hazards:

  • No Long-Term Safety Testing
  • Toxins
  • Allergic Reactions
  • Decreased Nutritional Value
  • Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria
  • Problems Cannot Be Traced

Environmental Hazards:

  • Increased use of Herbicides
  • More Pesticides
  • Ecology may be damaged
  • Gene Pollution Cannot Be Cleaned Up
  • Side Effects can Kill

{Source: Safe}

Not everyone likes to read labels; I’m definitely not a fan. In the beginning, it can be an exhausting and trying task particularly when you just “want to run in and grab a few things”.  However, I have come to realize that it is a necessary evil if I want to keep my family healthy.

I’ve also learned that GFCF doesn’t necessarily mean GM/GE-free.  If you have a laundry list of food allergies, your label reading days are about to be extended, especially if you’re looking to keep your diet as toxin-free as possible.

I contacted the following companies, because I purchase a lot of their goods, and asked if they were GMO-free.  Due to FDA regulations, American companies are not permitted to state this fact on their labeling due to their inability to provide a guarantee that their products have not  been affected by cross-contamination.

Even with these companies, we have to remain cautious in the items we purchase.  This is America and cross-contamination is likely to occur.

The best option is to choose organic foods as much as possible.  You’ll not only be supporting your local growers, but you’ll be doing more to ensure you and your family consume the healthiest food possible.

Most individuals with autism are chemically sensitive which implies that certain behaviors could be exacerbated with the continual consumption of GM/GE foods.

Here’s a great starter guide to get you on the path to living a GMO-free life.  The time has come for us to relinquish our grasp on unhealthy processed foods and return to making meals from scratch.

Extended meal prep? Yes.  A slight/moderate increase in your food budget?  Goes without saying.

But I ask you this… isn’t your family worth it?

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