Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Arsenic in Brown Rice Syrup

Recently an organic toddler soy formula using organic brown rice syrup was found to be high in arsenic by Dartmouth College researchers. It has been known for years that rice tends to concentrate arsenic.  This is worse in rice from southern states and Bangladesh.  Unless you have the genetic polymorphism of being a "collector" of toxic metals, your body will detoxify the arsenic you may have been exposed to.  If brown rice syrup has been a staple in your child's diet, you can do a hair toxic metals test.  The test is $55 and is easily performed with a sample of hair.  The kits are available through my office. If needed, there are some simple steps you can take to detox arsenic. 

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Fight for GMO Labeling

Genetically Modified Organisms, or GMOs, are not labeled on our food packaging, yet they comprise up to 90% of common products such as corn, soybeans, and sugar beets (and their derivatives, which include corn syrup, soy lecithin, and corn starch). As I mentioned in a blog post last year, it is vital to our individual health and to the health of our environment to avoid consuming toxic and altered foods. Bacterio-toxic (BT) corn, for example, is engineered to kill pests that threaten the corn crop, but when we consume it, it affects the healthy bacteria in our intestines. A European study done over ten years ago showed that GM genes can spread to people and animals.  A group of organic farmers recently sued Monsanto to have its patents on GMOs invalidated because they were worried that GMO crops planted adjacent to their fields would contaminate their organic crops through cross-pollination. A federal judge struck down their case, accusing the organic farmers of “creating a controversy where none exists.”  While many countries in the European Union have banned GM crops, and Peru recently announced a 10-year GMO ban, in the United States it seems that big corporations like Monsanto call the shots.

How can we avoid GMOs if we don’t know where they are? Companies that manufacture GMOs are insistent that GMOs cause no harm to human beings, so why do they refuse to label them? Marion Nestle, a public policy expert who was a member of the FDA’s Food Advisory committee when the first GM products became available in 1994, emphasizes that “Intelligent people can argue about whether GM crops are good, bad or indifferent for agriculture, the environment and market economies, or whether the products are safe. But one point is clear. The absence of labeling cannot be good in the long run for business or American democracy.”

We need to demand GMO labeling on our food products. A legal petition has been filed with the FDA, asking them to require labeling of GMOs. Please sign it at JustLabelIt.org. Additionally, if you are a registered voter in the state of California, you can add your signature to a ballot initiative that would allow voters to vote on labeling GMOs. Eight hundred thousand signatures must be collected by April 22 for this to make it onto the ballot, and signatures must be collected in person. Stop by my office to sign or visit LabelGMOs.org for more information.

While we wait to see if legislation will be passed, what can you do?
  • Educate yourself by watching documentaries about modern agriculture, such as King Corn, Food Inc, and the Future of Food.
  •   Keep up-to-date on GMOs in the news by following The Non GMO Project’s blog, Facebook, and/or Twitter pages, and take action when you can.
  • Avoid purchasing products that are likely to contain GMOs. The Center for Food Safety has a comprehensive shopping guide you can download from their site, and they also have apps for iPhone and Android.

 What are your thoughts on GMOs? Share them here.