Motherly momentum is on the rise. Mothers seeking healthy children are challenging food safety, and the close ties between the companies who sell crop seed and pesticides and governments and agencies who approve of these products.
Illness suffocates, exhausts, and disables. When it arrives, the only option is to learn, fight and regain your life. It’s a bottom line kind of thing. Happiness and health are ancient bedfellows.
Today’s non-communicable disease levels have surged beyond levels held by our grandparent’s generation. Today’s incidence levels extend beyond genetic predisposition to disease. Here in New Zealand, illnesses have a similar profile to growing disease loads in Australia, the USA and UK. Strikingly, a considerable proportion of these illnesses have a common co-factor: the presence of a permeable gut before onset of disease.
At the heart of complexity is simplicity. The digestive system is the bodily system with greatest exposure to toxins. There are multiple routes of exposure – but primary exposure is via food (except for people working directly with particular toxins, such as farm or factory workers).
When families seek help to heal, they ask doctors, they research and information share. Frequently, they learn how a sick gut effects them. It (a) can’t process nutrients properly due to reduced microbiological activity; and (b) becomes permeated, letting unprocessed food particles through the gut barrier into the bloodstream. These families learn how bodies set up an immune response to a foreign invader – leading to the allergic and other autoimmune responses they live with. Leading to mental health problems and/or depression in the people they love. This learning curve is repeated in countless households.
Food matters. Gut health is critical to our wellbeing. As clinical psychologist Julia Rucklidge explains ‘It’s not ‘we are what we eat’ – it's - ‘we are what we absorb.’ Today there is a subtle but determined shift to real food, to higher nutrition organic, or spray free – and an avoidance of the chemicals that are frequently stored as toxins in our bodies. There are a panoply websites discussing 'real food', gut restoration and remission from immune related disease. We see distrust of the ‘food system’ and increasing cynicism regarding how our governments view ‘food safety’. What’s behind this?
Close ties between industry and regulatory agencies
Connect the dots and you build a picture. International and government regulatory agencies favour some (frequently private, corporate) studies over others, which they use to support their assessments and approve of pesticides and GMOs in food. While in a parallel universe families and medical communities witness a tsunami of gut related illness which have direct links back to food quality. Evidence that pesticides and modern crop varieties, including GMOs, are contributing to this tsunami is frequently shouted down or ignored. Furthermore, public funding to pull together a picture of gut related health statistics related to toxicity and nutrition across these many related illnesses is as rare as rocking horse shit (if you’ll excuse the slang).
It’s a three monkey’s management system that many believe has contributed to a broad swathe of disease. Close ties between governments, regulatory agencies and corporations have enabled suppliers (of crop seed and pesticides) to help mould safety standards and influence regulators while providing their own studies to facilitate approval of their own products. Conflicts of interest? Most certainly. At the core of much of the GM debate is the assumption that the genetically modified products are substantially equivalent to naturally bred products (except when it comes to applying utility patents and licensing agreements, of course). Wedded to this is a flat refusal to conduct independent long term feeding studies. Important? Undeniably.
If mothers can understand that nowhere in the world are long term feeding studies held by our governments - testing the GMO food (whether natural or processed into the familiar soy or vegetable oil based foods littering supermarkets) critically, in combination with the regime of pesticides sprayed on it throughout the growing season. If families understand that simple fact, they will understand how broken our governments are, when it comes to protecting our children and our health. And our broken regulatory agencies dismiss or ignore the only study that did this, by a scientist whose PhD was on carcinogens (a study of pollutants in food which cause pathologies dependent on sexual hormones). Who was working in the public interest.
Even in countries with a no-GMO policy like New Zealand and the U.K., you will find GMOs in canola and soy based products, as regulatory agencies may ignore GM if it is below (a) a certain level in the food, or (b) if the product is processed to remove the GMO DNA. But where is the testing confirm this? It simply doesn’t exist.
Take it a step further and understand that it is only the active chemical in the pesticide formulation (frequently sprayed on our food crops) that is assessed. The studies that prove safety and give us our ADI/RfD for these chemicals are seller sponsored, ancient and unpublished. Recent scientific studies show that the other additives (adjuvants) in the complete pesticide formulation (for example Roundup or Confidor) can be over a >1000 times more toxic than the active chemical. Yet these ingredients are usually ignored by regulators. Imagine only testing one ingredient of a cigarette. Or consider testing the brakes of a car by removing them from the car rather than testing their ability to stop the car in which they are installed.
Then ponder that Roundup, applied to 90% of GMO crops, but can also be sprayed, confrontingly, on sugar cane, oats, barley, wheat, lupins etc – yet is rarely tested in our food supply. This represents without doubt, absolute failure of due diligence by our governments, particularly now the toxin is considered a probable carcinogen. Getting Roundup off gardening shelves is one thing, but the elephant in the room is the fact that the junk is sprayed directly on a considerable proportion of our staple food.
It’s as if governments, industry and influential scientific groups are sticking their fingers in their ears, screwing their eyes shut and going ‘LaLaLaLaLaLaLaLaLaLaLaLaLaLa’.
Desperate times create desperate measures
Would families prefer a more robust system, with greater transparency in research and better regulation? Without doubt.
Food safety, or lack of it, is what parents understand, either intellectually or intuitively. Pro-industry bloggers may poke fun, marginalise, ‘out’ and vilify the scientists and writers who talk about food safety, pesticides and GMOs in our diet. However, mothers are starting to understand the network of financing and self-interest that frame the conversations of these individuals. Of course, bloggers don’t have to meet the same standards as those who publish in the peer reviewed literature, nor professional journalists who have obligations to be fair.
Mothers like the indefatigable Zen Honeycutt and Robyn O’Brien; courageous scientist-interviewing mothers on GMO Free News and in the UK, Sally Beare a nutritionist and member of UK based Mums Say No to GMOs are speaking up to tell the story of how industrial corporations unite with governments to claim ‘it’s OK, we don’t need to do long term testing of these soy, corn, canola and cotton oil products in your supermarket convenience food’. These people also look darkly at governments that say ‘pesticide levels in baby food are safe because we subscribe to World Health Organisation standards’. Perhaps they know that the WHO only use hidden, decades old corporate studies to establish our ‘safe’ pesticide residues levels, our RfD or ADI. However it is not just the WHO. It's the EPA, APVMA, EFSA, NZ EPA, FSSAI, ANVISA etc. etc.. No full formulation studies, no independent science and no testing of Roundup in our food.* These agencies all fail when it comes to due diligence and food safety of pesticides and GMOs.
For mothers with sick kids, when symptoms don’t go away, or new ones arrive, change becomes the only option. Relapses, different symptoms, heightened allergic responses occur but family distress stays the same. That’s when (frequently) mothers look up and wonder what’s going wrong. What is causing this? So then they ‘go organic’. Go to the ‘dark side’. Frankly, many parents who purchase organic now wouldn’t have dreamt that they would change age old purchase habits.
Corporations and bloggers can marginalise and ridicule these actions as ‘unscientific’. These groups respond with ‘bring me the research money’. Mothers like don’t necessarily want to become political animals. They just want a happy healthy family and a stimulating life. Sickness and sick kids make you look at the world differently, and when change works for you, you want to tell the world.
Scientific deficit not science denialism
Illness isn’t left or right. Illness doesn’t have political allegiances. Growth in disease with permeable gut must exist on both sides of the spectrum. It’s interesting to ponder. I want to ask bloggers that lash out the hardest against those that are simply asking for more cautious science, less chemicals in food, how their bowel movements are.
Who gets the most whip lashing? Mainly scientists who go to the trouble of publishing their research in international journals following rigorous anonymous peer review. These scientists are usually unaligned with either industry or science professional groups. Industry and professional societies can extract explicit or subtle demands on scientists to conform. If they don't, they face a barrage of accusing and negative publicity, denigrating their work or making it difficult for them to publish. These quietly determined scientists, including Professor Seralini, Dr Arpad Pusztai, Professor Don Huber, and Dr Judy Carman (and more) from all corners of the world are building a picture of the hazardous effects of the genetically engineered crops and pesticide-laden food consumed globally. Scientists are also providing convincing evidence that pesticides destroy our health, and the effects are completely under estimated as long as the full formulations avoid scrutiny.
Dr Meriel Watts has intensively researched the ways pesticides act as endocrine disruptors, carcinogens, and create systemic havoc in children in her paper Poisoning our future: Children & Pesticides. Her research is ignored by her government …. Even when she describes the knock on effects of citizens which include lower IQ’s (and their reduced tax paying potential – writers note).
These scientists are asking for more research, more science. So too are mums and dads. These people are not the science deniers.
This scientific deficit has created a perfect storm of illness, suffering and anxiety.
How do I know that there is a paradigm shift in how mothers care for their families? It’s all in the money. There’s a spending shift. The compound annual growth rate of organics are exploding at between 12 and 16% for the world.
Right now – with government regulatory failure, in every country, conventional food is not safe. However not everyone can afford organic. The system is broken.
Mums know that food matters. Conventional food must be safe. In Asia, Europe, the Americas – for every family throughout this world.
Bring it on.
Great links to mother based groups (email RITE to add to this) :
*US EPA tests soybeans and EFSA requires testing of cereals for glyphosate.