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While wheat is not an approved GMO food anywhere in the world, Monsanto conducted experiments from 1998 to 2000 using GMO wheat in the Pacific Northwest. This variety of genetically-modified wheat, called MON 71700, was designed to be resistant to the herbicide, glyphosate, commonly known as Roundup.
In years since, GMO wheat has been popping up in wheat fields in Washington State, as the pollen from wheat is quite difficult to control. Recently, 22 unapproved genetically modified (GMO) wheat plants were discovered by a Washington state farmer. This was the third time Monsanto’s experimental GMO wheat was found in farm fields in the past three years.
The first GMO wheat plants were found in Oregon in 2013, and this prompted Japan and Korea to temporarily ban the import of any wheat from the US. The USDA is testing wheat fields, as are farmers, to prevent the spread of these rogue GMO plants. Due to the small number of GMO wheat plants found, the USDA has stated that there is no threat of GMO wheat entering into our food supply.
Monsanto, the agri-tech giant, has been merely slapped on the wrist for GMO wheat escaping into the wheat fields. In 2014, they paid 2.4 million to settle a lawsuit filed by Oregon farmers – who are now forced to pay hefty amounts to test their fields for rogue GMO wheat plants. In 2015, Monsanto paid another $350,000 to farmers in seven states for the same issue.
Glyphosate and Bt Toxin Dangers
The good news is that the number of plants found in each of these cases was very small. For this, we must thank the farmers who are conscientiously inspecting and testing their fields and, thus, keeping pollen from these plants from insidiously spreading to other wheat fields.
The more urgent GMO issue is the glyphosate or Roundup that GMO plants are being modified to be resistant against. The GMO foods we have to avoid are corn, sugar beets, rapeseed for canola oil, soy, zucchini, papaya, cottonseed oil, yellow squash and alfalfa. Roundup can be sprayed on these GMO plants and will not kill them.
What this is potentially doing to us and our trillions of microbes is another story…
When glyphosate is ingested by eating GMO foods or non-organic foods that have been sprayed with Roundup, studies have measured a reduction of the good bacteria and the overgrowth of harmful strains of bacteria in the gut. (4) These strains have been shown to alter the intestinal wall and be possible contributors to the widespread intolerance of gluten. Exposure to glyphosate is insidious, as it causes a slow, steady, gradual alteration of the gut microbiome and intestinal tract. Healthy gut bacteria have been shown to aid in digestion, shield the intestines from permeability, and boost immunity and synthesizing vitamins.
Some experts are linking not only the epidemic of non-celiac gluten sensitivity to ingesting glyphosate, but also the dramatic increase in celiac disease. In a study published in the Journal of Interdisciplinary Toxicology, researchers found a strong correlation between celiac disease and the use of glyphosate. (3)
Perhaps worse is the genetically-engineered Bt toxin, or Bacillus thuringiensis, a bacteria that produces proteins that are toxic to insects and, therefore, a widely used biological pesticide. Bt, commonly found in GMO, non-organic corn, is designed to be toxic to many insect species found on crops, puncturing holes through the intestines of the insect. A new study has shown that Bt can puncture holes through the human digestive tract as well! (5) Bt is carried by pregnant moms and can be transmitted to the fetus, possibly predisposing infants to food intolerances. (6)
One of the suggested effects of gluten sensitivity is “leaky gut,” or intestinal permeability into the lymphatic system, which we now know may be related to intestinal irritants such as Bt toxin. (5,6)
Bt has been shown in animal studies to activate an immune response against foods that were previously digestible. (7) It is very possible that exposure to this insecticide in corn products may activate an immune hypersensitivity response to hard-to-digest proteins, such as gluten.
There’s not a lot we can do here, but here are my top suggestions to deal with this issue:
- Actively write and share this science with your senators and representatives.
- Eat organically. By law, organic foods cannot be sprayed with Roundup or Bt toxins. This is not a perfect solution, as when we eat out, snack on corn chips or load up on papayas while at a vacation buffet, we are being exposed to these GMO toxins.
I wrote my new book, Eat Wheat, to help folks take a step-by-step approach to rebuilding their digestive strength and protecting the integrity of their intestinal tract. The health of our intestinal wall is our protection from the toxic and genetically-modified world we live in. >>> Learn more and dive deep into the GMO topic in my best-selling book, Eat Wheat.
In addition, here’s a list of common ingredients derived from GMO crops and found in processed foods (See www.nongmoproject.org):
- Amino Acids
- Ascorbic Acid
- Sodium Ascorbate
- Vitamin C
- Citric Acid
- Sodium Citrate
- Flavorings (“natural” and “artificial”)
- High-Fructose Corn Syrup
- Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein
- Lactic Acid
- Monosodium Glutamate
- Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP)
- Yeast Products