Tag Archives: GMOs

Are We Genetically Modifying Ourselves?

genetically modifying ourselves titel

I remember way back in elementary school science class when the teacher handed out magnifying glasses and told us to look at the ends of our fingers to study our fingerprints. I remember the teacher had us draw the patterns we saw whether straight lines or wavy, circles or whorls. Then we took our magnifying glasses and looked at our neighbor’s fingers, and we looked at their pictures – I was so surprised to see that everyone was different.

As adults we understand no two people have the same fingerprints, it’s one of the many characteristics that makes us each unique. But now we have learned there is something else remarkable, something else about humans that is also unique to each individual – our microbiome.

The Microbiome

 

Did you know that within the digestive tract of each human being there is a little ecological community? Within each adult are three to four pounds of a highly organized micro-world of bacteria, yeasts and viruses that are so important and so vital to our health and well-being that if they were sterilized away we would probably die.  This micro-world is populated by three categories of creatures. The Essential or beneficial flora, the Opportunistic flora, and the Transitional flora. The Transitional flora come into our bodies every day riding on our food, in our beverages or on our hands and fingers, and usually they go right on through to exit without any trouble. The Essential/beneficial flora are the ones that live permanently within us.  We are born into this world as a blank slate and within the first 20 days of life we receive our first and most important colony of Essentials coming initially from the birth process and from breastfeeding. As we grow into adulthood this colony grows and changes depending on what happens to us, how we eat, stress, the places we live, go to school, work, and play. The third category, the Opportunistic flora – about 500 different species strong – just hang out waiting for an opportunity to stage a coup; they want to take over, but a healthy population of the Essentials keeps them under control…unless something happens.

What does a healthy microbiome do?

When we have a healthy microbiome we are naturally protected from all kinds of threats from the outside world. The healthy microbiome, like a burly offensive guard, can physically block invaders such as undigested food or toxins or even parasites from getting through to the rest of the body. The healthy microbiome, like a living pharmacy, can also make their own antibiotics, antifungals, antivirals and other specialized chemicals to aide the immune system. It can also neutralize toxins, chelate heavy metals and inactivate carcinogens. A healthy microbiome can even protect us from cancer.

What about an unhealthy microbiome?

If the Essentials grow weak or get damaged, the Opportunistic flora seizes the chance to take over. Candida, c. diff, salmonella and e. coli are all Opportunistic flora able to severely damage our bodies and even kill us when left uncontrolled. If we accidentally ingest something toxic the weak Essentials can’t do their job neutralizing it and we get poisoned. And then, if undigested food gets past and into the body we develop allergies and inflammation leading to serious disease. Without a healthy balanced and flourishing community of Essential flora the whole structure of our gut changes and we get sicker and sicker.

Gene Transfer and GMOs

Genes in our DNA are like computer programs for our cells, telling them what pattern to follow in order to replicate or make repairs.   In the 1950s scientists discovered that single-cell organisms like bacteria were able to share their genetic information (DNA) to other bacteria even when they weren’t related. This is called gene transfer.  Sharing genes with each other is how bacteria can quickly become resistant to anti-biotics. Scientists are now discovering that gene transfer can occur with organisms more complex than single-cell bacteria.

Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) are organisms that have artificially shared their genes via a laboratory process of Genetic Engineering. Read more about GMOs here. But since we know about gene transfer occurring in nature, we need to question the wisdom of Genetic Engineering. Tinkering with the genes of a corn plant doesn’t stop with the corn, it is altering a whole lot more in ways that biotech companies didn’t forsee.

A 2004 study showed that when humans ate genetically modified (GMO) foods the artificially created genes transferred into the Essential/beneficial bacteria of the gut and altered the character of the flora so that it couldn’t function normally.

GMOs and Superweeds

In a similar fashion we are now seeing gene transfer from genetically engineered crops like corn, soy, cotton and canola infecting the native plants surrounding the crop fields giving rise to superweeds that are highly resistant to chemical herbicides. Whether or not the biotech companies took these possibilities into consideration when they chose to release their creations into nature, we are now experiencing the consequences of their actions. The artificially engineered genes are now spreading among us and altering us on an intimate level as well as altering our environment.

How to Protect Your Microbiome

  • Avoiding GMO foods is one way to protect your microbiome from GMO gene transfer. You can learn more at the Institute for Responsible Technology’s site and get their shopping
    GMO verification

    look for this logo

    guide.

  • Eat plenty of fermented foods and beverages, especially if you have to take antibiotics. For some delicious fermented food recipes check here or here, or follow our Pinterest board on ferments.
  • Use filters for your water that remove chlorine.
  • Reduce your stress
  • Reduce your intake of sugar.

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Inspiration to Make a Difference

Tallahassee meeting welcome to Florida

Last week I took my kids to Tallahassee for the annual FPEA (Florida Parent Educators Association) Day at the Capitol.  We’ve been learning about America’s government and the Constitution, and I thought this would make a great field trip – to see our state government in action. Although FPEA had some events scheduled they encouraged everyone to make time to see Representatives and Senators from their local districts just to say “Hi” and maybe talk about some of the issues about which we’re concerned. So a week or so before the trip I sent some emails, made a few phone calls and managed to get a few appointments with some lawmakers I knew were working to make laws near and dear to my heart. Yep, the battle to label GMOs is coming to Florida!

Tallahassee meeting with Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda

meeting with Representative Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda about GMO labeling

Thanks to the super-nice Teri Cariota we were able to squeeze in a meeting with Representative Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda (D – Leon County) who is the sponsor of HB1, the House bill to label GMOs.  Representative Rehwinkel Vasilinda is a petite mother of two who has been in the Florida House for about six years. She has done her homework on genetic engineering and feels it is important that we all have open access to what goes into our food. Her bill calls for mandatory labeling of raw ingredients and processed foods that are made with genetically engineered items. The bill has been filed and has now gone to the Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee where it sits until it gets put on the committee agenda.  It must be heard in committee before anything else can happen, and so far it hasn’t made it onto the agenda. The committee Chairman is Matt Caldwell (R – Lehigh Acres).  He was the next person we went to talk to.

When we found Representative Caldwell’s office he was not there. We had 5 teenagers and 5 parents in our group and I think we surprised the office staff, but his assistant, Charlotte Gammie, took down our message along with my contact info. She was probably the least responsive person we came in contact with all day. I have not heard back from Representative Caldwell yet. I hope he got our message that we’d really like his committee to discuss HB1 sometime soon.

Tallahassee meeting the Rep Michelle and group

Five teens and five parents and one lawmaker concerned about GMOs

Next we had an appointment over on the Senate side of the Capitol.  We were hoping to see Senator Jeremy Ring (D – Broward County), the sponsor of the GMO legislation in the Senate, SB558. Unfortunately we did not see him either, in spite of our appointment the Senator was delayed after his last meeting. But we did talk to his aide who took us into the Senator’s office, sat us all down (all 10 of us), listened to what we had to say and took notes. According to what the aide told us, the Senate bill is in much the same situation as the House bill. It is filed and gone to the Senate Agriculture Committee waiting to be put on the agenda. It looks like the committee is a bit apprehensive about putting this bill up for discussion which is understandable since this is a hot topic all over the U.S.  But to me this is all the more reason we need to tackle the issue, not let it languish under red tape, because it’s not going away. Too many people care about this now, and we are reaching a tipping point in this country. Senator Ring’s aide encouraged us to drop by the committee chair’s office. So that’s where we went next.

The Senate Chair for the Agriculture Committee is Senator Bill Montford (D – Apalachicola). Once again we found the Senator absent but his office aides present. These aides were friendly and attentive. They found us an empty conference room and sat us all down around the conference table. We spoke to Marcia Mathis, Legislative Assistant, who had great people skills and seemed impressed with the fact that we had teenagers who were listening, interested and engaged with what was going on. At this point just about everyone in our group knew where we wanted the conversation to go and they all chimed in with why GMO labeling was important to them. Ms. Mathis gave us at least 20 minutes of her time that afternoon and I hope she left the meeting more informed about why GMO labeling is so controversial and how the residents of Florida will benefit from SB558.

We ended that day feeling like we’d made some kind of a difference in our home state. And now it’s your turn to keep this conversation moving.  We need everyone to contact the committee chairs for the House and the Senate and urge them to put the GMO labeling bills onto the committees’ agendas. I’ve given links to the websites where you can find their email addresses to the names of each person above. It only takes a minute to fill out the form and send your thoughts. We also need to contact Florida’s Commissioner of Agriculture, Mr. Adam Putnam, who also sits on Florida’s Cabinet. Commissioner Putnam needs to know how we feel, and he also needs to hear from small family farmers who stand to lose the most if GMO labeling fails.

Floridians have the right to know what’s in their food – and so does the rest of the United States. Florida can lead the way by passing HB1 and SB558.

This blog is part of the Sunday Social Blog Hop.

Sunday Social Blog Hop

Sunday Social Blog Hop

Wise Traditions 2013 Day Three Synopsis

My apologies for taking so long to get this last blog up. As soon as the final session was over on Sunday we had to jump in the car and head home. For me that was two days of car travel,supergold kvass zukay but then once back home I turned right back around and started on another trip out west to visit more family. I’m writing this now from a hotel room in Tulsa. It’s kind of crazy to go from a weekend of fabulously healthy, farm fresh food for three meals a day straight into the food deserts of the airports and life on the road. I’m thankful to have found Zukay Live Foods Super Gold spicy beet kvass at the Tulsa Whole Foods yesterday. Dr. Mercola said one serving of fermented vegetables (this kvass qualifies for that!) is equal to a whole bottle of probiotic supplements.  Ok, on to my synopsis of the final day’s sessions….

I began the morning in a packed house to hear Dr. Joe Mercola. As usual, he was engaging and funny and had lots of good ideas. His loosely-organized talk on the failed drug system of conventional medicine was really an overview of his own recipe to take control of your own health. He had 12 bullet points with accompanying power point photo illustrations. I’ll list them here, but if you’ve spent any time on his website you are probably familiar with many already. The title of the talk could also be “Optimize Your Gut Flora”.  1. No sugar (you knew this was important!) 2. Reduce grains (or for the bold, eliminate grains entirely) 3. Eat lots of good vegetables and sprouts 4. Eat fermented vegetables, learn to ferment your own vegetables and fruits. We surprised Joe on this one…he said for anyone who had ever made their own fermented vegetables to raise their hand. Pretty much the whole room held hands high, and he was blown away. Said he’d never talked to an audience where the vast majority were fermenters much less even knew about it. This is when he told us that a 2-3oz serving of fermented vegetables has 100 trillion beneficial bacteria and is equal to an entire bottle of probiotic supplements. 6. Grow and eat your own sprouts. He recommends sprouting in soil rather than just in a sprouting dish. Sprouts have 30x the nutrients as the mature vegetable with sunflower seed sprouts being the highest. There are directions on his website on how to sprout using trays of soil. Takes about 5 days from start to finish. 7. Drink pure water. He said this was a good “gateway” first step for anyone wanting to begin the journey to health. 8. Eat a HIGH FAT diet. Especially for anyone who is currently insulin or leptin resistant he recommends using intermittent fasting techniques and converting to a fat-adapted diet rather than a glucose-burning diet. On the topic of fat-burning and eating high fat (good fats like coconut oil, butter) that insulin and leptin resistance lead to heart disease and cancer. Another moment of surprise for Dr. Mercola came when he asked anyone who has had a heart attack to raise their hand. In the packed auditorium of several hundred people only one person raised their hand – Mercola was stunned saying he attributed the low heart attack count to our healthy WAPF diets. 9. Exercise was next. Cardio, sitting killshe says, is not the most efficient. Better exercise is one that activates fast twitch muscles such as the Peak 8 training program. Great photo from this segment was a picture of a comfy chair with the caption “sitting kills”. 10. Grounding or Earthing – going barefoot on the earth or ocean activating a free flow of electrons to replicate natural principles to help naturally thin your blood. 11. Keep cell phones off and away from your body. 12. Small initiatives can make a big differences: say no to GMOs, Fluoride removal from city water supplies, ban mercury in dentistry, and the National Vaccine Information Center.

From Mercola I went upstairs to a more intimate classroom area to hear Dr. Deborah Gordon speak about Preventing Breast Cancer. This class was packed full of information, so much so that I want to do a more in-depth blog just on this topic. So what I give you here is just the surface of the deep pool.  First of all it is important to know that Prevention does not equal  Detection. 68% of women actually think mammograms prevent breast cancer. The industry claims they are the only way, but in reality there are many things you can do to help prevent breast cancer (and all cancers).  Prevention can come both before and after a diagnosis of breast cancer. It is important to know your personal risk factor. The Cancer.gov website has a Breast Cancer Risk Assessment Tool you can use to start with. Don’t stop there. Know about all the risk factors. Things like family history, age, race, age of menstruation/menopause, age of first full-term pregnancy, and breastfeeding all play a role. We have all heard of BRCA genes and while genetics themselves are fixed the epigenetics are modifiable. This means the environment we live in and the lifestyle we live. Exposure to radiation, carcinogens, toxic hormone modifiers and other substances are all risk factors we can lower or eliminate by lifestyle choices. Biggest is with food, personal care products, our homes and our lives. Keep cell phones away from your body and NEVER carry them in your bra! Choose organic foods and non-toxic cosmetics and cleaners. Parabens in deodorants are big cancer offenders. Use the EWG’s Skin Deep website to find good products. Never put anything on your skin you can’t safely eat. Sleep in a completely dark room, exercise – especially intense exercise for better hormone/metabolism/insulin. Have a little red wine – One 6oz serving per day at most. Manage your stress! Stress hormones kept low allow all your other glands to operate optimally! Eliminate sugar – many cancers are dependent on sugar, but humans are not. Vitamin D, probiotics, fermented foods, iodine, selenium, turmeric are all good. Statins double the risk of breast cancer.

Third up was a lecture called “Failed Promises-Flawed Science” from retired Col. Dr. Huber, Professor Emeritus Purdue University. Dr. Huber’s research into GMOs is legendary and stretches back 20 years or more to the inception of the biotech industry. This was another lecture that deserves its own blog post (or two or three). For this lecture he focused mainly on the herbicide glyphosate, brand name “Round Up”, used in GMO agriculture. Setting aside the actual GMO plants we learned that glyphosate on its own was a huge problem. It is a chelator of all cations, inhibits enzymes, shuts down the shikimate pathway (which I wrote about here), is a strong antibiotic (glyphosate was first marketed as an antibiotic before being used as an herbicide), and accumulates in shoot, root and reproductive tissues, accumulates in the soils, is toxic to beneficial soil organisms and just all-around nasty. Because of widespread glyphosate usage we are now seeing re-emergence of old diseases as well as brand new ones. Things like Corynespora Root Rot, Goss’ Wilt of Corn, Take-All of Wheat and Sudden Death Syndrome are all plaguing farmers now. It only takes 1/2 oz per ACRE of glyphosate to damage crops with low vigor, lower yields, and lower mineral values. Even after 30 years the glyphosate is still present in fields – it doesn’t go away. Now on to the crops themselves….There is a reduction in the nutrients from 13%-52% in RoundUp Ready (RR) crops. It takes extra fertilizer and micronutrients just to get these crops out of the ground. Animals fed GMO feed struggle due to nutrient deficiencies directly as a result of deficient feed plants. RR plants have a high amount of formaldehyde and contain at least 13% glyphosate within the plant itself. Mice and squirrels will ignore GMO feed corn due to the formaldehyde content. 80% of the beef livers from commercially raised and slaughtered cows have to be thrown away directly due to the premature aging from the GMO feed. 20% of all pregnancies in commercially raised dairy cattle are lost due to insufficiencies in the feed.  Erosion of the stomach and intestines from GMO soy and corn reproduce symptoms of autism in herds of animals eating GMO feed. When the GMO feed is removed the symptoms go away. Glyphosate presents long-term toxicity to liver, kidney and tissues and is a long-term carcinogen. Refining oils from GMO crops (soy, canola) concentrates this effect. We even have a new disease called Morgellan’s disease linked to GMOs.

buchi kombucha

buchi was a sponsor for Wise Traditions

The last session of the day was Kombucha and Cancer Therapies – Historic and Modern from Kombucha Kamp found Hannah Crum. Hannah’s bubbly personality spilled out like effervescent kombucha bringing a joyful tone to the serious topic of cancer.  Something I knew but forgot was that kombucha is not a lacto-fermented beverage like kefir or kvass. Instead it is an acetic acid ferment similar to apple cider vinegar. Vinegar is about 5% acetic acid while kombucha is a more drinkable 1%.  Hannah repeated what Deborah Gordon said about cancer being caused by environmental factors such as diet, toxins, lack of exercise and radiation.  Much of the research done on kombucha is from other countries where kombucha consumption is more the norm than it is in the US.  Stalin urged research on kombucha in the 1800s because he feared getting cancer. His scientists discovered a population in Russia living near an asbestos mine that should have been sick but instead the people were healthy – they drank kombucha. Dr. Rudolf Sklenar in Germany used kombucha to prevent cancer as well as treat and cure it using daily protocols of probiotics and kombucha. More recent research shows promise using kombucha to help heal diabetes, to repair kidneys from exposure to toxins such as carcinogenic solvents, to lower levels of radiation poisoning and to reduce human cancer cell activity. Hannah gave an in depth look at all the good things in kombucha from polyphenols to healing acids, and talked about how kombucha is a “gateway ferment”. People who are new to fermented foods often like kombucha just because it’s fizzy and it tastes good, but they keep drinking it because it makes them feel good.

 

Next year Wise Traditions 2014 will be in Indianapolis – I hope you can attend!