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Genetically Modified Foods May Affect Fertility

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a blog by Cindy Bailey of the Fertile Kitchen™, February 20, 2011

What are genetically-modified foods? Are they OK as part of our diet? Will they affect our fertility? Do we even know when we’re eating them?

GMO (genetically-modified organisms), as the name implies, are organisms (such as plants and animals) that have had their genetic characteristics modified for a purpose:

  • to make crops resistant to herbicides and pesticides, enabling farmers to spray crops to destroy pests without killing their crops in the process (corn, soy and sugar cane have been modified for this purpose)
  • to kill harmful insects so that insecticides are no longer needed (sweet corn)
  • to remain fresh on the shelves longer (tomatoes, strawberries, pineapples, sweet peppers and bananas have all been modified)

Animals, including cows, fish, and chicken, can also be genetically modified; however, they have not hit the market just yet.

Here’s how modifying these genes can — and has — backfired. In the case of creating a crop that is more resistant to pesticides, such as soy, the pests can become resistant to the crop spray, and then it’s useless. The crop can also pollinate weeds making weeds resistant to pesticides (called “superweeds” which are now becoming a problem with GM soy crops). A variety of insects, such as the butterfly, are at risk of being killed. The first GM tomatoes were made resistant to antibiotics, and these transferred to the people and animals that ate them, making them more resistant.

In the Biology of Belief, Dr. Bruce Lipton writes:
“Now that we are aware of this inter- and intra-species gene transfer mechanism, the dangers of genetic engineering become apparent. For example, tinkering with the genes of a tomato may not stop at that tomato, but could alter the entire biosphere in ways that we cannot foresee. Already there is a study that shows that when humans digest genetically modified foods, the artificially created genes transfer into and alter the character of the beneficial bacteria in the intestine.”

Already, in the United States, many of our plant-based products have been genetically modified: soy (93 percent), corn (86 percent), tomatoes and much more.

The Effect on Fertility

So, how does genetically modified food affect fertility? There was a study in Austria that showed that GM corn had a damaging effect on the reproductive system.

Quoting from the study: “…it became apparent over a period of 20 weeks that the fertility of GM corn fed mice was seriously impaired, with fewer offspring than mice fed on non-GM equivalent material. In a multi-generational trial, mice fed with GM maize had fewer offspring in the third and fourth generations, and this difference was statistically significant.”

Avoiding Genetically Modified Foods

How do you avoid GM foods? Now that’s the problem. We consumers usually have no idea we’re eating them!

GM food is not required to be labeled as such in the US. And many processed foods contain some GMOs. Europe, in general, has much stricter requirements over GM foods and labeling.Purely GM foods have to be labeled in Europe (corn, for example), but not always if it’s an ingredient (corn oil, for example).

So, what can you do?

In the Unites States and Canada, foods labeled 100 percent organic are not allowed to contain any genetically modified organisms or be fed genetically modified feed. So buy organic as much as possible, especially produce! You may also want to avoid processed foods, especially those containing soy or corn.

So, bottom line: eat 100 percent organic as much as possible and just do the best you can. It's all we can do.

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