The Non-Toxic Times Newsletter reports that some people in the scientific community think that the startling, inexplicable rise in food allergies in recent years can be traced to genetically modified foods.
Thirty years ago, food allergies were rare, but now they affect more than 11 million Americans. Rates of peanut allergies in the U.S. doubled between 1997 and 2002.
Genetically modified (GM) foods entered the U.S. market in 1994 without any special labeling. Now, experts estimate that 60-70% of processed foods contain genetically modified ingredients. The most common GM foods are soybeans, corn, and cotton. (Cottonseed oil is a common ingredient in many processed foods!)
GM foods contain foreign genes from different species. These foreign genes are inserted to create desirable traits for farmers and increase profits. Many GM foods, for instance, have been modified to resist a particular disease or pest.
Here are just a few pieces of evidence that GM foods may be fueling the increase in food allergies:
- In 1999, an annual study of food allergens in the U.K. found that soy allergies had increased 50% over the previous year. This trend coincided with the first imports of GM soy from the U.S., which led scientists to strongly suspect a connection.
- A Monsanto company study on GM Bt corn (which the company was forced to reveal through legal action) showed that rats who ate it experienced a significant increase in three types of immune system blood cells.
- Mice fed a diet rich in GM soy had significantly lower levels of pancreatic enzymes, which are needed to break down proteins in the digestive tract. When proteins last longer in the body, they're more likely to provoke an allergic response.
- A type of GM potato has been found to damage the immune systems of rats.