Is genetically modified food causing increased food allergies in children?

Way back when (OK, last May) I wrote about the Obama administration’s decision to allow (and in some ways, encourage) the use of genetically modified alfalfa and other crops. That ruling was reportedly made by the USDA after the direct intervention of the White House in the Dept. of Agriculture decision process.

Why do I say “encourage”? Because, as I noted then, Monsanto:

Can go into the fields of organic farmers, collect samples, and sue farmers if the fields contain any of Monsanto’s patented products.

That makes the bank robber the sheriff, it seems to me.

As a follow-up, here’s Jennifer Grayson at Huffington Post writing about something close to every parent’s heart: the appalling increase in children’s food allergies and the possible ties to GM (genetically modified) food. Ms. Grayson (my emphasis):

The latest research regarding children’s food allergies came out earlier this week, and it’s a jaw-dropper: Food-related allergies are now twice as common as was once thought, with 1 in 12 American children possibly affected.

Of those with allergies, 40 percent have had reactions severe enough to land them in the hospital, or worse. Prescriptions for the life-saving EpiPen increased 36 percent from 2004 to 2007 alone; that number is likely to be higher in light of the latest study.

Excuse my language, but what the hell is going on? … Curiously, one thing that may indeed be responsible for the increase in food-related allergies is not getting a lot of press: food itself.

I’ve long argued that American’s don’t eat differently (less “morally”) than we used to; since WWII we’ve always filled ourselves to the brim. But what we fill up with is vastly different, despite being eerily (and deceptively) identical in taste to 1950’s cooking.

Grayson quotes Robyn O’Brien, a food activist and mother, on the relationship between food allergies and GM-laced products:

[A]s O’Brien explains, the body of a child with food allergies recognizes [CORR: may recognize (my error)] these [genetically modified] foreign proteins as “invaders,” launching an inflammatory attack that manifests as an allergic — sometimes deadly anaphylactic — reaction.

The statistics are alarming — for example, 265% increase in food allergy hospitalizations in this brave new post-GM world. Read the article for more; it’s not good news, and the source is the CDC.

Obviously nothing is proven (hence the question in the headline of this piece). But the data is piling up, in that “why do I cough when I smoke?” kind of way. I’m keeping my eye on this issue, as should we all.

If you’d like more information about Robyn O’Brien, check here. And for those who like to act, you can sign her petition at by clicking here.


Gaius Publius is a professional writer living on the West Coast of the United States.

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