Genetically Modified Foods Require Immediate Moratorium According to The American Academy Of Environmental Medicine

May 19, 2009 the American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM)
released a position paper on genetically modified food. In their most recent press release, the AAEM reiterates “there is more
than a casual association between GM foods and adverse health effects” and
that “GM foods pose a serious health risk in the areas of toxicology,
allergy and immune function, reproductive health, and metabolic, physiologic
and genetic health.”

This is an important topic for all humans and particularly those most vulnerable to allergy, immune, and digestive assaults, such as children with autism.

The most common genetically modified foods to avoid and/or only eat organically are: corn, soy, canola and cottonseed.  This means avoiding anything made from these “foods” including their oils.

The following is the AAEM’s paper:

Genetically Modified Foods

According to the World Health Organization, Genetically
Modified Organisms(GMOs) are “organisms in which the genetic material
(DNA) has been altered in such a way that does not occur naturally.”1 This
technology is also referred to as “genetic engineering”,
“biotechnology” or “recombinant DNA technology” and
consists of randomly inserting genetic fragments of DNA from one organism to
another, usually from a different species. For example, an artificial
combination of genes that includes a gene to produce the pesticide Cry1Ab
protein (commonly known as Bt toxin), originally found in Bacillus
thuringiensis, is inserted in to the DNA of corn randomly. Both the location of
the transferred gene sequence in the corn DNA and the consequences of the
insertion differ with each insertion. The plant cells that have taken up the
inserted gene are then grown in a lab using tissue culture and/or nutrient
medium that allows them to develop into plants that are used to grow GM food

Natural breeding processes have been safely utilized for the
past several thousand years. In contrast, “GE crop technology abrogates
natural reproductive processes, selection occurs at the single cell level, the
procedure is highly mutagenic and routinely breeches genera barriers, and the
technique has only been used commercially for 10 years.”3

Despite these differences, safety assessment of GM foods has
been based on the idea of “substantial equivalence” such that
“if a new food is found to be substantially equivalent in composition and
nutritional characteristics to an existing food, it can be regarded as safe as
the conventional food.”4 However, several animal studies indicate serious
health risks associated with GM food consumption including infertility, immune
dysregulation, accelerated aging, dysregulation of genes associated with
cholesterol synthesis, insulin regulation, cell signaling, and protein
formation, and changes in the liver, kidney, spleen and gastrointestinal

There is more than a casual association between GM foods and
adverse health effects. There is causation as defined by Hill’s Criteria in the
areas of strength of association, consistency, specificity, biological
gradient, and biological plausibility.5 The strength of association and
consistency between GM foods and disease is confirmed in several animal

Specificity of the association of GM foods and specific
disease processes is also supported. Multiple animal studies show significant
immune dysregulation, including upregulation of cytokines associated with
asthma, allergy, and inflammation. 6,11 Animal studies also show altered
structure and function of the liver, including altered lipid and carbohydrate
metabolism as well as cellular changes that could lead to accelerated aging and
possibly lead to the accumulation of reactive oxygen species (ROS). 7,8,10 Changes
in the kidney, pancreas and spleen have also been documented. 6,8,10 A recent
2008 study links GM corn with infertility, showing a significant decrease in
offspring over time and significantly lower litter weight in mice fed GM corn.8
This study also found that over 400 genes were found to be expressed
differently in the mice fed GM corn. These are genes known to control protein
synthesis and modification, cell signaling, cholesterol synthesis, and insulin
regulation. Studies also show intestinal damage in animals fed GM foods,
including proliferative cell growth9 and disruption of the intestinal immune

Regarding biological gradient, one study, done by Kroghsbo,
et al., has shown that rats fed transgenic Bt rice trended to a dose related
response for Bt specific IgA. 11

Also, because of the mounting data, it is biologically
plausible for Genetically Modified Foods to cause adverse health effects in

In spite of this risk, the biotechnology industry claims
that GM foods can feed the world through production of higher crop yields.
However, a recent report by the Union of Concerned Scientists reviewed 12
academic studies and indicates otherwise: “The several thousand field
trials over the last 20 years for genes aimed at increasing operational or
intrinsic yield (of crops) indicate a significant undertaking. Yet none of
these field trials have resulted in increased yield in commercialized major
food/feed crops, with the exception of Bt corn.”12 However, it was further
stated that this increase is largely due to traditional breeding improvements.

Therefore, because GM foods pose a serious health risk in
the areas of toxicology, allergy and immune function, reproductive health, and
metabolic, physiologic and genetic health and are without benefit, the AAEM
believes that it is imperative to adopt the precautionary principle, which is
one of the main regulatory tools of the European Union environmental and health
policy and serves as a foundation for several international agreements.13 The
most commonly used definition is from the 1992 Rio Declaration that states:
“In order to protect the environment, the precautionary approach shall be
widely applied by States according to their capabilities. Where there are
threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty
shall not be used as a reason for postponing cost-effective measures to prevent
environmental degradation.”13

Another often used definition originated from an
environmental meeting in the United States in 1998 stating: “When an
activity raises threats to the environment or human health, precautionary
measures should be taken, even if some cause and effect relationships are not
fully established scientifically. In this context, the proponent of an
activity, rather than the public, should bear the burden of proof (of the
safety of the activity).”13

With the precautionary principle in mind, because GM foods
have not been properly tested for human consumption, and because there is ample
evidence of probable harm, the AAEM asks:

Physicians to educate their patients, the medical community,
and the public to avoid GM foods when possible and provide educational
materials concerning GM foods and health risks.

Physicians to consider the possible role of GM foods in the
disease processes of the patients they treat and to document any changes in
patient health when changing from GM food to non-GM food.

Our members, the medical community, and the independent
scientific community to gather case studies potentially related to GM food
consumption and health effects, begin epidemiological research to investigate
the role of GM foods on human health, and conduct safe methods of determining
the effect of GM foods on human health.

For a moratorium on GM food, implementation of immediate
long term independent safety testing, and labeling of GM foods, which is
necessary for the health and safety of consumers.

(This statement was reviewed and approved by the Executive
Committee of the American Academy of Environmental Medicine on May 8, 2009.)

Submitted by Amy Dean, D.O. and Jennifer Armstrong, M.D.

Bibliography: Genetically Modified Foods Position Paper AAEM

  1. World Health Organization. (Internet).(2002). Foods derived
    from modern technology: 20 questions on genetically modified foods. Available
  2. Smith, JM. Genetic Roulette. Fairfield: Yes Books.2007. p.10
  3. Freese W, Schubert D. Safety testing and regulation of
    genetically engineered foods. Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering Reviews.
    Nov 2004. 21.
  4. Society of Toxicology. The safety of genetically modified
    foods produced through biotechnology. Toxicol. Sci. 2003; 71:2-8.
  5. Hill, AB. The environment and disease: association or
    causation? Proceeding of the Royal Society of Medicine 1965; 58:295-300.
  6. Finamore A, Roselli M, Britti S, et al. Intestinal and
    peripheral immune response to MON 810 maize ingestion in weaning and old mice.
    J Agric. Food Chem. 2008; 56(23):11533-11539.
  7. Malatesta M, Boraldi F, Annovi G, et al. A long-term study
    on female mice fed on a genetically modified soybean:effects on liver ageing.
    Histochem Cell Biol. 2008; 130:967-977.
  8. Velimirov A, Binter C, Zentek J. Biological effects of
    transgenic maize NK603xMON810 fed in long term reproduction studies in mice.
    Report-Federal Ministry of Health, Family and Youth. 2008.
  9. Ewen S, Pustzai A. Effects of diets containing genetically
    modified potatoes expressing Galanthus nivalis lectin on rat small
    intestine.Lancet. 354:1353-1354.
  10. Kilic A, Aday M. A three generational study with genetically
    modified Bt corn in rats: biochemical and histopathological investigation. Food
    Chem. Toxicol. 2008; 46(3):1164-1170.
  11. Kroghsbo S, Madsen C, Poulsen M, et al. Immunotoxicological
    studies of genetically modified rice expression PHA-E lectin or Bt toxin in
    Wistar rats. Toxicology. 2008; 245:24-34.
  12. Gurain-Sherman,D. 2009. Failure to yield: evaluating the
    performance of genetically engineered crops. Cambridge (MA): Union of Concerned
  13. Lofstedt R. The precautionary principle: risk, regulation
    and politics. Merton College, Oxford. 2002.

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Hi, I’m Julie Matthews, a Certified Nutrition Consultant, Author, and Published Researcher. I teach parents and practitioners that children with autism, ADHD, and related disorders can improve and heal, and that there’s hope for their children. Then I educate and empower them to make strategic dietary changes that positively affect children’s health, which in turn helps their learning and behavior. With 17 years of experience and my unique range of knowledge, from nutrition research and clinical experience to cooking in the kitchen for my own family, I’ve created a much-needed community for parents and practitioners looking to help children with autism live happy, healthy lives. Join us.

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2 responses to “Genetically Modified Foods Require Immediate Moratorium According to The American Academy Of Environmental Medicine”

  1. Melissa says:

    Can you give us a quick list of some of the foods that are commonly bought that these things are in?

  2. angel says:

    I use Silk soy milk. I hope that is safe, I use it with my cereal, love sugar and I cannot drink milk.

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