A position paper from The Lyme Induced Autism Foundation (LIA) calls for people, especially those affected by Lyme disease, autism, and related illnesses, to stop eating genetically modified foods which they say have not been proven safe.
Although human studies on the health effects of genetically modified organisms (GMO), also referred to as GM foods, are lacking at present, the LIA believes they should be avoided until proven safe, especially the most vulnerable such as those suffering autism, Lyme disease, and other chronic illnesses.
In their position paper the LIA said it was joining other leading health organizations to ask medical practitioners to recommend diets free from all GMOs. Previously, the American Academy of Environmental Medicine, a leading group of physicians practicing in environmental medicine, had made a similar plea.
The LIA states that "There is an urgent need for independent research to evaluate the role that GM foods play in contributing to the prevalence or severity of autism, Lyme disease, and related conditions."
Although human studies are sorely lacking the organisation believes there is sufficient evidence from animal feeding studies and other research to advocate a cautious approach, especially in those whose body's may be particularly susceptible to harmful effects, including the patient populations they represent - those with Lyme disease, autism, and related conditions.
Food allergies are common in autistic children and many have already been diagnosed with corn, soy, and dairy allergies before a diagnosis of autism is forthcoming. Most soy and corn now produced and sold in the US are genetically modified (currently less of an issue in the EU), and dairy cows are usually fed GM feed and sometimes injected with GM bovine growth hormone. This, and other harmful chemicals such as antibiotic residues, may therefore build up in the food chain, making meat and dairy products even more dangerous than GM crops. The LIA Foundation calls on scientists to investigate a possible connection between GM crops, animal produce, food allergies and autism.
Jeffrey Smith, Executive Director of the Institute for Responsible Technology, who compiled and documented the health dangers of GMOs for the LIA, says, "Animal studies consistently indicate serious health risks associated with GM food, including infertility, immune system dysfunction, organ damage, and increased mortality." Warning, "The only published human GMO feeding study confirmed that genes from the genetically engineered foods transfer into intestinal bacteria of humans and that these genes continue to function."
This is a major concern as the intestinal tract and surrounding tissues contain up to 80% of the body's entire immune system with intestinal bacteria now known to play a pivotal role in its regulation.
The reason for the genetic modification of many crops is so that they can withstand huge doses of herbicides. These toxic chemical may be absorbed by the plants and their residues remain on the edible parts that we eat, thus ending up in our bodies.
Writing in The Huffington Post Smith explains that beneficial gut flora, which are required for healthy digestion as well as a healthy immune system, may be killed by excessive herbicide residues on herbicide-tolerant GM crops. He goes on to state that, "More importantly, the only published human feeding experiment revealed that the genetic material inserted into GM soy transfers into bacteria living inside our intestines and continues to function. This means that long after we stop eating GM foods, we may still have dangerous GM proteins continuously produced inside us. Consider, for example, if the gene that creates Bt-toxin in GM corn were also to transfer. It might turn our intestinal bacteria into living pesticide factories."
Bt-toxin is an insecticide that is produced in every cell of crops that have been genetically modified by insertion of genes from soil bacteria.
Smith says that, "Virtually every animal feeding study that looked for immune changes from GMOs found them. GM-fed animals had a sluggish immune responses, damaged organs associated with immunity, altered parameters in the blood, and dangerous inflammatory and immune reactions."
Obviously this is of grave concern to those suffering from autism, Lyme disease, and other immune disorders such as chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS).
As AAEM physician Amy Dean, a board certified internal medicine specialist, reports, "GMOs have been shown to adversely affect the digestive and immune systems of animals in laboratory settings. Lyme and autism, on the rise in the US, are also associated with digestive and immune system dysfunction. Therefore, patients with Lyme and autism should avoid GM foods."
The LIA Foundation position paper specifically calls for:
- A moratorium on all genetically modified foods
- Research to evaluate the role of GM foods on autism, Lyme disease, and related conditions
- Physician and patient advocacy groups to advise patients on the role of GM foods in disease processes
- Health practitioners to distribute non-GMO educational materials (www.nonGMOGuide.com )
The latter helps consumers choose foods and retailers they can be sure are free from GM ingredients.
The LIA has now made its position clear but until quality human studies into GM food health effects are published it is up to the consumer to decide whether to heed their warnings.
About LIA Foundation
The LIA Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to education and support for families who are affected by autism spectrum disorders, Lyme disease and associated disorders - www.liafoundation.org
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