|Photo by Tsahi Levent-Levi on Flickr.com
Most Americans haven’t worried about GM foods because they trust the regulatory system. But the sad truth is that not only are there no labeling requirements, there is also no regulatory system in the US for GM foods. Currently, companies developing GM foods voluntarily send their data to the FDA, but there is no official approval before
products go on sale.
Biotech companies in the US have successfully lobbied to avoid GM regulation. Claims are often made that GMs are harmless. But with no system to track health problems caused by GM foods, it's difficult to have faith in these claims. And even if you wanted to track them, the lack of labeling for GM foods makes that next to impossible.
What Does This Mean for People with Arthritis?
In addition to the larger questions about the safety of GM foods, many people with arthritis face another concern.
If your arthritis is caused by food sensitivities, which it is true for many folks, the prevalence of GM foods, combined with the lack of labeling, may make it harder than ever to make sure you are getting safe food. Why?
Let's say, for example, that regular old canola oil has never been a problem for you. Then a company decides to create a new variety of rape (the plant that canola oil is made from) that has a gene inserted from some other species of plant.
What happens if you have a food sensitivity reaction to the protein made by this new gene? If you live in the United States, you are simply out of luck. There is no way to tell from the label whether a product contains GM ingredients or not, much less what those genetic modifications are.
This creates two kinds of problems. First, unless you are actively in the testing phase of dealing with food sensitivities, you have no way of immediately discerning what food has caused your inflammatory/pain response. Second, once you are able to identify canola oil as the culprit, in order to avoid GM canola oil in the future you either have to avoid all Canola oil or go out of your way to find canola oil produced by companies that certify that they use no GM ingredients.
How Can You Make Sure Your Food Is Safe?
Option 1: If you can afford it, shop at a health food store. Most health food stores carry at least some brands advertising that they contain only non-GM ingredients. Eat only this organic, non-GM food.
It would be nice if this solution were easy and practical, but for most people it isn’t.
Option 2: Apply the food testing principles described in my book to food from your mainstream grocery store. To do this, you will either need to shop temporarily at a health food store while you are testing the mainstream supply, or do this while breaking a fast. If you do okay with GM ingredients, then great. If you don’t, then you know you need to find a good source of organic, non-GM foods. However, you'll need to stay alert for the return of symptoms that may be caused by new GM alterations that occur unbeknownst to you.
Option 3: Lobby your legislators to impose labeling and regulatory oversight on GM foods, so we can at least know what is in our food.