There are legitimate questions about soy. To my mind, by far the most disturbing one stems from the fact that 90 percent of the U.S. soybean crop today is genetically engineered. These are beans that have been genetically altered to enable the growing plants to withstand being sprayed with Monsanto's Roundup weed killer. Because so much Roundup is used on these crops, the residue levels in the harvested crops greatly exceed what, until very recently, was the allowable legal limit.
For the technology to be commercially viable, the FDA had to triple the allowable residue of Roundup's active ingredients that can remain on the crop. Many scientists have protested that permitting increased residues to enable a company's success reflects an attitude in which corporate interests are given higher priority than public safety, but the increased levels have remained in force.
While Roundup has been shown to cause reproductive disorders and birth defects in a large number of animal studies, its impact on humans is far less understood. But a laboratory study done in France in 2005 found that Roundup caused the death of human placental cells. And a 2009 study found that Roundup caused total cell death in human umbilical, embryonic, and placental cells within twenty-four hours.
Eating Genetically Engineered Soybeans Could Pose Serious Health Risks
It's hard to avoid the suspicion that eating genetically engineered soybeans could pose serious health risks to people. In 2001, The Los Angeles Times published an exposé revealing that, prior to being granted FDA approval, Monsanto's own research had raised many questions about the safety of their Roundup Ready soybeans. Remarkably, the FDA did not call for more testing before allowing these soybeans to flood the marketplace.
Since 90 percent of the soybeans grown in the United States are now Monsanto's Roundup Ready variety, and because soy is contained in such a wide array of processed foods, tens of millions of people are unknowingly eating these inadequately researched foods daily. It's a mass experiment, except that there is no control group. Data is not being systematically collected and virtually the entire human population is the guinea pig.
Essential Nutrients Decreased, Problematic Ones Increased
According to Monsanto's own tests, Roundup Ready soybeans contain 29 percent less of the brain nutrient choline and 27 percent more trypsin inhibitor (the potential allergen that interferes with protein digestion) than normal soybeans. Soy products are often prescribed and consumed for their phytoestrogen content, but, according to the company's tests, the genetically altered soybeans have lower levels of phenylalanine, an essential amino acid that affects levels of phytoestrogens. And levels of lectins, which are most likely the culprit in soy allergies, are nearly double in the transgenic variety.
Compared with regular soybeans, the genetically engineered beans have more of the very things that are problematic, and less of the very things that are beneficial. Furthermore, there is growing evidence that Roundup Ready soybeans disrupt the bacterial milieu of the human gastrointestinal tract.
Higher Concentrations of A New Pathogen In Roundup Ready Soybeans and Corn
In 2011, one of the nation's senior scientists, Dr. Don Huber, Professor Emeritus at Purdue University, informed Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack of a dire new development. A new pathogen had been discovered that may already be doing irreparable harm to both plants and animals. Dr. Huber pleaded with Vilsack to understand:
It is widespread, very serious, and is in much higher concentrations in Roundup Ready soybeans and corn. . . . This could result in a collapse of U.S. soy and corn export markets and significant disruption of domestic food and feed supplies. . . . For the past 40 years, I have been a scientist in the professional and military agencies that evaluate and prepare for natural and manmade biological threats, including germ warfare and disease outbreaks. Based on this experience, I believe the threat we are facing from this pathogen is unique and of a high risk status. In layman's terms, it . . . is an emergency.
Recognizing that virtually all U.S. beef cattle, dairy cows, and pigs are fed Roundup Ready soy, Huber went on to write:
The pathogen may explain the escalating frequency of infertility and spontaneous abortions over the past few years in U.S. cattle, dairy, swine, and horse operations. These include recent reports of infertility rates in dairy heifers of over 20 percent, and spontaneous abortions in cattle as high as 45 percent. . . .
It is well-documented that [Roundup's primary active ingredient] glyphosate promotes soil pathogens and is already implicated with the increase of more than 40 plant diseases; it dismantles plant defenses by chelating vital nutrients; and it reduces the bioavailability of nutrients in feed, which in turn can cause animal disorders. . . .
I have studied plant pathogens for more than 50 years. We are now seeing an unprecedented trend of increasing plant and animal diseases and disorders. This pathogen may be instrumental to understanding and solving this problem. It deserves immediate attention with significant resources to avoid a general collapse of our critical agricultural infrastructure.
The Real Hidden Danger in Soy Foods
There is a very real danger hidden today in the world of soy, but it is not what the anti-soy brigade would have us believe. While they have been saying that soy foods are hazardous to human health, they have been missing the real danger. Monsanto's Roundup Ready soybeans now represent almost the entire U.S. soy crop.
Here is one of the strongest arguments ever made for organic foods: The only way to ensure that the soy foods you eat are not Roundup Ready is to be sure that they are organically grown.
©2012 by John Robbins. All rights reserved.
Reprinted with permission of the publisher, Conari Press,
an imprint of Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC. www.redwheelweiser.com.
[Editor's Note: If you'd like to see GMO content of foods included on food labels, please sign the petition at www.JustLabelIt.org. Also watch the video (with music by Ziggy Marley) about the anti-GMO movement: JUST LABEL IT. http://youtu.be/TghIpBG5o3s]
This article was adapted with permission from the book:
No Happy Cows: Dispatches from the Frontlines of the Food Revolution
by John Robbins.
John Robbins shares his dispatches from the frontlines of the food revolution: From his undercover investigations of feed lots and slaughterhouses, to the rise of food contamination, the slave trade behind chocolate and coffee, what he calls the sham of "Vitamin Water," and the effects of hormones on animals and animal products. His trenchant and provocative observations into the relationships between animals and the humans who raise them remind us of the importance of working for a more compassionate and environmentally responsible world.
About the Author
John Robbins is the author of Diet for a New America, The Food Revolution, and the widely acclaimed Reclaiming Our Health. His life and work have been featured on the PBS special, Diet for a New America. Groomed to follow in the footsteps of his father, founder of the Baskin-Robbins empire, he chose a different, more authentic path for himself. John is considered to be one of the most eloquent and powerful spokespersons in the world for a sane, ethical and sustainable future. Visit his website http://www.foodrevolution.org/