Death By GMO’s: What You Can Do To Protect Yourself (produce labeling chart included)
By Angela Billups
Spain, January 2015: Juan Pedro Ramos was taken to a Madrid hospital after exhibiting signs of an allergic reaction at work. Having just eaten a bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich and a diet cola, he was reported to have a “violent, itchy rash, some serious swelling of the throat and a drastic drop in blood pressure.” A known allergy sufferer, Ramos carried an epinephrine pen, which he injected himself only to have no relief of symptoms. Ramos was then taken to a local hospital by co-workers where he was pronounced dead a little over an hour later.
Sadly, deaths from life-threatening allergies are not new, but they are preventable when we know what we are allergic to and are able to avoid it. What makes this death so egregious is that no one would or should expect that their non-seafood food item would contain deadly seafood allergens that they normally avoid.
Several tests and analysis confirmed that Mr. Ramos died from an allergic reaction to seafood. Initial suspicions of cross-contamination from contact with fish or seafood during the preparation of Mr. Ramos’ food were disproven when forensic experts and medical examiners “discovered that the tomato he had ingested, not only contained some fish-related allergens, but also some antibiotic resistant genes which had prevented Mr. Ramos’ white blood cell from saving his life.”
In other words, the genetically modified tomato itself – and not some unsafe food handling practices – was the source of the allergen which killed Mr. Ramos.
In 1996, a group of University of Nebraska scientists was alerted to this potential problem when soybeans that were modified with a Brazil nut protein produced an allergic reaction in people allergic to Brazil nuts. At the time, most scientists felt that proper safety testing would make the problem easily avoidable and today, genetically engineered crops are still recognized as “safe”.
Spanish authorities have since recalled over 7,000 tons of the genetically modified Portuguese tomatoes that tragically ended Mr. Ramos’ life. They have also made a public statement of condolences and have vowed to “immediately demand further research on the subject to determine if other genetically modified food products on the European market could represent a risk for the Spanish population”.
Here’s What You Can Do To Protect Your Loved Ones and Effect Change:
1. Buy organic or non-GMO whole foods. Learn how to read produce labels to know if the produce is organic, conventional or a GMO (see this chart). Only buy meat or eggs and dairy from animals (any type) that were wild-caught, pastured, grass-fed, or fed non-GMO grain.
2. Organic matters, even in processed food. If you are buying processed foods, then buy organic since organic foods are required to be non-GMO. Currently, food manufacturers that use GMO ingredients are not required to label their products in such a way that the consumer would be alerted to the presence of GMO’s and be able to make an informed decision of whether or not to purchase that item.
3. Get in the know. Stay informed of the legislative practices around GMO’s and the positions that your political representatives take on the matter. Use that information as part of making your decision for who you support for political office. Organizations like the Environmental Working Group and the Institute for Responsible Technology do an excellent job of keeping readers informed of what is happening in the political landscape regarding food, crops and safety.
About the Author
Angela Billups is a holistic health coach, advanced practice nurse, writer, blogger, passionate home cook and founder of Livity Wellness Solutions L.L.C., a health coaching company that uses nutrition and holistic wellness as a means of achieving balance in life.
She is also a Certified Fitlife Coach and Small Group Coaching mentor who after working 18 years in healthcare as a physical therapist, registered nurse and nurse anesthetist has fully embraced her love of nutrition and wellness and their role in overall health and vitality.
Drawing from the experiences of her own transformation, her mission is to help as many people as possible to improve their own health and happiness in order to be the most authentic versions of themselves. For more information about Fitlife Small Group Coaching or general health coaching questions, you can connect with Angela:
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