Food for Thought: GMOs vs. Organic – Part 1

In Columns, Features, My Life: Straight Up with a Twist by Tashauna Swanson

Image of a wheat stalk with text overlay that reads: food for thought gmo vs organic pt 1

The subject of our food and how it affects our health and environment has been a growing interest of mine over the past couple
of years. I think I’m driven to these topics because I grew up on a farm and I see pieces of how agriculture has changed; however, I know my thirst for information also has to do more with my love for really great food and how our food sources could be causing radical changes to the health of society.

All About GMOs

I sometimes wonder if my disability would be somewhat different had certain practices and chemicals not been introduced into our agricultural and food systems. Would my muscles be stronger than they are now? Would the progression of my condition have slowed down? If I can change my diet over time, will I have more energy? Will my anxiety calm down?

Maybe you ask the same questions of your own disability.

Until a few years ago, I didn’t ponder what goes into our food very seriously. I didn’t fully realize what the food we buy in stores and eat in most restaurants had become. I understood there were certain foods which should be avoided. I had also noticed that some of my favorite things began to taste differently as I got older, but I thought it was only because companies decided to change their recipes.

I guess that’s kind of what transpired. It isn’t as straightforward as my explanation though.

So, what actually happened?

Basically, we eat a lot of crap. If you check out the label of your favorite store bought cookie, you’ll see a lot of ingredients like, polysacharinitrisolybutylate.

Ok, that’s not a legitimate ingredient. It might as well be for how complex additive names are these days. What ever happened to a cookie containing flour, butter, sugar, egg, vanilla, and chocolate chips?

Actually, GMOs happened—in addition to more artificial additives than we can shake a stick at!

If you aren’t quite sure what GMOs are, they are Genetically Modified Organisms. This means that a living organism’s genetic material has been manipulated and altered in a lab through Genetic Engineering, or GE. It is used to create traits in crops or other organisms that wouldn’t occur in cross breeding or in nature.

Companies such as Monsanto developed the technology to create GE seed to sell to farmers. One of the main ways crops are being genetically engineered is to give the crops herbicide resistance. In other words, crops will continue to grow and survive even when an entire field is sprayed with chemicals to kill weeds. One particular herbicide is called Roundup, and it contains a dangerous ingredient called glyphosate that seems to be linked to many serious diseases and health conditions. I will talk more about that in a bit.

Another way crops are engineered is to also have a pesticide built into them for the purpose of—you guessed it, killing pests. So, it’s bad news for any insects that decide to come along and have a smorgasbord on a corn field.

What pesticides and herbicides are meant to do sound good in theory, but think about it; herbicides are meant to kill weeds. Herbicides are toxic and sprayed all over the fields. Pesticides are built into the DNA of crops and also sprayed for the purpose of killing insects.

We are eating the food that comes from these plants, the residues of the sprays, and the residuals of the engineered pesticides.

I don’t like the idea of consuming these poisons. Protecting ourselves involves more than washing produce because water won’t wash away the toxins and we can’t filter them out of processed foods.

It doesn’t matter how much of a poison is deemed safe to eat or drink if it’s still classified as a poison. It shouldn’t enter our bodies.

Currently, our world is in a heated debate over the agriculture and food industries and what we are consuming. It is more important than ever that we take notice of the issues, as they largely affect our food supply and our health. What we choose to eat plays a huge role in how we feel whether we have a disability or not.

With the existing state of struggle between the corporate agriculture and food industries against the anti-GMO team, many of us are left with the decision of determining what is best for us and who we should believe.

This situation can be quite overwhelming, especially if someone is not entirely sure of what GMOs are, or how they may be potentially affecting us and our environment.

GM crops are found in an extremely high percentage of processed foods that are lined up on grocery store shelves. We are talking about a whopping 80% (1). That’s incredibly high, and what it tells us as consumers is we are being limited on choice by billion dollar biotech. The Doritos we buy, the cookies, chips, soups, most things we can get at the store not certified organic contain GM corn, soy, wheat, or sugar from GM sugar beets.

We deserve the freedom to choose whether or not we want to eat GM food, and it is becoming increasingly difficult to maintain that choice.

Having a disability, sometimes I already feel like some of my freedoms have been taken away. You might feel the same. Now, our food choices are being threatened.

This is definitely something we should worry about and fight to protect.

Effects of GMOs and Roundup on Health

Our health is our number one priority in life. If we don’t attempt to sustain our good health, we can’t fully devote ourselves to the other things we consider to be important. When we don’t feel well, it affects every other aspect of our existence, including how our brains work.

For us, our conditions already play a part in how we feel from day to day. The way our bodies work internally and externally isn’t what is considered the norm. We might blame a lot of our bad days or moods on our conditions, but they might really be caused more by what we are eating.

We don’t need more issues to deal with as a result of the big, corporate agriculture takeover that is forcing the limitation of our food choices.

Not to sound too much like Bill Nye the Science Guy or take you back to science class, our various bodily systems work much like a factory. They are more like an assembly line in a sense, and it’s up to us to deliver the proper fuel so these systems can work. Some systems burn the fuel to keep the factory going, while other systems turn the fuel into other products needed by other parts of the body.

So, the loss of energy you might be having today might not be any relation to your disability—it could be your body telling you to consume a healthier fuel for processing.

There are thousands of studies that have been done on GMOs and their effects on humans and animals. Unfortunately, some of these studies may not exactly be reliable. It is up to an individual to decide what information seems logical to them, however, I feel studies done by independent researchers not affiliated with the companies behind GMOs are much more trustworthy due to no conflicts of interest.

With the lack of transparency large corporations have in today’s world, should we be trusting them to do a study on their own product when they could easily manipulate the data?

One such independent study that was conducted in 2012 is the Séralini Study. Professor Gilles-Eric Séralini, professor of molecular biology at the University of Caen, France, and president of the scientific board of CRIIGEN (Committee of Independent Research and Information on Genetic Engineering), and his team conducted a chronic toxicity study on rats to find the potential effects of GM food and Roundup that could cause major health issues in humans(2).

Séralini and his team studied the long term effects of Roundup and GM maize on rats. The study continued for two years on a group of two-hundred rats divided into four smaller groups. One group was the control group which was not fed GM maize or any doses of Roundup. The other test groups were given the GM maize with and without Roundup application, and an additional group given amounts of Roundup in water. After four months, tumors began to develop in the males, and after seven months the female rats began to develop tumors. The control group continued to remain healthy.

A similar test had first been done by Monsanto for only 90 days on the same breed of rat. Most tests on GM foods are only conducted for 90 days before the food is approved for humans.

Doing such short studies really shows concern for human and animal life, doesn’t it (insert sarcasm)? That’s not quite long enough for signs of potential health problems to show. Such short term studies don’t give an adequate picture of how an organism will react in the long term.

My confidence hasn’t been won over by any 90 day study.

During the independent study, the Séralini team regularly tested the blood and urine of the animals. Once the trial was done, 30 organs were inspected from every rat. By the conclusion of the study it was found that doses lower than current authorized levels of Roundup can cause severe hormone dependent mammary, kidney, and liver disturbances as well as kidney and liver failure(3).

Those results are not encouraging.

A peer reviewed report by retired science consultant and contributor to the Vital Votes Forum, Anthony Samsel, and research scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Dr. Stephanie Seneff, discussed how glyphosate is causing havoc on our health. It is disrupting our body’s abilities to process the vital things we need to remain healthy and weakening our defenses against disease through the infiltration of our good gut bacteria(4). There is a video where the two researchers talk about the effects of glyphosate in relation to specific diseases and the ways they occur.

Our gut is really the central part of our internal factory that controls our health. Not all bacteria is the bad kind, and when our good gut bacteria is thrown off balance or killed by things like glyphosate, it hinders our immunity towards disease. It actually promotes disease. Additionally, it leads towards tissue inflammation and the inability for the body to absorb the necessary amounts of the nutrients we need.

This imbalance also has a profound impact on our brain function and how we feel. It affects our mental states and how we react to things. If we feel anxious, depressed, extremely tired, or even angry, it can be caused by our gut and its reaction to what we are eating.

In an example stated in the video mentioned previously, the researchers talked about how aggression can be a result of gut bacteria impacted by glyphosate. They mentioned a child who had a continuation of aggressive behavior. When the child was switched to a non-GMO diet, his aggression disappeared and he seemed like a happy child.

Switching diets doesn’t only work for humans either. Positive changes in animal behavior, in cattle for instance, have also been witnessed while consuming a non-GMO diet.

What diseases has glyphosate been linked to besides causing potential changes in attitude or behavior? You can probably name most of them right away, as these conditions and chronic illnesses seem to have been on the rise over the past decade.

  • Autism
  • Allergies
  • Cancer
  • Gastrointestinal diseases (inflammatory bowel disease, chronic diarrhea, colitis, and Crohn’s)
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Infertility
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Obesity
  • Depression
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • ALS
  • …and that’s not even the tip of the iceberg.

Roundup residues don’t just stop within the boundaries of the fields in the country. It is in our food. It also gets carried through the air, infiltrates our water sources, and harms the earth. We breathe it in during the cropping season, and we can also absorb it through the skin. Something needs to be done before we no longer have access to foods without GMOs or toxins in them.

If we have a disability, we are already in and out of the hospital enough. We don’t need to make more visits to our doctors. We don’t need additional health problems!

There are 60 countries around the world that have bans on GMOs. It is clear their governments have seen signs they should be wary of potential negative effects. These governments also seem to listen more to what the people want. Why can’t our government be more critical of GMOs and the chemicals that are associated with caring for these plants as well?

Is it right that companies like Monsanto were given this much control over our individual health and damaging our environment? I don’t think so.

We shouldn’t let them continue to do it.

What are your thoughts?

Stay tuned for the second part of this article which will include information about organic foods and tips on how to integrate more organics into your diet!



  1. “The Future of Food”—GMOs, Gene Patenting, and the Corporatization of Our Food Supply:
  2. GMO Séralini: http://www.gmoSé
  3. Republished study: long-term toxicity of a Roundup herbicide and a Roundup-tolerant genetically modified maize:
  4. Gut-Wrenching New Studies Reveal the Insidious Effects of Glyphosate:


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