Guest Post by Teri Socia
Often we hear the word organic in today’s society when it comes to food and beauty products, but what does that mean exactly? Organic is defined as objects produced or involving production without the use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, or other artificial agents.
In the last several years, we have been flooded and overwhelmed with information on the food and drug industry. We have learned that what we are eating and putting in and on our bodies can be a dangerous playing field. Reading labels has become overwhelming and burdensome. Every day in America we shop for food and bath products and it has become an annoyance to constantly be worried about a product that the originator is not worried about for us.
GMO’s in Beauty Products
Many of the common ingredients we find in personal care products come from agricultural sources and these sources may contain GMO products.
Take lauric acid, for instance. A saturated fat used as a moisturizer in a number of lotions and creams, it may come from coconuts, but it can also be made from canola. Because of the high demand for lauric acid, canola has actually been modified in some cases to produce high levels of it. This makes it a cheaper ingredient, which manufacturers like, but it is a GMO product.
As farmers started growing more and more genetically modified crops, the results were used not only in our food supply but also in our cosmetics. Today, you can find GMOs in soap, bath bombs, anti-aging creams, lotions, and body washes.
Ingredients derived from genetically modified crops include those that come from soy, canola, corn, and Hawaiian papaya. If you see any of the following, proceed with caution to ensure they are non-GMO:
- Amino acids
- Xanthan gum
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin C
- Sodium citrate
- Lactic acid
- Soy isoflavones (and other soy products)
- Vegetable protein
- Corn starch (in makeup)
Did You Know?
On average, women consume over 515 toxins per day from synthetic chemicals found in our beauty routines. We are eating food that has ingredients that we cannot pronounce. We have come to learn and in some cases accept what genetically modified organisms (GMO’s) are. We eat food from laboratories instead of farms. Seeds are genetically altered using engineering technology. Genetically modified crops are created from GMO seeds which are plants used in agriculture, made from the DNA of which has been modified and altered using genetic engineering methods. In most cases, the aim is to introduce a new trait to the plant which does not occur naturally in the species. Repeat, which does not occur naturally in the species…
How are we to know what effects genetically modified food and beauty products will have on us in 40 years? Non-organic milk tests positive for illegal antibiotics, high levels of growth hormones, and controversial pesticide contaminants. Cows are being injected with high levels of antibiotics and are becoming ill and puss-filled hosts, but guess what? We drink that byproduct and we carry on with our sluggish bodies every day.
Children are being thrust into puberty much faster at an alarming rate due to the consumption of growth hormones. Our food is being sprayed with pesticides and cancer is ever prevalent in today’s society. Are we mad yet?
Three new studies confirm that exposures to common insecticides during pregnancy can cut a child’s IQ 4% to 7% by age 9. We are literally getting dumber as a culture and we cannot accept this.
My grandparents grew up farming and to this day, my grandmother swears that food doesn’t taste like it used to. She says that the sun doesn’t shine as bright and the air smells polluted. One could argue that the senses could be failing due to age but she has said this for years and I believe it. The growing number of contaminants in our food, water supply, and pollution in the air are all contributing factors.
Concerns Over Using and Consuming GMO’s
Human Health Concerns
Many scientists, doctors, and health advocates raise concerns about the unintended impact of GMOs on human health. Yes, because there is no independent research (and in fact, seed companies’ agreements forbid the use of seeds for independent research), nobody can say with any degree of certainty that GMOs are safe. And so it is not surprising that there are unresolved questions concerning the potential alteration in the human genome, allergenicity of introduced genes, and high toxin production in plants and animals that may lead to long-term health effects.
What’s more, is that certain GMOs may also have the potential to further lower the effectiveness of antibiotics in the population. Amflora, the GM potato for example, that was recently approved in the European Union for industrial uses, has a gene for antibiotic resistance. Superbugs anyone?
While biotech supporters often argue that GM crops have been around since at least 1996 and that people have been consuming GM foods or foods with GM ingredients for a long time without alleged side-effects, the argument is misleading. There are no specific tests designed to analyze the long term safety of GM foods, no independent research, and no post-marketing follow-up analysis.
Often less discussed is the impact of GMOs on animal health. While we should be altruistically concerned about the well being of our fellow creatures, the fact is that if they are impacted by GMOs, we are not far behind.
Animals, especially insects who feed off GM crops, are our canaries in a coal mine. Take bees and the colony collapse disorder. Many scientists believe that while several causes may have contributed to the massive bee die-offs of the last four years, at least one contributing factor is the increased use of pesticides. If there is anything we learned since GM crops went commercial is that pesticides and GMOs go hand-in-hand. In fact, recent research indicates that since GMOs were introduced, farmers applied 318 million more pounds of pesticides than compared to the amount of pesticide likely to have been applied in the absence of GM seeds. Now, you’ve heard it before: if bees become extinct then humankind has about four years left.
In addition to the threats that GMOs may have on human and animal health, there are also numerous pressing environmental concerns. The list of potential problems highlighted by the Union of Concerned Scientists is long and portentous.
- First, the engineered crops themselves could become weeds. For example, some compared the recently approved for trial planting of GE eucalyptus trees with kudzu, a plant imported for purposes of preventing soil erosion but which became a pest throughout the southern U.S. states.
- Second, the crops might serve as conduits through which new genes move to wild plants, which could then become weeds.
- Third, crops engineered to produce viruses could facilitate the creation of new, more virulent or more widely spread viruses.
- Fourth, plants engineered to express potentially toxic substances could present risks to other organisms like birds or deer thereby potentially disrupting the ecosystem and, as such, have a negative impact on the natural food chain.
- Fifth, crops may initiate a perturbation that may have effects that ripple through an ecosystem in ways that are difficult to predict. Finally, the crops might threaten centers of crop diversity.
Similar alarm bells are ringing for GE animals. As examples, take this report from Greenpeace concerning GE fish and a recent Jill Richardson article discussing the “science” behind the testing of GE salmon.
In addition, the World Health Organization also noted that concerns about GMOs impact on the environment include the persistence of the gene after the GMO has been harvested as well as the stability of the gene.
While GMO supporters argue that there have been no major environmental catastrophes, the absence of something that we are not looking for is not evidence of non-existence. As authors of the Union of Concerned Scientists report point out, “[o]ther than for insect resistance, there is no systematic monitoring underway in the United States to detect adverse effects of genetically modified crops. So much may be going on that we are simply not aware of.”
Moral and Ethical Concerns
In addition to the practical and earthly concerns over the health and ecological impacts of GMOs, there are also considerations of the higher sorts. Since genetic modification, by its very essence, requires manipulation of the genetic make-up of an organism, the very core of its existence, some religious scholars question whether scientifically altered crops and animals are unnatural or threaten the natural order. Whether genetic manipulation is tantamount to playing God, or it is a violation of the laws of nature or tampering with nature. (See GMO Journal’s series of articles regarding religious perspectives on GMOs.)
In some cases, GM manipulation involves using animal genes from different species for example, if these were pig genes, consuming derived foods may be prohibited by some religions. Vegetarians and vegans would also want to avoid consuming foods containing genetic material from animals.
Genetic modification of animals also raises animal welfare concerns because such mutation may result in animal suffering. Even if you are told that GMOs are permitted under your religious or philosophical point of view, you should still engage in some soul searching to determine if you believe that all is right with the world if GMOs are what you eat.
GM crops bring to the forefront issues of dominance, power, and control, both, domestically and abroad. As William F. Engdahl exposes in his book, “Seeds of Destruction: The Hidden Agenda of Genetic Manipulation”, “control the food and you control the people.”
Socioeconomic concerns stem in part from intellectual property protection and the profit interest that flows from it. Fundamentally; however, it is not simply the profit-driven perspectives of the biotech industry that have so many civil society advocates concerned. The knowledge that once belonged to everyone, a communal understanding of seeds, crops, farming practices, and an appreciation for biodiversity is now being gobbled up, privatized, patented and sold to those same farmers in licensed chunks.
As many farmers have painfully discovered, using GM seeds comes with legal strings (and penalties) attached. Biotech companies require farmers to enter into license agreements in which farmers waive rights, including the right to save seeds. These contracts also, among other things, “encourage” farmers to use company-specific pesticides. And thanks to the advocacy of the United States State Department and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, biotech companies are exporting and imposing their idea of agricultural practices to many impoverished parts of the world with great success. No wonder many farmer advocates are concerned that such imposition of GM seeds is tantamount to corporate colonialism.
While biotech companies want us to believe that GMOs will save the world from hunger (it sure makes for a great PR message), in reality, complex problems such as hunger and malnutrition will not be solved with GMOs. Hunger has many contributing factors, as Jim Goodman wrote in a recent article, such as natural disaster, discrimination, war, poor infrastructure, and ineffective or corrupt governments. Similarly, food shortages often have little to do with lack of food and more to do with, as Francis Moore Lappe’ put it, a lack of justice.
The best hope for ending hunger lies with local, traditional, farmer-controlled agricultural production, not high tech industrial agriculture. So let’s dispense with the faux humanitarianism and call a spade a spade.
Why Is Cancer So Common?
Have you ever wondered why cancer rates are soaring? Some studies suggest it is because people are living longer. Within that same study; however, cancer is not only occurring at older ages but in some types of cancer, rates are actually increasing at younger ages, particularly when it comes to colon cancers. According to the American Cancer Society, “Based on current trends, they predict that by 2030, the incidence rates among people ages 20 – 34 years will increase by 90% for colon cancer and by 124.2% for rectal cancer. Among people ages 35 – 49 years, they predict the incidence rates will increase by 27.7% for colon cancer and by 46% for rectal cancer.” Cancer is a multi-billion dollar business, and the survival of the cancer industry depends on you following the status quo. Although, there is certainly a conflict of interest between the industry and education for improved prevention. We have been conditioned to accept this as our new norm.
Here are some topics to elaborate on why cancer is so common:
- Our Diets
While Americans are well fed and well cared for, we are not well nourished. We cannot expect our bodies to maintain a current level of homeostasis to fight off cancer cells if our bodies do not have the raw materials to function properly. The American diet needs more organic food along with strategic nutrients. We must recognize along with proper whole food, our skincare routine is just as equally important if not more. Our skin is our largest organ. Everything we put on our skin is absorbed into the body.
We are given estrogen and replacement hormone therapy. The birth control pill was not introduced until 1960 when the first high estrogen oral contraceptive Enovid was approved by the FDA. According to Dr. Ray Peat, Ph.D., “Cancer, abnormal blood clotting, and infertility were known to be caused by estrogen before 1940, but at the same time the drug companies began calling estrogen “the female hormone,” and claiming that it would “improve fertility.”
Today, I know many women who either have taken or are not taking synthetic estrogen in some form. Clearly, a variable that has not been around for much more than 50 years! How can we continue to ignore the fact that more estrogen means higher cancer rates, and thus taking oral estrogen is NOT the best idea? To compound the issue, estrogen must be detoxified by the liver, as it’s seen as a poison after it’s served its purpose in the body:
“Normally, the liver treats estrogen like a poison, removing it immediately from the body. If the liver gets sluggish from malnutrition or too much estrogen (or other damage), it can allow the hormone to build up to very high levels” -Ray Peat, PhD
If you have improper nutrition, it can inhibit the liver’s ability to detoxify estrogen and remove it from the body. In 1974, the molecule glyphosate was invented. What is glyphosate? It’s the active ingredient in the incredibly popular and widely used herbicide, Roundup. Roundup is widely used on GMO crops as well as sprayed on non-organic produce to help increase crop yields and reduce pests. It’s basically in everything you consume in varying amounts depending on if you eat organic or not. Sounds okay, right? Wrong. Glyphosate is now entangled in many lawsuits because of its negative health implications. It’s also been shown to increase cancer risk and is linked to nutritional depletion (namely, iron, cobalt, molybdenum, and copper). This makes glyphosate-containing foods something you definitely want to minimize as much as possible. While there’s no way to completely avoid it, eating organic and avoiding GMOs is the best way to reduce your intake of synthetic herbicides, specifically glyphosate.
- Synthetic Oils
In the early turn of the century, vegetable oils were introduced into the food supply as a result of the growing corn and soybean industries. Did you know that vegetable oils (called polyunsaturated fats) can damage all systems of the body? Even if you avoid vegetable oils in your own home in favor of healthy saturated fats like butter, you’re still subject to them every time you go to a restaurant, fast-food chain, or when you eat processed foods. According to Dr. Ray Peat, Ph.D., an excess of polyunsaturated fats (PUFA) are known contributors to cancer, particularly breast cancer:
“Polyunsaturated fats are another clearly identified cause of cancer, especially breast cancer. These fats synergize with estrogen and sensitize to radiation. Their effects on the mother can be seen in the offspring, as an increased tendency to develop breast or prostate cancer.” Ray Peat, PhD
Try using virgin organic coconut oil or organic olive oil in lieu of synthetic vegetable oils when cooking. Use therapeutic grade, all-natural essential oils in your beauty care routine and in your bath products.
We have increased stressors of all kinds. Here are just a few:
- Poor digestion.
- Not enough calories.
- We are malnourished from not consuming essential nutrients.
- Fragrances and artificial scents inhibit neurological abilities.
- We have increased brain fog.
- Poor sleeping patterns.
- Emotional distress.
- Environmental stress.
It’s the environment in the body that allows cancer to grow. Why not change the environment to help prevent cancer? We cannot expect our cells to react perfectly in an environment that is volatile if we are eating what society is “spoon-feeding” us. Take back control over your health by knowing what products are in the goods you use.
What To Do
To get the control back in the products you use and increase your odds of avoiding GMOs in food and beauty products, shop organic and if possible, shop local so you can meet the farmer or creator.
To avoid GMOs in your skincare and personal care products, you may need to do some research. Try the following tips:
- Look for “GMO-Free:” Some brands are announcing they are “GMO-free” in response to customer concerns. Look for this label when shopping.
- Shop organic: Organic standards do not allow GMOs in products. GMOs can still sneak in, however, if manufacturers aren’t careful about the source of their ingredients. Start with organic, but then research the brand to make sure they’re doing their due diligence. Look for “certified organic.”
- Look for seals: The USDA certified organic seal, for example, means the product is 100% organic and contains no GMOs. The “non-GMO certification label” (an orange butterfly symbol) signals verification by the Non-GMO Project and gives you an assurance that you’re not applying GMOs to your skin.
- Shop at natural foods stores: These are more likely to carry GMO-free brands.
- Shop at RAE SOAP COMPANY! We use only the best quality certified organic ingredients that you can feel good about using.
The content in this article is my own opinion based on the research I have completed. I do not own any rights to affiliate links crediting works cited.
Teri Socia, is a freelance writer and indie author of the books Calm The Storm and Raising Teens Without Losing Your Mind! She enjoys writing about relevant topics to family, life and healthy living to promote awareness for positive overall health and wellness. Teri also owns an organic soap business called Rae Soap Company and uses her writing as a platform to educate on the benefits of using locally sourced, organic products.
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