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GMO Corn Linked to Severe Food Allergies

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Genetic Engineering page, Millions Against Monsanto page and our Health Issues page.

While I quickly discovered that blaming GMO foods for any kind of health problem is controversial in the medical and biotech worlds, what's beyond debate is the increase in the incidence of autoimmune disorders such as type 1 diabetes, lupus, and celiac disease, as well as of allergies. As for the latter, the National Health Interview Survey found, for instance, that since 1999, the number of children with food allergies has jumped by 50 percent, and those with skin allergies by 69 percent (and the increase isn't merely a by-product of fuller reporting by parents, experts say).

Allergenic eosinophilic disorders, however, aren't counted in that data. They were first identified about 20 years ago, according to a pioneer in the field, Marc Rothenberg, MD, PhD, a professor at University of Cincinnati medical school and director of an affiliated center for eosinophilic disorders. "We're in the midst of an allergy and autoimmune epidemic," Rothenberg told me on the phone, "and the environment is the black box." Mansmann's GMO theory was "interesting," he went on, before quickly adding that "no one in conventional medicine will have the data" to prove it.

Back in 2011, though, I was desperate enough that I was willing to try the diet Mansmann recommended. After all, how hard could it be to give up corn? The answer was: way harder than I imagined. Corn was my Waldo, popping up everywhere: in tea bags, juice, and cheese culture; it lined my "to go" coffee cups and plastic bags of frozen vegetables; it coated my store-bought apples and was on the bottom of restaurant pizza-almost everything my family used, no matter how piously natural and organic, had corn in it. It came under the guise of dozens of names like "xanthan gum," "natural flavors," "free-flowing agents," "vitamin E," "ascorbic acid," "citric acid," and "cellulose," to name a few. Almost daily, I'd find a new culprit. "Damn, this toothpaste is full of corn!" Then: "Wait, our dish soap is made from corn!" Or: "Oh my God, iodized salt has dextrose in it!"

Not to mention the corn that is fed to animals whose meat and eggs I ate, whose milk I drank. I had to restrict my diet, Mansmann said, to vegetables, grains other than corn, grass-fed beef and dairy, wild fish, and game (if I was game). My husband and I threw ourselves into the corn-free diet with gusto: We began baking all our bread, we learned how to make our own flour tortillas and sweet treats like muffins and cakes. By luck, we met an intrepid farmer raising corn-free chickens (harder than you might guess, because chickens have literally been bred to get fat fast on corn). We eschewed anything premade and began gathering foods from local sources we could trust. I stopped taking every medicine or supplement with corn in it (which was most of them). Wherever I went, I took my own stainless-steel coffee cup.



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