In their words

DOs weigh in: Are GMOs bad for you?

Four DOs share their diverse opinions on the safety of consuming genetically modified foods.

Last month, the U.S. House of Representatives approved a bill prohibiting states from passing laws that call for mandatory labeling of foods containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Although surveys show a public demand for identification of GMOs, experts within the scientific and medical communities disagree about whether they are dangerous.

We asked four DOs to weigh in on the debate: Laura M. Rosch, DO, an internist with a background in nutrition; Andrew C. Buelt, DO, and Joseph Weatherly, DO, hosts of the Questioning Medicine podcast; and Gerald D. Natzke, DO, who serves as director of the Allergy and Environmental Medicine Center in Flint, Michigan.


More research needed on GMOs

By Laura M. Rosch, DO

Laura M. Rosch, DO

There is not enough research about the effect of GMOs on humans to back public concern that genetically modified foods are unsafe. Currently, no reputable medical journals have published or reported disease in humans due to the ingestion of GMO products.

We do know that much of the corn and soybeans grown in the U.S. are genetically modified and that these GM crops are being fed to livestock. If we don’t eat animal-based foods and make the switch to a more plant-based diet, exposure to GMO products can be reduced. As a pro-vegan, I support any step toward a reduction of animal products and an increase of plant-based foods in one’s diet.

GMO foods should be labeled, even in restaurants, to better educate the public about what they are really eating so they can make informed choices. It is really important to know what you are putting into your body or feeding your children every day.

The jury is still out on GMOs. We need the development of more research to really ask the hard questions about how GMOs affect our health. I hope researchers can provide evidence-based, nonbiased studies which show physicians that diet is a really important component to anyone’s health.

Dr. Rosch, an internist, received undergraduate and graduate degrees in nutrition from the University of Illinois in Champaign.


With GMOs, there is nothing to fear but fear itself

By Andrew C. Buelt, DO, and Joseph Weatherly, DO

Andrew C. Buelt, DO

Long-term data about GMOs doesn’t exist. The best available evidence suggests GMOs are safe; we have no human research that states the contrary. We should not give weight to Petri dish experiments with transgenic mice or rat model studies.

GMOs have become a point of emotional discussion with American fringe groups and competing financial interests intensifying the fear associated with GMOs. Their trendy platforms do not belong in the clinic of a physician.

Patient wellness can easily be achieved using foods that are readily available to the patient. Both genetically modified and organic foods, when used in excess, will contribute to the real worries in primary care: Obesity, poorly controlled diabetes and disability. Even drinking too much water can contribute to poor health outcomes. Rather than counseling patients to avoid water, we simply recommend appropriate use and moderation.

Joseph Weatherly, DO

If we spend our time on out-of-place, emotional discussions, we lose purpose. We risk shifting our focus—and our patients’ attention—from the real problems, which include a more than 35% adult obesity rate.

We should focus our efforts on topics and interventions that are more likely to contribute to positive outcomes rather than directing the average patient toward or away from a single diet or food source.

Dr. Buelt and Dr. Weatherly produce the Questioning Medicine podcast.


GMO dangers: Too much to lose

By Gerald D. Natzke, DO

Gerald D. Natzke, DO

Science has never concluded GMOs are safe. In fact, there is substantial evidence in scientific literature from multiple animal studies that demonstrate significant immune dysregulation, lipid irregularities, infertility, and cell signaling abnormalities creating accelerated aging. Pesticides also are used in greater amounts on GMO crops. As a result, 64 nations have allowed or required GMO labeling.

There are no studies performed on humans showing ingestion of GMO products are safe. I tell my patients GMO foods like soy and corn should be avoided, particularly by children, the chronically ill and the immunocompromised. As often as possible, eat organic and reduce the potential risk.

GMO supporters often mention how these farming practices help to feed the world as they increase crop yields. The Union of Concerned Scientists, however, report several thousand field trials over the last 20 years that dispute this point.

We should have confirmed the safety of genetically modified foods before they were approved for human consumption. Let’s stop guessing and start studying GMOs’ effects on humans as there is potentially too much to lose.

Dr. Natzke is the director of the Allergy and Environmental Medicine Center in Flint, Michigan.

6 comments

  1. First, I agree completely with Dr. Weatherly and Dr. Buelt – there are bigger problems on our plate. Obesity is a known substantial existent problem, whereas GMO’s only present a mostly theoretical risk at present. I would rather spend my time on the known, very large problem of obesity and related diseases.

    However, I also agree with Dr. Natzke. My immediate concern is not for what the GMO’s are doing to humans directly. I am concerned about the indirect effect.

    GMO’s put a different food product into our intestines. Food is to bacteria as what soil is to a plant. Different plants grow in different soils. Different bacteria grow in different food environments. As we all know, humans have about 100,000 different kinds of bacteria growing in our intestines.

    It has taken thousands of years for these bacteria to evolve into friendly bacteria. When we eat GMO’s what will start to grow? There is a possibility that “different soil” (GMO foods) may encourage, in a pre-biotic manner, a different kind of bacteria which may or may not be friendly.

    Intestinal bacteria have definitively been shown to be able to alter our DNA, through multiple pathways. It is possible, even likely, that the new, GMO evolved bacteria will alter our DNA.

    We will likely not find out for a few decades what the long term results will be. GMO’s may be harmless, or GMO’s could stimulate the growth of unfriendly bacteria which would alter our DNA and trigger the growth of intestinal cancer, etc.

    This is not the first time our food supply has had potentially beneficial food product changes introduced. The FDA and the medical community did not immediately realize that hydrogenated oil was bad for us. Likewise our opinion about high fructose corn syrup has also reversed over time.

    Originally both of these products were touted as helpful nutritionally, and some people have also speculated about how the increased calorie content would benefit the fight on world hunger.

    It could therefore be argued that a lack of vigilance for some of the previous major changes to our society’s diet have compromised the health of millions of obese Americans with all the related complications. Considering the potential impact on our society, I do hope we are not going to be dealing with unintended medical issues resulting from GMO’s in the not too distant future.

  2. Making assumptions is never wise. These plants are being altered fundamentally. In the short term, theses genetic alterations may have minimal influence on animal physiology. However, as has already been stated, we are unaware of the long term physiologic affects. And perhaps more significantly, we are completely unaware of how these GMO plants will interface with the whole of the biosphere. Ecosystems must accommodate to these new inputs, and there are just too many variables. Once again we humans are groping around in the dark, ignorant of our impact. The stakes just get bigger. We should proceed with cautious vigilance.

  3. As a fellow DO, I am appalled that this is even an argument.

    How much money Mansanto has spent to buy our politicans on this vote is incredible. If GMO’s were safe, why does Mansanto have to spend millions to “influence” or hide?

    The fact that the bill prohibits labeling should be a huge red flag. If there is nothing to hide, why is Mansanto supporting this bill? The fact is there is something to hide.

    We are playing with fire and it is a matter of time before this implodes in our face, if the issue already has not.

  4. I read an article last year on pub med on mouse research feeding GMO corn and soybeans to the mice.
    Mice developed tumors within 3 months, and most of mice were dead within 6 months.
    That was an exclusive diet-not an omnivorous diet.
    GMO food is altering the genetic makeup of the food protein-this caused celiac epidemic as some may know by now-and humans may not be able to adapt.
    By the time we are all eating GMO veggies and meat from GMO fed animals-the system will all be geared to GMO.
    Now in that scenario-real food will be so scarce it will be impossible to find it.
    Monsanto is the culprit in so many disasters and we don’t even notice.
    They gave us agent orange suppose to not cause cancer-but it did.
    They modified agent orange to roundup-which was suppose to be biodegradable which it is but no one knows how long it takes to biodegrade as some fields still have in in soil 25 years after use.
    Now just recently Monsanto got FDA approval for a substance somewhere between Agent Orange and Roundup, and it does cause cancer.
    We cannot tinker with the microbiome and expect it will not notice.
    I found only one sensible reply to the question in the ones interviewed, Dr. Natzke evidently reads a variety of material and is better informed on this topic.

  5. GMOs
    75-80% of my Pts are VitD def, I practice in the sun belt on the Gulf of Mexico
    Guys in their 30s low T
    Increased Autism
    Bee hives collapsing

    The common denominator is Food
    All of the above are designed fo God given RNA and DNA…. Not Monsantos the food and pollen are Not Right. It will take @200 years to form the adaptogens to cope with Mr Monsanto.
    Past president of Searle labs was Donald Rumsfield… They are part of Mosanto…. People in high ..places….wow

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