DCs outraged by Monsanto, GMO issue
At first glance, it seemed like an unusual topic for chiropractors to be discussing all over Facebook. No mention of subluxations, rehab, adjustments or even back pain. Yet, seldom has a subject galvanized DCs into such unity of opinion. The topic: Monsanto and its effect on the food, water, air and, ultimately, the health of every person on the planet.
“It didn’t surprise me that the Facebook posts were extremely animated and passionate,” said Timothy Feuling, publisher of The Chiropractic Journal. “As chiropractors become the leaders in the wellness revolution, their scope of interest has expanded into all aspects of well-being. All DCs are very concerned about the environmental stresses placed on their patients. No one can ignore the fact that poor nutrition, lack of exercise, air and water pollution, and other factors have an impact on a patient’s overall health and even how well his or her adjustments will hold.”
The controversy over Monsanto, which has been brewing for years, erupted toward the end of 2011 with the release of a research study in Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry (Nov. 2011) that glyphosate, the active ingredient in the Monsanto-produced herbicide “Roundup,” is rapidly seeping into the groundwater in areas where it’s being applied. DCs and other health officials immediately realized the health implications of that report.
A number of other events followed in rapid order, adding fuel to the fire. In December, the USDA approved a genetically engineered corn that Monsanto claimed to be a new draught-resistant strain. The approval was granted despite the fact that the USDA panel itself found that claim to be overstated. The drought resistance “does not exceed the natural variation observed in regionally-adapted varieties of conventional corn,” the official USDA report noted, adding that “equally comparable varieties produced through conventional breeding techniques are readily available in irrigated corn production regions.” In approving the GM corn, the USDA ignored their own report, as well as the estimated 45,000 public comments opposing the action.
At that point, the fire increased in intensity as the topic started appearing regularly in chiropractic forums and on Facebook. Additionally, thousands of chiropractors added information on Monsanto and the dangers of GM foods to their websites. At one point, a Google search of the combined keywords “chiropractor” and “Monsanto” resulted in 5.5 million hits.
At about the same time as the Monsanto corn received approval from the USDA, the agency announced it had opened a public comment period for a soybean variety from Monsanto containing increased levels of an omega-3 fatty acid, which is touted as being healthy but doesn’t naturally occur in soybeans. The agency also said it would hold a public comment period for a GMO corn from Dow, engineered to better resist the poisonous herbicide 2,4-D. Manufactured by Monsanto, 2,4-D was a key ingredient in “Agent Orange,” used to defoliate forests and croplands during the Vietnam War.
Finally, came the news that 20 states in the US were or are considering a labeling requirement to identify genetically engineered foods or ingredients, an action favored by an estimated 90% of American consumers. However, several of those states were reportedly backing down after threatened by lawsuits from Monsanto.
The cumulative effect of all this news had an impact on chiropractic discussion and action, with numerous DCs leading local activist movements to raise awareness of the health issues involved in GM foods and the over-use of herbicides and pesticides. Many chiropractors gave public talks to their community, while others published information on their websites.
One such post to her site by Tiffany Johnson, DC, of Healing Touch Chiropractic in West Fargo, North Dakota read:
“I’m… a Doctor of Chiropractic, having received numerous hours of training on physiology, microbiology, and nutrition. However, you don’t have to be trained in medicine or nutrition to know that a change in the molecular structure of our foods, changes how the body must process them, how the immune system responds to them, how nutrition is absorbed from them, and more. There are bound to be consequences; both in how our bodies respond and our overall health as a result… Join me in learning as much as you can about GMOs and their safety,” said Dr. Johnson, “and advocate for proper testing and labeling so we can make educated purchasing decisions on behalf of our own health and that of our families.”
Chiropractors found themselves in good company as they began protesting the aggressive moves by Monsanto, Dow, and other companies to introduce what have become known as “Franken-foods.” Numerous organizations started organizing protests, launching letter-writing campaigns, holding fundraisers, and initiating other actions to force politicians to respond to the concerns voiced by the majority of the population.
“While it’s vital that we be aware of the immediate environmental impact of these products, we also have to understand that, ultimately, the real danger is to the health and welfare of every human being on earth,” stated Feuling. “The link between these chemicals and everything from birth defects to cancer has been well documented. It’s going to be up to wellness professionals like chiropractors to make sure we never lose sight of the unacceptable cost in human lives and health if we allow these chemical companies to destroy our food, water, and air. We are also the ones in a position to help the public learn about nutrition and lifestyle choices that will give them the best chance to live long and healthy lives.”
To join the discussion about the chiropractic response to GMO foods, “LIKE” The Chiropractic Journal Facebook page (facebook.com/TheChiropracticJournal) and leave your comments.