A while backed I reviewed a documentary which impressed me. It was called The World According to Monsanto. It was a documentary about genetic modification of food, a favourite topic of mine (you can read some of my thoughts on the topic here and here). What made this documentary unique was that it did not look at genetic modification much, it just looked at the history of Monsanto, one of the largest producers of genetically modified seeds. The company has a long history of dishonesty and corporate malfeasance so that at the end, you ask whether you can believe anything they say about the safety of GMOs.
When I saw that Our Daily Poison was by the same director (Marie-Monique Robin), I was eager to see it. I’m really disappointed that there doesn’t seem to be a website for this movie. I would love to have found out more info and seen some of the details from the movie again. There was too much to try and remember.
I’m going to share with you just the main points as I remember them and I imagine you will be as shocked as I am when you read this information.
We all know that there is residue from pesticides, herbicides and fungicides on and in the food we eat. We assume that the residues are not harmful to us, at least in the small amounts present in our food.
The point of the documentary is to show that we can’t trust this premise to be true. The residues can be and are in fact harmful to us and our children. Imagine your daughter suffering from vaginal cancer because of the chemicals you ingested. Not a nice thought, but possible, if not likely.
So how does it happen that we are told we can consume these poisons? This is where it gets interesting. The theory is that there is an allowable daily intake (ADI) and if we don’t exceed that, there will not be a sufficient build up of that poison over our lifetimes to cause us harm.
The problem is that the ADI is a guess. That’s right, there is no scientific basis for the number. They tested the chemical on rats and then took that dosage and MADE UP a factor to multiply it by for humans. The problem is that scientists are saying the factor is not correct. We are being over exposed and the effect is worse for some chemicals than for others.
They also have to assume how much of a particular compound might be in your daily consumption. So if you eat too much of one thing or several things which have been exposed to the same chemicals you will exceed your ADI.
Unfortunately there is nothing that can be done about this. The levels are set by the World Health Organisations (WHO) and other regulatory bodies and the data is considered secret so nobody can see it. Where does the data come from? It comes from the manufacturers of the chemicals! They run tests and give the results to the regulatory boards. No independent testing or verification!!
There are two more serious issues. Some of the chemicals now used are harmful at very small doses, they do not require accumulation in order to be harmful. The ADI does not take these into account. Also, no testing has been done on the combination of the compounds. Doctors will tell you not to take this medicine if you are taking that medicine because it’s acknowledged that compounds can have an affect on each other in your body. This applies to the pesticides as well, but they have only tested the effect of one at time. No testing has been done with the cocktail of chemicals we ingest every day.
As you can see, it’s not all simple and safe as we imagine. There was also a very interesting section in Aspartame and how it was pushed through the FDA for approval despite tests indicating it is really bad for us.
This stuff is really, really serious. The one person interviewed made an interesting observation. He said that we take risks every day by weighing up the reward vs the risk. In this situation, we take the risk of ingesting these chemicals but we don’t get the reward, that goes to the companies that produce the chemicals.
Sound fair to you?
Such a good film and such an eye opener as to how we put so much faith into the controlling bodies (such as the FDA) to protect us. When in actual fact their criteria is often random, and has the (conflict of) interest of big business at the forefront of their agenda.
I’m going to be eating as much organic / free range as I can. (Oh and to eat a lot of super foods and turmeric)
It is a great documentary!
Ethical Coop in CT is a very valuable source of fresh, seasonal organic produce for my household.
just a note to Sam – free range is very losely defined in SA and is actually not allowed on food labels because of the misleading health and enviro claims. Here is a review of “free range” dairy (they got around the labelling laws by adding a TM to “free range”!): http://squaringgreencircles.blogspot.com/?spref=fb
In terms of your comments on aspartame, there have been many studies outside of the US which do not support the more widely reported claims of the anti aspartame lobby groups. An adult would need to consume 14 cans of diet drinks per day to reach the daily ADI limit for aspartame and this is based on the assumption that the manufacturer is using it in is maximum allowed usage which is not common as it is generally used in conjunction with a number of different sweeteners. This sweetener has been around for several decades and there are a number of scientific papers on it. Science is always developing so who knows what new research will follow.
Yes, but what we learned is that the ADI level cannot be trusted and is a thumbsuck. We also learned that people range in their sensitivity, so while most might be able to handle it, some people could die from just one can.
The big concern is how it was pushed through the FDA despite serious issues reflected in the trials….
My view (and that’s all it is) is that these things get too much airtime and I tend to view them along the same lines as power balance bracelets, The Rapture and so on – ie take them with a pinch of salt (although dramatically reducing salt intake is more likely to benefit most of us than cutting out diet drinks and artificial sweeteners). Sucralose and sacharin get the same claims going around the internet. The only people likely to have serious and immediate consequences are those with phenylketonuria (an inherited disease which babies have been getting screened for decades) and sufferers have to follow a low protein diet. Everything in moderation is probably the best way to go. Perhaps South Africa is leading the way – have you ever noticed that sugar Coke is always on special in supermarkets but diet coke rarely is?
Dunno if this means anything to you, but I got hooked on Coke Zero and soon developed epilepsy out of the blue. I never made the connection and maybe there isn’t one, but I can tell you this: on days when I when I’m really tired or run down, just two sips or bites of anything with aspartame in it gives me temporary dyslexia, vertigo or at worst a nice, fat seizure. So ja… make of that what you will.
Leigh & Rog..just drink Coke. it has the same amount of sugar in it as Liqui fruit or whatever fruit juice in a box you are drinking. The manufacturers have boiled all the goodness out of it and added who knows what? At least with Coke you know its bad for you…but sometimes you just gotta give in to the craving
An interesting article on the topic of how chemicals affect us