Movie Night at the College.


You could say that this night is what sparked my advocacy for Agriculture more. The Hill County Texas Farm Bureau hosted an evening to show the 50 minute version of “Food Evolution” along with 4 panelists and allowed the audience to ask questions. It was a GREAT idea, since there is a lot of talk about GMO’s. The total count of attendees was over 140, which included many college students.

So this event only lasted about 2 hours, I feel like the question and answering could’ve went on for many more hours. When I left that event, I wasn’t sure if it swayed the common consumer or perhaps the “middle man”, which is what we call a person that isn’t sure if they understand or don’t understand. There was one statement that I really felt like took over, which was “My child is allergic to GMO corn, but not NON-GMO corn”. Being a mother, I can imagine the fear, the anger, the questions I would have seeing my child swell up and not knowing at the time what or how it happened. So, as soon as I came home, I started researching article after article, I even asked other people, if they had a similar situations arise around them.

Well, in short, nobody had heard of this, or had seen it happen before, ever, just strictly from a GMO cord cob.

So, what is a GMO exactly? Its a Genetically Modified Organism, which is a crop developed with genetic engineering. This has actually been going on for more than 10,000 years. You may ask why? Well, to create new varieties of crops that can be pest resistant, disease resistant and tolerant to herbicides as well as drought. A common misconception is that herbicides or other chemicals are inserted into the seed or plant. Thats simply not true. A GMO plant is developed through a process in which a copy of a desired gene or section of genetic material from on plant or organism is placed in another plant. Also, another misconception is theres “thousands of GMO’s”, in reality theres only 10, which are Sweet and Field Corn, Soybeans, Papaya, Canola, Cotton, Alfalfa, Sugar beets, Squash ( which was launched in 1995), Apple and Potato. Another misconception, GMO’s are sprayed more with toxic chemicals. Wrong again. We are able to spray less, since the plant is resistant to bugs, and yes are able to spray the weeds around the corn plant since the plant is resistant to certain herbicides. We typically spray everything we need to before a corn ear is ever put on, meaning no grain ever sees chemical.

So anyways, back to this allergy thing, GMO sweet corn is the Bt gene, a very well known protein that is non allergenic, and if a person had an allergy to it, they would also be allergic to NON-GMO and organic sweet corn because Bt is used in many organic sprays as a pesticide. Bt proteins break down in our stomach acid within 30 seconds.

So now you’re like “what the heck is Bt?”, I got you. It stands for Bacillus thuringiensis. Its a microbe naturally found in soil, it makes proteins that are toxic to insects or larvae. There are many types of Bt, each target different insect groups such as, beetles, mosquitos, black flies, caterpillars and moths. Bt has been registered for use in pesticides by the EPA since 1961.

Annnnd back to the allergy thing, its extremely unlikely that corn would cause an allergic reaction. Food allergens have common characteristics and all GM Crops are screened to make sure that their proteins do not share characteristics with known allergens. Scientists have specific techniques to assess allergenic potential in new crops, both GM and conventional, which includes detailed bioformatic comparisons, immunologic assays and protein analyses. Whoa, big words. Anyways, the entire genome is sequenced , and all amino acids in the genome are compared with a database that houses known allergens. To date, no new allergies have been caused by food from GMO’s. We actually know more about the genetics and the potential allergens of commercially approved GMO varieties that we do about most conventional or Organic varieties.

I have no doubt Food Allergies are on the rise, but the top 8 most common food allergies are milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, soy, fish and shellfish. Between 1997 and 2008, the peanut and tree nut allergy tripled in children. Out of all of those, soy is the only GMO.

So, I know everyone will have a different view on this, and thats ok. My take is, I don’t feel theres enough scientific evidence to support that statement. Food allergies are real and a total pain for so many, I can’t imagine having to deal with being allergic to so many common food items, but one thing I feel confident in is they aren’t because of GMO’s. Like so many, I will be eagerly waiting for a reason why food allergies are on the rise.




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