(Genetic Roulette author Jeffrey Smith photo courtesy of Jeff Skeirik)
Jeffrey Smith is one of the most celebrated authors in the agriculture industry and he took the time to talk to Hiland Naturals about the hard facts of GMO food. Check out the second part of our two-part series with America’s #1 consumer advocate.
Hiland Naturals: There’s a big difference between GMO-free and organic. Can you explain that to me?
Jeffrey Smith: I use the word non-GMO rather than GMO-free. The FDA prefers it because GMO-free is zero percent. So organic is grown using organic standards which includes not using prohibited substances (which includes synthetic chemicals like RoundUp and Atrazine).
Typically—but not always—organic involves a sole stewardship where people are very conscientious about developing quality of the soil as part of that. (It’s not a requirement for organic, but it is a typical attribute.)
For non-GMO, it has no specific prohibited substances other than GMO, so chemical agriculture can be used—chemical fertilizer, etc.—but the seed itself should be non-GMO. In certain cases with both organic and non-GMO, there might be tiny amounts of contamination because of the nature of nature.
Hiland Naturals: Your book, Seeds of Deception, was a wild success. The book “explains how corporate influence and government collusion have been used to cover up” documentation. Why do these things need to be covered up? Why shouldn’t everybody have this information?
Jeffrey Smith: Well the entire approval and promotion of GMOs is based on cover up. It’s well-documented at the FDA, but it’s also documented back in the early days of the biotech scientists who lied to Congress, who pretended that GMOs were safe. If the truth had been made clear to regulators, and also in some cases to investors, the technology would never have been taken out of the laboratory and deployed in the food supply.
The issue is that companies require a return on investment and also that patents expire. If someone takes out a patent, but the technology won’t be ready for 50 to one hundred years—or maybe longer—then you aren’t going to be able to raise money for it.
Once you develop the technique, then anyone will have access to it because the patent will have expired. So the economic reality doesn’t coincide with the scientific reality. The scientific reality would have required perhaps decades to get the method of genetic engineering that was predictable and safe—if that. The technology might never produce a safe and predictable outcome. We don’t know, but it certainly hasn’t done it up until this point.
Hiland Naturals: Soybeans and corn top the list for genetically modified foods. How does this affect other things that we eat?
Jeffrey Smith: Unfortunately, the soy and corn derivatives are practically omnipresent in processed foods. We know from animal studies that when there’s a percentage like 11% or 33% or 14% of the diet is RoundUp ready, for example, we know that there is damage to certain organs.
Oftentimes, the amount of GMOs in processed food is smaller, and it’s been processed so much that it’s even less risky. We don’t know how dangerous it would be in these small doses. For example, chocolate has soy and sugar from sugar beets, both of which are genetically engineered, but no one can say how dangerous it is because no research has been done at that level of exposure.
Some people don’t necessarily want to risk it and find out; many people will eliminate these foods that have these derivatives to protect themselves. What we have found is, thousands and thousands of testimonies of people saying, when they’ve gotten rid of GMOs, a large lists of disorders were dramatically improved or disappeared entirely.
Hiland Naturals: So clearly with that example about chocolate, we know that giving up GMOs isn’t the easiest thing. What’s your best advice for someone who has decided to give up on GMOs and have a healthier lifestyle as a result?
Jeffrey Smith: I would say go to NonGMOShoppingGuide.com. There’s over 27,000 products verified as non-GMO listed there. Also, include the tips for buying organic. Buying products that say non-GMO on the label, as well the list of at risk ingredients and derivatives. So if you don’t see a label, you can still avoid GMOs by avoiding products that contain anything that derived from the nine GMO food crops and ideally from the milk, meat, and eggs of animals that have been fed GMOs.
For those who are conscientious of GMOs, they’d be better off shopping at natural food stores. There they have plenty of brands and choices. We think that the tipping point of consumer objection will be achieved in the United States fairly soon, in which case all the foods will become non-GMO. This is because the food companies will see an increase in sales of the non-GMO labeled products in mainstream supermarkets, and they’ll have to change to protect their market share.
Hiland Naturals: If you were really to break it down. Plain and simple. How would you convince a farmer that GMOs aren’t in their best interest?
Jeffrey Smith: A pig farmer switched his feed to non-GMO soy and noted a two-thirds drop in antibiotic use in his pigs, an increase in litter size, an increase in conception rate, and a reduction in death rate from digestive disorders. He was making $112 per pig after spending more money on the non-GMO soy.
If we look around the country, it’s not a huge revolution, but each story is compelling. We have heard these stories over and over again, and it’s not hard for farmers to test this for themselves—especially with the short life cycles of the livestock.
The bottom line is that it’s easier for the livestock producers to demand it, because they can just try it and see.