Foods and Farming in Bulgaria, Part 2

Even though genetically modified (“GMO”) foods aren’t currently being grown in Bulgaria, there are a variety of pesticides and herbicides being used on the crops. And, as in many other countries, it isn’t always easy to find out whether the food you’re interested in purchasing has had them used. Actually knowing, and trusting, the farmer is the surest way. Of course, if you are the farmer (backyard gardens are doable for many of us), even better! Food labeling is not consistent and reliable here as well as in many countries. In the U.S. right now, there is a big push for improved labeling laws especially around the issue of GMO foods, but it appears that it is falling on deaf ears.

A friend here told me that, after the fall of Communism, one of the first TV commercials was for Roundup. Manufactured by Monsanto, this is a strong herbicide whose active ingredient is a chemical known as glyphosate. Anyone who could afford it started to use it, without being informed about the potential consequences. Roundup is very popular in the U.S., also – both with home gardeners and with by large farms. It is used with conventional crops as well as with genetically engineered (“GE”) crops, although in much higher quantities with the GMO plants, which are described as “herbicide tolerant” – that is, they allow specific herbicides (like Roundup) to be sprayed on the fields in extremely high quantities without killing the GE plants.

In the U.S., the use of glyphosate has risen dramatically over the past 15 years, right along with the use of GE crops. Very interestingly, so has the incidence of autism, allergies, asthma, certain cancers, inflammatory bowel disorders, birth defects, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, celiac disease, and other conditions. Physicist Nancy Swanson is one individual who has done considerable research showing high correlations between GMO production, and/or Roundup herbicide use, and the incidence of numerous disorders.

Glyphosate is not only an herbicide. It was originally patented as a mineral chelator (which binds to minerals, thus making them unavailable for human absorption) and a potent antibiotic (which can destroy many beneficial gut microflora). The combination of decreased nutrient absorption and a destroyed intestinal ecosystem can result in an inflamed and damaged intestinal lining, leaky gut, and a cascade of other disease conditions.

Dr Ron Huber, professor of plant pathology at Purdue University, is possibly the leading GMO expert in the world. He has stated “Genetically engineered foods, as well as conventional crops that are heavily sprayed with glyphosate (the active ingredient in Monsanto’s herbicide Roundup), have lower nutrient density than organic foods. They also contain high amounts of pesticides with documented harmful health effects, along with novel, highly allergenic, proteins.” He also has noted that epidemiological patterns show a rise in over 30 human diseases that correlates with increased usage of glyphosate and increased prevalence of genetically engineered proteins in our food.

In the U.S., food allergies in children have increased by 50% between 1997 and 2011. In Great Britain, one in three people are reported to be allergic to something. Within a healthy intestinal ecosystem, a common bacterium called Clostridia is believed to specifically help prevent sensitization to food allergens. When this population is decreased – by GE foods, by glyphosate, and by antibiotics found in other pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides – it is believed that increased food sensitivities and allergies can result. An all-organic diet is beneficial for all of us, but is especially important for those who are prone to allergies.

I recently received an email from a mom in Norway who reported that her next door neighbor, a non-organic farmer, had just sprayed his fields with Roundup (glyphosate), a mere 3 meters from the open bedroom window of her 6 year old son who already had developmental problems. She had repeatedly asked the farmer to notify her before spraying, but he repeatedly ignored her. Now, she asked if I had any advice for her – other than to move, which was already on her to-do list. I recommended that she thoroughly clean the surfaces within the bedroom, wash the linens, have her son take twice daily Epsom salt and baking soda baths, and add a clove of raw, diced garlic to his food daily for a week or two. Epsom salt (magnesium sulfate) and garlic both contain significant amounts of sulphur, an important mineral which the body needs for proper detoxification. This is one of the minerals that can’t be readily absorbed when the body is exposed to glyphosate. He already was on a healthy, mostly organic, low sugar and low processed foods diet, and took daily supplements to support his nutrition and digestive system, so that advice wasn’t necessary for this particular mom.

I don’t believe that it’s easy or convenient to eat (or provide to your loved ones) a natural, organic whole foods diet, but I do think it’s necessary if good health and optimal body functioning are high on your list of life’s priorities.

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