Are You Eating Genetically Modified Foods Laced with Pesticides?

In a quest to eat a healthier diet, I made smoothies containing a couple scoops of a soy protein product I bought at Trader Joe’s. I also started eating a lot of berries, high in anti-oxidants, which are supposed to be good for you. Then one day I woke up and realized that the soy I had be eating was actually genetically modified (GMO) soy created by the Monsanto Corporation for the sole purpose of being resistant to Monsanto’s Roundup, a powerful herbicide which will kill every plant in a soybean field except genetically modified soy plants. So the soy I had been eating was not only GMO soy containing herbicide within its seeds, but it had been drenched in a powerful herbicide prior to having been harvested and brought to market.

Same thing for the berries. They are highly sprayed with pesticides and herbicides so that whatever healthful properties they may have possessed are completely compromised by the poisons being ingested. Grapes are the most highly sprayed product out there. Even drinking wine unless it’s organic gives you a high dose of toxicity. Doctors may tell you that it is healthy to have a glass of wine with dinner, but unless it’s organic wine, you’r getting a dose of pesticide and herbicide along with it. In 2010 411,828 pounds of Roundup were applied to wine grapes in California. A 2009 study found that even one glass of wine a day increased women’s chances of getting cancer. It seems that the anti-oxidant cancer fighting effects of wine are counterbalanced by the pesticide and herbicide laced grapes that it is made from.

The Bush administration approved the use of methyl iodide on strawberries despite scientific evidence that it wasn’t safe for human consumption. Unless you are buying organic strawberries you are getting a dose of it every time you eat them. Arnold Swarzenegger also approved its use in California in the final days of his administration despite the fact that 54 eminent scientists including six Nobel Laureates testified that methyl iodide is one of the most toxic chemicals on earth.This chemical is getting into California’s food and water supplies and causing harm to agricultural communities surrounding the fields where it’s being used, not to mention the workers who pick the strawberries. Governor Brown has said he will take a “fresh look” at the chemical, but so far your best protection is to eat organic berries be they strawberries, raspberries, blueberries or blackberries. Each year nearly 1 billion pounds of pesticides are sprayed on the fields and orchards of America

The latest development in the Monsanto Roundup nightmare is that, despite the best efforts of corporate Americato have their soybean fields weed free so that they can be harvested with $185,000 tractors and little hired labor maximizing profits, weeds themselves have evolved to be “Roundup Ready”. These super weeds cannot be extinguished with Roundup despite repeated sprayings. They are threatening to take over American fields. So now we’re in an arms race between Monsanto which is developing even more potent herbicides to be sprayed on crops which the American people are destined to ingest and the super weeds which continue to evolve. Roundup Ready GMO crops now account for 90% of US soybeans and 70% of US corn. These food products are what you are buying at Ralphs, Vons, Safeway and other American super markets as well as what you are eating at most restaurants.

Dow Chemical Corporation has come up with a GMO corn variety called Enlist which has been specifically developed to not be killed by even more potent chemicals developed to kill the super weeds. And the chemical industry pressures farmers to use their products and drench their fields with pesticides rather than grow organically and use natural methods of weed control because there is no money in it for them if farmers abandon chemically based weed control. But it’s not only super weeds that we need to be concerned about. Super bugs and insects have evolved that are resistant to Roundup Ready GMO corn!

According to a recent NPR report:

There can be little doubt that genetically engineered crops are the most dangerous aspect of modern agriculture. Not only are we seeing rapid emergence of super-weeds resistant to glyphosate, courtesy of Roundup Ready crops, we now also have evidence of emerging Bt-resistant insects. Add to that the emergence of a brand new organism capable of producing disease and infertility in both plants and animals, and a wide variety of evidence showing harm to human health, and the only reasonable expectation one can glean is that humanity as a whole is being seriously threatened by this foolhardy technology.

Instead of reducing the need for manual labor which the introduction of Roundup Ready crops promised, we are now seeing farmers hiring workers to manually go through fields hoeing out the giant pigweeds and ragweeds that Roundup is not able to kill. Add to this the bad news that global warming is killing off crops for lack of water and you have a real dilemma.

The way I used to feel about the American food supply was that for the most part it wouldn’t kill you immediately. It might take 30 or 40 years until you collected enough chemical toxins in your liver or pancreas to instigate a siege of cancer. However, there is a growing body of evidence that it is becoming increasingly likely that you will be killed more or less immediately if you are unlucky enough to eat meat contaminated with e coli or salmonella. Each year 1 in 6 Americans gets sick from a foodborne disease. According to Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates, more than 125,000 Americans are hospitalized and 3,000 die each year from microbial pathogens including salmonella, e coli, and listeria. Estimates of the cost of foodborne illness in terms of health care and lost productivity exceed $75 billion a year. So while your chances of being killed or injured due to a car accident are greater (40,000 deaths and 3 million injured per year), your chances of getting sick from a foodborne disease (1 in 6) is even greater than your chances of being injured in a car crash (1 in 100). And incidences of Salmonella in particular are increasing year over year. In 2010 FoodNet detected 8,256 cases of salmonella poisoning, with 2,290 hospitalizations and 29 deaths.

In Fast Food Nation, Eric Schlosser explains why foodborne disease is on the increase. Basically, it’s because of the unsanitary conditions in which corporate farmers raise, slaughter and process animals for human consumption. Chickens are kept in such crowded quarters that workers have to go through every day and weed out the dead ones throwing them in the dumpster. They are hardly allowed to turn around while they are being fed a diet of antibiotics and hormones which will fatten them to the slaughter in the least number of days. Beef cows are slaughtered and processed by low wage workers, mainly illegal immigrants, unfamiliar with proper food handling procedures, who work on sped up assembly lines where numerous mistakes are made with regard to sanitation and the workers’ own safety.

In the slaughtering and processing of cows, it is very important that fecal material does not contaminate the meat, but a USDA study found that 78.6 percent of the ground beef contained microbes that are spread primarily by fecal material. This is what is served in fast food hamburgers as well as the hamburger you buy at the supermarket. As Schlosser observes,” [There is] a simple explanation for why eating a hamburger can now make you seriously ill: There is shit in the meat.” If a cow’s hide has been inadequately cleaned, chunks of manure can fall off it into the meat. The contents of a cow’s digestive system can get onto the meat. Inexperienced “gutters” spill manure quite often. Workers forget to clean and disinfect their knives. A contaminated knife spreads germs to everything it touches. The overworked, often illiterate workers in the nation’s slaughterhouses do not understand the importance of good hygeine. They drop meat on the floor and place it right back on the conveyor belt.

In 1993 San Diego based Jack in the Box was implicated in a breakout of hemolytic uremic syndrome. Kids inSeattle were being hospitalized at an alarming rate. The outbreak was traced to undercooked hamburgers at a local Jack in the Box restaurant which disclosed the prescence of e coli 0157:H7 in the hamburgers. More than 700 people in four states were sickened; more than 200, hospitalized and 4 died. Lauren Beth Rudolph ate a hamburger at a San Diego Jack in the Box. She was admitted to hospital on Christmas Eve in terrible pain. She died in her mother’s arms onDecember 28, 1992. She was six years old.

A government official compared the sanitary conditions in a modern feedlot to those in a crowded European city during the Middle Ages, when people dumped their chamber pots out the window, raw sewage ran in the streets, and epidemics raged. Cattle packed in feedlots live in pools of manure, eat dirty food and drink dirty water. Feedlots have become efficient mechanisms for circulating e coli. Nevertheless, a Federal judge allowed Supreme Beef Processors to sell beef to schools for school lunches even after the plant was shut down for Salmonella contamination in 1999.

At present the nation’s 200,000 fast food restaurants are not subject to any oversight from Federal health authorities. Far more Americans are severely harmed every year by food poisoning than by illegal drug use. People who smoke crack know the inherent dangers; people who eat hamburgers usually don’t. And most of the harm is done to children. The American culture of deregulation has done more to protect the meat packing industry than it has done to protect Americans who consume their products.

The American food supply both in terms of vegetables and meats has been compromised by herbicides, pesticides, hormones, antibiotics and preservatives. The only way that you can protect yourself is to eat and drink organic products. Even there you have to believe that the label “organic” means what it says. With lack of oversight who knows how many cheaters there are who are claiming their products are organic when they really aren’t. And the food industry is lobbying to downgrade what the meaning of organic is so they can label their products as organic including GMO products. In Europe GMO products have been outlawed for years although the food industry continues to chip away at this state of affairs and argue for their introduction

One wonders whether the death of Apple founder Steve Jobs due to pancreatic cancer had anything to do with his dietary habits. Jobs was a vegan so you might assume he ate large quantities of soy products and vegetables. Were his dietary choices organic? If not were the very products he and others consumed, while thinking that they were eating healthfully, actually contributing to their long term demise. It’s something to think about. Health food is not alway healthy.



John Lawrence

John Lawrence graduated from Georgia Tech, Stanford and University of California at San Diego. While at UCSD, he was one of the original writer/workers on the San Diego Free Press in the late 1960s. He founded the San Diego Jazz Society in 1984 which had grants from the San Diego Commission for Arts and Culture and presented both local and nationally known jazz artists. His website is Social Choice and Beyond which exemplifies his interest in Economic Democracy. His book is East West Synthesis. He also blogs at Will Blog For Food. He can be reached at


  1. avatarthoughtfulbear says

    Another useful info source: Environmental Working Group’s Shoppers’ Guide to Pesticides in Produce ).

    Listed therein are the “Dirty Dozen Plus” of fruits/veggies that should always be bought organic – including strawberries, at #5 – and the “Clean 15,” lowest in pesticides.

    This excerpt, regarding corn, may shed some additional light on the matter of GMOs:

    “…commodity crop corn used for animal feed and biofuels is almost all produced with genetically-modified (GMO) seeds, as is some sweet corn sold for human consumption. Sinced GMO sweet corn is not labelled as such in US stores, EWG advises those who have concerrns about GMOs to buy organic sweet corn.”

  2. avatarthoughtfulbear says

    ADD: just in case – if link in previous comment doesn’t go, just do an Alpha search under Environmental Working Group. That ought to do it!

  3. avatarBlueB says

    Can someone please provide a link to the European regulations that prohibit (outlaw)GMOs. I see this claim all the time, but have yet to see any proof it’s true.

  4. avatar says

    This is from

    “Let’s start with food. Genetically modified foods are outlawed in Canada and Europe. We can’t even get them labeled here. The use of Bovine Growth Hormone (BGH) on cows is outlawed in Canada and Europe. Not here. Substances that are literally metabolic poisons like partially hydrogenated oil are outlawed in Canada and Europe. But not here. Here, it’s used instead of butter because it adds texture and flavor to foods.”

  5. avatarthoughtfulbear says

    From GMO Compass website:

    “EU-Law Overview
    “The Two Laws Governing Genetically Modified Plants
    “There are two different set (sic) of rules governing the authorisation of genetically modified products in the EU: one is for the use of GM plants, while the other is for food and feed made from them…”

    Descriptions of each, in detail, then follow.


    (or, Alpha search for GMO Compass)

  6. avatarJohn Anderson says

    Great article, thanks for writing it John. Rampant pesticide use is little noticed and glad to see you bringing up some great points. If consumers want to avoid GMO products they should purchase organic food, the USDA rules for having the organic label require that no GMO ingredients are included in the food. Just wanted to add this – you touched on it above but I wanted to make it clear that organic label means no GMO. You are right on point with the comment that organic isn’t always as ‘good’ as it sounds and the warning about increasing laxity for organic labeling is a great point.


  1. avatar Are You Eating Genetically Modified Foods Laced with Pesticides? – San Diego Free Press | San Diego Technology News says:

    […] Are You Eating Genetically Modified Foods Laced with Pesticides?San Diego Free PressAnd the chemical industry pressures farmers to use their products and drench their fields with pesticides rather than grow organically and use natural methods of weed control because there is no money in it for them if farmers abandon chemically based … […]