09 September 2012

Why do people have food allergies?

There is a significant increase in the number of people with food allergies. WHY? 

There is not ONE answer. No one has solid, indisputable evidence as to why certain people have food allergies, just as we don't know why certain people get cancer. If we understood the "why" then we could solve the problem and find the cure. Thus far we cannot.  

I've heard a host of theories but I would like to focus on this one today. 

GMO's: Genetically Modified Organisms

Definition of a GMO: 

GMOs, or “genetically modified organisms,” are plants or animals created through the gene splicing techniques of biotechnology (also called genetic engineering, or GE). This experimental technology merges DNA from different species, creating unstable combinations of plant, animal, bacterial and viral genes that cannot occur in nature or in traditional crossbreeding.
Virtually all commercial GMOs are engineered to withstand direct application of herbicide and/or to produce an insecticide. Despite biotech industry promises, none of the GMO traits currently on the market offer increased yield, drought tolerance, enhanced nutrition, or any other consumer benefit.
Meanwhile, a growing body of evidence connects GMOs with health problems, environmental damage and violation of farmers’ and consumers’ rights.

GMO's are banned in food in Europe and Japan, yet food allergies still exist in countries outside the US. In doing research I found that GMO's are not required to be listed on packaging. So how do we know what has them and what does not have them? I asked a friend take pictures of ingredients listed on packaging in UK. I'll do the same with the brother I have living in Japan. Let's see if we can compare the difference in labeling from country to country. (More results to come- keep checking back) 

High-Risk GMO Crops (in commercial production; ingredients derived from these must be tested every time prior to use in Non-GMO Project Verified products (as of December 2011):
  • Alfalfa (first planting 2011)
  • Canola (approx. 90% of U.S. crop)
  • Corn (approx. 88% of U.S. crop in 2011)
  • Cotton (approx. 90% of U.S. crop in 2011)
  • Papaya (most of Hawaiian crop; approximately 988 acres)
  • Soy (approx. 94% of U.S. crop in 2011)
  • Sugar Beets (approx. 95% of U.S. crop in 2010)
  • Zucchini and Yellow Summer Squash (approx. 25,000 acres)
ALSO high-risk: animal products (milk, meat, eggs, honey, etc.) because of contamination in feed.

More information on food allergy sufferers: 

United States: General surveys report that as many as 25-30% of households consider at least 1 family member to have a food allergy

International: More than 17 million people in Europe suffer from food allergies according to a June 2012 press release from the European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. 3.5 million of those 17 million are under 25. The number of hospital admissions for severe allergic reactions has increased 7 fold in the last 10 years. 

In continental Europe the most common food allergy in children is to egg, cow's milk and tree-nuts, while in adulthood it is to fresh fruit, nuts and vegetables. In the UK, walnuts, hazelnuts and peanuts pose the biggest threat and cause 50% of all life-threatening allergic reactions. 2% of the adult population in the Netherlands are affected by food allergies.Allergy to shellfish and cod prevails in Scandinavia and Northern Europe. Across Europe, food allergy is the leading cause of anaphylaxis in children aged 0-14. 

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