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Chuck, did you hear about the 2 million people who marched around the world against genetically modified foods? And what’s the truth about genetically modified organisms, seeds and crops? – Tobias D., Sacramento, Calif.

If this column and the next don’t get you to eat organic, nothing will.

On Memorial Day weekend, 2 million people marched in protests against seed giant Monsanto for the purpose of bringing awareness to hazards from genetically modified food, which it and other companies manufacture. Organizer Tami Canal said protests were held in 436 cities in 52 countries.

Genetically modified plants are grown from genetically modified, or engineered, seeds, which are created to resist insecticides and herbicides so that crops can be grown to withstand a weed-killing pesticide or integrate a bacterial toxin that can ward off pests.

The Chicago Tribune reported that because genetically modified organisms are not listed on food or ingredient labels, few Americans realize they’re eating GMO foods every day. Genetically modified crops constitute 93 percent of soy, 86 percent of corn and 93 percent of canola seeds planted in the U.S. and are used in about 70 percent of American processed food.

The Tribune reported that the Food and Drug Administration has permitted the sale and planting of genetically modified foods for 15 years and that the Obama administration has approved an “unprecedented number of genetically modified crops,” such as ethanol corn, alfalfa and sugar beets. The Alliance for Natural Health USA added that the U.S. Department of Agriculture now wants to eliminate any regulatory controls from genetically altered corn and cotton.

And Monsanto, the world’s largest seed-maker and a publicly traded American multinational agricultural biotechnology corporation, is leading the pro-GMO march and moving full steam ahead in being the No. 1 U.S. and global farm supplier.

CEO Hugh Grant said this past week, “We’re in a growth mode, and with the combination of momentum in our core businesses and new layers of growth coming online from an increasingly global portfolio, we have the strategic drivers in place to continue our growth trajectory next year and beyond.”

But business columnist Al Lewis summarized the dilemma Monsanto faces in his column for Dow Jones Newswires: “For Monsanto, it comes down to saving the nine billion people expected to populate the planet by 2050. Monsanto is the company that allows farmers to grow more food with less land, water and energy. But it is also the company that brought us products we now know were far more dangerous than advertised, including the insecticide DDT, the toxic industrial chemicals known as PCBs, and the Vietnam-Era defoliant Agent Orange, which poisoned our own soldiers with dioxins. Monsanto also brought us saccharine – sweet, yet artificial, and known to cause cancer in laboratory rats.”

The Alliance for Natural Health USA cited the late George Wald, a Nobel laureate in physiology or medicine and one of the first scientists to speak out about the dangers of genetically engineered foods: “Recombinant DNA technology (genetic engineering) faces our society with problems unprecedented, not only in the history of science, but of life on the Earth. … Now whole new proteins will be transposed overnight into wholly new associations, with consequences no one can foretell, either for the host organism or their neighbors. … For going ahead in this direction may not only be unwise but dangerous. Potentially, it could breed new animal and plant diseases, new sources of cancer, novel epidemics.”

So instead of eradicating the need for insecticides and herbicides, genetically modified plants eventually could warrant stronger and more intense pesticides in order to outwit and overcome superbugs and greater strains of diseases. And who’s to say what GMOs will do – now or in generations – inside our bodies as we consume them on a greater scale and they become a part of the bacteria in our digestive tracts?

Equally alarming is a study that was just published in the journal Neurology. According to Medical Daily, a review of 104 studies conducted around the world revealed that exposure to pesticides, insecticides, weedkillers, fungicides, solvents, etc., increased the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease by 30 to 80 percent.

Dr. Emanuele Cereda – author of the study, by researchers from the IRCCS University Hospital San Matteo Foundation in Pavia, Italy – told the British newspaper Daily Mail: “We didn’t study whether the type of exposure, such as whether the compound was inhaled or absorbed through the skin and the method of application, such as spraying or mixing, affected Parkinson’s risk. However, our study suggests that the risk increases in a dose response manner as the length of exposure to these chemicals increases.”

According to The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, “Parkinson’s disease is a chronic, degenerative neurological disorder that affects one in 100 people over age 60. While the average age at onset is 60, people have been diagnosed as young as 18. … Estimates of the number of people living with the disease therefore vary, but recent research indicates that at least one million people in the United States, and more than five million worldwide, have Parkinson’s disease.”

Next week, I will separate the truths and myths of GMOs as told by marketers and health professionals and then tell you exact steps that you and your loved ones can take to avoid GMOs in your local groceries and beyond.

Write to Chuck Norris with your questions about health and fitness. Follow Chuck Norris through his official social media sites, on Twitter @chucknorris and Facebook’s “Official Chuck Norris Page.” He blogs at ChuckNorrisNews.blogspot.com.

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