If you have an ACS member number, please enter it here so we can link this account to your membership. (optional)

ACS values your privacy. By submitting your information, you are gaining access to C&EN and subscribing to our weekly newsletter. We use the information you provide to make your reading experience better, and we will never sell your data to third party members.



Not Oblivious To Science

June 23, 2014 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 92, Issue 25

Just because I want to know what’s in U.S. food and how it is produced, Rudy Baum has labeled me “left-leaning” and “pretty much immune to rational thinking” (C&EN, May 12, page 3). Unbelievable! I’m just a person who reads food labels and makes decisions based on my knowledge of biochemistry and microbiology.

I’ll never forget the day as an undergraduate when we were warned by our professor to use extreme caution in the lab while generating nitrosamines. I was totally shocked when I realized that the same synthesis reaction must be occurring in our stomachs when we eat meats processed with nitrites. I have avoided nitrite-containing meats ever since; that was 40 years ago.

Soon afterward, I discovered that typical toxicology studies are narrowly defined nonsystems approaches limited to dose/effect of a single substance (sans adjuvants) and generally do not include interactions with other substances, especially at low levels. This realization became the basis for investigating everything I was handling and eating. I believe I made the right choices over the years because, unlike most people my age, 68, I have low blood pressure, cholesterol is not an issue, and I’m cancer-free and drug-free. This is a result that would have been difficult to achieve if I had been eating food ingredients that are supposedly nontoxic but are inflammatory and negatively impact the gut microbiome.

Your editorial claims there are hundreds of “independent” studies that have shown that genetically engineered foods are safe. But the manufacturers of GE crops have steadfastly refused to allow independent research. There are, however, numerous animal studies that have been done in response to a pattern of unexplained abortions and rapid aging of livestock that are fed GE maize and soybeans, pointing to inflammatory responses in the gastrointestinal tract and hepatorenal toxicity. These studies suggest that GE crops are having a negative impact on the gut microbiome, which is responsible for 85% of the effectiveness of the mammalian immune response system. Additionally, there are unaddressed environmental issues such as GE genes transferring across genera into gut microflora and soil microbes.

Lawrence Mayhew
Spring Green, Wis.



This article has been sent to the following recipient:

Chemistry matters. Join us to get the news you need.