Kaiser Permanente Warns Millions of Members: Avoid GMOs

Setting up a KP Farmers Market

Setting up a KP Farmers Market

Kaiser Permanente is the largest managed healthcare provider in the US, with just under 9 million members, and 15,000 physicians. In its fall newsletter, the non-profit warns people about GMOs and their dangers:

GMOs have been added to our food supply since 1994, but most people don’t know it because the United States does not require labeling of GMOs. As of 2012, most corn, soybeans, canola, cotton, and sugar beets are genetically modified. Nearly 80 percent of processed food and most fast food contain GMOs.

The kicker comes next, with a warning that the food industry doesn’t want consumers to hear or heed:

Despite what the biotech industry might say, there is little research on the long-term effects of GMOs on human health. Independent research has found several varieties of GMO corn caused organ damage in rats. Other studies have found that GMOs may lead to an inability in animals to reproduce.

It’s not surprising that Kaiser Permanente is brave enough to come out so boldly about GMOs. KP is considered a progressive health provider. It has been running farmer’s markets outside medical centers for several years.

We hope that additional healthcare players acknowledge the crucial role healthy food plays in disease prevention. Simple incentives, like the Walmart / Humana discount on healthy supermarket choices, are a great example of collaborations that help people eat a bit better.

What to do at the supermarket:

The brief KP article suggests several ways to limit your GMO exposure – buying organic, seeking food with Non-GMO Project labels, and avoiding foods with soy, corn, or canola ingredients (that’s hard!).

KP forgot to mention Fooducate’s mobile app (iPhone and Android), which allows you to discover the GMO status of over 200,000 products.

KP GMO Article

  • Randy C.

    Kaiser, you are awesome!

  • James Cooper

    This is complete nonsense, of course. There is no scientific evidence that GMOs are harmful and there are hundreds of papers showing that they are harmless. Most of this (including the design and color scheme) seems to come from the text of anti-GMO charlatan Jeffrey Smith. There is no evidence of organ damage in rats. I think this is a hoax.

    • http://www.fooducate.com/ Fooducate

      James, you keep repeating the “nonsense” piece, yet in the hundreds of comments you have posted on this site and others, you have not provided a single link to a long term study showing GMOs are safe.

      • James Cooper

        The decade of EU sponsored studies I link to is exactly that. But you have provided no studies showing any harm.

        • http://www.fooducate.com/ Fooducate

          Is that the decade of hundreds of short 2 month-2 year studies?
          Is that the same EU that requires GMO labeling “even though they are safe”?
          Look – maybe GMOs are safe, maybe they are not. But let’s not conduct the experiment on an unknowing public, OK?

          • James Cooper

            Since you have provided no scientific evidence of any harm nor proposed a plausible biological mechanism for such harm it would seem the burden of proof is on you.

          • http://www.fooducate.com/ Fooducate

            Actually when you want to introduce a new product into the market, the burden of proof is on you. Consumers don’t need to “propose a plausible biological mechanism for such harm”

          • James Cooper

            If you look at the papers I reference notably #2:

            “In summary, feeding diets containing genetically modified maize (Bt 176) over 10 generations to quails (10 × 12 weeks) and 4 generations to laying hens (4 × 31 weeks) did not
            significantly influence animal health, feed intake, feed efficiency, laying performance, or
            hatchability. Meat and egg quality were also not affected.”

            I would call 10 generations a long term study.

      • stanhopeIII

        Will Fooducate post a retraction or correction for this misleading blog post?

        • stanhopeIII

          This wasn’t a rhetorical question.

      • stanhopeIII

        Could you provide a link to a long term study showing that Organic foods are safe? What would it take to prove any food is safe over the long term?

        • http://www.fooducate.com/ Fooducate

          All food was organic until the 20th century and humanity thrived.
          It’s not an “invention”.

          • http://twitter.com/mem_somerville mem_somerville

            Yeah. Remember when organic fertilizer caused the potato famine? Good times.

          • stanhopeIII

            Let me restate my question. What specific metrics would Fooducate need to accept the fact that GMOs are “safe”?

    • http://twitter.com/mem_somerville mem_somerville

      The folks at Biofortified tracked down some of the likely source details of this. And also the fact that one of the references is a withdrawn report. http://www.biofortified.org/community/forum/?mingleforumaction=viewtopic&t=246.0

      I hope KP gets their nutritionists some continuing education on how to recognize quality science. Because this is a massive fail.

  • stanhope

    Not a complete hoax. A misstatement of the truth by Willamette Live and perpetuated by many sites – including this one. “Kaiser Permanente believes the ongoing research and debate on bioengineered foods, or genetically modified organisms (GMOs), is important. We also recognize there are important conversations about related initiatives and propositions. While we believe these are important scientific and political debates, we do not have policy positions on these subjects.” David Northfield, Media Relations Manager of Kaiser Permanete. http://www.willamettelive.com/2012/news/kaiser-speaks-about-gmos/

    • http://twitter.com/r343l Rachael Ludwick

      To emphasize, an official media representative from Kaiser Permanente has said that this newsletter does not represent the official position of the organization as a whole. Quote:

      “Kaiser Permanente believes the ongoing research and debate on
      bioengineered foods, or genetically modified organisms (GMOs), is
      important. We also recognize there are important conversations about
      related initiatives and propositions. While we believe these are
      important scientific and political debates, we do not have policy
      positions on these subjects.”

      The headline on this piece is misleading. Kaiser Permanente has not warned its members to avoid products derived from modern biotech agriculture. One nutritionist who happens to work for KP has warned people (and using retracted and heavily criticized and poor studies at that!)

  • James Cooper
  • Chuck

    KP is always at the cutting edge. The leader and prototype other healthcare organizations follow. . Proud to be an employee.

  • Guest 220

    @mem_somerville, et al.

    The Report you mention, A Decade of European Union Funded Research on GMOs reads like a proGMO propaganda piece. It was funded by industry with an industry slant. Even the pro GMO review article by Snell, finds abnormalities if you read past the abstract such as a decrease in lymphocytes. If you look at unbiased sources such as the American Cancer Society, their 2012 guidelines says that long term health effects in humans are unknown. And I find it hard to believe that every study ever published in a peer reviewed journal is incorrect and the unpublished industry sponsored research is the truth. The bottom line is we really don’t know what the long term health effects are humans! Shouldn’t we have these foods labeled and controlled until we know more?

    You want to know what the “massive fail” is? It is that these foods were introduced into our food supply without labels, without long term data on the health effects in humans, and zero public education about them. You can’t hide something and then accept the public to accept it once they find out. If you all want these foods to be accepted, you have to do stop acting like immature, attacking, babies and start coming up with standard protocols that everyone uses for research. And then the research has to be funded by unbiased sources. And you need to label foods with GMOs, just like every other country. The behavior of the FDA, the biotch scientists, and the food industry has created the mistrust and growing non gmo stance you now find yourself attacking. Grow up, all of you, and start trying to make change in this area. Start with labels and then let the free market dictate if Americans want to eat them or not. It is our right to know, and if you all are honest with yourself, you know that is true. If American don’t want to eat them, you have only yourself to blame.

  • Guest 220

    PS- think the precautionary principle should be applied to GMOs:

    “When an activity raises threats of harm to human health or the environment, precautionary measures should be taken even if some cause and effect relationships are not fully established scientifically. In this context the proponent of an activity, rather than the public, should bear the burden of proof.
    The process of applying the precautionary principle must be open, informed and democratic and must include potentially affected parties. It must also involve an examination of the full range of alternatives, including no action.” – Wingspread Statement on the Precautionary Principle, Jan. 1998

  • Niki

    when will you have the app available for Windows OS?

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  • Me

    Personally, I like GMO’s. Joni Mitchell said leave the spots on my
    apple’s, but what if you could make the apple better so there was both
    no spots and no need for pesticides and you could grow twice as much so
    there would be more food to feed hungry people.

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