Several people objected to my referring to crosspollination and selective breeding as genetic engineering, saying that the term GE was strictly reserved for modern gene splicing techniques. In fact, genetic engineers themselves employ crosspollination and selective breeding in their arsenal of techniques, but they now call it "molecular breeding."
The second objection was more valid. Several people noted that the latest techniques in food irradiation have significantly reduced the amount of radiation that food is exposed to and that non-radioactive forms of radiant energy, such as electrons, are now often used. Both statements are true, but they do not change the two underlying concerns that I have.
- Whether high or low dosage, it doesn't matter. The purpose of irradiation is to break chemical bonds in the living tissue of insects, bacteria, molds, etc. for the specific purpose of killing them. The problem is that process, if it is strong enough to destroy those pests, also fundamentally changes chemical bonds in the food itself and does indeed produce radiotoxins and aflatoxins -- no matter the dosage or the source.
- It is now done to foods without your knowledge, which denies you the chance to make your own choice.
The bottom line is that I apologize for not being more precise in some of my statements, but not for the conclusions drawn from those statements. Anyway, for those who are interested, here's how the process works.
When food is irradiated (using electrons, gamma rays, or x-rays), most of the radiation passes through the food without being absorbed. The small amount that is absorbed destroys any insects on grains, produce or spices, extends shelf life, and prevents fruits and vegetables from ripening too fast. Thus, food irradiation is now being used to replace chemical fumigants, sprout inhibitors, and post harvest fungicides. Higher doses can kill Salmonella and other harmful bacteria that can contaminate meats and poultry and cause food borne diseases.
Food irradiation is a "cold treatment" that achieves its effects without raising the food's temperature significantly, leaving the food closer to its original state. Even spices which are treated for 2-4 hours (isn't that a comforting thought) remain essentially at room temperature. By not using high temperatures, food irradiation minimizes nutrient losses and changes in food texture, color, and flavor.
The energy used in food irradiation is not great enough to cause food to become radioactive. (True enough, but it does break chemical bonds in the food (that's its purpose), and it does produce both radiotoxins and aflatoxins. Not good.) During irradiation, energy passes through food much like a ray of light passes through a window. This energy destroys most of the bacteria that can cause disease, yet allows food to retain its high quality.
Irradiation pasteurizes food by using energy, just as milk is pasteurized using heat. At the level used, most harmful bacteria will be destroyed (which, incidentally, can encourage sloppy handling by food processors). Afterwards, surviving bacteria could start to multiply if the food were mishandled: such as, stored at an improper temperature.
All in all, this issue remains very disturbing.
Now Let's Talk About Dairy
In Lessons from the Miracle Doctors, I talk about a number of the health problems associated with dairy consumption. Those are actually only highlights; there's much more. First of all, the following two sites might be of interest.
- The Physicians Committe for Responsible Medicine.
- The NotMilk homepage
To summarize some of the things that you will find there, there are many many problems associated with consuming dairy. Many of these are probably conditions you are already noticing in your own body -- particularly those that relate to allergies, diabetes, and autoimmune disorders. For example:
- Galactose - Ovarian cancer rates parallel dairy-eating patterns around the world. The culprit seems to be galactose, the simple sugar broken down from the milk sugar lactose.
- Pesticides - concentrate in the milk of both farm animals and humans. A study by the Environmental Defense Fund found widespread pesticide contamination of human breast milk among 1,400 women in forty-six states. The levels of contamination were twice as high among the meat-and-dairy-eating women as among vegetarians.
- Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria - Joseph Beasley, M.D., and Jerry Swift wrote in The Kellogg Report (The Institute of Health Policy and Practice, 1989) that even "moderate use of antibiotics in animal feed can result in the development of antibiotic resistance in animal bacteria - and the subsequent transfer of that resistance to human bacteria."
- Vitamin D Toxicity - Heavy consumption of milk, especially by small children, may result in vitamin D toxicity. Records show that dairies do not carefully regulate how much vitamin D is added to milk. (Milk has been "fortified" with vitamin D ever since deficiencies were found to cause rickets, even though the vitamin is easily obtained through minimal exposure to sunlight.) A study reported in The New England Journal of Medicine (April 30, 1992) showed that of forty-two milk samples, only 12 percent were within the expected range of vitamin D content. Testing of ten infant formula samples revealed seven with more than twice the vitamin D content reported on the label; one sample had more than four times the label amount.
- Growth - Hormones. Recently, cows have started to receive growth hormones to increase their milk production, although the long-term effects on humans are unknown.
- Casein - Perhaps the biggest health problem with cow's milk arises from the proteins in it: Cow's milk proteins damage the human immune system. Repeated exposure to these proteins disrupts normal immune function and may eventually lead to disease. Cow's milk contains many proteins that are poorly digested and harmful to the immune system. Fish and meat proteins are much less damaging, while plant proteins pose the least hazard.
Removing dairy from the diet has been shown to shrink enlarged tonsils and adenoids, indicating relief for the immune system.
Similarly, doctors experimenting with dairy-free diets often report a marked reduction in colds, flus, sinusitis and ear infections. In addition, Dairy is a tremendous mucus producer and a burden on the respiratory, digestive and immune systems.
- Colic and Ear Infections - One out of every five infants in the United States suffers bouts of colic. Another common problem among infants receiving dairy, either directly or indirectly, is chronic ear infections. You just don't see this painful condition among infants and children who aren't getting cow's milk into their systems
- Allergies, Asthma and Sinus Problems - Poorly digested bovine antigens (substances that provoke an immune reaction) like casein become "allergens" in allergic individuals. Dairy products are the leading cause of food allergy, often revealed by diarrhea, constipation and fatigue. Many cases of asthma and sinus infections are reported to be relieved and even eliminated by cutting out dairy. The exclusion of dairy, however, must be complete to see any benefit.
- Arthritis - Antigens in cow's milk may also contribute to rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. When antibody-antigen complexes (resulting from an immune response) are deposited in the joints, pain, swelling, redness and stiffness result; these complexes increase in arthritic people who eat dairy products, and the pain fades rapidly after patients eliminate dairy products from their diets.
- Diabetes and Autoimmune Diseases - Consumption of cow's milk has been associated with insulin-dependent diabetes. The milk protein bovine serum albumin (BSA) somehow leads to an autoimmune reaction aimed at the pancreas and ultimately to impairment of the pancreas's ability to produce insulin.
- Childhood Anemia - Cow's milk causes loss of iron and hemoglobin in infants (one reason the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that infants not drink cow's milk) by triggering blood loss from the intestinal tract. Some research also shows that iron absorption is blocked by as much as 60 percent when dairy products are consumed in the same meal.
- Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma and Lung Cancer - A 1989 study in Nutrition and Cancer linked the risk of developing non-Hodgkin's lymphoma with the consumption of cow's milk and butter. High levels of the cow's milk protein beta-lactoglobulin have also been found in the blood of lung cancer patients, suggesting a link with this cancer as well.
The bottom line is that milk is great food . . . if your goal, that is, is to grow up and become a 1,200 pound cow.
So, what do you use instead of milk? Try one of the milk substitutes. Most health stores sell rice milk or oat milk or soy milk (if used in moderate amounts). Find one that you like and use it. And you can even find organic versions of these products.
Note: Whenever I talk about the negatives concerning dairy, someone invariably brings up the Bible and the biblical promotion of "milk." And yes, the Bible does indeed promote the use of milk, but with two significant considerations.
- By no stretch of the imagination does the Bible refer to homogenized, pasteurized, antibiotic injected, growth hormone "enhanced" cow's milk -- not by a long shot.
- And more importantly, in biblical times cow's milk was almost never used. The tribes of Israel drank camel's milk (Genesis 32:15), sheep's milk (Deuteronomy 32:14; 1 Corinthians 9:7), and goat's milk (Proverbs 27:27). (In fact, goats were reared principally for their milk, making it the biblical dairy product of choice.) And indeed, goat's milk avoids most of the problems associated with cows milk and is a valid food choice.