Genetically engineered foods: science and nature don't necessarily mix

May 07, 2000

ARLINGTON, VA -- Many genetically-engineered (GE) foods are released onto the market before adequate studies are done to test their risks to humans, according to the May 2000 issue of the Journal of the American Chiropractic Association (JACA). Alarmingly, scientists warn that the long-term health impacts of the novel genes introduced into these foods are impossible to predict, because they contain blueprints for proteins never previously consumed by humans in the quantities produced in GE crops, according to the article.

"According to most estimates, 60 to 70 percent of all processed foods contain genetically modified ingredients, including proteins previously absent from human diets," write Shirley Watson, DC, director of education for the American Chiropractic Association's (ACA) Council on Nutrition, and Barbara Keeler, a journalist and health and nutrition expert, in the JACA article. "Some hazards from the GE process could directly impact patients who ingest the food. Other hazards are indirect, operating through pollution of other food species or through unintended effects on local and global ecosystems."

Genetically engineered foods were quietly introduced into the marketplace in 1996. In the past four years, they have spread rapidly. Three varieties of soy, ten varieties of corn, papaya, yellow neck squash, canola, potatoes, tomatoes, dairy and animal products are already on the tables of most consumers - with more than a hundred expected soon.

Among the hazards of genetically engineered foods revealed in the article:Getting Workers Back on the Job: Chiropractic and Occupational Health

Each year, approximately 13.2 million workers sustain non-fatal injuries, such as low-back pain and fracture, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and 862,000 suffer from work-related illnesses - at a cost of $171 billion. Industry leaders are beginning to look for alternative methods to stem these rising health costs and deal with a rapidly changing workplace. The May 2000 JACA takes a look at occupational health and how chiropractic is a natural solution to these industrial-strength woes.

"About 70 percent of all workplace injuries and disorders involve the neuromusculoskeletal system," says Joseph Sweere, DC, chairman of the Department of Occupational Health at Northwestern Health Sciences University. "That's precisely the area of expertise for chiropractors. We have more technical skills and training than any other professional to prepare us for this role."

The article reports on the successes experienced by companies with on-site chiropractors who can educate employees on occupational health issues and help prevent work-related injuries before they occur. Also featured are factors that traditionally have not been taken into consideration when dealing with occupational health issues - factors that doctors of chiropractic are just now beginning to address - such as the use of anthropometrics, or measurement of body parts, to increase the understanding of how the human framework dictates the body's ability to efficiently exert force and leverage.

Since World War II, women have been steadily entering the job market and now constitute half the workforce. In addition, the workplace is made up increasingly of Asian and Hispanic workers, and employees are working long past the traditional age of retirement. In spite of these demographic changes, workstations and task assignments often remain as they have been for years - designed for the six-foot, 180-pound male.

Fibromyalgia: Still No Silver Bullet

There is still no simple cure for fibromyalgia, a rheumatic syndrome that causes pain in certain tender points in the body. However, the health care community is finally beginning to recognize that this frustrating and painful condition is very real, and doctors of chiropractic have been successful at helping many patients find relief, according to an article in the May issue of JACA.

In most cases, fibromyalgia symptoms interfere with normal daily activities, while some patients actually find themselves disabled by it. Patients can't know ahead of time how debilitating their illness will become. But much of what happens after fibromyalgia is diagnosed will depend on how willing patients are to work with their health care practitioners. For best results, they may have to make changes in how they move, eat, sleep and think.

"I've had patients who don't want to comply with an exercise program. They'd rather search for something that will make their condition just go away," says Urscia Mahring, DC, an ACA member who practices in Alexandria, VA. "I understand how they feel, but I have not come across any such 'silver bullets' for fibromyalgia."

The JACA article discusses how to spot fibromyalgia, as well as chiropractic's natural approach to this condition.

For a copy of the May issue of JACA, call the American Chiropractic Association at 800-986-4636.

American Chiropractic Association

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