One of the most vulnerable segments of the population — infants — are being affected as chemical giant Martek Biosciences uses cronyism to have its patented GMO products classified as organic. The National Organic Program is trying to correct this, but in the meantime the “organic” infant formula or baby food parents feed their children could contain industrial Frankenfood.
History of Irresponsibility
The story of how this state of affairs came about reveals much on how politics and profit can undermine food safety. Here’s a timeline on how the word “organic” is being undermined, creating a health threat for babies who are fed with formula.
2002: Food manufacturers begin supplementing infant formula and baby food with synthetic forms of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and arachidonic acid (ARA). These polyunsaturated omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, naturally present in breast milk, are important components of the human brain and eyes. Although the form of DHA/ARA used in infant formulas is structurally incompatible with the form found in human milk, food manufacturers market their products with the claim that their formulas will make babies more intelligent.
2006: In spite of the fact that its synthetic DHA/ARA is from laboratory-grown fermented algae and fungus through the use of hexane, a petroleum by-product and EPA-identified neurotoxin, Martek applies for organic status for its products. The USDA’s National Organic Program (NOP) tells Martek its synthetic DHA and ARA does not quality as organic. Martek attorney J. Friedman ignores the decision of NOP staff and contacts NOP director Barbara Robinson to have the decision reversed.
2009: A front page Washington Post article, “Integrity of Federal ‘Organic’ Label Questioned” uncovers the Martek story. The article quotes Martek’s lawyer saying “I called Robinson up, I wrote an e-mail. It was a simple matter.”
2002-2010: Parents and medical professionals observe reactions in babies fed with products containing Life’s DHA, the product name Martek gives its patented GMO version of naturally occurring fatty acids. The range of infant health problems includes difficulties breathing and gastrointestinal disorders. When affected babies are no longer fed the formula, the ailments disappear. Although Freedom of Information Act requests reveal hundreds of FDA adverse event reports, the FDA is slow to react.
2011: FDA announces it will investigate claims that DHA/ARA infant formulas support brain and eye development. The National Organic Program is now trying to remedy its 2006 decision by asking Martek to formally ask permission of the NOP’s National Organic Standards Board to use its DHA and AHA in organic products.
Products Containing this GMO
In the meantime, Life’s DHA is being sold in many so-called organic brands which many consumers trust. Paying higher prices for products labeled as organic does not necessarily mean your family’s food does not include this particular Frankenfood. From Martek’s own website, here is a list of infant formulas containing their product which is both genetically modified and typically manufactured using a known toxin:
Earth’s Best Organic Soy with DHA & ARA (Hain Celestial Group)
Enfamil LIPIL (Mead Johnson Nutritionals)
Enfamil Next Step (Mead Johnson)
Isomil 2 Advance (Abbott Laboratories)
Nestle Good Start Supreme with DHA & ARA (Nestle USA)
Parent’s Choice Organic (Wal-Mart)
Similac Advance (Abbott Nutrition)
Ultra Bright Beginnings Lipids (PBM Products, LLC)
There is also a long list of pre-natal supplements as well as vitamins and dietary supplements for infants, children and adults containing this product. A surprisingly wide range of foods and beverages use this GMO substance including Apple Bran Muffins sold at Starbucks; Farm Pride Omega-3 Eggs; Horizon Organic Milk; Kroger Active Lifestyle Premium Light OJ Beverage; Minute Maid Enhanced Pomegranate Blueberry Juice; Pediasure Children’s Beverage; Pompeian OlivExtra Plus and Silk Soymilk. The list of products containing this GMO is multinational, with products in many countries across the globe. If you want to check whether a supplement, food, or beverage you use contains Life’s DHA, the full list is here:http://www.lifesdha.com/Products-Co…