How GMOs, Pesticides and Processed Foods Contribute to Common Bowel Disorders

By Dr. Mercola

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) — not to be confused with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) — is an autoimmune disease that can have very serious consequences.

(IBS, on the other hand, is a functional bowel disorder. In other words, there are no significant physical conditions that contribute to the problem; hence it’s a functional disease.)

According to the latest statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), IBD affects more than 3 million American adults, nearly triple previous estimates.1 There are two types of IBD:

Both of these IBD conditions involve chronic inflammation in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Symptoms include abdominal cramps, fatigue and diarrhea. IBD also raises your risk of developing colorectal cancer, the third most common cancer in the U.S.2

What’s Behind Rise in IBD?

As with many other autoimmune disorders, IBD cannot be traced back to any single cause; rather, it appears to be influenced by several factors, including:

  • Genetics
  • Toxic environmental exposures
  • Diet
  • Altered intestinal microbiome
  • Immune dysfunction

Researchers believe the rise in IBD may be linked to dietary changes, as more people are now eating primarily processed foods high in sugars and synthetic chemicals. Other factors thought to play a role in IBD include:3,4

  • Air pollution
  • Excessive exposure to antibiotics
  • Pesticide exposure (glyphosate being identified as being particularly harsh on gut microbes)
  • Genetically modified organisms (GMOs)

As noted by Digestive Medical Solutions:5

“[I]n addition to the rising economic, ecological and ethical questions raised by GMOs, there is a growing health risk … Specifically, a higher risk for allergies, toxic intestinal bacteria, reduced immune function, liver problems and many other highly controversial links.

These risks apply to everyone, but especially those with irritable bowel diseases. For a patient with Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, they’re devastating, making it difficult for patients to recover properly, especially with so many other complications involved.

Ultimately, GMOs create bowel hypersensitivity, increase inflammation and damage to the intestinal lining. This makes IBD and IBS cases much worse, as they contribute and in some cases, may actually trigger these diseases.”

How Glyphosate Affects Your Health


While Monsanto insists that Roundup is safe and “minimally toxic” to humans, independent research6 strongly suggests that glyphosate residues “enhance the damaging effects of other food-borne chemical residues and toxins in the environment to disrupt normal body functions and induce disease.”

According to Stephanie Seneff, Ph.D., a research scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Anthony Samsel, a research scientist and consultant:

“Negative impact on the body is insidious and manifests slowly over time as inflammation damages cellular systems throughout the body.”

Samsel and Seneff have also published research tying glyphosate exposure to Celiac disease and gluten intolerance.7

While genetically engineered (GE) crops such as corn, soybeans and sugar beets tend to contain higher levels of glyphosate due to them being more heavily sprayed, conventional non-organic crops such as wheat are also routinely doused with glyphosate pre-harvest to boost yield, a practice known as dessication.

In summary, studies have found that glyphosate:

  • Inhibits cytochrome P450 (CYP) enzymes that catalyze the oxidation of organic substances. This, Samsel and Seneff believe, is “an overlooked component of its toxicity to mammals.”

One of the functions of CYP enzymes is to detoxify xenobiotics — chemical compounds found in a living organism that are not normally produced or consumed by the organism in question.

By limiting the ability of these enzymes to detoxify foreign chemical compounds, glyphosate enhances the damaging effects of those chemicals and environmental toxins you may be exposed to.

  • Impairs the serum sulfate transport system in your body. Consequences of glyphosate interfering with CYP enzymes and impairing sulfate transport include GI disorders, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, depression, autism, infertility, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Destroys the tight junctions in the cell membranes in your gut, thereby leading to “leaky” gut and absorption of undigested foods you were never designed to absorb.
  • Makes the gliadin in wheat highly indigestible. Moreover, by attaching to gliadin, glyphosate may promote immune reactions.

Alarming Levels of Glyphosate Found in Popular Foods

According to independent testing by The Detox Project, glyphosate (the active ingredient in Monsanto’s best-selling herbicide Roundup) is present at “alarming levels” in many popular processed foods.8

Scientists have found glyphosate can alter gene function in the livers and kidneys of rats at levels as low as 0.05 parts per billion (ppb).

Meanwhile, Cheerios was found to contain more than 1,125 ppb of glyphosate, Doritos more than 481 ppb and Ritz crackers more than 270 ppb. According to Dave Murphy, executive director of Food Democracy Now!:

“It’s time for regulators at the EPA [Environmental Protection Agency] and the White House to stop playing politics with our food and start putting the wellbeing of the American public above the profits of chemical companies like Monsanto.”

GMOs May Be Responsible for Rise in IBS Too

IBS is far more common than IBD, affecting an estimated 70 million Americans. Symptoms of IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), a functional GI disease, include frequent:

  • Abdominal discomfort and/or pain
  • Spastic colon (spastic contractions of the colon)
  • Gas and bloating
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation

Avoiding gluten is an important first step in treating this condition. But avoiding GMOs and pesticides may be equally important. As noted by Naked Food:9

“If you … suffer from a chronic digestive issue, then you should know that the food you choose to consume could be carrying a gene that is designed to intentionally cause intestinal rupture. [GMO] foods that contain Bt toxin, a built-in insecticide that inherently works by imploding the stomach of the creature that is feasting on it, could very well be contributing to your intestinal angst.”

Bt Crops Are Pesticides

Bt plants are a different breed of GE crops. Contrary to herbicide-resistant GE crops, Bt crops are equipped with a gene from the soil bacteria Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), allowing them to produce Bt toxin internally. Plant-incorporated pesticides such as Bt (both the protein and its genetic material) are actually registered with the EPA as a pesticide,10 but the Bt plant itself is not regulated as such. This has resulted in the false claim that Bt plants have reduced pesticide usage.

The Bt toxin produced inside Bt crops is NOT actually included in the data collection on pesticide usage. So to say that Bt crops promote less chemical-heavy agriculture is truly a gross misrepresentation of reality. Every single cell of the Bt plant contains this insecticide, yet not a drop of it is counted. The failure to count the toxin inside the plant, and only counting the pesticides applied topically, is a significant loophole that makes Bt plants appear to provide a benefit that in reality simply isn’t true.

Moreover, while topically applied Bt toxin biodegrades in sunlight and can be washed off, the Bt toxin in these GE plants does not degrade, nor can it be removed or cleaned off the food because it’s integrated into every cell of the plant. The plant-produced version of the poison is also thousands of times more concentrated than the topical spray, so in reality, Bt pesticide exposure has risen exponentially, no matter what the pesticide usage data says.

Bt Toxin Is Exempt From Toxicity Requirements

gmo concept

Plant-incorporated Bt toxin in Bt soybeans is also exempt from the requirement of a tolerance level for residues,11 both in the commodity and in the final food product. The final rule on this was issued in February 2014. This is truly incomprehensible in light of the potential for harm.

Originally, Monsanto and the EPA claimed the Bt toxin produced inside the plant would be destroyed in the human digestive system, therefore posing no health risk. This was proven false when, in 2011, doctors at Sherbrooke University Hospital in Quebec found Bt-toxin in the blood of 93 percent of pregnant women tested, 80 percent of umbilical blood in their babies, and 67 percent of non-pregnant women.12

The study showed that Bt toxin actually bioaccumulates in your body. Other research13 suggests it may produce a wide variety of immune responses, including elevated IgE and IgG antibodies, typically associated with allergies and infections, and an increase in cytokines, associated with allergic and inflammatory responses. A study14 published in 2011 found that Bt toxin affects human cells, both in isolation and in combination with glyphosate-based herbicides, including Roundup.

Since Introduction of Bt Crops, IBD Has Significantly Risen

That study also showed that the pesticide crystal proteins Cry1Ab, a subspecies of the Bt toxin, causes cell death starting at 100 parts per million (ppm). As noted by Naked Food Magazine, there are distinct parallels between the prevalence of Bt crops and GI disorders such as IBD and IBS:15

“Genetically modified foods that carry the Bt toxin first came to American households in 1996. Between the years of 1979 and 1998, the number of Americans to suffer from Crohn’s Disease … bounced back and forth between 225 per 100,000 people to 300 per 100,000 people.

In 2000, that number shot up to 375 per 100,000 people, and has been on the rise ever since. Ambulatory care visits from those who reported inflammatory bowel symptoms went from 275 per 100,000 people to 375 per 100,000 people between the years of 1994 and 1998.”

Protect Your Health by Avoiding GMOs


As noted by Digestive Medical Solution:16

“The first and more important step you can take to protect yourself from damages that may be caused by GMOs is to change your diet. Non-GMO, free-range and otherwise organic foods should replace any GMOs you regularly consume. It also helps to avoid the most common food allergens, such as gluten and sugar products …

However, the damage caused may be long-lasting. GMOs may make you allergic to non-GM foods. Since the genetic material in GM soy transfers to the bacteria living in the intestines, it continues to function and spew proteins continuously. Clearing the body of these harmful substances is no easy task.”

The most commonly consumed GMO crops (which includes both herbicide-resistant and Bt varieties) are:17,18,19

  • Corn (found in most processed foods in the form of corn meal, corn syrup, corn starch, corn flour and so on)
  • Soy (which can hide under descriptions such as lecithin and starch, among others)
  • Canola (rapeseed oil)
  • Sugar beets

You may also be exposed to Bt toxin via meat from animals fed Bt corn, and glyphosate via herbicide-resistant GE grain feed such as corn and soy, all of which are common staples in concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs). This is one of several good reasons for making sure your meats come from organically raised grass-fed animals.

Other Processed Food Ingredients May Also Wreak Havoc in Your Gut


Besides pesticides such as glyphosate and Bt toxin, processed foods contain a variety of other ingredients that can wreak havoc in your gut. Recent research suggests emulsifiers such as polysorbate-80 and carboxymethylcellulose play a role in IBD and colorectal cancer, primarily by inducing chronic low-grade inflammation.20,21 As reported by Medical News Today:22

“Normally the intestine is protected from a variety of harmful bacteria via the mucus structures that cover the intestines, keeping the harmful bacteria away from the epithelial cells that line the intestine. But emulsifiers seem to help transport bacteria across epithelial cells … The team fed mice the two most common additives have also been linked to low-grade bowel inflammation and metabolic disease: polysorbate 80 and carboxymethylcellulose.

The doses were replicated so as to mirror the proportions these emulsifiers are commonly added to human processed food … Not only did emulsifiers alter the microbiotic environment in a way that is pro-inflammatory, but it also changed the balance between cell proliferation and cell death, which enhances tumor development.”

For Optimal Health, Opt for Organic Food

A large number of studies have shown that organic foods: 23,24,25,26,27,28

  • Are less likely to be contaminated with pesticide residues. (Synthetic chemicals are not permitted in organic agriculture, yet can occur due to contamination from nearby conventional farms.)
  • Contain fewer heavy metals (on average 48 percent lower levels of cadmium,29 for example).
  • Contain anywhere from 18 to 69 percent more antioxidants than conventionally-grown varieties.
  • May in some cases be more nutrient-dense. For example, one 2010 study,30 which was partially funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), found that organic strawberries were more nutrient-rich than non-organic strawberries.

If you live in the U.S., the following organizations can help you locate farm-fresh foods: provides lists of farmers known to produce wholesome raw dairy products as well as grass-fed beef and other farm-fresh produce (although not all are certified organic). Here you can also find information about local farmers markets, as well as local stores and restaurants that sell grass-fed products.

Weston A. Price Foundation

Weston A. Price has local chapters in most states, and many of them are connected with buying clubs in which you can easily purchase organic foods, including grass fed raw dairy products like milk and butter.

Grassfed Exchange

The Grassfed Exchange has a listing of producers selling organic and grass-fed meats across the U.S.

Local Harvest

This website will help you find farmers markets, family farms, and other sources of sustainably grown food in your area where you can buy produce, grass-fed meats, and many other goodies.

Farmers Markets

A national listing of farmers markets.

Eat Well Guide: Wholesome Food from Healthy Animals

The Eat Well Guide is a free online directory of sustainably raised meat, poultry, dairy, and eggs from farms, stores, restaurants, inns, hotels and online outlets in the United States and Canada.

Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture (CISA)

CISA is dedicated to sustaining agriculture and promoting the products of small farms.


The FoodRoutes “Find Good Food” map can help you connect with local farmers to find the freshest, tastiest food possible. On their interactive map, you can find a listing for local farmers, CSAs and markets near you.

The Cornucopia Institute

The Cornucopia Institute maintains web-based tools rating all certified organic brands of eggs, dairy products, and other commodities, based on their ethical sourcing and authentic farming practices separating CAFO “organic” production from authentic organic practices.

If you’re still unsure of where to find raw milk, check out and They can tell you what the status is for legality in your state, and provide a listing of raw dairy farms in your area.

The Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund31 also provides a state-by-state review of raw milk laws.32 California residents can also find raw milk retailers using the store locator available at

Blood Type


Parts reprinted with permission from Eat Right For Your Type  by Dr. Peter D’Adamo and Catherine Whitney

Lectins: The Diet Connection

A chemical reaction occurs between your blood and the foods you eat. This reaction is part of your genetic inheritance. It is amazing but true that today, in the twenty first century, your immune and digestive systems still maintain favouritism for foods that your blood type ancestors ate.

We know this because of a factor called lectins. Lectins, abundant and diverse proteins found in foods, have agglutinating properties that affect your blood and the lining of your digestive tract. Lectins are a powerful way for organisms in nature to attach themselves to other organisms in nature. Lots of germs, and even our own immune systems, use this super glue to their benefit. For example, cells in our liver’s bile ducts have lectins on their surfaces to help snatch up bacteria and parasites. Bacteria and other microbes have lectins on their surfaces as well, which work rather like suction cups, so that they can attach to the slippery mucosal linings of the body. Often the lectins used by viruses or bacteria can be blood type specific, making them a stickier pest for people of that blood type.

So, too, with the lectins in food. Simply put, when you eat a food containing protein lectins that are incompatible with your blood type antigen, the lectins target an organ or bodily system (kidneys, liver, gut, stomach, etc.) and can begin to interact with the tissues in that area.

Here’s an example of how a lectin agglutinates in the body. Let’s say a Type A person eats a plate of lima beans. The lima beans are digested in the stomach through the process of acid hydrolysis. However, the lectin protein is resistant to acid hydrolysis. It doesn’t get digested, but it stays intact. It may interact directly with the lining of the stomach or intestinal tract, or it may get absorbed into your blood stream along with the digested lima bean nutrients. Different lectins target different organs and body systems.

Once the intact lectin protein settles someplace in your body, it literally has a magnetic effect on the cells in that region. It clumps the cells together and they are targeted for destruction, as if they, too, were foreign invaders. This clumping can cause irritable bowel syndrome in the intestines or cirrhosis in the liver, or block the flow of blood through the kidneys – to name just a few of the effects. Lectins can also act as ‘fake hormones,’ latching onto the receptor for a hormone and either blocking the normal action of the hormone (this is called an ‘antagonist’) or revving up the hormone receptor non-stop (termed an ‘agonist.’)

Lectins: A Dangerous Glue
You may remember the bizarre assassination of Georgi Markov in 1978 on a London Street. Markov was killed by an unknown Soviet KGB agent while waiting for a bus. Initially, the autopsy could not pinpoint how it was done. After a thorough search, a tiny gold bead was found embedded in Markov’s leg. The bead was found to be permeated with a chemical called ricin, which is a toxic lectin extracted from castor beans. Ricin is so potent an agglutinin that even an infinitesimally small amount can cause death by swiftly converting the body’s red blood cells into large clots which block the arteries. Ricin kills instantaneously.
Lectins are a type of molecular Velcro. On the left is a slide of a normal blood smear. On the right a blood sample after agglutination.
Fortunately, most lectins found in the diet are not quite so life threatening, although they can cause a variety of other problems, especially if they are specific to a particular blood type. For the most part our immune systems protect us from lectins. Ninety-five percent of the lectins we absorb from our typical diets are sloughed off by the body. But at least 5 percent of the lectins we eat are filtered into the bloodstream, where they react with and destroy red and white blood cells. The actions of lectins in the digestive tract can be even more powerful. There they often create a violent inflammation of the sensitive mucous of the intestines, and this agglutinative action may mimic food allergies. Even a minute quantity of a lectin is capable of agglutinating a huge number of cells if the particular blood type is reactive.
Signs that you might be experiencing problems from lectins in your diet:
  • Bloating and flatulence after meals
  • Changes in bowel habits
  • Achy joints and muscles
  • Hormonal fluctuations
  • Skin eruptions
  • Fatigue and tiredness
This is not to say that you should suddenly become fearful of every food you eat. After all, lectins are widely abundant in legumes, seafood, grains, and vegetables. It’s hard to bypass them. The key is to avoid the lectins that agglutinate your particular cells—determined by your blood type. For example, wheat germ agglutinin, the most common lectin found in wheat, binds to the lining of the small intestine, causing substantial reactions and irritation in some blood types – especially Type O.
Lectins vary widely, according to their source. For example, the lectin found in wheat has a different shape from the lectin found in soy, and attaches to a different combination of sugars; each of these foods is dangerous for some blood types, but can sometimes be beneficial for others. In the case of blood type A and soy, the lectin in soy can actually help the immune system keep guard against cellular changes that could go on to be problematic.
Many people with joint problems feel that avoiding the nightshade vegetables such as tomatoes, eggplant, and white potatoes seem to help their symptoms. That’s not surprising, since most nightshades are very high in lectins.

A Few Common Foods That Contain Problem Lectins For Each Blood Type

Type O – Wheat, soy, peanuts & kidney beans

Type A – Lima beans, tomatoes, eggplant & garbanzo beans (chick peas)

Type B – Chicken, corn, soy & lentils

Type AB – Chicken, corn, bell pepper & fava beans

Lectins: A Summary
Lots of information on lectins can be found on the internet. Unfortunately, the great majority of it is either extremely technical or just wrong to some degree or another. One common misconception is that all lectins in foods are inactivated either by heating, or through the process of digestion. This is true, but only to a certain degree. Some lectins, such as the lectins from beans, are usually rendered inactive by slow and long cooking, but this may not result in all lectins being inactivated. Studies have shown that a percentage does tend to resist destruction, despite heating. Other lectins, such as the lectin from bananas, actually become more potent after heating. Digestive juices can inactivate lectins, but many people simply do not have the levels of stomach acid to do this. If you currently suffer from digestive problems, it is more than likely that you have some degree of lectin sensitivity, and following the diet prescribed for your blood type is the best way to start the healing.

Reasons why following blood type diet improves well-being

According to Dr. Peter DAdamo, author of “Eat Right For Your Type” Ninety-five percent of the lectins you absorb from your typical diets are sloughed off by the body. But at least five percent of the lectins you eat are filtered into the bloodstream and can cause different reactions in different organs”.

The blood type diet works because through it, you are able to avoid these harmful lectins.

Avoiding the lectins restores your natural genetic rhythm thereby enjoying health and vitality whilst avoiding unnecessary disease. Your blood type diet follows a clear, logical, scientifically researched plan based on your cellular profile.


Lectins – could they be quietly harming you?

Lectins are abundant and diverse proteins found in foods that have agglutinating properties that affect our blood.
(Dr Peter J D’Adamo)

A chemical reaction occurs between our blood and the foods that we eat. This reaction is part of our genetic inheritance and is due to these lectins.

Lectins are blood type specific and the lectins in a food will affect one blood type whilst not affecting another.

Many food lectins have characteristics that are close enough to a certain blood type antigen to make it an enemy to another blood type antigen.


Lectins, could they be harming you?

For example, milk has B like qualities, if a person with type A blood drinks milk, the digestive system will immediately start the agglutination process in order to reject it. Read more