Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Not About Food >
Mar 2, 2011 12:22 PM

What hormones, genetic alterations, antibiotics, and false information have you heard about in the food supply?

Do we really know what is going in our mouths? Sometimes it is better not to think about it.

Did you know they tried to put arctic flounder fish gene into tomatoes for better cold resistance. Fortunately these are not in our food supply. Here is more information of something that almost happened:

Extra rBST did make it into the milk supply and when the Fox couple got fired in Tampa that story was not covered by the news as well as it could have been. rBST fortified milk is still around in all kinds of products because a dairy will get 15 - 20 % more production from each cow to make more money. The Feds allow rBST in the milk supply. The Fox News couple who broke the story in Tampa got fired. The milk supply is old news and here as an example only.

What kinds of new things have you heard of not so talked about? We do not want to be a rumor mill so try to provide links to information as back-up to get conversation started on a subject most of us do not like to think about.

Cattle, chickens, pork, turkeys, and most protein that is farmed often involves all kinds of growth hormones and antibiotics. Eating not-natural one would think negatively effects people while not sure of specific studies about it.

Bottom line is we do not know what we are eating from the store or restaurant. Most don't care enough to worry about it so it will continue because the majority rules. Each of us votes with dollars spent and the milk supply is an example of one that is getting better in recent times through consumer education.

Our government often does not regulate this as well as it could. So talking about things to educate consumers can help overall public health. Bad and processed foods make it into the supply chain now. Regulation decisions are driven by money not our health. Talking about it can help us all make better purchase decisions. The court systems are not just the person with the best lawyer just wins, look at OJ who used money to buy his way out of his wife's trial with a win.

I have a garden and enjoy eating food when know where it comes from and every step of how it was made including where the water comes from. It is impossible always to know the history of every item in our mouth while is a great goal to shoot for. It seems most have gotten used to the convenient surpluses of large farms so get their food from the store trusting it is safe to eat when it not always is. Maybe someday food labeling will help those who care. In the mean time it sure is hard to know what we are putting in our mouths even when someone takes the time to try to care.

What kind of hormone, genetic alterations, antibiotic, unknown things going in our mouth horror stories do you have to share about our food supply? Trying to open conversation on topics not covered because those selling bad products tend to squish information with the piles of money made. Conversation helps consumers know about problems, to make better educated decisions using their dollars to vote on who should be around long-term.

~ SMaki

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
    1. re: beevod

      No not in politics. Just want to communicate to do my part to help keep those who are in public jobs honest so we can all eat better food. Tired of seeing the population be legally poisoned over and over again so someone can sell a new product to make money. Another example: please recall all the sugar substitutes through the years were initially said safe then 5-10 years later they were taken off the market when proven cancerous. I feel, if we consumers communicate about bad things we can stop buying immediately to encourage removal from our food supply. Just an idea from a guy who does more research than some and is sickened by the hidden toxins in our grocery stores with well funded marketing hype only there to make someone rich.

      ~ SMaki

      1. re: smaki

        I am with you SMaki. What about all the food produced in China that sometime we're not even aware we're eating. I am very careful of the food I buy, I always look at which country produced it.

        1. re: TDEL

          Speaking of food produced in China, one of the biggest gripes in recent memory is that when a food product is labelled as "Product of Canada", legally it only means that 51% or more of the costs of the product was incurred in Canada. The raw material could have been from China, Russia, Vietnam etc. as long as enough of the processing and packaging happens in Canada.

          CBC did an expose back in 2009, but I wonder how many Canadians actually are aware of this?

          This is very deceptive marketing and seemingly designed to allow food manufacturers to skimp on costs, while misleading consumers about the quality of the products. I currently live in Canada and care a lot of about the quality of my food, and now when shopping for processed food, I feel I am faced with the dilemma of either taking a risk to pick products that are "made in Canada" (knowing that the foodstuff may be of unknown origin), or to pick the products that are clearly (and proudly) labelled as produced in the USA, France, Japan etc. (while doing a disservice to environmentalism and my wallet).

            1. re: vil

              Actually that could explain something rather odd I noticed a few years ago. One of the big sellers of bulk Indian foods (in that the foods were those used mostly for Indian cooking, I have no idea how many if any of those companies are actually based in India). was selling 5lb. bags of lentils marked "Product of Canada". However it became fairly obvios once once one opened the bag that they lentils could not have been grown (at least could not all have been grown) in Canada; some of the "volunteers" (the seeds of the other things that were growing in the fields and got scooped up in the harvest with them) were for plants that I reconized as only being capable of growing in a tropical to sub tropical climate. The company changed growing areas a little later (the lentils themselves changed which is how I could tell) probably for other reasons (some of the other seeds, (incuding one that could cause real harm in massive quantities) were there in such profusion that I imagine the stuff finally failed the inspection of whatever the Canadian equivalent of the USDA is) but it was still odd.

      2. just to stick with your first example - assuming they still taste good, what s wrong with putting arctic flounder genes in a tomato?

        13 Replies
        1. re: thew

          Some maybe allergic to fish and have a allergic reaction. This happened to a woman who had a severe allergic reaction to GMO corn because they had genes from a fish I think.

          Still have no idea why we need to GM food.

          I think it's a corporate thing where if you GM food, you own it. Because GM food defy the "survival of the fittest" equation, they essentially wipe out Nature's variety. This way, the farmers can use only 1 variety, the gmo variety, and pay tons of license fees to the GM company. This is what's currently happening with corn. Farmers who didn't even plant GM corn are getting sued due to cross pollination.

          1. re: mwok

            need? need is a strange criteria on a site dedicated to all the varieties and subtleties of food; most of what we discuss does not fall into the category of "need".

            allergies is legitimate as a concern, could you cite a source for any such stories from a reputable source? using a fish gene does not turn a tomato into a fish, so im wondering where the allergen is.

            corporate malfeasance is an issue of how corporation are run, and are not inherent in the concept of GMO, only in the current execution

            1. re: thew

              "The classical understanding of why a GM crop might create new allergies is that the imported genes produce a new protein, which has never before been present. The novel protein may trigger reactions. This was demonstrated in the mid 1990s when soybeans were outfitted with a gene from the Brazil nut. While the scientists had attempted to produce a healthier soybean, they ended up with a potentially deadly one. Blood tests from people who were allergic to Brazil nuts showed reactions to the beans.[7] It was fortunately never put on the market."


              1. re: mwok

                thats legit. and interesting.
                and it means we need to be careful.
                but that's not the same as stagnant

                1. re: thew

                  Yes. "The road to hell is paved with good intentions".
                  Unintended consequences is not a small concern. I am not convinced that all problems or potential problems in our food chain are intentional or covert. Just too much of a rush to judgement, too much confidence in ourselves...then "ooops", "guess it really does cause cancer/heart disease/allergies/birth defects" or whatever.

                  1. re: sedimental

                    absolutely. i usually use the internal combustion engine as an analogy in this discussion. if we knew of all the negative consequences (intended or not), such as pollution, airplanes used for dropping bombs, etcetc, and approached it as we do GMO we may not have cars and planes, and all of the positive consequences (intended or not) like the end of agrarian slavery, a global community, ambulances, fresh food year round, and the ability to see more of the world than a 10 mile radius from where you were born

                  2. re: thew

                    yellow rice is bloody awesome. GMO in america is bloody dangerous.

                    1. re: Chowrin

                      "GMO in america is bloody dangerous"

                      Mass famine is much more dangerous...

                      1. re: Servorg

                        What about world famine due to GMO gone wrong?

                        Not that anyone's opinion is going to be changed here, let alone the world being saved.

                        Having lived a year in a third world country ... and lord, if there's a more third world country than this, I don't want to go ... I'm skeptical that the food would be going to those that need it.

                        IMO, there are better ways to address the problm or world famine without playing genetic routette ... such as education, birth control, etc, etc, etc.

                        Just anothoer thought without expectations of even anyone really thinking about it.

                        1. re: rworange

                          The WHO and others agree with you.

                          1. re: sedimental


                            I totally agree with you. I really don't think we should be messing around with that stuff!

                      2. re: Chowrin

                        how so? i'm not asking how one or another specific crop is dangerous, nor am i asking how monsanto et al are promoting/distributing it, i'm asking how GMO in general, as a whole concept, is dangerous

                    2. re: mwok

                      How is that different from a new gene that is created through a mutation? Mutations happen constantly in all organisms, and are, after all, the basis of how things evolve. Why should a gene spliced in on purpose instead of randomly by nature be per se any more suspectl? Genes are only sequences of four amino acids, and the same four acids occur everywhere in living things.

              2. Growth hormones are not use in US chicken, turkey, or pork production per USDA regulation (side note - I hate using production when talking about raising livestock, but was at a loss for another word). Modern chicken, turkey and pig breeds used for food in the US grow very quickly as it is, and growth hormones wouldn't do much good.

                Edit to add: Here's a newsletter from NC State (my local ag school) explaning why growth hormones are pointless with modern poultry

                5 Replies
                1. re: mpjmph

                  I stopped eating all supermarket meats. Chickens are supposed to eat worms, not corn.
                  The corn feed are the lowest quality (according to one farmer) and are all GMO.

                  1. re: mwok

                    You are so right about corn. Do you recall a few years ago when the wrong corn made it to Taco Bell? Most of the public didn't notice. Monsanto created a corn rodents would not eat. And they feed it to what we eat: including cows, pigs, chickens, turkey, etc.

                    Hot off the press is a recent article on genetically modified corn and foods and how we are eating them when we do not know it:


                    1. re: smaki

                      More on corn. And the really bad stuff rodents won't eat gets fed to most animals in the general food supply:

                      We mostly eat grass fed natural beef from a known source with good water. While are not crazy about it and sometimes eat out. Preffer Texas Long horn or Limousin cattle which are generally lower in fat while sometimes a bit tougher if not cooked right.

                      1. re: mwok

                        Many meats have growth hormones it hits the news sometimes:





                        Yes that last one is about American beef banned in Europe posted on a Cancer website.

                    2. "Bottom line is we do not know what we are eating from the store or restaurant."

                      Bottom line is that we don't know what's truly harmful and what's not. In other words, there can be no meaningful discussion since there isn't enough evidence. It's like trying to have a discussion on a Russian play when you've only seen the first act; and, if you don't know Russian - If you don't have a good understanding of biology, physiology and organic chemistry - even less can be discussed and understood.

                      19 Replies
                      1. re: ediblover

                        Evidence, it is all over online. Google a topic of your choice. In hopes to get meaningful discussion going here is some concrete evidence that goes against most of our thinking. If we all contribute here daily this will be a great place to learn and share. My evening contribution follows.

                        My grandmother a nurse for over 50 years lived to be 97. I took care of her in her late life to extend the time she was on the family farm for a few years. She told me about coconut oil and bacon fat being all they fried with before WW2. She taught me how to make the burned brown crust and bits on the pan after frying protein in saturated fat into a gravy. What she did is put water into the cast iron pan and boil all the flavor and bits off then pour it into a bowl and let the hot water and fat separate to the top then would skim the fat off and make gravy out of the remainder thickening with flour and water. We ate gravy over everything with red skinned yellow inside fresh dug Finn potatoes and what ever meat was around. Potatoes and gravy were part of almost every dinner with cranberry sauce and a small glass of red wine. She insisted it was healthy to me to fry in saturated fat and proved it with longevity. How can an old woman eat all that saturated fat and live so long I thought to myself. Possibly skimming it off or maybe what everyone had been teaching me is wrong...

                        So I quizzed her when still alive. Why do you think all that saturated fat is good? She told me about this great deal her dad had gotten on coconut oil in the 20's or 30s and that is was his plan to make a fortune with good grass and fat on his cattle heard. The cows ran through fences and ended up extremely skinny way below normal grass fed weight. I put into Google ... coconut oil cattle ... with this as the top result:


                        As the story goes, when the Philippines were taken by Japan the coconut oil supply dried up. The vegetable oil companies had more money than the coconut oil companies and created the food rumor unsaturated fat oil is better to fry with than saturated fat. Grandma told me the US vegetable oil companies had more money than the coconut oil companies and won. Here is a real world concrete example open for discussion of something to talk about. We are always told unsaturated fats are better for us - when it may be marketing hype. Money and advertising influences media and news which effects the general pubic eating habits.

                        Grandma is not always right while talking about it can maybe help us, our friends, our families, and others going forward make better food decisions. My goal is for future generations to have it better than we do and that is why I care.

                        1. re: smaki

                          More written information about coconut oil is at this website and it has a video of a doctor talking about the benefits of coconut oil consumption:

                          There are many claimed benefits to eating coconut oil. This website and others say coconut oil increases metabolism to help people loose weight. Also, eating coconut oil is proven to help build up the bodies immune system to fight off sickness (outside of a mother's milk, pure coconut oil is natures most plentiful source of lauric acid). To loose weight, have more energy, and not get sick and much could be a good thing.

                          1. re: smaki

                            This is sort of what I meant.

                            Let's take it out of the science realm and more on to the basics. When it comes to information, the common sources are books, websites, movies, textbooks and journals. How many of them have oversight and what type are they? Only 2, the textbook and journal have "guards" in place to make sure that the information is accurate. The others? Not so much, since they're more about making a profit. The problem is that the other 3 often pick and choose information from the 2. It gets funny here, because the 2 will likely say, "This suggests..." and "Further study is needed."

                            We just don't know. To speculate and/or to present incomplete information as facts, is harmful. I can say that soy is bad because it mimics estrogen and cite a dozen sources supporting this. Because, it's true. The catch is that we'd have to eat a stupid high amount of it to be adversely affected. "X is dangerous." Replace X with anything and it will be true.

                            Anything can be made to look bad as well as good. When it comes to food and health, the only statements I feel comfortable with are to balance what you eat and to eat a variety of things. Because, well, those are really the only two that hold without a catch.

                            1. re: ediblover

                              Life is hazardous to ones health as it leads inexorably to death...If we obsess so much over what we are putting in our bodies as to miss out on the life around us we are the ultimate losers.

                              1. re: ediblover

                                Thank you! I don't expect others to be knee deep in medical journals all the time, but I'm frequently shocked at the utter lack of science literacy in the US, especially when it comes to diet and exercise.

                                1. re: mpjmph

                                  I agree. I am also shocked at the amount of sick, obese and misinformed folks in the US too. I doubt that either the scientifically illiterate -or those very sick folks- are reading CH or are even aware or concerned about diet and exercise. Typically, both of those characteristics go together. Many folks are not interested in food and health (and taste!) to the extent that most posters here are.

                                  It is nice to have a place to get ideas about food/health/taste issues, where so many people actually care about what they eat! As with any forum on any topic... you should "take what you need and leave the rest".

                              2. re: smaki

                                can you explain how to make this gravy with more details. I have never made gravy but would like to do it the way your grandma did. thanks.

                              3. re: ediblover

                                While talking about vegetable oils here is another example of something concrete to talk about in attempt to further contribute toward this discussion.

                                All of the TV shows, websites, and media say Canola oil is one of the most healthy there is. When two things about Canola oil make me wonder and try to not eat it in our home...

                                First, In the mid-90s I read in the Wall Street Journal the smoke off of Canola oil had been found cancerous. Apparently when Canola oil goes over its smoke point it turns into polymers which is plastic that when it gets into the body starts cancer. The smoke off any unsaturated fat oil could be cancerous cold be concluded. Any oil over its smoke point could be cancerous. The Food Channel, Create, and all the chefs I watch on TV smoke Canola oils and others like Olive all the time then breathe is and should they really? Possibly we at home should not be breathing the smoke from vegetable oils of all any kind like they do on TV. Most TV shows have commercial hoods where the smoke is not left around - when the closed airflow in houses could have the plastic bits hanging around in the house for hours. Maybe we should fry with something else and improve our airflow around the stove... or something.

                                Second, Canola oil actually is a marketing ploy of Canada as rapeseed is their #1 crop and I was once told no one wanted the cold pressed raw oil as it smelled terrible (do not know if true and hope not spreading a 'smelly' rhumor here so will post below if learn wrong at any point in the future). The same sources said most Canola oil these days is a highly processed product including heat to make the smell go away. When Canada went to pick a name for highly processed rape seed oil in the 70's during the granola craze may have picked a name that rhymed with the well known health food in hopes for favorable association. While the WF link below says something else about where the name came from that could be true. I try to eat things as close to nature as possible, do feel Canola is too processed for me to want it in my mouth so shy away from it for now. And would rather not have it around as get enough of it from processed food and eating out. Here is what WF says about canola oil confirming people should not breath the smoke like it appear the chefs do on TV when in reality their hoods are probably sucking it away from them:

                                I pan fry to brown meat in bacon fat or coconut oil (and use as little as possible). We avoid deep frying because of the large amount of vegetable oil involved. For table use love a good olive oil as it comes from the plant with minimal heat / processing to our plate. I only use canola oil for something I don't want to get hard in the fridge - olive oil will solidify when cold. I make my Italian and most things without oil then put EVOO with it right before eating.

                                1. re: smaki

                                  Microwaves superheat vegetable oils and everything else. Are they healthy? Or just convenient. My Finn grandma would not eat from one, was afraid of them, and lived to be 97. Was her fear of microwaves and living a long time related?

                                  Hard to prove. Has anyone ever heard of microwaves being bad for you? To us was a strange fear we mostly felt funny and laughable. Not concrete or proof, but a hypothesis maybe someone has thought about for a scientific study. When I google things like: microwave bad for health ... all kinds of things come up. No we can not believe everything we read online but it is something to think about that goes against conventional thinking. Do not want to spread potentially false information, does anyone know anything concrete about microwave use and health? All the restaurants have microwaves because they are convienient, save them time, and make them more money. So thought worth bringing up to expand this discussion on oils beyond oils.

                                  1. re: smaki

                                    When it comes down to a future (and immediate in other cases) choice between literally millions of people starving to death, and possible long term health consequences due to GMO foods, I come down on the side of GMO.

                                    1. re: Servorg

                                      That's the argument the GMO movement likes to use, "to feed millions of starving people" (I can't believe people are dumb enough to believe in this argument). The reality is these people are starving because of civil wars/corruption in their country. In certain African countries, if you build a farm...they will come and burn it down. This is why the people are starving. GMO will not fix this. GMO makes it worse, as is the case of the indian farmers who had to pay ridicolous amounts of royalty fees which many could not afford and ended up killing themselves.

                                      At the moment, GMO seeds are setup to compete with Nature's variety competively. However, as soon as the Nature's variety is wiped out (survival of the fittest), the GM companies will have a monopolic hold on the seed and will drive prices extremely high. This will create even more millions of people that will starve.

                                      1. re: mwok

                                        both extreme stances are wrong. most starvation is political. however wheat and corn that can survive in semi arid zones, and plants that can survive without huge amounts of pesticide can indeed help.

                                        polarized arguments almist always miss the real facts on the ground, which are rarely either/or

                                        1. re: thew

                                          GMO plants that survive without huge amounts of pesticide? Are you talking about the GMO corn that produces it's own pesticide?

                                          Many of the tribes in Africa that use maize meal as their primary diet are doing just fine without GMO and they are not starving (except in the few that are under heavy civil wars).

                                        2. re: mwok

                                          Wheat or rice production needs to continue to be increased at a rate that is not possible without GMO. Population increases will outstrip the ability of many countries to feed their own people (wars and corruption aside) and these developing countries will not have the financial ability to purchase those crops. Without direct aid, or increased production in their own countries we are looking at a catastrophe that will make the worries over the "possible" health consequences of GMO a mere blip on the health radar...

                                          1. re: Servorg

                                            People have fed themselves just fine for over 2000 years. The population has expanded to exponential magnitudes since then and we did not need GMO foods to do it.

                                            GMO is not the next step up. GMO is a way of "owning" the plants and branding them. Most countries accepting aid simply do not want GMO foods, in fact when we tried to give them GMO corn, they flat out refused it.

                                            1. re: mwok

                                              This all smacks of the folks who warned against the Green Revolution and against biogenetic drugs, gene therapy and the coming revolution in epigenetics, alongside the totally debunked scare over vaccinations. I'll leave you to it with this Nobel lecture by Norman Borlaug from 1970:

                                              1. re: Servorg

                                                So you are for:
                                                - wiping out seed banks
                                                - preventing farmers from saving their seeds
                                                - increase cost to farmers by ten fold
                                                - support patents of seeds and ownership so you have to pay royalty fees for any seed you plant
                                                - wipe out all other varieties of a plant and create a monoculture and pray that no disease affects it
                                                - increased world hunger
                                                - increase food prices (once monopoly is established)
                                                - eat even more pesticide (GMO roundup ready corn + roundup next gen corn etc)

                                                This is what the GMO movement is doing.

                                                1. re: mwok

                                                  Roundup is not a pesticide. It is an herbicide. Big difference, and a very significant one relative to your diatribe.

                                              2. re: mwok

                                                again, you are confusing the way monsanto, et al, are marketing GMO, and the concept and technology of GMO. I abhor the former, i applaud the latter.

                                  2. The original comment has been removed