Citing pesticide-laden genetically modified foods in school lunches and the effects of COVID-19 lockdowns, Dr. Michelle Perro, pediatrician and integrative medicine expert, said it’s time for urgent federal action to switch to organic, regenerative food in school meals to stop the chronic poisoning of our children.
Rhetoric, regulatory capture and the lack of governmental action have created and fueled one of the greatest crimes of the times which is the allowance and acceptance of the chronic poisoning of our children.
Although the root causes of this health crisis tsunami can be blamed on many factors, the overarching culprit began with the introduction of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in the 1990s, developed with their associated pesticides.
The usage of a greater variety of GMOs in combination with more toxic pesticides has only been increasing secondary to weed resistance.
Coupled with companies profiteering from the patent parade of more and more genetically engineered foods, this is the cocktail for the present health disaster played out in real time.
The end result is that the state of our children’s health is the true pandemic.
A look at the stats
According to a research publication in 2011, 54% of American children were diagnosed with a chronic health condition. A recent examination of the statistics reveals startling information regarding the status of our children’s health:
Additionally, educators, legislators and practitioners cannot ignore the elephant in the room: The unprecedented rise of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in our children.
Many of those affected have now become adults, so the issue has transcended into the population at large.
In the short time between the years 2020-23 alone, ASD rose significantly and the following numbers should sound the alarm: 1 in 22 children in California and 1 in 36 children are now on the autism spectrum.
These numbers do not address the millions of children also experiencing attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), neurocognitive/neurodevelopmental disorders, mood dysregulation and anxiety/depression.
Diagnoses are not pigeonholed, and many children may cross over manifesting elements of different disorders. It is a hot mess.
This is an incomplete list of disorders, and nor does it acknowledge the millions of children who are undiagnosed, many lacking resources and support.
There is no longer just one elephant in the room, but the herd. The COVID-19 era has ushered in layered and more complicated issues upon our children, reflected in a decline in their well-being.
Several years of social isolation from peers, masking, closure of schools and childcare centers, reduced access to playgrounds and overall familial stress have fueled a national mental health crisis. These changes also were noted in the behavior of children, also documented in their microbiome as well.
(The microbiome is directly responsible for the development of immune function, the first line of defense for detoxification, production of vitamins and neurotransmitters, etc.)
During the early stages of a child’s life particularly in the first three years, the gut microbiome has been shown to be shaped by environmental influences.
These changes impact future mental and physical health throughout the child’s life.
Children and mental health
There are definable factors that have changed mental health in children during the COVID-19 era.
The effects on the microbiome have been mentioned, and this is important in terms of understanding the relationship between the gut and the brain, referred to as the gut-brain axis. Additionally, the factors that have created the increase in mental health stressors include:
It must be emphasized that children do not have control over their environments, and a year of their lives is extremely significant in the context of their short lives.
Recently released data shows that pandemic-related disruptions and mental health in our youth have produced an increase in anxiety and depression, suicidal ideation and suicidal attempts compared to before the pandemic, exacerbated in vulnerable populations.
A pivotal study from the U.K., the Myriad Project, involved more than 28,000 children, 650 teachers, 100 schools and 20 million data points. They published a comparative analysis of the mental health of thousands of U.K. secondary school pupils presently to those prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.
A summary of their findings is concerning:
The financial impact of the increase in mental health costs soared 26% higher during the pandemic than previously, led by anxiety and ADHD, recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Additionally, Telehealth services were used 30 times more often than prior to the pandemic.
Back to school
It is clear that children going back to school is a key factor for the recapture of overall health losses sustained during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The message here is that the optimization of the school environment is essential in regaining children’s well-being and reversing the disastrous mental health deterioration experienced. One of the key ways to regain and strengthen the health of our children is via nutrition.
School nutrition is one of the best ways to support children’s transition back to school and back to health.
Optimal nutrition in children’s diets can used as a measure of health resilience, (especially during peak viral seasons). Maximizing nutrition impacts affect every aspect of a child’s health, particularly in regard to learning.
An adequate amount of minerals (i.e., iron, zinc, magnesium), B vitamins, omega 3s and quality macronutrients in terms of proteins, fats and carbohydrates, will improve the learning capacity of children.
Many American children receive the bulk of their meals from school lunches.
The National School Lunch Program provides low-cost or free lunches to children, operating in over 100,000 schools/childcare facilities.
Many of the increased meals provided during the pandemic have since expired in 2022. Common sense dictates that participation in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s school lunch program can significantly reduce food scarcity facing many of America’s youth.
Children from homes with food insecurity are more likely to eat school meals, receiving the majority of their nutrition from the meals provided.
The question is do the school lunches provide the necessary nutrition to feed children, especially those children who are more vulnerable? Presently, school meals must meet Federal nutrition standards.
Those dietary guidelines published in the 2020-2025 Executive Summary state the following:
“Nutritional needs should be met primarily from foods and beverages — specifically, nutrient-dense foods and beverages. Nutrient-dense foods provide vitamins, minerals, and other health-promoting components and have no or little added sugars, saturated fat and sodium.
“A healthy dietary pattern consists of nutrient-dense forms of foods and beverages across all food groups, in recommended amounts, and within calorie limits.
“The core elements that make up a healthy dietary pattern include:
This is an excellent summary of the nutritional needs of our children and should be commended in the government’s approach to school-based nutrition.
However, is this what our children are actually receiving in school lunches?
Moms Across America national school lunch testing study
The nonprofit organization, Moms Across America (MAA) in Sept. 2022, published its own research regarding what is actually in school meals, disproportionately feeding underserved children.
Forty-three school lunches were sampled from across the U.S. The MAA findings are stunning:
GMO foods, designed to resist the spraying of pesticides (Roundup-ready) are heavily doused with chemicals such as glyphosate-based herbicides. GMOs are engineered to resist dying from spraying from pesticides.
Hence, the weeds die, but not the crops. Many crops (such as wheat, oats and legumes) are sprayed with off-label usage of herbicides prior to harvest to dry the crops (applied as a desiccant).
Therefore, those foods that our school children commonly consume are even further laden with extremely elevated levels of pesticides.
Additionally, what may not be recognized is that GMOs in themselves cause harm.
The first study of the effects of GMOs in rats showed that GMOs (without concomitant pesticides) caused gastrointestinal disruptions, immune dysfunction and reproductive harm in rats.
There have been no peer-reviewed, blinded studies regarding the harmful effects of GMOs on human health. Remember, GMOs are not consumed alone but with their associated pesticides. Our children are the science experiment.
The introduction of GMOs and their associated pesticides are the main drivers of the chronic poisoning of America’s children.
What harms do glyphosate-based herbicides (including the undeclared toxic “inert” ingredients in formulations), pesticides, heavy metals and veterinary pharmaceuticals found in American school lunches do to our children?
Pesticides cause a depletion of vital nutrients. Robust nutrient levels in foods can offset toxic stressors, however, the depletion of nutrients in the soil has resulted in abysmally low levels in the school lunches tested.
Our children are overfed and undernourished.
Many are constantly hungry since their bodies have not received sufficient nutrition. Livestock have also not fared well since they, too, are fed contaminated grains which lead to illness. Children then consume toxic meat.
The Nutrinet-Santé study looked at 240,000 individuals whose health improved by making dietary changes. Local heroes exist.
As documented in “What’s Making Our Children Sick?,” A Central Valley, California, family dad living in the heart of pesticide spraying, on the dialysis list, regained kidney function to nearly complete by changing from a conventionally grown to an organic regenerative diet.
Our government must do better. Individual states have taken some action on behalf of the protection of children, including California, with the recent passing of AB 418, banning brominated vegetable oil, potassium bromate, propylparaben, or red dye #3.
Although this type of state-directed legislative action is a good first step, it is not enough in terms of immediate action needed to change the course of health history and protect our children nationally from the assault by the unregulated ingredients of school lunches.
Legislation is required at the Federal level in order to provide a national standard.
The requirements can look as follows:
The expectation is an urgent call to action for our policymakers to immediately switch to organic regenerative school lunches for America’s children, reducing pesticides to less than 10 parts per million, over the next three years.
The stronghold of conventional agricultural practices and businesses on our agricultural practices must be ended. Our children deserve better.
Originally published by GMO Science.
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