Navigation Services Home Learning Articles Products News Breeders Contact Navigation Services

Food Radiation: Who's Killing Who?

written by Marina Zacharias

Let's face it folks, we have big problems with unsanitary food handling and processing in our country. We have all heard the news stories about contaminated ground beef. We know there are many common problems with fish and poultry. Industry realizes this but to "clean up" their act would be a "needless" expensive proposition.

So what can we do that is cheaper and that we can be sure will kill off everything in sight? I know -- lets hit the little varmints with "hard" radiation! Let's make sure we "get 'em all." Science tells us that a mere 10,000 rads will totally destroy any living tissue, so let's dose 'em with 100,000 to 300,00 rads. That ought to do it! We'll teach them to try to force us to spend money where we have some other alternative.

Oh yeah! Almost forgot. Guess we better get some Government approval of some kind to be able to do it. Shouldn't be too hard. Just rig some tests an show them the wisdom of how 'safe' we are trying to make our food.

So what's really going on here??

FDA policy has allowed most irradiated food to be sold to the public since 1963 without so much as a disclosure label. Surely it must be "safe" beyond any doubt or somebody would be screaming bloody murder by now. Yet the media is very, very silent about the whole subject.

Sorry folks, but it just isn't so.

If you want the full horror story about this process, I would suggest you read "The Food That Would Last Forever" by Dr. Gary Gibbs -- an authority on food radiation.

It turns out that when you hit food with these enormous doses of gamma rays (usually from cobalt-80) you create molecules called "radiotoxines." The FDA calls them "radiolytic by-products" and classifies them into two categories. Known and Unknown.

The "known" category includes such neat things as formaldehyde and benzene (yes, Charlie they are both considered carcinogens).

The "unknown" category is described as "unique radiolytic products" which are chemical molecules that have never been characterized and are not found anywhere in nature. (Hello immune system - here's something new you can play with!!)

Does it harm beneficial Nutrients? Of course. About 30% of Vitamin C is destroyed. Milk is known to lose 70% of Vitamin A, B1 and B2 when radiated. Vitamins E, K, the entire B group, amino acids and essential fatty acids are all known to be adversely affected.

Worse yet it accelerates the growth of a particularly nasty mold called "asperguillus." This mold produces the most potent natural carcinogens, called "aflatoxins." One study, conducted by the FDA itself in 1979, demonstrated that food radiation increases aflatoxin production by more than one hundred fold.

So what happens when this stuff is eaten?

Animal studies are clear. When up to 35% of the lab-animal diet was radiated, feeding studies had to be abandoned because the animals died or were unable to eat. This fact is in FDA's final report approving radiation.

I want to emphasize that these studies should have set off alarm bells all across the country. For example:

At the University of Illinois, the Department of Medicine fed radiated food to mice. Seventeen percent had to be killed or died because of respiratory problems so severe they couldn't even move around their cages. They did autopsies. The hearts of the mice had enlarged to twice to three times normal, and in some cases had burst.

This is so often seen in animal feeding studies with radiated food that it's commonly referred to as the "hemorrhagic syndrome."

Researchers at the Medical College of Virginia fed rats radiated beef. All the male rats died of hemorrhagic syndrome within 34 days. They investigated the effect of hormones by castrating a group of male rats and then feeding them with radiated beef. They all died within 63 days --as did all the female rats.

If you think the danger only arises from a heavy diet of radiated foods, think again. In another study at the University of Michigan, researchers radiated table sugar and then stored it for months. The then made up a white-blood-cell culture with less than 1% of the sucrose and a "control" culture medium with the same amount of non-radiated sugar.

They grew white-blood-cells, lymphocytes, in both culture media. The researchers reported that the radiated culture was "extremely toxic to lymphocytes." Cell division was reduced and the chromosomes were grossly damaged -- to the point that they appeared to be shattered or pulverized!! Remember that the lymphocytes themselves were never radiated but only exposed to 1% of a radiated solution!!

Exposing lymphocytes to even a slightly radiated culture medium makes them look like they'd actually been radiated themselves. The control group (non-radiated culture) was perfectly fine.

So didn't FDA know about these studies?? This is where it gets really unbelievable.

They started with 441 studies, including the foregoing. They "accepted" 226 for further review. They further narrowed their criteria and selected only 69 for in-depth review. Of these, FDA itself reported that 32 showed adverse effects and 37 suggested safety. Then, without explanation, they eliminated all but 5 of these 69 studies, including all 32 adverse ones, and announced they'd make a decision on those five alone. Results -- stamp it approved!!

So today not only our herbs, but our fruits, vegetables, wheat, flour, spices, nuts, seeds, peas, pork and chicken are OK for radiation treatment. Right now they're "considering" beef.

Don't they have to label this stuff?? The FDA requires a label only if "whole food" is radiated and then sold unchanged. But if you process it in any way, or add any other ingredient to it, no label disclosure is required!!!

Gut instinct alone should tell any rational person to stay away from manmade molecules never before found in nature. The potential harm from radiated food is very real and very frightening.

It's difficult to obtain any accurate information as to how wide spread the application of radiation is at this time. Food companies are certainly not going to admit using it and the present laws are laughable. The only organization that I know of that is exclusively concerned with the issue is "Food and Water Inc."

If you choose to, they can be contacted at: 1-800-EAT-SAFE, or at:

R.R 1, Box 114
Depot Hill Road
Marshfield, VT 05658

Phone: (804) 426-3700
Fax: (802) 426-3711