Fairfield, IA— Experts have suggested there may be a link between genetically modified (GM) foods and gluten-related disorders, including celiac disease.

A report, released by the Institute for Responsible Technology (IRT) on Nov. 25, cites a wide collection of data from the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Environmental Protection Act records, medical journals and international research. Researchers studied the data and found that GM foods may cause conditions that either trigger or exacerbate gluten-related disorders, which affect more than 18 million Americans. The report specifies these conditions as intestinal permeability, imbalanced gut bacteria, immune activation and allergic response, impaired digestion and damage to the intestinal wall.

Genetically modified foods are created by inserting genetic material into plant DNA. Wheat, which is a common instigator of gluten-sensitivity issues, is not a GM food, though some groups are monitoring wheat from GM contamination. Currently, there are nine main GM food crops being grown, including canola, alfalfa, sugar beets, soy and corn. The foods are chemically engineered to either tolerate a weed killer, glyphosate, which is present in the food when harvested, or to produce an insecticide called Bt-toxin. According to the report, Bt-toxin, which works by punching holes in insects’ digestive tracts, may be linked to leaky gut, a common symptom for gluten-sensitive people. Glyphosate, the report states, is an antibiotic that destroys beneficial gut bacteria, therefore causing an imbalance of gut flora, which is often seen in those with Celiac Disease.

Published in WholeFoods Magazine, January 2014 (online 11/25/13)