My name is Leah Segedie and I’m a mother of three young boys.
My youngest – just 11 months – is severely allergic to the top 8 food allergens: tree nuts, peanuts, wheat, soy, dairy, eggs, seafood & shellfish. He is also allergic to all pet dander. When exposed to these things, Steven develops severe eczema that burns, oozes, and sometimes bleeds. He itches like crazy and cries for me to scratch it. This lasts for days at a time.
At 9 months, I could no longer breastfeed Steven because my own milk was causing these severe skin reactions. The food I was eating was passing through to my breast milk and he was allergic. My motherly instinct to nourish my son the best way I knew how was actually hurting him. Yes, even when I eliminated those foods from my diet.
Steven is an example of an extreme case, but allergies among children are becoming an epidemic. In fact, since the mid 1990s allergies among children are up over 400%. When I was a kid, I don’t even remember anyone being allergic, but today, it’s about one in eight children. What is going on?
One thing that is dramatically different is our food. The US government has allowed genetically modified organisms (GMOs) into our food supply WITHOUT a label since the mid 1990s. Today GMOs can be found in more than its 85% of grocery store items. Including infant formula.
This is a major problem. Steven could not drink my milk, nor could I give him the nation’s leading infant formula – Similac – because it contained GM ingredients, and with it, the agrochemicals that GM crops are increasingly exposed to. Trace amounts of these chemicals are showing up in breast milk and infant formula.
I’ve learned from experience that it’s extremely difficult to protect our children from GMOs – whether breastfeeding or using formula – and that major corporations like Abbott Laboratories (maker of Similac) are making this so by using GM ingredients.
While the long-term health impacts of GMOs are still being debated, the negative impacts of our increased exposure to the agrochemicals used in GMO farming are not. And when it comes to babies, the most vulnerable, we must exercise precaution.
From a mom who had no choice but to turn to formula – and who was horrified by her options – I am calling on Abbott Laboratories to be a leader and remove all genetically modified ingredients from their formulas. This is not debatable if we want to protect babies.
Join with me in calling on Abbott to remove the GMOs from Similac. And please share this with your friends. Together we can all make a difference. Let’s protect our children because they ARE the future.
You can check out these organizations for more information on the impacts of GMOs and non-GMO feeding alternatives:
- Executive Vice President, U.S. Nutrition, Abbott Laboratories
- Senior Vice President, Chief Marketing Officer, Abbott Laboratories
- Chief Executive Officer, Abbott Laboratories
Miles D. White
- Executive Vice President, Nutritional Products, Abbot Laboratories
- Chief Financial Officer, Abbott Laboratories
I am calling on Abbott Laboratories to be a leader and remove all genetically modified ingredients from their Similac Infant formulas. As someone who cares about the health impacts of the foods I buy, and especially the well-being of our children, I’m concerned about the prevalence of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in Similac infant formulas. Your major brands contain corn, sugar, soy and other ingredients that are highly likely to be genetically engineered in the US.
As a company that markets foods that are meant to be nutritious for the youngest consumers, I think it's important for you to exercise an abundance of caution around babies because GMOs are potentially harmful to health and development. I urge Similac to take a proactive stand and announce a phase out of all GMOs in your infant formulas in 2013. You have the opportunity to be a leader amongst major food corporations by being the first to end your use of GMOs and let the public know you have done so.
Please take this important step for infant health and for our future.
Thank you for your consideration.
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