Sunday, December 23, 2012

Here's the link to an editorial written in the Hartford Courant about genetically engineered salmon, likely to be approved by the FDA for sale to the American Public at any moment.,0,273296.story

And here is my response:

“Providing consumers with the facts” is not only a good idea, it is our right. As a nutrition consultant, I have the right to tell my clients NOT to eat food that contains genetically engineered ingredients. Soon, if the FDA approves it, salmon will be the first genetically engineered animal that will be available for unknowing consumers to ingest. My clients have the right to easily access information about the food they are eating by observing an honest label.
The fight against genetically engineered food is NOT fueled by fear and guesswork, as the biotech industry would have us believe; there is plenty of science behind our concerns. A download is available, called GMO Myths and Truths, written by former biotech scientists. This information dispels the myths and provides scientific evidence regarding the dangers of consuming GMOs.   

This recent study (below) was credible enough to prompt Russia to immediately ban the importation of GMOs soon after it came out.  Despite its controversy, many scientists contend that it must be taken seriously.

Genetically engineered foods were SECRETLY and ILLEGALLY put into our foods 18 years ago.  20 years ago, no one had heard of a peanut allergy. Now children with peanut allergies must be segregated from their friends in the lunch room to keep from going into anaphylactic shock. 

Last year, HB 5117, the GMO labeling bill, passed out of the Environment Committee by a 23-6 vote.  This made history; a GMO labeling bill had never passed out of committee before.  The bill had bipartisan support.   The decision was made not to let it go to legislation, when the Governor of CT. eviscerated it.  It didn’t just die as written in the editorial.  CT actually got closer to passing a labeling bill than any other state.

Are we suspicious of “companies like DuPont, Monsanto, PepsiCo, and Kraft that will reap financial gains if people are kept in the dark about Frankenfood?”   In a word, yes.  Why would those companies, among others, including CocaCola, Kellogg, General Mills, Hershey, and Nestle, spend upwards of $55 million in California alone, to make sure a labeling law didn’t pass?

To say that “Agricultural products have been genetically modified, in terms of selective breeding, since prehistoric times,” is just so ignorant. Natural plant breeding is completely different from genetic modification.  Natural breeding occurres between closely related species through cross pollination.

In genetic modification (GM) however, genetic properties from one species are inserted into the DNA of a different species. The cell’s genetic blueprint is re-programmed by the inserted genetic material, bringing novel properties to the cell. Genetic engineering along with the use of tissue culture is imprecise and highly mutagenic. This causes unpredictable changes in the DNA, proteins, and biochemical composition of the resulting GM crop. Unpredictable changes can create unexpected toxic or allergenic effects and nutritional disturbances.

Many health related associations, are strongly funded by the biotech, food, and pharmaceutical industries.  THAT is the answer to the motto: “there is no evidence that GMOs pose unique health risks.”

Labeling will NOT make food costs go up.  It didn’t in Europe, where they are banned.  Infact, in most cases the same foods cost less in Europe.  The same foods we buy here, are made without GMOs for countries that ban GMOs.  The GMOs are saved for Americans only.  In other words, the same box of cereal shipped to France contains corn and soy NOT genetically engineered, but that which stays in the US is made with genetically engineered corn and soy. Isn’t that special?

CT is not “going it alone.”  There are 40 states and counting, in the process of developing a uniform labeling law.  We should  NOT depend on a federal law for GMO labeling – certainly not while our Food Safety Czar, Michael Taylor, formerly Monsanto’s VP, is second in command at the FDA.

The Hartford Courant should not be “bought,” like most of the papers in this country.   Let the Hartford Courant continue to be a source of good, nonbiased, reliable information. The people deserve nothing less.

Beth Beisel, R.D. LLC
Consulting Nutritionist
Food Policy Activist

Monday, September 3, 2012

Open letter to Mrs. Obama

I know I promised to write an article on my favorite fats, but I've been spending every free moment on GMO awareness.  Here is a letter we wrote some months ago, while sitting at a track meet.  Now seemed like a good time to send it out! 

Monday, September 3, 2012


From Left: Zofia Hausman (Documentary Film Maker of the Agtivist), Representative Richard Roy (the original sponsor of the GMO Labeling Bill in CT), Ellen McCormick, Tara Cook-Littman, Beth Beisel, Diana Reeves,Whitney Riggs, and Cathie Iaccarino

Below is an open letter written to Mrs. Obama with a plea for help from the women leading the activist movement here in CT and beyond.  We have all heard Mrs. Obama talk about the importance of eating a healthy diet, but not once have we ever heard her speak about GMOs.  A healthy diet that is filled with GMOs is not a healthy diet at all.  PLEASE, Mrs. Obama, talk to your husband and ask him to label GMOs.  We have a right to know what is in our food and be able to choose whether or not to feed our families GMOs.  


Dear First Lady Michelle Obama,

We applaud your efforts to feed your family organically and to change the way Americans eat for the better, but we have yet to hear you address the issue of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs).  We are writing to ask for your help.  We are leaders in an organization in Connecticut called GMO Free CT, a group of individuals educating the public about GMOs and advocating for our right to know what is in our food.   We are certain that you are aware that our food supply is being taken over by GMOs and that the children of this country are paying the price. 

As women ranging in age from 20 to 60 plus, we find ourselves bound together by common purpose and by the overwhelming urgency to secure a safe food supply for generations to come.  Right now over 90% of the processed foods on our grocery store shelves contain GMO ingredients.  Corn, Canola, Soy, Sugar, and Cottonseed along with the hundreds of derivatives made from these 5 crops, have been modified to include genes from other, unrelated species.   These GMOs have been granted “GRAS” status (generally recognized as safe) by the FDA and therefore have NEVER been tested for safety through long term feeding studies. Current research is raising significant health concerns as scientific studies are linking genetically engineered foods to an increase in food allergies, autism, autoimmune diseases, cancer, organ damage, infertility and inflammatory bowel diseases, all of which, are on the rise and increasing medical costs in this country.   GMO labeling is mandated in over 50 countries around the world, yet here in America, supposedly one of the most progressive countries in the world, we are still shopping completely blind.  Currently, voters in California have the opportunity to support mandatory GMO labeling by voting in favor of Proposition 37.   As mothers, aunts, grandmothers and sisters, we deserve to have the right to choose whether or not to feed our families GMOs.  

During his last campaign, your husband pledged to require labeling of GMOs. Instead, he hired a former Monsanto executive (Monsanto being the company that stands to benefit the most from the proliferation of GMOs), Michael Taylor, as his food safety czar. Mrs. Obama, we need your help. We need a strong, caring and intelligent mother like you to stand up for the welfare and safety of America’s children.  Over one million Americans signed a petition to the FDA asking for GMO labeling, fifty five US Senators signed a letter to the FDA asking for GMO labeling, professional polls show that 95% of Americans want GMOs labeled, and 19 states, including CT, are introducing GMO labeling legislation.  The FDA refuses to act. We need you to stand up for democracy and for freedom of choice. Please talk to your husband on behalf of your children, our children and America’s children. Ask him to make good on his campaign promise to label GMOs. California’s ballot initiative to label GMOs needs the support of the Obama family. Please speak out in support of GMO labeling so that America’s families can have the ability to choose clean, unadulterated food.

Thank you very much for your personal attention and reply to this letter.  We can be reached at  We would very much like to visit with you to discuss this very urgent matter.  It is a complicated issue and we are aware of the political implications as well.  We would like to hear back from you directly.  The health and safety of our families, future generations and our fragile environment are at stake.

Beth Beisel
Tara Cook-Littman
Cathie Iaccarino
Ellen McCormick
Diana Reeves
Whitney Riggs
Elaine Titus   

Sunday, June 3, 2012

The Skinny on Trans Fat

In this age of agri-business,  it is more important than ever to evaluate our diets and make sure we are taking care of ourselves by eating healthfully.  Often, our lives are quite busy, taking care of aging parents, children, grandchildren, or a dependent spouse.  However, this is no reason to neglect our own nutritional concerns.  Processed food is so accessible and quick, that we often make the wrong choice, in an effort to save time.  But is that choice doing more harm than good? 

One ingredient in processed food that has recently been a hot topic is trans fat.   Although it has been “decreased” in some foods, it is still a major health hazard that everyone should be aware of, no matter what your age.

Many nutrition-conscious people removed products containing “partially hydrogenated oils” (trans fats) from their kitchens years before they were newsworthy. This now seems slightly easier to do, because manufacturers are putting “NO TRANS FATS” on their labels and on the front of their packaging, so that you will buy their products.

 Unfortunately, many of these products still contain partially hydrogenated oils. It’s just that the federal government allows the manufacturer to write “NO TRANS FATS” if the amount per serving is less than .5 grams. 

This is a problem for two reasons: One, very few Americans, eat 1 serving. And two, since trans fat affects us at the cellular level, even a small portion of it may have long term health ramifications.

By the way, did you know that trans fats are banned in Denmark, and rarely found in any European country, and more recently have been outlawed in some cities including Boston and New York?  

Despite many labels now touting “NO TRANS FATS”, they are still in some foods in small amounts, so it is important to read the list of ingredients and avoid anything containing partially hydrogenated oils or vegetable shortening. Trans fats are still rampant in restaurant food, because they are cheap and have a long shelf life. When you go out to eat, ask the manager if they use partially hydrogenated oil or margarine in cooking and tell them you would prefer pure olive oil or butter.  Make it very clear that you don’t want your food cooked in margarine, and you don’t want margarine added to it.    Yes, butter is a saturated fat, but our cells know what to do with butter. In fact, cell membranes utilize saturated fat to maintain their integrity. Cells don’t know how to metabolize trans fat, and because of its rampant use in the last 20 years, we have seen a huge increase in cancer, obesity, heart disease, and diabetes.

Trans fats are deposited into the tissues and affect how organs in the body function. Here are some of the ramifications of trans fat consumption, based on both human and animal studies:

·       Trans fats increase blood sugar levels.  They decrease the ability of insulin to bind to the sugar we eat.  This may be why children are developing diabetes sooner.  For example, children get up in the morning and eat some cereal containing partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, and lots of sugar, (probably high fructose corn syrup, which is also metabolized differently than natural sugar) covered with skim milk – (if the milk had some fat in it such as 2%, sugar absorption into the bloodstream would be slowed down).  This low fat, high sugar, breakfast causes a rapid rise in blood sugar levels, and the trans fats interfere with insulin’s ability to bind with the sugar and take it into the cells to be metabolized. This leads to early hunger, a feeling of fatigue, and a craving for more sugar/carbohydrate… and the cycle repeats itself all day long.

·       Trans fats cause alterations in fat-cell size, and fat cell numbers, increasing the risk of obesity.

·       Trans fats decrease immune function – the body’s ability to fight disease.

·       Trans fat may precipitate asthma.  A diet high in vegetable oil and trans fat, and low in saturated fat, alters the make up of lung surfactant.  Lung surfactant enables the lungs to work, and it is 100% saturated fat. 

·       Trans fats increase “bad”, LDL, cholesterol, and decrease “good”, HDL, cholesterol.

·       Trans fats have been shown to make blood platelets “stickier”, (more likely to clot, and clog arteries causing stroke and heart attack.)

·       Trans fats increase lipoprotein (a).  Lipoprotein (a) increases the risk for arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), by 2-3 times. Coincidentally, saturated fat lowers lipoprotein (a).

·       Trans fats decrease the amount of cream in breast milk which is vital for growth and brain development in babies.

Happily, there is an alternative to trans fat. It is more expensive, and has a shorter shelf life, but is a healthier alternative.  It is called saturated fat. Used in moderation, in the absence of trans fat, natural saturated fat has many health giving benefits.

Stay tuned… the Discerning Dietitian’s next article will be on different forms of fat and their health giving benefits!

Eat the Best; Leave the Rest!



Know Your Fats: The Complete Primer for Understanding the Nutrition of Fats, Oils, and Cholesterol by Mary Enig, PhD,  Bethesda Press – 1-800-370-8100.

The Oiling of America, by Mary Enig and Sally Fallon.  (You can get this on the web.  Go into Google and enter title and authors.  It is about 30 pages.)

The Schwarzbein Principle, by Diana Schwarzbein, MD, Health Communications, Inc.

The Cholesterol Myths, by Uffe Ravnskov, MD, PhD, New Trends Publishing Inc.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Dear Family and Friends,

I am heart-broken to tell you that the mandatory GMO labeling bill in CT was destroyed by Governor Malloy and his attorneys on Friday.

“Right to Know CT will no longer endorse or support HB 5117, An Act Concerning Genetically Engineered Foods. Rep. Richard Roy is our hero and we supported his bill by advocating for its passage through our grassroots campaign. But it no longer reflects his intent to mandate the labeling of GE foods and we feel compelled to register our discontent by withdrawing our support for the bill." Analiese Paik, co-founder Right to Know CT

“The constitutional argument is absurd, and everyone knows it.  As long as Connecticut law makers had a legitimate state interest that was reasonably related to the labeling of products produced from the process of genetic engineering, the GMO labeling bill would be considered constitutional by any court of law.” Tara Cook-Littman, co-founder Right to Know CT

My hope is that somewhere in this country, someday, there will be a politician with a backbone and integrity who will do the right thing for the people and secure a labeling law.  50 other countries have labeling laws now, why can't we?  We need to rally for and support California, where  a labeling law has enough signatures to be on the ballot in November.

CT had overwhelming  bi-partisan support from its legislators.  The bill had many co-sponsors.   If this bill had been called, it could have passed in its entirity.  It was well thought out and carefully reviewed by top legal counsel  from The Center For Food Safety,  Organic Consumers Association, and caring legislators. I want to personally thank Representative Bill Wadsworth and Representative Brian Becker for supporting it and also for participating in our talk at the Farmington Library a few weeks ago.  And thank you to Representative Richard Roy for trying so hard and caring about the people of CT!  This is a big blow to him as well.

 You have my word, we are not giving up on this issue.  I will dedicate my free time to teaching everyone I can about the dangers of eating food that has been engineered in a lab to produce its own pesticides or to resist massive amounts of Round Up and very soon,  2,4-D (contained in agent orange.)

For now we will all have to be careful to avoid processed foods that contain GMOs, by buying organic or non-gmo project verified.   Remember, corn, soy, canola, cottonseed, sugar (unless specified 100% cane sugar) and their derivatives, contain GMOs. Also, Hawaiian papaya, and some zucchini and crook neck squash may be genetically modified.  By purchasing organic milk, meat, eggs,  poultry and wild-caught fish you can avoid GMOs as well, (since "vegetarian-fed" simply means GM corn, soy, and alfalfa - fed.) For information on all the ingredients that come from corn, soy, and other GM foods, download a list from   We can still change things by voting with our wallets.  Also,please tell everyone you know.

 If nothing else, this defeat has strengthened my resolve to fight for the health of my family and my friends - especially our innocent children. Hopefully I will get most of my frustrations out on my new blog - THE DISCERNING DIETITIAN.  This letter will be my first post.  By getting involved with Right to Know CT,  I made new friends who share my passion, learned how blessed I am to have family and friends like all of you, and (unfortunately) learned way more about the democratic process than I ever knew.  Ignorance really can be bliss.

Thank you very much for all of your support, and for being part of the over 9000 citizens who took the time last week to sign petitions.

All my love,