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Jul 06

GMO Labeling: A NEED to Know

It's not about the right to know: it's the NEED to know.

It’s not about the right to know: it’s the NEED to know.

My name is Patti Hayde and my daughter Emily is 8 years old. The last two years of her life she has spent fighting to be healthy and I have spent trying to find the cause of her sickness. It has been a long, frustrating, horrifying, and appalling journey for me. For her it has been excruciatingly painful, terrifying and scary, sad and depressing.

Emily started getting sick in November 2011. One day early in the morning Emily got up and began vomiting. When I got to her she was deathly pale, shaking, and laying on the floor because she had collapsed. She was completely exhausted from the ordeal.

Ordinarily, vomiting would not be a cause for concern of this magnitude. But it was what she was vomiting that scared me so badly. It was completely undigested, whole, solid food. Her digestive system seemed to have stopped in its tracks. When I saw that I knew that something was very, very wrong. She had abdominal pain and stomach aches that would last for days at a time. She would barely eat anything and when she did her body wouldn’t digest it and wouldn’t keep it down.  She had these funny black lines that showed up between her nose and eyes. At first it was once a week.  Then it went to twice a week. From there it rapidly progressed to four and five times a week.

When Emily was an infant she had trouble with constipation. My oldest had also and I put him on soy formula which seemed to help dramatically so I put her on soy formula also expecting a similar result.  However, Emily vomited the soy formula within minutes of ingesting it. This would remain in my mind from that moment on.

I took her to several doctors. I told them of her reaction to soy when she was an infant. They all brushed that information aside.  They put her through a gauntlet of tests. She had an Upper GI done that showed a slight hiatal hernia. An allergist tested her for the top allergens including soy and corn.  She tested negative for everything. One doctor told us that he believed it was all in her head. I could not have been more stunned. Everything I fed Emily would make her sick. This was NOT in her head. They could find nothing. No cause of her illness.  And so began my quest to figure out what was wrong with my daughter.

The first thing I did was put her on a completely organic diet. I knew that whatever it was it had something to do with what she was eating so going organic seemed to be the best way to start out. Then I started spending hours on the internet researching soy allergies and intolerances. As it turned out there were a lot of people who had problems with soy. Armed with my newfound information and a brand new Whole Foods around the corner from my house I set off in search of organic foods that I could feed to Emily.

She did remarkably well on her organic diet. We avoided everything that had soy in it because of her reaction when she was an infant. She stopped vomiting and her digestive system seemed to kick back in. Her stomach wasn’t perfect in terms of pain but it was getting better every day.  One night I made chicken for dinner, a favorite of my family. Emily got up in the middle of the night and was sick. I went over and over it in my brain trying to figure out what she had eaten that would have made her sick. She was on her organic diet. She didn’t have anything out of the norm, just the chicken. So I went back to the internet and started researching soy and chicken allergies. I was surprised to find that many people who had a soy allergy or intolerance also could not eat chicken.  When I did further research I found out that chickens are fed a high soy and/or corn based diet. The soy gets into the meat and the eggs and people who are sensitive to soy or corn can have a reaction. Upon further research I found out that corn crops are often rotated with soy bean crops. So that explained Emily’s reaction to the chicken.  It was one more thing to add to the ever growing list of things that she could not eat.

Another example, she was on her organic diet and we were at an auto dealership. A gentleman there gave Emily a glass of soda while we were waiting. She was sick that night. When I went on to the manufacturer’s website it clearly stated “contains soy”.

And yet another example, she hadn’t eaten anything she couldn’t eat but did have a piece of chewing gum. She was sick again that night. Again I went on the manufacturer’s website and it clearly stated “contains soy”.

So now we have her on an organic diet. We no longer eat corn, chicken or eggs. We avoid anything with those ingredients in it. By the way, have you ever looked at the label on something and not found soy in it? It’s really, really difficult. Soy is used as a preservative. It’s super easy and super cheap to mass produce.  But she continues to do well as long as we avoid those things so we do.

After 6 months of this new diet and no episodes of sickness we decided to try reintroducing things to Emily one at a time and see how she reacted. Our hope was that it was a virus or bug of some kind that was hanging on and just took a long time to get out of her system.  She was very excited at first. She missed so many of the things that we take for granted. She missed Happy Meals and ice cream and pizza parties in class. She missed buying lunch with her friends at school.  She missed playing with makeup (Cosmetics contain “tocopherol acetate”, AKA Vitamin E, which is a SOY DERIVITIVE).  She missed Trick-or-Treating and chocolate Easter bunnies. She missed going out to eat at a restaurant. The prospect of having all of that back again had Emily so excited.  Me, I was cautiously optimistic.

She did OK for a while. She was so happy to be eating regular things again. But I began to notice she was starting to kind of slow down. She wasn’t her perky usual self. Then those odd black lines showed up again on her face. (To this day I still don’t know what they are or why they show up there.  But if it weren’t for those black lines I wouldn’t know she was being sickened again. They were the telltale sign.) And then it began again, vomiting undigested food and constant abdominal pain.

I grabbed all the ingredients and foods that she was eating and started reading labels and ingredient lists. Soy, corn syrup, vitamin e, and a whole slew of other aliases and derivatives were in nearly every food she was eating. So I figured soy was definitely the culprit. Back to the organic diet we went.

In the early part of this year I started hearing about GMOs. This term was in the news almost daily and the headlines it was making were not flattering.   I began to wonder if GMOs were the culprit and not necessarily soy in general.  Once again I took to the internet and began researching the side effects of GMOs.  I was both appalled and stunned at the findings.  There was all this information about RoundUp and chemicals and doctors who were fired because they spoke up about the harmful effects on lab rats and livestock.  Studies were not conducted on humans to see if GMOs were safe to eat and now deformities are showing up in livestock that have been fed this stuff! These crops were actually approved by the FDA for human consumption and deemed safe to eat. It makes sense to me why Emily tested negative for allergies.  I’m betting they used Non-GMO corn and soy when they tested her for them.

Having gathered all this new information I went to my local Whole Foods and bought a bottle of organic, Non-GMO certified, soy sauce. Emily loves sushi so we had it for dinner that night and I gave her the Non-GMO soy sauce with it.  She had no reaction at all. She did not get sick and she enjoyed her tuna rolls. That was the best dinner we have had since November of 2011.

I am slowly reintroducing organic, Non-GMO certified things back into her diet.  She can now have eggs thanks to Nature’s Fed, a chicken farm who is a member of the Non-GMO Project. This means the Easter Bunny can visit again! I can make her cookies, cakes, scrambled eggs, blueberry muffins, and brownies again. She’s thrilled.  Non-GMO soy and corn she does give me a fight on.  She’s afraid it will make her sick and doesn’t want to take the chance. I don’t blame her.  We take it one day at a time with that and she is slowly coming around.  We plan our vacations around a Whole Foods and make sure we stay somewhere that has a kitchen because she can’t go out to eat at a restaurant. We’re alright with that. It’s a small price to pay for her health and happiness.

We live in New York. Currently there are no GMO Labeling laws here.  This makes it very difficult to shop for and feed Emily.  We are hoping that by sharing Emily’s story we might be able to make a difference and get GMO Labeling approved, not just in New York but in every state in the US.  For someone like Emily, it is not a matter of wanting to know.  It is a matter of NEEDING to know.

Thank you for reading our story.

Sincerely,

Patti and Emily Hayde

Sign the Petition Patti Hayde began demanding GMO labeling

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