The Fair: Word of the Day

Posted by on Sep 4, 2019 in Dave's Blog | 0 comments

Published in The Union, September 2, 2019

OK, let’s be honest. The fair was great; the weather spectacular; the cool refreshing air was a pleasant contrast to last year’s smoke-filled ambience. The food was to die for.  Job’s Daughter’s corn dogs were as outstanding as usual, especially with a smattering of mustard and ketchup. What was not to like? Nothing, except that a new word had crept into my vocabulary from some research I recently stumbled upon.  And now, dear readers, I will share that word with you.

When ordering two corn dogs, being the curmudgeon that I am, I asked the saleslady if the corn they used was genetically modified (GM). She opined that she didn’t know, but, given that the raw ingredients were from a commercial company that provided the makings for corn dogs throughout the country, she assumed it was. 

Whereupon I said, “So I guess I am going to be eating 28 times the amount of cadaverine than  if I were eating a corn dog made from non-GM corn.”

“What is cadaverine?” she asked.

“It is a foul smelling liquid produced by putrification, or, rot in animal tissues,” I responded.

“Oh,” she said. “That can’t be good.”

I continued in my curmudgeonly vein. “Yea, there is another similar chemical, putrescine, that is also higher in GM corn.“ Didn’t define it. Left it to her imagination.

I shared my ill-fated involvement in the 2012 initiative to require labeling of GM foods in California, and how our side was ahead by 70/30 until industry started talking with their money, just enough that we lost in the final vote, 48 to 51 percent.   She agreed with me about the power of soulless corporations to control our lives. 

Cadaverine and putrescine are toxic when they reach high enough levels, causing histamine poisoning, allergy attacks and oxidative stress. Each chemical potentiates the other. Some foods naturally contain these chemicals, especially fermented foods.  When is too much too much? I don’t know. Seems no one has studied this issue.

I didn’t realize this at the time, but I was already familiar with cadaverine, not the word, but the distinctive smell. It is called the sweet smell of death. One doesn’t forget it. In 1990, I was part of a team from Clark Air Base sent to Cabanatuan in the Philippines to help the victims of an earthquake that flattened a six-story school building while school was in session.  Enough said.

Back to the corn, a study in the 19 Dec 2016 issue of Scientific Reports examined subtle differences in the chemical composition of GM (NK603) and non-GM corn.  In the GM corn, a total of 117 proteins and 91 metabolites were significantly altered. The differences were attributable to the genetic modifications, not to Roundup exposure, which is finally being recognized as toxic.  The GM corn had higher levels of oxidative stress, which can damage cells.  Levels of cadaverine were 28 times higher in the GM than the non-GM corn.  Levels of putrescine were 2.7 times higher.

In 1992, the FDA, under the watchful eye of Monsanto lawyer Michael Taylor, declared that GM corn was generally recognized as safe (GRAS). Therefore, the FDA did not require safety testing before implementation. If both types of corn, GM and non-GM, looked and tasted the same, then GM seeds could be planted in farms throughout the United States and most of the world.

So, in point of fact, this particular strain of GM modified corn is not substantially equivalent to non-GM corn. Changing the genetic structure so it could to tolerate Roundup and its main ingredient, glyphosate, was like firing nano-sized genes from a nano-sized shotgun into an elegant genetic structure that had evolved over the millennia. Not only was the Roundup ready resistant gene inserted, but other unknown genes were altered. In 1999, English researchers at York Laboratory found that allergies to soy increased 50% after the introduction of GM soy in England.

In my 16 May 2019 column in The Union, I wrote about the recent increase in non-alcoholic liver disease in relation to consumption of GM foods, suggesting that GM crops may be contributing to this disease.  Maybe someone not affiliated with the GM industry should be researching what effects this particular corn has on animals and humans.   

So, yes, I played Russian roulette by eating those delicious corn dogs.  Sometimes you just have to throw caution to the wind, as long as it is only once a year.

David Moyer is a long-time resident of Lake Wildwood and is a frequent contributor to the Union. He is the author of three books exploring biological aspects of mental illness. His latest book is “10 Ways to Keep Your Brain from Screaming ‘Ouch!'” Contact him at

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