Could Genetic Modification be Responsible for my Crohn’s Disease?

In the summer of 1995, I began to notice blood in my stool. That’s probably not the opening sentence you would expect to read on a farming website, right? I promise to bring it full circle if you’ll just stick with me.

In the chance that you are not familiar with Crohn’s Disease or Ulcerative Colitis, they are Irritable Bowel Diseases which attack the digestive system. Much like Multiple Sclerosis, which attacks the central nervous system, IBD is an auto-immune response. In my case, the lining of my mouth, large intestine and at one time, small intestine, recognizes itself as foreign and thus, causes deep, painful ulceration. The difficulty in solving the origin of these diseases and ultimately a cure, is largely due to the wide range of symptoms and ways the disease presents itself.

There is no way I can summarize the last 20 years in one blog post, so I’ll touch on a couple of the highlights during my journey of living with Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis. You can also visit my personal blog and read more about my journey.

I was 18 years old when I first began noticing the blood in my stool. Those first few years were hard. Its all been hard but at that age, having and understanding something about your body that no one else understands was emotionally impactful. The symptoms of the disease were horrible and the side-affects to the meds such as 60mg of daily Prednisone or chemotherapy drugs, were equally as challenging. As the years flew by the disease presented new symptoms and the game of medications, diets and lifestyle changes was ever changing, until the last year.

Since first experiencing symptoms between my freshman and sophomore years in college, one major aspect has changed fairly dramatically and that is the awareness of Irritable Bowel Diseases. When I was first diagnosed most people had no clue who or what Crohn’s or its cousin, Ulcerative Colitis meant – a deer in the headlights look was extremely common.

Today, its much different. Almost every time I discuss IBDs, the person I’m speaking with either personally knows someone or knows of someone facing Crohn’s or Ulcerative Colitis. Generally, the next step in a conversation is “so, what do you think is causing it? GMO’s? bread? Processed food? Gluten? Pesticides?” Here are my thoughts…

Could our food system be contributing to the increase in IBD? Sure, it could be. But I personally think, our actual food gets a bad rap. Many other possibilities get ignored and overlooked. For instance, plastic. Its ThreeSporkseverywhere – how many toys can you name that do not have plastic? Better yet, how many foods are not packaged in plastic?

Pollution – As our population grows, so does our reliance on transportation sources such as vehicles and airplanes. With an increase of those tools, there has been an increase in the fuel which powers them. Match the increase in urban growth and more people are exposed to these harmful factors.

Microwave – The advent of the microwave occurred during my lifetime. Have the waves zapped my food and lining of my colon?

Anti-bacterial agents – Some hypothesize that the cause of Crohn’s and Ulcerative Colitis could be due to the lack of good bacteria in the gut. Have we overkilled the good bacteria with all of our anti-bacterial soaps, lotions, cleaners, plastics, etc…? Or, have we shielded ourselves from infectious agents due to our obsession with cleanliness?

Human antibiotic usage – Growing up my pediatrician was known for frequently prescribing antibiotics. Is there a correlation between the numerous antibiotics and the destruction of my digestive lining?

Birth control – This doesn’t necessarily apply to myself because I’ve never been able to take birth control due to side affects. However, could the use of birth control in our society account for other health issues?


Genetic modification.

Now, don’t be confused. When I say genetic modification, I’m talking about my genetic make-up which was created by my parents. It is known that people with parents who each have the recessive gene, have a higher incidence of presenting Crohn’s or Ulcerative Colitis. Both of my parents have or did experience digestive issues during their lifetimes. In fact, after my father’s death, it was learned that he did have ulceration in his small colon. And, as a small child I can remember my mother being taken away in an ambulance due to severe abdominal pain which was later explained as irritable bowel syndrome. This was one in numerous issues she has experienced.

As a parent, I now have a son with digestive problems. That same son also has asthma, peanut and almond Peanuts - AsktheFarmers.comallergies. For years, I suspected the food allergy came from my genetic make-up as I too, had certain food allergies as a child. A year or two after my son was born and found to be allergic to nuts, we learned that my husband’s cousin has a peanut allergy and his daughter does as well.

While there could certainly be outside factors contributing to the increase in certain diseases and allergies, I believe that more consideration needs to be placed on genetics. Human genetics. You may notice that I’ve not included sources to any of my hypothesis. This was intentional because my goal isn’t to pinpoint one single factor which might explain IBDs. My intention is to bring awareness of the fact that there are several viable issues which exist.

Will I ever have an answer for why I have lived longer with Crohn’s disease and Ulcerative Colitis than without? Maybe not in my lifetime. I’ve been seen by numerous doctors and specialists throughout the years – in Illinois, Indiana and at Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. I know that there has and continues to be extensive research to find a cure. I’m confident that experts in the field will find a cause and cure.

Until that time it we need to realize that increases in certain health issues will become more prevalent as we continue to propagate already existing issues.

*Due to technology, I have found relief in Humira injections which I give myself every other week. Read my experience on

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