At the recent Women’s Wellness Conference™, Robyn O’Brien chilled her audience with a devastating call to arms about America’s healthcare and food crisis. As a mother of four whose daughter developed food allergies in the early 2000s, a time when no one was discussing the topic of genetically engineered foods, Robyn rose up as an Esther for our generation.
With a background in financial analysis emphasizing the food industry, she used her education and training and started knocking on the doors of companies we now know are in cahoots with each other to keep the American people in the dark about the major changes that took place in the food industry during the 1990s. In this audio clip, you can hear the deep emotions that run through Robyn’s psyche as she shares what she learned about the state of health in America and the food industry’s collusion in our declining life expectancy.
ROBYN O’BRIEN VIDEO TRANSCRIPT
Are we sicker than other countries? What’s going on?
I pulled data from the Office of Economic Development, and I learned that the United States spends more on healthcare and disease management than any other country on the planet. Eighteen cents of every dollar that we spend in our economy is spent on sickness, healthcare, and managing disease. We know it. We know what we have to do, going to the doctor’s office, to the pediatrician to buy the medicine that we need. We know it.
But what’s it going to do to us? And how is this creating a greater impact?
We spend $9,000 per person in this country on healthcare and disease management. Nine thousand dollars per person per year. The average for our trading partners, for our global competitors, is $3,500.
And this is when things started to get really patriotic for me. Because I thought, We’re better than this. We’re smarter than this. This is not how any of us want to be spending our money. How can we change this?
Wouldn’t we rather be putting that eighteen cents towards something else? Towards creativity, innovation, entrepreneurship, new businesses, things that we want to do, things that we believe in, things that we want to create, things that we want to innovate, positive things? How can we be allocating this differently?
And the super conservative part of me kept turning to different data points. In those first years I was probably just hoping that the data would tell a different story, that maybe it wasn’t as bad as what the CDC was saying or what the President’s Cancer Panel was saying. So I turned to the CIA, which interestingly ranks life expectancy at birth. There are just over 190 countries in the world, so the American in me is thinking, We’re going to be in the top ten. You know, we’re in America. We’re going to be right at the top.
So I start scrolling down this list. We’re not in the top ten. We’re not in the top twenty. We’re not in the top thirty. We tend to hover in the low forties, right around fifty, next to countries like Bosnia. This was the CIA reporting this, and it absolutely blew my mind.
I thought, How can we hold ourselves as the most developed country in the world and yet be failing in our health? What has changed?
So I started looking into what has changed. What was going on here? Why all of the sudden was this data? Epidemics like this don’t just fall out of the sky. Genetics don’t change this quickly. What had changed?
So I set up a system that I had set up always when I was an analyst, which was to capture incoming headlines every morning, whether they were financial headlines or healthcare headlines, related to the companies that I covered. So I did that for food allergies. I set up that same system on food allergies.
So every morning I’d wake up and my inbox would be full of scientific studies and data and things that were happening in the food allergy world. In October 2006, I got this headline, and it said that the EPA had just granted $440,000 to a small university in Michigan. The title of the article was “Do Genetically Engineered Foods Cause Food Allergies?”
And I thought, What’s a genetically engineered food?
I mean, this was back in 2006. Nobody was talking about it. So I started asking people about genetically engineered foods. I can promise you that ten years ago they looked at me like I had three heads. Nobody knew what I was talking about. I knew it didn’t make any sense. So, the analytical part of me dove into it, and I thought What is this stuff? Where did it come from? And why is this researcher in Michigan worried about it causing food allergies?
So I called him, and I said, “I’m new. I have this daughter with food allergies. I’m trying to wrap my head around this and understand what’s changed.”
And he said, “Yeah, we introduced genetically engineered foods into our food supply in the 1990s without any long-term testing. There were no animal testing models. So we’re not going to knowingly introduce a known allergen, but that process creates what a lot of these scientists call ‘genetic rubble’ and that genetic rubble doesn’t even have names and there’s no way yet to test for it.”
So that was what he decided he was going to pursue in his scientific research.
And I said, “You mean we’ve introduced this into our food supply with no long-term testing, no animal testing models, and no labels?”
And he said, “Yeah, that’s right.”
And I just thought, That sounds so un-American to me.
I just didn’t want to believe him. So I turned to organizations like the World Health Organization and the United Nations to find out if we were the only ones that were doing this. And I learned that when we started introducing these genetically engineered ingredients into our food supply, all of our key trading partners, all of the developed countries around the world, either said, “No, thank you, we don’t want them,” or they labeled them.
And I thought, Why haven’t we had that conversation here?
So I reached out, at that time, to this large food allergy non-profit organization in Washington, DC, and I said, “You know, countries around the world, the World Health Organization, were concerned about the allergenicity of genetically engineered foods. These foods are labeled for over 60% of the world. We label allergens. We label protein. We label fat. We label sugar. Why don’t we label genetically engineered foods? Especially for food-allergic families, why don’t we label these things?