The Effects of GMOs on Children with Learning Disabilities (Part 1)

GMO products may affect children with learning disabilities. Getty Images

Many families in recent years have increasingly become more concerned about GMOs (or “genetically modified organisms”) in their foods and what effects it may or may not have on their children. There is a lot of conflicting information out there in regards to GMOs which makes decision making about food difficult. For example, Pamela Ronald, a University of California professor reported in the Scientific American (2011) “There is broad scientific consensus that genetically engineered crops currently on the market are safe to eat,” while other researchers and institutions such as the American Academy of Environmental Medicine states there are serious risks indicated by animal studies measuring the effects of GMO foods.

In this article we will examine both sides and at the end you can make this decision for yourself and your family.

An important question to answer first is - What are GMOs? GMOs are living organisms whose genetic material has been artificially manipulated in a laboratory through genetic engineering. This new science creates unstable combinations of plants, animals, bacteria and viral genes that do not occur in nature or through traditional crossbreeding methods. Research has estimated in North America, over 70% of our food contains GMOs. Many foods that kids like to consume such as cereals, snack bars, snack boxes, cookies, processed lunch meats, and crackers all contain large amounts of GMOs. What does all this mean for your child with a learning disability?

Research continually states that nutrition and what we eat has an effect on our mood, our attention, focus, among other things. Nutritionally deficient foods, foods laden with sugar have been shown to have a negative impact on the body.

Poor diet is a problem in children with learning disabilities, as many times it will exacerbate negative symptoms for the child. It has been said that “We are what we eat!” A child who is surviving on a diet loaded with dead, lifeless, foods, filled with sugar and refined carbohydrates, runs a great risk of impaired mental functioning.

Nancy Swanson reported in The Examiner (2013) "The endocrine disrupting property of glyphosate can lead to neurological disorders such as learning disabilities, ADHD, autism and others. Glyphosate is absorbed by genetically modified crops. However , correlation does not mean causation". We have seen, time and time again, that when you correct the diet of children with learning disabilities, we will see positive changes in their behaviors.

Dr. Vicki Bolina is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist. She obtained her Master of Science Degree (M.S.) and Doctor of Psychology Degree (Psy.D.) from Argosy University - Chicago Northwest Campus. Dr. Bolina has worked in several psychiatric hospitals, nursing homes, a school system, outpatient clinics, a university counseling center, a domestic violence shelter, and prison. She specializes in mood disorders and has extensive experience providing therapy and testing for children, adolescents, and adults with a wide range of issues.  Her professional interests include childhood disorders, adolescent psychology, and health psychology.

  In addition to private practice, Dr Bolina currently teaches online psychology classes to both undergraduate and graduate level students and does freelance writing.  


1. Damery, P, et al. The Debate on Labeling Genetically Modified Food. (2011).

2. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Weighing the GMO Arguments. (2003).

3. Lahey, M., & Rosen, S.  (2002). Diet and Its Possible Role in Developmental Disorders.

4. Ronald, P.  (August 11, 2011). Genetically Engineered Crops What, How and Why. Scientific American 

5. Swanson, N.  (April 10, 2013). Data shows correlation between increase in neurological diseases and GMO's.  The Examiner.

6. U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science. Genetically Modified Food and Organisms. (2012). Human Genome Project.

7. World Health Organization (WHO). 20 questions on genetically modified foods. 2002. Retrieved from  

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