Genetically Modified Organisms in Salt
Salt is a mineral. It is not an organism. It does not have genes; it does not have DNA. If you read the comments on Shea Gunther's post, the company responds and more-or-less admits that its target customers are not informed enough to know the difference.
It is true that some salts have dextrose (d-glucose), or corn sugar, added. The sugar itself is not an organism and does not have DNA, but it is possible that the corn it came from could be genetically modified. There would be zero difference in the dextrose extracted, however. Dextrose is dextrose.
Hazards of Fluoride
Some parts of the world have very high levels of naturally occurring fluoride. Fluoride at very high levels is known to have detrimental health effects. Overexposure at lower levels can cause dental fluorosis, a disturbance in the tooth enamel. The overwhelming weight of scientific evidence is that fluoridation of water between 700 ppb and 1.2 ppm is safe. 700 ppb is the new recommendation for fluoridation since most Americans have access to other sources of fluoride such as their toothpaste.
GMOs and Fluoride
My unsubstantiated but reasonable hunch is that many people who are worried about GMOs in their food are also overly concerned about exposure to fluoride. So it made me wonder if they are concerned about the fluoride in natural sources of salt such as Himalayan Pink Rock Salt. The irony is that refined salt is very pure sodium chloride and has very little fluoride, whereas natural sources of salt are likely to have fluoride.
Fluoride in Pink Rock Salt?
Undoubtedly there is fluoride in most naturally occurring salts. The pertinent question is: how much? Many substances that are beneficial at low concentrations can be detrimental at higher concentrations. The Internet is full of speculation and unsupported claims about how much fluoride is in Himalayan Pink Rock Salt. To get a good answer, one should review analysis in the peer-reviewed literature.
I did, however find one site on the Internet that purports to provide a chemical analysis of this salt. The original source is from Water & Salt: The Essence of Life, by Peter Ferreira and Dr. Barbara Hendel, M.D.
The analysis only shows that the amount of fluoride is less than their detection limit of 100 mg/kg. According to such an analysis, there could be far less fluoride than that level. It does not tell us how much fluoride is actually present. If I have time and I'm still interested, I may do a literature search in the future to see if I can find better data. In the meantime, if someone beats me to the punch, please comment below.
A Thought Experiment
One gram of table salt is equal to 0.18 tsp. So what is the mass of one tsp of salt?
1 tsp x 1 g / 0.18 tsp = 5.6 g
Natural salts do not have exactly the same as density as pure sodium chloride; so applying this number to those salts is approximate, but it is not far off.
100 mg/kg is equal to 100 micrograms (μg)/g. So if we assume the salt could have as much as 100 mg/kg of fluoride, it would have 560 μg fluoride per teaspoon.
Compare that to the drinking water recommendation of 700 ppb (700 μg/liter). So consuming 1 tsp of salt with the aforementioned amount of fluoride is equivalent to drinking a little less than a liter of water at the recommended fluoridation level.
More precisely, it would be equivalent to drinking 570/700 or 814 milliliters (mL).
Should You Worry?
In a word, no, but you should not worry about fluoride in your water either, or GMOs for that matter, but that's another story. Having said that, natural salts can have a lot of other minerals in them too and they are not all necessarily good for you, but I would not particularly worry about that.
What If I Want To Worry About Something
Worry about arsenic in your water supply. The EPA recently lowered the standard to 10 ppb, and many communities do not meet that level. Worry about bacteria in your water supply. Worry about food-born pathogens. These are real problems that actually kill people, a lot of people. Worry about people who do not vaccinate their children. Worry about photochemical smog and respiratory disease. Worry about toxic cigarette smoke. Worry about the repercussions of global warming.
I worry about the repercussions of scientific illiteracy. I worry that people have opinions because of something they once read on the Internet, or because they want to fit in with people who share their views. I worry that people do not understand how to evaluate evidence, how to think about it, and how to weigh risks against each other. Don't listen to me, however; I am part of the global conspiracy.
After writing this post, I found a blog called the Progressive Contrarian that cites the chemical analysis to make a similar point, but unfortunately, they compounded the problem by responding to scientific illiteracy with scientific illiteracy:
A visit to the site saltnews.com has a chemical breakdown of all the natural elements in this purest of pure salts. Among those are fluoride, arsenic, lead, plutonium, uranium, and polonium.The chemical study that they cited (the same one that I cited) shows that the concentrations of fluoride, arsenic, lead, plutonium, uranium, and polonium are all less than a given value, presumably the method-detection limit of the analytic procedure. It does not mean that these elements are present. It means that they failed to detect these elements with the sensitivity of their methods.
Amazon sells gmo-free pink salt with "no chemicals." I left a helpful review.
- Facepalm of the week: Non-GMO salt!?
- Impact of fluoride on neurological development in children
- Prevalence and Severity of Dental Fluorosis in the United States, 1999-2004
- HHS and EPA announce new scientific assessments and actions on fluoride
- National Academy of Sciences on Fluoride in Drinking Water
- Chemical Analysis of Natural Himalayan Pink Rock Salt
- Table Salt Conversion
- Is Himalayan “Non-GMO” Pink Salt Radioactive?
- Amazon Review of Pink Salt.