Information for Transformation
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Genetically Engineered Food
The greatest environmental threat that we are facing is genetic modification. All over the globe, scientists are treating the fabric of life as if it was a playground where anything goes. Behind closed doors, scientists all over the planet are creating some of the most freakish and most bizarre monsters that you could possible imagine, and very few people seem concerned about it. But the truth is that messing with the building blocks of life is going to have some very serious consequences. Scientists claim that they are making our crops stronger, more productive and less vulnerable to insects. Scientists claim that they can alter our animals so that they are more "useful" to us. Scientists claim that genetic modification is only going to "enhance" humanity. But what if something goes seriously wrong? For example, what if we learn that eating genetically modified food is really, really bad for us? Well, at this point more than 70 percent of the processed foods sold in the United States contain at least one ingredient that has been genetically modified. It would be kind of hard to go back now. We have rushed ahead and have created hordes of freakish genetic monsters without ever seriously considering the consequences. Someday, future generations may look back on us and wonder how we could have ever been so incredibly foolish.
GMO Pyramid Of Death
At the moment, the law protects misinformation and private property above truth-telling, and public well-being. Meanwhile, corporations like Monsanto continue to pump out GMOs that have been time and time again linked to disease, environmental disaster, and even the center of ‘slave labor‘ issues. When government legislation is shot down through corruption, it becomes a grassroots responsibility to take action and make a real change.
Activists and concerned citizens around the world have had enough with corrupt corporations censoring their right to know what’s in their food, and frankly they’re beyond upset. And if the government will not side with the 90 plus percentage of consumers who are in favor of GMO labeling, then they’re going to do it themselves. As it turns out, many are doing just that through the ‘DIY’ GMO labeling campaign known as ‘The Label It Yourself Campaign’. Sporting a skull with cornstalks for crossbones, the DIY labels inform customers as to whether or not a product ‘may’ include GMO ingredients or most certainly does.
Below is one label taken from the campaign website that activists are now placing on products found in grocery stores, homes of friends and family (to incite discussion), and just about everywhere else:
With 80% or more of many staple crops like corn and soybeans already genetically modified, there is a large chance that most products containing these ingredients (or deriviatives) does indeed contain GMOs. Even more so for highly processed high-fructose corn syrup and other harmful ingredients which are arguably modified 100% of the time. You can print out the labels from the campaign website and stick them on products for yourself. With a lack of real GMO labeling thanks to dirty tricks by pro-GMO groups like No on 37, grassroots initiatives are the only methods of alerting the public to what they are putting into their mouths. Pro-GMO campaigns have impersonated and illegally used the FDA seal, posed as phony cop and democrat groups, and poured more than $45 million into keeping consumers into the dark. Now, citizens are fighting back through peaceful grassroots initiatives.
Meanwhile, corporations like Monsanto continue to pump out GMOs that have been time and time again linked to disease, environmental disaster, and even the center of ‘slave labor‘ issues. When government legislation is shot down through corruption, it becomes a grassroots responsibility to take action and make a real change.
Many of us are shunning wheat for lots of reasons, but we usually cite gluten as the culprit. Cardiologist and author Dr. William Davis, however, says it’s not gluten that makes modern wheat a “perfect, chronic poison.” It’s the fact that genetically modified wheat has become the wheat we know today.
Modern wheat is an 18-inch tall plant created by genetic research in the ‘60s and ‘70s This thing has many new features nobody told you about, such as there’s a new protein in this thing called gliadin. It’s not gluten. We're not addressing people with gluten sensitivities and celiac disease. We're talking about everybody else because everybody else is susceptible to the gliadin protein that is an opiate. This thing binds into the opiate receptors in your brain and in most people stimulates appetite, such that we consume 440 more calories per day, 365 days per year.
A new GM wheat in development by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CIRO), an Australian governmental research agency, may permanently alter the genes of the humans and animals that consume it. The double stranded RNAs present in this genetically modified wheat survive cooking, digestion, and generations of life.
Genetically modified foods pose a threat to people (not just consumers), animals, and the planet Pesticides for GM corn pollute our water and often contaminate organic products. Although the issue of feeding the world is a complex and emotional one, GM food—and the poisoning of entire populations of people—is not the answer.
"Biologist Arpad Pusztai had more than 300 articles and 12 books to his credit and was the world’s top expert in his field. But when he accidentally discovered that genetically modified (GM) foods are dangerous, he became the biotech industry’s bad-boy poster child, setting an example for other scientists thinking about blowing the whistle.
In the early 1990s, Dr. Pusztai was awarded a $3 million grant by the UK government to design the system for safety testing genetically modified organisms (GMOs). His team included more than 20 scientists working at three facilities, including the Rowett Institute in Aberdeen, Scotland, the top nutritional research lab in the UK, and his employer for the previous 35 years.
The results of Pusztai’s work were supposed to become the required testing protocols for all of Europe. But when he fed supposedly harmless GM potatoes to rats, things didn’t go as planned. Within just 10 days, the animals developed potentially pre-cancerous cell growth, smaller brains, livers, and testicles, partially atrophied livers, and damaged immune systems. Moreover, the cause was almost certainly side effects from the process of genetic engineering itself.
When it comes to genetically engineered foods, there is no labeling requirement. These foods have been altered at the molecular level. They are appearing on supermarket shelves with increasing frequency - in fact, 94 percent of all U.S.-grown soybeans are genetically engineered! Consumers might choose to avoid some of these foods if they had all the information. The issue is not just fresh produce. According to the Congressional Research Service, 60 to 70 percent of processed foods available in American grocery stores likely contain some genetically engineered ingredients. These ingredients are prevalent in many products you may buy every day, including breakfast cereals, cookies, chips, sweetened soda, frozen meals and more. Several polls and surveys have found that the vast majority of Americans want genetically engineered foods to be labeled. Many other countries including Japan, Australia, the European Union and even China require labeling of genetically engineered foods.
In the 1990s, the FDA’s own scientists were recommending against approval of GM food-related products such as bovine growth hormone and genetically engineered seeds until extensive testing had been completed. But the FDA’s civilian policy makers, at the urging of big agriculture and the biotech industry, ignored the requests of their scientists and approved GM products for release on the market without any safety testing at all. The chief civilian policy maker at the time this decision was made is the very same man who is now President Obama’s chief civilian policy maker on issues related to food in the current administration.
Since the disastrous decision to allow untested genetically engineered food and food-related products on the market, the health of the American people has been spiraling steadily downward. Over the past fifteen years, the number of people suffering from multiple chronic illnesses has doubled, while the number of people brought into emergency rooms for allergy-related reasons has skyrocketed. Rates of asthma, autism, obesity, diabetes, and digestive disorders have been exploding without any obvious explanation. While there is no direct proof that GM food-related products are responsible for any of this, the possibility of these kinds of problems occurring are exactly the sort of thing that the FDA’s own scientists were warning about. Certain types of cancer have also been increasing.
Seventy-five percent of Americans want to know whether their food contains genetically engineered ingredients, a recent poll by the Pew Charitable Trust has found. And given that the Grocery Manufacturers of America estimate that 60 to 70 percent fo all processed foods may contain biotech soy or corn,consumers have a lot to learn. While more product labels guaranteeing the absence of genetically altered ingredients are showing up on grocery shelves, the United States has not moved to require labels on products that do contain bio-foods.Britain, Japan, South Korea, Australia, and most of Europe have adopted labeling standards.
If I sprayed your salad with some "RAID" roach killer right now, just a little bit right on the lettuce and maybe a little more on the tomatoes, would you still eat it all, and just assume your body will simply filter out those "small amounts" of toxins? Better yet, what if I paid for it, a nice big, tasty, "bug killer" salad that you could even take outside and no bugs would bother you at all, would you eat it? How about this: If I sprayed a quick shot of some Raid ant killer into your orange juice or your apple juice right in front of you, would you drink it, especially if you'd save 25 cents on every drink you drank from now on? What if most vegetables, fruits, and fruit juice drinks were sold that way, and cheaper than the "Non-Raid" food, would you still buy them? Wouldn't that pay off for you in the long run? I guess not, because you're not stupid, are you?
What if the NUMBER ONE SIDE EFFECT of your medication was CANCER, would you still take it, just to temporarily make that headache go away, or maybe to make a little muscle ache disappear for a few hours? GMO means food and medicine are genetically modified, with bacteria and sometimes with viruses, or with weed killer, worm killer, bug killer and people killer. "Pesticide food" is well planned out and has been for decades. --From Mike Adams the Health Ranger
In traditional forms of breeding, variety has been achieved by selecting from the multitude of genetic traits that already exist within a species‘ gene pool. In nature, genetic diversity is created within certain limits. A rose can cross with a different kind of rose, but a rose will never cross with a mouse. Even when species that may seem to be closely related do succeed in breeding the offspring are usually infertile. For example, a horse can mate with an ass, but the offspring, a mule, is sterile. These boundaries are essential to the integrity of any species. In contrast to traditional breeding, genetic engineering involves taking genes from one species and inserting them into another in an attempt to transfer a desired trait or character. For example, selecting a gene which leads to the production of a chemical with antifreeze properties from an arctic fish (such as the flounder) and splicing it into a tomato or strawberry to make it frost-resistant. It is now possible for scientists to introduce genes taken from bacteria, viruses, insects, animals or even humans, into plants. It has been suggested that, because we have been modifying the genes of plants and animals for thousands of years, genetic engineering is simply an extension of traditional breeding practices. While it is true that the foods we are eating today bear little resemblance to the wild plants from which they originated, through this new technology, organisms are being manipulated in a fundamentally different way.
There are a number of techniques in the genetic engineer’s toolkit. Biochemical ‘scissors’ called restriction enzymes are used to cut the strings of DNA in different places and select the required genes. These genes are usually then inserted into circular pieces of DNA (plasmids) found in bacteria. The bacteria reproduce rapidly and within a short time thousands of identical copies (clones) can be made of the ‘new’ gene. There are now two principal methods that can be used to force the ‘new’ gene into the DNA of the plant that is to be engineered. A ‘ferry’ is made with a piece of genetic material taken from a virus or a bacterium. This is used to infect the plant and in doing so smuggle the ‘new’ gene into the plant’s own DNA. A bacterium called Agrobacterium tumifaciens, which usually causes gall formation in plants, is commonly used for this purpose. Or, the genes are coated onto large numbers of tiny gold pellets which are fired with a special gun into a layer of cells taken from the recipient organism, with any luck finding a hit somewhere in the DNA in the nucleus of the cells.
Genetically engineered (GE) animals and fish are produced by microinjection. Fertilized eggs are injected with new genes which will, in some cases, enter the chromosomes and be incorporated into the animal’s own DNA. Because the techniques used to transfer genes have a low success rate, the scientists need to be able to find out which of the cells have taken up the new DNA. So, before the gene is transferred, a ‘marker gene’ is attached which codes for resistance to an antibiotic. Plant cells which have been engineered are then grown in a medium containing this antibiotic, and the only ones able to survive are those which have taken up the ‘new’ genes with the antibiotic-resistant marker attached. These cells are then cultured and grown into mature plants. It is not possible to guide the insertion of a new gene with any accuracy, and this random insertion may disrupt the tightly controlled network of DNA.
Current understanding of the way in which genes are regulated is extremely limited. Any change to the DNA of an organism at any point may well have knock-on effects that are impossible to predict or control. A gene coding for red pigment was taken from a maize plant and transferred into petunia flowers. Apart from turning white, the flowers also had more leaves and shoots, a higher resistance to fungi and lowered fertility. The random insertion of a foreign gene may disrupt the tightly controlled network of DNA in an organism. The gene could, for example, alter chemical reactions within the cell or disturb cell functions. This could lead to instability, the creation of new toxins or allergens, and changes in nutritional value. A piece of DNA taken from a virus or bacterium (called a promoter) is inserted along with the ‘new’ gene in order to ‘switch it on’ in its new host. Promoters, which often force genes to be produced at 10 to 1000 times normal levels, also have the potential to influence neighboring genes. The promoter may, for example, stimulate a plant to produce higher levels of a substance which is harmless at low levels but which becomes toxic when present in higher concentrations. Yeast was genetically engineered for increased fermentation purposes. This led to the production of a metabolite called methyl-glyoxal in toxic and mutagenic concentrations.
“The fact that one gene can give rise to multiple proteins . . . destroys the theoretical foundation of a multibillion-dollar industry, the genetic engineering of food crops.” Dr. Barry Commoner, senior scientist at the Center for the Biology of Natural Systems at Queens College. Dr. Peter Wills of Auckland University warns, “an incorrectly folded form of an ordinary cellular protein can, under certain circumstances, duplicate itself and give rise to infectious neurological disease.” Professor David Schubert of The Salk Institute for Biological Studies, says the effect that a particular protein has on a plant or animal “can be modified by the addition of molecules such as phosphate, sulfate, sugars, or lipids.” The BBC’s Tomorrow’s World Magazine says: “Genetic engineering is generally a hit and miss affair. The genes may be inserted the wrong way round or multiple copies may be scattered throughout a plant’s genome. They may be inserted inside other genesdestroying their activity or massively increasing it. More worryingly, a plant’s genetic make-up may become unstable. . . . Rogue toxins may be produced or existing ones amplified massively. Such problems may only arise hundreds of generations after the crops are originally modified.”
“British scientific researchers have demonstrated for the first time that genetically modified DNA material from crops is finding its way into human gut bacteria, raising potentially serious health questions.” The Guardian In 1992, Murray Lumpkin, M.D., then director the FDA’s Division of Anti-infective Drug Products, warned: “It would be a serious health hazard to introduce a gene that codes for antibiotic resistance into the normal flora of the general population.”
“When inserted into another organism as part of a ‘genetic construct,’ it [the promoter] may also change the gene expression patterns in the recipient chromosome(s) over long distances up- and downstream from the insertion site.” Dr. Michael Hansen, Consumers Union, publishers of Consumer Reports, and in their paper, Cauliflower Mosaic Viral PromoterA Recipe for Disaster, Drs. Ho, Ryan, and Cummins warn, “Horizontal transfer of the CaMV promoter . . . has the potential to reactivate dormant viruses or create new viruses in all species to which it is transferred.” According to Geneticist Dr. Joe Cummins, a promoter can have “the same impact as a heavy dose of gamma radiation.” Dr. Stanley Ewen, one of Scotland's foremost experts in tissue diseases, says, “It is possible GM DNA could affect stomach and colonic lining by causing a growth factor effect with the unproven possibility of hastening cancer formation in those organs.”
“Roundup Ready beans were significantly lower in protein and the amino acid phenylalanine. More disturbing were increased levels of the allergen trypsin inhibitor in toasted Roundup Ready meal. . . . Lectins in Roundup Ready beans almost doubled the levels in controls. What might be the result of consuming foods with high levels of trypsin inhibitor and lectin? Well, maybe slower and lower growth, say scientists.” Medical writer Barbara Keeler, on data that has been omitted from Monsanto’s published study. University of Georgia’s Dr. Sharad Phatak says, “When you insert a foreign gene, you are changing the whole metabolic process. . . Each change is going to have an effect on other pathways. Will any one gene kick off a whole slew of changes? We don’t know for sure.” Stanford’s Dr. Charles Yanofsky says, “Genetic engineering results in the formation of higher than normal concentrations of certain enzymes and products; these could provide the basis for the synthesis of higher levels of toxic substances.” Commenting on the genetically modified supplement L-tryptophan produced by Showa Denko, which killed about 100 people and caused up to 10,000 to fall sick, Yanofsky, one of the world’s leading authorities on tryptophan biosynthesis, says, “If Showa Denko engineered the bacterium to overproduce tryptophan, which they did, then there are many unknowns that would be associated with its overproduction.”
“Experts on the Government’s Advisory Committee on Novel Foods and Processes have issued a warning about plants being grown in the U.S. and parts of Europe which contain a gene resistant to antibiotics. They are concerned that, if workers breathe in dust as the crops are processed, the resistance could be transferred to bacteria in their throats. Around one in five people are carriers of the meningitis bacteria, even though they are not affected by the disease. Microbiologist Dr. John Heritage, a member of the committee, has written to American authorities to express his worries. ‘It’s a huge concern to me,’ he said. ‘While the risk is small, the consequences of an untreatable, life-threatening infection spreading within the population are enormous.’” Daily Mail (UK)
The FDA’s 1992 policy states, “At this time, FDA is unaware of any practical method to predict or assess the potential for new proteins in food to induce allergenicity and requests comments on this issue.” FDA scientist Dr. Carl Johnson wrote, “Are we asking the crop developer to prove that food from his crop is non-allergenic? This seems like an impossible task.” According to FDA microbiologist Dr. Louis Pribyl, “the only definitive test for allergies is human consumption by affected peoples, which can have ethical considerations.” According to a 1999 Washington Post article, there is still “no widely accepted way to predict a new food’s potential to cause an allergy. The FDA is now five years behind in its promise to develop guidelines for doing so.” The same remains true today.
In a study in the early 1990s, rats were fed genetically modified tomatoes. Because the rats refused to eat them, they were force-fed genetically modified, or GM, tomatoes. Several of the rats developed stomach lesions, and seven out of 40 died within two weeks.
Scientists at the FDA who reviewed the study agreed that it did not provide a “demonstration of reasonable certainty of no harm.” In fact, agency scientists warned that GM foods in general might create unpredicted allergies, toxins, antibiotic-resistant diseases and nutritional problems.
Internal FDA memos made public from a lawsuit reveal that the scientists urged their superiors to require long-term safety testing to catch these hard-to-detect side effects. But FDA political appointees, including a former attorney for Monsanto in charge of policy, ignored the scientists’ warnings.
The FDA does not require safety studies. Instead, if the makers of the GM foods claim that they are safe, the agency has no further questions. The GM tomato was approved in 1994.
According to a July 27, 2004, report from the U.S. National Academy of Sciences (NAS), the current system of blanket approval of GM foods by the FDA might not detect “unintended changes in the composition of the food.” The process of gene insertion, according to the NAS, could damage the host’s DNA with unpredictable consequences.
The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), which released its findings a few days earlier, identified a long list of potentially dangerous side effects from GM foods that are not being evaluated. The ICMR called for a complete overhaul of existing regulations.
The safety studies conducted by the biotech industry are often dismissed by critics as superficial and designed to avoid finding problems. Tragically, scientists who voice their criticism, and those who have discovered incriminating evidence, have been threatened, stripped of responsibilities, denied funding or tenure, or fired. For example, a
When the lead scientist went public with his concerns, he was promptly fired from his job after 35 years and silenced with threats of a lawsuit.
Americans eat GM foods every day. Although the GM tomato has been taken off the market, millions of acres of soy, corn, rape seed, and cotton have had foreign genes inserted into their DNA. The new genes allow the crops to survive applications of herbicide, create their own pesticide, or both. While there are only a handful of published animal safety studies, mounting evidence, which needs to be followed up, suggests that these foods are not safe.
Rats fed GM corn had problems with blood-cell formation. Those fed GM soy had problems with liver-cell formation, and the livers of rats fed GM canola were heavier. Pigs fed GM corn on several
Soon after GM soy was introduced to the
A gene from a Brazil nut inserted into soybeans made the soy allergenic to those who normally react to Brazil nuts. GM soy currently consumed in the
The sequence of the gene that was inserted into soy has inexplicably rearranged over time. The protein it creates is likely to be different than the one intended, and it was never subject to any safety studies. It may be allergenic or toxic. The process of inserting the foreign gene damaged a section of the soy’s own DNA, scrambling its genetic code. This mutation might interfere with DNA expression or create a new, potentially dangerous protein. The most common allergen in soy is called trypsin inhibitor. GM soy contains significantly more of this compared with natural soy.
The only human feeding study ever conducted showed that the gene inserted into soybeans spontaneously transferred out of food and into the DNA of gut bacteria. This has several serious implications. First, it means that the bacteria inside our intestines, newly equipped with this foreign gene, may create the novel protein inside of us. If it is allergenic or toxic, it may affect us for the long term, even if we give up eating GM soy.
The same study verified that the promoter, which scientists attach to the inserted gene to permanently switch it on, also transferred to gut bacteria. Research on this promoter suggests that it might unintentionally switch on other genes in the DNApermanently. This could create an overproduction of allergens, toxins, carcinogens, or anti-nutrients. Scientists also theorize that the promoter might switch on dormant viruses embedded in the DNA or generate mutations. Unfortunately, gene transfer from GM food might not be limited to our gut bacteria. Preliminary results show that the promoter also transferred into rat organs, after they were fed only a single GM meal.
This is only a partial list of what may go wrong with a single GM food crop. This list for others may be longer. Take for example, the corn inserted with a gene that creates its own pesticide. We eat that pesticide, and plenty of evidence suggests that it is not as benign as the biotech proponents would have us believe.
Preliminary evidence, for example, shows that 30 Filipinos living next to a pesticide-producing cornfield developed skin, intestinal and respiratory reactions while the corn was pollinating. Tests of their blood also showed an immune response to the pesticide. Consider what might happen if the gene that produces the pesticide were to transfer from the corn we eat into our gut bacteria. It could theoretically transform our intestinal flora into living pesticide factories.
GM corn and most GM crops are also inserted with antibiotic-resistant genes. The ICMR, along with the American Medical Association, WHO, and organizations worldwide, have expressed concern about the possibility that these might transfer to pathogenic bacteria inside our gut. They are afraid that it might create new, antibiotic-resistant super diseases.
The defense that the biotech industry used to counter these fears was that the DNA was fully destroyed during digestion and therefore no such transfer of genes was possible. However, the feeding study described above, published in February 2004, overturned this baseless assumption. No one monitors human health impacts of GM foods. If the foods were creating health problems in the
One epidemic in the 1980s provides a chilling example. A new disease was caused by a brand of the food supplement L-tryptophan, which had been created through genetic modification and contained tiny traces of contaminants. The disease killed about 100 Americans and caused sickness or disability in about 5,000 to 10,000 others. The only reason that doctors were able to identify that an epidemic was occurring was because the disease had three simultaneous characteristics: it was rare, acute and fast acting. Even then it was nearly missed entirely.
Studies show that the more people learn about GM foods, the less they trust them. In Europe,
As a result, millions of Americans are exposed to the potential dangers, and children are most at risk. Perhaps the revelations in the reports released on opposite sides of the planet will awaken consumers, as well as regulators, and GM foods on the market will be withdrawn.
The following presents some of the dangers of genetically engineered foods and reasons why avoiding them is an important step to safeguard our health.
The biotech industry claims that the FDA has thoroughly evaluated GM foods and found them safe. This is untrue. Internal FDA documents made public from a lawsuit, reveal that agency scientists warned that GM foods might create toxins, allergies, nutritional problems, and new diseases that might be difficult to identify. Although they urged their superiors to require long-term tests on each GM variety prior to approval, the political appointees at the agency, including a former attorney for Monsanto, ignored the scientists. Official policy claims that the foods are no different and do not require safety testing. A manufacturer can introduce a GM food without even informing the government or consumers. A January 2001 report from an expert panel of the Royal Society of Canada said it was “scientifically unjustifiable” to presume that GM foods are safe. Likewise, a 2002 report by the UK’s Royal Society said that genetic modification “could lead to unpredicted harmful changes in the nutritional state of foods,” and recommended that potential health effects of GM foods be rigorously researched before being fed to pregnant or breast-feeding women, elderly people, those suffering from chronic disease, and babies.
How could the government approve dangerous foods? A close examination reveals that industry manipulation and political collusionnot sound sciencewas the driving force. Government employees who complained were harassed, stripped of responsibilities, or fired. Scientists were threatened. Evidence was stolen. Data was omitted or distorted. Some regulators even claimed they were offered bribes to approve a GM product.
There are only ten published animal feeding studies on the health effects of GM foodsonly two of these are independent. One study showed evidence of damage to the immune system and vital organs, and a potentially pre-cancerous condition. When the scientist tried to alert the public about these alarming discoveries, he lost his job and was silenced with threats of a lawsuit. Two other studies also showed evidence of a potentially pre-cancerous condition. The other seven studies, which were superficial in their design, were not designed to identify these details. In an unpublished study, laboratory rats fed a GM crop developed stomach lesions and seven of the forty died within two weeks. The crop was approved without further tests.
Many industry studies appear to be rigged to find no problems. In the case of a genetically engineered bovine growth hormone (rbGH), for example, researchers injected cows with only one forty-seventh the normal dosage before reporting hormone residues in milk. They heated the milk 120 times longer than standard, to report that pasteurization destroys the hormone. They added cows to their study that were pregnant before treatment, to claim that rbGH didn’t impede fertility. Cows that fell sick were dropped from studies altogether. With soybeans, serious nutritional differences between GM and natural soy were omitted from a published paper. Feeding studies masked any problems by using mature animals instead of developing ones and by diluting their GM soy 10 to 1 with non-GM protein.
There are no adequate tests to verify that GM food will not create dangerous allergic reactions. While an international organization developed testing standards to minimize the possibility of allowing allergenic GM varieties on the market, GM corn currently sold in the U.S. has not been subjected to those tests and would most certainly fail them. One of these tests, for example, uses a test tube simulation to evaluate how long a potential GM allergen can last inside the digestive system before being broken down. Compared to the recommended international standards, however, one biotech company used a far stronger acid concentration and more than 1,250 times the recommended amount of a digestive enzyme to make the claim that their protein degrades too quickly to cause a reaction.
The only human feeding trial ever conducted confirmed that genetically engineered genes from soy transferred to the bacteria inside the digestive tract. (The biotech industry had previously said that such a transfer was impossible.) The World Health Organization, the British and American Medical Associations, and several other groups have expressed concern that if the “antibiotic resistant marker genes” used in GM foods got transferred to bacteria, it could create super-diseases that are immune to antibiotics. More worrisome is that the “promoter” used inside GM foods could get transferred to bacteria or internal organs. Promoters act like a light switches, permanently turning on genes that might otherwise be switched off. Scientists believe that this might create unpredictable health effects, including the potentially pre-cancerous cell growth found in the animal feeding studies mentioned above.
The biotech industry says that millions have been eating GM foods without ill effect. This is misleading. About 100 people died and up to10,000 to fell seriously ill when they consumed the food supplement L-Tryptophan. Only those who consumed the variety that was genetically modified became ill. That brand had minute, but deadly contaminants that would easily pass through current regulations today. If the disease it created had not been rare and acute, with crippling and deadly symptoms, the GM supplement might never have been traced as the cause. Once discovered, however, industry and government covered up facts and diverted the blame. Even the FDA testimony before Congress withheld vital information.
Milk from rbGH-treated cows contains an increased amount of the hormone IGF-1, which is one of the highest risk factors associated with breast and prostate cancer, among others. Soy allergies skyrocketed by 50% in the UK, coinciding with the introduction of GM soy imports from the U.S.
According to a March 2001 report, the Center for Disease Control says that food is responsible for twice the number of illnesses in the U.S. compared to estimates just seven years earlier. This increase roughly corresponds to the period when Americans have been eating GM food. Could that be contributing to the 5,000 deaths, 325,000 hospitalizations, and 76 million illnesses related to food each year? Might it play in role in our national epidemic of obesity or the rise in diabetes or lymphatic cancers? We have no way of knowing if there is a connection because no one has looked for one.
One of the most dangerous aspects of genetic engineering is the closed thinking and consistent effort to silence those with contrary evidence or concerns. Just before stepping down from office, former Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman admitted the following
“What I saw generically on the pro-biotech side was the attitude that the technology was good, and that it was almost immoral to say that it wasn’t good, because it was going to solve the problems of the human race and feed the hungry and clothe the naked. . . . And there was a lot of money that had been invested in this, and if you’re against it, you’re Luddites, you’re stupid. That, frankly, was the side our government was on. . . . You felt like you were almost an alien, disloyal, by trying to present an open-minded view” Contrast this with the warning by the editors of Nature Biotechnology: “The risks in biotechnology are undeniable, and they stem from the unknowable in science and commerce. It is prudent to recognize and address those risks, not compound them by overly optimistic or foolhardy behavior.”
The biotech industry and the government have been foolhardy indeed. Blinded, perhaps by the baseless myth that GM foods are needed to feed the world, they gamble with our health and support their safety claims on obsolete or unproven assumptions. Accepting their vacuous assurances by eating these dangerous foods or serving them to your customers may likewise be overly optimistic or foolhardy.
Risk for Children
Young, fast-developing bodies
Children’s bodies develop at a fast pace and are more likely to be influenced and show the effects of genetically modified (GM) foods. That is why independent scientists used young adolescent rats in their GM feeding studies. The rats showed significant health damage after only 10 days, including damaged immune systems and digestive function, smaller brains, livers, and testicles, partial atrophy of the liver, and potentially pre-cancerous cell growth in the intestines.
Children are three to four times more prone to allergies than adults. Infants below two years old are at greatest risk-they have the highest incidence of reactions, especially to new allergens encountered in the diet. Even tiny amounts of allergens can sometimes cause reactions in children. Breast fed infants can be exposed via the mother’s diet, and fetuses may possibly be exposed in the womb. Michael Meacher, the former minister of the environment for the UK, said, “Any baby food containing GM products could lead to a dramatic rise in allergies.” GM corn is particularly problematic for children, as they generally eat a higher percentage of corn in their diet. Further, allergic children often rely on corn protein. Mothers using cornstarch as a talc substitute on their children’s skin might also inadvertently expose them via inhalation.
Milk and dairy products from cows treated with the genetically engineered bovine growth hormone (rbGH) contain an increased amount of the hormone IGF-1, which is one of the highest risk factors associated with breast and prostate cancer. The Council on Scientific Affairs of the American Medical Association called for more studies to determine if ingesting “higher than normal concentrations of IGF-1 is safe for children, adolescents, and adults.” Sam Epstein, M.D., Chairman of the Cancer Prevention Coalition and author of eight books, wrote, “rbGH and its digested products could be absorbed from milk into blood, particularly in infants, and produce hormonal and allergic effects.” He described how “cell-stimulating growth factors . . . could induce premature growth and breast stimulation in infants, and possibly promote breast cancer in adults.” Dr. Epstein pointed out that the hormones in cows could promote the production of “steroids and adrenaline-type stressor chemicals. ... likely to contaminate milk and may be harmful, particularly to infants and young children.”
A 2002 report by the UK’s Royal Society, said that genetic modification “could lead to unpredicted harmful changes in the nutritional state of foods.” They therefore recommended that potential health effects of GM foods be rigorously researched before being fed to pregnant or breast-feeding women, elderly people, those suffering from chronic disease, and babies. Likewise, according to former minister Meacher, unexpected changes in estrogen levels in GM soy used in infant formula “might affect sexual development in children,” and that “even small nutritional changes could cause bowel obstruction.”
Children prone to ear and other infections are at risk of facing antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria, due to the use of antibiotic resistant genes in GM food. The British Medical Association cited this as one reason why they called for a moratorium of GM foods.
Recently, the term genetic pollution officially entered the public lexicon. Scientists at Cornell University reported in the journal Nature that the pollen from genetically engineered corn, containing a toxin gene called Bt, killed 44 percent of the monarch butterfly caterpillars who fed on milkweed leaves dusted with it. By contrast, caterpillars fed with conventional pollen all survived. The results are all the more shocking given the fact that nearly 25 percent of the US corn crop now contains the Bt transgene and the Corn Belt states of the Midwest are where half of the monarch butterflies are produced each year. In the wake of the monarch butterfly study, a growing number of scientists now say they wonder about the potential environmental effects of scores of other genetically engineered crops being introduced into the agricultural fields. Indeed, some critics are asking why these and other studies weren’t done before introducing genetically engineered corn, soy, cotton and other crops over millions of acres of farm land.
The fact is, genetically engineered crops are radically different from conventional crops because they contain genes in their biological makeup from completely unrelated species. For example, scientists have introduced an antifreeze gene from flounder fish into the genetic code of a tomato plant to protect the plant from cold spells. While scientists have long been able to cross close relatives in the plant kingdom, the new genetic tools allow them to cross all of the biological boundaries, adding genes from viruses, bacteria, other animals and plants into the genetic code of traditional food crops. Ecologists are unsure of the impacts of bypassing natural species boundaries. Consider, for example, the ambitious plans to engineer transgenic plants to serve as pharmaceutical factories for the production of chemicals and drugs. Foraging animals, seed-eating birds, and soil insects will be exposed to a range of genetically engineered drugs, vaccines, industrial enzymes, plastics, and hundreds of other foreign substances for the first time, with untold consequences.
Over the next 10 years, life science companies plan on introducing thousands of laboratory-conceived transgenic plants over millions of acres of farmland around the world. Ecologists tell us that the risks in releasing these novel crops into the biosphere are similar to those we’ve encountered in introducing exotic organisms into North America. While many of these nonnative creatures have adapted to the North American ecosystems without severe dislocations, a small percentage of them have wreaked havoc on the flora and fauna of the continent. Whenever a genetically engineered organism is released, there is always a small chance that it too will run amok because, like nonindigenous species, it has been artificially introduced into a complex environment that has developed a web of highly integrated relationships over long periods of evolutionary history. Much of the current effort in agricultural biotechnology is centered on the creation of herbicide-tolerant plants. To increase their share of the growing global market for herbicides, life-science companies like Monsanto and Novartis have created transgenic crops that tolerate their own herbicides. Monsanto’s new herbicide-resistant patented seeds, for example, are resistant to its best-selling chemical herbicide, Roundup.
The companies hope to convince farmers that the new herbicide-tolerant crops will allow for a more efficient eradication of weeds. Farmers will be able to spray at any time during the growing season, killing weeds without killing their crops. Critics warn that with new herbicide-tolerant crops planted in the fields, farmers are likely to use even greater quantities of herbicides to control weeds, as there will be less fear of damaging their crops in the process of spraying. The increased use of herbicides, in turn, raises the possibility of weeds developing resistance, forcing an even greater use of herbicides to control the more resistant strains. New pest-resistant transgenic crops, such as Bt corn, are also being introduced for the first time. Monsanto and Novartis are marketing transgenic crops that produce insecticide in every cell of each plant. A growing body of scientific evidence points to the likelihood of creating ‘’super bugs’’ resistant to the effects of the new pesticide-producing genetic crops. Some ecologists warn of the danger of gene flowthe transfer of transgenic genes from crops to weedy relatives by way of cross-pollination. New studies have shown that transgenic genes for herbicide tolerance and pest and viral resistance, can spread by way of pollen and insert themselves into the genomes of relatives, creating weeds that are resistant to herbicides, pests, and viruses.
The insurance industry has quietly let it be known that while it will provide coverage for negligence and short-term damage, resulting from the introduction of genetically engineered crops into the environment, it will not offer liability coverage for long-term catastrophic environmental damage, because the industry lacks a risk assessment sciencea predictive ecologyto judge the risks. The industry understands the Kafkaesque implications of a government regime claiming to regulate the new field of biotechnology in the absence of clear scientific knowledge of how genetically modified organisms interact once introduced into the environment. Who, then, will be held liable for losses if a transgenic plant introduction were to trigger genetic pollution over an extended terrain for an indefinite period of time? The life-science companies? The government? The introduction of novel genetically engineered organisms also raises a number of serious human health issues that have yet to be resolved. Most of these new crops contain genes from nonfood-source organisms. With 2 percent of adults and 8 percent of children having allergic responses to commonly eaten foods, consumer advocates argue that all novel gene-spliced foods need to be properly labeled that consumers can avoid health risks.
The British Medical Association has become so concerned about the potential health effects of consuming genetically modified foods that it has just called for an open-ended moratorium on the commercial planting of genetically engineered food crops until a scientific consensus emerges on their safety. And the European Commission recently announced a freeze on licenses for genetically engineered plants after learning about the monarch butterfly study. A worldwide moratorium should be declared now on releasing genetically engineered food crops and other gene-spliced organisms into the environment pending further study of the potential environmental and health risks and liability issues at stake. It would be irresponsible and foolish to continue seeding farmland with genetically engineered food crops when we have yet to develop even a rudimentary risk assessment science by which to regulate these new agricultural products.
Despite industry rhetoric, very few countries are willing to ignore public opposition and allow the commercial cultivation of GE soybeans, corn, cotton, or canola, the only four crops currently being grown on any significant scale. While farmers in 130 nations are currently producing certified organic crops in 2002, a grand total of three nations, (the US-with 68% of the world’s GE crops, Canada-6%, and Argentina-22%) are still producing 96% of the world’s GE crops. Moreover the US, Canada, and Argentina are finding that that their major overseas customers such as Europe, Japan, and South Korea no longer want to buy GE crops, even for animal feed. In Europe, the largest agricultural market in the world, grassroots market pressure has forced all of the major supermarket chains and food companies to remove GE ingredients from their consumer products. Meanwhile, on the regulatory front, no new GE crops have been approved for commercialization in the EU since 1998.
Syngenta (formerly Novartis), the largest biotech company in the world, has removed all GE ingredients from its consumer food products. Because of increasing marketplace pressure, 25% of all animal feed in the EU is already GE-free. Industry propaganda about feeding the world through increased productivity is no longer credible. Genetically engineered crops were created not because they are productive but because they’re patentable. Their economic value is oriented not toward helping subsistence farmers to feed themselves but toward feeding more livestock for the already overfed rich. Currently 63% of the world’s GE crops are soybeans, used primarily for animal feed. Corn, again mainly for animal feed, makes up 19% of all GE crops, while rapeseed, used for animal feed and cooking oil, makes up 5%. Even cotton, which constitutes 13% of all GE crops, provides feed for cattle, in the form of cottonseed and cotton gin trash.
American farmers are planting millions of acres of Roundup-ready (RR) soybeans and other GE crops, not because there is a market demand for them, but because they are receiving taxpayer subsidies from the US government. Although gene-altered RR seeds and Roundup herbicide are expensive, herbicide-resistant soybeans are more convenient and less time-consuming to grow than traditional varieties-enabling farmers to plant, weed, and harvest more and more acres in a limited amount of time. Instead of having to till weeds with their tractors and spray several different toxic pesticides, farmers need only spray Monsanto’s potent broad-spectrum herbicide Roundup, which kills everything green-except for the GE soybean plants. Especially for cash and time-strapped farmers earning most of their money from off-farm employment (US family farmers get about 90% of their net income from jobs off the farm), this “efficiency” makes RR soybeans seem attractive.
Far more important is the fact that in the US, the more acres a farmer plants in soybeans (or other subsidized crops like corn or cotton), the more money the farmer gets from the government farm subsidy program, which, in 2001, paid out $28 billion. Of this $28 billion in farm subsidies, at least $7-10 billion went to farmers growing GE crops. Thus even though Cargill or ADM routinely rob farmers by paying them less for a bushel of RR soybeans or Bt corn than it took to grow them, farmers can count on recouping their losses with a subsidy payment from the USDA.
The fundamental flaw, from an economic standpoint, of planting more and more GE soybeans so as to collect more and more subsidy payments from the government, is that there is already a huge global surplus of soybeans, not to mention corn and cotton. This massive surplus is quite profitable for the crop commodities giants like Cargill and ADM, cotton buyers, and the big factory farm cattle feedlots and hog farms, who can count on getting cheap grain and fiber from farmers desperate to sell at any price, but it’s nothing less than a recipe for disaster for rural America.
Billion dollar subsidies are the driving force for GE soybeans and corn, but they are also the major destructive force flooding the market and lowering the price for soybeans paid to the farmers. This ever-declining price results in farmers planting even more soybeans or corn. The end result of this process will likely be the elimination of most small and medium sized farms in the US who depend upon subsidies (with the notable exception of organic farms, which are selling products which consumers want). Organic farmers currently receive no US government subsidies whatsoever.
Rather than manipulating plants to make a firmer tomato or a sweeter peach, “pharmers” insert genes that instruct a plant to manufacture pharmaceutical compounds. In the future they envisage flu shots will be replaced by bananas. Try this corn puff. Pharmers dream that all drugs will ultimately be delivered in snacks.
First out of the pipeline will be vaccines. In August 2002, industry leader ProdiGene began Phase I clinical trials for a vaccine against traveler’s diarrhea. Resulting from a dismal species of e.coli, the condition is also a prime cause of infant mortality in many poorer nations.
Instead of pursuing the regular path of cell-culturing and purification, Texas-based ProdiGene hopes to deliver a vaccine in a simple kernel of corn. To understand what is at stake here, consider the case of hepatitis-B. Worldwide, that virus kills more than 900,000 people a year, many of them in China, where the disease is at almost epidemic levels. A dose of hep-B vaccine costs around 50 cents, yet even thatin quantityis beyond the budgets of many developing countries.
Besides the cost of the drug itself, vaccination is hampered by the additional expense of needles and by lack of refrigeration. Vaccines produced the traditional way cost thousands of dollars a gram, but corn can be grown very cheaply. Hoping to tap into the huge hepatitis market, ProdiGene is currently conducting field trials on a strain of transgenic corn that has been spliced with hep-B antigens which can be delivered like a vaccine simply by consuming an ear of corn.
Please read the evidence amassed in the book Seeds of Deception by Jeffrey M. Smith. The meticulously documented facts leave no doubt about a massive injustice. The topic is too important to put this off until tomorrow.
The Food and Drug Administration released the following partial list of foods that tested positive for genetic modification in September 1999:
Canola oil, Radicchio, Corn Cotton, Papaya, Potato, Soybean, Squash, Tomato
Alpo Dry Pet Food; Aunt Jemima Pancake Mix; Ball Park Franks; Betty Crocker Bac-O's; Boca Burger Chef Max's Favorite; Bravo's Tortilla Chips; Duncan Hines Cake Mix; Enfamil ProSobee Soy Formula; Frito-Lay Corn Chips; Gardenburger; General Mills Total Corn Flakes Cereal; Heinz 2 Baby Food; Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix; Kellogg's Corn Flakes; McDonald's McVeggie Burgers; Morningstar Farms Better'n Burgers; Morningstar Farms Harvest Burgers; Nestle Carnation Alsoy Infant Formula; Old El Paso Taco Shells; Ovaltine Malt Powdered Beverage Mix; Post Blueberry Morning Cereal; Quaker Chewy Cranola Bars; Quaker Yellow Corn Meal; Quick Loaf Bread Mix; Similac Isomil Soy Formula; Ultra Slim Fast.