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The growing consumer and food industry rejection of GMOs has not been random or accidental—it has been engineered. IRT has been a leading force in the coalition that has made this happen.
Based on our experience in motivating people to avoid GMOs, we know exactly what to say, who to say it to, and how to say it, in order to drive the complete tipping point.
I invite you to help us achieve the tipping point and eliminate GMOs from our food supply by making a financial contribution to our efforts. Your one-time gift or monthly commitment will make the critical difference!
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Jeffrey Smith, Founder
- The DARK Act is Here: Denying Americans' Right-to-Know Big Food is trying to kill your right to know if the food you’re eating is genetically engineered. With their anti-labeling allies like Monsanto and Dow, the Grocery Manufacturers Association has teamed up with Koch brothers-backed Congressman Mike Pompeo of Kansas to introduce a federal bill that would deny your right to know. Tell Congress not to squash your right to know about genetically engineered foods!
- Avoid Eating Genetically Engineered Foods This article was written on the Huffington Post This blog is part of a series that explores the themes and issues raised in Farmed and Dangerous, a 4-part satirical web series exploring issues related to the food system and industrial agriculture. If you're interested in joining the conversation, please contact us at FoodForThought@huffingtonpost.com. Why are thousands of physicians advising patients to avoid eating GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms)  and how did these high-risk foods get onto the market in the first place? The answers are disturbing, even shocking, but may help you get healthy and stay healthy. Foods with added bacterial or viral genes were quietly slipped into your diet two decades ago. Using the excuse that GMOs weren't that much different, the FDA didn't require labels or even a single safety study from GMO makers like Monsanto. But a lawsuit forced the agency to release their files and the truth finally came out. FDA scientists repeatedly warned that GMOs could create allergies, toxins, new diseases and nutritional problems, and that rigorous safety testing was needed. But the White House had instructed the FDA to promote biotechnology, and Michael Taylor, Monsanto's former attorney, was put in charge of FDA policy. (Taylor later became Monsanto's chief lobbyist, and has returned to FDA as US Food Czar.) Can you trust Monsanto with your family's health? That company that told us that Agent Orange, DDT and PCBs were safe. Now Monsanto's "Roundup Ready" crops are engineered to withstand their Roundup herbicide, which gets absorbed into the food and can't be washed off. A 2014 study found Roundup the most toxic of all herbicides and insecticides they tested. According to MIT scientist Stephanie Seneff, Roundup may be "the most important factor in the development of multiple chronic diseases and conditions." She co-authored a seminal paper linking it to including obesity, heart disease, inflammatory bowel, IBS, autism, allergies, MS, Parkinson's, depression, infertility, Alzheimer's and cancer. Some GMOs, e.g. corn, have built-in pesticides that break open holes in the stomach of insects. A 2012 laboratory study confirmed that the toxin opens holes in human cells. And a Canadian study found both the toxin and Roundup in the blood of most pregnant women and their fetuses. If you don't trust GMOs, you're not alone. According to a 2013 survey by Hartman Group, over 120 million Americans say they try to avoid them. That number has more than doubled since 2007.  When people eliminate GMOs, they (and their physicians) often report more energy, weight loss, better digestion, reduced allergies and skin conditions, and relief from numerous chronic conditions.  Veterinarians, farmers and pet owners describe similar improvements with animals taken off GMOs. According to a research review by the American Academy of Environmental Medicine, many of these disorders also afflict lab animals fed GMOs. We believe it is not a coincidence that the rise of these types of health issues in the US population parallels the use of GMOs and Roundup. In addition to the health dangers, independent studies also show that GMOs don't increase yields, don't solve world hunger and massively increase herbicide use. GMO advocates aggressively deny any evidence against them. According to Nature, a "large block of scientists [...] denigrate research by other legitimate scientists in a knee-jerk, partisan, emotional way." Tactics include threats, gag orders and termination. The industry's own research, on the other hand, is widely criticized as "tobacco science," carefully designed to cover up problems. And just as a Monsanto man guided FDA policy, GMO review committees worldwide are often stacked with industry representatives who rubber stamp approvals or declare GMOs safe by ignoring data to the contrary. Now FDA is considering approval of GMO salmon, as well as allowing GMO mosquitoes loose in the Florida Keys. In fact, countless GMO plants, animals, fish, insects and bacteria are being developed in labs around the world. Each could irreversibly contaminate the gene pool. Before we replace nature, let's demand independent, comprehensive long-term safety studies. Until then, stop feeding us the products produced by this immature science.  At medical conferences where I spoke about the health risks of GMOs, I polled the audience asking practitioners to rate themselves how active they were, or planned to be, at prescribing non-GMO diets to patients.  Hartman Group Sustainability 2013 presentation on consumer eating preferences. Survey showed 39% of Americans polled "deliberately avoid/reduce" GMOs in daily diet. In 2010, it was 25%. In 2007, about 17%.  The Institute for Responsible Technology collects testimonials and case studies about health conditions that may be related to a GMO vs. non-GMO diet. Over many years we have interviewed doctors, nutritionists, and consumers, received numerous emails, and solicited comments from audiences at more 90 events. We also collect statement from farmers, pet owners, and veterinarians about impacts on animals. Farmed and Dangerous was produced by Chipotle and production company Piro. Chipotle is the sponsor for the Food For Thought initiative.
- A Message from Jeffrey Smith to You Check out this video from Jeffrey Smith. He tells you all about the March Against Monsanto, tomorrow, Saturday, October 12th, 2013, and why it’s important for us to get out there and say “Hell No” to Monsanto! Download and print out FREE HANDOUTS AND BROCHURES AND BRING THEM TO THE MARCH!! Download the handout Download the poster
- Pigs, Caterpillars and a Special Video from Jeffrey Smith Keep up with the latest GMO news from The Institute for Responsible Technology with the Spilling the Beans monthly newsletter. Read this month about a peer-reviewed toxicology study on piglets fed genetically engineered corn and soy, a video by Jeffrey Smith explaining why Monsanto utilizes genetic engineering, and much more! Read the newsletter Sign up here to get the monthly newsletter
- Monsanto’s Roundup Herbicide—Featuring the Darth Vader Chemical by Shicana Allen It was “supposed” to be harmless to humans and animals—the perfect weed killer. Now a groundbreaking article just published in the journal Entropy points to Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide, and more specifically its active ingredient glyphosate, as devastating—possibly “the most important factor in the development of multiple chronic diseases and conditions that have become prevalent in Westernized societies.” That’s right. The herbicide sprayed on most of the world’s genetically engineered crops—and which gets soaked into the food portion—is now linked to “autism … gastrointestinal issues such as inflammatory bowel disease, chronic diarrhea, colitis and Crohn’s disease, obesity, cardiovascular disease, depression, cancer, cachexia, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and ALS, among others.” Enjoy this videotaped guided tour of Jeffrey Smith interviewing co-author Stephanie Seneff, PhD, a Senior Research Scientist at MIT. Shicana Allen has been a health, environmental, and food safety advocate, writer, and public speaker for over 20 years To read more: http://www.greenmedinfo.com/blog/how-gmo-farming-and-food-making-our-gut-flora-unfriendly
- Whole Foods Market GMO Labeling Announcement Reverberating Through Industry I am at Expo West in Anaheim, the annual pilgrimage of more than 60,000 members of the natural foods industry. In a surprise announcement yesterday, Whole Foods Market said that by 2018 they would require labeling of genetically engineered foods sold in their store for products that were not either organic or verified by the Non-GMO Project. The statement was met with huge cheers from the filled auditorium, and soon resounded around the world with coverage in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, CBS News, etc. This significant breakthrough puts on notice all food companies who still use GMOs. Those who sell to health conscious shoppers are sure to make plans to remove GMOs. But the momentum against GMOs is so widespread now, we are already hearing stories of mainstream conventional brands taking steps to replace GMO ingredients. And not a moment too soon. According to USA Today, “Products that get a ‘Non-GMO’ verification label see sales spike between 15 percent and 30 percent, said A.C. Gallo, president of Whole Foods.” We saw this same dynamic in Europe just before the non-GMO avalanche kicked GMO ingredients out of the continent. Iceland Frozen Foods was the first chain to announce they had eliminated GMOs in late 1998. Their sales shot up, everyone took notice, media coverage then alerted even more consumers about GMO risks, and by April of 1999 the rest of the European food industry followed suit. The US food industry is ramping up now as well. Non-GMO Labels were one of the fastest growing label claims in the US for the past four years, and in 2012, sales of products labeled Non-GMO in 2012 were the fastest-growing among all the health and wellness categories. The Non-GMO Project has verified more than 9000 products from 600 companies, with combined 2012 sales of about $3.5 billion. According to its executive director Megan Westgate, company inquiries shot up last fall due to the high profile Prop 37 battle in California, and continue to remain high. At a presentation by the Non-GMO Project yesterday, one retailer asked if educating consumers about the dangers of GMOs might hurt sales of GMO-laden products in the same store. I then shared a comment I heard just last week about one natural food store manager that attributed recent record sales to the popularity of non-GMO products, particularly due to more and more physicians in their area prescribing non-GMO diets. Consumer rejection of GMOs is being reflected in the demand for mandatory labeling, which is already enjoyed by 3 billion people in 62 other countries. Groups in 37 states have efforts underway to pass state labeling bills, and Washington state’s ballot initiative—to be voted on by citizens in November—has a huge chance of success. In particular, the state’s salmon, apple, and wheat industries are all at risk of contamination by future GMO introductions, and therefore industry leaders have become champions of labeling and segregation to protect their markets. The feeling here at the Expo show is one of excitement and success. The natural foods industry is a major trend setter for the nation, and non-GMO has become deeply rooted here. We are well on our way to seeing the tipping point of consumer rejection of GMOs. Jeffrey M. Smith
- US farmers may stop planting GMOs after poor yields Some US farmers are considering returning to conventional seed after increased pest resistance and crop failures meant GM crops saw smaller yields globally than their non-GM counterparts. Farmers in the USA pay about an extra $100 per acre for GM seed, and many are questioning whether they will continue to see benefits from using GMs. "It's all about cost benefit analysis," said economist Dan Basse, president of American agricultural research company AgResource. "Farmers are paying extra for the technology but have seen yields which are no better than 10 years ago. They're starting to wonder why they're spending extra money on the technology." One of the biggest problems is that pests such as corn rootworm have formed a resistance to GM crops in as few as 14 years. View original article on Farmers Weekly.
- Breaking News: Viral Gene in Genetically Modified Foods Might Promote Diseases Whenever critics of genetically modified (GM) plants warn that GM crops are inserted with dangerous parts of a virus, biotech advocates rush in to correct their “misunderstanding.” We don’t have to worry, they tell us. Only a small portion of a plant virus is used in order to “turn on” the accompanying gene. Called the promoter, it’s like an on-switch. They say it’s completely harmless. Researchers in Europe finally got around to looking more closely at the genetic sequence from that promoter, and… well… now we can worry. It’s called the Cauliflower Mosaic Virus (CaMV) Promoter and is used in most GM crops to force the foreign gene to pump out their proteins at high volume, 24/7. But the actual strand of inserted DNA turns out to have much more genetic material than it was supposed to have. And this addition might be causing a health catastrophe. Just beyond the promoter, or more accurately overlapping with it, is part of an actual virus gene. It is sufficient in size and characteristics such that it could theoretically be producing viral proteins. And that would be bad. Viral proteins are well known to suppress defenses against viral infection—for both plant and humans. In other words, if you eat food from any of the 54 types of GM plants that use the CaMV promoter (including soybeans and most corn), you may be much more susceptible to viral infections, including colds, hepatitis, even AIDS. And because viral proteins can also be toxic to cell functions, genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in your diet might also promote cancer and other diseases. Crops too can be more susceptible to both viral and bacterial diseases. But it doesn’t stop there. The specific nature of this viral gene, called Gene VI, allows it to switch on multiple genes downstream along the genome. This means that depending on where it is inserted into the DNA, it might produce allergens, toxins, carcinogens, anti-nutrients, etc. And because it is randomly inserted, each of the 54 varieties of GMOs that contain Gene VI carries their own unique and special danger. Regulation or Abdication? All this depends on whether Gene VI is, in fact, active. And that remains the question. In the recently published analysis by European authorities, they came to a definite maybe. But instead of ordering an immediate withdrawal of the offending GMOs from the market to protect the public, they offered up a flowchart—A FLOWCHART!—to evaluate the unpredicted problems that might have occurred. According to Virologist Jonathan Latham, “GMO regulators around the world have been complacent and incompetent." They have had the details about the CaMV promoter even before GMOs were ever approved, but are only now identifying the danger. In their excellent and detailed article about this new development, Latham and co-author Alison Wilson call on regulators to do the only scientifically justifiable thing—Recall GMOs that use this potentially disastrous CaMV promoter. Evidence of Substantial Harm Biotech advocates will try to water down the situation, like they’ve done in the past. They might pull out their often used claim that since there hasn’t been any harm seen after feeding GMOs to hundreds of millions of people for more than an decade, we can just ignore these and other findings. But in reality, no one in the world is monitoring the health impacts of these high-risk foods on human health. And numerous disorders, including GI problems, infertility, asthma, allergies, autism, diabetes, and many others, have been accelerating since GMOs were introduced in 1996. And it may be no coincidence that the popular GMOs that contain Gene VI show significant, even lethal results in animal studies. Roundup Ready corn, for example, caused tumors, organ damage, and early death in rats. Rodents fed Roundup Ready soybeans have been afflicted with sterility, organ damage, accelerated aging, and high infant mortality. And Monsanto’s pesticide producing Bt corn has is linked with massive immune responses in mice—among others. Let’s not hold our breath waiting for US and European regulators to actually do their job and remove GMOs. We can support the efforts in 35 US states for mandatory labeling laws. And in the meantime, consult with NonGMOShoppingGuide.com for healthier non-GMO choices. Jeffrey M. Smith is the director of Genetic Roulette—The Gamble of Our Lives, which was just names the Movie of the Year by the Solari Report. He is also the international bestselling author of Seeds of Deception and Genetic Roulette, and executive director of The Institute for Responsible Technology. Read State-of-the-Science on the Health Risks of GM Foods
The Tipping Point Continues To Gain Momentum….
An executive in a major food company mentioned recently that he believes consumers have reached a tipping point on the GMO issue. Wow! I can’t tell you how sweet it was to hear those words. Now that a few executives who follow the issue are starting to name the phenomenon, it will hopefully spread and result in new non-GMO marching orders for the industry. Yet it’s also a time when the biotech industry is scrambling to fight back, so we have to be more vigilant than ever.
To keep up the pressure and accelerate the pace of the coming tipping point, and to better respond to the opportunities of 2013, the 15 members of the IRT team are busily restructuring: We’re preparing to fill new, much needed positions, creating new educational initiatives, starting an internship program, and even redesigning the look and feel of our newsletters, eblasts, and website.
The Salmon Are Calling UsThe biotech industry appears to be responding to the anti-GMO momentum by trying to rush new GMO approvals and stepping up pressure in foreign markets. The highest short-term priority right now is stopping genetically engineered (GE) salmon. On December 21st, 2012, while most of us were busy with holiday preparations, the FDA moved a step closer to final approval of AquaBounty AquaAdvantage® transgenic salmon, which grow abnormally fast. They ignored the 40 members of the U.S. Congress who urged the agency to conduct more rigorous review of environmental and health safety of GE salmon and halt any approval process until concerns over risks, transparency and oversight has been fully satisfied. They ignored the 400,000 public comments demanding that the FDA reject this application. And they ignored the more than 300 environmental, consumer, health and animal welfare organizations, salmon and fishing groups and associations, food companies, chefs and restaurants who filed joint statements opposing approval. Approval of salmon would be quite serious. Not only could it cause potentially deadly allergic reactions and other serious problems, if they escape confinement, the frankenfish threaten to wipe out Wild Salmon. Furthermore, approval could open the floodgates to other GE animals, forever transforming livestock and wild populations with unknown health and environmental risks. If you purchase Bertram Verhaag’s award winning documentary “Scientist Under Attack” you will receive a 30-minute bonus documentary called “Monster Salmon” that explores this issue in more depth.
- Join in on the Global Day of Action, February 9th, 2013—a national day of peaceful protest on the steps of state buildings and street corners across the country.
- Call the White House
- Comment on the FDA website during their 60-day comment period (expires February 25th)
- Join the Tipping Point Network to connect with other non-GMO advocates in your area
- Use social media to spread the word.
I’m On The Road AgainI gave about 108 presentations last year, as did interviews with more than 165 press venues. And yes, I did give myself a restful break in December. I’ll need it—we have received invitations from around the country and from five continents. Already this year I gave talks to several hundred Amish farmers at the Mid-Ohio Grower’s Meeting. One person assured me that our presentation “converted” the whole community. In February we visit Arizona (Phoenix, Prescott, and Sedona) and then go straight to the Health Freedom Expo in Long Beach, CA. See the map for speaking engagements near you.
How Are We Doing?As always, we welcome your constructive feedback. Tell us what’s working for you and let us know how we can do more. While proponents of GMOs continue to pull out all the stops, the pace of progress in the anti-GMO world is so great these days that it’s hard to keep up….Not a bad problem to have. Safe eating. Sincerely, Jeffrey M. Smith
Watch Genetic Roulette!
A film by Jeffrey M. Smith - Narrated by Lisa Oz
A production of the Institute for Responsible Technology
Are you and your family on the wrong side of a bet?When the US government ignored repeated warnings by its own scientists and allowed untested genetically modified (GM) crops into our environment and food supply, it was a gamble of unprecedented proportions. The health of all living things and all future generatio ns were put at risk by an infant technology. After two decades, physicians and scientists have uncovered a grave trend. The same serious health problems found in lab animals, livestock, and pets that have been fed GM foods are now on the rise in the US population. And when people and animals stop eating genetically modified organisms (GMOs), their health improves. This seminal documentary provides compelling evidence to help explain the deteriorating health of Americans, especially among children, and offers a recipe for protecting ourselves and our future.
The main feature film Genetic Roulette is 85 minutes.[button type="simple_button_black" url="http://seedsofdeception.com/store/dvdcd?product_id=124" target="on" ]Order the DVD[/button] [button type="simple_button_link" url="http://geneticroulettemovie.com/" target="on" ]Watch the trailer[/button]
The package also contains a bonus DVD with:
Seeds of Freedom (28 min)Narrated by Jeremy Irons, produced by The Gaia Foundation and African Biodiversity Network, this landmark film shows how the story of seed at the hands of multinationals has become one of loss, control, dependence and debt. More information about the Seeds of Freedom can be found here.
The Documented Health Risks of Genetically Engineered Foods (42 min)Jeffrey Smith presents a concise, hard-hitting talk to more than 800 healthcare practitioners at Andrew Weil's Arizona Center for Integrated Medicine conference in 2011.
The Politics of GMOs (16 min)This presentation excerpt describes the unholy alliance between the US government and Monsanto, as well as some highlights of Monsanto's dark history.
12 Short Public Service AnnouncementsPermission is granted for individuals and groups to show the film, Genetic Roulette, at not-for-profit events. [button type="simple_button_black" url="http://seedsofdeception.com/store/dvdcd?product_id=124" target="on" ]Order the DVD[/button]
- Melchett’s Seven Sins Against Science Any guesses what the over-emotional, dogmatic, and unscientific proponents of GMOs say about anyone who doesn’t agree with them? They accuse them of being emotional, dogmatic, and anti-science. While scientists, typically affiliated with corporations that stand to benefit most, claim objectivity as they extoll the supposed “superior” qualities of GMOs, journalist, Peter Melchett, explains that there are plenty of scientists who are concerned about the safety of GMOs. Scientific studies funded and influenced by those who have a vested interest in favorable results are obviously not unbiased. And, favorable interpretations of studies that show significant risk are sheer public relations stunts that confuse the public. Unfortunately, these scientists, who question the logic of permeating the food supply with GMOs prior to significant, long term studies to ensure the safety of crops, consumers and the future of food production, are at best ignored and at worst maligned and slandered. Melchett blows the cover off these pro-gmo-at-any-cost-zealots’ bizarre logic, and exposes their attack strategies and efforts to distort, deny, and dismiss any evidence that shows harm from GMOs. Consider this: After the only long-term comprehensive animal feeding study shows deadly impacts from GMOs, the GMO “Yes Men” declare that no more long-term studies should be conducted. Excuse me? The truly pro-science approach is to demand the biotech industry prove their products are safe via third party testing and insist on multi-generational long-term studies. As of now, the overwhelming trend is to publicly discredit the studies that have produced evidence that GMOs are not safe and inhibit further studies. That stance, the disclaiming of any and all scientific claims that disagree with biotech’s assertions, is decidedly not pro-science! [Source of article]
Listen to Jeffrey Smith's Latest Interview on GMOs!
You are invited to listen to Jeffrey Smith, Executive Director of the Institute for Responsible Technology, speak about GMOs for FREE ONLINE during the Real Food Summit on July 9th. Register here https://at105.infusionsoft.com/go/real/IRT.
Real Food Summit is a 10-day online conference consisting of 27 presentations from real food experts including farmers, doctors, researchers, and authors. The following food experts will be present: Jeffrey Smith, Joel Salatin, Chris Kresse, Paul Chek, Mark McAfee, Chris Masterjohn, and many more!
Jeffrey Smith will discuss the latest information about GMOs:
- What genetic modification is
- Information about the BT gene and the truth about CT corn
- GM Food crops
- What FDA scientists state
- Monsanto's involvement
- What the American Academy of Environmental Medicine states about GMOs
- Health issues due to consuming GMO food products
- How to avoid GMOs
- Why GMOs are not as acceptable in other countries
- How to increase GMO awareness
- GMO resources
The Case Against FrankenFood
Check out Jeffrey Smith's latest article in Green American, The Case Against FrankenFood on page 13.
Genetically modified foods are bad for our health, the environment, and farmers worldwide.
- Andy Oudman (1290 AM CJBK, London ON) and Pam Killeen interview Jeffrey Smith
- Why Did Connecticut Cave With The GMO Right To Know? - May 05,2012 Courtesy of June Stoyer, The Organic View Radio Show Click here to listen to the show: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/theorganicview/2012/05/05/why-did-connecticut-cave-with-the-gmo-right-to-know According to former New York City prosecutor Tara Cook-Littman, “The constitutional argument is absurd, and everyone knows it. As long as Connecticut law makers had a legitimate state interest that was reasonably related to the labeling of products produced from the process of genetic engineering, the GMO labeling bill would be considered constitutional by any court of law." Cook-Littman, a CT resident, is the co-founder of Right To Know CT, along with Analiese Paik. She stated that representatives and senators who learned of Friday night’s political maneuverings are equally disgusted. Littman says, “it appears that the biotech industry’s influence was in place all along, waiting for this tactic to be deployed at the last minute, with no time to argue before the vote.” Tune in to this segment of The Organic View Radio Show, as host, June Stoyer is joined by special guests Analiese Paik, Tara Cook-Littman co-founders of Right To Know CT. Also joining the conversation will be renowned GMO activist, Jeffrey Smith, Executive Director of the Institute for Responsible Technology. Click here to listen to the show: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/theorganicview/2012/05/05/why-did-connecticut-cave-with-the-gmo-right-to-know The battle to mandate GMO labeling in the state of Connecticut looked very promising. 90% of the CT residents polled supported mandatory GMO labeling. Early vote counts within the legislature showed the majority of legislators were in favor of this bill. However, in recent developments, it has been found that this bill has now been eviscerated.
- Interview: Jeffrey Smith at the CT NOFA Listen to Jeffrey Smith speak at the Connecticut chapter of the Northeast Organic Farming Association. Click here to listen to Jeffrey Smith at the CT NOFA
- Jeffrey Smith Featured on CBS News Jeffrey Smith spoke to CBS News about Agent Orange corn and the GMO labeling battle. Watch it Now!
- GM Soy linked to health damage in pigs -- a Danish Dossier Introduction A Danish farming newspaper has caused quite a stir by devoting a sizeable part of its 13 April edition to the discoveries by pig farmer lb Borup Pedersen that GM soy has a damaging effect both on his animals and on his farming profitability. On the front page of the paper there was a lead story under the headline "Pig farmer reaps gains from GMO-free soy". On a sidebar the paper referred to Mr Pedersen's contention that DDT and Thalidomide were minor problems when set alongside GMOs and Glyphosate. In an Editorial Comment on page 2, the paper argued that it would be grossly irresponsible for the authorities to ignore or ridicule the discoveries made by the farmer in his pig farming operations, and it congratulated the authorities for commissioning a new study designed to determine whether stomach lesions and other effects might be associated with GM soy; in the study 100 animals will be fed with non-GM soy and 100 with GM soy in their diets. On pages 6 and 7 of the paper there was a big article written by Anne Wolfenberg, who is a very experienced journalist who knows the Danish pig farming industry well. This article was leaked in draft form, translated into English and widely circulated, appearing on various web sites. GM-Free Cymru helped with that translation, in the belief that this was the final published version and that the farmer, the writer and the newspaper would be happy to see it circulated to an English-speaking readership. Full acknowledgement and citation were made. However, we did not realise that there were one or two small errors in the draft which were corrected in the final printed version; and partly on that basis we received a complaint from the author. We apologised for the misunderstanding, and the article was immediately removed from the GM Watch web site. We also asked an American web site which had used the article to take it down, in line with the journalist's wishes. This was also done. In deference to the concerns of Anne Wolfenberg, we are not including any translation of her article here. Instead, we have spoken to Mr Pedersen, and he has kindly given us permission to use content from his Powerpoint presentation, to use direct statements made by him, and to use his photographs. On that basis we have assembled the first part of this dossier. In the second part of the dossier, we examine the key points arising from the coverage of this issue in the Danish farming newspaper Effektivt Landbrug. We congratulate the editor and the journalists involved on a very effective and well-researched piece of investigative journalism, and for having the courage to publish it in spite of the anger it was bound to provoke! We also congratulate Mr lb Pedersen for his very careful record keeping and for making the decision to place it in the public domain, in the public interest. In the third part of this dossier we have translated a press release relating to the new Danish research project which will examine the effects of GM soy on pigs during the period of weight gain from 30 kg to slaughter at c 110 kg. While we applaud the fact that this research will be conducted, we are concerned that the feeding of the weaned animals from 7 kg (28 days) up to the 30 kg weight will potentially mask GM effects and compromise the results. As the newspaper suggests, it will be in nobody's best interests if these trials are mistrusted or later found to be fraudulent. Dr Brian John from GM-Free Cymru agrees, and says: "We have been involved in GM issues for more than a decade, and we know the score. We can take it as read that there are large sections of the GM industry, and maybe large parts of the farming community, especially in the United States, who will move heaven and earth to prevent anything damaging to the GM cause from seeing the light of day. We suspect that huge pressure has already been put on the Danish journalist and her newspaper by certain interested parties, including farming unions, agrichemical companies and so forth. That is plain stupid of them; their interests are served least of all if real animal welfare and food safety issues are brushed under the carpet." In the fourth part of the dossier we report on an interview with another Danish farmer whose experiences relating to a shift from GM soy animal feed to non-GM soy feed appear to match very closely the experiences of Mr Pedersen. Download the complete report
- This Earth Day Plant Non-Gmo Seeds!
- Name our Mascot Contest! We look forward to seeing the names you come up with! The winner (there will only be one) and the top ten names will be announced on our FB page www.facebook.com/responsibletechnology Thank you! Jeffrey Smith and the IRT Staff
- Food Integrity: Welcome to A Better World by Frederick Ravid What about now? Most of us eat some mass-produced food daily. The food has a label that tells us what is in the package. But the label is an edited version and some of the ingredients in the package are not listed. That would be fine if the off-label ingredients were ok. But, food technology products have a strange way of turning up with scary side effects: cancer or disability, like certain Food Dyes or Artificial Sweeteners, or today's Killer Agrichemicals and Risky GMOs. Don't we deserve better? Appetite alone drives us to make constant choices. These become habits. My habits lead to an outcome, like vows. Even deeper than marriage vows, or family bonds, habits can prevail for life. "For better or for worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health unto death do us part" tells much about the EFFECT of habits. Hippocrates, the Father of Medicine said "Let thy food be thy medicine and thy medicine be thy food." Where food habits eventually make me sick, bring financial loss, or even death, one cannot but wonder: "What went wrong and why didn't anybody warn me?" Isn't that the FDA's mission? Having blocked open labeling disclosure it's awfully hard for FDA to prove that mission is being accomplished. Good food choices should be like choosing a spouse - informed choices - where compatibility has been fairly and openly proven. But the storyline of Food Choice and Food Labeling doesn't read like a sane marriage, it reads more like a Soap Opera where dark secrets bubble over, and tragedy lurks at every turn. The expression "Don't feed me lies" comes to mind. It warns that Truth and Nurture are the opposite of Lies and Deprivation. We can all agree the simplest rule for Freedom of Choice is: "We have a right to know what is in our food." We have the right to eat what we want to eat and to avoid eating what we don't want. We affirm that Food Choice it the cornerstone of personal freedom. Where we buy from food producers we forever reserve our basic right to make our own Food Choices based on Labeling Disclosure. We affirm our economic power to enforce this right. We recognize the exercise of this right will have cascading economic effects: whole industries will be retired, and new ones with rewarding jobs will take their place. We imagine a generous society where the honesty and integrity in our food labeling likewise breed a society where a more cooperative, confident spirit prevails. We recognize that our cause crosses all partisan lines, that it is a long awaited return to basics, that it is exemplary, and doable now. The day we do not insist on honesty and integrity in our food system is the day we consign ourselves to deprivation. Deprivation is a horrible path we would wish upon anyone. By extension, not knowing what is IN our food equates to not knowing what is happening TO our food. For instance, on a world scale, millions unnecessarily starve. In 1974, the UN claimed sufficient worldwide food production capacity exists to feed 76 billion people 2500 calories daily. Waste and poor Choices are the culprit. The US military budget of $700 billion is 23 TIMES larger than the $30 billion cost of feeding the entire world. Misplaced priorities grow like mutant superweeds in our poisoned, disoriented minds. But we are awakened, potent and persuasive. We have a better outcome in mind. How will we bring about this outcome? My simple and joyful instrument of Choice is my wallet. The cascading economic effect of our combined Choices trumps every obstacle. Focused, we are unmatched in our power and effectiveness. For the duration, by our highest instincts and the blessings of Providence, we give our sustained and focused support to Food Labeling and "Right to Know" voter and consumer initiatives. We instruct our children and inspire friends. We share knowledge about the importance of Food Choice and Right to Know as if our lives depended on it - because they DO, actually. We are urgent, yet patient, making us unstoppable. We are "all of us" rather than "us and not them." Welcome to a better world. Visit Proogranic.org and add your email address to receive an invitation to our opening day.
Exposing the GMO Lynchpin
By Ms. Samm Simpson
When a lie becomes the truth, then the truth becomes a lie. That’s the GMO play book; starting with the 1992 Monsanto led FDA policy of substantial equivalence. The mendacity continues today with the worn out GMO mantra; “we’ll feed the world, increase yield and use less pesticide. The myth of GMO and organic coexistence is another propped up falsehood.
But the crux, the bell weather, the foundation, the lynchpin of why GMOs continue to proliferate is the most egregious lie of all. And it has been repeated and repeated for nearly thirty years. It is embedded in policy statements of food manufacturers, in the halls of government, in the staff and students of universities who procure big dollars from Biotech Agricultural giants, and in the mind of unknowing Americans. It goes like this;
“The Food and Drug Administration, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Environmental Protection Agency have all concluded that food using ingredients from biotechnologically-improved crops is completely safe and no different in any meaningful way from other food.”
So where is the peer-reviewed research that says it’s safe for humans to eat food containing DNA injected with cross species bacteria , such as those resistant to Bt or Roundup or 2,4-D then combined with e coli, a cauliflower promoter virus and topped off with an antibiotic resistance gene? There isn’t any.
Some scientists doing independent GMO research have been silenced, but we do have reports of the effects of GMO food on hamsters and rats. The findings indicate reproductive disorders, increased liver toxicity and Death. Dr. Don M Huber, professor emeritus of plant pathology, has warned of devastating results of glyphosate (Roundup), and the emergence of a new, unclassified organism found in the soil, the roots of Roundup ready crops, and in the guts and manure of animals that eat GMO feed. Dr. Huber makes this startling conclusion in his interview with Dr. Mercola.
“But what we do know is that it [this new, unclassified organism] causes reproductive failure, infertility, as well as miscarriage for cattle, horses, pigs, sheep, and poultry. We can anticipate with that broad spectrum of animal species, which is extremely unusual, that it will also be with humans.”
You’re most likely aware of the toxic effects of GMOs. But do you still feed them to your animals? Do you still eat them? Have you made a purposeful choice to stop buying any GMO products, including animal feed? Will you commit to tell one friend, one family member, one stranger, one doctor, one farmer, one teacher, one car mechanic, one hair dresser, one veterinarian, one chef, one religious leader, one television or radio program how GMOs can not only destroy our organic food supply, but put the control of food into the hands of a corporate state? Will you speak out? Join the Institute for Responsible Technology’s Tipping Point Network. It’s past time to expose the GMO lynchpin. It’s time we dismantled it.
Ms. Samm Simpson is a GMO Educator and Activist in Florida and North Carolina. She can be reached at email@example.com
CT-N OnDemand with Jeffrey Smith about GMOs and Labeling Bill
This is a detailed video from Jeffrey Smith visit to Connecticut in early March Rep. Roy held a news conference/public forum on GMO’s (Genetically Modified Organisms). The news conference featured information and legislation (HB 5117) aimed at labeling foods that contain GMO’s. After the news conference, the legislative forum featured Jeffrey Smith, a leading consumer advocate promoting healthier non-GMO choices.
- Jeffrey Smith's Powerful New Film, and a Matching Grant to Make It Happen In late April, we're launching our "Campaign to Protect Children From GMOs. "*Help us get the video ready in time to be an integral part of that campaign by donating today. Your contribution will enable us to produce and promote the film. And we're sure it'll be a film you'll want to share with every parent and caregiver you know-as well as every politician, community decision-maker, and media outlet in your area. Donate today and have twice as much impact, because your tax-deductible gift will be matched through the generosity of Mike Adams and NaturalNews.com (up to a total of $10,000). *Also, the names of those who donate at least $500 will be included in promotional literature about the film. For those who donate at least $1000, their names will appear in the film credits. * The video, currently in development, goes beyond what we already know about the documented health risks of GMOs for both humans and livestock. We've got healthcare professionals on film, and we're giving them a bigger microphone than ever before on the GMO issue. You'll hear pediatricians and family practitioners describe their direct experiences with a growing epidemic of disorders among Americans, especially our children, and why GMOs are almost certainly a major contributor. Veterinarians are witnessing the same health impacts on our pets and in livestock. These doctors are finding that when food and livestock feed are reversed (from GMO to non-GMO), so too are the symptoms. It will be difficult for someone to watch this film and continue to feed their family GMOs. Our kids are like the canaries in the coal mines-they're sensitive indicators of a system out of balance. Young children are even more vulnerable to the health effects of GMOs given their less-developed immune system, their greater sensitivity to toxins and allergens, their undeveloped blood/brain barrier, and the fact that their fast-growing bodies require more food per pound than adults. And they're getting sick in large numbers. Parents know it. Doctors know it. And there's more evidence than ever before that GMOs are a major contributor. So please donate today, and let's get that film rollin'! Thanks, Jeffrey Smith and the IRT Staff
- New Interview: Mike Adams interviews Jeffrey Smith Jeffrey Smith, interviewed by Mike Adams of NaturalNews.com, gives an update on the latest GMO news. Please Contribute to a Groundbreaking New GMO Film -Donation
Watch Genetic Roulette Below!
Watch Genetic Roulette!
- Inspiring story shows shortcut to end GMOs Read this inspiring story below to find out what is possible with your financial support. I think it’s a real eye opener for those who think ending GMOs is a long, drawn out, and difficult process.
175 Days on the Road, 2011
I talked to pioneers at Bioneers, birders at Audubon,
Gardeners at the Seed Fest, and greenies at the Greenfest.
To children at a charter school, purchasers at hospitals,
and managers of campus dining halls.
To mothers in Marin, farmers in Minnesota, and Amish in Ohio.
To meditators in Manhattan, protesters in Seattle, and agitators in San Francisco.
To practitioners of naturopathy, integrative allopathy, and traditional iridology.
To Chico Weston Pricers, Fairfield raw foodists,
To vegans in LA, steak eaters in Texas
At UC Berkeley, Cal Tech, and Cal Poly Pomona.
At Union College, Weatherford College, and .
At UCLA, UCSD, and UCSC.
At Loma Linda School of Public Health and Toronto Total Health.
At two Health Freedom Expos,
two Natural Products Expos, and
two Rotary Clubs in
At Vitamin Cottage Natural Grocers,
Berlin Natural Bakery,
Marlene's Natural Foods.
At "Justice Begins with Seeds"
and the "Heirloom Seed Expo."
Hosted by GMO-Free and Right2Know,
I also danced at Farm Aid,
Hiked mountains near Hanoi,
Dodged traffic in New Delhi
And Climbed the Great Wall
And along the way, I watched as the coming non-GMO world grew wings.
Please help us end the genetic engineering of our food supply by making a tax-deductible donation today.
Thanks so much,
Five 2-minute videos and 1 new song, tell the story of GMOs—Fast
Five 2-minute videos and 1 new song, tell the story of GMOs—Fast
By Jeffrey M. Smith
I like long videos on GMOs, which tell the whole story and change people’s lives in one go. Our video Everything You HAVE TO KNOW about Dangerous Genetically Modified Foods is 84 minutes, but it does the heavy lifting. For example, when I was interviewed by Alex Bogusky for his FearLess TV Show he mentioned that he had tried unsuccessfully for years to get his parents to change their diet. He recently gave his dad (who was on the set with us) the “Everything…” DVD. His father did not watch it, but passed it onto his mother. Then Alex’s dad announced loudly, “And the next day I didn’t recognize anything in the refrigerator!”
But not everyone has 84 minutes to watch a video (or a wife who does). Lots of people have been asking me to produce short films. Even the 18-minute Your Milk on Drugs—Just Say No! is too long for people raised with an MTV time span.
So I asked Alex if he would like to videotape me for a few hours, and help me craft short messages. Alex hesitated.
I thought I was just asking for some lightweight advice during the shoot. But this was Alex Bogusky. He doesn’t do lightweight.
Alex was described by Fast Company as “the Elvis of advertising,” a “pop-culture Houdini,” and the “daddy of 21st-century advertising.” He designed the Truth Campaign for tobacco, brought the king to Burger King, was crowned “Creative Director of the Decade” by Adweek, and was a partner at a $1.5 billion company that Advertising Age named “Agency of the Decade,”…and then he walked away. Alex realized he could no longer speak his truth. Now, under his own banner of The Fearless Revolution, he’s empowering consumers who will counterbalance corporate power.
If he agreed to shoot the videos, Alex knew he wouldn’t stop there. He did agree, and he didn’t stop.
He took the footage, assembled a team, and created five fabulous 2-minute videos, presented now for the first time as the full series.
I’m adding to the mix a funny and brilliant new song about GMOs by the talented Rob Herring. He offers his 5-minute piece on iTunes, donating half of the $0.99 download fee to our Institute for Responsible Technology to help us stop the genetic engineering of the food supply. The download link is below.
My question for you is this: after you watch the videos and listen to the song, will you replace everything in your refrigerator? In any case, please share the links, so others will be enlightened, entertained, and consider adopting a non-GMO diet.
It's Time for a Food Fight (3 min)
Dont Experiment with your Baby (2 min)
Double Dipping Danger (2 min)
Double Dipping Danger (2 min)
Cap the Gene Spill (2 min)
GMO song: Question What's Inside, by Rob Herring
You can DOWNLOAD THE SONG Question What’s Inside from iTunes. Remember to “Like” it and give it a “5 star” rating. You can also “Like” the Question What's Inside FACEBOOK PAGE to stay updated on upcoming release dates for more humorous health awareness tunes from Rob Herring.
50% of all proceeds will be donated to Jeffrey Smith’s Institute for Responsible Technology to help raise GMO awareness.
- Biotech’s Dirty Tricks Exposed in New Documentary Scientists Under Attack Film by Bertram Verhaag and Denkmal Films. 60 minutes, Plus 30 minute bonus documentary: Monster Salmon. “One question means one career.” This was the harsh warning of UC Berkeley Professor Ignacio Chapela for those daring to conduct independent research on genetically engineered foods and crops. “You ask one question, you get the answer and you might or might not be able to publish it; but that is the end of your career.” Both he and biologist Arpad Pusztai dared to asked questions and do the research. And then all hell broke lose. Using stunning visuals filmed on three continents, veteran German filmmaker Bertram Verhaag tracks the fate of these two scientists at the hands of a multi-billion dollar industry that is desperate to hide the dangers of their genetically modified organisms (GMOs). BR Online says of the film, “Belief in noble and incorrupt research and science is reduced to absurdity.” Arthouse says the “movie shows how purchased truth becomes the currency in the perfidious business between science and multinationals.” And GMWatch writes, “Original research showing problems with GM crops is buried under a deluge of smears and follow up studies are not done.” The insect-killing, career-ending potato “As a scientist looking at it and actively working on the field, I find that it’s very, very unfair to use our fellow citizens as guinea pigs.”— Arpad Pusztai, UK’s World in Action TV show When Dr. Pusztai voiced his concerns about the health risks of genetically modified (GM) foods during a nationally televised interview in August 1998, his was not simply just another voice in a contentious debate. Pusztai was the world leader in his field, and he had received major government funding to come up with the official method for testing the safety of GM foods. His protocols were supposed to become the required tests before any new GMO entered the European market. Pusztai was an insider, and an advocate of GM foods—that is until he actually ran those tests on supposedly harmless GM potatoes. The high-tech spuds were engineered to produce their own pesticide. “The point of the whole genetic modification experiment was to protect the potato against aphids, which are one of the major pests in Scotland,” he said. His team inserted a gene from the snowdrop plant into the potatoes, which did in fact protect the GM crop from the insects. As part of his safety studies, he fed that insecticide producing GM potato to rats, along with a complete and balanced diet. Another group of rats ate natural potatoes. A third was fed not only the natural potatoes, but they also received a dose of the same insecticide that the GM potato produced. This way, if the insecticide was harmful, he would see the same health problems in both the group that ate the GM potatoes, and those that ate the diet spiked with the insecticide. To his surprise, only those that ate the GM potato had severe problems—in every organ and every system he looked at. Massive health problems linked to GMOs “After the animals were killed and dissected,” Pusztai recalled, “we found out that in comparison with the non-genetically modified potatoes, their internal organs developed differently.” The intestines and stomach lining, for example, increased in size, the liver and kidneys were smaller, and the overall rate of growth was retarded. And the immune system suffered. Pusztai emphasized, “They found in those data 36 – 36! – very highly significant differences between the GM-fed animals and the non-GM fed animals.” Since the rats that ate the natural potatoes plus the insecticide did not have these issues, there was one obvious conclusion—the process of genetically engineering the potatoes caused unpredicted side effects, turning a harmless food into a dangerous one. When Pusztai saw the extensive damage that his potatoes caused in the lab animals, he also realized that if biotech companies had done the safety studies, the dangerous potatoes would have easily made it to market. He knew this because a few months earlier, he had reviewed the confidential submissions from the biotech companies which allowed their GM soy and corn onto the market. “They were flimsy,” he said. “They were not scientifically well founded.” They would never detect the changes in GMO-fed animals. Reading the industry studies was a turning point in Pusztai’s life. He realized what he was doing and what the industry scientists were doing was diametrically opposed. He was doing safety studies. Companies like Monsanto, on the other hand, were doing as little as possible to get their foods on the market as quickly as possible. Pusztai also realized that the GM soy and corn already on the market had been produced using the same process that had created his dangerous potato. Thus, the GM crops being consumed in the UK and the US might lead to similar damage in the gut, brain and organs of the entire population. Thus, during his TV interview, Pusztai flatly stated: “If I had the choice, I would certainly not eat [GM foods] until I see at least comparable experimental evidence which we are producing for genetically modified potatoes.” Ambushed After the TV show aired, Pusztai was a hero at his prestigious Rowett Institute, where the director praised his work to the press, calling it world-class research. After two days of high-profile media coverage throughout Europe, however, the director received two phone calls from the UK Prime Minister’s Office. “It’s only when we think there was political pressure coming from the top that the situation changed,” said Pusztai. “And then the director, to save his own skin, decided that the best way to deal with the situation [was] A) to destroy me, B) to make me shut up.” Pusztai was told the next morning that his contract would not be renewed, he was silenced with threats of a lawsuit, his team was disbanded, and the protocols were not to be implemented in GMO safety assessments. And then came the attacks. Coordinated between the Institute, biotech academics, and even the pro-GMO UK government, a campaign to destroy Pusztai’s reputation was launched. They were determined to counter the negative media coverage and protect the reputation of GMOs—even if it meant promoting blatant lies and sacrificing a top scientist’s career. Because Pusztai was gagged, he said, “whatever they did say on TV, radio and wrote in the newspapers, I could not deny it, I could not correct it, I could not say what was the real situation.” “The most hurtful thing of all,” remembers Pusztai’s wife Susan, “was that he wasn’t allowed to talk to his colleagues and his colleagues were not allowed to talk to him. So whenever he entered a room, they went silent within seconds.” After seven excruciating months, a committee at the UK Parliament invited Pusztai to speak. This lifted the gag order, which allowed Pusztai to ultimately publish his research, and be interviewed for this film. Oops—GMOs weren’t supposed to be there Ignacio Chapela, a professor at the University of California at Berkeley, had “a long-term relationship with a group of indigenous communities” in Mexico. Although GM corn was not yet legally grown in the country, Chapela decided to equip the Mexicans with a laboratory that could test for its presence, in case GMOs were eventually introduced. To help with the training, his colleague David Quist brought GM corn from the US. For the non-GM control corn, Chapela said, “we thought we should just use the local corn, which, of course, is going to be clean and wonderful. And the surprise came when the negative control started coming out positive. That means we started finding transgenic materials where they were not supposed to be.” Chapela says, “The reason why our findings were so astounding was because it was thought that there was no transgenic corn being planted in Mexico at all. And people wanted it that way. . . . Why? Because Mexico is the center of origin of corn. The Mexican government was worried about maintaining the integrity of the land races.” Apparently GM corn imported as food was unknowingly being grown, and had already started contaminating the source of corn’s biodiversity. According to Chapela the industry “had been telling the world that they really had control over these crops, that if they planted . . . transgenic corn in one field, that transgenic corn would not go anywhere else. So our discovery that we were finding transgenic corn maybe a thousand miles from the nearest legal transgenic corn field was a huge problem for them because it really showed very simply, and with real evidence, that they really did not have control.” Chapela and Quist wrote up the finding, which was accepted for publication by the prominent journal Nature. This made “many people within the industry very nervous and very unhappy,” says Chapella. They “started a discreditation campaign for the paper. They did not want the paper to be published.” Unable to stop Nature, however, a Monsanto PR company - the Bivings Group - deployed plan B. “They created two fictitious characters, two doctors,” recounts Chapela. “And these two doctors went on the internet and started spreading rumors that what we had said was false and that the paper was flawed.” The disinformation campaign went viral. It put huge pressure on Nature, spread the false notion that contamination had not taken place, and resulted in a campaign against Chapela by biotech advocates in his University. “In my case,” says Chapela, “I was pushed out of the university at least three times. Every time I fought back and we managed to keep my job. But it’s been very difficult.” Trashing scientists worldwide The treatment of Pusztai and Chapela illustrates what happens around the world to scientists who discover harm from GM crops. The work of Russian scientist Irina Ermakova, for example, was viciously attacked, and there were repeated attempts to intimidate her: papers were burnt on her desk and samples were stolen from her lab. Peeking through these stories of personal attacks are the very real dangers of GMOs, which compel the audience to question the use of GMOs in their own diets. Consider the impact of Ermakova’s research on young women planning to raise a family. After she fed genetically engineered soy flour to female rats, more than half of their offspring died within three weeks. The film also unravels the claims of biotech benefits on the farm level. A visit to Brazil introduces herbicide-tolerant Roundup Ready soybeans, engineered to make weeding a field easier. Farmers can spray Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide right on the field, and the GMOs survive. But this has led to massive overuse of Roundup, which in turn has led to the emergence of herbicide-tolerant superweeds—no longer controllable with Roundup. A natural reaction to these stories might be to ask why isn’t the government telling us the truth and protecting us. Unfortunately, they are part of the problem. FDA cover up The FDA scientists who reviewed GMOs in the early 1990s were uniformly concerned about their health impacts, according to attorney Andrew Kimbrell, who runs the D.C.-based Center for Food Safety. He was on the team that sued the FDA in 1998, forcing them to turn over nearly 60,000 pages of secret internal memos. Kimbrell extracts key memos from massive filing cabinets in his office, reading the scientists’ warnings: toxins, nutritional problems, loss of biodiversity, change in water use, etc. “So the scientists asked for these studies,” says Kimbrell. “But the politicians at the FDA and in the administration at that time said no. They suppressed the science. And these questions, these studies, have never been done.” Instead, the US government maintains the illusion that nothing is wrong, and that this science works just as the biotech companies are telling us. This is beautifully illustrated with excerpts of biotech apologist Nina Fedoroff, the former science advisor to the Secretary of State. Her bland assurances about the safety of GMOs crumble with each new revelation in the film. Unprecedented risks; no benefits “No one gets up in the morning saying I want to go buy a genetically engineered food,” says Kimbrell. “They offer no benefits, no more nutrition, no more flavor, no nothing. They only offer risks.” He says the average rational person would ask, “Why would I buy a food that offers me no new benefits but only risks?” Kimbrell, who wrote the book Your Right to Know, says it was “critical for the industry to get these foods out without anyone knowing, because if they knew, they would obviously choose not to buy them.” But as Chapela’s discovery of self-propagating GMO contamination illustrates, the risk of GMOs extends well beyond individual considerations. He warns, “We are manipulating life in a way that we really do not understand, we cannot control, and then we’re letting it go into the environment. So it’s a change that is radical, that is unprecedented, that is beyond anything we can understand, and it is irretrievable. We cannot get it back. That’s my concern!” Scientists Under Attack is recommended for all those who love nature, and for everyone who eats. To view the trailer, click here. Bonus film The Scientists Under Attack DVD includes a 30 minute bonus film Monster Salmon, also by Bertram Verhaag. It describes the efforts by the US firm AquaBounty to bring fast growing genetically engineered salmon to market in the US. Given the FDA’s recent attempts to fast-track this controversial fish, this additional documentary is important and timely. Film by Bertram Verhaag and Denkmal Films. 60 minutes, Plus 30 minute bonus documentary: Monster Salmon. Jeffrey M. Smith is the author of Seeds of Deception, the world’s bestselling book on GMOs, which also presents the stories of Arpad Pusztai and Ignacio Chapela. He is also the author of Genetic Roulette, and the Executive Director of the Institute for Responsible Technology. The Institute’s Non-GMO Shopping Guide website, iPhone app, and pocket guide, help people navigate to healthier non-GMO foods. Mr. Smith appears in the film Scientists Under Attack, and has arranged for its distribution in the US.
We the People: Announcing White House Petitions & How They Work
From the White House blog. Posted by Macon Phillips on September 01, 2011 at 07:00 AM EDTSomething exciting is coming to WhiteHouse.gov. It's called We the People and it will significantly change how the public -- you! -- engage with the White House online.
Our Constitution guarantees your right to petition our government. Now, with We the People, we're offering a new way to submit an online petition on a range of issues -- and get an official response.
We're announcing We the People before it's live to give folks time to think about what petitions they want to create, and how they are going to build the support to get a response.When will it be live? Soon. If you want to be the first to know when the system is available, sign up for an email alert. Here's a video we put together to explain what it is and how it works: Here are the basics: Individuals will be able to create or sign a petition that calls for action by the federal government on a range of issues. If a petition gathers enough support (i.e., signatures) it will be reviewed by a standing group of White House staff, routed to any other appropriate offices and generate an official, on-the-record response. How many signatures? Initially petitions that gather more than 5,000 signatures in 30 days will be reviewed and answered. There's another aspect to this meant to emphasize the grassroots, word of mouth organizing that thrives on the internet. At first, a petition's unique URL will only be known to its creator and will not show up anywhere else on WhiteHouse.gov. It's up to that person to share it in their network to gather an initial amount of signatures -- initially 150 -- before it is searchable on WhiteHouse.gov. As we move forward, your feedback about We the People will be invaluable, and there are a few ways you can share it. Numerous pages on WhiteHouse.gov, including the We the People section, feature a feedback form. In addition, you can use the Twitter hashtag #WHWeb to give the White House digital team advice and feedback. I'll also try to answer questions when I have time today -- you can pose them to @macon44. Finally, while We the People is a fresh approach to official, online petitions, the United States isn't the first to try it; for example, the United Kingdom offers e-petitions, and this work was very helpful as we developed our own.Macon Philips is the White House Director of Digital Strategy
- 10 Reasons to Avoid GMOs 1. GMOs are unhealthy. The American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) urges doctors to prescribe non-GMO diets for all patients. They cite animal studies showing organ damage, gastrointestinal and immune system disorders, accelerated aging, and infertility. Human studies show how genetically modified (GM) food can leave material behind inside us, possibly causing long-term problems. Genes inserted into GM soy, for example, can transfer into the DNA of bacteria living inside us, and that the toxic insecticide produced by GM corn was found in the blood of pregnant women and their unborn fetuses. Numerous health problems increased after GMOs were introduced in 1996. The percentage of Americans with three or more chronic illnesses jumped from 7% to 13% in just 9 years; food allergies skyrocketed, and disorders such as autism, reproductive disorders, digestive problems, and others are on the rise. Although there is not sufficient research to confirm that GMOs are a contributing factor, doctors groups such as the AAEM tell us not to wait before we start protecting ourselves, and especially our children who are most at risk. The American Public Health Association and American Nurses Association are among many medical groups that condemn the use of GM bovine growth hormone, because the milk from treated cows has more of the hormone IGF-1 (insulin-like growth factor 1)?which is linked to cancer. 2. GMOs contaminate?forever. GMOs cross pollinate and their seeds can travel. It is impossible to fully clean up our contaminated gene pool. Self-propagating GMO pollution will outlast the effects of global warming and nuclear waste. The potential impact is huge, threatening the health of future generations. GMO contamination has also caused economic losses for organic and non-GMO farmers who often struggle to keep their crops pure. 3. GMOs increase herbicide use. Most GM crops are engineered to be "herbicide tolerant"?they deadly weed killer. Monsanto, for example, sells Roundup Ready crops, designed to survive applications of their Roundup herbicide. Between 1996 and 2008, US farmers sprayed an extra 383 million pounds of herbicide on GMOs. Overuse of Roundup results in "superweeds," resistant to the herbicide. This is causing farmers to use even more toxic herbicides every year. Not only does this create environmental harm, GM foods contain higher residues of toxic herbicides. Roundup, for example, is linked with sterility, hormone disruption, birth defects, and cancer. 4. Genetic engineering creates dangerous side effects. By mixing genes from totally unrelated species, genetic engineering unleashes a host of unpredictable side effects. Moreover, irrespective of the type of genes that are inserted, the very process of creating a GM plant can result in massive collateral damage that produces new toxins, allergens, carcinogens, and nutritional deficiencies. 5. Government oversight is dangerously lax. Most of the health and environmental risks of GMOs are ignored by governments' superficial regulations and safety assessments. The reason for this tragedy is largely political. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), for example, doesn't require a single safety study, does not mandate labeling of GMOs, and allows companies to put their GM foods onto the market without even notifying the agency. Their justification was the claim that they had no information showing that GM foods were substantially different. But this was a lie. Secret agency memos made public by a lawsuit show that the overwhelming consensus even among the FDA's own scientists was that GMOs can create unpredictable, hard-to-detect side effects. They urged long-term safety studies. But the White House had instructed the FDA to promote biotechnology, and the agency official in charge of policy was Michael Taylor, Monsanto's former attorney, later their vice president. He's now the US Food Safety Czar. 6. The biotech industry uses "tobacco science" to claim product safety. Biotech companies like Monsanto told us that Agent Orange, PCBs, and DDT were safe. They are now using the same type of superficial, rigged research to try and convince us that GMOs are safe. Independent scientists, however, have caught the spin-masters red-handed, demonstrating without doubt how industry-funded research is designed to avoid finding problems, and how adverse findings are distorted or denied. 7. Independent research and reporting is attacked and suppressed. Scientists who discover problems with GMOs have been attacked, gagged, fired, threatened, and denied funding. The journal Nature acknowledged that a "large block of scientists . . . denigrate research by other legitimate scientists in a knee-jerk, partisan, emotional way that is not helpful in advancing knowledge." Attempts by media to expose problems are also often censored. 8. GMOs harm the environment. GM crops and their associated herbicides can harm birds, insects, amphibians, marine ecosystems, and soil organisms. They reduce bio-diversity, pollute water resources, and are unsustainable. For example, GM crops are eliminating habitat for monarch butterflies, whose populations are down 50% in the US. Roundup herbicide has been shown to cause birth defects in amphibians, embryonic deaths and endocrine disruptions, and organ damage in animals even at very low doses. GM canola has been found growing wild in North Dakota and California, threatening to pass on its herbicide tolerant genes on to weeds. 9. GMOs do not increase yields, and work against feeding a hungry world. Whereas sustainable non-GMO agricultural methods used in developing countries have conclusively resulted in yield increases of 79% and higher, GMOs do not, on average, increase yields at all. This was evident in the Union of Concerned Scientists' 2009 report Failure to Yield?the definitive study to date on GM crops and yield. The International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD) report, authored by more than 400 scientists and backed by 58 governments, stated that GM crop yields were "highly variable" and in some cases, "yields declined." The report noted, "Assessment of the technology lags behind its development, information is anecdotal and contradictory, and uncertainty about possible benefits and damage is unavoidable." They determined that the current GMOs have nothing to offer the goals of reducing hunger and poverty, improving nutrition, health and rural livelihoods, and facilitating social and environmental sustainability. On the contrary, GMOs divert money and resources that would otherwise be spent on more safe, reliable, and appropriate technologies. 10. By avoiding GMOs, you contribute to the coming tipping point of consumer rejection, forcing them out of our food supply. Because GMOs give no consumer benefits, if even a small percentage of us start rejecting brands that contain them, GM ingredients will become a marketing liability. Food companies will kick them out. In Europe, for example, the tipping point was achieved in 1999, just after a high profile GMO safety scandal hit the papers and alerted citizens to the potential dangers. In the US, a consumer rebellion against GM bovine growth hormone has also reached a tipping point, kicked the cow drug out of dairy products by Wal-Mart, Starbucks, Dannon, Yoplait, and most of America's dairies. NOTE: As an additional motivation to avoid GMOs, you may wish to take a lesson from the animals. Eyewitness reports from around the world describe several situations where animals, when given a choice, avoid genetically modified food. These include cows, pigs, geese, elk, deer, raccoons, mice, rats, squirrels, chicken, and buffalo. We’re pretty sure the animals didn’t read the above 10 reasons. The Campaign for Healthier Eating in America is designed to achieve a tipping point against GMOs in the US. The number of non-GMO shoppers needed is probably just 5% of the population. The key is to educate consumers about the documented health dangers and provide a Non-GMO Shopping Guide to make avoiding GMOs much easier. Please choose healthier non-GMO brands, tell others about GMOs so they can do the same, and join the Non-GMO Tipping Point Network. Together we can quickly reclaim a non-GMO food supply.
- GMO T-Shirt Contest! UPDATE: Contest deadline extended to August 22, 2011 How do you convey all the vast problems with genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in a simple T-shirt? How do you depict the extensive health dangers, the irreversible contamination of the gene pool, corporate control over farmers and our food supply, the patenting and ownership of life, the enormous loss of biodiversity, the rigged corporate research, the continuous lies about how GMOs offer higher yields and will feed the world, and the long line of independent scientists who’ve been attacked whenever they discover problems—or even criticize the technology. And how can that same T-shirt also convey the feeling of empowerment by making healthier non-GMO choices, the massive consumer revolt now brewing against GMOs, the fact that only a small percentage of consumers can spark a non-GMO tipping point, and the awesome celebration just over the horizon when we re-claim a non-GMO food supply? How do you say that all in one T-shirt? I have no idea. But you might. Go to the GMO T-Shirt Design Contest and either submit your own entry, or VOTE for your favorite. And if it doesn’t quite contain the complete GMO message, perhaps you will find (or design) one that is most compelling, appealing, shocking, funny, beautiful, or outrageous. And the best of them all, the chosen design, will help us fund the campaign that will deliver that awesome non-GMO celebration we are all waiting and working for. So don’t just sit there. <Click here to enter your designs to the GMO T-shirt contest! Safe Eating, Jeffrey
10 Reasons to Avoid GMOs
We are constructing the top 10 reasons to avoid eating GMOs. Before we fill in the details and polish this up, we’d like to get your opinion. Is this the best 10? Should some be kicked out, combined, or replaced. Are there better ones?
Please write your suggestions in the comment section below, to help us prepare.
10 Reasons to Avoid GMOs
- GMOs carry significant health dangers
- Releasing GMOs out doors leads to irreversible contamination of the ecosystem
- The use of the herbicide Roundup is dramatically increased with GM Roundup Ready crops, which negatively affects human, animal, plant, and environmental health
- The process of genetic engineering is imprecise, fraught with unpredicted side effects, and based on obsolete assumptions
- The regulations and approvals of GMOs are insufficient to protect human health and the environment
- The industry-funded research is superficial, and largely rigged to avoid finding problems
- Independent scientists who discover problems are attacked, media seeking to expose problems are censored
- GMOs lead to environmental problems such as loss of bio-diversity and harm to birds, insects, and soil ecology
- GMOs do not help feed the world, but rather work against that urgent goal
- By avoiding GMOs, you help generate the tipping point of consumer rejection
Dangerous Toxins From Genetically Modified Plants Found in Women and Fetuses
Watch this two minute video, Double Dipping Danger, produced by Alex Bogusky, and then read about new evidence below showing even more harm from genetically modified foods. Click HERE to play.
When U.S. regulators approved Monsanto's genetically modified "Bt" corn, they knew it would add a deadly poison into our food supply. That's what it was designed to do. The corn's DNA is equipped with a gene from soil bacteria called Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) that produces the Bt-toxin. It's a pesticide; it breaks open the stomach of certain insects and kills them.
But Monsanto and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) swore up and down that it was only insects that would be hurt. The Bt-toxin, they claimed, would be completely destroyed in the human digestive system and not have any impact on all of us trusting corn-eating consumers.
Oops. A study just proved them wrong.
Doctors at Sherbrooke University Hospital in Quebec found the corn's Bt-toxin in the blood of pregnant women and their babies, as well as in non-pregnant women.i (Specifically, the toxin was identified in 93% of 30 pregnant women, 80% of umbilical blood in their babies, and 67% of 39 non-pregnant women.) The study has been accepted for publication in the peer reviewed journal Reproductive Toxicology.
According to the UK Daily Mail, this study, which "appears to blow a hole in" safety claims, "has triggered calls for a ban on imports and a total overhaul of the safety regime for genetically modified (GM) crops and food." Organizations from England to New Zealand are now calling for investigations and for GM crops to be halted due to the serious implications of this finding.
Links to allergies, auto-immune disease, and other disorders
There's already plenty of evidence that the Bt-toxin produced in GM corn and cotton plants is toxic to humans and mammals and triggers immune system responses. The fact that it flows through our blood supply, and that is passes through the placenta into fetuses, may help explain the rise in many disorders in the US since Bt crop varieties were first introduced in 1996.
In government-sponsored research in Italyii, mice fed Monsanto's Bt corn showed a wide range of immune responses. Their elevated IgE and IgG antibodies, for example, are typically associated with allergies and infections. The mice had an increase in cytokines, which are associated with "allergic and inflammatory responses." The specific cytokines (interleukins) that were elevated are also higher in humans who suffer from a wide range of disorders, from arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease, to MS and cancer (see chart).
Elevated interleukins Associations IL-6 Rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, osteoporosis, multiple sclerosis, various types of cancer (multiple myeloma and prostate cancer) IL-13 Allergy, allergic rhinitis, ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease) MIP-1b Autoimmune disease and colitis. IL-12p70 Inflammatory bowel disease, multiple sclerosis
The young mice in the study also had elevated T cells (gamma delta), which are increased in people with asthma, and in children with food allergies, juvenile arthritis, and connective tissue diseases. The Bt corn that was fed to these mice, MON 810, produced the same Bt-toxin that was found in the blood of women and fetuses.
When rats were fed another of Monsanto's Bt corn varieties called MON 863, their immune systems were also activated, showing higher numbers of basophils, lymphocytes, and white blood cells. These can indicate possible allergies, infections, toxins, and various disease states including cancer. There were also signs of toxicity in the liver and kidneys.iiiNatural Bt is dangerous
Farmers have used Bt-toxin from soil bacteria as a natural pesticide for years. But they spray it on plants, where it washes off and biodegrades in sunlight. The GM version is built-in; every plant cell has its own spray bottle. The toxin doesn't wash off; it's consumed. Furthermore, the plant-produced version of the poison is thousands of times more concentrated than the spray; is designed to be even more toxic; and has properties of known allergens—it actually fails the World Health Organization's allergen screening tests.iv
The biotech companies ignore the substantial difference between the GM toxin and the natural bacteria version, and boldly claim that since the natural spray has a history of safe use in agriculture, it's therefore OK to put the poison directly into our food. But even this claim of safe use of Bt spray ignores peer-reviewed studies showing just the opposite.
When natural Bt-toxin was fed to mice, they had tissue damage, immune responses as powerful as cholera toxinv, and even started reacting to other foods that were formerly harmless.vi Farm workers exposed to Bt also showed immune responses.vii The EPA's own expert Scientific Advisory Panel said that these mouse and farm worker studies "suggest that Bt proteins could act as antigenic and allergenic sources."viii But the EPA ignored the warnings. They also overlooked studiesix showing that about 500 people in Washington state and Vancouver showed allergic and flu-like symptoms when they were exposed to the spray when it was used to kill gypsy moths.
Bt cotton linked to human allergies, animal deaths
Indian farm workers are suffering from rashes and itching and other symptoms after coming into contact with Bt cotton.
Now thousands of Indian farm laborers are suffering from the same allergic and flu-like symptoms as those in the Pacific Northwest simply from handling genetically engineered cotton plants that produce Bt-toxin. According to reports and records from doctors, hospitals, and pharmacies, as well as numerous investigative reports and case studies, workers are struggling with constant itching and rashes; some take antihistamines every day in order to go to work.
It gets worse.
All thirteen buffalo of a small Indian village died after grazing for a single day on Bt cotton plants.
When they allow livestock to graze on the Bt cotton plants after harvest, thousands of sheep, goats, and buffalo died. Numerous others got sick. I visited one village where for seven to eight years they allowed their buffalo to graze on natural cotton plants without incident. But on January 3rd, 2008, they allowed their 13 buffalo to graze on Bt cotton plants for the first time. After just one day's exposure, all died. The village also lost 26 goats and sheep.
One small study in Andhra Pradesh reported that all six sheep that grazed on Bt cotton plants died within a month, while the three controls fed natural cotton plants showed no adverse symptoms.Living pesticide factories inside us?
Getting back to the Bt-toxin now circulating in the blood of North American adults and newborns—how did it get there? The study authors speculate that it was consumed in the normal diet of the Canadian middle class. They even suggest that the toxin may have come from eating meat from animals fed Bt corn—as most livestock are.
I'd like to speculate on another possible source. But I warn you, it's not pretty.
The only human feeding study every published on genetically modified organisms (GMOs) was conducted on Roundup Ready soybeans. Here's their back story: Scientists found bacteria growing in a chemical waste dump near their factory, surviving the presence of Monsanto's Roundup herbicide. The herbicide normally kills bacteria, but this organism had some special gene that allowed it to survive. So Monsanto scientists figured, "Let's put it into the food supply!"
By forcing that genes from that bacterium into soybean plants' DNA, the plants then survive an otherwise deadly dose of Roundup herbicide—hence the name Roundup Ready.
In the human studyx, some of the subjects were found to have Roundup Ready gut bacteria! This means that sometime in the past, from eating one or more meals of GM soybeans, the gene that had been discovered in the chemical waste dump and forced into the soy, had transferred into the DNA of bacteria living inside their intestines—and continued to function. That means that long after we stop eating GMOs, we may still have dangerous GM proteins produced continuously inside of us.
When the results of the study emerged, the funding from the pro-GMO UK government mysteriously dried up, so they were not able to see if the same type of gene transfer happens with Bt genes from, say, corn chips. If it does, it means that eating Bt corn might turn our intestinal flora into living pesticide factories—continually manufacturing Bt-toxin from within our digestive systems.
I don't know of a test that can confirm that this is happening, but the Canada study may be showing the results—where Bt-toxins are found in the blood of a very high percentage of people.
If the "living pesticide factory" hypothesis is correct, we might speculate even further. Bt-toxin breaks open the stomach of insects. Could it similarly be damaging the integrity of our digestive tracts? The biotech companies insist that Bt-toxin doesn't bind or interact with the intestinal walls of mammals, and therefore humans. But here too they ignore peer-reviewed published evidence showing that Bt-toxin does bind with mouse small intestines and with intestinal tissue from rhesus monkeys.xi In the former study, they even found "changes in the electrophysiological properties" of the organ after the Bt-toxin came into contact.xii
If Bt-toxins were causing leaky gut syndrome in newborns, the passage of undigested foods and toxins into the blood from the intestines could be devastating. Scientists speculate that it may lead to autoimmune diseases and food allergies. Furthermore, since the blood-brain barrier is not developed in newborns, toxins may enter the brain causing serious cognitive problems. Some healthcare practitioners and scientists are convinced that this is the apparent mechanism for autism.
Thus, if Bt genes were colonizing the bacteria living in the digestive tract of North Americans, we might see an increase in gastrointestinal problems, autoimmune diseases, food allergies, and childhood learning disorders—since 1996 when Bt crops came on the market. Physicians have told me that they indeed are seeing such an increase.
The discovery of Bt-toxin in our blood does not confirm all this speculation, but it does provide food for thought. And hopefully, that food is non-GMO.
Our Institute for Responsible Technology joins other organizations worldwide calling for an immediate ban on GM food crops, and the commencement of rigorous independent scientific research on the safety of GMOs in general, and Bt-toxin in particular.
Jeffrey M. Smith is the Executive Director of the Institute for Responsible Technology, author of the #1 international bestselling book on GMOs, Seeds of Deception, and of Genetic Roulette: The Documented Health Risks of Genetically Engineered Foods. To avoid GMOs, which is the advice of the American Academy of Environmental Medicine, visit www.NonGMOShoppingGuide.com.
i Aris A, Leblanc S. Maternal and fetal exposure to pesticides associated to genetically modified foods in Eastern Townships of Quebec, Canada. Reprod Toxicol (2011), doi:10.1016/j.reprotox.2011.02.004 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21338670ii Finamore A, Roselli M, Britti S, Monastra G, Ambra R, Turrini A and Mengheri E. (2008). Intestinal and peripheral immune response to MON810 maize ingestion in weaning and old mice. J Agric Food Chem, 16 November 2008iii Seralini GE, Cellier D, Spiroux de Vendomois J. 2007, "New analysis of a rat feeding study with a genetically modified maize reveals signs of hepatorenal toxicity". Arch Environ Contam Toxicol. 2007;52:596-602; and Vendômois, JS, François Roullier, Dominique Cellier and Gilles-Eric Séralini. 2009, "A Comparison of the Effects of Three GM Corn Varieties on Mammalian Health" . International Journal of Biological Sciences 2009; 5(7):706-726iv Gendel, "The use of amino acid sequence alignments to assess potential allergenicity of proteins used in genetically modified foods," Advances in Food and Nutrition Research 42 (1998), 45–62. See also: G. A. Kleter and A. A. C. M. Peijnenburg, "Screening of transgenic proteins expressed in transgenic food crops for the presence of short amino acid sequences indentical to potential, IgE-binding linear epitopes of allergens," BMC Structural Biology 2 (2002): 8–19; H. P. J. M. Noteborn, "Assessment of the Stability to Digestion and Bioavailability of the LYS Mutant Cry9C Protein from Bacillus thuringiensis serovar tolworthi," Unpublished study submitted to the EPA by AgrEvo, EPA MRID No. 447343-05 (1998); and H. P. J. M. Noteborn et al, "Safety Assessment of the Bacillus thuringiensis Insecticidal Crystal Protein CRYIA(b) Expressed in Transgenic Tomatoes," in Genetically modified foods: safety issues, American Chemical Society Symposium Series 605, eds. K.H. Engel et al., (Washington, DC, 1995): 134–47. Bt protein failed to break down quickly in a simulated digestive solution. In fact, it left fragments that were typically the size of allergens. The Bt also failed the heat stability test, and had shared 9–12 amino acid sequences of vitellogenin, an egg yolk allergen.v Vazquez et al, "Intragastric and intraperitoneal administration of Cry1Ac protoxin from Bacillus thuringiensis induces systemic and mucosal antibody responses in mice," 1897–1912; Vazquez et al, "Characterization of the mucosal and systemic immune response induced by Cry1Ac protein from Bacillus thuringiensis HD 73 in mice," Brazilian Journal of Medical and Biological Research 33 (2000): 147–155; See also L. Moreno-Fierros, N. Garcia, R. Lopez-Revilla, R. I. Vazquez-Padron, "Intranasal, rectal and intraperitoneal immunization with protoxin Cry1Ac from Bacillus thuringiensis induces compartmentalized serum, intestinal, vaginal, and pulmonary immune responses in Balb/c mice," Microbes and Infection 2 (2000): 885–90.vi Vazquez et al, "Bacillus thuringiensis Cry1Ac protoxin is a potent systemic and mucosal adjuvant," Scandanavian Journal ofImmunology 49 (1999): 578–584. See also Vazquez-Padron et al., 147 (2000).vii I.L. Bernstein et al, "Immune responses in farm workers after exposure to Bacillus thuringiensis pesticides," Environmental Health Perspectives 107, no. 7(1999): 575–582.viii EPA Scientific Advisory Panel, "Bt Plant-Pesticides Risk and Benefits Assessments," March 12, 2001: 76.ix Washington State Department of Health, "Report of health surveillance activities: Asian gypsy moth control program," (Olympia, WA: Washington State Dept. of Health, 1993); and M. Green, et al., "Public health implications of the microbial pesticide Bacillus thuringiensis: An epidemiological study, Oregon, 1985-86," Amer. J. Public Health 80, no. 7(1990): 848–852.x Netherwood, T. (2004) "Assessing the survival of transgenic plant DNA in the human gastrointestinal tract". Nature Biotechnology, 22, 204-209.xi Noteborn et al, "Safety Assessment of the Bacillus thuringiensis Insecticidal Crystal Protein CRYIA(b) Expressed in Transgenic Tomatoes," 134–47.xii Vazquez et al, "Cry1Ac protoxin from Bacillus thuringiensis sp. kurstaki HD73 binds to surface proteins in the mouse small intestine," 54–58.
- Cap the Gene Spill It’s been a year since we started watching BP’s oil spew into the Gulf day after day. Although that’s been plugged and cleanup is underway, a more insidious form of pollution continues without containment, with much longer term consequences. You might think I’m talking about Fukushima’s nuclear catastrophe. Actually, the pollution I’m referring to about can outlast even thousands of years of active nuclear waste. Watch this two-minute video Cap the Gene Spill, directed by Alex Bogusky, to find out how genes from genetically modified crops self-propagate and permanently alter the gene pool—for all future generations. Alex is described by Fast Company as “the Elvis of advertising,” a “pop-culture Houdini,” and the “daddy of 21st-century advertising.” He designed the Truth Campaign for tobacco, brought the king to Burger King, was crowned “Creative Director of the Decade” by Adweek, and was a partner at a $1.5 billion company that Advertising Age named “Agency of the Decade,”…and then he walked away. Alex realized he could no longer speak his truth. Now, under his own banner of The Fearless Revolution, he’s harnessing the power of truth to create “an educated and empowered consumer,” who will act as “a sudden and powerful counterbalance to corporate power.” Alex and I would like you to know the truth about genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Enjoy this first in a series of videos, appropriately released on Earth Day. After viewing, please consider making a donation to our Institute for Responsible Technology, which works everyday to help cap the gene spill. Your donation will be doubled this month by a generous matching grant from Nutiva. Safe eating, Jeffrey Smith
- GMOs Linked to Organ Disruption in 19 Studies A new paper shows that consuming genetically modified (GM) corn or soybeans leads to significant organ disruptions in rats and mice, particularly in livers and kidneys. By reviewing data from 19 animal studies, Professor Gilles-Eric Séralini and others reveal that 9% of the measured parameters, including blood and urine biochemistry, organ weights, and microscopic analyses (histopathology), were significantly disrupted in the GM-fed animals. The kidneys of males fared the worst, with 43.5% of all the changes. The liver of females followed, with 30.8%. The report, published in Environmental Sciences Europe on March 1, 2011, confirms that “several convergent data appear to indicate liver and kidney problems as end points of GMO diet effects.” The authors point out that livers and kidneys “are the major reactive organs” in cases of chronic food toxicity. “Other organs may be affected too, such as the heart and spleen, or blood cells,” stated the paper. In fact some of the animals fed genetically modified organisms had altered body weights in at least one gender, which is “a very good predictor of side effects in various organs.” The GM soybean and corn varieties used in the feeding trials “constitute 83% of the commercialized GMOs” that are currently consumed by billions of people. While the findings may have serious ramifications for the human population, the authors demonstrate how a multitude of GMO-related health problems could easily pass undetected through the superficial and largely incompetent safety assessments that are used around the world. Feed’em longer! One of the most glaring faults in the current regulatory regime is the short duration of animals feeding studies. The industry limits trials to 90 days at most, with some less than a month. Only two studies reviewed in this new publication were over 90 days—both were non-industry research. Short studies could easily miss many serious effects of GMOs. It is well established that some pesticides and drugs, for example, can create effects that are passed on through generations, only showing up decades later. IN the case of the drug DES (diethylstilbestrol), “induced female genital cancers among other problems in the second generation.” The authors urge regulators to require long-term multi-generational studies, to “provide evidence of carcinogenic, developmental, hormonal, neural, and reproductive potential dysfunctions, as it does for pesticides or drugs.” “Pesticide Plants” Nearly all GM crops are described as “pesticide plants.” They either tolerate doses of weed killer, such as Roundup, or produce an insecticide called Bt-toxin. In both cases, the added toxin—weedkiller or bug killer—is found inside the corn or soybeans we consume. When regulators evaluate the toxic effects of pesticides, they typically require studies using three types of animals, with at least one feeding trial lasting 2 years or more. One third or more of the side effects produced by these toxins will show up only in the longer study—not the shorter ones. But for no good reason, regulators ignore the lessons learned from pesticides and waive the GM crops-containing-pesticides onto the market with a single species tested for just 90 days. The authors affirm that “it is impossible, within only 13 weeks, to conclude about the kind of pathology that could be induced by pesticide GMOs and whether it is a major pathology or a minor one. It is therefore necessary to prolong the tests.” GMO approvals also ignore the new understanding that toxins don’t always follow a linear dose-response. Sometimes a smaller amount of toxins have greater impact than larger doses. Approvals also overlook the fact that mixtures can be far more dangerous than single chemicals acting alone. Roundup residues, for example, have been “shown to be toxic for human placental, embryonic, and umbilical cord cells,” whereas Roundup’s active ingredient glyphosate does not on its own provoke the same degree of damage. One reason for this is that the chemicals in Roundup “stabilize glyphosate and allow its penetration into cells.” Furthermore, toxins may generate new substances (metabolites) “either in the GM plant or in the animals fed with it.” Current assessments completely ignore the potential danger from these new components in our diets, such as the “new metabolites” in GMOs engineered to withstand Roundup. The authors warn, “We consider this as a major oversight in the present regulations.” It’s not the same stuff that farmers spray Regulators claim that the Bt-toxin produced inside GM corn is safe. They say that the Bt gene comes from soil bacteria Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), which has been safely applied as a spray-on insecticide by farmers in the past. But the authors insist that “the argument about ‘safe use history’ of the wild Bt protein . . . cannot, on a sound scientific basis, be used for direct authorizations of . . . GM corns,” without conducting proper long-term animal feeding studies. In order to justify their claim that the wild Bt-toxin is safe, the authors state that it must first be separately tested on animals and humans and then authorized individually for food or feed, which it has not. And even if the wild variety had been confirmed as safe, the GM versions are so different, they must require their own independent studies. The paper states: “The Bt toxins in GMOs are new and modified, truncated, or chimerical in order to change their activities/solubility in comparison to wild Bt. For instance, there is at least a 40% difference between the toxin in Bt176 [corn] and its wild counterpart.” Even though the isolated Bt-toxin from GM corn has not been tested on animals, rodent studies on corn containing the toxin do show problems. Male rats fed Monsanto’s MON863 corn, for example, had smaller kidneys with more focal inflammation and other “disrupted biochemical markers typical of kidney filtration or function problems.” Stop with the dumb excuses If statistically significant problems show up in their studies, biotech company researchers often attempt to explain away the adverse findings. But the authors of this review paper describe their excuses as unscientific, obsolete, or unjustified. When male and female animals have different results, for example, biotech advocates claim that this couldn’t possibly be related to the feed. Since both genders eat the same amount, they argue, both would have to show the same reaction in all of their organs, etc. And if the group of animals fed with less of the GMO feed exhibit more severe reactions than the group fed the larger amount, advocates claim that this discrepancy also means that the GMOs could not be the cause, since there must always be a linear dose relationship. The authors of this paper, however, point out that effects found in a GMO animal feeding study “cannot be disregarded on the rationale that it is not linear to the dose (or dose-related) or not comparable in genders. This would not be scientifically acceptable.” In fact, most “pathological and endocrine effects in environmental health are not directly proportional to the dose, and they have a differential threshold of sensitivity in both sexes. This is, for instance, the case with carcinogenesis and endocrine disruption.” What’s the culprit, pesticide or plant? The shortcomings of the feeding studies make it impossible to determine whether a particular problem is due to the added pesticide, such as Roundup residues or Bt-toxin, or due to the genetic changes in the modified plants’ DNA. Mice fed Roundup Ready soybeans, for example, showed numerous changes indicating increased metabolic rates in the liver (i.e. irregular hepatocyte nuclei, more nuclear pores, numerous small fibrillar centers, and abundant dense fibrillar components). Since studies on Roundup herbicide also show changes in the liver cells of mice and humans, the Roundup residues within the soybeans may be a significant contributing factor to the metabolic changes. Similarly, rats fed Roundup Ready corn showed indications that their kidneys leaked. Such an effect “is well correlated with the effects of glyphosate-based herbicides (like Roundup) observed on embryonic kidney cells.” Thus, the rats’ kidney problems may also be caused by the Roundup that is accumulated within Roundup Ready corn kernels. In addition to the herbicide, the Bt-toxin insecticide produced inside GM corn might also cause disorders. The authors state, “The insecticide produced by MON810 [corn] could also induce liver reactions, like many other pesticides.” Studies do confirm significant liver changes in rats fed Bt corn. On the other hand, “unintended effects of the genetic modification itself cannot be excluded” as the possible cause of these very same health problems. The process of gene insertion followed by cloning plant cells (tissue culture) can cause massive collateral damage in the plant’s DNA with potentially harmful side-effects. In MON810 corn, for example, the insertion “caused a complex recombination event, leading to the synthesis of new RNA products encoding unknown proteins.” The authors warn that “genetic modifications can induce global changes” in the DNA, RNA, proteins, and the numerous natural products (metabolites), but the faulty safety assessments are not designed to adequately identify these changes or their health impacts. Population at risk In addition to the shortcomings mentioned above, the paper shows how GMO feeding trials are “based on ancient paradigms” with “serious conceptual and methodological flaws,” employ statistical methods that obscure the findings, add irrelevant control groups that confuse and confound the analysis, and rely on numerous assumptions that either remain untested or have already proved false. Unlike drug approvals, biotech companies do not conduct human studies. They would therefore fail to identify both general human health reactions, and the potentially more serious ones endured by sub-populations. “If some consumers suffer from stomach problems or ulcers,” for example, the paper states, “the new toxins will possibly act differently; the digestion in children could be affected too.” The paper recommends the implementation of post market monitoring, which, among other things, “should be linked with the possibility of detecting allergenicity reactions to GMOs in routine medicine.” But even if authorities wanted to conduct epidemiological studies on GMOs, the authors acknowledge that they “are not feasible in America, since there is no organized traceability of GMOs anywhere on the continent.” Not only is labeling of GMOs urgently needed to allow such studies to proceed, the study says: “The traceability of products from animals fed on GMOs is also crucial. The reason for this is because they can develop chronic diseases which are not utterly known today…. Labeling animals fed on GMOs is therefore necessary because some pesticide residues linked to GMOs could pass into the food chain.” They also point out that “even if pesticides residues or DNA fragments are not toxic nor transmitted by themselves” nevertheless, “nobody would want to eat disabled or physiologically modified animals after long-term GMOs ingestion.” “New experiments,” they concluded, “should be systematically performed to protect the health of billions of people that could consume directly or indirectly these transformed products.” In the meantime, for those not willing to wait for the new studies, we recommend consulting the Non-GMO Shopping Guide at www.NonGMOShoppingGuide.com.
The US is mobilizing against GMOs!
Have you caught the non-GMO buzz lately? GMOs are being blogged about, tweeted about, reported on, and talked about more than ever before. There were rallies all over the US in March, more rallies scheduled, and the topic is catching fire. A food executive at the recent natural products expo said, “This feels like the time we’ve been waiting for.” An activist at a recent festival said, “I am so amazed at how much people want to know about GMOs—our table was bombarded! I feel like we're at a turning point. I hope you do too.”
I certainly do, and we need to make sure this momentum grows into the tipping point of consumer rejection that we’ve been working for. This is a perfect time to pitch in.
- Sign up for the Non-GMO Tipping Point Network, where you can join local and national Non-GMO Working Groups to do effective, compelling outreach. We have about 1500 people already, and we’re just getting started.
- Become trained to speak about GMOs. I’ll be offering 10 one-day workshops and some online webinars, so you can involved wherever you are.
- Please help us with a donation, which will be MATCHED BY NUTIVA! (up to $10K for April donations). Helping to reclaim a non-GMO food supply is a great way to celebrate Earth Month. Thank you to Nutiva and thank you to our wonderful contributors.
- In Praise of the Non-GMO Project There’s been some high voltage opinions darting about the blogosphere about the Non-GMO Project, which is the new third-party verifying organization for companies making Non-GMO claims. I have been watching and working with this organization for many years and I want to weigh in. I have unqualified support of the mission, tactics, and integrity of the organization. In fact, last year we made the requirement that for any product to be listed as non-GMO in our Non-GMO Shopping Guide or iPhone app ShopNoGMO, it had to be enrolled in the Non-GMO Project. At some other time I’d like to share what I believe to be the pivotal role that the Non-GMO Project plays in coordinating the non-GMO activities of the natural products industry and in giving consumers reliable non-GMO choices. These are, in my opinion, extremely important for driving the tipping point of consumer rejection against GMOs—which is our Institute’s focus. In this blog, however, I want to address the integrity of the leaders of the Project. It’s an important consideration, as those of us who avoid GMOs trust them to determine the validity of non-GMO claims. It turns out we’ve already been placing trust in these folks for decades, as they are among the pioneers who created the natural food movement and the organic label, and have led the ever expanding push towards healthier products and socially responsible practices. They also have a long history of taking bold and sometimes unprecedented steps against GMOs. This is by no means a formal biography. It’s just what I have learned from my years of interacting with them and why I’ve come to deeply respect them. Craig Winter’s Short List Craig Winters was a Non-GMO Hero. He was the founding leader of the Campaign for Labeling Genetically Engineered Foods and was a devout campaigner. He also was the main GMO activist who “worked” the natural food industry for years, disseminating materials, raising money, and rallying the troupes. In September 2003, at the Natural Foods Expo East, I launched my first book Seeds of Deception. Craig invited me to join a GMO meeting he had set up. He explained that he invited the very best industry leaders on the non-GMO topic. They were at the forefront, banging the non-GMO drum so that no one else in the industry could go to sleep on this issue. Furthermore they remained independent, carrying the real voice of the natural products consciousness in an industry more and more dominated by divisions of major food conglomerates. When I arrived at the meeting, I was introduced to a group that was to later comprise the majority of the board members of the Non-GMO Project. They are highlighted below. The only retailer at the table was Bob Gerner. The Non-GMO Project was started at his two stores in El Cerrito and Berkeley California. Bob had been a pioneer of the natural foods industry. He was baking granola in Bay Area kitchens 40 years ago and had started Westbrae Organics. He then moved on to become the owner of the Natural Grocery Company. By the time we met at Expo East, he had made the bold move of selling the stores to his employees, sacrificing his personal finances to support his business ethics and ideals. The owner-employees funded staff time for socially responsible activities, among which was a Non-GMO Committee. It was this committee that recruited other retailers to collectively request/demand verified non-GMO products from vendors. This was the humble start of the Non-GMO Project in 2003. Bob is a current member of the Board, as are two others representing the original retailers in the Project, Patrick Conner of The Big Carrot Natural Food Market, a worker owned food co-op in Toronto, and Mark Squire of Good Earth in Fairfax, CA. The Big Carrot Membership had already voted in 2001 to research the ingredients in every single food item in the store, in order to kick out products with GMOs. Devoting hundreds of labor hours in research, they learned first hand how valuable a uniform standard for non-GMO labeling would be and how urgently a standard was needed. Mark Squire of Good Earth had worked on the creation of the organic standards and applied his experience in helping to build the new standard for non-GMOs. Mark was also a leader in the successful ballot initiative that banned the planting of GMOs in Marin County, California. At the Craig Winters meeting, Michael Funk was the unofficial ringleader. In fact, he had been organizing and funding natural food industry efforts against GMOs ever since I started on this issue in 1996. Michael is Chairman and founder of United Natural Foods, Inc. (UNFI), the largest natural foods distributor. He has distributed GMO books and films to his staff, hosted GMO speakers at company sponsored events, and provides industry updates on GMOs at the Expos. UNFI distributes our Institute’s Non-GMO Shopping Guide and GMO Health Risks brochures for free to retailers, and I have spent many hours in discussion with Michael configuring strategies and sharing updates. Some of those discussions occurred in the fall of 2006. At the time, we wanted the Non-GMO Project to be embraced by the whole industry, but Michael knew that it first needed to expand beyond just a retailer initiative; other stakeholders needed to be represented. Selection of the new board members, he said, was key. They had to be leaders of high integrity, already committed to fighting GMOs, and able to rally the rest of the industry. That’s when the remaining members of Craig’s initial Expo meeting got tapped. Arran Stephens, CEO and founder of Nature’s Path, was among them. In the preface of my book Seeds of Deception, Arran wrote, “We are now in the middle of the largest feeding experiment in history and we human beings are the guinea pigs.” His commitment to a non-GMO future is rooted in his spirituality, which is the mainstay of his life. For many years, Arran made sure that Nature’s Path products boldly proclaimed Non-GMO on their packaging. But when a giant Canadian food chain declared that they would not allow any products in their stores with such a label, Arran came up with a brilliant alternative. Although Nature’s path removed the sentence from the outside of their cereal boxes, they actually printed a complete advertisement against GMOs on the four inside walls! Bravo, Arran. Nature’s Path has always tested their products for GMOs, and when the Non-GMO Project began and introduced even more stringent testing, the company signed up immediately. Nature’s Path has always been organic, always independent (for two generations now) and always a trailblazer. (Dag Falck, Organic Program Manager at Nature’s Path, is now the current Nature’s Path representative on the Non-GMO Project Board.) It takes about 60 seconds in the presence of Michael Potter, CEO of Eden Foods, to realize that he’s nobody’s yes man. Michael’s a radical, say-what’s-on-your-mind kind of guy, and has been the committed food cop at his company, making absolutely sure his products meet stringent standards—particularly non-GMO. Long before the Non-GMO Project came along, Eden Foods had a stringent, state of the art “Identity Preservation Program” in place, where they tested and documented the non-GMO status of all their ingredients. Michael was quite happy to see the Non-GMO Project come online, so that other companies with loose standards would have to tighten their act. Grant Lundberg, CEO of Lundberg Family Farms, is a well-respected family farmer and businessman. He had been quietly educating other rice growers about GMO risks, who came to appreciate his foresight in 2006, after GM rice contamination caused hundreds of millions of dollars of damage to the US rice industry. Grant knows first-hand the need for tight segregation standards, and the cost of contamination. The business card of Organic Valley’s George Siemon says CIEIO (say that out loud). George is the one who said no to Wal-mart. That’s right. He turned down the chance for his milk to continue to be sold in the largest retail chain because he wouldn’t have enough to sell through the smaller outlets that had grown up with his co-op. Organic Valley (OV) has been rushing to embrace all the best and greenest practices, including the complex task of verifying the non-GMO status of all the feed sources for all its co-op members. I have spoken at company or company-sponsored meetings of every one of these board members. I have seen first hand that they are not only the vanguard of non-GMO food brands, but are also implementing a range of other policies and systems that walk their green talk. I’ve stood on the roof in UNFI’s Rocklin warehouse, for example, looking at a humongous solar panel system, which powers their huge deep freeze unit. Nature’s Path offers downsized packaging of cereals for a better eco-footprint. Organic Valley has implemented on-farm energy sourcing and asks its farmer members to implement a comprehensive list of healthy, green practices. Three other board members who were not at Craig’s meeting but who are non-GMO pioneers include Whole Foods Market, John Fagan, and Megan Westgate. Whole Foods Market’s seat on the Non-GMO Project Board is represented by Joe Dickson, the company’s Quality Standards Coordinator. I was first made aware of the company’s non-GMO position by Whole Foods Market’s Vice President of Quality Standards & Public Affairs, Margaret Wittenberg. She was an icon in the mandatory GMO labeling fight back when I started in 1996. She, along with Michael Funk, were at the forefront of organizing the industry to take a stand for labeling—working with the now defunct Mothers for Natural Law. Four years later, I witnessed the ripple effect throughout the natural food industry when Whole Foods committed to working with all of its own private label (store brand) products from non-GMO sources. They have since enrolled these products in the Non-GMO Project, which has meant that hundreds of their suppliers, co-packers, ingredient providers, and processors also got enrolled. Their multi-million dollar expenditure has made it much easier for smaller brands to also get verified non-GMO, since many of them use the same supporting vendors that are now enrolled. Also on the board is John Fagan, PhD, whose integrity on the genetics issue was made clear to the world in 1994 when gave back NIH grant money worth over $1.32 million. This unprecedented move, which was trumpeted in media worldwide, was due to John’s concerns that his pioneering cancer DNA work would provide tools that could later be used to genetically engineer humans with inheritable “designer” traits. John also developed the first testing methods that could identify food and grain as GMO or non-GMO. This alone allowed countries and companies alike to finally say no to GMOs, and formed the basis for the continuing global fight. In Megan Westgate’s previous role as the Outreach Coordinator at the Food Conspiracy Co-op in Tucson, she was in charge of a program that 95% of Americans say they are in favor of—labeling GMOs. Every single item in the store had a shelf tag that indicated the GMO risk for its ingredients. This monumental and very challenging task made it abundantly clear that a coordinated effort with a universal non-GMO standard was essential. When she learned about the Non-GMO Project, she saw it as the obvious solution. She became a volunteer, and is now the Executive Director. Megan has used amazing skill at accommodating diverse opinions on this hot topic. She not only fields input from a wide variety of stakeholders, she also has to reign in the board, the fiercely independent titan’s of the natural food industry. (I’m so glad I don’t have her job.) As you can see, these board members ain’t too shabby. And now we are seeing the fruits of their labors, with thousands of products enrolled, and hundreds of retailers more engaged in GMO consumer education than ever before. One of the best things about my job is that I get to meet some fantastic world leaders and visionaries, who are setting the trends for a healthier future. I’m glad to have taken this time to introduce you to a few of the gems I’ve found. And I hope that you, like I, can feel good that those at the helm of one of the most important food organizations of our time are worthy of your confidence. Safe eating, Jeffrey
Monsanto’s Roundup Triggers Over 40 Plant Diseases and Endangers Human and Animal Health
The following article reveals the devastating and unprecedented impact that Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide is having on the health of our soil, plants, animals, and human population. On top of this perfect storm, the USDA now wants to approve Roundup Ready alfalfa, which will exacerbate this calamity. Please tell USDA Secretary Vilsack not to approve Monsanto’s alfalfa today. [Note: typos corrected from Jan 16th, see details]
While visiting a seed corn dealer’s demonstration plots in Iowa last fall, Dr. Don Huber walked past a soybean field and noticed a distinct line separating severely diseased yellowing soybeans on the right from healthy green plants on the left (see photo). The yellow section was suffering from Sudden Death Syndrome (SDS), a serious plant disease that ravaged the Midwest in 2009 and ’10, driving down yields and profits. Something had caused that area of soybeans to be highly susceptible and Don had a good idea what it was.
The diseased field on the right had glyphosate applied the previous season. Photo by Don Huber Sudden Death Syndrome is more severe at the ends of rows, where Roundup dose is strongest. Photo by Amy Bandy.
- The glyphosate molecule grabs vital nutrients and doesn’t let them go. This process is called chelation and was actually the original property for which glyphosate was patented in 1964. It was only 10 years later that it was patented as an herbicide. When applied to crops, it deprives them of vital minerals necessary for healthy plant function—especially for resisting serious soilborne diseases. The importance of minerals for protecting against disease is well established. In fact, mineral availability was the single most important measurement used by several famous plant breeders to identify disease-resistant varieties.
- Glyphosate annihilates beneficial soil organisms, such as Pseudomonas and Bacillus bacteria that live around the roots. Since they facilitate the uptake of plant nutrients and suppress disease-causing organisms, their untimely deaths means the plant gets even weaker and the pathogens even stronger.
- The herbicide can interfere with photosynthesis, reduce water use efficiency, lower lignin, damage and shorten root systems, cause plants to release important sugars, and change soil pH—all of which can negatively affect crop health.
- Glyphosate itself is slightly toxic to plants. It also breaks down slowly in soil to form another chemical called AMPA (aminomethylphosphonic acid) which is also toxic. But even the combined toxic effects of glyphosate and AMPA are not sufficient on their own to kill plants. It has been demonstrated numerous times since 1984 that when glyphosate is applied in sterile soil, the plant may be slightly stunted, but it isn’t killed (see photo).
- The actual plant assassins, according to Purdue weed scientists and others, are severe disease-causing organisms present in almost all soils. Glyphosate dramatically promotes these, which in turn overrun the weakened crops with deadly infections.
Glyphosate with sterile soil (A) only stunts plant growth. In normal soil (B), pathogens kill the plant. Control (C) shows normal growth. Photo by Robert Kremer
- The glyphosate concentration in the soil builds up season after season with each subsequent application.
- Glyphosate can also accumulate for 6-8 years inside perennial plants like alfalfa, which get sprayed over and over.
Wheat affected after 10 years of glyphosate field applications.
- Glyphosate can find its way onto farmland accidentally, through drifting spray, in contaminated water, and even through chicken manure!
- New Years Inspirational Message THINK HUGE. Thinking “Big” is so last century This is the need of the time. HUGE thinking. Life is not content anymore with mere bigness. The demand today is far greater. Every quarter of our precious world is calling to us. So many threats to our planet, to our food, to our life. Countless species teetering. Future generations line up outside our door to see if we will answer. We have no instruction manual, no role model or reference point in our long history to tell us what to do. Nevertheless we say Yes! We cast aside small cramped thinking and leap into that greater role that has been waiting to serve us. Then comes magic. As we outstretch our arms to hold the HUGENESS of the world, we at once become held by it. As we seek to lead, we are mysteriously guided. As we draw out the depths of our energy and courage, we become lifted by a greater power, imbued with wisdom and patience. What seemed insurmountable becomes inevitable. What seemed oppressive becomes our honor and privilege to unwind. And our lives, which appeared to us as mere waves, become the ocean. It’s time to THINK HUGE. Grace will follow.
Are you a GMO Dragon Slayer?
You remember those heroic stories of dragon slayers where the hero was able to vanquish the beast by targeting the one vulnerable spot in its armor? Well, I believe that we are modern dragon slayers and our dragon is GMOs. I know we can vanquish the GMO dragon if we target its most vulnerable spot — consumer rejection.The non-GMO movement is more fired up in the US than ever before. We have had unprecedented news coverage, high-profile court victories, thousands more products boasting non-GMO labels, and millions of people avoiding GMOs. The signs of a coming tipping point are here. In January of 1999, GM advocates arrogantly predicted that within just five years they would replace 95% of the world’s commercial seeds with GMOs. But within four months, the tipping point of consumer rejection by Europeans was achieved, and the food companies there committed to stop using GM ingredients.Although this derailed their timetable, it hasn’t stopped the biotech industry from pursuing their ultimate goal — a takeover of the world’s food supply. As they’ve raced to push GMOs into more types of food, our movement has worked to fend off each new attempt, stopping GM rice, wheat, and eggplant; creating GM-free zones; winning court cases against GM alfalfa and sugar beets; kicking out GM bovine growth hormone from most dairies; and much more.Now we’re at a critical crossroads in the US. The biotech industry is pushing hard to re-introduce GM alfalfa, to resuscitate GM sugar beets, and to feed us all GM fish. They are lobbying again to promote GM wheat and rice, and they have hundreds of other GM foods ready and waiting in laboratories. They want to put their plans of replacing nature back on track. Someone overheard an executive at a recent biotech conference say, “The one person we really have to do something about is that Jeffrey Smith.” Why would they be worried about little ol’ me? Because it’s not really me they’re concerned about, it’s us — and the tipping point against GMOs that we are going to collectively achieve. We are preparing bold new dragon-slaying actions for 2011, but need your help. Please invest in a non-GMO future. The leverage of your donation is simply enormous. Click here to donate now. Our collective work to stop GMOs ultimately influences every person on earth, the entire ecosystem, and all future generations. We have a lot on the line. Help us slay the GMO Dragon by donating at this important time. Thank you for making your donation today! Best Wishes and Happy New Year! Jeffrey Smith
- Throwing Biotech Lies at Tomatoes – Part 1: Killer Tomatoes Remember the pictures of the fish tomatoes? For years they were an unofficial emblem of the anti-GMO movement. They depicted how anti-freeze genes from an Arctic fish were forced into tomato DNA, allowing the plants to survive frost. Scientists really did create those Frankentomatoes, but they were never put on the market. (Breyers low-fat ice cream, however, does contain anti-freeze proteins from Arctic fish genes, but that's another story.) The tomato that did make it to market was called the Flavr Savr, engineered for longer shelf life. Fortunately, it was removed from the shelves soon after it was introduced. Although there are no longer any genetically modified (GM) tomatoes being sold today, the FDA's shady approval process of the Flavr Savr provides a lesson in food safety—or rather, the lack of it—as far as gene-spliced foods are concerned. We know what really went on during the FDA's voluntary review process of the Flavr Savr in 1993, because a lawsuit forced the release of 44,000 agency memos. (Those same memos, by the way, also showed that FDA scientists had repeatedly warned their superiors about the serious health risks of genetically modified organisms [GMOs]. They were ignored by the political appointees in charge, who allow GMOs onto the market without any required safety studies.) Bleeding stomachs Calgene, the tomatoes' creator-in-chief (now a part of Monsanto), voluntarily conducted three 28-day rat feeding studies. Before I share the gory details, I must commend the Calgene scientists who were committed to transparency and full disclosure with the FDA. Unlike all other subsequent voluntary submissions from biotech firms to the agency, Calgene provided detailed feeding study data and full reports. Dr. Belinda Martineau, one of Calgene's tomato makers, writes in First Fruit about their commitment to an open process while they attempted to introduce the world's first GM food crop. Calgene tested two separate Flavr Savr tomato lines. Both had the same gene inserted into the same type of tomato. The process of insertion and the subsequent cloning of the cells into GM plants can cause lots of unique and unpredicted consequences. The two lines, therefore, were not considered identical. The rats that ate one of these Flavr Savr varieties probably wished they were in a different test group. Out of 20 female rats, 7 developed stomach lesions—bleeding stomachs. The rats eating the other Flavr Savr, or the natural tomatoes, or no tomatoes at all, had no lesions. If we humans had such effects in our stomachs, according to Dr. Arpad Pusztai, a top GMO safety and animal feeding expert, it "could lead to life-endangering hemorrhage, particularly in the elderly who use aspirin to prevent thrombosis." The lab that performed the study for Calgene acknowledged that the results "did suggest a possible treatment related" problem. FDA scientists repeatedly asked Calgene to provide additional data in order to resolve what they regarded as outstanding safety questions. The director of FDA's Office of Special Research Skills wrote that the tomatoes did not demonstrate a "reasonable certainty of no harm," which is the normal standard of safety. The Additives Evaluation Branch agreed that "unresolved questions still remain," and the staff pathologist stated, "In the absence of adequate explanations by Calgene, the issues raised by the Pathology Branch ... remain and leave doubts as to the validity of any scientific conclusion(s) which may be drawn from the studies' findings." Oh yeah, some rats died The team that had obtained the formerly secret FDA documents sent the full Flavr Savr studies to Dr. Pusztai for review and comment. While reading them, he happened across an endnote that apparently the FDA scientists either did not see or chose to ignore. The text nonchalantly indicated that 7 of the 40 rats fed the Flavr Savr tomato died within two weeks. The dead rats had eaten the same tomato line as those that developed lesions. In the other groups, fed the other Flavr Savr line, a natural tomato control, or a water control, only one rat had died. But the endnote summarily dismissed the cause of death as husbandry error, and no additional data or explanation was provided. The dead rats were simply replaced with new ones. When I discussed this finding with Dr. Pusztai over the phone, he was beside himself. He told me emphatically that in proper studies, you never just dismiss the cause of death with an unsupported footnote. He said that the details of the post mortem analysis must be included in order to rule out possible causes or to raise questions for additional research. Furthermore, you simply never replace test animals once the research begins. Questionable follow-up study Calgene repeated the rat study. This time, one male rat from the non-GM group of 20, and two females from the GM-fed group of 15, showed stomach lesions. Calgene claimed success. They said that the necrosis (dead tissue) and erosions (inflammation and bleeding) were "incidental" and not tomato-related. The FDA staff pathologist, however, was not convinced. He responded that "the criteria for qualifying a lesion as incidental were not provided." Further, he said that the disparity between the studies "has not been adequately addressed or explained." In reality, the new study was not actually a "repeat." They used tomatoes from a different batch and used a freeze-dried concentrate rather then the frozen concentrate used in the previous trial. Dr. Martineau explained to me that by freeze-drying, it allowed them to put more of the concentrated tomato into each rat. But Dr. Pusztai said that altering the preparation of the food can lead to different results. He also pointed out that humans were more likely to consume frozen concentrate compared with freeze-dried. In spite of the outstanding issues, the political appointees at the FDA concluded that the lesions were not related to the GM tomatoes. To be on the safe side, however, Calgene on its own chose not to commercialize the tomato line that was associated with the high rate of stomach lesions and deaths. The other line went onto supermarket shelves in 1994. Faulty science rules the day This was the very first GM food crop to be consumed in the US. It was arguably the most radical change in our food in all of human history. It was the product of an infant science that was prone to side-effects. Yet it was placed on the market without required labels, warnings, or post-marketing surveillance. One hopes that the FDA would have been exhaustive in their approval process, holding back approvals until all doubts were extinguished. But the agency was officially mandated with promoting biotechnology and bent over backwards to push GMOs onto the market. As a result, their evaluation was woefully inadequate. Having discovered problems in the stomach, for example, Dr. Pusztai said they should have looked further down the digestive system at the intestines as well, but they didn't. They should have increased the number of animals in the experiment to strengthen the findings, but they didn't. And they should have used young (e.g. month-old) and pregnant animals as is done with pharmaceutical studies, but they didn't. They did, however, use rats with vast differences in starting weights. This invalidates any conclusions that there were no significant differences in weight gain, feed intake, or organ weights between GM- and non-GM-fed groups. The starting weights in the Flavr Savr experiment ranged from 130 to 258 grams for males, and 114 to 175 grams for females. Contrast that with the hundreds of rat feeding trials conducted by Dr. Pusztai, where the starting weights were within a range of 1 or 2 grams. Dr. Pusztai also pointed out that the experimental tomatoes were grown at different locations and harvested at different times, which further increases the variability of results. The FDA's defense that the bleeding stomachs did not come from the Flavr Savr diet was also an exercise in faulty science. They blamed the lesions on mucolytic agents in the tomato (i.e. components that dissolves thick mucus); but according to Dr. Pusztai, tomatoes are not known to contain mucolytic agents. The FDA also claimed that it might be the food restriction in the rats' diet—but the rats ate as much as they wanted. Or maybe it was the animal restraint—but the rats were not restrained. The explanation that stuck to the wall was that the process of force-feeding the tomatoes through tubes was the reason for the stomach lesions. But as Dr. Pusztai and FDA scientists both observed, there was no adequate explanation as to why the rats fed GM tomatoes in the earlier study had the higher rate of lesions. Dr. Pusztai said the "study was poorly designed and executed and, most importantly, led to flawed conclusions." He warned, "the claim that these GM tomatoes were as safe as conventional ones is at best premature and, at worst, faulty." Fortunately, the Flavr Savr tomatoes lacked flavor. They also got mushy (unless they were handled in such a way that the company spent more money getting them to market than it could sell them for). They were taken off the market by the time Monsanto bought Calgene in 1997. After the Flavr Savr's superficial review and controversial approval, no subsequent GMO producer has ever presented such detailed safety test data to the FDA. Read Part 2 >
- Throwing Biotech Lies at Tomatoes – Part 2: The Liars I write about the Flavr Savr in Genetic Roulette: The Documented Health Risks of Genetically Engineered Foods. Two biotech advocates, Drs. Chassy and Tribe, created a GMO disinformation site that allegedly discredits all 65 health risks highlighted in the work. I have already shown that their attack on the first risk, Dr. Pusztai's potatoes, was based on pure PR spin and scientific sleight of hand. Below I respond to their accusations regarding the Flavr Savr. 1. (Chassy and Tribe) FDA records clearly show that experts stated that the process of introducing stomach tubes can damage the rats' stomachs and/or end up placing test material in the lungs. . . The reader is not told that regulators approved the tomato because their concerns had been fully satisfied that the GM tomato was not toxic. As indicated in Part 1, the actual scientists at the FDA wrote memo after memo declaring that the higher rates of lesions in the GM-fed group could not be explained away, and that they were not fully satisfied by the explanations. The discrepancy between what the political appointees at the agency stated publicly, and the concerns expressed in private memos by the scientific staff, has been clearly documented. In fact, one memo reveals that during their Flavr Savr review, the FDA was making blatant and possibly illegal exceptions. One person wrote, "It has been made clear to us that this present submission [Flavr Savr] is not a food additive petition and the safety standard is not the food additive safety standard. It is less than that but I am not sure how much less." According to attorney Steven Druker, who is an expert in US food safety law, the FDA's own regulations clearly state that a lower standard should not have been applied in this instance. As for the stomach lesions, without repeating the study with the same tomatoes, in the same concentration, with larger sample sizes, we can't be confident that the GM line was the cause. But likewise, we can't be confident that they were not. It's another example of too few data. 2. No real differences were seen between groups of animals in the study. Contrary to Smith's claims, expert pathologists stated that mild gastric erosions were seen at similar levels in both GM and non-GM fed rats. This is quite a bizarre statement, given that seven female rats had stomach lesions in the first study, compared to none in the other feeding groups. Even the experimenters said that the results suggest a treatment-related effect. I guess if you completely ignore the main rat study in question, which apparently Chassy and Tribe would like us all to do, then you will not see significant differences. But putting blinders on to ignore inconvenient evidence does not prove safety or demonstrate good science. 3a. Rats might have been injured . . . by accidental administration of test material into the lung instead of the stomach. 3b. Gastric lesions can be caused by acidosis brought on by fasting. Neither of these arguments address why 7 of 20 females fed GM tomatoes had lesions while the controls, reared under the same conditions, did not. Furthermore, since the rats did not fast but ate as much as they wanted, why would they throw in this irrelevant point (if not to obscure the truth)? 4. Smith is actually asking the reader to believe that the FDA would approve a lethal product. Believe it! The FDA approves lethal products all the time. According to a report by the United States General Accounting Office, more than half of the drugs approved by the FDA between 1976 and 1985 had severe or fatal side-effects that had not been detected during the agency's review and testing. In other words, after drug companies spent an estimated 12 years and $231 million dollars to research, test, and secure new drug approval through a very hands-on FDA approach, most of the drugs had to be taken off the market or required major label changes due to missed safety issues. With GMOs, the situation is far more dangerous. The FDA doesn't require a single study, the complex biology of GM crops may produce far more side-effects than drugs, GM foods are fed to the entire population, and they are not labeled or monitored, so symptoms are difficult or impossible to track. 5. There is no evidence of animal deaths. . . . Smith may have confused the words necrosis and dead cells with animal deaths. Careful reading reveals that the regulatory record does not mention any animal deaths which surely would have been of concern had they occurred. . . . This claim (in Pusztai and others 2003) appears to be blatantly untrue. They would hope it was untrue. But just because they didn't have access to the 44,000 documents made public from the lawsuit does not mean that the deaths did not occur. I can assure you they did, and that Dr. Pusztai, widely recognized as the world's leading expert in his field and author of more than 300 studies, would not mistake dead cells for animal deaths. In fact, on page 18 of the IRDC Report, it refers to "necroscopy data" on each animal. Necroscopy is an examination of a dead body, not dead cells. The reason why the FDA scientists did not raise this issue is that they apparently either did not read the endnote, or simply accepted the unsupported conclusion on face value, which said that the necroscopy suggested that the deaths were due to a husbandry error and not test-article related. Even the Calgene scientists didn't raise eyebrows at the finding. It wasn't until a highly experienced animal feeding study expert like Dr. Pusztai reviewed the original papers that this oversight became apparent. 6. Interestingly, eating too many tomatoes can kill rats. It is odd that Chassy and Tribe first claim that no rats died and then try to argue that if rats did die, tomato overdose could be the culprit. Since all the rats were fed under similar conditions, their killer-tomato argument fails to explain why 7 of 40 GM-fed animals died, compared to only 1 in the other groups. 7. These products are assessed carefully for safety before they are marketed, and—more importantly—there is no scientific reason to believe they pose and (sic) new or different risks. To claim that there are no new potential health hazards from GMOs is absurd. Fran Sharples, the Director of the Board on Life Sciences at the US National Academy of Sciences (NAS), told me, "The academies have issued numerous reports on assessing the risks of transgenic plants. If the academy believed there were no such potential risks, why would we have delved into these matters in these reports?" One of those NAS reports even acknowledged that the current system of regulating GMOs might not detect "unintended changes in the composition of the food." The Royal Society of Canada stated that it is "scientifically unjustifiable" to presume that GM foods are safe and that the "default presumption" is that unintended, potentially hazardous side-effects are present. A WHO spokesperson said that current regulations are not adequate to determine the health effects; the Indian Council of Medical Research called for a complete overhaul of existing regulations; and the American Academy of Environmental Medicine called for a moratorium of GM foods altogether. Since Chassy and Tribe are fond of using the FDA policy as support for their position, I am happy to quote Linda Kahl, an FDA compliance officer, who directly contradicts their ridiculous assertion. In a memo that summarized the position of FDA scientists about GMOs, she stated, "the processes of genetic engineering and traditional breeding are different, and according to the technical experts in the agency, they lead to different risks." What's Chassy and Tribe's real motive? Many of the arguments presented by Chassy and Tribe are easily and completely countered by the evidence. If one were feeling especially generous, one might guess that they simply weren't aware of the strong concerns voiced in quotes by FDA scientists, the incidence of stomach lesions in the first study, or the fact that the rats didn't fast. But these points were contained within the very passage of Genetic Roulette that they were supposedly critiquing. If they actually read the book, which we must assume they did, then they absolutely knew that their counter-arguments were directly contradicted by FDA memos and study reports, and thus were utterly false. Why then did they construct their website in the first place? It appears that they are not really motivated to make cogent scientific counter-arguments, but instead are hoping that the readers blindly accept their baseless condemnation of Genetic Roulette and never actually read the book. This tactic is similar to other techniques used by the biotech industry that I describe in Genetic Roulette. GMO advocates, for example, often write up lengthy studies or reports that hardly anyone ever reads in detail. Instead, people generally look at the abstract and/or conclusion and accept the authors' declaration that the findings demonstrate GMO safety. But when an expert actually takes the time to go through the details, he or she discovers that the conclusions are entirely unsupported and unjustified. In some cases, they are in direct opposition to the data. It took the biotech industry three years to create their so-called academic review of Genetic Roulette. The mere fact that after all that time they could not put together even the most basic scientific arguments is a tribute to the authenticity of the book. If they could have used science to counter it, they would have. But they didn't. They used spin. It will continue to be my delight to go through each of their pages to expose their "scientific" sleight-of-hand. But I am much more motivated to spend my time taking steps that will end the genetic engineering of the food supply, rather than trying to convince the handful of people who accidentally wander onto Chassy and Tribe's disinformation site. So have patience.
Wikileaks: US Should Retaliate Against EU for Genetically Modified Resistance
IRT NEWS TEAM UPDATE: Jeffrey Smith talks to Democracy Now! about the U.S. diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks which reveals that the Bush administration drew up ways to retaliate against Europe for refusing to use genetically modified seeds. Watch the interview.
"Country team Paris recommends that we calibrate a target retaliation list that causes some pain across the EU" [Emphasis added] --Recommendation by US Ambassador to France, Craig Stapleton.
Wikileaked cables released over the weekend revealed more about the US' role as a global bully, trying to thrust unpopular genetically modified (GM) crops onto cautious governments and their citizens. In a 2007 cable from Craig Stapleton, then US Ambassador to France, he encouraged the US government to "reinforce our negotiating position with the EU on agricultural biotechnology by publishing a retaliation list." A list, he added, that "causes some pain across the EU since this is a collective responsibility."
The stated reason for their attack was that "Europe is moving backwards not forwards" on GMOs, with "France playing a leading role, along with Austria, Italy and even the [EU] Commission." The Ambassador was concerned that France and others would put a ban on the cultivation of Monsanto's GM corn seeds called Mon 810, engineered with a gene that produces a toxic insect-killing pesticide in every cell. Mon 810 is the first GM crop approved for planting EU-wide and has been a test case for biotech expansionism into the continent.
According to the cable, the Ambassador also rejected the France's new "Grenelle" environment process, which looks beyond just the science of new technologies to also take into account "common interest." Evidently a government that looks out for common interest is just too much for Ambassador Stapleton. He wrote, "Combined with the precautionary principle, this is a precedent with implications far beyond MON-810 BT corn cultivation."
He was also upset about France's draft biotech law that "would make farmers and seed companies legally liable for pollen drift." This concept that the "polluter pays" is a foundational principle of US law--except for GMOs. Here Stapleton also wants France to give a free pass for Monsanto and the other GM seed companies.
The French government and EU Commission tried to placate the US suggesting that the rejections of Mon 810 "are only cultivation rather than import bans." But Stapleton says, "We see the cultivation ban as a first step, at least by anti-GMO advocates, who will move next to ban or further restrict imports."
The ambassador fails to point out that a de facto ban of GM ingredients in food has been in place since 1999, not by the government, but by the food industry. They have kept GMOs out of their products due to widespread consumer concern about the health effects. Since foods containing GMOs must be labeled in Europe, companies always source non-GMO food to avoid that label.
The exception is animal feed. EU law does not require meat or other animal products to label whether GMOs were fed to the animals. This loophole has allowed lots of US- and Brazil-grown GMO animal feed to be shipped to Europe. According to the cable, "The [French] environment minister's top aide told us that people have a right not to buy meat raised on biotech feed." Offering consumers a choice on GMOs is not on the US government agenda.
Ambassador Stapleton had been a co-owner with George W. Bush of the Texas Rangers baseball team. Once Bush was in office, Stapleton became US Ambassador to the Czech Republic, and then in France. His pro-GMO stance was in-line with the Bush administration, which used a WTO lawsuit to try to force Europe to accept GMOs.
Stapleton's tone in the letter was insistent. "We should not be prepared to cede on cultivation because of our considerable planting seed business in Europe."
He said, "Moving to retaliation will make clear that the current path has real costs to EU interests and could help strengthen European pro-biotech voices. In fact, the pro-biotech side in France -- including within the farm union -- have told us retaliation is the only way to begin to begin to turn this issue in France."
- France banned Mon 810 in early 2008. Several other EU nations have also banned it.
- In 2009, the American Academy of Environmental Medicine stated that animal feeding studies on GMOs showed significant health disorders. They called on the US government to institute an immediate moratorium, and asked all doctors to prescribe non-GMO diets in the meantime.
- This year, the major French retailer Carefour introduced a new "Reared without GMOs" label for meat raised on non-GMO feed.
- The Non-GMO Shopping Guide released in the US lists thousands of products that do not use GM ingredients, either directly or via animal feed.
- Please join a Non-GMO Action Group TODAY This is the most important newsletter article I have written in 7 years. It’s time to mobilize local and national Non-GMO Groups and you’re warmly invited... Local Non-GMO Action Groups When I was in Boulder, Colorado this past November, we advertised a meeting for those interested in helping to get the word out on GMOs. Nearly 70 people showed up! During the two hour session, people shared resources and ideas, set a regular meeting time each month, and divided into sub-groups based on areas of interest. Those outreach groups focused on healthcare professionals, restaurants, schools, local and national government, media, and others. A month earlier, I helped form similar groups in California—in San Diego, Santa Cruz, San Rafael, and El Cerrito. In fact, anytime I give a public lecture, there are ample numbers of passionate people who want to contribute in some way to help end GMOs. And now we have trained nearly 200 non-GMO speakers. It is time for us to get organized. National Non-GMO Groups for Targeted Outreach Many of the same outreach sub-groups that emerged in Boulder were also formed in California. Parents, healthcare practitioners, university students, etc., naturally want to bring the non-GMO message to their own networks. To make their efforts most effective, we are linking like-minded folks all over the country into National Non-GMO Action Groups. Thus, people reaching out to public schools or doctors in Boulder, for example, will benefit from the skills and experience of others doing the same. Each national group will have their own listserve, forum, and teleconferences. They will develop the strategy and materials that work best for their targeted area, and volunteer experts can assist them with the creation of brochures, videos, letters, etc. Please tell us if you would like to join a local group in your area, and if you have interest in doing outreach to a particular group. Whether you want to spend just a few minutes a week posting non-GMO information on your FaceBook page, or you want to lead a local or national group, now is the time to sign up. It’s time to mobilize the national non-GMO movement, have fun, and change the world. Join us for this completely new program. Click here to sign up now.
Compelling Stories About Our National Non-GMO Movement
Happy ThanksgivingCelebrating our National Non-GMO Movement A young woman came up to me at a Cambridge bookstore just before my presentation. “I heard you on Coast to Coast radio last year,” she said. “You changed my life.” No one had ever said anything like that to me before. I was deeply touched. That was 2004. It was just 8 months since launching Seeds of Deception and I had already toured five continents. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was just getting started. And I would meet countless others whose lives were also transformed by the truth about genetically modified (GM) foods. The world today is quite different than when I started out as a non-GMO road warrior. Most Americans had said they would avoid genetically modified organisms if labeled, but now millions are no longer waiting. They’re actively seeking non-GMO foods. And many are enthusiastically getting the word out to others. As a personal thank you, I wanted to share a few stories from this year’s travels in the US about individuals whose commitments to non-GMO eating were inspired by rather compelling circumstances. Non-GMO Doctoring I spent some time at the medical practices of two Chicago area doctors who, like many I know, prescribe non-GMO diets to everyone. The doctors had told me that taking people off of GM foods is a very important part of health and healing, but I didn’t appreciate the full extent of it until I spoke with their patients. One after the other they described chronic symptoms that quickly improved or disappeared after changing their diets—skin conditions, irritable bowel, migraines, weight problems, fatigue, and much more. At the end of my interviews I asked one of the doctors, “Where did you first learn about the health impacts of GMOs?” She smiled, “From you.” I held back tears. The patients I interviewed had avoided GMOs by switching to organic food; some had also eliminated processed foods and/or specific food categories, so it was not clear how much of the improvements were based on avoiding GMOs versus other healthy changes. Soon after the visit, however, I came across other folks where the impact of a non-GMO diet was not ambiguous at all. Animals on the Mend These were veterinarians and farmers who had taken livestock—pigs and cows—off of GMO feed. What do you suppose happened? Death rates dropped, still born rates were down, litter size was up, and overall health improved. One farmer was ecstatic about the huge increase in milk production in his herd; another described how healthy his pigs looked—even down to reduced blood shot eyes. The vets I spoke with had all been in practice long before 1996, when GMOs were introduced. Each had his stories about the surge in diseases and disorders after GM feed came on the scene. One told me that the jump in dog and cat allergies correlated exactly with the introduction of GM pet food. Whenever he switched his allergic animals to an organic (non-GMO) brand, their symptoms such as itching would usually disappear. Others described inflammation, infections, and gastrointestinal disorders. Both vets and farmers saw differences inside GM-fed animals during autopsies or butchering, including liver damage, stomach ulcers, discoloration, and an awful stench. One farmer said that after seeing the alterations inside GM-fed animals, he and his wife started a strict non-GMO policy for their family’s meat. (Apparently the vets who started their practices after GMOs entered the food supply consider all these problems normal.) A Movement of Non-GMO Eaters and Feeders Although some might dismiss these stories as “anecdotal,” the doctors, patients, vets, and farmers do not. Nor do the two autism organizations I visited, who now specify a non-GMO diet as part of the treatment protocol. These are just a few examples of the informed individuals, families, and organizations around the nation who are getting the message loud and clear—GMOs are NOT healthy. We now have a movement in America. A BIG ONE! Thanks to you, we’re a force of nature—like the Earth’s immune system—a vast network rejecting dangerous genetically modified organisms. We will soon reach our goal—the tipping point of consumer rejection—which will force GMOs out of the market. To respond to this new movement, our Institute is making some significant shifts—which I will tell you about very soon. But I wanted to take this opportunity to share these stories and to thank you for being part of this historic movement. Much love and happy holidays, Jeffrey
- Thank you for a Great Year! As we near the end of 2010, I wanted to personally thank you for helping to make this year an unprecedented success in raising awareness about the dangers of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Supermarket News predicted the upsurge in US consumer concern 2010, and it’s happening. With your support, we’re getting our message out to millions each month through print, media, and internet channels. During October’s Non-GMO Month, the popular health newsletter Mercola.com emailed our GMO articles every day for a week to over 1.5 million homes, followed by a videotaped interview of Dr. Mercola and I. Mike Adams, the Health Ranger, sent out a week’s worth of articles to hundreds of thousands of NaturalNews.com subscribers, and released his awesome Just Say No to GMO music video. You gotta see this. Natural News also pledged to match up to $10,000 of donations to our Institute and support came flying in from his loyal, healthy readers (thank you Mike and thank you NaturalNews readers). I had almost 100 media interviews this year. Here’s a recent one, where I get a little more personal: http://irishsideofthemoon.blogspot.com/2010/11/irish-side-of-moon-59.html I spoke in Iowa, Michigan, Colorado, Ohio, Illinois, Washington, Missouri, Canada, and throughout California. In response to your enthusiasm for our work, we’re training others to speak about GMOs using webinars and in-person classes. We’ll have nearly 200 people trained by year’s end. Our office has been swamped since September with requests for Shopping Guides, Health Risk Brochures, Non-GMO Education Centers, and other materials, as retailers, healthcare practitioners, and enthusiastic consumers jumped on board the non-GMO bandwagon. You’ll be happy to know that several high profile GMO issues made headlines in 2010: o The Supreme Court ruled in our favor, and kept GM alfalfa out. o A federal court banned the selling of GM sugar beets. o An appeals court ruled against the draconian rbGH labeling restrictions in Ohio. o And Frankenfish are swimming upstream against 91% of Americans who don’t want ’em. There’s more good news. Monsanto’s herbicide Roundup, which is sold with most GM crops, is imploding. Its overuse has spawned a new generation of superweeds that are resistant to its toxic effects. And Roundup’s promotion of soil pathogens seems to be creating an explosion of plant disease, including widespread Sudden Death Syndrome in soybeans, and possibly Mad Soy Disease in South America. Monsanto’s highly touted Roundup Ready 2 soybeans and Smart Stax corn were flops, forcing the company to drop their inflated prices. In just 11 months, Monsanto’s fortunes went from Forbes “Company of the Year” to the Worst Stock of the Year. Forbes apologized. Yes, it’s a very good time for us all, and thank you so much for making this happen. Your continued support, your personal commitment to avoid GM foods, and your enthusiasm for getting the word out to others is making the difference. Continued Safe Eating, Jeffrey
- New for Non-GMO Month Check out this fabulous new GMO video from Mike Adams, the Health Ranger, from www.NaturalNews.com. Please forward it to your networks. Download this song at the Natural News website! "Just say no to GMOs is the Battle Hymn for our new Organic Republic. Take action against Monsanto and their mad scientists and indentured politicians." - Ronnie Cummins, Director, Organic Consumers Association www.OrganicConsumers.org "Mike Adams has combined his talents of honest health reporting and surprising music composition to create a song that is a modern call to action against the dangerous and imminent genetic modification of our entire food supply." - Kevin Gianni, founder, the Renegade Health Show www.RenegadeHealth.com "If the youth of any generation are the catalyst for real change, Mike Adams just put the next generation on the map when it comes to saying no to genetically modified foodstuffs." - Robert Scott Bell, host and creator of the Robert Scott Bell radio show www.RobertScottBell.com
- Court Victory: Bovine Growth Hormone Labeling ATTENTION SHOPPERS. An appeals court just upheld your right to easily choose drug-free milk from drug-free cows. This is a victory. We're talking genetically modified bovine growth hormone, also known as rbGH, rbST, and crack for cows. It's been condemned by the American Public Health Association, American Nurses Association, and numerous others due to its potential for increasing cancer risk. Banned in most other countries and banished from most US dairies, it still lurks behind friendly "All Natural" labels of companies like Breyers Ice Cream. Before Monsanto sold off its rbGH division to Eli Lilly in 2008, they lobbied hard to their friends in state governments trying to make it illegal for dairies to label their products as our rbGH-free. They almost won in Ohio—that is until an appeals court struck down the state's label-muzzlng laws on Thursday, Sept 30th. If the decision had gone the other way, it would have forced all national brands that sold products in Ohio to remove statements like rbGH-free and artificial hormone free from their cartons. The courts still allow Ohio to require a disclaimer on the cartons of those dairies who proclaim to not use the drug. But they told Ohio that they couldn't require that the disclaimer be on the same panel of the package as the drug-free claim. Which is very good news. I propose that dairies use a different disclaimer than that now required by Ohio law. Here's what I propose: Ohio governor Strickland and other politicians who cater more to the interests of biotech companies than consumers, require that we state, ‘According to the FDA, there is no significant difference between the milk from cows injected with rbST compared to those not injected.' There, we've said it. But don't be misled. There is a BIG difference in the milk from drugged cows. Its got more of the hormone IGF-1, which is correlated with a much higher cancer risk. The milk has lower nutritional quality. And because injected cows often get udder infections, the milk has more pus and antibiotics. So who wrote this ridiculous disclaimer? That would be Monsanto's former attorney, Michael Taylor, who was put in charge of FDA policy when rbGH was approved. He later became Monsanto's vice president, and is now the US Food Safety Czar. But even as our czar, Taylor doesn't force us to use this disclaimer. It was Ohio and four other state governments that made Taylor's suggestion a requirement. And that is why you're now reading this milk carton instead of the nearby cereal box. Since the court (as well as scientists at the FDA) acknowledge these differences in the milk, how can state governments get away with forcing companies like ours to include the disclaimer? The operative words are ‘no significant difference.' The variations are statistically different, so in this case, significant is purely a judgment call. Perhaps in the FDA's judgment, your nutritional intake is not all that important. There are, after all, lots of under-nourished Americans out there eating FDA-approved junk food everyday. What's one more? And from a cosmic perspective, when you consider the billions of people on earth, the vast expanse of the universe, and eons of time, even contracting an antibiotic-resistant disease or getting cancer might not be considered significant. We, however, think it is. And we do care about your health. That's why we don't use the genetically modified cow drug in our herds. It's better for the health of the cows, for the health of Mother Earth, and for you and your family's health. Any takers for this new disclaimer? Thank you, 6th Circuit Court, for allowing us to more easily know which milk to avoid. Safe eating. To learn more about rbGH, watch the 18-minute video Your Milk on Drugs—Just Say No!
- GE Salmon? Are You Out of Your Minds?! To help stop GE salmon, please sign petitions to the food industry and Congress. Has the FDA gone completely mad? Why are they trying to open the flood gates to genetically engineered (GE) salmon—a move that will go down in history as one of the most asinine and dangerous ever made by our government? What's it going to take for them to actually start protecting public health? Frankenfish can promote disease The FDA is reviewing data submitted by AquaBounty, the company that spliced a growth hormone gene into Atlantic salmon, forcing it to grow up to five times faster, and reach market size in about 18 months instead of 3 years. But according to the evidence, their buff salmon might have higher levels of a cancer promoting hormone IGF-1, more antibiotics, and more of a potentially life-threatening allergen(s). The FDA failed to learn their lesson with their idiotic approval of genetically engineered bovine growth hormone. It also has higher levels of IGF-1 and more antibiotics. Now it's condemned by the American Public Health Association and the American Nurses Association, banned in most other countries, and has been banished by most US dairies. Even Wal-Mart won't allow the stuff into their milk. The GE soy and corn on the market, which the FDA continues to pretend is just the same as the natural stuff, also has higher levels of allergens, and has been linked to numerous disorders. Now the American Academy of Environmental Medicine condemned genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and urged all physicians to prescribe non-GMO diets. "GMO-Free" is one of the fastest growing health claims among US brands for the past two years, and a tipping point of consumer rejection of all GE ingredients appears to be just over the horizon. Then there is the threat of Frankenfish escaping into the wild. Here too, the FDA ignores the lessons from GE crops which, in spite of early assurances to the contrary, have been contaminating non-GE crops and wild relatives all over the world for more than a decade. Their self-propagating genetic pollution is irreversible; it can outlast the effects of global warming and nuclear waste. But somehow escaped GE salmon carry an even greater hazard. Frankenfish can wipe out natural salmon According to a Purdue University computer model that tracked the effects of releasing just 60 Frankenfish (not salmon) into a population of 60,000, there was a shocking complete extinction in just 40 fish generations. Apparently their bigger size, which attracted mates more easily, combined with a slight reduction in survival rates, was a killer combination. Canadian scientists engineered their own set of fast growing salmon and tested their behavior in tanks with other fish. When there was sufficient food, all was fine. When food stocks decreased, the Frankenfish freaked. They became cannibals, attacking and killing other fish—whether GE or natural. Their unexpected behavior resulted in population crashes or complete extinctions in the fish tanks. The study also suggested that if released, these ravenous aggressive salmon would pursue and consume other types of fish. I'm not sure which scenario is worse: The complete extinction of salmon, or gangs of voracious mutant freaks scouring the ocean, attacking anything that can feed their rapidly-expanding, always-hungry bodies. (Heck, let's just give the fish automatic weapons.) Never mind that the GE AquAdvantage salmon are supposed to be grown in inland tanks and are supposed to be sterile. In reality, they won't all be sterile; and there are numerous ways that these salmon, whose eggs will regularly be shipped from Prince Edward Island, Canada to growing tanks in Panama, can escape into the ocean. It only takes one! Corporate interests and politics run the FDA show US consumers have been clear for years that we don't want Frankenfish, Frankenpigs, Frankenmosquitoes, Frankenanything that walks, flies, slithers, or swims. And most Americans are now uneasy about the Frankencrops already growing in our fields. So who is clamoring for GE salmon? Who's getting the FDA to push open the doors to GE animals against public opinion? Thank you Union of Concerned Scientists for the answer. Your September 12th survey of 1710 FDA employees explains who is really driving the bus at the agency. One staff member said, "Food safety has succumbed to the higher priority of global corporate profits." In fact, 38 percent of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that "public health has been harmed by agency practices that defer to business interests." Another employee points to political interference: "I have been here for 26 years and it still amazes me . . . how politics filter down to the lowest levels of government." So its corporate profits and politics. Anyone surprised? About 1 in 4 surveyed admit that they had personally experienced, either frequently or occasionally, "situations where corporate interests [or members of Congress, or special interests] have forced the withdrawal or significant modification of [an agency] policy or action designed to protect consumers or public health." If there is one face that best captures the FDA's conflict-of-humanity's-interest, it would be Michael Taylor. Taylor is the US Food Safety Czar. You'd think that if there were significant safety concerns about the GE salmon, our Czar would step in to preserve and protect. Don't count on it. Back when the first Bush White House had instructed the FDA to promote biotechnology, the agency created a special position for Taylor to be in charge. He had been the outside attorney for biotech giant Monsanto, where he had dreamed up a regulatory facade that would allow GMOs to be brought to market with maximum speed and minimum oversight. Then he took a position with the FDA where he could apparently implement it himself. His GMO policy falsely claimed that the agency was unaware of information showing GM foods to be different. On that basis, no testing or labeling was required. Years later, 44,000 documents made public from a lawsuit revealed that the consensus among FDA's own scientists was that GM foods were unsafe, and should be carefully tested for allergies, toxins, new diseases, and nutritional problems. Soon after leaving the FDA, Michael Taylor went to work as Monsanto's vice president. So the person who lied about GMO safety to push them on the market now sits above the folks that are looking at GE Salmon. Not a comforting thought. Stacking the deck for approving salmon How else does corporate influence play out in the current FDA debacle? Consider Alison L. Van Eenennaam. She too used to work for Monsanto, and now has been added as a temporary voting member on the committee that advises the FDA about the salmon. She also advises the USDA and promotes GE animals on Youtube. Kevin G. Wells was also added as a temporary voting member for salmon. He works at Revivicor, a company that genetically engineers pigs. Do you suppose there is any conflict of interest for him establishing an easy ride for GE animal approvals? Perhaps. Gregory Jaffe was also imported into the committee as their supposed consumer advocate. In reality, he is with the pro-GMO Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), an organization that consistently ignores the mounting evidence of adverse health impacts from GE crops. Jaffe even filed a complaint to the FDA in 2001 complaining of companies that label their products as non-GMO. What further qualified Jaffe for his committee position was his published article Questions About Genetically Engineered Animals, where he touts the environmental benefits of AquAdvantage salmon. The engineered bias of the FDA advisory committee is made even more clear by who is absent. There are no experts on allergies or hormones who can address the possible health damaging effects of the fish, and no fish ecologists who can figure out whether our grandchildren will live in a world without wild salmon. Institutionalized stupidity But even before the committee was picked, the deck was stacked in favor of approvals. In 2008, the Bush administration rolled out a policy in which GE animals would be approved as if they were animal drugs. This latest square peg is part of a continuing effort to regulate GMOs without asking Congress to pass any new laws. So, since 1992, the government has been jerry-rigging inadequate pre-existing laws to handle the unique and complex safety and environmental considerations of genetically engineered organisms. Even if GE animals weren't infinitely more complex than some drug compound, using the FDA drug approval process shouldn't give us great confidence. Between 1976 and 1985, for example, more than half of their drug approvals turned out to have lethal or serious side effects, forcing withdrawal or added label warnings. Try conducting a recall of GE salmon from the ocean. Failing grades all around Even with stacked committee membership, an antiquated approval policy, and an agency that is officially mandated to promote biotechnology, the Frankenfish did not swim past the advisory committee on September 19th and 20th. That's because the committee agreed with safety experts like Dr. Michael Hansen of the Consumers Union (they publish Consumer Reports) that the evidence presented by AquaBounty was abysmal and insufficient. Using a sample size of only 6 fish, employing insensitive detection methods that could easily miss cancer-promoting hormones or allergens, and testing fish that were raised in a completely different climate than what is planned, were among the sloppy science that the FDA had accepted. (See addendum below for examples.) In fact the only person on the committee who had any experience with fish, Gary Thorgaard, completely disagreed with the FDA's conclusion that the Frankenfish didn't threaten the environment. He called for a full Environmental Impact Statement. Hansen says, "The data and analysis of food safety risks from the AquAdvantage Salmon are so sloppy and inadequate that, if this were an undergraduate paper, it would get a failing grade. No self-respecting scientist could conclude that these data demonstrate that AquAdvantage salmon are safe to eat." Thus, in spite of the fact that the company had been submitting data to the FDA for more than ten years, the advisory committee concluded that the evidence was insufficient to conclude that GE salmon was safe for the environment and for human health. They told AquaBounty to go back and to do more testing. I propose a different recommendation. This little exercise made it perfectly clear that AquaBounty is either completely incompetent to evaluate the safety of their own creation, or they're intentionally hiding evidence. In either case, let's not send the same folks back to do more research, hoping they'll get it right. Instead, tell these jokers that they have proved to the world that they are never ever ever to be trusted with the future of salmon or the safety of the human food supply. And what about the FDA—the brain cell behind the Don't-ask-don't-tell food safety assessments? They have again demonstrated that they too are not competent to protect the public from the unique unpredictable dangers of genetically engineered foods. If you want to GE salmon stopped for good, now is the time to raise your voice. Since the FDA has been ignoring US citizens in favor of business interests and politics, please join me in inviting the food industry and Congress to stop in and stop this madness. Go to our action alert pages to sign the petitions today. . . . Addendum: How Not to Do a Food Safety Assessment The FDA's evaluation of GE salmon is the first of its kind. Because it will set a precedent for all future GE animal approvals, the bar should be set very high. According to Dr. Michael Hansen, who testified at the FDA advisory committee meeting on behalf of Consumers Union, the FDA set the bar a foot off the ground. When AquaBounty looked for potentially dangerous growth hormones in the salmon, for example, they used a detection method so insensitive, it couldn't find any hormones in any fish. The FDA therefore concluded that there was no relevant difference in hormone levels in GE salmon. Dr. Hansen told the committee, "This would be like the police using a radar gun that cannot detect speeds below 120 mph and concluding that there is no 'relevant difference' in the speed of cars versus bicycles." Because the company also used an insensitive test to measure cancer-promoting insulin-like growth hormone factor one (IGF-1), levels were detected in only a few fish. Of these, the GE salmon was 40% higher. Again, insufficient data combined with faulty reasoning allowed the FDA to conclude that IGF-1 from GE salmon is not a problem. Even then, these test results were not from the type of GE salmon that the company plans to market. Instead, the tests were conducted on the GE salmon variety that will produce the fish eggs in Canada. The DNA of these "egg-layers" have the normal two sets of chromosomes (diploid). The GE salmon to be grown from their eggs in Panama, however, end up with three sets of chromosomes (triploid)—so that most will be sterile. It's the Panama-grown triploid variety that will go onto our dinner table if the FDA has their way. So what was the response by the FDA and AquaBounty when asked for the IGF-1 levels of the actual fish (raised in the actual conditions) that people would actually eat? "Well...er....uhm...we'll get back to you." The situation with allergies is worse. According to Hansen, the tests conducted by AquaBounty confirmed that "the act of genetic engineering did lead to an increase in allergenic potency." In fact, when the flesh from egg-laying (diploid) fish was exposed to the blood (sera) of people who are allergic to salmon, there was a whopping 52% increase in reaction levels. Furthermore, the specific allergen that had increased in the Frankenfish was not supposed to be affected. It did not come from the inserted gene. Rather, the increase in this potentially life-threatening allergen was just one of the unpredictable side-effects that can result from the process of genetic engineering itself. The FDA decided this time to ignore this troublesome finding, since it was from the egg-laying diploids. The company did test the allergic reaction to the triploids (the ones we'll eat), but used fish that were raised in Canada, not Panama. This should have disqualified the fish study, according to Hansen, since the composition of GE salmon can obviously be affected by water temperature, and growing conditions. Still, the Canadian raised Frankenfish still elicited an allergic response level that was 20% higher than normal salmon. But the FDA dismissed this figure since it was not statistically significant and concluded that the GE salmon was safe to eat. But of course it wasn't statistically significant. They used just six fish in the sample size! The easiest way to prevent statistical significance is by using a pathetically small number of subjects in your experiment. Hansen said: "To base a conclusion of no additional risk on exactly six engineered fish, when those data themselves suggest a possible problem, is not responsible science or responsible risk assessment. FDA owes it to the thousands of Americans who are allergic to finfish to demand more data on the allergenicity of these engineered salmon from AquaBounty." Thank you Dr. Hansen for helping to protect us from the bungling Frankenfish promoters. Let's hope they will listen. Don't forget to sign the petitions to the food industry and Congress. International bestselling author and filmmaker Jeffrey M. Smith is the executive director of the Institute for Responsible Technology. His first book, Seeds of Deception: Exposing Industry and Government Lies About the Safety of the Genetically Engineered Foods You're Eating, is the world's bestselling and #1 rated book on GMOs. His second, Genetic Roulette: The Documented Health Risks of Genetically Engineered Foods, documents 65 health risks of the GM foods Americans eat every day. Both are distributed by Chelsea Green Publishing. To help you choose healthier, non-GMO brands, use the Non-GMO Shopping Guide.
Genetically Modified Soy Diets Lead to Ovary and Uterus Changes in Rats
If you're still eating genetically modified (GM) soybeans and you plan on having kids, a Brazilian study may make you think again about what you put in your mouth. Female rats fed GM soy for 15 months showed significant changes in their uterus and reproductive cycle, compared to rats fed organic soy or those raised without soy. Published in The Anatomical Record in 2009, this finding adds to the mounting body of evidence suggesting that GM foods contribute to reproductive disorders (see summary at end).
Unlike women whose menstrual cycle starts automatically at puberty, female rats need to be "inspired." Their (estrous) cycle conveniently kicks in only after being introduced to male rats. Since no males were present in this study, the females fed organic soy or no soy were appropriately untriggered (diestrus). For some odd reason, however, those fed GM soy appeared to have their ovulation cycle in full gear.
Although the researchers did not perform a check on the estrous cycle directly, their microscopic analysis of ovaries and uterus tissue showed that the hormone-induced changes (i.e. early ovulation and formation of corpus luteum) were well underway. In addition, the lining of the uterus (endometriim) had more cells than normal and the glands were dilated. In simpler terms, according to senior UK pathologist Stanley Ewen, something in the GM soy diet was "wrecking the ovary and endometrium" of the rats.
Hormonal imbalance and disease risk
Dr. Ewen speculated on the significant hormonal changes in the rats and their implications for women who eat GM soy. He said that the proliferative growth (hyperplasia) of the (endometrial) cells lining the uterus implies changes in important reproductive hormones. There might include excessive production of estrogen, follicle stimulating hormone, and luteinizing hormone, or even damage to the pituitary gland itself.
The presence of the corpus luteum, which is normally formed during the estrous cycle, means that the rats likely have higher amounts of progesterone. This hormone could increase the number of eggs released from the ovary, as well as increase their tendency to implant and be viable. If eating GM soy increased progesterone in women, this might improve their fertility.
On the other hand, if women also experienced similar changes in the uterus lining and altered hormonal levels, Dr. Ewen said it might increase the risk of retrograde menstruation, in which menstrual discharge travels backwards into the body rather than through the uterus. This can cause a disease known as endometriosis, which may lead to infertility. The disorder can also produce pelvic and leg pain, gastrointestinal problems, chronic fatigue, and a wide variety of other symptoms. The cause is unknown.
Dr. Ewen also pointed out that the changes in the rats, if extrapolated to humans, might lead to abnormally heavy or longer menstrual periods (menorrhagia).
He was quick to point out that more studies are needed before any firm conclusions can be drawn, particularly because such a method of study, called histology, "is a static observation—only a snapshot." In addition, follow-up studies may be able to better rule out other variables. In this study, an amino acid (cysteine) was added only to the organic soy diet but not the GMO (although even a cysteine-deficient diet would not explain the reproductive issues). Also, the soybeans used in both diets were purchased commercially. It is much better to use similar genetic varieties grown side by side in the same climatic conditions. Unfortunately, Monsanto doesn't usually make the similar varieties (isolines) available for research.
The variable that Dr. Ewen wants looked at the most is the weedkiller used on GM soybeans, as he mentioned over and over that it is a probable cause of the disruption.
Is Roundup herbicide causing us reproductive problems?
Genetically modified soybeans are called Roundup Ready. They are inserted with a bacterial gene, which allows the plants to survive a normally deadly dose of Roundup herbicide. Although the spray doesn't kill the plant, its active ingredient called glyphosate does accumulate in the beans themselves, which are consumed by rats, livestock, and humans. There is so much glyphosate in GM soybeans, when they were introduced Europe had to increase their allowable residue levels by 200 fold.
Although there is only a handful of studies on the safety of GM soybeans, there is considerable evidence that glyphosate—especially in conjunction with the other ingredients in Roundup—wreaks havoc with the endocrine and reproductive systems. "I think the concentration of glyphosate in the soybeans is the likely cause of the problem," says Ewen.
Glyphosate throws off the delicate hormonal balance that governs the whole reproductive cycle. "It's an endocrine buster," says Ewen, "that interferes with aromatase, which produces estrogen." Aromatase is required by luteal cells to produce hormones for the normal menstrual cycle, but it's those luteal cells that have shown considerable alterations in the rats fed GM soybeans.
Glyphosate is also toxic to the placenta, the organ which connects the mother to the fetus, providing nutrients and oxygen, and emptying waste products. In a 2009 French study at the University of Caen, scientists discovered that glyphosate can kill the cells in the outer layer of the human placenta (the trophoblast membrane), which in turn can kill the placenta. The placenta cells are, in Ewen's words, "exquisitely sensitive to glyphosate." Only 1/500th the amount needed to kill weeds was able to kill the cells. The amount is so small, according to the study authors the "residual levels to be expected, especially in food and feed derived from R[oundup] formulation-treated crops" could be enough to "cause cell damage and even [cell] death." Furthermore, the effect of the toxin may bioaccumulate, growing worse with repeated consumption from Roundup laden foods.
Ewen says, "If the endocrine functions of the placenta are destroyed by glyphosate in the test tube, by extrapolation, ovarian and endometrial function would be expected to suffer." The implications for pregnant woman consuming glyphosate, he says, could be abortion.
Indeed, in a Canadian epidemiological study, which looked at nearly 4000 pregnancies in 1,898 couples, women exposed to glyphosate during the three months before getting pregnant had a significantly higher risk of abortions, especially for those above 34 years of age.
Dr. Ewen regrets that he didn't follow up a referral by a local gynecologist about 20 years ago, who told him that women were having abortions when the fields next door were sprayed. He doesn't know what was sprayed.
Fathers exposed to glyphosate also increase reproductive risks
In the Canadian study above, even fathers who were exposed to glyphosate before their wives got pregnant showed an increase in early delivery and abortions. In addition, a study of male rabbits showed that glyphosate can cause a reduction in sexual activity and sperm concentration, and an increase in dead or abnormal sperm.
Birth defects increased in humans and animals
Numerous indigenous people and peasant communities in Argentina have blamed aerial spraying of Roundup on a significant rise of birth defects. Dr. Andreas Carasco of the Embryology Laboratory, Faculty of Medicine in Buenos Aires, decided to investigate. He exposed amphibian embryos to a tiny concentration of glyphosate (diluted 5000 fold). According to an excellent summary of glyphosate-related effects by the Pesticide Action Network,
"Effects included reduced head size, genetic alterations in the central nervous system, increased death of cells that help form the skull, deformed cartilage, eye defects, and undeveloped kidneys. Carrasco also stated that the glyphosate was not breaking down in the cells, but was accumulating. The findings lend weight to claims that abnormally high levels of cancer, birth defects, neonatal mortality, lupus, kidney disease, and skin and respiratory problems in populations near Argentina's soybean fields may be linked to the aerial spraying of Roundup."
Although human embryos are not directly treated with glyphosate in the same way that Carrasco treated his amphibian embryos, it is known that glyphosate does cross the placenta and enters the fetal circulation.
In his article, Dr. Carrasco describes some disturbing findings in Argentina, where more than 50 million gallons of glyphosate-based herbicide is used on more than 45 million acres of GM soy.
In Argentina, an increase in the incidence of congenital malformations began to be reported in the last few years. In Co´rdoba, several cases of malformations together with repeated spontaneous abortions were detected in the village of Ituzaingo´, which is surrounded by GMO-based agriculture. These findings were concentrated in families living a few meters from where the herbicides are regularly sprayed.
Glyphosate may also cause reproductive disorders in the offspring of those exposed. When pregnant rats, for example, were exposed to glyphosate, their male offspring suffered reduced sperm production, increased abnormal sperm, and decrease in testosterone, in puberty and/or adulthood.
Other evidence of reproductive problems from GMOs
The changes in the rat uterus and ovulation cycle are by no means a smoking gun. But they are now part of a pattern of multiple reproductive disorders found in GMO feeding studies.
Professor Vyvyan Howard, a toxico-pathologist of the University of Ulster, says, "Several new hazards can now be identified." The growing body or research showing problems, he says, "provides ample evidence that the producers of GMO crops are not performing risk assessments for some of the hazards that independent scientists are identifying and testing." Dr. Howard, who specializes in the effects of toxins on the fetus and infants, asks, "What will be the effect on the fetus in the womb of women eating these foods? This needs to be tested."
The few tests that have been done on animals are more than sobering. In April 2010, researchers at Russia's Institute of Ecology and Evolution of the Russian Academy of Sciences and the National Association for Gene Security found that after feeding hamsters GM soy for two years over three generations, by the third generation most lost the ability to have babies. They also suffered slower growth, a high mortality rate among the pups, and a high incidence of a rare phenomenon of hair growing inside their mouths.
When I reported the results of the hamster study, I included the following review of other GMO-related reports of reproductive disorders:
In 2005, Irina Ermakova, also with the Russian National Academy of Sciences, reported that more than half the babies from mother rats fed GM soy died within three weeks. This was also five times higher than the 10% death rate of the non-GMO soy group. The babies in the GM group were also smaller (see photo) and could not reproduce.
In a telling coincidence, after Ermakova's feeding trials, her laboratory started feeding all the rats in the facility a commercial rat chow using GM soy. Within two months, the infant mortality facility-wide reached 55%.
When Ermakova fed male rats GM soy, their testicles changed from the normal pink to dark blue! Italian scientists similarly found changes in mice testes (PDF), including damaged young sperm cells. Furthermore, the DNA of embryos from parent mice fed GM soy functioned differently.
An Austrian government study published in November 2008 showed that the more GM corn was fed to mice, the fewer the babies they had (PDF), and the smaller the babies were.
Central Iowa Farmer Jerry Rosman also had trouble with pigs and cows becoming sterile. Some of his pigs even had false pregnancies or gave birth to bags of water. After months of investigations and testing, he finally traced the problem to GM corn feed. Every time a newspaper, magazine, or TV show reported Jerry's problems, he would receive calls from more farmers complaining of livestock sterility on their farm, linked to GM corn.
Researchers at Baylor College of Medicine accidentally discovered that rats raised on corncob bedding "neither breed nor exhibit reproductive behavior." Tests on the corn material revealed two compounds that stopped the sexual cycle in females "at concentrations approximately two-hundredfold lower than classical phytoestrogens." One compound also curtailed male sexual behavior and both substances contributed to the growth of breast and prostate cancer cell cultures. Researchers found that the amount of the substances varied with GM corn varieties. The crushed corncob used at Baylor was likely shipped from central Iowa, near the farm of Jerry Rosman and others complaining of sterile livestock.
In Haryana, India, a team of investigating veterinarians report that buffalo consuming GM cottonseed suffer from infertility, as well as frequent abortions, premature deliveries, and prolapsed uteruses. Many adult and young buffalo have also died mysteriously.
Biotech advocates usually deny or try to discredit the evidence, and often attack scientists who discover it. But they rarely call for follow-up studies. With little or no money to follow up on these findings, we won't know for sure if GMOs are the cause, or if it is glyphosate, or something else. But numerous medical doctors aren't waiting for more research. They are telling their patients, especially those pregnant or planning to have kids, just say no to GMOs.
So if you were still eating GMOs before you read this, perhaps it's time to take the doctors' advice.
International bestselling author and filmmaker Jeffrey M. Smith is the executive director of the Institute for Responsible Technology. His first book, Seeds of Deception: Exposing Industry and Government Lies About the Safety of the Genetically Engineered Foods You're Eating, is the world's bestselling and #1 rated book on GMOs. His second, Genetic Roulette: The Documented Health Risks of Genetically Engineered Foods, documents 65 health risks of the GM foods Americans eat every day. Both are distributed by Chelsea Green Publishing. To help you choose healthier, non-GMO brands, use the Non-GMO Shopping Guide.
Biotech Propaganda Cooks Dangers out of GM Potatoes
Don't worry your little heads over the gene-spliced foods on your plates. Just trust companies like Monsanto when they tell you their genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are perfectly safe.
That's the upshot of a new website created on behalf of the biotech industry by GMO advocates Bruce Chassy and David Tribe. While they attempt to discredit the scientific evidence in my book Genetic Roulette: The Documented Health Risks of Genetically Engineered Foods, instead they offer priceless examples of distortion, denial, and spin. Their site is yet another example of why we can't trust GMOs, Monsanto, or the so-called scientists who support them.
In a series of rebuttals, I expose this charade and show why healthy eating starts with no GMOs. (To find out how to avoid GMOs, go to NonGMOShoppingGuide.com.)
In Part 1, I recounted the story of scientist-turned-whistleblower Dr. Arpad Pusztai. Here, I provide a point by point refutation of Chassy and Tribe's unwarranted attack on Dr. Pusztai and their distortion of his findings.
Exposing the Spin on Spuds
1. Experts say no scientific conclusion can be made from the work. Two separate expert panels reviewed this research and concluded that both the experimental design and conduct of the experiments were fatally flawed, and that no scientific conclusion should be drawn from the work. (Royal Society 1999; Fedoroff and Brown 2004)Dr. Pusztai's research design had already been used in over 50 peer-reviewed published studies conducted at the Rowett Institute, the most prestigious nutritional institute in the UK. Furthermore, the design was explicitly approved in advance by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC)—the UK government's main funding body for the biological sciences. The validity of the work was also confirmed by an independent team of 23 top scientists from around the world who reviewed the research, as well as The Lancet, that published it. But Chassy and Tribe instead reference their partners-in-spin from the Royal Society. As indicated in Part 1, at the Society there are plenty of scientists with close ties to the biotech industry who came in quite handy during the Pusztai affair. They staged a so-called peer-review—the first in the Society's 350-year history—but it was more of a hatchet job. The reviewers didn't even bother to look at all the research data. Dr. Pusztai told me he had offered to provide the complete findings and to meet with them to answer questions, but they refused. The editor of The Lancet, Richard Horton, denounced the Royal Society's unprecedented condemnation of Dr. Pusztai as "a gesture of breathtaking impertinence to the Rowett Institute scientists who should be judged only on the full and final publication of their work." He called it a "reckless decision" that abandoned "the principles of due process". The team that the Royal Society assembled to do the review was telling. They had publicly announced that anyone who had previously commented on the Pusztai situation would be excluded to avoid bias, but then went ahead and included four people who had previously co-signed a letter condemning Dr. Pusztai. In addition, several members had financial ties to biotech companies, and four were co-producers of the Royal Society's controversial 1998 pro-GMO report that called for the rapid introduction of GM foods. The Royal Society also abandoned the normal protocols of choosing a review team with specific scientific qualifications to evaluate the study in question. Their members clearly did not have the relevant experience to review such a nutritional study. It came as no surprise that the Royal Society's partial review denounced the findings. Furthermore, it made sweeping claims that actually contradicted the study's design and data. The coordinator of the review, Rebecca Bowden, later headed the Royal Society's science policy division, which, according to The Guardian, "is to mould scientific and public opinion with a pro-biotech line," and to "counter opposing scientists and environmental groups." Chassy and Tribe also name Fedoroff and Brown as the second so-called expert panel. They weren't a panel at all; they wrote a book, Mendel in the Kitchen, a devotional ode to biotech. According to a review in Nature, "It is the things they choose not to include, and the inclusion of some sweeping generalizations, that give the book its decidedly pro-genetic-engineering slant. . . . Although the authors state in their introductory chapter, 'Which view will seem right to you depends on what you consider conventional, and on how you define the ways of nature,' the rest of the book attempts to convince readers that only one view is right." In addition, a critique of an article by Fedoroff about the Pusztai affair illustrates how many of her statements and conclusions were not based on the research and were clearly false.
2. No differences were seen between the groups of animals. Experts who reviewed the data stated that there were no meaningful differences between control and experimental groups, that the same cellular differences could be seen in all groups—GMO-fed or not—and that too few animals were used to allow statistical significance to be achieved. (Royal Society 1999)Again, Chassy and Tribe turn to their friends in the Royal Society for support, but as you can see in the photos, the cellular differences in the lining of the stomach and intestines were substantial. This potentially precancerous cell growth was seen in all the GMO-fed groups, but not the controls. Chassy and Tribe chose not to cite Federoff on this point, probably because she correctly acknowledges, "The results showed that rats fed the transgenic potatoes had significantly lower organ weights. . . . Lymphocyte responsiveness was depressed in the animals fed the transgenic potatoes expressing GNA." As for statistical significance, only two statisticians have done an analysis with access to all the raw data: a member of Pusztai's research team and a member of The Lancet review team. Both determined that the results were statistically significant.
3.The diets were protein-deficientBy this time, Dr. Pusztai had designed and published 270 studies. The diet parameters for this study were consistent with other animal tests and practices. There was sufficient protein for the animals to grow, and the vast majority of the protein in the rats' diets came from the potatoes—which is the preferred way to expose potato-related problems. More importantly, the rats fed the normal potatoes did not suffer from the maladies of those that ate the GMOs. Thus, the protein levels, which were consistent among all groups, were clearly not the cause. By contrast, in safety studies funded by the biotech industry, they often use too much protein. According to a 2003 paper (PDF) in Nutrition and Health that analyzed all peer-reviewed feeding studies on GM foods, the percentage of protein used in Monsanto's study on Roundup Ready soybeans was "artificially too high." This "would almost certainly mask, or at least effectively reduce, any possible effect of the [GM soy]." They concluded, "It is therefore highly likely that all GM effects would have been diluted out." This was the primary study that Monsanto used to claim its GM soybeans were safe for human consumption.
4. Different groups of rats received different diets.Chassy and Tribe may be referring to false accusations by Sir Aaron Klug, who attacked The Lancet editor for his decision to publish Pusztai's paper. Klug claimed that the design was fatally flawed because the rats received different protein content. It appears that Sir Aaron, as well as Chassy and Tribe, failed to actually read Pusztai's published study, which states that all diets had the same protein and energy content. Furthermore, the animals were pair-fed, meaning they were given the same amount of food. In contrast, biotech industry studies usually allow animals to eat as much as they want—which can also mask effects. Dr. Pusztai did vary the diets in ways that helped to isolate the cause of problems. In different experiments he fed raw, baked, and boiled potatoes. In all his experiments he used an additional control group: non-GMO potatoes (actually the parents of the GMOs) that were spiked with the GNA lectin. According to experts, Dr. Pusztai's variations made it superior to the design of other GMO safety studies. The 2003 Nutrition and Health analysis hailed it as unique and "remarkable in that the experimental conditions were varied and several ways were found by which to demonstrate possible health effects of GM foods."
5. Some rats were fed raw potatoes—raw potatoes are toxic to rats and might cause disturbances to gastrointestinal cells.This feeble argument was also attempted in 1998 to distort the findings, but the studies design rules out this assertion. In trials where raw GM potatoes were fed to rats, the raw parent non-GMO potato was also fed to other groups of rats (either with our without added GNA lectin). Those fed the non-GMO raw potatoes did not suffer the fate of those fed the GMOs. If raw potatoes were at fault, all the rats would have been similarly damaged.
6. Three different varieties of potatoes were fed to the three different groups of rats (Royal Society 1999).Here again, the details don't support the accusation, but rather show how the advocates spin facts to confuse. The study did use three different potatoes. There was a parent non-GMO potato, and two GM potato lines created from the parent. The two lines were produced at the same time, under the same conditions, using the same GNA lectin transgene. But because of the unique and unpredicted effects of the GMO transformation process mentioned in Part 1, the two GM potatoes were not identical. One had the same protein content as the parent, but its "twin" had less. In the animal feeding studies, however, they always compared one non-GM potato (the parent) to just one of the GM "offspring." And whenever they used the GM line that had less protein, they compensated by adding lactalbumin (a superior quality milk protein) so that the overall protein content was equal between all groups.
7. The Lancet published the paper by Ewen and Pusztai over the objections of reviewers.The Lancet actually tripled their normal number of reviewers to six. Chassy and Tribe falsely claim that multiple reviewers objected; in fact it was only one--GMO advocate John Pickett. The other five wanted the paper to be published. But Chassy and Tribe use the phrase, "objections of reviewers," falsely implying that multiple reviewers sought to stop the publication. According to Claire Robinson of GM Watch, "You may think that Tribe and Chassy are unaware of this, but you'd be wrong. David Tribe has published on his own blog the criticism of Pusztai's work by Nina Fedoroff, contained in her book Mendel in the Kitchen, where she concedes that The Lancet's 'editor, Richard Horton, stood by the publication [of Pusztai's paper]. Five of 6 reviewers had favored publication and he believed that it was appropriate for the information to be available in the public domain.'"
8. When The Lancet published the work, editors there published a critical analysis in the same issue.Indeed, the key point of that critical analysis is that more studies were needed to isolate the cause of the profound damage to the rats. Bravo. Of course more studies were needed. But Dr. Pusztai was turned down in his request for follow-up funds. In fact, no one has yet applied his advanced safety testing protocols to the GM foods already on the market to see if they cause the same damage in rats or humans. Furthermore, the analysis in The Lancet states, "Particular attention must be given to the detection and characterization of unintended effects of genetic modification." The authors specifically recommend the use of new technologies that can analyze holistic changes in gene expression, protein production, and metabolites. They insist that "Inferences about such [side] effects can no longer be based solely on chemical analysis of single macronutrients and micronutrients and known crop specific antinutrients or toxins." That was published 11 years ago. But biotech companies still refuse to employ these modern holistic detection techniques to see if there might be new allergens, toxins, carcinogens, or anti-nutrients in the GMOs that millions of people eat everyday. Advanced Studies Confirm New Allergen and Dangers in GMOs In 2007, independent scientists finally published a holistic protein analysis of one GM crop, Monsanto's Mon 810 Bt corn, which had been fed to consumers for the previous 10 years. Sure enough, due to "the insertion of a single gene into a [corn] genome," 43 proteins were significantly increased or decreased. "Moreover, transgenic plants reacted differentially to the same environmental conditions, . . . supporting the hypothesis that they had a strongly rearranged genome after particle bombardment" by a gene gun. The authors acknowledged that gene gun insertion can cause "deletion and extensive scrambling of inserted and chromosomal DNA." One of the changed proteins in the GM corn was gamma zein, "a well-known allergenic protein." That allergen was not found in the natural corn, however. The gene that produces gamma zein is normally shut off in corn. But somehow it was switched on in Monsanto's variety. That means that some people who are not normally allergic to corn might react to GM corn (which, of course, is unlabeled in North America). The authors of the study were far less worried about their discovery of this new allergen, compared to the fact that a number of proteins "exhibited truncated forms having molecular masses significantly lower than the native ones." Such alterations, which they describe "as a major concern," may transform harmless proteins into a dangerous ones. Furthermore, their presence in GM corn means that truly massive unexpected side effects have taken place in the plants' biochemistry.
9. "Perhaps in some misguided sense of fairness or balance, some journals have published unsound papers that make claims about the safety of GM crops. . . . Peer-review is not always a guarantee that researchers' conclusions are sound."On this point I totally agree. An excellent example is Monsanto's 1996 feeding study in the Journal of Nutrition, which claimed that their Roundup Ready soybeans were substantially equivalent to natural soybeans. In addition to showing that Monsanto used too much protein, mentioned above, the 2003 paper in Nutrition and Health (PDF said, the "level of the GM soy was too low and would probably ensure that any possible undesirable GM effects did not occur." In one of the trials, for example, researchers substituted only one tenth of the natural protein with GM soy protein. In two others, they diluted their GM soy six- and twelve-fold. According to Dr. Pusztai, who had published several studies in that same nutrition journal, the Monsanto paper was "not really up to the normal journal standards." He told the authors of Trust Us, We're Experts, "It was obvious that the study had been designed to avoid finding any problems. Everybody in our consortium knew this." More examples of how Monsanto rigged their study:
- Using older animals: Monsanto researchers tested the GM soy on mature animals, not young ones. "With a nutritional study on mature animals," says Pusztai, "you would never see any difference in organ weights even if the food turned out to be anti-nutritional. The animals would have to be emaciated or poisoned to show anything."
- Never weighing organs: But even if there were organ development problems, the study wouldn't have picked it up. That's because the researchers didn't even weigh the organs, "they just looked at them, what they call 'eyeballing,'" says Pusztai. "I must have done thousands of postmortems, so I know that even if there is a difference in organ weights of as much as 25 percent, you wouldn't see it."
- Omitting data: In fact, according to Nutrition and Health, "No data were given for most of the parameters." The paper didn't even describe the exact feed composition used in the trials—normally a journal requirement.
- Obscuring findings: When Monsanto analyzed the composition of GM versus non-GM soy, instead of comparing test plots grown side-by-side, Monsanto pooled data from many sites and climates. This makes it extremely difficult to achieve statistically significant differences, due to the high variability.
- Hiding incriminating evidence: Although the paper referred to one side-by-side test plot, for some reason the data from that study was not in the article. Years later, medical writer Barbara Keeler discovered the missing data from the journal archives and found out why it had been kept hidden. The omitted evidence not only demonstrated that Monsanto's GM soy had significantly lower levels of protein, a fatty acid, and an essential amino acid, their toasted GM soy meal contained nearly twice the amount of a soy lectin, which can interfere with the body's ability to assimilate nutrients. Furthermore, a known soy allergen called trypsin inhibitor was as much as 7 times higher in the toasted GM soy, compared to non-GMO soy! According to Keeler's opinion piece published in the Los Angeles Times, the study had several red flags and "should have prompted researchers and the FDA to call for more testing." But the FDA never got the data.
10. Even if his study were correct, it would only prove that those specific potatoes were unsafe, and not that all GM crops are unsafe.Dr. Pusztai's research showed that the unpredicted side effects from the process of genetic engineering were the likely cause of the damage to his rats. This has been the big sore spot for the biotech industry, which produces its GMOs using the same process. Even on David Tribe's own blog, Nina Federoff is quoted as saying: "the very process through which the plants are put during the introduction of the transgene . . . can cause marked changes in both the structure and expression of genes." She is referring to the process of "tissue culture," where a gene-spliced cell is cloned into a plant. Both the insertion of the gene and the subsequent cloning can cause significant, unpredictable changes. Of the two, the cloning creates more DNA mutations. That is probably why Federoff says, "The likeliest source of the variation he [Pusztai] detected . . . was the culture procedure itself." The mutations are unique to each GM plant line, but even massive disruptions do not necessarily mean that a particular GMO is unsafe. It could even be healthier. It's a genetic roulette. Therefore, Chassy and Tribe are technically correct: even though the GMO transformation process is unpredictable and inherently risky, not every GM crop is necessarily hazardous. As Federoff says, "new materials and new varieties derived using culturing techniques must be evaluated for both their growth and their food properties." The trouble is, the superficial studies conducted on GMOs miss most of the potential problems. The lax standards were originally the fault of the Food and Drug Administration. Their own scientists' calls for in-depth, long-term safety studies, but they were overruled by the political appointee in charge—Monsanto's former attorney and later their vice president. (Now the US Food Safety Czar.) The editor of The Lancet wrote, "It is astounding that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not changed their stance on genetically modified food adopted in 1992," which states that they do not believe it is "necessary to conduct comprehensive scientific reviews of foods derived from bioengineered plants. . . .This stance is taken despite good reasons to believe that specific risks may exist. . . . Governments should never have allowed these products into the food chain without insisting on rigorous testing for effects on health. The companies should have paid greater attention to the possible risks to health."
11. For the record, the potatoes in question were a research project; they were never submitted to regulators and they were never commercialized.True, they never went to market. But if by using the term "research project," Chassy and Tribe, like others before them, are implying that the potatoes were never intended to be introduced, that is false. The Rowett Institute and the company Cambridge Genetics were planning to commercialize the GNA potato and had contracts specifying how the royalties were to be divided. (The company was to reap the advantage of getting free safety studies.) What's quite telling is that if these same hazardous potatoes had been evaluated in the same superficial manner that biotech companies normally test their GMOs, the spuds would have easily landed on supermarket shelves. This was made apparent to Dr. Pusztai about two years into his research. He was asked to review several confidential industry studies that were used to get GM soy, corn and tomatoes approved in the UK. Reading those studies, he says, was one of the greatest shocks of his life. The studies were so superficial, so poorly done, he realized what he was doing and what industry was doing were diametrically opposed. "I was doing safety studies," he said. "They were doing as little as possible to get their foods on the market as quickly as possible." A few weeks later, when he Dr. Pusztai confirmed that his GM potato caused considerable health problems in rats, he realized that his dangerous potatoes could have sailed through industry 'safety' studies, which don't assess the immune system, organ damage, gut lining, hormonal system, cancer development, reproduction, etc.
12. Scientists are expected to submit their findings to peer-review and publication in scientific journals.Yes, and Dr. Pusztai's study was published. But the safety research conducted by the biotech industry is almost never published. It is usually submitted in secret to regulatory authorities and neither peer-reviewed nor available for public inspection. This double standard was pointed out by a Member of the UK Parliament, Dr. Williams, during testimony related to the Pusztai case.
"As I understand, all of the evidence taken by the advisory committee [that approves GM foods for human consumption] comes from the commercial companies, all of that is unpublished. This is not democratic, is it? . . . "So we leave it completely to the advisory committee and its good members to take all of these decisions on our behalf, where all of the evidence comes, simply, in good faith, from the commercial companies? There is a hollow democratic deficit here, is there not? . . ." "How is the general public out there to decide on the safety of GM foods when nothing is published on the safety of GM foods?"Science in the Corporate Interest Dr. Pusztai warns:
"We must not underestimate the financial and political clout of the GM biotechnology industry. Most of our politicians are committed to the successful introduction of GM foods. We must therefore use all means at our disposal to show people the shallowness of these claims by the industry and the lack of credible science behind them, and then trust to people's good sense, just as in 1998, to see through the falseness of the claims for the safety of untested GM foods." The bastardization of science is not unique to GMOs. It's pervasive. Consider these numbers. One third of the 500 UK scientists surveyed had been asked to change their research conclusions by their sponsoring customer. And these folks worked in government or recently privatized institutes. "A study of major research centers in the field of engineering," according to The Atlantic, "found that 35 percent would allow corporate sponsors to delete information from papers prior to publication." And a Tufts University study of 800 scientific papers showed that "more than a third of the authors had a significant [undisclosed] financial interest in their reports." We have seen how corporatized research of drugs has resulted in hundreds of thousands of deaths and disease. But hazards in our food supply, especially those that persist in the environment generation after generation, may dwarf the other problems we've seen. Exposing the truth about GMOs is absolutely urgent. Again in Dr. Pusztai's words: "The problems with GM foods may be irreversible and the true effects may only be seen well in the future. The situation is like the tobacco industry. They knew about it but they suppressed that information. They created misleading evidence that showed that the problem wasn't so serious. And all the time they knew how bad it was. Tobacco is bad enough. But genetic modification, if it is going to be problematic, if it is going to cause us real health problems, then tobacco will be nothing in comparison with this."
Anniversary of a Whistleblowing Hero
Twelve years ago, a 150-second TV broadcast changed our world; everyone everywhere owes a debt of gratitude to the man whose life it turned upside down—in his effort to protect ours. On August 10, 1998, eminent scientist Dr. Arpad Pusztai (pronounced Poos-tie) dared to speak the truth.
He had been an enthusiastic supporter of genetic engineering, working on cutting edge safety research with genetically modified (GM) foods. But to his surprise, his experiments showed that GM foods were inherently dangerous. When he relayed his concerns during a short television interview in the UK, things got ugly. With support from the highest levels of government, biotech defenders quickly mobilized a coordinated attack campaign trying to distort and cover up the evidence.
It worked for a while, but when an order of Parliament lifted Dr. Pusztai's gag order, the revelations touched off a media firestorm that ultimately kicked GM foods out of European supermarkets, and derailed the industry's timetable to quickly replace virtually all food with genetically engineered alternatives.
I recount the dramatic story of Dr. Pusztai below. In Part 2, I respond point-by-point to the biotech industry's denial and spin over the Pusztai affair, which is still being hyped in their new attack website.
Pusztai's Hot Potatoes
By early 1996, genetically modified tomatoes had been sold in US supermarkets for more than a year, and GM soy, corn, and cottonseed were about to be widely planted. But not a single peer-reviewed study on the safety of GM foods had been published, and there was not even an agreed-upon protocol for answering the question,"Is this stuff safe?"
The UK government was about to change all that, and Hungarian born chemist Dr. Arpad Pusztai was their man to do it. He beat out 27 competing scientists for a £1.6 million grant to develop a safety testing protocol; it was supposed to eventually be required for all GM food approvals in Europe.
A Spud with Fire-Power
Pusztai's team was working with the vegetable equivalent of a James Bond car—complete with built-in weaponry. A potato was outfitted with an assassin gene from the snowdrop plant; the gene produced"GNA lectin," a protein that kills insects.
How did Dr. Pusztai feel about the fact that his prestigious Rowett Institute was preparing to release killer potatoes into supermarkets worldwide? Fine, actually. He knew that the GNA lectin was harmless—not to insects mind you, but to us mammals. Dr. Pusztai was the world's leading expert on lectin proteins, and the GNA lectin was the one he knew most about. He had studied it for nearly seven years.
But when Dr. Pusztai fed the GM potato to rats using his new safety testing protocol, he got a shock. Nearly every system in the rats' bodies was adversely affected—several in just 10 days. Their brains, livers, and testicles were smaller, while their pancreases and intestines were enlarged. The liver was partially atrophied. Organs related to the immune system, including the thymus and the spleen, showed significant changes. Their white blood cells responded to an immune challenge more slowly, indicating immune system damage.
In all cases, the GM potato created proliferative cell growth in the stomach and small and large intestines; the lining was significantly thicker than controls. Although no tumors were detected, such growth can be precancerous.
Side Effects of Genetic Engineering Implicated
Dr. Pusztai and his team knew that the GNA lectin had not caused the damage. Other rats had been fed natural potatoes spiked with the same amount of GNA insecticide that the GM spud produced—and they did fine. The control group fed natural potatoes without added lectin were also in good shape. And in a previous experiment, Dr. Pusztai had fed rats an enormous quantity of the lectin, about 700 times the amount produced in the GM potato, again with no effect.
The damage to the rats, it appeared, came rather from the unintended side effects of the genetic engineering process. These effects (from gene insertion and cell cloning) may include massive collateral damage in a plant's DNA, with hundreds or thousands of mutations. Important natural genes can be inadvertently turned off, permanently turned on, deleted, reversed, scrambled, moved, fragmented, or changed in their activity level.
Dr. Pusztai wanted to find out precisely what went wrong in his potatoes, so he asked the government to provide more funds to conduct follow-up studies. But Prime Minister Tony Blair, his ministers, and his entire political party, were all unapologetic biotech cheerleaders trying desperately to promote them to a skeptical public. Exposing problems with GMO technology wasn't on the government's agenda. Additional funds were not forthcoming.
Biotech Damage Control Kicks In
The UK television show "World in Action" asked Dr. Pusztai for an interview. With permission from his Institute's director, he spoke generally about his concerns with GMOs based on the findings. He was careful not to reveal the details of his study, which was still unpublished.
His 150-second interview was aired on August 10, 1998. The European Press went wild and Dr. Pusztai was propelled to the status of hero at the Rowett Institute. The Institute's director, Professor Phillip James, took over all the publicity efforts, described the research as a huge advance in science, and wrote in a press release,"a range of carefully controlled studies underlie the basis of Dr. Pusztai's concerns."
On the afternoon of August 11th, two phone calls were allegedly placed from the UK prime minister's office, forwarded through the Institute's receptionist, to Professor James. Dr. Pusztai's hero status was revoked.
The next morning, the director suspended Dr. Pusztai after 35 years of service. He was silenced with threats of a lawsuit and his twenty member research team disbanded. The government never implemented their GMO safety testing protocol.
The Institute released numerous statements, some contradicting each other, others misrepresenting the research, but all designed to discredit Dr. Pusztai and the implications of his findings.
Seven months (and one heart attack) later, Dr. Pusztai's gag order was lifted when the Parliament invited him to testify. As the true details of the study began to emerge, the media responded. About 750 articles on GMOs were pumped out within the month.
Biotech advocates swung into action. According to a leaked document obtained by The Independent on Sunday, three government ministers prepared"an astonishingly detailed strategy for spinning, and mobilizing support for" GM foods."One of [the] ministers' main concerns," said the report,"was to rubbish research by Dr. Arpad Pusztai."
The ministers' campaign relied on the participation of certain scientists, including those in the Royal Society, who could voice uncompromising support for GMOs. According to the newspaper, many of these scientists, while promoted as"independent," had received compensation directly or indirect from the biotech companies. The Independent admonished the government's actions as a"a cynical public relations exercise."
But the spin campaign was too little, too late. By the end of April 1999, just 10 weeks after Dr. Pusztai's gag order was lifted, the public's distrust of GMOs reached a tipping point. Use of GM ingredients had become a marketing liability. Within a single week nearly every major food company committed to stop using GMOs in Europe.
With his data finally returned to him, Dr. Pusztai and a colleague submitted their paper to a renowned scientific journal, The Lancet. Its editor, Richard Horton, told The Guardian,"there was intense pressure on The Lancet from all quarters, including the Royal Society, to suppress publication." The paper passed the peer review and was set to appear on October 15, 1999.
On October 13, Horton received a call from a senior member of the Royal Society. According to the Guardian, Horton,"said the phone call began in a 'very aggressive manner.' He said he was called 'immoral' and accused of publishing Dr. Pusztai's paper which he 'knew to be untrue.' Towards the end of the call Dr. Horton said the caller told him that if he published the Pusztai paper it would 'have implications for his personal position' as editor."
Although Horton declined to name the caller, the Guardian"identified him as Peter Lachmann, the former vice-president and biological secretary of the Royal Society and president of the Academy of Medical Sciences." Lachmann had been one of the co-signers on the Royal Society's open letter attacking Pusztai. He also had extensive financial ties to the biotech industry. In spite of his threats, The Lancet went forward with publication.
Courage, Integrity, and the Public's Right to Know
In the years since this controversy, Dr. Pusztai has given more than 200 lectures around the world on GMOs. He has been commissioned by the German government, academic publications, and others to do comprehensive analyses of GMO safety studies. In 2005, he received the Whistleblower Award from the Federation of German Scientists (VDW). And in 2009, he and his wife, Dr. Susan Bardocz—also an expert on GMO safety and formerly of the Rowett Institute—were presented with the Stuttgart Peace Prize for their tireless advocacy for independent risk research, as well as their courage, scientific integrity, and their undaunted insistence on the public's right to know the truth.
In 2008, on the tenth anniversary of his TV show, Dr. Pusztai reflected:
"On this anniversary I have to admit that, unfortunately, not much has changed since 1998. In one of the few sentences I said in my broadcast ten years ago, I asked for a credible GM testing protocol to be established that would be acceptable to the majority of scientists and to people in general. 10 years on we still haven't got one. . .
"All of us asked for independent, transparent and inclusive research into the safety of GM plants, and particularly those used in foods. There is not much sign of this either. There are still 'many opinions but very few data;' less than three dozen peer-reviewed scientific papers have been published describing the results of work relating to GM safety that could actually be regarded as being of an academic standard; and the majority of even these is from industry-supported labs. . ."
Although pro-GM governments and the biotech industry continue ignore the mounting evidence of harm, there is now a movement among many medical doctors, scientists, and the public, to reject GM food, create a tipping point of consumer rejection against them in North America, and put GMOs back into the laboratory where they belong.
I describe Dr. Pusztai's story in more detail in the first chapter of Seeds of Deception; his findings are also featured among the 65 documented health risks of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in my book Genetic Roulette: The Documented Health Risks of Genetically Engineered Foods.
New Website, Old Lies
Earlier this year, GMO advocates Bruce Chassy and David Tribe launched an attack site against Genetic Roulette. As part of their attempt to defend the safety of GMOs, they assail Dr. Pusztai's work by reiterating the same faulty, self-contradicting arguments that were made during the smear campaign.
See Part 2 of this article, where their misleading arguments are exposed. This is the first in a series of point-by-point rebuttals to their website's allegations.
International bestselling author and filmmaker Jeffrey M. Smith is the executive director of the Institute for Responsible Technology. His first book, Seeds of Deception: Exposing Industry and Government Lies About the Safety of the Genetically Engineered Foods You're Eating, is the world's bestselling and #1 rated book on GMOs. His second, Genetic Roulette: The Documented Health Risks of Genetically Engineered Foods, documents 65 health risks of the GM foods Americans eat everyday. Both are distributed by Chelsea Green Publishing. To help you choose healthier, non-GMO brands, use the Non-GMO Shopping Guide.
Genetically Modified Soy Linked to Sterility, Infant Mortality in Hamsters
"This study was just routine," said Russian biologist Alexey V. Surov, in what could end up as the understatement of this century. Surov and his colleagues set out to discover if Monsanto's genetically modified (GM) soy, grown on 91% of US soybean fields, leads to problems in growth or reproduction. What he discovered may uproot a multi-billion dollar industry.
After feeding hamsters for two years over three generations, those on the GM diet, and especially the group on the maximum GM soy diet, showed devastating results. By the third generation, most GM soy-fed hamsters lost the ability to have babies. They also suffered slower growth, and a high mortality rate among the pups.
And if this isn't shocking enough, some in the third generation even had hair growing inside their mouths—a phenomenon rarely seen, but apparently more prevalent among hamsters eating GM soy.
The study, jointly conducted by Surov's Institute of Ecology and Evolution of the Russian Academy of Sciences and the National Association for Gene Security, is expected to be published in three months (July 2010)—so the technical details will have to wait. But Surov sketched out the basic set up for me in an email.
He used Campbell hamsters, with a fast reproduction rate, divided into 4 groups. All were fed a normal diet, but one was without any soy, another had non-GM soy, a third used GM soy, and a fourth contained higher amounts of GM soy. They used 5 pairs of hamsters per group, each of which produced 7-8 litters, totally 140 animals.
Surov told The Voice of Russia,
"Originally, everything went smoothly. However, we noticed quite a serious effect when we selected new pairs from their cubs and continued to feed them as before. These pairs' growth rate was slower and reached their sexual maturity slowly."He selected new pairs from each group, which generated another 39 litters. There were 52 pups born to the control group and 78 to the non-GM soy group. In the GM soy group, however, only 40 pups were born. And of these, 25% died. This was a fivefold higher death rate than the 5% seen among the controls. Of the hamsters that ate high GM soy content, only a single female hamster gave birth. She had 16 pups; about 20% died. Surov said "The low numbers in F2 [third generation] showed that many animals were sterile." The published paper will also include measurements of organ size for the third generation animals, including testes, spleen, uterus, etc. And if the team can raise sufficient funds, they will also analyze hormone levels in collected blood samples. Hair Growing in the Mouth Earlier this year, Surov co-authored a paper in Doklady Biological Sciences showing that in rare instances, hair grows inside recessed pouches in the mouths of hamsters. "Some of these pouches contained single hairs; others, thick bundles of colorless or pigmented hairs reaching as high as the chewing surface of the teeth. Sometimes, the tooth row was surrounded with a regular brush of hair bundles on both sides. The hairs grew vertically and had sharp ends, often covered with lumps of a mucous." (The photos of these hair bundles are truly disgusting.) At the conclusion of the study, the authors surmise that such an astounding defect may be due to the diet of hamsters raised in the laboratory. They write, "This pathology may be exacerbated by elements of the food that are absent in natural food, such as genetically modified (GM) ingredients (GM soybean or maize meal) or contaminants (pesticides, mycotoxins, heavy metals, etc.)." Indeed, the number of hairy mouthed hamsters was much higher among the third generation of GM soy fed animals than anywhere Surov had seen before. Preliminary, but Ominous Surov warns against jumping to early conclusions. He said, "It is quite possible that the GMO does not cause these effects by itself." Surov wants to make the analysis of the feed components a priority, to discover just what is causing the effect and how. In addition to the GMOs, it could be contaminants, he said, or higher herbicide residues, such as Roundup. There is in fact much higher levels of Roundup on these beans; they're called "Roundup Ready." Bacterial genes are forced into their DNA so that the plants can tolerate Monsanto's Roundup herbicide. Therefore, GM soy always carries the double threat of higher herbicide content, couple with any side effects of genetic engineering. Years of Reproductive Disorders from GMO-Feed Surov's hamsters are just the latest animals to suffer from reproductive disorders after consuming GMOs. In 2005, Irina Ermakova, also with the Russian National Academy of Sciences, reported that more than half the babies from mother rats fed GM soy died within three weeks. This was also five times higher than the 10% death rate of the non-GMO soy group. The babies in the GM group were also smaller and could not reproduce. In a telling coincidence, after Ermakova's feeding trials, her laboratory started feeding all the rats in the facility a commercial rat chow using GM soy. Within two months, the infant mortality facility-wide reached 55%. When Ermakova fed male rats GM soy, their testicles changed from the normal pink to dark blue! Italian scientists similarly found changes in mice testes (PDF), including damaged young sperm cells. Furthermore, the DNA of embryos from parent mice fed GM soy functioned differently. An Austrian government study published in November 2008 showed that the more GM corn was fed to mice, the fewer the babies they had (PDF), and the smaller the babies were. Central Iowa Farmer Jerry Rosman also had trouble with pigs and cows becoming sterile. Some of his pigs even had false pregnancies or gave birth to bags of water. After months of investigations and testing, he finally traced the problem to GM corn feed. Every time a newspaper, magazine, or TV show reported Jerry's problems, he would receive calls from more farmers complaining of livestock sterility on their farm, linked to GM corn. Researchers at Baylor College of Medicine accidentally discovered that rats raised on corncob bedding "neither breed nor exhibit reproductive behavior." Tests on the corn material revealed two compounds that stopped the sexual cycle in females "at concentrations approximately two-hundredfold lower than classical phytoestrogens." One compound also curtailed male sexual behavior and both substances contributed to the growth of breast and prostate cancer cell cultures. Researchers found that the amount of the substances varied with GM corn varieties. The crushed corncob used at Baylor was likely shipped from central Iowa, near the farm of Jerry Rosman and others complaining of sterile livestock. In Haryana, India, a team of investigating veterinarians report that buffalo consuming GM cottonseed suffer from infertility, as well as frequent abortions, premature deliveries, and prolapsed uteruses. Many adult and young buffalo have also died mysteriously. Denial, Attack and Canceled Follow-up Scientists who discover adverse findings from GMOs are regularly attacked, ridiculed, denied funding, and even fired. When Ermakova reported the high infant mortality among GM soy fed offspring, for example, she appealed to the scientific community to repeat and verify her preliminary results. She also sought additional funds to analyze preserved organs. Instead, she was attacked and vilified. Samples were stolen from her lab, papers were burnt on her desk, and she said that her boss, under pressure from his boss, told her to stop doing any more GMO research. No one has yet repeated Ermakova's simple, inexpensive studies. In an attempt to offer her sympathy, one of her colleagues suggested that maybe the GM soy will solve the over population problem! Surov reports that so far, he has not been under any pressure. Opting Out of the Massive GMO Feeding Experiment Without detailed tests, no one can pinpoint exactly what is causing the reproductive travesties in Russian hamsters and rats, Italian and Austrian mice, and livestock in India and America. And we can only speculate about the relationship between the introduction of genetically modified foods in 1996, and the corresponding upsurge in low birth weight babies, infertility, and other problems among the US population. But many scientists, physicians, and concerned citizens don't think that the public should remain the lab animals for the biotech industry's massive uncontrolled experiment. Alexey Surov says, "We have no right to use GMOs until we understand the possible adverse effects, not only to ourselves but to future generations as well. We definitely need fully detailed studies to clarify this. Any type of contamination has to be tested before we consume it, and GMO is just one of them."
Pseudo-Scientific Defense of GMO Safety is Smoke and Mirrors
Three years after I wrote Genetic Roulette, pro-GM scientists have finally taken me up on my challenge to supply evidence that counters any of the 65 risks highlighted in the book. So, it will be a great pleasure for me to respond to the 65 arguments recently posted on a new attack-Jeffrey website. Their effort offers a priceless opportunity to not only revisit each health risk, but also to show more precisely where and how the biotech industry comes up short in its defense. Be sure to subscribe to my Huffington Post blog to catch the fun.
In my initial challenge to the GMO industry, I sought rigorous, independent scientific data that would enrich the global discussion and better characterize GMO risks. But the posts written by biotech apologists Bruce Chassy and David Tribe demonstrate without doubt how flimsy and unsupported the industry's claim is that GMOs are safe. Their evidence is neither independent nor rigorous. Instead, Chassy and Tribe merely dust off the same old false assumptions and blatant fabrications that have long been exposed as hollow and even shameless. GMWatch describes it as "disinformation and ad hominem attack dressed up as 'the open-minded search for truth.'"
Dr. Brian John offers this take on the new site:
The whole exercise is utterly grotesque—and is based on the hoary old line that they (Chassy and Tribe) represent "proper" science and that anybody who disagrees with them or who provides "inconvenient" evidence is by definition either a charlatan or a nutter. Their line is that proper peer-reviewed science always shows that GM products are entirely safe, and that on the other side there is nothing but "misinformation." That of course is a grotesque distortion—there are scores of peer-reviewed papers that Chassy and Tribe have to explain away as aberrations or as based on fraudulent research. In a bizarre sort of way, one has to admire their strange obsession, and one cannot dispute the vast amount of effort that they have put in to their latest exercise in vilification. Poison pours off every page on the web site.And this is from the review of the site by GMWatch,
New Site Pushes Disinformation
The only thing that's surprising about this desperate attempt on the part of the GM brigade to smear Jeffrey Smith's book Genetic Roulette is that it took them so long. Jeffrey's book has been out there since 2007 and we have seen it light fires under activists and scientists alike. They usually say something like: "I had no idea that all this scientific research showing problems with GM foods was out there." Then they say: "Why weren't we told?"
Jeffrey performed a great public service in publishing his book. But—and we hope he takes this as the compliment it's meant to be—Jeffrey emphatically is not the point of this book. It's a collection of scientific studies—many of them peer reviewed and published—showing negative findings on GM crops and foods. There are also cautionary statements by conservative, careful, and experienced scientists, based on solid data.
All Jeffrey does is present this dry-ish material in a way that's understandable by the most scientifically challenged and jargon-phobic among us. As a talented science communicator, he stands aside and lets the findings speak for themselves, in the clearest of terms.
As Tribe and Chassy want to rubbish Jeffrey Smith's book, they also have to rubbish the work of the scientists who carried out these studies, along with the judgment of the editors and peer reviewers of the scientific journals where the papers were published.
Tribe and Chassy will also have to prove that all the scientists within the US government who expressed warnings about the dangers of GMOs, and who are quoted in Jeffrey's book, were out of their minds when they spoke or wrote those words. And if they were, then what does that say for the US regulatory system that the biotech industry likes to put forward as assuring safety? Doesn't exactly inspire confidence, does it
So Jeffrey Smith's great sin, it seems, is to let the science speak for itself. This is the opposite of what Tribe and Chassy do. They grab a selection of worrying scientific findings that are foregrounded in the book. Then they engage in a childish game of wild speculation and distraction in a desperate attempt to make the data mean something other than what they obviously do mean. . .When I wrote Genetic Roulette, I collaborated with more than 30 scientists, referenced hundreds of publications, and had each of the 65 health risks reviewed by at least three scientists. We all did our very best to make sure the information was accurate and up-to-date. I will likewise take the time necessary to prepare proper responses to Chassy and Tribe's arguments. Look for them on my Huffington Post blog. Safe eating, Jeffrey
- PLU Codes Do Not Indicate Genetically Modified Produce Let's put a rumor to rest. No, the 5-digit PLU codes on produce do not tell you what is genetically modified or natural. This urban legend has circulated long enough, even on the best of websites. It's time to take it down. The 4-digit PLU codes on the sometimes-pain-in-the-neck labels glued to apples, for example, tell the checkout lady which is a small Fuji (4129) and which is a Honeycrisp (3283). She'll know what to charge you and the inventory elves will know what's what. If there's a 5-digit code starting with 9, then it's organic. These numbers, organized by the Produce Marketing Association, have nothing to do with you. According to Kathy Means, Association Vice President of Public Relations and Government Affairs, this is an optional convention for retailers and their supplier and is not designed as a communication tool for customers. If you want to know which items are organic, look for the word Organic; and stop squinting at tiny codes. GMO codes are hypothetical Those that run PLU-universe figured that someday some retailer might want to distinguish between a GMO and a non-GMO for price or inventory purposes. So they created a convention of 5 digits starting with an 8, just in case it catches on. But it hasn't. No one uses that number 8 as far as we can tell. And why would they? Most Americans say they would avoid GMOs if they were labeled. Some seed companies don't even want gardeners to know which seed is genetically modified. One company that sells zucchini seeds outfitted with virus genes announced that they would refuse to sell seed packets in Vermont, since the state legislature requires GM seeds to be labeled. Shopping Guide helps you avoid GMOs Where does that leave you—if you happen to be one of those finicky eaters who values your immune and reproductive systems, and don't want your kids to end up with the organ damage common among GMO-fed lab animals? Fortunately, we've got you covered. Go to www.NonGMOShoppingGuide.com and peruse the long lists of non-GMO and GMO brands by category. Download a two-page version, order the pocket guide, or even equip your iPhone with the new app "ShopNoGMO". Although a list of non-GMO brands won't help you figure out if your produce is genetically modified, the great news is that there are only 4 GMO veggies or fruits at this point: papaya, but only from Hawaii and no where else; some zucchini and yellow squash, and some corn on the cob. For these, unless it says organic or boasts a non-GMO sign in the store, eating them is a gamble. It could be GMO. If you're not sure if GMOs are bad for you, we've got you covered there too. Visit www.HealthierEating.org, and read, listen, or watch, and find out why more and more doctors and medical organizations are prescribing non-GMO diets to all patients.
- Rude Awakening A wise customer wanted to find out if the corn nuts she was eating were from genetically modified (GM) corn. She emailed the company and got a shocking reply. It began: "Thank you for your contact. We are not aware of any GMO free corn in the U.S. We feel it is a ridiculous concern based on very poor science." The email, reproduced at the blog of Kelly the Kitchen Kop, even recommended: ". . . if these concerns are truly important to you, you may be better served at a health food store. We appreciate your patronage. The Customer Support Team, American Importing Co., Inc." Talk about being opinionated and misinformed. There's overwhelming evidence showing that genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are unsafe. And there are plenty of sources for non-GMO corn. Did this email get you angry? Are you thinking about flooding the company's email with hostile missives? I had another idea. I phoned the company owner. I figured that although the email's author was clearly misled, I also knew all about Monsanto and the other devious corporations that dis-informed him—and how they skillfully depict GMO critics as ridiculous and unscientific. When I got President Andy on the phone and asked if his products were genetically modified (GM), it didn't take me long to realize that he was almost certainly the author of his company's tactless email. He launched into a diatribe blasting GMOs as the most misconceived issue in the entire food industry. As I took notes documenting his string of incorrect statements, (no, there is no GMO wheat yet, same with apples; no there was not a massive death of monarch butterflies in Europe), he heard my keyboard tapping and stopped momentarily to ask who I was. I told him that I was a leading spokesperson on the dangers of GMOs, that I wrote the world's bestselling book on the subject, and that I was doing a blog based on an email response sent by his customer service. That didn't slow him down in the least. Andy continued his rant, which literally went on for 12 minutes. I was impressed. When he finally ran out of steam, I decided to begin my response by agreeing with him—that we certainly do need to apply real science on this issue. Then I told him the truth. I told Andy of concerns by FDA scientists that GMOs might create serious, hard-to-detect health hazards, and how Monsanto's man placed at the top of the agency ignored and covered-up the warnings. As a result, the FDA lets GMOs onto the market without any required safety tests. I told Andy that I worked with more than 30 scientists to document 65 health risks of GMOs for my book Genetic Roulette, which cites peer-reviewed science, industry research, and medical investigations, among its 1100+ endnotes. I told Andy about the American Academy of Environmental Medicine's condemnation of GMOs, and their prescription of non-GMO diets for all patients. And how this renowned physician's organization linked GMOs to infertility, immune system dysfunction, gastrointestinal problems, organ damage, and disruption of insulin and cholesterol regulation. And I told Andy how the same corporations that fed him the lie that GMOs are safe, fired and gagged scientists who discovered that they're not. Now Andy was impressed. And he realized he had been duped—that the information given to him and others in the food industry had been "filtered" by those earning profits from GMOs. He said that the science that I presented was not getting to the executives in the food industry, to people like him who want to give customers healthy food. Andy was again on a roll, but with a different agenda. He now urged me to get in front of the decision makers in the food industry, and he even offered to help make it happen. I told Andy that I was impressed by his passion, which he had unleashed on me like a fire hose at the beginning of the call. And I knew that once armed with the real evidence against GMOs, he could use that same passion and make a big difference. Andy committed to order and read Genetic Roulette: The Documented Health Risks of Genetically Engineered Foods. And while waiting for it to arrive, he and his colleagues will review my keynote speech online, Everything You HAVE TO KNOW About Dangerous Genetically Modified Foods. Before we hung up, Andy thanked me over and over for not being reactive to his initial onslaught, and for staying with him and leading him through the science. I now have a new friend. And I am reminded again about the importance of educating leaders in the food industry as part of our campaign to rid the food supply of GMOs. If you know a food company executive, please take the time to send him or her a link to the online video presentation, to the article showing that doctors now prescribe non-GMO diets, and to a summary of the GMO health risks. It's time well spent. And if they run a very large food company, please introduce me. I'm on a roll. Safe eating.
- Monsanto: The World’s Poster Child for Corporate Manipulation and Deceit – Part 10 When Forbes magazine declared Monsanto as the Company of the Year for 2009, millions of surprised people were forced to reevaluate their opinions about a major corporation. Now they no longer trust Forbes. Monsanto is one of the most despised corporations on earth. This is the last in a series of articles that expose their not-so-hidden dark side and how, if unrestrained, Monsanto could unleash a cataclysm. Indeed, it has already started... Part 10 of 10 Un-recallable Contamination In spite of the enormous health dangers, the environmental impacts may be worse still. That is because we don't have a technology to fully clean up the contaminated gene pool. The self-propagating genetic pollution released into the environment from Monsanto's crops can outlast the effects of climate change and nuclear waste. Replacing Nature: "Nothing Shall Be Eaten That We Don't Own" As Monsanto has moved forward with its master plan to replace nature, they have led the charge in buying up seed businesses and are now the world's largest. At least 200 independent seed companies have disappeared over 13 years, non-GMO seed availability is dwindling, and Monsanto is jacking up their seed prices dramatically. Corn is up more than 30%, soy nearly 25%, over 2008 prices. (PDF) An Associated Press exposé reveals how Monsanto's onerous contracts allowed them to manipulate, then dominate, the seed industry using unprecedented legal restrictions. One contract provision, for example, "prevented bidding wars" and "likely helped Monsanto buy 24 independent seed companies throughout the Farm Belt over the last few years: that corn seed agreement says that if a smaller company changes ownership, its inventory with Monsanto's traits 'shall be destroyed immediately.'" With that restriction in place, the seed companies couldn't even think of selling to a company other than Monsanto. According to attorney David Boies, who represents DuPont—owner of Pioneer Seeds: "If the independent seed company is losing their license and has to destroy their seeds, they're not going to have anything, in effect, to sell," Boies said. "It requires them to destroy things—destroy things they paid for—if they go competitive. That's exactly the kind of restriction on competitive choice that the antitrust laws outlaw." Boies was a prosecutor on the antitrust case against Microsoft. He is now working with DuPont in their civil antitrust lawsuit against Monsanto. Monsanto also has the right to cancel deals and wipe out the inventory of a business if the confidentiality clauses are violated. "'We now believe that Monsanto has control over as much as 90 percent of (seed genetics). This level of control is almost unbelievable,' said Neil Harl, agricultural economist at Iowa State University who has studied the seed industry for decades." Monsanto also controls and manipulates farmers through onerous contracts. Troy Roush, for example, is one of hundreds accused by Monsanto of illegally saving their seeds. The company requires farmers to sign a contract that they will not save and replant GM seeds from their harvest. That way Monsanto can sell its seeds—at a premium—each season. Although Roush maintains his innocence, he was forced to settle with Monsanto after two and a half years of court battles. He says his "family was just destroyed [from] the stress involved." Many farmers are afraid, according to Roush, because Monsanto has "created a little industry that serves no other purpose than to wreck farmers' lives." Monsanto has collected an estimated $200 million from farmers thus far. Roush says, "They are in the process of owning food, all food." Paraguayan farmer Jorge Galeano says, "Its objective is to control all of the world's food production." Renowned Indian physicist and community organizer Vandana Shiva says, "If they control seed, they control food; they know it, it's strategic. It's more powerful than bombs; it's more powerful than guns. This is the best way to control the populations of the world." Our food security lies in diversity—both biodiversity, and diversity of owners and interests. Any single company that consolidates ownership of seeds, and therefore power over the food supply, is a dangerous threat. Of all the corporations in the world, however, the one we should trust the least is Monsanto. With them at the helm, the impact could be cataclysmic.
- Monsanto: The World’s Poster Child for Corporate Manipulation and Deceit – Part 9 When Forbes magazine declared Monsanto as the Company of the Year for 2009, millions of surprised people were forced to reevaluate their opinions about a major corporation. Now they no longer trust Forbes. Monsanto is one of the most despised corporations on earth. This is the ninth in a series of articles that expose their not-so-hidden dark side and how, if unrestrained, Monsanto could unleash a cataclysm. Indeed, it has already started... Part 9 of 10 Doctors Orders: No Genetically Modified Food A greater tragedy may be the harm from the dangerous GM foods produced by Monsanto. The American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) has called on all physicians to prescribe diets without GM foods to all patients. They called for a moratorium on GMOs, long-term independent studies, and labeling. They stated, "Several animal studies indicate serious health risks associated with GM food," including infertility, immune problems, accelerated aging, insulin regulation, and changes in major organs and the gastrointestinal system. "There is more than a casual association between GM foods and adverse health effects. There is causation..." Former AAEM President Dr. Jennifer Armstrong says, "Physicians are probably seeing the effects in their patients, but need to know how to ask the right questions." Renowned biologist Pushpa M. Bhargava believes that GMOs are a major contributor to the deteriorating health in America. Pregnant Women and Babies at Great Risk GM foods are particularly dangerous for pregnant moms and children. After GM soy was fed to female rats, most of their babies died—compared to a 10% deaths among controls fed natural soy. GM-fed babies were smaller, and possibly infertile. Testicles of rats fed GM soy changed from the normal pink to dark blue. Mice fed GM soy had altered young sperm. Embryos of GM soy-fed parent mice had changed DNA. And mice fed GM corn had fewer, and smaller, babies. In Haryana, India, most buffalo that ate GM cottonseed had reproductive complications such as premature deliveries, abortions, and infertility; many calves died. About two dozen US farmers said thousands of pigs became sterile from certain GM corn varieties. Some had false pregnancies; others gave birth to bags of water. Cows and bulls also became infertile. In the US, incidence of low birth weight babies, infertility, and infant mortality are all escalating. Food that Produces Poison Monsanto's GM corn and cotton are engineered to produce a built-in pesticide called Bt-toxin—produced from soil bacteria Bacillus thuringiensis. When bugs bite the plant, poison splits open their stomach and kills them. Organic farmers and others use natural Bt bacteria spray for insect control, so Monsanto claims that Bt-toxin must be safe. The Bt-toxin produced in GM plants, however, is thousands of times more concentrated than natural Bt spray, is designed to be more toxic, has properties of an allergen, and cannot be washed off the plant. Moreover, studies confirm that even the less toxic natural spray can be harmful. When dispersed by plane to kill gypsy moths in Washington and Vancouver, about 500 people reported allergy or flu-like symptoms. The same symptoms are now reported by farm workers from handling Bt cotton throughout India. GMOs Provoke Immune Reactions GMO safety expert Arpad Pusztai says changes in immune status are "a consistent feature of all the [animal] studies." From Monsanto's own research to government funded trials, rodents fed Bt corn had significant immune reactions. Soon after GM soy was introduced to the UK, soy allergies skyrocketed by 50%. Ohio allergist Dr. John Boyles says "I used to test for soy allergies all the time, but now that soy is genetically engineered, it is so dangerous that I tell people never to eat it." GM soy and corn contain new proteins with allergenic properties, and GM soy has up to seven times more of a known soy allergen. Perhaps the US epidemic of food allergies and asthma is a casualty of genetic manipulation. Animals Dying in Large Numbers In India, animals graze on cotton plants after harvest. But when shepherds let sheep graze on Bt cotton plants, thousands died. Investigators said preliminary evidence "strongly suggests that the sheep mortality was due to a toxin. . . . most probably Bt-toxin." In one small study, all sheep fed Bt cotton plants died; those fed natural plants remained healthy. In an Andhra Pradesh village, buffalo grazed on cotton plants for eight years without incident. On January 3rd, 2008, 13 buffalo grazed on Bt cotton plants for the first time. All died within three days. Monsanto's Bt corn is also implicated in the deaths of horses, water buffaloes, and chickens in the Philippines. Lab studies of GM crops by other companies also show mortalities. Twice the number of chickens fed LibertyLink corn died; 7 of 40 rats fed a GM tomato died within two weeks. And a farmer in Germany says his cows died after exclusively eating Syngenta's GM corn. GMOs Remain Inside of Us The only published human feeding study revealed that even after we stop eating GMOs, harmful GM proteins may be produced continuously inside of us; genes inserted into Monsanto's GM soy transfer into bacteria inside our intestines and continue to function. If Bt genes also transfer, eating corn chips might transform our intestinal bacteria into living pesticide factories. Hidden Dangers Biologist David Schubert of the Salk Institute says, "If there are problems [with GMOs], we will probably never know because the cause will not be traceable and many diseases take a very long time to develop." In the 9 years after GM crops were introduced in 1996, Americans with three or more chronic diseases jumped from 7% to 13%. But without any human clinical trials or post-marketing surveillance, we may never know if GMOs are a contributor.
Monsanto: The World’s Poster Child for Corporate Manipulation and Deceit – Part 8
When Forbes magazine declared Monsanto as the Company of the Year for 2009, millions of surprised people were forced to reevaluate their opinions about a major corporation. Now they no longer trust Forbes.
Monsanto is one of the most despised corporations on earth. This is the eighth in a series of articles that expose their not-so-hidden dark side and how, if unrestrained, Monsanto could unleash a cataclysm. Indeed, it has already started...
Part 8 of 10
Deadly Deception in India
Monsanto ran a poster series called, "TRUE STORIES OF FARMERS WHO HAVE SOWN BT COTTON." One featured a farmer who claimed great benefits, but when investigators tracked him down, he turned out to be a cigarette salesman, not a farmer. Another poster claimed yields by the pictured farmer that were four times what he actually achieved. One poster showed a farmer standing next to a tractor, suggesting that sales of Bt cotton allowed him to buy it. But the farmer was never told what the photo was to be used for, and said that with the yields from Bt, "I would not be able to buy even two tractor tires."
In addition to posters, Monsanto's cotton marketers used dancing girls, famous Bollywood actors, even religious leaders to pitch their products. Some newspaper ads looked like news stories and featured relatives of seed salesmen claiming to be happy with Bt. Sometimes free pesticides were given away with the seeds, and some farmers who helped with publicity got free seeds.
Scientists published a study claiming that Monsanto's cotton increased yields in India by 70-80%. But they used only field trial data provided to them by Monsanto. Actual yields turn out to be quite different:
- India News (May 6, 2005) reported studies showing a loss of about 18%.
- An independent study in Andhra Pradesh "done on [a] season-long basis continuously for three years in 87 villages" showed that growing Bt cotton cost 12% more, yielded 8.3% less, and the returns over three years were 60% less. (PDF)
- Another report identified a yield loss in the Warangal district of 30-60%. The official report, however, was tampered with. The local Deputy Director of Agriculture confirmed on Feb 1, 2005 that the yield figures had been secretly increased to 2.7 times higher than what farms reported. Once the state of Andhra Pradesh tallied all the actual yields, they demanded approximately $10 million USD from Monsanto to compensate farmers for losses. Monsanto refused.
- Monsanto: The World’s Poster Child for Corporate Manipulation and Deceit – Part 7 When Forbes magazine declared Monsanto as the Company of the Year for 2009, millions of surprised people were forced to reevaluate their opinions about a major corporation. Now they no longer trust Forbes. Monsanto is one of the most despised corporations on earth. This is the seventh in a series of articles that expose their not-so-hidden dark side and how, if unrestrained, Monsanto could unleash a cataclysm. Indeed, it has already started... Part 7 of 10 GM Farmers Don't Earn or Produce More Monsanto has been quite successful in convincing farmers that GM crops are the ticket to greater yields and higher profits. You still hear that rhetoric at the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). But a 2006 USDA report "could not find positive financial impacts in either the field-level nor the whole-farm analysis" for adoption of Bt corn and Roundup Ready soybeans. They said, "Perhaps the biggest issue raised by these results is how to explain the rapid adoption of [GM] crops when farm financial impacts appear to be mixed or even negative." Similarly, the Canadian National Farmers Union (NFU) flatly states, "The claim that GM seeds make our farms more profitable is false." (PDF) Net farm incomes in Canada have plummeted since the introduction of GM canola, with the last five years being the worst in Canada's history. In spite of numerous advertising claims that GM crops increase yield, the average GM crop from Monsanto reduces yield. This was confirmed by the most comprehensive evaluation on the subject, conducted by the Union of Concerned Scientists in 2009. Called Failure to Yield, the report demonstrated that in spite of years of trying, GM crops return less bushels than their non-GM counterparts. Even the 2006 USDA report stated that "currently available GM crops do not increase the yield potential of a hybrid variety. . . . In fact, yield may even decrease if the varieties used to carry the herbicide tolerant or insect-resistant genes are not the highest yielding cultivars." (PDF) US farmers had expected higher yields with Roundup Ready soybeans, but independent studies confirm a yield loss of 4-11%. (PDF) Brazilian soybean yields are also down since Roundup Ready varieties were introduced. (PDF) In Canada, a study showed a 7.5% lower yield with Roundup Ready canola. The Canadian National Farmers Union (NFU) observed, "Corporate and government managers have spent millions trying to convince farmers and other citizens of the benefits of genetically-modified (GM) crops. But this huge public relations effort has failed to obscure the truth: GM crops do not deliver the promised benefits; they create numerous problems, costs, and risks. . . . It would be too generous even to call GM crops a solution in search of a problem: These crops have failed to provide significant solutions." (PDF) Herbicide Use Rising Due to GMOs Monsanto bragged that their Roundup Ready technology would reduce herbicide, but at the same time they were building new Roundup factories to meet their anticipated increase in demand. They got it. According to USDA data, the amount of herbicide used in the US increased by 382.6 million pounds over 13 years. Monsanto's Roundup Ready soybeans accounted for 92% of the total increase. Due to the proliferation of Roundup resistant weeds, herbicide use is accelerating rapidly. From 2007 to 2008, herbicide used on GM herbicide tolerant crops skyrocketed by 31.4%. Furthermore, as weeds fail to respond to Roundup, farmers also rely on more toxic pesticides such as the highly poisonous 2,4-D. Contamination Happens In spite of Monsanto's assurances that it wouldn't be a problem, contamination has been a consistent and often overwhelming hardship for seed dealers, farmers, manufacturers, even entire food sectors. The biotech industry recommends buffer zones between fields, but these have not been competent to protect non-GM, organic, or wild plants from GMOs. A UK study showed canola cross-pollination occurring as far as 26 km away. (PDF) But pollination is just one of several ways that contamination happens. There is also seed movement by weather and insects, crop mixing during harvest, transport, and storage, and very often, human error. The contamination is North America is so great, it is difficult for farmers to secure pure non-GM seed. In Canada, a study found 32 of 33 certified non-GM canola seeds were contaminated. Most of the non-GM soy, corn, and canola seeds tested in the US also contained GMOs. Contamination can be very expensive. StarLink corn—unapproved for human consumption—ended up the US food supply in 2000 and resulted in an estimated price tag of $1 billion. The final cost of GM rice contamination in the US in 2006 could be even higher.
Monsanto: The World’s Poster Child for Corporate Manipulation and Deceit – Part 6
When Forbes magazine declared Monsanto as the Company of the Year for 2009, millions of surprised people were forced to reevaluate their opinions about a major corporation. Now they no longer trust Forbes.
Monsanto is one of the most despised corporations on earth. This is the sixth in a series of articles that expose their not-so-hidden dark side and how, if unrestrained, Monsanto could unleash a cataclysm. Indeed, it has already started...
Part 6 of 10
Monsanto Attacks Labeling, Local Democracy, and News Coverage
- On July 3, 2003, Monsanto sued Oakhurst dairy because their labels stated, "Our Farmers' Pledge: No Artificial Growth Hormones". Oakhurst eventually settled with Monsanto, agreeing to include a sentence on their cartons saying that according to the FDA no significant difference has been shown between milk derived from rbGH-treated and non-rbGH-treated cows. The statement is not true. FDA scientists had acknowledged the increase of IGF-1, bovine growth hormone, antibiotics, and pus in milk from treated cows. Nonetheless, the misleading sentence had been written years earlier by the FDA's deputy commissioner of policy, Michael Taylor—the one who was formerly Monsanto's outside attorney and later their vice president.
- Monsanto's public relations firm created a group called the Dairy Coalition, which pressured editors of the USA Today, Boston Globe, New York Times and others, to limit negative coverage of rbGH.
- A Monsanto attorney wrote a letter to Fox TV, promising dire consequences if the station aired a 4-part exposé on rbGH. The show was ultimately canceled.
- A book critical of Monsanto's GM foods was three days away from being published. A threatening letter from Monsanto's attorney forced the small publisher to cancel publication.
- 14,000 copies of Ecologist magazine dedicated to exposing Monsanto were shredded by the printer due to fears of a lawsuit.
- After a ballot initiatives in California established Mendocino County a GM-free zone—where planting GMOs is illegal, Monsanto and others organized to push through laws in 14 states that make it illegal for cities and counties to declare similar zones.
Monsanto: The World’s Poster Child for Corporate Manipulation and Deceit – Part 5
When Forbes magazine declared Monsanto as the Company of the Year for 2009, millions of surprised people were forced to reevaluate their opinions about a major corporation. Now they no longer trust Forbes.
Monsanto is one of the most despised corporations on earth. This is the fifth in a series of articles that expose their not-so-hidden dark side and how, if unrestrained, Monsanto could unleash a cataclysm. Indeed, it has already started...
Part 5 of 10
Methods used by Monsanto to hide problems are varied and plentiful. For example, researchers:
- Use animals with varied starting weights, to hinder the detection of food-related changes
- Keep feeding studies short, to miss long-term impacts
- Test Roundup Ready soybeans that have never been sprayed with Roundup--as they always are in real world conditions
- Avoid feeding animals the GM crop, but instead give them a single dose of GM protein produced from GM bacteria
- Use too few subjects to obtain statistical significance
- Use poor or inappropriate statistical methods, or fail to even mention statistical methods, or include essential data
- Employ insensitive detection techniques--doomed to fail
- Researchers tested GM soy on mature animals, not the more sensitive young ones. GMO safety expert Arpad Pusztai says the older animals "would have to be emaciated or poisoned to show anything."
- Organs were never weighed.
- The GM soy was diluted up to 12 times which, according to an expert review, "would probably ensure that any possible undesirable GM effects did not occur."
- The amount of protein in the feed was "artificially too high," which would mask negative impacts of the soy.
- Samples were pooled from different locations and conditions, making it nearly impossible for compositional differences to be statistically significant.
- Data from the only side-by-side comparison was removed from the study and never published. When it was later recovered, it revealed that Monsanto's GM soy had significantly lower levels of important constituents (e.g. protein, a fatty acid, and phenylalanine, an essential amino acid) and that toasted GM soy meal had nearly twice the amount of a lectin--which interferes with the body's ability to assimilate nutrients. Moreover the amount of trypsin inhibitor, a known soy allergen, was as much as seven times higher in cooked GM soy compared to a cooked non-GM control. Monsanto named their study, "The composition of glyphosate-tolerant soybean seeds is equivalent to that of conventional soybeans."
Monsanto: The World’s Poster Child for Corporate Manipulation and Deceit – Part 4
When Forbes magazine declared Monsanto as the Company of the Year for 2009, millions of surprised people were forced to reevaluate their opinions about a major corporation. Now they no longer trust Forbes.
Monsanto is one of the most despised corporations on earth. This is the forth in a series of articles that expose their not-so-hidden dark side and how, if unrestrained, Monsanto could unleash a cataclysm. Indeed, it has already started...
Part 4 of 10
Monsanto's Studies Are Secret, Inadequate, and Flawed
The unpublished industry studies submitted to regulators are typically kept secret based on the claim that it is "confidential business information." The Royal Society of Canada is one of many organizations that condemn this practice. Their Expert Panel called for "completely transparent" submissions, "open to full review by scientific peers". They wrote, "Peer review and independent corroboration of research findings are axioms of the scientific method, and part of the very meaning of the objectivity and neutrality of science." Whenever Monsanto's private submissions are made public through lawsuits or Freedom of Information Act Requests, it becomes clear why they benefit from secrecy. The quality of their research is often miserable, and would never stand up to peer-review. In December 2009, for example, a team of independent researchers published a study analyzing the raw data from three Monsanto rat studies. When they used proper statistical methods, they found that the three varieties of GM corn caused toxicity in the liver and kidneys, as well as significant changes in other organs. Monsanto's studies, of course, had claimed that the research showed no problems. The regulators had believed Monsanto, and the corn is already in our food supply.
Monsanto Rigs Research to Miss Dangers
Monsanto has plenty of experience cooking the books of their research, hiding the hazards. They manufactured the infamous Agent Orange, for example, the cancer and birth-defect causing defoliant sprayed over Vietnam. It contaminated more than 3 million civilians and servicemen. But according to William Sanjour, who led the Toxic Waste Division of the Environmental Protection Agency, "thousands of veterans were disallowed benefits" because "Monsanto studies showed that dioxin [the main ingredient in Agent Orange] was not a human carcinogen." But his EPA colleague discovered that Monsanto had allegedly falsified the data in their studies. Sanjour says, "If they were done correctly, [the studies] would have reached just the opposite result."
Here are examples of tinkering with the truth about Monsanto's GM products:
- When dairy farmers inject cows with genetically modified bovine growth hormone (rbGH), more bovine growth hormone ends up in the milk. To allay fears, the FDA claimed that pasteurization destroys 90% of the hormone. In reality, the researchers of this drug (then owned by Monsanto) pasteurized the milk 120 times longer than normal. But they only destroyed 19%. So they spiked the milk with a huge amount of extra growth hormone and then repeated the long pasteurization. Only under these artificial conditions were they able to destroy 90%.
- To demonstrate that rbGH injections didn't interfere with cows' fertility, Monsanto appears to have secretly added cows to their study that were pregnant BEFORE injection.
- FDA Veterinarian Richard Burroughs said that Monsanto researchers dropped sick cows from studies, to make the drug appear safer.
- Richard Burroughs ordered more tests on rbGH than the industry wanted and was told by superiors he was slowing down the approval. He was fired and his tests canceled. The remaining whistle-blowers in the FDA had to write an anonymous letter to Congress, complaining of fraud and conflict of interest in the agency. They complained of one FDA scientist who arbitrarily increased the allowable levels of antibiotics in milk 100-fold, in order to facilitate the approval of rbGH. She had just become the head of an FDA department that was evaluating the research that she had recently done while an employee of Monsanto.
- Another former Monsanto scientist said that after company scientists conducted safety studies on bovine growth hormone, all three refused to drink any more milk, unless it was organic and therefore not treated with the drug. They feared the substantial increased of insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) in the drugged milk. IGF-1 is a significant risk factor for cancer.
- When independent researchers published a study in July 1999 showing that Monsanto's GM soy contains 12%-14% less cancer-fighting phytoestrogens, Monsanto responded with its own study, concluding that soy's phytoestrogen levels vary too much to even carry out a statistical analysis. Researchers failed to disclose, however, that they had instructed the laboratory to use an obsolete method of detection--one that had been prone to highly variable results.
- To prove that GM protein breaks down quickly during simulated digestion, Monsanto uses thousands of times the amount of digestive enzymes and a much stronger acid than what the World Health Organization recommends.
- Monsanto told government regulators that the GM protein produced in their high-lysine GM corn was safe for humans, because it is also found in soil. They claimed that since people consume small residues of soil on fruits and vegetables, the protein has a safe history as part of the human diet. The actual amount of the GM corn protein an average US citizen would consume, however, if all their corn were Monsanto's variety, would be "about 30 billion-4 trillion times" the amount normally consumed in soil residues. For equivalent exposure, people would have to eat as much as 22,000 pounds of soil every second of everyday.
- Monsanto's high-lysine corn also had unusual levels of several nutritional components, such as protein and fiber. Instead of comparing it to normal corn, which would have revealed this significant disparity, Monsanto compared their GM corn to obscure corn varieties that were also far outside the normal range on precisely these values. On this basis, Monsanto could claim that there were no statistically significant differences in their GM corn content.
Monsanto: The World’s Poster Child for Corporate Manipulation and Deceit – Part 3
When Forbes magazine declared Monsanto as the Company of the Year for 2009, millions of surprised people were forced to reevaluate their opinions about a major corporation. Now they no longer trust Forbes.
Monsanto is one of the most despised corporations on earth. This is the third in a series of articles that expose their not-so-hidden dark side and how, if unrestrained, Monsanto could unleash a cataclysm. Indeed, it has already started...
Part 3 of 10
Covering up health dangers
The policy Taylor oversaw in 1992 needed to create the impression that unintended effects from GM crops were not an issue. Otherwise their GRAS status would be undermined. But internal memos made public from a lawsuit showed that the overwhelming consensus among the agency scientists was that GM crops can have unpredictable, hard-to-detect side effects. Various departments and experts spelled these out in detail, listing allergies, toxins, nutritional effects, and new diseases as potential problems. They had urged superiors to require long-term safety studies. In spite of the warnings, according to public interest attorney Steven Druker who studied the FDA's internal files, "References to the unintended negative effects of bioengineering were progressively deleted from drafts of the policy statement (over the protests of agency scientists)."
FDA microbiologist Louis Pribyl wrote about the policy, "What has happened to the scientific elements of this document? Without a sound scientific base to rest on, this becomes a broad, general, 'What do I have to do to avoid trouble'-type document. . . . It will look like and probably be just a political document. . . . It reads very pro-industry, especially in the area of unintended effects."
The FDA scientists' concerns were not only ignored, their very existence was denied. Consider the private memo summarizing opinions at the FDA, which stated, "The processes of genetic engineering and traditional breeding are different and according to the technical experts in the agency, they lead to different risks." Contrast that with the official policy statement issued by Taylor, Monsanto's former attorney: "The agency is not aware of any information showing that foods derived by these new methods differ from other foods in any meaningful or uniform way." On the basis of this false statement, the FDA does not require GM food safety testing.
Fake Safety Assessments
Monsanto participates in a voluntary consultation process with the FDA that is derided by critics as a meaningless exercise. Monsanto submits whatever information it chooses, and the FDA does not conduct or commission any studies of its own. Former EPA scientist Doug Gurian-Sherman, who analyzed FDA review records obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, says the FDA consultation process "misses obvious errors in company-submitted data summaries, provides insufficient testing guidance, and does not require sufficiently detailed data to enable the FDA to assure that GE crops are safe to eat."
But that is not the point of the exercise. The FDA doesn't actually approve the crops or declare them safe. That is Monsanto's job! At the end of the consultation, the FDA issues a letter stating:
"Based on the safety and nutritional assessment you have conducted, it is our understanding that Monsanto has concluded that corn products derived from this new variety are not materially different in composition, safety, and other relevant parameters from corn currently on the market, and that the genetically modified corn does not raise issues that would require premarket review or approval by FDA. . . . As you are aware, it is Monsanto's responsibility to ensure that foods marketed by the firm are safe, wholesome and in compliance with all applicable legal and regulatory requirements.The National Academy of Sciences and even the pro-GM Royal Society of London describe the US system as inadequate and flawed. The editor of the prestigious journal Lancet said, "It is astounding that the US Food and Drug Administration has not changed their stance on genetically modified food adopted in 1992. . . . Governments should never have allowed these products into the food chain without insisting on rigorous testing for effects on health." One obvious reason for the inflexibility of the FDA is that they are officially charged with both regulating biotech products and promoting them--a clear conflict. That is also why the FDA does not require mandatory labeling of GM foods. They ignore the desires of 90% of American citizens in order to support the economic interests of Monsanto and the four other GM food companies.
- Monsanto: The World’s Poster Child for Corporate Manipulation and Deceit – Part 2 When Forbes magazine declared Monsanto as the Company of the Year for 2009, millions of surprised people were forced to reevaluate their opinions about a major corporation. Now they no longer trust Forbes. Monsanto is one of the most despised corporations on earth. This is the second in a series of articles that expose their not-so-hidden dark side and how, if unrestrained, Monsanto could unleash a cataclysm. Indeed, it has already started... Part 2 of 10 Infiltrating the Minds and Offices of the Government To get their genetically modified products approved, Monsanto has coerced, infiltrated, and paid off government officials around the globe. In Indonesia, Monsanto gave bribes and questionable payments to at least 140 officials, attempting to get their genetically modified (GM) cotton accepted. In 1998, six Canadian government scientists testified before the Senate that they were being pressured by superiors to approve rbGH, that documents were stolen from a locked file cabinet in a government office, and that Monsanto offered them a bribe of $1-2 million to pass the drug without further tests. In India, one official tampered with the report on Bt cotton to increase the yield figures to favor Monsanto. And Monsanto seems to have planted their own people in key government positions in India, Brazil, Europe, and worldwide. Monsanto's GM seeds were also illegally smuggled into countries like Brazil and Paraguay, before GMOs were approved. Roberto Franco, Paraguay's Deputy Agriculture Ministry, tactfully admits, "It is possible that [Monsanto], let's say, promoted its varieties and its seeds" before they were approved. "We had to authorize GMO seeds because they had already entered our country in an, let's say, unorthodox way." In the US, Monsanto's people regularly infiltrate upper echelons of government, and the company offers prominent positions to officials when they leave public service. This revolving door has included key people in the White House, regulatory agencies, even the Supreme Court. Monsanto also had George Bush Senior on their side, as evidenced by footage of Vice President Bush at Monsanto's facility offering help to get their products through government bureaucracy. He says, "Call me. We're in the 'de-reg' business. Maybe we can help." Monsanto's influence continued into the Clinton administration. Dan Glickman, then Secretary of Agriculture, says, "there was a general feeling in agro-business and inside our government in the US that if you weren't marching lock-step forward in favor of rapid approvals of biotech products, rapid approvals of GMO crops, then somehow, you were anti-science and anti-progress." Glickman summarized the mindset in the government as follows: "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. Without thinking, we had basically taken this issue as a trade issue and they, whoever 'they' were, wanted to keep our product out of their market. And they were foolish, or stupid, and didn't have an effective regulatory system. There was rhetoric like that even here in this department. You felt like you were almost an alien, disloyal, by trying to present an open-minded view on some of the issues being raised. So I pretty much spouted the rhetoric that everybody else around here spouted; it was written into my speeches." He admits, "when I opened my mouth in the Clinton Administration [about the lax regulations on GMOs], I got slapped around a little bit." Hijacking the FDA to Promote GMOs In the US, new food additives must undergo extensive testing, including long-term animal feeding studies. There is an exception, however, for substances that are deemed "generally recognized as safe" (GRAS). GRAS status allows a product to be commercialized without any additional testing. According to US law, to be considered GRAS the substance must be the subject of a substantial amount of peer-reviewed published studies (or equivalent) and there must be overwhelming consensus among the scientific community that the product is safe. GM foods had neither. Nonetheless, in a precedent-setting move that some experts contend was illegal, in 1992 the FDA declared that GM crops are GRAS as long as their producers say they are. Thus, the FDA does not require any safety evaluations or labels whatsoever. A company can even introduce a GM food to the market without telling the agency. Such a lenient approach to GM crops was largely the result of Monsanto's legendary influence over the US government. According to the New York Times, "What Monsanto wished for from Washington, Monsanto and, by extension, the biotechnology industry got. . . . When the company abruptly decided that it needed to throw off the regulations and speed its foods to market, the White House quickly ushered through an unusually generous policy of self-policing." According to Dr. Henry Miller, who had a leading role in biotechnology issues at the FDA from 1979 to 1994, "In this area, the U.S. government agencies have done exactly what big agribusiness has asked them to do and told them to do." The person who oversaw the development of the FDA's GMO policy was their Deputy Commissioner for Policy, Michael Taylor, whose position had been created especially for him in 1991. Prior to that, Taylor was an outside attorney for both Monsanto and the Food Biotechnology Council. After working at the FDA, he became Monsanto's vice president. He's now back at the FDA, as the US food safety czar.
- Monsanto: The World’s Poster Child for Corporate Manipulation and Deceit – Part 1 "Saving the World" and Other Lies Monsanto's public relations story about genetically modified organisms (GMOs) is largely based on five concepts: 1. GMOs are needed to feed the world. 2. GMOs have been thoroughly tested and proven safe. 3. GMOs increase yield. 4. GMOs reduce the use of agricultural chemicals. 5. GMOs can be contained, and therefore coexist with non-GM crops. All five are pure myths—blatant falsehoods about the nature and benefit of this infant technology. The experience of former Monsanto employee Kirk Azevedo helps expose the first two lies, and provides some insight into the nature of the people working at the company. In 1996, Monsanto recruited young Kirk Azevedo to sell their genetically engineered cotton. Azevedo accepted their offer not because of the pay increase, but due to the writings of Monsanto CEO Robert Shapiro. Shapiro had painted a picture of feeding the world and cleaning up the environment with his company's new technology. When he visited Monsanto's St. Louis headquarters for new employee training, Azevedo shared his enthusiasm for Shapiro's vision during a meeting. When the session ended, a company vice president pulled him aside and set him straight. "Wait a second," he told Azevedo. "What Robert Shapiro says is one thing. But what we do is something else. We are here to make money. He is the front man who tells a story. We don't even understand what he is saying." Azevedo realized he was working for "just another profit-oriented company," and all the glowing words about helping the planet were just a front. A few months later he got another shock. A company scientist told him that Roundup Ready cotton plants contained new, unintended proteins that had resulted from the gene insertion process. No safety studies had been conducted on the proteins, none were planned, and the cotton plants, which were part of field trials near his home, were being fed to cattle. Azevedo "was afraid at that time that some of these proteins may be toxic." He asked the PhD in charge of the test plot to destroy the cotton rather than feed it to cattle, arguing that until the protein had been evaluated, the cows' milk or meat could be harmful. The scientist refused. Azevedo approached everyone on his team at Monsanto to raise concerns about the unknown protein, but no one was interested. "I was somewhat ostracized," he said. "Once I started questioning things, people wanted to keep their distance from me. . . . Anything that interfered with advancing the commercialization of this technology was going to be pushed aside." Azevedo decided to leave Monsanto. He said, "I'm not going to be part of this disaster." Monsanto's Toxic Past Azevedo got a small taste of Monsanto's character. A verdict in a lawsuit a few years later made it more explicit. On February 22, 2002, Monsanto was found guilty for poisoning the town of Anniston, Alabama with their PCB factory and covering it up for decades. They were convicted of negligence, wantonness, suppression of the truth, nuisance, trespass, and outrage. According to Alabama law, to be guilty of outrage typically requires conduct "so outrageous in character and extreme in degree as to go beyond all possible bounds of decency so as to be regarded as atrocious and utterly intolerable in civilized society." The $700 million fine imposed on Monsanto was on behalf of the Anniston residents, whose blood levels of Monsanto's toxic PCBs were hundreds or thousands of times the average. This disease-producing chemical, used as coolants and lubricants for over 50 years, are now virtually omnipresent in the blood and tissues of humans and wildlife around the globe. Ken Cook of the Environmental Working Group says that based on Monsanto documents made public during a trial, the company "knew the truth from the very beginning. They lied about it. They hid the truth from their neighbors." One Monsanto memo explains their justification: "We can't afford to lose one dollar of business." Welcome to the world of Monsanto. Seed Behemoth Monsanto Stumbles into Antitrust Trouble › Monsanto Options Volatile After GMO Research Report ›
- Supermarket News Forecasts Non-GMO Uprising <img alt="2010-01-08-nongmoshoppingcart.jpg" src="http://images.huffingtonpost.com/2010-01-08-nongmoshoppingcart.jpg" width="250" align="left"/><br /> For a couple of years, the Institute for Responsible Technology has predicted that the US would soon experience a tipping point of consumer rejection against genetically modified foods; a change we're all helping to bring about. Now a <a href="http://supermarketnews.com/viewpoints/stakeholders-gmo-debate-prepare-1207/index.html" >December article in <em>Supermarket News</em></a> supports both our prediction and the role the Institute is playing.<br /> "The coming year promises to bring about a greater, more pervasive awarenes" of the genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in our food supply, wrote Group Editor Robert Vosburgh, in a trade publication that conventional food executives and retailers use as a primary source of news and trends in the industry. Vosburgh describes how previous food "culprits" like fat and carbs "can even define the decade in which they were topical," and suggests that GMOs may finally burst through into the public awareness and join their ranks.<br /> Vosburgh credits two recent launches with "the potential to spark a new round of concern among shoppers who are today much more attuned to the ways their food is produced." One is our Institute's <a href="http://www.nonGMOShoppingGuide.com" >new non-GMO website</a>, which, he says, "provides consumers with a directory of non-GMO brands . . . developed for the 53% of Americans who say they would avoid GMOs if labeled.'"<br /> The other launch is the <a href="http://www.nongmoproject.org" >Non-GMO Project</a>, offering "the country's first consensus-based guidelines, which include third-party certification and a uniform seal for approved products. . . . The organization also requires documented traceability and segregation to ensure the tested ingredients are what go into the final product."<br /> He alerts supermarket executives that, "the growth of the organic (which bans GMO ingredients), local and green product categories reflects a generation of consumers who could be less tolerant of genetic modification."<br /> Please allow me to sit back with an I-told-you-so grin of satisfaction. Two years ago, I wrote a newsletter article describing three components that would move the market on GMOs:<br /> 1. The Non-GMO Project's new "widely accepted definition for non-GMO" would spark a GMO cleanout, starting with the brands in the natural food industry.<br /> <blockquote >Our Institute endorses the Non-GMO Project and encourages food companies to enroll their products with this excellent nonprofit organization. Their official seal was introduced in October 2009 and has quickly become the national standard for meaningful non-GMO claims.</blockquote> 2. "Providing clear Non-GMO product choices" with our <a href="http://www.nongmoshoppingguide.com/SG/Home/index.cfm" >Non-GMO Shopping Guide</a> would make it easier for consumers to select "non-GMO products by brand and category."<br /> <blockquote>The same Guide is available as a <a href="http://www.nongmoshoppingguide.com/SG/Home/index.cfm">website</a>, a spread in magazines, a <a href="http://www.nongmoshoppingguide.com/SG/Non-GMOShopping/BuyTheGuide/index.cfm" >pocket guide</a>, a two-sided <a href="http://www.nongmoshoppingguide.com/SG/DownloadtheGuide/index.cfm" >download</a>, and coming soon, a mobile phone application.</blockquote> 3. "Educating Health-Conscious Shoppers" about the health effects of GMOs is the key means by which GMOs will become a marketing liability—the next culprit.<br /> <blockquote>Past culprits drove the market because of consumer beliefs that were unhealthy. In the same way, evidence demonstrating the health dangers of GMOs is already igniting an anti-GMO fever. In 2009, for example, the prestigious American Academy of Environmental Medicine urged doctors to prescribe non-GMO diets for <em>all</em> patients, based on evidence that GMOs fed to lab animals triggered diseases and disorders.</blockquote> <strong>GMO Rejection Will Be Widespread</strong><br /> The prognosis in <em>Supermarket News</em> overlooks critical differences between GMOs and the other culprits. Fats, carbs, salt, and sugar each offer unmistakable consumer appeal. As a result, food companies offer options <em>with</em> them, <em>without</em> them, and at <em>low</em> levels.<br /> Genetically modified (GM) foods, however, don't offer a single consumer benefit. The five major GMOs—soy, corn, cottonseed, canola, and sugar beets—are gene-spliced to either tolerate poisonous herbicides, or produce poisonous insecticides. Consumers <em>never</em> clamor for them.<br /> Also unlike the other culprits, companies can usually eliminate GMOs <em>without even changing recipes</em>. Purchasers can simply instruct suppliers to provide the <em>non</em>-GMO soy and corn derivatives, the <em>non</em>-GMO sugar, etc., as Trader Joe's and Whole Foods have already done for their home brands.<br /> Therefore, when major food companies notice even tiny losses in market share, their GMO cleanout will be widespread. Kraft Foods and others will recognize that the same consumer trend that forced them to remove <em>all</em> GM ingredients in Europe and Japan has reared its head in the States.<br /> <strong>Consumer Opinion <em>Already</em> Poised Against Biotech</strong></p> We're already seeing the momentum build against genetically engineered bovine growth hormone. Wal-Mart, Starbucks, Dannon, Yoplait, and most dairies have shunned the controversial drug that is now synonymous with "increased cancer risk" in the minds of many consumers. (The recent <a href="http://www.apha.org/advocacy/policy/policysearch/default.htm?id=1379" >condemnation of the hormone</a> by the American Public Health Association will help nail its coffin shut.)<br /> In the case of GMOs, the proportion of US consumers needed to avoid brands that contain GM soy and corn, etc. is quite small--probably only 5%. That means that the purchasing power (and trend setting ability) of 15 million people or 5.6 million households can turn GMOs into a marketing liability. But when you look at the numbers, no matter how you slice it, they add up to a coming non-GMO tidal wave.<br /> About 28 million health-conscious Americans regularly buy organic. <a href="http://pewagbiotech.org/polls/" >About 87 million</a> are strongly opposed to GM foods and believe they are unsafe. And 159 million say they would avoid GMOs if labeled. While most people do not conscientiously avoid brands with GM ingredients, its usually because they don't know how. That's where our <a href="http://www.nongmoshoppingguide.com/SG/Home/index.cfm">Non-GMO Shopping Guide</a> comes in—disseminated far and wide in 2010.<br /> Vosburgh says that in the food industry, culprits "can even define the decade in which they were topical. In the '80s, it was fat; in the '90s, it was carbs." We won't need a full decade to send GMOs packing. Although I can't forecast the exact timing, I'll wager one prediction. By this time next year, Monsanto—the largest GMO producer—is <em>not</em> going to be happy.<br />
Vilsack Mistakenly Pitched "GMOs-Feed-the-World" to an Audience of Experts--Oops
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack was getting lots of appreciative applause and head nods from the packed hall at the Community Food Security Coalition conference today, held in Des Moines, Iowa. He described the USDA's plans to improve school nutrition, support local food systems, and work with the Justice Department to review the impact of corporate agribusiness on small farmers. But then, with time for only one more question, I was handed the microphone.
"Mr. Secretary, may I ask a tough question on GMOs?"
He said yes.
"The American Academy of Environmental Medicine this year said that genetically modified foods, according to animal studies, are causally linked to accelerated aging, dysfunctional immune regulation, organ damage, gastrointestinal distress, and immune system damage. A study came out by the Union of Concerned Scientists confirming what we all know, that genetically modified crops, on average, reduce yield. A USDA report from 2006 showed that farmers don't actually increase income from GMOs, but many actually lose income. And for the last several years, the United States has been forced to spend $3-$5 billion per year to prop up the prices of the GM crops no one wants. "When you were appointed Secretary of Agriculture, many of our mutual friends—I live in Iowa and was proud to have you as our governor—assured me that you have an open mind and are very reasonable and forward thinking. And so I was very excited that you had taken this position as Secretary of Agriculture. And I'm wondering, have you ever heard this information? Where do you get your information about GMOs? And are you willing to take a delegation in D.C. to give you this hard evidence about how GMOs have actually failed us, that they've been put onto the market long before the science is ready, and it's time to put it back into the laboratory until they've done their homework."The room erupted into the loudest applause of the morning. Secretary Vilsack knew at once what kind of crowd he was dealing with. Or so I thought. He said he was willing to visit with folks, to read studies, to learn as much as he possibly can. He pointed out that there are lots of studies, not necessarily consistent, even conflicting. He said he was in the process of working on a set of regulations and had brought proponents and opponents together to search for common ground. And he was looking to create a regulatory system with sufficient assurances and protections. At this point in his answer, Secretary Vilsack, who has a history of favoring GMOs—and even appears to be more pro-GMO than his Bush administration predecessors—was trying to sound even handed. Then he made a tragic mistake. After a slight pause, he added in a warm tone, "I will tell you that the world is very concerned about the ever-increasing population of the globe and the capacity to be able to feed all of those people." Moans, groans, hisses, even boos. Not rowdy, mind you. But clearly agitated. You see, the people in the room were among the top experts at actually feeding the world. They included numerous PhDs who had spent their careers looking deeply into the issue. Among those present were several of the authors of the authoritative IAASTD report. The International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development, is the most comprehensive evaluation of world agriculture ever. It was a three-year collaborative effort with 900 participants and 110 countries, and was co-sponsored by all the majors, e.g. the World Bank, FAO, UNESCO, WHO. The behemoth effort evaluated the last 50 years of agriculture, and prescribed the methods that were now needed to meet the development and sustainability goals of reducing hunger and poverty, improving nutrition, health and rural livelihoods, and facilitating social and environmental sustainability. And GMOs was not one of those needed methods! It was clear to the experts that the current generation of GMOs did not live up to the hype continuously broadcast by biotech companies and their promotional East Coast wing—the federal government. In fact, the night before Vilsack addressed the conference, the same audience heard a keynote by Hans Herren, the co-chairman of the IAASTD report, during which he reiterated that biotechnology was not up to the task. And this morning, Hans Herren was in the room when Vilsack tried to play the feed-the-world card. Bad move. Vilsack responded to the crowd's rejection by saying, "And well you all can disagree with this, but I am just telling you this. As I travel the world, I am just telling you what people are telling me. They are very concerned about this." Thus, he distanced himself from the contentious, and fallacious, argument. He was just reporting what others had told him. And that may in fact be his problem with understanding the serious health and environmental dangers of GMOs in general, if he is simply, as he says, repeating what others—Monsanto, Syngenta, DuPont—have told him over and over again. It's true that I have mutual friends of Tom Vilsack who like and respect him and believe him to be reasonable and thoughtful. I have seen this myself, but not on the GMO issue. Perhaps the reaction of the experts this morning will help to jar him out of his GMOs-feed-the-world mindset. Unfortunately, he is now deeply immersed in the second of this week's food conferences here in Des Moines, the World Food Prize. It features the major GMO promoters from around the world, including Bill Gates (who gives tens of millions to GMO development in Africa), and top executives of DuPont and Syngenta. Expect to hear constant chatter about how GMOs are the solution to world hunger which, unfortunately, may undue any of the restructuring that this morning's run-in with reality may have awakened. In the meantime, if there are Q & A sessions at meetings where Secretary Vilsack is speaking or attending, I'll do my best to get to a mic.
Is Eli Lilly Milking Cancer by Promoting and Treating It?
Breast Cancer Action and a coalition of consumer and health organizations have launched a campaign called Milking Cancer, where you can demand from Eli Lilly that they withdraw their dangerous bovine growth hormone from the market. For more on bovine growth hormone, see the 18-minute film, Your Milk on Drugs.
Years ago, an owner of a glass company was arrested for throwing bricks through store windows in his town. What a way to increase business! Has Eli Lilly figured out the drug equivalent of breaking, then fixing our windows?
In August 2008, the huge drug company agreed to buy Monsanto's bovine growth hormone (rbST or rbGH), which is injected into cows in the US to increase milk supply. It was an odd choice at the time. A reporter asked Lilly's representative why on earth his veterinary division Elanco just paid $300 million for a drug that other companies wouldn't touch with a ten foot pole. The drug's days were obviously numbered. The former head of the American Medical Association has urged hospitals to stop using dairy products from rbGH-injected cows, the American Nurses Association came out against it, even Wal-Mart has joined the ranks of numerous retailers and dairies loudly proclaiming their cows are rbGH-free. In fact, Monsanto's stock rose by almost 5% when the sale was announced, and Eli Lilly's dropped by nearly 1%.
The main reason for the unpopularity of this hormone, which is banned in most other industrialized countries, is the danger of insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1). Dozens of studies confirm that IGF-1, which accelerates cell division, substantially increases the risk of breast, prostate, colon, lung, and other cancers. Normal milk contains IGF-1, milk drinkers have higher levels of IGF-1, and the milk from cows injected with Eli Lilly's drug has much greater amounts of IGF-1. You can connect the dots.
Would it be too crass to point out the obvious conflict-of-the-public's-interest that Eli Lilly also markets cancer drugs? In fact their drug Evista, which might help reduce the risk of breast cancer, may lower IGF-1 (according to one small study). So on the one hand, Eli Lilly pushes a milk drug that might increase cancer, and on the other, it comes to the rescue with drugs to treat or "prevent" cancer. Call it the perfect cancer profit cycle.
It gets better.
Cows treated with rbGH have much higher incidence of mastitis, a painful infection of the udder. This results in more pus in the milk (yuck). But don't worry. It's Eli Lilly to the rescue again. They are one of the companies happy to sell antibiotics to dairy farmers to treat the infection--which can't help but increase antibiotic resistance in humans (double yuck).
History of Lawsuits and Criminal Charges
But would Eli Lilly consciously risk our health just to increase their profit? What kind of company are they and can we trust them with our food? If recent events are any indication, you better look for rbGH-free labels.
A December 17, 2006 New York Times article revealed that according to hundreds of internal documents and emails,
Eli Lilly has engaged in a decade-long effort to play down the health risks of Zyprexa. ... Lilly executives kept important information from doctors about Zyprexa's links to obesity and its tendency to raise blood sugar -- both known risk factors for diabetes. ... Lilly was concerned that Zyprexa's sales would be hurt if the company was more forthright about the fact that the drug might cause unmanageable weight gain or diabetes.Their own surveys revealed that 70% of psychiatrists had at least one patient "develop high blood sugar or diabetes while taking Zyprexa." And 30% of patients taking the drug for a year gained at least 22 pounds--some over 100 pounds. But Lilly told their sales team, "Don't introduce the issue!!!" One doctor even warned: "Unless we come clean on this, it could get much more serious than we might anticipate." It did indeed get serious. They paid out hundreds of millions in settlements to people who claimed they developed diabetes or other disorders. But Lilly's Zyprexa troubles were not over. In early 2009, they were forced to pay a record-setting $1.42 billion settlement with the Justice Department, and another record-setting state consumer protection claim of $62 million, for illegally marketing the drug to children and the elderly. It emerged in June of this year that Lilly "officials wrote medical journal studies about the antipsychotic Zyprexa and then asked doctors to put their names on the articles, a practice called 'ghostwriting.'" Eli Lilly was also the maker of the infamous Diethylstilbestrol (DES), a synthetic estrogen. Starting in 1938, it was prescribed to pregnant women to prevent miscarriages and other problems. Although in 1953, research showed that it didn't actually prevent miscarriages, it continued to be used until 1971, when the FDA alerted the public that the daughters exposed to DES in the womb were at risk of a rare vaginal cancer. An estimated 5-10 million pregnant women received DES. The civil courts held Lilly liable because they should have foreseen (based on prior information) that DES might cause cancer and that Lilly should have done the proper testing before marketing it. Rigging Research In the late 1980s Eli Lilly was one of four companies (including American Cyanamid, Upjohn, and Monsanto) that tried to get their version of bovine growth hormone approved by the FDA. I sat down with Dr. Richard Burroughs, who was a lead reviewer for the agency on these applications. He didn't have kind words to say about the companies. "They didn't follow good science and they didn't follow regulations for adequate well controlled studies," he said. "They just went out and skewed the data." He said, for example, that Eli Lilly had mysteriously lost organ samples that may have shown problems in injected cows. And their researchers came up with creative ways to hide reproductive changes in the animals. Specifically, injections appeared to suppress cows' regular menstrual cycle or reduce the visual symptoms. The company was required to report the number of cows "in heat," but was told by the FDA that they could not use bulls to identify them. If bulls were needed, then the label on their drug would have to inform farmers that they would need a bull to help identify which cows were in heat. And most farms didn't have bulls. According to Burroughs, FDA investigators figured out that Lilly researchers secretly pumped up a heifer--a young female cow--with male hormones, so that the transgendered animal would act like a male and be attracted to the cows in heat. Lilly followed the letter of the law by not using a bull, but well, you can decide if you want to trust these guys. Eventually, Lilly and two other companies withdrew their products, leaving Monsanto's brand of rbGH as the only one that got approved and marketed. But Lilly worked a deal where they represented Monsanto's drug outside the US. They sell it in 20 countries, including South Africa, Brazil, Colombia, Honduras, Kenya and Mexico. And now, they offer it in the US as well. Human Reproductive Problems from Drugged Milk In May 2006, an article in the Journal of Reproductive Medicine concluded that rbGH use, and the subsequent increase in IGF-1 in the US diet, is probably the reason why we have much higher levels of fraternal twins compared to the UK, where rbGH is banned. Mothers with twin births are more likely to suffer from hypertension, gestational diabetes, hemorrhage, and miscarriage. Twin babies are more likely to be born prematurely and suffer from birth defects, mental retardation, cerebral palsy, vision and hearing disorders, and serious organ problems. How many drugs do you suppose Eli Lilly sells to treat these disorders? Tell Eli Lilly to take rbGH off the market and out of your milk. To find non-rbGH dairy products, check out the non-GMO shopping section at www.responsibletechology.org.
Lyme/Autism Group Blasts Genetically Modified Foods as Dangerous
Stop eating dangerous genetically modified (GM) foods! That's the upshot of the Lyme Induced Autism (LIA) Foundation's position paper released today.
The patient advocacy group is not willing to wait around until research studies prove that genetically modified organisms (GMOs) cause or worsen the many diseases that are on the rise since gene-spliced foods were introduced in 1996. Like the American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) earlier this year, the LIA Foundation says there is more than enough evidence of harm in GM animal feeding studies for them to "urge doctors to prescribe non-GMO diets" and for "individuals, especially those with autism, Lyme disease, and associated conditions, to avoid" GM foods.
Dr. Jannelle Love, founder of the Autism Relief Foundation, is quoted in Kimberly Wilcox's excellent article:
"It is known that children on the Autistic Spectrum suffer from fragile immune systems, significant digestive and brain inflammation, and the environmental toxin overload. Putting foreign entities such as GMO foods into such a fragile child may indeed cause further deterioration and perhaps block the delicate biochemical pathways needed for appropriate functioning and possible recovery."The LIA Foundation calls for physicians and patient advocacy groups to explain to patients the role that GM foods may play in disease and to distribute non-GMO educational materials, including the Non-GMO Shopping Guide, which makes it easier to find brands without GM ingredients. (See www.nonGMOGuide.com). They also called for a moratorium on all GM foods and for "Research to evaluate the role of GM foods on autism, Lyme disease, and related conditions." GMOs: pervasive and high-risk The five main GM foods are soy, corn, cotton, canola, and sugar beets. Their derivatives are found in more than 70 percent of the foods in the supermarket. The primary reason the plants are engineered is to allow them to drink poison. They're inserted with bacterial genes that allow them to survive otherwise deadly doses of poisonous herbicide. Biotech companies sell the seed and herbicide as a package deal. Roundup Ready crops survive sprays of Roundup. Liberty Link crops survive Liberty. US farmers use hundreds of millions of pounds more herbicide because of these herbicide-tolerant crops, and the higher toxic residues end up inside of us. The LIA position paper acknowledges that "Individuals with infections that compromise immunity... and/or high toxin loads may also be especially susceptible to adverse effects from pesticides." Some GM corn and cotton varieties are also designed to produce poison. Inserted genes from a soil bacterium produce an insect-killing poison called Bt-toxin in every cell of the plant. Bt is associated with allergic and toxic reactions in humans and animals, and may create havoc in our digestive system (see below). All GM crops, in fact, should be considered high-risk. Irrespective of which gene you insert, the process of genetic engineering itself results in massive collateral damage within the plants' natural DNA. This can result in new or higher levels of toxins, carcinogens, allergens, or nutrient-blocking compounds in our food. Because of a corporate takeover at the FDA, they don't require a single safety test on GMOs -- so almost none of the potential side effects are evaluated before the crops are approved for sale. The few animal feeding safety studies that have been conducted, however, show serious problems. It's obvious why those suffering from autism, Lyme, or any ailment, would want to stop being used as a guinea pig in this massive GMO feeding experiment. AAEM physician Amy Dean, a board certified internal medicine specialist, says:
"GMOs have been shown to adversely affect the digestive and immune systems of animals in laboratory settings. Lyme and autism, on the rise in the US, are also associated with digestive and immune system dysfunction. Therefore, patients with Lyme and autism should avoid GM foods."Autism, food allergies, and GMOs It is noteworthy that children with autism are often allergic to corn and soy. Both are genetically engineered. Many are also allergic to dairy. The LIA press release points out, "dairy cows are usually fed GM feed and sometimes injected with GM bovine growth hormone." Although no studies have looked at the impact of eating meat or milk from GM-fed animals, secret FDA documents made public from a lawsuit revealed that their Center for Veterinary Medicine was very concerned that toxins from GM foods might bioaccumulate in the livestock. If so, their milk and meat may be even more dangerous than the GM plants. Studies on the impact of bovine growth hormone on the cows' milk are less ambiguous. The dairy products from treated cows contain higher amounts of puss, antibiotics, bovine growth hormone, and insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1). The last on the list is considered most dangerous. IGF-1 is linked to a much higher risk of cancer, and according to one study, may also be responsible for the high rates of fraternal twins born in the US. GMO health risk sampler Our Institute for Responsible Technology's Campaign for Healthier Eating in America has been very busy distributing our Non-GMO Shopping Guide to doctors around the nation, who are quite concerned about the impact of GMOs on their own and their patients' health. They are also giving patients our small pamphlet that summarizes the health dangers of GMOs. This helps to inspire people to use the Shopping Guide. Some of the health risks are included below. (Citations are posted.) See if you're also "inspired." Digestive disorders According to GMO safety expert Arpad Pusztai, PhD, the digestive tract is the first and largest point of contact with GM foods and can reveal reactions to various toxins. Lab animals fed GM feed developed lesions in the stomach, damage intestines, and abnormal and proliferative cell growth in the walls of the stomach and intestines. Toxic intestinal bacteria The beneficial bacteria living inside our digestive tract is used for digestion and immunity. Excessive herbicide residues on herbicide-tolerant GM crops may kill beneficial gut flora. More importantly, the only published human feeding experiment revealed that the genetic material inserted into GM soy transfers into bacteria living inside our intestines and continues to function. This means that long after we stop eating GM foods, we may still have dangerous GM proteins continuously produced inside us. Consider, for example, if the gene that creates Bt-toxin in GM corn were also to transfer. It might turn our intestinal bacteria into living pesticide factories. Compromised immune system Virtually every animal feeding study that looked for immune changes from GMOs found them. GM-fed animals had a sluggish immune responses, damaged organs associated with immunity, altered parameters in the blood, and dangerous inflammatory and immune reactions. Allergies No tests can guarantee that a GMO will not cause allergies. Although the World Health Organization recommends a screening protocol, GM soy and corn fail those tests--because their GM proteins have properties of known allergens. Soon after GM soy was introduced in the UK, soy allergies skyrocketed by 50 percent. A skin prick allergy test verified that some people react to GM soy, but not to natural soy. GM soy contains as much as 7-times the amount of a known soy allergen. Both GM soy and corn contain at least one new unexpected allergen, not found in natural crops. The biotech industry claims that Bt-toxin is harmless to humans and mammals because the natural bacteria version has been used as a spray by farmers for years. In reality, hundreds of people exposed to natural Bt spray had allergic and flu-like symptoms. Now, farm workers throughout India are getting those same symptoms from handling Bt cotton. Likewise, mice fed natural Bt had powerful immune responses; now mice and rats fed Bt corn also show immune responses. GMOs may make you allergic to non-GM foods Since GMOs were introduced in the US, food allergies have become a huge problem, especially for kids. Some of the foods that trigger reactions, however, are not genetically engineered. But studies show how GM foods might create sensitivity to other foods, and may in fact be contributing to this national epidemic. GM soy, for example, drastically reduces digestive enzymes in mice. If our ability to breakdown proteins was impaired, we could become allergic to a wide variety of foods. Mice fed Bt-toxin not only reacted to the Bt itself, they started having immune reactions to foods that were formerly harmless. The Bt-toxin in the corn we eat may have a similar impact. Mice fed experimental GM peas also started reacting to a range of other "safe" foods. The allergen responsible for this reaction may be found in GM foods on our supermarket shelves. GMOs and liver problems The liver is a primary detoxifier. Its condition can indicate if there are toxins in our food. Mice and rats fed GM feed had profound changes in their livers. In some cases, livers were smaller and partially atrophied. Some were significantly heavier, possibly inflamed. And certain cellular changes indicated a toxic insult from the GM diet. Reproductive problems and infant mortality Both male and female animals showed horrific problems when fed GM soy. More than half the babies of mother rats fed GM soy died within three weeks, compared to 10 percent of the non-GM soy controls. The GM babies were also considerably smaller, and were unable to conceive in a subsequent study. Male rats and mice fed GM soy had changed testicles, including altered young sperm cells in the mice. And when both mouse parents ate GM soy, the DNA of their embryos functioned differently. GM corn also had an impact. The longer mice were fed the corn, the fewer babies they had and the smaller their babies were. Livestock sterility, disease, and death Many of the problems seen in laboratories are also reported by farmers and investigators in the field.
- Thousands of sheep, buffalo, and goats in India died after grazing on Bt cotton plants after harvest. Others suffered poor health and serious reproductive problems.
- Farmers in Europe and Asia say that cows, water buffaloes, chickens, and horses died from eating Bt corn varieties.
- About two dozen US farmers report that GM corn varieties caused widespread sterility in pigs or cows.
- You're Appointing Who? Please Obama, Say It's Not So! The person who may be responsible for more food-related illness and death than anyone in history has just been made the US food safety czar. This is no joke. Here's the back story. When FDA scientists were asked to weigh in on what was to become the most radical and potentially dangerous change in our food supply—the introduction of genetically modified (GM) foods—secret documents now reveal that the experts were very concerned. Memo after memo described toxins, new diseases, nutritional deficiencies, and hard-to-detect allergens. They were adamant that the technology carried "serious health hazards," and required careful, long-term research, including human studies, before any genetically modified organisms (GMOs) could be safely released into the food supply. But the biotech industry had rigged the game so that neither science nor scientists would stand in their way. They had placed their own man in charge of FDA policy and he wasn't going to be swayed by feeble arguments related to food safety. No, he was going to do what corporations had done for decades to get past these types of pesky concerns. He was going to lie. Dangerous Food Safety Lies When the FDA was constructing their GMO policy in 1991-2, their scientists were clear that gene-sliced foods were significantly different and could lead to "different risks" than conventional foods. But official policy declared the opposite, claiming that the FDA knew nothing of significant differences, and declared GMOs substantially equivalent. This fiction became the rationale for allowing GM foods on the market without any required safety studies whatsoever! The determination of whether GM foods were safe to eat was placed entirely in the hands of the companies that made them—companies like Monsanto, which told us that the PCBs, DDT, and Agent Orange were safe. GMOs were rushed onto our plates in 1996. Over the next nine years, multiple chronic illnesses in the US nearly doubled—from 7% to 13%. Allergy-related emergency room visits doubled between 1997 and 2002 while food allergies, especially among children, skyrocketed. We also witnessed a dramatic rise in asthma, autism, obesity, diabetes, digestive disorders, and certain cancers. In January of this year, Dr. P. M. Bhargava, one of the world's top biologists, told me that after reviewing 600 scientific journals, he concluded that the GM foods in the US are largely responsible for the increase in many serious diseases. In May, the American Academy of Environmental Medicine concluded that animal studies have demonstrated a causal relationship between GM foods and infertility, accelerated aging, dysfunctional insulin regulation, changes in major organs and the gastrointestinal system, and immune problems such as asthma, allergies, and inflammation In July, a report by eight international experts determined that the flimsy and superficial evaluations of GMOs by both regulators and GM companies "systematically overlook the side effects" and significantly underestimate "the initial signs of diseases like cancer and diseases of the hormonal, immune, nervous and reproductive systems, among others." The Fox Guarding the Chickens If GMOs are indeed responsible for massive sickness and death, then the individual who oversaw the FDA policy that facilitated their introduction holds a uniquely infamous role in human history. That person is Michael Taylor. He had been Monsanto's attorney before becoming policy chief at the FDA. Soon after, he became Monsanto's vice president and chief lobbyist. This month Michael Taylor became the senior advisor to the commissioner of the FDA. He is now America's food safety czar. What have we done? The Milk Man Cometh While Taylor was at the FDA in the early 90's, he also oversaw the policy regarding Monsanto's genetically engineered bovine growth hormone (rbGH/rbST)—injected into cows to increase milk supply. The milk from injected cows has more pus, more antibiotics, more bovine growth hormone, and most importantly, more insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1). IGF-1 is a huge risk factor for common cancers and its high levels in this drugged milk is why so many medical organizations and hospitals have taken stands against rbGH. A former Monsanto scientist told me that when three of his Monsanto colleagues evaluated rbGH safety and discovered the elevated IGF-1 levels, even they refused to drink any more milk—unless it was organic and therefore untreated. Government scientists from Canada evaluated the FDA's approval of rbGH and concluded that it was a dangerous facade. The drug was banned in Canada, as well as Europe, Japan, Australia and New Zealand. But it was approved in the US while Michael Taylor was in charge. His drugged milk might have caused a significant rise in US cancer rates. Additional published evidence also implicates rbGH in the high rate of fraternal twins in the US. Taylor also determined that milk from injected cows did not require any special labeling. And as a gift to his future employer Monsanto, he wrote a white paper suggesting that if companies ever had the audacity to label their products as not using rbGH, they should also include a disclaimer stating that according to the FDA, there is no difference between milk from treated and untreated cows. Taylor's disclaimer was also a lie. Monsanto's own studies and FDA scientists officially acknowledged differences in the drugged milk. No matter. Monsanto used Taylor's white paper as the basis to successfully sue dairies that labeled their products as rbGH-free. Will Monsanto's Wolff Also Guard the Chickens? As consumers learned that rbGH was dangerous, they refused to buy the milk. To keep their customers, a tidal wave of companies has publicly committed to not use the drug and to label their products as such. Monsanto tried unsuccessfully to convince the FDA and FTC to make it illegal for dairies to make rbGH-free claims, so they went to their special friend in Pennsylvania—Dennis Wolff. As state secretary of agriculture, Wolff unilaterally declared that labeling products rbGH-free was illegal, and that all such labels must be removed from shelves statewide. This would, of course, eliminate the label from all national brands, as they couldn't afford to create separate packaging for just one state. Fortunately, consumer demand forced Pennsylvania's Governor Ed Rendell to step in and stop Wolff's madness. But Rendell allowed Wolff to take a compromised position that now requires rbGH-free claims to also be accompanied by Taylor's FDA disclaimer on the package. President Obama is considering Dennis Wolff for the top food safety post at the USDA. Yikes! Rumor has it that the reason why Pennsylvania's governor is supporting Wolff's appointment is to get him out of the state—after he "screwed up so badly" with the rbGH decision. Oh great, governor. Thanks. Ohio Governor Gets Taylor-itus Ohio not only followed Pennsylvania's lead by requiring Taylor's FDA disclaimer on packaging, they went a step further. They declared that dairies must place that disclaimer on the same panel where rbGH-free claims are made, and even dictated the font size. This would force national brands to re-design their labels and may ultimately dissuade them from making rbGH-free claims at all. The Organic Trade Association and the International Dairy Foods Association filed a lawsuit against Ohio. Although they lost the first court battle, upon appeal, the judge ordered a mediation session that takes place today. Thousands of Ohio citizens have flooded Governor Strickland's office with urgent requests to withdraw the states anti-consumer labeling requirements. Perhaps the governor has an ulterior motive for pushing his new rules. If he goes ahead with his labeling plans, he might end up with a top appointment in the Obama administration. To hear what America is saying about GMOs and to add your voice, go to our new non-GMO Facebook Group.
Monsanto Forced Fox TV to Censor Coverage of Dangerous Milk Drug
The material for this series is drawn from my books Genetic Roulette and Seeds of Deception, and my 18-minute online film Your Milk on Drugs—Just Say No!.
Get Our Milk off Drugs, Part 3
I know from personal experience how satisfying it is to catch some nasty multinational corporation telling lies about the safety of their product—especially when that company is Monsanto, the world's largest maker of genetically modified (GM) foods. So I could only imagine the excitement of investigative reporters Jane Akre and Steve Wilson, who had caught a Monsanto executive on film repeatedly lying about GM bovine growth hormone (rbGH or rbST).
The two worked at WTVT, a Fox television station in Tampa, Florida, and were described as a "television dream team." Akre was a former CNN anchorwoman and reporter, Wilson a three-time Emmy Award winner whom Penthouse described as "one of the most famous and feared journalists in America." Their four-part news series on rbGH was scheduled to begin on February 24, 1997. It was going to expose Monsanto's lies to the world, and show how the milk from treated cows was dangerously linked to cancer.
Lies, Damn Lies, and Monsanto's Lies
Monsanto's dairy research director Bob Collier, PhD, was the rbGH front man who was interviewed by Jane Akre. Here is a sample of some of his claims.
Collier said, [rbGH] "is the single most-tested product in history." The reporters, however, found that "experts in the field of domestic animal science say that this claim is demonstrably false."
When asked why rbGH had not been approved in Europe, he said the EU "approved it technically from a safety standpoint, but the dairy policy there was such that they still have price supports . . . it proved to be a moratorium based on market issues not health issues."
In reality, health was Europe's key reason for banning the drug. A December 1994 letter from the Vice President of the Agriculture Committee of the European Commission to the director of the FDA stated,
"Consumers in the European Community and their representatives in the European Parliament are apparently much more concerned about the unresolved human health issues related to [rbGH] than your agency was when it authorized the product."When Akre asked Collier whether injections "rev up" the cows, he said the hormone "does not change the basal metabolic rate, it merely increases the amount of milk produced." But his statement is contradicted even by Monsanto's literature. Injected cows also have much higher levels of udder infections, which put more pus in the milk. To treat this, farmers use more antibiotics, which also end up in the milk. But Collier claimed that increased levels of antibiotics in the milk weren't a problem, since every truckload of milk is tested. But scientists and Florida dairy officials told the reporters that each truckload is only tested for penicillin-related antibiotics. There's also a spot check for one other antibiotic every three months Such monitoring misses most of the more than 60 varieties of antibiotics used by dairy farmers. Collier also made the wild claim, "We have not opposed" voluntary labeling of products as rbGH-free. In truth, Monsanto filed lawsuits against two small dairies to force them to stop labeling their milk as rbGH-free. According to Rachel's Environment and Health Weekly "The dairies folded and Monsanto then sent letters around to other dairy organizations announcing the outcome of the two lawsuits—in all likelihood, for purposes of intimidation." Years later, as the trend towards rbGH-free milk started taking off, Monsanto asked the FDA and FTC to make such label claims illegal. When the feds turned down their request, Monsanto asked state governments to ban the labels. At one point in the interview, Akre had had enough of Collier's lies. She was not going to let him get away with it anymore. (Here is an excerpt from my book Seeds of Deception.)
Akre redirected the conversation to IGF-1, the growth hormone associated with cancer. Akre recollected, "I asked about the limited testing for the effects of altered milk on humans. Collier tells me 'because the concentration of IGF-1 . . . doesn't change, there is no change in exposure, so the FDA concluded there is no indication that long-term chronic studies were justified.'" Now Akre was ready. She reached into a stack of papers on her lap—research she had collected and some of the five pounds of documents sent to her by Monsanto, which, she is sure, they didn't expect her to read.Akre pulled out an FDA report published in Science 1990, stating that Monsanto's own studies clearly show an increase of IGF-1 in milk. Colliers, who was fidgeting, clearing his throat, and stammering, was clearly uncomfortable. He reassured her that the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Government Accounting Office also review the process for human safety and concluded that Monsanto's test process was correct. But Akre was ready again: "I pull out an American Medical Association report that says further study is needed as to the effects of IGF-1 on humans." She points out that the NIH also said more study is needed. Collier then tried to claim that IGF-1 is destroyed during the process of digestion, but Akre had read the studies and knew that too was false. Akre and Wilson wove Collier's lies throughout their 4-part series, which made it clear that rbGH was a potentially huge public health danger. They were sure the program would have a big impact. They were right, but it wasn't what they planned. Monsanto Threatens Fox On the Friday before Monday's air date, Monsanto's lawyer faxed a letter to Roger Ailes, the head of Fox News in New York, claiming that the series was biased and unscientific. It threatened, "There is a lot at stake in what is going on in Florida, not only for Monsanto, but also for Fox News and its owner." Rupert Murdoch, of course is the owner, and part of what was at stake was lots of Monsanto advertising dollars—for the Florida station, the entire Fox network, and Murdoch's Actmedia, a major advertising agency used by Monsanto. Fox pulled the series for "further review." After the Florida station's general manager, who had a background in investigative reporting, meticulously vetted the show, he verified that every statement was accurate and unbiased. The station re-scheduled the series for the following week. Monsanto's attorney immediately sent another, more strongly worded letter to Ailes, this time indicating that the news story "could lead to serious damage to Monsanto and dire consequences for Fox News." The airing was postponed indefinitely. The Florida station's general manager and news manager were soon fired, and according to Wilson, the new general manager was a salesman with no news experience. Wilson tried to convince him to run the rbGH story on its merits. He said Monsanto's whole PR campaign was based on the false statement that milk from rbGH-treated cows is "the same safe wholesome product we've always known." But even Monsanto's own studies showed this to be a lie, and it could be endangering the public. Wilson recounted to me,
"I tried to appeal to his basic sense of why this is news. He responded, 'Don't tell me what news is. We paid $2 billion for these television stations and the news is what we say it is. We'll tell you what the news is.'"According to Wilson, the manager offered hush money to the two reporters. They would be paid the full amount of what was remaining in their contract, but they were free to go—essentially fired. But there was a catch. They were to agree never to talk about rbGH again—not for any other news organization. Wilson responded, "I'm never going to agree for any amount of money you offer me to gag myself from revealing in some other time and place what's going on here." Wilson told me,
"He looked at us with this blank stare like he'd never heard such a thing. And he said, 'I don't get it. What's with you people? I just want people who want to be on TV. . . . I've never met any people like you before.' He just offered us 6 figures and to him what we were being asked to do in exchange was no big deal. Why in the world would we turn it down? And lose a chance to continue to be on TV—as if that is such a big deal that one would sell one's soul to continue to do it."The reporters offered to re-write the show to make it more palatable, but with each draft, Fox attorneys instructed them to make it more favorable to Monsanto. Over the next 6 months, they re-wrote the script 83 times. Akre and Wilson "were repeatedly instructed to include unverified and even some outright false statements by Monsanto's dairy research director." For example, they were told to include a statement that milk from rbGH-injected cows is the same and as safe as milk from untreated cows. The reporters said that management even threatened to fire them if the statement was not included. Akre told me, "We knew it was a lie. Monsanto's own study showed it was a lie. Yet we were told to leave that statement in without refutation, even though we had contrary evidence. That's falsifying the news." When they showed the evidence to Fox's lawyer that Monsanto's claims were false, according to Wilson she replied, "You guys don't get it—it isn't about whether you have your facts right or whether it's true. It's the fact that we don't want to put up $200,000 to go up against Monsanto." Fox suspended the two for "insubordination," then fired them altogether. TV News Goes to Court Akre and Wilson sued the Fox station. They based their case on Florida whistle-blower laws, which protect employees from retaliation for reporting (or threatening to report) . to a government regulatory agency. employer misconduct, which violates any law, rule or regulation speaking out (or threatening to speak out) against their employer for breaking the law. The jury awarded Akre $425,000, agreeing that her dismissal was retaliation for her threat to tell the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) about the station's plan to report false information on television. Fox appealed and the case was overturned. It turns out that lying on TV is not against the law. The FCC's policy against news distortion is a policy, not a "rule, law, or regulation," so the Florida's whistle-blower law did not apply. Furthermore, in a move certain to chill future whistleblowers, the court used the "Non-Prevailing Party Pays" provision of the state's whistleblower protection act to rule that Akre and Wilson pay nearly $200,000 of Fox's legal fees. The reporters have since been the recipients of numerous awards for their ethics and courage, including the Goldman environmental prize, considered the Nobel Prize for the environment. The Fox station eventually ran a neutered report on rbGH that contained Monsanto's false statement that rbGH milk is unchanged. Fortunately, one of the earlier versions of the original Akre and Wilson series became public domain when it was used as an exhibit in their trial. With their blessing, I extracted footage from their excellent piece for my 18-minute film Your Milk on Drugs—Just Say No!, which is available online Also see Part 1, and Part 2 of this series. Email Governor Sebelius before April 16, urging her to veto a bill that would require all national dairy brands that label their products as rbGH-free, to also place a false disclaimer, saying that there is no difference in milk from treated and non-treated cows.
- FDA Promotes Unsafe Milk Due to Industry Pressure The following is the second part of a series called Get Our Milk Off Drugs, written in response to pending legislation that would interfere with dairies who want to label their products as free from genetically engineered bovine growth hormone (rbGH or rbST). Although the bill was passed in the Kansas legislature, it would effect the labeling of every product sold in the state, including all national brands. Therefore, we ask everyone to email Governor Sebelius before April 16, urging her to veto the bill. Furthermore, since Governor Sebelius is expected to become the new Secretary of Health and Human Services, the email asks her to use her new appointment to ban this dangerous drug once and for all. The material for this series is drawn from my books Genetic Roulette and Seeds of Deception, and my 18-minute online film Your Milk on Drugs--Just Say No!. Get Our Milk off Drugs, Part 2 (See part 1 for the link between bovine growth hormone (rbGH) and cancer.) "The whole rbGH thing represents fundamental flaws in the regulatory process. . . . It was bad science and bad regulation." This was the conclusion of former FDA veterinarian Richard Burroughs, who was a lead reviewer in the approval process of recombinant bovine growth hormone (rbGH) for nearly five years. The drug "was approved prematurely without adequate information," says Burroughs, whose life and career became a casualty in a perfect storm of industry manipulation and political collusion. As the only member of the FDA team who had dairy herd experience, Burroughs wrote the original protocols for evaluating the safety of rbGH on cows. The FDA didn't conduct the tests themselves. It was always the drug's maker who performed the studies and reported the results. But according to Burroughs, they "would come in and try to negotiate the protocols to water them down." And when they ultimately presented their findings, Burroughs was shocked to discover, "They just went out and skewed the data." The drug's maker Monsanto, for example, claimed that only a handful of cows developed udder infections, but documents later revealed the actual number to be 9,500. Furthermore, infected cows were often dropped from company studies altogether. And in tests designed to show that rbGH injections did not interfere with fertility, leaked FDA documents showed how researchers added cows to the study that were pregnant prior to injection. According to Burroughs, even FDA officials "suppressed and manipulated data to cover up their own ignorance and incompetence." He said that since the science behind the rbGH studies was well outside the expertise of agency employees, rather than admit they were in over their heads, "the Center decided to cover up inappropriate studies and decisions." One of the problems they faced was that Monsanto flooded them with huge amounts of irrelevant information, making it hard for them to properly analyze what was important. "We were overwhelmed by the magnitude of the research," says Burroughs. At one point, the Human Safety Division reviewed forty volumes of submissions in just two weeks. Burroughs refused to accept compromises on safety and demanded more tests. But in late 1989, he was fired and some of his tests canceled. "I was told that I was slowing down the approval process," At a trial that later reinstated him at the FDA, his former boss admitted that Burroughs had been set up. When he rejoined the agency, officials never let him see any rbGH data again and made his life miserable. He soon quit. Rigging the numbers Although some FDA scientists vehemently defended rbGH, their claims don't hold up. They said, for example, that bovine growth hormone does not increase substantially in milk from treated cows. The study they cited, however, shows a 26% increase of the hormone. Furthermore, the cows used for that study had received a substitute rbGH formulation, at only 2% of the normal injected dosage. The FDA scientists claimed that 90% of the bovine growth hormone in the milk was destroyed during pasteurization, so it wouldn't matter even if there had been a substantial increase. But they failed to mention that the researchers pasteurized the milk 120 times longer than normal, and even then only destroyed 19% of the hormone. So they spiked the milk with powdered hormone--146 times the naturally occurring levels--heated that mixture 120 times longer than normal, and under those artificial conditions were able to destroy 90% of the hormone. Canadian Government Scientists Say FDA Evaluation was a Façade Years after the drug was on the market, Canadian government scientists analyzed the FDA's approval process and wrote a lengthy and scathing report. It recounted omissions, contradictions, weaknesses, and gaps in the FDA's approval process. Known as the Gaps Analysis Report, it concluded that the FDA's "1990 evaluation was largely a theoretical review taking the manufacturer's conclusions at face value. No details of the studies nor a critical analysis of the quality of the data was provided." According to the report, since rbGH was a hormone, "its chemistry should have prompted more exhaustive and longer toxicological studies in laboratory animals." These are "usually required . . . to ascertain human safety." Because they weren't conducted, "such possibilities and potential as sterility, infertility, birth defects, cancer and immunological derangements were not addressed." Studies normally used to determine whether a drug is carcinogenic will test two different species for about two years--the lifetime of mice or rats. But Monsanto tested rbGH on rats for 28 or 90 days. FDA official John Scheid later admitted to the Associated Press that the agency had never actually examined the raw data from Monsanto's rat feeding study; rather they based their conclusions on a summary provided by Monsanto. According to Rachel's Environment and Health Weekly, "relying on a summary of a study, rather than on detailed data from the study, would violate FDA's published procedures." The Gaps report showed that the FDA "improperly reported" data from the feeding study, arriving at false and unsupported conclusions of safety. When the Canadians pointed out that 20 to 30 percent of the rats fed rbGH developed antibody responses, the FDA was forced to admit that they had accidentally overlooked the antibody study entirely. Furthermore, the Canadian report showed that some male rats which were fed the hormone developed cysts on their thyroid and changes in their prostate gland, which should have prompted further investigation. The Canadian report also pointed out that injected cows suffer from "numerous adverse effects" and that the milk and meat from sick cows may make us sick. Hormone-treated cows can develop birth defects, reproductive disorders, udder infection, foot and leg injuries, metabolic disorders, uterine infections, indigestion, bloat, diarrhea, lesions, and shortened lives. Cows on the drug for only eight months had much larger hearts, livers, kidneys, ovaries, and adrenal glands. The Canadians wrote that although the significant changes in the health of cows "may have had an impact on human health," this was not taken into consideration by the FDA when they approved the drug. Monsanto Hijacks Regulators Bovine growth hormone was the first genetically engineered animal drug reviewed by the FDA, and there was a lot of pressure to get it approved quickly. Both the first Bush and Clinton White Houses had ordered the agency to promote biotechnology and the agency was apparently doing whatever it took to follow orders. Disgruntled FDA employees wrote an anonymous letter to Congressmen, claiming that the whole rbGH evaluation process was embroiled in fraud and conflict of interest. For example, they complained of the role of Dr. Margaret Miller. "[Miller] wrote the FDA's opinion on why milk from [rbGH]-treated cows should not be labeled. However, before coming to FDA, Dr. Margaret Miller was working for the Monsanto company as a researcher on [rbGH]. At the time she wrote the FDA opinion on labeling, she was still publishing papers with Monsanto scientists on [rbGH]. It appears to us that this is a direct conflict of interest to have in any way Dr. Miller working on [rbGH]." On April 15, 1994, three Congressmen responded to the letter's allegations by asking the U.S. General Accounting Office (GAO) to investigate. The congressmen wrote, "The entire FDA review of rbGH seemingly has been characterized by misinformation and questionable actions on the part of both FDA and the Monsanto Company officials." The letter also describes the previous attempt by the GAO to investigate the rbGH approval process, which they "had to abandon . . . because of the Monsanto Company's refusal to make available to them all pertinent clinical and related data." The letter directed the GAO to look into potential conflicts of interest not only for Margaret Miller, but also for Michael Taylor and Susan Sechen. Sechen formerly conducted Monsanto-sponsored research on rbGH, and then joined the FDA to become the lead reviewer for the drug. Taylor used to be Monsanto's outside attorney, working with them, according to the Congressmen's letter, "regarding food labeling and regulatory issues." The FDA created a new position for Taylor, as Deputy Commissioner for Policy. He was in charge of overseeing the formation of the agency's policy on rbGH, which ultimately allowed rbGH on the market without adequate testing, and without mandatory labeling. Taylor even wrote a paper expressing an opinion that if a dairy was to label its milk as rbGH-free, it should also include a bold disclaimer stating, "The FDA has determined that no significant difference has been shown between milk derived from rbGH-supplemented and non-rbGH-supplemented cows." This was a suggestion, not a requirement. But the Kansas legislature passed a law on April 3, 2009 making it a requirement for products sold in the state--including all national dairy brands. (Ask Governor Sebelius to veto that bill.) Taylor also oversaw the FDA's dangerous hands-off policy on genetically modified foods, which also benefited Monsanto at the expense of public health. He eventually left the FDA for the USDA, where he worked on GMO issues. Taylor then took the position of vice president for Monsanto. He now works closely with the Obama administration on food safety. Milk Controversy Spills into Canada In 1998, six Canadian government scientists, including those who wrote the Gaps Analysis Report, testified before the Senate that they were being pressured by superiors to approve rbGH, even though they were convinced it was unsafe. They also testified that documents were stolen from a locked file cabinet in a government office, and that Monsanto offered them a bribe of $1-2 million to approve the drug without further tests. (A Monsanto representative told national Canadian television that the scientists had obviously misunderstood an offer for research money. US court documents later revealed that at the same time Canadian officials accused them of attempted bribery, Monsanto was actively offering bribes to about 140 government officials in Indonesia, trying to gain approval for their genetically modified seeds.) In words reminiscent of Burroughs' experience at the FDA years earlier, the Canadian scientists told the Senate committee, "pharmaceutical manufacturers have far too much influence in the drug approval process." Scientists "often feel that their careers are threatened if they stand in the way of a drug they don't believe is safe." And "managers without scientific experience regularly overrule their decisions." One of the whistle-blowing scientists to testify, Shiv Chopra, revealed that the policy in the department is to "serve the client." The client, however, is no longer defined as the public: "The client is now the industry." "We have been pressured and coerced to pass drugs of questionable safety, including [rbGH]," Chopra said. He "testified that one of his managers threatened to ship him and his colleagues to other departments where they would 'never be heard of again' if they didn't hurry favorable evaluations of rbGH." Soon after testifying, Chopra was suspended by his department for five days without pay. The cause, he later told another Senate committee, was retaliation for his testimony. In spite of blatant efforts within the government to approve rbGH, Canada ultimately banned it. Nonetheless, the health of Canadians is still impacted, as much of their imported milk is from drugged cows US. The time for banning rbGH in the US is long overdue. Ask Governor Sebelius, who plans to be our next Secretary of Health and Human Services, to do so as her first act. Read part 1, and part 3 of this series. Watch the 18-minute documentary Your Milk on Drugs--Just Say No!. Be sure to stock up on rbGH-free dairy brands.
- Governor Sebelius Must Veto Kansas Bill That Endangers Milk Safety Governor Sebelius wants to be our new Secretary of Health and Human Services. But before she is sworn in, she has an important job to do, which will demonstrate that she is serious about protecting the safety of our food supply. A bill passed the Kansas legislature on April 3rd, which would restrict any national US dairy from properly labeling their milk products as free from genetically engineered bovine growth hormone (rbGH or rbST). Governor Sebelius must veto it before the April 16th deadline. Send Governor Sebelius an email urging her to do so. Here is the first in a multi-part series explaining why Drugged Milk is dangerous, and how corporate manipulation, bad science, and political collusion pushed it into our food supply. Also check out the 18-minute documentary Your Milk on Drugs—Just Say No! Get Our Milk Off Drugs, Part 1 Milk from rbGH-treated cows may increase risk of cancer Growth hormones are created in the pituitary gland. Back in the 1930s, they discovered that injecting cows with their own pituitary extracts boosted milk production. But the process was too expensive and not commercially viable—until genetic engineering came along. Monsanto scientists took the cow gene that creates growth hormones, altered it, and inserted it into E. coli bacteria to create a living drug factory. The bacteria-created hormone is similar, but not identical to the naturally occurring variety. Monsanto marketed it under the brand name Posilac. It is also called recombinant bovine growth hormone (rbGH) or recombinant bovine somatotropin (rbST).When injected into a cow, it boosts their whole metabolism. Milk production goes up by about 5%. But cows often get sick and die young. Approved in the United States in 1993, by 2002 rbGH was used on 22% of the nation's dairy cows. It is banned in the European Union, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan. Milk from treated cows is different from normal milk. It has more pus, more antibiotics, more bovine growth hormone, and most importantly, higher levels of the hormone insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1). IGF-1 is one of the most powerful growth hormones in the human body and is naturally present in cows' milk. Milk drinkers increase their IGF-1 levels. One study showed a 10% increase. Another, analyzing diets of more than 1,000 nurses, showed milk was the food most associated with high IGF-1 levels. Neither of these studies used milk from cows treated with rbGH. If they had, the results may have been considerably more significant, since levels of IGF-1 in milk from treated cows can be up to 10 times higher, and according to rbGH expert Samuel Epstein MD, detection methods may underestimate the amount and impact of this increase by up to forty fold. High IGF-1 levels is a huge cancer risk, according to more than three dozen studies. A Harvard study of 15,000 white males found those with elevated blood levels to be four times more likely to get prostate cancer than average men. In a Lancet study, premenopausal US women below age 50 with high IGF-1 levels were seven times as likely to develop breast cancer. "With the exception of a strong family history of breast cancer," the authors warned, "the relation between IGF-1 and risk of breast cancer may be greater than that of other established breast cancer risk factors." The International Journal of Cancer described a "significant association between circulating IGF-1 concentrations and an increased risk of lung, colon, prostate, and pre-menopausal breast cancer." A 1999 European Commission report concluded: "Avoidance of rbGH dairy products in favor of natural products would appear to be the most practical and immediate dietary intervention to . . . (achieve) the goal of preventing cancer." There are a few ways in which IGF-1 may promote cancer. It causes cells to divide. It reduces programmed cell death (apoptosis) in tumor cells. And it inhibits the ability of various anti-cancer drugs to kill cultured human breast cancer cells. The link between IGF-1 and cancer prompted the American Nurses Association to call for the elimination of rbGH in dairy production. The American Medical Association's past president urged hospitals to serve only rbGH-free milk, and over 160 hospitals have already pledged to do so. Schools nationwide have also banned drugged milk. Consumer reaction has prompted a tipping point in the dairy industry. Over the last three years, companies such as Wal-Mart, Starbucks, Dannon, Yoplait, and more than half of the nation's top 100 dairies have committed to stop using rbGH in some or all of their products. But the Kansas legislation, if not vetoed by Governor Sebelius, would require all brands that sell rbGH-free in the state, including national brands, to add a large and deceptive disclaimer to their package which falsely claims that rbGH does not change the quality of the milk. The bill even dictates the placement of the disclaimer. This would likely discourage some dairies from making rbGH-free claims on their package. And without that, they might also abandon their rbGH-free status altogether. In short, this misguided legislation may ultimately take away your choices for healthier milk and promote cancer. Please email Governor Sebelius, asking her to veto this misguided bill, before the April 16th deadline Also check out the video on rbGH. Drink rbGH-free milk. And read part 2 and part 3 of this blog, including hijacked regulators, fired whistleblowers, suppressed news coverage, and more.
Will Obama's Food Safety Team Finally Regulate the Biggest Food Safety Hazard of Our Time
If President Obama's new Food Safety Working Group dedicates all their time and credentials to prevent future food recalls, they will have saved thousands of people—but forsaken millions.
Over the last decade, our radically changing diet has ushered in the explosive growth of food-related ailments, such as allergies, asthma, obesity, diabetes, autism, infertility, gastro-intestinal disorders, and learning disabilities. Of all the changes in our food, the most dangerous transformation was the introduction of genetically modified (GM) crops.
When these gene-spliced concoctions, such as GM soy, corn, canola, and cottonseed, came on the scene in 1996, the proportion of Americans suffering from three or more chronic ailments was 7%. After just 9 years, that nearly doubled to 13%. GM foods are the prime suspect.
Government policy at odds with science
Until now, the government has sidestepped the controversy by hiding behind FDA policy, which asserts that genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are "substantially equivalent" to natural foods and therefore don't require any safety studies. But as Obama acknowledged, "many of the laws and regulations governing food safety in America" are outdated.
In truth, the FDA's GMO policy was not even up-to-date when it was implemented in May 1992. FDA documents made public from a lawsuit revealed that virtually all the agency scientists asked to comment voiced strong warnings that GMOs may cause serious health problems. But the FDA was under orders from the White House to fast track GM foods, and the person in charge of FDA policy was the former attorney of biotech giant Monsanto—and later become their vice president. The scientists and the science were ignored.
Now that animals fed GMOs—in labs and farms around the world—have exhibited symptoms related to the growing list of diseases in the US population, the President's Food Safety team, including Dr. Margaret Hamburg as FDA Commissioner, must update GMO regulation. A scientifically sound regulation would translate into an immediate ban of current GM crops, and the implementation of rigorous safety testing requirements before any GMO was put back into the food supply. And certainly mandatory labeling, as promised by President Obama during his campaign, must accompany any GM food approval.
Presidents and industry insiders avoid GMOs
The Obama family has wisely opted out of exposing themselves to GM foods by requiring organic—and therefore non-GMO—foods served at the White House. They are even planting an organic garden on the south lawn of the White House, to feature 55 types of vegetables.
The Bush family also had an organic kitchen policy. Laura Bush was "adamant" about it, but kept it all quiet.
Even at Monsanto, many in-the-know employees won't consume the company's own GM creations. Back in 1999, the management of the cafeteria at Monsanto's UK headquarters in High Wycombe, England wrote:
"In response to concern raised by our customers . . . we have decided to remove, as far as possible, genetically modified soy and maize (corn) from all food products served in our restaurant. . . . We have taken the above steps to ensure that you, the customer, can feel confident in the food we serve."And one former Monsanto scientist told me that his colleagues, who were safety testing milk from cows injected with the company's genetically engineered bovine growth hormone, decided to stop drinking milk—unless it was organic. It's now time to let us all opt out of this dangerous and failed GM experiment. If Obama's team is serious about food safety and public health, they must take GMOs off our plates and put them back into the laboratory. Jeffrey M. Smith is the author of Seeds of Deception: Exposing Industry and Government Lies About the Safety of the Genetically Engineered Foods You're Eating and Genetic Roulette: The Documented Health Risks of Genetically Engineered Foods from Chelsea Green Publishing. Smith worked at a GMO detection laboratory, founded the Institute for Responsible Technology, and currently lives in Iowa—surrounded by genetically modified corn and soybeans. For more information, visit Chelsea Green.
Bush's Environmental Legacy on GMOs Is Irreversible
In a few hundred thousand years, after all weather effects of 21st century climate change have disappeared from the earth's surface, after our quietly smoldering nuclear waste has been extinguished, two destructive impacts traceable to George Bush's policies will yet remain.
The first is extinctions. Species that have died out, including the subset resulting from Bush's environmental policies, will forever deprive our evolving biosphere of their contribution.
The second is genetically modified organisms (GMOs)—animals, plants, bacteria, and viruses, who's DNA have been mixed and mangled by insertions from foreign species. Once released into the ecosystem, by intention or accident, the genetic pollution self-propagates. No recall by the Obama administration can clean up Mexico's indigenous corn varieties, now contaminated by our genetically modified (GM) corn. No executive order can remove or even identify the wild mustard plants now carrying altered genes bestowed on it by the pollen from its cousin, GM canola.
We all know stories that illustrate the exponential effects of invasive species. Here's my favorite, recalled in my book Genetic Roulette:
On Christmas Day 1859, the Victorian Acclimatization Society released 24 rabbits into the Australian countryside so that settlers could hunt them for sport and feel more "at home." The rabbits multiplied to well over 200 million, spreading out over 4 million square kilometers. That Christmas present now costs Australian agriculture about $600 million per year.Will GMOs of today show up as the "Australian rabbits" of the future? While their impact on our ecosystem and diet is largely unstudied, that has not stopped the current and past administrations from presiding over the release of millions of acres of GM crops. Not only does each plant carry a gene from bacteria or viruses, its DNA has hundreds or thousands of mutations resulting from the disruptive process of genetic engineering. Reports suggest that the side effects of GMOs are quite dangerous. Bush policies institutionalize GMO contamination If we were to ban GMOs today, as is more than justified, some contamination from commercialized GM food crops will nonetheless carry forward in the gene pool of those (and related) species. This includes contaminants from our largest farmed GM crops, including soybeans, yellow corn, cotton, and canola, as well as the smaller crops: Hawaiian papaya, zucchini, and crookneck squash. Newly added—in this year's harvest—are GM sugar beets and white corn. There are also GM tomatoes and potatoes no longer on the market, but whose genes and seeds, to some degree, continue to persist "out there." But the dirty laundry list actually includes over 100 different experimental GM crops, field trialed at more than 50,000 sites in the US since 1986. Although the government is supposed to make sure that these trials won't contaminate the surrounding environment, a 2005 report by the USDA Office of Inspector General harshly condemned the USDA's abominable oversight. "Current regulations, policies, and procedures," said the report, "do not go far enough to ensure the safe introduction of agricultural biotechnology." The agency's weaknesses "increase the risk that regulated genetically engineered organisms will inadvertently persist in the environment." But George Bush's pro-biotech response was to further weaken the agency's GMO oversight--and he's trying to do it quickly, before Obama steps in. The proposed ruling makes gene escape more likely, even from GM crops designed to produce pharmaceutical drugs and industrial chemicals. Monsanto admits more contamination As a backdrop to Bush's rushed proposal, Monsanto just admitted that an acre of its field trialed, not-yet-approved GM cottonseeds, was inadvertently harvested and mixed with approved cotton. It then entered our food chain as animal feed and cottonseed oil. Oops. But the FDA, EPA, and USDA employed another of the Bush administration's institutionalized abdications of GMO oversight. They declared the cottonseed contamination safe, in spite of insufficient data to support their claim. If Bush gets his new USDA rule into effect, let's hope Obama heeds the advice of the Union of Concerned Scientists, which "recommends that the new administration make revocation, revision and strengthening a top priority." No, that won't fully clean up our altered gene pool. But it will start to contain the runaway long-term genetic pollution that is now out of control.
Obama's Team Includes Dangerous Biotech "Yes Men"
Biotech "Yes Men" on Obama's team threaten to expand the use of dangerous genetically modified (GM) foods in our diets. Instead of giving us change and hope, they may prolong the hypnotic "group think" that has been institutionalized over three previous administrations—where critical analysis was abandoned in favor of irrational devotion to this risky new technology.
Clinton's agriculture secretary Dan Glickman saw it first hand:
"It was almost immoral to say that [biotechnology] wasn't good, because it was going to solve the problems of the human race and feed the hungry and clothe the naked. . . . 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"When Glickman dared to question the lax regulations on GM food, he said he "got slapped around a little bit by not only the industry, but also some of the people even in the administration." By shutting open-minds and slapping dissent, deceptive myths about genetically modified organisms (GMOs) persist.
- The industry boasts that GMOs reduce herbicide use; USDA data show that the opposite is true.
- We hear that GMOs increase yield and farmer profit; but USDA and independent studies show an average reduction in yield and no improved bottom line for farmers.
- George H. W. Bush fast-tracked GMOs to increase US exports; now the government spends an additional $3-$5 billion per year to prop up prices of the GM crops no one wants.
- Advocates continue to repeat that GMOs are needed to feed the world; now the prestigious International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development has joined a long list of experts who flatly reject GMOs as the answer to hunger.
"The agency is not aware of any information showing that foods derived by these new methods differ from other foods in any meaningful or uniform way."The sentence is complete fiction. At the time it was written, there was overwhelming consensus among the FDA's own scientists that GM foods were substantially different, and could create unpredictable, unsafe, and hard-to-detect allergens, toxins, diseases, and nutritional problems. They had urged the political appointees in charge to require long-term safety studies, including human studies, to protect the public. Their concerns stayed hidden until 1999, when 44,000 pages of internal FDA memos and reports were made public due to a lawsuit. According to public interest attorney Steven Druker, the documents showed how their warnings and "references to the unintended negative effects" of genetic engineering "were progressively deleted from drafts of the policy statement," in spite of scientists' protests. "What has happened to the scientific elements of this document?" wrote FDA microbiologist Louis Pribyl, after reviewing the latest rewrite of the policy. "It will look like and probably be just a political document. . . . It reads very pro-industry, especially in the area of unintended effects." Who flooded the market with dangerous GMOs Thanks to the FDA's "promote biotech" policy, perilously few safety studies and investigations have been conducted on GMOs. Those that have, including two government studies from Austria and Italy published just last month, demonstrate that the concerns by FDA scientists should have been heeded. GMOs have been linked to toxic and allergic reactions in humans, sick, sterile, and dead livestock, and damage to virtually every organ studied in lab animals. GMOs are unsafe. At the highest level, the responsibility for this disregard of science and consumer safety lies with the first Bush White House, which had ordered the FDA to promote the biotechnology industry and get GM foods on the market quickly. To accomplish this White House directive, the FDA created a position for Michael Taylor. As the FDA's new Deputy Commissioner of Policy, he oversaw the creation of GMO policy. Taylor was formerly the outside attorney for the biotech giant Monsanto, and later became their vice president. He had also been the counsel for the International Food Biotechnology Council (IFBC), for whom he drafted a model of government policy designed to rush GMOs onto the market with no significant regulations. The final FDA policy that he oversaw, which did not require any safety tests or labeling, closely resembled the model he had drafted for the IFBC. Michael Taylor is on the Obama transition team. Genetically engineered bovine growth hormone and unhealthy milk Taylor was also in charge when the FDA approved Monsanto's genetically engineered bovine growth hormone (rbGH or rbST). Dairy products from treated cows contain more pus, more antibiotics, more growth hormone, and more IGF-1—a powerful hormone linked to cancer and increased incidence of fraternal twins (see www.YourMilkonDrugs.com.) The growth hormone is banned in most industrialized nations, including Canada, the EU, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand. But under Michael Taylor, it was approved in the US, without labeling. As more and more consumers here learn about the health risks of the drug, they shift their purchases to brands that voluntarily label their products as not using rbGH. Consumer rejection of rbGH hit a tipping point a couple of years ago, and since then it has been kicked out of milk from Wal-Mart, Starbucks, Kroger, Subway, and at least 40 of the top 100 dairies. In 2007, Monsanto desperately tried to reverse the trend by asking the FDA and FTC to make it illegal for dairies to label their products as free from rbGH. Both agencies flatly refused the company's request. But Monsanto turned to an ally, Dennis Wolff, the Pennsylvania Secretary of Agriculture. Wolff used his position to single-handedly declare rbGH-free labels illegal in his state. Such a policy would make it impossible for national dairy brands to declare their products rbGH-free, since they couldn't change packaging just for Pennsylvania. Wolff's audacious move so infuriated citizens around the nation, the outpouring caused the governor to step in and stop the prohibition before it took effect. Dennis Wolff, according to unbossed.com, is being considered for Obama's USDA Secretary. Although Pennsylvania did not ultimately ban rbGH-free labels, they did decide to require companies who use the labels to also include a disclaimer sentence on the package, stating that the according to the FDA there is no difference between milk from cows treated with rbGH and those not treated. In reality, this sentence contradicts the FDA's own scientists. (Is this sounding all too familiar?) Even according to Monsanto's own studies, milk from treated cows has more pus, antibiotics, bovine growth hormone, and IGF-1. Blatantly ignoring the data, a top FDA bureaucrat wrote a "white paper" urging companies that labeled products as rbGH-free to also use that disclaimer on their packaging. The bureaucrat was Michael Taylor. Betting on biotech is "Bad-idea virus" For several years, politicians around the US were offering money and tax-breaks to bring biotech companies into their city or state. But according to Joseph Cortright, an Oregon economist who co-wrote a 2004 report on this trend, "This notion that you lure biotech to your community to save its economy is laughable. This is a bad-idea virus that has swept through governors, mayors and economic development officials." He said it "remains a money-losing, niche industry." One politician who caught a bad case of the bad-idea virus was Tom Vilsack, Iowa's governor from 1998-2006. He was co-creator and chair of the Governors' Biotechnology Partnership in 2000 and in 2001 the Biotech Industry Organization named him BIO Governor of the Year. Tom Vilsack was considered a front runner for Obama's USDA secretary. Perhaps the outcry prompted by Vilsack's biotech connections was the reason for his name being withdrawn. Change, Truth, Hope I don't know Barack Obama's position on GMOs. According to a November 23rd Des Moines Register article, "Obama, like Bush, may be Ag biotech ally", there are clues that he has not been able to see past the biotech lobbyist's full court spin.
- His top scientific advisers during the campaign included Sharon Long, a former board member of the biotech giant Monsanto Co., and Harold Varmus, a Nobel laureate who co-chaired a key study of genetically engineered crops by the National Academy of Sciences back in 2000. - [Obama] said biotech crops "have provided enormous benefits" to farmers and expressed confidence "that we can continue to modify plants safely."On the other hand, Obama may have a sense how pathetic US GMO regulations are, since he indicated that he wants "stringent tests for environmental and health effects" and "stronger regulatory oversight guided by the best available scientific advice." There is, however, one unambiguous and clear promise that separates Obama from his Bush and Clinton predecessors. President Obama will require mandatory labeling of GMOs. Favored by 9 out of 10 Americans, labeling is long overdue and is certainly cause for celebration. (I am told that now Michael Taylor also favors both mandatory labeling and testing of GMOs. Good going Michael; but your timing is a bit off.) Please sign a petition asking President Obama to make his GMO labeling plan comprehensive and meaningful.
- Will Genetically Modified Foods Make You Sick? Two new government studies, published within days of each other, point to disturbing health hazards of genetically modified (GM) foods. On November 13th, a study by the Italian National Institute of Research on Food and Nutrition showed how GM corn caused significant immune system changes in mice, related to allergic and inflammatory responses. The corn, sold by Monsanto, contains a gene that produces the toxic "Bt" pesticide in every cell--and in every bite. The results raise the question whether this toxin (or some other unpredictable change in the GM corn) might be contributing to the rise in allergies or other immune disorders in North America. The second study provokes the equally compelling question, are GM foods the missing link to decreasing fertility? The Austrian Agency for Health and Food Safety commissioned one of the very few long-term feeding studies on GM corn, released last week. The University of Veterinary Medicine in Vienna fed GM Monsanto's GM corn to mice, which were then mated. In the third and fourth litters, there was a reduction in the number of size of rat pups (statistically significant). Similarly, in mice fed GM corn for four successive generations (from original mice parents to their great grandchildren), the size and number of offspring was less than those compared to non-GM fed mice (trend only, not yet statistically significant). These studies should strike a major blow to biotech advocates who claim that genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are safe. They should--but similar results in other studies and reports have so far been unable to dislodge the GMO safety myth and get them off our plates. Consider some of the evidence related to reproductive problems: Offspring of Russian rats fed GM soy showed a five-fold increase in mortality, lower birth weights, and the inability to reproduce. Italian male mice fed GM soy had damaged young sperm cells. The embryo offspring of GM soy-fed mice (also Italian) had altered DNA functioning. Several farmers reported sterility or fertility problems among American pigs and cows fed on GM corn varieties. Additionally, over the last two months, investigators have documented fertility problems among Indian buffaloes, cows, and goats fed GM cottonseed products, including abortions and premature births. There is also evidence that the Bt crops cause allergic and toxic reactions. The GM cotton engineered to produce the Bt toxin, for example, is linked to thousands of deaths among sheep, buffaloes, and other livestock, and to widespread allergic reactions by Indian farm workers handling the plants. Monsanto's own Bt corn study showed toxic reactions in rats, and their corn is linked to mysterious deaths of cows, and to disease among people breathing the corn's pollen. Whenever these studies or reports surfaced, scientists should have charged in to conduct intense follow-up research. Instead, the funding--to find and expose the cause of the problem--often mysteriously dries up; scientists are transferred, threatened or fired, and the health risk link to GMOs is vehemently denied. Take the Russian rat study above, conducted by Irina Ermakova, a senior scientist at the Russian National Academy of Sciences. After we presented GMO health risk info at the EU Parliament in June 2007, she told me about the backlash that occurred after doing her study. Samples were stolen from her lab, documents were burnt on her desk, and her boss, under pressure from his boss, ordered her to cease all future research on GMOs. One of her colleagues tried to comfort her by saying, "Maybe GM soy will solve the human overpopulation problem." She wasn't comforted. Unless we want to wait until more studies are done, risking allergies and immune dysfunction, infertility, infant mortality, or poorer health inherited by the next generation, we will have to opt out of the GM food experiment. Without required labels, it isn't simple. But our Campaign for Healthier Eating in America offers Non-GMO Shopping Guides that make it much easier, go to www.HealthierEating.org. You might want to pass it on to those planning to have children, or wanting to stay healthy.