Are you a GMO Dragon Slayer?

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

 

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GE Salmon? Are You Out of Your Minds?!

No Frankenfish! Act Now

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.

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.