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10 Reasons to Avoid Genetically Modified Foods

February 27, 2010 | 67,690 views
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gm, gmo, jeffrey smithGM foods won’t solve the food crisis

A 2008 World Bank report concluded that increased biofuel production (crops grown for fuel rather than food) is the major cause of the increase in food prices.  GM giant Monsanto has been at the heart of the lobbying for biofuels -- while profiting enormously from the resulting food crisis and using it as a PR opportunity to promote GM foods!

GM crops do not increase yield potential

Despite the promises, GM has not increased the yield potential of any commercialized crops. In fact, studies show that the most widely grown GM crop, GM soy, has suffered reduced yields.

GM crops increase pesticide use

U.S. government data shows that in the U.S., GM crops have produced an overall increase, not decrease, in pesticide use compared to conventional crops.

There are better ways to feed the world

A major UN/World Bank-sponsored report compiled by 400 scientists and endorsed by 58 countries concluded that GM crops have little to offer global agriculture and the challenges of poverty, hunger, and climate change, because better alternatives are available.

Other farm technologies are more successful

Integrated Pest Management and other innovative low-input or organic methods of controlling pests and boosting yields have proven highly effective, particularly in the developing world.

GM foods have not been shown to be safe to eat

Genetic modification is a crude and imprecise way of incorporating foreign genetic material into crops, with unpredictable consequences. The resulting GM foods have undergone little rigorous and no long-term safety testing, but animal feeding tests have shown worrying health effects.

Stealth GMOs in animal feed -- without consumers’ consent

Meat, eggs and dairy products from animals raised on the millions of tons of GM feed imported into Europe do not have to be labeled. Some studies show that if GM crops are fed to animals, GM material can appear in the resulting products, and that the animals’ health can be affected.

GM crops are a long-term economic disaster for farmers

A 2009 report showed that GM seed prices in America have increased dramatically, cutting average farm incomes for U.S. farmers growing GM crops.

GM and non-GM cannot co-exist

GM contamination of conventional and organic food is increasing. An unapproved GM rice that was grown for only one year in field trials was found to have extensively contaminated the U.S. rice supply and seed stocks. In Canada, the organic oilseed rape industry has been destroyed by contamination from GM rape. In Spain, a study found that GM maize “has caused a drastic reduction in organic cultivations of this grain and is making their coexistence practically impossible”.

You can’t trust GM companies

The big biotech firms pushing their GM foods have a terrible history of toxic contamination and public deception. GM is attractive to them because it gives them patents that allow monopoly control over the world’s food supply. They have taken to harassing and intimidating farmers for the “crime” of saving patented seed or “stealing” patented genes -- even if those genes got into the farmer’s fields through accidental contamination by wind or insects.


Sources:

Guest Comment by Jeffrey M. Smith
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1. Eating genetically modified (GM) foods may cause disease

GMOs may be the greatest health disaster in the American diet. Within 9 years of their introduction in 1996, multiple chronic illnesses jumped from 7 percent to 13 percent of the population,[1] food allergies doubled in less time, and many other ailments have been on the rise.

Millions may already be suffering health problems caused by genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in their diet. The American Academy of Environmental Medicine has urged doctors to prescribe non-GMO diets for all patients, and cites animal studies that show how GMOs cause disorders such as vital organ damage, gastrointestinal and immune system problems, accelerated aging, infertility, and dysfunctional regulation of insulin and cholesterol.

Baby rats from moms that ate GM soy were smaller than those fed natural soy. More than half the GM soy group died within three weeks. Irina Ermakova, 2005-2007.

2. GMOs might cause infertility or hurt newborns

When GM soy flour was added to the diets of female rats, most of their babies died within three weeks—compared to only a 10 percent death rate among mothers fed natural soy.[2] The GM-fed offspring were smaller, and later had problems getting pregnant.[3]

When male rats were fed GM soy, their testicles changed from the normal pink color to dark blue.[4] Mice testicles also showed changes, including damaged young sperm cells.[5]

The DNA in mice embryos functioned differently when their parents ate GM soy.[6] And an Austrian government study reported that mice fed GM corn had fewer and smaller babies.[7]

About two dozen US farmers say that thousands of their pigs became sterile after consuming certain GM corn varieties. Some had false pregnancies, others gave birth to bags of water.

Cows and bulls also became infertile when fed the same corn.[8] Investigators in the state of Haryana, India, report that most buffalo that ate GM cottonseed had reproductive complications such as premature deliveries, abortions, infertility, and prolapsed uteruses. Many calves died.[9]

3. GM corn contains a toxic pesticide in every bite

Some GM varieties produce poison—their DNA creates an insect killing “Bt-toxin” in every cell. Monsanto and others claim that the toxin is safe for humans and mammals because the gene that produces it comes from the soil bacteria Bacillus thuringiensis.

Farmers have long used these natural bacteria as a pesticidal spray. But when the spray was widely dispersed to fight gypsy moths in Washington and Vancouver, about 500 people reported allergic and flu-like symptoms.[10]

Genetic engineers insert the bacteria’s toxin-creating gene into corn and cotton plants, which produce a more toxic poison. It’s thousands of times more concentrated than the spray and cannot be washed off.

Close-up of testicles: Rats fed non-GM soy vs GM soy.

Now, thousands of Indian farm laborers who are exposed to Monsanto’s Bt cotton plants are suffering from the same symptoms as those in the Pacific Northwest.[11]

In addition, thousands of sheep, goats, and buffalo have died after grazing on Bt cotton plants.[12] Countless other livestock have suffered reproductive disorders, skin disruptions, and upper respiratory ailments.

In one small feeding study, all the sheep that consumed Bt plants died within a month. Those that ate natural plants remained healthy.[13]

Bt corn is also linked to animal deaths in Germany[14] and The Philippines,[15] and according to an Italian government study, evokes serious immune responses in mice.[16] Even Monsanto’s 90-day rat feeding studies with Bt corn showed vital organ damage and signs of toxicity.[17]

4. GMOs might cause allergies

Soon after GM soy was introduced to the UK, soy allergies skyrocketed by 50 percent.[18] There are many reasons why people may be more reactive to GMOs.

  • GM soy, corn, and papaya fail the allergy screening protocol recommended by the World Health Organization; their GM proteins have properties of known allergens.[19]
  • The widespread collateral damage resulting from the process of creating GMOs can introduce new allergens or elevate existing ones. GM corn contains a new unintended allergen[20] and GM soy has up to seven times more of the soy allergen trypsin inhibitor.[21]
  • Preliminary allergy tests confirm that some people have skin prick reactions to GM soy, but not to a wild natural variety.[22]
  • Consuming GMOs may also provoke allergies to other foods.
  • Mice not only reacted to Bt-toxin[23] and an experimental GM pea,[24] they then started reacting to other foods that previously had no impact.
  • GM soy drastically reduces digestive enzymes in mice.[25] If your digestive ability is also impaired, you could become allergic to many types of food.

5. GMOs have higher residues of poisonous herbicide

The primary reason crops are engineered is to allow them to drink poison. They’re called herbicide tolerant, and are inserted with bacterial genes that allow them to survive otherwise deadly doses of toxic herbicide.

Biotech companies sell the seed and herbicide as a package. Monsanto sells Roundup Ready crops and Roundup herbicide. Bayer CropScience sells Liberty Link crops and Liberty herbicide.

Between 1996 and 2008, US farmers sprayed an extra 383 million pounds of herbicide on these poison drinking GMOs.[26]

Because weeds are becoming resistant to the overused herbicide, farmers are spraying considerably more each year. The last 2 years of the 13-year study alone accounted for 46 percent of the increased herbicide use.

6. GM genes can convert your intestinal bacteria into living factories that continuously produce pesticides or other harmful products

The ONLY published GMO human feeding study (that’s right, there’s only one) confirmed that genes transfer from GM soybeans into the DNA of bacteria living inside our small intestines and continue to function.[27]

Human subjects that ate Roundup Ready soybeans ended up with “Roundup Ready gut bacteria”—unkillable with Roundup. If the pesticide-producing Bt gene in corn chips were also to transfer, it could turn your intestinal flora into living pesticide factories—possibly for the long term.

7. GMOs are approved without adequate safety studies

In 1992, the Food and Drug Administration claimed they had no information showing that GM foods were substantially different from conventionally grown foods. Therefore absolutely no safety studies were required.

But secret internal memos made public by a lawsuit show that the actual consensus among FDA scientists was that GMOs can create unpredictable, hard-to-detect side effects, including allergies, toxins, new diseases, and nutritional problems. They urged long-term safety studies.

Sadly, the FDA official in charge of policy ignored the warnings. He was Michael Taylor, Monsanto’s former attorney and later their vice president.

Because of him, the same biotech companies who have been found guilty of hiding toxic effects of their chemical products are now in charge of determining whether their GM foods are safe. A close look at their so-called GMO safety studies shows how they rig research to avoid problems. They’ve got bad science down to a science.

Tragically, Michael Taylor, who may be responsible for more food-related illness and death in human history, is now back at the FDA as the US Food Safety Czar.

8. GMOs cause irreversible genetic pollution

GMOs cross pollinate and spread into the environment. A total recall is impossible.

The self-propagating genetic pollution already released will outlast the effects of global warming and nuclear waste.

9. GMOs work against feeding a hungry world

The most authoritative evaluation of agriculture, the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development,[28] 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.

The report 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. In reality, GMOs reduce yield,[29] increase farmers’ dependence on multinationals, reduce biodiversity, increase herbicide use, and take money away from more successful and appropriate methods.

In developing nations, GMOs can be catastrophic.

In India, for example, Monsanto convinced hundreds of thousands of farmers to take out high interest loans to pay for expensive GM cotton seeds and associated chemicals. Inconsistent yields left desperate farmers unable to even pay back their loans. The UK Daily Mail estimates that an astounding 125,000 indebted GM cotton farmers committed suicide.[30]

10. By avoiding GMOs, you help create a tipping point to drive 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.

The tipping point can come quickly.

In Europe, for example, within 10 weeks of a high profile GMO safety scandal that hit the papers in 1999, virtually every major food company committed to stop using GM foods. In the US, a consumer rebellion against genetically modified bovine growth hormone used on dairy cows has also reached a tipping point. Drugged milk and/or yogurt has been rejected by Wal-Mart, Starbucks, Dannon, Yoplait, and about 60 of the top 100 dairies so far.

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 percent of the population.

They key is to educate consumers about the documented health dangers and provide a Non-GMO Shopping Guide, to make avoiding GMOs much easier. Thus, by choosing healthier non-GMO brands, and telling others about GMOs so they can do the same, we can quickly reclaim a non-GMO food supply.

Visit the Campaign’s website for GMO educational materials to read, watch, listen to, and pass onto others.

Take Action Against GM Alfalfa Now … We Need Your Help!

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is, for the first time, conducting an analysis known as an environmental impact statement (EIS) on a GM crop. This crop is Monsanto’s genetically engineered Roundup Ready alfalfa, and we need your help to voice your opinion and help keep this plant from getting approved.

In 2006, the Center for Food Safety sued the USDA for illegally approving GM alfalfa. Federal courts agreed and banned GM alfalfa until the USDA could provide an EIS -- which they did in December 2009.

There is now a comment period open to the public, but it ends on March 3, 2010 -- so time is running out.

The USDA’s Draft Environmental Impact Statement admits that if GM alfalfa is approved:

  • GM contamination of non-GM and organic alfalfa crops will occur

  • GM contamination will economically impact small and family farmers

  • Foreign export markets will be at risk due to rejection of GM-contaminated products

  • Farmers will be forced to use more toxic herbicides to remove old stands of alfalfa

Yet, the USDA has brushed off these concerns as insignificant, and intends to approve GM alfalfa anyway. They even went so far as to say in the EIS that consumers don't care if their organic food is GM contaminated and neither do organic farmers!

This case is not only important for the future of GM alfalfa … the final decision on this case could have broad implications for the future of all GM crops.

So please call your Congressional Representatives today and ask them to urge Secretary of Agriculture Vilsack to deny approval of Monsanto's GM alfalfa.

To do so, call the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and ask for your Senator/Representative’s office. You can find the name of your Senator/Representative here.

When you speak with the agriculture staff person (or leave a message), be sure to let them know that you DO NOT support the deregulation of GM alfalfa. You can also mention these reasons, which were compiled by the Center for Food Safety, as to why:

  • GM contamination of non-GM and organic crops would be inevitable
  • You won’t buy products that are GM-contaminated
  • Alfalfa is a major food source for livestock and GM alfalfa would destroy the integrity of organic dairy products
  • You support the rights of farmers to grow the crops of their choice, and GM contamination makes that impossible
  • GM crops increase pesticide use, harming human health and the environment
  • Ask your Representative and Senators to contact Secretary Vilsack and urge him to deny USDA approval of Monsanto's GM alfalfa

You can also submit your comments online here, and the True Food Network has compiled a sample email that you can use for inspiration

Again, the deadline for public comment is March 3, so please let your opinion be heard. Tell your Representative and Senators that the USDA is wrong -- you DO care if your organic food is contaminated with GM crops, and you do NOT support the approval of Monsanto’s genetically engineered Roundup Ready alfalfa.

About the Author

International bestselling author and filmmaker Jeffrey M. Smith is the leading spokesperson on the health dangers of GMOs. His first book, Seeds of Deception, is the world’s bestselling and #1 rated book on the subject. His second, Genetic Roulette, documents the health dangers of GMOs and why current assessments are not competent to protect consumers.

He is the executive director of the Institute for Responsible Technology, which runs the Campaign for Healthier Eating in America, and lives with his wife in Iowa—surrounded by genetically modified corn and soybeans.

Vote with Your Pocketbook, Every Day

Remember, the food companies on the left of this graphic spent tens of millions of dollars in the last two labeling campaigns—in California and Washington State—to prevent you from knowing what's in your food. You can even the score by switching to the brands on the right; all of whom stood behind the I-522 Right to Know campaign. Voting with your pocketbook, at every meal, matters. It makes a huge difference.

I-522 poster

As always, I encourage you to continue educating yourself about genetically engineered foods, and to share what you've learned with family and friends. Remember, unless a food is certified organic, you can assume it contains GMO ingredients if it contains sugar from sugar beet, soy, or corn, or any of their derivatives.

 

If you buy processed food, opt for products bearing the USDA 100% Organic label, as organics do not permit GMOs. You can also print out and use the Non-GMO Shopping Guide, created by the Institute for Responsible Technology. Share it with your friends and family, and post it to your social networks. Alternatively, download their free iPhone application, available in the iTunes store. You can find it by searching for ShopNoGMO in the applications. For more in-depth information, I highly recommend reading the following two books, authored by Jeffrey Smith, the executive director of the Institute for Responsible Technology:

For timely updates, join the Non-GMO Project on Facebook, or follow them on Twitter. Please, do your homework. Together, we have the power to stop the chemical technology industry from destroying our food supply, the future of our children, and the earth as a whole. All we need is about five percent of American shoppers to simply stop buying genetically engineered foods, and the food industry would have to reconsider their source of ingredients—regardless of whether the products bear an actual GMO label or not.

[+] Sources and References