By Dr. Mercola
When it comes to products with the potential to devastate the planet, Monsanto takes the cake.
This company has single-handedly created some of the most destructive products known to man, including polychlorinated biphenyls, known as PCBs, and dioxin (Agent Orange). They are also the world leader in genetically modified (GM) seeds -- and if we don't take action soon, the entire planet could soon become contaminated with these toxic seeds, leading to the complete destruction of the natural food supply.
United States Chooses to Ignore the Precautionary Principle, Embrace Monsanto's GM Foods
Dr. Philip Bereano has spent the last three decades looking into genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in foods, crops, animals, and humans—both nationally, here in the United States, and internationally. His work led him to participate in the negotiation of two international treaties under the United Nations that dealt with issues relating to GMOs.
In my interview with him earlier this year, he shared his perspective on the safety of GM foods -- or rather the lack thereof.
"First of all, we need to understand what we mean by the word safe. Actually, in terms of the academic literature, "safe" refers to "an acceptable level of risk." It doesn't refer to situations where there is no risk. Most of us drive in cars all the time and consider it to be safe even though we know that people are killed and injured in automobiles frequently. We have to understand that safe equals acceptable risk.
The problem with calling genetically engineered organisms safe is that there are no valid risk assessments being done on them. There is no research, really, being done into the health or environmental effects of a genetically engineered organism. Certainly no work that is published in the open peer-reviewed literature, or that isn't proprietary. Corporations promoting these things claim that they have done research, but you can't get any information on it because it's all claimed to be proprietary.
Under what is known now as the precautionary principle—which is what your grandparents used to teach you about "looking before you leap"—the only prudent course of action is to NOT proceed with something which has potential risks and only potential benefits until you know a little bit more about it."
The United States is one country, however, that has fully embraced GM foods on a regulatory level, and does not appear to have any intentions of following the precautionary principle. GM corn, soybeans, canola, and sugar beets have made their way into approximately 80 percent of current U.S. processed grocery store items, now that up to 90 percent of several U.S.grown crops are grown with genetically engineered seed.
So if you live in the United States, you have most certainly already been exposed to GM foods -- most likely a lot of them.
Meanwhile, GM seeds are banned in Hungary, as they are in several other European countries, such as Germany and Ireland. These countries have chosen NOT to allow their land to be used as a testing ground in a massive uncontrollable experiment, which is essentially what the introduction of GM crops is.
Not surprisingly, according to information from Wikileaks, there are also indications that the U.S. State Department has been active in defending Monsanto in other countries, particularly in response to the French documentary, "The World According to Monsanto," which condemned Monsanto's criminal behavior.
Do You Know the Risks of GMOs?
GM foods are, from my perception, one of the most significant threats that we have against the very sustainability of the human race. Why? In a nutshell, these toxins are being linked to a growing repertoire of assaults against human health and the environment – and they are already migrating into fetal blood, which means future generations are now at risk.
Some GM crops, such as GM sugar beets and certain varieties of GM corn and soy, are engineered to withstand otherwise lethal doses of Monsanto's herbicide Roundup. Other GM crops, such as Bt corn, are designed to produce their own pesticide internally.
Earlier this year, Cry1Ab, a specific type of Bt toxin from GM crops, has for the first time been detected in human and fetal blood samples. It appears the toxin is quite prevalent, as upon testing 69 pregnant and non-pregnant women who were eating a typical Canadian diet (which included foods such as GM soy, corn and potatoes), researchers found Bt toxin in:
- 93 percent of blood samples of pregnant women
- 80 percent of fetal blood samples
- 69 percent of non-pregnant women blood samples
"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 Italy, 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."
As you may know, chronic inflammation is at the root of many increasingly common diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease. Food allergies are also skyrocketing, as is infertility, which could also be a potential side effect of GM foods, based on results from animal studies. Monsanto insists that GM foods are no different from conventionally grown varieties, but the research does NOT support this claim. Here is just a sampling of the unsavory findings associated with GM foods:
✓ GM pea protein caused lung damage in mice
✓ Offspring of rats fed GM soy showed a five-fold increase in mortality, lower birth weights, and the inability to reproduce
✓ GM potatoes may cause cancer in rats
✓ Male mice fed GM soy had damaged young sperm cells
✓ Bacteria in your gut can take up DNA from GM food
✓ The embryo offspring of GM soy-fed mice had altered DNA functioning
✓ GM foods lead to significant organ disruptions in rats and mice, specifically the kidney, liver, heart and spleen
✓ Several US farmers reported sterility or fertility problems among pigs and cows fed on GM corn varieties
✓ Bt corn caused a wide variety of immune responses in mice, commonly associated with diseases such as arthritis, Lou Gehrig's disease, osteoporosis, and inflammatory bowel disease
✓ Investigators in India have documented fertility problems, abortions, premature births, and other serious health issues, including deaths, among buffaloes fed GM cottonseed products
Have You Heard of rBGH?
You may be aware that many corn and soy crops in the United States are GM, but it may surprise you to learn that a significant portion of U.S. milk is actually genetically engineered, again thanks to Monsanto. This milk, and the ice cream, cheese, and myriad of other dairy products made from it, contains genetically engineered bovine growth hormone, or rBGH.
U.S. milk producers treat their dairy cattle with rBGH because it boosts milk production. But this artificial growth hormone also increases udder infections in cows, leading to pus in the milk along with excessive use of antibiotics in the cows, which is triggering the creation of antibiotic-resistant superbugs and leaving residues of antibiotics in your dairy. Worse still, milk treated with rBGH also contains higher levels of insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1), a hormone linked to breast, prostate and colon cancers in humans.
Monsanto's Environmental Damage Continues
First came Agent Orange and PCBs, and now we have glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto's nonselective broad-spectrum herbicide Roundup. Massive acreage of soybeans, cotton, and corn grown in the United States contain the GM Roundup Ready gene -- and all of these crops receive numerous applications of Roundup each and every year.
But Roundup is proving to be no match for Mother Nature. It's estimated that more than 130 types of weeds spanning 40 U.S. states are now herbicide-resistant, and the superweeds are showing no signs of stopping. In fact, it's getting progressively worse. Extremely hardy Roundup-resistant weeds are already boosting costs and cutting crop yields for U.S. farmers. And with world food stores already strained, diminished crop production is a serious problem.
According to an article in Scientific American:
"An estimated 11 million acres are infested with "super weeds," some of which grow several inches in a day and defy even multiple dousings of the world's top-selling herbicide, Roundup... The problem's gradual emergence has masked its growing menace.
Now, however, it is becoming too big to ignore.
... "I'm convinced that this is a big problem," said Dave Mortensen, professor of weed and applied plant ecology at Penn State University, who has been helping lobby members of Congress about the implications of weed resistance. "Most of the public doesn't know because the industry is calling the shots on how this should be spun," Mortensen said."
But the environmental impact doesn't end with the emergence of superweeds threatening our crops. Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, is also contaminating our soils and waterways, posing great risk to plant- and wildlife. A couple of years ago, a French court found Monsanto guilty of falsely advertising its herbicide as "biodegradable," "environmentally friendly" and claiming it "left the soil clean." The truth is that Roundup is anything BUT environmentally friendly. Monsanto's own tests showed that only two percent of the herbicide broke down after 28 days, which means it readily persists in the environment! This chemical is now showing up in air and rain samples across the United States.
Further, researchers have linked glyphosate to Sudden Death Syndrome (SDS), a serious plant disease, in many fields around the world. Numerous studies have shown that glyphosate is contributing not only to the huge increase in SDS, but also to the outbreak of some 40 different plant and crop diseases! It weakens plants and promotes disease in a number of ways, including:
- Acting as a chelator of vital nutrients, depriving plants of the nutrients necessary for healthy plant function
- Destroying beneficial soil organisms that suppress disease-causing organisms and help plants absorb nutrients
- Interfering with photosynthesis, reducing water use efficiency, shortening root systems and causing plants to release sugars, which changes soil pH
- Stunting and weakening plant growth
The herbicide doesn't destroy plants directly; instead, it creates a unique "perfect storm" of conditions that activatesdisease-causing organisms in the soil, while at the same time wiping out plant defenses against those diseases. So the glyphosate not only weakens plants, it actually changes the makeup of the soil and boosts the number of disease-causing organisms, which is becoming a deadly recipe for crops around the globe.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is finally looking into the damaging effects of glyphosate on humans and the environment and plans to make a decision regarding its future by 2015. At that time, Roundup could either continue to be used as it is now, be required to have some modifications to its use or be banned from use entirely in the United States.
Monsanto Forces Farmers to Buy New Seeds Every Year
One of Monsanto's biggest assaults to your food supply is what's known as terminator technology—which they hope to deploy soon. These are seeds that have been genetically modified to "self-destruct." In other words, the seeds (and the forthcoming crops) are sterile, which means farmers must buy them again each year.
The implications that terminator seeds could have on the world's food supply are disastrous: the traits from genetically engineered crops can get passed on to other crops. Once the terminator seeds are released into a region, the trait of seed sterility could be passed to other non-genetically-engineered crops, making most or all of the seeds in the region sterile.
If allowed to continue, every farmer in the world could come to rely on Monsanto for their seed supply!
"By peddling suicide seeds, the biotechnology multinationals will lock the world's poorest farmers into a new form of genetic serfdom," says Emma Must of the World Development Movement. "Currently 80 percent of crops in developing countries are grown using farm-saved seed … Being unable to save seeds from sterile crops could mean the difference between surviving and going under.""
Monsanto's History of Deception and Drive for Power
There's a reason why Monsanto has sponsored attractions with Disney … they need to do all they can to maintain a positive corporate image. But even a cursory look beneath the surface reveals why Monsanto is top on my hit list of evil corporations.
- Suing small farmers for patent infringement after Monsanto's GM seeds spread wildly into surrounding farmers' fields, contaminating their conventional crops
- Secretly discharging PCB-laden toxic waste into an Alabama creek, and dumping millions of pounds of PCBs into open-pit landfills for decades after PCBs were banned in the US for being a possible carcinogen.
- Being found guilty of bribery to bypass Indonesian law requiring an environmental assessment review for its genetically engineered cotton.
- In 2007, the South African Advertising Standards Authority also found Monsanto guilty of lying when advertising that "no negative reactions to Genetically Modified food have been reported."
- According to one EPA scientist, Monsanto doctored studies and covered-up dioxin contamination of a wide range of its products. She concluded that the company's behavior constituted "a long pattern of fraud."
How Can You Fight Back Against Monsanto's Corruption?
By boycotting all GM foods and instead supporting organic (and local) farmers who do not use Monsanto's GM seeds, you are using your wallet to make your opinions known. This means abstaining from virtually all processed food products (most are loaded with GM ingredients) and sticking to fresh, locally grown, organic foodstuffs instead.
There are currently eight genetically modified food crops on the market. In addition, GM alfalfa is now approved for use as animal feed.
✓ Sugar from sugar beets
✓ Hawaiian papaya
✓ Cottonseed (used in vegetable cooking oils)
✓ Some varieties of zucchini
✓ Canola (canola oil)
✓ Crookneck squash
Your Action Plan
The simplest way to avoid GM foods is to buy whole, certified organic foods. By definition, foods that are certified organic must never intentionally use GM organisms, produced without artificial pesticides and fertilizers and from an animal reared without the routine use of antibiotics, growth promoters or other drugs. Additionally, grass-fed beef will not have been fed GM corn feed.
You can also look for foods that are "non-GMO verified" by the Non-GMO Project.
Fortunately, we now have a practical plan to end this disaster. By educating the public about the risks of GM foods through a massive education campaign, and launching a ballot initiative in California for 2012, which will require mandatory labeling of genetically engineered foods and food ingredients, our plan is to generate a tipping point of consumer rejection to make GMOs a thing of the past. Several organizations, including Mercola.com, the Organic Consumers Association, the Institute for Responsible Technology, and even the Environmental Working Group (who produced the Dining in the Dark video above) are getting actively involved. But we do need your help.
Here's how you can get involved during this GM Awareness week:
- If you live in California and are willing to attend a short training session and then start collecting petition signatures (you will be part of a team of 2-4 people) in early November for the California Ballot Initiative, sign up here. (For more information see: The California Ballot Initiative: Taking Down Monsanto.) Also remember to share this information with family and friends in California!
- Whether you live in California or not, please donate money to this historic effort
- Talk to organic producers and stores and ask them to actively support the California Ballot. It may be the only chance we have to have to label genetically engineered foods.
- Distribute WIDELY the Non-GMO Shopping Guide to help you identify and avoid foods with GMOs. Look for products (including organic products) that feature the Non-GMO Project Verified Seal to be sure that at-risk ingredients have been tested for GMO content. You can also download the free iPhone application that is available in the iTunes store. You can find it by searching for ShopNoGMO in the applications.
- For timely updates, please join the Organic Consumers Association on Facebook, or follow them on Twitter.
- You can also join the Non-GMO Project on Facebook, or Twitter