By Dr. Mercola
The Atlantici recently reported on the findings of new research into the claims made for the safety and efficacy of genetically engineered foods.
The authors of the report GMO Myths and Truthsii took a science-based approach to evaluating the available research, and came to the conclusion that most of the scientific evidence regarding safety and increase yield potential do not support the claims made at all. In fact, the evidence demonstrates that the claims for genetically engineered foods are not just wildly overblown; they simply aren't true...
The featured article summarizes the evidence presented, which shows that genetically engineered (GE) crops:
- Are laboratory-made, using technology that is totally different from natural breeding methods, and pose different risks from non-GE crops
- Can be toxic, allergenic or less nutritious than their natural counterparts
- Are not adequately regulated to ensure safety
- Do not increase yield potential
- Do not reduce pesticide use but increase it
- Create serious problems for farmers, including herbicide-tolerant "superweeds", compromised soil quality, and increased disease susceptibility in crops
- Have mixed economic effects
- Harm soil quality, disrupt ecosystems, and reduce biodiversity
- Do not offer effective solutions to climate change
- Are as energy-hungry as any other chemically-farmed crops
- Cannot solve the problem of world hunger but distract from its real causes - poverty, lack of access to food and, increasingly, lack of access to land to grow it on
The authors of this critical report include Michael Antoniou, PhD, who heads the Gene Expression and Therapy Group at King's College at London School of Medicine in the UK. He's a 28-year veteran of genetic engineering technology who has himself invented a number of gene expression biotechnologies; as well as John Fagan, PhD, a leading authority on food sustainability, biosafety, and GMO testing.
If you want to get an in-depth understanding of genetically engineered foods, I highly recommend reading their reportiii, which covers the ins-and-outs of genetic engineering and the disturbing findings of a large number of scientific studies.
Three Sources of Adverse Health Effects from Genetically Engineered Foods
According to their reportiv, there are three potential sources of adverse health effects from genetically engineered foods:
- The genetically modified (GM) gene product – for example, the Bt toxin in GM insecticidal crops – may be toxic or allergenic
- The GM transformation process may produce mutagenic effects, gene regulatory effects, or effects at other levels of biological structure and function that result in new toxins or allergens and/or disturbed nutritional value
- Changes in farming practices linked to the use of a genetically modified organism (GMO) may result in toxic residues – for example, higher levels of crop contamination with the herbicide Roundup are an inevitable result of using GM Roundup Ready® crops
I've already written quite extensively on all three of these. You can locate all previous articles written on genetically engineered foods on my dedicated GMO page. To give you an example of these adverse health effects, when Monsanto's genetically engineered Bt corn was approved, Monsanto and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) assured everyone that only insects would be hurt by the Bt toxin produced by these plants. The Bt-toxin, they claimed, would be completely destroyed in the human digestive system and would not have any impact at all.
They were proven wrong when doctors at Sherbrooke University Hospital in Quebec found the toxin circulating in the blood stream of pregnant women and their babies, as well as in non-pregnant womenv. Shockingly, the toxin was identified in 93 percent of pregnant women, 80 percent of umbilical blood in their babies, and 67 percent of non-pregnant women tested.
The Bt crop varieties were first introduced to the market in 1996, and since then, many of the disorders that have subsequently been linked to Bt crops have risen exponentially. The fact that the toxin is flowing through our blood supply and passes through the placenta is a potent indicator that the Bt crop varieties cannot be considered harmless at all. For example, government-sponsored research in Italyvi showed a wide range of immune responses in mice fed Monsanto's Bt corn. The specific cytokines (interleukins) that were elevated are also found to be higher in humans who suffer from a wide range of disorders as indicated in the following chart.
||Rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, osteoporosis, multiple sclerosis, various types of cancer (multiple myeloma and prostate cancer)
||Allergy, allergic rhinitis, ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease)
||Autoimmune disease and colitis.
||Inflammatory bowel disease, multiple sclerosis
Syngenta Charged for Covering up Livestock Deaths from GE Corn
Over the years, genetically engineered crops have proven disastrous for animals, although the conventional media has done a remarkable job of keeping such details from the public. Most recently, the Swiss biotech company Syngenta had criminal charges filed against it by a German farmer. Sixty-five of his cows died after he fed them Syngenta's genetically modified Bt corn. He alleges the company not only knew the corn could be lethal to livestock, but was also covering up deaths that occurred during clinical trials.
According to a recent press release by GM Watchvii, the lawsuit asserts that Syngenta committed a grave criminal offense by deliberately withholding the results of a feeding trial in which four cows died in two days. The deaths prompted the company to halt the test. No health problems or deaths were reported in the control group, which was not fed the genetically engineered Bt 176 corn.
Other health ramifications from the Bt 176 corn have also been found. In April 2004, Spain banned Syngenta's Bt 176 corn on the grounds that it may confer resistance to the antibiotic ampicillinviii. As of December that same year, the EU decided to prohibit genetically engineered crops with antibiotic resistance genes, and cultivation of Bt 176 crops were subsequently discontinued in the EU in 2007. However, similar varieties, such as Bt 11 sweet cornix are still cultivated for both animal and human consumption...
The Health Effects of GE Feed on Livestock
As reported by Institute of Science in Societyx, mysterious animal deaths are not limited to Syngenta's Bt 176 corn. Thousands of livestock deaths have been reported across India as a result of grazing on genetically engineered Bt cotton, for example.
"Shepherds' own observations and post-mortem analysis carried out in the laboratory revealed abnormal liver, enlarged bile ducts and black patches in the intestine. The shepherds said that the sheep became "dull/depressed" after 2-3 days of grazing, started coughing with nasal discharge and developed red lesions in the mouth, became bloated and suffered blackish diarrhea, and sometimes passed red urine.
Death occurred within 5-7 days of grazing. Sheep from young lambs to adults of 1.5-2 years were affected.
One shepherd reported getting diarrhea from eating the meat of an affected sheep. The vets declared that the toxicity could be due to the Bt toxin but this could not be proven as results were confounded by additional pesticides used on the fields. The shepherds were however, advised against letting the sheep graze on any more Bt cotton plants," Institute of Science in Society writesxi.
The Philippines have also reported cases of villagers suffering health effects from surrounding Bt crop fields. In 2006, the blood of 38 individuals was analyzed and all tested positive for antibodies specific to Cry1Ab, suggesting an immune reaction to the Bt toxinxii.
GE Crops Seriously Threatens Reproductive Health
According to Dr. Don Huber, an expert on the toxicity of genetically engineered plants, a new organism linked to GE crops appears to be the cause of high reproductive failure in livestock. The organism was initially identified by veterinarians around 1998—about two years after the introduction of Roundup Ready soybeans, which is one of the staple feeds. The vets were puzzled by sudden rates of miscarriages. While sporadic at first, the phenomenon has continued to increase in severity.
In an interview last year, Dr. Huber stated:
"We [recently] received a call from a county extension educator, indicating that he has a dairy that has a 70 percent [spontaneous] abortion rate. You put that on top of 10 to 15 percent of infertility to start with, and you're not going to have a dairy very long. In fact, a lot of our veterinarians are now becoming very concerned about the prospects for being able to have replacement animals."
According to a recent report by the European GM Watchxiii, Russian scientists have also jumped into the fray, proving the existence of "very serious health risks for animals given genetically modified (GM) feed." This announcement was reportedly made during a press conference of the National Association for Genetic Security (NAGS). As a result of the findings, the Russian Parliament is considering a new veterinary law, which could potentially include a ban on genetically engineered animal feed.
"According to the authors; a number of pathological changes were discovered in the experimental animals that consumed the GM feed," GM Watch reports. "A delay in development and growth was detected, plus a distortion of the sex ratio in breeds with an increase in the proportion of females, reducing the number of pups per litter, up to their complete lack in the second and third generation...
According to the President of NAGS Alexander Baranov, the main negative impact of GM feed, which was discovered during the investigation, is a "ban on reproduction," making it almost impossible to obtain third-generation animals."The results of our study confirmed the findings of European scientists who pointed out the negative impact on the health of animals from the GM ingredients in feed of animals," Baranov, said. "We used soybean meal, which is widely used in Russia for fattening livestock. Soya of the line 40-3-2, contained in extracted meal, which is allowed in Russia. It is also for use in human food." he added."
Engineering Washington Politics
Why do American politicians and government health, environmental, and agricultural officials seem to turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to all these concerns? In short, they've sold their souls and the future of this planet. They're paid to not give a damn...
A recent article in the GMO Journal addresses the profound influence of biotech lobbying on our political processxiv. The article lists a number of facts showing how companies like Monsanto manipulates Washington to pass laws and regulations wholly in their favor. This includes preventing much-needed legislation to label genetically engineered foods. Thousands of ingredients must be listed on food labels, and yet genetically engineered ingredients, which have never been proven safe, do not need to be specified. Certainly, it is NOT because they are proud of their product and convinced it is superior to conventional or organic products. And it's not because it would be cost-prohibitive.
Again, countless other ingredients and health claims have been added to labels through the years, without sending prices soaring. I'm not sure what it'll take to make them grow a conscience and realize the dangers they've unleashed, and continue to support. As suggested in the GMO Journalxv, it's time to realize that this industry is based on profit alone, at the expense of everything and everyone else.
"To borrow a phrase from Bill Maher, here's a New Rule: anytime a GMO advocate gushes about the benefits and safety of genetically engineered products, someone must recite the following statistics from Food & Water Watchxvi:
- Since 1999, the 50 largest agricultural and food patent-holding companies and two of the largest biotechnology and agrochemical trade associations have spent more than $572 million in campaign contributions and lobbying expenditures.
- Lobbying expenditures for food and agricultural biotechnology more than doubled between 1999 and 2009, rising 102.8 percent from $35 million in 1999 to $71 million in 2009.
- Food and agricultural biotechnology PACs made more than $22 million in campaign contributions since 1999.
- Food and agriculture biotechnology firms employ more than 300 former congressional and White House staff members as lobbyists.
- In addition to in-house lobbyists, the food and agricultural biotechnology firms employed more than 100 lobbying firms in 2010."
How to Protect Your Health
Until genetically engineered foods are labeled, your BEST strategy is to buy USDA 100% Organic products whenever possible, as these do not permit genetically engineered ingredients, or buy whole fresh produce and meat from local farmers.
The majority of the genetically engineered ingredients you're exposed to are via processed foods, so by cooking from scratch with whole foods, you can be sure you're not inadvertently consuming something laced with altered ingredients. When you do purchase processed food, avoid products containing anything related to corn or soy that are not 100 percent organic, as any foods containing these two non-organic ingredients are virtually guaranteed to contain genetically engineered ingredients, as well as toxic herbicide residues.
Keep Fighting for Labeling of Genetically Engineered Foods
While California Prop. 37 failed to pass last November, by a very narrow margin, the fight for GMO labeling is far from over. The field-of-play has now moved to the state of Washington, where the people's initiative 522, "The People's Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act," will require food sold in retail outlets to be labeled if it contains genetically engineered ingredients. As stated on LabelitWA.org:
"Calorie and nutritional information were not always required on food labels. But since 1990 it has been required and most consumers use this information every day. Country-of-origin labeling wasn't required until 2002. The trans fat content of foods didn't have to be labeled until 2006. Now, all of these labeling requirements are accepted as important for consumers. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also says we must know with labeling if our orange juice is from fresh oranges or frozen concentrate.
Doesn't it make sense that genetically engineered foods containing experimental viral, bacterial, insect, plant or animal genes should be labeled, too? Genetically engineered foods do not have to be tested for safety before entering the market. No long-term human feeding studies have been done. The research we have is raising serious questions about the impact to human health and the environment.
I-522 provides the transparency people deserve. I-522 will not raise costs to consumers or food producers. It simply would add more information to food labels, which manufacturers change routinely anyway, all the time. I-522 does not impose any significant cost on our state. It does not require the state to conduct label surveillance, or to initiate or pursue enforcement. The state may choose to do so, as a policy choice, but I-522 was written to avoid raising costs to the state or consumers."
Remember, as with CA Prop. 37, they need support of people like YOU to succeed. Prop. 37 failed with a very narrow margin simply because we didn't have the funds to counter the massive ad campaigns created by the No on 37 camp, led by Monsanto and other major food companies. Let's not allow Monsanto and its allies to confuse and mislead the people of Washington and Vermont as they did in California. So please, I urge you to get involved and help in any way you can, regardless of what state you live in.
- No matter where you live in the United States, please donate money to these labeling efforts through the Organic Consumers Fund.
- If you live in Washington State, please sign the I-522 petition. You can also volunteer to help gather signatures across the state.
- For timely updates on issues relating to these and other labeling initiatives, please join the Organic Consumers Association on Facebook, or follow them on Twitter.
- Talk to organic producers and stores and ask them to actively support the Washington initiative.