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Argentina—A Poster Child for the Health Hazards of GMO Crops

April 09, 2013 | 335,881 views
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By Dr. Mercola

Roundup Ready soy is now being cultivated on a massive scale across the globe, along with the exponentially increasing use of the herbicide Roundup. Monsanto's "Roundup Ready" soy beans are genetically modified to survive otherwise lethal doses of glyphosate, the active ingredient in the company's herbicide Roundup.

It's a win-win for Monsanto. But it's a loss for just about everyone else. Not to mention a health hazard for the environment, and the animals and humans that eat these crops.

Argentina’s Bad Seeds

One of the countries most affected by genetically engineered soy is Argentina, whose population is being sickened by massive spraying of herbicides. Glyphosate, the main ingredient in Roundup, is blamed for the dramatic increase in devastating birth defects as well as cancer.

In the film People and Power — Argentina: The Bad Seeds, film maker Glenn Ellis investigates the destructive and health-harming trends associated with the burgeoning use of genetically engineered soy.

In Cordoba, he speaks to Alternative Nobel Laureate Professor Raul Montenegro about the problems associated with excessive pesticide use.

“Montenegro, a world-renowned biologist, looked the part of a pioneer, in a khaki shirt and jungle boots. 'I have pesticide in me,' he said, almost as soon as he opened the door. Here we all have pesticide in our bodies because the land is saturated with it. And it is a huge problem. In Argentina biodiversity is diminishing. Even in national parks, because pesticides don’t recognize the limit of the park,” Ellis writes.1

More than 18 million hectares in Argentina are covered by genetically engineered soy, on which more than 300 million liters of pesticides are sprayed. Studies strongly suggest that the glyphosate these crops are doused with can cause cancer and birth deformities; both of which are occurring at increasing rates in areas where spraying is done.

Sterility and miscarriages are also increasing. Experts warn that in 10 to 15 years, rates of cancer, infertility and endocrine dysfunction could reach catastrophic levels in Argentina.

Birth Malformation Skyrocketing in Agricultural Centers of Argentina

Ellis also met with Dr. Medardo Vasquez, the neonatal specialist who heads up the Children’s Hospital in Cordoba. Dr. Vasquez tells him:

“I see new-born infants, many of whom are malformed. I have to tell parents that their children are dying because of these agricultural methods. In some areas in Argentina the primary cause of death for children less than one year old is malformations.”

Ellis is also shown a chart of two steeply climbing graphs, rising in tandem with each other — one representing the increase in soya plantations over the last 15 years; the other the rise in birth defects across the province during that same time. In the village of Malvinas Argentinas, which is surrounded by soy plantations, the rate of miscarriage is 100 times the national average, courtesy of glyphosate.

Aside from chemical spraying, silos containing genetically engineered crops is another contributing factor. The chemically treated crop produces contaminated dust, which is then ventilated outdoors without filtration, where it is carried with the winds and breathed by the local residents.

Despite all the evidence to the contrary, Monsanto still maintains its innocence. In a written statement to Ellis, the company said:

“Roundup® brand agricultural herbicides have a long history of safe use when used according to label directions in more than 100 countries around the world. Comprehensive toxicological studies have demonstrated that glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup® branded agricultural herbicides, does not cause birth defects or reproductive problems.”

Stunning Report Illustrates Nutritional Deficiencies and Hazards of GMO Corn

In related news, a report given to MomsAcrossAmerica2 by an employee of De Dell Seed Company (Canada's only non-GMO corn seed company) offers a stunning picture of the nutritional differences between GMO and non-GMO corn. Clearly, the former is NOT equivalent to the latter, which is the very premise by which genetically engineered crops were approved in the first place. Here are a small sampling of the nutritional differences found in this 2012 nutritional analysis:

  • Calcium: GMO corn = 14 ppm / Non-GMO corn = 6,130 ppm (437 times more)
  • Magnesium: GMO corn = 2 ppm / Non-GMO corn = 113 ppm (56 times more)
  • Manganese: GMO corn = 2 ppm / Non-GMO corn = 14 ppm (7 times more)

GMO corn was also found to contain 13 ppm of glyphosate, compared to zero in non-GMO corn. The EPA standard for glyphosate in American water supplies is 0.7 ppm. In Europe, the maximum allowable level in water is 0.2 ppm. Organ damage in animals has occurred at levels as low as 0.1 ppm... GMO corn was also found to contain extremely high levels of formaldehyde. According to Dr. Huber, at least one study found that 0.97 ppm of ingested formaldehyde was toxic to animals. GMO corn contains a staggering 200 times that amount! Perhaps it’s no wonder that animals, when given a choice, avoid genetically engineered feed like the plague.

GE Crops are NOT the 'Most Tested' Product in the World

It’s important to realize that genetically engineered (GE) foods have never been proven safe for human consumption over a lifetime, let alone over generations. Monsanto and its advocates claim genetically engineered crops are “the most-tested food product that the world has ever seen.” What they don’t tell you is that:

  • Industry-funded research predictably affects the outcome of the trial. This has been verified by dozens of scientific reviews comparing funding with the findings of the study. When industry funds the research, it’s virtually guaranteed to be positive. Therefore, independent studies must be done to replicate and thus verify results
  • The longest industry-funded animal feeding study was 90 days, which recent research has confirmed is FAR too short. In the world’s first independently funded lifetime feeding study, massive health problems set in during and after the 13th month, including organ damage and cancer
  • Companies like Monsanto and Syngenta rarely if ever allow independent researchers access to their patented seeds, citing the legal protection these seeds have under patent laws. Hence independent research is extremely difficult or nearly impossible to conduct. If these scientists get seeds from a farmer, they sue them into oblivion as one of their favorite tactics is to use the legal system to their advantage. Additionally, virtually all academic agricultural research is controlled by Monsanto as they are the primary supporters of these departments and none will risk losing their funding from them
  • There is no safety monitoring. Meaning, once the GE item in question has been approved, not a single country on earth is actively monitoring and tracking reports of potential health effects

Why Did President Obama Sign Monsanto Protection into Law?

In a move that has stunned and angered many Americans, President Barack Obama recently signed into law a spending bill that included a devastating provision that puts Monsanto above the law. As reported by Salon Magazine:3

“That bill, the HR 933 continuing resolution,4 was mainly aimed at averting a government shutdown and ensuring that the federal government would continue to be able to pay its bills for the next six months. But food and public safety advocates and independent farmers are furious that Obama signed it despite its inclusion of language that they consider to be a gift to Monsanto Company and other firms that produce genetically modified organisms (GMOs) or genetically engineered (GE) seeds and crops.

The protests come on the heels of a massive petition campaign organized by the advocacy group Food Democracy Now, which gathered the signatures of more than 200,000 people who wanted Obama to veto HR 933 in order to stop Section 735 — the so-called 'Monsanto Protection Act' — from being codified into law. But Obama ignored it, instead choosing to sign a bill that effectively bars federal courts from being able to halt the sale or planting of GMO or GE crops and seeds, no matter what health consequences from the consumption of these products may come to light in the future.”

The provision, innocently called the “Farmer Assurance Provision,” which opponents have dubbed the “Monsanto Protection Act,” limits the ability of judges to stop Monsanto and/or farmers growing their genetically engineered seeds from growing or harvesting those crops, even if courts find evidence of potential health risks. In essence, it strips judges of their constitutional mandate to protect you and the environment, and permits biotech companies unrivaled freedom to plant untested GE crops regardless of the risks, and leaves victims — be it farmers or consumers — without legal recourse.

“...those who are angry at Obama for signing the bill are also incensed with Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., who is accused of failing to give the amendment that inserted the language a proper hearing,” Salon writes.

“In this hidden backroom deal, Sen. Mikulski turned her back on consumer, environmental and farmer protection in favor of corporate welfare for biotech companies such as Monsanto,” Andrew Kimbrell, executive director of the Center for Food Safety, said in a statement. “This abuse of power is not the kind of leadership the public has come to expect from Sen. Mikulski or the Democrat Majority in the Senate.”

Not surprisingly, Monsanto’s fingerprints are all over this. One of the rider’s biggest supporters, Senator Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) allegedly worked with Monsanto to craft the language in the bill. Blunt recently told Politico:5

“What it says is if you plant a crop that is legal to plant when you plant it, you get to harvest it. But it is only a one-year protection in that bill.”

While that may lull some back into apathy, you should be aware that a “mere” one-year protection can equate to millions of dollars worth of profit for Monsanto and other biotech companies. And that’s not even addressing the more disturbing aspect of it, which is the suspension of constitutional principles in favor of corporate benefit. It’s completely outrageous, and there is no excuse good enough. It also sets a dangerous precedent that will undoubtedly be misused and abused to the fullest down the line.

In the video above, Jon Stewart of The Daily Show addresses, in his usual fashion, the reported "fact" that most Congressmen were completely unaware of the provision included in the bill they passed--this despite the fact that Senator Jon Tester brought it up on the Senate floor, calling the provisions "giveaways" that have no place in this bill...  

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