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  • On May 20, Attorney Steven Druker issued a challenge to Monsanto: face up to the facts about the risks of genetically engineered (GE) foods, and refute the facts presented in his book, Altered Genes, Twisted Truth
  • FDA covered up warnings from its own scientists about the “abnormal risks” associated with GMOs; lied about the facts; and violated federal food safety law by permitting GMOs without standard safety testing
  • A class action lawsuit has been filed against Monsanto, charging the company with deliberate falsification to conceal the fact that glyphosate is harmful to humans and animals

A Challenge to Monsanto—Will the Biotech Giant Respond?

June 02, 2015 | 212,040 views

By Dr. Mercola

On May 20, Attorney Steven Druker issued the following challenge to Monsanto:

Face up to the facts about the risks of genetically engineered (GE) foods, and try to refute the facts presented in his book, Altered Genes, Twisted Truth: How the Venture to Genetically Engineer Our Food Has Subverted Science, Corrupted Government, and Systematically Deceived the Public, which exposes the dangers.

While you may not be familiar with Steven Druker, his legacy includes suing the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the late ‘90s over its decision to treat genetically modified organisms (GMOs) as if they are Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) .

However, the FDA’s claim that GMOs are GRAS is a major fraud. When Druker sued the FDA, the agency was forced to release its internal files on GE foods—some of which were truly damning.

They showed that not only did the FDA ignore and cover up warnings from its own scientists about the “abnormal risks” associated with these foods, it also repeatedly lied to the public about the facts.

Most egregiously, the FDA violated federal food safety law by permitting GMOs to be marketed without any standard safety testing. Had the FDA paid heed to its scientists, told the truth, and followed the law, GE foods would never have gained entry into the market.

Druker’s Challenge to Monsanto

According to a May 21 press release:

“The book and the challenge were sent to Robb Fraley, Monsanto’s Chief Technology Officer, and delivered on May 20th to the company’s St. Louis headquarters.

Fraley previously sent Dr. [Jane] Goodall [who wrote the book's foreword] an email attempting to soothe her concerns about GE foods – and declaring that he would be 'very pleased' to provide additional information.

She passed that email on to Druker so that he could respond as he saw fit, resulting in the challenge – which stipulates that the additional information comprise a list of every inaccurate assertion of fact that Fraley and his colleagues can find in the book, along with a citation to evidence that conclusively confirms its erroneousness."

The deadline for Monsanto to reply is July 20, and it'll be interesting to see what, if anything, transpires from this challenge. In his letter1 to Fraley, Druker writes:

"If by July 20th you and your allies have not been able to refute the essential factual accuracy of Altered Genes, Twisted Truth according to the terms set forth above, the world will have a right to assume that it is as sound as the experts who reviewed it have affirmed – and to conclude that GE foods are unacceptably risky and must be banned."

Safety of GMOs Is Based on Disinformation

As noted in Druker's letter, the widespread impression that GE foods are safe and "necessary" to feed a growing population is based not on facts, but on systematically distributed disinformation. He writes, in part:

"Some prime examples of this disinformation are contained in a brochure published in 2013 by Monsanto titled "The Safety & Benefits of Biotech Plants Used in Agriculture."

For instance, the document declares that genetically engineered foods are just as safe as natural ones, and it cites an assertion by the board of directors of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) that 'every respected organization that has examined the evidence' has reached this conclusion.

But the authors of that assertion appear to have overlooked, or intentionally obfuscated, the fact that several respected organizations have examined the evidence and concluded otherwise. Among them are the British Medical Association, the Public Health Association of Australia, and the Royal Society of Canada."

Further highlighting the lack of consensus, a statement signed by 300 scientists, researchers, physicians, and scholars was published in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Sciences Europe on January 24, unequivocally asserting that there is no scientific consensus on the safety of GMOs.

Moreover, this paper, aptly titled No Scientific Consensus on GMO Safety,2 states the claim of scientific consensus on GMO safety is "an artificial construct that has been falsely perpetuated," which is exactly what Druker's book reveals as well.

The paper also notes that such a claim "is misleading and misrepresents or outright ignores the currently available scientific evidence and the broad diversity of scientific opinions among scientists on this issue."

There are in fact a large number of scientists who say there's no evidence demonstrating that GE foods are safe, and contrary to industry claims, a number of independent studies have raised serious health concerns.

Studies of GE food have shown tumors, premature death, organ failure, gastric lesions, liver damage, kidney damage, allergic reactions, and more.

Another inconvenient reality the biotech industry doesn't ever address is the case of genetically engineered L-tryptophan3 (an essential amino acid). This food supplement was the first edible GMO product to hit the market in the 1980s, and it ended in catastrophe.

Thousands of people who took it were sickened with a rare disabling disorder called eosinophilia–myalgia syndrome (EMS), and dozens of people died. Meanwhile, natural L-tryptophan had a perfect safety record up to that point.

The industry keeps repeating that no safety issues have ever emerged from eating GMO’s, while mounting research links it to a growing number of health concerns, and at least 80 people were killed by ingesting a genetically engineered amino acid supplement. Anecdotally, many people also report resolving their health problems by switching from suspected GE foods to organics. 

A 2012 nutritional analysis of GE versus non-GE corn also found significant differences in nutritional content, which refutes claims that GE foods are nutritionally equivalent to conventional foods. Non-GE corn contained 437 times more calcium, 56 times more magnesium, and 7 times more manganese than GE corn. GE corn was also found to contain 13 ppm of glyphosate, a pesticide recently classified as a Class 2A probable human carcinogen, while none was detected in the non-GE corn.

Monsanto Sued for Deliberate Falsification—Again

This isn't the first time Monsanto has been sued for false advertising. In 2009, France's highest court ruled the company lied when advertising Roundup as "biodegradable" and claiming it "left the soil clean." This time around, the plaintiffs have honed in on Monsanto's claim that Roundup "targets an enzyme only found in plants and not in humans or animals." As reported by Global Research:4

"The lawsuit attests that the enzyme in question, EPSP synthase, is found in the microbiota that resides in our intestinal tracts, and therefore the enzyme is 'found in humans and animals.' Due to the disruption of gut flora by glyphosate, Monsanto's chemicals do indeed affect humans...

[T]heir product kills off our healthy gut-flora. Specifically: '...glyphosate is linked to stomach and bowel problems, indigestion, ulcers, colitis, gluten intolerance, sleeplessness, lethargy, depression, Crohn's disease, Celiac disease, allergies, obesity, diabetes, infertility, liver disease, renal failure, autism, Alzheimer's, endocrine disruption, and the WHO recently announced glyphosate is' probably carcinogenic''...

The document which will be presented in court contains data that clearly shows a statistically significant increase in tumors in laboratory animals treated with glyphosate. Monsanto was only able to make the claim that tumors in rats could not be related to glyphosate because there were not more tumors in rats who were given higher doses.

This lawsuit is likely the long-awaited tipping point for millions of people who are tired of being poisoned by Big Ag and biotech greed, irreverence for human life and the environment, and utter disdain for our legal system which is meant to protect the innocent.

More recent research5 also ties Monsanto's weedkiller to antibiotic resistance. According to this study, sublethal doses of Roundup (the actual formulation of Roundup, not just glyphosate in isolation) alter disease-causing bacteria's response to commonly used antibiotics, thereby raising resistance to drugs used in medicine.6 That too, can be said to have an impact on human health, considering antibiotic-resistant disease now kills an estimated 23,000 Americans each year.

Monsanto has a long track record7 of hiding the truth about its products. For example, the company claimed the PCBs it produced were "singularly free of difficulties," yet the US government banned PCBs in 19768 due to their carcinogenic potential.

In 2002, Monsanto was found guilty of decades of "outrageous acts of pollution" in the town of Anniston, Alabama,9 where it dumped PCBs into the local river, and secretly buried the toxic chemical in a landfill. Internal documents revealed Monsanto had full knowledge of the severity of the pollution problem it caused for at least three decades, and decided to ignore it. San Diego is now suing Monsanto for polluting the Coronado Bay with PCBs…10

German Pro-GMO Group Pushing for Expanded GMO Labeling

In related news, a group of GMO proponents have launched a campaign in Germany to label anything and everything that contains or has been produced with genetic engineering. They hope that such a law will demonstrate to Germans how widespread such products already are, thereby showing there's no cause for fear.

The law would require labeling for all food, animal feed, drugs, textiles, chemicals, and any other product containing genetically modified (GM) ingredients. The group also wants similar legislation to be considered at the EU level. If the petition receives 50,000 signatures or more, the German parliament is required to consider the proposal. As reported by Science Insider:11

"Germany already requires GM crops to be labeled as such; the same is true for foods produced directly from them, such as oil made from GM soy beans. Yet many products in which genetic modification played an indirect role require no labeling. Pork can be certified GM-free, for instance, if the animals didn't eat GM feed in the four months prior to slaughter... The proposal is a chance to change the conversation about GM organisms, says geneticist Hans-Jörg Jacobsen...

How consumers would react if GM labels proliferated on supermarket shelves is unclear... In one study, consumers in Germany and five other countries were offered three options at a fruit stall: 'organic,' 'conventional,' and 'spray-free genetically modified' fruit.

When prices were the same, one-fifth of the consumers opted for GM fruit. Modeling suggested that if GM fruit was sold at a 15% discount and organic fruit at a 15% premium—which the authors say is most likely—GM products would get more popular... With time, a GM label could even become a positive sign, Jacobsen says..."

GMO-Free Is a Growing Demand in US

Regardless of whether GMO labeling ends up decimating the GE food market or not, I believe the main issue is to offer truthful information so you can make an informed choice—whether you specifically want to seek out GE foods, or avoid them.

Based on the evidence, I strongly recommend avoiding them, and growing awareness of GMOs has definitely created a stronger call for non-GMO foods in the US. Just a few years ago, the vast majority of Americans had never even heard of GMOs and had no idea they were eating it, or that it might be linked to health problems they or their children were having.

However, with each attempt to get GE foods labeled, the consumer call for non-GMO food has risen, leading Chipotle to respond by removing GMOs from its menu. While many consumers cheered the decision, the conventional media has been less kind. "Chipotle has been called irresponsible, anti-science, irrational, and much more by the Washington Post, Time Magazine, the Chicago Tribune, the LA Times, and many others. A business deciding to give consumers what they want was surely never so contentious," CounterPunch12 writes.

Why so contentious? Probably because Chipotle has started what may end up being a race to be GMO-free. This is a "nightmare scenario" for industrial farming, and "GMO doomsday" may be closer than we think:

"On May 8th, Hain Celestial told The Food Navigator that: 'We sell organic products… gluten-free products and… natural products. [But] where the big, big demand is, is GMO-free." ...Hain Celestial is actively seeking to meet this demand. Within the food industry, important decisions, for and against GMOs, are taking place," CounterPunch continues.

Indeed, from my perspective, deciding to eliminate GE foods from your diet and replacing them with locally grown organics is among the most important health decisions you can make for yourself and your family—especially if you have young children or struggle with any kind of chronic disease. As for the media bashing of Chipotle, when you consider the power the chemical technology industry wields over the media, this is to be expected. Watchdog reporting by the conventional media is virtually nonexistent these days, as the news is increasingly dictated by political forces and industrial sponsors. Investigative journalist Sharyl Attkisson discusses this trend in my recent interview with her.

Name-calling is one classic propaganda tactic still used to full effect today, as is shaming tactics such as the current "anti-science" astroturfing campaign. The industry wants you to think that anyone who questions the soundness of the science behind GMOs is "anti-science," yet the shamers never get around to actually delivering the scientific proof for their stance that GMOs are safe and has all these wonderful benefits.

We've already shattered the illusion that there is scientific consensus on the safety of GMOs, so that's no longer a viable argument to avoid producing some form of evidence. And this brings us right back to where I started, with Druker's challenge to Monsanto to refute the factual accuracy of the evidence presented in his book, Altered Genes, Twisted Truth with some incontrovertible proof of their own. I look forward to Monsanto's response.

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