DANGERS OF GENETICALLY ENGINEERED FOODS
The following presents some of the dangers of genetically engineered foods and reasons why avoiding them is an important step to safeguard our health. The footnotes refer to page references in the book Seeds of Deception; there you can find meticulously documented evidence that leaves no doubt that GM food should never have been approved.
The biotech industry claims that the FDA has thoroughly evaluated GM foods and found them safe. This is untrue. Internal FDA documents made public from a lawsuit, reveal that agency scientists warned that GM foods might create toxins, allergies, nutritional problems, and new diseases that might be difficult to identify.131-140 Although they urged their superiors to require long-term tests on each GM variety prior to approval, the political appointees at the agency, including a former attorney for Monsanto, ignored the scientists. Official policy claims that the foods are no different130 and do NOT require safety testing. A manufacturer can introduce a GM food without even informing the government or consumers.146 A January 2001 report from an expert panel of the Royal Society of Canada said it was “scientifically unjustifiable”136 to presume that GM foods are safe. Likewise, a 2002 report by the UK’s Royal Society said that genetic modification “could lead to unpredicted harmful changes in the nutritional state of foods,” and recommended that potential health effects of GM foods be rigorously researched before being fed to pregnant or breast-feeding women, elderly people, those suffering from chronic disease, and babies.263
How could the government approve dangerous foods? A close examination reveals that industry manipulation and political collusion—not sound science—was the driving force.
· Government employees who complained were harassed, stripped of responsibilities, or fired.77-83
· Scientists were threatened. Evidence was stolen. Data was omitted or distorted. Some regulators even claimed they were offered bribes to approve a GM product.
There are only ten published animal feeding studies on the health effects of GM foods—only two of these are independent.
- One study showed evidence of damage to the immune system and vital organs, and a potentially pre-cancerous condition.12-13 When the scientist tried to alert the public about these alarming discoveries, he lost his job and was silenced with threats of a lawsuit.18-20
- Two other studies also showed evidence of a potentially pre-cancerous condition. The other seven studies, which were superficial in their design, were not designed to identify these details.37
- In an unpublished study, laboratory rats fed a GM crop developed stomach lesions and seven of the forty died within two weeks. The crop was approved without further tests.37, 137-140
Many industry studies appear to be rigged to find no problems. In the case of a genetically engineered bovine growth hormone (rbGH), for example, researchers injected cows with only one forty-seventh the normal dosage before reporting hormone residues in milk.91-92 They heated the milk 120 times longer than standard, to report that pasteurization destroys the hormone.93-94 They added cows to their study that were pregnant before treatment, to claim that rbGH didn’t impede fertility.89 Cows that fell sick were dropped from studies altogether.80-81
With soybeans, serious nutritional differences between GM and natural soy were omitted from a published paper.35-36 Feeding studies masked any problems by using mature animals instead of developing ones and by diluting their GM soy 10 to 1 with non-GM protein.34
There are no adequate tests to verify that GM food will not create dangerous allergic reactions. While an international organization developed testing standards to minimize the possibility of allowing allergenic GM varieties on the market, GM corn currently sold in the U.S. has not been subjected to those tests and would most certainly fail them. One of these tests, for example, uses a test tube simulation to evaluate how long a potential GM allergen can last inside the digestive system before being broken down. Compared to the recommended international standards, however, one biotech company used a far stronger acid concentration and more than 1,250 times the recommended amount of a digestive enzyme to make the claim that their protein degrades too quickly to cause a reaction.179
The only human feeding trial ever conducted confirmed that genetically engineered genes from soy transferred to the bacteria inside the digestive tract. (The biotech industry had previously said that such a transfer was impossible.) The World Health Organization, the British and American Medical Associations, and several other groups have expressed concern that if the “antibiotic resistant marker genes” used in GM foods got transferred to bacteria, it could create super-diseases that are immune to antibiotics.59-60 More worrisome is that the “promoter” used inside GM foods could get transferred to bacteria or internal organs. Promoters act like a light switches, permanently turning on genes that might otherwise be switched off. Scientists believe that this might create unpredictable health effects, including the potentially pre-cancerous cell growth found in the animal feeding studies mentioned above. 37
The biotech industry says that millions have been eating GM foods without ill effect. This is misleading.
· About 100 people died and 5-10,000 to fell seriously ill when they consumed the food supplement L-Tryptophan. Only those who consumed the variety that was genetically modified became ill. That brand had minute, but deadly contaminants that would easily pass through current regulations today. If the disease it created had not been rare and acute, with crippling and deadly symptoms, the GM supplement might never have been traced as the cause. Once discovered, however, industry and government covered up facts and diverted the blame. Even the FDA testimony before Congress withheld vital information.107-125
- Milk from rbGH-treated cows contains an increased amount of the hormone IGF-1, which is one of the highest risk factors associated with breast and prostate cancer, among others.94-97
- Soy allergies skyrocketed by 50% in the UK, coinciding with the introduction of GM soy imports from the U.S.160-161
According to a March 2001 report, the Center for Disease Control says that food is responsible for twice the number of illnesses in the U.S. compared to estimates just seven years earlier. This increase roughly corresponds to the period when Americans have been eating GM food. Could that be contributing to the 5,000 deaths, 325,000 hospitalizations, and 76 million illnesses related to food each year? Might it play in role in our national epidemic of obesity or the rise in diabetes or lymphatic cancers? We have no way of knowing if there is a connection because no one has looked for one.
One of the most dangerous aspects of genetic engineering is the closed thinking and consistent effort to silence those with contrary evidence or concerns. Just before stepping down from office, former Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman admitted the following:
“What I saw generically on the pro-biotech side was the attitude that the technology was good, and that it was almost immoral to say that it wasn’t good, because it was going to solve the problems of the human race and feed the hungry and clothe the naked. . . . And there was a lot of money that had been invested in this, and if you’re against it, you’re Luddites, you’re stupid. That, frankly, was the side our government was on. . . . You felt like you were almost an alien, disloyal, by trying to present an open-minded view”152-153
Contrast this with the warning by the editors of Nature Biotechnology: “The risks in biotechnology are undeniable, and they stem from the unknowable in science and commerce. It is prudent to recognize and address those risks, not compound them by overly optimistic or foolhardy behavior.” 137
The biotech industry and the government have been foolhardy indeed. Blinded, perhaps by the baseless myth that GM foods are needed to feed the world, 250-251 they gamble with our health and support their safety claims on obsolete or unproven assumptions. Accepting their vacuous assurances by eating these dangerous foods or serving them to your customers may likewise be overly optimistic or foolhardy.
Please read the evidence amassed in the book Seeds of Deception by Jeffrey M. Smith. The meticulously documented facts leave no doubt about a massive injustice. The topic is too important to put this off until tomorrow.
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