The Great GMO Coverup
05 Dec, 2011
[Editor's note: The Just Label It campaign to compel the FDA to do its duty and require the labeling of GMO foods is still active. More than 300,000 people have now sign the petition. Your support is needed. The materials below are just part of the story of why. Click on the image at the right to add your voice.]
Something doesn’t quite add up about genetically modified (GM) foods.
Big biotech claims that genetic engineering is a necessary step towards feeding the world’s growing population. And yet debate still rages as to whether GM crops actually increase yields at all. Furthermore, the UN recently stated that 30,000 people a day were starving to death, but not because of underproduction of crops. It’s simply through lack of access.
Independent scientific studies raised serious alarm bells over the safety of GM foods over a decade ago. But while this made front-page headlines in European newspapers, the North American mainstream media were conspiratorially silent.
Biotech companies stand to make billions from their seed patents. Governments and supreme courts have sanctioned the patenting of life itself. The planet’s food supply is becoming increasingly dominated by fewer and fewer players.
If the biotech industry’s stated intention of feeding the world is misguided or even misdirecting, is there another political agenda behind GM food? Have we been mis-sold? Were we even given a choice in the first place?
Jeffrey M. Smith, international bestselling author of Seeds of Deception and Genetic Roulette: The Documented Health Risks of Genetically Engineered Foods, reveals the shocking truth behind GM foods and the huge effort by governments and Biotech corporations to keep it out of the mainstream media and outside of your awareness.
It looks the same—the bread, pies, sodas, even corn on the cob. So much of what we eat every day looks just like it did 20 years ago. But something profoundly different has happened without our knowledge or consent. And according to leading doctors, what we don’t know may already be hurting us big time.
In May, the American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) publicly condemned genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in our food supply, saying they posed “a serious health risk.” They called on the US government to implement an immediate moratorium on all genetically modified (GM) foods, and urged physicians to prescribe non-GMO diets for all patients.
Genetic engineering is quite distinct from selective breeding because it involves taking genes from a completely different species and inserting them into the DNA of a plant or animal. The long term effects of this for our health and our planet’s biodiversity are unknown.
AAEM, an “Academy of Firsts,” was the first US medical organization to describe or acknowledge Gulf War Syndrome, chemical sensitivity, food allergy/addiction, and a host of other medical issues. But the potential for harm from GMOs dwarfs anything they have identified thus far. It can impact everyone who eats.
More than 70% of the foods on supermarket shelves contain derivatives of the eight GM foods on the market—soy, corn, oil from canola and cottonseed, sugar from sugar beets, Hawaiian papaya, and a small amount of zucchini and crook neck squash. The biotech industry hopes to genetically engineer virtually all remaining vegetables, fruits, grains, and beans (not to mention animals).
The two primary reasons why plants are engineered are to allow them to either drink poison, or produce poison. The poison drinkers are called herbicide tolerant. They’re inserted with bacterial genes that allow them to survive otherwise deadly doses of toxic herbicide. Biotech companies sell the seed and herbicide as a package deal, and US farmers use hundreds of millions of pounds more herbicide because of these types of GM crops. The poison producers are called Bt crops. Inserted genes from the soil bacterium Bacillus Thuringiensis produce an insect-killing pesticide called Bt-toxin in every cell of the plant. Both classes of GM crops are linked to dangerous side effects.
Doctors and Patients: Just Say No to GMOs
“Now that soy is genetically engineered,” warns Ohio allergist Dr. John Boyles, “it is so dangerous that I tell people never to eat it.” How dangerous are GM foods? World renowned biologist Pushpa M. Bhargava, PhD, believes they are the major reason for the recent rise in serious illnesses in the US.
The range of what GMOs might do to us is breathtaking. “Several animal studies,” according to the AAEM, reveal a long list of disorders, including: “infertility, immune dysregulation, accelerated aging, dysregulation of genes associated with cholesterol synthesis, [faulty] insulin regulation, cell signaling, and protein formation, and changes in the liver, kidney, spleen and gastrointestinal system.”
“There is more than a casual association between GM foods and adverse health effects,” says the AAEM position paper. Based on established scientific criteria, “there is causation.”
Difficult to Trace the Damage
Outside the carefully controlled laboratory setting, it is more difficult to confidently assign GMOs as the cause for a particular set of diseases, especially since there are no human clinical trials and no agency that even attempts to monitor GMO-related health problems among the population. “If there are problems,” says biologist David Schubert, PhD, of the Salk Institute, “we will probably never know because the cause will not be traceable and many diseases take a very long time to develop.”
GM crops were widely introduced in 1996. Within nine years, the incidence of people in the US with three or more chronic diseases nearly doubled—from 7% to 13%. Visits to the emergency room due to allergies doubled from 1997 to 2002. And overall food related illnesses doubled from 1994 to 2001, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Obesity, diabetes, gastrointestinal disorders, and autism are also among the conditions that are skyrocketing in the US.
The Lyme Induced Autism Foundation, a patient advocacy group, is not waiting for studies to prove that GMOs cause or worsen Lyme, autism, and the many other diseases on the rise since gene-spliced foods were introduced. Like AAEM, the LIA Foundation says there is more than enough evidence of harm in animal feeding studies for them to “urge doctors to prescribe non-GMO diets” and for “individuals, especially those with autism, Lyme disease, and associated conditions, to avoid” GM foods.
Another patient group, those suffering from eosinophilia myalgia syndrome (EMS), is more confident about the GMO origins of their particular disease. It was caused by a genetically engineered brand of a food supplement called L-tryptophan in the late 1980s. It killed about 100 Americans and caused 5,000-10,000 people to fall sick or become permanently disabled. The characteristics of EMS made it much easier for authorities to identify the epidemic and its cause. It only affected those who consumed the pills; symptoms came on almost immediately; and its effects were horrific—including unbearable pain and paralysis. There was even a unique, easy-to-measure change in the white blood cell count. But even though EMS was practically screaming to be discovered, it still took the medical community more than four years—and it was almost missed.
“The experiments simply haven’t been done and we now have become the guinea pigs.” David Suzuki, renowned Canadian geneticist.
What if the GMOs throughout our food supply are creating common diseases which come on slowly? It would be nearly impossible to confirm them as the cause. “Physicians are probably seeing the effects in their patients,” says AAEM president Dr. Jennifer Armstrong, “but need to know how to ask the right questions.” The patients at greatest risk are the very young. “Children are the most likely to be adversely effected by toxins and other dietary problems” related to GM foods, says Dr. Schubert. They become “the experimental animals,” our collective canaries in the coal mine.
Warnings by Government Scientists Ignored and Denied
Scientists at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had warned about all these problems back in the early 1990s. According to secret documents made public from a lawsuit, the scientific consensus at the agency was that GM foods were inherently dangerous, and might create hard-to-detect allergies, poisons, new “super” diseases, and nutritional problems. They urged their superiors to require rigorous long-term tests. But the White House had ordered the agency to promote biotechnology and the FDA responded by recruiting Michael Taylor, Monsanto’s former attorney, to head up the formation of GMO policy. That policy, which is in effect today, denies knowledge of the scientists’ concerns and declares that no safety studies on GMOs are required. It is up to Monsanto and the other biotech companies—who have a long history of lying about the toxicity of their earlier products—to determine if their own foods are safe.
After overseeing GMO policy at the FDA, Mr. Taylor worked on GMO issues at the USDA, and then later became Monsanto’s vice president. In the summer of 2009, he went through the revolving door again. Taylor was appointed by the Obama administration as the de facto US food safety czar at the FDA.
Dangerously Few Studies, Untraceable Diseases
“Where is the scientific evidence showing that GM plants/food are toxicologically safe, as assumed by the biotechnology companies?” This was the concluding question posed in a 2007 review of published scientific literature on the health risks of GM plants, showing that the number of studies and available data are “very scarce.”
“The experiments simply haven’t been done and we now have become the guinea pigs,” says renowned Canadian geneticist David Suzuki. He adds, “Anyone that says, ‘Oh, we know that this is perfectly safe,’ I say is either unbelievably stupid or deliberately lying.”
When consumers realize the dangers of GM foods and that the FDA has abdicated its responsibility to protect us, they usually want to opt out of this massive feeding experiment. In fact, most Americans already say they would avoid GMO brands if given a choice.
It wouldn’t take a majority of us to kick GMOs out of our food supply. Kraft and other food companies wouldn’t wait until half their market share is gone before telling their suppliers to switch to the non-GM corn, soy, etc. By using GM ingredients, they don’t offer customers a single advantage. The food doesn’t taste better, last longer, or have more nutrients. Thus, if even a tiny percentage of US consumers—say 5% or 15 million people—started avoiding GMO brands, the millions in lost sales revenue would likely force brands to remove all GM ingredients, like they already have in Europe.
But the FDA doesn’t want to give us the choice. They ignore the wishes of nine out of ten Americans for mandatory GMO labeling in order to promote the economic interests of just five biotech companies.
The Shocking Evidence of Harm from GMOs
Genetically modified (GM) foods have not been scientifically tested on human beings. (The only published human feeding study had ominous results – see later.) Instead, animals are used as our surrogates, but the few published animal safety studies are generally short-term and superficial. In fact, industry-funded research is widely criticized as designed to avoid finding problems. They’ve got bad science—down to a science. Even still, the accumulated evidence of harm is compelling people to read ingredient labels and avoid brands with genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
Infant Mortality and Reproductive Disorders
When GM soy flour was added to the diets of female rats, most of their babies died within three weeks—compared to only a 10% death rate among mothers fed natural soy. The babies from the GM-fed group were also smaller and later had problems getting pregnant.
When male rats were fed GM soy, their testicles actually changed color—from the normal pink to dark blue. Mice testicles also showed changes, including damaged young sperm cells. And the DNA in mice embryos functioned differently when their parents ate GM soy. Mice fed GM corn had fewer babies, and their children were smaller than normal.
About two dozen US farmers say that thousands of their pigs became sterile after consuming certain GM corn varieties. Some had false pregnancies; others gave birth to bags of water. Cows and bulls also became infertile when fed the same corn. Investigators in the state of Haryana, India, report that most buffalo that ate GM cottonseed had reproductive complications such as premature deliveries, abortions, infertility, and prolapsed uteruses. Many calves died.
In the US population, the incidence of low birth weight babies, infertility, and infant mortality are all escalating.
Food, A Registered Pesticide?
When insects bite genetically modified Bt corn and cotton, they get a mouthful of a built-in toxin, produced by every cell of the plant. The poison splits open their stomach and kills them. The GM plants are registered as pesticides with the Environmental Protection Agency.
Biotech companies claim that Bt-toxin has a history of safe use, since organic farmers and others use Bt bacteria spray for natural insect control. Genetic engineers insert genes from the bacteria into the DNA of the corn and cotton, so the plants themselves do the killing.
They fail to point out that the Bt-toxin produced in GM plants:
- Is thousands of times more concentrated than natural Bt spray;
- Is designed to be more toxic;
- Has properties of an allergen; and
- Unlike the spray, cannot be washed off the plant.
But even the less toxic natural bacterial spray is harmful. When dispersed by plane to kill gypsy moths in the Pacific Northwest, about 500 people reported allergy or flu-like symptoms. Some had to go to the emergency room.
Those exact same symptoms are now being reported by farm workers handling Bt cotton grown in India. According to Sunday India, medical records confirm that “victims of itching have increased massively . . . related to Bt cotton farming.”
If GM Crops Kill Animals, How Safe Are They for Us to Eat?
When sheep grazed on Bt cotton plants after harvest, thousands died. Post mortems showed severe irritation and black patches in their intestines and livers. Investigators said preliminary evidence “strongly suggests that the sheep mortality was due to a toxin. . . . most probably Bt-toxin.” In a small feeding study, 100% of sheep fed Bt cotton died within 30 days, while those grazing on natural cotton plants in the adjoining field had no symptoms.
Similarly, buffalo that grazed on natural cotton plants for years without incident are reacting to the Bt variety. In one village, for example, they allowed their 13 buffalo to graze on Bt cotton plants for a single day in January 2008. All died within three days.
Bt corn was also implicated in the deaths of cows in Germany, and horses, buffaloes, and chickens in The Philippines. Even Monsanto’s own 90-day rat feeding study showed evidence of poisoning in major organs due to their Bt corn. And a 2008 Italian government study found that Bt corn provoked immune responses in mice.
GMOs Contain Allergens
Immune system problems in GMO-fed animals are “a consistent feature of all the studies,” according to GM food safety expert Dr. Arpad Pusztai. The American Academy of Environmental Medicine specifically notes an increase in cytokines, “associated with asthma, allergy, and inflammation.” While all three conditions are on the rise in the US, it is the upsurge in food allergies among children that has generated the most alarm nationwide.