by I.M. Zdziarski, J.W. Edwards, J.A. Carman , J.I. Haynes
The aim of this review is to examine the relationship between genetically modified (GM) crops and health, based on histopathological investigations of the digestive tract in rats. We reviewed published long-term feeding studies of crops containing one or more of three specific traits: herbicide tolerance via the EPSPS gene and insect resistance via cry1Ab or cry3Bb1 genes. These genes are commonly found in commercialised GM crops.
Our search found 21 studies for nine (19%) out of the 47 crops approved for human and/or animal consumption. We could find no studies on the other 38 (81%) approved crops.
Complete study at ScienceDirect.
Fourteen out of the 21 studies (67%) were general health assessments of the GM crop on rat health. Most of these studies (76%) were performed after the crop had been approved for human and/or animal consumption, with half of these being published at least nine years after approval. Our review also discovered an inconsistency in methodology and a lack of defined criteria for outcomes that would be considered toxicologically or pathologically significant.
In addition, there was a lack of transparency in the methods and results, which made comparisons between the studies difficult. The evidence reviewed here demonstrates an incomplete picture regarding the toxicity (and safety) of GM products consumed by humans and animals. Therefore, each GM product should be assessed on merit, with appropriate studies performed to indicate the level of safety associated with them. Detailed guidelines should be developed which will allow for the generation of comparable and reproducible studies. This will establish a foundation for evidence-based guidelines, to better determine if GM food is safe for human and animal consumption.
Have enough studies been conducted to adequately state that GM crops are safe for human and animal consumption?
Genetically modified crops have been approved for human and animal consumption for nearly 20 years (Clive and Krattiger, 1996) yet the debate about their safety continues. Fifty-three crops are known to possess at least one of the genes investigated in this review (herbicide tolerance via the EPSPS gene and insect resistance via the cry1Ab or cry3Bb1 genes). Forty-seven of these crops have been approved for animal and/or human consumption, yet published toxicity studies could be found for only nine of these crops (19%) ( Table 1). Of greater concern is that for eight of these crops, publications appeared after the crop had been approved for human and/or animal consumption. We understand that other studies may exist that are commercial in confidence, but these studies are not accessible to the scientific community. Other than the few studies mentioned in the EFSA reports, where histopathological results were not reported, our review of the published literature wasn’t able to identify or locate any reported safety evaluations performed on rats on these eight crops prior to their approval. Our literature review also did not identify or locate published reports on rats for the remaining 38 crops.
The present review limited the search to only include feeding studies done on rats so that the results may be comparable. It is possible that more studies may be found if the search were to be extended to other animals. However, based on what has been found for rat studies, it is unlikely that any additional studies would involve a thorough safety investigation and a detailed report of all of the 47 approved GM crops possessing one or more of the three traits. Moreover, the rat model is the accepted OECD standard for toxicological studies of this type.
Whilst the safety of a GM crop is primarily and sometimes solely evaluated by government food regulators using the test for substantial equivalence, this is likely to be inadequate to fully assess the safety of the crop for reasons stated above. Animal feeding studies provide a more thorough method of investigating the unintended effects of the GM process or the unintended effects of ingesting GM crop components. Animal feeding studies can identify target organs as well as predict the chronic toxic effect of an ingested compound (OECD, 2008)
The evidence reviewed here demonstrates an incomplete picture regarding the toxicity (and safety) of GM crops consumed by humans and animals. The majority of studies reviewed lacked a unified approach and transparency in their methodology and results, making it impossible to properly review or repeat these studies. Furthermore, such lack of detail makes it difficult to generate evidence-based guidelines to aid in the delivery of an optimum safety assessment process for GM crops for animal and human consumption.
When considering how a better risk assessment could be done, it is important to consider systems established for other novel substances that may generate unintended effects. For example, the registration of pharmaceutical products requires an examination of both benefits and risks associated with their use and a complete assessment of those benefits and risks to establish whether the products are appropriate for general use at a range of doses. We argue that each GM crop should be assessed using similar methods, where a GM crop is tested in the form and at the rates it will be consumed by animals and people.
Whilst this provides for an effective general approach, there are additional issues for assessing GM crops that need to be taken into account. For example, the process of developing GM crops may generate unintended effects. Furthermore, the plant developed is a novel entity with genes, regulatory sequences and proteins that interact in complex ways. Therefore, the resultant plant should be assessed as a whole so that any pleiotropic effects can also be assessed. As a result, long-term animal feeding studies should be included in risk assessments of GM crops, together with thorough histopathological investigations using a variety of methods to better detect subtle changes or the beginning or presence of pathologies. Such robust and detailed studies will then make it possible to put evidence-based guidelines in place, which will substantially help to determine the safety of GM crops for human and animal consumption
That a former Monsanto scientist should find himself in charge of a specially-created post at the very journal that published two landmark studies questioning the safety of that company’s products should surprise no one who is aware of the Monsanto revolving door. This door is responsible for literally dozens of Monsanto officials, lobbyists and consultants finding themselves in positions of authority in the government bodies that are supposedly there to regulate the company and its actions.
Find out more about Monsanto’s ability to suppress scientific dissent in this week’s edition of the BoilingFrogsPost.com Eyeopener report.
by Daisy Luther
Just in case chicken “nuggets” aren’t disgusting enough, now Tyson has been forced to recall more than 75,000 pounds of the melded poultry parts because of “extraneous material”.
Due to an issue with some of the processing equipments, consumers may find a little something extra in their “nuggets” – little bits of plastic. The USDA reports:
The problem was discovered after the firm received consumer complaints that small pieces of plastic were found in the products. The problem was traced to a product scraper inside a blending machine.
The company has received reports of minor oral injury associated with consumption of these products. FSIS has received no additional reports of injury or illness from consumption of these products. Anyone concerned about an injury or illness from consumption of these products should contact a healthcare provider. (source)
Sadly, plastic is not the worst thing you might find in chicken nuggets. They are made when the inedible parts of the chicken are washed with ammonia to kill bacteria, “mechanically separated” which means turned into a paste, and squirted out into mini-nugget blobs or patties. The parts included are the entire carcass, the tendons, the gristle…ugh. Then artificial flavors and good old MSG are used to disguise the nasty origins of the “meat” and because it’s Pepto-pink, artificial color is used to make it look like chicken.
According to an article on Mother Jones, only 40% of that tidy little breaded nugget is actually chicken meat.
The implicit marketing pitch goes something like this: “You like fried chicken, right? How about some bite-sized fried chicken chunks, without the messy bones?” When most people think of eating chicken, they think of, say, biting into a drumstick. What they get when they do so is a mouthful of muscle—popularly known as meat
What people are actually getting from chicken nuggets is a bit different, according to a new study by University of Mississippi medical researchers. (Abstract here; I have access to the full paper but can’t upload it for copyright reasons.) They bought an order of chicken nuggets from two (unnamed) fast-food chains, plucked a nugget from each, broke them down, and analyzed them in a lab.
One of them contained just 40 percent muscle. The rest? “[G]enerous quantities of fat and other tissue, including connective tissue and bone spicules.” Mmmm, chicken bones.
The other sample had a whopping 50 percent muscle. The remainder consisted “primarily of fat, with some blood vessels and nerve present,” as well as epithelium, the stuff that glands are made of.
Now why would national fast-food chains be mixing bone and fat and whatnot into the chicken meat they grind into nuggets? I doubt anyone ever woke up and thought, “I’m craving some mechanically formed orbs of chicken parts, including meat, but also with plenty of fat, connective tissue, glands, and bone.” Offal is a lot cheaper than meat—the more you can work in, the more profit you can eke out of this popular menu item. Granted, people should eat more offal, as I’ve argued before. But (a) they have a right to know when they’re eating it; (b) one reason people eat chicken meat is because they think it’s lean—cutting it with chicken fat turns such eaters into suckers; and (c) bone matter, really? Bones are great when they’re gently boiled into highly nutritious broths and stocks. That seems like a much more reasonable use for them than hiding them in chicken nuggets. (source)
So therein lies all of the chicken bits and pieces people wouldn’t normally eat, GMO corn starch, GMO dextrose, and chemical flavors and colors. Big Food is also not well-known for its humane treatment of animals. They are raised in horrific conditions, treated with antibiotics and hormones, and fed GMO corn. Considering all of this nastiness that you can find with a seal of USDA/FDA approval in the freezer section of your grocery store, it’s gotta be bad if there is something included that ups the nastiness quotient to the point a recall is necessary. After all, in the grand scheme of revolting things to eat, are little flecks of plastic really that much grosser than the other stuff contained within that crispy coating?
If you or someone you love happens to have this stuff lurking in your freezer, you can find complete information about the recall HERE.
Our anarchist recommendation? If you are going to eat chicken, try to find a local source of free range poultry. Cook it yourself. It really doesn’t take that much longer to throw a chicken breast on a pan and put it in the oven than to shake “nuggets” out of a bag onto a pan and put it in the oven. If your kids want “friendly” shapes, you can pound the chicken thin with a meat mallet and use a stainless steel cookie cutter to make dinosaurs, butterflies, and whatnot.
by Ethan A. Huff
When discussing the issues surrounding genetically modified organisms (GMOs) — that is, organisms bearing the genetic traits of other species or bacteria — the focus is typically on how safe (or unsafe) these novel, food-like products are for humans. But distinguished risk engineer and two-time best-selling author Nassim Taleb thinks an even bigger problem with GMOs is their threat to the planet, and the statistical likelihood that they will eventually lead to the collapse of life on Earth.
In a new study, which is still in draft form, this professor of risk engineering from New York University uses statistical analysis to make the case that GMOs, by their very nature, will disrupt the ecosystems of this planet in ways that mankind is only just beginning to comprehend. Because they represent a systemic risk rather than a localized one — GM traits are known to spread unconstrained throughout the environment — GMOs will eventually breach the so-called “ecocide barrier,” leading to catastrophic ecosystem failure.
“There are mathematical limitations to predictability in a complex system, ‘in the wild,’ which is why focusing on the difference between local (or isolated) and systemic threats is a central aspect of our warnings,” Taleb is quoted as saying by Fool.com, noting that it’s essentially impossible to contain the inevitable spread of GMO traits far and wide.
“The [precautionary principle] is not there to make life comfortable, rather to avoid a certain class of what is called in probability and insurance ‘ruin’ problems,” write Taleb and his colleagues in their paper. “For nature, the ‘ruin’ is ecocide: an irreversible termination of life at some scale, which could be the planet.”
GMOs are not ‘scientific,’ and nearly every argument used in their defense is flawed
Besides using math and risk-based analysis to show that GMOs simply cannot coexist with nature as is commonly claimed — GMOs will eventually contaminate the natural world around them — Taleb also deconstructs many of the “arguments” used by GMO advocates to defend the commercial use of untested transgenic materials, including the oft-repeated lie that GMOs are no different than natural organisms.
“Genetically Modified Organisms, GMOs fall squarely under [the precautionary principle]… because of their systemic risk on the system,” explains Taleb. “Top-down modifications to the system (through GMOs) are categorically and statistically different from bottom up ones (regular farming, progressive tinkering with crops, etc.).”
“There is no comparison between the tinkering of selective breeding and the top-down engineering of taking a gene from an organism and putting it into another. Saying that such a product is natural misses the statistical process by which things become ‘natural.'”
Taleb also draws attention to the deceitful strategies of biotechnology companies in trying to legitimize the continued use of GMOs through fear. Claiming that famine, starvation and widespread crop failures will occur if we all fail to adopt GMOs is no different than playing Russian roulette in order to get out of poverty, claims Taleb — such an approach is hardly scientific or logically sound, and yet these and other tactics are the basis of the pro-GMO agenda.
“What people miss is that the modification of crops impacts everyone and exports the error from the local to the global,” concludes Taleb and his colleagues. “I do not wish to pay — or have my descendants pay — for errors by executives of Monsanto. We should exert the precautionary principle there — our non-naive version — simply because we would only discover errors after considerable and irreversible environmental damage.”
You can read their complete paper in draft form here.
by Christina Sarich
A newly published study in Harvard’s The Lancet weighs in on the toxins causing autism and ADHD (attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder). Researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) and the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai (ISMMS) say that along with these numerous environmental toxins, fluoridated water is adding to the higher incident of both cognitive and behavioral disorders.
Harvard had already published a study in 2006 that pointed to fluoride as a ‘developmental neurotoxicant’, and this newer study looks to over 27 additional investigations into the matter via meta nalysis. In the previous study, it was already established that fluoride consumption lowered children’s IQ scores. The left-over from industry, passed off as ‘medicine,’ obstructs brain development, and can cause a full spectrum of serious health issues – from autism to dyslexia, ADHD, ADD, and more.
The study calls the effects from this chemical a ‘silent epidemic’ that mainstream media and many scientific papers have ignored.
Two of the main researchers involved in the study, Philippe Grandjean from HSPH and Philip Landrigan from ISMMS, say that incidences of chemical-related neurodevelopmental disorders have doubled over the past seven years from six to 12.
The study admits that there are numerous chemicals to blame – many of which are untested or ceremoniously approved by the FDA, USDA, and CDC without truly knowing their long term ramifications on human health – but that fluoride is a definite culprit.
“[S]ince 2006, the number of chemicals known to damage the human brain more generally, but that are not regulated to protect children’s health, had increased from 202 to 214,” writes Julia Medew for The Sydney Morning Herald. “The pair said this could be the tip of the iceberg because the vast majority of the more than 80,000 industrial chemicals widely used in the United States have never been tested for their toxic effects on the developing fetus or child.”
The fact is that fluoride, pesticides, herbicides, heavy metals, radioactive isotopes, GMO foods, and weather warfare chemicals are creating a neurological-toxic mix that is unprecedented in human history.
Fluoride, like other toxins, accumulates in the blood stream and even makes it past the blood-brain barrier. Eventually, as the body tries to protect itself from these unwanted substances, the substances make it into the bones and the organs, causing cancer, cognitive abnormalities, and even birth defects in unborn children. Fluoride is known to pass into the placenta in pregnant women, yet regulatory agencies ignore its toxic legacy.
The chemicals lurking in our food supply, water supply, and in our air and soil are causing the neurological decline of both young and old.