The Truth About GMO’s

Daily Censored
By Guest Contributor Jim

What is a genetically modified organism (GMO)? It is an organism that arises from the genetic material (DNA) of a host animal, plant or bacteria that has been altered by the insertion of a gene from another species. This process is referred to as “genetic engineering” (GE) or “genetic modification” (GM).

The biotech industry spin is that this process is safe and predictable and uses terms like “engineering” and “splicing” to create the impression of a highly controlled, precise process. It is not. It is unpredictable, imprecise, invasive and violates the host’s DNA and produces products that are unstable. This is due in part to the fact that genetic material is not static but fluid and dynamic.

Unlike biotech industry claims, GE is radically different from hybridization, cross-breeding, selective breeding or cross-fertilization which are all sexual processes which occur in nature all the time. They clearly know their claims are false, as does the FDA. The major biotech firms are Monsanto, Dupont, Dow Chemical, Bayer Cropscience and Syngenta.

The two major GE technologies are 1) insect resistance (Bt) due to a gene from a soil bacteria (Bacillus thuringiensis) and 2) herbicide tolerance to Roundup (glyphosate).

Only five GM crops are widely grown: Soybeans (94%), Canola (90%), Cotton (90%), Corn (88%) and sugar beets. About 50% of papaya is GM, all from Hawaii and small amounts of yellow summer squash, zucchini and alfalfa. About 70% of all processed foods contain GE ingredients.

In 1999, 671 scientists from 76 countries signed an open letter to all governments, which declared as follows. “We call for the immediate suspension of all environmental releases of genetically modified crops and products, both commercially and in open field trials for at least five years; for patents on living processes, organisms, seeds, cell lines and genes to be revoked and banned; and for a comprehensive public inquiry into the future of agriculture and food security for all.

Internal documents of the FDA, (not available to the public until a lawsuit forced their release), revealed that their scientists warned that GM foods might produce toxins, allergies, nutritional problems and new diseases.

Rats fed GM potatoes suffered damaged immune systems; their white blood cells responded sluggishly; the thymus and spleen showed damage and they had smaller brains, livers and testicles. Some had enlarged intestines and pancreas, while others had partial atrophy of the liver. A proliferation of cells in the stomach and intestines indicated a potential for cancer. These serious health effects developed after only ten days and persisted for 110 days (equivalent to about ten years of human life).

In September,1999 the first recorded case of a serious reaction to GM corn occurred. It turned out to be Starlink corn. Hundreds of people got sick and over 50 people contacted the FDA and 28 people’s reactions fit the profile of anaphylactic shock. The EPA did not approve Starlink for human consumption but the FDA did.

In an unpublished study by Calgene, Inc., laboratory rats fed the GM Flavr-Savr tomato developed stomach lesions and 7 of the 40 died within two weeks. The study was sent to the FDA for review and the tomato was eventually approved without further study.

In 2003 as many as 100 villagers living near GE corn plots in southern Philippines became ill when the corn came to flower. Terjo Traavik of the Northern Institute of Gene Ecology found antibodies in the villagers to the CRY 1 Ab gene produced by the corn.

In 2001/2002 twelve dairy cows died after eating Syngenta’s Bt 176 corn. About 10 years later in India, a dozen cattle died three days after eating GE cotton plants.

A 1997 study revealed that rBGH (recombinant bovine growth hormone), a genetically engineered hormone injected into cows greatly increases IGF-1 (insulin growth-like factor) levels by as much as 360% in their milk. In 1991 it had been established that IGF-1 was critically involved in the growth of human breast cancer cells. A 1998 paper in Science reported a study of 15,000 white men with elevated IGF-1 levels were four times more likely to contract prostate cancer. A 1998 Lancet study showed that pre-menopausal women with high levels of IGF-1 are seven times more likely to contract breast cancer.

A 2002 report by the Royal Society of the UK said that genetic modification could lead to unpredicted, harmful changes in the nutrition of food and recommended that potential health effects of GM foods be rigorously researched before being fed to pregnant or breast-feeding women, elderly people, babies and those suffering from chronic disease.

A three year study by the UK government in which 1 million weeds and 2 million insects were counted, revealed a 2/3 reduction in butterflies and a 50% reduction in bees in GE canola fields.

A major environmental problem with GMOs is their potential to have a serious negative impact on biodiversity, the greatest strength of ecosystems. Pollen drift to other fields will contaminate them irreversibly. GE crops have an advantage in that their traits are dominant and they will take over. This may be the most dangerous threat posed by GMOs.

In 1989 the Dan Quayle led “Council on Competitiveness” ruled that GM foods were “substantially equivalent” to natural foods, thereby obviating the need for safety testing. The industry knew that GE foods were not substantially equivalent regarding their potential health effects. Partly because of this ruling, GE foods HAVE NEVER BEEN PROVEN SAFE. Abnormal and potentially dangerous proteins may be produced.

Patent laws allowing an “inserted gene” to give ownership of an entire organism are patently absurd, so to speak.

The world’s leading researcher of GMOs, scientist Arpad Pusztai, (fifty years research, nearly 300 articles and author or editor of 12 books), reported his shock at the missing data, poor research design and superficiality of data from the major producers of GMOs. He concluded that the GM tomatoes, soy and corn already in the marketplace could not be considered safe. To this day, GM foods have never been proven safe! The majority of scientists at EPA think that GMO products need to be tested for safety. Dr Pusztai also ran an extremely important experiment showing that it was not the nature or type of gene being introduced into the host’s DNA that causes harmful changes, but the invasion process itself which can produce abnormal proteins.

WISDOM OF THE ANIMALS

A farmer in Illinois had a field planted to soybeans for years and year after year geese landed in a nearby pond and fed on the soy. One year he planted GE soybeans in half of the 50 acre field. The geese always fed on the natural soybeans and never on the GE beans even though in previous years they had fed on the whole field.

H. Vlieger in Maurice, Iowa grew both Bt (GE) corn and natural corn. He decided to test them on his cows. He filled half of a 16 foot trough with Bt and half with natural. They would sniff and nibble the Bt corn and immediately move to the natural side until it was all gone and leave the Bt corn uneaten. He said his cows were smarter than the scientists who said there was no difference.

Calgene, Inc. wanted to test the effects of their Flavr-Savr tomatoes on lab rats but the rats would not eat them so they fed them through gastric tubes. Several developed stomach lesions and 7 of the 40 rats died in two weeks. (see study above).

In northwestern Iowa, cows were led into a feeding area in which the first trough had shelled Bt corn, which they sniffed and walked on to the second trough with natural shelled corn. This experiment was carried out on at least six farms over two years with the same result. It was then done with hogs with the same result.

For years a retired Iowa farmer put corn cobs on feeders in the winter. One year he decided to put Bt corn in another feeder twenty feet away. Squirrels ate all of the natural corn and none of the Bt. He withdrew the natural corn to see what would happen. It was the coldest part of the winter and the squirrels refused to eat the Bt corn.

At Susan and Mark Fitzgerald’s farm in Minnesota, elk would feed in fields of organic corn and soy but would not venture across the road into the GM corn and soy fields.

BIOCHEMISTRY, IMMUNOLOGY AND GENES

Cotton and canola are used for the oil squeezed from their seeds. Fats and oils, as well as sugars and carbohydrates do not usually elicit antibodies. Proteins or compounds containing proteins can do this, allowing them to act as toxins or allergens. Antigens (which elicit antibodies) and antibodies are proteins. Corn and soy contain proteins and therefore have the potential to elicit an immune response, i.e., antibodies. The vast majority of toxins are proteins which can be found in GE corn and soy.

What do genes do? They produce enzymes which are proteins that catalyze and control metabolic processes. When corn and soy are genetically engineered, their DNA is invaded by genes from foreign DNA. This process disrupts the host’s DNA and can produce “novel”, i.e., abnormal proteins (or enzymes) which the immune system may recognize as foreign and cause an allergic reaction. Though less likely, they might even act as a toxin.

MONSANTO

Monsanto claims they want to feed a starving world by growing more nutritious crops with a higher yield. So far no GE crops have been shown to be nutritionally or productively superior to natural varieties. They also claim that their processes result in less herbicide use but because their Roundup Ready varieties are sprayed several times a season, the use of herbicides went up by 138 million pounds between 1996 and 2005_ as revealed by a nine year study by the USDA in 2005.

Monsanto also claims they want to protect the environment but their Bt insecticide is effective in killing butterflies, honeybees, moths and beetles. Monsanto is the greatest known corporate threat to biodiversity. They are also the company that brought us DDT, PCB’s, Agent Orange, Roundup and recombinant bovine growth hormone.

Monsanto provides the seed technology for 90% of the worlds GE crops and in 2004 invested over 85% of its research and development budget on seeds and have spent over $10 billion on buying up seed companies and have over 1,676 patents on seeds (as of 2005) as well as 647 biotech plant patents. They spend $10 million a year to investigate, intimidate and prosecute farmers. The first 90 farmers they sued for over $15 million. The brilliant Indian scientist, Vandana Shiva claims about 250,000 Indian farmers have committed suicide, mostly as a result of being ruined by Monsanto.

MONSANTO’S REVOLVING DOOR

A “revolving door” means that a person moves back and forth between a private corporation and the government forming an inordinately close relationship between the two.

Marsha Hale : Assistant to U.S. President and Director for Intergovernmental Affairs —> Director of International Governmental Affairs for Monsanto.

Jack Watson : Chief of Staff of U.S. President —> Staff lawyer, Monsanto, Washington, DC.

Michael (Mickey) Cantor : Secretary of U.S. Department of Commerce —> Trade Representative for the U.S.—> Member, Board of Directors for Monsanto.

Linda J. Fisher : Asst Administrator of EPA’s Office of Pollution Prevention, Pesticide and Toxic Substances —> VP of Government and Public Affairs for Monsanto —> Deputy Director of EPA.

William Ruckelshaus : Chief Administrator of EPA —> Member, Board of Directors for Monsanto since 1989.

Michael Taylor : Legal Advisor to FDA’s Bureau of Medical Devices and Bureau of Foods —> Executive Assistant to the Commissioner of FDA —> Law firm of King and Spaulding heading a nine-attorney group whose clients included Monsanto —> Deputy Commissioner for Policy at FDA —> King and Spaulding law firm —> Head of Monsanto’s Washington, DC Office.

Lydia Watrud : Microbial biotech researcher at Monsanto —> EPA Environmental Effects Lab, Western Ecology Division.

Ann Veneman : Board of Directors at Calgene subsidiary of Monsanto —> a law firm representing biotech firms —>U.S. Secretary of Agriculture.

Donald Rumsfeld : President of G.D. Searle, a subsidiary of Monsanto —> U.S. Secretary of Defense.

Clarence Thomas : Lawyer for Monsanto —> U.S. Supreme Court Justice.

Compiled by James Stoops : B.S. in Biology, M.S. in Medical Technology, 10 years in medical field and 12 years in Chemistry research.

Ground Truth: Two things about California’s GE labeling fight

by Heather Pilactic

Amidst the food movement’s flurry of post-election analysis and reflection, here are two salient facts about California’s ballot initiative fight over the proposed mandatory labeling of genetically engineered (GE) food:

1) Pesticide and processed food industries outspent a rag-tag citizen’s coalition of pro-labeling forces by 5-to-1, and still only narrowly (53% v. 47%) defeated the initiative (Proposition 37); and

2) California’s battle over GE labeling kick-started the national conversation in a way that’s going to make it much harder for the U.S. Department of Agriculture to continue rubber-stamping new GE crops — as the agency is poised to do once again in coming weeks

Numbers & Facts

Proposition 37’s late-game reversal of fortunes is stunning by the numbers alone, and these warrant a closer look. Among California’s 11 very expensive ballot initiatives, Proposition 37 is alone in showing such a clear reversal of public opinion in tight correspondence with corporate ad spending.

Monsanto, Dow, DuPont, Syngenta, Bayer Crop Science and BASF (a.k.a. the “Big 6” pesticide corporations) joined processed food conglomerates in spending $46 million dollars to defeat Proposition 37. Meanwhile, supporters of the ballot initiative cobbled together a mere $9 million, and nearly won. Up until early October, in fact, polls showed Californian’s favoring GE labeling by a factor of nearly 3-to-1.

We at PAN were among the many in the trenches of the Yes on Prop 37 campaign, and remember when the tides began to turn (early October). Behind that turn was an apparently unlimited ad budget, coupled with a stunning infidelity to facts. (Watching the World Series here in the Bay Area and seeing one misleading commercial after another attack Prop 37 is something I’ll not soon forget.)

As Tom Philpott notes, the No on Prop 37 campaign was “truth-challenged.” But propaganda and misinformation notwithstanding, at least two myths surrounding agricultural biotechnology have begun to unravel. A broader cross-section of the American (and especially California) public now knows that GE crops drive up pesticide use rather than curbing it, and that in fact, the science around the safety and efficacy of these products is far from settled.

Prior to Prop 37, the link between the pesticide industry and GE crops was almost a secret. (99% of GE crops either contain or are designed to withstand high application rates of a pesticide). Now, even those who opposed the measure and could not tell you exactly how GMOs and pesticides are connected know that it was Monsanto and other pesticide industry heavyweights who came out swinging against GE labeling. And after a century of bad corporate behavior, nearly every world-wise American now knows at a gut level that Monsanto is not to be trusted.

In the fuzzy-logic world of consumer culture, GE food’s brand has been seriously tarnished. And many other state-based GE labeling efforts are in the works even now, including Washington, Connecticut and others.

What next?

Whether or not all of this means that the food movement is past the pimply stage of early adolescence, the fact is that California’s labeling fight broadened and emboldened this movement’s power base just as we are heading into a series of regulatory fights over new GE crops in the pipeline, and preparing for what looks like a spring 2013 re-authorization battle over the now-expired Food and Farm Bill.

Prop 37 broadened & emboldened this movement’s power base just as we are heading into a series of vital policy debates.

If the fiscal cliff and other DC distractions succeed in keeping Congress from passing a 2012 Farm Bill in the lame duck session despite our insistence that they get off their duffs, then the very same sustainable food and farming forces that gathered together to push for Prop 37 will turn our attention and newly honed skills to securing the kind of agricultural policy that withdraws governmental support from the system of agriculture embodied by Monsanto. For every additional dollar of funding we win for organic agricultural research, that’s one dollar of public funding that will not be devoted to developing more GE crops that fail to deliver on promises to farmers and the public. And in this Farm Bill fight, we will bring to bear a broader base of power as well as a public disabused of the notion that agricultural biotechnology is the best thing since sliced bread.

Even more immediately, this not-so-nascent movement will be ready to push back when USDA moves to approve the next in Monsanto and Dow’s pipeline of new GE seeds — none of them adequately tested, and each engineered to withstand heavier applications of more toxic herbicides than the last. When our regulators fail once again to do their jobs, and we in the trenches of the sustainable food and farming movement say, “Not so fast!” — we will say so with a louder voice, and in concert with a public who has a fuller awareness of what’s at stake.

Related: The Folly of Big Agriculture: Why Nature Always Wins
30 States Pick Up Reins on GMO Labeling Initiative After Prop 37 Defeat
Goldfish Crackers targeted in ‘natural’ lawsuit over genetically engineered soy as Prop 37 supporters launch ‘GMO inside’ initiative

Genetically Modified Grass Kills Cattle by Producing Warfare Chemical Cyanide

Nation of Change
by Anthony Gucciardi

Another report of genetically modified creations taking the lives of livestock has hit the media, and this time genetically modified grass has been identified as the culprit according to CBS News. Shockingly (and quite disturbingly), the GM grass actually produced toxic cyanide and sent the cattle into a life-ending fit that included painful bellowing and convulsions. The deaths have led to a federal investigation centered in Central Texas, where the cattle had resided.

Just east of Austin, the cows lived on an 80-acre ranch owned by Jerry Abel. Abel says that the fields were used for over 15 years for cattle grazing and hay, and that the genetically modified grass was ‘tested’ previously and should have been ‘perfect’. The GM grass however, known as Tifton 85, appears have been producing toxic cyanide. Used as a genocidal agent in World War 2 by the Germans and considered to be an extremely dangerous substance internationally, it is extremely concerning that cyanide is now being produced by once harmless grass thanks to the modification process.

The 18 cattle went off to enjoy some ‘fresh’ new genetically modified grass, when Abel says they went into a fit of convulsions and shrieks. He explains:

“When our trainer first heard the bellowing, he thought our pregnant heifer may be having a calf or something,” said Abel. “But when he got down here, virtually all of the steers and heifers were on the ground. Some were already dead, and the others were already in convulsions.”

Within 15 hours of this incident, all of the cattle had died as a result of the grass ‘suddenly’ producing cyanide and therefore throwing them into a lethal fit. According to USDA scientists, it may be the result of a mutation — the same kind of mutation that has been seen in many of Monsanto’s Roundup-Ready crops.

What’s more is the fact that many other farmers are now testing their grounds and also finding the presence of cyanide. While there is not yet a large number of reports concerning cattle deaths from cyanide, it was recently revealed that one large biotech company Syngenta had been covering up further animal deaths from genetically modified corn.

Busted: Biotech Leader ‘Syngenta’ Charged Over Covering Up Animal Deaths from GM Corn

Natural Society

In a riveting victory against genetically modified creations, a major biotech company known as Syngenta has been criminally charged for denying knowledge that its GM Bt corn actually kills livestock. What’s more is not only did the company deny this fact, but they did so in a civil court case that ended back in 2007. The charges were finally issued after a long legal struggle against the mega corp initiated by a German farmer named Gottfried Gloeckner whose dairy cattle died after eating the Bt toxin and coming down with a ‘mysterious’ illness.

Grown on his own farm from 1997 to 2002, the cows on the farm were all being fed exclusively on Syngenta’s Bt 176 corn by the year 2000. It was around this time that the mysterious illnesses began to emerge among the cattle population. Syngenta paid Gloeckner 40,000 euros in an effort to silence the farmer, however a civil lawsuit was brought upon the company. Amazingly, 2 cows ate genetically modified maize (now banned in Poland over serious concerns) and died. During the civil lawsuit, however, Syngenta refused to admit that its GM corn was responsible. In fact, they went as far as to claim having no knowledge whatsoever of harm.

The case was dismissed and Gloeckner, the farmer who launched the suit, was left thousands of euros in debt. And that’s not all; Gloeckner continued to lose many cows as a result of Syngenta’s modified Bt corn. After halting the use of GM feed in 2002, Gloeckner attempted a full investigation with the Robert Koch Institute and Syngenta involved. The data of this investigation is still unavailable to the public, and only examined one cow. In 2009, however, the Gloeckner teamed up with a German action group known as Bündnis Aktion Gen-Klage and to ultimately bring Syngenta to the criminal court.

Using the testimony of another farmer whose cows died after eating Syngenta product, Gloeckner and the team have charged the biotech giant for the death of over 65 cows, withholding knowledge of the death-link, and holding the corporation liable for not registering the cattle deaths. The team is even charging Hans-Theo Jahmann, the German head of Syngenta , personally over the withholding of knowledge.

The charges bring to light just how far large biotechnology companies will go to conceal evidence linking their genetically modified products to serious harm. Monsanto, for example, has even threatened to sue the entire state of Vermont if they attempt to label its genetically modified ingredients. Why are they so afraid of the consumer knowing what they are putting in their mouths?