Posted by: Khepera | Tuesday, 2 February 2010

REVISED: The Health & Food-chain Risks of Genetically-engineered Food


This is one from the archives(prior blogs, etc.).  While genetically engineered food is now no longer ‘new’ info, it remains news to many, and a hot topic.  Yes, it is long but  an interesting article. It’s worth noting that in the process of genetically engineering wheat for resistance to disease, and increased yield, the casualty in this was nutrition.  We all have heard about the sharp increase in obesity in this country over the last few decades. It is no accident that there is a direct chronological correspondence between the genetic engineering of the seeds, and the rapid drop off in nutrition. So, it is not surprising that a person would be motivated to eat more, out of hunger, if their body is telling them that what they’re eating is not providing enough nutrients.  This is, in part, what has led many in the health foods/healthy diet community to turn to spelt and quinoa as alternatives, among others.

It’s worth noting, while reading info on this topic, that a secondary issue is that Monsanto, among others, have argued strenuously — and successfully in court — that their genetically-engineered seeds are intellectual property, and and thereby fall under copyright protection. While this is highly questionable, IMHO, it nevertheless compromises the natural order, in large part because most of these seeds are engineered to produce fruits and vegetables which do not produce seeds. This means that farmers must buy seeds, each season, to grow more crops, instead of the natural order where each harvest generates seeds for the next planting. Genetic engineering changes all of that.  IMHO, that is a crime against nature. For more info on the benefits of organic foods over industrial farming & genetic engineered foods, check out “The Link Between Organic and Health: New Research Makes the Case for Organic Even Stronger“(link to PDF file).  See also REVISED: The Fallacies of Big Pharmaceuticals & FDA Policies.

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Genetic Engineering of Food

A new technology is changing the face of American agriculture. It’s called genetic engineering. Touted as the most exciting scientific advancement of our time, the solution to world hunger, and the greatest invention of the decade, genetically engineered foods have made their way onto our grocery shelves this year. But a growing number of scientists, physicians, clergy, consumers, business leaders and governments all over the world are voicing concerns over the proliferation of these foods into the market place.

What is genetic engineering and how does it work?

According to its developers, the technology of genetic engineering, was created to improve food production, reduce the use of pesticides and herbicides, and increase yields to feed our growing world. Though it has grabbed the support of our government, many scientists believe this technology reduces the nutritional value of our foods, perpetuates our international dependence on the chemical treadmill, and disrupts the flow of intelligence in the genetic sequence of our ecosystem.

Supporters assert that genetic engineering is a natural extension of traditional crossbreeding, where traits from the same or closely related species are interbred. In fact, it is radically different.

According to the Environmental Defense Fund, “Scientists can now readily shift genetic material from one species to virtually any other species. Genetic material can also be synthesized in the laboratory and then transferred into organisms. As a result, a virtually limitless number of genetically encoded substances…can now be added to organisms used as food.” Many of these substances have never been a part of the human food supply.

Dr. John Fagan, internationally recognized molecular biologist and former genetic engineer states, “We are living today in a very delicate time, one that is reminiscent of the birth of the nuclear era, when mankind stood at the threshold of a new technology. No one knew that nuclear power would bring us to the brink of annihilation or fill our planet with highly toxic radioactive waste. We were so excited by the power of a new discovery that we leapt ahead blindly, and without caution. Today the situation with genetic engineering is perhaps even more grave because this technology acts on the very blueprint of life itself.”

DNA, as defined by the Canadian Institute of Biotechnology, is nature’s blueprint for creating the individuality of a living organism. Genetic engineering manipulates an organism at the very source of its uniqueness, and fundamentally changes it, for better or for worse. Unfortunately, when this technology is applied to the foods we eat, unexpected side effects occur because, as Dr. Fagan states, “genetic manipulations cannot be controlled completely and precisely.”

Dr. Fagan goes on to say, “Genetic engineers can cut and splice genes very precisely in the test tube, but the process of putting those genes into a living organism is extremely imprecise, inaccurate, and uncontrolled. Such manipulations can cause mutations that damage the functioning of the natural genes of the organism. Once a gene is inserted into an organism, it can cause unanticipated side effects. Mutations and side effects can cause genetically engineered foods to contain toxins and allergens and to be reduced in nutritional value.”

What is our government doing?

According to the Council for Responsible Genetics (CRG), “The FDA has shrugged(shirked) its responsibility for regulating genetically engineered foods…a precautionary ‘safety proven first’ policy has been scrapped in favor of corporate economic interests.” Current FDA policy allows individual companies to determine the extent of their pre-market safety testing.

CRG goes on to say, “If they (the companies) perceive no danger to consumers, companies are not required to state that their products have been genetically manipulated or to reveal the source of implanted genes; nor are they required to make the results of their safety tests available to the public. The FDA will not have a complete set of information regarding genetically engineered foods on the market, so there will be no way to trace who or what is responsible should a problem occur.”

And problems do occur:

In 1989, the New England Journal of Medicine reported a tragic health crisis caused by a genetically engineered food supplement, tryptophan. Thirty-seven people died from this product, while 1500 others were permanently disabled and 5000 became very ill.

And when Pioneer HyBrid used a Brazil nut gene to create a genetically engineered soybean, it caused allergic reactions. Fortunately, this problem was detected before the soybeans went to market, and consumers were not harmed.

Despite these documented incidents and increased warnings from the international scientific community, the FDA continues to claim they find no scientific evidence to support the assertion that bio-engineered foods are unsafe. And they continue to maintain their current “honor system” approval process allowing the biotech industry to monitor itself, and release many new genetically engineered products for commercial distribution without thorough pre-market safety testing, advance notice or labels.

How can the FDA justify the release of these products without long-term safety testing or labels? The official government position states that transgenic foods are “substantially equivalent”, or essentially the same, as their natural predecessors. Therefore, they don’t need to be labeled as different.

But the logic doesn’t work. Altering the DNA of an organism changes it on its most fundamental level. No one knows what consequences this kind of manipulation will bring.

What’s on the market?

Dairy products from cows injected with a genetically altered hormone (rBGH), and corn, potatoes, soybeans, squash, cotton, papaya, tomatoes and canola, spliced with the DNA of bacteria and viruses. From infant formula to soda, pizza to chips, genetically engineered foods and their derivatives pervade the American diet.

We find this very disturbing. Who can guarantee our children won’t get cancer or our grandchildren won’t have birth defects from genetically engineered foods? Are they safe for pregnant women? What about the millions of newborns who are fed infant formulas made with genetically engineered soybeans, or the millions of Americans who suffer from food allergies?

These concerns alone are enough to demand rigorous, long-term, pre-market safety testing. But genetic engineering doesn’t just endanger the health of our families.

Environmental Concerns

Many scientists believe that genetic engineering threatens our wildlife, alters natural habitats, creates dramatic imbalances in our environment and exposes the entire ecosystem to unanticipated and potentially uncontrollable side effects. Unlike chemical or nuclear contamination, gene pollution cannot be contained or cleaned up. The natural process of cross-pollination will carry genetically engineered organisms to neighboring fields and beyond, creating new, unknown and potentially harmful species.

Yet biotech supporters state objections to these concerns as well. For example, Monsanto’s spokeswoman Karen Marshall says she is mystified that environmentalists would object to Roundup Ready soybeans because they were specifically engineered to reduce herbicide use.

But it’s not that simple. Some scientists estimate that not only will herbicide use triple as a result of herbicide-resistant crops, but will ultimately give rise to herbicide-resistant weeds as well. Why? Because farmers, knowing that their crops can tolerate the herbicides, will spray more liberal doses of herbicides on the fields to destroy the weeds. And eventually those weeds will also become resistant to the herbicide, because the genes for resistance will cross-pollinate with the weeds, leaving us with not just Roundup Ready soybeans, but Roundup Ready weeds.

The National Corn Growers Association expressed surprise as well, stating that their product actually reduces the use of pesticides. But in telling this story, the Association neglects to inform the public that the reason for this is that the genetically engineered corn actually contains a gene that produces its own insect-killing toxins. The EPA now registers the corn as a pesticide, and not a vegetable at all.

Safety First

In science, safety cannot be assumed. It must be proved by the scientist. The history of science is a history of ideas. Some good, some bad, some dangerous, some benign. It is the experiments, the research, the testing, and ultimately time, that pronounces the verdict. The reality is genetic engineering is too new and potentially too hazardous for any of us-consumers, scientists, farmers, government officials and corporate executive-to be in a hurry to take it out of the labs and put it onto our dinner tables.

The bottom line is that no one knows if these foods are safe, for us or our environment. We have all become subjects in a highly controversial experiment, without our knowledge or consent. At the very least genetically engineered foods must be labeled so that we can choose for ourselves whether we will eat them or not.

Despite a survey by Novartis showing that 93% of Americans want genetically engineered foods labeled, our government not only refuses to require labels, it continues to support the biotech industry’s desire to suppress labels even when individual food manufacturers want to provide their customers with complete information on this issue.

The government must reverse its position and establish stringent pre-market safety testing on these foods, and keep them out of our fields and our kitchens until they are scientifically proven safe for our environment and our families. Until those protocols are in place, federal regulations must mandate the clear and accurate labeling of all genetically engineered foods.

As citizens, we must take responsibility for the future. We are at a time in our world’s history where we can no longer afford to violate the laws of nature in our haste for progress. We must not only acknowledge, but honor the intimate relationship we share with everything in the universe. We need to shed our national addiction to profit-driven, quick-fix solutions, and make a decision as a society to embrace technologies that support all of life, technologies that not only uphold and promote our collective growth, but do not damage anyone or anything in the process.

There is an order in the universe, a seamless web that nourishes and connects us all-from the tiniest seed, to the beating of our hearts, to the stars in the galaxies. Every time we act without reference to this underlying intelligence of natural law, we harm ourselves, we harm each other, and we harm our planet.

If we align ourselves and our society with the nourishing power of nature, we will create a civilization that upholds the integrity and dignity of life for all of us.

Please join us!

This paper was prepared by the Natural Law Party and by Mothers for Natural Law, a non-profit educational organization coordinating a national public awareness campaign on the dangers of genetic engineering. Our understanding of this issue comes from some of the most distinguished scientists in the country including: Dr. John Fagan, former NIH molecular biologist, Dean of the Graduate School, Maharishi University of Management; Dr. Rebecca Goldburg, Environmental Defense Fund; Drs. Margaret Mellon and Jane Rissler, Union of Concerned Scientists; Dr. Liebe Cavalieri, Professor Emeritus, Cornell University; Dr. Sheldon Krimsky, Tufts University; Dr. Gary Kaplan, Cornell University Hospital; Dr. John Hagelin, Institute of Science, Technology and Public Policy, Maharishi University of Management; The Council for Responsible Genetics; The Humane Society; Dr. Michael Hansen, Consumer Policy Institute; Dr. Fred Kirschenmann, Farm Verified Organic; Dr. Marion Nestle, New York University.

Mothers for Natural Law
P.O. Box 1177
Fairfield, Iowa 52556
Phone (515) 472-2809
Fax (515) 472-2683

e-mail: mothers@safe-food.org

web site: www.safe-food.org

The Natural Law Party of the United States of America
1946 Mansion Drive
Fairfield, Iowa 52556

Phone (515) 472-2040
Fax (515) 472-2011

Web site: www.natural-law.org

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Due to some comments on Facebook, I have chosen to add some links about heirloom seeds or heritage seeds — sometimes referred termed as legacy seeds — which are non-hybrid seeds, and there are even some organizations established for the exchange & preservation of this body of seeds, sometimes referred to seed banks.

Secondarily, I recently came across this scientific study — it’s Russian — which stipulates a high risk of sterility to mammals consuming Genetically-Modified foods, as well as links to the trigger for the H1N1 virus.  An excerpt follows, use the previous link for the full article.

Russian Scientists: H1N1 linked to Genetically Modified Food

Monday, 22 June 2009

Scientists from Russia’s Ministry of Health are warning in a secret report to Prime Minister Putin that they have discovered a ‘critical link’ between the H1N1 influenza (Swine Flu) virus and genetically modified amylopectin potatoes that are consumed in massive quantities nearly exclusively by Westerners and sold in fast food restaurants as French Fries.

According to these reports, the protease enzyme genetically modified in the potatoes being sold through Western fast food restaurants as French Fries to protect against Potato virus X causes an “explosive” replication of the H1N1 influenza virus by increasing the acidic conditions of the endosome and causing the hemaglutinin protein  to rapidly fuse the viral envelope with the vacuole’s membrane, then causing the M2 ion channel to allow protons to move through the viral envelope and acidify the core of the virus, which causes the core to dissemble and release the H1N1’s  RNA and core proteins into the hosts cells.

Evidence confirming these dire findings by top Russian scientists is also supported by the World Health Organization who in their reporting on the current Influenza Pandemic, clearly shows that the H1N1 virus is nearly totally confined to those Western Nations allowing their citizens to consume these genetically modified potatoes, and which include: The United States with over 17,000 cases being reported with 45 deaths; Canada with 2,978 cases; the United Kingdom with 1,226 cases; and Australia with 1,823 cases.

Important to also note about the World Health Organization’s statistics on the spread of the H1N1 Pandemic influenza virus is that the South American Nation of Chile is the only country in the World outside of The United States, Canada, United Kingdom and Australia to allow the planting of these genetically modified potatoes due to their Free Trade Pact with the US and who are reporting 1,694 cases of this disease.

Also important to note are that most of the World’s largest Nations do not allow the planting of these genetically modified potatoes and therefore are reporting very limited outbreaks of the H1N1 Pandemic influenza, including Russia with 3 cases, China, the World’s most populated country, with 318 cases, and India, the World’s second largest country, with 16.

These reports further state that with the linkage between the H1N1 Pandemic influenza virus and fast food French Fries made from genetically modified potatoes the most venerable people to being infected are the youngest who, by far, are the largest consumers of these types of cheap Western foods, and which was recently confirmed by the Washington Post News Service that reported:

“Of the 5,000 confirmed and more than 100,000 probable cases of swine flu, the average age of infected people is 15; two thirds are younger than 18.”

These reports further warn that though the genetic history of this insidious man-made influenza seems to initially offer some protection for those Nations not consuming these genetically modified potatoes, to believe so would be a “grave mistake” as new evidence is emerging that this H1N1 Pandemic influenza virus is rapidly mutation, and as we can read from these two reports:

“The new strain of influenza appears to have mutated to become more infectious for humans, the online edition of science magazine Nature reported Monday, referencing research by a team including Prof. Yoshihiro Kawaoka of Tokyo University’s Institute of Medical Science.

The surface of influenza virus particles are covered with thorn-shaped proteins called hemagglutinin (HA), which allows the virus to stick to human cells.

After analyzing multiple samples of the new flu virus, the team ascertained that in some cases the HA of the new H1N1 strain have mutated, allowing the strain to stick to human cells more easily.

According to Kawaoka, the same mutations have been found in HA of the H5N1 strain of influenza, the highly virulent bird flu, which kills about 60 percent of those it infects. Kawaoka said the virus is still in the process of mutating into a form even more infectious to humans.”

++++++++   also(full article) ++++++++++

Genetically Modified Soy Linked to Sterility, Infant Mortality

“This study was just routine,” said Russian biologist Alexey V. Surov, in what could end up as the understatement of this century. Surov and his colleagues set out to discover if Monsanto’s genetically modified (GM) soy, grown on 91% of US soybean fields, leads to problems in growth or reproduction. What he discovered may uproot a multi-billion dollar industry.

After feeding hamsters for two years over three generations, those on the GM diet, and especially the group on the maximum GM soy diet, showed devastating results. By the third generation, most GM soy-fed hamsters lost the ability to have babies. They also suffered slower growth, and a high mortality rate among the pups.

And if this isn’t shocking enough, some in the third generation even had hair growing inside their mouths—a phenomenon rarely seen, but apparently more prevalent among hamsters eating GM soy.

The study, jointly conducted by Surov’s Institute of Ecology and Evolution of the Russian Academy of Sciences and the National Association for Gene Security, is expected to be published in three months (July 2010)—so the technical details will have to wait. But Surov sketched out the basic set up for me in an email.

He used Campbell hamsters, with a fast reproduction rate, divided into 4 groups. All were fed a normal diet, but one was without any soy, another had non-GM soy, a third used GM soy, and a fourth contained higher amounts of GM soy. They used 5 pairs of hamsters per group, each of which produced 7-8 litters, totally 140 animals.

Surov told The Voice of Russia,

“Originally, everything went smoothly. However, we noticed quite a serious effect when we selected new pairs from their cubs and continued to feed them as before. These pairs’ growth rate was slower and reached their sexual maturity slowly.”

He selected new pairs from each group, which generated another 39 litters. There were 52 pups born to the control group and 78 to the non-GM soy group. In the GM soy group, however, only 40 pups were born. And of these, 25% died. This was a fivefold higher death rate than the 5% seen among the controls. Of the hamsters that ate high GM soy content, only a single female hamster gave birth. She had 16 pups; about 20% died.

Surov said “The low numbers in F2 [third generation] showed that many animals were sterile.”

The published paper will also include measurements of organ size for the third generation animals, including testes, spleen, uterus, etc. And if the team can raise sufficient funds, they will also analyze hormone levels in collected blood samples.

Hair Growing in the Mouth

Earlier this year, Surov co-authored a paper in Doklady Biological Sciences showing that in rare instances, hair grows inside recessed pouches in the mouths of hamsters.

“Some of these pouches contained single hairs; others, thick bundles of colorless or pigmented hairs reaching as high as the chewing surface of the teeth. Sometimes, the tooth row was surrounded with a regular brush of hair bundles on both sides. The hairs grew vertically and had sharp ends, often covered with lumps of a mucous.”


Responses

  1. Greetings!
    Thank you for another insightful article. I have a question: What is the difference between Monsanto’s “GE/GMO” grains and Monsanto’s “Hybrid” Grains?

    Also, Is this what is killing the bees?

    I am concerned! I find that even the small home gardener “seed packs” from the hardware stores and garden markets, are Hybrid seeds! I now question the viability of seeds that I glean from the fruits and vegetables that I buy and eat- (the remaining fruits and vegetables that still have seeds!) I am also concerned, in addition to the quality of the food that I serve my family, but also the packaging! everything is wrapped in plastic-(oil/fossil fuel derivatives) that our bodies are mistaking as hormonal genetic codes!

    • I would imagine that “hybrids” are one type of GE/GMO plants. It is very difficult to say that any one thing is what is calling the die off among bees. I have seen discussions suggesting that cell phone towers can play a role, as well as other E/M sources, which may interfere with their internal guidance systems, making it difficult for them to find their hive once they’ve left. Perhaps I will post something on this sometime this summer….
      Yes, those seeking profit will do anything they can to make sure their foods are not identified, to avoid consumer backlash/avoidance.

      Thanks for your comments….they are fertilizer/pollination to the discussion process…!

  2. [...] flesh of these other animals.  The same goes for the ingestion of GMO’s, as addressed in earlier posts(and here also). We have forgotten that the old name for farming is “husbandry“, as in [...]

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  4. Thanks for the good writeup. It if truth be told was a entertainment account it.

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