(This is a guest post from reader, Ed Allison, taking a look from a different angle at GMOs. He raises some important points we should consider going forward and does it in a sober, measured manner. Since my thoughts are well known here, I will keep my comments to a bare minimum, that all might get their say. But the same rules as always still apply to the comments section – CJ)
By Ed Allison
GMO: Genetically Modified Organism
This is one of those topics that seems to bring out an emotional response. I have participated in many such ‘discussions’, where it’s Organic vs. GMO, a fight to the death! As entertaining as that could be, I will try very hard not to stoop to that level. Regardless of which side of this debate you currently find yourself on, I am asking you to wade through all of the information and links I provide. This is not an easy topic to understand. However, an investment of your time here, may well pay dividends for your health, and the health of your family down the road. I became interested in GMOs several years ago, and began to read everything I could on both sides of the debate. I do not hold any science degrees, nor do I work in the field of agriculture. I’m just an average guy, with a wife and 3 kids that I love and want the best for. For myself and my family, I have resolved this issue to my satisfaction. How about you?
Is genetic engineering ethical? Is it safe? Are there side effects or unintended consequences?
All of these are good questions, but unfortunately, not all of them have solid answers. At the highest level, is it ethical? Are scientists who genetically alter corn, soybeans, cotton, or other crops for human consumption, playing God? (Yes, cotton seed oil is actually used for human consumption.) Their intentions may be honorable. Perhaps they want to increase yields by reducing a crop’s vulnerability to insects, being choked out by weeds, or even by making it more drought resistant. All these things are good in and of themselves. But does the end justify the means?
Gen 1:12 – the earth brought forth vegetation: every kind of plant that bears seed and every kind of fruit tree that bears fruit with its seed in it. God saw that it was good.
From the Catechism of the Catholic Church; 1789: One may never do evil so that good may result from it;
Scientists are trying to make ‘new and improved’ what God has already declared to be good. Can we alter creation itself in order to bring about the monumental good of the elimination of scarcity so that we can feed the world? And if we succeed in that, what’s next? Do you think that science will stop at plants? Or will they move on to animals, and eventually people? Science has already attempted to mix plant and animal. They actually combined tomatoes with fish, but thank God, failed to achieve the desired result.
“An early tomato was developed that contained an antifreeze gene from the winter flounder with the aim of increasing the tomato’s tolerance to frost, which became an icon in the early years of the debate over genetically modified foods, especially in relation to the perceived ethical dilemma of combining genes from different species as the tomato gained the moniker fish tomato. The antifreeze protein was found to inhibit ice recrystallization in the flounder blood, but had no effect when expressed in transgenic tobacco. The resulting tomato was never commercialized, possibly because the transgenic plant did not perform well in its frost-tolerance or other agronomic characteristics.”
A quote from the movie ‘Jurassic Park’ comes to mind. Jeff Goldblum’s character says, “Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not the COULD, they didn’t stop to think if they SHOULD.”
I sometimes have breakfast at a local diner. I usually get 2 scrambled eggs, wheat toast, hash browns and coffee. I like to sit by a window and observe people as they rush to do whatever it is that they have to do. I especially like to do this when I need to think about something important. Some of the folks going by are men in suits; some women with small children; some teenagers who don’t appear to have anything to do. But they all have something in common. They, like me, have consumed genetically modified foods in the last 24 hours. It’s almost impossible to avoid them. My hash browns (shredded fried potatoes), were probably fried on the grill in oil from either GMO soy or GMO canola. (In fact, every deep fryer in nearly every restaurant in America is filled with soybean oil from GMO soybeans). The potatoes themselves are probably not GMO, although the USDA did just approve a genetically modified potato in Nov 2014, created by the J.R. Simplot Company. But I do not think that has had time to come to market yet. My coffee is even guilty. The sugar I put in it is likely from GMO sugar beets, not non-GMO cane sugar which is more expensive. The cream in my coffee may have come from cows injected with BGH (bovine growth hormone), which is a synthetic hormone created by the Monsanto Corporation, and is widely used in the Dairy industry because it increases milk production in a lactating cow by as much as 25%. More milk per cow means higher profits for the dairy farmer. This is concerning for a number of reasons, which I will get into in a minute. But let’s continue to look at my breakfast. My wheat toast was likely made from wheat flour ground from wheat treated with Roundup (glyphosate). Even though wheat is mostly NOT a GMO crop, it is still sprayed with Roundup to kill the plant and dry it before harvest. Even my eggs likely came from chickens which were fed GMO soybeans as their main food source. Isoflavones from the soy, pass into the egg yolks. These are plant derived compounds which mimic estrogen. Too much soy in the diet has vast health implications. And as a man, I don’t think I have to tell you that I don’t want to be consuming something that mimics estrogen!
Now, back to BGH (bovine growth hormone), which is banned in Canada, all 28 countries of the European Union, Japan, New Zealand and others. As far back as 1989, the press was raising the red flag with regard to BGH. Have a look at this LA Times article dated 07/27/1989:
This doesn’t sound like a benevolent company who’s noble mission is to feed the world. It sounds like corruption, strong arm tactics and a cover up. I offer a second example, just in case the BGH story was an anomaly. I’m sure everyone has heard about ‘bee colony collapse disorder’. Well, Monsanto and their GMO products had been implicated as a possible cause by a leading bee research firm. So, what is their response? To buy the firm. See this story from ‘Natural News’: http://www.naturalnews.com/035688_Monsanto_honey_bees_colony_collapse.html#
Now, Natural News is known for its right wing style of journalism. Some might even call this a hit piece. So, to balance it out, here’s a piece on the same story from the Huffington Post, a well known liberal rag. (sorry, are my politics showing?):
Monsanto appears to be a well oiled machine. But how do they get all this stuff past the FDA? Well, over the years, the FDA and Monsanto have become joined at the hip. There have been many high ranking Monsanto employees that have accepted high ranking positions at the FDA. So, it certainly gives the impression, that the inmates really are running the asylum. http://ivn.us/2013/02/11/the-revolving-door-fda-and-the-monsanto-company/
There have been several referendums on ballots in Oregon, California and Colorado which would have required labeling of any food for human consumption that contained GMO ingredients. Each was defeated with mass marketing and many millions of dollars spent by Monsanto and processed food companies who use GMO ingredients. In contrast, animal feed is required to be labeled if it contains GMO ingredients. You just can’t make this stuff up!
Corn, soybeans and cotton are the 3 top GMO crops in the US.
“1. Corn: Corn is the No. 1 crop grown in the U.S. and nearly all of it — 88 percent — is genetically modified. In addition to being added to innumerable processed foods, genetically modified corn is a staple of animal feed.
2. Soy: 93 percent of soy is genetically modified. Soy is a staple of processed foods under various names including hydrogenated oils, lecithin, emulsifiers, tocopherol (a vitamin E supplement) and proteins.
3. Cottonseed: According to the USDA, 94 percent of cotton grown in the U.S. is genetically modified. Cottonseeds are culled from cotton, and then used for vegetable oil, margarine or shortening production, or frying foods, such as potato chips.”
The 3 crops above are genetically modified to resist glyphosate (Roundup). This allows the farmer to spray his entire field with Roundup to control weeds, without killing the corn, soybean or cotton plant. That doesn’t mean that the corn stalk, soybean plant or cotton plant do not absorb the herbicide, it just means that they are genetically immune to it. Wikipedia defines glyphosate as a ‘broad-spectrum systemic herbicide’. This means that is exists in every cell of the plant that absorbs it. Read that again and let it sink in. That means that the corn, soybeans and cotton seed oil that are destined for human consumption contain glyphosate. You probably don’t even know how many of the things that you eat contain corn and/or soy. Read the ingredients label on the loaf of bread that’s on your counter. I’ll bet it has lecithin on the list. That’s soy. How about all the things that have high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) in them. Do you drink soda? Most maple syrup in the supermarket doesn’t contain a single drop of real maple syrup. It’s all HFCS and artificially colored and flavored to fool you into thinking it’s maple syrup. Do you use that ‘Real Mayonnaise’? It’s not real at all. It’s a soybean oil emulsion. Go read the label….. seriously, go do it. Do you eat out a lot, where you would be willing to make french fries the entrée instead of the side dish? How about at home, do you eat a lot of processed foods? Or do you cook from scratch?
What is soy lecithin?
“To solve the problem of disposing of the gummy waste residual generated from the soy oil refining process, German companies patented a process of vacuum drying the sludge to make soybean lecithin. Although lecithin originally had many uses, today soy lecithin is used as an emulsifier in foods and infant formulas and also as a health supplement.” So, the soy industry has a waste product that they don’t know what to do with. Rather than dispose of it, they feed it to us!
According to the EPA fact sheet on glyphosate, “Glyphosate is among the most widely used pesticides by volume. In 1986, an estimated 6,308,000 pounds of glyphosate was used in the United Sates. Usage in 1990 was estimated to be 11,595,000 pounds. It ranked eleventh among conventional pesticides in the US during 1990-91. In recent years, 13 to 20 million acres were treated with 18.7 million lbs. annually.” http://www.epa.gov/ogwdw/pdfs/factsheets/soc/tech/glyphosa.pdf
One of the things listed on the fact sheet under ‘Health Effects Summary’ is ‘reproductive effects’. Now, I know a goat farmer in the Pacific NW. Her name is Rose. Now Rose has a herd of goats and she produces goat’s milk, and goat milk cheeses. For a long time, Rose spent extra money on organic feed for her goats because she wanted the highest quality milk and cheese. Well, Rose fell on some hard financial times and could no longer afford the organic feed. She had to buy the standard, GMO feed. The very next breeding cycle for her goats, some of them had difficulty conceiving. Of those that did, some kids were stillborn, and others had birth defects. Rose also tells me that she knows other farmers with similar problems due to GMO feed. Now, I realize that this is far from a scientific study, and I’m not trying to pass Rose’s situation off as anything other than anecdotal evidence. But it does line up with what is listed on the fact sheet.
The EPA has even established supposed ‘safe limits’ of how much glyphosate is allowed to be in drinking water.
Before Monsanto can bring a new version of their GMO corn to market, they are required to perform a 90 day toxicity study on lab rats. The problem is, the long term effects don’t show up until after 90 days. Monsanto published its study on maize NK603 in 2004, the same year that NK603 was approved in the EU. In 2012, there was a French study published in the Journal of Food and Chemical Toxicology (JFCT) by Gilles-Eric Seralini. The study fed a specific variety of Monsanto GMO corn (NK603) to rats for 2 years. The results showed that up to 50% of the males, and 70% of the females suffered premature death. Rats that drank trace amounts of Roundup (at levels legally allowed in the water supply), had a 200%-300% increase in large tumors. Rats fed GMO corn, and traces of Roundup suffered sever organ damage (Including liver and kidney damage).
“Almost immediately, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) issued a statement saying the Séralini paper did not meet scientific standards set out by the OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development). They accused the authors of using the wrong kind of rats, not enough rats and that the statistical analysis was inadequate. By these standards, all toxicity studies on glyphosate and GMOs should be retracted because they used the same type and approximate number of rats as those in the Séralini study.”
“Within a week, a whole host of scientists from the biotechnology sector, most of them plant biologists, wrote letters to the editor of JFCT demanding retraction of the paper. They all used the same arguments given by EFSA. Could this have been an orchestrated effort?
There have been seven studies published between 2004-2012 in the JFCT in which the same type of rats (Sprague–Dawley) were fed diets supplemented with material from GM plants. All of these papers were published by those companies who developed the GM plant used in the study. One paper was from Monsanto, and the others from DuPont/Pioneer. Furthermore they often did not report the formulations used, the studies were 90 days or less, and many did not adhere to the three dose level requirement. In point of fact, Séralini’s study was more rigorous than most. It seems that both the EFSA and the JFCT are cherry picking data and applying double standards. If the Séralini study was less than perfect, then one would think that scientists would rush to design better experiments to further test these results. Instead they viciously attack and try to discredit the scientists and suppress the results. Does anyone smell a rat, Sprague-Dawley or otherwise?”
This paper by Test Biotech, lays out in gory detail, how the EFSA applied a double standard in it’s handling of the Seralini case.
Then, the journal that originally published the paper, prostitutes itself to Monsanto. Again, quoting from the Examiner article linked above:
“May, 2013: JFCT creates a new position, Associate Editor for Biotechnology, and fills it with Richard E. Goodman, a former Monsanto employee (1997-2004). In addition to working for Monsanto, Goodman is involved with the International Life Sciences Institute which develops industry-friendly risk assessment methods for GM foods and chemical food contaminants and inserts them into government regulations.”
So, it appears, that the Monsanto imposed its will on a peer reviewed journal, which is supposed to independent and unbiased. Then, installed an overseer to make sure that no more papers get published that cast a negative light on the Monsanto machine.
November of 2013, 6 months after Goodman joins the JFCT and a year after the Seralini paper was published, the JFCT retracts the Seralini paper. Seralini never agreed to retract the paper.
The whole debacle surrounding the handling of the Seralini paper just screams corruption, conspiracy and cover up. Does the retraction invalidate the results of the study? Because of the double standard applied to the handling of the Seralini paper, I don’t believe it does. It’s like a murder conviction that gets overturned on a technicality. The defendant that walks free is no less guilty. He’s just not convicted.
This one was just published in late Dec 2014, and has generated a lot of interest on both sides of the argument. To quote the article: “At a conference last Thursday, in a special panel discussion about GMOs, she took the audience by surprise when she declared, “At today’s rate, by 2025, one in two children will be autistic.”She noted that the side effects of autism closely mimic those of glyphosate toxicity, and presented data showing a remarkably consistent correlation between the use of Roundup on crops (and the creation of Roundup-ready GMO crop seeds) with rising rates of autism. Children with autism have biomarkers indicative of excessive glyphosate, including zinc and iron deficiency, low serum sulfate, seizures, and mitochondrial disorder.”
Now, I can already hear Charlie saying, “Correlation does not imply causation.” And he, of course, would be right. But in the following YouTube video, Dr. Seneff explains the biology behind the claims. The camera is on Dr. Seneff and not on her charts. That is unfortunate, but if you pay close attention, it is not that hard to follow. This presentation is very long (2 hrs 8 min). But the last 15 minutes are questions and answers, and you can’t hear the questions at all. So, it’s really only 1 hr 53 min. There, I just saved you 15 minutes!
I know that I’m asking for a lot of your time. If this is a topic that interests you, that video is an excellent source of information, and worth your time. If you can’t watch the whole thing, please watch as much of it as you can. Even the first 10 minutes are worthwhile.
Here is a hit piece by James Cooper that came out attacking the globalresearch.ca
article linked above:
The top comment on that article sums it up well: by a commenter named Bill Barnes – “James Cooper: Reviews of Research are Research. Take a look at any Handbook of Research to set yourself straight. You attack the credentials and statements of the authors, but you never supply research that counters their findings. Essentially this article of yours (peer reviewed?) is an ad hominem attack. Try writing ad hoc. In fact your writing seems to have come right out of a Monsanto press kit.”
I literally could keep going, but I think you are probably getting the idea. I appreciate you staying with me until the end. As I see it, there are potential health risks to the continued use of glyphosate and crops genetically engineered to be ‘Roundup Ready’. So, have you decided? Is genetic engineering ethical? Is it safe? I would certainly argue that it has unintended consequences. But, is it worth feeding the whole world, if you’re potentially feeding them poison? Let’s talk about it.