The GE Process

What is a GMO?

A GMO (genetically modified organism) is the result of a laboratory process where genes from the DNA of one species are extracted and artificially forced into the genes of an unrelated plant or animal. The foreign genes may come from bacteria, viruses, insects, animals or even humans. Because this involves the transfer of genes, GMOs are also known as “transgenic” organisms.

This process may be called either Genetic Engineering (GE) or Genetic Modification (GM); they are one and the same.

What is a gene?

Every plant and animal is made of cells, each of which has a center called a nucleus. Inside every nucleus there are strings of DNA, half of which is normally inherited from the mother and half from the father. Short sequences of DNA are called genes. These genes operate in complex networks that are finely regulated to enable the processes of living organisms to happen in the right place and at the right time. 

How is genetic engineering done?

Because living organisms have natural barriers to protect themselves against the introduction of DNA from a different species, genetic engineers must force the DNA from one organism into another. Their methods include:

  • Using viruses or bacteria to “infect” animal or plant cells with the new DNA.
  • Coating DNA onto tiny metal pellets, and firing it with a special gun into the cells.
  • Injecting the new DNA into fertilized eggs with a very fine needle.
  • Using electric shocks to create holes in the membrane covering sperm, and then forcing the new DNA into the sperm through these holes.

Is genetic engineering precise?

The technology of genetic engineering is currently very crude. It is not possible to insert a new gene with any accuracy, and the transfer of new genes can disrupt the finely controlled network of DNA in an organism.

Current understanding of the way in which DNA works is extremely limited, and any change to the DNA of an organism at any point can have side effects that are impossible to predict or control. The new gene could, for example, alter chemical reactions within the cell or disturb cell functions. This could lead to instability, the creation of new toxins or allergens, and changes in nutritional value.

But haven’t growers been grafting trees, breeding animals, and hybridizing seeds for years?

Genetic engineering is completely different from traditional breeding and carries unique risks.

In traditional breeding it is possible to mate a pig with another pig to get a new variety, but is not possible to mate a pig with a potato or a mouse. Even when species that may seem to be closely related do succeed in breeding, the offspring are usually infertile—a horse, for example, can mate with a donkey, but the offspring (a mule) is sterile.

With genetic engineering, scientists can breach species barriers set up by nature. For example, they have spliced fish genes into tomatoes. The results are plants (or animals) with traits that would be virtually impossible to obtain with natural processes, such as crossbreeding or grafting.

What combinations have been tried?

It is now possible for plants to be engineered with genes taken from bacteria, viruses, insects, animals or even humans. Scientists have worked on some interesting combinations:

  • Spider genes were inserted into goat DNA, in hopes that the goat milk would contain spider web protein for use in bulletproof vests.
  • Cow genes turned pigskins into cowhides.
  • Jellyfish genes lit up pigs’ noses in the dark.
  • Artic fish genes gave tomatoes and strawberries tolerance to frost.

Field trials have included:

  • Corn engineered with human genes (Dow)
  • Sugarcane engineered with human genes (Hawaii Agriculture Research Center)
  • Corn engineered with jellyfish genes (Stanford University)
  • Tobacco engineered with lettuce genes (University of Hawaii)
  • Rice engineered with human genes (Applied Phytologics)
  • Corn engineered with hepatitis virus genes (Prodigene)
  • Potatoes that glowed in the dark when they needed watering.
  • Human genes were inserted into corn to produce spermicide.

Does the biotech industry hold any promise?

Genetic modification of plants is not the only biotechnology. The study of DNA does hold promise for many potential applications, including medicine. However, the current technology of GM foods is based on obsolete information and theory, and is prone to dangerous side effects. Economic interests have pushed it onto the market too soon.

Moreover, molecular marker technologies – so called Marker Assisted Selection (MAS) used with conventional breeding – show much promise for developing improved crop varieties, without the potentially dangerous side effects of direct genetic modification.

Source

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Monsanto is secretly poisoning the population with Roundup

Tuesday, October 04, 2011 by: Jeffrey M. Smith on Natural News

(NaturalNews) Dr. Andreas Carrasco remained in the locked car and watched with fear as the crowd beat the vehicle and shouted at him — for two hours. His friends who didn’t make it into the vehicle were not so lucky. One ended up paralyzed. Another unconscious. The angry crowd of about 100 were likely organized by a local rice grower who was furious at Carrasco for what he was trying to do that day. Carrasco’s crime? Telling people that Roundup herbicide from Monsanto causes birth defects in animals, and probably humans.

Carrasco is a leading embryologist at the University of Buenos Aires Medical School and the Argentinean national research council. He had heard the horrific stories of peasant farmers working near the vast fields of Roundup Ready soybeans — plants genetically engineered to withstand generous doses of Monsanto’s poisonous weed killer. The short-term impact of getting sprayed was obvious: skin rashes, headaches, loss of appetite, and for one 11 year old Paraguayan boy named Silvino Talavera, who biked through a fog of herbicides in 2003, death. But Carrasco also heard about the rise of birth defects, cancer, and other disorders that now plagued the peasants who were sprayed by plane. He decided to conduct a study.

Exposing Roundup’s 30 year cover-up of birth defects

Carrasco injected minute amounts of Roundup into chicken and frog embryos, and sure enough, the offspring exhibited the same type of birth deformities that the peasant communities were seeing in their newborns. A report by the provincial government of Chaco soon followed, confirming that those living near soy and rice fields sprayed with Roundup and other chemicals did in fact have higher rates of birth defects — nearly a fourfold increase between 2000-2009. (Child cancer rates tripled during the same period.)

Regulatory agencies had given Roundup a green light years before, claiming that it was free of such problems. However after Carrasco’s findings were published, European authorities quietly pushed their official re-assessment of Roundup, due in 2012, back to 2015. And the German Federal Office for Consumer Protection and Food Safety, charged with responding to Carrasco’s findings, issued a statement claiming that the Argentine scientist must be mistaken; earlier studies conducted by manufacturers of Roundup (including Monsanto) had already demonstrated that Roundup does not cause birth defects.

But in June 2011, a group of international scientists released a report detailing a massive cover-up that went back to the 1980s. The very industry studies cited by the German Consumer Protection office in fact showed just the opposite. Roundup did increase birth defects. Using scientific sleight of hand, Europe’s regulators had ignored statistically significant increases in birth defects, and so did every other regulatory agency worldwide. Monsanto has relied on these misleading statements of safety by regulators ever since, using them to deny that Roundup causes birth defects.

Monsanto secretly poisoning the population, again and again

Covering up toxic effects of their products was not new for Monsanto. They’re experts at it. In 2003 the company paid $700 million in settlements for secretly poisoning the population living next to their PCB factory in Anniston, Alabama. Court documents showed the arrogance of Monsanto executives made aware of the product’s effects: “We can’t afford to lose $1 of business,” was the written response in a secret company memo.

Leaked documents also revealed that EPA scientists had charged Monsanto with fraudulently hiding the toxic effects of Agent Orange — effectively preventing Vietnam veterans from collecting compensation for cancer, birth defects, and other symptoms of exposure.

When Carrasco first reported his findings, he got the usual treatment. His results were vehemently denied, and he was attacked in the press by biotech advocates. Four highly aggressive men showed up at his office and tried to interrogate him, but he wasn’t physically attacked. Not until he tried to give a speech on his results in the small Argentine farm town of La Leonesa on August 7, 2010. That was unusual.

Punishing messengers worldwide

When Dr. Irina Ermakova came to her office, the meaning of the charred remains of papers on her desk was unambiguous — it was yet another attempt to intimidate or punish her. So was the theft of samples from her laboratory, and the continuous verbal attacks by biotech advocates. Her crime? She fed rats genetically modified Roundup Ready soy, and reported the results.

Those results were clearly not what the sellers of GM soy wanted us to hear. After female rats were fed GM soy, more than half their babies died within three weeks. The rat pups were also considerably smaller, and in a later experiment, were unable to reproduce. Offspring from mothers fed non-GM soybeans, on the other hand, died at only a 10% rate, and were able to mate successfully.

Journal ambushes scientist

After Ermakova presented the results as “preliminary” at an October 2005 conference, the biotech industry’s damage control teams kicked into high gear. At the center of the coordinated attack was the editor of the journal Nature Biotechnology and four biotech advocates. According to Ermakova, the editor contacted her and told her he was going to include a description of her study as a sort of essay in the journal. She was then asked to summarize her research over the phone, or if she preferred, in writing. Ermakova, a senior scientist at the Russian Academy of Sciences, was surprised by the request and asked instead to properly submit the findings for peer review and publication. Oh no, the editor insisted, he just wanted a summary. She sent it in, and the journal sent Ermakova back a proof of the article, with her named as the author.

But that was just a “dummy proof.” What was actually published was quite different. Instead of an essay, the journal had inserted scathing criticisms from the four biotech advocates after nearly every paragraph. Many of Ermakova’s citations were also stripped off and replaced with those chosen by the biotech detractors — to weaken her case. It was an academic lynch mob, conducted by four biotech apologists: Bruce Chassy, Vivian Moses, Val Giddings, and Alan McHughen. All acknowledged that they had no personal experience in the type of research they were condemning, but that didn’t stop them from throwing every type of challenge they could think of at Ermakova.

The purpose of the attack was transparent. It allowed the biotech industry to claim from that point forward that the study showing high death rates was officially refuted and discredited. It also served as a warning: if anyone wanted to defend Ermakova (or do similar research) they too would be mercilessly attacked.

The problem was that nearly all their criticisms were utterly baseless. About 75 % of their arguments, for example, were simply complaints that she didn’t provide sufficient detail. Now remember — she was told to only provide a summary. Her request to the editor to submit complete details was denied. It was quite a setup. When the details of this ambush were made public, independent scientists charged Nature Biotechnology with an unethical “premeditated attack.” At least one letter called on the editor to resign.

It didn’t happen. Instead, international pressure against Ermakova got so intense, her boss told her not to do any more studies on GMOs. One of her colleagues even tried to comfort her by suggesting that perhaps the GM soy could solve the human overpopulation problem. (She wasn’t comforted.)

Real life confirms research: GM soy = high infant mortality for rats

The main valid criticism against Ermakova’s research was that she failed to conduct a biochemical analysis of the feed. Without that, we don’t know if some rogue toxin present in the bag of soy flour might have been responsible for the astonishing death rate and stunted growth in her experiment. But subsequent events at her laboratory suggest otherwise.

After Ermakova repeated the test three times with similar results, the supplier of rat food used at the facility began using GM soy in the formulation. With all the rats now eating GM soy, Ermakova couldn’t conduct any more experiments (she had no controls). After two months, however, she asked her colleagues at the lab about the mortality rate in their rat experiments. It turned out that 99 of 179 (55.3%) rat pups whose parents were fed GM soy-based rat chow had died within the first 20 days. Thus, whatever caused the high death rate does not appear to be confined to the one batch of GM flour used in her experiment. Both the study, and the subsequent laboratory-wide mortality rate, are published in the Russian peer-reviewed journal Ecosinform.

Horrific reproductive disorders

Other studies on Roundup Ready soy also show scary reproductive problems. Ermakova showed that the testicles of rats fed GM soy changed from the normal pink to blue (not published). Peer-reviewed research from Italy also showed changes in mice testicles, including alterations in young sperm cells. A Brazilian team found changes in the uterus and ovaries of female rats. The DNA of mice embryos functioned differently, compared to those whose parents were fed non-GM soy. And when hamsters were fed GM soy for two years, by the third generation, most lost the ability to have babies. The offspring grew at a slower rate and the infant mortality rate was 4-5 times that of the non-GM soy group. Many also had hair growing in their mouths.

When the Austrian government tested Roundup Ready corn (which was also engineered to produce an insecticide), mice had fewer – and smaller – babies.

It’s not possible to know if the reproductive damage was due to the genetic changes in the GM crops, the high residues of Roundup in the GM soybeans and corn, or some other reason. But the American Academy of Environmental Science is among the medical organizations that don’t need more animal studies before issuing a warning. They urge all doctors to prescribe non-GMO diets to everyone.

Omnipresent Roundup literally falls from the sky

Although eliminating Roundup Ready soy and corn from our diet will certainly reduce our intake of Roundup, a recent study suggests that getting our exposure down to zero is not possible. In the Midwest during the growing season, Roundup is found in 60–100% of air and rain samples, as well as in streams.

The omnipresence of Roundup in the US is due in large part to the more than 100 million acres of Roundup Ready crops. As farmers pour on Monsanto’s weed killer, weeds are learning to adapt and withstand the poison — so farmers pour on more. In the first 13 years since GM crops were introduced, the use of herbicide-tolerant crops resulted in an additional 383 million pounds more herbicide. And due to the emergence of superweeds (now found in 11 million acres), the increased use of Roundup is accelerating dramatically.

USDA solution? Even more Roundup

The USDA has a unique response to this mounting threat: Add more Roundup. In January 2011 they deregulated yet another Roundup Ready crop, alfalfa — which is widely used for animal feed. Only 7% of the more than 20 million acres of this crop typically gets any herbicide applied to it. But that’s about to change, since Roundup Ready alfalfa will soon be drinking Roundup in a hay field near you.

Not content with just the alfalfa, on July 1 the USDA told Scotts Miracle-Gro that it could introduce Roundup Ready Kentucky Bluegrass to lawns, golf courses, and soccer fields around the nation, without any government oversight.

So now we have Roundup in our food, animal feed, air, rain, and streams, and soon it will be sprayed in high doses where our children play on the grass. It’s not just birth defects that may soon plague America as a result. Roundup is also linked to cancer, endocrine disruption, lower sperm counts, abnormal sperm, human cell death, miscarriages, and other disorders. But it’s also linked to billions in profits for Monsanto. No wonder they are working overtime to silence the scientists and cover-up the findings. What if people knew the truth?

Jeffrey M. Smith is the author of Seeds of Deception (http://www.seedsofdeception.com/Public/Home/index.cfm), the world’s bestselling book on GMOs. He is also the author of Genetic Roulette (http://www.geneticroulette.com), and the Executive Director of the Institute for Responsible Technology (http://www.responsibletechnology.org). The Institute’s Non-GMO Shopping Guide website (http://www.nongmoshoppingguide.com), iPhone app ShopNoGMO, and pocket guide, help people navigate to healthier non-GMO foods. Join the Institute’s Non-GMO Tipping Point Network (http://action.responsibletechnology.org/p/salsa/web/common/public/sig…) to connect with others in your area, to bring the truth about GMOs to your friends and community.

Bees, Honey and Genetically Modified Crops

Original on Friends of Earth

Introduction

Bees are extremely important to the pollination of UK crops, particularly oilseed rape and beans. In the UK there are estimated to be between 100,000 and 300,000 hives1, working out at one hive per square kilometre. A hive may contain up to 50,000 bees and individual bees may visit up to 100 flowers on each trip out from the hive. The value of honey bees’ services as pollinators in the European Union has been estimated at around £3 billion per year2.

Genetically modified (GM) crops are very near to being grown commercially. GM maize and oilseed rape varieties are in the last stages of the regulatory procedure which will allow them to be grown anywhere in the UK. A farming industry organisation, the Supply Chain Initiative on Modified Agricultural Crops (SCIMAC) has developed guidelines for farmers growing GM crops. But there are no provisions within these for protecting beehives from contamination with GM pollen, or even to inform beekeepers if GM crops are to be grown in their area.

In 1999 the Government started a series of ‘farm-scale trials’ of GM herbicide-tolerant crops. Each of these GM crop trials covers ten hectares (25 acres) and it is planned to have at least 25 sites for each GM crop involved – winter and spring oilseed rape, maize and sugar beet. These trials are meant to examine the environmental effects of GM crops, but they have not been designed to prevent pollen escaping from the test sites or to protect nearby beekeepers from contamination of their honey.

GM Crops

Oilseed rape is an extremely important crop for bees and beekeepers. It is the crop to which commercial hives are most often moved3, and pollination contracts for oilseed rape provide an important source of income to many beekeepers. It is very attractive to bees, and has ‘sticky’ pollen, which the bees can get covered in. Most GM oilseed rape in the UK has been engineered to resist herbicides.

GM maize is also close to commercial production and being growing at farm-scale trials. Bees collect pollen for food and in the US it has been found that pollen from maize fields can make up to 20 per cent of the total collected by bees from nearby hives4.

Is GM Honey safe?

Genetic engineering is imprecise and unpredictable. Genes are inserted from organisms which have never been eaten as food, and so new proteins are introduced into the human and animal food chains. There is concern that these could cause allergic reactions or other health effects.

A study by Government researchers found that there are between 20,000 and 80,000 pollen grains in a portion (10g) of shop-bought honey5. There are already cases of people who are allergic to honey, and this has been linked to pollen in the honey6. The novel proteins or toxins produced by GM crops may also be in the pollen they produce. This means that honey containing GM pollen could pose a potential health risk. The researchers who studied this problem concluded that if GM pollen contained novel toxins or proteins it “could pose problems, not only to man who consumes honey as a food, but also to bee populations which rely on pollen as the sole source of protein”7.

As well as this, research into honey has found that bees can pass proteins from nectar unchanged into honey8. If GM crops produce novel proteins or toxins in the nectar as well, this may further threaten the safety of honey produced from GM crops.

GM plants may also contain genes which provide resistance to commonly used antibiotics such as ampicillin. There is concern that these could be passed on to the bacteria that live in humans and animals. DNA from pollen has been found to be able to survive in honey for seven weeks9. It may be that this could be a route for such gene transfer.

In spite of the risks, there has been almost no safety testing of GM pollen, either for humans or for bees. Even the food safety tests of GM crops have been limited to short-term tests on animals. The Government’s advisors on the safety of GM foods rely on results of tests conducted by the GM companies themselves. Recently Dr Andrew Chesson, a leading food scientist from the Rowett Research Institute, expressed concern that current safety tests may be insufficient to detect new, unexpected chemicals in GM foods10. Although the Government is conducting its own independent research into GM food safety, the results will not be ready until 2001.

Bees and gene pollution

Honey bees commonly forage up to two km from the hive, but oilseed rape fields are such an attractive source of nectar that bees may travel at least five km to get to them11. In a recent study, a bee hive was placed 800 m from a field of GM oilseed rape. When the oilseed rape was in flower, it made up 70% of the pollen that the bees carried back to the hive. One bee returning to the hive had 60,000 oilseed rape pollen grains stuck to its body12. As the bees brush past each other in the hive any GM pollen is spread throughout the colony and taken out again by other bees.

In summer 1999, Friends of the Earth commissioned research to study this issue. The researchers put pollen samplers on the entrances to beehives around a ten hectare farm scale test site of GM oilseed rape. The pollen samplers measured how much pollen the bees were carrying into the hive. The bee hives were 150m, 2.5 km and 4.5 km away from the test site. GM pollen was found in all the samples from the different beehives, including the one furthest away. The results show that even if a beehive is 4.5 km from a field of GM oilseed rape, the honey can still become contaminated with GM pollen. This has serious implications for all beekeepers.

Not only are bee hives near to GM oilseed rape fields likely to become contaminated with GM pollen, but the bees may spread GM pollen to non-GM crops several miles away. It is likely that in the future farmers will be growing oilseed rape for the ‘GM-free’ market. In such cases, contamination of the crop could cause financial loss to the farmer. At the moment it is unclear who would be held liable for this, and whether the beekeeper might be held responsible as well as the farmer who grows the GM crop.

Impact on Beekeepers

At the moment, companies or farmers planting GM crops do not have to consult with neighbouring beekeepers, or even tell them that there is a GM crop nearby. Even if the beekeeper finds out that there is a GM crop nearby, it is up to them to test their honey for contamination. Because of this, it is very possible that beekeepers have already unwittingly sold GM honey to the public.

The former Food Safety Minister Jeff Rooker stated that honey containing GM pollen would have to be labelled before being sold13. But this only applies to honey containing pollen from GM crops which have gained permission to be sold as food. GM test sites, including at present the farm-scale trials of GM oilseed rape, grow GM crops which have not yet got such permission. In these cases, the law states that any GM material from them cannot be sold in food, including GM pollen. This means that if honey becomes contaminated with pollen from a test site or the farm-scale trials it could be illegal to sell it.

As it stands, GM crops pose a serious threat to beekeepers and honey production in the UK. Honey contaminated with GM pollen will either have to be disposed of safely or sold as a GM product. Either of these options is likely to cause financial harm to beekeepers. Despite this, there is no system to ensure that beekeepers are consulted about GM crops growing nearby nor are there any provisions for compensation in the event of financial losses which might result.

Impact on Wild Bees

Wild bees are vital for the survival of many of our wild plants, as well as being important for crops. Some species of wild plants are dependent on wild bees for their pollination and survival. Several species of bumblebees and solitary bees are also important pollinators for food crops.

Bumblebees are very important in the UK, as they fly around at lower temperatures and in worse weather than honeybees. In addition, bumblebees are best able to pollinate some wild flowers, such as foxgloves. Natural populations of bumblebees are in decline in the UK and across the EU. Solitary bees are bees that live on their own, rather than in hives or nests. There are several hundred species across Europe, but very little is known about them apart from the fact that, like bumblebees, they are in decline.

The decline of bumblebees and solitary bee populations has been linked to modern intensive farming 14. The widespread use of herbicides and the increased intensity of farming has removed the habitats that wild bees make nests in, and reduced the numbers of wild plants which they use for food. There is concern that the introduction of GM herbicide tolerant crops, such as oilseed rape, will reduce still further the diversity and number of wild plants found in UK farmland. Such concerns have been expressed by English Nature, the Government’s own wildlife advisor, as well as the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and the Wildlife Trusts. The widespread use of GM herbicide-tolerant crops is likely to threaten further wild bee populations.

Summary

It is clear that growing GM crops in the UK will pose a serious threat to beekeepers and honey production in the UK. Issues around food safety, liability, the cost to beekeepers and the threat to wild bee populations have yet to be resolved. Vital questions need to be answered and there needs to be a full public debate on the acceptable uses of genetic engineering.

Friends of the Earth (FOE) is opposed to the untested introduction of GM crops and foods in the UK. We are campaigning against outdoor testing of GM crops, including the farm scale trials. FOE is calling for a full public debate on the future of farming and how our food is produced. A moratorium, or freeze, on the commercial production and importation of GM food and crops is now urgently required.

Emily Diamand, September 1999

The Real Food Campaign
Friends of the Earth
26-28, Underwood Street
LONDON
N1  7JQ
Tel 020 7490 1555
Fax 020 7490 0881
Email – info@foe.co.uk
Website – www.foe.co.uk


1. Williams, I. 1994. “Dependence on Crop Production within the European Union on pollination by honey bees” Agricultural Zoological Review Vol 6 pp 229-257


2.Carreck, NL. Pollination Ecology Research at IACR-Rothamsted


3.Williamson, I. 1996 “Aspects of bee diversity and crop pollination in the European Union” in A Matheson, SL Buchmann, C O’Toole, P Westrich and I Williams (eds) The Conservation of Bees Academic Press.


4.Erickson, EH, Erickson BH, Flottum PK, Wyman JA, Wedberg JL & Page RE. 1997. “Effects of selected insecticide formulations, phased applications and colony management strategies on honey bee mortality in processing sweetcorn” Journal of Apical Research 36(1) pp 3-13


5.MAFF Research & Development and Surveillance Report: 376. Undated. Honey from genetically modified plants: integrity of DNA and entry of GM-derived proteins into the food chain via honey MAFF project No 2B 067


6.Bauer, L et al. 1996 “Food allergy to honey: Pollen or bee products? Characterisation of allergenic proteins in honey by means of immunoblotting” Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology Vol 97 1(1) pp 65-73


7.Wilkinson, JE, D Twell and K Lindsey. 1997 “Activities of CaMV 35S and nos promoters in pollen: implications for field release of transgenic plants” Journal of Experimental Botany Vol 48 (307) pp 265-275


8.Coghlan, A. 1999 “Healing Honey: flowers are being turned into vaccine factories” New Scientist 23 June 1999


9. Eady, C, D Twell & K Lindsey. 1995 “ Pollen viability and trans-gene expression following storage in honey” Transgenic Research Vol 4 pp 226-231


10. Daily Express, 4 September 1999. “New GM warning over danger chemicals entering food chain”


11.Ramsay, G, CE Thompson, S Neilson, GR Mackay, 1999. “Honeybees as vectors of GM oilseed rape pollen” in Gene Flow and agriculture: relevance for transgenic crops BCPC Symposium Proceedings No 72 pp 209-214


12.Ibid.


13.Rooker, J. House of Commons Hansard Written Answers 15 April 1999 (Part 6) Col 321


14. Williamson, I. 1996 “Aspects of bee diversity and crop pollination in the European Union” in A Matheson, SL Buchmann, C O’Toole, P Westrich and I Williams (eds) The Conservation of Bees pp 63-80 Academic Press

Contact details:

Friends of the Earth
26-28 Underwood St.
LONDON
N1  7JQ

Tel: 020 7490 1555
Fax: 020 7490 0881
Email: info@foe.co.uk
Website: www.foe.co.uk

 

GMO Trilogy

This explosive exposé reveals what the biotech industry doesn’t want you to know – how industry manipulation and political collusion, not sound science, allow dangerous genetically engineered food into your daily diet. Company research is rigged, alarming evidence of health dangers is covered up, and intense political pressure applied. Chapters read like adventure stories and are hard to put down:

  • Scientists were offered bribes or threatened. Evidence was stolen. Data was omitted or distorted.
  • Government employees who complained were harassed, stripped of responsibilities, or fired.
  • Laboratory rats fed a GM crop developed stomach lesions and seven of the forty died within two weeks. The crop was approved without further tests.
  • The only independent in-depth feeding study ever conducted showed evidence of alarming health dangers. When the scientist tried to alert the public, he lost his job and was silenced with threats of a lawsuit.

Read the actual internal memos by FDA scientists, warning of toxins, allergies, and new diseases – all ignored by their superiors, including a former attorney for Monsanto. Learn why the FDA withheld information from Congress after a genetically modified supplement killed nearly a hundred people and disabled thousands. The GMO Trilogy’s was released in April 2006 in conjunction with Earth Day (April 22) and International GMO opposition Day (April 8)—a coordinated 30-nation campaign to raise awareness about genetically modified (GM) food.

Unnatural Selection (parts 1 – 5)





Hidden Dangers in Kids’ Meals: Genetically Engineered Foods (parts 1-3)



You’re Eating WHAT?

 

The Institute for Responsible Technology – FAQ on GMO

 

What’s a GMO?

A GMO (genetically modified organism) is the result of a laboratory process of taking genes from one species and inserting them into another in an attempt to obtain a desired trait or characteristic, hence they are also known as transgenic organisms. This process may be called either Genetic Engineering (GE) or Genetic Modification (GM); they are one and the same.

But haven’t growers been grafting trees, breeding animals, and hybridizing seeds for years?

Genetic engineering is completely different from traditional breeding and carries unique risks.

In traditional breeding it is possible to mate a pig with another pig to get a new variety, but is not possible to mate a pig with a potato or a mouse. Even when species that may seem to be closely related do succeed in breeding, the offspring are usually infertile�a horse, for example, can mate with a donkey, but the offspring (a mule) is sterile.

With genetic engineering, scientists can breach species barriers set up by nature. For example, they have spliced fish genes into tomatoes. The results are plants (or animals) with traits that would be virtually impossible to obtain with natural processes, such as crossbreeding or grafting.

What combinations have been tried?

It is now possible for plants to be engineered with genes taken from bacteria, viruses, insects, animals or even humans. Scientists have worked on some interesting combinations:

  • Spider genes were inserted into goat DNA, in hopes that the goat milk would contain spider web protein for use in bulletproof vests.
  • Cow genes turned pigskins into cowhides.
  • Jellyfish genes lit up pigs’ noses in the dark.
  • Arctic fish genes gave tomatoes and strawberries tolerance to frost.
  • Potatoes that glowed in the dark when they needed watering.
  • Human genes were inserted into corn to produce spermicide.

Current field trials include:

  • Corn engineered with human genes (Dow)
  • Sugarcane engineered with human genes (Hawaii Agriculture Research Center)
  • Corn engineered with jellyfish genes (Stanford University)
  • Tobacco engineered with lettuce genes (University of Hawaii)
  • Rice engineered with human genes (Applied Phytologics)
  • Corn engineered with hepatitis virus genes (Prodigene)

DNA Double HelixWhat is a gene?

Every plant and animal is made of cells, each of which has a center called a nucleus. Inside every nucleus there are strings of DNA, half of which is normally inherited from the mother and half from the father. Short sequences of DNA are called genes. These genes operate in complex networks that are finely regulated to enable the processes of living organisms to happen in the right place and at the right time.

How is genetic engineering done?

Because living organisms have natural barriers to protect themselves against the introduction of DNA from a different species, genetic engineers have to find ways to force the DNA from one organism into another. These methods include:

  • Using viruses or bacteria to “infect” animal or plant cells with the new DNA.
  • Coating DNA onto tiny metal pellets, and firing it with a special gun into the cells.
  • Injecting the new DNA into fertilized eggs with a very fine needle.
  • Using electric shocks to create holes in the membrane covering sperm, and then forcing the new DNA into the sperm through these holes.

Is genetic engineering precise?

The technology of genetic engineering is currently very crude. It is not possible to insert a new gene with any accuracy, and the transfer of new genes can disrupt the finely controlled network of DNA in an organism.

Current understanding of the way in which DNA works is extremely limited, and any change to the DNA of an organism at any point can have side effects that are impossible to predict or control. The new gene could, for example, alter chemical reactions within the cell or disturb cell functions. This could lead to instability, the creation of new toxins or allergens, and changes in nutritional value.

Does the biotech industry hold any promise?

Genetic modification of plants is not the only biotechnology. The study of DNA does hold promise for many potential applications, including medicine. However, the current technology of GM foods is based on obsolete information and theory, and is prone to dangerous side effects. Economic interests have pushed it onto the market too soon.

Moreover, molecular marker technologies�so called Marker Assisted Selection (MAS) used with conventional breeding shows much promise for developing improved crop varieties, without the potentially dangerous side effects of direct genetic modification.

GMOs in Foods:

What kinds of traits have been added to food crops?

Although there are attempts to increase nutritional benefits or productivity, the two main traits that have been added to date are herbicide tolerance and the ability of the plant to produce its own pesticide. These results have no health benefit, only economic benefit.

Herbicide tolerance lets the farmer spray weed-killer directly on the crop without killing it.

Crops such as Bt cotton produce pesticides inside the plant. This kills or deters insects, saving the farmer from having to spray pesticides. The plants themselves are toxic, and not just to insects. Farmers in India, who let their sheep graze on Bt cotton plants after the harvest, saw thousands of sheep die!

Why do genetically engineered foods have antibiotic resistant genes in them?

The techniques used to transfer genes have a very low success rate, so the genetic engineers attach “marker genes” that are resistant to antibiotics to help them to find out which cells have taken up the new DNA. These marker genes are resistant to antibiotics that are commonly used in human and veterinary medicine. Some scientists believe that eating GE food containing these marker genes could encourage gut bacteria to develop antibiotic resistance.

What are the problems created through genetic engineering of food and crops?

Genetic engineers continually encounter unintended side effects � GM plants create toxins, react to weather differently, contain too much or too little nutrients, become diseased or malfunction and die. When foreign genes are inserted, dormant genes may be activated or the functioning of genes altered, creating new or unknown proteins, or increasing or decreasing the output of existing proteins inside the plant. The effects of consuming these new combinations of proteins are unknown.

What foods are GM?

Currently commercialized GM crops in the U.S. include soy (94%), cotton (90%), canola (90%), sugar beets (95%), corn (88%), Hawaiian papaya (more than 50%), zucchini and yellow squash (over 24,000 acres).

What are other sources of GMOs?

Products derived from the above, including oils from all four, soy protein, soy lecithin, cornstarch, corn syrup and high fructose corn syrup among others. Also:

  • meat, eggs, and dairy products from animals that have eaten GM feed (and the majority of the GM corn and soy is used for feed);
  • dairy products from cows injected with rbGH (a GM hormone);
  • food additives, enzymes, flavorings, and processing agents, including the sweetener aspartame (NutraSweet�) and rennet used to make hard cheeses; and
  • honey and bee pollen that may have GM sources of pollen.

The Health Dangers:

What are the potential dangers of eating GM foods?

There are a number of dangers that broadly fall into the categories of potential toxins, allergens, carcinogens, new diseases, antibiotic resistant diseases, and nutritional problems.

Viewall 65 health risks of GM foods, excerpted from Jeffrey Smith’s comprehensive book Genetic Roulette: The Documented Health Risks of Genetically Engineered Foods.

Hasn’t research shown GM foods to be safe?

No. The only feeding study done with humans showed that GMOs survived inside the stomach of the people eating GMO food. No follow-up studies were done.

Various feeding studies in animals have resulted in potentially pre-cancerous cell growth, damaged immune systems, smaller brains, livers, and testicles, partial atrophy or increased density of the liver, odd shaped cell nuclei and other unexplained anomalies, false pregnancies and higher death rates.

But aren’t the plants chemically the same, whether or not they are GM?

Most tests can’t determine the differences at the level of the DNA. And, even if they appear to be the same, eyewitness reports from all over North American describe how several types of animals, including cows, pigs, geese, elk, deer, squirrels, and rats, when given a choice, avoid eating GM foods.

Haven’t people been eating GM foods without any ill effect?

The biotech industry says that millions have been eating GM foods without ill effect. This is misleading. No one monitors human health impacts of GM foods. If the foods were creating health problems in the US population, it might take years or decades before we identified the cause.

What indications are there that GM foods are causing problems?

Soon after GM soy was introduced to the UK, soy allergies skyrocketed by 50 percent.

In March 2001, the Center for Disease Control reported that food is responsible for twice the number of illnesses in the U.S. compared to estimates just seven years earlier. This increase roughly corresponds to the period when Americans have been eating GM food.

Without follow-up tests, which neither the industry or government are doing, we can’t be absolutely sure if genetic engineering was the cause.

What about GM hormones in milk?

Milk from rBGH-treated cows contains an increased amount of the hormone IGF-1, which is one of the highest risk factors associated with breast and prostate cancer, but no one is tracking this in relation to cancer rates.

Why do genetically engineered foods have antibiotic resistant genes in them?

The techniques used to transfer genes have a very low success rate, so the genetic engineers attach “marker genes” that are resistant to antibiotics to help them to find out which cells have taken up the new DNA. That way scientist can then douse the experimental GMO in antibiotics and if it lives, they have successful altered the genes. The marker genes are resistant to antibiotics that are commonly used in human and veterinary medicine. Some scientists believe that eating GE food containing these marker genes could encourage gut bacteria to develop antibiotic resistance.

But is there any documented instance of adverse effects of GMOs on people?

One epidemic was rare, serious, and fast acting, and therefore more easily discovered. Called EMS, it was traced to a GM brand of the food supplement L-tryptophan. In the 1980’s, the contaminated brand killed about 100 Americans and caused sickness or disability in about 5,000-10,000 others.

Why are children particularly susceptible to the effects of GM foods?

Children face the greatest risk from the potential dangers of GM foods for the same reasons that they also face the greatest risk from other hazards like pesticides and radiation, these include:

  • Young, fast-developing bodies are influenced most.
  • Children are more susceptible to allergies.
  • Children are more susceptible to problems with milk.
  • Children are more susceptible to nutritional problems.
  • Children are in danger from antibiotic resistant diseases.

How dangerous, or potentially dangerous, are GM foods relative to other food dangers, e.g., pesticides, irradiation, additives, preservatives?

Since so little research has been done on the safety of GM foods, it is not possible to rank its risks. Unlike the others, GM crops persist in the environment, and may continue to pose risks to health for centuries.

In addition, transfer of transgenes to gut bacteria may present long-term chronic exposure, since the foreign protein may continued to be produced inside of us after we no longer consume the GM food.

Dangers to the environment and traditional agriculture:

What is the effect of growing GM crops on the environment?

Studies have shown that pesticide-producing crops contaminate nearby streams, possibly affecting aquatic life. They may harm beneficial insects too.

As weeds adapt to herbicides, they develop resistance and evolve into what are called “super weeds.”When that happens, herbicide use increases and the benefits of herbicide resistant crops are diminished, if not lost.

Can the growing of GM crops effect nearby crops?

Pollen from GM crops can contaminate nearby crops of the same type, except for soy, which does not cross-pollinate. In fact, virtually all heritage varieties of corn in Mexico (the origin of all corn) have been found to have some contamination. Canola and cotton also cross-pollinate.

Why is there an effort to create GM-free agricultural zones?

Using identity preservation (IP), farmers keep crop varieties separate from others to meet purity requirements of their buyers. Contamination is a key challenge to IP growers. Unwanted varieties may cross-pollinate or get mixed up in the seed, harvest equipment, or during storage and transport.

Some farm regions create entire zones that exclude unwanted varieties, where all the farms, and if possible all collection and distribution points, only handle approved grain.

Have any local efforts in the US been successful?

There are local efforts throughout the U.S. that are raising public awareness, changing laws, and creating commitments to non-GM ingredients. Most notably, voters in Mendocino and Marin Counties in California passed a ballot initiative to ban GM crops.

Officials in Trinity County and Arcata, California have passed ordinances banning the outdoor cultivation of GM crops as well. But since then, a California law was passed prohibiting this type of local initiative.

In March 2008, voters at the Montville, Maine, annual town meeting overwhelmingly passed a binding ordinance banning the cultivation of GM crops in their community.

Is it possible that organically grown crops can be infected by GM genes?

Yes. Organic standards do not allow the use of GM seeds and therefore steps are taken to try to prevent contamination. Tests are not required, although some vigilant organic companies require them. According to the organic standards, contamination by cross-pollination is not disallowed, but some companies reject contaminated product above some small amount such as 0.1%.

Organic canola farmers in Canada sued biotech companies, since cross-pollination has made it impossible for them to grow organic, non-GM canola.

Is the Natural Foods Industry doing something to insure the purity of its products?

Right now there are efforts underway for an industry wide clean up of foods labeled organic and non-GMO. A handful of noble companies took it upon themselves to ensure that consumers could rest assured that their organic and non-GMO foods are truly free of modified genes. They established The Non-GMO Project, which has created an industry-wide consensus-based set of standards and a third-party verification process with testing for GMO content.

Companies began to enroll their products in the spring of 2008 and the first “non-GMO” seals for companies who fully comply with the protocols will be issued in 2009.

Government Regulation:

Hasn’t the FDA said that GM foods are safe?

The biotech industry claims that the FDA has thoroughly evaluated GM foods and found them safe. This is untrue. The FDA does not require safety studies. Instead, if the makers of the GM foods claim that they are safe, the agency has no further questions.

Didn’t the scientists at the FDA study GM foods themselves?

No. The FDA relies solely on information supplied by the biotech companies.

What kind of information did the companies provide?

Calgene, the makers of the first GM crop, the FlavrSavr tomato, was the only company to submit detailed raw data from animal feeding studies to the FDA. The rest provide only summaries and conclusions. Industry research can be rigged; data often is omitted or distorted.

In the FlavrSavr tests, lab rats refused to eat the tomatoes and had to be force-fed. Several developed stomach lesions, and seven of forty died within two weeks. Still, the tomato was approved, but has since been taken off the market.

Based on the information that was supplied, did the FDA scientist have concerns?

Agency scientists did warn that GM foods might create toxins, allergies, nutritional problems, and new diseases that might be difficult to identify. Internal FDA memos reveal that the scientists urged their superiors to require long-term safety testing to catch these hard-to-detect side effects.

What did the FDA do about these concerns?

Nothing was done that would protect consumers. In fact, in the case of genetically modified bovine growth hormone, some FDA scientists who expressed concerns were harassed, stripped of responsibilities, or fired. The remaining whistleblowers had to write an anonymous letter to Congress complaining of fraud and conflict of interest at the agency

How could the government approve dangerous foods?

A close examination reveals that industry manipulation and political collusion � not sound science � was the driving force.

The FDA official in charge ignored all warnings of the FDA staff scientists. The official, a former outside attorney for Monsanto, was a political appointee specifically to a new FDA post on GM policy, and left shortly after to become vice president at Monsanto.

Why aren’t foods with GMOs at least labeled here?

The same political influence and money that got them past the FDA has prevented any labeling laws from being passed. However, President Obama had indicated support for labeling laws during his campaign.

So do the biotech companies always get everything they want?

No. The biotech companies have fallen far short of their goals due to consumer resistance. The GM potatoes and tomatoes were taken off the market, and other GM crops, although approved, were never commercialized.

Concerned consumers in Europe were able to get major companies to commit to eliminate GMOs within one week. This was done with only a small percentage of the overall population. Businesses do not want to lose even a portion of their customer base. Everyone can vote with his or her pocketbook!

In 1998 the industry tried to get the USDA to let GM products pass as organic. During the public comment period, the Department received over 275,000 irate letters of protest from citizens, a public response unprecedented in the USDA’s history. Thanks to this public protest, GM products cannot be labeled organic in the USA.

Around the World

What about in neighboring countries?

In Canada, government scientists also complained that they were being pressured to approve the GM hormone, which is injected into cows to increase milk supply. They were concerned about human health impacts. They testified that the drugs maker, Monsanto, offered them a bribe of $1-2 million to approve it. They also reported that documents were stolen from a locked file cabinet in a government office.

Mexico has resisted GMOs, but contamination has still occurred.

Other stories of pressure, bribes, and threatened whistleblowers are reported through the history of GM foods and their approval, research, and promotion around the world.

What is happening with GM foods in the rest of the world?

All over the world, regions and even nations are demanding an end to GM crop cultivation. Twenty-two countries in Europe have regions wanting to be GM-free. States in Australia, regions in New Zealand and Brazil, the countries of Venezuela, Zambia, Sudan, Angola, and others, all want to be GM-free. Thus, world markets are shrinking.

In 2009, Germany joined France, Hungary, Italy, Greece, Austria, Poland and Romania in banning Monsanto’s Mon 810 GM corn because of its documented hazards to biodiversity and human health. In 2007 over three million Italians signed a petition, declaring their opposition to GM crops in their country. In Europe over 175 regions and over 4,500 municipalities have declared themselves GM-free zones. In Spain alone this includes over 50 municipalities and regions like Asturias, the Canary Islands and the Basque country.

Europe has greater rejection of GMOs due to a more balanced reporting by their press on the health and environmental dangers. In Europe, at least 174 regions, more than 4,500 councils and local governments have declared themselves GM free.

Have any GM foods been banned?

The rules of the World Trade Organization (which the US and other 150 countries are members of) explicitly prohibit countries from banning GM products. Therefore, countries that ban them do so at great risk. If this weren’t the case, no doubt many countries would already have done so.

Some countries have banned GM crops entirely or not approved certain GM crops that are approved elsewhere.

In the US, GM wheat was not approved when wheat farmers banded together because they were concerned that contamination would seriously hurt exports. So the reason was economic, not safety.

Source

 

What is GMO

A GMO is a genetically modified organism (also called “genetically engineered”): a plant, animal, or microorganism that is created by means that overcome natural boundaries. Genetic engineering involves crossing species that could not breed in nature. For example, genes from a fish have been placed in strawberries and tomatoes.

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