Throwing Biotech Lies at Tomatoes

By Jeffrey Smith
Institute For Responsible Technology
Saturday, Jan 1, 2011

Part 1: Killer Tomatoes

Remember the pictures of the fish tomatoes? For years they were an unofficial emblem of the anti-GMO movement. They depicted how anti-freeze genes from an Arctic fish were forced into tomato DNA, allowing the plants to survive frost. Scientists really did create those Frankentomatoes, but they were never put on the market. (Breyers low-fat ice cream, however, does contain anti-freeze proteins from Arctic fish genes, but that’s another story.)

The tomato that did make it to market was called the Flavr Savr, engineered for longer shelf life. Fortunately, it was removed from the shelves soon after it was introduced.

Although there are no longer any genetically modified (GM) tomatoes being sold today, the FDA’s shady approval process of the Flavr Savr provides a lesson in food safety—or rather, the lack of it—as far as gene-spliced foods are concerned. We know what really went on during the FDA’s voluntary review process of the Flavr Savr in 1993, because a lawsuit forced the release of 44,000 agency memos.

(Those same memos, by the way, also showed that FDA scientists had repeatedly warned their superiors about the serious health risks of genetically modified organisms [GMOs]. They were ignored by the political appointees in charge, who allow GMOs onto the market without any required safety studies.)

Bleeding stomachs

Calgene, the tomatoes’ creator-in-chief (now a part of Monsanto), voluntarily conducted three 28-day rat feeding studies. Before I share the gory details, I must commend the Calgene scientists who were committed to transparency and full disclosure with the FDA. Unlike all other subsequent voluntary submissions from biotech firms to the agency, Calgene provided detailed feeding study data and full reports. Dr. Belinda Martineau, one of Calgene’s tomato makers, writes in First Fruit about their commitment to an open process while they attempted to introduce the world’s first GM food crop.

Calgene tested two separate Flavr Savr tomato lines. Both had the same gene inserted into the same type of tomato. The process of insertion and the subsequent cloning of the cells into GM plants can cause lots of unique and unpredicted consequences. The two lines, therefore, were not considered identical.

The rats that ate one of these Flavr Savr varieties probably wished they were in a different test group. Out of 20 female rats, 7 developed stomach lesions—bleeding stomachs. The rats eating the other Flavr Savr, or the natural tomatoes, or no tomatoes at all, had no lesions.

If we humans had such effects in our stomachs, according to Dr. Arpad Pusztai, a top GMO safety and animal feeding expert, it “could lead to life-endangering hemorrhage, particularly in the elderly who use aspirin to prevent thrombosis.”

The lab that performed the study for Calgene acknowledged that the results “did suggest a possible treatment related” problem. FDA scientists repeatedly asked Calgene to provide additional data in order to resolve what they regarded as outstanding safety questions. The director of FDA’s Office of Special Research Skills wrote that the tomatoes did not demonstrate a “reasonable certainty of no harm,” which is the normal standard of safety. The Additives Evaluation Branch agreed that “unresolved questions still remain,” and the staff pathologist stated, “In the absence of adequate explanations by Calgene, the issues raised by the Pathology Branch … remain and leave doubts as to the validity of any scientific conclusion(s) which may be drawn from the studies’ findings.”

Oh yeah, some rats died

The team that had obtained the formerly secret FDA documents sent the full Flavr Savr studies to Dr. Pusztai for review and comment. While reading them, he happened across an endnote that apparently the FDA scientists either did not see or chose to ignore. The text nonchalantly indicated that 7 of the 40 rats fed the Flavr Savr tomato died within two weeks. The dead rats had eaten the same tomato line as those that developed lesions. In the other groups, fed the other Flavr Savr line, a natural tomato control, or a water control, only one rat had died.

But the endnote summarily dismissed the cause of death as husbandry error, and no additional data or explanation was provided. The dead rats were simply replaced with new ones.

When I discussed this finding with Dr. Pusztai over the phone, he was beside himself. He told me emphatically that in proper studies, you never just dismiss the cause of death with an unsupported footnote. He said that the details of the post mortem analysis must be included in order to rule out possible causes or to raise questions for additional research. Furthermore, you simply never replace test animals once the research begins.

Questionable follow-up study

Calgene repeated the rat study. This time, one male rat from the non-GM group of 20, and two females from the GM-fed group of 15, showed stomach lesions. Calgene claimed success. They said that the necrosis (dead tissue) and erosions (inflammation and bleeding) were “incidental” and not tomato-related. The FDA staff pathologist, however, was not convinced. He responded that “the criteria for qualifying a lesion as incidental were not provided.” Further, he said that the disparity between the studies “has not been adequately addressed or explained.”

In reality, the new study was not actually a “repeat.” They used tomatoes from a different batch and used a freeze-dried concentrate rather then the frozen concentrate used in the previous trial. Dr. Martineau explained to me that by freeze-drying, it allowed them to put more of the concentrated tomato into each rat. But Dr. Pusztai said that altering the preparation of the food can lead to different results. He also pointed out that humans were more likely to consume frozen concentrate compared with freeze-dried.

In spite of the outstanding issues, the political appointees at the FDA concluded that the lesions were not related to the GM tomatoes. To be on the safe side, however, Calgene on its own chose not to commercialize the tomato line that was associated with the high rate of stomach lesions and deaths. The other line went onto supermarket shelves in 1994.

Faulty science rules the day

This was the very first GM food crop to be consumed in the US. It was arguably the most radical change in our food in all of human history. It was the product of an infant science that was prone to side-effects. Yet it was placed on the market without required labels, warnings, or post-marketing surveillance. One hopes that the FDA would have been exhaustive in their approval process, holding back approvals until all doubts were extinguished. But the agency was officially mandated with promoting biotechnology and bent over backwards to push GMOs onto the market. As a result, their evaluation was woefully inadequate.

Having discovered problems in the stomach, for example, Dr. Pusztai said they should have looked further down the digestive system at the intestines as well, but they didn’t. They should have increased the number of animals in the experiment to strengthen the findings, but they didn’t. And they should have used young (e.g. month-old) and pregnant animals as is done with pharmaceutical studies, but they didn’t.

They did, however, use rats with vast differences in starting weights. This invalidates any conclusions that there were no significant differences in weight gain, feed intake, or organ weights between GM- and non-GM-fed groups. The starting weights in the Flavr Savr experiment ranged from 130 to 258 grams for males, and 114 to 175 grams for females. Contrast that with the hundreds of rat feeding trials conducted by Dr. Pusztai, where the starting weights were within a range of 1 or 2 grams.

Dr. Pusztai also pointed out that the experimental tomatoes were grown at different locations and harvested at different times, which further increases the variability of results.

The FDA’s defense that the bleeding stomachs did not come from the Flavr Savr diet was also an exercise in faulty science. They blamed the lesions on mucolytic agents in the tomato (i.e. components that dissolves thick mucus); but according to Dr. Pusztai, tomatoes are not known to contain mucolytic agents. The FDA also claimed that it might be the food restriction in the rats’ diet—but the rats ate as much as they wanted. Or maybe it was the animal restraint—but the rats were not restrained.

The explanation that stuck to the wall was that the process of force-feeding the tomatoes through tubes was the reason for the stomach lesions. But as Dr. Pusztai and FDA scientists both observed, there was no adequate explanation as to why the rats fed GM tomatoes in the earlier study had the higher rate of lesions.

Dr. Pusztai said the “study was poorly designed and executed and, most importantly, led to flawed conclusions.” He warned, “the claim that these GM tomatoes were as safe as conventional ones is at best premature and, at worst, faulty.”

Fortunately, the Flavr Savr tomatoes lacked flavor. They also got mushy (unless they were handled in such a way that the company spent more money getting them to market than it could sell them for). They were taken off the market by the time Monsanto bought Calgene in 1997.

After the Flavr Savr’s superficial review and controversial approval, no subsequent GMO producer has ever presented such detailed safety test data to the FDA.

Part 2: The Liars

I write about the Flavr Savr in Genetic Roulette: The Documented Health Risks of Genetically Engineered Foods. Two biotech advocates, Drs. Chassy and Tribe, created a GMO disinformation site that allegedly discredits all 65 health risks highlighted in the work. I have already shown that their attack on the first risk, Dr. Pusztai’s potatoes, was based on pure PR spin and scientific sleight of hand. Below I respond to their accusations regarding the Flavr Savr.

1. (Chassy and Tribe) FDA records clearly show that experts stated that the process of introducing stomach tubes can damage the rats’ stomachs and/or end up placing test material in the lungs. . . The reader is not told that regulators approved the tomato because their concerns had been fully satisfied that the GM tomato was not toxic.

As indicated in Part 1, the actual scientists at the FDA wrote memo after memo declaring that the higher rates of lesions in the GM-fed group could not be explained away, and that they were not fully satisfied by the explanations. The discrepancy between what the political appointees at the agency stated publicly, and the concerns expressed in private memos by the scientific staff, has been clearly documented.

In fact, one memo reveals that during their Flavr Savr review, the FDA was making blatant and possibly illegal exceptions. One person wrote, “It has been made clear to us that this present submission [Flavr Savr] is not a food additive petition and the safety standard is not the food additive safety standard. It is less than that but I am not sure how much less.” According to attorney Steven Druker, who is an expert in US food safety law, the FDA’s own regulations clearly state that a lower standard should not have been applied in this instance.

As for the stomach lesions, without repeating the study with the same tomatoes, in the same concentration, with larger sample sizes, we can’t be confident that the GM line was the cause. But likewise, we can’t be confident that they were not. It’s another example of too few data.

2. No real differences were seen between groups of animals in the study. Contrary to Smith’s claims, expert pathologists stated that mild gastric erosions were seen at similar levels in both GM and non-GM fed rats.

This is quite a bizarre statement, given that seven female rats had stomach lesions in the first study, compared to none in the other feeding groups. Even the experimenters said that the results suggest a treatment-related effect. I guess if you completely ignore the main rat study in question, which apparently Chassy and Tribe would like us all to do, then you will not see significant differences. But putting blinders on to ignore inconvenient evidence does not prove safety or demonstrate good science.

3a. Rats might have been injured . . . by accidental administration of test material into the lung instead of the stomach.

3b. Gastric lesions can be caused by acidosis brought on by fasting.

Neither of these arguments address why 7 of 20 females fed GM tomatoes had lesions while the controls, reared under the same conditions, did not. Furthermore, since the rats did not fast but ate as much as they wanted, why would they throw in this irrelevant point (if not to obscure the truth)?

4. Smith is actually asking the reader to believe that the FDA would approve a lethal product.

Believe it! The FDA approves lethal products all the time. According to a report by the United States General Accounting Office, more than half of the drugs approved by the FDA between 1976 and 1985 had severe or fatal side-effects that had not been detected during the agency’s review and testing. In other words, after drug companies spent an estimated 12 years and $231 million dollars to research, test, and secure new drug approval through a very hands-on FDA approach, most of the drugs had to be taken off the market or required major label changes due to missed safety issues.

With GMOs, the situation is far more dangerous. The FDA doesn’t require a single study, the complex biology of GM crops may produce far more side-effects than drugs, GM foods are fed to the entire population, and they are not labeled or monitored, so symptoms are difficult or impossible to track.

5. There is no evidence of animal deaths. . . . Smith may have confused the words necrosis and dead cells with animal deaths. Careful reading reveals that the regulatory record does not mention any animal deaths which surely would have been of concern had they occurred. . . . This claim (in Pusztai and others 2003) appears to be blatantly untrue.

They would hope it was untrue. But just because they didn’t have access to the 44,000 documents made public from the lawsuit does not mean that the deaths did not occur. I can assure you they did, and that Dr. Pusztai, widely recognized as the world’s leading expert in his field and author of more than 300 studies, would not mistake dead cells for animal deaths.
In fact, on page 18 of the IRDC Report, it refers to “necroscopy data” on each animal. Necroscopy is an examination of a dead body, not dead cells.

The reason why the FDA scientists did not raise this issue is that they apparently either did not read the endnote, or simply accepted the unsupported conclusion on face value, which said that the necroscopy suggested that the deaths were due to a husbandry error and not test-article related. Even the Calgene scientists didn’t raise eyebrows at the finding. It wasn’t until a highly experienced animal feeding study expert like Dr. Pusztai reviewed the original papers that this oversight became apparent.

6. Interestingly, eating too many tomatoes can kill rats.

It is odd that Chassy and Tribe first claim that no rats died and then try to argue that if rats did die, tomato overdose could be the culprit. Since all the rats were fed under similar conditions, their killer-tomato argument fails to explain why 7 of 40 GM-fed animals died, compared to only 1 in the other groups.

7. These products are assessed carefully for safety before they are marketed, and—more importantly—there is no scientific reason to believe they pose and (sic) new or different risks.

To claim that there are no new potential health hazards from GMOs is absurd. Fran Sharples, the Director of the Board on Life Sciences at the US National Academy of Sciences (NAS), told me, “The academies have issued numerous reports on assessing the risks of transgenic plants. If the academy believed there were no such potential risks, why would we have delved into these matters in these reports?” One of those NAS reports even acknowledged that the current system of regulating GMOs might not detect “unintended changes in the composition of the food.”

The Royal Society of Canada stated that it is “scientifically unjustifiable” to presume that GM foods are safe and that the “default presumption” is that unintended, potentially hazardous side-effects are present. A WHO spokesperson said that current regulations are not adequate to determine the health effects; the Indian Council of Medical Research called for a complete overhaul of existing regulations; and the American Academy of Environmental Medicine called for a moratorium of GM foods altogether.

Since Chassy and Tribe are fond of using the FDA policy as support for their position, I am happy to quote Linda Kahl, an FDA compliance officer, who directly contradicts their ridiculous assertion. In a memo that summarized the position of FDA scientists about GMOs, she stated, “the processes of genetic engineering and traditional breeding are different, and according to the technical experts in the agency, they lead to different risks.”

What’s Chassy and Tribe’s real motive?

Many of the arguments presented by Chassy and Tribe are easily and completely countered by the evidence. If one were feeling especially generous, one might guess that they simply weren’t aware of the strong concerns voiced in quotes by FDA scientists, the incidence of stomach lesions in the first study, or the fact that the rats didn’t fast. But these points were contained within the very passage of Genetic Roulette that they were supposedly critiquing. If they actually read the book, which we must assume they did, then they absolutely knew that their counter-arguments were directly contradicted by FDA memos and study reports, and thus were utterly false.

Why then did they construct their website in the first place? It appears that they are not really motivated to make cogent scientific counter-arguments, but instead are hoping that the readers blindly accept their baseless condemnation of Genetic Roulette and never actually read the book.

This tactic is similar to other techniques used by the biotech industry that I describe in Genetic Roulette. GMO advocates, for example, often write up lengthy studies or reports that hardly anyone ever reads in detail. Instead, people generally look at the abstract and/or conclusion and accept the authors’ declaration that the findings demonstrate GMO safety. But when an expert actually takes the time to go through the details, he or she discovers that the conclusions are entirely unsupported and unjustified. In some cases, they are in direct opposition to the data.

It took the biotech industry three years to create their so-called academic review of Genetic Roulette. The mere fact that after all that time they could not put together even the most basic scientific arguments is a tribute to the authenticity of the book. If they could have used science to counter it, they would have. But they didn’t. They used spin.

It will continue to be my delight to go through each of their pages to expose their “scientific” sleight-of-hand. But I am much more motivated to spend my time taking steps that will end the genetic engineering of the food supply, rather than trying to convince the handful of people who accidentally wander onto Chassy and Tribe’s disinformation site. So have patience.

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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.

The European Court of Justice has decided: Bees or GMOs?

Wednesday 07 September 2011 on Bee Life

The European Court of Justice today provided its judgement: Beekeeping products contaminated with pollen derived from GM crops are considered “products derived from GMOs”

We now face a profound dilemma: Do we just automatically accept that all honey and pollen is now contaminated with GM products? Or do we demand legislation which orders that safe distances or quarantine zones must be imposed to protect bees and apiaries from toxic GM crops?

In 2005, the honey of an amateur beekeeper, Mr Bablok, from the German region of Bavaria, was found to be contaminated with GM pollen, derived from Bt corn fields (MON810) that this region was testing. According to European legislation (Regulation (EC) 1829/2003), any food-product containing GM material must go through an approval process to prove it is safe for consumers.

Since Mr Bablok believed that the GM test-crops had contaminated his honey with GM material and GM toxins, he initiated legal proceedings before the German Court of Justice. The European Court of Justice has now asserted three critical findings in its judgement, of September 6th 2011, namely:

  1. Pollen derived from GM crops, that is found in the beehive, is not considered a GM organism (GMO)
  2. Beekeeping products containing pollen derived from GM crops are considered as “produce from GMOs”
  3. The presence of GM material in honey, pollen and beekeeping products cannot be tolerated, it is illegal.

Farming was practised in a sustainable manner for centuries, until the arrival of industrialised and chemicalised farming post WWII. Along with industrial farming and monocultures, tools to control pests were developed, such as GMOs, or various forms of pesticide application (e.g. seed or soil treatments). However, the implications for our health, wildlife and our environment remain still unclear.

Recent scientific studies have proved that systemic pesticides and GM plant toxins inflict poisonous effects on the nervous systems of bees[1] and other possible toxic effects on beneficial insects like butterflies and ladybirds[2]. The pollen that Mr Bablok collected from his hives contained both genetic material from GM maize and Bacillus Thuringiensis (Bt) toxins with insecticidal properties. Therefore, quite apart from the problem that this may pose for consumers, this pollen may prove toxic for bees and other wildlife.

For many years, politicians and regulators have been unwilling to address the problem of coexistence between GM crops and traditional agriculture. But this has now come to a crisis point with beekeeping; the agricultural sector that is crucial for the pollination of a great part of human food-crops.

Bees visit flowers to harvest nectar and pollen, from which they make the honey and pollen which we consume. It is impossible to restrict the areas and flowers which the bees visit, and consequently, if the planting of GM crops in Europe increases, GM pollen and plant toxins will increasingly be found in honey and pollen.

In Europe, however, it may still be possible to avoid this problem, because the area of land planted with GM is relatively small (in Bulgaria, Romania and Spain), despite suspicions of unauthorised GMO farming in some EU member states[3]. The situation is infinitely worse in other countries like USA, Canada, China, Argentina, Brazil or India, where GM crops are now ‘the norm’ rather than the exception. In America for example, over 92 million acres were planted with GM Maize, treated with systemic neonicotinoid pesticides in 2010.

The consequences for the market are undeniable; this is a disaster for beekeepers, for honey producers and for the whole of agriculture.

Europe’s beekeeping industry will clearly be devastated as a result of this judgement. Until last week, Honey and pollen commanded a high retail value, because it was seen as good for people’s for health and wellbeing; it may now be regarded as injurious to people’s health and wellbeing. Beekeepers, cannot possibly control where their bees forage or which crops they visit, and will now be forced to prove that their products have not been contaminated with GM material. Laboratory tests will now be needed on every batch of honey and pollen, to certify that they are “GM free”. This will involve huge financial costs for both large and small beekeepers and will drive the majority of the 600.000 beekeepers in Europe from the market, since small-producers will not be able to bear such financial costs.

Those beekeepers who do manage to remain in business, despite the extra costs of the “GM free” certification, will face dramatically increased costs of production and as a result they will be forced to increase the retail price for consumers.

Lab photo (lab-picture.jpeg) If laboratory tests reveal that there is GM content in the honey and pollen, beekeepers (who cannot possibly avoid contamination), will be forced to market their products with the label “produced from GMOs”. This would prove to be a massive marketing handicap and would probably make their products unsaleable, if not completely worthless.

The European Union imports 40% of all the honey it consumes and the EU countries mentioned above, where GMOs are planted and used, account for at least 20% of EU honey production. The decision of the Court implies the withdrawal from the European market of approximately 50-60% of existing honey, which will cause consumer prices to soar. This could deliver a fatal blow to the entire market for beekeeping products in Europe, since the the average consumer will view them with great suspicion.

The opinion of the Court of Justice has made it clear: GM pollen in agricultural products equals the end for beekeeping products.

It is time for European consumers and politicians to make a decision: Do we want GMOs and GM toxins in our food, or do we want healthy bees, wholesome honey and pollen and bee-products which are free from GMOs?

Notes

[1] Ramirez-Romero R.; Desneux N.; Decourtye A.; Chaffiol A.; Pham-Delègue M.H. (2008) Does Cry1Ab protein affect learning performances of the honey bee Apis mellifera L. (Hymenoptera, Apidae)? Ecotoxicol Environ Saf. 70:327-33

[2] http://independentsciencenews.org/n…

[3] http://www.naturalnews.com/033098_H…

 

India files biopiracy lawsuit against Monsanto, says biotech giant is stealing nature for corporate gain

By Jonathan Benson on Global Research, September 28, 2011

Representing one of the most agriculturally bio-diverse nations in the world, India has become a primary target for biotechnology companies like Monsanto and Cargill to spread their genetically-modified (GM) crops into new markets. However, a recent France 24 report explains that the Indian government has decided to take an offensive approach against this attempted agricultural takeover by suing Monsanto for “biopiracy,” accusing the company of stealing India’s indigenous plants in order to re-engineer them into patented varieties.

Brinjal, also known in Western nations as eggplant, is a native Indian crop for which there are roughly 2,500 different unique varieties. Millions of Indian farmers grow brinjal, which is used in a variety of Indian food dishes, and the country grows more than a quarter of the world’s overall supply of the vegetable.

And in an attempt to capitalize on this popular crop, Monsanto has repeatedly tried to commercially market its own GM variety of brinjal called Bt brinjal. But massive public outcry against planned commercial approval of Monsanto’s “frankencrop” variety in 2010 led to the government banning it for an indefinite period of time.

But Monsanto is still stealing native crops, including brinjal, and quietly working on GM varieties of them in test fields, which is a clear violation of India’s Biological Diversity Act (BDA). So at the prompting of various farmers and activists in India, the Indian government, representing the first time in history a nation that has taken such action, has decided to sue Monsanto.

“This can send a different message to the big companies for violating the laws of the nation,” said K.S. Sugara, Member Secretary of the Karnataka Biodiversity Board, to France 24 concerning the lawsuit. “It is not acceptable … that the farmers in our communities are robbed of the advantage they should get from the indigenous varieties.”

You can watch the full France 24 video report of India’s lawsuit against Monsanto here:
http://www.france24.com/en/20110921

Farmers and active members of the public in India have been some of the world’s most outspoken opponents of Monsanto’s attempted GM takeover of agriculture. Besides successfully overturning the attempted approval of Bt brinjal, these freedom fighters have also successfully destroyed several attempted Monsanto GM test fields.

 

The new PCB: Monsanto’s Roundup weed killer turning up in air, rain and rivers

Tuesday, September 27, 2011 by: Ethan A. Huff, Natural News staff writer

(NaturalNews) Last month, the US Geological Survey (USGS) released a report showing that air, rainwater and rivers across the Midwest US agricultural belt are routinely contaminated with high levels of glyphosate, a pervasive herbicide produced by biotechnology giant Monsanto. And according to some, Monsanto has likely known about this for some time, but chosen to hide it from the public.

After two years of gathering and analyzing environmental samples, USGS scientists determined that the more than 180 million pounds of glyphosate spread on conventional and genetically-modified (GM) crops every year is causing “significant” environmental contamination.

Certain that Monsanto is hiding its own critical information about Roundup, Ken Cook, president of the consumer advocacy organization Environmental Working Group (EWG), has written an open letter to Hugh Grant, chairman and president of Monsanto, petitioning him to immediately release any and all studies the company is hiding about the herbicide.

“Monsanto notoriously hid PCB (polychlorinated biphenyl) contamination in Alabama for decades,” said Cook, referring to the infamous Monsanto PCB scandal where a plant producing the chemical from 1929 to 1972 ended up turning the entire town of Anniston, Ala., into a type of toxic waste zone — and PCB is still showing up around the area to this day (http://www.naturalnews.com/023254_Monsanto_PCB_toxic.html).

“We are asking that in this case, [Monsanto] tell the public what it knew about glyphosate contamination, and when it knew. It is inconceivable that a company with Monsanto’s scientific capacity did not predict, and examine, the possibility of air and water contamination by glyphosate.”

Back in the summer, it was revealed that Monsanto knew glyphosate caused birth defects, endocrine disruption, DNA damage, reproductive and developmental toxicity, neurotoxicity, and cancer. This was discovered in many of its own scientific studies. But according to reports, the company knowingly withheld this crucial information from the public, and from government officials, in order to keep the product on the market (http://www.naturalnews.com/032920_Roundup_birth_defects.html).

So is it unreasonable, then, to assume that Monsanto is aware of, but withholding, critical data proving that glyphosate permeates into the deepest corners of the natural environment upon extensive use, contaminating everything in its path? Cook appears to think so, and we tend to agree with him.

You can read Cook’s full letter to Monsanto’s Grant here:
http://www.ewg.org/release/government-tests-find-roundup-widespread-w…

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

 

Hungary Destroys All Monsanto GMO Corn Fields

August 09, 2011 on mercola.com

By Dr. Mercola

In March, Hungary introduced a new regulation that states seeds must be checked for genetically modified organisms (GMOs)  before they are introduced to the market. However, some genetically engineered seeds made it to the farmers without their being aware of it.

As a result, almost 1,000 acres of maize found to have been grown with genetically engineered seeds have been destroyed throughout Hungary. The deputy state secretary of the Ministry of Rural Development Lajos Bognar said that the GE maize has been ploughed under, and pollen has not spread from the maize.

Planetsave reports:

“Unlike several EU members, GMO seeds are banned in Hungary. The checks will continue despite the fact that seed traders are obliged to make sure that their products are GMO free,” Bognar said.

Nature Strikes Back

The United States, meanwhile, is beginning to see the consequences of widely planted genetically engineered crops. In the mid-’90s, Monsanto introduced seeds genetically engineered to withstand its Roundup brand of herbicide. Today, these “Roundup Ready” crops are planted all across the U.S. — 94 percent of soybeans and more than 70 percent of corn and cotton contain the Roundup-resistant gene.

But when the land is dosed with a single herbicide for years on end, the ecosystems adapt. Roundup-defying “superweeds” are getting out of control, in addition to “superpests” that are assisted by bacteria that have learned how to break down certain insecticides and render them ineffective. And the problem is only accelerating, because the resistant weeds and insects are driving out their non-resistant counterparts.

According to Mother Jones:

“These weeds adapt faster and more vigorously than their weed cousins, choking fields and clogging irrigation ditches so badly water can’t pass through.”

The news that Hungary recently destroyed nearly 1,000 acres of corn crops because they were found to be mistakenly grown with genetically modified (GM) seeds should be a major wake-up call to anyone in the United States and elsewhere who believes GM  crops are harmless. The discovery that the farmland was planted with GM seeds came when the season was already underway, so the harvest has been completely lost for this year.

What would prompt the Hungarian government to take such a drastic step?

Perhaps it is the fact that GM crops simply cannot be contained, and inevitably will contaminate the environment with GM DNA. Or it could be that they do not want superweeds, triggered by the overuse of Roundup herbicide on GM Roundup Ready crops, overtaking their farmland the way they are now doing in the United States. Then again, it could be the unknown threats to human health — and the fact that new research shows toxins from GM crops are now appearing in human blood — that made them think twice.

Either way, they are clearly well educated about the dangers of GM foods, which is a lesson the U.S. government still needs to learn.

Why Rogue Planting of GM Seeds is a Very Big Deal

Genetically modified corn, soybeans, canola, and sugar beets have made their way into approximately 80 percent of current U.S. processed grocery store items, now that up to 90 percent of several U.S.-grown crops are grown with genetically engineered seed. So if you live in the United States, you have most certainly already been exposed to GM foods — most likely a lot of them. So it may make you angry, or at least curious, to know that in Hungary, the government just destroyed crops that were grown with GM seeds and plowed the corn under so the pollen could not spread.

You see, GM seeds are banned in Hungary, as they are in several other European countries, such as Germany and Ireland. These countries have chosen NOT to allow their people to be used as guinea pigs in a massive experiment on the food supply, which is essentially what the introduction of GM crops is. Although Monsanto, the world leader in GM seeds, insists that GM foods are no different from conventionally grown varieties, the research in existence begs to differ.

Here is just a sampling of the unsavory findings associated with GM foods:

GM peas caused lung damage in mice Offspring of rats fed GM soy showed a five-fold increase in mortality, lower birth weights, and the inability to reproduce
GM potatoes may cause cancer in rats Male mice fed GM soy had damaged young sperm cells
Bacteria in your gut can take up DNA from GM food The embryo offspring of GM soy-fed mice had altered DNA functioning
GM foods lead to significant organ disruptions in rats and mice, specifically the kidney, liver, heart and spleen Several U.S. farmers reported sterility or fertility problems among pigs and cows fed on GM corn varieties
Bt corn caused a wide variety of immune responses in mice, commonly associated with diseases such as arthritis, Lou Gehrig’s disease, osteoporosis, and inflammatory bowel disease Investigators in India have documented fertility problems, abortions, premature births, and other serious health issues, including deaths, among buffaloes fed GM cottonseed products

GM Crops Have Already Overtaken U.S. Farmland

There are movements underway around the globe pressuring governments for a moratorium on untested GM seeds and foods, yet the United States is giving Monsanto free reign, aiding and abetting their agenda — even though most Americans do not want GMOs.

But the U.S. government is plowing ahead, and allowing virtually all of Monsanto’s GM crops and related chemicals to call the United States their home, despite minimal testing and widespread concern. Most recently, the USDA approved planting of GM alfalfa, the fourth-largest crop in the United States, without restriction, despite massive opposition and serious concerns that its potential to cross-pollinate and transfer genetic material is very high, if not guaranteed.

Because it’s a natural forage for pastured (organically raised grass-fed) animals, contamination would be disastrous for organic dairy- and cattle farmers, as federal organic standards forbid them from using GM crops (not to mention Monsanto’s history of suing both conventional and organic farmers for patent infringement should their crops be cross-contaminated). This could essentially make true “organic” food, which by definition should be GM-free, a virtual impossibility.

If you’re wondering why the United States leads the world in GM crop acreage, it’s because the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the FDA are heavily influenced by Monsanto, which spends millions of dollars lobbying the U.S. government for favorable legislation that supports the spread of their toxic products every year. In the first quarter of 2011 alone, Monsanto spent $1.4 million on lobbying the federal government – and this was a drop from a year earlier, when they spent $2.5 million during the same quarter.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the USDA, and the U.S. Trade Representative all have a special set of revolving doors leading straight to Monsanto, which has allowed this transnational giant to gain phenomenal authority and influence.

Monsanto’s ‘Superweeds’ Gallop through the Midwest

One of the consequences of this cozy relationship is now surfacing as superweeds make their way across the Midwest. Massive acreage of soybeans, cotton, and corn grown in the United States contain the GM Roundup Ready gene — and all of these crops receive numerous applications of Monsanto’s Roundup each and every year.

But Roundup is proving to be no match for Mother Nature. It’s estimated that more than 130 types of weeds spanning 40 U.S. states are now herbicide-resistant, and the superweeds are showing no signs of stopping.

As Mother Jones reported:

” … In what is surely the least surprising, most-anticipated major development in the history of US agriculture, farmers are discovering that when you spend years dousing land [with] a single herbicide, ecosystems adapt. Roundup Ready crops, meet Roundup-defying weeds.

 … The USDA openly acknowledges the superweed problem and even delivered a pretty good explainer on it in its environmental impact statement on Roundup Ready alfalfa. Yet it keeps deregulating or choosing not to regulate at all new Roundup Ready crops, all of them quite widely planted.

This year alone, the agency has green-lighted Roundup Ready versions of alfalfa (a major cow feed); sugar beets (source of half of US sugar), and most recently, Kentucky bluegrass (popular lawn turf). These dubious USDA decisions will likely bring millions more acres-including lawns, parks, and golf courses near you-under the Roundup Ready domain.”

On a slightly brighter note, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is finally looking into the damaging effects of glyphosate (the key ingredient in Roundup) on humans and the environment and plans to make a decision regarding its future by 2015. At that time, Roundup could either continue to be used as it is now, be required to have some modifications to its use or be banned from use entirely in the United States.

You Can Fight Back Against GM Foods

If you do not live in Hungary or another country that is operating the precautionary principle regarding GM foods, it doesn’t mean you have to be a helpless guinea pig in this giant experiment. In fact, the time to take action against them is now, as there are signs that consumer advocates are making a difference and public disclosure and debate is urgently needed.

For instance, on May 20, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a summary order in favor of farmers and consumer advocates, requiring the USDA to prepare a rigorous environmental study of the impacts of GM sugar beets. Once that review is done, the Court will decide whether GM sugar beets may be grown for commercial use. The USDA has estimated it will complete the Environmental Impact Statement sometime in 2012.

Organic farmers and food advocates are also fighting back with a lawsuit aimed at preventing GM alfalfa from being unleashed.

I believe the sooner you get involved, the sooner we will persevere and eliminate these toxic threats in the United States and other parts of the world. We will require loads of education to be effective, however, as many are still completely clueless about GM foods and have no idea that they’re eating them every day, and have been eating them for years!

If you’re eating CAFO (confined animal feeding operation) meats and processed foods that are not 100% USDA organic, you’re eating GMO’s. It’s that simple. The answer is to buy organic, and/or look for foods that are “non-GMO certified” by the Non-GMO Project. For your convenience, download this Non-GMO Shopping Guide, and share it with everyone you know.

Although GM foods still do not require labeling by law, the campaign for GMO labeling is making progress, thanks to the persistence of Jeffrey Smith and the Institute for Responsible Technology, an organization whose goal is to end the genetic engineering of our food supply and the outdoor release of GM crops. If you like, you can join the fight by signing the petition to President Obama in support of mandatory labeling of GM foods.

By educating the public about the risks of GM foods through a massive education campaign, and by circulating the Non-GMO Shopping Guide so consumers can make healthier non-GMO choices, the Institute’s plan is to generate a tipping point of consumer rejection to make GMOs a thing of the past. To keep up with the latest actions and developments on this important issue, you can follow my Mercola.com GMO page, as well as our Non-GMOs page on Facebook.