Leak: US Using Taxpayer Dollars To Promote Monsanto GMOs Overseas

by
May 15th, 2013

Just when you thought the latest Supreme Court ruling in favor of Monsanto’s anti-farmer patent policy was enough evidence of Monsanto’s deep relationship with the US government, hundreds of new cables from the State Department and embassies around the world reveal that your taxpayer dollars are being used to push Monsanto’s genetically modified seeds.

Even mainstream news websites like Reuters are now reporting on the cable details, as it becomes more than crystal clear that the United States government is literally assisting Monsanto in promoting it’s health-crushing genetically modified seeds and escalating the corporation above the law. The same corporation busted for running slave-like work rings where ‘employees’ were required to work on the GMO corn fields for up to 14 hours a day or have their pay withheld.

“It really goes beyond promoting the U.S.’s biotech industry and agriculture,” said Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch. “It really gets down to twisting the arms of countries and working to undermine local democratic movements that may be opposed to biotech crops, and pressuring foreign governments to also reduce the oversight of biotech crops.”

Read the full article here

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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

Scientific studies conclude GMO feed causes organ disruption in animals

Wednesday, October 05, 2011 by: Jeffrey M. Smith – Natural News

(NaturalNews) A new paper reviewing data from 19 animal studies shows that consuming genetically modified (GM) corn or soybeans leads to significant organ disruptions in rats and mice, particularly in livers and kidneys (http://www.enveurope.com/content/23/1/10). “Other organs may be affected too, such as the heart and spleen, or blood cells,” stated the paper. In fact some of the animals fed genetically modified organisms had altered body weights, which is “a very good predictor of side effects in various organs.”

The GM soybean and corn varieties used in the feeding trials “constitute 83% of the commercialized GMOs” that are currently consumed by billions of people. While the findings may have serious ramifications for the human population, the authors demonstrate how a multitude of GMO-related health problems could easily pass undetected through the superficial and largely incompetent safety assessments that are used around the world.

The researchers, lead by French Professor Gilles-Eric Seralini, found that nearly 1 out of every 10 measured parameters in the studies, including blood and urine biochemistry, organ weights, and microscopic analyses, were significantly disrupted in the animals fed GMOs. The kidneys of males fared the worst, with 43.5% of all the changes. The liver of females followed, with 30.8%. The report, published in Environmental Sciences Europe on March 1, 2011, confirms that “several convergent data appear to indicate liver and kidney problems as end points of GMO diet effects.” The authors point out that livers and kidneys “are the major reactive organs” in cases of chronic food toxicity.

Feed’em longer!

One of the most glaring faults in the current regulatory regime is the short duration of animals feeding studies. The industry limits trials to 90 days at most, with some less than a month. Only two studies reviewed in this new publication were over 90 days — both were non-industry research.

Short studies could easily miss many serious effects of GMOs. It is well established that some pesticides and drugs, for example, can create effects that are passed on through generations, only showing up decades later. IN the case of the drug DES (diethylstilbestrol), “induced female genital cancers among other problems in the second generation.” The authors urge regulators to require long-term multi-generational studies, to “provide evidence of carcinogenic, developmental, hormonal, neural, and reproductive potential dysfunctions, as it does for pesticides or drugs.”

Pesticide Plants

Nearly all GM crops are described as “pesticide plants.” They either tolerate doses of weed killer, such as Roundup, or produce an insecticide called Bt-toxin. In both cases, the added toxin — weedkiller or bug killer — is found inside the corn or soybeans we consume.

When regulators evaluate the toxic effects of pesticides, they typically require studies using three types of animals, with at least one feeding trial lasting 2 years or more. One third or more of the side effects produced by these toxins will show up only in the longer study — not the shorter ones. But for no good reason, regulators ignore the lessons learned from pesticides and waive the GM crops-containing-pesticides onto the market with a single species tested for just 90 days. The authors affirm that “it is impossible, within only 13 weeks, to conclude about the kind of pathology that could be induced by pesticide GMOs and whether it is a major pathology or a minor one. It is therefore necessary to prolong the tests.”

GMO approvals also ignore the new understanding that toxins don’t always follow a linear dose-response. Sometimes a smaller amount of toxins have greater impact than larger doses. Approvals also overlook the fact that mixtures can be far more dangerous than single chemicals acting alone. Roundup residues, for example, have been “shown to be toxic for human placental, embryonic, and umbilical cord cells,” whereas Roundup’s active ingredient glyphosate does not on its own provoke the same degree of damage. One reason for this is that the chemicals in Roundup “stabilize glyphosate and allow its penetration into cells.”

Furthermore, toxins may generate new substances (metabolites) “either in the GM plant or in the animals fed with it.” Current assessments completely ignore the potential danger from these new components in our diets, such as the “new metabolites” in GMOs engineered to withstand Roundup. The authors warn, “We consider this as a major oversight in the present regulations.”

“It’s not the same stuff that farmers spray”

Regulators claim that the Bt-toxin produced inside GM corn is safe. They say that the Bt gene comes from soil bacteria Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), which has been safely applied as a spray-on insecticide by farmers in the past. But the authors insist that “the argument about ‘safe use history’ of the wild Bt protein . . . Cannot, on a sound scientific basis, be used for direct authorizations of . . . GM corns,” without conducting proper long-term animal feeding studies.

In order to justify their claim that the wild Bt-toxin is safe, the authors state that it must first be separately tested on animals and humans and then authorized individually for food or feed, which it has not. And even if the wild variety had been confirmed as safe, the GM versions are so different, they must require their own independent studies. The paper states:

“The Bt toxins in GMOs are new and modified, truncated, or chimerical in order to change their activities/solubility in comparison to wild Bt. For instance, there is at least a 40% difference between the toxin in Bt176 [corn] and its wild counterpart.”

Even though the isolated Bt-toxin from GM corn has not been tested on animals, rodent studies on corn containing the toxin do show problems. Male rats fed Monsanto’s MON863 corn, for example, had smaller kidneys with more focal inflammation and other “disrupted biochemical markers typical of kidney filtration or function problems.”

Stop with the dumb excuses

If statistically significant problems show up in their studies, biotech company researchers often attempt to explain away the adverse findings. But the authors of this review paper describe their excuses as unscientific, obsolete, or unjustified.

When male and female animals have different results, for example, biotech advocates claim that this couldn’t possibly be related to the feed. Since both genders eat the same amount, they argue, both would have to show the same reaction in all of their organs, etc. And if the group of animals fed with less of the GMO feed exhibit more severe reactions than the group fed the larger amount, advocates claim that this discrepancy also means that the GMOs could not be the cause, since there must always be a linear dose relationship.

The authors of this paper, however, point out that effects found in a GMO animal feeding study “cannot be disregarded on the rationale that it is not linear to the dose (or dose-related) or not comparable in genders. This would not be scientifically acceptable.” In fact, most “pathological and endocrine effects in environmental health are not directly proportional to the dose, and they have a differential threshold of sensitivity in both sexes. This is, for instance, the case with carcinogenesis and endocrine disruption.”

What’s the culprit, pesticide or plant?

The shortcomings of the feeding studies make it impossible to determine whether a particular problem is due to the added pesticide, such as Roundup residues or Bt-toxin, or due to the genetic changes in the modified plants’ DNA.

Mice fed Roundup Ready soybeans, for example, showed numerous changes indicating increased metabolic rates in the liver (i.e. irregular hepatocyte nuclei, more nuclear pores, numerous small fibrillar centers, and abundant dense fibrillar components). Since studies on Roundup herbicide also show changes in the liver cells of mice and humans, the Roundup residues within the soybeans may be a significant contributing factor to the metabolic changes.

Similarly, rats fed Roundup Ready corn showed indications that their kidneys leaked. Such an effect “is well correlated with the effects of glyphosate-based herbicides (like Roundup) observed on embryonic kidney cells.” Thus, the rats’ kidney problems may also be caused by the Roundup that is accumulated within Roundup Ready corn kernels.

In addition to the herbicide, the Bt-toxin insecticide produced inside GM corn might also cause disorders. The authors state, “The insecticide produced by MON810 [corn] could also induce liver reactions, like many other pesticides.” Studies do confirm significant liver changes in rats fed Bt corn.

On the other hand, “unintended effects of the genetic modification itself cannot be excluded” as the possible cause of these very same health problems. The process of gene insertion followed by cloning plant cells (tissue culture) can cause massive collateral damage in the plant’s DNA with potentially harmful side-effects. In MON810 corn, for example, the insertion “caused a complex recombination event, leading to the synthesis of new RNA products encoding unknown proteins.” The authors warn that “genetic modifications can induce global changes” in the DNA, RNA, proteins, and the numerous natural products (metabolites), but the faulty safety assessments are not designed to adequately identify these changes or their health impacts.

Population at risk

In addition to the shortcomings mentioned above, the paper shows how GMO feeding trials are “based on ancient paradigms” with “serious conceptual and methodological flaws,” employ statistical methods that obscure the findings, add irrelevant control groups that confuse and confound the analysis, and rely on numerous assumptions that either remain untested or have already proved false.

Unlike drug approvals, biotech companies do not conduct human studies. They would therefore fail to identify both general human health reactions, and the potentially more serious ones endured by sub-populations. “If some consumers suffer from stomach problems or ulcers,” for example, the paper states, “the new toxins will possibly act differently; the digestion in children could be affected too.” The paper recommends the implementation of post market monitoring, which, among other things, “should be linked with the possibility of detecting allergenicity reactions to GMOs in routine medicine.”

But even if authorities wanted to conduct epidemiological studies on GMOs, the authors acknowledge that they “are not feasible in America, since there is no organized traceability of GMOs anywhere on the continent.” Not only is labeling of GMOs urgently needed to allow such studies to proceed, the study says:

“The traceability of products from animals fed on GMOs is also crucial. The reason for this is because they can develop chronic diseases which are not utterly known today…. Labeling animals fed on GMOs is therefore necessary because some pesticide residues linked to GMOs could pass into the food chain.”

They also point out that “even if pesticides residues or DNA fragments are not toxic nor transmitted by themselves” nevertheless, “nobody would want to eat disabled or physiologically modified animals after long-term GMOs ingestion.”

“New experiments,” they concluded, “should be systematically performed to protect the health of billions of people that could consume directly or indirectly these transformed products.”

In the meantime, for those not willing to wait for the new studies, we recommend consulting the Non-GMO Shopping Guide at www.NonGMOShoppingGuide.com

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.

 

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.

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…

 

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…