Category : GMO’s

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Cloned Salmon – Labeling Is Not the Issue: Safety and Ethics Are

Two days of public hearings have passed on the approval of the first genetically engineered (GE) animal intended for human consumption, the AquAdvantage GE salmon — including a U.S. Food and drug Administration (FDA) hearing today to discuss whether or not these GE fish should be labeled as such if they are approved; a 60-day public comment period on the labeling issue will be open until November 22, 2010. But the question of labeling presupposes that allowing is a done deal, despite the fact that the FDA has made up its mind in the absence of proof of any kind, much less anything resembling definitive evidence of safety: for salmon, for the environment and for humans.

Introducing Jeffrey Smith

Jeffrey Smith is author of Seeds of Deception, the world’s bestselling and #1 rated book on the topic of GMO’s. Mr. Smith is the Executive Director of the Institute for Responsible Technology, whose Campaign for Healthier Eating in America is designed to create the tipping point for consumer rejection of GMOs, forcing them out of our food supply. He is a close ally of Citizens For Health and will be providing us with frequent blog posts over the next several months.

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It’s time to reclaim a food supply without dangerous genetically modified organisms (GMOs). And we can do it—together.

When European consumers said no to GMOs, the food companies kicked them out. As more and more US consumers rejected GM bovine growth hormone, most dairies and brands, including Wal-Mart, Starbucks, Kroger, Dannon, and Yoplait, responded.

Now we are joining forces nationwide in the Campaign for Healthier Eating in America—designed to achieve the tipping point of consumer rejection of GMO to force them out of the market.

October is Non-GMO Month and 10-10-10 is Non-GMO Day. Between now and then, we will send out a series of articles you won’t want to miss.

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US Association of Physicians Calls for Moratorium on GMO Foods

The American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) has just issued a call for an immediate moratorium on Genetically Manipulated (GMO) Foods.

In a just-released position paper on GMO foods, the AAEM states that ‘GM foods pose a serious health risk’ and calls for a moratorium on GMO foods. Citing several animal studies, the AAEM concludes ‘there is more than a casual association between GMO foods and adverse health effects’ and that ‘GM foods pose a serious health risk in the areas of toxicology, allergy and immune function, reproductive health, and metabolic, physiologic and genetic health.’ The report is a devastating blow to the multibillion dollar international agribusiness industry, most especially to Monsanto Corporation, the world’s leading purveyor of GMO seeds and related herbicides.

In a press release dated May 19, the American Academy of Environmental Medicine, which describes itself as ‘an international association of physicians and other professionals dedicated to addressing the clinical aspects of environmental health,’ called immediately for the following emergency measures to be taken regarding human consumption of GMO foods:

* A moratorium on GMO food; implementation of immediate long term safety testing and labelling of GMO food.
* Physicians to educate their patients, the medical community and the public to avoid GMO foods.
* Physicians to consider the role of GMO foods in their patients’ disease processes.
* More independent long term scientific studies to begin gathering data to investigate the role of GMO foods on human health.

The AAEM chairperson, Dr Amy Dean notes that ‘Multiple animal studies have shown that GM foods cause damage to various organ systems in the body. With this mounting evidence, it is imperative to have a moratorium on GM foods for the safety of our patients’ and the public’s health.’ The President of the AAEM, Dr Jennifer Armstrong stressed that ‘Physicians are probably seeing the effects in their patients, but need to know how to ask the right questions. The most common foods in North America which are consumed that are GMO are corn, soy, canola, and cottonseed oil.’ The AAEM’s position paper on Genetically Modified foods can be found at http:aaemonline.org.

The paper further states that Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) technology ‘abrogates natural reproductive processes, selection occurs at the single cell level, the procedure is highly mutagenic and routinely breeches genera barriers, and the technique has only been used commercially for 10 years.’
The AAEM paper further states, ‘several animal studies indicate serious health risks associated with GM food consumption including infertility, immune dysregulation, accelerated aging, dysregulation of genes associated with cholesterol synthesis, insulin regulation, cell signalling, and protein formation, and changes in the liver, kidney, spleen and gastrointestinal system.’

They add, ‘There is more than a casual association between GM foods and adverse health effects. There is causation as defined by Hill’s Criteria in the areas of strength of association, consistency, specificity, biological gradient, and biological plausibility. The strength of association and consistency between GM foods and disease is confirmed in several animal studies.’

GMO is toxic
The AAEM paper should give grounds for official rethinking of the current quasi laissez faire regulatory stance to GMO in which the solemn word of the GMO seed companies such as Monsanto is regarded as scientifically valid proof of safety. The AAEM study is worth citing in detail in this regard:

‘Specificity of the association of GM foods and specific disease processes is also supported. Multiple animal studies show significant immune dysregulation, including upregulation of cytokines associated with asthma, allergy, and inflammation. Animal studies also show altered structure and function of the liver, including altered lipid and carbohydrate metabolism as well as cellular changes that could lead to accelerated aging and possibly lead to the accumulation of reactive oxygen species (ROS). Changes in the kidney, pancreas and spleen have also been documented. A recent 2008 study links GM corn with infertility, showing a significant decrease in offspring over time and significantly lower litter weight in mice fed GM corn. This study also found that over 400 genes were found to be expressed differently in the mice fed GM corn. These are genes known to control protein synthesis and modification, cell signaling, cholesterol synthesis, and insulin regulation. Studies also show intestinal damage in animals fed GM foods, including proliferative cell growth and disruption of the intestinal immune system.’

The AAEM study also reviewed the biotechnology industry claims that GMO foods can feed the world through production of higher crop yields. It cited contrary evidence that the opposite appeared to be true, namely that over time GMO harvest yields were lower than conventional yields and required over time, more not less, highly toxic herbicidal chemicals such as glyphosate. The report noted, ‘The several thousand field trials over the last 20 years for genes aimed at increasing operational or intrinsic yield (of crops) indicate a significant undertaking. Yet none of these field trials have resulted in increased yield in commercialized major food/feed crops, with the exception of Bt corn.’ However, the slight yield gain for Bt corn they report was ‘largely due to traditional breeding improvements,’ and not to GMO.

They conclude that because GMO foods ‘pose a serious health risk in the areas of toxicology, allergy and immune function, reproductive health, and metabolic, physiologic and genetic health and are without benefit, the AAEM believes that it is imperative to adopt the precautionary principle, which is one of the main regulatory tools of the European Union environmental and health policy and serves as a foundation for several international agreements.The most commonly used definition is from the 1992 Rio Declaration that states: ‘In order to protect the environment, the precautionary approach shall be widely applied by States according to their capabilities. Where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty shall not be used as a reason for postponing cost-effective measures to prevent environmental degradation.’

Under intense public pressure, the German Minister of Agriculture recently issued a prohibition of planting for Monsanto MON810 GMO corn. Unfortunately, two weeks later she permitted planting of GMO potato seeds. Amflora, a genetically modified potato manufactured by chemicals giant BASF (a joint venture GMO partner of Monsanto), was declared by the German Ministry as posing ‘no danger for human health or the environment,’ The Ministry cited ‘in-depth examination’ and talks with scientific and economic experts as basis for the reckless decision.

The publication of the sensational critique of GMO by the American Academy of Environmental Medicine has been greeted with stone silence by most major US media and international press.

GMO politics
As I describe in great detail in my book, Seeds of Destruction: The Hidden Agenda of Genetic Manipulation, GMO was released on the general public in the early 1990’s in the USA under an executive decision by then President George Herbert Walker Bush, reportedly following closed door meetings with leading Monsanto executives. President Bush mandated that there should be no special health and safety tests done by any US Government agency before releasing GMO for food consumption. It came to be known as the Doctrine of Substantial Equivalence.

The US Government, on urging of Monsanto and the GMO lobby, further decided that labeling of a food product as ‘GMO free’ should be prohibited, using the vaguely formulated and entirely unscientific ‘doctrine’ proclaimed by President Bush in 1992, namely that GMO plants and non-GMO or ordinary plants were ‘substantially equivalent’ and hence needed no special testing before being released to the public.
That Substantial Equivalence Doctrine, despite the fact that it directly contradicts the demand of the GMO companies for exclusive patent rights to their GMO seeds as being ‘unique’ and different from ordinary seeds, enabled Monsanto, Dow Chemicals, DuPont and other GMO patent holders to proliferate their products with no control. Most Americans naively believe that the Government Food and Drug Administration and US Department of Agriculture are there to make certain industrial food products are confirmed fully safe for human and for animal consumption before licensing.

That de facto prohibition on labeling GMO foods has meant that most Americans have no idea how much of their daily diet from store-bought Corn Flakes to soybeans to corn and additives in every food on the supermarket shelf contained GMO contamination.

Coincident with the mass introduction of GMO into the human and animal diet in the United States beginning the end of the 1990’s, there have been reported epidemic levels of allergic outbreaks in humans, strange diseases and numerous other health issues. The fact it is forbidden by Federal law to label GMO products means most health professionals are not even aware there might be any connection to a GMO diet for millions of Americans. The US population, since the 1992 ruling of President Bush—a ruling reaffirmed by presidents Clinton, George W. Bush and now by Barack Obama and his pro-GMO Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack—has been in effect treated as human guinea pigs in mass experimentation for substances never independently proven in long-term (ten years or longer) studies to be safe.

It remains to be seen if the scientific critique of the AAEM is given the attention it warrants.

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Amid Monsanto’s Antitrust Troubles, Another Study Questions the Health Effects of GMOs

By Tom Philphot via www.grist.com

December 16, 2009

corn

Pity executives at genetically modified seed giant Monsanto. Not only are they having to knock heads with Department of Justice lawyers over the company’s business practices, but some of their most-cherished PR talking points are being obliterated by researchers.

In the past few months, we’ve learned that its much-vaunted technologies don’t really increase yields after all; and aren’t really all that promising for adapting to climate change.

We’re also getting a trickle of information that calls into serious question the PR talking point on which the entire GMO seed industry hangs: that GMO products are safe to eat. This is a widely held assumption; but as Don Lotter showed in a recent paper in the International Journal of the Sociology of Food and Agriculture, there has actually been shockingly little research done on the long-term effects of eating GMO foods—and most of what has been was conducted by the industry itself.

The problem is that government funding for independent research on GMOs is scant—and industry funding is non-existent. And it’s extremely difficult for independent researchers to get their hands on GMO seeds without signing restrictive contracts with their patent holders, as the New York Times reported earlier this year.

The independent research that has been done on the health effects of GMOs paints an alarming picture. Here’s my discussion of the results of a multigenerational study, funded by the Austrian government, that came out last year on the effects of GMO corn on mice. Short story: in the third and forth generations, mice fed GMOs showed “statistically significant” reproductive dysfunction.

And now comes this study by three French university researchers. It’s a fascinating piece of work. The researchers analyzed data from tests done on rats by Monsanto and another biotech firm, Covance Laboratories, submitted to European government in 2000 and 2001. The firms conducted the tests to prove that their products were safe to eat; scrutinizing the same data, the researchers arrived at a different conclusion.

The three products in question are still quite relevant: one strain of Roundup Ready corn, engineered to withstand Monsanto’s flagship herbicide; and two strands of Bt corn, engineered to contain the insect-killing gene from the BT bacteria. Roundup Ready and Bt products are ubiquitous in the U.S. seed supply, often “stacked” into the same seed.

Here’s what the researchers found:

Genetically Modified Rice Trial Cost Bayer $2 Million

GM Rice

By Jane Akre via www.injuryboard.com

It is the first in a series of test cases challenging the promises of agricultural biotechnology.

Bayer CropScience LP must pay about $2 million to two Missouri farmers after an experimental genetically engineered variety of rice, called LibertyLink, contaminated their crops.

The federal case has been in a St. Louis court for about a month and, in a broad sense, represents every farmer in America who has had their crops contaminated by the novel proteins of experimental and unapproved agricultural products derived from genetic engineering (GE), also known as genetically modified organisms (GMO).

In this case LibertyLink rice, or LLRICE601, is created by crossing the DNA of plant with a bacterial containing gene that causes the rice to produce a protein that makes it resistant to a Bayer’s herbicide.

Bayer owns the seeds, sells it to farmers under strict user agreements. Then Bayer’s herbicide is used exclusively to douse the field, leaving only the GMO plant standing.

The rice variety was not approved for human consumption when from 1998 to 2001 Bayer grew the GE rice in test fields with Louisiana State University.

Winds and a failure to segregate seeds and plants eventually cause the GMO to drift into nearby fields in Crowley, Louisiana. LLRICE601 eventually contaminated more than 30 percent of U.S. rice lands in 2006, according to a lawyer for the plaintiffs.

More than 1.000 similar cases have been filed against Bayer.

Japan, Russia, and the European Union have strict limits on U.S. rice imports. The EU requires long-grain rice from the U.S. be certified GMO-free.

When the USDA found the GE rice in the food chain in 2006, rice futures plunged and cost U.S. farmers about $150 million, according to a consolidated complaint. The USDA deregulated LLRICE 601 in November 2006, but it is not sold commercially.

$2 million jury award was only for compensatory damages since jurors decided that Bayer had been lax in its handling of the experimental seed.

One lawyer representing the plaintiffs told jurors that $80 million in punitive damages would not be too much to send a message, reports Bloomberg, but punitive damages were not awarded. Jurors said it hadn’t been proven that Bayer did the contamination on purpose.

November 2006, the USDA deregulated Liberty Link rice, also known as LLRICE601, though it was not approved to develop commercially for human consumption.

The next in a line of litigation will involve farmers from Arkansas and Mississippi and is scheduled to start January 11 in St. Louis.

The case is reminiscent of a similar GMO contamination settlement involving corn.

In the fall of 2000, GMO corn “StarLink” was approved for use as animal feed but found its way into the human food chain after a failure to segregate seeds.

Corn products, such as taco shells, had to be recalled from store shelves and a class-action was settled for $110 million plus interest to farmers whose crops were tainted with StarLink corn, or who suffered from a drop in corn prices due to the controversy over gene-spliced StarLink corn.

Read more: www.injuryboard.com

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Monsanto a Focus of US Antitrust Investigation

monsanto

original link: www.npr.org
By CHRISTOPHER LEONARD AP Agribusiness Writer
ST. LOUIS October 8, 2009 (AP)

The Justice Department is investigating whether Monsanto Co. violated antitrust rules in trying to expand its dominance of the market for genetically engineered crops.

Monsanto has provided interviews and documents to the Justice Department, company spokesman Lee Quarles said. He said the department has questioned Monsanto about its marketing tactics in the biotech seed industry, which have become a target of criticism.

Quarles said Monsanto has done nothing illegal and is cooperating with the department.

“We definitely stand behind our business,” he said.

At issue is how the world’s largest seed company sells and licenses its patented genes. Monsanto has licensing agreements with seed companies that let those companies insert Monsanto genes into about 96 percent of U.S. soybean crops and 80 percent of all corn crops.

Monsanto’s rivals allege that the company uses the licensing agreements to squeeze competitors and control smaller seed companies — an allegation Monsanto denies.

The inquiry into St. Louis-based Monsanto is part of a previously announced Justice Department investigation of consolidation in the seed industry.

A department spokeswoman declined to confirm or deny the investigation. But the department has interviewed two of Monsanto’s biggest rivals, Delaware-based DuPont and Swiss biotech firm Syngenta AG, about Monsanto’s business practices. Both companies said they are cooperating with the probe.

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