Originally published on Sustainable Pulse. A genetically modified (GM) rice product developed by a group of Chinese scientists has acquired the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval, the first such Chinese product allowed to enter the US market. However, neither China nor the US has approved mass cultivation of the rice amid low acceptance… Read More China’s First GM Rice Gets U.S. FDA Approval
Originally published on GMWatch Eleven out of 12 EU pesticide and GMO risk assessment methods studied were developed or promoted by industry, a new report from Pesticide Action Network (PAN) shows. The report says that harmful effects observed in animal safety studies on pesticides can be swept under the carpet by using these methods. For example, tumours… Read More Industry writes its own rules for assessing pesticides, GMOs
If you’re still eating genetically modified (GM) soybeans and you plan on having kids, a Brazilian study may make you think again about what you put in your mouth. Female rats fed GM soy for 15 months showed significant changes in their uterus and reproductive cycle, compared to rats fed organic soy or those raised without soy. Published in The Anatomical Record in 2009, this finding adds to the mounting body of evidence suggesting that GM foods contribute to reproductive disorders (see summary at end).
Unlike women whose menstrual cycle starts automatically at puberty, female rats need to be "inspired." Their (estrous) cycle conveniently kicks in only after being introduced to male rats. Since no males were present in this study, the females fed organic soy or no soy were appropriately untriggered (diestrus). For some odd reason, however, those fed GM soy appeared to have their ovulation cycle in full gear.
Although the researchers did not perform a check on the estrous cycle directly, their microscopic analysis of ovaries and uterus tissue showed that the hormone-induced changes (i.e. early ovulation and formation of corpus luteum) were well underway. In addition, the lining of the uterus (endometriim) had more cells than normal and the glands were dilated. In simpler terms, according to senior UK pathologist Stanley Ewen, something in the GM soy diet was "wrecking the ovary and endometrium" of the rats.
Covering up health dangers
The policy Taylor oversaw in 1992 needed to create the impression that unintended effects from GM crops were not an issue. Otherwise their GRAS status would be undermined. But internal memos made public from a lawsuit showed that the overwhelming consensus among the agency scientists was that GM crops can have unpredictable, hard-to-detect side effects. Various departments and experts spelled these out in detail, listing allergies, toxins, nutritional effects, and new diseases as potential problems. They had urged superiors to require long-term safety studies. In spite of the warnings, according to public interest attorney Steven Druker who studied the FDA’s internal files, “References to the unintended negative effects of bioengineering were progressively deleted from drafts of the policy statement (over the protests of agency scientists).”
Infiltrating the Minds and Offices of the Government
To get their genetically modified products approved, Monsanto has coerced, infiltrated, and paid off government officials around the globe. In Indonesia, Monsanto gave bribes and questionable payments to at least 140 officials, attempting to get their genetically modified (GM) cotton accepted. In 1998, six Canadian government scientists testified before the Senate that they were being pressured by superiors to approve rbGH, that documents were stolen from a locked file cabinet in a government office, and that Monsanto offered them a bribe of $1-2 million to pass the drug without further tests. In India, one official tampered with the report on Bt cotton to increase the yield figures to favor Monsanto. And Monsanto seems to have planted their own people in key government positions in India, Brazil, Europe, and worldwide.
At a biotech industry conference in January 1999, a representative from Arthur Anderson, LLP explained how they had helped Monsanto design their strategic plan. First, his team asked Monsanto executives what their ideal future looked like in 15 to 20 years. The executives described a world with 100% of all commercial seeds genetically modified and patented. Anderson consultants then worked backwards from that goal, and developed the strategy and tactics to achieve it. They presented Monsanto with the steps and procedures needed to obtain a place of industry dominance in a world in which natural seeds were virtually extinct.
This was a bold new direction for Monsanto, which needed a big change to distance them from a controversial past…
For a couple of years, the Institute for Responsible Technology has predicted that the US would soon experience a tipping point of consumer rejection against genetically modified foods; a change we’re all helping to bring about. Now a December article in Supermarket News supports both our prediction and the role the Institute is playing.
"The coming year promises to bring about a greater, more pervasive awarenes" of the genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in our food supply, wrote Group Editor Robert Vosburgh, in a trade publication that conventional food executives and retailers use as a primary source of news and trends in the industry. Vosburgh describes how previous food "culprits" like fat and carbs "can even define the decade in which they were topical," and suggests that GMOs may finally burst through into the public awareness and join their ranks.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack was getting lots of appreciative applause and head nods from the packed hall at the Community Food Security Coalition conference today, held in Des Moines, Iowa. He described the USDA’s plans to improve school nutrition, support local food systems, and work with the Justice Department to review the impact of corporate agribusiness on small farmers. But then, with time for only one more question, I was handed the microphone.
“Mr. Secretary, may I ask a tough question on GMOs?”
He said yes.
How do GMOs affect us, the food we eat, and the environment? Jeffrey Smith, founder of the Institute for Responsible Technology provides a solid general overview in this interview on the Pinky Show.
Rhetoric from Washington since the early 1990s proclaims that genetically modified (GM) foods are no different from their natural counterparts that have existed for centuries. But this is a political, not a scientific assertion. Numerous scientists at the FDA consistently described these newly introduced gene-spliced foods as cause for concern. In addition to their potential to produce hard-to-detect allergies and nutritional problems, the scientists said that "The possibility of unexpected, accidental changes in genetically engineered plants" might produce "unexpected high concentrations of plant toxicants." GM crops, they said, might have "Increased levels of known naturally occurring toxins, . . . appearance of new, not previously identified" toxins, and an increased tendency to gather "toxic substances from the environment" such as "pesticides or heavy metals." They recommended testing every GM food "before it enters the marketplace." But the FDA was under orders from the first Bush White House to promote the biotechnology industry, and the political appointee in charge of agency policy was Monsanto’s former attorney—later their vice president. The FDA policy ignored the scientists’ warnings and allowed GM food crops onto the market without any required safety studies.
In October, 1989, 44-year old Kathy Lorio arrived in the medical office of Dr. Phil Hertzman in Los Alamos, New Mexico. Lorio, who had been healthy and active, was suddenly struck with severe pain and a host of debilitating symptoms. Blood tests revealed that her eosinophil count had skyrocketed. The normal concentration of this white blood cell is about 10 per CC. Allergies or asthma can make it rise to 500. Lorio’s was over 10,000.