E-Mail Edition Volume 13 Number 2
Published Winter, 2016
Published by Piccadilly Books, Ltd., www.piccadillybooks.com.
Bruce Fife, N.D., Publisher, http://www.coconutresearchcenter.org/
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Genetically Modified Bull
Are Genetically Engineered Foods the Wave of the Future?
What You Should Know About the Foods You Eat
GE salmon have genes from a Chinook salmon and an ocean pout—a type of eel—that make more than the usual dose of growth hormone, so they reach market size in half the time as natural salmon. A genetically engineered salmon from AquaBounty Technologies, rear, with a conventionally raised sibling roughly the same age.
The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently announced that it has approved the sale of genetically engineered (GE) salmon for human consumption, making it the first genetically altered animal to be cleared for sale in supermarkets and restaurants. The genetically altered salmon are engineered to produce a higher level of growth hormone, causing them to reach market size in just half the time as conventionally raised salmon.
More GE foods are on the way. Korean scientists have developed hogs with extraordinarily large backsides, the part that pork-eaters particularly value. These grotesque-looking hogs resemble something you might imagine from creepy offspring of animals exposed to high levels of radiation more than they do potential sources of food for human consumption. Their appearance is enough to turn anybody’s stomach.
Developing animals that produce a greater percentage of prime cuts of meat is a major goal of genetic scientists. However, not all of the genetic manipulations are focused on producing larger animals or animals with grossly expanded body parts. Some animals are developed to enhance or remove certain characteristics. Researchers in Minnesota are developing milk and beef cattle
that have no horns. Ranchers typically de-horn cattle when they are calves to make them less likely to inure other animals or the people who handle them. One drawback so far with hornless dairy cows is it that they don’t produce any milk, just another glitch to be worked out with further genetic manipulations. In New Zealand scientists have engineered cows that produce milk without the proteins that trigger milk allergies; now everyone can enjoy GE milk.
Even insects are being genetically manipulated. Genetically altered mosquitoes will soon be released in the Florida Keys as an attempt to reduce the risk of dengue fever. There is no guarantee that this experiment will work. Introducing species of animals and insects from one part of the world into other areas to control pests has generally ended up as environmental disasters. A genetically altered insect is foreign to the entire world so there is no telling what might happen.
Farmers have been using GE crops since the 1990s. Currently as much as 80 percent of the foods in the typical American grocery store contain GE ingredients. Proponents of GE foods claim that they are the wave of the future and will increase crop yields and provide a means to feed a growing world population and thus end world hunger. A noble cause indeed, but is it true? Will converting conventional crops to GE varieties end world hunger? Will it even increase crop yields? Or, as some critics claim, will it be a colossal failure or even worse, usher in an environmental catastrophe and economic disaster?
We hear a lot about the potential harm caused by consuming gluten, sugar, artificial sweeteners, trans fats, preservatives, and such. Of all the ingredients in our foods, what ones are potentially the most troubling? While all of those mentioned have their issues, potentially the most troubling foods are those that contain GE or genetically modified (GM) ingredients. Not only do they pose a threat to our health, but they are dangerous to the environment. What makes them especially troubling is the fact that in places like the US, there are no labeling laws to inform you which foods contain GE ingredients.
The biotech firms that produce GE seeds, the Grocery Manufacturers Association (a consortium of food producers and manufactures) and their friends in government are continually telling us that GE foods are completely safe and there is no need to worry. Thus, causing many people to be in a state of ignorance about the real dangers of these foods.
Awareness about the potential risks of genetically engineered foods is growing. This is due largely because of the publicity generated by individual states that have put to vote whether or not to require foods that contain GE ingredients be identified on the label. Giant corporations and their associates like Monsanto, (and other biotech companies) and the Grocery Manufacturers Association, have been fighting bitterly to prevent consumers from knowing what’s in their foods. The latest polls suggest more than 90 percent of Americans now want to know what’s in their foods (according to a poll conducted by MSNBC).
A number of scientists have raised warnings about the danger of GE foods. The evidence is strong enough to convince many governments to ban them or at least establish labeling laws so their citizens know what they are buying. Currently 64 nations require the labeling of foods containing GE ingredients including Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, New Zealand, Australia, Greece, Poland, Malaysia, Brazil, Russia, India, and even China.
Most Americans are totally unaware that they are already eating GE foods. There are no labeling laws at present to inform them. Since the 1990s GE foods have slowly and quietly filtered into our food system. Today, approximately 80 percent of the foods sold in stores and restaurants contain at least some GE ingredients.
About 90 percent of all corn, soybeans, rapeseed/canola, sugar beets, and cotton grown in the US are genetically altered. If you eat anything that contains these foods you are most likely eating GE products. You say you don’t eat corn or soy. Think again. Corn is in almost everything. Corn is used in corn meal and flour, oil, and high fructose corn syrup. How many products are cooked in corn oil or contain high fructose corn syrup? Lots! Most foods now are sweetened with high fructose corn syrup—cakes, cookies, ice cream, candy, ketchup, salad dressing, bread,...the list can go on and on. Likewise with soy. Soybean oil is found everywhere. It is one of the most common cooking oils, especially hydrogenated soybean oil which is used extensively in restaurants and for all types of prepared foods. Like corn, soy in one form or another is found in thousands of consumer products. Canola oil is also widely used in food production and restaurants. With the awareness of the dangers of trans fats from hydrogenated oils, many food producers are turning to canola oil instead. Look at the multitude of the foods that contain sugar. The source of that sugar is most likely GE sugar beets. What about cotton? We don’t eat that right? Wrong! Cottonseed oil is a major source of hydrogenated oil used in the food industry. All of these GE crops are also used to feed livestock. The chicken, beef, pork, and even fish we buy at the store are often raised on GE crops. In addition, we are also exposed to GE wheat, squash, papaya, and other foods.
Trying to control genetic changes through artificial modification is a dangerous game. It is dangerous because it enables genes to be transferred between species that would never be possible otherwise. Genetic modification involves injecting a gene from one species of plant or animal into a completely different and naturally incompatible species, yielding unexpected and often unpredictable results.
Much of the genetic research that is going on is hidden from the public because biotech firms require their employees sign legally binding secrecy agreements that forbid them from talking about their research with anyone.
According to geneticist Dr Jonathan Latham, who published an independent study on GE plants, genetic engineering is very imprecise and is making a mess of plant genomes. The process causes unexpected gene mutations and DNA damage. Most GE plants contain more than one genetic modification, some of the plants his team evaluated had as many as 40 different foreign genes in them.1 Latham says that some of the gene combinations in commercially available plants are so complex that even the biotech companies have given up on trying to assess the potential damage done the plant’s DNA. In other words, even the scientists don’t know what they are creating, let alone what effect they will have on our health and the environment.
The insertion of plant, animal, bacterial, and viral genes in food crops can lead to unpredictable and uncontrollable results. Examples of unforeseen changes witnessed in GE foods include poor crop performance, altered nutritional content, increased levels of toxins and allergens in foods, and potential harm to the environment and ecosystems.
Genetic engineering of food crops are designed specifically to be resistant to herbicides (such as Monsanto’s weed killer Roundup), be resistant to certain pests, or to produce their own insecticide to discourage insect damage. Herbicide resistant crops can withstand exposure to huge doses of chemical weed killers without harm, while indigenous plants nearby wither and die. Plants designed to produce their own toxic chemicals supplement chemical sprays to keep insects at bay. GE crops can contain multiple genetic alternations so that they are resistant to several types of herbicides and produce their own insecticides. Sounds appetizing doesn’t it?
As of yet, GE crops are not designed to produce larger plants or be more productive. It’s all about managing pests.
Differences in GE and Non-GE Plants
Biotech companies claim that GE crops are no different from conventional crops in nutritional quality and safety. The claim that GE foods are materially comparable to conventional foods, and therefore inherently safe, is false when you consider GE crops are designed to be different.
A recent study published in the journal Food Chemistry reveals that there are distinct differences.2 The researchers analyzed soybeans produced under three separate conditions: (1) genetically modified, glyphosate-tolerant soy, (2) unmodified soy cultivated using a conventional chemical cultivation regime, and (3) unmodified soy produced using an organic cultivation regime.
The researchers stated, "Using 35 different nutritional and elemental variables to characterize each soy sample, we were able to discriminate GM, conventional, and organic soybeans without exception, demonstrating substantial non-equivalence in compositional characteristics for ready-to-market soybeans.” GE soybeans actually had a reduced level of important nutrients and therefore, were less nutritious than conventional soybeans.
Roundup Ready cops are engineered to withstand exposure to massive doses that would normally kill the plant as well as all surrounding vegetation. As a consequence, GE crops are heavily sprayed, much more so than conventional crops. Even if the nutritional levels were the same, the high level of spraying makes the GE crops less healthful simply because they contain a much higher level of herbicide residue.
Plants that are sprayed with herbicides and insecticides can be taken home and washed or peeled to make them safer because most of the chemical residue clings to the surface of the food.
However, with GE plants, you can’t wash out the insecticides that have been placed there genetically because it is in every cell of the plant. It is in what you eat.
Over 37 percent of the GE crops have stacked genes.—two or more GE genes inserted into them. So the plant is not just resistance to Roundup but to other herbicides and may also contain genes to produce their own insecticides. These are the types of GE foods we and the animals in our food supply are being fed.
One of the purposes of GE crops is so that more herbicides can be sprayed on them to annihilate all other plants. Herbicides are designed to kill native plants. Tons of herbicides and insecticides are sprayed on farms around the world. Winds, water, rain, and insects spread them throughout the environment, into the soil and water wreaking havoc wherever they go—it doesn’t take a genius to see the tremendous damage these poisons pose to the environment.
With the advent of Roundup Ready crops, use of glyphosate (the active ingredient in Roundup) has significantly risen with about 1 billion pounds sprayed on crops every year. That’s 1 billion pounds of herbicide released into the environment annually just from this one product.
Glyphosate’s toxicity is well established, with adverse health effects ranging from birth defects to endocrine dysfunction to cancer.3 Glyphosate is classified as a Class 2A "probable human carcinogen” by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), a division of the World Health Organization (WHO).
Unbelievably, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) admits foods are not tested for glyphosate residues due to the high cost of doing such tests. GE crops are heavily contaminated with glyphosate, much more so than conventional crops; this fact alone blows a massive hole in the safety claim.
The increased use of Roundup has caused glyphosate–resistant super weeds to proliferate, leading to a greater use of the herbicides and greater harm to the environment. Current GE crops are being replaced with new varieties that can withstand even heavier doses of herbicides.
Despite the mounting evidence questioning glyphosate’s safety, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) raised the allowable limits of glyphosate in our food and feed crops. Allowable levels in oilseed crops, such as soy and canola, have been doubled from 20 ppm to 40 ppm. Permissible glyphosate levels in many other foods have been raised by 15 to 25 times previous levels. Root and tuber vegetables got one of the largest boosts, with allowable residue limits being raised form 0.2 ppm to 6.0 ppm. Crops fed to livestock can have much higher levels, up to 400 ppm or more. All GE crops have glyphosate residue. When you eat GE foods, you really can’t divorce the fact that you’re also eating glyphosate.
Pesticides and herbicides kill more than just noxious pests, they destroy wildlife that is essential for a healthy environment and food supply. For example, with the increased use of GE crops and massive spraying, Monarch butterfly and honey bee populations have been decimated in the US. It has been estimated that in some areas of the country there has been an 80 percent decline in these important insects within the past few years. This might not sound too alarming, until you consider the impact the absence of just these two insects can have on our lives. Monarch butterflies are pollinators, which makes them important for plant
reproduction. They also provide an essential food source for small birds and other animals, which feed larger birds and animals. Monarchs play an important role in ecosystem health and biodiversity. Honey bees too, are pollinators, very important pollinators. Bees are essential for the pollination of numerous flowering plants and food crops. Without them we would lose at least one-third of all our fruits, nuts, and vegetables. It’s not just Monarchs and bees that are adversely affected by chemical sprays, but literally millions of insects, animals, and plants as well as humans are harmed by them.
Nearly one billion pounds of Roundup herbicide is used each year for conventional crop production. Genetically engineered crops are more heavily sprayed, since the so-called Roundup Ready crops are designed to withstand lethal doses of this chemical, thus increasing the potential harm to the environment. And that is not to mention all of the other herbicides and pesticides that are also used in agriculture.
Soil is the living skin of the earth. Soil is a combination of granulated rock, water, organic matter, and microbes—bacteria, protozoa, fungi, nematodes, and arthropods. One tablespoon of soil contains about 50 billion living organisms. These microorganisms are key in making nutrients available to plants. The nitrogen, potassium, phosphate, calcium, magnesium, and other essential elements are released into the soil by the activity of microorganisms on rocks and organic matter in the soil. Without this great diversity of living creatures in the soil, plants could not exist. Soil organisms are vital to plant health.
Part of what makes fruits and vegetables good for us are the phytonutrients—plant derived nutrients that help protect us from high blood pressure, glaucoma, cancer, premature aging, and other health problems. Phytonutrients are part of the plant’s immune system. Organisms in the soil that we might think of as pests actually stimulate plants to make more phytonutrients. So these small stressors actually, in a sense, enhance our health. Being exposed to different organisms improves the health of the plant and improves our health as well.
Pesticides and other agrichemicals not only kill insects but also the beneficial soil microorganisms, degrading soil quality and fertility. This creates a need to use chemical fertilizers, which can cause more harm by further altering the normal soil ecology, making plants more susceptible to disease and pests. This in turn, prompts the use of more agrichemicals and the further reduction of soil productivity, which encourages the use of more chemical fertilizers. The cycle continues, making the soils less and less productive.
Genetic engineering affects livestock as well. GE plants contain their own insecticides to discourage insects and animals from eating them. Farm animals don’t like them either and won’t touch them if given the choice. Livestock won’t eat them unless they are forced to. When GE feed is all that is available, livestock learn to tolerate it or starve. This is just another form of animal cruelty.
When GE crops are planted, there is nothing to prevent the seeds and pollen from being washed or blown to neighboring farms where they can contaminate non-GE crops. What will happen if they crossbreed with native plants? Will the GE gene be passed on? Will heavy spraying cause genetic adaptations in native plants and animals? This has already resulted in the creation of super weeds and super bugs that can withstand pesticide sprays. What will be next?
Will Not Eliminate Hunger
The number one argument and justification for GE crops is the claim that they are needed to prevent starvation and feed the billions of people in the world. Proponents claim GE foods are necessary to feed the world’s starving children. Who wouldn’t want to do that, right? It’s enough to make you want to cry, not because the biotech firms are so benevolent, but because there are people who actually believe this pile of baloney. The one and only reason for GE foods is for profit, pure and simple. There is no intrinsic desire to feed starving people. Their blatant disregard for the health and welfare of people, animals, and the environment is obvious in their refusal to do proper safety and environmental studies and their opposition to independent researchers to do such studies. It is also evident in their fierce opposition to labeling of food and their aggressive persecution of farmers who save GE seeds, as they must purchase new seeds annually or face a lawsuit for patent infringement.
The claim that GE crops will eliminate world hunger conveys the idea that they produce a higher yield than conventional crops. However, this is not true. There is no gene in the plants to make them more productive and they are no better than conventional crops at tolerating poor soils or unstable climate conditions. The claim is based solely on the assumption that yields will be better because GE crops are more resistance to herbicides and to bugs eating them.
GE crops have been around for two decades now, if they are going to save the world from starvation, we would already have seen some evidence of that by now, but we haven’t. Pesticides that are required on GE crops poison the soil, kill wildlife, and wreak havoc on the ecosystem contributing to the gradual destruction and loss of productive farmland. This would be a disaster if GE crops were grown around the world.
Most people worldwide simply don’t want to eat genetically altered foods. As a result, US exports of soy and corn have declined by as much as $300 million per year just from the lost to European exports alone. Corn exports to China dropped 85 percent from 2013 to 1014. How can GE foods feed the world if the world doesn’t want to eat them?
Not Proven Safe
Genetic modification of foods has never proven to be safe for humans or the environment. Assessments on safety come only from the biotech corporations themselves, the same companies that profit from these positive safety studies.
Safety studies performed on GE crops fed to animals have generally looked at things such as milk production and meat yield, outcomes that are not relevant to human health. These studies generally do not examine tissues or organs in the animals or look at the biochemistry to identify disease or abnormalities. They are production studies. The vast majority of studies are done to reassure the producers that GE fed animals will live long enough to produce a good yield when they are mature enough to take to market.
There have been very few published studies actually using GE feed. Instead of feeding the test animals GE feed, they just give them the particular proteins the altered plants are suppose to produce. These studies are done using rats. The number of rats used in the studies are too few to produce any real statistically meaningful data. They’ll usually observe the rats for only 7 to 14 days, and rarely up to 3 months, and see if the rats die. If they don’t, then the GE food containing the protein is declared safe for human consumption regardless of how long or how much a human might consume. We are expected to eat these foods for years, for our entire lives, not just a few days or weeks. However, these proteins, which may come from plants, bacteria, viruses, or animals, can have unknown effects when injected into an entirely different species. There are no long term studies that actually test GE foods. These so-called "safety” studies are used to justify the claim that GE foods are safe for us to eat for an entire lifetime, from birth to death. No additional studies are needed and, therefore, independent researchers need not bother attempting such studies. Consequently, GE seeds are off limits to them. Outside researchers can’t even repeat these studies to verify the results.
Another potentially serious consequence of GE foods that has not been investigated is the effect of feeding more than one variety of GE plant. If your diet contains GE corn and soy you could be getting two or more different GE genes. Even a single plant, like corn, can contain more than one foreign gene. The effects of these multiple foreign genes can have a significant effect. In medicine this is referred to polypharmacy—the simultaneous use of two or more drugs.
For example, if you feed somebody an aspirin, the side effects might be so minor it is of little concern. However, if you feed that person another drug at the same time, the two drugs can interact to have very serious consequences. The same can be true with GE foods. We don’t know because there have not been any such studies.
Very few real safety studies have been done, primarily because of the difficulty of obtaining GE seeds to study. It is nearly impossible for an independent researcher to get GE seeds to verify the results or to make any meaningful investigation.
Independent researchers who wish to do GE studies are forbidden to use GE crops. It is almost impossible for an independent researcher to obtain GE seeds to do safety studies not authorized or funded (i.e., controlled) by the biotech companies. GE seeds are protected by patent laws. You can’t simply go down to your local garden store and purchase the seeds. You must get them directly from the biotech companies. Farmers or anyone else who buys the seeds are required to sign a technology user agreement, which obligates the buyer not do any research on the seeds or give the seeds to anyone else to do research. Such precautions make you wonder why the biotech companies are so afraid of having independent research on their products, are they trying to hide something?
Health Dangers of GE Foods
Genetic engineering is not as precise or as accurate as it is generally believed. The genes from foreign organisms are not carefully inserted into the host’s DNA at precise locations for optimal function. When scientists inject the gene into the host, they have no control over where the gene may end up on the host’s DNA. This is a potentially serious situation as the position the genes occur on the DNA strand can be important. In other words, genetic engineering is like playing Russian Roulette. You don’t know what your results will be. The seeds developed from GE may live, and develop much like an ordinary plant, but the chemical changes within the plant are really unknown and could have far reaching effects on our health, especially if they are eaten over a lifetime.
These chemical changes can alter the nutritional content, effect enzyme structure and activity, and produce various compounds that could be toxic. Many plants produce natural toxins to discourage predators (bugs and animals) from eating them. Ordinarily, we can tolerate a small amount of these toxins, an unnatural gene can possibly alter them causing them to be more toxic or more abundant in the plant and thus, harmful for humans and animals. The foreign gene could cause totally new chemicals to be created that could have drastic effects on our health and the health of the environment. Genetic engineering of our foods is really a massive experiment on the human population. We don’t know all the dangers. However, some alarming facts have been uncovered.
Despite the difficulties of independent researchers studying GE foods, a very small handful of studies have been done, with alarming results.
One of the first indications that GE foods might be harmful came from the observations of Howard Vlieger, a crop and livestock nutrition advisor.4 His first experience with genetically modified organisms (GMOs) came in 1997 when he planted a test plot comparing GE corn to the conventional version. He had heard from farmers in Nebraska that cows shied away from the GE corn. So he gave his cows the choice to consume the conventionally grown corn or GE corn. His cows ate the conventionally grown, however they smelled the GE corn and walked away from it. It’s not normal for hungry cattle to refuse food. He has tried this with many other animals and found that if they have not been forced to consume GE food in the past, they won't eat it and will go for the conventional feed instead.
In his role as a crop and livestock nutrition adviser, Vlieger knew other farmers who were feeding their animals GE feed. In South Dakota, a farmer fed his sows GE corn and they had on average 1.6 less piglets per litter. The piglets also weighed less at birth.
A farmer from Harlan, Iowa, had sows with pseudo pregnancies. They seemed to be pregnant, but when they delivered, there was only a sack of water, afterbirth, and no pigs. The Farm Bureau Spokesman wrote about this farmer's travails and he got calls from other farmers saying they were having the same problem. Interestingly, they were all using the same GE corn. Iowa State University claimed not to find any connection between the GE corn and fertility, but when the farmers stopped using that form of GE corn and switched to conventional corn, the problem disappeared.
Vlieger worked with a hog operation in Nebraska which used GE corn in the feed of breeding animals and found conception rates drop 30 percent. The local vet came out and tested the feed for mycotoxins and mold, but did not find any. The next group of sows was fed conventional corn and conception rates jumped back up to about 90 percent. They switched back to GE corn and conception rates dropped again, this time down by 70 percent.
In Iowa, farmers found anemia and gastrointestinal tract problems such as ileitis (inflammation of the small intestine), bloody bowel, ulcers, and salmonella. When GE corn was taken out of the feed, the problems went away.
If GMOs are causing stomach and gastrointestinal inflammation, bloody bowel, ileitis, infertility, ulcers, and false pregnancies in farm animals, what are they doing to us? Since glyphosate, which is on all GE crops, kills the bacteria in the soil, what does it do to the bacteria inside our bodies and to the environment inside our gastrointestinal tract?
Vlieger’s observations sparked Judy Carman, PhD to do an in-depth study with pigs to see if the farmer’s experiences were truly related to consuming GE crops. Dr. Carman is an adjunct associate professor at Flinders University in South Australia and the director of the Institute of Health and Environmental Research.5
Pigs have a very similar digestive system to humans and what is seen in them when they eat GE foods will likely be found in humans. She wanted to do a proper study with enough pigs to have a statistical significance and for a long enough time to be meaningful. Her first obstacle to overcome was legally obtaining GE seeds. The biotech companies would not sell them to her for her study so she had to devise a means to get them another way. After a great deal of effort, she was able to acquire seeds legally for her study. She declines to reveal how she obtained the seeds because she does not want that loophole to be plugged.
She and her colleagues obtained piglets as soon as they were weaned. The first solid food they were given was either GE or non-GE. The pigs were fed for their entire commercial lifespan. This was a commercial piggery study, it was done under commercial piggery conditions. The animals, once they reached 5 months were processed according to industry standards. So the pigs were exposed to the GE feed for less than 5 months.
Unlike industry sponsored studies that use only a handful of rats, she used a total of 168 pigs in her study, enough to derive some statistical significance in the results.
Carman’s study found many of the same problems reported by Vlieger. There was a significant increase in stomach inflammation in the pigs—severe inflammation. "When I say ‘severe,’ I’m talking about a stomach that is swollen and cherry red in color over almost the entire surface of the stomach,” says Carman. "This is not the sort of stomach that you or I would want to have at all.”
They next looked at reproductive health. They couldn’t examine male reproductive health because all the boars were neutered at 3 days of age. But they could examine the female pigs. They found an abnormal thickening of the uterus in the pigs fed GE food. The uterus was 25 percent heavier. In the paper they talk about all of the disease states that this could represent.6
Your body houses some 100 trillion bacteria. You have more bacteria in your body than you have cells, 10 times more. In essence, we are a colony of microbes. These organisms are not simply freeloaders feeding off our bodies, but work in harmony with our bodies performing a wide variety of important functions essential for good health. The type of bacteria in your gastrointestinal (GI) tract is just as important as your own cells for proper digestive function. Some bacteria produce essential vitamins for us, other help us digest foods or strengthen our immune system. Some microbes, including viruses and yeasts, can be harmful and wreak havoc on our bodies if their numbers get out of hand. Having large populations of so-called "friendly” bacteria prevent the overgrowth of potentially harmful microbes. Without these tiny organisms we could not exist, with the wrong type we become prone to malnutrition and disease. Having the right proportions of the different bacteria and other microbes helps keep us healthy.
One of the very serious dangers of GE crops is the alteration of the gut microbiota—the microorganisms living in your GI tract. The studies by Howard Vlieger and Judy Carman demonstrated that diets containing GM foods lead to severe GI inflammation and damage. While it is possible that something in the GM foods could be irritating the GI tract causing these conditions, another possibility is that the high percentage of glyphosate residue on these foods is causing it. We know glyphosate kills soil bacteria, why not gut bacteria as well? These GE chemicals and herbicides could be killing the beneficial gut bacteria, allowing more virulent strains to proliferate, creating an environment in the gut leading to inflammation, leaky gut, ulcers, bleeding, immune disorders, allergies, nutrient malabsorption, and reduced nutrient syntheses, among other things.
Another rare study by an independent researcher was conducted by Dr. Gilles-Eric Seralini. He replicated the studies that the industry used to establish the safety of the GE foods. But rather than terminating the study at three months or less, he took it to two years, which is the typical life expectancy of a rat. In order to obtain statistical significance, Seralini’s study included 200 rats, unlike the typical 10 or 20 used in biotech supported studies.
Rats with tumors from genetic enginering.
There were some very significant differences between Seralini’s study and the previous industry-sponsored studies. Rats fed GE food their entire lives developed huge breast tumors and suffered from liver and kidney damage. As much as 80 percent of the female rats developed large tumors by the beginning of the 24th month, with up to three tumors per animal. Up to 70 percent of female rats died prematurely. Large tumors began to appear after only seven months.
However, the majority of tumors were detectable only after 18 months, meaning they could be discovered only in long-term feeding trials.
Since GE foods are always contaminated with residual glyphosate the effect may possibly have been due to the herbicide rather than the genetic alternation. To identify this possibility Seralini separated the rats into groups. He had some rats fed the GE and non-GE foods without glyphosate contamination, and others were fed foods sprayed with glyphosate. He found that there were problems with animals fed the glyphosate and those fed the non-sprayed GE food, but when you put the two of them together, the effects were worse.7
Digestive disorders are becoming rampant—sensitivity to wheat and gluten, celiac disease, food allergies, Crohn’s, colitis, and GERD. Such conditions appear to be epidemic. Food allergies are becoming more common. Reproductive health is becoming a growing concern. Infertility, miscarriages, premature births, cesarean deliveries, birth defects, and childhood developmental disorders are at an all time high. Cancer is the second leading cause of death. We’ve been at war with cancer for over 40 years and are losing the battle. Are GE crops and pesticides to blame? Until the biotech companies allow independent researchers to do meaningful safety studies we won’t know for sure, but the evidence so far suggest it may be so.
In the meantime,
we can support efforts to label GE foods so that we know what we are buying
at the store. At this point, the only guarantee that your food is safe is to
buy and eat organically raised foods. ♦
1. Latham, JR, et al. Transformation-induced mutations in transgenic plants: analysis and biosafety implications. Biotechnol Genet Eng Rev 2006;23:209-237.
2. Bohn, T, et al. Compositional differences in soybeans on the market: glyphosate accumulates in Roundup Ready GM soybeans. Food Chem 2014;15:207-215.
3. Gasnier, C, et al. Glyphosate-based herbicides are toxic and endocrine distruptors in human cell lines. Toxicology 2009;262:184-191.
6. Carman, JA, et al. A long-term toxicology study on pigs fed a combined genetically modified (GM) soy and GM maize diet. Journal of Organic System 2013;8:38-54.
7. Seralini, G-E, et al. Long term toxicity of a roundup herbicide and a roundup-tolerant genetically modified maize. Food and Chemical Toxicology 2012;50:4221-4231.
Environmental and Health Hazards of Roundup
Roundup is the most commonly used herbicide in agriculture and around the home. Despite Monsanto’s claim that it is safe, it has been linked to numerous health problems.
Monsanto, the maker of Roundup herbicide, is hiding the truth about the dangers of glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, and trying to paint a picture of it being essential for agriculture and feeding the world without any harmful impact on the environment or our health. It is so safe, they claim, that it can be used in residential areas. Nothing could be further from the truth. Monsanto, has falsified data on Roundup’s safety, and marketed it to park departments and consumers claiming it to be "environmentally friendly,” "biodegradable," and that it "leaves the soil clean,” to encourage its use on roadsides, playgrounds, golf courses, schoolyards, lawns, and home gardens. This claim was recently challenged in a French court and Monsanto was found guilty of false advertising.
Dr. Stephanie Seneff, a research scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), says glyphosate is possibly "the most important factor in the development of multiple chronic diseases and conditions that have become prevalent in Westernized societies.” Including, but not limited to, infertility, gastrointestinal diseases (Crohn’s, colitis, IBS), allergies, cancer, cardiovascular disease, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and autism.1
One of the ways glyphosate harms our bodies is by killing the good bacteria that inhabit our gastrointestinal tract. These bacteria are essential for proper digestive and immune function as well as our overall health. Monsanto has emphatically claimed that Roundup is harmless to animals and humans because the way it kills weeds is by interfering with the shikimate pathway—a metabolic process whereby plants produce amino acids which are essential for plant growth and development. This process is absent in all animals. That may sound convincing, but the shikimate pathway is also used by bacteria, fungi, and algae. Therefore, glyphosate is deadly to soil organisms, degrading the productivity of our farmland, and to our gut bacteria which are essential to our health and to the health of all animals. In this way, Roundup is destroying the health of all humans and animals exposed to this herbicide.
Glyphosate also disrupts enzymatic activity in animals and humans. Certain enzymes that play a crucial role in neutralizing toxins are deactivated by glyphosate. This means that environmental chemicals and poisons, including Roundup, become even more toxic.2
Researchers have found that Roundup itself is even more toxic than glyphosate alone. The reason for this is that Roundup includes other chemicals besides glyphosate. One of these is a surfactant, TN-20, which greatly enhances the toxic effects of glyphosate. Animal studies have shown that the combination of TN-20 and glyphosate leads to cell damage, degeneration, and death at concentrations where neither substance working alone would show this effect.3
In humans, prolonged skin exposure to glyphosate-surfactant herbicide has been shown to produce local swelling, blistering, and exuding wounds, followed by neurological impairment and reduced nerve function. It is apparent that Roundup is not as safe as Monsanto claims it to be.
It’s Not Just in the Food
Since genetically engineered (GE) crops are heavily sprayed with Roundup, they are also heavily contaminated with it as well. Every time we eat foods containing GE products we are ingesting glyphosate. What’s even worse is that this poison is released into the environment where people and animals can be exposed to much larger doses. The consequences can be staggering.
In Argentina the introduction of GE crops and pesticide spraying is turning into a nightmare.
Argentine laborer Fabian Tomasi was never trained to handle pesticides. His job was to keep the crop-dusters flying by filling their tanks as quickly as possible. "I prepared millions of liters of poison without any kind of protection, no gloves, masks, or special clothing,” he said. "I didn't know anything.” For three years, Tomasi was routinely exposed to chemicals as he pumped pesticides into the tanks of crop-dusters. Now, at the age of 47 he’s a living skeleton and near death from polyneuropathy, a debilitating neurological disorder, which has left him wasted and shriveled.
Schoolteacher Andrea Druetta lives in Santa Fe Province, the heart of Argentina’s soy country, where agrochemical spraying is banned within 500 meters (550 yards) of populated areas. But soy is planted just 30 meters (33 yards) from her back door. Homes, as well as schools in the area, are often exposed to Roundup spray from planes that come too close and from winds that blow the pesticide their way. Druetta filed complaints with the city, alleging that several students fainted when pesticides drifted into their classrooms and that their tap water is contaminated. She said, a neighbor keeps a freezer of rabbit and bird carcasses, hoping someone will test them to see why they dropped dead after the spraying.
After Sofia Gatica lost her newborn to kidney failure, she filed a complaint that led to Argentina's first criminal convictions for not following safety regulations while spraying. But the verdict came too late for many of her 5,300 neighbors. A government study there found alarming levels of agrochemical contamination in the soil and drinking water, and 80 percent of the children surveyed carried traces of glyphosate in their blood.
Argentina is the world’s third-largest soybean producer, however, the chemicals powering this boom aren’t confined to just soy but are sprayed on cotton, corn, and other GE crops. A nation once known for its grass-fed beef has undergone a remarkable transformation since 1996, when Monsanto promised that adopting its GE seeds and chemicals would increase crop yields and lower pesticide use. Today, Argentina’s entire soy crop and nearly all its corn and cotton are genetically modified, with soy cultivation alone tripling to 47 million acres (19 million hectares).
Despite Monsanto’s claim (i.e, lie) that GE seeds would reduce pesticide use, it has dramatically increased it (to the benefit of Monsanto, which sells both the GE seed and the pesticides). Pesticide use in the country increased from just 9 million gallons in 1990 to more than 84 million gallons by 2013. Overall, Argentine farmers apply an estimated 4.3 pounds of pesticides per acre, more than twice what US farmers use.
The spray drifts into schools and homes and settles over water sources; farm workers mix poisons with no protective gear; villagers store water in pesticide containers that should have been destroyed.
Growing Health Problem
Now doctors are warning that uncontrolled pesticide applications could be the cause of growing health problems among the 12 million people who live in the South American nation’s vast farm belt.
In Santa Fe, cancer rates are two to four times higher than the national average. In Chaco, birth defects have quadrupled in the past decade since spraying become more prevalent.
"The change in how agriculture is produced has brought, frankly, a change in the profile of diseases,” says Dr. Medardo Avila Vazquez, a pediatrician and neonatologist. "We've gone from a pretty healthy population to one with a high rate of cancer, birth defects, and illnesses seldom seen before.”
Molecular biologist Dr. Andres Carrasco at the University of Buenos Aires says the use of glyphosate pesticides (Roundup) is worrisome and could spell trouble for human health. He found that injecting a very low dose of glyphosate into embryos can change levels of retinoic acid, causing the same sort of spinal defects in frogs and chickens that doctors increasingly are registering in communities where farm chemicals are used.
Retinoic acid, a form of vitamin A, is fundamental for keeping cancers in check and triggering genetic expression, the process by which embryonic cells develop into organs and limbs.
"If it’s possible to reproduce this in a laboratory, surely what is happening in the field is much worse,” Carrasco said. His findings, published in the journal Chemical Research in Toxicology in 20104, were rebutted by Monsanto. "Glyphosate is even less toxic than the [insect] repellent you put on your children’s skin,” said Pablo Vaquero, Monsanto’s corporate affairs director in Buenos Aires. Tell that to Fabian Tomasi who lays in a bed at home dying from exposure to the pesticide; or to Andrea Druetta whose students fainted when exposed to wind-blown spray; or Sofia Gatica whose infant died of kidney failure after exposure; and to all the dead rabbits and birds littering the fields after spraying.
In response to soaring complaints, Argentina’s President, Cristina Fernandez, ordered a commission in 2009 to study the impact of agrochemical spraying on human health. Its initial report called for "systematic controls over concentrations of herbicides and their compounds...such as exhaustive laboratory and field studies involving formulations containing glyphosate as well as its interactions with other agrochemicals as they are actually used in our country.” But the commission hasn’t met since 2010, the auditor general found. Some have speculated that the members of the commission have been bribed to sit back and do nothing. In the meantime, Monsanto earns millions of dollars in seed and pesticide sales.
Be aware: Natural does not mean Organic
on product labels!
How Tropical Oils Can Protect Us
The most common GE crops in the US, Canada, and elsewhere are soybeans, corn, canola, and cottonseed—all of which are used to make editable oils. The cooking oils, shortenings, and margarines you purchase at the grocery store, the oils used in most all of the packaged, canned, and frozen foods you buy, and the oils used in the vast majority of restaurants come from GE crops. The oils in our diet are the most prevalent source of GE foods in our diet.
In the US and many other countries there currently are no laws that require food manufacturers to identify on the labels of their products that they contain GE ingredients. How do you avoid these oils? One way is to purchase "certified organic” products. Organically raised crops, by definition, are those that have been raised and processed without exposure to pesticides and other chemicals. Since GE crops are designed specifically to withstand heavy doses of pesticides, they are naturally heavily sprayed. Therefore, no GE ingredients should be in a certified organic product. Be aware that the word "Natural” on a label does not mean organic. This term has no official meaning, so any product can use the word "Natural” regardless of where the ingredients come from or how they are produced.
If you are mindful of the types of fats and oils you use, you can avoid all of the oils that are tainted with GE ingredients, even if the product is not certified organic. Oils that are safe to use include extra virgin olive oil, avocado oil, macadamia nut oil, coconut oil, palm oil (including red palm oil), and palm kernel oil. These oils are not derived from GE sources and are completely safe to use. Many of them, like coconut oil and palm oil, are generally organically grown, and therefore, free from pesticide residue, even if they are not labeled "organic,” since they are often produced by farmers who do not use any pesticides or chemicals.
It is sad that the people of
Argentina and other countries that grow GE crops are suffering from the
effects of the chemicals used in modern biotech farming. Instead of
growing soy, corn, canola, or cottonseed, they could be growing coconut
or palm, which are not genetically engineered, vastly more
environmentally safe, and far healthier. All commercially available
brands and types of coconut and palm oil are GE free. ♦
1. Samsel, A. and Seneff, S. Glyphosate’s suppression of cytochrome P450 enzymes and amino acid biosynthesis by the gut microbiome: pathways to modern diseases. Entropy 2013;15:1416-1463.
2. Gasnier, C., et al. Glyphosate-based herbicides are toxic and endocrine disruptors in human cell lines.Toxicology 2009, 262, 184–191.
3. Kim, Y.H, et al. Mixtures of glyphosate and surfactant TN20 accelerate cell death via mitochondrial damage-induced apoptosis and necrosis. Toxicol. In Vitro 2013, 27, 191–197.
4. Paganelli, A, et al. Glyphosate-based herbicides produce teratogenic effects on vertebrates by impairing retinoic acid signaling. Chem Res Toxicol 2010;23:1586-1595.
by Dr. Bruce Fife
Available from Piccadilly Books, Ltd.
The Truth about Palm Oil and the Environment
The media broadcasts alarming stories about the destruction of tropical rainforests and wildlife for the planting of oil palm. We are encouraged to boycott products containing palm oil and choose more environmentally friendly products such as soybean or canola oils. But are these oils any better? What’s the truth?
Wikipedia: A lush palm oil farm forest.
Wikipedia: A lush palm oil farm forest.
The Oil Palm is Environmentally Friendly
Palm cultivation is perhaps, the world’s most environmentally friendly commercial crop. After oil palms reach maturity they are commercially productive for at least a quarter of a century. That means that once the trees are planted, the soil remains essentially undisturbed for decades. Unlike soy and other crops, were the ground is dug up and recultivated every year, year after year. The soil in a palm plantation remains essentially undisturbed. Native grasses and foliage are allowed to repopulate the space between trees. Much of the natural habitat returns. An oil palm plantation becomes a forest, filled with vegetation and wildlife. Since the ground is continually covered with trees and growth, the soil is not eroded, maintaining the integrity of the environment from the tiniest soil organisms to the largest land animals. So a palm plantation blends into the environment without causing untold disruption.
Palm is the world’s most efficient oil-bearing crop in terms of land utilization, efficiency, and productivity. Unlike most other crops that produce once a year, oil palms produce fruit year round, so it is always in season. This allows for a high yield of fruit on comparatively little acreage. For this reason, the oil palm produces more oil per acre than any other vegetable source. For example, in 1 year on one acre of land a farmer can produce 18 gallons of corn oil, or 35 gallons of cottonseed oil, or 48 gallons of soybean oil. However, on the same amount of land he can produce 635 gallons of palm oil! In terms of land use, you would need to plant 13 acres of soy or 35 acres of corn to produce an equal amount of oil from just 1 acre of palm.
Soybeans cover hundreds of thousands of acres of farmland.
Soybeans cover hundreds of thousands of acres of farmland.
Soybean cultivation requires 13 times more land to produce the same amount of oil. Corn requires 35 times as much land. And this land is stripped of all other vegetation, and continually plowed and replowed, and poisoned with pesticides. On the other hand, oil palms are planted once and then the land is allowed to return mostly to its natural state without harming the environment. Soy, corn, and other crops are often genetically modified so that they can withstand enormous amounts of pesticides that poison the environment. Genetically modified crops themselves are adversely affecting the environment and the health of animals and people that eat these corps. In contrast, oil palm is not genetically modified so it is not sprayed with tons of pesticides.
Palm production also helps protect against global warming. Total area globally devoted to oil palm production is 9.16 million hectares (35,367 sq miles). Total land area under soybean cultivation is 92.54 million hectares (357, 299 sq miles), more than ten times that of oil palm, yet oil palm releases nearly ten times more oxygen into the atmosphere and absorbs nearly ten times more carbon dioxide (a major contributor to global warming).
by Dr. Bruce Fife
Available from Piccadilly Books, Ltd.
People voice concern about forests being cut down to plant oil palms. However, worldwide more rain forests are being destroyed for soybean production than has ever been cleared for palm production. Approximately 5,000 square miles of rain forest is leveled in the Amazon each year, most of it for soybean cultivation. Some people might look at this and say, but places like Malaysia (one of the world’s biggest palm oil producers) also converts rain forest into farmland. However, in the past four years, more Amazon rain forest in Brazil has been destroyed to make room for soybean cultivation than Malaysia has cleared in the past 100 years for palm oil production. In comparison to soybean and other oil crops, palm oil is by far the most environmentally friendly.
The Misguided War on Palm Oil
In an attempt to demonize palm oil, articles describing the deforestation of tropical rainforests always infer that the sole purpose for the destruction being caused is for palm oil plantations. This is far from the truth and is very deceptive and misleading. Logging is the primary reason for most of the deforestation that is occurring in these areas. It is the desire for lumber that is leveling the forests. Once the land has been cleared of trees it is now open and available for agriculture. Any agricultural business can then come in and buy up the land for cultivating pineapple, bananas, sugarcane, soybeans, oil palm, and other crops. Environmental activists in their overzealous effort to demonize oil palm, ignore all these other industries and focus solely on oil palm giving a false picture of what is really going on.
Environmental activists would have you believe that the world would be a far better place without palm oil around. They encourage boycotting palm oil in the belief that it would drive the palm oil produces out of business and palm plantations would revert back to forest...Let’s just suppose these activists got their way, and all the demand for palm oil tanked out and the people ceased to buy palm oil, what would happen?
It would trigger an environmental disaster! Soybean cultivation is palm oil’s biggest competitor. Soybean oil is the second most produced oil in the world, just behind palm oil. If palm oil suddenly disappeared, there would be a huge demand for oil worldwide. Another product would be needed to fill the void. What product do you think will do this? Obviously, soybean oil, along with canola and corn oils.
Why would this be bad for the environment? If you took all the oil palm plantations and converted them over to producing soybean oil, there would still be a major deficit of oil on the market. Keep in mind that it takes 13 acres of soy to equal the output of just 1 acre of palm oil. Therefore, an additional 12 acres of land must be deforested in order just to maintain current demand for oil. The demand for oil will drive soybean and other vegetable oil producers to acquire more land by any means available to them, this means much of it will come from native forests, including these in the Amazon, Indonesia, and Malaysia and elsewhere. Forest destruction would accelerate beyond anyone’s imagination. It would be an environmental disaster. That is just due to the deforestation of land needed to meet the current demands from the market.
The oil crops that will take the place of oil palm will be soybean, canola, corn, and other genetically modified crops that are specially engineered to withstand enormous loads of environment-destroying pesticides. In addition, the land itself will be dug up and plowed, all native vegetation will be destroyed to make room for the new crops. Animals will be driven from their homes or killed, like never before. The soil will be altered by synthetic fertilizers, changing the ecology of the microorganisms and the land forever.
The only thing that the activists would accomplish, is destroying more of the environment than ever before—killing more animals, cutting down more forest, poisoning more land, and (this the big one) enriching the soybean and seed oil industries with insane profits. Do you think the executives controlling the seed oil industry are ignorant of the huge financial gain that awaits them if their major competitor went out of business? Not on your life. The environmental issue is a fabrication designed by the bigwigs in the seed oil industry as a means to take over the palm oil market. They are fueling the fire with lies, half-truths, and misconceptions that they funnel to special interest and green groups in order to motivate them into being unwitting vocal allies to this monstrous scheme.
If activists are really concerned about the environment, they would not waste their time fighting the oil palm industry, they would focus on the real threat to the environment—the soybean and seed oil industries. Yet, we rarely hear about the harm soybean cultivation is causing the earth—far more than the oil palm ever did—but hardly a word is said. You don’t see websites devoted to stopping logging in forests that are converted over to soybean production. You don’t hear much about all the environmental destruction caused by the cultivation of genetically engineered soy, canola, and corn.
demand for soy and seed oils with oil palm would greatly improve the
environment. So where are all the people campaigning to save us from the
soy industry? The campaign against oil palm is a contrived issue
perpetuated by the soy and seed oil industries as an attempt to take
over the oil palm market. Please do not be deceived by clever marketing
tactics that attack palm oil for destroying rainforests and wildlife.
Palm oil production is far more environmentally friendly than any of the
seed oils. ♦
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Copyright © 2016, Bruce Fife. All rights reserved.