Genetic EngineeringMost of today's crops have been genetically altered by chemical giant Monsanto and contain genetic sequences from bacteria and viruses. Monsanto's Roundup Ready Soybeans (RRS) have one benefit: they can survive exposure to glyphosate ("Roundup"). In short, Monsanto uses genetic engineering to promote their herbicide. The negative consequences to this could be catastrophic. There has been no thorough testing or experimentation of this and so no one really knows what will happen. Keep in mind, we are introducing bacteria and viruses into gene sequences that have taken Billions of years to develop. Further, the FDA does not see the need to label foods that have been genetically modified. Here are some facts:
- 60% of processed consumer food products contain soybean material- from margarine to baby food to chocolate.
- A poll shows that over 80% of consumers in Germany are opposed to genetically engineered food. Germany purchases 1,272,300 metric tons of U.S. soybeans a year.
- Roundup Ready soybeans (RRS) are NOT cheaper, tastier, or healthier.
- RRS will increase farmer's dependency on Monsanto's chemical products.
- 15% of Monsanto's total sales are accounted for by Roundup and it's the world's best selling herbicide.
- There is significant evidence that Roundup can cause harm to Humans and the environment even at current levels of use.
- Other genetically engineered foods have caused unpredicted allergies, illnesses, and death.
- Genetically engineered organisms (GMO) have been known to cross-breed with wild plants causing unpredictable and irreversible changes to natural ecosystems.
- A recent study by Swedish oncologists Dr. Lennert Hardell and Dr. Mikael Eriksson has revealed clear links between Roundup and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, a form of cancer.
- 71% of genetically engineered crops planted in 1998 are designed to be resistant to such herbicides as Roundup. Monsanto has already received permits for a threefold increase in herbicide residues on genetically engineered soybeans in Europe and the U.S., up from 6 parts per million (PPM) to 20 PPM.
"A molecular Auschwitz... I have the feeling that science has transgressed a barrier that should have remained inviolate... you cannot recall a new form of life... It will survive you and your children and your children's children. An irreversible attack on the biosphere is something so unheard of, so unthinkable to previous generations, that I could only wish that mine had not been guilty of it."
-Dr. Erwin Chargoff, eminent biochemist, often referred to as the father of molecular biology
"Up to now living organisms have evolved very slowly, and new forms have had plenty of time to settle in. Now whole proteins will be transposed overnight into wholly new associations, with consequences no one can foretell, either for the host organism or their neighbors. It is all too big and is happening too fast. So this, the central problem, remains almost unconsidered. It presents probably the largest ethical problem that science has ever had to face. Our morality up to now has been to go ahead without restriction to learn all that we can about nature. Restructuring nature was not part of the bargain. For going ahead in this direction may be not only unwise but dangerous. Potentially, it could breed new animal and plant diseases, new sources of cancer, novel epidemics."
-Dr. George Wald, the professor emeritus in biology from Harvard and Nobel laureate in medicine
"An ecosystem, you can always intervene and change something in it, but there's no way of knowing what the downstream effects will be or how it might affect the environment. We have such a miserably poor understanding of how an organism develops from its DNA that I would be surprised if we don't get one rude shock after another."
-Richard Lewontin, Harvard Geneticist
"Biological pollution will be the environmental nightmare of the 21st century. This is not like chemical pollution- an oil spill- that eventually disperses. Biological pollution is an entirely different model, like a disease. Is Monsanto going to behelp legally responsible when one of its trans-genes creates a super weed or resistant insect?"
- Andrew Kimball, director of the Center for Technology Assessment in Washington
"At the FDA, I was referred to James Maryanski, who over sees Biotech at the agency. I began by asking him why the FDA didn't consider Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis, soil bacteria that produces insecticide) a food additive...[Any novel substance added to a food must be thoroughly tested and if it changes the product in any way, it must be labeled]. 'That's easy,' said Maryanski, "Bt is a pesticide, so its exempt" from FDA regulation...for the purposes of Federal Regulation, Bt is not a food but a pesticide and therefore falls under the regulation of the E.P.A...WhenI called the E.P.A and asked if the agency had tested my Bt potatoes for safety as a human food, the answer was...not exactly."
- Playing God in the Garden: New York Times Magazine on GE crops by Michael Pollan, Oct 25, 1998
"The U.N. Food Safety Agency representing 101 nations worldwide, has ruled unanimously in favor of the 1993European moratorium on Monsanto's genetically engineered milk (rBGH). This unexpected ruling, greeted by the U.S. press with deafening silence, is a powerful blow against U.S. global trade policies which are strongly influenced by powerful multi-national corporations, such as Monsanto...As importantly, the ruling represents the first large scale defeat of genetically modified foods on unarguable scientific grounds, apart from ethical and ideological concerns...Also ignored by the media have been charges in 1981 by Congressman John Conyers (then Chairmen of the House Committee on Government Operations), on the basis of a leaked confidential Monsanto study revealing serious pathology in cows injected with rBGH, that 'Monsanto and the FDA have chosen to suppress and manipulate animal health test data in efforts to approve commercial use of rBGH.'"
- Samuel Epstein, M.D., Professor of Environmental Medicine, University of Illinois School of Public Health, Chicago, August 18, 1999
"The perception that everything is totally straightforward and safe is utterly naive. I don't think we fully understand the dimensions of what we're getting into."
- Professor Philip James (author of the "James" report on the structure and functions of the proposed UK Food Standards Agency to oversee national food safety standards), Director of the Rowett Research Institute, Aberdeen, on genetically engineered food. Rowett Research Institute The Foods Standards Agency Covered up US study shows damage to rats from BST.
"But we realize that with any new and powerful technology with unknown, and to some degree unknowable - by definition - effects, then there necessarily will be an appropriate level at least, and maybe even more than that, of public debate and public interest."
- Bob Shapiro, Chief Executive of Monsanto, admitting that the effects of genetic engineering are unknown and "to some degree" unknowable (SWF News interview, San Francisco, 27 October 1998).
"The genetic modification of food is intrinsically dangerous. It involves making irreversible changes in a random manner to a complex level of life about which little is known. It is inevitable that this hit-and-miss approach will lead to disasters. It must disrupt the natural intelligence of the plant or animal to which it is applied, and lead to health-damaging side-effects."
-Dr Geoffrey Clements, leader of the Natural Law Party, UK.
Tryptophan toxicity incident - $2 billion in claims for deaths and disease.
"I see worries in the fact that we have the power to manipulate genes in ways that would be improbable or impossible through conventional evolution. We shouldn't be complacent in thinking that we can predict the results."
-Colin Blakemore, Waynflete professor of physiology at Oxford University and President of the British Association for the Advancement of Science.
"If it is left to me, I would certainly not eat it. We are putting new things into food which have not been eaten before. The effects on the immune system are not easily predictable and I challenge anyone who will say that the effects are predictable."
-Professor Arpad Pusztai, of the Food, Gut, and Microbial Interactions Group, Rowett Research Institute, on the health risks associated with genetically engineered food.
"The fact is, it is virtually impossible to even conceive of a testing procedure to assess the health effects of genetically engineered foods when introduced into the food chain, nor is there any valid nutritional or public interest reason for their introduction."
-Professor Richard Lacey, microbiologist, medical doctor, and Professor of Food Safety at Leeds University, world famous for his accurate prediction of the dangers of "Mad Cow Disease". Professor Lacey has spoken out strongly against the introduction of genetically engineered foods, because of 'the essentially unlimited health risks.'
"Over the last fifteen years, I and other scientists have put the FDA on notice about the potential dangers of genetically engineered foods. Instead of responsible regulation we have seen bureaucratic bungling and obfuscation that have left public health and the environment at risk."
-Dr. Philip Regal, Professor of Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior at the University of Minnesota and an internationally recognized plant expert, on the decision (May 1998) by concerned scientists and consumers to sue the US Federal Department of Agriculture (FDA) for failing to protect public health and provide consumers with relevant information about GM foods.
"Monsanto should not have to vouchsafe the safety of biotech food. Our interest is in selling as much of it as possible. Assuring its safety is the F.D.A's [Food and Drug Administration] job."
-Phil Angell, Monsanto's director of corporate communications, in an interview with the New York Times Sunday Magazine
"Once released into the environment, unlike a BSE epidemic or chemical spill, genetic mistakes cannot be contained, recalled or cleaned up, but will be passed on to all future generations indefinitely.
- Dr. Michael Antoniou, senior lecturer in molecular pathology from London, biotechnology advisor to the farming and food industries, and chief biotechnology advisor to the Natural Law Party
"There are still hungry people in Ethiopia, but they are hungry because they have no money, no longer because there is no food to buy ....we strongly resent the abuse of our poverty to sway the interests of the European public."
-Tewolde Berhan Gebre Egziabher of the Institute of Sustainable Development in Addis Ababa
"Probably the greatest threat from genetically altered crops is the
insertion of modified virus and insect virus genes into crops. It has been shown in the laboratory that genetic recombination will create highly virulent new viruses from such constructions. Certainly the widely used cauliflower mosaic virus is a potentially dangerous gene. It is a para-retro virus meaning that it multiplies by making DNA from RNA messages. It is very similar to the Hepatitis B virus and related to HIV."
-Dr. Joseph Cummins, professor emeritus in genetics from the university of West-Ontario
"...the allergic potential of these newly introduced microbial proteins is uncertain, unpredictable and un-testable,..."
-Warning from The New England Journal of Medicine in 1996 against the use of micro-organisms rather than food plants as gene donors.
"My worry is that other advances in science may result in other means of mass destruction, maybe more readily available even than nuclear weapons. Genetic engineering is quite a possible area, because of these dreadful developments that are taking place there."
-Joseph Rotblat, the British physicist who won the 1995 Nobel Prize after years of battling against nuclear weapons.
"Gene technology is driven by bad science. It may well ruin our food
supply, destroy biodiversity and unleash pandemics of antibiotic resistant infectious diseases."
-Dr Mae-Wan Ho, head of the Bio-Electrodynamics laboratory at the Open University in Milton Keynes, UK
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