Friday, June 10, 2011

Our Food System and GM Seed Studies

Susan Brannon
June 10, 2011

"We now know that when you insert a gene - when you randomly throw this thing in there, they don't know ahead of time where it's going to land," says Clark. The researchers don't know how many copies will be inserted, or what other genes it will affect, or will affect it. We now know that the position of a gene is critical to how it functions, and side effects of this are unpredictable and could be drastic”, Clark, a doctor in BioTechnology, reports this lesson is in one of the first courses in BioTech.

GM plants, such as soybean, corn, cottonseed, and canola, have had foreign genes forced into their DNA. The inserted genes come from species, such as bacteria and viruses, which have never been in the human food supply. (p. 233-236, chart of disproved assumptions, in Jeffrey M. Smith, Genetic Roulette: The Documented Health Risks of Genetically Engineered Foods, Yes! Books, Fairfield, IA 2007)

•    The genetic engineering process creates massive collateral damage, causing mutations in hundreds or thousands of locations throughout the plant's DNA. (J. R. Latham, et al., “The Mutational Consequences of Plant Transformation,” The Journal of Biomedicine and Biotechnology 2006, Article ID 25376)  Natural genes can be deleted or permanently turned on or off, and hundreds may change their behavior. (Srivastava, et al, “Pharmacogenomics of the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) and the cystic fibrosis drug CPX using genome microarray analysis,” Mol Med. 5, no. 11(Nov 1999):753–67.)  Even the inserted gene can be damaged or rearranged,( Latham et al, “The Mutational Consequences of Plant Transformation, Journal of Biomedicine and Biotechnology 2006:1-7, article ID 25376  HindawiEcoNexus  Inst. Of Science in Society and may create proteins that can trigger allergies or promote disease.

In 2009, the American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) stated that, "Several animal studies indicate serious health risks associated with genetically modified (GM) food," including infertility, immune problems, accelerated aging, faulty insulin regulation, and changes in major organs and the gastrointestinal system. The AAEM has asked physicians to advise all patients to avoid GM foods.

There are eight GM food crops. The five major varieties—soy, corn, canola, cotton, and sugar beets—have bacterial genes inserted, which allow the plants to survive an otherwise deadly dose of weed killer. Farmers use considerably more herbicides on these GM crops and so the food has higher herbicide residues. About 68% of GM crops are herbicide tolerant.

The second GM trait is a built-in pesticide, found in GM corn and cotton. A gene from the soil bacterium called Bt (for Bacillus thuringiensis) is inserted into the plant’s DNA, where it secretes the insect-killing Bt-toxin in every cell. About 19% of GM crops produce their own pesticide. Another 13% produce a pesticide and are herbicide tolerant.

Today, the same biotech companies who have been found guilty of hiding toxic effects of their chemical products are in charge of determining whether their GM foods are safe. Industry-funded GMO safety studies are too superficial to find most of the potential dangers, and their voluntary consultations with the FDA are widely criticized as a meaningless façade. (Jeffrey M. Smith, Genetic Roulette: The Documented Health Risks of Genetically Engineered Foods, Yes! Books, Fairfield, IA 2007)

Eyewitness reports: Animals avoid GMOs
1. When given a choice, several animals avoided eating GM food.
2. In farmer-run tests, cows and pigs repeatedly passed up GM corn.
3. Animals that avoided GM food include cows, pigs, geese, squirrels, elk, deer, raccoons, mice and rats.

Roundup Ready Soy

There have not been human studies on GM foods. The only published experiment with human feeding is using GM soy which revealed that the genetic material inserted transfers into bacteria living inside our intestines and continues to function.  (Netherwood et al, “Assessing the survival of transgenic plant DNA in the human gastrointestinal tract,” Nature Biotechnology 22 (2004): 2.) This means that long after we stop eating GM foods, we may still have the GM proteins continually inside of us.  If the antibiotic gene inserted into most GM crops were to transfer, it could develop into a resistance to antibiotics.  If the gene that creates Bt-toxin as in GM corn, were to transfer, it might turn our intestinal bacteria into living pesticide factories.  There have been several animal studies show that DNA in food can travel into organs throughout the body, even into the fetus. I listed only two of them for this article. (Ricarda A. Steinbrecher and Jonathan R. Latham, “Horizontal gene transfer from GM crops to unrelated organisms,” GM Science Review Meeting of the Royal Society of Edinburgh on “GM Gene Flow: Scale and Consequences for Agriculture and the Environment,” January 27, 2003; Traavik and Heinemann, Genetic Engineering and Omitted Health Research; citing Schubbert, et al, “Ingested foreign (phage M13) DNA survives transiently in the gastrointestinal tract and enters the bloodstream of mice,” Mol Gen Genet. 242, no. 5 (1994): 495–504) (Phipps, et al, “Detection of transgenic and endogenous plant DNA in rumen fluid, duodenal digesta, milk, blood, and feces of lactating dairy cows,” J Dairy Sci. 86, no. 12(2003): 4070–8.)

•    Feeding trials of 12 female rats ate Roundup Ready soy showed liver problems that are commonly associated with higher liver function.  The livers worked harder to detoxify the effects of the GM soy, compared to the rats who were fed non-GM soy.  The symptoms disappeared after replacing the GM-soy diet with non GM soy. (I.V. Ermakova, “Diet with the Soya Modified by Gene EPSPS CP4 Leads to Anxiety and Aggression in Rats,” 14th European Congress of Psychiatry. Nice, France, March 4-8, 2006; “Genetically modified soy affects posterity: Results of Russian scientists’ studies,” REGNUM, October 12, 2005) (M. Malatesta, C. Tiberi, B. Baldelli, S. Battistelli, E. Manuali, M. Biggiogera, “Reversibility of Hepatocyte Nuclear Modifications in Mice Fed on Genetically Modified Soybean,” Eur J Histochem, 49 (2005): 237-242.)

•    Mice were fed Roundup Ready soy, experienced reduced activity of their testicular cells, the results could have serious implication on human fertility. (L. Vecchio et al, “Ultrastructural Analysis of Testes from Mice Fed on Genetically Modified Soybean,” European Journal of Histochemistry 48, no. 4 (Oct–Dec 2004):449–454.)

•    25 of 45 rat offspring died after their mothers were fed GM soy prior to and during pregnancy, compared to three deaths out of 33 for non-GM soy fed rats. (see I.V. Ermakova study above,)  The organs of the GM-fed-soy rats offspring were smaller than the organs of the non-GM-fed soy rats. (Study)  By the third generation the offspring were unable to have babies.

•    The function of mouse embryos functioned differently when the parents ate GM Soy. (Oliveri et al., “Temporary Depression of Transcription in Mouse Pre-implantion Embryos from Mice Fed on Genetically Modified Soybean,” 48th Symposium of the Society for Histochemistry, Lake Maggiore (Italy), September 7–10, 2006)

•    A study done in the UK showed that over 4000 people had a 50% increased in allergic response to soy after GM soy was introduced into the food system. (Mark Townsend, “Why soya is a hidden destroyer,” Daily Express, March 12, 1999.) and (Hye-Yung Yum, Soo-Young Lee, Kyung-Eun Lee, Myung-Hyun Sohn, Kyu-Earn Kim, “Genetically Modified and Wild Soybeans: An immunologic comparison,” Allergy and Asthma Proceedings 26, no. 3 (May–June 2005): 210-216(7).

FlavrSavr Tomato rats developed bleeding stomachs and many died during the experiement.

GM corn
•    Rats eating GM corn over 15 weeks, had signs of exposure to toxicity in several organs, with more in the livers and kidneys.

•    Farmers in Europe and Asia say that cows, water buffaloes, chickens, and horses died from eating Bt corn varieties. (Mae-Wan Ho, “GM Ban Long Overdue, Dozens Ill & Five Deaths in the Philippines,” ISIS Press Release, June 2, 2006; and Mae-Wan Ho and Sam Burcher, “Cows Ate GM Maize & Died,” ISIS Press Release, January 13, 2004)

Farmers report pigs and cows became sterile from GM corn
1. More than 20 farmers in North America report that pigs fed GM corn varieties had low conception rates, false pregnancies or gave birth to bags of water.
2. Both male and female pigs became sterile.
3. Some farmers also report sterility among cows.

•    Mice had powerful immune responses and damaged intestines. (Vazquez et al, “Intragastric and intraperitoneal administration of Cry1Ac protoxin from Bacillus thuringiensis induces systemic and mucosal antibody responses in mice,” 1897–1912)

Twice the number of chickens died when fed Liberty Link corn
1. The death rate for chickens fed Chardon LL GM corn for 42 days was 7%, compared to 3.5% for controls.
2. GM-fed chickens also had more erratic body weight and food intake, and less weight gain overall.
3. The study was designed so that only huge differences would be statistically significant.
4. The results were therefore dismissed without follow-up.

•    Filipinos in at least five villages fell sick when a nearby Bt corn variety was pollinating. (Mae-Wan Ho, “GM Ban Long Overdue, Dozens Ill & Five Deaths in the Philippines,” ISIS Press Release, June 2, 2006; “Study Result Not Final, Proof Bt Corn Harmful to Farmers,” BusinessWorld, 02 Mar 2004; and “Genetically Modified Crops and Illness Linked,” Manila Bulletin, 04 Mar 2004.)

BT Cotton

Dr. Kaura, genetic engineering researcher says, “Milk of farm animals, eating BT Cotton, is deadly for animals'' offspring as well as humans of all age groups, as it has been found to cause increased death rate in infants, general debility, allergy, unexplained health problems, fever, decline in immunity, weakness, etc.” (see also; “Bt cotton causing allergic reaction in MP; cattle dead,” Bhopal, Nov. 23, 2005)

•    The farmers have high allergic reactions to Bt. Cotton as they did to the Br. Spray. (News India)

•    Thousands of sheep, buffalo, and goats in India died after grazing on Bt cotton plants after harvest. Others suffered poor health and reproductive problems. (GM Watch)

•    About two dozen US farmers report that Bt corn varieties caused widespread sterility in pigs or cows. (Personal communication with Jerry Rosman and other farmers, 2006; also reported widely in the farm press.)

GM Potatoes

•    The stomach lining of rats fed GM potatoes showed excessive cell growth, a condition that may lead to cancer. Rats also had damaged organs and immune system.  (Arpad Pusztai, “Can science give us the tools for recognizing possible health risks of GM food,” Nutrition and Health, 2002, Vol 16 Pp 73-84; Stanley W. B. Ewen and Arpad Pusztai, “Effect of diets containing genetically modified potatoes expressing Galanthus nivalis lectin on rat small intestine,”)

GM Foods

A GM food supplement killed about 100 people and caused 5,000-10,000 to fall sick
1. One brand of the supplement L-tryptophan created a deadly US epidemic in the 1980s
2. The company genetically engineered bacteria to produce the supplement more economically.
3. Their product contained many contaminants, five or six of which were suspected as the cause of the disease.
4. Discovering the epidemic required multiple coincidences, suggesting that adverse reactions to GM foods may be hard to identify. (Jeffrey M. Smith, Seeds of Deception, Yes! Books, Fairfield, IA 2003, chapter 4, Deadly Epidemic  Seeds of Decption and William E. Crist, Toxic L-tryptophan: Shedding Light on a Mysterious Epidemic).  There are not long term studies, so if the effects on humans are long term we will not be aware of the problem for a few decades.  The Bio Tech industry is gambling on the health of many nations for their proft.

GM foods might create antibiotic-resistant diseases
1. Antibiotic resistant marker (ARM) genes have been inserted into most GM foods on the market.
2. If ARM genes were to transfer to pathogenic bacteria inside the gut or mouth, they might create super diseases, untreatable with one or more types of antibiotics.
3. GM crops may therefore accelerate the rise of antibiotic-resistant illnesses, which
are already responsible for death and disease.

Disease-resistant crops may promote human viruses and other diseases
1. Viral genes inserted into disease-resistant crops produce "viral" proteins.
2. Consuming these may suppress the body’s defense against viral infections, particularly in the gut.
3. The proteins may also be toxic and lead to disease.
4. Viral transgenes also produce RNA, which might influence gene expression in humans in unpredicted ways. (IRT)

These studies on animals, give us something to think about when eating GM foods.  Our problem is that the foods that contain GM products are not required to be labeled so we as citizens cannot make a choice.  

Please contact your congressmen, senators, and governor to encourge the labeling of GM foods.  As citizens we need to fight against corporations for profit, who do not act responsible towards societies healthy existence.  It is only through our voice, through letters and phone calls, publishing articles such as this to generate awareness to global citizens.  

We must not stop acting on our rights as citizens and loose our voice, and stand up for our freedoms.  We should use the Middle East Spring Uprisings, as our examples to say that "enough is enough" and in America start to demand that our voices to be heard and action to be taken.

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Thursday, June 09, 2011

The Story about GM Seeds

Susan Brannon-Robens
9, June 2011
Genetically Modified (GM) seeds have been introduced into the world from the early 1990’s.  The seeds are mainly soybean, corn, canola, and cotton. The seed was developed to increase food production, lower production costs and lower the amount of pests that destroy the crops. The process is the insertion, deletion or transfer of genes. They add a genetic material into an organism. GMO’s are used in biological and medical research, the production of pharmaceutical drugs, gene therapy and agriculture.

Monsanto is the company located in Missouri, that develops and patients the GM seeds.  In 2007, Monsanto’s seeds were planted on 246 million acres (1,000,000kn2) throughout the world. Monsanto developed “triple-stack corn” that contains Roundup Ready 2 weed control technology with YieldGard Corn Borer and YieldGard Rootworm insect control and tops the market in the U.S.  The forecast is by 2014 they will plant 56 million acres in the US.  (Check BioTech) I must insert here the concept of growing our food injected with pesticides, that are eaten by cows, pigs, pets and humans does not make any sense.  We all know that what we eat absorbs into our bodies.  Many of the products on the grocery store shelves contain some type of corn by-product.  This is not like the corn of yesterday, but genetically modified with the insertion of Roundup a weed killer accepted by the USDA?

The crops are called “Biotech Crops” that reflects the latest technology, in agriculture in order to “save our hungry world”.  Yet the facts, are that there is enough food for the world, including the developing countries.  The problem is that we don’t get the food over to developing countries.  However, that is another issue for a different article. 

It is said that out of 14 million farmers who grew biotech crops in 2009, 90% of them were poor farmers from developing countries.  In China, 7 million farmers grew cotton (Bt. Cotton), 5.6 million grew cotton in the Philippines. The commercial value of biotech crops grown in 2008 was 130 billion US dollars.  (ISAAA)

As of 2009/2010 data there are a number of seeds that are in our food system:
Soybens:    USA 93%    World 77%
Corn        USA 86%    World 26%
Cotton        USA 93%    World 49%
Alfalfa        produced from 2005-2007 banned until January 2011, currently legal
Papaya        USA 80%
Tomotes    Taken off the market commercial failure
Rapeseed    USA 93%    World 21%
Sugar cane    no data
Sugar beet    USA 95%    World 9%
Zucchini    USA 13%
Monsanto found it easy for the farmers in America to use and purchase the GM seeds, but later discovered the European market is concerned about mixing crops grown from GM seeds next to conventional and organic crops. Japan and the entire European Union, have outright banned GMOs and products associated with them. In the end, Monsanto settled for developing countries as another marketing target.

For example, Monsanto controls more than 60% of commercial seeds in India including “hybrids” that combine different crop varieties. However there has been a reported increase in suicides of over 200,000 Indian farmers since the introduction of the GM seeds. Physicist, Vandana Shiva blames the suicides in part on farmer indebtedness to be forced to buy the seeds each planting year at rising costs.  The seeds cannot be used to plant a new crop from the last years crop. The seeds arrived in India in 2002 and the price of the seeds has jumped from Rs. 7 a bag that covers one acre to Rs. 750.  There are no regulatory systems in India, and “Monsanto sells its GMO seeds on fraudulent claims of yields of 1,500 kilograms a year when farmers actually harvest 300 kg a year on average.”  The developing countries are told, you can grow more for less, control the pests, make money from your farms, and help your society to diminish poverty.  Some of the seeds are drought protected, injected with oils for nutrition to increase health.  My question, is this Monsanto a corporation statement really true? 

In America, the Obama administration decided in January 2011 to radically approve unrestricted production of biotech Monsanto “Roundup Ready” alfalfa and sugar beets creating our food system dependent in a handful of corporations, with only profit to guide them.  In spite of the World Health Organization’s concerns over the spread of GM crops and the indirect effect on food safety and security, the GM seed use continues to expand.  The concept of creating and selling patented GM seeds is based on corporate control with the need to be purchased each season eliminating the right for farmers and consumers to choose what they will eat and grow. 

At this time, at least 2,391 farmers in 19 states have been sued for “seed piracy”.  Monsanto has an annual budget of 10 million dollars that is solely devoted to investigating and prosecuting farmers.  When a farmer buys the Monsanto seeds, they sign an agreement that they will not save the seeds and replant them.  More than 275,000 farmers buy the seeds under this agreement.  What I do not understand is why America is so willing to “trust” corporate control to the most important of concerns, our food system.

In addition there are health and ethical concerns, the quality and impact of farming, the use of pesticides, and threat to native and natural species are other major issues. Since their commercialization in 1992, GMO’s have had a startling correlation with the explosion in food borne illnesses, obesity, diabetes, and other food-related illnesses.

GMO’s allow for the breeding of super weeds that can both resist their pesticides and decimate the land. GMOs, in essence, stem from an infant science that has been thrust upon the world in the last two decades.  How can cross cropping not exist?  Bees fly around and carry its pollen from one plant and crop to another, the wind blows carrying with it Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide. If you eat meat or dairy, you consume alfalfa and corn, the leading source for hay and food for cattle. GMO products are not allowed in the USDA-certified foods and soon it will be all but impossible to find organic milk and meat.  The bill has already passed and the decision was made in spite of organic farming groups, activists, and watch groups who number into the tens of thousands.

Bt. Cotton has also shown some diverse effects through the years, Bt. Cotton first controlled the pests and reduced the amount of insecticides need by 90%, but the Bt. Cotton has created new pests, and to control the new pests, farmers are using 13 times more pesticides than they were using before the introduction of Bt. Cotton.  (Huffington Post April 2009)

Organic farming groups, food outlets and activists responded to the deregulation of GM alfalfa:

"The USDA's decision to allow unlimited, nationwide commercial planting of Monsanto's GE Roundup Ready alfalfa without any restrictions flies in the face of the interests of conventional and organic farmers, preservation of the environment, and consumer choice. USDA has become a rogue agency in its regulation of biotech crops and its decision to appease the few companies who seek to benefit from this technology comes despite increasing evidence that GE alfalfa will threaten the rights of American farmers and consumers, as well as damage the environment." 

Commenting on the ruling, in a Joint Statement U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy and Representative Peter DeFazio said:

    "This long approval process began as a search for a workable compromise, but it has ended as a surrender to business as usual for the biotech industry. USDA officials had an opportunity to address the concerns of all farmers, whether they choose to farm genetically altered crops, conventional crops, or organic crops, and to find a way for them to coexist. Instead, what we now have is a setback for the nation's organic and conventional agriculture sectors. Instead of settling this issue, USDA's decision regrettably guarantees further rounds in the courts."

When our leaders approve the expansion of the use of seeds that endanger biodiversity and the farmers’ choice, we should have an outcry as a nation.  This regulated control over our food system; our lifeblood and food supply is not a little thing and is not a democracy.

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Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Fake Foods: Help yourself with GM treats!

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