I invite everyone to read Jeffrey Smith’s "Seeds of Deception" and “Genetic Roulette – the documented health risks of genetically engineered foods”. Evidence of health risks has been concealed to preserve corporate profit. Industry would like to maintain absence of labels since this would make it difficult for experts to monitor the health impact on persons eating GM food. Were GM foods labeled, most consumers would not purchase them, nor foods containing GM ingredients. Jeffrey Smith presents documented evidence of reactions to GM food in animals and humans and adverse effects on the environment:
- There is risk of acute toxic reactions. The risk is greater in children, who eat lots of corn and consume soy in infant formulas.
- There was a sharp rise in allergies to soy in the United Kingdom after GM soy was introduced.
- Crop yields have not increased. GM crops are less resistant to extreme climate conditions than normal crops.
- There is growing insect and weed resistance due to proliferation of pesticide use on GM pesticide-resistant crops.
- Pigs and cows become sterile after eating GM corn.
- Bt StarLink corn intended for animal feed accidentally got into the food supply in the year 2000. Thousands of persons reported allergic reactions after eating taco shells which were found to contain Bt StarLink corn.
- One type of GM corn, manufactured by Monsanto, is engineered to produce high levels of lysine, which is a particularly reactive amino acid found in corn. When cooked or processed, this may produce toxic compounds associated with symptoms of Alzheimer’s, diabetes, allergies, kidney disease, and cancer.
- Some GM crops are engineered to tolerate certain herbicides. These plants transform the herbicide into a non-toxic compound, however once this is consumed by humans, gut bacteria can revert this compound back into the herbicide, which has known toxic effects. In 2010, the USDA estimated that 70 per cent of the nation’s corn acreage was planted with corn engineered to resist herbicides and 63 per cent, with insect-resistant seeds. Rates for soybeans are even higher.
- Herbicide-resistant crops increase herbicide use and thus, toxic residues on food and also render food less nutritious. Some herbicides, like Round-Up Ready, may act as endocrine disruptors, even at low doses. Herbicides also enter the air and water.
- GM crops may concentrate toxins such as heavy metals in the milk and meat of animals.
Recent findings by independent scientists support this evidence. Dr. Don Huber, Professor Emeritus at Purdue University, alerted the federal government to a newly discovered organism that may have the potential to cause infertility and spontaneous abortion in farm animals feeding on Roundup Ready soybean meal and corn. Dr. Huber believes that this organism is somehow linked to the main chemical (glyphosate) contained in the Monsanto herbicide Roundup Ready which is used to treat the soy and corn engineered to resist the herbicide.
In 2007, 185 million pounds of glyphosate in herbicides were used on American crops. Glyphosate prevents plants from absorbing vital nutrients, especially manganese. Thus, when animals eat these plants, they too become deficient in manganese. Cattle farmers have told Dr. Huber that their herds are experiencing a 15 per cent infertility rate and a 35 per cent rate of spontaneous abortions. Dr. Huber expressed his concerns in a letter to the U.S. Department of Agriculture which was more or less ignored, since the agency, despite protest coming also from consumers and organic food producers, recently approved cultivation of Roundup Ready alfalfa. This crop is a key component in feed for organically-raised animals. As with all GM crops, GM alfalfa could easily contaminate organic and non-GM alfalfa crops.
Many foods now contain GM soy. The Daily Telegraph found that every supermarket in the United Kingdom stocks meat and dairy from animals fed GM soy. This includes leading brands such as Cadbury, Unilever and Dairycrest. It is estimated that 75 per cent of all processed foods in the United States contain a genetically modified ingredient.
The cultivation of GM soy is responsible for destruction of forests in South America and for displacement of small farmers from their land to urban slums. The small farmers who remain on the land are being poisoned by the toxic chemicals used on GM crops. Women living within one kilometer of sprayed fields were twice as likely to give birth to babies with deformities. Indigenous populations have fallen sick from accidental aerial sprayings.
We can fight this growing calamity. Consumers can refuse to buy foods containing GM ingredients, however these must be labeled as such. Friends of the Earth is helping to teach environmental law to communities in countries such as Paraguay, which now cultivates large quantities of GM soy. This will allow them to resist harmful practices like spraying.
All this is enough to give thought as to why farmers in the European Union are abandoning GM cultivation. GM maize cultivation acreage in the EU in 2010 declined by 13 per cent compared to 2009. The growing of Monsanto’s GM maize MON810 is banned in seven EU countries due to environmental and health risks. Researching the situation of GM agriculture in Europe is arduous. According to a report from the excellent GMO database, “The Compass” (www.gmo-compass.org) from end 2008:
- GM soy: The EU imports about 40 million tons of soy annually, primarily used to feed cattle, pigs and chickens. It is also used to produce food additives.
- GM maize: This is the only GM crop currently being grown in Europe. It is used primarily for animal feed and also in the starch industry. It is most likely found in food products.
- GM sugar beets: Approved for import into EU for food and feed processing but not yet authorized for cultivation.
- GM potato: A GM potato with optimal starch content is soon likely to be cultivated in Europe.
by Meris Michaels
(Refer to these anti-GMO activists: Jeffrey Smith - "Genetic Roulette" etc., Vandana Shiva, Percy Schmeiser.)