13. No Regulated Health Safety Testing: The FDA only requests of firms that they conduct their own tests of new GM products in what Vice President Quayle back in 1992 referred to as a “regulatory relief program.” The FDA makes no review of those tests unless voluntarily requested by the company producing the product. Companies present their internal company records of tests showing a product is safe ~essentially having the “fox oversee the chicken coup.”
As Louis J. Pribyl, an FDA microbiologist explained, companies tailor tests to get the results they need. They further relinquish responsibility as Pjil Angell, Monsanto’s director of corporate communications expressed it:
"MONSANTO SHOULD NOT HAVE TO
VOUCHSAFE THE SAFETY OF BIOTECH FOODS.
OUR INTEREST IS IN SELLING.
ASSURING ITS SAFETY IS THE FDA’S JOB.”
But the FDA has not assumed the responsibility. Essentially it is “like playing Russian roulette with public health,” says Philip J. Regal, a biologist at the University of Minnesota. In his contacts with the FDA, he noted that in the policy of helping the biotech industry grow “government scientist after scientist acknowledged there was no way to assure the health safety of genetically engineered food… [yet] society was going to have to bear an unavoidable measure of risk.”
The situation was summarized by Richard Steinbrecher, a geneticist working for the Women’s Environmental Network “To use genetic engineering to manipulate plants, release them into the environment and introduce them into our food chains is scientifically premature, unsafe and irresponsible.”
The Tiny Piney is a miniature pine tree which is a mere 2cm tall when fully grown. It was originally developed to provide a fast growing source for pine-tree smell to be used in the fragrance industry but in very little time its usefulness in other areas became obvious. This tiny pine tree is now hugely popular as an edible plant in Papua New Guinea where it is dipped in a batter made from coconut milk and shellac beetle shells and deep fried. The Tiny Piney (official trademark) has a very subtle pine flavor which is enhanced by the coconut milk. The Tiny Piney is usually eaten as a dessert.
14. Unnatural Foods: Recently, Monsanto announced it had found “unexpected gene fragments in their Roundup Ready soybeans. It is well known that modified proteins exist in GE foods, new proteins never before eaten by humanity.
In 1992, Dr. Louis J. Pribyl of the FDA’s Microbiology Group warned (in an internal memo uncovered in a lawsuit filed) that there is” a profound difference between the types of expected effects from traditional breeding and genetic engineering.” He also addressed industry claims of no “pleiotropic” (unintended and/or uncontrolled) effects. This was the basis for the industry position that GM foods are “equivalent” to regular foods, thus requiring no testing or regulation.
“Pleiotropic effects occur in genetically engineered plants…at frequencies of 30%…increased levels of known naturally occurring toxicants, appearance of new, not previously identified intoxicants, increased capability of concentrating toxic substances from the environment (e.g. pesticides or heavy metals), and undesirable alterations in the level of nutrients may escape breeders’ attention unless genetically engineered plants are evaluated specifically for these changes.”
Other scientists within the FDA echoed this view ~ and in contrast to the agency’s official position. For example, James Marayanski, manager of the FDA’s Biotechnology Working Group warned that there was a lack of consensus among the FDA’s scientists as to the so-called “sameness” of GM foods compared to non-GM foods. The reason why this is such an important issue is that Congress mandated the FDA to require labeling when there is “something tangibly different about the food that is material with respect to the consequences which may result from the use of the food.”
15. Radical Change in Diet: Humanity has evolved for thousands of years by adapting gradually to its natural environment ~ including nature’s foods. Within just three years a fundamental transformation of the human diet has occurred. This was made possible by massive consolidations among agri-business. Ten companies now own about 40% of all US seed production and sales. The Biotech industry especially targeted two of the most commonly eaten and lucrative ingredients in processed foods ~ corn and soy.
Monsanto and Novaris, through consolidations, became the second and third largest seed companies in the world. They also purchased related agricultural businesses to further monopolize soy and corn production. Again within three years, the majority of soybeans and one third of all corn in the US are now grown with seeds mandated by the biotech firms. Also 60% of all hard cheeses in the US are processed with a GM enzyme. A percentage of baking and brewery products are GM modified as well.
Most all of US cotton production (where cotton oil is used in foods) is bioengineered. Wheat and rice are next in line. In 2002, Monsanto plans to introduce a “Roundup” (the name of its leading herbicide) resistant wheat strain. The current result is that approximately two-thirds of all processed foods in the US already contain GM ingredients ~ and this is projected to rise to 90% within four years according to industry claims. In short, the human diet, from almost every front, is being radically changed ~ with little or no knowledge of the long-term health or environmental impacts.
“Genetic Engineering is often justified as a human technology, one that feeds more people with better food. Nothing could be further from the truth. With very few exceptions, the whole point of genetic engineering is to increase sales of chemicals and bio-engineered products to dependent farmers.” ~ David Ehrenfield: Professor of Biology, Rutgers University
The fern spider is unique on this list as it is the only combined plant and animal. At the time of writing this is the only animal that has successfully been crossed with a plant. The spider is a cross between a common Italian Wolf spider (Lycosa tarantula) and the ponga fern (Cyathea dealbata). The purpose of this bizarre crossbreed was to study the survival rates of spiders with built in camouflage versus those without in a series of studies on Natural Selection at Massey University in New Zealand. The results of the study have not been published yet.
GENERAL SOIL IMPACT
16. Toxicity to Soil: The industry marketing pitch to the public is that bioengineered seeds and plants will help the environment by reducing toxic herbicide/pesticide use. Isolated examples are given, but the overall reality is exactly opposite. The majority of GM agricultural products are developed specifically for toxin-resistance ~ namely for higher doses of herbicides/ pesticides sold by the largest producer companies ~ Monsanto, Dupont Novaris, Dow, Bayer, Ciba-Geigy, Hoescht, AgroEvo, and Rhone-Poulenc.
Also the majority of research for future products involves transgenic strains for increased chemical resistance. Not to be fooled, the primary intent is to sell more, not less of their products and to circumvent patent laws. According to an article by R.J. Goldburg scientists predict herbicide use will triple as a result of GM products.
As an example of the feverish attempt to expand herbicide use, Monsanto’s patent for Roundup was scheduled to expire. Not to lose their market share, Monsanto came up with the idea of creating “Roundup Ready” seeds. It bought out seed companies to monopolize the terrain ~ then licensing the seeds to farmers with the requirement that they continue buying Roundup past the expiration of the patent. These contracts had stiff financial penalties if farmers used any other herbicide.
As early as 1996, the investment report of Dain Boswell on changes in the seed industry reported that Monsanto’s billion dollar plus acquisition of Holden Seeds (about 1/3rd of US corn seeds) had “very little to do with Holden as a seed company and a lot to do with the battle between the chemical giants for future sales of herbicides and insecticides.”
Also as revealed in corporate interviews conducted by Marc Lappe and Britt Bailey (authors of Against the Grain ~ Biotechnology and the Corporate Takeover of your Food), the explicit aim was to control 100% of US soy seeds by the year 2000 only to continue to sell Roundup ~ or to beat their patent’s expiration.
With the growing wealth of China, many rich Chinese women are seeking alternative and exotic pets to show off their money. This has lead to a number of Chinese medical and scientific research companies to compete for this new income source by producing cross breed animals. The most successful (financially) so far has been the Lemur Cat. It is (as the name suggests) a cross between a lemur and a cat. It retains the soft fur of the cat and the coloring, but has the striped tail and yellow eyes commonly found on a lemur. It is more ferocious than the average cat but it is generally no more dangerous than a Chihuahua dog. The scientific name for this new breed is Prolos Fira. Source:listverse.com/bizarre/top-10-bizarre-genetically-modified-organisms/
In fact in 1996, about 5000 acres were planted with Roundup Ready soy seeds when Roundup sales accounted for 17% of Monsanto’s $9 billion in annual sales. Not to lose this share but to expand it, Monsanto saw to it that by 1999, 5000 acres grew to approximately 40 million acres out of a total of 60 million ~ or the majority of all soy plantings in the United States.
Furthermore, Roundup could now be spayed over an entire field, not just sparingly over certain weeds. However, the problem with evolving only genetically cloned and thus carbon-copy seeds and plants is that historically, extreme monoculture (high levels of sameness in crop planting) has led to a loss of adaptive survival means ~ or where deadly plant infections have spread like wildfire.
As a separate issue, according to the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, Monsanto’s Roundup already threatens 74 endangered species in the United States. It attacks photosynthesis in plants non-specifically ~ their quintessential, life-giving way to process sunlight. Farmers sowing Roundup Ready seeds can also use more of this herbicide than with conventional weed management.
Since the genetically modified plants have alternative ways to create photosynthesis, they are hyper-tolerant, and can thus be sprayed repeatedly without killing the crop. Though decaying in the soil, Roundup residues are left on the plant en route to the consumer. Malcolm Kane, (former head of food safety for Sainsbury’s chain of supermarkets) revealed that the government, to accommodate Monsanto, raised pesticide residue limits on soy products about 300-fold from 6 parts per million to 20 parts.
Lastly Roundup is a human as well as environmental poison. According to a study at the University of California, glyphosphate (the active ingredient of Roundup) was the third leading cause of farm worker illnesses. At least fourteen persons have died from ingesting Roundup. These cases involved mostly individuals intentionally taking this poison to commit suicide in Japan and Taiwan.
From this we know that the killing dose is so small it can be put on a finger tip (0.4 cubic centimeters). Monsanto, however, proposes a universal distribution of this lethal substance in our food chain. All of this is not shocking, given Monsanto’s history ~ being the company that first distributed PCBs and vouched for their safety.
17. Soil Sterility and Pollution: In Oregon, scientists found GM bacterium (klebsiella planticola) meant to break down wood chips, corn stalks and lumber wastes to produce ethanol ~ with the post-process waste to be used as compost ~ rendered the soil sterile. It killed essential soil nutrients, robbing the soil of nitrogen and killed nitrogen capturing fungi.
A similar result was found in 1997 with the GM bacteria Rhizobium melitoli. Professor Guenther Stotzky of New York University conducted research showing the toxins that were lethal to Monarch butterfly are also released by the roots to produce soil pollution. The pollution was found to last up to 8 months with depressed microbial activity. An Oregon study showed that GM soil microbes in the lab killed wheat plants when added to the soil.
18. Extinction of Seed Varieties: A few years ago Time magazine referred to the massive trend by large corporations to buy up small seed companies, destroying any competing stock, and replacing it with their patented or controlled brands as “the Death of Birth.” Monsanto additionally has had farmers sign contracts not to save their seeds ~ forfeiting what has long been a farmer’s birthright to remain guardians of the blueprints of successive life.
19. Superweeds: It has been shown that genetically modified Bt endotoxin remains in the soil at least 18 months (according to Marc Lappe and Britt Bailey) and can be transported to wild plants creating superweeds ~ resistant to butterfly, moth, and beetle pests ~ potentially disturbing the balance of nature. A study in Denmark (Mikkelsen, 1996) and in the UK (National Institute of Agricultural Botany) showed superweeds growing nearby in just one generation. A US study showed the superweed resistant to glufosinate to be just as fertile as non-polluted weeds.
Another study showed 20 times more genetic leakage with GM plants ~ or a dramatic increase in the flow of genes to outside species. Also in a UK study by the National Institute of Agricultural Botany, it was confirmed that superweeds could grow nearby in just one generation. Scientists suspect that Monsanto’s wheat will hybridize with goat grass, creating an invulnerable superweed.
The National Academy of Science’s study stated that ” concern surrounds the possibility of genes for resisting pests being passed from cultivated plants to their weedy relatives, potentially making the weed problem worse. This could pose a high cost to farmers and threaten the ecosystem.” (quoting Perry Adkisson, chancellor emeritus of Texas A&M University, who chaired the National Academy of Science study panel).
An experiment in France showed a GM canola plant could transfer genes to wild radishes, what persisted in four generations. Similarly, and according to New Scientists, an Alberta Canada farmer began planting three fields of different GM canola seeds in 1997 and by 1999 produced not one, but three different mutant weeds ~ respectively resistant to three common herbicides (Monsanto’s Roundup, Cyanamid’s Pursuit, and Aventis’ Liberty).
In effect genetic materials migrated to the weeds they were meant to control. Now the Alberta farmer is forced to use a potent 2,4-D what GM crops promised to avoid use of. Finally Stuart Laidlaw reported in the Toronto Star that the Ontario government study indicated herbicide use was on the rise primarily largely due to the introduction of GM crops.
20. Plant Invasions: We can anticipate classic bio-invasions as a result of new GM strains, just as with the invasions of the kutzu vine or purple loosestrife in the plant world.
The paper tree has been developed to reduce production costs and loss of tree life in the paper manufacturing industry. The recent explosion in popularity of recycled paper products lead a Swiss based company to develop a tree which grows square leaves that, when dried, are already usable as writing paper. In the image above we see a company employee holding a dried leaf beside the trunk of one of the many Paper Trees now grown by the company.
21. Destruction of Forest Life: GM trees or “supertrees“ are being developed which can be sprayed from the air to kill literally all of surrounding life, except the GM trees. There is an attempt underway to transform international forestry by introducing multiple species of such trees. The trees themselves are often sterile and flowerless. This is in contrast to rainforests teaming with life, or where a single tree can host thousands of unique species of insects, fungi, mammals and birds in an interconnected ecosphere.
This kind of development has been called “death-engineering” rather than “life-” or “bio-engineering.” More ominously pollen from such trees, because of their height, has traveled as much as 400 miles or 600 kilometers ~ roughly 1/5 of the distance across the United States.
22. Terminator Trees: Monsanto has developed plans with the New Zealand Forest Research Agency to create still more lethal tree plantations. These super-deadly trees are non-flowering, herbicide-resistant and have leaves exuding toxic chemicals to kill caterpillars and other surrounding insects ~ destroying the wholesale ecology of forest life.
As George McGavin, curator of entomology Oxford University noted, “If you replace vast tracts of natural forest with flowerless trees, there will be a serious effect on the richness and abundance of insects…If you put insect resistance in the leaves as well you will end up with nothing but booklice and earwigs. We are talking about vast tracts of land covered with plants that do not support animal life as a sterile means to cultivate wood tissue. That is a pretty unattractive vision of the future and I for one want no part of it.”
This creature was not designed for a practical reason, but merely to prove that it could be done. Genetic Engineers in Zimbabwe (formerly Rhodesia) managed to unlock a dormant “flying” strand in the DNA of the Umbuku lizard, a very small and rare lizard native to Africa. It is believed that the lizard is a descendant of the Pterodactyl, which lost its ability to fly some millions of years ago. To date only 6 of these flying Umbuku have been produced and they are kept separate from the natural Umbuku due the risk of cross breeding.
INSECTS AND LARGER ANIMALS
23. Super pests: Lab tests indicate that common plant pests such as cottonboll worms will evolve into super pests immune from the Bt sprays used by organic farmers. The recent “stink bug” epidemic in North Carolina and Georgia seems linked to bioengineered plants that the bugs love. Monsanto, on their Farmsource website, recommended spraying them with methyl parathion, one of the deadliest chemicals.
So much for the notion of Bt cotton getting US farmers off the toxic treadmill. Pests the transgenic cotton was meant to kill ~ cotton bollworms, pink bollworms, and budworms ~ were once “secondary pests.” Toxic chemicals killed off their predators, unbalanced nature, and thus made them “major pests.”
24. Animal Bio-invasions: Fish and marine life are threatened by accidental release of GM fish currently under development in several countries ~ trout, carp, and salmon several times the normal size and growing up to 6x times as fast. One such accident has already occurred in the Philippines.
25. Beneficial Insects: Studies have shown that GM products can kill beneficial insects ~ most notably the monarch butterfly larvae (Cornell, 1999). Swiss government researchers found Bt crops killed lacewings that ate the cottonworms which the Bt targeted. A study reported in 1997 by New Scientist indicates honeybees may be harmed by feeding on proteins found in GM canola flowers. Other studies relate to the death of bees (40% died during a contained trial with Monsanto’s Bt cotton), springtails (Novartis’ Bt corn data submitted to the EPA) and ladybird beetles.
26. Poisonous to Mammals: In a study with GM potatoes, spliced with DNA from the snowdrop plant and a viral promoter (CaMV), the resulting plant was poisonous to mammals (rats) ~ damaging vital organs, the stomach lining and immune system. CaMV is a pararetrovirus. It can reactivate dormant viruses or create new viruses ` as some presume have occurred with the AIDS epidemic.
CaMV is promiscuous, why biologist Mae Wan-Ho concluded that “all transgenic crops containing CaMV 35S or similar promoters which are recombinogenic should be immediately withdrawn from commercial production or open field trials. All products derived from such crops containing transgenic DNA should also be immediately withdrawn from sale and from use for human consumption or animal feed.”
27. Animal Abuse: Pig number 6706 was supposed to be a “superpig.” It was implanted with a gene to become a technological wonder. But it eventually became a “supercripple” full of arthritis, cross-eyed, and could barely stand up with its mutated body. Some of these mutations seem to come right out of Greek mythology ~ such as a sheep-goat with faces and horns of a goat and the lower body of a sheep.
Two US biotech companies are producing genetically modified birds as carriers for human drug delivery ~ without little concern for animal suffering. Gene Works of Ann Arbor, Michigan has up to 60 birds under “development.” GM products, in general, allow companies to own the rights to create, direct, and orchestrate the evolution of animals.
28. Support of Animal Factory Farming: Rather than using the best of scientific minds to end animal factory farming ~ rapid efforts are underway to develop gene-modified animals that better thrive in disease-promoting conditions of animal factory farms.
29. Genetic Pollution: Carrying GM pollen by wind, rain, birds, bees, insects, fungus, bacteria ~ the entire chain of life becomes involved. Once released, unlike chemical pollution, there is no cleanup or recall possible. As mentioned, pollen from a single GM tree has been shown to travel 1/5th of the length of the United States. Thus there is no containing such genetic pollution.
Experiments in Germany have shown that engineered oilseed rape can have its pollen move over 200 meters. As a result German farmers have sued to stop field trials in Berlin.
In Thailand, the government stopped field tests for Monsanto’s Bt cotton when it was discovered by the Institute of Traditional Thai Medicine that 16 nearby plants of the cotton family, used by traditional healers, were being genetically polluted.
US research showed that more than 50% of wild strawberries growing inside of 50 meters of a GM strawberry field assumed GM gene markers.
Cork trees have long been used for producing cork-stoppers for wine though some wine producers have also begun using plastic corks. Wine enthusiasts have not taken to the rubber corks and so, in order to appease the traditionalists and the cost-cutting wine makers, SABIC innovative plastics have developed a tree which is a cross between a rubber tree and a cork tree. The corks taken from the bark of this new tree look like real cork and have the same porous qualities, but has the permanence and flavorlessness of rubber. Ghislain de Mongolfier, current manager and great grandson of the founder of champagne producer Bollinger, said: “This new cork is the greatest thing to happen to wine since the invention of bubbles”.
Another showed that 25-38% of wild sunflowers growing near GM crops had GM gene markers.
A recent study in England showed that despite the tiny amount of GM plantings there (33,750 acres over two years compared to 70-80 million acres per year in the US) wild honey was found to be contaminated. This means that bees are likely to pollinate organic plants and trees with transgenic elements. Many other insects transport the by-products of GM plants throughout our environment.
Even falling leaves can dramatically affect
the genetic heritage of soil bacteria.
The major difference between chemical pollution and genetic pollution is that the former eventually is dismantled or decays, while the later can reproduce itself forever in the wild. As the National Academy of Science’s report indicated ~ “the containment of crop genes is not considered to be feasible when seeds are distributed and grown on a commercial scale.”
Bioengineering firms are also developing fast growing salmon, trout, and catfish as part of the “blue revolution” in aquaculture. They often grow several times faster (6x faster for salmon) and larger in size (up to 39X) so as to potentially wipe out their competitors in the wild. There are no regulations for their safe containment to avoid ecological disasters.
They frequently grow in “net pens,” renown for being torn by waves, so that some will escape into the wild. If so, commercial wild fish could be devastated according to computer models in a study of the National Academy of Sciences by two Purdue University scientists (William Muir and Richard Howard). All of organic farming ~ and farming per se ~ may eventually be either threatened or polluted by this technology.
30. Disturbance of Nature’s Boundaries: Genetic engineers argue that their creations are no different than crossbreeding. However, natural boundaries are violated ~ crossing animals with plants, strawberries with fish, grains, nuts, seeds, and legumes with bacteria, viruses, and fungi; or like human genes with swine.
31. Unpredictable Consequences of a Gunshot Approach: DNA fragments are blasted past a cell’s membrane with a “gene gun” shooting in foreign genetic materials in a random, unpredictable way. According to Dr. Richard Lacey, a medical microbiologist at the University of Leeds, who predicted mad cow disease, “wedging foreign genetic material in an essentially random manner…causes some degree of disruption…It is impossible to predict what specific problems could result.”
This view is echoed by many other scientists, including Michael Hansen, Ph.D., who states that “Genetic engineering, despite the precise sound of the name, is actually a very messy process.”
IMPACT ON FARMING
“The decline in the number of farms is likely to accelerate in the coming years…gene-splicing technologies… change the way plants and animals are produced.” ~ Jemery Rifkin Small Farm Livelihood and Survival
32. Decline and Destruction of Self-Sufficient Family Farms: In 1850, 60% of the working population in the US was engaged in agriculture. By the year 1950 it was 4%. Today it is 2% (CIA World Factbook 1999 ~ USA). From a peak of 7 million farms in 1935, there are now less than one-third or 2 million left. In many urban areas, the situation is starker or where family farms are becoming largely extinct.
For example, Rockland Country, New York (1/2 hour from New York City) had 600 family farms in 1929. Exactly seventy years later only 6 remained. Similar declines have occurred throughout the US and abroad.
Of the one-third remaining US farms, 100,000 or 5% produce most of our foods. Agri-corporations have taken economic and legislative power away from the small, self-sufficient family farms ~ sometimes via cutthroat competition (such as legal product dumping below production costs to gain market share ~ what was legalized by GATT regulations).
The marketing of GM foods augments this centralizing and small-farm-declining trend in the US ~ as well as on an international level. For example, two bioengineering firms have announced a GM vanilla plant where vanilla can be grown in vats at a lower cost ~ and which could eliminate the livelihood of the world’s 100,000 vanilla farmers ~ most of whom are on the islands of Madagascar, Reunion and Comoros.
Other firms are developing bioengineered fructose, besides chemical sugar substitutes, that threatens, according to a Dutch study, a million farmers in the Third World.
In 1986, the Sudan lost its export of gum arabic when a New York company discovered a bioengineering process for producing the same.
Synthetic cocoa substitutes are also threatening farmers. It is estimated that the biotech industry will find at least $14 billion dollars of substitutes for Third World farming products. Far beyond hydroponics, scientists are developing processes to grow foods in solely laboratory environments ~ eliminating the need for seeds, shrubs, trees, soil and ultimately the farmer.
33. General Economic Harm to Small Family Farms: GM seeds sell at a premium, unless purchased in large quantities, which creates a financial burden for small farmers. To add to this financial injury, Archer Daniels Midland has instituted a two-tier price system where it offers less to farmers per bushels for GM soybeans because they are not selling well overseas.
Many GM products, such as rBGH, seem to offer a boom for dairy farmers ~ helping their cows produce considerably more milk. But the end result has been a lowering of prices, again putting the smaller farmers out of business. We can find similar trends with other GM techniques ~ as in pig and hen raising made more efficient.
The University of Wisconsin’s GM brooding hens lack the gene that produces prolactin proteins. The new hens no longer sit on their eggs as long, and produce more. Higher production leads to lower prices in the market place. The end result is that the average small farmer’s income plummeted while a few large-scale, hyper-productive operations survived along with their “input providers” (companies selling seeds, soil amendments, and so on).
In an on-going trend, the self-sufficient family farmer is shoved to the very lowest rung of the economic ladder. In 1910 the labor portion of agriculture accounted for 41% of the value of the finally sold produce. Now the figure has been estimated at between 6-9% in North America.
The balance gets channeled to agri-input and distribution firms ~ and more recently to biotech firms. Kristin Dawkins in Gene Wars: The Politics of Biotechnology, points out that between 1981 and 1987, food prices rose 36%, while the percentage of the pie earned by farmers continued to shrink dramatically.
The grapple is a relatively new fruit which is a genetic cross between an apple and a grape. The fruit combines the size of the apple with the texture of an grape and the flavor of both parent fruits. The grapple was originally designed to provide a much higher vitamin-c dose per fruit for third world aid. The majority of the funding for the fruit came from UNICEF.
34. Losing Purity: At the present rate of proliferation of GM foods, within 50-100 years, the majority of organic foods may no longer be organic.
35. Mixing: A Texas organic corn chip maker, Terra Prima, suffered a substantial economic loss when their corn chips were contaminated with GM corn and had to be destroyed.
36. Losing Natural Pesticides: Organic farmers have long used “Bt” (a naturally occurring pesticidal bacterium, Bacillus thuringiensis) as an invaluable farming aide. It is administered at only certain times, and then sparingly, in a diluted form. This harms only the target insects that bite the plant. Also in that diluted form, it quickly degrades in the soil.
By contrast, genetically engineered Bt corn, potatoes and cotton ~ together making up roughly a third of US GM crops ~ all exude this natural pesticide. It is present in every single cell, and pervasively impacts entire fields over the entire life span of crops. This probably increases Bt use at least a million fold in US agriculture.
According to a study conducted at NYU, BT residues remained in the soil for as much as 243 days. As an overall result, agricultural biologists predict this will lead to the destruction of one of organic farming’s most important tools. It will make it essentially useless. A computer model developed at the University of Illinois predicted that if all US Farmers grew Bt resistant corn, resistance would occur within 12 months.
Scientists at the University of North Carolina have already discovered Bt resistance among moth pests that feed on corn. The EPA now requires GM planting farmers to set aside 20-50% of acres with non-BT corn to attempt to control the risk and to help monarch butterflies survive.
CONTROL AND DEPENDENCY
37. Terminator Technology: Plants are being genetically produced with no annual replenishing of perennial seeds so farmers will become wholly dependent on the seed provider. In the past Monsanto had farmers sign agreements that they would not collect seeds, and even sent out field detectives to check on farmers.
38. Traitor Technology: Traitor technologies control the stages or life cycles of plants ~ when a plant will leaf, flower, and bear fruit. This forces the farmer to use certain triggering chemicals if he is to yield a harvest ~ again causing much deeper levels of economic dependence. These technologies are being developed and patented at a furious pace.
The GloFish was the first genetically modified animal to become available as a pet. It is a natural Zebrafish which has had genetic information from bioluminescent jellyfish added to its DNA. It was originally produced to provide a warning system for pollution but with the addition of further colors its viability for the pet market became clear. It was introduced to the US market in December 2003 by Yorktown Technologies of Austin, Texas.
39. Less Diversity, Quality, Quantity and Profit: One of the most misleading hopes raised by GM technology firms is that they will solve the world’s hunger. Some high technology agriculture does offer higher single crop yields. But organic farming techniques, with many different seeds interplanted between rows, generally offer higher per acre yields.
This applies best to the family farm, which feeds the majority of the Third World. It differs from the large-scale, monocrop commercial production of industrialized nations. Even for commercial fields, results are questionable. In a study of 8,200 field trials, Roundup Ready soybeans produced fewer bushels of soy than non-GM (Charles Benbrook study, former director Board of Agriculture at the National Academy of Sciences).
The average yield for non-GM soybeans was 51.21 bushels per acre; for GM soybeans it was 49.26. This was again confirmed in a study at the University of Nebraska’s Institute of Agricultural Resources. They grew five different strains of Monsanto soy plants in four different locations of varied soil environments.
Dr. Elmore of the project found that on average GM seeds, though more expensive, produced 6% less than non-GM relatives, and 11% less than the highest yielding conventional crops. “The numbers were clear,” stated Dr. Elmore. The yield for Bt corn, however, in other studies was higher. But this did not lead to greater profit because GM related costs in terms of insecticides, fertilizer and labor were nearly $4 more per acre.
40. Fragility of Future Agriculture: With loss of biological diversity there inevitably develops a fragility of agriculture. During the Irish potato famine of the 19th century, farmers grew limited varieties of potatoes. This allowed a crop blight to spread throughout. By contrast, there are thousands of varieties of potatoes in Peru ~ what provides adaptability and thus a constant resource for blight resistance. Farm researchers have tapped into this treasure chest for the benefit of the rest of the world.
Reminiscent of the Irish potato catastrophe of the 1840’s, Cornell Chronicle reports a still more virulent strain than ever ~ known as potato late blight is presently attacking Russian potato crops and threatening regional food shortages. The new strain can survive harsh winters.
In January of 2000, the NY Times reported a citrus canker blight in Southern Florida ~ one seriously threatening the state’s entire $8.5 billion citrus fruit industry.
Coca plants, monocropped and nearly identical, are also endangered by an international blight.
Thus the destruction rather than preservation of alternative, adaptable seed stocks by GM companies, follows a dangerous path for the future of all of agriculture.
41. Lower Yields and More Pesticides Used With GM Seeds: Contrary to claims, a Rodale study shows that the best of organic farming techniques ~ using rich natural compost ~ can produce higher drought resistance as well as higher yielding plants than with current technological attempts. Dr. Charles Benbrook, a consultant for the Consumer’s Union, published a summary of a report revealing Roundup Ready soybeans actually used 2-5 times more pounds of herbicides per acre than conventional soybeans sprayed with other low-dose pesticides.
ECONOMIC, POLITICAL AND SOCIAL THREATS
“Even for the biggest “winners,” it is like winning at poker on the Titanic.” ~ Jerry Mander: Facing the Rising Tide
42. Monopolization of Food Production: The rapid and radical change in the human diet was made possible by quick mergers and acquisitions that moved to control segments of the US farming industry. Although there are approximately 1500 seed companies worldwide, about two dozen control more than 50% of the commercial seed heritage of our planet.
This consolidation has continued to grow, In 1998 the top five soy producers controlled 37% of the market (Murphy Family Foods; Carroll’s Foods, Continental Grain, Smithfield Foods, and Seaboard). One year later, the top five controlled 51% (Smithfield, having acquired Murphy’s and Carroll’s, Continental, Seaboard, Prestige and Cargill). Cargill and Continental Grain later merged.
With corn seed production and sales, the top four seed companies controlled 87% of the market in 1996 (Pioneer Hi-Bred, Holden’s Foundation Seeds, DeKalb Genetics, and Novaris). In 1999, the top three controlled 88% (Dupont having acquired Pioneer, Monsanto having acquired Holden’s and DeKalb, and Novaris.
In the cotton seed market, Delta and Land Pine Company now control about 75% of the market. The concentration is staggering. National farming associations see this dwindling of price competition and fewer distribution outlets as disfavoring and threatening the small family farm.
Average annual income per farm has plummeted throughout the last decade. Almost a quarter of all farm operating families live below the poverty level, twice the national average ~ and most seek income from outside the farm to survive. A similar pattern is developing in Europe.
43. Impact on Long -Term Food Supply: If food production is monopolized, the future of that supply becomes dependent on the decisions of a few companies and the viability of their seed stocks. Like the example of Peru, there are only a few remaining pockets of diverse seed stocks to insure the long-term resilience of the world’s staple foods. All of them are in the Third World. Food scientists indicate that if these indigenous territories are disturbed by biotech’s advance, the long-term vitality of all of the world’s food supply is endangered.
44. Biocolonization: In past centuries, countries managed to overrun others by means of fierce or technologically superior armies. The combined control of genetic and agricultural resources holds a yet more powerful weapon for the invasion of cultures. For only when a person loses food self-sufficiency do they become wholly dependent and subservient. That is why 500,000 farmers in India staged a protest on October 2, 1993 against GATT trade regulations and now oppose GM seed products.
45. Dependency: Under the new regulations of WTO, the World Bank, GATT, NAFTA, the autonomy of local economies can be vastly overridden. Foreign concerns can buy up all the major seed, water, land and other primary agricultural resources ~ converting them to exported cash rather than local survival crops. This is likely to further unravel the self-sufficiency of those cultures – and as with the past failures of the “green revolution.”
“The FDA’s failure to require labeling of genetically altered foods is effectively restricting Americans from exercising this right and subjects individuals to foods they have sound…reasons to avoid. FDA policy thus appears to violate the First Amendment of the Constitution….the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, which requires that added substances to food be labeled…and mandates disclosure of material facts.” ~ Alliance for Bio-integrity Statement ~ in a lawsuit filed against the DFA by nine scientists and twelve religious leaders.
46. Health/Environmental/Socio-Political Reasons: The lack of labeling of genetically modified food violates and harms your right to know what is in our foods ~ given the list of health, environmental, and socio-political reasons to avoid GM ingredients. Even if GM foods were 100% safe, the consumer has a right to know such ingredients ~ due to their much potential harm.
47. For Religious Dietary Reasons: Previously if someone wanted to avoid foods not permitted by certain religions, the process was simple. With transgenic alterations, every food is suspect ~ and the religious and health-conscious consumer has no way of knowing without a mandated label.
“All things are connected like the blood which unites one family. Whatever befalls the Earth befalls the sons [and daughters] of the Earth.” ~ Chief Seattle of the Duwamish Tribe
48. Contradiction in Terms: The term bioengineering is a contradiction in terms. “Bio” refers to life ~ that which is whole, organic, self-sufficient, inwardly organizing, conscious, and living. That consciousness of nature creates a web that is deeply interconnecting.
The term “engineering,” on the other hand, refers to the opposite ~ to mechanical design of dead machines ~ things made of separate parts, and thus not consciously connected ~ to be controlled, spliced, manipulated, replaced, and rearranged.
49. Imposing a Non-Living Model onto Nature: “The crying of animals is nothing more than just the creaking of machines,” wrote the philosopher René Descartes in the 17th century. This powerfully expressed an inhumane and mechanical view of nature that does not respect life. The genetic model is derivative of this mechanistic way of relating to nature.
50. Atomic Weapons vs. Gene Mutated Foods: The image of modern progress brought about solely by perfected mechanisms or technology was punctured in the 1940’s with the explosion of atomic weapons ~ which brought humanity to the brink of global annihilation. Einstein’s formulas created the bomb. His formulas hinged on the very same ideas of the philosopher René Descartes for their foundation.
Descartes developed the underlying geometry that space may be universally or infinitely separated (”Cartesian coordinates”) into distinct points. If we perfectly visualize this, we run the risk of bringing that exact image to life. Einstein’s famous formula (E = mc2), for example, allows us to explode space. Only in hindsight and seeing this result, Einstein expressed the wish of never having taken on the career of a physicist.
Genetic engineering, or the splicing of genes, may be viewed as a still more perilous outcome of a Cartesian-like approach to nature. We can prevent nuclear disaster or hopefully keep nuclear weapons bottled up. But genetic engineering applies a similar philosophy and creates products intentionally released ~ with potential chain reactions that may not be stoppable.
Genetic engineering essentially forms a violence against nature. It takes gene guns and aims them at the heart of each cell or its nucleus, and where the depth of life and consciousness lives. This does violence to that innate consciousness, the life principle in nature, as we impose the mechanical view of genetics.
It is much overdue that in the 21st century we become wiser ~ and learn to rather live in peace and harmony with ourselves and all other living creatures on earth.
ACTIONS YOU CAN TAKE
“The new genetic science raises more troubling issues than any other technological revolution in history. In reprogramming the genetic code of life, do we risk a fatal interruption of millions of years of evolutionary development? Might not the artificial creation of life spell the end of the natural world? Will the creation, mass production, and wholesale release of thousands of genetically engineered life forms cause irreversible damage to the biosphere, making genetic pollution an even greater threat to the planet than nuclear or petrochemical pollution?” ~ Jeremy Rifkin: The Biotech Century
Contact elected officials
As of the present writing, only about 50 Congressmen (out of over 400) have endorsed the GM labeling bill currently before Congress. A similar piece of legislation is being introduced into the US Senate. It is vitally important that 100,000 or more letters be sent to Congress urging them to support these bills.
It is best to write a personal letter, that has the most impact. Form letters are also available. Many health food stores carry them, or they can be downloaded at the Web site
Make copies for your self and 5-10 friends and family members. Several letters may also be collected and sent in a single envelope.
Emails can also be sent, but do not have as much impact or influence as postal letters. Even with form letters, adding a personal note explaining you views on the subject doubles the weight placed on the letter by legislators.
At The Campaign’s Web site, additional form letters are also available to the President, Vice President, political candidates, Department of Agriculture, EPA, and FDA ~ plus media contacts and major food companies. The media contact service on the web allows you to instantly reach hundreds of newspapers, magazines, radio stations and the like, in each of the 50 states ~ to tell them to cover this issue.
A petition is also attached and further copies are available through the Organic Consumers Association (OCA) at http://www.purefood.org/ and at most local health food stores. The OCA petition calls for 30% of US produce to be organic by the year 2010. At the present rate of growth, 10% of European produce will be organic by 2005. Australia has already passed 10% and Sweden and Switzerland are not far behind.
Support political candidates that favor labeling and/or a moratorium on genetically-modified (GM) foods. At present two national political parties have already included the issue of labeling bioengineered foods in their platform – the Greens and the Natural Law Party.
For more information visit http://www.naturallaw.org/
There are many activist organizations working on the GM issue. A few prominent ones are The Campaign, Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, Bioengineering Action Network, RAGE, Organic Consumers Association ~ and locally NOFA, the Greens, and Americans for Safe Food.
Websites or contact information are listed in the resource section. Mobilize Parents, Students, and Teachers
Contact school officials asking them to follow the example of the Berkeley, California district ~ eliminating GM products or offering organic food in cafeterias.
Attend Forums and Conferences
See websites listed were updates are available as to local events.
Buy organics whenever possible
Educate your family on this issue.
Communicate with Producers and Distributors
Call and send a letter to the largest companies that distribute genetically-modified (GM) foods. Ask them to change their policies (see a sample list below) A national consumer action plan is being coordinated by the People’s Earth Network (see http://www.peoplesearth.com/).
For more information send them an email on their site ~ to be part of their list serve to contact companies. You can also reach the Network by mail at 35 Asticou Road, Jamaica Plain, MA 02130 or call 617-522-9605.
As a result and as of this writing, 17 companies have taken positive steps. This includes Hain’s Food Group, the largest health food conglomerate along with Wild Oats and Whole Foods, the largest health-oriented supermarkets in the US. A sample letter to a corporation, which should be restated in your own words, might be:
I am writing to express my very serious concern about genetically-modified ingredients in your products. Research has shown many negative health and environmental effects such as ……what affects me and my family. Other companies have begun to take steps to eliminate these ingredients and I am urging you and XXXX Corporation to do the same.
Contact Store Owners
Join (or start) a local network of people, who individually or together contact nearby supermarket and food storeowners about the seriousness of this issue. Ask the owners to survey their suppliers for GM-free products, as well as their own private-label products ~ and to make a list of all GM free products available to their customers.
Divest of shares in GM producing or distributing companies, or use shares for shareholder protests.
List of Largest US Food Distributors:
Heinz Foods 888- 472-8437
Healthy Choice 800-323-9980
Coca Cola 800-438-2653
Quaker Oats 800-367-6287
General Mills 800-328-1144
Proctor & Gamble 800-595-1407
Knowledge, understanding, commitment and resolve precede action. Attached are brief lists of resources ~ books, videos, tapes, conferences and Internet resources for more information on the issue of genetically engineered foods.
Share information, a video, book or tape about GM foods with friends and family members. Write a letter to your newspaper. Inform others through your personal WebPages and links.
When we buy organic products we not only enhance our own personal health, but support businesses and farms committed to a clean environment plus not destroying the living web of nature.
For more information about local organic products, CSA’s (community supported agriculture), organic gardening, discounted food coops, and related resources, contact NOFA ~ Northeast Organic Farmer’s Association at 315-365-2299.
Greenpeace commissioned a series of ads to raise awareness about genetically-modified organisms. The text in the ad, cropped out of the above image, says, "The DNA of genetically modified plants may contain the genes of insects, animals or even viruses. These products may potentially cause harm to your health. Look for the 'GMO-free' sign on the package."
Books on Genetically-Modified (GM) Food & Organisms
* Boyens, Ingeborg, Unnatural Harvest: How Corporate Science Is Secretly Altering Our Food. Doubleday Books, 1999.
* British Medical Association, Biotechnology, Weapons and Humanity. London BMJ Bookshop, 1999.
* Dawkins, Kristin, Gene Wars: The Politics of Biotechnology (Open Media Pamphlet Series). Seven Stories Press, 1997.
* Fagan, John, Genetic Engineering: The Hazards, Vedic Engineering, The Solutions. Maharishi University, 1995.
* Fox, Michael W. Beyond Evolution, The Genetically Altered Future of Plants, Animals, the Earth Humans. Lyons Press, 1999.
* Grace, Eric S. Biotechnology Unzipped: Promises and Realities. Joseph Henry Press. 1997.
* Heinberg, Richard, Cloning the Buddha: The Moral Implications of Biotechnology. Quest, 1999.
* Ho, Mae Wan, Genetic Engineering Dream or Nightmare?: The Brave New World of Science and Business. Gateway Books, 1998.
* Hubbard, Ruth and Ward, E. Exploding the Gene Myth. Beacon Press, 1996.
* Jack, Alex, Imagine a World Without Monarch Butterflies. Bookworld Services, 2000.
* Kneen, Brewster, Farmageddon: Food and the Culture of Biotechnology. New Society Publishers, 1999.
* Kimbrell, Andrew The Human Body Shop: The Cloning, Engineering, and Marketing of Life. Regnery Publishing, 1998.
* Lappe, M. and Bailey, B. Against the Grain: Biotechnology and the Corporate Takeover of Your Food. LPC, 1998.
* Marshall, Elizabeth, High-Tech Harvest: A Look at Genetically Engineered Foods. Franklin Watts, 1999.
* Montgomery, Jane F., Sivramiah Shantharam (editor), Biotechnology, Biosafety, and Biodiversity: Scientific and Ethical Issues for Sustainable Development. Science Publishers, Inc. 1999.
* Nottingham, Dr. Stephen, Eat Your Genes: How Genetically Modified Food Is Entering Our Diet. St. Martins Press, 1998.
* Raeburn, Paul, The Last Harvest: The Genetic Gamble That Threatens to Destroy American Agriculture. University of Nebraska, 1996.
* Rifkin, Jeremy, The Biotech Century: Harnessing the Gene and Remaking the World. J.P. Tarcher, 1999.
* Rifkin, Jeremy and Teitel, M., Rain Forest in Your Kitchen: The Hidden Connection Between Extinction and Your Supermarket. Island Press, 1992.
* Rissler, J. and Mellon, M. The Ecological Risks of Engineered Crops. MIT Press, 1996.
* Shiva, Vandana, Biopiracy: The Plunder of Nature and Knowledge. South End Press, 1997.
* Shiva, Vandana, Monocultures of the Mind: Perspectives on Biodiversity and Biotechnology. South End Press, 1999.
* Shiva, Vandana, Stolen Harvest: The Highjacking of the Global Food Supply. South End Press, 1999.
* Teitel, M. and Wilson, K.A. Genetically Engineered Food: Changing the Nature of Nature: What You Need to Know to Protect Yourself, Your Family, and Our Planet. Inner Traditions International, Ltd. 1999.
* Ticciati, L. and Ticciati, R., Genetically Engineered Foods: Are They Safe? You Decide. Keats Publishing, 1998. Videos
o Food for Thought, Ed Schehl, Director, Film and Video, Santa Cruz, California. 1-800-4-Planet.
Against the Grain, Britt Bailey, Producer, The Video Project, Ben Lomond, California. 1-800-4-Planet.
o Risky Business- Biotechnology and Agriculture, Mark Dworkin and Melisa Young. Bullfrog Films. 1-800-543-3764
* Frankenfood: Genetically Modified Cuisine. The tape is recorded by Marc Lappe and Britt Bailey, authors of Against the Grain: Biotechnology and the Corporate Takeover of our Food.
* The Campaign http://www.thecampaign.org/
* Pure Food http://www.purefood.org/
* Sage International http://www.sage-intl.org./
* THE CAMPAIGN http://www.thecampaign.org/elists.com (follow instructions)
* BAN-GEN mailto:ban-Gen@lists.txinfinet.com (in the subject area type “subscribe”)
* IATP email@example.com (in the body type “subscribe_biotech_activists”)
* ORGANIC CONSUMERS firstname.lastname@example.org (send regular email request)
* Jeremy Rifkin http://www.foet.org/
* Vananda Shiva http://www.vshiva.net/
* Mae Wan Ho http://www.i-sis.org/
* Marc Lappe http://www.cetos.org/
* Alliance for BioIntegrity http://www.bio-integrity.org/
* Australian GenEthics Net www.essential.zero.com/agen
* Binas ( Biosafety Info Network ) http://binas.unidos.org/binas/binas.html
* Biodemocracy http://www.purefood.org/
* Bioengineering Action Network www.tao.ca/~ban
* Campaign to Ban GE Foods www.netlink.de/gen/home.html
* Center for Food Safety http://www.icta.org/
* Center for Food Policy www.wolfson.tvu.ac.uk/research/food/index.html
* Centro Internazionate Crocevia www.crocevia.org
* Council of Canadians www.canadians.org
* Council for Responsible Genetics www.gene-watch.org
* Earth Island Institute www.earthisland.org
* The Ecologist www.gn.apc.org
* Ecoropa www.ecoropa.org
* Edmonds Institute www.edmonds-institute.org
* Environmental Defense Fund www.edf.org
* Food First Institute http://foodfirst.org
* Friends of the Earth www.foe.co.uk
* The Genetics Forum www.geneticsforum.org.uk
* Global 2000 ( Friends of the Earth) www.global2000.org
* Greenpeace www.greenpeace.org
* Indigenous Peoples Coalition Against Biopiracy www.niec.net/ipcb/
* Institute for Agriculture & Trade Policy www.iatp.org
* International Centre for Trade & Sustainable Development www.ictsd.org
* International Forum on Globalization www.ifg.org
* Mothers for Natural Law www.safe-food.org
* Natural Law Party www.naturallaw.org
* Norfolk Genetic Information Net (ngin) http://members.tripod.com/~ngin
* People’s Earth Network www.peoplesearth.org
* RAGE (Resistance Against GE) email@example.com (Northeast)
* RAFI (Rural Advancement Foundation) www.rafi.org
* Organic Consumers Association www.organicconsumers.org
* Red interamericana de Agriculturas y Democracia (RIAD) www.sustain.org/riad
* SAGE (Students for Alternatives to GE) www.sage-intl.org
* Union of Concerned Scientists www.ucsusa.org/agriculture/biotech.html
* Washington Biotech Action Council http://students.washington.edu/radin
“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.” ~Richard Lacey: Professor of Food Safety, Leeds University.