This article discusses the potential
health risks of genetically engineered foods (Genetically
Modified Organism - GMOs).
It draws on some previously used
material because its importance bears repeating. It also cites three
notable books and highlights one in particular - Jeffrey Smith's
- The Documented Health Risks of Genetically
Detailed information from the book is
Genetically engineered foods saturate our diet today. In the US
alone, over 80% of all processed foods contain them.
grains like rice, corn and wheat; legumes like soybeans and soy
products; vegetable oils, soft drinks; salad dressings; vegetables
and fruits; dairy products including eggs; meat, chicken, pork and
other animal products; and even infant formula plus a vast array of
hidden additives and ingredients in processed foods (like in tomato
sauce, ice cream, margarine and peanut butter).
Consumers don't know what they're eating
because labeling is prohibited, yet the danger is clear.
Independently conducted studies show the more of these foods we eat,
the greater the potential harm to our health.
Today, consumers are kept in the dark and are part of an
uncontrolled, unregulated mass human experiment the results of which
Yet, the risks are enormous, it will take years to
learn them, and when we finally know it'll be too late to reverse
the damage if it's proved conclusively that genetically engineered
foods harm human health as growing numbers of independent experts
believe. Once GM seeds are introduced to an area, the genie is out
of the bottle for keeps.
There is nothing known to science today to
reverse the contamination already spread over two-thirds of arable
US farmland and heading everywhere unless checked.
This is happening in spite of the risk because of what F. William
Engdahl revealed in his powerfully important, well documented
book titled "Seeds of Destruction
- The Hidden Agenda of Genetic
It's the diabolical story of how Washington and four
Anglo-American agribusiness giants plan world domination by
patenting animal and vegetable life forms to gain worldwide control
of our food supply, make it all genetically engineered, and use
it as a weapon to reward friends and punish enemies.
Today, consumers eat these foods daily without knowing the potential
health risks. In 2003, Jeffrey Smith explained them in his book
titled "Seeds of Deception."
He revealed that efforts to inform the
public have been quashed, reliable science has been buried, and
consider what happened to two distinguished scientists - UC
Berkeley's Ignacio Chapela and former Scotland Rowett
Research Institute researcher and world's leading lectins
and plant genetic modification expert, Arpad Pusztai.
They were vilified, hounded, and
threatened for their research, and in the case of Pusztai, fired
from his job for doing it.
He believed in the promise of GM foods, was commissioned to study
them, and conducted the first ever independent one on them anywhere.
Like other researchers since, he was shocked by his findings.
fed GM potatoes had smaller livers, hearts, testicles and brains,
damaged immune systems, and showed structural changes in their white
blood cells making them more vulnerable to infection and disease
compared to other rats fed non-GMO potatoes. It got worse.
Thymus and spleen damage showed up;
enlarged tissues, including the pancreas and intestines; and there
were cases of liver atrophy as well as significant proliferation of
stomach and intestines cells that could be a sign of greater future
risk of cancer.
Equally alarming, results showed up after 10 days of
testing, and they persisted after 110 days that's the human
equivalent of 10 years.
Later independent studies confirmed what Pusztai learned, and Smith
published information on them in his 2007 book called "Genetic
Roulette: The Documented Health Risks of Genetically Engineered
The book is encyclopedic in depth, an
invaluable comprehensive source, and this article reviews some of
the shocking data in it.
Evidence of Potential GMO Harm
In his introduction, Smith cites the US Food and Drug
Administration's (FDA) policy statement on GM food safety
without a shred of evidence to back it.
It supported G.H.W. Bush's
Executive Order that GMOs are "substantially equivalent" to
ordinary seeds and crops and need no government regulation.
The agency said it was,
"not aware of any information
showing that foods derived by these new methods differ from
other foods in any meaningful or uniform way."
That single statement meant no safety
studies are needed and "Ultimately, it is the food producer" that
bears responsibility "for assuring safety." As a consequence, foxes
now guard our henhouse in a brave new dangerous world.
FDA policy opened the floodgates, and Smith put it this way:
It "set the stage for the rapid
deployment of the new technology," allowed the seed industry to
become "consolidated, millions of acres (to be) planted,
hundreds of millions to be fed (these foods in spite of nations
and consumers objecting, and) laws to be passed (to assure it)."
The toll today is contaminated crops,
billions of dollars lost, human health harmed, and it turns out the
The agency knew GM crops are "meaningfully different" because their
technical experts told them so. As a result, they recommended
long-term studies, including on humans, to test for possible
allergies, toxins, new diseases and nutritional problems. Instead,
politics trumped science, the White House ordered the FDA to promote
GM crops, and a former Monsanto vice-president went to FDA to assure
Today, the industry is unregulated, and when companies say their
foods are safe, their views are unquestioned. Further, Smith noted
that policy makers in other countries trust FDA and wrongly assume
their assessments are valid.
They're disproved when independent
studies are matched against industry-run ones. The differences are
startling. The former report adverse affects while the latter claim
the opposite. It's no secret why. Agribusiness giants allow nothing
to interfere with profits, safety is off the table, and all negative
information is quashed.
As a result, their studies are substandard, adverse findings are
hidden, and they typically,
"fail to investigate the impacts of GM
food on gut function, liver function, kidney function, the immune
system, endocrine system, blood composition, allergic response,
effects on the unborn, the potential to cause cancer, or impacts on
In addition, industry-funded studies creatively avoid
finding problems or conceal any uncovered.
They cook the books by using older
instead of younger more sensitive animals, keep sample sizes too low
for statistical significance, dilute the GM component of feeds used,
limit the duration of feeding trials, ignore animal deaths and
sickness, and engage in other unscientific practices.
It's to assure
people never learn of the potential harm from these foods, and Smith
says they can do it because,
"They've got 'bad science' down to a
The real kinds show GMOs produce,
"massive changes in the natural
functioning of (a) plant's DNA. Native genes can be mutated,
deleted, permanently turned off or on.... the inserted gene can
become truncated, fragmented, mixed with other genes, inverted or
multiplied, and the GM protein it produces may have unintended
characteristics" that may be harmful.
GMOs also pose other health risks. When a transgene functions in a
new cell, it may produce different proteins than the ones intended.
They may be harmful, but there's no way to know without scientific
testing. Even if the protein is exactly the same, there are still
problems. Consider corn varieties engineered to produce a pesticidal
protein called Bt-toxin.
Farmers use it in spray form, and
companies falsely claim it's harmless to humans. In fact, people
exposed to the spray develop allergic-type symptoms, mice ingesting
Bt had powerful immune responses and abnormal and excessive cell
growth, and a growing number of human and livestock illnesses are
linked to Bt crops.
Smith notes still another problem relating to inserted genes.
Assuming they're destroyed by our digestive system, as industry
claims, is false. In fact, they may move from food into gut bacteria
or internal organs, and consider the potential harm. If corn genes
with Bt-toxin get into gut bacteria, our intestinal flora may become
pesticide factories. There's been no research done to prove if it's
true or false.
Agribusiness giants aren't looking,
neither is FDA, consumers are left to play "Genetic Roulette," and
the few animal feeding studies done show the odds are against them.
Arpad Pusztai and other scientists were shocked at their
results of animals fed GM foods. His results were cited above.
Other independent studies showed:
impaired immune systems
abnormal and potentially
precancerous cell growth in the intestines
impaired blood cell development
misshaped cell structures in the
liver, pancreas and testicles
altered gene expression and cell
liver and kidney lesions
partially atrophied livers
less developed organs
reduced digestive enzymes
higher blood sugar
inflamed lung tissue
increased death rates and higher
offspring mortality as well
Two dozen farmers reported their pigs
and cows fed GM corn became sterile, 71 shepherds said 25% of their
sheep fed Bt cotton plants died, and other reports showed the same
effects on cows, chickens, water buffaloes and horses.
After GM soy
was introduced in the UK, allergies from the product skyrocketed by
50%, and in the US in the 1980s, a GM food supplement killed dozens
and left five to ten thousand others sick or disabled.
Monsanto is the world's largest seed producer, and Smith
notes how the company deals with reports like these.
In response to
the US Public Health Service concerning adverse reactions from its
toxic PCBs, the company claims its experience,
"has been singularly
free of difficulties."
That's in spite of lawsuit-obtained
"this was part of a cover-up and denial that lasted
decades" by a company with a long history of irresponsible behavior
that includes "extensive bribery, high jacking of regulatory
agencies, suppressing negative information about its products" and
threatening journalists and scientists who dare report them.
company long ago proved it can't be trusted with protecting human
In his book, "Seeds of Destruction," Engdahl names four dominant
agribusiness giants - Monsanto, DuPont, Dow Agrisciences and
Syngenta in Switzerland from the merger of the agriculture divisions
of Novartis and AstraZeneca.
Smith calls these companies Ag biotech
and names a fifth - Germany-based Bayer CropScience AG (division of
Bayer AG) with its Environmental Science and BioScience headquarters
Their business is to do the impossible and practically overnight -
change the laws of nature and do them one better for profit. So far
they haven't independent because genetic engineering doesn't work
like natural breeding. It may or may not be a lot of things, but it
isn't sex, says Smith.
Michael Antoniou, a molecular geneticist
involved in human gene therapy, explains that genetic modification,
"technically and conceptually bears no resemblance to natural
The reproduction process works by both parents
contributing thousands of genes to the offspring. They, in turn, get
sorted naturally, and plant breeders have successfully worked this
way for thousands of years.
Genetic manipulation is different and so far fraught with danger. It
works by forcibly inserting a single gene from a species' DNA into
Smith puts it this way:
"A pig can mate with a pig and a
tomato can mate with a tomato. But this is no way that a pig can
mate with a tomato and vice versa."
The process transfers genes across
natural barriers that "separated species over millions of years of
evolution" and managed to work.
The biotech industry now wants us to
believe it can do nature one better, and that genetic engineering is
just an extension or superior alternative to natural breeding. It's
unproved, indefensible pseudoscience mumbo jumbo, and that's the
Biologist David Schubert explains that industry claims are,
"not only scientifically incorrect
but exceptionally deceptive.... to make the GE process sound
similar to conventional plant breeding."
It a smoke screen to hide the fact that
what happens in laboratories can't duplicate nature, at least not up
Genetic engineering involves combining genes that never
before existed together, the process defies natural breeding proved
safe over thousands of years, and there's no way to assure the
result won't be a deadly unrecallable Andromeda Strain, no
longer the world of science fiction.
The industry pooh-pooh's the suggestion of potential harm, and
unscientifically claims millions of people in the US and worldwide
have eaten GM food for a decade, and no one got sick.
How can we know as "GM foods might already be contributing to
serious health problems, but since no one is monitoring for this, it
could take decades" to find out.
By then, it will be too late and
some industry critics argue it already may be or dangerously close.
Today, most existing diseases have no effective surveillance systems
in place. If GM foods create new ones, that potentially compounds
the problem manyfold.
HIV/AIDS. It went unnoticed for
decades and when identified, many thousands worldwide were infected
or had died.
Then there's the problem of linkage. In the US and many countries,
GM foods are unlabeled so it's impossible tracing illness and
diseases to specific substances ingested even if thousands of people
are affected. It can plausibly be blamed on anything, especially
when governments and regulatory agencies support industry claims of
reliability and safety.
It's rare that problems like the L-Tryptophan epidemic of the late
1980s are identified, but when it was thousands were already harmed.
L-Tryptophan is a natural amino acid constituent of most
proteins and for years was produced by many companies including
Showa Denko in Japan.
The company then got greedy, saw a way to
increase profits from a product designed to induce sleep naturally,
and gene-spliced a bacterium into the natural product to do it.
result was many dozens dead, over 1500 crippled, and up to 10,000
afflicted with a blood disorder from a new incurable disease called
Eosinophilia Myalgia Syndrome or EMS.
It's a painful, multi-system disease that causes permanent scarring
and fibrosis to nerve and muscle tissues, continuing inflammation,
and a permanent change in a person's immune system. It cost the
company two billion dollars to settle claims. Hundreds have since
died, in all likelihood from contracting EMS.
This is the known toll from a single product. Consider the potential
harm with Ag biotech wanting all foods to be unlabeled GMOs
worldwide and governments unable to balk because WTO Agreement on
Agriculture (AoA) and Trade Related Intellectual
Property Rights (TRIPS) rules deny them.
prevented under WTO's Sanitary and Phytosanitary Agreement (SPS).
It states that national laws banning GMO
products are "unfair trade practices" even when they endanger human
health. Other WTO rules also apply - called "Technical Barriers to
They prohibit GMO labeling so consumers
don't know what
they're eating and can't avoid these potentially hazardous foods.
The 1996 Biosafety Protocol was drafted to prevent this
problem, and it should be in place to do it. Public safety, however,
was ambushed by Washington, the FDA and the agribusiness lobby. It
sabotaged talks and insisted biosafety measures be subordinate to
WTO trade rules that apply regardless of other considerations,
including public health and safety.
The path is thus cleared for the
unrestricted spread of GMO seeds and foods worldwide unless a way is
found to stop it.
Animal Studies Showing GMO Harm
Rats fed genetically engineered Calgene Flavr-Savr tomatoes
(developed to look fresh for weeks) for 28 days got bleeding
stomachs (stomach lesions) and seven died and were replaced in the
Rats fed Monsanto 863 Bt corn for 90 days developed multiple
reactions typically found in response to allergies, infections,
toxins, diseases like cancer, anemia and blood pressure problems.
Their blood cells, livers and kidneys showed significant changes
indicative of disease.
Mice fed either GM potatoes engineered to produce Bt-toxin or
natural potatoes containing the toxin had intestinal damage.
varieties created abnormal and excessive cell growth in the lower
intestine. The equivalent human damage might cause incontinence or
flu-like symptoms and could be pre-cancerous. The study disproved
the contention that digestion destroys Bt-toxin and is not
biologically active in mammals.
Workers in India handling Bt cotton while picking, loading, weighing
and separating the fiber from seeds developed allergies. They began
with "mild to severe itching," then redness and swelling, followed
by skin eruptions. These symptoms affected their skin, eyes (got red
and swollen with excessive tearing) and upper respiratory tract
causing nasal discharge and sneezing. In some cases, hospitalization
was required. At one cotton gin factory, workers take antihistamines
Sheep grazing on Bt cotton developed "unusual systems" before dying
"mysteriously." Reports from four Indian villages revealed 25% of
them died within a week. Post mortems indicated a toxic reaction.
The study raises questions about cottonseed oil safety and human
health for people who eat meat from animals fed GM cotton. It's
crucial to understand that what animals eat, so do people.
Nearly all 100 Filipinos living adjacent to a Bt corn field became
ill. Their symptoms appeared when the crop was producing airborne
pollen and was apparently inhaled.
Doing it produced headaches,
dizziness, extreme stomach pain, vomiting, chest pains, fever, and
allergies plus respiratory, intestinal and skin reactions. Blood
tests conducted on 39 victims showed an antibody response to
Bt-toxin suggesting it was the cause. Four other villages
experienced the same problems that also resulted in several animal
Iowa farmers reported a conception rate drop of from 80% to 20%
among sows (female pigs) fed GM corn. Most animals also had false
pregnancies, some delivered bags of water and others stopped
menstruating. Male pigs were also affected as well as cows and
bulls. They became sterile and all were fed GM corn.
German farmer Gottfried Glockner grew GM corn and fed it to
Twelve subsequently died from the Bt 176 variety, and
other cows had to be destroyed due to a "mysterious" illness. The
corn plots were field trials for Ag biotech giant Syngenta that
later took the product off the market with no admission of fault.
Mice fed Monsanto Roundup Ready soybeans developed significant liver
cell changes indicating a dramatic general metabolism increase.
Symptoms included irregularly shaped nuclei and nucleoli, and an
increased number of nuclear pores and other changes. It's thought
this resulted from exposure to a toxin, and most symptoms
disappeared when Roundup Ready was removed from the diet.
Mice fed Roundup Ready had pancreas problems, heavier livers and
unexplained testicular cell changes. The Monsanto product also
produced cell metabolism changes in rabbit organs, and most
offspring of rats on this diet died within three weeks.
The death rate for chickens fed GM Liberty Link corn for 42 days
doubled. They also experienced less weight gain, and their food
intake was erratic.
In the mid-1990s, Australian scientists discovered that GM peas
generated an allergic-type inflammatory response in mice in contrast
to the natural protein that had no adverse effect. Commercialization
of the product was cancelled because of fear humans might have the
When given a choice, animals avoid GM foods. This was learned by
observing a flock of geese that annually visit an Illinois pond and
feed on soybeans from an adjacent farm. After half the acreage had
GM crops, the geese ate only from the non-GMO side. Another
observation showed 40 deer ate organic soybeans from one field but
shunned the GMO kind across the road.
The same thing happened with
Inserting foreign or transgenes is called insertional mutagenesis or
insertion mutation. When done, it usually disrupts DNA at the
insertion site and affects gene functioning overall by scrambling,
deleting or relocating the genetic code near the insertion site.
The process of creating a GM plant requires scientists first to
isolate and grow plant cells in the laboratory using a tissue
culture process. The problem is when it's done it can create
hundreds or thousands of DNA mutations throughout the genome.
Changing a single base pair may be harmful. However, widespread
genome changes compound the potential problem manyfold.
Promoters are used in GM crops as switches to turn on the foreign
gene. When done, the process may accidentally switch on other
natural plant genes permanently. The result may be to overproduce an
allergen, toxin, carcinogen, antinutrient, enzymes that stimulate or
inhibit hormone production, RNA that silences genes, or changes that
affect fetal development.
They may also produce regulators that
block other genes and/or switch on a dormant virus that may cause
great harm. In addition, evidence suggests the promoter may create
genetic instability and mutations that can result in the breakup and
recombination of the gene sequence.
Plants naturally produce thousands of chemicals to enhance health
and protect against disease. However, changing plant protein may
alter these chemicals, increase plant toxins and/or reduce its
For example, GM soybeans produce less
Overall, studies show genetic
modification produces unintended changes in nutrients, toxins,
allergens and small molecule metabolism products.
To create a GM soybean with a more complete protein balance, Pioneer
Hi-Bred inserted a Brazil nut gene. By doing it, an allergenic
protein was introduced affecting people allergic to Brazil nuts.
When tests confirmed this, the project was cancelled. GM proteins in
other crops like corn and papaya may also be allergenic.
problem exists for other crops like Bt corn, and evidence shows
allergies skyrocketed after GM crops were introduced.
Another study of Monsanto's high-lysine corn showed it contained
toxins and other potentially harmful substances that may retard
growth. If consumed in large amounts, it may also adversely affect
human health. In addition, when this product is cooked, it may
produce toxins associated with Alzheimer's, diabetes, allergies,
kidney disease, cancer and aging symptoms.
Disease-resistant crops like zucchini, squash and Hawaiian papaya
may promote human viruses and other diseases, and eating these
products may suppress the body's natural defense against viral
Protein structural aspects in GM crops may be altered in
They may be misfolded or have
During insertion, transgenes may
become truncated, rearranged or interspersed with other DNA
pieces with unknown harmful effects.
Transgenes may also be unstable
and spontaneously rearrange over time, again with
In addition, they may create
more than one protein from a process called alternative
Environmental factors, weather, natural
and man-made substances and genetic disposition of a plant further
complicate things and pose risks.
They're introduced as well because
genetic engineering disrupts complex DNA relationships.
Contrary to industry claims, studies show transgenes aren't
destroyed digestively in humans or animals. Foreign DNA can wander,
survive in the gastro-intestinal tract, and be transported by blood
to internal organs.
This raises the risk that transgenes may
transfer to gut bacteria, proliferate over time, and get into cells
DNA, possibly causing chronic diseases. A single human feeding study
confirmed that genes, in fact, transferred from GM soy into the DNA
gut bacteria of three of seven test subjects.
Antibiotic Resister Marker (ARM) genes are attached to
transgenes prior to insertion and allow cells to survive antibiotic
applications. If ARM genes transfer to pathogenic gut or mouth
bacteria, they potentially can cause antibiotic-resistant
super-diseases. The proliferation of GM crops increases the
possibility. The CaMV promoter in nearly all GMOs can also transfer
and may switch on random genes or viruses that produce toxins,
allergens or carcinogens as well as create genetic instability.
GM crops interact with their environment and are part of a complex
ecosystem that includes our food.
These crops may increase
environmental and other toxins that may accumulate throughout the
food chain. Crops genetically engineered to be glufosinate
(herbicide) resistant may produce intestinal herbicide with known
toxic effects. If transference to gut bacteria occurs, greater
problems may result.
Repeated use of seeds like Monsanto's Roundup Ready soybeans
results in vicious new super-weeds that need far greater amounts of
stronger herbicides to combat.
Their toxic residues remain in crops
that humans and animals then eat. Even small amounts of these toxins
may be endocrine disruptors that can affect human reproduction
adversely. Evidence exists that GM crops accumulate toxins or
concentrate them in milk or animals fed GM feed. Disease-resistant
crops may also produce new plant viruses that affect humans.
All type GM foods, not just crops, carry these risks. Milk, for
example, from cows injected with Monsanto's bovine growth hormone
(rbGH), has much higher levels of the hormone IGF-1 that
risks breast, prostate, colon, lung and other cancers.
The milk also
has lower nutritional value. GM food additives also pose health
risks, and their use has proliferated in processed foods.
Potential harm to adults is magnified for children. Another concern
is that pregnant mothers eating GM foods may endanger their
offspring by harming normal fetal development and altering gene
expression that's then passed to future generations.
Children are also more endangered than
adults, especially those drinking substantial amounts of rbGH-treated
The above information is largely drawn from Smith's "Genetic
The data is startling and confirms a clear conclusion.
The proliferation of untested, unregulated GM foods in the span of a
decade is more a leap of faith than reliable science.
Microbiologist Richard Lacey
captures the risk stating:
"it is virtually impossible to even
conceive of a testing procedure to assess the health effects of
(GM) foods when introduced into the food chain, nor is there any
valid nutritional or public interest reason for their
Other scientists worldwide agree that GM
foods entered the market long before science could evaluate their
safety and benefits.
They want a halt to this dangerous experiment
that needs decades of rigorous research and testing before we can
Unchecked and unregulated, human health and safety are at risk
because once GMOs enter the food chain, the genie is out of the
bottle for keeps. Thankfully, resistance is growing worldwide, many
millions are opposed, but reversing the tide won't be easy.
Washington and Ag biotech are on a roll with big unstated aims -
total control of our food, making it all genetically engineered, and
scheming to use it as a weapon to reward friends and punish enemies.
Smith is hopeful that people will prevail over profits. Hopefully
he's right because human health and safety must never be
compromised. Resistance already halted the introduction of new crop
varieties, and Smith believes that with enough momentum existing
ones may end up withdrawn.
He cites an example he calls a "Shift
away from GM foods in the United States" in 2007.
Leading it is an initiative launched
last spring to remove GM ingredients from the entire natural food
sector. It's led by a coalition of natural food products producers,
distributors and retailers along with the Institute for
Responsible Technology (IRT).
It's called the Campaign
for Healthier Eating in America, and its aims are big - to
educate consumers about GM food risks and promote healthy
alternatives through shopping guides.
A Pew survey reported that 29% of Americans, representing 87 million
people, strongly oppose these foods and believe they're unsafe.
That's a respectable start if backed up with efforts to avoid them,
and more information how is at
Jeffrey Smith founded IRT in
"to promote the responsible use of
technology and stop GM foods and crops through both grassroots
and national strategies."
It seeks safe alternatives and aims to
"ban the genetic engineering of our food supply and all outdoor
releases of (GM) organisms, at least until (or unless scientific
opinion) believes such products are safe and appropriate based on
independent and reliable data."
IRT urges consumers to become educated about the risks, mobilize to
combat them and act in our mutual self-interest.
It's beginning to
happen, and Smith believes "there is an excellent chance that food
manufacturers will abandon GM foods in the near future" if a public
groundswell demands it.
He ends his book saying:
"Although GMOs present one of the
greatest dangers, with informed, motivated people, it is one of
the easiest global issues to solve."
Hopefully he's right.