PM - Don’t trust GM

  • 10 Jul 2013
  • Reading time 9 mins
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When UK Prime Minister David Cameron was quoted in the media saying ‘ I’d give the family GM food’ I suspected the biotech corporations were back on the offensive. Exactly how they are persuading government, yet again, to back GM foods when the public don’t want it, was exposed last week in the Daily Mail.

In an in-depth article by Guy Adams called ‘Frankenfood Conspiracy’ Guy Adams revealed how political pressure, backed by financial incentives are being applied to once again force a change in the EU wide ban on genetically modified food. In principle, I am not against GM food IF it is proven to be safe. Nature modifies genes all the time. But I trust nature more than greedy biotech industries whose stated goal is to genetically engineer all commercial seeds in the world.

Not only will this give transnational companies patents and control over the food supply, they would permanently replace the products of billions of years of evolution and thousands of years of agricultural crop development with a new, high-risk technology. I asked Jeffrey Smith, who heads the Institute for Responsible Technology for an update on the safety issues. Two years ago Jeffrey wrote a highly informative Special Report on the Truth About Genetically Modified Foods explaining why GM foods can cause problems. Here’s what he says as an update: “With the safety of the food supply and the integrity of our ecosystem at stake, one would think that every precaution would have been taken before deploying GMOs. In fact, just the opposite happened. A handful of companies rushed their genetically modified (GM) seeds to market long before the science was ready. Approvals were driven by political and economic interests, and the science—including repeated warnings by government scientists—were ignored.

Substantial evidence now exposes dangerous side effects, and most of the lofty promises of the biotech industry remain unfulfilled. But instead of acknowledging the failures and taking appropriate actions, advocates have become more aggressive at suppressing adverse data and promoting their myths. Those who call for more science are ironically labeled by the biotech industry as “anti-science.” And the scientists who do discover safety problems or even express concerns are typically attacked and dismissed. The current situation is very dangerous. GMOs, which are widely consumed in the US, are likely promoting the rise of numerous diseases in humans and animals, and creating widespread chemical and genetic pollution in the environment. If we reevaluate the technology in an independent manner, free from the manufactured bias of the biotech industry, we would be compelled to withdraw it from our food supply and prevent releases in our environment.

Given proper time and research, genetically engineered products may become predictable, safe, and beneficial. But at this point it is not responsible to expose the products of this infant science to all who eat, or to release them into the ecosystem where they can never be fully recalled. In reality, the safety research conducted by the biotech industry remains superficial in its scope and sparse in its volume. A 2007 review of published scientific literature on the health risks of GM plants, for example, described the number of studies and available data as “very scarce.”[1] Nonetheless, a careful analysis of both industry and independent studies does demonstrate significant harm to animals fed GMOs. Based on their review of this body of research, in May 2009 the American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) publicly condemned GMOs in our food supply, saying they posed “a serious health risk.”

They called on the US government to implement an immediate moratorium on all GM foods. “Several animal studies,” according to the their policy paper, reveal a long list of disorders, including: “infertility, immune dysregulation, accelerated aging, dysregulation of genes associated with cholesterol synthesis, [faulty] insulin regulation, cell signaling, and protein formation, and changes in the liver, kidney, spleen and gastrointestinal system.” The policy boldly concludes, “There is more than a casual association between GM foods and adverse health effects.” Based on established scientific criteria, “there is causation.” “Physicians are probably seeing the effects in their patients,” says AAEM past-president Jennifer Armstrong, MD, “but need to know how to ask the right questions.” The patients at greatest risk are the very young. “Children are the most likely to be adversely effected by toxins and other dietary problems” related to GM foods, says Dr. David Schubert of the Salk Institute. They become “the experimental animals.”

Rising Disease Rates Correlate With Introduction of GM foods in the US
Unfortunately, no system of post market surveillance on the health impacts of GMOs has been set up anywhere in the world. Although correlation clearly does not imply causation, the deteriorating health of Americans since GMOs were introduced in 1996 does raise important questions. Within nine years, the incidence of people with three or more chronic diseases nearly doubled—from 7% to 13%. Visits to the emergency room due to allergies more than doubled from 1997 to 2002. And overall food related illnesses doubled from 1994 to 2001, according to the Centers for Disease Control. One research paper provides numerous charts showing high correlations between GMO production (or Roundup herbicide use) and incidence of thyroid cancer, kidney and renal pelvis cancer, liver and intrahepatic bile duct cancer, obesity, high blood pressure, acute kidney injury, diabetes, end stage renal disease, reproductive disorders, autism, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, senile dementia, inflammatory bowel disease, peritonitis, chronic constipation, irritable bowel, intestinal infection, and rheumatoid arthritis.

Tragically, there is no systematic, well-funded investigation to explore links between GMO consumption and any disease. “The experiments simply haven’t been done and we now have become the guinea pigs,” says renowned Canadian geneticist David Suzuki. He adds, “Anyone that says, ‘Oh, we know that this is perfectly safe,’ I say is either unbelievably stupid or deliberately lying.”

Numerous US Doctors Now Blame GMOs
Based on evaluations of GMO research presented at medical conferences, as well as recommendations by their peers, thousands of US physicians now prescribe non-GMO diets to all their patients. The Institute for Responsible Technology has started hearing reports and collecting case studies from physicians, patients, and consumers about significant and often dramatic improvements in health and alleviation of symptoms from of a wide variety of diseases and disorders after removing GMOs. Michelle Perro, MD, who has regularly been named one of America’s Top Pediatricians, says she believes that the novel proteins found in GMOs “may be responsible in part for the profound increase in allergies and immune dysfunction that I am witnessing.”

Emily Lindner, MD, who practices internal medicine in Chicago, says, “When my patients stop eating GMOs, they get better.” She says, “I tell my patients to avoid genetically modified foods because in my experience, with those foods there is more allergies and asthma,” as well as digestive issues such as gas, bloating, irritable bowel, colitis, and leaky gut. “And what emanates from that,” she says, “is everything. Lots of arthritis problems, autoimmune diseases, anxiety.. neurological problems; anything that comes from an inspired immune system response.”

Animal’s Health Improves off GMOs
The experience of numerous veterinarians and farmers around the world gives us insight. When they take livestock off GMO soy or corn and substitute the non-GMO equivalent, they don’t have these confounding co-factors. The animals are not eating organic, there’s no change in nutrients or additives, and the results are breathtaking. When a Danish pig farmer switched to non-GMO soy in April 2011 for his 450 sows and their offspring, within two days the animals’ serious diarrhoea problems virtually disappeared. During the following year, death from ulcers and other digestive problems, which had claimed 36 pigs over the previous two years, vanished. Conception rate was up, litter size was up, diseases were down, and birth defects were eliminated. An Iowa farmer saw immediate changes in his 3000 pig nursery after switching to non-GMO corn last December.

Not only was there a dramatic drop in rate of disease and medicine bills, he says, “Our pigs are happier and more playful.” A feedlot operator with 5,000 head of cattle also switched to non-GMO corn and reported, “We’ve had a lot less pneumonia and health issues since that time.” Like the pig farmer, the behavior changed noticeably. His “cattle have been a lot calmer.” Many farmers who were struggling with large rates of infertility and miscarriages say they turned the situation around after switching to non-GMO feed. Renowned veterinarian and author Michael W. Fox, whose syndicated newspaper column has 25-30 million readers, says that when GMOs were introduced, cats and dogs started suffering from much higher rates of allergies, itching, and gastrointestinal problems. He has a file draw full of letters from happy pet owners confirming that his advice to switch the pets to non-GMO and organic feed cleared up the problem.

Repeating Symptoms: From Lab Rats to Consumers
What is striking about all these reports is the similarity of experiences across both animal species and us humans. Many of the same categories of disorders identified in animal feeding studies by the American Academy of Environmental Medicine, e.g. gastrointestinal, immune, and reproductive, also clear up in humans and livestock when they switch to a non-GMO diet. Moreover, these same problems are on the rise in the US population since GMOs were introduced in 1996.” Why these kind of health problems might ensue is explored further in the Special Report on the Truth About Genetically Modified Foods My advice to Cameron is that we don’t want them, and don’t need them in Britain, or anywhere else for that matter. The world’s hunger and food shortage will not be solved by them. It will be solved by the end of corporate greed, and good local agricultural practices. 1. José Domingo, "Toxicity Studies of Genetically Modified Plants : A Review of the Published Literature," Critical reviews in food science and nutrition, 2007, vol. 47, no8, pp. 721-733

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