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Beware of the Life Science Industry...And its GM Foods from Genetically Engineered Crops
By Dr. Michael W. Fox
Industrial agribusiness’ indifference and corpus of denial of toward the suffering of intensively raised farm animals parallels the indifference toward all the harmful agrichemical pesticides and fertilizers that are now in our rain, food, drinking water, mothers’ milk, and even amniotic fluids, and that have turned the countryside into a toxic chemical wasteland.
The infamy and hegemony of the multinational, ologopolistic ‘Life Science’ industry, pushing these agricultural inputs from seed and equipment to chemical fertilizers and pesticides onto developing countries, after decimating the once sustainable network of small farming and food processing operations in the Americas and Europe, and much of the rest of the industrial, ‘developed’ world, are a matter of public and historic record. This multinational industry also ‘outsources’ agricultural production of commodity crops that it imports to the U.S. on the cheap from countries where poverty and corruption often rampant, and agricultural chemicals banned in the U.S. are widely used.
A major, global venture of this Life Science industry has been to develop varieties of high-yield hybrid seeds, and more recently, genetically engineered seeds that are resistant to herbicides, produce their own pesticides, nutrient supplements for livestock, ( like lysine that factory farmed pigs need a lot of), and even pharmaceutical drugs. During the 1980’s these monopoly players---the petrochemical, pharmaceutical and life science conglomerates-- rushed to buy up all independent seed companies and their seed stocks. Patented, high yield hybrid varieties are few in number, widely planted, and genetically uniform. The uniformity means genetic vulnerability to disease (same for the patented hybrid strains of commercially farmed animals). It is these highly inbred, hybrid varieties that are now being genetically engineered, and spreading world wide at the ever quickening pace of global monopoly.
The seed stocks of conventional and heirloom varieties are not being planted, are deteriorating in storage, and when planted are likely to be come contaminated by the pollen of genetically engineered crops from neighboring fields and counties. This accelerating decline in the genetic diversity of our major food, feed and fiber (and biomass and green manure) crops, coupled with the genetic disruption of plant genomes that the genetic engineering process can cause (see below) call for a total moratorium on any further plantings of GM seeds. As will be revealed below, there are enough documented research studies to negate the government-industry response to such a moratorium and community-linked GM-FREE Zones that would say that there is no scientific evidence of harm to animals or to human consumers, and that GM seeds are ‘substantially equivalent’ to conventional varieties.
The socially and politically disruptive and devastating human suffering soon to come, according to some agronomists, including Nobel laureate Norman Borlaug (whose crop ‘improvement’ genetic research has arguably caused more harm than good in the hands of agribusiness oligopolies) is from the Ug99 strain of black stem rust fungus on the world’s wheat crop. This world wheat crop has so little genetic diversity now that there are few varieties and cultivars with any genetic resistance to this devastating disease that could mean global famine. Putting all our eggs in the same basket is never a wise investment.
This Life Science industry has convinced legislators that genetically engineered crops are safe, and ‘substantially equivalent’ to conventional varieties of food and animal feed crops. But the scientific evidence, and documented animal safety tests, point in the opposite direction. The US government even attempted to have genetically engineered seeds and foods included under the National Organic Standards. Genetically engineered crops of corn, soy and canola that are herbicide resistant, and corn that produces its own insecticidal poison called Bt, get into the human food chain, and are put into livestock feed and pet foods with the government’s blessing: And they quite probably contribute to the demise of the honey bee and a large agricultural sector of bee-pollination dependent orchard and field crops.
Herbicide resistant crops actually absorb the herbicide that is repeatedly sprayed to kill competing weeds which we and the animals subsequently consume, along with whatever endogenous pesticides they have been genetically engineered to produce and have been treated with from seed to shelf.
As for the documented, peer-reviewed, published studies generally mandated by good judgment before the government’s approving any novel food, such as a genetically engineered one, there were virtually none made public before and after the Life Science Industry developed and patented new GM foods and animal feeds and put them on the market. In spite of world wide public opposition, GM crops and seeds have respectively come to dominate and contaminate both conventional and organic food and industrial commodity crop markets.
The oil-shortage panic move in the U.S in 2007/8 to ill advised ethanol production from corn meant more plantings of GM varieties, less land for livestock feed, and for human food-crop production to stockpile for humanitarian emergency relief food programs that are in more demand than ever with climate change.
Arguably the worse case scenario of non-sustainable industrial agriculture is the U.S. government’s commodity crop support program that subsidizes corn and soybean production---crops, now predominantly GM, that result in serious soil erosion and water pollution from agichemicals--- at an estimated $ 12.2 billion. Such subsidies are a disincentive to farmers to adopt more ecologically sound farming practices.
This Life Science industry with its patented new seeds, rising from its agribusiness commodity-crop, pet food, petrochemical fertilizer and pharmaceutical roots, became a star of investor hope in the World Trade Organization’s new world order, and with free trade blessings. But its promises of better seeds and crops through genetic engineering that would benefit all, in spite of its now almost global domination, have proven to be false. In the face of climate change and food riots, these touted wonder crops to feed the poor and to resist drought are still being touted twenty years after their first patented appearance in the US. But they were developed primarily to monopolize the corn/rice/soy/canola and cotton commodity crop market and to boost sales of herbicides to which these new crops had been made genetically resistant.
The humanitarian benefits proclaimed by the Life Science industry were a sham, and served to emotionally blackmail legislators and hoodwink the public into accepting GM crops that have caused far more harm to many than any good. The indirect and unforeseen costs far outweigh the short term benefits, which more and more governments and businesses are now beginning to realize. Yet still the Life Science industry holds out the promise of their seeds to solve Africa’s problems and those of other impoverished and overpopulated countries, and to this end the US government and World Bank have been working to gain acceptance of GM crops by foreign governments through fair means and foul, bribes being the common currency of multinational corporations and corrupt governments and politicians.
The Life Science industry employs scientists to defend GM crops and the genetic engineering and cloning of farm animals, like oil companies employed scientists to say that global warming/climate change was a myth. They gave billions to Universities, setting up Chairs, Departments, Fellowships and lucrative consultative and patent sharing agreements, along with the US Chamber of Commerce.
One of the first government employed scientist to blow the whistle on the health risks and unproven safety of GM foods was immediately fired. He worked for the same British government laboratory that collaborated with China to develop genetically engineered wheat.
This good scientist, Dr. Arapad Pusztai whose research findings he has now shared with millions of concerned consumers around the world, were suppressed and loudly discredited by the Life Science government-industry-university complex. Their act of suppression gave Dr. Pusztai his world forum, and he came to this as an objective scientist with no bias pro or con GM foods. (More details to come below).
Since 85-90 percent of the US corn and soy crops are now GM, along with more and more of our rice, and since more and more of these crop byproducts are put into pet foods, and dogs and cats are getting more allergies, digestive and other debilitating and costly health problems, consumers are beginning to wake up.
We can all find information, direction and hope in many organizations that are addressing the critical issues of human health, food security, safety and quality from a variety of perspectives. The following reports, posted on the internet by scientists and analysts include full reference citation to support their assertions and conclusions.
Having read many scientific papers on the risks and benefits of GM crops, the most disturbing review published in a highly credible, peer-reviewed journal confirms what concerned analysts and others have feared for several years. This is that GM seeds are genetically unstable because they are more prone than normal to undergo spontaneous mutations. This can mean that GM crops could produce novel, harmful proteins, excessive, even toxic amounts of normal nutrients, or become extremely deficient in same (6).
(1) See Jeffrey M. Smith’s book ‘Genetic Roulette: The Documented Health Risks of Genetically Engineered Foods’, and visit his website www.seedsofdeception.com.
(2) For details see Eating With Conscience: The Bioethics of Food by Dr. M.W.Fox New Sage Press, Troutdale,OR, 1997.
(3) See www.non-gmoreport.com for more details.
(4) See Daniel Imhoff, ‘Food Fight: A Citizen’s Guide to the Food and Farm Bill’, Watershed Media Publ., 2007.
(5) For an in-depth review of the development of genetically engineered crops, foods, and animals, see M.W. Fox, Killer Foods: What Scientists Do To Make Better Is Not Always Best. The Lyons Press, Guilford, CT 2004
(6) A.K.Wilson, J.R.Latham, and R.A.Steinbrecher, ‘Transformation-induced mutations in transgenic plants: Analysis and biosafety implications.’ Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering Reviews, vol 23, p 209-226, 2006.
For more articles by Dr. Fox, visit TwoBitDog.
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