Dr. Bruce Lipton on how we change our DNA and what it means to our health and well being
Gluten intolerance is no longer a fringe medical concept. Researchers are fully aware there is a very big problem with modern wheat cultivation. Wheat is far from being a health food. It makes you fat, causes gas and makes your intestinal tract your enemy, or rather vice-versa. High-yielding and now genetically modified varieties of wheat are making this one cereal grain you’ll probably want to axe from your food list.
233 consumer and farmer groups in 26 countries have joined the “Definitive Global Rejection of GM Wheat” statement to stop the commercialization of genetically modified (GM) wheat and remind the biotechnology corporation Monsanto that genetically modifying this major crop is not acceptable to farmers or consumers.
So how–and when–did this ancient grain become such a serious health threat? Author and preventive cardiologist William Davis, MD, says it’s when big agriculture stepped in decades ago to develop a higher-yielding crop. Today’s “wheat,” he says, isn’t even wheat, thanks to some of the most intense crossbreeding efforts ever seen. “The wheat products sold to you today are nothing like the wheat products of our grandmother’s age, very different from the wheat of the early 20th Century, and completely transformed from the wheat of the Bible and earlier,” he says.
Plant breeders changed wheat in dramatic ways. Once more than four feet tall, modern wheat–the type grown in 99 percent of wheat fields around the world–is now a stocky two-foot-tall plant with an unusually large seed head. Dr. Davis says accomplishing this involved crossing wheat with non-wheat grasses to introduce altogether new genes, using techniques like irradiation of wheat seeds and embryos with chemicals, gamma rays, and high-dose X-rays to induce mutations.
In July 2009, the most hated company in the world Monsanto, announced new research into GM wheat and industry groups kicked their promotion of GM wheat into high gear. “Widespread farmer and consumer resistance defeated GM wheat in 2004 and this global rejection remains strong, as demonstrated by today’s statement,” said Lucy Sharratt, Coordinator of the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network.
“In 2004, a coalition of Japanese consumer and food industry groups delivered a petition to the Governments of Canada and the U.S. urging them not to introduce GM wheat. Today, consumer rejection of GM wheat in Japan is just as strong as ever. 80 organizations in Japan have already signed the rejection statement,” said Keisuke Amagasa of the Tokyo-based No! GMO Campaign. “A large majority of consumers here in Japan are voicing their strong opposition to the cultivation of GM wheat. We see strong opposition from all sectors of society.”
Japan’s flour companies are also rejecting GM wheat, echoing consumer opposition. In a statement released today, the Flour Miller’s Association of Japan wrote to the No! GMO Campaign indicating its opposition.
“Under the present circumstances, with all the doubts about safety and the environment that the consumers in Japan have, including the effect on the human body from GM foods, GM wheat is included among the items that are not acceptable for the Japanese market,” Kadota Masaaki, senior managing director of the Flour Miller’s Association wrote to the No! GMO Campaign.
Clearfield Wheat, grown on nearly 1 million acres in the Pacific Northwest and sold by BASF Corporation–the world’s largest chemical manufacturer–was created in a geneticist’s lab by exposing wheat seeds and embryos to the mutation-inducing industrial toxin sodium azide, a substance poisonous to humans and known for exploding when mishandled, says Dr. Davis. This hybridized wheat doesn’t survive in the wild, and most farmers rely on toxic chemical fertilizers and pesticides to keep the crops alive.
So what does all of this plant science have to do with what’s ailing us? Intense crossbreeding created significant changes in the amino acids in wheat’s glutenproteins, a potential cause for the 400 percent increase in celiac disease over the past 40 years. Wheat’s gliadin protein has also undergone changes, with what appears to be a dire consequence. “Compared to its pre-1960s predecessor, modern gliadin is a potent appetite stimulant,” explains Dr. Davis. “The new gliadin proteins may also account for the explosion in inflammatory diseases we’re seeing.”
An intolerance to gluten can cause a wide array of symptoms, some debilitating. Moreover, delays in diagnosis or common misdiagnoses can be devastating to long-term health. Gerta Farber elaborates on her research and personal experience with Celiac disease.
A powerful little chemical in wheat known as ‘wheat germ agglutinin’ (WGA) which is largely responsible for many of wheat’s pervasive, and difficult to diagnose, ill effects. Researchers are now discovering that WGA in modern wheat is very different from ancient strains. Not only does WGA throw a monkey wrench into our assumptions about the primary causes of wheat intolerance, but due to the fact that WGA is found in highest concentrations in “whole wheat,” including its supposedly superior sprouted form, it also pulls the rug out from under one of the health food industry’s favorite poster children.
Below the radar of conventional serological testing for antibodies against the various gluten proteins and genetic testing for disease susceptibility, the WGA “lectin problem” remains almost entirely obscured. Lectins, though found in all grains, seeds, legumes, dairy and our beloved nightshades: the tomato and potato, are rarely discussed in connection with health or illness, even when their presence in our diet may greatly reduce both the quality and length of our lives.
The appetite-stimulating properties of modern wheat most likely occurred as an accidental by-product of largely unregulated plant breeding methods, Dr. Davis explains. But he charges that it’s impact on inflammatory diseases may have something to do with the fact that, in the past 15 years, it’s been showing up in more and more processed foods. Wheat ingredients are now found in candy, Bloody Mary mixes, lunch meats, soy sauce, and even wine coolers.
As if making you hungrier wasn’t enough, early evidence suggests that modern wheat’s new biochemical code causes hormone disruption that is linked to diabetes and obesity. “It is not my contention that it is in everyone’s best interest to cut back on wheat; it is my belief thatcomplete elimination is in everyone’s best health interests,” says Dr. Davis, “In my view, that’s how bad this thing called ‘wheat’ has become.”
Replace Wheat With Spelt
Spelt is an ancient grain that has lately made a comeback in North America, even though it has been popular through the decades in many European countries. Spelt is a non-hybrid distant relative to present day wheat. Spelt’s uniqueness is derived from its genetic makeup and nutrition profile. Spelt has high water solubility, so nutrients are easily absorbed by the body making it easy to digest. It is high in protein (significantly higher than wheat), higher in B complex vitamins, and spelt is high in both simple and complex carbohydrates. These complex carbohydrates are an important factor in blood clotting and stimulating the body’s immune system. Spelt is a suberb fiber resource. Spelt’s nutty flavor doesn’t just taste good, it has so many other nutritional benefits that are amazingly good for you! Keep reading to find out more about how spelt’s nutrients contribute to lower risk of cardiovascular (heart) disease, type II diabetes, and can lessen occurrences of migraine headaches.
Spelt is more difficult to process than modern wheat varieties, making it a little more expensive to purchase. Spelt’s husk protects it from pollutants and insects which allows growers to avoid using pesticides, unlike other grains. The husk needs to be mechanically separated from the kernal before milling (this is done after it is thrashed and harvested). The spelt is stored in good, low moisture conditions in order to protect the kernal, retain nutrients, and maintain freshness. Over decades, modern wheat has been drastically changed to be easier to grow and harvest. This in turn increases yields, maintains a high gluten content in the wheat to produce high-volume commercial baked goods. On the other hand, spelt has preserved many of its original traits and continues to remain highly nutritious and full of flavor. And spelt can make fantastic breads and delicious pastries
A note about gluten: Keep in mind that spelt does contain gluten. Gluten is made up of glutenin and gliadin molecules. Gluten provides elasticity to dough, which allows bread to rise. Even though spelt’s gluten is more fragile than other wheats, the bread produces fewer air pockets, it is well formed and maintains its flavorful taste.
Is Genetically Modified Food Killing Us?
Last month, a group of Australian scientists published a warning to the citizens of the country, and of the world, who collectively gobble up some $34 billion annually of its agricultural exports. The warning concerned the safety of a new type of wheat.
As Australia’s number-one export, a $6-billion annual industry, and the most-consumed grain locally, wheat is of the utmost importance to the country. A serious safety risk from wheat — a mad wheat disease of sorts — would have disastrous effects for the country and for its customers.
Which is why the alarm bells are being rung over a new variety of wheat being ushered toward production by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) of Australia. In a sense, the crop is little different than the wide variety of modern genetically modified foods. A sequence of the plant’s genes has been turned off to change the wheat’s natural behavior a bit, to make it more commercially viable (hardier, higher yielding, slower decaying, etc.).
What’s really different this time — and what has Professor Jack Heinemann of the University of Canterbury, NZ, and Associate Professor Judy Carman, a biochemist at Flinders University in Australia, holding press conferences to garner attention to the subject — is the technique employed to effectuate the genetic change. It doesn’t modify the genes of the wheat plants in question; instead, a specialized gene blocker interferes with the natural action of the genes.
The process at issue, dubbed RNA interference or RNAi for short, has been a hotbed of research activity ever since the Nobel Prize-winning 1997 research paper that described the process. It is one of a number of so-called “antisense” technologies that help suppress natural genetic expression and provide a mechanism for suppressing undesirable genetic behaviors.
RNAi’s appeal is simple: it can potentially provide a temporary, reversible “off switch” for genes. Unlike most other genetic modification techniques, it doesn’t require making permanent changes to the underlying genome of the target. Instead, specialized siRNAs — chemical DNA blockers based on the same mechanism our own bodies use to temporarily turn genes on and off as needed — are delivered into the target organism and act to block the messages cells use to express a particular gene. When those messages meet with their chemical opposites, they turn inert. And when all of the siRNA is used up, the effect wears off.
The new wheat is in early-stage field trials (i.e., it’s been planted to grow somewhere, but has not yet been tested for human consumption), part of a multi-year process on its way to potential approval and not unlike the rigorous process many drugs go through. The researchers conducting this trial are using RNAi to turn down the production of glycogen. They are targeting the production of the wheat branching enzyme which, if suppressed, would result in a much lower starch level for the wheat. The result would be a grain with a lower glycemic index — i.e., healthier wheat.
This is a noble goal. However, Professors Heinemann and Carman warn, there’s a risk that the gene-silencing done to these plants might make its way into humans and wreak havoc on our bodies. In their press conference and subsequent papers, they describe the possibility that the siRNA molecules — which are pretty hardy little chemicals and not easily gotten rid of — could wind up interacting with our RNA.
If their theories prove true, the results might be as bad as mimicking glycogen storage disease IV, a super-rare genetic disorder which almost always leads to early childhood death.
Although Heinemann and Carman cannot provide rock-solid proof that the new wheat is harmful, they have produced a series of opinion papers that point to the possibilities that could happen if a number of criteria are met:
If the siRNAs remain in the wheat in transferrable form, in large quantities, when the grain makes it to your plate. And…
If the siRNA molecules interfere with the somewhat different but largely similar human branching enzyme as well…
Then the wheat might cause very severe adverse reactions in humans.
Opinion papers like this — while not to be confused with conclusions resulting from solid research — are a critically important part of the scientific process. Professors Carman and Heinemann provide a very important public good in challenging the strength of the due-diligence process for RNAi’s use in agriculture.
However, we’ll have to wait until the data come back from the numerous scientific studies being conducted at government labs, universities, and in the research facilities of commercial agribusinesses like Monsanto and Cargill — to know if this wheat variety would in fact result in a dietary apocalypse.
But if the history of modern agriculture can teach us anything, it’s that GMO foods appear to have had a huge net positive effect on the global economy and our lives. Not only have they not killed us, in many ways GMO foods have been responsible for the massive increases in public health and quality of life around the world.
Nevertheless, the debate over genetically modified (GM) food is a heated one. Few contest that we are working in somewhat murky waters when it comes to genetically modified anything. At issue, really, is the question of whether we are prepared to use the technologies we’ve discovered.
In other words, are we the equivalent of a herd of monkeys armed with bazookas, unable to comprehend the sheer destructive power we possess yet perfectly capable of pulling the trigger?
Or do we simply face the same type of daunting intellectual challenge as those who discovered fire, electricity, or even penicillin, at a time when the tools to fully understand how they worked had not yet been conceived of?
In all of those cases, we were able to probe, study, and learn the mysteries of these incredible discoveries over time. Sure, there were certainly costly mistakes along the way. But we were also able to make great use of them to advance civilization long before we fully understood how they worked at a scientific level.
Much is the same in the study and practical use of GM foods.
While the fundamentals of DNA have been well understood for decades, we are still in the process of uncovering many of the inner workings of what is arguably the single most advanced form of programming humans have ever encountered. It is still very much a rapidly evolving science to this day.
While RNAi is not a panacea for GMO scientists — it serves as an off switch, but cannot add new traits nor even turn on dormant ones — the dawn of antisense techniques is likely to mean an even further acceleration of the science of genetic meddling in agriculture. Its tools are more precise even than many of the most recent permanent genetic-modification methods. And the temporary nature of the technique — the ability to apply it selectively as needed, versus breeding it directly into plants which may not benefit from the change decades on — is sure to please farmers, and maybe even consumers as well.
That is, unless the scientists in Australia are proven correct, and the siRNAs used in experiments today make their way into humans and affect the same genetic functions in us as they do in the plants. The science behind their assertions still needs a great deal of testing.
Still, their perspective is important food for thought… and likely fuel for much more debate to come. One thing is sure: the GMO food train left the station nearly a century ago and is now a very big business that will continue to grow and to innovate, using RNAi and other techniques to come.
for The Daily Reckoning
This article outlines the many harmful effects of GM or genetically-modified foods (known also as genetically-engineered foods) and representng lab-created GMOs or genetically-modified organisms.
Nathan Batalion, ND
We are confronted with what is undoubtedly the single most potent technology the world has ever known - more powerful even than atomic energy. Yet it is being released throughout our environment and deployed with superficial or no risk assessments - as if no one needs to worry an iota about its unparalleled powers to harm life as we know it - and for all future generations.
What is called "biotechnology" is a vital issue that impacts all of us.
Largely between 1997 and 1999, genetically modified (GM) food ingredients suddenly appeared in 2/3rds of all US processed foods. This food alteration was fueled by a single Supreme Court ruling. It allowed, for the first time, the patenting of life forms for commercialization. Since then thousands of applications for experimental genetically-modified (GM) organisms, including quite bizarre GMOs, have been filed with the US Patent Office alone, and many more abroad. Furthermore an economic war broke out to own equity in firms that legally claimed such patent rights or the means to control not only genetically modified organisms but vast reaches of human food supplies. This has been the behind-the-scenes and key factor for some of the largest and rapid agri-chemical firm mergers in history. The merger of Pioneer Hi-Bed and Dupont (1997), Novartis AG and AstraZeneca PLC (2000), plus Dow's merger with Rohm and Haas (2001) are three prominent examples, Few consumers are aware this has been going on and is ever continuing. Yet if you recently ate soya sauce in a Chinese restaurant, munched popcorn in a movie theatre, or indulged in an occasional candy bar - you've undoubtedly ingested this new type of food. You may have, at the time, known exactly how much salt, fat and carbohydrates were in each of these foods because regulations mandate their labeling for dietary purposes. But you would not know if the bulk of these foods, and literally every cell had been genetically altered!
In just those three years, as much as 1/4th of all American agricultural lands or 70-80 million acres were quickly converted to raise genetically-modified (GM) food and crops. And in the race to increase GM crop production verses organics, the former is winning. For details, see our article Who is Winning The Race Between GM Global and Organic Crop Production?
Core Philosophical Issues
When Gandhi confronted British rule and Martin Luther King addressed those who disenfranchised Afro-Americans, each brought forth issues of morality and spirituality. They both challenged others to live up to the highest principles of humanity. With the issue of GM food technology, we should naturally do the same, and with great respect for both sides. It is not enough to list fifty or more harmful effects but we need to also address moral, spiritual and especially worldview issues. Here the stakes are incredibly huge. For an introductory discussion of the philosophical issues involving GMOs, why this technology represents the impregnation of a mechanical worldview, a death-centered vision of nature that is greatlyt accelerating the death of species on earth, see our article GMOs - Philosophical Issues of a Thanoptic (Death-Delivering) Technology.
FROM HYBRIDIZATION TO GMOs
Another challenging phenomenon to face in our modern world is that of hybridization. It seems to have worked so very successfully in some commercial realms, and as a major application of Gregor Mendel's revolutionary Gene Theory. Mendel offered a logical extension of the larger mechanical worldview. Just as we create factory assembly lines for manufacturing inanimate products, why can't we also manufacture living organisms, and using the same or similar principles? Why not take this assembly-line process to the next logical and progressive level?
What's wrong then with the "advance" of genetic engineering? No doubt, with hybridizations conscious life is manipulated. But living organisms continue to make some primary genetic decisions amid limited selections. We can understand this with an analogy. There is an immense difference between being a matchmaker and inviting two people to a dinner party, to meet and see if they are compatible. This differs essentially from forcing their meeting and union or a violent date rape. The former act may be divine, and the latter considered criminal. The implication is that biotechnology involves vital moral issues in regard to the whole of life in nature.
With biotechnology, roses are no longer crossed with just roses. They are mated with pigs, tomatoes with oak trees, fish with asses, butterflies with worms, orchids with snakes. The technology that makes this all possible is called biolistics - a gunshot-like violence that pierces the nuclear membrane of cells. This essentially violates not just the core chambers of life (physically crossing nuclear membranes) but the conscious-choice principle that is part of living nature's essence. Some also compare it to the violent crossing of territorial borders of countries, subduing inhabitants against their will.
What will happen if this technology is allowed to spread? Fifty years ago few predicted that chemical pollution would cause so much vast environmental harm. Now nearly 1/3rd of all species are threatened with extinction (and up to half of all plant species and half of all mammals). Few also knew that cancer rates would skyrocket during this same period. Nowadays approximately 41% on average of Americans can expect cancer in their lifetime.
No one has a crystal ball to see future consequences of the overall GMO technology.Nevertheless, there are silent alarm signals like the early death of canaries in a mine shaft. There is, for example, growing evidence that the wholesale disappearance of bees relates directly to the appearance of ever more GM pollen. If we understand certain philosophical issues about the 17th century's worldview, the potential harm of GMOs actually can potentially far outweigh that of chemical pollution. This is because chemistry deals mostly with things altered by fire (and then no longer alive, isolated in laboratories - and not infecting living terrains in self-reproducible ways). Thus a farmer may use a chemical for many decades, and then let the land lie fallow to convert it back to organic farming. This is because the chemicals tend to break down into natural substances over time, Genetic pollution, however, can alter the oil's life forever!
Farmers who view their land as their primary financial asset have reason to heed this warning. They need to be alarmed by evidence that genetically-modified soil bacteria contamination can arise. This is more than just possible, given the numerous (1600 or more) distinct microorganisms that can be found in a single teaspoon of soil. If that soil contamination remains permanently, the consequences can be catastrophic. Someday the public may blacklist precisely those farms that have once planted GM crops. No one has put up any warning signs on product packaging for farmers, including those who now own 1/4 of all agricultural tracks in the US. Furthermore, the spreading potential impact on all ecosystems is profound.
Writes Jeremy Rifkin, in The Biotech Century,
"Our way of life is likely to be more fundamentally transformed in the next several decades than in the previous one thousand years...Tens of thousands of novel transgenic bacteria, viruses, plants and animals could be released into the Earth's ecosystems...Some of those releases, however, could wreak havoc with the planet's biospheres."
In short these processes involve unparalleled risks. Voices from many sides echo this view. Contradicting safety claims, no major insurance company has been willing to limit risks, or insure bio-engineered agricultural products. The reason given is the high level of unpredictable consequences. Over eight hundred scientists from 84 countries have signed The World Scientist open letter to all governments calling for a ban on the patenting of life-forms and emphasizing the very grave hazards of GMOs, genetically-modified seeds and GM foods. This was submitted to the UN, World Trade Organization and US Congress. The Union of Concerned Scientists (a 1000 plus member organization with many Nobel Laureates) has similarly expressed its scientific reservations. The prestigious medical journal, Lancet, published an article on the research of Arpad Pusztai showing potentially significant harms, and to instill debate. Britain's Medical Association (the equivalent of the AMA and with over a 100,000 physicians) called for an outright banning of genetically-modified foods and labeling the same in countries where they still exist. In a gathering of political representatives from over 130 nations, drafting the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, approximately 95% insisted on new precautionary approaches. The National Academy of Science report on genetically-modified products urged greater scrutiny and assessments. Prominent FDA scientists have repeatedly expressed profound fears and reservations but their voices were muted not due to cogent scientific reasons but intense political pressure from the Bush administration in its efforts to buttress and promote the profit-potentials of a nascent biotech industry.
To counterbalance this, industry-employed scientists have signed a statement in favor of genetically-modified foods. But are any of these scientists impartial? Writes the New York Times (Feb 20, 2000) (about a similar crisis involving genetic engineering and medical applications).
"Academic scientists who lack industry ties have become as rare as giant pandas in the wild...lawmakers, bioethics experts and federal regulators are troubled that so many researchers have a financial stake [via stock options or patent participation] ...The fear is that the lure of profit could color scientific integrity, promoting researchers to withhold information about potentially dangerous side-effects."
Looked at from outside of commercial interests, perils of genetically modified foods and organisms are multi-dimensional. They include the creation of new "transgenic" life forms - organisms that cross unnatural gene lines (such as tomato seed genes crossed with fish genes) - and that have unpredictable behavior or replicate themselves out of control in the wild. This can happen, without warning, inside of our bodies creating an unpredictable chain reaction. A four-year study at the University of Jena in Germany conducted by Hans-Hinrich Kaatz revealed that bees ingesting pollen from transgenic rapeseed had bacteria in their gut with modified genes. This is called a "horizontal gene transfer." Commonly found bacteria and microorganisms in the human gut help maintain a healthy intestinal flora. These, however, can be mutated.
Mutations may also be able to travel internally to other cells, tissue systems and organs throughout the human body. Not to be underestimated, the potential domino effect of internal and external genetic pollution can make the substance of science-fiction horror movies become terrible realities in the future. The same is true for the bacteria that maintain the health of our soil - and are vitally necessary for all forms of farming - in fact for human sustenance and survival.
Without factoring in biotechnology, milder forms of controlling nature have gravitated toward restrictive monocropping. In the past 50 years, this underlies the disappearance of approximately 95% of many native grains, beans, nuts, fruits, and vegetable varieties in the United States, India, and Argentina among other nations (and on average 75% worldwide). Genetically-modified monoculture, however, can lead to yet greater harm. Monsanto, for example, had set a goal of converting 100% of all US soy crops to Roundup Ready strains by the year 2000. If this plan were effected, it would have threatened the biodiversity and resilience of all future soy farming practices. Monsanto laid out similar strategies for corn, cotton, wheat and rice. This represents a deepest misunderstanding of how seeds interact, adapt and change with the living world of nature.
One need only look at agricultural history - at the havoc created by the Irish potato blight, the Mediterranean fruit fly epidemic in California, the regional citrus canker attacks in the Southeast, and the 1970's US corn leaf blight. In the latter case, 15% of US corn production was quickly destroyed. Had weather changes not quickly ensued, most all crops would have been laid waste because a fungus attached their cytoplasm universally. The deeper reason this happened was that approximately 80% of US corn had been standardized (devitalized/mechanized) to help farmers crossbreed - and by a method akin to those used in current genetic engineering. The uniformity of plants then allowed a single fungus to spread, and within four months to destroy crops in 581 counties and 28 states in the US. According to J. Browning of Iowa State University: "Such an extensive, homogeneous acreage of plants... is like a tinder-dry prairie waiting for a spark to ignite it."
The homogeneity is unnatural, a byproduct again of deadening nature's creativity in the attempt to mechanize, to grasp absolute control, and of what ultimately yields not control but wholesale disaster. Europeans seem more sensitive than Americans to such approaches, given the analogous metaphor of German eugenics.
Overall the "biotech revolution" that is presently trying to overturn 12,000 years of traditional and sustainable agriculture was launched in the summer of 1980 in the US. This was the result of a little-known US Supreme Court decision Diamond vs. Chakrabarty where the highest court decided that biological life could be legally patentable.
Ananda Mohan Chakrabarty, a microbiologist and employee of General Electric (GE), developed at the time a type of bacteria that could ingest oil. GE rushed to apply for a patent in 1971. After several years of review, the US Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) turned down the request under the traditional doctrine that life forms are not patentable. Jeremy Rifkin's organization, the Peoples Business Commission, filed the only brief in support of the ruling. GE later sued and won an overturning of the PTO ruling. This gave the go ahead to further bacterial gmo research throughout the 1970's.
Then in 1983 the first genetically-modified plant, an anti-biotic resistant tobacco was introduced. Field trials then began in 1985, and the EPA approved the very first release of a GMO crop in 1986. This was a herbicide-resistant tobacco. All of this went forward due to a regulatory green light as in 1985 the PTO also decided the Chakrabarty ruling could be further extended to all plants and seeds, or the entire plant kingdom.
It then took another decade before the first genetically-altered crop was commercially introduced. This was the famous delayed-ripening "Flavr-savr" tomato approved by the FDA on May 18, 1994. The tomato was fed in laboratory trials to mice who, normally relishing tomatoes, refused to eat these lab-creations and had to be force-fed by tubes. Several developed stomach lesions and seven of the forty mice died within two weeks. Without further safety testing the tomato was FDA approved for commercialization. Fortunately, it ended up as a production and commercial failure, and was ultimately abandoned in 1996. This was the same year Calgene, the producer, began to be bought out by Monsanto. During this period also, and scouring the world for valuable genetic materials, W.R. Grace applied for and was granted fifty US patents on the neem tree in India. It even patented the indigenous knowledge of how to medicinally use the tree f(what has since been called biopiracy). Also by the close of the 20th century, about a dozen of the major US crops - including corn, soy, potato, beets, papaya, squash, tomato and cotton - were approved for genetic modification.
Going a step further, on April 12, 1988, PTO issued its first patent on animal life forms (known as oncomice) to Harvard Professor Philip Leder and Timothy A. Stewart. This involved the creation of a transgenic mouse containing chicken and human genes. Since 1991 the PTO has controversially granted other patent rights involving human stem cells, and later human genes. A United States company, Biocyte was awarded a European patent on all umbilical cord cells from fetuses and newborn babies. The patent extended exclusive rights to use the cells without the permission of the donors. Finally the European Patent Office (EPO) received applications from Baylor University for the patenting of women who had been genetically altered to produce proteins in their mammary glands. Baylor essentially sought monopoly rights over the use of human mammary glands to manufacture pharmaceuticals. Other attempts have been made to patent cells of indigenous peoples in Panama, the Solomon Islands, and Papua New Guinea, among others.
Thus the groundbreaking Chakrabarty ruling evolved, and within little more than two decades from the patenting of tiny, almost invisible microbes, to allow the genetic modification of virtually all terrains of life on Earth.
Certain biotech companies then quickly, again with lightening speed, moved to utilize such patenting for the control of first and primarily seed stock, including buying up small seed companies and destroying their non-patented seeds. In the past few years, this has led to a near monopoly control of certain genetically modified commodities, especially soy, corn, and cotton (the latter used in processed foods when making cottonseed oil). As a result, between 70-75% of processed grocery products, as estimated by the Grocery Manufacturers of America, soon showed genetically-modified ingredients. Yet again without labeling, few consumers in the US were aware that any of this was pervasively occurring. Industry marketers found out that the more the public knew, the less they wanted to purchase GM foods. Thus a concerted effort was organized to convince regulators (or bribe them with revolving-door employment arrangements) not to require such labeling.
About the 50 Harmful Effects of GM Foods
This article does more than dispute the industry and certain government officials' claims that genetically-modified (GM) foods are the equivalent of ordinary foods not requiring labeling. It offers an informative list of the vast number of alarm signals, at least fifty hazards, problems, and dangers. also interspersed are deeper philosophical discussion of how the "good science" of biotechnology can turn against us as a thano-technology, grounded in a worldview that most seriously needs to be revisied.
When pesticides were first introduced, they also were heralded as absolutely safe and as a miracle cure for farmers. Only decades later the technology revealed its truer lethal implications. Here the potentially lethal implications are much broader.
The following list of harms is also divided into several easily referred-to sections, namely on health, environment, farming practices, economic/political/social implications, and issues of freedom of choice. There is a concluding review of means of inner activism - philosophical, spiritual, worldview changing. Next there is a list of action-oriented, practical ideas and resources for personal, political and consumer action on this vital issue. Finally, I want the reader to know that this article is a living document, subject to change whenever new and important information becomes available. See Links Below: