Tuesday, October 05, 2010

The American Foodsaw Massacre


What if the scariest horror movie you’ve ever seen was taking place in your local market with everyday shoppers as hapless victims? Well I’m no conspiracy theorist but the case against genetically modified (GMO) foods is starting to look downright bone chilling. And even if monster movies rarely affect me I can’t help but start squirming in my seat at how this story is unfolding.

The results of Pusztai’s work were supposed to become the required testing protocols for all of Europe. But when he fed supposedly harmless GM potatoes to rats, things didn’t go as planned.

Within just 10 days, the animals developed potentially pre-cancerous cell growth, smaller brains, livers, and testicles, partially atrophied livers, and damaged immune systems. Moreover, the cause was almost certainly side effects from the process of genetic engineering itself. In other words, the GM foods on the market, which are created from the same process, might have similar affects on humans.

Yesterday Mercola published an article on veiled science surrounding GMO foods by Jeffery Smith, executive director of The Institute of Responsible Technology. Smith is no fan is the industry, having penned two books on the subject, Seeds of Deception and Genetic Roulette, so one may take his views as biased. But it pretty straightforward science that he’s presented and, let’s face it, the anecdotal evidence supporting GMO foods is not good. As they’ve become a more established part of what we eat we’ve gotten fatter, less healthy, and our estimated life span has decreased for the first time in modern history, all in spite of massive improvements in medical technology.

Irina Ermakova, a senior scientist at the Russian National Academy of Sciences, was shocked to discover that more than half of the baby rats in her experiment died within three weeks. She had fed the mothers GM soy flour purchased at a supermarket. The babies from mothers fed natural non-GMO soy, however, only suffered a 10% death rate. She repeated her experiment three times with similar results.

Dr. Ermakova reported her preliminary findings at a conference in October 2005, asking the scientific community to replicate her study. Instead, she was attacked and vilified. Her boss told her to stop doing anymore GM food research. Samples were stolen from her lab, and a paper was even set fire on her desk. One of her colleagues tried to comfort her by saying, “Maybe the GM soy will solve the overpopulation problem.”


To conjecture further, I believe it’s possible that GMOs are, eventually, going to become linked to the myriad of food allergies that have sprung up in the past generation. Take the recent case against gluten, for instance, where an Italian study showed examples of elderly people showing no signs of gluten sensitivity a decade ago (after eating pasta their entire lives) suddenly changing. Gluten is the latest rage but we’ve seen similar patterns with peanuts and soy (legumes), as well as many nuts, prior. Since the science used to support these diseases is often shaky (gluten labeling is not government regulated), it seems possible, perhaps even likely, that it’s because we’re barking up the wrong tree. Since GMOs were able to be patented in the 1970s food allergy numbers have skyrocketed so fast we don’t even have proper stats on them.

Epidemiologist Judy Carman used to investigate outbreaks of disease for a state government in Australia. She knows that health problems associated with GM foods might be impossible to track or take decades to discover. Moreover, the superficial, short-term animal feeding studies usually do not evaluate “biochemistry, immunology, tissue pathology, gut function, liver function, and kidney function” and are too short to test for cancer or reproductive or child health.

So who, you might ask, is the axe-wielding psychopath responsible for all this? As you well know this dude is hard to find. He wears a mask and hides out in (genetically modified) corn fields so dense you can’t even hear his chain saw idling. But as the plot thickens more and more evidence leads to a popular clique of characters.

When Ohio State University plant ecologist Allison Snow discovered problematic side effects in GM sunflowers, Pioneer Hi-Bred International and Dow AgroSciences blocked further research by withholding GM seeds and genes.

After Marc LappĂ© and Britt Bailey found significant reductions in cancer-fighting isoflavones in Monsanto’s GM soybeans, the seed seller, Hartz, told them they could no longer provide samples.

Research by a plant geneticist at a leading US university was also thwarted when two companies refused him GM corn. In fact, almost no independent studies are conducted that might find problems. According to a scathing opinion piece in an August 2009 Scientific American,

“Agritech companies have given themselves veto power over the work of independent researchers ... Only studies that the seed companies have approved ever see the light of a peer-reviewed journal.”


For example, if there was any negatives surrounding GMO production why wouldn’t it show up on foods labels? Only someone very popular would be able to stop this and Monsanto, and perhaps his good friend Dow, are pretty much the homecoming king and queen around here. Not only has Monsanto been able to keep GMO off of labels in the USA, it’s currently trying to force the European Union to eliminate it as well. If these things were ok, we must wonder, why wouldn’t they want us knowing about them? But then we find out Monsanto won’t serve GMO foods to their own executives. Lacking the charm to get us to drink their Kool-aid on our own, they’re trying to force it down our throats.

Good thing the movie’s not over. This rag-tag group of survivors has one, last, desperate plan. Unlike in a zombie armageddon, we have a choice over whether or not to have our brains eaten. As Dr. Mercola says “Together we CAN get GMOs banned from the US. Europe was able to do it over a decade ago without any government assistance. All they did was educate the consumers, and that was enough pressure on the food industry to drop their ploys.
If we band together as an effective army we will be able to do this. Please understand that the VAST majority of people in the US do not want GM foods, so this is an EASY battle to win. All we have to do is a bit of organizational work.”


So bust out your best evil-empire fightin' artillery and lock and load, or just click here for Smith’s Non GMO shopping guide. Remember the bad guys don’t always have to win.

12 comments:

Lee said...

You obviously haven't seen the human centipede. It's a life changer of a scary movie and not in a good way. Don't even watch the preview. Just don't.

As for these studies, color me terrified. If you need me, I'll be in the corner freebasing shakeology and eating avocados.

D Faye said...

As much as I'd like them banned too, I think that's a bit quixotic at this point. I'd happy with the European standard, which is that food containing GM crops need to be properly labeled.

As Americans, we have a constitutional right to make and eat rat poison - but we also have a right to know when we're doing it.

Anonymous said...

In Food Inc. weren't there farmers who were pressured and forced to eliminate all traditional seed and to use the GMO seed that was provided. If those farmers were even caught saving old seed there were severe consequences.

Anonymous said...

Steve, you applied logic and reason to the gluten issue, why not to GM foods too? Believing that any genetic modification confers the property of "badness" is tantamount to believing in the powers of alchemy.

Come back with hard science. The poppycock you've got here amounts to nothing more than fear mongering. What's next for you? Chemtrails?

MarDar69 said...

I have been changing all my diet options to organic and farmer's market type foods. I trust no label without proper research first. Fast and convenient is a banana folks.

Anonymous said...

Only this morning my 14 year old said as he peeled an orange "You'd think they would make these easier to peel" The industry is so hell bent on selling the short term convenience of this rubbish to our youngsters they don't even see past what happens after the 5 minutes it takes to eat the stuff and long term consequences. That's not saying most of the adult population isn't ignorant, how difficult is it to educate these people? I'm with Dennis......let them eat rat poison if they chose to be so stupid.

Josh said...

Manny,

While I agree with the basic premise of your blog entry, I disagree about just how simple the solution is (it's not simply a matter of not watching the horrow show). And, I think my points below should inform your BDay Challenge directed at childhood obesity.

You started with what's happening in the local market, and Dennis talked about labeling - but the main place where Americans consume the bulk of their questionable foods (whether it's toxic fruits and veggies, irradiated meats, highly processed ingredients, or GMOs) is not in the market, but in the restaurant - where there is no labeling, and the margins are so thin that the cheapest ingredients are often the only viable options.

And, while most people reading your blog probably have the means to buy organic, non-GMO, non-irradiated foods, the fact remains that the average American (especially the children of America!) has/have limited means -and, I think, even more limited knowledge - to eat well. While we as a country spend less (as a percentage of income)on food than the citizens of a lot of countries; our access to good, high-quality food is severely limited in most places in this country. Outside of the urban centers and a few pockets of affluent communities (like where I live), there simply isn't the access. Don't forget, Walmart is the 2nd largest employer in the country (behind the US gov't); and whose low prices have been directly attributed to the lack of inflation we've felt over the past 2 decades. Overcoming those hurdles should be point 1, well above and beyond the clearly short-sighted nature of GMOs.

The bottom line is that for most people there isn't simply the option of not watching the horror film. The films a documentary, and they're the stars.

-Josh

Anonymous said...

I'm with Anonymous @ 11:06, please provide the hard science behind these studies, including the funding and full published, peer-reviewed papers.

Sorry, but anything from Mercola is quackery in action. The man has been slapped by the FDA so many times he has permanent hand prints!

Steve Edwards said...

On the science thing, that is the point. There are plenty of peer reviewed studies, some cited, that are either being ignored because they weren't done in the US, covered up, or discredited for dubious means.

Josh, that is probably the most considerate thing I've ever seen you write. You must be havin' a good day at the office.

I'm not a huge Mercola fan at all. And I don't necessarily agree with banning GMOs either. It was just a nifty way to write the piece, actually. But I am, 100%, in favor of honest labeling. That alone has been a great help in Europe. And we're certainly not going to get GMO foods on banned if we can't even get them on labels, so I'll jump on any bandwagon that will make this more likely to happen.

Josh said...

I had a martini for lunch.

-J

Dr. McCoy said...

Damnit, Jim,

The entire article is about proper science being covered up. What's the point of the asking for hard science? My God, man, where is the logic?!

screwdestiny said...

Yeah, I don't care if they're in the market as long as the products are labeled. That's what bugs me right now. I try not to buy GM food, but I do have limited means (and limited stores to buy from) and so I'm sure there is still a fair amount of GM foods that slip into my diet. If they were labeled, it would be easy to avoid them, much the same way I avoid HFCS, etc. But I mean, really, people put far worse things into their body than GM food, and all that is not getting banned, so I think it's being a little too optimistic to hope that will happen anytime soon, or ever...