Dr. Roy Murrell, DC 200 NE 20th Avenue, Suite 140 Portland Oregon 97232 - disclaimer - 971-312-9497
The following subject is one that is severely overlooked by most in this country but has, what I think, incredible destructive potential for the environment as well as the health of our food supply. This is the subject of Genetically Modified Foods or GMO’s. This can become a bit complicated but I am going to try to condense it the best I can.
WHAT ARE GMO’s?
GMO foods are the by-product of gene splicing, taking genes from one species and inserting them into the DNA of another. Genes in our DNA turn off and on to produce proteins that code for different traits as well as functions of the body. By inserting a different gene, you get a different protein which codes for a different function. Corporations in this country (mainly Monsanto) have tried to convince the public that we need this technology to feed the starving populations of the world. Really what they have been doing is buying up all of the major seed companies in hopes of controlling the world seed market along with their patented GMO seeds. Monsanto has used its money and political power to push through FDA approval of this technology based on their own extremely flimsy research. No farmer or consumer asked for this technology but as of today there are over 150 million acres of GM crops grown and this food is consumed daily in some form by most Americans. The most common foods are soy, corn, canola, cottonseed, and growth hormones used on dairy cows. This does not sound like much but these products are core products in almost every processed food or foods found in restaurants today. Some say we are in the middle of the largest nutritional experiment in the history of the planet and we are the Guinea pigs.
WHAT DOES THE SCIENTIFIC COMMUNITY SAY?
It depends a lot on who you want to believe. The unfortunate thing about science in this country is it's close ties to the corporate world. Many, if not most, scientific research firms depend on research dollars that flow from major corporations in the US who all have an agenda associated with their products. That money often comes with strings attached such as the contributors having final approval over what research findings are published. Ironically, the research used to get FDA approval for these GMO seeds was all financed by corporations who have a huge financial stake in genetic engineering technology.
Europe is a different story. Although the UK Parliament is very pro-GMO, they used public money to finance a study done by a well respected research group called the Rowett Institute of Aberdeen, Scotland (one of the worlds leading nutritional institutes) in the late 90s. They expected the findings to confirm what Monsanto had been telling them; that GMO was no different than natural seeds. What they got was totally different. Dr Arpad Pusztai had worked for the institute for 35 years and was known by hiscolleagues as one of the top scientist in his field with over 300 papers published. When he looked at the research data that formed the basis of the FDA approval, he was shocked. There was missing data, poor research design, and very superficial test. His job was to confirm this data with his own study done on the GMO potato that was already being consumed by millions of Americans. Monsanto had used gene splicing to insert a gene into the potato's DNA that would produce its own pesticide called Bacillus thuringiensis or Bt. If an insect had the misfortune of eating one of these genetically modified wonders, the Bt produced in every cell of the potato would quickly kill the bug. This Bt gene was also put into corn and cottonseed even though it was officially classified as a pesticide by the EPA; the FDA still came to the conclusion that it was safe for human consumption.
Dr Pusztai set up a new study feeding mice a GMO potato and using controls with normal potatoes. What they found was shocking. The minor part of it was that GMO potatoes had 20% less protein but the serious part was that mice who ate these suffered serious complications. It severely affected their immune system causing white blood cells to be sluggish and damaged the spleen and thymus (part of the immune system). They also had smaller and less developed brains, livers, and testicles. They also showed proliferation of cells in the intestines, a possible pre-cancerous condition. All this happened within 10 days and persisted after 110 days (about 10 human years). This research eventually led to the rejection of GMO seeds in most of Europe. Even developing countries in Africa that are in desperate need of food are refusing aid of GMO products. The Bush administration (don't you love them) is trying to force this technology through the WTO charging the EUs restrictive policy on GM is in violation of international agreements; all this to satisfy Monsanto who happens to be a very big contributor to the Republican Party.
SOME OF THE PROBLEMS WITH GENE MANIPULATION
The Biotech industry would like you to believe that GMO is just a natural extension of what farmers have been doing for years, crossing different lines of the same species. GMO is a very different story. Here scientist are mixing genes of one species with totally different species, like a gene from an Artic Flounder that helps the fish sustain very cold temperatures with a tomato in hopes of preventing the tomato from freezing. It is placing in human hands the capacity to redesign living organisms, the products of some three billion years of evolution. The organisms will be self-perpetuating and permanent; once created, you can't recall them. One of the main problems (and one the industry does not want to talk about) is that they are assuming that this new gene they inserted will only code for the protein they want. Science now knows that genes can code for many different proteins and there is no real control over this process. A newly inserted gene could start coding for a different protein with totally unpredictable effects on the ecosystems and human health. Another problem is that genes turn off and on depending on DNA coding. These bio-engineers insert these genes with a tag molecule that keeps the gene turned on all the time. The problem can come from this new gene affecting the gene next to it which can be activated or deactivated by this new 24/7 gene with again, unknown consequences and this is just the tip of the iceberg;
ANIMALS KNOW SOMETHING
There have been numerous reports of animals, both wild and domestic, refusing to eat GMO food. One incident reported by a Iowa farmer said he filled two back to back bins, one with GMO corn and one with regular corn. His cows (not known to be the smartest animal on the block) would not touch the GMO corn. After talking to other farmers, they conducted a series of experiments with cows and hogs and they all got the same results. There have been other reports of wild animals that will not touch GMO crops even when confined and starving. The Washington Post reported on a study with rats and GMO tomatoes. They had to force feed the rats to get them to consume the tomatoes. Several developed stomach lesions and seven of the forty died within two weeks; the FDA approved the tomato.
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE HEALTH ISSUES?
No one really knows just what problems might occur because the effects may not be felt for years. There is so much chronic illness, auto-immune diseases, and cancer in this country that no one knows the source of these illnesses while our medical system focuses on treatments and not prevention or etiology. The UK (having a national health care system) tracks every diagnosis in their system and their records show that soy allergy related illnesses jumped 50% the year GMO soy went on the market. The serious part of all this is that we can't just recall these seeds once they are in the environment; it is permanent. The risk to the ecosystem is totally unknown but what we do know from the reactions of animals, it can't be good.
HOW DO YOU AVOID GMO’s IN YOUR DIET?
At this time, GM potatoes and tomatoes have been taken off the market due to problems or public rejection. There is some zucchini and Yellow Squash and Hawaiian Papaya but mostly it is soy, cotton, corn, and canola. In addition, there are GM food additives, enzymes, flavorings, and processing agents in thousands of foods which are much harder to avoid. Most packaged foods contain soy and/or corn in some form: as soy flour, soy protein, soy lecithin, textured vegetable protein, corn meal, corn syrup, dextrose, maltodextrin, fructose, citric acid, lactic acid, and of course, soy or corn oil. Oil is going to be one of your biggest exposures. Most oils used in restaurants and in processed foods comes from corn, soy, cottonseed, and canola, most of which are GM unless it labeled non-GM or Organic. Dairy is another big exposure through the use of the hormone rbGH. There are some dairies that are not using it but afraid of putting that on their label due to the threat of law suits from Monsanto (they have successfully sued several dairies for labeling their products as having no hormones added). Tillamook Dairy has quietly stated that they are no longer buying milk from cows on rbGH but they do not advertise it on their products. There are some serious concerns about rbGH that would take too long to go into here but from what I have read, I have gone to buying only Organic milk, cheese, and butter. As of this time, organic cannot contain any GM products. Monsanto fought this but lost so that is one way of hopefully avoiding these products. Honey can also be made from bees collecting nectar from canola. This shut down honey exports from Canada to the EU. (There was a outcry a couple of years back when a group of scientist proved that caterpillars were dying after being exposed to GMO corn pollen. It would not have received much attention except for the fact that these caterpillars were destined to become Monarch butterflies, a prized species in the world of butterflies.) Of course Monsanto quickly put their spin machine into action trying to discredit the scientist.
For those of you who are interested in learning more about this; there is an excellent book called "Seeds of Deception" by Jeffrey Smith.
Yours in Health,
I am putting a link at the bottom on a different subject for a video that I found very powerful. It is on the subject of vaccinations. If you are a parent of small children or are planning on having children or have family/friends that are; this is a must see. There are some technical problems with the video right in the beginning but the rest if fine.