The following list is a comprehensive collection of peer-reviewed studies that prove the dangers of gmos:
The following list is a comprehensive collection of peer-reviewed studies that prove the dangers of gmos:
I wish Monsanto would go away. The anti-GMO activist obsession with them has queered the genetic technology discussion. It has clouded their thinking.
Common Dreams has a link to a pdf, which I won’t link to here, that is a history of Monsanto’s evil chemicals. The logic is since they created or helped create such poisons as Agent Orange, the fact they use GE technology means because of past work, this must be bad as well. It’s their main argument against GMOs. Argumentum ad Monsantum.
But even if they have invented some gnarly compounds, does that mean everything they do is bad? They were the first producer of bulk aspirin. They developed chiral hydrogenation catalysts. That made possible L-dopa, a breakthrough drug used in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease.
Somehow the anti-GMO crowd (hereinafter referred to as “the crowd”) has to get by their hatred of Monsanto and look objectively at the technology itself. Instead, they look for any industry connection to a study to discredit it. They spend more time looking for industry connections than they do learning about the technology
It baffles me how people who consider themselves progressive can be so regressive when it comes to this issue. Again, it goes back to their hatred of corporations. It’s really blinkered thinking.
A big misconception of the crowd is that GMO is the answer. In a way, I can’t really blame them since there are companies and people out there who oversell GM as a silver bullet. It’s not. It’s just another tool. But companies are going to pimp their product no matter what it is. How many products are New and Improved! The crowd should be able to see beyond that.
But here’s where not thinking things through raises its ugly head. The technology of GE is safe and proven, or as safe as anything can be. It is a technology that can provide benefits if only the crowd would stop focusing on Monsanto. They didn’t invent it. They only use it.
At present, the only real benefit is to the farmer who uses the technology. They get better yields, crops that are more resilient and they don’t have to use as much herbicide/pesticide. Yet there are biotech seeds out there that are literally sitting in the refrigerators of universities and small companies, languishing due to the high cost and red tape of getting a crop approved. That is where the future of GMOs lie.
Anti-GMO site, GMWatch recently linked to a story from Cornell regarding the development of a disease resistant tomato. They used it to promote the idea that GM isn’t needed; that the same result can come from conventional breeding. Cornell plant breeder Martha Mutschler-Chu did come up with a solution, but that solution took ten years.
What if you don’t have the luxury of ten years? What if the threat is imminent? That’s one area where GM can be beneficial.
The Hawaiian papaya industry was on the verge of collapse due to a virulent disease, papaya ring spot virus. Nothing could eliminate or contain it. Enter Dr. Dennis Gonsalves, retired Professor Emeritus of Plant Pathology at Cornell and at the time, director of the USDA’s Pacific Basin Agricultural Center. He developed a genetically modified disease resistant papaya and gave it to the growers. It is now sold to them at cost. They didn’t have the luxury of ten years.
How big of a deal was it? The Governor of Hawaii. Neil Abercrombie declared April 6th of this year as Dr. Dennis Gonsalves Day
Dr. Gonsalves served for 10 years as PBARC’s director and recently retired. He is most noted for his efforts that saved Hawaii’s papaya industry from the ringspot virus. The transgenic “Rainbow Papaya” that he and his team developed and released to growers in 1998 helped to bring the industry back after ringspot virus had reduced Hawaii’s papaya production by 50 percent.
A few years ago, a plum pox virus was devastating the plum crops in the Adams County, Pa. In order to contain the virus and keep if from spreading across the U.S. the only method to stop it was to pull up the trees and bulldoze them before the disease spread. Then in 2010, through government research, they came up with the GM Honeysweet, a disease resistant plum that solved the problem. Should they have waited ten years for a more “natural” method while the disease spread and threatened the entire plum industry?
Then you have the idea that future GMOs can have increased nutrients, like Golden Rice or other beneficial health aspects. That is going to come, more than likely from smaller companies, universities and government research, not big corporations. But in order for that to happen, the crowd has to look past Monsanto. It has to allow a faster and less costly approval process.
Toss argumentum ad Monsantum to the sidelines, where it belongs.
The anti-GMO crowd constantly points to the lack of long-term safety studies of foods containing GMOs. They continue with this meme even though there have been hundreds of studies over the last 16 years attesting to their safety and major scientific and health organizations have signed off on them. The Big Ignore is the fact that in that time there hasn’t been one negative health effect on humans. Not one.
In order to protect themselves from the scourge of GMO foods, many have extolled the virtues of organic food, touting its safety and the imaginary idea that a $30 billion/year business is all mom and pop. But as I noted last year in Should organic foods be labeled, “May contain E.coli or Salmonella, that trust may be misplaced.
The E.coli outbreak in Germany that killed 50 people and hospitalized thousands in 2011 was caused by organic sprouts. Also, last year, sprouts from an Illinois organic farm sickened people in 26 states. These outbreaks didn’t come from conventional or GMO foods.
This year, an organic farm was responsible for at least 10 people being diagnosed with Campylobacter infections.
Well, we have an update. The latest news about the safest foods in the history of the planet comes from Taylor Farms which just had to recall its organic spinach in 39 states due to an e.coli scare.
Let’s see what else has been going on. Multistate Outbreak of Shiga Toxin-producing Escherichia coli O157:H7 Infections Linked to Organic Spinach and Spring Mix Blend
A total of 33 persons infected with the outbreak strain of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coliO157:H7 (STEC O157:H7) were reported from five states.
46% of ill persons were hospitalized. Two ill persons developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a type of kidney failure, and no deaths were reported.
When they’re not poisoning us they’re trying to kill us with foreign objects in there foods.
Back in 2011, Lundberg Farms, who helped finance the Prop. 37 labeling campaign had to recall its Sea Salt Rice Chips in Canada due to undeclared soy.
I’ve made this suggestion before and I will make it again. There needs to be labels on organic foods. Consumers have a right-to- know whether we might be at risk of e.coli poisoning or have our stomachs sliced open from the inside by foreign objects. And the children. Think of the children.
Considering that in 2011-2012 there were almost two dozen recalls of organic products due to illness, hospitalization and death, we should impose a moratorium on organic foods until the industry can prove they are 100% safe. There have been no long-term studies of organic foods and the effect of foreign objects in it.
This isn’t a new story. Last year researchers at Dartmouth discovered that brown rice, fruit juices and a widely used sweetener, organic brown rice syrup, contained high levels of arsenic. I wrote about it here and here.
What brings me back to this subject is a blog from the NY Times I stumbled across from last November. Lundberg Family Farms of California is a producer of organic brown rice syrup, and various rices including brown rice. Readers were concerned and a member of Lundberg’s family agreed to be interviewed about the issue.
What the interview shows is how rationalizations and hustling take place when you have a horse in the race. And yes, we can throw in a little smidgen of hypocrisy given that Lundberg was a big contributor vocally and financially to the Prop.37 right-to-know campaign. During the campaign I wrote this:
The folks at labelgmos.org say they are members of a coalition called CaliforniaRightToKnow. Now who are they? It was started by Grant Lundberg who runs Lundberg Family Farms in Richville, CA. It is a family run farm that was a pioneer in organic farming.
The farm consists of 14,000 acres and grows both organic and conventional crops. It has an annual revenue (2007) of $48.9 million. The farm is well-known for its innovative contributions to sustainable agriculture and treatment of its workforce. Lundberg is no slouch. He has a Master of Science in Agricultural Economics. So, the question is, how did he come to become an ardent supporter of an anti-GMO initiative, donating $200,000? We know that cross-pollination can happen in any method of farming. But Lundberg grows 70% organic and 30% conventional crops.
If cross-pollination might occur, how does Lundberg ensure that there is no cross-pollination or drift of pesticides from his conventional to organic crops? I reached out to Lundberg via email to find out the answer to this question and a few others, but through a spokesman, he declined to comment.
On the NY Times blog, Tim Schultz, a Lundberg by marriage, did the smart thing and got out in front of the issue, answering readers’ concerns.
A few readers suggested we might be farming polluted ground. A challenge for us is that according to the 1984 U.S. Geological Survey, the average level of naturally occurring arsenic in U.S. soil is 7 parts per million or 7,000 parts per billion. It can be anywhere from .1 parts per million, which is 100 parts per billion, to 97 parts per million, which is 97,000 parts per billion. What this says to me is that arsenic is naturally occurring, and it’s not something we’ve done to the ground. ( my emphasis) I don’t dispute that we haven’t treated the environment particularly well as a society. However there is a lot of naturally occurring arsenic in the soil, and my guess is that it’s been there for millennia. (my emphasis)
We have continued to update our site with new information. We also attend any forums we hear about, where information is presented by arsenic specialists and rice researchers.
The biggest opportunity for mitigation we see at the moment is looking to reduce uptake of arsenic in the soil by the rice. Some varieties of rice seem to take up less and it appears basmati is that way. So we want to find out what is different in the basmati plant from, let’s say, the medium grain rice.
Okay. What do you take away from that? What I take away is they don’t know what the health issues are, if any. Yet, he doesn’t make any statements about putting a hold on their manufacturing of brown rice syrup or selling brown rice until the health effects are known. They don’t offer to put a label on their products alerting consumers their products may contain arsenic. In essence, Schultz pretty much dismisses the possible danger saying the arsenic is naturally occurring.
Unfortunately, not much is known about how arsenic in foods affects human health over a long period of time. But we do know it can be toxic. The FDA only sets levels for drinking water. But, unlike GM foods which have no known toxins, brown rice and brown rice syrup do have a known toxin. And it doesn’t matter whether the rice is organic or not. So, Lundberg Farms, big right-to know advocates, have a known toxic substance in their products. Shouldn’t that require a label?
Schultz doesn’t address those issues and he responded to suggestions that company perform its own tests.
That was an interesting idea, but we think it would be challenging to match or exceed the kind of scientific research places like the F.D.A. or Codex do on a national and international scale. They’ve got such incredible scientific resources at their disposal and there are a lot of really talented people working on this.
But wait, a November 2012 report by Consumer Reports quotes Grant Lundberg as saying they are testing samples batches and any information they learn will be forwarded to the FDA. Kudos to them, but what about the right-to-know that Lundberg products contain arsenic?
I emailed Lunderg’s PR person asking if they label their products or have any plans to label. After three days, I have yet to hear back.
The comment board was full of major league rationalizations. The anti-GMO crowd decries Big Organic, but given that Lundberg’s farm is 14,000 acres and their income is around $48 million/year, it is leaps and bounds over the average organic farm size and income. But commenters rationalize its size by noting it is owned by a “family. ”
–I did not realize that Lundberg does not fit the 160 acre family farm. I believe that is because they do still feel like a family farm, a close-knit community of hard-working people putting in the hours and dedication to produce the flavorful abundance we feast on. I especially love the colorful rice blends! I am glad though that they have the resources to spend on staying on top of current investigations.
–Lundberg is a family business. Their family is in the business of rice. The fact that they make millions of dollars (or even tens of millions of dollars) in revenue (or god forbid, profits) is of no consequence. They provide jobs to hundreds of people and they farm the land and produce a food staple that is a staple in our diets. They are a for profit company, and that is still a good thing in the US.
Wow. Just wow.
And here is my favorite:
While we’re all worrying about arsenic in rice, there must be areas of Asia’s rice-growing regions where higher levels of arsenic are naturally occurring. Are people who eat this rice historically sicker? Does anyone know? In the meantime I’ll keep enjoying Lundberg basmati brown rice.
The Koch brothers are family too.
They did respond, but when I asked about the label…*crickets*
As I was preparing this post, Vandana Shiva, the populist, anti-GMO, environmental darling of the Western liberal /left created a storm of controversy with her tweet that allowing farmers to grow GMOs was like allowing a rapist to rape.
That tweet created a firestorm of controversy.
She’s the so-called physicist turned eco-feminist who is fighting to protect the poor and disenfranchised in Third World countries against exploitation by Western capitalist multi-nationals. Is she?
Her degree in physics is undergraduate and she never worked as a physicist. Yet, she is always touted a being one of India’s leading physicists. Her bio page on The Green Interview says After receiving her schooling in India and training as a gymnast Vandana Shiva earned a B.S. in Physics, an M.A. in the philosophy of science at the University of Guelph, and a PhD in nuclear physics at the University of Western Ontario.”
But wait, over at eviltwinbooking.com, this is her bio. “Before becoming an activist, Dr Shiva was one of India ’s leading physicists. She holds a master’s degree in the philosophy of science and a Ph.D. in particle physics.” (my emphasis)
SouthEnd Press: “Before becoming an activist, Shiva was one of India ’s leading physicists. She holds a master’s degree in the philosophy of science and a PhD in particle physics.”
EcoWatch: “Dr. Vandana Shiva is trained as a Physicist and did her Ph.D. on the subject “Hidden Variables and Non-locality in Quantum Theory” from the University of Western Ontario in Canada.”
And finally Sustainable Man: She was trained as a physicist and received her Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Western Ontario, Canada, in 1978 with the doctoral dissertation ”Hidden variables and locality in quantum theory.”
There you go. She is not a physicist, much less one of India’s leading ones. Her Ph.D in is Philosophy of Science. Yet, she is perceived by the public as a scientist thanks to her good PR machine.
She also may not be the socialist darling the western left thinks she is. Her insistence on a return to traditional ways, or “local ways of knowing” is very much more in tune with right-wing Hindu nationalism than socialism. It means a return to the feudal and caste system of the past, which rather than help impoverished people, will harm them. It will only help the land-owning elite. Basically she wants a return to the status quo of her Brahmin, landowning youth, except with women in charge.
We’ve seen the local ways of knowledge bit before, in South Africa. It was called Bantu education and was a cornerstone of the apartheid state. What Shiva advocates is very much the same thing. A return to the local ways would insure that peasants remain in their place with no chances for advancement or progress. They may not starve, but neither will they be able to move out of that life for a better life. She espouses the elitist, “poverty as nobility” ethos.
Shiva supports the power of women to maintain the traditional life, saying that they know the best ways to continue it. She constantly retells of her support for the Chipko movement in the Himalayas as an example of women taking control in a bid to preserve their traditional way of life. She claimed the movement had Gandhian roots. The story goes, in 1974 the outside loggers were coming in cutting down a forest in the village of Reni. Locals resented this and it all culminated in a confrontation of local women allegedly hugging the trees, stopping the loggers. (yes, that’s where the term comes from)
But Shiva misrepresents what was actually going on. It wasn’t that they wanted to retain their traditional way of life. They resented outsiders coming in and exploiting their resources. They wanted local autonomy and control of their resources and the ability to profit from them. The original intent was create their own forest based industry which offered them a way for people to work closer to home rather than having to migrate to find work.
When Shiva and other outside environmentalists came in to preserve the local forest, they fought them as well. They were angered that the outsiders had hijacked their movement to advance their own political agenda. Today the state, Uttarakhand is one of the most prosperous ones in India.
They have gone in the opposite direction of what Shiva advocates. They have modernized and raised the standard of living. Despite her view that agriculture should be confined to “food crops for local needs, ” agriculture in the region is booming. Even though GM crops are currently banned, one of the prospective industries the state is courting is biotechnology.
In his book, Hind Swaraj, Mahatma Gandhi wrote. “”We have managed with the same kind of plough as existed thousands of years ago… We have retained the same kind of cottages that we had in former times and our indigenous education remains the same as before.” ” Shiva subscribes to Gandhi’s philosophy. Back in 2011, she wrote an article called “Swaraj: A Deeper Freedom”
Gandhi’s Hind Swaraj has for me, been the best teaching on real freedom. It teaches the gospel of love in place of hate. It replaces violence with self-sacrifice. It puts ‘soul force’ against brute force. For Gandhi, slavery and violence were not just a consequence of imperialism: a deeper slavery and violence were intrinsic to industrialism, which Gandhi called “modern civilisation”.
Gandhi also supported keeping the caste system, which is essence is what Shiva wants to do with her local ways of knowing nonsense and eschewing and rejecting western knowledge. Gandhi wrote:
“To destroy the caste system and adopt the Western European social system means that Hindus must give up the principle of hereditary occupation, which is the soul of the caste system. The hereditary principle is an eternal principle. To change it is to create disorder.”
Vandana Shiva sees western science as “reductionist” and “colonizing” and insists as I said above, local ways of knowing are the only way. Forget industrial farming. She claims industrial farming has created, “more violence, more destruction and more wars…”
As an alternative to western science, Shiva touts “Vedic science,” except she doesn’t call it that. Vedic “science” is not science as we know it in modern terms. Among other things, it involves astrology and Vedic creationism. It calls for natural cures such as the use of neem leaves as a cure for small pox. Basically, new age type nonsense. It is promoted by the right-wing Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party. Indian writer, historian and philosopher of science, Meera Nanda wrote this in the New Humanist UK:
On the one hand, the BJP and its allies presented themselves as great champions of science, as long as it could be absorbed into ‘the Vedas’, of course. On the other hand, they aggressively condemned the secular and naturalistic worldview of science – the disenchantment of nature – as ‘reductionist’, ‘Western’ or even ‘Semitic’ and therefore un-Hindu and un-Indian.
Now, it’s difficult to say where Shiva comes down on the other aspects of the party’s view, but she is most definitely aligned on the issue of science. The interesting thing is this way of thinking has been embraced by environmentalists and feminists. It’s an odd alliance to say the least.
Her view on the Green Revolution is that it was a failure for India, despite the fact that when Norman Borlaug brought it to her country in the mid-1960s, it was on the verge of another famine. Since then, India has gone from importing food to exporting food. Before Borlaug, the rest of the world had essentially written off India as a lost cause.
But here’s a disconnect. She believes you can get the same output as the Green Revolution yield through organic sources. On one hand she claims the Green Revolution was a failure, then tacitly admits it worked. Wait, wasn’t what farmers were doing before the Green Revolution organic, when they had all those famines?
Needless to say she hates GMOs. This is where her rhetoric becomes dangerous. She hates them so much that she attacked OXFAM on their GMO stance when they were engaged in cyclone relief efforts in Orissa, a state on the southeast coast of India. She tried to persuade them to not supply GMO foods writing in an open letter that “We hope your food aid will be G.E. free.” Shiva’s group Women for Diversity demanded the Indian government “immediately withdraw the corn-soya blend from Orissa.” Apparently it was better for people to starve rather than eat GMO food.
She hates “golden rice,” a non-commercially developed GMO rice with higher levels of Vitamin A which can prevent blindness in children. Millions of Third World children go blind each year due to lack of Vitamin A, yet Shiva would deny these children because GM is evil bad and golden rice is a “myth” and negates, “nature’s diverse gifts and women’s knowledge of how to use diversity to feed their children and families.”
She should know about this stuff. She’s an expert in organic farming and agriculture. Consider this incident as told in the Houston Press from 2000:
Before leaving Alvin to prepare for a 7 p.m. lecture in Houston titled “WTO, Basmati Rice & the Stolen Harvest,” Shiva walked across the road and looked out into a shaggy field. “They look unhappy,” she said. “The rice plants. Ours at home look very happy.” “That,” RiceTec reports, “is because it’s not rice. That’s our test field, it was harvested in August. That’s weeds.”
Vandana Shiva is an elitist, anti-progress menace and not the progressive shining light her admirers think she is. Her way of thinking won’t help the poor of the w0rld. It will only keep them at a subsistence level and more importantly, in their place.
Acknowledgement: I would like to thank Adam Merberg for his help in pointing me in the right direction in trying to figure out Shiva’s academic credentials.
The next stop on the GMO labeling train is Washington State. This time the person behind the measure is ad agency owner and vegan, Chris McManus who hails from Tacoma. He uses the word “dude.”
This dude was also a member of the Pierce County Ron Paul 2012 group. Paul voted against GMO labeling. McManus seems to consider himself a libertarian. Now that we got that out-of-the-way, on to the business at hand.
California’s Prop. 37’s definition of GMOs was pretty bad and this one is just as nonsensical. First the campaign’s definition of GMOs:
GMO foods, also known as genetically engineered foods are created by taking DNA from one species and forcing it into other unrelated species – mixing plant, animal, bacterial and viral genes in combinations that cannot occur in nature and are experimental.
In an article in the Seattle Weekly (SW) he is quoted as saying, “To put it in brass tacks, GMOs are something that you don’t see in nature: blue jays mating with mocking birds, dogs mating with cats.”
SW consulted experts in the field who basically said McManus got it wrong.
Gülhan Ünlü, a professor at the School of Food Science operated jointly by Washington State University and the University of Idaho, explains that genetic modification could involve combining desirable traits from different varieties of the same species.
When told about what the experts said, he responded by saying,
“Well, you know, I’m not a scientist. I work in media. Those kinds of questions I’ll have to defer to later in the campaign.”
Oh great. He’s sponsoring a proposed law about a subject he knows nothing about. But that hasn’t stopped the campaign making claims about the negative effects of GMOs without even having a basic understanding of the basics of GMOs. This is from the proposed law:
The genetic engineering of plants and animals is an imprecise process and often causes unintended consequences. Mixing plant, animal, bacterial, and viral genes in combinations that cannot occur in nature produces results that are not always predictable or controllable, and can lead to adverse health or environmental consequences.
The Spokesman-Review quotes McManus as saying the law was not meant to be a warning. “They’re not being warned, they’re being informed.
If the initiative wasn’t about scaring people, asked Heather Hansen of Washington Friends of Farms and Forests, why did supporters deliver their petitions in an old ambulance?
The law seems to borrow from Prop 37 in that activist echo chamber kind of way; very many of the same talking points. But, unlike California’s Prop. 37 , the process in Washington is little different. There are two ways to get an initiative accepted. One is to submit a petition to put the initiative on the ballot and have people directly vote on it. The other is to submit it to the state legislature and they vote on whether to adopt it into law without a popular vote. If they give it a thumbs down, it goes on the ballot of the next general election. OR, they can come up with their own measure and then both versions get placed on the ballot. The only restriction is it can’t be used to amend the state constitution.
The signatures also have to be verified by the secretary of state and only registered Washington voters may sign.
For whatever reason, McManus has chosen to go the legislative route rather than simply submit the law to a popular vote. The deadline for submitting the signatures was January 3rd and supporters delivered them on time.
On a related note, back in November, San Juan County, in Washington voted in a ban on GMOs. In a washingtonstatewire.com blog on 522, McManus was positive about their chances and pointed to the San Juan vote.
End Note: After the San Juan initiative passed, Marta Nielsen, a local organic farmer was quoted in the San Juan Journal saying “I’m proud to live in a county that could see the immense benefit of passing this forward-thinking initiative.”
Forward thinking? This coming from a woman who specializes in 1800s feces-based agriculture?
An angry, manure smelling mob from the Church of the Organic, citronella torches ablaze and artisanal pitchforks held aloft, stormed the production studios of TV’s Dr Oz after it was revealed he wrote an article in the current issue of Time Magazine saying conventional foods, like frozen peas and carrots, were A-OK by him.
Frightened production employees cowered under desks as the horde rampaged through the studios in search of Oz. Witnesses said the throng overturned desks and chairs demanding the surrender of the heretical Oz. Oz wasn’t on the premises and was said to be in hiding in a secure safe house provided by Birdseye.
I don’t have a subscription to Time, so I wasn’t able to access the actual article on their site, but I did manage did get what I think is his article from another site. In it he utters the heretical notion that foodies are “snobs” and “you don’t need to eat like the 1% to eat healthily.” He says that regular food is as healthy as organic. But his most egregious crime was basically saying, organic food isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
Organic church member and writer for Nation of Change and Natural Society, Anthony Gucciardi takes the Oz to task. He and others somehow manage to come to the conclusion that due to his advocacy of conventional food, that makes him a shill for GMO food even though Oz never once mentions GMOs in his article. He also quotes the anti-vax and all around health lunatic, Mike “GMOs are the new Zyklon B” Adams as a source.
(Side note: I have my problems with Gucciardi which I will deal with in an upcoming post. I have never seen any so-called journalist write such consistently misleading and dishonest articles.)
The faithful weighed in on the comment board and savaged him, their former Pope of Nonsense. Here are some examples of what they’re saying :
Sounds too much like he has downed the Kool-Aid and is now puking it back at his credulous audience. Does he have no reservations about GMO at ALL?
Dr. Oz needs to go hide behind the curtain. He’s drinking the kool-aid of Monsanto and their ilk…
He completely lost his credibility. I wonder how much Monsanto paid him for that? He is supposed to check the research before making blind claims like that. What a hypocrite! He sold his soul.
He has sold out. They probably threatened to take him off of the air.
Well, let me be the first one to welcome Dr. Oz to our family of Monsanto shills.