Monday, November 5, 2012

Damaging GMO Research Confimed

I am the first to say that the anti GMO cadre has been promoted by the usual cadre of suspects whose idea of scientific rigor would shame a mining promoter.  Problem is that I have only now come to review the body of literature to see what the fuss is.  It is actually appalling.  It only starts with carefully selected time periods on animal tests.

Let me be a little clearer.  When you bring a new product into the human food chain, the first and simplest test to conduct is a feeding experiment with decent numbers run until natural death.  Anything other than that is a huge red flag and claims otherwise is simply gaming the system.

They did not even try to falsify the evidence, they simply cut the test time to a safe period.

After you read the first couple of articles, read the last one out of Guelph University.  I dug that up after I went looking for a credible rebuttal from anyone.

There are no rebuttals and it appears that the stonewalling game is on.  Recall that any admission would trigger the class action lawsuit able to bankrupt this industry.

I do not see just how this story can be suppressed much longer.  We have two independent studies effectively confirming the work done a decade ago by Pusztai and it is bad.  You do not want this crap in your diet.

For now we can likely safely assume that individual exposure in a balanced diet is fairly minimal but excessive otherwise.  Yet labeling is truly necessary here and plenty of studies are required.

Scientist that discovered GMO health hazards immediately fired, team dismantled


(NaturalNews) Though it barely received any media attention at the time, a renowned British biochemist who back in 1998 exposed the shocking truth about how genetically-modified organisms (GMOs) cause organ damage, reproductive failure, digestive dysfunction, impaired immunity, and cancer, among many other conditions, was immediately fired from his job, and the team of researchers who assisted him dismissed from their post within 24 hours from the time when the findings went public.

Arpad Pusztai, who is considered to be one of the world's most respected and well-learned biochemists, had for three years led a team of researchers from Scotland's prestigious Rowett Research Institute (RRI) in studying the health effects of a novel GM potato with built-in Bt toxin. Much to the surprise of many, the team discovered that, contrary to industry rhetoric, Bt potato was responsible for causing severe health damage in test rats, a fact that was quickly relayed to the media out of concern for public health.

But rather than be praised for their honest assessment into this genetically-tampered potato, Pusztai and his colleagues were chastised by industry-backed government authorities, including British Prime Minister Tony Blair, whose office was discovered to have secretly contacted RRI just hours after Pusztai and his team announced the results of their study on television. For speaking the truth, Pusztai was immediately fired from his position, and his team dismissed from their positions at the school.

Research out of Egypt finds similar results - GMOs cause severe, long-term health damage

As reported recently in Egypt Independent, similar research by Hussein Kaoud from Cairo University's Faculty of Veterinary Hygiene also made some fascinating, though politically incorrect, discoveries about the effects of GMOs on the body. After feeding nine groups of rats varying combinations of GM soy, corn, wheat, and canola, Kaoud and his team observed that these genetic poisons clearly obstructed the normal function of the animals, affirming Pusztai's research.

"I recorded the alteration of different organs, shrinkage of kidneys, change in the liver and spleen, appearance of malignant parts in the tissues, (and) kidney failure and hemorrhages in the intestine," said Kaoud about the effects of GMOs as observed in the test rats. "The brain functions were touched as well, and the rats' learning and memory abilities were seriously altered."

In Kaoud's case, his groundbreaking findings will soon be published in the respected journals Neurotoxicology and Ecotoxicology. But it remains to be seen whether or not the scientific community at large, which is heavily influenced by biotechnology interests, and the political structures that control it will accept the results as valid, or pull a similar character assassination on Kaoud and his team as punishment for defying the status quo.

What all this clearly illustrates, of course, is that modern science can hardly be considered the independent, truth-seeking, "gold standard" of interpreting and understanding reality that many people mistakenly think it is. The truth about GMOs, as uncovered by mounds of independent research, is that they are inadequately safety tested, at best, and deadly at worst. But this fact remains shrouded in deception, thanks to the corporatized, pro-GMO culture of mainstream science.


Tests on rats suggest genetically modified foods pose health hazards

Sun, 12/08/2012 - 12:00

When scientist Hussein Kaoud decided to test genetically modified food on rats, he produced results that were extremely alarming and corroborate the conclusions that some international, independent scientists have reached.
Kaoud, of Cairo University’s Faculty of Veterinary Hygiene, fed nine groups of rats and mice different genetically modified foods — food made from organisms that have been biologically modified to incorporate genes with desired traits — and analyzed their physiological and psychological reactions.
The most common genetically engineered crops can resist herbicides or even create their own insecticides. Others have been manipulated in laboratories to enhance their tolerance to drought and water scarcity.
While some genes are extracted from another plant and inserted in the genome of the new super plant, the most commonly added gene is Bacillus thuringiensis, or Bt — a soil bacterium that naturally produces crystal proteins fatal to insects. When a Bt gene is inserted into corn or cotton, each plant in the field becomes an insecticide that causes insects’ stomachs to rupture when they feed on it.
Ninety-five percent of genetically modified crops planted worldwide come from Monsanto, the world’s leading biotechnology and genetic engineering company. The four main genetically modified crops are corn, soya, canola and cotton, and they have spread all over the world since their initial commercialization in 1995.
Egypt imports genetically modified corn
Egypt agreed to import Monsanto’s genetically modified corn, MON 810, in 2008. The crop can resist a pest called the corn borer. Two shipments of 70 and 40 tons respectively have already arrived in the country.
The 70-ton shipment arrived in Egypt in December 2010 and was planted in 10 governorates, with no restrictions on planting. The 40-ton shipment arrived in January this year, but was seized by the Agriculture Ministry and destroyed because it was not properly approved.
There are many issues related to genetically modified organisms. Some are environmental, because most of these genetically modified crops pollinate, and fields with regular crops located in a perimeter of 50 kilometers can be contaminated.
There are also patent issues. As soon as Monsanto or another biotechnology company breaks the genome of the plant to insert a new gene, the seed becomes the property of the company and is subjected to intellectual property rights — a big threat to farmers’ independence worldwide and to their right to save seeds and replant them the next season.
These modified crops also threaten biodiversity. Companies flood the market with uniform seeds, which would endanger food security if a disease attacks these plants. In that situation, most of the world’s production of corn, soy, canola or cotton could be eradicated.
All these issues are major but might not be enough to deter the consumer to buy and eat these products, said Jeffrey Smith, the executive director and founder of the US Institute for Responsible Technology, a world leader in educating policymakers and the public about genetically modified food and crops.
In an interview available on YouTube, Smith said that people might hear about the dangers of these products and even be upset about them, but they might go out and buy them anyway.
“But if you explain to a consumer that eating a corn chip that is genetically engineered might turn your intestinal bacteria into a living pesticide factory, then they put on the brakes,” Smith said.
It seems normal to think that Monsanto should have conducted all human and animal safety tests before commercializing their genetically modified products in local and foreign markets. But large agro-industrial companies have refused to test them, because they have massively invested in developing them — so they pushed for genetically modified food to be considered substantially equivalent to non-modified crops, which means that genetically modified crops are under the same regulation as the traditional ones.
As a result, genetically modified food did not undergo any long-term safety assessments before being introduced on the market.
Egyptian scientists experiment
Kaoud decided to self-fund an experiment on the impact of feeding genetically modified food to rats and mice in a lab from the Veterinary Hygiene Department of Cairo University.
Between January and March last year, he fed nine groups of rodents different genetically modified foods such as potatoes, corn, grapes and tomatoes. Those foods comprised about 10 percent of the animals’ diets, and the remaining 90 percent was conventional, non-genetically modified food.
Symptoms started appearing after four weeks into the experiment.
“I recorded the alteration of different organs, shrinkage of kidneys, change in the liver and spleen, appearance of malignant parts in the tissues, kidney failure and hemorrhages in the intestine,” Kaoud said. “The brain functions were touched as well, and the rats’ learning and memory abilities were seriously altered,” he said.
Kaoud said he also recorded lower immune responses to the diseases in the rats that became much more sensitive to environmental pollution, especially heavy metals and dioxin. Some developed cancer.
He also observed another alarming problem. The death rate of baby rats raised by mothers on a diet of genetically modified corn increased by 35 percent, compared with the group of babies whose mothers ate natural corn, and they were considerably smaller. Half of them died after three weeks.

Mohamed Fathy, a plant pathologist at Monufiya University, is also in the process of publishing two papers related to the issue. In one of them, he fed genetically modified corn to goats and sheep, which experienced liver and kidney deficiencies - just like Kaoud’s rodents.
Fathy seems confident that the new agriculture minister, Salah Youssef, will take his and Kaoud’s experiments’ seriously.
“The minister comes from a scientific research background, so I am sure that he will be very concerned by our findings and that he will eventually change the Agriculture Ministry’s policy regarding genetically modified organisms, and block the next shipment of Monsanto genetically modified corn,” Fathy said.
Alarming results
On an international level, some of the world’s most renowned scientists from various independent research institutes, such as the Rowett Institute in Scotland, the Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow and the CRIIGEN in Paris, have conducted similar genetically modified food experiments on rats, mice and other animals.
Their results corroborate Kaoud’s observations: The rodents had reproductive problems, immune system issues, accelerating aging, cholesterol, organ damage and gastrointestinal problems.
Arpad Pusztai of the Rowett Research Institute in Scotland is considered one of the world’s best biochemists. Between 1995 and 1998, he was in charge of leading a team of scientists to determine the effect of a Bt genetically modified potato on rat’s health. The US wanted to export the potato to the UK.
Having fed groups of rats large amounts of this insecticide over a long period, Pusztai knew the rats were not sensitive to it. So he created three groups of rats: The first was fed genetically modified potatoes, the second was fed natural potatoes and the third was fed natural potatoes with the insecticide sprinkled on top.
His results were unprecedented. Pusztai discovered that the rats fed the genetically modified potato were sick with pre-cancerous cell growth in the digestive tract, smaller brain, liver and testicles, with partial atrophy of the liver and a damaged immune system. His findings showed that genetic engineering caused the damage to the rats, not the insecticide itself.

In 1998, Pusztai went public and announced the results of his experiment on TV. The next day, he was fired and his research team was dismantled. A phone call from 10 Downing Street, the house of the British prime minister, was reported to the head of the Rowett Institute a few hours before the whole research team was dismissed and their reputation ruined by the British media.
He was supposedly blamed for having disclosed partial results of his experiment before his paper was reviewed by peer scientists and published in a scientific journal.
In Egypt, Kaoud’s results on force-feeding rodents with genetically modified organisms will be published in the next couple of weeks by two major scientific journals, Neurotoxicology and Ecotoxicology. The scientist is extremely worried by the conclusions of his experiment.
“Egypt needs to freeze the process of importing until additional tests have been conducted, because as it is, the product is not safe for human consumption,” Kaoud says.
“Whether these scientific publications will impact further shipments depends on whether the such shipments will seek legal approval by the competent authority, namely the Ministry of Environment, or will be imported illegally,” says Osama El Tayeb, a microbiology and immunology professor at the Pharmacy Faculty of 6th of October University who has also acted as Egypt’s focal point for biosafety issues since 2000.
“The question is not only political but touches on public participation and the fight against corruption. The Ministry of Environment has been briefed but the public should take a stand as well,” El Tayeb concludes.
GMO Dangers
Genetically modified foods…

The American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) doesn’t think so. The Academy reported that “Several animal studies indicate serious health risks associated with GM food,” including infertility, immune problems, accelerated aging, faulty insulin regulation, and changes in major organs and the gastrointestinal system. The AAEM asked physicians to advise patients to avoid GM foods.
Before the FDA decided to allow GMOs into food without labeling, FDA scientists had repeatedly warned that GM foods can create unpredictable, hard-to-detect side effects, including allergies, toxins, new diseases, and nutritional problems. They urged long-term safety studies, but were ignored.
Since then, findings include:
  • Thousands of sheep, buffalo, and goats in Indiadied after grazing on Bt cotton plants
  • Mice eating GM corn for the long term had fewer, and smaller, babies
  • More than half the babies of mother rats fed GM soy died within three weeks, and were smaller
  • Testicle cells of mice and rats on a GM soy change significantly
  • By the third generation, most GM soy-fed hamsters lost the ability to have babies
  • Rodents fed GM corn and soy showed immune system responses and signs of toxicity
  • Cooked GM soy contains as much as 7-times the amount of a known soy allergen
  • Soy allergies skyrocketed by 50% in the UK, soon after GM soy was introduced
  • The stomach lining of rats fed GM potatoes showed excessive cell growth, a condition that may lead to cancer.
  • Studies showed organ lesions, altered liver and pancreas cells, changed enzyme levels, etc.
Unlike safety evaluations for drugs, there are no human clinical trials of GM foods. The only published human feeding experiment revealed that the genetic material inserted into GM soy transfers into bacteria living inside our intestines and continues to function. This means that long after we stop eating GM foods, we may still have their GM proteins produced continuously inside us. This could mean:
  • If the antibiotic gene inserted into most GM crops were to transfer, it could create super diseases, resistant to antibiotics
  • If the gene that creates Bt-toxin in GM corn were to transfer, it might turn our intestinal bacteria into living pesticide factories.
Although no studies have evaluated if antibiotic or Bt-toxin genes transfer, that is one of the key problems. The safety assessments are too superficial to even identify most of the potential dangers from GMOs. See our Health Risks brochure and State of the Science report for more details and citations.
Recent health studies provide growing evidence of harm from GMOs:
Health Impacts of GMO Food

by Stephanie Orford

In the late ‘90s and early 2000s, genetically modified (GM) or genetically engineered (GE) crops were a hot-button issue around the world. They were originally developed by corporations like Monsanto to increase yield by keeping crops insect repellent and tolerant of herbicides. Companies spoke of crops that would feed impoverished countries, manufacture pharmaceuticals and clean up the environment. Critics called GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms) a multi-pronged threat to human health, the environment, and even democracy.

In the National Film Board of Canada documentary, The Genetic Takeover, made in 2000, the biologist and author Arnaud Apoteker asks, "How can we know the long-term effects when these products were only put on the market four or five years ago? I believe a handful of multinationals are conducting a health and epidemiological experiment on the whole human race."

Now? Barely a peep from the populace.

Meanwhile, Monsanto, Bayer CropScience, Syngenta, and other "Ag biotech" companies have continued to create GM crops that flood the marketplace. These Ag biotech companies own over 35 percent of the international seed market. Their four largest crops, cotton, canola, soy, and corn, take up over 99 percent of GM crop land. The International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA) claims that GMO crops cover over 282 million acres worldwide. Greenpeace says 60 percent of processed foods include some GMO.

Despite decreased public interest, researchers have continued to look into the effects of GMO foods on health, some with startling results. The evidence for ill health effects caused by GM foods is limited, but so are independent studies themselves, largely due to lack of government funding. However, the startling evidence for GM health effects available, from animal experiments done since the late ‘90s, as well as anecdotes from around the world, suggest that GM foods can indeed have serious wide-ranging health effects.

Ann Clark, an associate professor in the Department of Plant Agriculture at Guelph University says health issues of GM crops have emerged numerous times, starting with Arpad Pusztai in the late ‘90s, who was "crucified" for speaking out about his research on the health effects of GM crops on animals. The regulatory bodies "just aren't paying any attention," she says. Clark started researching GMOs on her own time in the late ‘90s, and has since become an outspoken critic in Canada.

Jeffrey M. Smith's book, Genetic Roulette, published in 2007, is a painstakingly-researched account of the health effects of GM foods. Smith claims that up until 2007 there had only been about 20 independent, peer-reviewed animal feeding studies on the health effects of GM crops. That's a tiny number considering the size of the Ag biotech business and its impacts. According to Clark and Smith, the studies Ag biotech companies conducted to gain approval from governments are poor. They do not investigate long-term effects, use dubious statistical methods, and fail to measure many relevant factors, such as inflammatory reaction and organ damage to the test animals.

In his book, Smith recounts several key observations and experiments that suggest GM foods indeed cause serious health effects.

Reaction to Bt Crops

Allergic reactions associated with GM Bt products have been found in humans and animals. Bt is an insecticidal protein incorporated into the genome of Bt plants by genetic engineering. In theory, Bt allows farmers to use less insecticides on their crops. In 2004 and 2005, cotton pickers in India suffered allergic reactions, some severe, to Bt cotton. They did not show this response to non-Bt cotton. These reactions have been reported in many Bt cotton workers at several cotton factories across India. Four villages also reported a quarter of their sheep died after grazing in Bt cotton fields. The crop's pollen reportedly also produced symptoms of inflammation in about 100 people in the Philippines who were living near Bt cotton fields. These people also had antibodies to Bt-toxin in their blood.

Controlled experiments have also shown negative impacts of GM Bt crops. Rats fed Monsanto's MON 863 Bt corn in a 90-day trail showed significantly increased immune cell counts and blood sugar, and significantly decreased kidney weight, compared to the control group. A scientist who assessed these findings for the French Commission For Biomolecular Genetics, Gilles-Eric Séralini, said that the rats' reactions were similar to those caused by pesticides.

The Bt insecticide gene was also incorporated into potatoes. A study on mice compared the effects of these GM potatoes with non-GM potatoes which had Bt added to them. Results were similar between the groups, with animals from both groups displaying abnormally high cell proliferation in the intestines, as well as abnormality of cells in the intestinal lining. These effects suggest that the GM Bt potatoes may act as a carcinogen on the intestinal lining.

Put together, this evidence shows that Bt products may not actually reduce the effects of pesticides on the consumer, but may be just as harmful, causing problems from serious inflammation, to toxic organ damage, to cancer.

Rats and Roundup Ready Soy

In feeding trials of GM soy, 12 female rats fed Roundup Ready soy, a GM soy crop which has herbicide tolerance genes incorporated into its genome, showed liver problems commonly associated with higher liver function. Their livers seemed to have been working harder to detoxify the effects of the GM soy compared to the rats who were fed non-GM soy. These effects mostly disappeared after researchers replaced the GM soy with non-GM soy in the rats' diets.

In another experiment, mice fed Roundup Ready soy experienced reduced activity of their testicular cells. This result could have serious implications on human fertility.

In the dramatic results of a series of experiments, 25 of 45 rat offspring died after their mothers were fed GM soy prior to and during pregnancy. Compare this to three deaths out of 33 for non-GM soy-fed rats, and three out of 44 for non-soy-fed rats. Many of the organs of the GM-soy-fed offspring were much smaller than those of the non-GM groups. Even the young rats themselves were much smaller. [See "She Fed the Rats GM Soy," WS, January-February 2006].

Other Reactions

Studies of other GM crops have suggested other health effects, including infertility, allergies, and stunted growth in young animals. Farmers in Iowa found that their pigs and cows had lower fertility coinciding with feeding of GM corn. Upswings in fertility coincided with use of non-GM corn.

Australian GM developers cancelled release of their GM peas after they triggered allergic inflammation in mice. The kidney beans that the inserted gene had come from did not produce an inflammatory reaction. It appears that the way the gene reacted with the pea genome and metabolism changed the body's reaction to the gene's protein product.
Female rats fed a version of Calgene's FlavrSavr tomato developed bleeding stomachs. Many more rats that ate FlavrSavr died during the 28-day study compared to the control group.

Smith's examples of eyewitness reports and news stories are not scientific experiments, so they are inconclusive. However, they point to major health effects that GM foods might cause, leading to potentially catastrophic human health issues. At the very least Smith's anecdotal evidence shows that the health effects of GMOs desperately need international attention, regulation, and further study.

Smith writes that, in 1999, a study done on over 4000 people in the U.K. showed humans had increased allergic response to soy after GM soy was introduced into the food system.
In a more recent experiment published in 2009, Séralini and his colleagues compared the effects of three GM corn varieties on rat health over 15 weeks. The animals showed signs of exposure to toxicity in several organs, especially their livers and kidneys. The researchers proposed these organs were reacting to the toxicity of the pesticides the GM corn varieties had been modified to produce.

In another twist, scientists are just beginning to investigate whether GM foods can transmit their GM genes to human gut bacteria.

The results from these animal experiments should be taken with a grain of salt when applied to humans. Our bodies are similar, but not the same, as those of rats and other lab animals. And unlike lab rats, we control our own diets. Most people eat a large variety of foods, not all of them containing genetically modified organisms. Increasing numbers of us are choosing unprocessed and organic foods that presumably don't contain GMOs. Nevertheless, the proportion of GMOs in the North American diet is high, especially for people who eat a lot of processed food. And labeling of GM foods is not mandatory in Canada, despite two private member's bills in Canadian parliament in 2001 and 2008 calling for GM food labeling. Both bills were defeated.

The Case of LY038 Corn

Recently, Renessen, a joint venture between Monsanto and Cargill, produced a high-lysine GM corn called LY038 for livestock feed. It was approved in Canada in 2006, but when the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), the organization that recommends regulations for foods to the EU Commission, looked deeper at Monsanto's animal feeding trial and asked questions in fall 2009, Monsanto withdrew their application.

Critics, including Clark, and Lucy Sharratt, coordinator of the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network (CBAN), are asking why Canada did not have the same safety concerns about Renessen's application.

In an email, EFSA told Watershed Sentinel they requested the company use a different comparison corn variety than the ones used in the studies - a major change in the experiment's design that could drastically affect results. "The panel considered that the tests were not sufficient to conclude on safety and this issue needed further attention," EFSA stated..

In response to why they had withdrawn the application of LY038, Monsanto told Watershed Sentinel in an email that they had, "Absolutely NO safety concerns whatsoever," over LY038 corn, and that they did not withdraw their application due to health concerns. "There is no reason [for withdrawal], other than Renessen's decision not to commercialize due to decreased commercial value."

Outdated Genetic Model

Clark says the Canadian government's oversight of the health implications of GMO foods is based on "an outdated and refuted view of gene function." She laughs that the Canadian government's GMO regulations treat genetics as she was taught them in school, decades earlier, when her class made necklaces with beads to mimic DNA. Genetics doesn't work like that, she says, as other scientists, and anyone who has taken an introductory genetics class, know.

"We now know that when you insert a gene - when you randomly throw this thing in there, they don't know ahead of time where it's going to land," says Clark. The researchers don't know how many copies will be inserted, or what other genes it will affect, or will affect it. We now know that the position of a gene is critical to how it functions, and side effects of this are unpredictable and could be drastic, Clark and Smith both say.

Clark uses the words "ludicrous," "embarrassing," and "painful" to describe Canada's regulatory system, and calls it "a very circular, very unscientific kind of reasoning." The system relies on companies to provide their own experiments and risk assessment. To determine safety of a product, Health Canada uses a concept called substantial equivalence. "If it looks like a duck and it quacks like a duck then it's not any different than a duck," says Clark. No Canadian GM submissions have ever been rejected.

Neither is Canadian regulation transparent to the public, says Sharratt. She says the Canadian public has no say in approval of GMOs. Independent scientists can't evaluate feeding studies the Ag Biotech companies submit because they are deemed confidential. "The Canadian regulatory system is supporting the biotechnology industry ahead of the health and welfare of Canadian consumers and farmers," Sharratt says.

How does CBAN suggest Canada change? By letting the public have a say, and by introducing mechanisms to reassess a previous approval decision, says Sharratt.

The consequences of the Canadian government's method of dealing with GMOs could be dire, say Sharratt and Clark. The current evidence on the negative effects GM foods have on human and animal health signals a grave need for the Canadian government to take a closer look at GM foods and how they're regulated.

For more information:

Genetic Roulette: The Documented Health Risks of Genetically Engineered Foods, Jeffrey M. Smith, Yes! Books, 2006, 2007.

"A comparison of the effects of three GM corn varieties on mammalian health," Séralini et al, International Journal of Biological Sciences, 2009; 5:706-726

The Canadian Biotechnology Action Network,

Greenpeace, GMO Compass,

Council of Canadians,

Stephanie Orford has a BSc in Behavioural Neuroscience from SFU, and is excited to help change the face of journalism.

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