Genetically engineered foods (how we are the lab rats)

In early 2003, President Bush announced an initiative to end hunger in Africa using genetically modified foods. President Bush apparently was convinced that GMO foods held the key to greater yields, expanded U.S. exports and an end to hunger.

However, this was not news, but part of a plan to control the world’s food supply that had been made clear at a biotech industry conference some years prior in 1999 where a representative of Arthur Anderson consulting company explained how his company helped Monsanto create the plan.

Monsanto executives described a world with 100 percent of all commercial seeds being genetically modified and patented. Integral to the plan was to influence governments to help get the GMO foods into the marketplace quickly before resistance could stop the flood. To the food and bio tech industry this was simply good business. However, widespread resistance to GMO food has resulted in a global showdown. Many countries — even the hungry African nations will not accept the GMO crops as food.

The European Union is particularly resistant, and in 2003, the U.S. filed a lawsuit with The World Trade Organization charging that the European Union’s restrictive policy on GM food violates international agreements. Although the biotech industry has from the get go declared that GMO foods are safe, author and researcher Jeffery Smith who wrote the pivotal book “Seeds of Destruction” states that there is overwhelming scientific research that suggests that such “foods” should never have been approved.

In an early study in the 1990s lab rats were force fed (they refused to eat on their own) genetically modified tomatoes according to Jeffery Smith. Several of the rats developed stomach lesions and seven out of the 40 died within two weeks of the experiment. Researchers at the FDA who reviewed the study agreed that it did not provide a demonstration of reasonable certainty of no harm — in fact they warned that GMO foods in general might cause unpredicted allergies, toxins, antibiotic resistant diseases and nutritional issues. However, the GMO tomato was approved in 1994 despite these warnings.

Jeffery Smith has gone on record as noting that often when scientists voice their criticism or discover incriminating evidence of harm from GMO, they end up being silenced, denied tenure, denied funding or fired.

An example happened in the UK where a government-funded study demonstrated that rats fed a GMO potato developed potentially pre-cancerous cell growth, damaged immune systems, partial atrophy of the liver and inhibited development of their brains, livers and testicles and the lead scientist went public with his concerns. He was fired from his job after 35 years and silenced with threats of a lawsuit.

Even though the original genetically modified tomato has been taken off the market, millions of acres of soy, corn, canola and cotton have had foreign genes inserted into their DNA. The new genes allow crops to survive the application of herbicides or create their own pesticide or both.

Smith notes that soon after GMO soy was introduced to the UK, soy allergies skyrocketed by 50 percent. And of course that doesn’t mean that the GMO product was the cause, but it does seems a little coincidental.

The only human feeding study ever conducted with GMO showed that the gene inserted into the GMO soybeans spontaneously transferred out of the food and into the DNA of human gut bacteria. That means that the bacteria inside the human gut may be able to create a novel protein which could be either toxic or allergic. Smith warns that the damage done by a single GMO meal could cause long-term health implications. Because no one really monitors the human health impact of GMO foods, it may take decades before the cause of problems are uncovered.

Jeffery Smith notes that the more countries learn about GMO foods they less they trust them. In Europe and Japan the press is more open about the possible dangers and as a consequence people demand that their food be GMO free and so manufacturers comply. In the U.S., unfortunately, most people believe that they have never consumed a GMO food although they consume them daily.

I find this all very interesting and have for a very long time — even before the advent of GMO tried to get as much food as possible from organic and wild sources. I never thought it was a good idea to eat pesticides and they have been part of the food chain for about 80 years ever since farming became a big industry.

When the pesticides are right inside the food, that doesn’t sound like a good idea to me, either. I go organic and hope you will try to eat as healthily and as cleanly as you can. Eating well and clean is way less expensive than being sick.


Jane Riley is a certified nutritional adviser, (808) 212-1451,,


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