Press Advisory

May 19, 2009

Contact Information

Dr. Amy L. Dean, D.O. Public Relations Chair Member, Board of Directors American Academy of Environmental Medicine 734-213-4901 environmentalmed@yahoo.com

The American Academy Of Environmental Medicine Calls For Immediate Moratorium On Genetically Modified Foods

Wichita, KS - The American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) today released its position paper on Genetically Modified foods stating that "GM foods pose a serious health risk" and calling for a moratorium on GM foods. Citing several animal studies, the AAEM concludes "there is more than a casual association between GM foods and adverse health effects" and that "GM foods pose a serious health risk in the areas of toxicology, allergy and immune function, reproductive health, and metabolic, physiologic and genetic health." The AAEM calls for:

* A moratorium on GM food, implementation of immediate long term safety testing and labeling of GM food.

* Physicians to educate their patients, the medical community and the public to avoid GM foods.

* Physicians to consider the role of GM foods in their patients' disease processes.

* More independent long term scientific studies to begin gathering data to investigate the role of GM foods on human health.

"Multiple animal studies have shown that GM foods cause damage to various organ systems in the body. With this mounting evidence, it is imperative to have a moratorium on GM foods for the safety of our patients' and the public's health," said Dr. Amy Dean, PR chair and Board Member of AAEM. "Physicians are probably seeing the effects in their patients, but need to know how to ask the right questions," said Dr. Jennifer Armstrong, President of AAEM. "The most common foods in North America which are consumed that are GMO are corn, soy, canola, and cottonseed oil." The AAEM's position paper on Genetically Modified foods can be found at http:aaemonline.org/gmopost.html. AAEM is an international association of physicians and other professionals dedicated to addressing the clinical aspects of environmental health. More information is available at www.aaemonline.org.

About AAEM The American Academy of Environmental Medicine was founded in 1965, and is an international association of physicians and other professionals interested in the clinical aspects of humans and their environment. The Academy is interested in expanding the knowledge of interactions between human individuals and their environment, as these may be demonstrated to be reflected in their total health. The AAEM provides research and education in the recognition, treatment and prevention of illnesses induced by exposures to biological and chemical agents encountered in air, food and water. ###

Doctors Warn: Avoid Genetically Modified Food

By Jeffrey M. Smith

Seedsofdeception.com's Spilling the Beans, May 2009

On May 19th, the American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) called on "Physicians to educate their patients, the medical community, and the public to avoid GM (genetically modified) foods when possible and provide educational materials concerning GM foods and health risks."1 They called for a moratorium on GM foods, long-term independent studies, and labeling. AAEM's position paper stated, "Several animal studies indicate serious health risks associated with GM food," including infertility, immune problems, accelerated aging, insulin regulation, and changes in major organs and the gastrointestinal system. They conclude, "There is more than a casual association between GM foods and adverse health effects. There is causation," as defined by recognized scientific criteria. "The strength of association and consistency between GM foods and disease is confirmed in several animal studies." (emphasis added)

More and more doctors are already prescribing GM-free diets. Dr. Amy Dean, a Michigan internal medicine specialist, and board member of AAEM says, "I strongly recommend patients eat strictly non-genetically modified foods." Ohio allergist Dr. John Boyles says "I used to test for soy allergies all the time, but now that soy is genetically engineered, it is so dangerous that I tell people never to eat it."

Dr. Jennifer Armstrong, President of AAEM, says, "Physicians are probably seeing the effects in their patients, but need to know how to ask the right questions." World renowned biologist Pushpa M. Bhargava goes one step further. After reviewing more than 600 scientific journals, he concludes that genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are a major contributor to the sharply deteriorating health of Americans.

Pregnant women and babies at great risk

Among the population, biologist David Schubert of the Salk Institute warns that "children are the most likely to be adversely effected by toxins and other dietary problems" related to GM foods. He says without adequate studies, the children become "the experimental animals."2

The experience of actual GM-fed experimental animals is scary. When GM soy was fed to female rats, most of their babies died within three weeks--compared to a 10% death rate among the control group fed natural soy.3 The GM-fed babies were also smaller, and later had problems getting pregnant.4

When male rats were fed GM soy, their testicles actually changed color--from the normal pink to dark blue.5 Mice fed GM soy had altered young sperm.6 Even the embryos of GM fed parent mice had significant changes in their DNA.7 Mice fed GM corn in an Austrian government study had fewer babies, which were also smaller than normal.8

Reproductive problems also plague livestock. Investigations in the state of Haryana, India revealed that most buffalo that ate GM cottonseed had complications such as premature deliveries, abortions, infertility, and prolapsed uteruses. Many calves died. In the US, about two dozen farmers reported thousands of pigs became sterile after consuming certain GM corn varieties. Some had false pregnancies; others gave birth to bags of water. Cows and bulls also became infertile when fed the same corn.9

In the US population, the incidence of low birth weight babies, infertility, and infant mortality are all escalating.

Food designed to produce toxin

GM corn and cotton are engineered to produce their own built-in pesticide in every cell. When bugs bite the plant, the poison splits open their stomach and kills them. Biotech companies claim that the pesticide, called Bt--produced from soil bacteria Bacillus thuringiensis--has a history of safe use, since organic farmers and others use Bt bacteria spray for natural insect control. Genetic engineers insert Bt genes into corn and cotton, so the plants do the killing.

The Bt-toxin produced in GM plants, however, is thousands of times more concentrated than natural Bt spray, is designed to be more toxic,10 has properties of an allergen, and unlike the spray, cannot be washed off the plant.

Moreover, studies confirm that even the less toxic natural bacterial spray is harmful. When dispersed by plane to kill gypsy moths in the Pacific Northwest, about 500 people reported allergy or flu-like symptoms. Some had to go to the emergency room.11, 12

The exact same symptoms are now being reported by farm workers throughout India, from handling Bt cotton.13 In 2008, based on medical records, the Sunday India reported, "Victims of itching have increased massively this year . . . related to BT cotton farming."14

GMOs provoke immune reactions

AAEM states, "Multiple animal studies show significant immune dysregulation," including increase in cytokines, which are "associated with asthma, allergy, and inflammation"--all on the rise in the US.

According to GM food safety expert Dr. Arpad Pusztai, changes in the immune status of GM animals are "a consistent feature of all the studies."15 Even Monsanto's own research showed significant immune system changes in rats fed Bt corn.16 A November 2008 by the Italian government also found that mice have an immune reaction to Bt corn.17

GM soy and corn each contain two new proteins with allergenic properties,18 GM soy has up to seven times more trypsin inhibitor--a known soy allergen,19 and skin prick tests show some people react to GM, but not to non-GM soy.20 Soon after GM soy was introduced to the UK, soy allergies skyrocketed by 50%. Perhaps the US epidemic of food allergies and asthma is a casualty of genetic manipulation.

Animals dying in large numbers

In India, animals graze on cotton plants after harvest. But when shepherds let sheep graze on Bt cotton plants, thousands died. Post mortems showed severe irritation and black patches in both intestines and liver (as well as enlarged bile ducts). Investigators said preliminary evidence "strongly suggests that the sheep mortality was due to a toxin. . . . most probably Bt-toxin."21 In a small follow-up feeding study by the Deccan Development Society, all sheep fed Bt cotton plants died within 30 days; those that grazed on natural cotton plants remained healthy.

In a small village in Andhra Pradesh, buffalo grazed on cotton plants for eight years without incident. On January 3rd, 2008, the buffalo grazed on Bt cotton plants for the first time. All 13 were sick the next day; all died within 3 days.22

Bt corn was also implicated in the deaths of cows in Germany, and horses, water buffaloes, and chickens in The Philippines.23

In lab studies, twice the number of chickens fed Liberty Link corn died; 7 of 20 rats fed a GM tomato developed bleeding stomachs; another 7 of 40 died within two weeks.24 Monsanto's own study showed evidence of poisoning in major organs of rats fed Bt corn, according to top French toxicologist G. E. Seralini.25

Worst finding of all--GMOs remain inside of us

The only published human feeding study revealed what may be the most dangerous problem from GM foods. The gene inserted into GM soy transfers into the DNA of bacteria living inside our intestines and continues to function.26 This means that long after we stop eating GMOs, we may still have potentially harmful GM proteins produced continuously inside of us. Put more plainly, eating a corn chip produced from Bt corn might transform our intestinal bacteria into living pesticide factories, possibly for the rest of our lives.

When evidence of gene transfer is reported at medical conferences around the US, doctors often respond by citing the huge increase of gastrointestinal problems among their patients over the last decade. GM foods might be colonizing the gut flora of North Americans.

Warnings by government scientists ignored and denied

Scientists at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had warned about all these problems even in the early 1990s. According to documents released from a lawsuit, the scientific consensus at the agency was that GM foods were inherently dangerous, and might create hard-to-detect allergies, poisons, gene transfer to gut bacteria, new diseases, and nutritional problems. They urged their superiors to require rigorous long-term tests.27 But the White House had ordered the agency to promote biotechnology and the FDA responded by recruiting Michael Taylor, Monsanto's former attorney, to head up the formation of GMO policy. That policy, which is in effect today, denies knowledge of scientists' concerns and declares that no safety studies on GMOs are required. It is up to Monsanto and the other biotech companies to determine if their foods are safe. Mr. Taylor later became Monsanto's vice president.

Dangerously few studies, untraceable diseases

AAEM states, "GM foods have not been properly tested" and "pose a serious health risk." Not a single human clinical trial on GMOs has been published. A 2007 review of published scientific literature on the "potential toxic effects/health risks of GM plants" revealed "that experimental data are very scarce." The author concludes his review by asking, "Where is the scientific evidence showing that GM plants/food are toxicologically safe, as assumed by the biotechnology companies?"28

Famed Canadian geneticist David Suzuki answers, "The experiments simply haven't been done and we now have become the guinea pigs." He adds, "Anyone that says, Oh, we know that this is perfectly safe,' I say is either unbelievably stupid or deliberately lying."29

Dr. Schubert points out, "If there are problems, we will probably never know because the cause will not be traceable and many diseases take a very long time to develop." If GMOs happen to cause immediate and acute symptoms with a unique signature, perhaps then we might have a chance to trace the cause.

This is precisely what happened during a US epidemic in the late 1980s. The disease was fast acting, deadly, and caused a unique measurable change in the blood--but it still took more than four years to identify that an epidemic was even occurring. By then it had killed about 100 Americans and caused 5,000-10,000 people to fall sick or become permanently disabled. It was caused by a genetically engineered brand of a food supplement called L-tryptophan.

If other GM foods are contributing to the rise of autism, obesity, diabetes, asthma, cancer, heart disease, allergies, reproductive problems, or any other common health problem now plaguing Americans, we may never know. In fact, since animals fed GMOs had such a wide variety of problems, susceptible people may react to GM food with multiple symptoms. It is therefore telling that in the first nine years after the large scale introduction of GM crops in 1996, the incidence of people with three or more chronic diseases nearly doubled, from 7% to 13%.30

To help identify if GMOs are causing harm, the AAEM asks their "members, the medical community, and the independent scientific community to gather case studies potentially related to GM food consumption and health effects, begin epidemiological research to investigate the role of GM foods on human health, and conduct safe methods of determining the effect of GM foods on human health."

Citizens need not wait for the results before taking the doctors advice to avoid GM foods. People can stay away from anything with soy or corn derivatives, cottonseed and canola oil, and sugar from GM sugar beets--unless it says organic or "non-GMO." There is a pocket Non-GMO Shopping Guide, co-produced by the Institute for Responsible Technology and the Center for Food Safety, which is available as a download, as well as in natural food stores and in many doctors' offices.

If even a small percentage of people choose non-GMO brands, the food industry will likely respond as they did in Europe--by removing all GM ingredients. Thus, AAEM's non-GMO prescription may be a watershed for the US food supply.

NOTES

1 http://www.aaemonline.org/gmopost.html 

2. David Schubert, personal communication to H. Penfound, Greenpeace Canada, October 25, 2002.

3. Irina Ermakova, "Genetically modified soy leads to the decrease of weight and high mortality of rat pups of the first generation. Preliminary studies," Ecosinform 1 (2006): 4-9.

4. Irina Ermakova, "Experimental Evidence of GMO Hazards," Presentation at Scientists for a GM Free Europe, EU Parliament, Brussels, June 12, 2007

5. Irina Ermakova, "Experimental Evidence of GMO Hazards," Presentation at Scientists for a GM Free Europe, EU Parliament, Brussels, June 12, 2007

6L. Vecchio et al, "Ultrastructural Analysis of Testes from Mice Fed on Genetically Modified Soybean," European Journal of Histochemistry 48, no. 4 (Oct-Dec 2004):449-454.

7. Oliveri et al., "Temporary Depression of Transcription in Mouse Pre-implantion Embryos from Mice Fed on Genetically Modified Soybean," 48th Symposium of the Society for Histochemistry, Lake Maggiore (Italy), September 7-10, 2006.

8. Alberta Velimirov and Claudia Binter, "Biological effects of transgenic maize NK603xMON810 fed in long term reproduction studies in mice," Forschungsberichte der Sektion IV, Band 3/2008

9. Jerry Rosman, personal communication, 2006

10. See for example, A. Dutton, H. Klein, J. Romeis, and F. Bigler, "Uptake of Bt-toxin by herbivores feeding on transgenic maize and consequences for the predator Chrysoperia carnea," Ecological Entomology 27 (2002): 441-7; and J. Romeis, A. Dutton, and F. Bigler, "Bacillus thuringiensis toxin (Cry1Ab) has no direct effect on larvae of the green lacewing Chrysoperla carnea (Stephens) (Neuroptera: Chrysopidae)," Journal of Insect Physiology 50, no. 2-3 (2004): 175-183.

11. Washington State Department of Health, "Report of health surveillance activities: Asian gypsy moth control program," (Olympia, WA: Washington State Dept. of Health, 1993).

12M. Green, et al., "Public health implications of the microbial pesticide Bacillus thuringiensis: An epidemiological study, Oregon, 1985-86," Amer. J. Public Health 80, no. 7(1990): 848-852.

13. Ashish Gupta et. al., "Impact of Bt Cotton on Farmers' Health (in Barwani and Dhar District of Madhya Pradesh)," Investigation Report, Oct-Dec 2005.

14. Sunday India, October, 26, 2008

15. October 24, 2005 correspondence between Arpad Pusztai and Brian John

16. John M. Burns, "13-Week Dietary Subchronic Comparison Study with MON 863 Corn in Rats Preceded by a 1-Week Baseline Food Consumption Determination with PMI Certified Rodent Diet #5002," December 17, 2002 http://wwwmonsanto.com/monsanto/content/sci_tech/prod_safety/fullratstudy.pdf 

17. Alberto Finamore, et al, "Intestinal and Peripheral Immune Response to MON810 Maize Ingestion in Weaning and Old Mice," J. Agric. Food Chem., 2008, 56 (23), pp 11533-11539, November 14, 2008

18. See L Zolla, et al, "Proteomics as a complementary tool for identifying unintended side effects occurring in transgenic maize seeds as a result of genetic modifications," J Proteome Res. 2008 May;7(5):1850-61; Hye-Yung Yum, Soo-Young Lee, Kyung-Eun Lee, Myung-Hyun Sohn, Kyu-Earn Kim, "Genetically Modified and Wild Soybeans: An immunologic comparison," Allergy and Asthma Proceedings 26, no. 3 (May-June 2005): 210-216(7); and Gendel, "The use of amino acid sequence alignments to assess potential allergenicity of proteins used in genetically modified foods," Advances in Food and Nutrition Research 42 (1998), 45-62.

19A. Pusztai and S. Bardocz, "GMO in animal nutrition: potential benefits and risks," Chapter 17, Biology of Nutrition in Growing Animals, R. Mosenthin, J. Zentek and T. Zebrowska (Eds.) Elsevier, October 2005.

20. Hye-Yung Yum, Soo-Young Lee, Kyung-Eun Lee, Myung-Hyun Sohn, Kyu-Earn Kim, "Genetically Modified and Wild Soybeans: An immunologic comparison," Allergy and Asthma Proceedings 26, no. 3 (May-June 2005): 210-216(7).

21. "Mortality in Sheep Flocks after Grazing on Bt Cotton Fields--Warangal District, Andhra Pradesh" Report of the Preliminary Assessment, April 2006, http://www.gmwatch.org/archive2.asp

22. Personal communication and visit, January 2009.

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

24. Arpad Pusztai, "Can Science Give Us the Tools for Recognizing Possible Health Risks for GM Food?" Nutrition and Health 16 (2002): 73-84.

25Stéphane Foucart, "Controversy Surrounds a GMO," Le Monde, 14 December 2004; referencing, John M. Burns, "13-Week Dietary Subchronic Comparison Study with MON 863 Corn in Rats Preceded by a 1-Week Baseline Food Consumption Determination with PMI Certified Rodent Diet #5002," December 17, 2002, http://www.monsanto.com/monsanto/content/sci_tech/prod_safety/fullratstudy.pdf.

26. Netherwood et al, "Assessing the survival of transgenic plant DNA in the human gastrointestinal tract," Nature Biotechnology 22 (2004): 2.

27. See memos at www.biointegrity.org.

28. José Domingo, "Toxicity Studies of Genetically Modified Plants : A Review of the Published Literature," Critical reviews in food science and nutrition, 2007, vol. 47, no8, pp. 721-733.

29. Angela Hall, "Suzuki warns against hastily accepting GMOs", The Leader-Post (Canada), 26 April 2005.

39. Kathryn Anne Paez, et al, "Rising Out-Of-Pocket Spending For Chronic Conditions: A Ten-Year Trend," Health Affairs, 28, no. 1 (2009): 15-25


Jeffrey M. Smith is the author of publication Genetic Roulette: The Documented Health Risks of Genetically Engineered Foods, which presents 65 risks in easy-to-read two-page spreads. His first book, Seeds of Deception, is the top rated and #1 selling book on GM foods in the world. He is the Executive Director of the Institute for Responsible Technology, www.responsibletechnology.org, which is spearheading the Campaign for Healthier Eating in America. Go to www.seedsofdeception.com to learn more about how to avoid GM foods.

Spilling the Beans is a monthly column available at www.responsibletechnology.org. The website also offers eater-friendly tips for avoiding GMOs at home and in restaurants.

www.ResponsibleTechnology.org

info@responsibletechnology.org

Copyright Institute For Responsible Technology 2009.

The Basics:

What's a GMO?

A GMO (genetically modified organism) is the result of a laboratory process of taking genes from one species and inserting them into another in an attempt to obtain a desired trait or characteristic, hence they are also known as transgenic organisms. This process may be called either Genetic Engineering (GE) or Genetic Modification (GM); they are one and the same.

But haven't growers been grafting trees, breeding animals, and hybridizing seeds for years?

Genetic engineering is completely different from traditional breeding and carries unique risks.

In traditional breeding it is possible to mate a pig with another pig to get a new variety, but is not possible to mate a pig with a potato or a mouse. Even when species that may seem to be closely related do succeed in breeding, the offspring are usually infertile'a horse, for example, can mate with a donkey, but the offspring (a mule) is sterile.

With genetic engineering, scientists can breach species barriers set up by nature. For example, they have spliced fish genes into tomatoes. The results are plants (or animals) with traits that would be virtually impossible to obtain with natural processes, such as crossbreeding or grafting.

What combinations have been tried?

It is now possible for plants to be engineered with genes taken from bacteria, viruses, insects, animals or even humans. Scientists have worked on some interesting combinations:

Spider genes were inserted into goat DNA, in hopes that the goat milk would contain spider web protein for use in bulletproof vests.

Cow genes turned pigskins into cowhides.

Jellyfish genes lit up pigs' noses in the dark.

Artic fish genes gave tomatoes and strawberries tolerance to frost.

Potatoes that glowed in the dark when they needed watering.

Human genes were inserted into corn to produce spermicide.

Current field trials include:

Corn engineered with human genes (Dow)

Sugarcane engineered with human genes (Hawaii Agriculture Research Center)

Corn engineered with jellyfish genes (Stanford University)

Tobacco engineered with lettuce genes (University of Hawaii)

Rice engineered with human genes (Applied Phytologics)

Corn engineered with hepatitis virus genes (Prodigene)

What is a gene?

Every plant and animal is made of cells, each of which has a center called a nucleus. Inside every nucleus there are strings of DNA, half of which is normally inherited from the mother and half from the father. Short sequences of DNA are called genes. These genes operate in complex networks that are finely regulated to enable the processes of living organisms to happen in the right place and at the right time.

How is genetic engineering done?

Because living organisms have natural barriers to protect themselves against the introduction of DNA from a different species, genetic engineers have to find ways to force the DNA from one organism into another. These methods include:

Using viruses or bacteria to "infect" animal or plant cells with the new DNA.

Coating DNA onto tiny metal pellets, and firing it with a special gun into the cells.

Injecting the new DNA into fertilized eggs with a very fine needle.

Using electric shocks to create holes in the membrane covering sperm, and then forcing the new DNA into the sperm through these holes.

The technology of genetic engineering is currently very crude. It is not possible to insert a new gene with any accuracy, and the transfer of new genes can disrupt the finely controlled network of DNA in an organism.

Current understanding of the way in which DNA works is extremely limited, and any change to the DNA of an organism at any point can have side effects that are impossible to predict or control. The new gene could, for example, alter chemical reactions within the cell or disturb cell functions. This could lead to instability, the creation of new toxins or allergens, and changes in nutritional value.

Does the biotech industry hold any promise?

Genetic modification of plants is not the only biotechnology. The study of DNA does hold promise for many potential applications, including medicine. However, the current technology of GM foods is based on obsolete information and theory, and is prone to dangerous side effects. Economic interests have pushed it onto the market too soon.

Moreover, molecular marker technologies - so called Marker Assisted Selection (MAS) used with conventional breeding shows much promise for developing improved crop varieties, without the potentially dangerous side effects of direct genetic modification.

GMOs in Foods:

What kinds of traits have been added to food crops?

Although there are attempts to increase nutritional benefits or productivity, the two main traits that have been added to date are herbicide tolerance and the ability of the plant to produce its own pesticide.  These results have no health benefit, only economic benefit.

Herbicide tolerance lets the farmer spray weed-killer directly on the crop without killing it.   

Crops such as Bt cotton produce pesticides inside the plant.  This kills or deters insects, saving the farmer from having to spray pesticides.  The plants themselves are toxic, and not just to insects.  Farmers in India, who let their sheep graze on Bt cotton plants after the harvest, saw thousands of sheep die!

Why do genetically engineered foods have antibiotic resistant genes in them?

The techniques used to transfer genes have a very low success rate, so the genetic engineers attach "marker genes" that are resistant to antibiotics to help them to find out which cells have taken up the new DNA. These marker genes are resistant to antibiotics that are commonly used in human and veterinary medicine. Some scientists believe that eating GE food containing these marker genes could encourage gut bacteria to develop antibiotic resistance.

What are the problems created through genetic engineering of food and crops?

Genetic engineers continually encounter unintended side effects - GM plants create toxins, react to weather differently, contain too much or too little nutrients, become diseased or malfunction and die.  When foreign genes are inserted, dormant genes may be activated or the functioning of genes altered, creating new or unknown proteins, or increasing or decreasing the output of existing proteins inside the plant.  The effects of consuming these new combinations of proteins are unknown.

What foods are GM?

Currently commercialized GM crops in the U.S. include soy (89%), cotton (83%), canola (80%), corn (61%), Hawaiian papaya (more than 50%), zucchini and yellow squash (small amount), and tobacco (Quest® brand). About half of the sugar beets grown for sugar in 2008 were GM and current projections are that about 90% grown in 2009 will be GM.

What are other sources of GMOs?

Products derived from the above, including oils from all four, soy protein, soy lecithin, cornstarch, corn syrup and high fructose corn syrup among others. Also:

meat, eggs, and dairy products from animals that have eaten GM feed (and the majority of the GM corn and soy is used for feed);

dairy products from cows injected with rbGH (a GM hormone);

food additives, enzymes, flavorings, and processing agents, including the sweetener aspartame (NutraSweet®) and rennet used to make hard cheeses; and

honey and bee pollen that may have GM sources of pollen.

The Health Dangers:

What are the potential dangers of eating GM foods?

There are a number of dangers that broadly fall into the categories of potential toxins, allergens, carcinogens, new diseases, antibiotic resistant diseases, and nutritional problems. 

View all 65 health risks of GM foods, excerpted from Jeffrey Smith's comprehensive book Genetic Roulette: The Documented Health Risks of Genetically Engineered Foods.

Hasn't research shown GM foods to be safe?

No. The only feeding study done with humans showed that GMOs survived inside the stomach of the people eating GMO food.  No follow-up studies were done.

Various feeding studies in animals have resulted in potentially pre-cancerous cell growth, damaged immune systems, smaller brains, livers, and testicles, partial atrophy or increased density of the liver, odd shaped cell nuclei and other unexplained anomalies, false pregnancies and higher death rates.

But aren't the plants chemically the same, whether or not they are GM?

Most tests can't determine the differences at the level of the DNA. And, even if they appear to be the same, eyewitness reports from all over North American describe how several types of animals, including cows, pigs, geese, elk, deer, squirrels, and rats, when given a choice, avoid eating GM foods.

Haven't people been eating GM foods without any ill effect?

The biotech industry says that millions have been eating GM foods without ill effect. This is misleading. No one monitors human health impacts of GM foods. If the foods were creating health problems in the US population, it might take years or decades before we identified the cause.

What indications are there that GM foods are causing problems?

Soon after GM soy was introduced to the UK, soy allergies skyrocketed by 50 percent.

In March 2001, the Center for Disease Control reported that food is responsible for twice the number of illnesses in the U.S. compared to estimates just seven years earlier. This increase roughly corresponds to the period when Americans have been eating GM food.

Without follow-up tests, which neither the industry or government are doing, we can't be absolutely sure if genetic engineering was the cause.  

What about GM hormones in milk?

Milk from rBGH-treated cows contains an increased amount of the hormone IGF-1, which is one of the highest risk factors associated with breast and prostate cancer, but no one is tracking this in relation to cancer rates.

Why do genetically engineered foods have antibiotic resistant genes in them?

A. The techniques used to transfer genes have a very low success rate, so the genetic engineers attach "marker genes" that are resistant to antibiotics to help them to find out which cells have taken up the new DNA. That way scientist can then douse the experimental GMO in antibiotics and if it lives, they have successful altered the genes. The marker genes are resistant to antibiotics that are commonly used in human and veterinary medicine. Some scientists believe that eating GE food containing these marker genes could encourage gut bacteria to develop antibiotic resistance.

But is there any documented instance of adverse effects of GMOs on people?

One epidemic was rare, serious, and fast acting, and therefore more easily discovered. Called EMS, it was traced to a GM brand of the food supplement L-tryptophan. In the 1980's, the contaminated brand killed about 100 Americans and caused sickness or disability in about 5,000-10,000 others.

Why are children particularly susceptible to the effects of GM foods? 

Children face the greatest risk from the potential dangers of GM foods for the same reasons that they also face the greatest risk from other hazards like pesticides and radiation, these include:

Young, fast-developing bodies are influenced most.

Children are more susceptible to allergies.

Children are more susceptible to problems with milk.

Children are more susceptible to nutritional problems.

Children are in danger from antibiotic resistant diseases.

How dangerous, or potentially dangerous, are GM foods relative to other food dangers, e.g., pesticides, irradiation, additives, preservatives?

Since so little research has been done on the safety of GM foods, it is not possible to rank its risks. Unlike the others, GM crops persist in the environment, and may continue to pose risks to health for centuries.

In addition, transfer of transgenes to gut bacteria may present long-term chronic exposure, since the foreign protein may continued to be produced inside of us after we no longer consume the GM food.

Dangers to the environment and traditional agriculture:

What is the effect of growing GM crops on the environment?

Studies have shown that pesticide-producing crops contaminate nearby streams, possibly affecting aquatic life. They may harm beneficial insects too.

As weeds adapt to herbicides, they develop resistance and evolve into what are called "super weeds." When that happens, herbicide use increases and the benefits of herbicide resistant crops are diminished, if not lost.

Can the growing of GM crops effect nearby crops?

Pollen from GM crops can contaminate nearby crops of the same type, except for soy, which does not cross-pollinate.  In fact, virtually all heritage varieties of corn in Mexico (the origin of all corn) have been found to have some contamination. Canola and cotton also cross-pollinate.

Why is there an effort to create GM-free agricultural zones?

Using identity preservation (IP), farmers keep crop varieties separate from others to meet purity requirements of their buyers. Contamination is a key challenge to IP growers. Unwanted varieties may cross-pollinate or get mixed up in the seed, harvest equipment, or during storage and transport.

Some farm regions create entire zones that exclude unwanted varieties, where all the farms, and if possible all collection and distribution points, only handle approved grain.

Have any local efforts in the US been successful?

There are local efforts throughout the U.S. that are raising public awareness, changing laws, and creating commitments to non-GM ingredients. Most notably, voters in Mendocino and Marin Counties in California passed ballot initiative to ban GM crops.

Officials in Trinity County and Arcada California have passed ordinances banning the outdoor cultivation of GM crops as well. But since then, a California law was passed prohibiting this type of local initiatives.

In March 2008, voters at the Montville, Maine, annual town meeting overwhelmingly passed a binding ordinance banning the cultivation of  GM crops in their community.

Is it possible that organically grown crops can be infected by GM genes?

Yes. Organic standards do not allow the use of GM seeds and therefore steps are taken to try to prevent contamination. Tests are not required, although some vigilant organic companies require them. According to the organic standards, contamination by cross-pollination is not disallowed, but some companies reject contaminated product above some small amount such as 0.1%. 

Organic canola farmers in Canada sued biotech companies, since cross-pollination has made it impossible for them to grow organic, non-GM canola.

Is the Natural Foods Industry doing something to insure the purity of its products?

Right now there are efforts underway for an industry wide clean up of foods labeled organic and non-GMO. A handful of noble companies took it upon themselves to ensure that consumers could rest assured that their organic and non-GMO foods are truly free of modified genes. They established The Non-GMO Project, which has created an industry-wide consensus-based set of standards and a third-party verification process with testing for GMO content.

Companies began to enroll their products in the spring of 2008 and the first "non-GMO" seals for companies who fully comply with the protocols will be issued in 2009.

Government Regulation:

Q. Hasn't the FDA said that GM foods are safe?

The biotech industry claims that the FDA has thoroughly evaluated GM foods and found them safe. This is untrue. The FDA does not require safety studies. Instead, if the makers of the GM foods claim that they are safe, the agency has no further questions.

Q. Didn't the scientists at the FDA study GM foods themselves?

No.  The FDA relies solely on information supplied by the biotech companies.

Q. What kind of information did the companies provide?

Calgene, the makers of the first GM crop, the FlavrSavr tomato, was the only company to submit detailed raw data from animal feeding studies to the FDA.  The rest provide only summaries and conclusions. Industry research can be rigged; data often is omitted or distorted.

In the FlavrSavr tests, lab rats refused to eat the tomatoes and had to be force-fed. Several developed stomach lesions, and seven of forty died within two weeks. Still, the tomato was approved, but has since been taken off the market.

Q. Based on the information that was supplied, did the FDA scientist have concerns? 

Agency scientists did warn that GM foods might create toxins, allergies, nutritional problems, and new diseases that might be difficult to identify. Internal FDA memos reveal that the scientists urged their superiors to require long-term safety testing to catch these hard-to-detect side effects.

Q. What did the FDA do about these concerns?

Nothing was done that would protect consumers.  In fact, in the case of genetically modified bovine growth hormone, some FDA scientists who expressed concerns were harassed, stripped of responsibilities, or fired. The remaining whistleblowers had to write an anonymous letter to Congress complaining of fraud and conflict of interest at the agency

Q. How could the government approve dangerous foods? 

A close examination reveals that industry manipulation and political collusion, not sound science, was the driving force.

The FDA official in charge ignored all warnings of the FDA staff scientists. The official, a former outside attorney for Monsanto, was a political appointee specifically to a new FDA post on GM policy, and left shortly after to become vice president at Monsanto.

Q. Why aren't foods with GMOs at least labeled here?

The same political influence and money that got them past the FDA has prevented any labeling laws from being passed.  However, President Obama had indicated support for labeling laws during his campaign.

Q. So do the biotech companies always get everything they want?

No. The biotech companies have fallen far short of their goals due to consumer resistance. The GM potatoes and tomatoes were taken off the market, and other GM crops, although approved, were never commercialized.

Concerned consumers in Europe were able to get major companies to commit to eliminate GMOs within one week.  This was done with only a small percentage of the overall population.  Businesses do not want to lose even a portion of their customer base.  Everyone can vote with his or her pocketbook!

In 1998 the industry tried to get the USDA to let GM products pass as organic. During the public comment period, the Department received over 275,000 irate letters of protest from citizens, a public response unprecedented in the USDA's history. Thanks to this public protest, GM products cannot be labeled organic in the USA.

Around the World

Q. What about in neighboring countries? 

In Canada, government scientists also complained that they were being pressured to approve the GM hormone, which is injected into cows to increase milk supply. They were concerned about human health impacts. They testified that the drugs maker, Monsanto, offered them a bribe of $1-2 million to approve it. They also reported that documents were stolen from a locked file cabinet in a government office.

Mexico has resisted GMOs, but contamination has still occurred.

Other stories of pressure, bribes, and threatened whistleblowers are reported through the history of GM foods and their approval, research, and promotion around the world.

Q. What is happening with GM foods in the rest of the world?

A. All over the world, regions and even nations are demanding an end to GM crop cultivation. Twenty-two countries in Europe have regions wanting to be GM-free. States in Australia, regions in New Zealand and Brazil, the countries of Venezuela, Zambia, Sudan, Angola, and others, all want to be GM-free. Thus, world markets are shrinking.

In 2009 ,Germany joined France, Hungary, Italy, Greece, Austria, Poland and Romania in baning Monsanto's Mon 810 GM corn because of its documented hazards to biodiversity and human health. In 2007 over three million Italians signed a petition, declaring their opposition to GM crops in their country. In Europe over 175 regions and over 4,500 municipalities have declared themselves GM-free zones. In Spain alone this includes over 50 municipalities and regions like Asturias, the Canary Islands and the Basque country.

Europe has greater rejection of GMOs due to a more balanced reporting by their press on the health and environmental dangers. In Europe, at least 174 regions, more than 4,500 councils and local governments have declared themselves GM free.

Q. Have any GM foods been banned?

The rules of the World Trade Organization (which the US and other 150 countries are members of) explicitly prohibit countries from banning GM products. Therefore, countries that ban them do so at great risk. If this weren't the case, no doubt many countries would already have done so.

Some countries have banned GM crops entirely or not approved certain GM crops that are approved elsewhere.

In the US, GM wheat was not approved when wheat farmers banned together because they were concerned that contamination would seriously hurt exports.  So the reason was economic, not safety.

Genetically Modified Ingredients Overview

Here is a summary of what crops, foods and food ingredients have been genetically modified as of July, 2007:

Currently Commercialized GM Crops in the U.S.:

(Number in parentheses represents the estimated percent that is genetically modified.)

Soy (89%)

Cotton (83%)

Canola (75%)

Corn (61%)

Hawaiian papaya (more than 50%)

Alfalfa, zucchini and yellow squash (small amount)

Tobacco (Quest® brand)

Other Sources of GMOs:

Dairy products from cows injected with rbGH. 

Food additives, enzymes, flavorings, and processing agents, including the sweetener aspartame (NutraSweet®) and rennet used to make hard cheeses 

Meat, eggs, and dairy products from animals that have eaten GM feed 

Honey and bee pollen that may have GM sources of pollen 

Contamination or pollination caused by GM seeds or pollen 

Some of the Ingredients That May Be Genetically Modified:

Vegetable oil, vegetable fat and margarines (made with soy, corn, cottonseed, and/or canola)

Ingredients derived from soybeans: Soy flour, soy protein, soy isolates, soy isoflavones, soy lecithin, vegetable proteins, textured vegetable protein (TVP), tofu, tamari, tempeh, and soy protein supplements.

Ingredients derived from corn: Corn flour, corn gluten, corn masa, corn starch, corn syrup, cornmeal, and High-Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS).

Some Food Additives May Also Be Derived From GM Sources:

The list may change as we encounter new information: ascorbic acid/ascorbate (Vitamin C), cellulose, citric acid, cobalamin (vitamin B12), cyclodextrin, cystein, dextrin, dextrose, diacetyl, fructose (especially crystalline fructose), glucose, glutamate, glutamic acid, gluten, glycerides (mono- and diglycerides), glycerol, glycerol, glycerine, glycine, hemicellulose, , hydrogenated starch hydrolates, hydrolyzed vegetable protein or starch, inositol, invert sugar or inverse syrup, (also may be listed as inversol or colorose), lactic acid, lactoflavin, lecithin, leucine, lysine, maltose, maltitol, maltodextrin, mannitol, methylcellulose, milo starch, modified food starch, monooleate, mono- and diglycerides, monosodium glutamate (MSG), oleic acid, phenylalanine, phytic acid, riboflavin (Vitamin B2) sorbitol, stearic acid, threonine, tocopherol (Vitamin E), trehalose, xanthan gum, and zein.

Some of the Foods That May Contain GM Ingredients:

Infant formula

Salad dressing

Bread

Cereal

Hamburgers and hotdogs

Margarine

Mayonnaise

Crackers

Cookies

Chocolate

Candy

Fried food

Chips

Veggie burgers

Meat substitutes

Ice cream

Frozen yogurt

Tofu

Tamari

Soy sauce

Soy cheese

Tomato sauce

Protein powder

Baking powder (sometimes contains corn starch)

Powdered/Confectioner's sugar (often contains corn starch)

Confectioner's glaze

Alcohol

Vanilla

Powdered sugar

Peanut butter

Enriched flour

Vanilla extract (sometimes contains corn syrup)

Pasta

Malt

White vinegar

Non-Food Items That May Contain GM Ingredients:

Cosmetics

Soaps

Detergents

Shampoo

Bubble bath

INVISIBLE GM INGREDIENTS

Processed foods often have hidden GM sources (unless they are organic or declared non-GMO).

The following are ingredients that may be made from GM soy, corn, cotton, or canola.

aspartame

gluten

modified starch

baking powder

glycerides

monosodium glutamate

bee pollen

glycerin

oleic acid

caramel color

glycerol

Phenylalanine

cellulose

glycerol monooleate

phytic acid

citric acid

glycine

sorbitol

cobalamin (Vitamin B12)

hemicellulose

soy flour

corn gluten

high fructose corn syrup (HFCS)

soy isolates

corn masa

hydrogenated starch

soy lecithin

corn oil

hydrolyzed vegetable protein

soy protein

corn syrup

inositol

starch

cornmeal

invert sugar (colorose or inversol)

stearic acid

cornstarch

tamari

inverse syrup

cyclodextrin

isoflavones

tempeh

cystein

lactic acid

threonine

dextrin

lecithin

tocopherols (Vitamin E)

dextrose

leucine

tofu

diacetyl

lysine

trehalose

diglyceride

malitol

triglyceride

fructose

maltodextrin

vegetable fat

fructose (crystalline)

maltose

vegetable oil

glucose

mannitol

Vitamin B12

glutamate

methylcellulose

Vitamin E

glutamic acid

milo starch

Xanthan gum

Our understanding is that ascorbic acid (Vitamin C), although usually derived from corn, is probably

not GM because it is not made in North America. Honey and bee pollen may contain GMOs if the

beehives are near GM crops.

This list is continually being updated and refined. For the most recent version, see www.responsibletechnology.org.

© copyright Institute For Responsible Technology 2008

Sources for Genetically Modified Ingredients Overview:

Natural Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), Agricultural Statistics Board, US Department of Agriculture: Acreage. Available at: http://www.thecampaign.org/Acre-06-30-2006.pdf (2006)

Cornell Cooperative Extension, GEO-PIE (Genetically Engineered Organisms Public Issues Education) Project. http://www.geo-pie.cornell.edu/crops/ingredients.html

Ruth Winter , A Consumer's Dictionary of Food Additives: Descriptions in plain English of more than 12,000 ingredients both harmful and desirable found in foods, 6th ed. (New York: Three Rivers Press, 2004).

Robert S. Igoe , The Dictionary of Food Ingredients, 2nd ed. (New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1989).

Research Triangle Institute, "Economic Characterization of the Dietary Supplement Industry," March 1999. Available at: http://www.cfsan.fda.gov/~acrobat/ds-econ.pdf

Codex General Standard for Food Additives (GSFA) Online Database of the World Health Organization(WHO) Food and Agriculture Organization(FAO) of the United Nations and the reports of the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA). Available at: http://www.codexalimentarius.net/gsfaonline/additives/index.html

The University of Maryland Medical Center database of supplements by name: http://www.umm.edu/altmed/ConsLookups/Supplements.html

Archives of the Agricultural Research Service of the USDA: http://www.ars.usda.gov/is/AR/archive/

Reports of the European Commission Scientific Committee for Food: http://ec.europa.eu/food/fs/sc/scf/reports_en.html

U.S. National Institute of Health (NIH) PubMed Central (PMC): http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/

Also consulted the following industry sites:

http://www.corn.org/web/bioprod.htm

http://www.confectionerynews.com/news/ng.asp?n=70687-danisco-xylitol-sugar

http://www.grainprocessing.com/food/malinfo.html

http://www.cargillfoods.com/pdfs/sweeteners.pdf/ca198.pdf

2009 GM Crop Fact File

ARE GM CROPS TAKING OVER GLOBAL AGRICULTURE?

GM plantings make up a mere 2.4% of global agricultural crop land

Nearly 80% of the global area planted to GM crops was in just three countries - the US, Argentina and Brazil

The US alone plants over 50% of the world's GM crops

ARE GM CROPS EXPANDING IN EUROPE?

In the 27 countries of the European Union, GM crop cultivation represents a mere 0.21% of agricultural land

The number of hectares of GM crops fell last year in Europe

EuropaBio inflated the figures for GM crops grown in Europe by almost a quarter to mask the decline in the area of GM crops being grown has actually fallen in Europe every year since 2005.

WHAT GM CROPS ARE BEING GROWN?

Most investment has gone into a small number of crops and traits targeted toward large-scale commercial farming

Only four crops - soya, maize, cotton and canola (oilseed rape) - comprise virtually 100% of GM agriculture

GM rice, wheat, tomatoes, sweetcorn, potatoes and popcorn have all been rejected as unacceptable in the global marketplace

GM papaya cultivation in Hawaii has been declining over several years.

DO GM CROPS MATCH THE HYPE?

None of the GM crops on the market are modified for increased yield potential

Some studies show GM crops reduce yield

Disease-tolerant GM crops are practically non-existent

The GM industry has not marketed a single GM crop with enhanced nutrition, drought-tolerance, salt-tolerance or any of the other 'beneficial' traits long-promised by the industry

There are no commercially available GM crops designed for biofuels

ARE GM CROPS REDUCING PESTICIDE USE?

Almost all GM crops involve just 2 traits, mainly just one trait - herbicide tolerance

Herbicide tolerance is found in over 80% of all GM crops planted worldwide

GM crops have contributed substantially to increased pesticide use

Most new GM crop varieties are also pesticide-promoting

GM crops have caused an epidemic of herbicide-resistant weeds

This is encouraging the use of more toxic petsicides, including ones banned in some European countries

WHO BENEFITS FROM GM CROPS?

The real beneficiaries are the GM companies which profit from patents, expensive GM seeds, and increased pesticide sales

Monsanto is the world's largest seed firm

Monsanto holds a near monopoly in the biotech "traits" incorporated in GM seeds

Monsanto is the world's fifth largest pesticide firm

Monsanto markets Roundup, the world's biggest selling pesticide

Monsanto controls roughly 60% of the market for glyphosate (the active ingredient of Roundup)

Roundup is used in conjunction with Monsanto's 'Roundup Ready seeds'

WHO'S MILKING THE FOOD CRISIS?

The World Bank attributes 75% of global food price inflation to "biofuels"

Monsanto has been at the heart of the "biofuels" lobby, particularly the lobby for corn ethanol

The price of Monsanto's GM triple-stack corn will reportedly increase by around 35% in 2009 - by $95-100 per bag, to top $300 per bag

The average price for soybean seed, the largest GM crop in the US, has risen by more than 50% in just two years from 2006 to 2008 - from $32.30 to $49.23 per planted acre

Retail prices for Roundup herbicide  have increased from just $32 per gallon in December 2006 to $45 per gallon a year later, to $75 per gallon by June 2008 - a 134% price hike in less than two years

Almost all the facts in our fact file are taken from "Who Benefits from GM crops?: Feeding the biotech giants, not the world's poor", Friends of the Earth International (2009)

GMO Health Dangers 

Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) have been linked to toxic and allergic reactions, thousands of sick, sterile, and dead livestock, and damage to virtually every organ and system studied in lab animals.

In 1992, although FDA scientists urged long-term safety studies. However, FDA administrators, under orders from the White House to promote GMOs, assumed they were safe to eat. The FDA does not require safety studies from the manufacturers; nor do they conduct any studies themselves.

The potential dangers broadly fall into the categories of toxins, allergens, carcinogens, new diseases, antibiotic resistant diseases, and nutritional problems. 

View all 65 health risks of GM foods, excerpted from Jeffrey Smith's comprehensive book Genetic Roulette: The Documented Health Risks of Genetically Engineered Foods. Many of these potential dangers have been confirmed by recent government studies.

Children face the greatest risk from the potential dangers of GM foods for the same reasons that they also face the greatest risk from other hazards like pesticides and radiation, these include:

Young, fast-developing bodies are influenced most.

Children are more susceptible to allergies.

Children are more susceptible to problems with milk.

Children are more susceptible to nutritional problems.

   Children are in danger from antibiotic resistant diseases.

Unintended GMO Health Risks

Genetically modified foods:

YES, you are already eating them.

NO, they are not safe to eat.

Did you know... since 1996 Americans have been eating genetically modified (GM) ingredients in most processed foods.

Did you know... GM plants, such as soybean, corn, cottonseed, and canola have had foreign genes forced into their DNA. And the inserted genes come from species, such as bacteria and viruses, that have never been in the human food supply.

Did you know... genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are not safe. They have been linked to thousands of toxic and allergenic reactions, thousands of sick, sterile, and dead livestock, and damage to virtually every organ and system studied in lab animals.

Find out what the risks are and start protecting yourself and your family today!

Why isn't the FDA protecting us?

In 1992, the Food and Drug Administration claimed that they had no information showing that GM foods were substantially different from conventionally grown foods and therefore were safe to eat. But internal memos made public by a lawsuit reveal that their position was staged by political appointees under orders from the White House to promote GMOs. FDA scientists, on the other hand, warned that GMOs 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.[1] The FDA does not require any safety evaluations for GMOs. Instead, biotech companies, who have been found guilty of hiding toxic effects of their chemical products, are now in charge of determining whether their GM foods are safe. (The FDA official in charge of creating this policy was Michael Taylor, Monsanto's former attorney and later their vice president.)

Although these biotech companies participate in a voluntary consultation process with the FDA, it is a meaningless exercise. The summaries of the superficial research they submit cannot identify most of the health risks of GMOs.[2]

Genetic modification is radically different from natural breeding

In contrast to the statements of biotech advocates, FDA scientists and others affirm that genetic modification is not just an extension of the conventional breeding techniques that have been used by farmers for millennia. Genetic engineering transfers genes across natural species barriers, using imprecise laboratory techniques that bear no resemblance to natural breeding. Furthermore, the technology is based on outdated concepts of how genes and cells work.[3]

Widespread, unpredictable changes

Gene insertion is done either by shooting genes from a "gene gun" into a plate of cells or by using bacteria to invade the cell with foreign DNA. The altered cell is then cloned into a plant. These processes create massive collateral damage, causing mutations in hundreds or thousands of locations throughout the plant's DNA.[4] Natural genes can be deleted or permanently turned on or off, and hundreds may change their levels of expression.[5]

In addition:

The inserted gene is often rearranged;[6] 

It may transfer from the food into our body's cells or into the DNA of bacteria inside us;[7] and 

The GM protein produced by the gene may have unintended properties or effects

GM foods on the market

The primary reason companies genetically engineer plants is to make them tolerant to their brand of herbicide. The four major GM plants, soy, corn, canola, and cotton, are designed to survive an otherwise deadly dose of weed killer. These crops have much higher residues of toxic herbicides. About 68% of GM crops are herbicide tolerant.

The second GM trait is a built-in pesticide. A gene from the soil bacterium called Bt (for Bacillus thuringiensis) is inserted into corn and cotton DNA, where it secretes the insect-killing Bt-toxin in every cell. About 19% of GM crops produce their own pesticide. Another 13% produce a pesticide and are herbicide tolerant.

There is also Hawaiian papaya and a small amount of zucchini and yellow crookneck squash, which are engineered to resist a plant virus. Help stop the introduction of GM sugar in late 2008. Send a letter to top companies on our website.

Growing evidence of harm from GMOs

GM soy and allergic reactions

Soy allergies skyrocketed by 50% in the UK, soon after GM soy was introduced.[8] 

A human subject showed a skin prick allergic-type reaction to GM soy, but not to natural soy.[9] 

The level of one known soy allergen is as much as 7-times higher in cooked GM soy compared to non-GM soy.[10] 

GM soy also contains an unexpected allergen-type protein not found in natural soy.[11] 

Bt corn and cotton linked to allergies

The biotech industry claims that Bt-toxin is harmless to humans and mammals because the natural bacteria version has been used as a spray by farmers for years. In reality, hundreds of people exposed to Bt spray had allergic-type symptoms,[12] and mice fed Bt had powerful immune responses[13] and damaged intestines.[14] Moreover, Bt in GM crops is designed to be more toxic than the natural spray and is thousands of times more concentrated.

Hundreds of laborers in India report allergic reactions from handling Bt cotton.[15] Their symptoms are identical to those exposed to Bt spray.[16]

GMOs fail allergy tests

No tests can guarantee that a GMO will not cause allergies. Although the World Health Organization recommends a protein screening protocol,[17] the GM soy, corn, and papaya in our food supply fail those tests because they have properties of known allergens.[18]

GMOs cause immune reactions to non-GM foods

If proteins "digest" slowly, there is more time for allergic reactions. Because GM soy reduces digestive enzymes in mice,[19] it may slow protein digestion and promote allergies to many foods. 

Mice not only reacted to Bt -toxin, they had immune responses to formerly harmless compounds.[20] 

Similarly, a mouse test indicated that people eating GM peas could develop allergies both to the peas and to a range of other foods. The peas had already passed all the allergy tests normally used to get GMOs on the market. It took this advanced mouse test, which was never used on the GMOs we eat, to discover that the peas could be deadly.[21] 

GMOs and liver problems

Rats fed GM potatoes had smaller, partially atrophied livers.[22] 

The livers of rats fed GM canola were 12-16% heavier.[23] 

GM soy altered mouse liver cells in ways that suggest a toxic insult.[24] The changes reversed after their diet switched to non-GM soy.[25] 

GM soy, reproductive problems, and infant mortality

More than half the offspring of mother rats fed GM soy died within three weeks.[26] 

Male rats[27] and mice[28] fed GM soy showed changes in their testicles; the mice had altered young sperm cells. 

The DNA of mouse embryos whose parents ate GM soy functioned differently than those whose parents ate non-GM soy.[29]

Many offspring of female rats fed GM soy were considerably smaller,

and more than half died within three weeks (compared to 10% of the

non-GM soy controls).[30] 

Bt crops linked to sterility, disease, and death

When sheep grazed on Bt cotton plants after harvest, within a week 1 in 4 died. Shepherds estimate 10,000 sheep deaths in one region of India.[31] 

Farmers in Europe and Asia say that cows, water buffaloes, chickens, and horses died from eating Bt corn varieties.[32] 

About two dozen US farmers report that Bt corn varieties caused widespread sterility in pigs or cows.[33] 

Filipinos in at least five villages fell sick when a nearby Bt corn variety was pollinating.[34]

 

The stomach lining of rats fed GM potatoes showed excessive cell growth, a condition that may be a precursor to cancer. Rats also had damaged organs and immune systems.[35] 

Functioning GM genes remain inside you

Unlike safety evaluations for drugs, there are no human clinical trials of GM foods. The only published human feeding experiment verified that genetic material inserted into GM soy transfers into the DNA of intestinal bacteria and continues to function.[36] This means that long after we stop eating GM foods, we may still have their GM proteins produced continuously inside us.

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 flora into living pesticide factories. 

Animal studies show that DNA in food can travel into organs throughout the body, even into the fetus.[37] 

GM food supplement caused deadly epidemic

In the 1980s, a contaminated brand of a food supplement called L-tryptophan killed about 100 Americans and caused sickness and disability in another 5,000-10,000 people. The source of contaminants was almost certainly the genetic engineering process used in its production.[38] The disease took years to find and was almost overlooked. It was only identified because the symptoms were unique, acute, and fast-acting. If all three characteristics were not in place, the deadly GM supplement might never have been identified or removed.

If GM foods on the market are causing common diseases or if their effects appear only after long-term exposure, we may not be able to identify the source of the problem for decades, if at all. There is no monitoring of GMO-related problems and no long-term animal studies. Heavily invested biotech corporations are gambling away the health of our nation for profit.

Help end the genetic engineering of our food supply

When the tipping point of consumer concern about GMOs was achieved in Europe in 1999, within a single week virtually all major food manufacturers committed to remove GM ingredients. The Campaign for Healthier Eating in America is designed to reach a similar tipping point in the US before the end of 2009.

Our growing network of manufacturers, retailers, healthcare practitioners, organizations, and the media, is informing consumers of the health risks of GMOs and helping them select healthier non-GMO alternatives.

Go to www.responsibletechnology.org to get involved and learn how to avoid GMOs. Look for our Non-GMO Shopping Guide in summer 2008.

Start buying non-GMO today.

Help us stop the genetic engineering of our food supply.

Donations to the Institute For Responsible Technology are tax-deductible. Your $25 membership includes a free educational gift.

There are three ways to become a member or make a donation:

By mail:

Institute For Responsible Technology

P.O. Box 469, Fairfield, IA 52556

Online:

www.responsibletechnology.org 

By phone:

(641) 209-1765

The health information is from the book Genetic Roulette: The Documented Health Risk of Genetically Engineered Foods, by Jeffrey M. Smith. 

© copyright Institute For Responsible Technology 2008

The Institute is a fully tax deductible project of The Coordinating Council, a 501c(3).


[1] See www.biointegrity.org

[2] See Part 2, Jeffrey M. Smith, Genetic Roulette: The Documented Health Risks of Genetically Engineered Foods, Yes! Books, Fairfield, IA 2007

[3] See for example 233-236, chart of disproved assumptions, in Jeffrey M. Smith, Genetic Roulette: The Documented Health Risks of Genetically Engineered Foods, Yes! Books, Fairfield, IA 2007

[4] J. R. Latham, et al., "the Mutational Consequences of Plant Transformation," The Journal of Biomedicine and Biotechnology 2006, Article ID 25376: 1-7; see also Allison Wilson, et. al., "transformation-induced mutations in transgenic plants: Analysis and biosafety implications, Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering Reviews," Vol. 23, December 2006.

[5] Srivastava, et al, Pharmacogenomics of the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) and the cystic fibrosis drug CPX using genome microarray analysis, Mol Med. 5, no. 11(Nov 1999):753-67.

[6] Latham et al, "the Mutational Consequences of Plant Transformation," Journal of Biomedicine and Biotechnology 2006:1-7, article ID 25376, http://www.hindawi.com/journals/JBB/index.html; Draft risk analysis report application A378, Food derived from glyphosate-tolerant sugarbeet line 77 (GTSB77), ANZFA, March 7, 2001, www.agbios.com/docroot/decdocs/anzfa_gtsb77.pdf; E. Levine et al., "Molecular Characterization of Insect Protected Corn Line MON 810." Unpublished study submitted to the EPA by Monsanto, EPA MRID No. 436655-01C (1995); Allison Wilson, PhD, Jonathan Latham, PhD, and Ricarda Steinbrecher, PhD, "Genome Scrambling-Myth or Reality?" Transformation-Induced Mutations in Transgenic Crop Plants Technical Report-October 2004," www.econexus.info; C. Collonier, G. Berthier, F. Boyer, M. N. Duplan, S. Fernandez, N. Kebdani, A. Kobilinsky, M. Romanuk, Y. Bertheau, Characterization of commercial GMO inserts: a source of useful material to study genome fluidity, Poster presented at ICPMB: International Congress for Plant Molecular Biology (n°VII), Barcelona, 23-28th June 2003. Poster courtesy of Dr. Gilles-Eric Seralini, Président du Conseil Scientifique du CRII-GEN, www.crii-gen.org; also "transgenic lines proven unstable," by Mae-Wan Ho, ISIS Report, 23 October 2003, www.i-sis.org.uk

[7] Netherwood et al, "Assessing the survival of transgenic plant DNA in the human gastrointestinal tract," Nature Biotechnology 22 (2004): 2; Chowdhury, et al, "Detection of genetically modified maize DNA fragments in the intestinal contents of pigs fed StarLink CBH351," Vet Hum Toxicol. 45 , no. 2 (March 2003): 95-6; P. A. Chambers, et al, "the fate of antibiotic resistance marker genes in transgenic plant feed material fed to chickens," J. Antimic. Chemother. 49 (2000): 161-164; and Paula S. Duggan, et al, Fate of genetically modified maize DNA in the oral cavity and rumen of sheep, Br J Nutr. 89, no 2 (Feb.2003): 159-66.

[8] Mark Townsend, "Why soya is a hidden destroyer," Daily Express, March 12, 1999.

[9] Hye-Yung Yum, Soo-Young Lee, Kyung-Eun Lee, Myung-Hyun Sohn, Kyu-Earn Kim, "Genetically Modified and Wild Soybeans: An immunologic comparison," Allergy and Asthma Proceedings 26, no. 3 (May-June 2005): 210-216(7).

[10] A. Pusztai and S. Bardocz, "GMO in animal nutrition: potential benefits and risks," Chapter 17, Biology of Nutrition in Growing Animals, R. Mosenthin, J. Zentek and T. Zebrowska (Eds.) Elsevier, October 2005.

[11] Hye-Yung Yum, Soo-Young Lee, Kyung-Eun Lee, Myung-Hyun Sohn, Kyu-Earn Kim, "Genetically Modified and Wild Soybeans: An immunologic comparison," Allergy and Asthma Proceedings 26, no. 3 (May-June 2005): 210-216(7).

[12] M. Green, et al., Public health implications of the microbial pesticide Bacillus thuringiensis: An epidemiological study, Oregon, 1985-86, Amer. J. Public Health 80, no. 7(1990): 848-852; and M.A. Noble, P.D. Riben, and G. J. Cook, Microbiological and epidemiological surveillance program to monitor the health effects of Foray 48B BTK spray (Vancouver, B.C.: Ministry of Forests, Province of British Columbi, Sep. 30, 1992)

[13] Vazquez et al, "Intragastric and intraperitoneal administration of Cry1Ac protoxin from Bacillus thuringiensis induces systemic and mucosal antibody responses in mice," 1897-1912; Vazquez et al, "Characterization of the mucosal and systemic immune response induced by Cry1Ac protein from Bacillus thuringiensis HD 73 in mice," Brazilian Journal of Medical and Biological Research 33 (2000): 147-155; and Vazquez et al, "Bacillus thuringiensis Cry1Ac protoxin is a potent systemic and mucosal adjuvant," Scandanavian Journal of Immunology 49 (1999): 578-584. See also Vazquez-Padron et al., 147 (2000b).

[14] Nagui H. Fares, Adel K. El-Sayed, "Fine Structural Changes in the Ileum of Mice Fed on Endotoxin Treated Potatoes and Transgenic Potatoes," Natural Toxins 6, no. 6 (1998): 219-233.

[15] See for example "Bt cotton causing allergic reaction in MP; cattle dead," Bhopal, Nov. 23, 2005, http://news.webindia123.com/news/showdetails.asp?id=170692&cat=Health;

[16] Ashish Gupta et. al., "Impact of Bt Cotton on Farmers' Health (in Barwani and Dhar District of Madhya Pradesh)," Investigation Report, Oct-Dec 2005; and M. Green, et al., "Public health implications of the microbial pesticide Bacillus thuringiensis: An epidemiological study, Oregon, 1985-86," Amer. J. Public Health 80, no. 7(1990): 848-852; and M.A. Noble, P.D. Riben, and G. J. Cook, Microbiological and epidemiological surveillance program to monitor the health effects of Foray 48B BTK spray (Vancouver, B.C.: Ministry of Forests, Province of British Columbi, Sep. 30, 1992)

[17] FAO-WHO, "Evaluation of Allergenicity of Genetically Modified Foods." Report of a Joint FAO/WHO Expert

"Consultation on Allergenicity of Foods Derived from Biotechnology," Jan. 22-25, 2001; http://www.fao.org/es/ESN/food/pdf/allergygm.pdf

[18] Gendel, "the use of amino acid sequence alignments to assess potential allergenicity of proteins used in genetically modified foods," Advances in Food and Nutrition Research 42 (1998), 45-62; G. A. Kleter and A. A. C. M. Peijnenburg, "Screening of transgenic proteins expressed in transgenic food crops for the presence of short amino acid sequences indentical to potential, IgE-binding linear epitopes of allergens," BMC Structural Biology 2 (2002): 8-19; H. P. J. M. Noteborn, "Assessment of the Stability to Digestion and Bioavailability of the LYS Mutant Cry9C Protein from Bacillus thuringiensis serovar tolworthi," Unpublished study submitted to the EPA by AgrEvo, EPA MRID No. 447343-05 (1998); and H. P. J. M. Noteborn et al, "Safety Assessment of the Bacillus thuringiensis Insecticidal Crystal Protein CRYIA(b) Expressed in Transgenic Tomatoes," in Genetically modified foods: safety issues, American Chemical Society Symposium Series 605, eds. K.H. Engel et al., (Washington, DC, 1995): 134-47.

[19] M. Malatesta, M. Biggiogera, E. Manuali, M. B. L. Rocchi, B. Baldelli, G. Gazzanelli, "Fine Structural Analyses of Pancreatic Acinar Cell Nuclei from Mice Fed on GM Soybean," Eur J Histochem 47 (2003): 385-388.

[20] Vazquez et al, "Bacillus thuringiensis Cry1Ac protoxin is a potent systemic and mucosal adjuvant," Scandanavian Journal of Immunology 49 (1999): 578-584. See also Vazquez-Padron et al., 147 (2000b).

[21] V. E. Prescott, et al, "transgenic Expression of Bean r-Amylase Inhibitor in Peas Results in Altered Structure and Immunogenicity," Journal of Agricultural Food Chemistry (2005): 53.

[22] Arpad Pusztai, "Can science give us the tools for recognizing possible health risks of GM food," Nutrition and Health, 2002, Vol 16 Pp 73-84

[23] Comments to ANZFA about Applications A346, A362 and A363 from the Food Legislation and Regulation Advisory Group (FLRAG) of the Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA) on behalf of the PHAA, "Food produced from glyphosate-tolerant canola line GT73," http://www.iher.org.au/

[24] M. Malatesta, C. Caporaloni, S. Gavaudan, M. B. Rocchi, S. Serafini, C. Tiberi, G. Gazzanelli, "Ultrastructural Morphometrical and Immunocytochemical Analyses of Hepatocyte Nuclei from Mice Fed on Genetically Modified Soybean," Cell Struct Funct. 27 (2002): 173-180.

[25] M. Malatesta, C. Tiberi, B. Baldelli, S. Battistelli, E. Manuali, M. Biggiogera, "Reversibility of Hepatocyte Nuclear Modifications in Mice Fed on Genetically Modified Soybean," Eur J Histochem, 49 (2005): 237-242.

[26] I.V. Ermakova, "Diet with the Soya Modified by Gene EPSPS CP4 Leads to Anxiety and Aggression in Rats," 14th European Congress of Psychiatry. Nice, France, March 4-8, 2006; "Genetically modified soy affects posterity: Results of Russian scientists' studies," REGNUM, October 12, 2005; http://www.regnum.ru/english/526651.html;  Irina Ermakova, "Genetically modified soy leads to the decrease of weight and high mortality of rat pups of the first generation. Preliminary studies," Ecosinform 1 (2006): 4-9.

[27] Irina Ermakova, "Experimental Evidence of GMO Hazards," Presentation at Scientists for a GM Free Europe, EU Parliament, Brussels, June 12, 2007

[28] L. Vecchio et al, "Ultrastructural Analysis of Testes from Mice Fed on Genetically Modified Soybean," European Journal of Histochemistry 48, no. 4 (Oct-Dec 2004):449-454.

[29] Oliveri et al., "temporary Depression of Transcription in Mouse Pre-implantion Embryos from Mice Fed on Genetically Modified Soybean," 48th Symposium of the Society for Histochemistry, Lake Maggiore (Italy), September 7-10, 2006.

[30] I.V. Ermakova, "Diet with the Soya Modified by Gene EPSPS CP4 Leads to Anxiety and Aggression in Rats," 14th

European Congress of Psychiatry. Nice, France, March 4-8, 2006; "Genetically modified soy affects posterity: Results of Russian scientists' studies," REGNUM, October 12, 2005; http://www.regnum.ru/english/526651.html;  Irina Ermakova, "Genetically modified soy leads to the decrease of weight and high mortality of rat pups of the first generation. Preliminary studies," Ecosinform 1 (2006): 4-9.

[31] "Mortality in Sheep Flocks after Grazing on Bt Cotton Fields," Warangal District, Andhra Pradesh Report of the Preliminary Assessment, April 2006, http://www.gmwatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=6494

[32] Mae-Wan Ho, "GM Ban Long Overdue, Dozens Ill & Five Deaths in the Philippines," ISIS Press Release, June 2, 2006; and Mae-Wan Ho and Sam Burcher, "Cows Ate GM Maize & Died," ISIS Press Release, January 13, 2004, http://www.isis.org.uk/CAGMMAD.php

[33] Personal communication with Jerry Rosman and other farmers, 2006; also reported widely in the farm press.

[34] See for example Mae-Wan Ho, "GM Ban Long Overdue, Dozens Ill & Five Deaths in the Philippines," ISIS Press Release, June 2, 2006; "Study Result Not Final, Proof Bt Corn Harmful to Farmers," BusinessWorld, 02 Mar 2004; and "Genetically Modified Crops and Illness Linked," Manila Bulletin, 04 Mar 2004.

[35] Arpad Pusztai, "Can science give us the tools for recognizing possible health risks of GM food," Nutrition and Health, 2002, Vol 16 Pp 73-84; Stanley W. B. Ewen and Arpad Pusztai, "Effect of diets containing genetically modified potatoes expressing Galanthus nivalis lectin on rat small intestine," Lancet, 1999 Oct 16; 354 (9187): 1353-4; and Arpad Pusztai, "Facts Behind the GM Pea Controversy: Epigenetics, Transgenic Plants & Risk Assessment," Proceedings of the Conference, December 1st 2005 (Frankfurtam Main, Germany: Literaturhaus, 2005)

[36] Netherwood et al, "Assessing the survival of transgenic plant DNA in the human gastrointestinal tract,* Nature Biotechnology 22 (2004): 2.

[37] Ricarda A. Steinbrecher and Jonathan R. Latham, "Horizontal gene transfer from GM crops to unrelated organisms," GM Science Review Meeting of the Royal Society of Edinburgh on "GM Gene Flow: Scale and Consequences for Agriculture and the Environment," January 27, 2003; Traavik and Heinemann, Genetic Engineering and Omitted Health Research; citing Schubbert, et al, "Ingested foreign (phage M13) DNA survives transiently in the gastrointestinal tract and enters the bloodstream of mice," Mol Gen Genet. 242, no. 5 (1994): 495-504; Schubbert et al, "Foreign (M13) DNA ingested by mice reaches peripheral leukocytes, spleen, and liver via the intestinal wall mucosa and can be covalently linked to mouse DNA," Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 94, no. 3 (1997): 961-6; Schubbert et al, "On the fate of orally ingested foreign DNA in mice: chromosomal association and placental transmission to the fetus," Mol Gen Genet. 259, no. 6 (1998): 569-76; Hohlweg and Doerfler, "On the fate of plants or other foreign genes upon the uptake in food or after intramuscular injection in mice," Mol Genet Genomics 265 (2001): 225-233; Palka-Santani, et al., "the gastrointestinal tract as the portal of entry for foreign macromolecules: fate of DNA and proteins," Mol Gen Genomics 270 (2003): 201-215; Einspanier, et al, "the fate of forage plant DNA in farm animals; a collaborative case-study investigating cattle and chicken fed recombinant plant material," Eur Food Res Technol 212 (2001): 129-134; Klotz, et al, "Degradation and possible carry over of feed DNA monitored in pigs and poultry," Eur Food Res Technol 214 (2002): 271-275; Forsman, et al, "Uptake of amplifiable fragments of retrotransposon DNA from the human alimentary tract," Mol Gen Genomics 270 (2003): 362-368; Chen, et al, "transfection of mEpo gene to intestinal epithelium in vivo mediated by oral delivery of chitosan-DNA nanoparticles," World Journal of Gastroenterology 10, no 1(2004): 112-116; Phipps, et al, "Detection of transgenic and endogenous plant DNA in rumen fluid, duodenal digesta, milk, blood, and feces of lactating dairy cows," J Dairy Sci. 86, no. 12(2003): 4070-8.

[38] William E. Crist, Toxic L-tryptophan: Shedding Light on a Mysterious Epidemic, http://www.seedsofdeception.com/Public/L-tryptophan/index.cfm; and Jeffrey M. Smith, Seeds of Deception, Yes! Books, Fairfield, IA 2003, chapter 4, Deadly Epidemic