Spilling the Beans, March 2008
This month's Spilling the Beans features a new pamphlet on the health risks of GMOs. To view a PDF of our new handout, click here.
The unformatted text of the pamphlet is reproduced below with references added. It is also available on our site, click here.
The Institute has copies of the brochure available in bundles of 50, selling for just above our cost, click here.
For a more in-depth look at 65 health risks of GM foods, excerpted from Jeffrey Smith's comprehensive new book Genetic Roulette: The Documented Health Risks of Genetically Engineered Foods, click here.
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. 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.
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.
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. Natural genes can be deleted or permanently turned on or off, and hundreds may change their levels of expression.
*The inserted gene is often rearranged;
*It may transfer from the food into our body’s cells or into the DNA of bacteria inside us; 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. A human subject showed a skin prick allergic-type reaction to GM soy, but not to natural soy.
The level of one known soy allergen is as much as 7-times higher in cooked GM soy compared to non-GM soy.
GM soy also contains an unexpected allergen-type protein not found in natural soy.
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, and mice fed Bt had powerful immune responses and damaged intestines. 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. Their symptoms are identical.