““… the question we face … is whether this [GMO] cornucopia presents a picture of health and lawful bounty, or instead the hellish image of nature betrayed.” C. Holdrege & S. Talbott, 2008
Ever since biotechnology introduced genetically modified foods in the mid-1990’s, biotech scientists have insisted that these foods are “substantially equivalent” to what we’ve eaten since the dawn of time. Yet for the past 15 years, roughly 90% of people around the world have demanded that GMO foods be clearly labeled, so they can be avoided.
How do our regulators respond? At the latest round of CODEX labeling debates in Quebec City in March, the U.S. FDA soothingly suggested that “consumers do not need GMO labeling, as it would only confuse them, and they would then make the incorrect food choices.”
The last time we heard this paternalistic BS was at Senate hearings a decade ago from Canada’s then Deputy Minister of Health, David Dodge. He opined that labeling milk and beef products as containing recombinant bovine growth hormone would alarm the public unnecessarily because ordinary Canadians don’t understand the underlying “safe” science. However, the aforementioned 90% of anti-GMO humanity includes a lot of scientists who do understand just how toxic these products are to people and the world’s ecosystem. There’s even a new documentary, “The Idiot Cycle”, which focuses on human cancers caused by GMO-focused agricultural practices (www.theidiotcycle.com).
When change moves a contentious issue out of deadlock, it tends to do so in surprising ways; and so it was at the CODEX labeling meeting this year, too. The governments of Asia, Africa, and South America do not consider the fines – imposed by the World Trade Organization for refusing to import GM crops – as small change (as the EU countries do, which just refuse the crops and pay up). So, ingeniously, those countries bypassed the arguments about safety, food security, the human right to choose what goes into our mouths, and the protection of indigenous crop diversity. As the National Health Federation’s lawyer Scot Tips reported, these countries instead demanded protection from being fined for food import decisions arising from local sovereignty. This could not be denied, as national autonomy is part of CODEX’s constitution. Finally the labeling issue has gained some traction.
THE GMOs / SICKNESS CONNECTION
Carl B. Feldbaum, president of the Biotechnology Industry Organization, opined on July 23, 1998 in the New York Times: “Archaeologists have documented twelve thousand years of agriculture throughout which farmers have genetically altered crops by selecting certain seeds from one harvest and using them to plant the next, a process that has led to enormous changes in the crops we grow and the food we eat. It is only in the past thirty years that we have become able to do it through biotechnology at higher levels of predictability, precision, and safety.” Now, I happen to have a master’s degree in prehistoric archaeology and know for a fact that this is nonsense. Nothing remotely resembling modern biotechnology happened in the Neolithic period; as for the “precision” and “safety” of GMO production, any undergraduate student of genetics would be baffled by that insupportable assertion.
Here are some recent developments from around the world that bring into focus the deadly impact of genetically modified organisms on human health:
– In June 2011, a report was published on the largest ever analysis of the world’s prehistoric human remains – from the dawn of agriculture as compared to skeletal material prior to this shift. In the report, archaeologists at Emory University describe how people’s health appears to have dramatically declined when they shifted from hunting and gathering to relying on agriculture. The global bag of bones tells a story of nutritional deficiencies and stress resulting from increasing reliance on just a few foods (i.e. prehistoric monoculture) and the rapid evolution of human diseases arising from animal domestication. Over the next several thousand years, people began to learn more about nutrition through painful and deadly trial and error; it is probably only now that we really know what healthy nutrition means – and it cannot include GMOs. Modern medicine confirms for today what archaeologists know about the past: University of Missouri’s developmental biologist, Frederick vom Saal, goes so far as to suggest that all modern human diseases are being caused by environmental toxins of our own making.
– Former Health Canada scientist, Dr. Shiv Chopra, wrote in the April 28 issue of the Canadian Medical Association Journal: “Each year approximately 11 million Canadians suffer from food-borne disease (FBD). But there is more to FBD than food-borne infections. The Canadian food supply is presently the most toxic on earth, which is due to the indiscriminate use of hormones, antibiotics and slaughterhouse waste, along with pesticides and pesticide-dependent GMOs in food production. Sadly, the medical community is paying no attention to these causes of FBD [which] increase the incidence of cancer, diabetes, hormone disruption, neurological, immunological and other metabolic disorders.”
– Among the rapidly increasing number of biotech disasters are the huge cloning experiments in New Zealand which had to be abandoned because 90% of the animals endured unnecessary suffering and died.
– Mainstream research has found that GMO foods cause serious problems for human kidneys and the liver; anything that upsets the liver must be assumed to be exceedingly toxic. A thorough analysis of the exact biological pathways now known to be disrupted or poisoned by GM foods can be found in an excellent article by Sharry Edwards of the Institute of BioAcoustic Biology; it goes a long way towards explaining the huge increase in food allergies. The precision with which health effects can now be demonstrated, stemming from GMOs and their prerequisite pesticides, is so great that the exact pathways by which pesticides cause Parkinson’s are now understood….”