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Some day soon, you might tuck into a plate of salmon without knowing that the fish you are eating was genetically engineered. The so-called AquAdvantage salmon, a salmon genetically engineered to grow faster than normal salmon, just moved one step closer to legalization. If so, (Photo: Andrea Pokrzywinski via Flickr)it will be the first genetically engineered (GE) animal allowed for consumption in the United States. Thus, every part of the regulatory process related to the GE salmon sets a precedent for all future GE animals in the United States – and so far, according to experts, that precedent is a sloppy, inadequate one.
What Is AquAdvantage Salmon?
To create the GE salmon, the Boston-based public company AquaBounty Technologies inserted DNA from another salmon species and an eel-like fish into the genome of an Atlantic salmon. The new genes make the GE salmon produce growth hormone all year round instead of just for three months a year as they normally would. This helps them grow to market size in 16 to 18 months instead of the usual 30 months required for an Atlantic salmon.
To prevent any GE salmon from escaping into the wild, surviving, and reproducing there, AquaBounty will only produce female GE salmon, each with three sets of DNA instead of the normal two. Triploids, as organisms with three sets of DNA are called, are infertile. Therefore, producing only female, triploid GE fish should provide two mechanisms of preventing reproduction should any fish escape into the wild. (Obviously, it takes a bit of scientific tinkering to create an all-female triploid fish population and the process used to do this might make your stomach turn.)
AquaBounty will produce salmon eggs in Prince Edward Island, Canada. Then it will transport them to an inland facility in Panama, where it will grow the fish, harvest, and process them. The firm claims no live fish will ever enter the United States.
How Are GE Animals Regulated?
The next question one might ask is how the federal government goes about deciding whether or not a GE animal should be allowed in our food supply. Under a 1980s decision, written by anti-regulation ideologues in the Reagan and Bush I era before any GE foods – plants or animals – were ready for commercialization, the government decided that no new laws were needed to regulate GE plants or animals. This decision is called “the Coordinated Framework for the Regulation of Biotechnology,” or the Coordinated Framework for short.
Whereas the European Union debated the regulation of GE foods and drafted new laws to address issues such as safety, traceability, allergenicity and environmental impacts, the U.S. never passed any new laws specific to GE animals or had the kind of public debate passing a new law would require. Instead, they decided to regulate GE animals as “animal drugs,” using laws that are not well-suited to the unique, complex issues posed by GE animals. Specifically, the government considers the extra DNA added to the GE animals as the “animal drug.” New Animal Drugs are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, and they receive input from the Veterinary Medicine Advisory Committee (VMAC) – a committee mostly made up of veterinarians, not genetic engineering experts.
When a new animal drug is approved, it is only approved for production in a specific facility. Therefore, if you invent a new pill for cats, you submit data on its production in a specific facility, and you receive approval to produce it only in that facility. If you decide to build eight more factories because your drug is so popular, you must go back to the FDA to receive approval for the eight new facilities.
2010: Sloppy Science on Trial
Back in 2010, the FDA took the first steps to approve AquaBounty’s application to produce the GE salmon. It released a draft Environmental Assessment (EA) and several hundred pages of safety testing data from experiments performed by AquaBounty on the GE salmon. Then it gave the public a mere two weeks to comment on the data, and it convened VMAC to advise it on the GE salmon.
For watchdog groups, this was the first signal that something was, well, fishy. Consumers Union senior scientist Michael Hansen excoriated the safety data as “sloppy,” “misleading,” and “woefully inadequate.” In addition to using small sample sizes and culling deformed fish and thus skewing the data, AquaBounty only provided data gathered in its Prince Edward Island facility, where it will produce GE salmon eggs. But, by law, it must also provide data from its Panama facility, where it will grow the salmon to full size.
The VMAC committee didn’t give a resounding approval either. The New York Times summarized their findings, saying, “While a genetically engineered salmon is almost certainly safe to eat, the government should pursue a more rigorous analysis of the fish's possible health effects and environmental impact.” However, the committee only advises the FDA, and its decisions are not binding.
2012: FDA Readies Its Rubber Stamp
Following the VMAC meeting and a second, public meeting on labeling issues surrounding the GE salmon, the FDA went silent. Over the next two years, it quietly examined the public comments and the input from the VMAC committee. But despite VMAC’s suggestion for a more rigorous analysis, the FDA moved the application one step closer to approval without really addressing the gaping holes in the AquaBounty’s science. In May of 2012, it produced an ever-so-slightly improved Environmental Assessment (EA) compared to the original draft it made public in 2010, and a preliminary “Finding of No Significant Impact” (FONSI).
The preliminary FONSI and draft EA were not made public until they were published in the Federal Register on December 26, 2012. At that point, the FDA began a 60-day period in which the public could review its findings and submit comments.
What happened between 2010 and 2012 to improve our confidence that the GE salmon is safe for human consumption and for the environment? Nothing. There’s no new data whatsoever. The only changes are a few minor additions to the EA – certainly not enough to inspire confidence that the government heard the critiques made in 2010 and addressed them.
What’s Fishy About the GE Salmon?
“There are still unanswered safety and nutritional questions and the quality of the data that was submitted to the FDA was the worst stuff I've ever seen submitted for a GMO. There's stuff there that couldn't make it through a high school science class,” reflected Hansen in early 2013, after reviewing the newly released documents.
Almost laughing, Hansen remarks on the obvious flaws in AquaBounty’s scientific justification of the fish’s safety, saying, “That's not science, that's a joke!" Becoming more serious, he adds, “There's allergenicity questions and other health questions. It shouldn't be approved. They don't have any data to show that it's safe."
"There are environmental issues as well,” Hansen continues. “Not so much in Panama, but on Prince Edward Island. That's where they're going to producing eggs. Guess what, to produce eggs, you've gotta have fertile adults." Before the wild Atlantic salmon population was decimated, the waters around Prince Edward Island was salmon habitat. An escaped GE fish could easily thrive there. “Yet,” adds Hansen, “they conclude that even if they get out the water's too cold!”
In an interview with Flash in the Pan, environmental risk scientist Anne Kapuscinski also criticized the FDA’s process. Back in the 1990s, she authored the reports on how to perform environmental risk assessment. But, by 2007, her 1990s publications were so out of date that she led a team of scientists to write an updated book on the subject. Despite the updated scientific methods, the FDA opted to use the old, outdated methods from the 1990s to conduct its environmental risk assessment on the GE salmon.
The 2007 publication was rigorously peer reviewed by reviewers from around the world. Yet, the FDA ignored it. Kapuscinski calls their methods unscientific, adding that if the FDA were a student who submitted this report for a grade, it would fail. “Students would get into serious trouble if they were citing really old methods, and there had been huge advances in the methods since then and they ignored that. That would be a reason to fail them.”
She submitted comments back in 2010, but says, “it looks like either they didn’t read our comments or they just decided to ignore them.” She points out that the Panama facility that AquaBounty will use to grow the fish out of is not large enough for a commercial venture. “It’s at a scale to show proof of concept of the commercial viability of this,” she said. “Once the company scales up to selling millions and millions of eggs, the fish will be farmed by producers with all kinds of facilities.” Those facilities might not be as well protected as the one in Panama. Unless the FDA brings its risk assessment methods up to date, we have no adequate, scientific assurance that GE salmon won’t escape into the wild.
Despite the scientific questions, there’s no sign that the FDA will overturn its preliminary decision to allow commercialization of the GE salmon. The best Michael Hansen is hoping for at this point is a requirement that the GE salmon – one legalized – will be labeled as genetically engineered. He calls this “an outside chance.”
Unfortunately, as Hansen notes, "This is to set a precedent. If they let the GE salmon go through, why would any other company that wants to get a genetically engineered animal through bother” producing rigorous, scientifically valid data to prove its product’s safety?
If you don’t want to see GE salmon in your local supermarket in as little as a few years, you can take action. The FDA is accepting public comments until April 26, 2013. You can write your own message and submit it at Regulations.gov or you can join Food and Water Watch’s campaign against the GE salmon here. You can also write your representatives to let them know your point of view.
© 2013 Center for Media and Democracy
Last year the FDA rejected a 2008 citizen petition, which presented scientific studies linking carrageenan to gastrointestinal inflammation, including cancer. The petition was filed by Dr. Joanne Tobacman, a physician-researcher at the University of Illinois – Chicago College of Medicine, who has been studying food-grade carrageenan for more than a decade.
“The FDA’s justification for denial was based on a sloppy and incomplete evaluation of available published research, and it was riddled with overt bias which appears to protect an industry’s profits at the expense of public health,” says Charlotte Vallaeys, Director of Farm and Food Policy at Cornucopia, a Wisconsin-based non-profit food policy research group. “We have asked them to reevaluate.”
Carrageenan is a highly processed additive extracted from red seaweed. The controversial material contributes no nutritional value or flavor, but is added to affect the texture of a wide range of foods and beverages.
Scientists have raised concern about its safety for decades, based on research linking food-grade carrageenan in the diet of laboratory animals to gastrointestinal disease, including colon tumors.
“Carrageenan has a unique chemical structure, and research has shown that this chemical structure may trigger an innate immune response in the body,” says Dr. Pradeep Dudeja, Professor of Physiology in Medicine at the University of Illinois – Chicago, who has co-authored nine studies on carrageenan.
“The immune response leads to inflammation, which is a serious public health concern since chronic, low-grade inflammation is a well-known precursor to more serious diseases, including diabetes and cancer,” he adds.
Recent research exploring carrageenan’s effects on the body has been supported financially by National Institutes of Health grants, and was prompted by animal studies showing damage to the gastrointestinal tract from food-grade carrageenan.
More than a dozen animal studies, conducted since the late 1960s, have raised concern about carrageenan’s safety, but the FDA failed to consider the vast majority of these studies in its analysis. The FDA also asserted that these studies have been “disputed,” a claim based on a paper by Duika Burges Watson, a geography professor from Durham University in the UK who appears to have no medical or scientific degree or background.
“It is unclear why the FDA would place higher value on the opinion of a social scientist from the UK than on the medical studies funded by the National Institutes of Health,” observes Vallaeys.
“It is disappointing that the FDA continues to permit carrageenan to be used as a food additive despite clear evidence that it causes inflammation,” says Dr. Tobacman.
Medical specialists in the US are taking these concerns seriously. Dr. Stephen Hanauer, MD, Chief of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition at the University of Chicago School of Medicine, states: “The rising incidence and prevalence of ulcerative colitis across the globe is correlated with the increased consumption of processed foods, including products containing carrageenan.”
Dr. Hanauer and Dr. Tobacman are currently conducting a study using human patients with ulcerative colitis, a serious gastrointestinal disease.
“Since carrageenan has been found to cause colitis in animal models of ulcerative colitis we felt it would be important to perform a well-controlled dietary study to determine whether carrageenan causes exacerbations (flare ups) of ulcerative colitis in patients in clinical remission,” adds Dr. Hanauer, who is also the Joseph B. Kirsner Professor of Medicine and Clinical Pharmacology at the University of Chicago School of Medicine.
The Cornucopia Institute also just released a report, Carrageenan: How a ‘Natural’ Food Additive Is Making Us Sick, which compiles scientific studies pointing to harm from consuming food-grade carrageenan. Cornucopia also produced an accompanying buyer's guide for avoiding the ingredient. Some well-known physicians, like Dr. Andrew Weil, have been warning consumers about carrageenan for years.
“[Dr. Tobacman] explained that all forms of carrageenan are capable of causing inflammation. This is bad news. We know that chronic inflammation is a root cause of many serious diseases including heart disease, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, and cancer,” stated Dr. Weil. “All told, I recommend avoiding regular consumption of foods containing carrageenan,” he adds.
Cornucopia already shared an analysis of the scientific data with many organic food and beverage companies. After learning about carrageenan’s harmful effects on human health, some companies are actively reformulating their products to remove the dangerous additive.
The organic yogurt maker Stonyfield Farm recently joined companies like Eden Foods in committing to remove carrageenan from all its products. “We are pleased to see Stonyfield boldly siding with their informed customers in this debate,” says Vallaeys.
A shopping guide on Cornucopia’s website points consumers to carrageenan-free alternatives for many products. For example, Tofu Shop Specialty Foods, Inc., an organic soy foods producer in Arcata, CA, has for years offered chocolate soy milk without carrageenan. The food industry’s claim is that chocolate milk and chocolate soy milk require carrageenan, because it suspends the cocoa particles. The easy alternative to carrageenan, in this case, is asking consumers to shake or stir the beverage first.
"We couldn't find an organic thickener for our soy milks, and one of our employees had the great idea to simply say "Shake It Up" on the bottle,” says Matthew Schmit, The Tofu Shop’s founder and president. “We're confident that our customers don't mind the minimal effort of shaking the soy milk first and that they prefer a wholesome product free of additives."
Other companies, like Dean Foods, which owns the Horizon organic brand and Silk brand, appear unwilling to part with this convenient additive and are attempting to dispute the science, disseminating misleading claims that food-grade carrageenan is "natural" and therefore safe.
“Natural does not mean safe,” says Vallaeys. “Poison ivy is natural, but you wouldn’t put it in skin lotion. Given that carrageenan appears to do to your gut what poison ivy does to your skin, we urge all companies to remove this ingredient from the foods and beverages they sell.”
“We hope the FDA will act in the public’s interest and perform a good faith evaluation of the science, and revoke the regulations that currently allow carrageenan in food,” says Vallaeys. “But until they do, it is up to individual consumers to take their safety and health into their own hands and avoid any foods and beverages containing this harmful ingredient.”
An important debate over the safety of the e-cigarette is raging.
January 31, 2013 |
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Cigarette smokers in the United States have been under steady attack. To smoke is no longer considered glamorous, cool or socially acceptable. Smokers are confronted and shamed by non-smokers and have been banished to huddle and inhale in remote locations far from public view. A series of state laws prohibit smoking in almost all workplaces, restaurants and bars. The most common exceptions to smoking bans are casinos, strip clubs and brothels. Signs outside of buildings order smokers to stand a specific distance away from the entrance.
Last May, New York City banned smoking in parks, beaches, boardwalks and pedestrian plazas. Mayor Bloomberg said, "When you ask people in our parks and beaches they say they just don't want smokers there."
Smoking cigarettes, which are still legal, has become as stigmatized as smoking crack. An addiction that was once ubiquitous and promoted is now routinely demonized.
As a result of public health campaigns waged over decades against the lies of the tobacco industry, the number of smokers in the United States has declined. Still, according to the Centers for Disease Control, 443,000 Americans die prematurely from smoking-related illnesses and secondhand smoke. The World Health Organization reports that tobacco kills nearly 6 million people worldwide every year.
Currently, about 45 million Americans smoke tobacco. Seventy percent say they would like to quit and every year 40 percent do for at least one day. The 80 percent who quit relapse within one month and each year only 3 percent of those who quit are successful.
To help people quit, a number of nicotine replacement products are available: gums, lozenges, inhalers, nasal sprays and transdermal patches.
The electronic cigarette (e-cig) is the newest nicotine delivery device and has been available since 2008. Electronic cigarettes look and feel like cigarettes but with one crucial difference: They don’t contain tobacco. Smoking-caused disease is a consequence of repeated exposure to carcinogens in tobacco smoke, not to the ingestion of nicotine.
About 2.5 million people use e-cigarettes in the U.S., according to an estimate by the Tobacco Vapor Electronic Cigarette Association. The number of e-cig smokers is sure to grow as they become more widely available and the cost drops. The price of a starter kit ranges from between $60 to $100. Cartridges of liquid nicotine, one equals one pack of cigarettes, costs about $2.
Big Tobacco views e-cigarette companies as a threat to its profits and is moving to buy them up. Forbes reports that Lorillard, the third largest tobacco company, just bought Blu Ecigs for $135 million. The company earned $30 million in revenue in 2011 and the electronic cigarette market as a whole, generates between $250 million to $500 million. With a long track record of addicting people to tobacco through aggressive marketing campaigns, deception and disinformation, the danger is that these corporations will do the same with e-cigarettes.
The battery operated e-cigarette is easy to use. An atomizer heats and vaporizes a cartridge filled with nicotine, which is inhaled by the user. The water vapor that is exhaled has no odor because there is no combustion. The e-cig contains five ingredients: nicotine, water, glycerol, propylene glycol and flavorings like cherry and vanilla. Both glycerol and propylene glycol are used in other nicotine replacement products.
An important debate has been ignited over the safety of the e-cigarette.
Several years ago, the Federal Drug Administration found trace amounts of toxic ingredients in several samples and attempted to regulate e-cigarettes as drug-delivery devices. A federal judge ruled in 2010 that the FDA lacked the authority. Now the FDA is moving to regulate them as tobacco products. This is nonsensical. The e-cigarette is a drug delivery device and not a tobacco product. And in a confusing move, the FDA has seized shipments of electronic cigarettes on the grounds that they are illegal drug-delivery devices.
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On this week’s Real Politik James speaks with Norma Erickson, president of Sanevax Inc. Founded in 2010, Sanevax is an international clearinghouse of information and advocacy concerning one of big pharma’s most corrupt and dangerous profit-generating schemes: the HPV vaccine. Amazingly, the HPV vaccine is recommended by several governments as a preventative to cervical cancer. Yet there is no evidence that HPV is in any way related to such cancer. At the same time the pharmaceutical company’s own studies indicate that 2.5% of women who receive the vaccine–that’s 2,500 for every 100,000–will have one or more adverse reactions. Such figures are corroborated by the number of adverse reactions reported to the Centers for Disease Control since the mid-2000s when Gardasil hit the market.
Sanevax presently has affiliates in over 30 countries, and has been especially influential in educating the public on the HPV vaccine’s dangers while acting as a conduit for medical professionals and policy makers to challenge the pharmaceutical industry’s increased control over official vaccination programs.
Norma Erickson began to research the HPV vaccine as an investigative writer. Her findings led her to the establishment of Sanevax. “The Sanevax team and all of the people that we work with strongly believe that vaccines should scientifically proven to meet four common sense criteria: They should be scientifically proven safe, affordable, necessary and effective prior to their inclusion in any mass vaccination program. We work with doctors, attorneys, scientists, health advocates, injured girls and their families, and handle most anything having to do with the HPV vaccine controversy.”
Sanevax has succeeded in prompting or facilitating policy reforms in several countries concerning the HPV vaccine, yet United States regulators are among the most impervious to information contradicting data they are fed by major pharmaceutical companies. “Probably the first thing we started working on was the discovery of contamination in the Gardasil vaccine,” she notes.
Dr. Sing Hang Lee agreed to test a vial of Gardasil for us because an individual in Canada reported that her daughter had tested positive for HPV in her blood two years after innoculation. This same girl had been diagnosed with rhematoid arthritis 24 hours after her second injection. I knew from my research and speaking with experts that HPV did not remain in the bloodstream for more than 48 hours–at least natural HPV viruses didn’t. The immune system took care of them within that period of time.
We kept researching and researching, talked to Dr. Lee, and we came to the conclusion that we had to rule out the Gardasil vaccine because it had been advertised, promoted, and approved in every country around the world based on the fact that it had no viral DNA in it. So, we felt obligated to rule it out for this parent. [Dr. Lee] tested that first vial, and sure enough there it was: recombinant HPV DNA in Gardasil. We immediately informed the FDA. They brushed it off, changed their website, and indicated that it was no health problem whatsoever. It was a natural part of the manufacturing process.
Merck is releasing a new HPV vaccine despite the fact that the number of vaccine injuries attributable to Gardasil and reported to the CDC’s own Vaccine Adverse Reaction Reporting System have skyrocketed since its introduction in 2006. “As a kind of indication of what one can expect, Merck just got Gardasil 9 approved. During the clinical trials for Gardasil 9 they used Gardasil as the control solution. Normal people would say placebo. (A placebo is an inactive solution.) They used Gardasil during that time and because they had not conducted the safety trials for any great length on Gardasil the FDA required that they follow these girls throughout the course of the study, which was three years. Their new package insert indicates that the serious adverse event rate was 2.5% for Gardasil and 2.3% for Gardasil 9. Now that doesn’t sound like a whole lot until you translate that in to per 100,000 recipients.”
With the above in mind, among Sanevax’s most disturbing observations is the fact that the cervical cancer rate per 100,000 females is far surpassed by the rate of adverse reactions attributable to the HPV vaccine–as evidenced in the manufacturers’ own studies. “When you look at cervical cancer statistics they’re always quoted as x number per 100,000. In the United States there are approximately 12 diagnoses of cervical cancer per year per 100,000 people. If you innoculate that same 100,000 with Gardasil, for instance, you can expect 2,500 adverse events. I can’t see how anyone in their right mind would say that’s a logical tradeoff to avoid 12 cervical cancer diagnoses.”
Further, there is no confirmed link between HPV and cancer. “HPV is associated with cervical cancer. It has never been proven to cause cervical cancer or any other kind of cancer in and of itself,” Erickson explains. “In fact, there’s some very good scientific evidence that’s just been released recently that indicates it may not cause cancer at all.”
Sanevax has produced and participated in the creation of several documentaries highlighting the dangers of the HPV vaccine, many of which highlight how young lives can be destroyed after administration of the HPV vaccine. For example, it brought US high schooler Gabi Swank to the attention of The Greater Good‘s producers following Swank’s extreme adverse reaction linked to Gardasil. Such stories are especially tragic because they involve adolescent girls stricken with terminally debilitating mental, emotional and physical conditions just as they are about to enter womanhood.
I’m working on a story now that’s going to be published on our website where a girl in Ireland was administered the vaccine in a school program … This was according to her father. She had an adverse reaction straight away. For over an hour she was left lying on a mat on the floor while the rest of the girls were being vaccinated. During this time she had seizure-like jerking, rolling eyes, blurred vision, headache, nausea, etc. That was only the beginning of their journey. The parents were called to the school to pick her up and they were told that they were overreacting when they asked why an ambulance wasn’t called, and that all of these symptoms would wear off. Now, six months later, the little girl is still suffering those symptoms and more.
We have had reports of spontaneous abortions, still births, miscarriages, adrenal failure, severe anxiety and panic attacks, autistic-like symptoms, the whole gamut of auto-immune disorders. There are 70 or 80 recognized autoimmune disorders, and these girls are coming up with any and all of them.
“Biotech companies and proponents of conventional, industrial agriculture have touted genetically engineered crops as the key to feeding a more populous, wealthier world, but recent studies show that this promise has fallen flat.”
“Biotech companies and their customers in chemical agriculture have been attempting to sell the benefits of GMOs for two decades. Between exaggerated claims about feeding the world and a dramatic escalation in the use of toxic pesticides, it is no wonder consumers are increasingly skeptical.”
“Seed companies’ investment in improving the yields of GMOs in already high-yielding areas does little to improve food security; it mainly helps line the pockets of seed and chemical companies and producers of corn ethanol. The world’s resources would be better spent focusing on strategies to actually increase food supplies and access to basic resources for the poor small farmers who need it most.”
So much for open discourse based on sound science and reasoned argument.
“Greenpeace notably decides its opinions must prevail regardless of others, so it arrogates to itself the right to tear up and destroy things it doesn’t like. That is absolutely typical of people who are unable to convince others by debate and discussion and in the last century such attitudes, amplified obviously, ended up killing people that others did not like. But the same personality type the authoritarian, ‘do as I tell you’, was at the root of it all. Such groups therefore sit uneasily with countries that are democracies.”
“It would be nice if you could say you are a democrat and believe that argument is better than destruction but argument that deals with all the facts and does not select out of those to construct a misleading programme. Misleading selection of limited information is causing considerable problems in various parts of the world that leads some into very violent behaviour, particularly in religious belief. I am sure you agree that this is not a good way forward… Whatever their [farmers’] choice is… they must be allowed to make that decision… That is the nature of every democracy that I hope all will finally live under?”
“Anyone who’s seen the recent virally circulated Venn diagrams of the personnel overlap between Monsanto and USDA personnel, or Pfizer and FDA, will immediately know what I’m talking about… A model of capitalism in which the commanding heights of the economy are an interlocking directorate of large corporations and government agencies, a major share of the total operating costs of the dominant firms are socialized (and profits privatized, of course), and “intellectual property” protectionism and other regulatory cartels allow bureaucratic corporate dinosaurs… to operate profitably without fear of competition." Kevin Carson, Center for a Stateless Society.
This is not what the GMO industry wanted to see: banner headlines in major newspapers and across the internet exposing the fraud behind GMOs. But this constitutes much more than a PR nightmare. The story behind the headlines shakes the very foundations upon which the industry is built.
“Contrary to the assertions of its proponents, the massive enterprise to reconfigure the genetic core of the world’s food supply is not based on sound science but on the systematic subversion of science – and it would collapse if subjected to an open airing of the facts.”
“convince the public and government officials, through the dissemination of false information, that there was an overwhelming expert consensus, based on solid evidence, that the new foods were safe. Yet this, as Druker points out, was clearly not true.”
“Druker describes how amazingly successful the biotech lobby has been – and the extent to which the general public and government decision makers have been hoodwinked by the clever and methodical twisting of the facts and the propagation of many myths. Moreover, it appears that a number of respected scientific institutions, as well as many eminent scientists, were complicit in this relentless spreading of disinformation.”
“It will go a long way toward dispelling the confusion and delusion that has been created regarding the genetic engineering process and the foods it creates. Although this book tells a story that’s in many ways distressing, it’s important that it has finally been told because so much confusion has been spread and so many important decision-makers have apparently been deluded.”
“Contrary to the assertions of its proponents, the massive enterprise to reconfigure the genetic core of the world’s food supply is not based on sound science but on the systematic subversion of science – and it would collapse if subjected to an open airing of the facts.”
“Steven Druker’s investigation into the history of fraud and deceit that ushered in the era of GM deserves serious consideration before we take actions that will irreversibly alter the European food supply.”
Speaking last week in Pretoria, former UK Environment Minister Owen Paterson described critics of GMOs as comprising part of a privileged class that increasingly fetishizes food and seeks to turn their personal preferences into policy proscriptions for the rest of us. He called them backward-looking and regressive. He claimed their policies would condemn billions to hunger, poverty and underdevelopment because of their insistence on mandating primitive, inefficient farming techniques.
“… the ‘Green Blob’ – a reference to a 1950s Sci-Fi movie starring Steve McQueen in which a blob-like alien attacks Earth and swallows everything in its path: the environmental pressure groups, renewable energy companies and some public officials who keep each other well supplied with lavish funds, scare stories and green tape. This tangled triangle of unelected busybodies claims to have the interest of the planet and the countryside at heart, but it is increasingly clear that it is focusing on the wrong issues and doing real harm while profiting handsomely.”
“There are many impediments standing between the vision of agricultural progress and Africa, of course, but none is more pernicious than the Blob. It is supported by massive funding provided by the EU itself, as well as numerous church and humanitarian groups, and the well-meaning but misguided generosity of the privileged classes in Europe and elsewhere. It has undue influence in the media, government and international institutions. Unfortunately, few question either its credentials or motives.” (see the full text of the speech here)
Paterson then proceeded to proclaim the virtues of GMOs and laid out a series of slurs, falsehoods and cherry-picked proclamations that anyone would be forgiven for thinking had come straight from the pen of a GMO agribusiness employee. But it wouldn’t have been the first time would it? In the case of this bit of poetry that Paterson likes so much, it came courtesy of Syngenta.
No, such practices are commonplace. Indeed, across the globe uncaged corporate parrots seem to be perched on the highest of ledges:
“We have had the National Academies of Science give a clean chit of biosafety to GM crops — doing that by using paragraphs lifted wholesale from the industry’s own literature! Likewise, Ministers in the PMO who know nothing about the risks of GMOs have similarly sung the virtues of Bt Brinjal and its safety to an erstwhile Minister of Health. They have used, literally, 'cut & paste' evidence from the biotech lobby’s 'puff' material. Are these officials then, 'uncaged corporate parrots'?” Aruna Rodrigues, writing about the situation in India here in The Hindu.
Some points to consider for any rational thinking person
You would if you are the US government, which has done exactly that, as described in Drukers new book 'Altered Genes, Twisted Truth: How the Venture to Genetically Engineer Our Food Has Subverted Science, Corrupted Government and Systematically Deceived the Public' (Clear River Press, March 2015).
“It is these powerful corporations (not a ‘green blob’), whose owners are part of the privileged class that seek to turn their vested interests into policy proscriptions for the rest of us. It is this backward-looking and regressive class whose policies have already condemned tens of millions to hunger, poverty and underdevelopment. It is this privileged class (not a ‘green blob’) that has swallowed up everything in its path facilitated by public officials who are well supplied with lavish funds, scare stories and ‘green revolution’ rhetoric. This tangled triangle of unelected, unaccountable corporations claims to have the interest of the planet and the countryside at heart, but it is increasingly clear that it is focusing on the wrong issues and doing real harm while profiting handsomely. There are many impediments standing between the vision of agricultural progress and Africa, of course, but none is more pernicious than this group that is supported by massive profits often secured from fraudulent practices and by often well-meaning but gullible people who buy into its rhetoric. It has undue influence in the media, government and international institutions. Fortunately, there are many who question its credentials and motives.”
Readers are urged to read this to appreciate why Paterson has got is so wrong.