GMO's under fire

marshallz10(z9-10 CA)July 1, 2012

This 123-page report, available as a free PDF download at, is quite simply an astonishing

document. Its subtitle is "An Evidence-Based Examination of

the Claims Made for the Safety and Efficacy of Genetically Modified

Crops," and the evidence upon which it is based was

found by the report�s authors in the hundreds of references

from the scientific and technical literature that are listed in the

report. Below are excerpts from a news release (dated June 17,

  1. provided by the publisher of the report, Earth Open Source..."a not-for-profit organization dedicated to assuring

the sustainability, security, and safety of the global food system.

It supports agroecological, farmer-based systems that conserve

soil, water, and energy and that produce healthy and

nutritious food free from unnecessary toxins."

Key points from the report

  1. Genetic engineering as used in crop development is not precise or predictable and has not been shown to be safe. The technique can result in the unexpected production of toxins or allergens in food that are unlikely to be spotted in current regulatory checks.

2. GM crops, including some that are already in our food and animal feed supply, have shown clear signs of toxicity in animal feeding trials ��" notably disturbances in liver and kidney function and immune responses.

3. GM proponents have dismissed these statistically significant findings as “not biologically relevant/significant”, based on scientifically indefensible arguments.

4. Certain EU-commissioned animal feeding trials with GM foods and crops are often claimed by GM proponents to show they are safe. In fact, examination of these studies shows significant differences between the GM-fed and control animals that give cause for concern.

5. GM foods have not been properly tested in humans, but the few studies that have been carried out in humans give cause for concern.

6. The US FDA does not require mandatory safety testing of GM crops, and does not even assess the safety of GM crops but only “deregulates” them, based on assurances from biotech companies that they are “substantially equivalent” to their non-GM counterparts. This is like claiming that a cow with BSE is substantially equivalent to a cow that does not have BSE and is thus safe to eat! Claims of substantial equivalence cannot be justified on scientific grounds.

7. The regulatory regime for GM foods is weakest in the US, where GM foods do not even have to be assessed for safety or labelled in the marketplace, but in most regions of the world regulations are inadequate to protect people’s health from the potential adverse effects of GM foods.

8. In the EU, where the regulatory system is often claimed to be strict, minimal pre-market testing is required for a GMO and the tests are commissioned by the same companies that stand to profit from the GMO if it is approved ��" a clear conflict of interest.

9. No long-term toxicological testing of GMOs on animals or testing on humans is required by any regulatory agency in the world.

  1. Biotech companies have used patent claims and intellectual property protection laws to restrict access of independent researchers to GM crops for research purposes. As a result, limited research has been conducted on GM foods and crops by scientists who are independent of the GM industry. Scientists whose work has raised concerns about the safety of GMOs have been attacked and discredited in orchestrated campaigns by GM crop promoters.

  2. Most GM crops (over 75%) are engineered to tolerate applications of herbicides. Where such GM crops have been adopted, they have led to massive increases in herbicide use.

  3. Roundup, the herbicide that over 50% of all GM crops are engineered to tolerate, is not safe or benign as has been claimed but has been found to cause malformations (birth defects), reproductive problems, DNA damage, and cancer in test animals. Human epidemiological studies have found an association between Roundup exposure and miscarriage, birth defects, neurological development problems, DNA damage, and certain types of cancer.

  4. A public health crisis has erupted in GM soy-producing regions of South America, where people exposed to spraying with Roundup and other agrochemicals sprayed on the crop report escalating rates of birth defects and cancer.

  5. A large number of studies indicate that Roundup is associated with increased crop diseases, especially infection with Fusarium, a fungus that causes wilt disease in soy and can have toxic effects on humans and livestock.

  6. Bt insecticidal GM crops do not sustainably reduce pesticide use but change the way in which pesticides are used: from sprayed on, to built in.

  7. Bt technology is proving unsustainable as pests evolve resistance to the toxin and secondary pest infestations are becoming common.

  8. GM proponents claim that the Bt toxin engineered into GM plants is safe because the natural form of Bt, long used as a spray by conventional and organic farmers, has a history of safe use. But the GM forms of Bt toxins are different from the natural forms and could have different toxic and allergenic effects.

  9. GM Bt toxin is not limited in its toxicity to insect pests. GM Bt crops have been found to have toxic effects on laboratory animals in feeding trials.

  10. GM Bt crops have been found to have toxic effects on non-target organisms in the environment.

  11. Bt toxin is not fully broken down in digestion and has been found circulating in the blood of pregnant women in Canada and in the blood supply to their foetuses.

  12. The no-till method of farming promoted with GM herbicide-tolerant crops, which avoids ploughing and uses herbicides to control weeds, is not more climate-friendly than ploughing. No-till fields do not store more carbon in the soil than ploughed fields when deeper levels of soil are measured.

  13. No-till increases the negative environmental impacts of soy cultivation, because of the herbicides used.

  14. Golden Rice, a beta-carotene-enriched rice, is promoted as a GM crop that could help malnourished people overcome vitamin A deficiency. But Golden Rice has not been tested for toxicological safety, has been plagued by basic development problems, and, after more than 12 years and millions of dollars of research funding, is still not ready for the market. Meanwhile, inexpensive and effective solutions to vitamin A deficiency are available but under-used due to lack of funding.

  15. GM crops are often promoted as a “vital tool in the toolbox” to feed the world’s growing population, but many experts question the contribution they could make, as they do not offer higher yields or cope better with drought than non-GM crops. Most GM crops are engineered to tolerate herbicides or to contain a pesticide ��" traits that are irrelevant to feeding the hungry.

  16. High adoption of GM crops among farmers is not a sign that the GM crop is superior to non-GM varieties, as once GM companies gain control of the seed market, they withdraw non-GM seed varieties from the market. The notion of “farmer choice” does not apply in this situation.

  17. GM contamination of non-GM and organic crops has resulted in massive financial losses by the food and feed industry, involving product recalls, lawsuits, and lost markets.

  18. When many people read about high-yielding, pest- and disease-resistant, drought-tolerant, and nutritionally improved super-crops, they think of GM. In fact, these are all products of conventional breeding, which continues to outstrip GM in producing such crops. The report contains a long list of these conventional crop breeding successes.

  19. Certain “supercrops” have been claimed to be GM successes when in fact they are products of conventional breeding, in some cases assisted by the non-GM biotechnology of marker assisted selection.

  20. Conventional plant breeding, with the help of non-GM biotechnologies such as marker assisted selection, is a safer and more powerful method than GM to produce new crop varieties required to meet current and future needs of food production, especially in the face of rapid climate change.

  21. Conventionally bred, locally adapted crops, used in combination with agroecological farming practices, offer a proven, sustainable approach to ensuring global food security.

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Great info, Marshall; thanks for sharing.

I'll share something, too. John Scheeper's catalog offers many GMO-free seed choices. Our results with the seeds in our home garden have been very good--especially the snow peas :-)

(I have no affiliation with this company)

    Bookmark   July 1, 2012 at 3:38PM
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marshallz10(z9-10 CA)

Thanks for the suggestion. There are now dozens of mostly small seed companies that have take the anti-gmo seed pledge. Some will not even source seed from any Monsanto-controlled seed producer. Keep up the good fight, Elvis.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2012 at 4:10PM
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Not a pretty picture Marshall, if anyone ever wonders why the US doesn't require GM products food labeling, particularly BT corn, think corn lobbyists. Those guys are busy juggling GMO corn and HFCS....just hit me, BT in HFCS, yum a double whammy! Glad we're eating on some Ambrosia se non BT cobs tonite....a hybrid I know, but ooohhhh soooo sweeeet!

    Bookmark   July 1, 2012 at 5:47PM
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The bt-resistance bred into corn is beginning to look especially culpable....

    Bookmark   July 1, 2012 at 5:57PM
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So the three summers in he late '70s that I did all the weed control for the city I worked for and sprayed 600 gallons of Roundup a day all summer from the sprayer behind the jeep I drove around is what is catching up with me now. Not to mention the Metasystox I used for Cuban laurel thrips and symazine for seven year soil sterilization.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2012 at 6:17PM
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I would like print this list and hand out copies to people who don't know a thing about gmo's. Two weeks ago I talked with educated, intelligent people who thought a gmo was just another form of hybrid. I guess the public relations folks have done a good job of keeping an alarming number of people unaware of the truth.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2012 at 7:28PM
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I hear you, Althea. I have a slew of cigarette smoking ancestors who lived in the small family farm, eating natural vegetables and animals, and most lived into their 90's, some beyond. And I mean LIVED--not sickly people.

Not enough emphasis on what's right under our noses, literally. Lots of deflection toward other reasons people are so sickly nowadays.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2012 at 7:57PM
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marshallz10(z9-10 CA)

Oh, Don, I caught on, maybe early enough, when in the middle 70's I has hospitalized for excessive exposure to mostly systemic Orthene, a nerve poison. Then around 1979 or 1980 I was working for a company that insisted that the crews go out with hose-end bottle sprayers and soak the yards with Round-Up. I did that for one afternoon and vowed never to do that again.

I manage nearly 100 acres of property and don't miss the systemic herbicides at all.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2012 at 8:24PM
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Working with chemicals is very scary. My sis became a very young widow when she lost her DH to acute adult leukemia. He was working in a chemical factory. We thought something was fishy when they paid all medical bills and funeral expenses and his salary for a full year after he died. I'm glad to hear you got out of that line of work, Marshall.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2012 at 8:38PM
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marshallz10(z9-10 CA)

I'm still in "that line of work" but practice organic practices as part of Integrated Pest Management: least toxic action is nearly always the best choice. I try to talk new clients out of using the harsh and dangerous stuff. I learned that the hard way when a former client with a very young child and small hairy dog insisted in hiring a pest company to spray Orthene on hedges surrounding the back yard. I quite in protest. The dog died first and and daughter lingered for a few years with some form of Leukemia.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2012 at 9:15PM
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That's ghastly--and tragic. You did what you could.

I'm certainly not against all chemicals, but using them incorrectly, or when there's doubt about their safety--well, I won't do it. It's not hard to pick bugs off by hand, but on a large scale, like commercial farming, how do you get around it? Hire seasonal "bug pickers"?


    Bookmark   July 1, 2012 at 10:14PM
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marshallz10(z9-10 CA)

Monocropping, especially fielding narrow genetic material, is sure to attracts grazers, parasites and diseases. There is insufficient space and time to describe the many alternatives that have been and still are in practice. "Bugs" are among nature's cleanup crew, taking down old, stressed and otherwise unhealthy plants. Another minority of bugs and mites (and parasitizing critters) control outbreads of the "bad bugs". For the farmer the question becomes what level of economic impact can he stand before using rescue materials to salvage the crop. The smart farmer understands that the more pesticides used, the more likely the next outbreak will be worse because of the negative impact of pesticides on smaller populations of beneficial insects and mites.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2012 at 10:50PM
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Terrific thread and responses, thanks!

    Bookmark   July 1, 2012 at 11:07PM
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Well, we're definitely not monocropping, so that's good for us. Only found one caterpillar today (on a tom plant), but something's chewing here and there on the sweet spuds. Probably grasshoppers. Useful only for bass fishing, in my mind.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2012 at 11:46PM
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Marshall is teasing ya'll with a tiny part of his accumulated knowledge.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2012 at 7:21AM
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Tease away, Marshall, if that's indeed what you are doing. In fact, bring it on--this is GARDENWEB, after all. ;-D

    Bookmark   July 2, 2012 at 7:55AM
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Yeah Marshall--why do you hate shareholders? What's wrong with making a killing?

    Bookmark   July 2, 2012 at 8:23AM
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Once again, logic and common sense should tell us that when it comes to breeding anything, be it flora or fauna, we can only manipulate genes so much... but we cannot control what Mother Nature does with them. Alleles will line up as they want to... not as we want them to. It's not an exact science.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2012 at 8:59AM
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