Prop 37: David vs. Goliath

Written by Chris Kanthan. Posted in Business, Environment, Healthcare, News, Politics

Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Published on August 19, 2012 with 30 Comments

This November, Californians will vote on a question that affects all of us – do we have the right to know what’s in our food?

By Chris Kanthan

August 19, 2012

Some of the biggest corporations are spending millions of dollars to defeat Proposition 37, a controversial initiative on the California November ballot calling for the labeling of food and beverages that contain GMOs or Genetically Modified Organisms.

For many, this battle is a little perplexing as they wonder what a GMO is, or why a genetically modified potato, for instance, is called an ‘organism’ and not a vegetable; if GMO is good or bad, why it should be labeled; and why the issue brings up so much passion on either side. Let’s break it down.

What is a GMO crop or plant?

There are several crops and vegetables that are genetically modified to have some specific characteristics. Some of the popular ones include corn, soy, beets, cotton, alfalfa and canola. Bovine growth hormone (given to cows to increase milk production) and aspartame (the sweetener in many diet drinks) are also derived from genetically modified bacteria and would fall under the big label of GMO.

These are called organisms because the U.S. patent law prohibits patenting “natural” things. So you cannot patent a tomato from your garden, or a rare frog you found while hiking. However, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1980 in a 5-4 decision that things that are produced in a laboratory – and not found in nature – can be patented. So if you take a frog gene and put it inside the tomato, then that’s patentable, and yes it has been done!

In most of these crops, after the bacteria’s gene is inserted into the plant’s cell, the plant starts either producing pesticides on its own, or the plant becomes resistant to certain herbicides.

In the former case, every cell of the plant produces a toxin called “Bt toxin” which kills the insects that would otherwise have destroyed the farm. And the advantage is farmers have to spray less pesticide. The flip side is the bugs can become resistant to Bt toxin over time and this can lead to superbugs. Also, when you eat the plants, you are getting a dose of Bt toxin as well. And studies have shown that the genes from the GM food can get transferred to our blood through the bacteria in our intestines. Other studies have shown that Bt toxin can kill human cells, cause organ damages etc.

In the second popular kind of GMO plants, the genes of the bacteria inside the plant cell make the plant resistant to powerful herbicides like Roundup (made by Monsanto). The benefits to farmers are that they don’t need to employ a lot of people to remove the weeds manually and they can also plant the crops much more densely. So this increases the yield in a given amount of land. The disadvantages are that Roundup resistant superweeds are showing up everywhere and farmers are forced to spend more on toxic herbicides. Roundup by Monsanto has a toxicity of class 3, according to the EPA, meaning that 30 grams can kill an adult human being. Several studies have shown this chemical to cause birth defects in humans and also infertility and cancer in animals. The collapse of bee colonies have also been linked to herbicides and pesticides. Institute for Responsible Technology, founded by Jeffrey Smith, has documented many of the scientific studies in this area.

More extensive testing could and should be done, but there are several roadblocks to overcome. The FDA and other government agencies in charge of approving GMOs don’t do any testing on their own. They only look at the final test results and conclusions provided by the company and the companies don’t release raw data to the public. Furthermore, Monsanto and others test their products on one mammal (rats) for just 90 days. No long-term studies are done on animals, and no studies are done with human subjects. Pharmaceutical drugs, on the other hand, need to have human studies.

Finally, the Patent rights of the companies over the seeds give them extraordinary power in limiting or even stopping independent studies. Just like when you purchase software, you agree to pages of restrictions – scientists in the U.S. face debilitating lawsuits if they try to test the biotech seeds. “The Monsanto agreement with the USDA covers research into crop production practices, for example, but not research into issues such as the health risks of genetically engineered crops.”

Labeling

Consider the fact that more than 90 percent of all corn, soy, beets, and canola in the U.S. are GM (genetically modified) and you can see immediately how most of the processed food in the U.S. will have GMOs in them. After all, if you walk into the aisle of a supermarket, you will be hard-pressed to find anything that doesn’t have corn starch, high fructose corn syrup, soy, sugar (beet sugar is just labeled ‘sugar’), or canola oil — cereals, jams, candies, bread, muffins, cookies, cupcakes, sodas, sports drinks, sauces, juices… the list goes on.

It is also a fact that more than 40 countries in the world mandate labeling of GMO products, including the entire European Union, China, Russia and Australia. There are other countries that make GMO labeling voluntary and many other countries have plans to introduce GMO labeling.

In the U.S., several laws have been proposed at the federal level but they all have failed so far. Even Obama promised in 2007 that he would push for GMO labeling, a promise he has not kept so far. More than twenty States have attempted to pass GMO labeling bills including Oregon, Vermont, Connecticut, Colorado, and New York – and in each case their attempts have been thwarted by big corporations using extensive lobbying or threats to sue the States.

As for Prop 37, corporations will be spending more than $20 million to influence voters. Grocery Manufacturers Association President Pamela Bailey said defeating the initiative “is the single-highest priority this year.” Pepsi Co, Coca-Cola, and Kellogg together have so far spent $3 million. Biotech giants Monsanto and DuPont have contributed more than $8 million.

It is interesting to note that in almost every State that has tried to pass GMO labeling bills or ballot initiatives, including California, polls show that between 75-95 percent of the people support it and in a nationwide poll, 93 percent of Americans said they would like to see GMO labeling.

Arguments of either sides

Opponents of Prop 37 and other similar measures claim that such labeling practice would require extensive testing and hence would cost a lot of money. Moreover, there might be confusion about requirements – how much GMO in a food or drink would necessitate labeling; frivolous lawsuits; increased costs in relabeling products; and increased food prices if some products switch to non-GMO products.

To address these concerns, proponents of “California Right to Know” ask:

– If GMO labeling is so cost prohibitive, how come the same corporations are selling their products to billions of people who live in more than 40 countries that require labeling? These countries have varying labeling requirements but the food industry has managed to accommodate these different regulations.

– When Kellogg’s, for example, is able to come up with a brand new packaging just for the Olympics, why is it hard to add one extra line that says “Contains genetically modified food?”

– If GMOs are safe and have no health issues, why would food manufacturers switch to “more expensive” non-GMO ingredients?

– There are claims such as “No fat”, “No gluten”, “No sugar”, “No artificial preservatives” etc on the food packages and they haven’t resulted in frivolous lawsuits or increased food prices, so why would “No GMO” label be any different?

Bragging versus Hiding

If you buy a laptop or a computer, you would very likely see a label that says “Intel inside.” Intel does it because it gives the customers more confidence in that product. Anything that increases the value of a product is advertised prominently.  This is marketing 101. Anything that’s bad is hidden or put in fine print. So if GMOs are 100 percent safe, why are these companies fighting tooth and nail to prevent labeling?

And if you are starting to become a little suspicious about the GMOs at this point, you may also be wondering how we got into this situation. The answer lies in politics and the history of one particular corporation.

Monsanto, Politics and GMO

When it comes to understanding the landscape of GM seeds and plants, the undeniable giant is Monsanto, the company that owns most of the market. According to their website they are an agricultural company and a relatively new company. In reality, they were founded in 1901 and have also been leaders in chemicals, pesticides, herbicides, chemical weapons, sweeteners, animal growth hormones, plastics and pharmaceuticals.

In their early days, they sold Saccharin, an artificial sweetener, to Coca Cola. Then they sold lots of PCBs and DDT (insecticide) both of which were banned later in the U.S. because of their dangerous effects on health and the environment.

In the 1960s, Monsanto and Dow Chemical (now simply known as Dow for PR reasons) made lots of money producing Agent Orange that was used in destroying rice fields and other vegetation in North Vietnam. American planes, helicopters and trucks sprayed more than 3 million acres of land. It was a deadly chemical weapon with long lasting byproducts (such as Dioxins) that are some of the most toxic chemicals known to man.

Monsanto assured the government that they had done extensive testing and hawking Agent Orange as harmless to humans and animals. The reality was different for the hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese who have endured or died from horrific illnesses from the 20 million gallons of Agent Orange dumped in their country.

Forty years later, hundreds of thousands more Vietnamese are still suffering from cancer, birth defects, rare heart diseases, Leukemia, Parkinson’s disease and more, thanks to Monsanto’s “safe” product.

After the end of Vietnam War, Monsanto found an ingenious way to continue making profit from its Agent Orange expertise. Hence, the world’s number one weed killer used by farmers and suburban families alike – Roundup – was born. Monsanto advertised it with lovable TV ads and catchy slogans and promising features like “safe as table salt” and “environmentally friendly” and “fully biodegradable” (all three claims have been proved false).

Roundup’s success would later directly lead to the genetically modified food because of one simple reason – Roundup was so toxic that it not only killed the weeds but also the crops and the plants that the farmers were growing. Roundup’s main ingredient, gylphosate, and other so-called “inert” ingredients, just proved too much for the corn, soy, and other plants.

So rather than engineering new pesticides, Monsanto decided to come up with new crops! The need to withstand the onslaught of Roundup gave birth to “Roundup Ready” corn and soy. Although the plant cell’s vital function still gets disabled, the bacteria’s gene takes over the role. A rough analogy would be like saying “eat this food and your heart will stop but don’t worry we will implant an artificial pump.”

Monsanto has been a very creative corporation with a team of brilliant scientists. But where it has outperformed any other entity is in playing the political game of “revolving doors.” People at the highest levels have jumped back and forth between Monsanto and the regulatory agencies that are in charge of evaluating Monsanto’s products.

One classic example is that of Michael Taylor, an FDA official who later went to a law firm representing Monsanto. He worked hard to remove pesky health laws like the Delaney Clause, one of the foundations of food safety regulation, that prohibits cancer-causing chemicals to be added to the food supply.  Then in 1991 he went back to the FDA as a Deputy Commissioner and worked to get approval for Monsanto’s GMOs and growth hormones for cows (rBGH). From 1994-1996 he worked in the USDA helping dismantle more laws, and as a reward for his success, he was appointed as a Vice President at Monsanto. And to the utter shock of progressives, Obama brought him back to the FDA as a Food “Safety” Czar.

There are numerous articles that shed light on Monsanto’s influence in the FDA, EPA, USDA, the U.S. Supreme Court (think Clarence Thomas), and the White House administrations and their cabinets, and the Congress (regardless of the party). This Vanity Fair article gives a captivating overview of Monsanto’s history and influence, and this Mercola article gives a visual Venn Diagram of the intersection between Monsanto and high-level government officials.

Monsanto has also used the legal system and patent laws to grow its U.S. market share of many crops from 0 to 90 percent within 15 years. They have sued farmers into submission and have used their influence in government to spread their agriculture monopoly and domination to countries all over the world. The Emmy award-winning Food, Inc. talks about Monsanto’s coercive ways as well.

One of the major problems with patenting seeds and plants is that it destroys biodiversity. Just a century ago, we used to have more than 300 varieties of corn in the U.S. and now Monsanto’s corn is the piranha that has eaten all the other fish in the pond.

Conclusion

Biotech is an exciting field with amazing potential to help mankind, but the current crops and plants from Monsanto and related companies have dark clouds of uncertainties over them. The potential health and environmental hazards are too big to ignore. Patent laws, regarding seeds and plants, need to be re-examined and independent scientific studies of GMOs need to be supported and encouraged.  Finally, regulatory government agencies need to be freed from the undue and corrupting influence of Monsanto and other related companies.

As for GMO labeling, Proposition 37 – California Right to Know, is a great, long-overdue initiative that might lead to fewer allergies and illnesses and a better environment through natural or organic farming methods. Above all, Prop 37 will give the people of California, and possibly the whole nation, the freedom to choose what they eat and drink.

Chris Kanthan

Chris Kanthan

Chris Kanthan has degrees in Physics and Engineering with a minor in Economics. And, just for fun, a diploma in Paralegal. He lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, has traveled to more than 30 countries, and deeply cares about politics, finance and food. He has also written an e-book titled "Deconstructing Monsanto" that is available on iTunes, Amazon.com and Smashwords.com. He can be reached at chrisk2000@yahoo.com.

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  • LabelGMOsSF

    Thanks for this thorough discussion of GMOs and labeling! I wanted to note that the main crops on the market in the US right now are soy, corn, sugar beets, canola, cotton and alfalfa – potatoes, tomatoes, and wheat are not currently on the market here, although there have been attempts to do so in the past. We’re also looking at potential approval of GM salmon and apples in the near future.

    I think one of the best take-away points is that 40 other countries are already labeling these foods, and many of the same US companies that we’re asking to label our food here are already doing so in Europe. Why would it be any more difficult here? Don’t we deserve to know what we are eating?

    • FreeAmericaNow

      You’re right. What would be so great about this, is that people who know nothing about GMO’s will find out about them once that label is on most of what they buy in the food store, and the outcry will be heard around the world! There might then be a spike in prices until seed companies catch up to the huge demand for non-GMO’s, and until the GMO pollen is whittled out of our environment. It will be a challenging time but in the long run will be worth it for our children’s health!

      • Sheeple are not People

         You know Monsanto is the largest non-gmo seed company as well right? Why are people sheeple.

  • LabelGMOsSF

    Also…please get involved to help this initiative pass! As Chris points out, Monsanto and other chemical companies are giving millions of dollars to try and convince people that this initiative will cause food prices to skyrocket, etc. See how you can help at: http://www.carighttoknow.org/campaign_hq, and Like the San Francisco group on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Label-GMOs-San-Francisco-Group/205746199486631

  • chrisk2000

    A really good Facebook group for many well informed and driven people: http://www.facebook.com/groups/GMOFreeUSA/

  • FreeAmericaNow

    Note everybody! Obama has been bought out big time by Monsanto! He appointed a Monsanto man as his food czar, and pushed for the blanket OK-ing (with no regs) of GMO sugar beets and alfalfa (a particularly big disaster for conventional and organic food animal farmers, since GMO alfalfa pollen will spread like wildfire, and grassfed animals need alfalfa hay in the winter and when pregnant or lactating for extra protein). Obama lies about everything if he thinks it will get him elected (as he did with Hillary Clinton in the last election, and how he is now doing with Romney), but his lies about GMO labeling to me are the most maddening of all. If he now comes out and says he will label them, we should all know he is not sincere and just wants votes, as that is what he has been doing lately with everything. But with his letting loose GMO alfalfa and sugar beets (among others)his record proves he has already done the damage and was bought be Monsanto.

  • PatrickMonkRn
    • chrisk2000

      Great info…thanks Patrick

  • Waitedong17

    Thank you Chris for a very informative piece. It was fair and balanced, unlike what the other side tends to publish which are basically Monsanto press releases. 

    • chrisk2000

      Thank you. The other side has $$ and we have the truth!

  • PatrickMonkRn

    Chris, my original posting appeared and then vanished. Hey limey any idea what happened to it!!

    • http://www.fogcityjournal.com/ fogcityjournal

      Your comments appear to be posting correctly, Patrick (see above).

      • PatrickMonkRn

        Sent you an email. Retyped comment but still not here.

  • PatrickMonkRn

    Thanks Chris.
    REPOST – To the best of my recollection…Excellent article.To give credit where it is due, a reminder. This action in Calfornia was started by Pamm Larry, self described as ‘initial instigator’, in September 2011. She spearheaded a state wide grassroots campaign on a shoestring, her woman power and her original website:-   www.labelgmos.orgPrimarily as a result of her efforts and dedication we were able to gather and submit almost 1 million signatures and qualify PROPOSITION 37 for November’s ballot. Following this success many other groups and organisations became heavily involved and a new site was created:-   www.carighttoknow.orgTo anyone interested in getting involved there is also a FaceBook page – label gmos – which will give links to the SF, East Bay, and many other local groups.For information on the International scene a good place to start is:-   www.gmwatch.orgPlease spread the word and support us in any way you can. While previous similar attempts have been defeated in other states by the Agrochemical Industry’s multimillion dollar disinformation campaigns, many of them are now reinvigorated and trying again. It is critical that we succeed here in California, it will set a powerful precedent for National action.We are what we eat – let’s keep it tasty.Just my thruppence.Patrick Monk.RN. Noe Valley. SF. Ca.

  • PatrickMonkRn

    This is really frustrating, if this will post why not the others

    • chrisk2000

      Patrick, send me an email with the content to chrisk2000@yahoo.com and I will post it later today

      • PatrickMonkRn

        Cool, also emailed a copy to the limey.

        • http://www.fogcityjournal.com/ fogcityjournal

           Just pasted and posted your comment under fogcityjournal handle.

  • http://www.fogcityjournal.com/ fogcityjournal

    Excellent article Chris, thank you.
    Just a reminder to
    give credit where it is due. This California action was started by Pamm
    Larry, self described ‘initial instigator’, in Chico in September 2011.
    She led a grassroots campaign, driving all over the State to rally the
    troops. Primarily as a result of her dedication, woman power and
    original website..
     www.labelgmos.org
    ..we
    were able to gather and submit almost 1 million signatures and qualify
    PROPOSITION 37 for the November ballot. Following this success many
    other groups and organisations became involved and a new website was
    created:-
      http://www.carighttoknow
    Similar actions have
    been attempted previously in other states but all were shot down by
    multi-million dollar disinformation campaigns
    mounted by Monsanto, the Agrochemical Industry and a long list of ‘junk
    food’ distributors. It is no different this time, recent reports state
    that the war chest for the pro GMO cabal is now in excess of 25 million
    dollars.
    Probably encouraged by our initial success many other
    states are now remounting campaigns to at least get GMO foods labeled.
    It is critical that we pass PROP 37, it will set a powerful precedent
    for National action. 
     It is a legal requirement that we be
    informed of the content of our mattresses, shouldn’t we have equal
    ‘right to know’ the content of our food.
    The reasons to oppose the world wide spread of Genetically Modified Organisms are many.
    Voluminous
    scientific and anecdotal testimony is available in the public domain,
    especially in Europe. Long term studies have shown that GMO crops do not
    produce higher yields per acre planted when compared with organic or
    traditional farming
    methods. They do not reduce the need for toxic pesticides, that need
    increases every year as more powerful chemicals are required to combat
    the resistance developed by insects and competing plants. The
    biodiversity essential to the healthy survival of all life forms is
    being destroyed by the increased introduction of these poisons into the
    environment. GMO toxic residue has been identified in the blood of
    humans, especially newborns, and not only in those exposed to direct
    contact. The toxic runoff pollutes contiguous waters. Neighboring
    organic crops are contaminated by cross pollination. Tens of thousands
    of indigenous farmers, particularly in ‘undeveloped’ countries have been
    driven off their land as a result of not being able to harvest and
    reuse seed from previous years, instead they are forced to buy new GMO
    seed stock, more toxic chemical fertilisers and pesticides every season,
    and incur debt they are unable to repay. But don’t take my word for
    it. If you are interested in understanding more then a good place to
    start would be:-
      http://www.gmwatch.org
    This
    is not just about our ability to buy organic arugula, it is a world
    wide catastrophe in the making. I repeat, if we succeed here in
    California it will set a powerful precedent for similar actions
    nationwide. 
    Please do all you can to spread the word and
    support us in any way you can. As mentioned in another post here there
    is a Facebook page – label gmos – with links to SF, East Bay, and other
    local groups.
    We are what we eat – let’s keep it tasty.
    Just my thruppence.
    patrick Monk.RN. Noe Valley. SF. Ca.
     

  • PatrickMonkRn

    Thanks for reposting Chris, and for your excellent overview.
    As noted elsewhere the second email listed should be:- 
    http://www.carighttoknow.org

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  • Helen_barratt

    One of the best written articles that I have read in a long time, congratulations Chris, you are a brilliant reporter. It has taken me ages to figure out much of what you have summarised so succinctly here.

    • chrisk2000

      Thank you for your kind words, Helen.

  • El

    Bravo, Chris Kanthan! Thank you for an article that takes a serious look at the problems of genetically engineering food without wasting
    half of the article chanting Monsanto and biotech propaganda! Refreshing and informative. 

  • Pristinelogic

    Tree hugging hippies need to go live in wonderland. Americans have consumed more than 3 trillion servings of food with
    genetically engineered ingredients – with not a single documented
    ill effect.Americans who say they want GMO food labeled, also have a mouthful of french fries and a Coke in their hand. Every other industry as advanced with technology, not sure why you think AG should still be in the stone ages. I consume GE food regularly and still maintain 11-13% body fat, 23 BMI, and am 5’9. It’s about living a healthy lifestyle with a balanced diet. GMO is the future especially when there is a projected 9 billion population by 2040. Anyone with a little knowledge of agriculture and economics would know it’s not possible to have all organic. GE food is more sustainable and their have been no real cases related to GMO. 90% of the food we eat has GMO food yet our average life expectancy is rising.

    • Jeremiah Barrar

      Looks like you are lost in propaganda land. The fact is we have the right to know. Corporations make mistakes. Agent orange was claimed to be harmless to humans. Additionally, crops will continue to be modified and bt toxins are just the beginning of “enhancements”. The fact the over $50 million was spent on preventing it for just one state, when the same law applies to many other countries shows they are trying to buy out we the people. We must stand up for our rights. It is our right to know.

    • Jeremiah Barrar

      Key word there is documented effect. Many many things have no documented effects and later it turns out they are dangerous. Remeber the prius toyata made, which have been tested and passed saftey inspections? It subsequently went out of conteol and kept acceleratingAnd you are wrong to say everyone has French fries and a coke. You may stuff your face with French fries every day but most unignorant people keep a balanced diet and avoid highly processed cheap foods with loads of crude fat as a filler. Sugar water with carbon and artificial flavors is not what I call a drink. Advanced technology is much worse than using what has worked for us for millions of years. As the population increases there are more people to farm. Eventually we can use robots to farm. I wouldn’t call gasoline tractors and automatic watering systems “stone age”. Genetically modified foods are unnatural and contain additional poisons with effects that cause cancer in laboratory rat tests.

    • Jeremiah Barrar

      You also used a logical fallacy. When two factors correlate, it does not mean they are even remotely related. Life expectantcy could change for any number of reasons. It could be due to more people making food at home and growing their own gardens. Honestly there is no way to make any claim without evidence. The fact that all of our food is not what we have been eating for millions of years and it is all changed at the fundamental level seems very disturbing and unnatural. If foods were labeled “Geneticly Modified” people could choose for themselves. We have the right of freedom and volition. If people who avoid Geneticly Modified food end up living longer that will prove there are indeed hazardous effects. As engineers modify our food more and more, the risks increase. We are exploring a new field of science in uncharted territories. There have been many real cases of harm as a result of genetic engineering.

  • PatrickMonkRn

    Illogical and uninformed.
    I suggest you educate yourself on the topic before expressing yourself. It is frequently wiser to stay silent and have people think you are ignorant than open your mouth and remove all doubt.
    Your comment has about as much connection to the truth and the facts as recent utterances at the RNC falsehood fest. There is voluminous scientific and anecdotal evidence attesting to the disastrous consequences of  the world-wide spread of GMOS and the highly toxic fertilisers and pesticides required for their manufacture. Most of it comes from abroad where the Agrochemical Industry; Monsanto, DuPont, Syngenta, Dow Chemical etc: don’t have the politicians and decision makers tucked in their back pocket.
    Start here:-
    http://www.gmwatch.org

  • Tony Favero

    In November California voters will consider Proposition 37 to establish if they wish to require labeling of food products containing GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms).
    Monsanto provides most GMO seeds which include Roundup Ready (RR) soy, corn, canola, sugar beets and more. Many RR crops are genetically engineered to survive insects and spraying with Roundup herbicide during weed abatement efforts.
    Monsanto asserts that GMO laden food requires no labeling because ‘they have not been proven to be harmful’. Industry insiders, the FDA, EPA .et al remain so infused with employees from each other’s organizations that consumer safeguards are severely compromised. Example: The FDA recruited Michael Taylor, a Monsanto attorney, to manage the creation of its GMO policy, a policy in effect today that empowers biotechnology companies to establish if their GMOs are nontoxic.  Taylor then departed the FDA to become Monsanto’s vice president.

    Since the introduction of GMOs in the 1990s rates of autism, allergies, obesity, cancer and assorted health issues have soared. There is no definitive proof indicting GMOs; nevertheless the biotechnology industry is circumventing labeling that would facilitate the necessary research. Why? Is there a stench here reminiscent of tobacco companies?

    Independent research and case studies raise alarms worldwide. Many RR GMO crops have genes inserted into their DNA structure that manufactures an insect-killing toxin known as Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) in every plant cell; insects ingest the plant and poison tears open their stomach to exterminate them. Bt produced from soil bacteria has been employed by organic farmers as a spray for natural insect control for decades. The primary distinction here is that Bt-toxin in GMO plants is thousands of times more potent than Bt spray and can never be washed off the plant prior to eating like the spray version. Despite industry assurances to the contrary, several studies confirm that the GMO Bt toxin survives the human digestive process as well; one study reveals that the gene inserted into GM soy transfers into the DNA of our intestinal bacteria to function in our gut as a living pesticide factory [Nature Biotechnology 2004].  In May 2011, the Canadian journal Reproductive Toxicology published a study revealing the following: 93% of the pregnant women they tested had Monsanto’s corn derived Bt-toxin in their blood; 80% of their unborn fetuses did as well. Autism related? Again there is uncertainty.
    The American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) recently warned physicians “to educate their patients, the medical community, and the public to avoid GM foods when possible….,”further stating “Several animal studies indicate serious health risks associated with GM food,” including infertility, immune problems and gastrointestinal issues, concluding that “There is more than a casual association between GM foods and adverse health effects. There is causation.”

    Ohio allergist Dr. John Boyles asserted “…now that soy is genetically engineered, it is so dangerous that I tell people never to eat it.” Salk Institute biologist David Shubert cautions that “children are the most likely to be adversely effected by toxins and other dietary problems” related to GM foods. In March 2006, Dr. Irina Ermakova from the Russian Academy of Sciences published a report to the European Congress of Psychiatry disclosing that rats and their offspring fed GM soy displayed anxiety and aggression, while a control group fed non-GM soy failed to exhibit such aberrant behaviors. Similar health concerns prompted the American Medical Association on June 19, 2012 to call for mandatory pre-market safety testing of GMO foods.

    Why are we learning of such concerns now? Media intimidation – Monsanto’s lawyeristic bullying behind the scenes for decades.

    Before 1980, patent law did not apply to living organisms. Now farmers suffer bankruptcy after being devastatingly sued by Monsanto for cross-pollination of their non-GMO crops by neighboring GMO plants. Incredulous as it sounds, the exploitative use of patent law permitted Monsanto to successfully sue farmers for patent infringement, even though they never planted GMOs. The threat here is doubly apparent to organic farmers.

    Consumers currently enjoy rights to determine which foods contain MSG, dyes, artificial sweeteners, peanuts and other additives that they want to avoid. It must be our right, not Monsanto’s, to determine likewise with GMOs. Polls confirm that a majority of Americans desire this. Fifty countries, including China, Russia and the entire EU require GMO labeling, such labeling is not costly, but impending TV ads from Monsanto will endeavor to persuade you otherwise, much like Monsanto’s costly propaganda campaign to defeat Oregon’s 2002 GMO labeling measure.

    Tony Favero
    Freelance Writer and Researcher
    Half Moon Bay, Ca