Friday, May 24, 2013

To GMO Or Not To GMO?

I posted the picture above on my facebook page, tagging two specific people on my friends list and whom I know to be supportive of GM foods.  One of them left a comment:

"No fact checking....Don Rice. Where's your proof this meme is correct? One of the reasons we're pushing back is the argument against GMOs sounds a bit like denying science I eat organically and grow what I can and know my food sources. Where were you folks in 1995? LOL"

I can't address the issue from the perspective, as you ask, of "you folks".  I can only speak for myself.
In '95, I was busy putting my life back together after figthting for 3 years to get my son back from the State of New York, which took him on the basis of fraudulent allegations of neglect and abuse after my first wife died.  That was my sole concern at that time.
Since then, I've paid attention to the issue. I am not denying science per se, but I do hold that the science on this issue is incomplete and corrupted by greed and the hunger for power.
There has been a concerted effort by the companies with the GM patents to avoid adequate testing for safety, health and nutritional concerns; to avoid labelling so that people won't even be aware that what they're eating is GM; and to take legal actions against organic and natural farmers whose crops are invaded by GM pollens and seeds due to faulty controls of GM crops which then cross-polinate with the organic and natural crops, thereby rendering them no longer organic or natural.  And the GM patent owners are winning those suits, even though they themselves are at fault. 

Those are the basic facts. Anyone who really wants to know will see that from their own studies.  There is a very good detailed analysis, with over 300 citations, of the pros and cons of GM here:

In pertinent parts, this article states:

"(Jose L.) Domingo again reviewed the literature in 2011 and said that although there had been a substantial increase in the number of studies since 2006, most were conducted by the biotechnology companies responsible for commercialising the plants."

" ... scientists and regulators discussing clinical studies of GM food have written that the "ethical and technical constraints of conducting human trials, and the necessity of doing so, is a subject that requires considerable attention."

"The EFSA review also stated that the statistical methods used were incorrect The EFSA conclusions were supported by Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ), a panel of toxicologists funded by Monsanto and the French High Council of Biotechnologies Scientific Committee (HCB). (Note that one of the patent owners's studies is included in this.  Can we say "vested interest"?)

"An analysis of laboratory settings found that Bt toxins can affect nontarget organisms, usually organisms closely related to the intended targets.[156] Typically, exposure occurs through the consumption of plant parts, such as pollen or plant debris, or through Bt ingestion by their predatory food choices. The methodology used by Lövei et al. has been called into question by a group of academic scientists who wrote "We are deeply concerned about the inappropriate methods used in their paper, the lack of ecological context, and the authors’ advocacy of how laboratory studies on non-target arthropods should be conducted and interpreted".

"Genes from a genetically modified organism may pass to another organism just like an endogenous gene. The process is known as outcrossing and can occur in any new open-pollinated crop variety, with newly introduced traits potentially crossing into neighboring crop plants of the same or sometimes closely related species. There are concerns that the spread of genes from modified organisms to unmodified relatives could produce species of weeds resistant to herbicides or could disrupt the ecosystem." 

(This, or something similar, has already occurred, as seen in news items about the new "Roundup-resistant" weeds springing up in places where Roundup has been used regularly.  And this from the same company fighting the hardest against testing and labeling.)

"Critics in the US have protested in regards to the appointment of pro GM lobbyists to senior positions in the FDA. Michael R. Taylor, a former Monsanto lobbyist, was appointed as a senior adviser to the FDA on food safety in 1991. Following his tenure at the FDA, Taylor became a vice-president of Monsanto. On 7 July 2009, Taylor returned to government as Senior Advisor to the Commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration for the Obama administration.[289]
The Canadian Biotechnology Advisory Committee that reviewed Canada's regulations in 2003 was accused by environmental and citizen groups of not representing the full spectrum of public interests and for being too closely aligned to industry groups.[290]
 Most of the Chinese National Biosafety Committee are involved in biotechnology leading to criticisms that they do not represent a wide enough range of public concerns."

"The value of current independent studies is considered by some to be problematic because, due to restrictive end-user agreements, independent researchers cannot obtain GM plants to study. Cornell University's Elson Shields, the spokesperson for a group of scientists who oppose this practice, submitted a statement to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) protesting that "as a result of restrictive access, no truly independent research can be legally conducted on many critical questions regarding the technology".[312] Scientific American noted that several studies that were initially approved by seed companies were later blocked from publication when they returned "unflattering" results."

There is much more, just on that one page.  But I'm sure you get the picture.

What also must be considered is the long-term effects, which have not been studied at all on GM foods.  But there are parallels, such as the introduction of non-native plants to ecosystems, which has invariably resulted, long-term, in environmental damage.  Florida is a perfect example of this:

What that comes down to is that introducing foriegn elements into an ecosystem, whether it's macro, as in a geographic area, or micro, within a specific plant, can and often does have unintended consequences which are, more often than not, harmful.
As far as the scientist shown in the picture, I think he has been badly misrepresented by those "scientists" who have an interest in seeing GM companies continue their takeove of the worlds' food supply.  Most interesting is that he was supposedly banned from even talking about his research.

Amazingly, there are people who say they support GM foods, yet they themselves don't eat it.  In fact, the person who originally questioned me on the meme, as shown in her comment above, stated unequivocally, "I eat organically and grow what I can and know my food sources."

My question seems obvious to me.  If you are so much pro-GM, why do you not eat it yourself?  If it's so great, why bother finding buying organic or growing your own?


© 2013 Donald C. Rice Jr.