In the discussion in GMO’s there is much mis and disinformation on both sides of the argument. However common sense and some critical thinking need to win the day and our actions should reflect balanced thought and the best scenario for people and the planet where we all live. Of course our perspectives will be different but the course needs to be the same. It is easy to get lost in the topics, the science, the injustice and moral arguments. So keep in mind that it is a whole system and the costs and consequences that need to be looked at. Just who are the beneficiaries?
At the first meeting this presentation was presented as being unbiased by the horticulturalist and meat specialists from Auburn. After all they are just presenting the science and not the controversy. However it was admitted that the presentation was prepared using Monsanto materials and is almost the same presentation point by point of their standard rhetoric, far from being unbiased. Science has been for sale to the highest bidder for many many years to the point that scientist feels the need to form organizations for the ethical use of science. Science is reductive by nature and the scientists in each specialty I am sure believes and obviously thinks what they are doing is good, truthful and accurate but you have to consider what they are taught and the inability of the specialties to view the whole system. Like the meat specialist who said that corn being fed to beef is a more efficient way to build muscle faster which is probably true if your only application is to a mechanistic production system of meat. They completely forgot biology, that cattle are ruminants that eat grass not corn. So when they eat corn it turns their system acid and sets them up for more diseases which of course have to be treated with anti-biotics. This in turn, turns our system more acid. The animals are just an imput into a production system, not anything deserving of a quality of life be it historical or evolutionary. It‘s what they don’t tell you.
The following is an opportunity to hear the other side of the argument, on a few of the more important points because space is limited in this flyer, there are references and links at the end of the flyer to further educate yourself. There is also further information about solutions to these problems.
1. Are GM foods safe to eat?
Studies show that GM foods can be toxic, allergenic, or have unintended nutritional changes. Contrary to frequent claims that there is no evidence of dangers to health from GM foods and crops, peer-reviewed studies have found potential signs of toxicity and actual harmful effects on the health of laboratory and farm animals fed GMOs. These include toxic and allergenic effects.
A study published in 2012 found that a Monsanto GM Roundup-tolerant maize and very low levels of the Roundup herbicide it was engineered to be grown with caused severe organ damage and hormonal disruption in rats fed over a long-term period of two years. Unexpected additional findings were increased rates of large palpable tumors and premature death in some treatment groups. Starting from just hours after publication, the paper was viciously attacked as “bad science” by pro-GM scientists and commentators. Over a year after it had passed peer review and was published, the journal editor appeared to succumb to the continued pressure and retracted the paper. Scientists worldwide condemned the move as an “act of scientific censorship” and as unjustified on scientific and ethical grounds. The study, carried out by a team led by Professor Gilles-Eric Séralini, based at the University of Caen, France, remains to date the most detailed and thorough study ever carried out on a GM food crop.
No thorough allergenicity assessment is conducted on GM foods:
The public is told that GM foods are no more likely to cause allergic reactions than non-GM foods and that they are fully assessed for allergenicity. But this is untrue. Genetic engineering can create novel proteins that have no history of safe use in food, raising the potential for allergic reactions. The absence of reliable methods for allergenicity testing and the lack of rigor in current allergy assessments mean that it is impossible to reliably predict whether a GMO will prove to be allergenic. If a GMO did prove to be allergenic, it would be almost impossible to find out, as no post-commercialization monitoring is carried out anywhere in the world.. “There is more than a casual association between GM foods and adverse health effects. There is causation as defined by Hill’s Criteria in the areas of strength of association, consistency, specificity, biological gradient, and biological plausibility. The strength of association and consistency between GM foods and disease is confirmed in several animal studies… Multiple animal studies show significant immune dysregulation, including upregulation of cytokines [protein molecules involved in immune responses] associated with asthma, allergy, and inflammation.”
American Academy of Environmental Medicine
2. Are GM genes in the meat that we eat?
Most of the GM DNA in food is fragmented before it reaches the blood or tissues, so any genes present would not be able to express and reprogramme the host organism’s cells. However, a few copies of GM DNA large enough to contain the sequence of a full and functional gene are likely to be present in the digestive tract and can be taken up into the blood at low frequency. A study in humans (not involving GM foods) showed that meal-derived DNA fragments large enough to carry complete genes entered the circulatory system. In some of the human blood samples studied the relative concentration of plant DNA was higher than the human DNA. The researchers were even able to identify individual plant varieties eaten by the human subjects from the DNA sequences present in the blood. HGT (Horizontal Gene Transfer) from plants into other plants or animals appears to be a low-frequency event. The methods of HGT that are most likely to occur are DNA uptake by bacteria in the environment or the digestive tract. There is good evidence that the latter has already happened in the intestinal bacteria of humans who eat GM soy.
GMO proponents claim that the Bt toxin insecticidal protein in GM plants is broken down in the digestive tract and so cannot get into the blood or body tissues to cause toxic effects beyond the digestive system. But this claim has been shown to be false by several studies:
A study in cows found that Bt toxins from GM maize MON810 were not completely broken down in the digestive tract.40 A study simulating human digestion found that the Bt toxin protein was highly resistant to being broken down in realistic stomach acidity conditions and still produced an immune response.41
A survey conducted in Canada found Bt toxin protein circulating in the blood of pregnant and non-pregnant women and the blood supply to foetuses.42,43 Whether the Bt toxin originated from GM crops or elsewhere is not known. But wherever it came from, it clearly did not break down fully in the digestive tract.
Studies on GM Bt crops show that Bt toxin is not specific to a narrow range of insect pests but can affect a wide variety of non-target organisms. Taken together, the studies on GM Bt crops and natural Bt toxin raise the possibility that eating GM crops containing Bt toxin may cause toxic effects to multiple organ systems or allergic reactions and/or sensitize people to other food substances
3. There are over 1,700 studies saying that GMOs are safe: This probably refers to the Nicolia review.
The review suffers from important omissions, fails to show GMOs are safe, and provides evidence of risk for some GMOs. Nicolia and colleagues’ list of 1,700 articles does not show that GM foods and crops are safe and in fact provides evidence that some GMOs are unsafe. The majority of the articles are irrelevant or tangential to assessing the safety of commercialized GM foods and crops for human and animal health or for the environment. They include opinion and advocacy pieces on GMO regulation and safety assessment, animal production studies of interest to the agriculture industry, and studies on consumer perception of GM foods. Many of the articles demonstrate that there is no scientific consensus on the safety, efficacy or desirability of GM technology in food production.
Claims that the list of studies compiled by Nicolia and colleagues shows GMO safety rely for their persuasiveness on the assumption that no one will have the time to read the studies cited or notice the omissions.
Given the economic incentives at work in the GMO field, there is an understandable tendency among GM proponents to artificially inflate the evidence purporting to show that GMOs are safe. However, misrepresenting scientific studies to shore up a conclusion that is not justified by the data is unethical and will in the long term be corrosive to public trust in science. Evidence-based debate is the lifeblood of science and is fulfilling for sincere scientists on both sides of a controversy, because it furthers the evolution of scientific knowledge. However, it should not be necessary to expend time and energy countering misleading claims made in the scientific literature thatappear to be intended to further interests other than the evolution of scientific knowledge.
It takes few words and little effort to make a misleading claim, but many more words, time, and effort to counter such a claim. That much is demonstrated by this analysis, which, although long, is far from comprehensive and deals only with a few of the many misleading claims and serious omissions of Nicolia and colleagues’ review.
The presence in the scientific literature of papers such as the Nicolia review represents a failure of the peer review process. Each time the authors cited a specific paper to support a claims or conclusions, the editors and peer reviewers should have asked them to identify the relevant supporting empirical data (derived from actual testing using appropriate methodologies), justifying the inclusion of the citation. Traditionally, this is the standard of evidence upon which scientific debate is based. When editors and peer reviewers accept less, the result is that a publication enters the scientific literature that fails to meet minimum acceptable academic standards.
4. GM foods are strictly tested and regulated for safety; GM foods are safety tested by the developer companies and regulation is weak or non-existent.
“One thing that surprised us is that US regulators rely almost exclusively on information provided by the biotech crop developer, and those data are not published in journals or subjected to peer review... The picture that emerges from our study of US regulation of GM foods is a rubber-stamp ‘approval process’ designed to increase public confidence in, but not ensure the safety of, genetically engineered foods.”
David Schubert, professor and head, Cellular Neurobiology Laboratory, Salk Institute, commenting on the findings of a review of GMO regulation that he co-authored.
The regulatory regime for GM crops and foods is weakest in the US, the origin of most such crops, but is inadequate in most regions of the world, including Europe. The US assumes that GM foods are “generally recognized as safe” (GRAS), even though they do not meet the legal definition of GRAS. Worldwide, regulators assume that GM crops are safe if certain basic constituents of the GM crop are “substantially equivalent” to those of their non-GM counterparts – a term that has not been legally or scientifically defined. The European regime applies the same concept but terms it “comparative safety assessment”. Contrary to popular belief, the US FDA does not have a mandatory GM food safety assessment process and has never approved as safe any GM food that is currently on the market. It does not carry out or commission safety tests on GM foods. Instead, the FDA operates a voluntary pre-market review programme, in which it looks at whatever data the manufacturer chooses to provide.
Although all GM foods commercialized to date have gone through this lenient process, there is no legal requirement for them to do so. Companies are allowed to put any GMO on the market that they wish without even notifying the FDA. And even though they might theoretically be held liable for any resulting harm to consumers, it would be extremely difficult to prove such harm in court.
Often, however, when an in-depth scientific comparison of a GM crop and its non-GM counterpart is undertaken, the assumption of substantial equivalence is shown to be false, as unexpected differences are found.
Today, no regulatory regime anywhere in the world requires long-term or rigorous safety testing of GM crops and foods. Regulatory assessments are based on data provided by the company that is applying to commercialize the crop – the same company that will profit from a positive assessment of its safety.FDA, that the GMO is safe. Instead it consists of the FDA sending the company a letter stating that:
The company has provided the FDA with a summary of research that it has conducted assessing the GM crop’s safety
Based on the results of the research done by the company, the company has concluded that the GMO is safe
The FDA has no further questions
The company is responsible for placing only safe foods in the market
If a product is found to be unsafe, the company may be held liable.
The US government cannot be relied upon to regulate GMOs. It is not an impartial authority, given its aim to “foster” the growth of the biotechnology industry.11 And not only is the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) influenced by that same policy, it even has financial interests in GM technology, owning 1.2% of all public-sector US agricultural biotechnology patents granted between 1982 and 2001.
This process does not guarantee – or even attempt to scientifically investigate – the safety of GM foods. Therefore although it may protect the image of GM foods, it does not protect the public.
The regulatory procedure for GM crops is not independent or objective. The GM crop industry, notably through the industry-funded group, the International Life Sciences Institute (ILSI), has heavily influenced the way in which its products are assessed for safety. ILSI has successfully promoted concepts such as the comparative safety assessment, which maximize the chances of a GMO avoiding rigorous safety testing and greatly reduce industry’s costs for GMO authorizations.
Examples of regulatory failure are common and include unscientific procedures, sloppy practices, and the failure to recognize and address important types of risk. Regulatory lapses are often linked to conflicts of interest amoung regulators.
5. Genetic engineering is just an extension of natural breeding;
Genetic engineering is different from natural breeding and poses special risks
Some aspects of plant genetic engineering are unique to the GM process and do not occur in other types of plant breeding. They include the artificial construction of the GM gene cassette, which contains new synthetic genes and combinations of gene control elements that have never existed before in nature.
Also, genetic engineering enables genes to be transferred not only between different species but also between different kingdoms – for example, from animals or humans into plants. Therefore genetic engineering evades natural barriers between species and kingdoms that have evolved over millennia. Moreover, genetic engineering can introduce purely synthetic genes, thus, for better or worse, expanding the range of possible genes to the frontiers of the human imagination.
The fact that the GM transformation process is unnatural and artificial does not automatically make it undesirable or dangerous. It is the consequences of the procedure, combined with the current lack of systematic assessment of potential risks, that give cause for concern. In conclusion, the use of ubiquitous promoters such as the CaMV in an effort to override the host plant’s gene regulation systems and force expression of the GM gene at high levels may have undesirable effects on plant biochemistry, crop performance and the surrounding environment.
In contrast, in natural breeding and even in mutation breeding (mutagenesis), which exposes plants to radiation or chemicals to induce genetic mutations (inheritable changes), the plants’ own gene regulation systems remain active.
In other words, scientists use genetic engineering to bypass the plants’ natural gene regulation systems and to re-programme their genetic functioning. Natural breeding, on the other hand, uses the inherent genetic potential in plants and does not deliberately disrupt their gene regulation system.
6. Monsanto has never sued a farmer;
In 2005, the Center for Food Safety released Monsanto vs. U.S. Farmers,1 a groundbreaking report that documents the Monsanto Company’s unprecedented use of patents and restrictive licensing agreements to investigate and sue farmers for suspected seed-saving. Monsanto and its hired investigators continue to harass, intimidate and prosecute U.S. farmers, primarily in cases involving alleged saving and replanting of the company’s Roundup Ready soybeans. Below, we provide an update on the numbers and status of recorded lawsuits filed by Monsanto against U.S.farmers.2 We also provide estimates based on Monsanto Company documents that encompass the much more common outcome of cases brought by Monsanto against farmers: confidential, out-of-court settlements that go unrecorded in public court records.
Number of Lawsuits Filed Against U.S. Farmers:
- As of November 28, 2012, Monsanto had filed 142 lawsuits against farmers for alleged violations of its Technology Agreement and/or its patents on genetically engineered seeds.3
- These cases have involved 410 farmers and 56 small farm businesses.
Status of Lawsuits:
- 72 lawsuits ended in recorded damages awarded to Monsanto.
- 27 lawsuits ended in unrecorded damages awarded to Monsanto (confidential settlements).
- 14 lawsuits were dismissed, with no indication of whether damages were awarded toMonsanto.
- 11 lawsuits were ongoing as of November 28, 2012.
Lawsuits Filed by State:
- Monsanto has sued farmers and small farm businesses in at least 27 different states.
Recorded Judgment (as of November 28, 2012):
- Sums awarded to Monsanto in 72 recorded judgments against farmers totaled$23,675,820.99.
- The largest judgment was $3,052,800.00.
- The smallest judgment was $5,595.00.
These recorded judgments fail to convey a true picture of the scope of Monsanto’s aggressive actions against U.S. farmers. This is because the majority of cases brought by Monsanto end in confidential, out-of-court settlements. Press reports and Monsanto’s own statements suggest that the company investigates roughly 500 farmers each year.4 In one case, Monsanto vs. McFarling,District Court Judge Catherine D. Perry stated “[t]he vast majority of cases filed by Monsanto against farmers have been settled before any extensive litigation took place.”5Center for Food Safety has compiled information formerly available on Monsanto’s website to arrive at estimates of the total sums paid to Monsanto by farmers in what the company calls “seed piracy matters.” Appendix I summarizes these estimates for 19 states. Appendix II reproduces the ten “Seed Piracy Updates” upon which our compilation is based.
- As of June 2006, Monsanto had instituted an estimated 2,391 to 4,531 “seed piracy matters” against farmers in 19 states.
- Farmers have paid Monsanto an estimated $85,653,601 to $160,594,230 in settlements of these seed piracy matters.
- The number of seed piracy matters reported by Monsanto is 20 to 40 times the number of lawsuits we have found in public court records.
- The estimated total of settlements paid to Monsanto by farmers ($85.7 to $160.6 million) exceeds by four to eight times the total of recorded judgments ($21.6 million).
With many more people to feed , climate change, degradation of our planets resources due to the current method of producing food that is unsustainable and puts us further into a hole we aren’t currently sure we can climb out of now. So why would you do the very things that have endangered us and our ability to sustain ourselves not to mention the rest of the natural world. There however are solutions to our problems. Here are a few facts and solutions.
- The Rodale Institute for
The organic farming systems included cover crops, composting and crop rotation to reduce atmospheric CO2 by pulling it from the air and storing it in the soil as carbon. The Rodale Institute found a 33 percent reduction in fossil fuel use for organic corn/soybean farming systems that use cover crops or compost instead of chemical fertilizer.
Another long-term study has been conducted by John Teasdale and colleagues at the USDA Agricultural Research Service’s Sustainable Agricultural Systems Laboratory. The 9-years of data comparing various no-till systems to organic systems indicate that despite the need for tillage to control weeds in the organic system, the carbon and available nitrogen concentrations were higher at all soil depths in the organic system. Work at other research centers, including the University of California at Davis, University of Illinois, and Iowa State University corroborate the results of the Rodale study.
This body of research demonstrates a vast, untapped potential of organic farming systems to mitigate climate change by increasing soil carbon storage. The Rodale Institute estimates that organic agriculture, if practiced on the planet's 3.5 billion tillable acres, could sequester nearly 40 percent of current CO2 emissions. Current estimates are that 70 to 220 Tg CO2eq could be added to U.agricultural soils over two to three decades. This represents the reduction of between 3.7 percent and 12 percent of all U.S. GHG emissions in 2006. Research also indicates that organic production systems are more resilient than conventional systems under both flood and drought conditions. This resilience is critical in the face of a changing climate where more weather extremes are predicted. The combination of practices, including crop rotation and crop diversification, create a system that can literally "weather" the extremes. For example, organic agricultural systems with organically managed soils are better adapted to weather extremes. These soils can better retain moisture, which can alleviate the impact of periodic droughts. These systems also retain more water during high rainfall events and release the water more slowly. At the landscape level, this increased water retention capacity helps decrease the severity of flooding from high rainfall events. Many organic systems also incorporate a wider array of multi-season crops. The greater biodiversity of most organic systems increases their ability to adapt to climate change, while continuing to provide both economic and ecosystem benefits.
Without sacrificing the yields of conventional agriculture, organic farming systems provide benefits to water quality, biodiversity, rural communities and human health. Organic systems provide a promising solution to mitigating the progression of climate change and adapting to its effects. The Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently gave Dow Chemical approval to manufacture and sell next generation, genetically engineered (GE) corn and soy that can withstand massive dosing of the herbicide 2,4-D. The gene altered crops are also resistant to Monsanto's glyphosate herbicide, Roundup. The new combined GE crop systems are given the appropriately military name "Enlist Duo."We know what the coupling of Dow and Monsanto did to Vietnam, but what will it mean for America? Well, currently, because of Monsanto's "Roundup Ready" GE crops we have used over 500 million more pounds of herbicide since their introduction. USDA now says that the approval of Dow Chemical's "Agent Orange" crops will increase the use of 2,4-D up to seven times. That's as much as 176 million more pounds of toxic 2,4-D sprayed on our crops each year.
The Farming Systems Trial (FST)® at Rodale Institute is America’s longest running, side-by-side comparison of organic and chemical agriculture. Started in 1981 to study what happens during the transition from chemical to organic agriculture, the FST surprised a food community that still scoffed at organic practices. After an initial decline in yields during the first few years of transition, the organic system soon rebounded to match or surpass the conventional system. Over time, FST became a comparison between the long term potential of the two systems.As we face uncertain and extreme weather patterns, growing scarcity and expense of oil, lack of water, and a growing population, we will require farming systems that can adapt, withstand or even mitigate these problems while producing healthy, nourishing food. After more than 30 years of side-by-side research in our Farming Systems Trial (FST), Rodale Institute has demonstrated that organic farming is better equipped to feed us now and well into the ever changing future.As we face uncertain and extreme weather patterns, growing scarcity and expense of oil, lack of water, and a growing population, we will require farming systems that can adapt, withstand or even mitigate these problems while producing healthy, nourishing food. After more than 30 years of side-by-side research in our Farming Systems Trial (FST), Rodale Institute has demonstrated that organic farming is better equipped to feed us now and well into the ever changing future. http://rodaleinstitute.org/our-work/farming-systems-trial
But the long-standing argument that organic farming would yield just one-third or one-half of conventional farming was based on biased assumptions and lack of data. For example, the often-cited statistic that switching to organic farming in the United States would only yield one-quarter of the food currently produced there is based on a U.S. Department of Agriculture study showing that all the manure in the United States could only meet one-quarter of the nation's fertilizer needs-even though organic farmers depend on much more than just manure.
More up-to-date research refutes these arguments. For example, a recent study by scientists at the Research Institute for Organic Agriculture in Switzerland showed that organic farms were only 20 percent less productive than conventional plots over a 21-year period. Looking at more than 200 studies in North America and Europe, Per Pinstrup Andersen (a Cornell professor and winner of the World Food Prize) and colleagues recently concluded that organic yields were about 80 percent of conventional yields. And many studies show an even narrower gap. Reviewing 154 growing seasons' worth of data on various crops grown on rain-fed and irrigated land in the United States, University of California-Davis agricultural scientist Bill Liebhardt found that organic corn yields were 94 percent of conventional yields, organic wheat yields were 97 percent, and organic soybean yields were 94 percent. Organic tomatoes showed no yield difference.
More importantly, in the world's poorer nations where most of the world's hungry live, the yield gaps completely disappear. University of Essex researchers Jules Pretty and Rachel Hine looked at over 200 agricultural projects in the developing world that converted to organic and ecological approaches, and found that for all the projects-involving 9 million farms on nearly 30 million hectares-yields increased an average of 93 percent. A seven-year study from Maikaal District in central India involving 1,000 farmers cultivating 3,200 hectares found that average yields for cotton, wheat, chili, and soy were as much as 20 percent higher on the organic farms than on nearby conventionally managed ones. Farmers and agricultural scientists attributed the higher yields in this dry region to the emphasis on cover crops, compost, manure, and other practices that increased organic matter (which helps retain water) in the soils. A study from Kenya found that while organic farmers in "high-potential areas" (those with above-average rainfall and high soil quality) had lower maize yields than nonorganic farmers, organic farmers in areas with poorer resource endowments consistently out yielded conventional growers. (In both regions, organic farmers had higher net profits, return on capital, and return on labor.)
Contrary to critics who jibe that it's going back to farming like our grandfathers did or that most of Africa already farms organically and it can't do the job, organic farming is a sophisticated combination of old wisdom and modern ecological innovations that help harness the yield-boosting effects of nutrient cycles, beneficial insects, and crop synergies. It's heavily dependent on technology-just not the technology that comes out of a chemical plant. Can Organic Farming Feed Us All _ Worldwatch Institute.htm