Sunday, April 25, 2010

FDA/USDA Put Up International Roadblock To Labeling Of Genetically Engineered Food

Remember this study by Dr. Irina Ermakova where she was investigating the safety of genetically modified (GM) soy?1

AdditionsFemales That Gave BirthBorn Rats (No.)Dead Rats (No. / %) (in 3 weeks)
Control4 (of 6)443 / 6.8%
With GM Soy4 (of 6)4525 / 55.6%
With Normal Soy3 (of 3)333 / 9%

Over half (55.6%) of the rats fed GM soy were dead in 3 weeks, compared to 9% fed regular soy. Many that survived were malformed, as depicted in the photo. The smaller rat on the right was fed GM soy. The rat on the left was not. The rats are the same age.
"The morphology and biochemical structures of rats are very similar to those of humans, and this makes the results we obtained very disturbing."
- Dr. Ermakova

And remember this explanation by Jeffrey Smith of the difference between genetic modification and regular hybridization or selective breeding:
"Genetic engineering is not natural. It carries unique risks and is fraught with unpredicted side effects.

In normal hybridization or selective breeding you take plants from the same species or related species and they essentially have sex and their offspring share genes from both parents.

With genetic engineering, you take a single gene or combination of genes from other species, and you manipulate the gene in the laboratory. You add, typically, an "on switch" called a Promoter from a virus and other materials and then you force it into the DNA of the plant. Then you clone the cell into a plant.

The process of insertion, whether through "gene gun" technology or bacterial infection, plus cloning, causes massive collateral damage in the DNA. It leads to hundreds or thousands of mutations up and down the DNA, and hundreds or thousands of genes that can change their levels of expression in the natural plant. These changes can lead to unpredicted side effects, such as new or higher levels of toxins, carcinogens, allergens, or anti-nutrients. And this is not theoretical. They have actually found these types of things in the genetically engineered crops already on the market.

Well, more than 80 farmers and organizations just sent a letter (pdf) to the FDA and USDA expressing concerns about the US position on labeling of genetically engineered (GE) products. The FDA and USDA don't support labeling.

There's an important meeting on May 3 in Canada. A group that develops food safety standards for the United Nations, the Codex Alimentarius, is set to discuss the GE labeling issue. The FDA and USDA will be arguing that labeling food as genetically engineered "is likely to create the impression that the labeled food is in some way different" and would therefore be "false, misleading or deceptive."

If the US is successful in convincing the international body that GE labeling is false and misleading, then voluntary labeling of food inside the US, for instance, what the Non-GMO Project is doing, could be outlawed.
The US position paper states that Codex should not "suggest or imply that GM/GE foods are in any way different from other foods." However, [Dr. Michael Hansen, senior scientist at Consumers Union] stated, "Such foods clearly are different."
- Consumers Union, More Than 80 Groups Urge FDA And USDA To Change US Position On Food Labeling, Position Will Create Problems For American Producers To Label Products GM/GE-Free
What happened to President Obama's promise to make sure genetically engineered food was labeled?
1Genetically Modified Soy Affects Posterity: Results Of Russian Scientists’ Studies


Anrosh said...

so is this the way a government organization is taking the responsibility of harming its own citizens by not labelling ! with evidence, technically we can sue the USDA !

virginia said...

"What happened to President Obama's promise to make sure genetically engineered food was labeled?"

The influence of the Monsanto-backed Clinton feed-the-world initiative?

I've tried to explain the pitfalls of GMO/GE - now, I just send a link to your posts...wish I knew Clinton's e-mail.

Bix said...

Anrosh, you say "with evidence..." You're right.

We don't have good studies done on humans, just animals. We don't even have many of those, since there is difficulty acquiring the GMO seed and crop from Monsanto to perform the study. Monsanto feels better conducting their own studies with their own seed, and making public what they choose. They don't trust independent investigators.

Bix said...

Monsanto has a lot invested in GE technology. And they have a very big GE business. I actually don't blame them for protecting it.

But then ... whose job is safety? Public safety? Environmental safety? Is it the job of the person who makes the profit, Monsanto? Or is it the job of someone else? If safety is the job of someone else, from where do they get the authority to enforce their recommendations?

E. Stone said...

Public safety is the job of government. It's been shown over and over that businesses won't police themselves. Why should they if it deflates the bottom line. People want less government but they want the jobs the government does. You can't have it both ways.

Anrosh said...

public pressure and perseverance is the only way to go. but the governments have its own ways to keep us occupied in not so impt ways - we were discussing about a similar thing in an indian blog called india retold.

Anonymous said...

@E.Stone Sorry to disagree but safety isnt the gov's job. Monsanto can do anything they want. A few sick mice is the price we pay to feed the world.

Anrosh said...

and if anywhere in the world if public pressure, perseverance and grass roots organization and mobilization has worked in this century - it will work in the USA.

a few days ago a guy was handing out a pamphlet and the first few lines read " jeff boss witnessed the NSA. Arrange the 911 attack. i have the proof "

if it was india, this guy would have been dead and so will all his allies.

forwhatever is worth, the elected government cannot cast a blind eye to the common man - people have choices and chances. there is community hall and events. i think democracy is played better here than anywhere else and is best modeled here !

so if the monsanto or the gene techs company has to go, the people of america can overthrow them. ONLY the will of american people is more than enough and waiting for things to happen. i have been in this country too long and i can say "power to the people" in practice only happens here.

ElDoubleVee said...

@anon. A few sick mice sounds benign but what caused a few sick mice to get sick? Shouldn't that be investigated? What is the sickness the mice had was a virulent cancer shouldn't that be looked into? Shouldn't people at least know what happened to a few sick mice so they can make an informed decision when buying products? Why not allow labeling to show that GM grain is used if it only results in a few sick mice? What would be the harm? What would be the harm in publicizing the fact that the GM grain is blasted by genes in a shotgun approach that mutants many genes, not just the specific genes required, and creates many mutations that cause who knows what? What's the harm if it is only a few sick mice? But Monsanto vigorously resists effort to require labeling? Why is that?

Bix said...

Anrosh, That Jeff Boss story is incredible.

So you think democracy is played well here. Love the perspective. I only really know what it's like to live in the US, so I am used to our ways. India's democracy does seem a little more fragmented, although I wouldn't have said it's less tolerant than the US. It's shocking to me that someone like Jeff Boss, or someone who would advance a conspiracy theory, would be cut down for it.

Bix said...

ElDoubleVee ... Yep.

Several years ago I thought genetic engineering wasn't that risky, to our health or to the health of our planet. When I read a little deeper I changed my mind. But it takes digging, because for some reason the message isn't getting out there.

One of the comments on Smith's article:

"I am going to link this to my [Facebook] wall, but other friends have been having similar posts removed as 'objectionable'. We think it might be that Monsanto is reaching into [Facebook] to censor the dissemination of this news."