Dear Dr. Dave and Dr Dee,
Whenever I eat edamame, popcorn (both my favorite snack foods), or anything made of soybeans or corn, my sister says that I am eating GM (genetically modified) foods that are bad for me. At first I didn't care if food is GM, but after reading more about it, I'm kind of shocked that I didn't know that I was eating GM food, and that really bothers me.
Dear Clueless Foodie,
Although GM (genetically modified) food has been available in the United States for over 15 years, many people are unaware of the abundance of GM products in the U.S. because they are not labeled as in other countries.
Both soybeans and corn are two of the widespread genetically modified (GM) crops, but not all soybean products nor corn products are genetically engineered (GE). Edamame is not GM and neither is popcorn, although the oils or flavorings used on popcorn could be GM. ("National Soybean Research Laboratory Edamame and 'Gardensoy'" www.nsrl.illinois.edu, 2012; "Snack Foods & Bars," NonGMOShoppingGuide.com, Summer 2012).
On the other hand, GM ingredients are in most processed foods such as cereal, snack foods, and drinks. There had not been any direct to consumer GM corn until Summer 2012 when GM sweet corn (cob, canned, frozen) became available. ("Information on GMO Sweet Corn," nongmoproject.org, 2012).
WHAT IS GM, GMO, GE?
Genes that are transferred from one organism to another in the laboratory go by several names that all mean the same thing:
1) GM: genetic modification or genetically modified
2) GMO: genetically modified organisms
3) GE: Genetic engineering or genetically engineered
4) Transgenic Organisms: "Because the injected genes may come from bacteria, viruses, insects, animals or even humans, GMOs are also known as 'transgenic' organisms" ("GMO Awareness, GMO Defined," gmo-awareness.com, 2012).
For example, to protect corn from insects, corn is genetically engineered to produce its own insecticide, i.e. a bacterium that produces proteins lethal to that insect have been transferred into corn, enabling corn to produce toxins against insects. ("20 Questions on Genetically Modified (GM) Foods," World Health Organization, www.who.int, 2012).
GM GENE STACKING: Gene stacking is two or more GE traits in a plant, and stacked genes are the dominant form of GM crops for corn and cotton. Two common GE traits are herbicide tolerance (usually glyphosate-tolerant, aka Roundup, which can be sprayed repeatedly and not harm the crop) and insect protection (plant produces its own toxin). ("Food Derived from GM Plants Containing Stacked Genes," foodstandards.gov.au, 2010).
IS GM FOOD LABELED?
UNITED STATES - NO: There is no labeling of GM products in the U.S. Commercial production of GM or GE crops in the United States began in 1996, but consumers cannot find out if a product contains GMO because the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) does not require labeling of foods that are GM. ("Adoption of Genetically Engineered Crops in the U.S.," United States Department of Agriculture, www.ers.usda.gov, 2012).
OUTSIDE UNITED STATES - YES: in many other developed countries in the world, except for Canada, mandatory labeling of products containing GM is required: Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Thailand, Korea, China, Russia, Brazil, plus all 27 countries in the European Union such as England, France, Germany, Italy, and Spain. ("International Representation," Consumers International, http://www.consumersinternational.org, 2012).
FOOD EXEMPT FROM GM LABELS IN THE EU: The EU has these exceptions to GM labeling:
1) BYPRODUCTS: Products from animals fed GM feed are exempt: fish, meat, eggs, milk, cheese, and other dairy products, and honey from bees that collected pollen from GM plants. This exception for GM labeling for byproducts of animals fed GM plant food is based on the assumption that pesticide toxin produced by GM corn is destroyed in the stomach. However, a 2011 Canadian study found the toxin in human blood sampled in 69% of non-pregnant women, 93% of pregnant women, and 80% of fetal blood samples. ("Aris, A. & Leblanc, S., "Maternal and fetal exposure to pesticides associated to genetically modified foods in Eastern Townships of Quebec, Canada, "Reproductive Toxicology, 2011 May; 31 (4): 528-33).
2) TRACES: Accidental traces of GMOs are exempt, up to a threshold of 0.9 percent. ("GMO Labelling: Guidelines - These Products Do Not Require Labeling," www.gmo-compass.org, January 23, 2007).
3) ADDITIVES: Additives, flavors, enzymes, or vitamins produced with GM microorganisms, i.e. aspartame, vitamin B, thickening agents, are also exempt. ("GMO Labelling: Guidelines - These Products Do Not Require Labeling," www.gmo-compass.org, January 23, 2007).
WHAT CROPS ARE GM AND WHERE?
GM crops can be found worldwide in 29 countries (10 industrial; 19 developing).
EUROPEAN UNION (EU): until 2010, when GM potatoes were approved, the EU had only allowed one commercially grown GM crop, corn (maize), and several countries had banned the growing of the GM corn: Austria, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, and Luxembourg. Despite pressure from the European Food Safety Authority for France to lift the ban, France has maintained its ban on GM crops. The GM potato is currently only grown in Germany. ("Maize," www.gmo-compass.org, 2012; "What Countries Have Banned GMO Crops?" www.examner.com, June 18, 2011; Vaughan, A., "French ban of Monsanto GM maize rejected by EU," guardian.co.uk, May 22, 2012; Douet, M., "France to maintain ban on GMO crops: PM, Scientific American, September 15, 2012).
TOP 10 COUNTRIES GROWING GM CROPS: The top 10 countries account for 98% of the GM crops in the world. (James, C., "Executive Summary Brief 43 Global Status of Commercialized Biotech/GM Crops: 2011," International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications, www.isaaa.org, 2011).
1) UNITED STATES: The lead producer of GM crops is the United States, accounts for 43% of biotech crops worldwide. In the United State there are six major food crops that are GMO: corn, soybeans, cotton, canola, sugar beets, and papayas. Alfalfa and squash are also being grown.
2) BRAZIL: Soybean, maize (corn), cotton
3) ARGENTINA: Soybean, maize, cotton
4) INDIA: Cotton
5) CANADA: Canola, maize, soybean, sugar beet
6) CHINA: Cotton, papaya, poplar, tomato, sweet pepper
7) PARAGUAY: Soybean
8) PAKISTAN: Cotton
9) SOUTH AFRICA: Maize, soybean, cotton
10) URUGUAY: Soybean, maize
GM CROPS IN THE U.S.
The first commercial GM crops were planted in the U.S. in 1996, and expanded at a rapid pace until 2009. Below is a brief timeline of approximate GMO crop expansion for the 6 major GM crops in the U.S. ("Factsheet: Genetically Modified Crops in the United States," Pew Initiative on Food and Biotechnology, pewtrusts.org, August 2004; "Debate over GM sugar beets: US court allows planting and harvest," gmo-compass.org, 17 March 2010; "Maize (corn)," www.gmo-compass.org, October 7, 2010; "Hawaii Papayas," National Agricultural Statistics Service, nass.usda.gov, October 27, 2009; "USA: Cultivation of GM plants, 2009,Maize, soybean, cotton: 88 percent genetically modified," www.gmo-compass.org, July 30, 2009; Cowan, T., "Agricultural Biotechnology: Background and Recent Issues," Congressional Research Service, nationalaglawcenter.org, June 18, 2011; Johnson, S.R., Strom, S., Grillo, K., "Quantification of the Impacts on US Agriculture of Biotechnology-Derived Crops Planted in 2006, National Center for Food and Agricultural Policy, ncfa.org, February 2008; "Hawaii Grown Papayas," hawaiianpapaya.com, 2012 ):
U.S. EXPANSION TIMELINE: % ACREAGE GM OF TOTAL FOR THAT CROP
1996: 4% corn, 7% soybeans, 17% cotton
2001: 26% corn, 68% soybeans, 69% cotton, 54% canola, 37% papaya
2004: 45% corn, 85% soybeans, 76% cotton, 75% canola, 70% papaya
2008: 80% corn, 92% soybeans, 86% cotton, 80% canola, 80% papaya, 50% sugar beets
2009: 85% corn; 91% soybeans, 88% cotton, 85% canola, 85% papaya, 95% sugar beets
2010: 86% corn; 93% soybeans, 93% cotton, 88% canola, 85% Papaya, 95% sugar beets
2012: U.S. GM CROP EXPANSION AND USES: Below are the current approximate percentages of GMO crops in the U.S out of total acreage and usage for human or animal consumption. (Adoption of Genetically Engineered Drops in the U.S., USDA Economic Research Service, www.ers.usda.gov, 2012; "Genetically Engineered Crops," Center for Food Safety, 2012; "U.S. Farmers Plant the Largest Corn Crop Since 1937," nass.usda.gov, June 29, 2012; "Major Crops Grown in the United States," www.epa.gov).
1) 86% Corn (maize) out of 96 million acres: 45% used for animal feed (livestock, poultry, fish), 18% exported overseas, 28% fuel ethanol, 9% becomes food or ingredients in food products. ("2011 World of Corn," National Corn Growers Association, ncga.com, 2011).
2) 93% Soybeans out of 76 million acres: 85% of the world's soybeans are processed into meal and oil. 98% of the meal is used in animal feed, 2% in soy flour and proteins ("Soy Facts,soyatech.com, 2012").
3) 95% Cotton out of 12.6 million acres: 91% of the crop goes into apparel and home furnishings, 8% into industrial products including cottonseed oil used in food products (margarine, salad dressing) and cottonseed meal for animal feed (livestock, dairy cattle, poultry). ("World of Cotton," National Cotton Council, cotton.org, 2012).
4) 95% Sugar beets out of 4,000 acres: refined sugar and molasses; exports pulp from the refining process as animal feed
5) 90% Canola (rapeseed) out of 1,300 acres: crushed for oil and meal, the latter used for animal feed. U.S. is the largest importer of canola from Canada (oil, seed, and meal), the seed and meal most likely GM since over 70% of Canadian canola seed is GE. The word canola comes from Can (Canada) and ola (oil low acid).
6) 85% of papayas in Hawaii out of 2,400 acres: Hawaii grows 95% of papayas in U.S. The largest importer of Hawaiian papayas is Japan, which lifted a 13 year ban of GM papayas in 2011 ("2011 Hawaii Papaya Utilization and Price Down," nass.usda.gov, July 2012; "Japan receives first shipment of Hawaiian Rainbow GE papayas," gmo-free-regions.org, 02-01-12).
7) 1% Alfalfa out of 20 million acres: primarily for dairy cows. GM alfalfa was approved for commercialization in 2011. ("About GMO Alfalfa," nogmoalfalfa.org, 2012).
8) Tomatoes have been given approval, but not all are currently being grown. There are small amounts of zucchini, yellow crookneck squash, and sweet corn.
WHAT FOODS CONTAIN GMOs?
ANIMAL FEED AND PROCESSED FOODS: Generally, GMO crops are used for animal feed or refined for processed foods in in the form of flour, oils, sweeteners, and starch. The Grocery Manufacturers Association estimates that 80 percent of foods in the U.S. contain GMOs ("Lifestyles Briefs: Environmental Nutrition: The Push to Label Genetically Engineered Foods," Editors of Environmental Nutrition, Chicago Tribune, July 4, 2012; "Shopping Guide," NonGMOShoppingGuide.com, Summer 2012).
Because the most common GE crops in the U.S. are corn, soy, canola, cotton, sugar beets, and papaya below are the product ingredients that could contain GMO according to the Center for Food Safety. ("The True Food Shoppers’ Guide to Avoiding GMOs, Center for Food Safety, truefoodnow.org, 2012).
1) CORN: corn oil, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, corn starch, corn meal
2) SOY: soy protein, soy lecithin, soy oil, soy sauce, soy isolates
3) COTTON: cottonseed oil
4) CANOLA: canola oil. According to biotech company, soyatech.com, "All protein is removed from canola oil during processing, so canola oil contains no GM material and is identical to canola oil from a non-GM canola plant" ("Canola Facts," soyatech.com, 2012).
However, in the EU and other countries, "oils and fats require labelling if derived from GM plants (e.g. soybean, maize, rapeseed). This is irrespective of whether or not GM material is detectable in the final product" ("Vegetable Oil," GMO Compass, gmo-compass.org, April 2, 2004).
5) SUGAR BEETS: sugar
6) PAPAYA: three varieties of papaya from Hawaii
12 MAJOR FOOD GROUPS CONTAINING GMO
In brief below are the major food groups that could contain GMOs from the Non-GMO Shopping Guide and GMO Compass:
1. BABY FOOD AND INFANT FORMULA: Milk or soy protein is the basis of most infant formulas, and milk could come from cows injected with rBGH (recombinant bovine growth hormone). Many brands also add GMO-derived corn syrup, corn syrup solids, or soy lecithin.
2. BEVERAGES: Most juices are made from non-GMO fruit (except papaya could be the Hawaiian GMO variety). But, they could contain corn-based sweeteners, i.e. high-fructose corn syrup. Many sodas are primarily comprised of water and corn syrup. If ingredients have sugar, it could be from GM sugar beets unless it states cane sugar. The sweetener aspartame is derived from GM microorganisms, and is also called NutraSweet or Equal, and found in over 6,000 products, including diet drinks and diet sodas
3. BREAD AND BAKED GOODS: Breads and bakery items could contain GMO ingredients such as corn syrup, soy flour, and sugar from sugar beets.
4. CANDY, CHOCOLATE PRODUCTS, AND SWEETENERS: Many sweets could contain sugar derived from GM sugar beets or aspartame, as well as soy lecithin and corn syrup.
5. CEREAL & BREAKFAST BARS: Could be made with GM corn and soy products and sugar beets.
6. CONDIMENTS, OILS, DRESSINGS & SPREADS: Could contain GM corn, soybean, cottonseed, and canola oils Preserves, jams, and jellies could contain GM sugar beets or corn syrup.
7. DAIRY PRODUCTS: Some US dairy farms inject the genetically engineered growth hormone rBGH, also called rBST (recombinant bovine somatotropin), into their cows to boost milk production, and could be fed GM feed.
8. FRUITS & VEGETABLES (canned and frozen): Most GM-Free. Very few fresh fruits and vegetables for sale in the U.S. are genetically modified. Small amounts of zucchini, yellow crookneck squash, and sweet corn may be GM. The only commercialized GM fruit is papaya from Hawaii. Even if the fruit or vegetable is non-GMO, if it is packaged, frozen, or canned, there may be GM additives.
GE WHOLE CORN: However, for the first time, direct to consumer GM whole corn became available in Summer 2012. Monsanto's new sweet corn contains three genetically engineered (GE) pesticide traits: tolerance to Monsanto's herbicide Roundup and resistant to two insects, borer and rootworm. Some stores, such as Whole Foods and Trader Joes, have stated that they will not sell GM corn, while others such as Walmart, say that they will. (Huff, E.A., "Monsanto's Bt GMO corn to be sold at Wal-Mart with no indication it is genetically modified," www.naturalnews.com, February 21, 2012).
9. MEAT, FISH & EGGS: No GM fish, poultry, or livestock are yet approved for human consumption, however, foods are produced from animals raised on GM feed: fish, meat, eggs, milk, butter, and other dairy products.
10. SNACK FOODS & BARS: No GM popcorn is on the market, nor is there blue or red GM corn. Snack foods could contain GM oils and sugars. Soybeans are an added ingredient to many processed foods and listed as hydrogenated oils, lecithin, emulsifiers, tocopherol (vitamin E) and proteins. ("Ingredients and Additives: Soy is Everywhere," www.gmo-compass.org, 2012).
11. SOUPS & SAUCES: Could contain GM ingredients such as oils, and sugars.
12. VITAMINS & SUPPLEMENTS: Many supplements use soy and corn derivatives, and some use GM microorganisms to produce their products.
SOYBEAN PRODUCTS NOT GM
TOFU, EDAMAME, SOY MILK, SOY SAUCE: Edamame is Non-GM, and tofu, soy milk and sauce are usually non-GM as well because they are made from the whole soybean. According to the National Soybean Research Laboratory, direct to consumer soybeans or edamame are not genetically-engineered (GE). Tofu and soy milk should be generally safe from genetic modification because they are made from food grade soybeans and "not extracted from the 'mass-soya' production but from soybeans with specific, certified quality features. Those soybeans are cultivated and traded separately. Thus, significant proportions of genetically modified soybeans are not to be expected" ("Tofu" and "Soy," www.gmo-compass.org, September 29, 2003). ("National Soybean Research Laboratory Edamame and 'Gardensoy'" www.nsrl.illinois.edu, 2012; Bocco, D., "Top 10 Genetically Modified Food Products," dsc.discover.com, 2010; "Soybeans and Soy Foods," midwestshippers.com, 2012).
GM REGULATION IN THE U.S.
Three U.S. agencies (USDA, EPA, FDA) regulate GM crops from different perspectives. However, it is up to the developer to provide the information to the agencies for status approval. (Fish, A.C., Rudenko, L., "Guide to U.S. Regulation of Genetically Modified Food and Agricultural Biotechnology Products," Pew Initiative on Food and Biotechnolog, pewtrusts.org, September 2001; ("Petitions for Nonregulated Status Granted or Pending by APHIS," as of October 15, 2012):
For the most part, GM crops are not regulated by the USDA or FDA for reasons described below:
1) USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture): Responsible for making sure that GM crops don't harm other crops based on reports from the developer.
a) APHIS (Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service): USDA APHIS does not regulate GM crop if (based on the developer's reports), there was no indication that a GM crop would behave any differently than other non-GM crops under field conditions. The GM article can be moved freely and planted without regulatory oversight by APHIS. USDA APHIS has already approved requests not to regulate GM tomato, rice, alfalfa, papaya (Hawaii and Florida), tobacco, potato, flaxseed, squash, chicory, over 10 different tomatoes, over 25 different corn, over 10 soybeans, and over 5 different rapeseeds (canola). ("Petitions for Nonregulated Status Granted or Pending by APHIS," as of October 15, 2012).
2) EPA (Environmental Protection Agency): EPA regulates agricultural pesticides, so is only responsible for GM plants that produce its own toxins against insects. The developer must verify that the toxin is safe for the environment and not allergenic.
3) FDA (Food and Drug Administration): Responsible for safety of GM crops eaten by humans or animals. The FDA does not conduct safety studies of GM crops. It is up to the manufacturer to provide information about the product.
a) Note: No pre-market review or approval is done by the FDA if the product is GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe). GRAS is determined by the manufacturer. Many tests that biotech companies perform are mainly to show that their crop is "substantially equivalent" to the conventional crop and therefore regulation from the FDA is not required. ("U.S. Regulation of Genetically Modified Crops," Federation of American Scientists, fas.org, 2011; Maryanski, J.H., "Genetically Engineered Foods," fda.gov, October 19, 1999).
TRACEABILITY: The U.S. considers GMO as "substantially equivalent" to traditional crops and "generally recognized as safe," and therefore no labeling is required. On the other hand, European countries regard GMO as very different from conventional plants developed with traditional cross-breeding because with GE allows cross species combinations. In Europe, there is more continued monitoring of GMOs compared to the U.S. Research by Ramjoue on GM regulatory issues points out that the U.S. has a relatively tolerant approach to GM food, therefore labeling of GM foods is voluntary and no rules on traceability. The opposite is viewed by the EU, where GM food is viewed as potentially hazardous until proven safe and "put in place strict labelling and traceability rules for GM products, including GM feed" (Ramjoue, C., "A review of regulatory issues raised by genetically modified organisms in agriculture," European Commission, Directorate-General for Research, 17 November 2008; Peterson, M.J., "The EU-US Dispute over Regulation of Genetically Modified Organisms, Plants, Feeds, and Foods - Case Summary," International Dimensions of Ethics Education in Science and Engineering Case Study Series, Version 4; Revised June 2010).
WHY TRACEABILITY IS IMPORTANT:
The U.S. is "guided by the traditional rule that a new activity may proceed until it is shown to cause significant harm" (Peterson, M.J., "The EU-US Dispute over Regulation of Genetically Modified Organisms, Plants, Feeds, and Foods - Case Summary," International Dimensions of Ethics Education in Science and Engineering Case Study Series, Version 4; Revised June 2010).
Examples of products that were on the market, and then later shown to cause significant harm:
1. CIGARETTES: Health warning labels were put on cigarettes in 1964 after cigarettes had been in use for 50 years. In fact, free cigarettes were part of the military rations given to soldiers during World War I, World War II, and the Gulf War (1990-91). Despite the warning label, cigarette smoking is still prevalent and lung cancer remains the leading cause of cancer deaths in the U.S. (Smith, E.A. & Malone, R.E., "Everywhere the Soldier Will Be": Wartime Tobacco Promotion in the US Military," American Journal of Public Health. 2009 September; 99(9): 1595–1602; "Smoking and Tobacco Use," cdc.gov, October 29, 2010; "Tobacco-Related Cancers Fact Sheet," cancer.org, November 16, 2011).
2. DDT: Pesticide banned in 1972 after 30 years of use in agriculture, industry, homes and gardens for harmful effects on wildlife and humans. DDT is now classified as a probable human carcinogen (cancer-causing) based on animal studies where liver tumors developed. ("DDT Ban Takes Effect," epa.gov, December 31, 1972; "Pesticides: Topical & Chemical Fact Sheets: DDT - A Brief History and Status,” epa.gov, May 9, 2012).
3. PCBs (Polychlorinated Biphenyls): Banned in 1979 for causing cancer after 50 years of use for insulation in electrical transformers and capacitors and lubricant in gas pipelines. However, EPA allows PCB used in enclosed electrical equipment. ("EPA Bans PCB Manufacturer; Phases Out Uses," epa.gov, April 19, 1979).
4. AGENT ORANGE (dioxin): Banned in 1985 after 24 years of use. Herbicide used extensively during the Vietnam War between 1961 to 1971 to defoliate forests, crops, and peasant land in order to destroy enemy hiding places, food, and shelter. Biotech companies that produced Agent Orange said it was not harmful to humans. Agent Orange caused deaths or health problems in over one million Vietnamese people, including 500,000 children born with birth defects. U.S. troops fighting in Vietnam were also affected resulting in nearly 40,000 disability claims with problems such as respiratory cancers, leukemia, and spina bifida in children of veterans exposed to Agent Orange. (King, J., "U.S. in first effort to clean up Agent Orange in Vietnam," cnn.com, August 10, 2012; York, G. & Mick, H., "Last ghost of the Vietnam War," The Globe and Mail, July 12, 2008; "Agent Orange Review: Information for Veterans Who Served in Vietnam," public health.va.gov, vol 5, no 1, March 1986).
Genetically modified crops and food involve many controversies, and four concern:
1) Health 2) Environmental, 3) Socio-economic 4) Political.
1) HEALTH & SAFETY CONTROVERSY:
Monsanto, the largest producer of GM seeds, considers their products to be safe for consumers and conducts tests to present to governmental agencies ("safety and Technical Information," monsanto.com, 2012).
The controversies regarding the health and safety of GM crops are lack of independent research on GM products, especially allergens, toxicity, and other health issues related to GM, conflicts of interest, past scientific fraud, false advertising, and studies showing harm.
FEW INDEPENDENT STUDIES: According to Scientific American, whether GM crops are safe for human consumption, for the environment, animals, and insects is difficult to fully assess because few independent studies are allowed. GM seeds have intellectual property rights, scientists must have approval from the seed company to obtain the GM seeds, and "only studies that the seed companies have approved ever see the light of a peer-reviewed journal. In a number of cases, experiments that had the implicit go-ahead from the seed company were later blocked from publication because the results were not flattering" ("Do Seed Companies Control GM Crop Research? Scientists must ask corporations for permission before publishing independent research on genetically modified crops," Editors of Scientific American, August 13, 2009).
CONFLICTS OF INTEREST: Diels, et. al. reviewed 94 articles on GM product health risks or nutritional value and found "the existence of either financial or professional conflict of interest was associated to study outcomes that cast genetically modified products in a favorable light" (Diels, J., Cunha, M., Sabugosa-Madeira, B., Silva, M., "Association of financial or professional conflict of interest to research outcomes on health risks or nutritional assessment studies of genetically modified products," Food Polidy, Volume 36 (2), April 2011, pages 197-203).
SCIENTIFIC FRAUD: In the past, there has been controversy over test results submitted by two biotech companies when the U.S. EPA found scientists deliberately falsified test results on the herbicide glyphosate (Roundup) and other pesticides at research laboratories hired by biotech companies. One lab, IBT (Industrial Biotest Laboratories) was closed in 1978 and found guilty in 1983 of falsifying statements and scientific data. In 1994, the second lab, Craven Laboratories owner and 14 employees received fines and prison terms for falsifying pesticide residues ("Backgrounder Testing fraud: IBT and Craven Laboratories," monsanto.com, June 2005).
Monsanto has stated that they have repeated all the studies, and pointed out that only a small fraction of their studies were conducted by Craven as Monsanto has 16 independent laboratories under contract. ("Backgrounder Testing fraud: IBT and Craven Laboratories," monsanto.com, June 2005).
FALSE ADVERTISING: Monsanto has been found guilty of false advertising in France and by the Attorney General of New York for promoting Roundup as biodegradable and "left the soil clean" ("Monsanto guilty in 'false ad' row," bbc.co.uk, October 15, 2009; "Attorney General of the State of New York. Consumer Frauds and Protection Bureau. Environmental Protection Bureau. 1996. In the matter of Monsanto Company, respondent. Assurance of discontinuance pursuant to executive law False Advertising by Monsanto Regarding the Safety of Roundup Herbicide (Glyphosate)," http://big.assets.huffingtonpost.com/fraud.pdf, 1996).
REVIEW OF STUDIES: Domingo, et. al. reviewed studies on GM soybeans, corn, and rice, and noted that most of the studies were conducted by biotech companies who develop and sell GM seeds, toxicological studies were scarce and investigations were short-term, typically three months or less. Many studies raise serious concerns. ("Product Safety Summaries," monsanto.com, 2012; Domingo, J.L. & Bordonaba, G., "A literature review on the safety assessment of genetically modified plants, "Environment International, 2011 May, 37(4): 734-42).
Seralini, et. al. reviewed studies of mammals fed GM soybean and maize, and concluded that the changes in the kidneys and livers could be the onset of chronic diseases, and "90-day-long tests were insufficient to evaluate chronic toxicity" (Seralini, G-E., Mesnage, R., Clair, E, Gress, S., de Vendomois, J.S., Cellier, D., "Genetically modified crops safety assessments: present limits and possible improvements," Environmental Sciences Europe, 2011, 23:10).
Antoniou, et. al. summarized the results of feeding studies on laboratory and farm animals and concluded that GM foods can be toxic or allergenic, showing disturbances to the kidney, liver, heart, pancreas, immune system cells, digestive system, changes in the uterus, ovaries, or higher levels of triglycerides. (Antoniou, M., Robinson, C., Fagan, J., "GMO MYTHS AND TRUTHS An evidence-based examination of the claims made for the safety and efficacy of genetically modified crops," earthopensource.org, June 2012, pages 37-39):
LONG TERM STUDY: GM CORN LINK TO TUMORS AND DEATH: Seralini, et. al. conducted the first long-term trial on the effects of eating GM corn on rats over a two year period, which is their average life expectancy. Seralini, et. al. found rats who ate GM corn as part of their balanced diet developed tumors sooner and died earlier compared to the control group that did not eat any GM corn. And, it did not matter if the concentration of GM corn in their diet was at the lowest end (11%) or highest end (33%). Female rats tended to have mammary (breast) tumors, and male rats tended to have kidney, skin, and liver tumors. Death did not start to occur until four months into the study, noteworthy since prior animal studies usually ran for three months or less. (Seralini, G-E, Clair, E., Mesnage, R., Gress, S, Defarge, N., Malatesta, M., Hennequin, D., Spiroux de Vendomois, J., "Long term toxicity of a Roundup herbicide and a Roundup-tolerant genetically modified maize, " Food and Chemical Toxicology, available online 19 September 2012).
ROUNDUP LINK TO TUMORS AND DEATH: GM corn is resistant to the weed killer Roundup so that farmers can use the herbicide on their crops and not harm the plant. Seralini, et. al. also examined the effects that traces of Roundup might have on the rats by giving tiny amounts of Roundup in their drinking water, similar to what people might get from their food or water. In the groups who had no GMO corn but given tiny amounts of Roundup in their drinking water, a higher percentage of rats had tumors and died sooner compared to the controls. (Seralini, G-E, et. al., "Long term toxicity of a Roundup herbicide and a Roundup-tolerant genetically modified maize, " Food and Chemical Toxicology, available online 19 September 2012).
CRITICISM OF SERALINI STUDY: Monsanto has criticized Seralini's study and pro-GM scientists attacked the research with major media outlets voicing these criticisms. Spiroux de Vendomois, one of the co-authors of the Seralini study, had answers for all the criticisms, though none of the major media outlets carried his responses to the criticisms. In addition, Spiroux de Vendomois pointed out that: "In all three treatment groups of rats, tumours or diseases of the kidneys and liver begin in the 4th month and explode in the 11th and 12th months. Which corresponds to the age of 35 to 40 years in a human. In the control group, tumours occurred mostly at the end of life, in the 23rd and 24th months, which seems to be normal in these rats....In America, GMOs are sold freely, unlabelled, untraceable. This prevents them being identified as a cause of disease and opens the door to denial" ("Nine criticisms of Seralini study answered by co-author, Dr Joel Spiroux interviewed by Morgane Bertrand, 20 Sept 2012," gmwatch.org, October 11, 2012).
SUPPORT OF SERALINI: In Serlini's defense, Bardocz, et. al. provides an open letter, co-signed by over 100 scientists and professors, and counting, as more signatures are being added. The letter states in part: "Seralini and colleagues are just the latest in a series of researchers whose findings have triggered orchestrated campaigns of harassment... A key pattern with risk-finding studies is that the criticisms voiced in the media are often red herrings, misleading, or untruthful" (Bardocz, S., Clark, A., Ewen, S., Heinemann, J., Latham, J., Pusztai, A., Schubert, D., Wilson, A., "Seralini and Science: an Open Letter, "Independent Science News, October 2, 2012; Product Safety Monsanto Comments (Update 10/04/2012) on Long term toxicity of a Roundup herbicide and a Roundup-tolerant genetically modified maize," monsanto.com, 10-4-12).
2) ENVIRONMENTAL CONTROVERSY:
GM crops have been criticized for impacting the environment by cross-contaminating native plants, polluting waterways, harming organisms, increase in chemicals, and creating super weeds and super pests.
CROSS-CONTAMINATION: GM crops have been criticized for cross contamination with indigenous plants and crops. University of California Berkeley researchers found native maize (corn) in Mexico has been contaminated with transgenic DNA, and a subsequent study in 2009 also found unintended transgene flow into native Mexican maize (Quist, D. & Chapela, I.H., "Transgenic DNA introgressed into traditional maize landraces in Oaxaca, Mexico," Nature, 2001 Nov 29;414(6863):541-3; Pineyro-Nelson A, Van Heerwaarden, J., Perales, H.R., Serratos-Hernandez, J.A., Rangel, A., Hufford, M.B., Gepts, P., Garay-Arroyo, A., Rivera-Bustamante, R., Alvarez-Buylla, E.R., "Transgenes in Mexican maize: molecular evidence and methodological considerations for GMO detection in landrace populations," Molecular Ecology 18 (4): 750–761, 2009).
CONTAMINATION: Emma Rosi-Marshall studied 12 streams in northern Indiana where GM corn is grown and found the streams also contain GM corn leaves, stalks, cobs, and pollen, concluding that "widespread planting of Bt crops has unexpected ecosystem-scale consequences" (Rosi-Marshall, E.J., Tank, J.L., Royer, T.V., Whiles, M.R., Evans-White, M., Chambers, C., Griffiths, N.A., Pokelsek, J., Stephen, M.L, "Toxins in transgenic crop byproducts may affect headwater stream ecosystems," Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences U.S.A., 2007 Oct 9; 104(41): 16204-8).
INCREASE IN HERBICIDES: According to the EPA, 5.1 billion pounds of pesticides (herbicides, insecticides, fungicides) are used each year in the U.S.; 80% in agriculture. Professor Benbrook found herbicide use with GM crops substantially increased over 16 years (1996-2011) by 7%, an additional 404 million pounds, thus escalating human exposure via food, drinking water, and air. Benbrook also pointed out, "Resistant weeds have become a major problem for many farmers reliant on GM crops and are now driving up the volume of herbicide needed each year by about 25 per cent" ("Pesticides: Topical & Chemical Fact Sheets The EPA and Food Security," epa.gov, January 2012; Poulter, S, "How GM crops have increased the use of danger pesticides and created superweeds and toxin-resistant insects," daily mail.co.uk, October 2, 2012; Benbrook, C.M., "Impacts of genetically engineered crops on pesticide use in the U.S.-- the first sixteen years," Environmental Sciences Europe, 2012, 24:24, 28 September 2012).
SUPERWEEDS: Weeds that become resistant to herbicides are called superweeds. Farmers that plant GM Roundup Ready seeds resistant to weed killer, must spray their crops with that weed killer, which is glyphosate (Monsanto product Roundup). Increased herbicide use has created super weeds while killing other plants such as milkweeds that the Monarch butterfly relies. (Lochhead, C., "Genetically modified crops' results raise concern," sfgate.com, April 30, 202).
INCREASE IN OTHER BUGS: A 10 year field study of pest resistant GM cotton found non-targeted insects becoming pests because of drops in insecticide use. (Lu, Y., Wu, K., Jiang, Y., Xia, B., Li, P., Feng, H., Wyckhuys, K.A.G., Guo, Y., “Mirid Bug Outbreaks in Multiple Crops Correlated with Wide-Scale Adoption of Bt Cotton in China," Science, 28 May 2010: Vol. 328 no. 5982 pp. 1151-1154).
HARMING UNINTENDED ORGANISMS: 1) MONARCH BUTTERFLY: One type of GM corn incorporates a toxin from the bacterium, Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis). Lab research at Cornell University found monarch butterfly larvae who ate pest resistant Bt corn pollen dusted onto milkweed leaves had increased mortality and retarded growth compared to controls not given GM dusted milkweed. However, subsequent field test studies conducted by the U.S. EPA and the agricultural biotechnology industry concluded that the impact of Bt corn pollen on monarch butterfly populations is negligible because monarch exposure is limited: only a portion of the monarch population uses milkweed near cornfields and Bt corn is only grown in 19% of North American corn-growing areas. (Losey J.E., Rayor L.S., Carter M.E., "Transgenic pollen harms monarch larvae," Nature, 1999 May 20; 399 (6733): 214; Sears, M.K., Hellmich, R.L., Staney-Horn, D.E., et. al., "Impact of Bt corn pollen on monarch butterfly populations: A risk assessment," pnas.org, August 17, 2001).
2) BEE CCD (COLONY COLLAPSE DISORDER): Bees are more important than just a source for honey. Bees are an essential part of the eco-system to pollinate one-third of the crops that we eat such as fruits, vegetables, and nuts (i.e. apples, peaches, carrots, strawberries, almonds, onions). Without bees, $15 billion in crops could be lost in the U.S. alone. ("Colony Collapse Disorder," Beelogics.com, 2012).
Since 2006, one-third of the bee population in the U.S. has been mysteriously disappearing, a phenomenon called CCD (Colony Collapse Disorder), and some point to GM crops. Beekeeper and biologist, John McDonald, decided to conduct his own experiment when GM crops were not being scrutinized as a probable cause for CCD. McDonald established eight new beehives far away from GM crops and kept another set of hives near the GM fields. After two months, the bees near the GM fields did not gain weight and had not started to produce any honey. The beehives far away from GM crops thrived and produced 150 pounds of honey per hive, plus an extra 200 pounds of honey. Furthermore, both sites had plenty of goldenrod pasturage on which to forage from mid-August to mid-October. McDonald, J., "Environmental destruction and Biotechnology: Could genetically modified crops be killing bees?," The Canadian, agoracosmopolitan.com, 2007).
In 2012, Poland banned Monsanto GM corn after 1,500 bee keepers dumped thousands of dead bees onto the steps of the Ministry of Agriculture. An experiment by Ramierz-Romero, et. al. examined GM pesticide resistant crops and found disturbed learning performance in honey bees, which could impact foraging efficiency. Henry, et. al. found honey bees exposed to a common pesticide used in GM crops caused homing failure and subsequent death. (Sewell, A., Beekeepers & Anti-GMO protesters march in Wwarsaw (updated), digitaljournal.com, March 27, 2012; Ramirez-Romero, R., Desneux, N., Decourtye, A., Chaffiol, A., Pham-Delegue, M.H., "Does Cry1Ab protein affect learning performances of the honey bee Apis mellifera L. (Hymenoptera, Apidae)?," Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety, 70(2): 327-33, June 2008; Henry, M., Beguin, M., Requier, F., Rollin, O., Odoux, J.F., Aupinel, P., Aptel, J., Tchamitchian, S., Decourtye, A., "A common pesticide decreases foraging success and survival in honey bees," Science, 336(6079): 348-50, April 20, 2012).
In 2007, international firm Beelogics was founded and was dedicated to restoring and protecting bee health. In 2011, Monsanto bought Beelogics. Beelogics proposed that various factors could be the cause of CCD such as mites, infectious agents, radiation, pesticides, stress. But, to date, no effective measures to control CCD have been developed. ("About Us," Beelogics.com, 2012; ("Colony Collapse Disorder," Beelogics.com, 2012).
NON-GMO CROP QUALITIES: Drought tolerant, flood tolerant, salt tolerant, disease resistant, pest resistant are a few examples of conventionally bred crops already available without GM that GM proponents claim can only be achieved through genetic engineering. (Antoniou, M., Robinson, C., Fagan, J., "GMO MYTHS AND TRUTHS An evidence-based examination of the claims made for the safety and efficacy of genetically modified crops," earthopensource.org, June 2012).
3) SOCIO-ECONOMIC CONTROVERSY:
GM seeds have been criticized for being costly, lacking in productivity, and contaminating other non-GM farmers fields.
COSTLY: Before GM seed technology, farmers saved and reused seeds from their crops for planting next season. Now, companies who own the patents to GM seeds have "intellectual property" rights, where the GM seeds cannot be saved and reused, so farmers must buy new seed each year, as well as purchase corresponding pesticides and herbicides for those particular seeds. (Huff, E.A., "Consolidation of seed companies leading to corporate domination of world food supply," naturalnews.com, July 27, 2011).
The GM seeds are costly. For example, in India, the cost of cotton seeds is 10 British pounds for 100 grams of GM seed versus 10 British pounds for 1,000 times more of traditional seeds. (Malone, A., "The GM genocide: Thousands of Indian farmers are committing suicide after using genetically modified crops," dailymail.co.uk, November 2, 2008).
YIELDS VARIABLE: GM seeds are supposed to help countries double or triple their productivity. But, Monanto's claims of their GM seeds producing 1,500 kilograms of cotton per acre fell short in India, producing 400 kilograms. ("Vandana Shiva on the Problem with Genetically Modified Seeds," billmoyers.com, July 13, 2012).
Generally, GM crops have performed no better or gave lower yields (GM soy) compared to their non-GM counterparts. (Antoniou, M., Robinson, C., Fagan, J., "GMO MYTHS AND TRUTHS An evidence-based examination of the claims made for the safety and efficacy of genetically modified crops," earthopensource.org, June 2012).
The World Bank and four United Nations agencies do not endorse GM crops as a solution to world hunger after a four year report concluded that GM crops yields were highly variable, providing gains in some and declines in others. The report was conducted by over 400 scientists and experts from 80 countries and endorsed by 62 governments. (Antoniou, M., Robinson, C., Fagan, J., "GMO MYTHS AND TRUTHS An evidence-based examination of the claims made for the safety and efficacy of genetically modified crops," earthopensource.org, June 2012).
FARMER DEBT: Over an approximate six year period, it was reported that 125,000 farmers in India committed suicide when their crops failed, and many were using GM crop. Failed harvest left farmers deep in debt as well as dependent on suppliers because GM seeds must be purchased every year and cannot be reused. (Malone, A., "The GM genocide: Thousands of Indian farmers are committing suicide after using genetically modified crops," dailymail.co.uk, November 2, 2008).
Monsanto points out that farmer suicides in India began long before the introduction of their GM cotton in 2002. However, physicist Vandana Shiva believes that farmer suicides are linked to Monsanto GM seeds because the rate of suicides is highest in the cotton belt of which 95% is Monsanto's cotton. ("Farmer Suicides in India - Is There a Connection with Bt Cotton?" monsanto.com, 5/21/12; ("Vandana Shiva on the Problem with Genetically Modified Seeds," billmoyers.com, July 13, 2012).
CONTAMINATION: "Contamination from cross-pollination happens readily, so the harvests of many farmers who have not planted Monsanto seed have tested positive for GM genes and Monsanto has sued them for patent infringement. This has pushed many farmers into switching to buying Monsanto's seed, because then they are safer from litigation. Farmers' claims that they have not intentionally planted GM crops have not protected them from having to pay large cash settlements or damages as a result of civil lawsuits" (Michael Antoniou, M., Robinson, C., Fagan, J., "GMO MYTHS AND TRUTHS An evidence-based examination of the claims made for the safety and efficacy of genetically modified crops," earthopensource.org, June 2012, page 113).
"GM contamination of crops has had severe economic consequences, threatening the livelihoods of farmers who receive premiums for growing organic and GM-free crops and blocking export markets to countries with strict regulations on GMOs" (Antoniou, M., Robinson, C., Fagan, J., "GMO MYTHS AND TRUTHS An evidence-based examination of the claims made for the safety and efficacy of genetically modified crops," earthopensource.org, June 2012).
4) POLITICAL CONTROVERSY: GM AND GOVERNMENT TIES
The major GM seed companies, Monsanto, Dupont, Syngenta, Bayer, Dow, and BASF own or partially own hundreds of seed companies. The world's largest producer of GM seeds is Monsanto, accounting for 70-100% of the global market for various GM seeds in 2006. Founded in 1901 in St. Louis, Missouri by John F. Queeny, whose wife was Olga Monsanto Queeny, the first product of Monsanto was the sweetener, saccharine. Monsanto's first GMO product was the growth hormone rBGH/rBST, used in dairy cows to increase milk production beginning in 1994, (still used in the U.S., but banned in 31 other countries). Originally a chemical company, Monsanto began to acquire seed companies in 1982, and between 1996 and 2008, acquired over 50 seed companies. ("For the Record: Monsanto," Guinness World Records 2012; "Company History," monsanto.com, 2011; Huff, E.A., "Consolidation of seed companies leading to corporate domination of world food supply," naturalnews.com, July 27, 2011; "rBGH-free dairy map," sustainabletable.org, 2012).
There has been concern about the many political connections of biotech companies within the U.S. government, in particular, Monsanto. Although political ties extend farther back in time, in brief below are some key federal positions and former Monsanto positions spanning all presidents, Republican and Democrats since 1989. ( Friedman, G., "FDA/Monsanto Fraud: No labels for Genetic Engineered (GMO) Foods," examiner.com, August 10, 202; "35 individuals who worked for Monsanto and the U.S. Government," occupy-Monsanto.com, March 3, 2012):
GOVERNMENT AND FORMER MONSANTO POSITIONS BY PRESIDENT
1989-93: PRESIDENT GEORGE BUSH (Sr.):
Margaret Miller, deputy director of FDA Office of New Animal Drugs, which approved Monsanto's rBGH growth hormone for dairy cows based on a report she worked on while employed by Monsanto
Michael Taylor, FDA Deputy Commissioner for Policy - former attorney for Monsanto
Clarence Thomas, U.S. Supreme Court Justice - former attorney for Monsanto
Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense - president of Searle Pharmaceuticals now owned by Monsanto
Vice President Dan Quayle, along with former Monsanto attorney Michael Taylor, came up with the policy that GM crops were "substantially equivalent" to regular crops and do not need to be labeled or safety tested. (Murphy, D., "20 Years of GMO Policy That Keeps Americans in the Dark About Their Food," huffingtonpost.com, 5/30/12).
1993-2001 PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON:
Margaret Miller, deputy director of FDA Office of New Animal Drugs - Monsanto chemical lab supervisor
Michael Taylor, FDA's Deputy Commissioner for Policy, allowed growth hormone rBGH to be used in dairy cows without labeling, then later became USDA Administrator of Food Safety and Inspection Services - former attorney for Monsanto
Mickey Kantor, Secretary of Commerce - Monsanto board member
Virginia Weldon, Member of Committee of Scientific Advisors, and Vice President Al Gore's Sustainable Development Roundtable - Monsanto public relations
Josh King, White House Communications - Monsanto Director Int'l Govt. Affairs
Carol Tucker-Foreman, White House Consumer Advocate - Monsanto lobbyist
Linda J. Fisher, Deputy Admin EPA - Monsanto VP Government & Public Affairs
Lidia Watrud, EPA Workgroups for microbial pesticides - Monsanto Manager new technologies
2001-2009 PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH:
Ann Veneman, Secretary of Agriculture - on board of directors of Calgene Pharmaceuticals, an affiliate of Monsanto
Linda J. Fisher, Deputy Admin EPA (Environmental Protection Agency - Monsanto VP Government & Public Affairs
Lidia Watrud, EPA Advisor Research Associateships - Monsanto Manager new technologies
Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense - president of Searle Pharmaceuticals now owned by Monsanto
Stansfield Turner, Director of the CIA - Monsanto Board member
Earle H. Harbison, CIA officer - former president of Monsanto
2009-2017 PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA:
Lidia Watrud, EPA Advisor Research Associateships - Monsanto Manager new technologies
Michael Taylor, FDA senior advisor and later FDA Deputy Commissioner for Foods - Monsanto's lobbyist for biotech products
Tom Vilsak, Secretary of Agriculture - former governor of Iowa, proponent of large commercial farms and GE crops
Roger Beachy, Director USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture - Director of Monsanto funded Danford Plant Science Center
Islam Siddiqui, Agriculture Trade Representative - Monsanto lobbyist
2012 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE MITT ROMNEY
Romney's relationship with Monsanto began in 1977 after joining management consulting firm, Bain & Company, and continued after he helped found investment firm, Bain Capital. Romney was part of the team to help revamp Monsanto from a controversial chemical company (DDT, PCBs, Agent Orange) to an agricultural biotech company (GMO). (Barrett, W., "Mitt Romney, Monsanto Man, thenation.com, September 12, 2012; Barrett, W., "How Mitt Romney and Bain Helped Grow Monsanto Into a Biotech Giant," The Nation Institute, www.alternet.org, September 17, 2012):
Romney's 2012 Agricultural Advisory Committee:
Randy Russell: Monsanto lobbyist
Chris Policinski: Land O'Lakes CEO and fellow client of Monsanto lobbyist Randy Russell. Also, partnered with Monsanto and the NCFC (National Council of Farmer Cooperatives) in the push for genetically modified alfalfa. Policinski is an NCFC director.
Chuck Conner: Head of the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives (NCFC). Partnered with Monsanto and Chris Policinski to push for genetically modified alfalfa.
Tom Nassif: Head of the Western Growers Association, which receives annual grants from Monsanto.
A.G. Kawamura: Former Agriculture Secretary of California who championed Monsanto’s GM alfalfa despite a court ruling in the state against it.
Katie Smith: Director at Osborn and Barr, a Missouri PR firm founded by Monsanto with the corporation being its first client.
Mike Johanns: Nebraska Senator. As former US Agriculture Secretary in the George W. Bush administration, Johanns often criticized European nations for banning GMO products and requiring their labeling. Under Johanns, the USDA approved Monsanto's genetically modified alfalfa and sugar beats without the government-mandated environmental studies.
Congressmen Jack Kingston and Frank Lucas: National, co-chairs of a general election committee called the Farmers and Ranchers for Romney coalition. Each had sponsored an amendment added to an agricultural appropriations bill, dubbed "The Monsanto rider" that would still allow the planting of a GE crop even if a federal court had ordered the planting be stopped for potential hazards until completion of an environmental impact. (Farm Groups and Public Interest Advocates Join Forces to Oust Dangerous 'Biotech Provision' From Agriculture Spending Bill, centerforfoodsafety.org, June 19, 2012; Cummins, R., The 'Monsanto Rider': Are Biotech Companies About to Gain Immunity from Federal Law?", naturalnews.com; July 10, 2012).
ORGANIC - WHAT DOES IT MEAN
Although the U.S. Presidents and candidate Romney are very supportive of GM, it appears that they prefer to eat organic food in private, according to journalist Tom Philpott. Organic food would not have GM ingredients. (Philpott, T., "Does Monsanto Man Mitt Romney Secretly Eat Organic?", motherjones.com, Sep. 26, 2012).
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) defines organic crops, livestock, and multi-ingredient foods as follows ("National Organic Program Organic Standards," United States Department of Agriculture Agricultural Marketing Service, 9-10-12):
1) Organic Crops: Irradiation, sewage sludge, synthetic fertilizers, prohibited pesticides, and genetically modified organisms were not used. [glyphosate (Roundup) would be prohibited].
2) Organic Livestock: Producers met animal health and welfare standards, did not use antibiotics or growth hormones, used 100% organic feed, and provided animals with access to the outdoors.
3) Organic Multi-ingredient Foods: Product has 95% or more certified organic content. If the label claims that it was made with specified organic ingredients, you can be sure that those specific ingredients are certified organic.
HOW TO AVOID GMO FOOD - ORGANIC
Until labeling of GM products is required, always read food product labels carefully for potential GMO ingredients. Below are ways to avoid GMO food:
1) Buy Organic: organic products from animals (meat, eggs, milk, butter, ice cream, etc), cannot be fed GMO feed nor given growth hormones nor antibiotics. Below are three levels of organic labeling approved by the USDA ("Understanding Organic Labeling," United States Department of Agriculture Agricultural Marketing Service, 7-27-09):
a) "100% Organic": contains 100% certified organic ingredients.
b) "Organic": 95% or more organic ingredients.
c) "Made with Organic Ingredients": at least 70% organic ingredients.
2) Buy 100% Grass-Fed animal products.
3) Buy Wild Fish: avoid farmed fish that could be fed meal from GM grains, and farmed salmon could be contaminated with dangerous levels of PCBs, and crowded farms can attract diseases and parasites. (Snyder, K., "7 Foods You Should Never, Ever Eat," kimberlysnyder.net, February 23, 2012).
4) Look for Cane Sugar: if product label lists "sugar", it could be from GM sugar beets. Molasses is normally made from sugarcane, but can be made from sugar beets.
5) Avoid artificial sweeteners such as corn syrup and especially high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). A Princeton University study suggests that HFCS may contribute to obesity, with significant increases in abdominal fat and circulating triglycerides, which "in humans, these same characteristics are known risk factors for high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, cancer and diabetes" (Parker, H., "A sweet problem: Princeton researchers find that high-fructose corn syrup prompts considerably more weight gain," News at Princeton, princeton.edu, March 22, 2010; Bocarsly, M.E., Powell, E.S., Avena, N.M., & Hoebel, B.G., "High-fructose corn syrup causes characteristics of obesity in rats: increased body weight, body fat and triglyceride levels," Journal Pharmacology, Biochemistry and Behavior, 2010 Nov; 97(1): 101-6).
6) Look for Olive, Safflower, Sunflower, oil: avoid oils, margarine, and products made from canola, cottenseed, corn, or soy, which could be GMO.
7) Check Vitamin Ingredients: GM corn or soy could be in the coatings or fillers under names such as maltodextrin and citric acid. Vitamin E or tocopherol can be an added supplement to products and could be made from GM soy, corn, or cotton. (Mount, R., "5 Ways to Lessen Your Exposure to GMOs," oprah.com, May 2012; "Vitamin E (Tocopherol),” gmo-compass.org, December 10, 2008).
8) Look for products labeled Non-GMO.
TWO FAILED GM PRODUCTS YOU MAY NOT KNOWN YOU HAVE EATEN
1) GM FRENCH FRIES: In 1995, a GM potato called NewLeaf became available, developed by Monsanto to be resistant to the potato beetle. In 2001, it was taken off the market when the largest potato buyers (McDonalds, Burger King, Wendy's, Frito Lay) stopped buying GM potatoes because of public relations concerns with consumers who were against GMO. (Kennedy, G., "Rise And Fall Of Biotech Potatoes: Why And Where Next?," Department of Entomology, North Carolina State University, 2007; Tucker, R.E., "A Potato Chronology," tuckertaters.com, March 31, 2012).
2) GM TOMATO: Between 1994-97, a GM tomato called Flavr Savr was on the market. Calgene developed this first GM tomato to not bruise easily in order to be picked off the vine when red instead of conventionally picked green then ripened with ethylene gas. Flavr Savr was withdrawn because compared to conventional tomatoes, the GM tomato still had a tendency to bruise, cost twice as much, the flavor was no better, and there was a safety concern associated with stomach lesions. Calgene has since been acquired by Monsanto. ("A Failed Technology," Center for Food Safety, www.centerforfoodsafety.org, 2012; "The Failure of the First GM Foods," Golden Harvest Organcs, ghorganics.com, 2012).
WHAT GM PRODUCTS COMING UP?
New GM products are always being developed ranging from salmon and pigs to grain crops such as wheat, which would be a large cash crop since 56 million acres are planted in the U.S. To date, these are not yet been approved for commercialization. However, as of October 4, 2012, USDA APHIS nonregulation status is being considered for 19 GM articles: apple, potato, creeping bent grass, eucalyptus, new traits for corn, soybean, and canola. One of the new traits for soybeans and corn developed by Dow would create dual herbicide resistant seeds to withstand both glyphosate and 2,4-D, so farmers can use both herbicides on crops, since weeds are becoming resistant to glyphosate. As noted by Tom Philpott, 2-4-D is "a highly toxic herbicide (and, famously, the less toxic component in the notorious Vietnam War-era defoliant Agent Orange)" (Philpott, T., "USDA Prepares to Green-Light Gnarliest GMO Soy Yet," motherjones.com, July 18, 2012; "What Is GMO? Agricultural Crops That Have a Risk of Being GMO," nongmoproject.org, 2012; ("U.S. Farmers Plant the Largest Corn Crop Since 1937," nass.usda.gov, June 29, 2012; "Petitions for Nonregulated Status Granted or Pending by APHIS as of October 4, 2012," aphis.usda.gov, 2012).
MORATORIUM REQUESTED ON GM FOODS: The American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) position paper on GM foods: "GM foods pose a serious health risk" and called for a moratorium on GM foods. Citing several animal studies, the AAEM concludes "there is more than a casual association between GM foods and adverse health effects" and that "GM foods pose a serious health risk in the areas of toxicology, allergy and immune function, reproductive health, and metabolic, physiologic and genetic health." The AAEM also calls for more independent long term scientific studies to investigate the role of GM foods on human health. (The American Academy Of Environmental Medicine Calls For Immediate Moratorium On Genetically Modified Foods," www.aaemonline.org, Press Advisory May 19, 2009).
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