Two Latest GE-Related Health Threats: 'Monster Salmon,' and Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria from GE Experiments Found in Chinese Waterways
By Dr. Mercola
Genetically engineered (GE) fish could reach your dinner plate within the next year or two, unless a sufficiently strong opposition is mounted. The first GE food animal—a salmon designed to grow abnormally fast and to an unnaturally large size—may soon receive FDA approval
In recent years, mounting evidence shows that initial suspicions that GE foods might have unforeseen consequences were indeed correct—from destruction of soils, to contamination of waterways, to serious health consequences for animals and humans who consume GE products
The first-ever study to address GE crop-related pollution of waterways discovered that Chinese rivers are contaminated with antibiotic-resistant genes from genetic engineering experiments, which may represent a source of antibiotic resistance in humans
Some US farmers are considering returning to conventional seed due to increased pest resistance and crop failures. Recent GE crops saw smaller yields globally than their non-GE counterparts
The US Supreme Court is now hearing the appeal of an Indiana soybean farmer, whom Monsanto sued for patent infringement. The central issue in this case is the extent that a patent holder can control its use through multiple generations of seed, and the court’s decision could have far-reaching implications for the biotech industry and patenting of seeds and other life forms
Fish — and salmon in particular — has always been an ideal source for the animal-based omega-3 fats EPA and DHA, but as levels of pollution have increased, fish in general have become less viable as a primary source of healthful fats.
Soon, there will be even more to worry about as salmon is getting a genetic makeover.
Not only will you need to beware of inferior and poorly labeled farmed salmon, you’ll also have to contend with it possibly being genetically engineered (GE), since the US still does not require GE foods to be labeled as such.
On December 21, 2012, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) took a giant step closer toward the final approval of the first genetically engineered (GE) food animal — a salmon designed to grow abnormally fast,1 and to an unnaturally large size.
It now appears the first GE fish could reach your dinner plate within the next year or two, unless a sufficiently strong opposition is mounted.
According to the FDA,2 the GE salmon is “as safe as food from conventional Atlantic salmon,” but many have brought up significant flaws and limitations of the environmental assessment (EA) on which this conclusion is drawn.
In recent years, mounting evidence shows that initial suspicions that GE foods might have unforeseen consequences were indeed correct — from alteration of soil composition, to contaminating waterways with antibiotic resistant bacteria linked to GE crops,3 to serious health consequences for animals and humans who consume GE products.
Latest GE-Related Health Threat: Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria from GE Experiments Found in Waterways...
The first-ever study4, 5 to address GE crop-related pollution of waterways discovered that Chinese rivers are contaminated with antibiotic-resistant genes from genetic engineering experiments, which (again) may have unforeseen repercussions for human health. According to the authors:6
“Antibiotic resistance poses a significant challenge to human health and its rate continues to rise globally. While antibiotic-selectable synthetic plasmid vectors have proved invaluable tools of genetic engineering, this class of artificial recombinant DNA sequences with high expression of antibiotic resistance genes presents an unknown risk beyond the laboratory setting.
Contamination of environmental microbes with synthetic plasmid vector-sourced antibiotic resistance genes may represent a yet unrecognized source of antibiotic resistance.
In this study, PCR and real-time quantitative PCR were used to investigate the synthetic plasmid vector-originated ampicillin resistance gene, β-lactam antibiotic (blá), in microbes from six Chinese rivers with significant human interactions. Various levels of blá were detected in all six rivers... The resistance spectrum of transformants from the Pearl and Haihe rivers, in particular, had expanded to the third- and fourth-generation of cephalosporin drugs, while that of other transformants mainly involved first- and second-generation cephalosporins.
This study not only reveals environmental contamination of synthetic plasmid vector-sourced blá drug resistance genes in Chinese rivers, but also suggests that synthetic plasmid vectors may represent a source of antibiotic resistance in humans.”
Monsanto 'To the Rescue' in the Face of Rapid Climate Change?
With “unforeseen side effects” sprouting like heads from a hydra, it’s no wonder Monsanto realizes it’s in dire need of an image makeover...7
Part of the PR tactic is to claim biotech companies, with Monsanto in the lead, are essential for mankind’s survival in the face of global climatic changes. In the following interview, Monsanto CEO Hugh Grant vaguely discusses the company’s strategy of “modifying maturity zones” in the U.S. “to encompass climatic shifts.” Essentially, he claims that we need GE crops in order to adapt fast enough to rapidly altering climate.
If you haven’t seen the man in charge of running what many people believe to be the most evil company on the planet, you can get a look at Hugh in the video above. Although he was not in charge when the company first produced Agent Orange and dioxin, it still is the same pernicious organization.
I’m sorry, Hugh. You don’t get a free pass to pollute the world for generations and walk away with tens of billions of dollars. You don’t get to force your “horizontal gene transfer” into living organisms, allowing it to infect like a virus and thereby enslave these life forms and seeds for your profit. Plants, animals, people – where does it stop? Propagating, proliferating, mutating and migrating… Climate changes indeed pose a serious problem, but genetic engineering is not the answer — not when the technology itself threatens all life on the planet!
Monsanto lies in the bed that’s been made, and their dirty deeds are coming back to haunt them. Rest assured, people around the world will relentlessly continue this fight. Grant’s statements are even more ironic in light of the fact that genetically modified (GM) crops are actually failing around the world. So much for offering salvation. According to a recent article in Farmers Weekly:8
“Some US farmers are considering returning to conventional seed after increased pest resistance and crop failures meant GM crops saw smaller yields globally than their non-GM counterparts. Farmers in the USA pay about an extra $100 per acre for GM seed, and many are questioning whether they will continue to see benefits from using GMs.
'It's all about cost benefit analysis,' said economist Dan Basse, president of American agricultural research company AgResource. 'Farmers are paying extra for the technology but have seen yields which are no better than 10 years ago. They're starting to wonder why they're spending extra money on the technology.' One of the biggest problems the USA has seen with GM seed is resistance. While it was expected to be 40 years before resistance began to develop ,pests such as corn rootworm have formed a resistance to GM crops in as few as 14 years.”
GE Crops are NOT the 'Most Tested' Product in the World
What good will GE foods do if they end up sending us into an early grave, riddled with disease, and/or result in widespread infertility one or more generations down the line, like animal studies have demonstrated? The fact is, GE foods have never been proven safe for human consumption over a lifetime, let alone over generations. Grant claims genetically engineered crops are “the most-tested food product that the world has ever seen.” What he doesn’t tell you is that:
Industry-funded research predictably affects the outcome of the trial. This has been verified by dozens of scientific reviews comparing funding with the findings of the study. When industry funds the research, it’s virtually guaranteed to be positive. Therefore, independent studies must be done to replicate and thus verify results
The longest industry-funded animal feeding study was 90 days, which recent research has confirmed is FAR too short. In the world’s first independently funded lifetime feeding study, massive health problems set in during and after the 13th month, including organ damage and cancer
Companies like Monsanto and Syngenta rarely if ever allow independent researchers access to their patented seeds, citing the legal protection these seeds have under patent laws. Hence independent research is extremely difficult or nearly impossible to conduct. If these scientists get seeds from a farmer, they sue them into oblivion as one of their favorite tactics is to use the legal system to their advantage. Additionally, virtually all academic agricultural research is controlled by Monsanto as they are the primary supporters of these departments and none will risk losing their funding from them
There is no safety monitoring. Meaning, once the GE item in question has been approved, not a single country on earth is actively monitoring and tracking reports of potential health effects
High-Priced PR should NOT be Confused with Science-Based Truth
All in all, if their genetically altered food products have something wrong with them that potentially could cause consumer illness, the biotech industry would rather NOT have you find out about it. Not through independent research, nor through a simple little label that would allow you to opt out of the experiment, should you choose not to take them on their word.
Why don’t they want labeling? Because it would clearly decrease their profits, just like it did in Europe once labeling was implemented.
Doesn’t this remind you of the public health debate that went on for decades over another multi-billion dollar industry -- cigarettes? For decades the companies producing this cancer-causing product denied they caused any harm, denied nicotine was addictive, and even ran advertisements featuring doctors claiming cigarettes were good for your cough. They produced study after study by their own scientists claiming there was no health threat whatsoever from cigarettes.
Executives from every major cigarette company even lied to Congress under oath, claiming they had no knowledge cigarettes were addictive, when in fact they did know — they even manipulated the nicotine content9 of cigarettes to keep you hooked! Bet you didn’t know that, did you? Genetically engineered foods are just another wolf in the same old sheep’s clothing. The propaganda and the fraud has worked so well for so long, why bother changing something that works so well? Don’t fall for the same old scheme! Instead, read what the few independent researchers are really saying about the science behind genetically engineered foods. You can find all previous articles on this topic on my dedicated GMO News page.
Monsanto Heads to Supreme Court
Monsanto has long been trying to establish control over the seeds of the plants that produce food for the world. They have patented a number of genetically altered food crops, which can only be grown with proper license, and the seeds which must be purchased anew each year. Alas, genetically engineered (GE) crops cannot be contained. And rather than being found guilty of contaminating farmers' property, Monsanto has successfully sued hundreds of unsuspecting farmers for patent infringement when unlicensed GE crops were found growing in their fields. Many farmers have subsequently, quite literally, lost their farms.
Few have had the fortitude necessary to stand up to Monsanto’s seemingly limitless power. According to a report10 by the Center for Food Safety (CFS), Monsanto had, as of December 2012, filed 142 patent infringement lawsuits against 410 farmers and 56 small businesses in more than 27 states. All in all, Monsanto has been awarded a staggering $23 million from their mafia tactics so far11.
Seventy-five year old Indiana soybean farmer Vernon Bowman is one of the few who is fighting back.12 On February 19, the US Supreme Court began hearing his appeal, in which he disputes Monsanto's claim that his farm used the patented seeds without authorization. According to a recent press release:13
“Farmer Bowman legally purchased seeds at a grain elevator, which bought them from farmers who had, with Monsanto's authorization, used the genetically modified Monsanto seeds to grow their soybean crops. Monsanto claims that Mr. Bowman infringed its patents on herbicide-resistant plants and seeds by using the grain elevator seeds to grow his soybean crops. Mr. Bowman asserts that Monsanto's sales of the original seeds to authorized purchasers exhausted Monsanto's patent rights and therefore Monsanto cannot enforce its patents against second-generation and later seeds that resulted from planting the original seeds.”
The central issue in this case is the extent that a patent holder (in this case Monsanto) can control its use through multiple generations of seed.14 Many hope the Supreme Court will deliver a decision that will curb the current system of patenting seeds and other life forms (especially food sources). According to Reuters:15
“The court battle has ballooned into a show-down that merges contentious matters of patent law with an ongoing national debate about the merits and pitfalls of genetically altered crops and efforts to increase food production. More than 50 organizations - from environmental groups to intellectual property experts - as well as the U.S. government, have filed legal briefs hoping to sway the high court.
Companies developing patented cell lines and tools of molecular biotechnology could lose their ability to capture the ongoing value of these technologies if the Supreme Court sides with Bowman, said Hans Sauer, deputy general counsel for the Biotechnology Industry Organization.”
Why Won’t President Obama Answer the American People?
So far, there have been two petitions relating to genetically engineered foods on President Barack Obama’s “We The People” petition website that have surpassed the signature threshold required for a response. But instead of addressing the sincere concerns of the American people, as promised, there has been no answer forthcoming. Only deafening silence. This despite the fact that Obama vowed to label GE foods all the way back in 2007, were he to be elected. He’s now into his second term, and has yet to make a single move to uphold his initial campaign promise.
Obama Promises to Label GMOs
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The FDA too has failed in its core purpose to protect American citizens. FDA policies have instead lead to a lack of transparency, revolving doors with industry, market bullying, seed privatization, and widespread illness. This despite the many well documented risks of GE foods...
Keep Fighting for Labeling of Genetically Engineered Foods
While California Prop. 37 failed to pass last November, by a very narrow margin, the fight for GMO labeling is far from over. The field-of-play has now moved to the state of Washington, where the people's initiative 522, "The People's Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act," will require food sold in retail outlets to be labeled if it contains genetically engineered ingredients. As stated on LabelitWA.org:
"Calorie and nutritional information were not always required on food labels. But since 1990 it has been required and most consumers use this information every day. Country-of-origin labeling wasn't required until 2002. The trans fat content of foods didn't have to be labeled until 2006. Now, all of these labeling requirements are accepted as important for consumers. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also says we must know with labeling if our orange juice is from fresh oranges or frozen concentrate.
Doesn't it make sense that genetically engineered foods containing experimental viral, bacterial, insect, plant or animal genes should be labeled, too? Genetically engineered foods do not have to be tested for safety before entering the market. No long-term human feeding studies have been done. The research we have is raising serious questions about the impact to human health and the environment.
I-522 provides the transparency people deserve. I-522 will not raise costs to consumers or food producers. It simply would add more information to food labels, which manufacturers change routinely anyway, all the time. I-522 does not impose any significant cost on our state. It does not require the state to conduct label surveillance, or to initiate or pursue enforcement. The state may choose to do so, as a policy choice, but I-522 was written to avoid raising costs to the state or consumers."
Remember, as with CA Prop. 37, they need support of people like YOU to succeed. Prop. 37 failed with a very narrow margin simply because we didn't have the funds to counter the massive ad campaigns created by the No on 37 camp, led by Monsanto and other major food companies. Let's not allow Monsanto and its allies to confuse and mislead the people of Washington and Vermont as they did in California. So please, I urge you to get involved and help in any way you can, regardless of what state you live in.
No matter where you live in the United States, please donate money to these labeling efforts through the Organic Consumers Fund.
If you live in Washington State, please sign the I-522 petition. You can also volunteer to help gather signatures across the state.
For timely updates on issues relating to these and other labeling initiatives, please join the Organic Consumers Association on Facebook, or follow them on Twitter.
Talk to organic producers and stores and ask them to actively support the Washington initiative.