Genetically Modified Food
A Conscious E-Zine
Using the Internet for
A Global Information Seeking Approach for
The Long Term Survival of Humanity and the Eco-System
Willard Van De Bogart
Director of Public Relations, International Association of Educators for World Peace
NGO,United Nations (ECOSOC),UNDPI,UNICEF,UNCED & UNESCO
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2. Current Food Problem.
Stop Genetically Modified Food Production
GENETICALLY ENGINEERED FOOD-A SERIOUS HEALTH RISK
By:John B. Fagan, Ph.D.
Genetically engineered foods containing genes derived from bacteria and
viruses are now starting to appear in the shops, and foods with insect,
fish, and animal genes will soon follow. These genetic changes are
radically different from those resulting from traditional methods of
breeding. Yet, the sale of these foods is being permitted without proper
assessment of the risks and without adequately informing the public, even
though many scientists say that genetically modified foods could cause
serious damage to health and the environment.
WHAT IS GENETIC ENGINEERING? Genes are the blueprints for every part of an
organism. Genetic engineering is the process of articficially modifying
these blueprints. By cutting and splicing DNA-genetic surgury-genetic
engineers can transfer genes specific to one type of organism into any
other organism on earth.
WHY DO IT? Scientists want to transfer desirable qualities from one
organism to another, for example, to make a crop resistant to an herbicide
or to enhance food value.
IS IT NECESSARY? At first sight it may seem appealing. However, closer
examination reveals that commercial and political motives are taking
precedence with little regard to the possible dangers. We already have the
ability to feed the world's population without the risks posed by genetic
engineering. Why subject humanity to these unnecessary risks?
WHAT ARE THE DANGERS? (Please see more detailed discussion below.)
Those identified so far include:
- New toxins and allergens in foods
- Other damaging effects on health caused by unnatural foods
- Increased use of chemicals on crops, resulting in increased
contamination of our water supply and food
- The creation of herbicide-resistant weeds
- The spread of diseases across species barriers
- Loss of bio-diversity in crops
- The disturbance of ecological balance
- Artificially induced characteristics and inevitable side-effects will
be passed on to all subsequent generations and to other related organisms.
Once released, they can never be recalled or contained. The consequences of
this are incalculable.
WHAT IS THE SITUATION NOW?
Genetically modified foods available, or about to appear, in U.S. markets
include tomatoes, squash, yeast, corn, potatoes, and soybeans (which are
used in 60% of all processed foods, such as bread, pasta, candies, ice
cream, pies, biscuits, margarine, meat products and vegetarian meat
substitutes). Genetically modified organisms are also used to produce
cheeses and canola oil. But this is just the beginning. In a few years it
may be almost impossible to find natural food.
The food industry and government appear to be complacent. They assume that
these new foods are not substantially different from existing foods and
pose no special risks. But this assumption is wrong and dangerous. The
radical changes being made by biotechnologists could never happen in
nature, and have already caused toxic side-effects. Current regulations
require only minimal safety testing for some foods, and none at all for
others. In no case do regulations require evaluation of long term impacts
Most genetically modified foods will not be labelled. Under present
regulations manufacturers are already introducing genetically modified
ingredients into many processed foods without informing consumers. The
government is ignoring the wishes of the public. Surveys consistently find
that 85-90% of consumers want clear labelling of all genetically engineered
DESPITE INTENDED BENEFITS, MANY TECHNOLOGIES PRODUCE DISASTROUS SIDE-EFFECTS.
Increasingly, society is recognizing side-effects such as nuclear
pollution, global warming, and the toxic effects of pesticides and
herbicides. Medicines are often withdrawn because the side-effects turn out
to be too poisonous. In every case, it has taken time for hazards to come
to light and for action to be taken.
Genetic engineering poses the greatest danger of any technology yet
introduced. Because many of the damageing effects of genetic engineering
are irreversible, we must prevent problems before they occur. The
precautionary approach is essential if we are to protect ourselves, our
children, and all generations to come. We must take action now, if we want
to prevent an avalanche of genetically engineered foods from inundating the
market and placing virtually everyone at risk.
WE MUST ACT BEFORE IT IS TOO LATE!
Genetically engineered foods are being introduced without due regard for
health, yet many damaging effects will be irreversible.
What is needed
TO PROTECT OUR HEALTH:
- Any food produced through genetic engineering should be banned until
scientifically shown to be safe and safe for everyone.
- In the meantime, labeling should be required for any food that contains
even one genetically engineered ingredient, or that has been produced using
genetically modified organisms or enzymes.
- Full disclosure labelling will allow consumers to choose what they eat.
It will also help scientists trace the source of health problems arising
from these foods.
TO PROTECT THE ENVIRONMENT:
- All applications of genetic engineering should be banned that carry the
risk of accidental or intentional release of genetically modified organisms
into the environment.
What you can do
- Write to members of Congress, food producers, supermarkets, the
press and consumer groups, expressing your concern and enclosing this
- Make copies of this document for friends, family, colleagues,
students, trades unions, clubs and societies. Alert everyone to the
DANGERS OF GENETICALLY ENGINEERED FOODS
The scientific facts demonstrating the need for an immediate worldwide ban.
Because living organisms are highly complex, genetic engineers cannot
possibly predict all of the effects of introducing new genes into them.
This is the case for even the simplest bacterium, not to mention more
complex plants and animals. THIS IS BECAUSE:
- the introduced gene may act differently when working within its new host
- the original genetic intelligence of the host will be disrupted l the
new combination of the host genes and the introduced gene will have
unpredictable effects; and therefore
- there is no way of knowing the overall, long-term effect of genetically
engineered foods on the health of those who eat them.
THE FOLLOWING ARE SOME OF THE FACTS:
- Unnatural gene transfers from one species to another are dangerous
Biotechnology companies erroneously claim that their manipulations are
similar to natural genetic changes or traditional breeding techniques.
However, the cross-species transfers being made, such as between fish and
tomatoes, or between other unrelated species, would not happen in nature
and may create new toxins, diseases, and weaknesses. In this risky
experiment, the general public is the guinea-pig.
Biotechnology companies also claim their methods are precise and
sophisticated. In fact, the process of inserting genes is quite random and
can damage normal genes. Genetic research shows that many weaknesses in
plants, animals, and humans have their origin in tiny imperfections in the
genetic code. Therefore, the random damage resulting from gene insertion
will inevitably result in side-effects and accidents. Scientists have
assessed these risks to be substantial. (Refs: Palmiter, R.D. et al (1986)
ANNUAL REVIEW OF GENETICS 20: 465; Inose, T. et al (1995) INT. JOUR. FOOD
SCIENCE TECH. 30:141.)
- Unpredictable health damaging effects When genetic engineers insert
a new gene into any organism there are "position effects" which can lead to
unpredictable changes in the pattern of gene expression and genetic
function. The protein product of the inserted gene may carry out unexpected
reactions and produce potentially toxic products. There is also serious
concern about the dangers of using genetically engineered viruses as
delivery vehicles (vectors) in the generation of transgenic plants and
animals. This could destabilise the genome, and also possibly create new
viruses, and thus dangerous new diseases. (Refs: Green, A.E. et al (1994)
SCIENCE 263:1423; Osbourn, J.K. et al (1990) VIROLOGY 179:921.)
- Genetically engineered products carry more risks than traditional
foods The process of genetic engineering can thus introduce dangerous new
allergens and toxins into foods that were previously naturally safe.
Already, one genetically engineered soybean was found to cause serious
allergic reactions, and bacteria genetically engineered to produce large
amounts of the food supplement, tryptophan, have produced toxic
contaminants that killed 37 people and permanently disabled 1,500 more.
(Refs: Nordlee, J.A. et al (1996) THE NEW ENGLAND JOURNAL OF MEDICINE 688;
Mayeno, A.N. et al (1994) TIBTECH 12:364.)
- Increased pollution of food and water supply More than 50% of the
crops developed by biotechnology companies have been engineered to be
resistant to herbicides. Use of herbicide-resistant crops will lead to a
threefold increase in the use of herbicides, resulting in even greater
pollution of our food and water with toxic agrochemicals. (Ref: Goldberg,
R.J. (1994) WEED TECHNOLOGY 6:647.)
- Health-damaging effects caused by genetic engineering will continue
forever Unlike chemical or nuclear contamination, genetic pollution is
self-perpetuating. It can never be reversed or cleaned up; genetic mistakes
will be passed on to all future generations of a species.
- Inadequate government regulation Biotech companies claim that
government regulatory bodies will protect consumers. However DDT,
Thalidomide, L-tryptophan, etc. were approved by U.S. regulators with
tragic results. Recently it was found that 80% of supermarket milk
contained traces of either medicines, illegal antibiotics used on farms, or
hormones, including genetically engineered bovine growth hormone (rbGH).
The facts show that regulators are not protecting the public adequately.
(Ref: Epstein, S.S. (1996) INT. JOUR. HEALTH SERVICES, 26:173.)
- Ethical concerns Transferring animal genes into plants raises
important ethical issues for vegetarians and religious groups. It may also
involve animal experiments which are unacceptable to many people.
- Gene transfer across species and competition from new species
damaging the environment When new genetic information is introduced into
plants, bacteria, insects or other animals, it can easily be passed into
related organisms, through processes such as cross pollination. This
process has already created "super weeds". Existing species can also be
displaced from the ecosystem with disastrous effects, as happened with
genetically modified Klebsiella soil bacteria. (Ref: Holms, M.T. and Ingam,
E.R. (1994) Bulletin of the Ecological Society of America (Supplement),
- Crops are now being engineered to produce their own pesticides. This will
promote the more rapid appearance of resistant insects and lead to
excessive destruction of useful insects and soil organisms, thus seriously
perturbing the ecosystem. In addition, the pesticide produced by the plant
may be harmful to the health of consumers. (Refs: Union of Concerned
Scientists (1994) GENE EXCHANGE, 5:68; Mikkelsen, T.R. et al (1996) Nature
380:31; Skogsmyr, I. (1994) THEORETICAL AND APPLIED GENETICS 88:770; Hama,
H. et al (1992) APPLIED ENTYMOLOGY AND ZOOLOGY 27:355.)
GLOBAL THREAT TO HUMANITY'S FOOD SUPPLY
Giant transnational companies are carrying out a dangerous global
experiment by attempting to introduce large numbers of genetically
engineered foods widely into our food supply. Because genetic manipulations
can generate unanticipated harmful side-effects, and because genetically
engineered foods are not tested sufficiently to eliminate those that are
dangerous, this experiment, not only jeopardizes the health of individuals,
but could also lead to national or even global food shortages and
large-scale health threats.
There is no logical scientific justification for exposing society to this
risk, nor is it necessary to take this risk for the purpose of feeding
humanity. It is only of benefit to the biotech industry, which will obtain
short term commercial gains at the expense of the health and safety of the
whole population. Tampering with the genetic code of food is reckless and
poses a serious threat to life. It could easily upset the delicate balance
between our physiology and the foods that we eat. There is already ample
scientific justification for an immediate ban on genetically modified foods
in order to safeguard our health.
CONSUMER RIGHT TO KNOW
One Million Signature Campaign Petition to Secure the
Mandatory Labeling of all Genetically Engineered Foods
Submitted to the President of the United States, US Congress,
USDA and US FDA.
Sign the petition:
Sponsoring Organization: Mothers for Natural Law
CAMPAIGN TO BAN GENETICALLY ENGINEERED FOOD
For further information or to offer your support for this campaign, please
Also, for further information and solutions read:
GENETIC ENGINEERING: THE HAZARDS, VEDIC ENGINEERING: THE SOLUTIONS by
John Fagan Ph.D. - an award-winning geneticist who returned his government
grants and began new research in Maharishi's Vedic Science. To order, phone
John B. Fagan, Ph.D.
Professor of Molecular Biology
Maharishi University of Management
(Maharishi International University 1971 to 1995)
1000 North Fourth Street
Fairfield, Iowa, 52557-1078
Fax (515) 472-5725
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