GMO Foods and What’s Next?
It is alarming to me and it also should be alarming to you about the direction the FDA is considering to adopt as standard procedure about our future food supply. The FDA is set to make their final determination on “GE Animals”. What are GE animals?
GE Animals are animals that have been genetically engineered. I think cattle and then chickens were the first animals to be given growth hormones to spur productivity. On the surface this sounds like a good idea. The demands for food would indeed impact the availability of beef and poultry to the public. But not enough research has been established on whether or not these growth hormones are safe for humans in the long term.
There is growing evidence that our health may be in jeopardy. It is a known fact the GMO foods, like corn and wheat that make up about 95% of the total in production, may pose a real risk to growth, fertility and even mortality. Scientist engineered the genes of these crops to be immune to insecticides (like Roundup) to increase the productivity. However, this immunity to insecticides has created foods that now are causing several health concerns. Diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, kidney and liver disease, all are growing at a rapid rate. There are more and more evidence that this rate is solely due to these GMO foods!
Now our health watchdog agency (The FDA) wants to approve genetically engineered animals. And first on the list is a new type of salmon…that’s been spliced with an eel-like fish. If approved, it will be the first GE animal intended for human consumption. And it may open the floodgates to other GE animal products like pork and beef.
According to independent testifying experts at the FDA review claim the product has too little testing…which means no one knows for sure what the health consequences will be to you and your family. Preliminary reports suggest the GE salmon doesn’t offer half the benefits of the all-natural variety. Worse, it may actually pose some danger to human health.
Frankenfish is Born!
The GE salmon comes from AquaBounty Technologies. They’ve been trying to get approval for their engineered fish for over a decade. And now the FDA is seriously considering their proposal. Until recently there hasn’t been much information about how this salmon measures up. That’s because the FDA is regulating the GE salmon…not as an animal – but as an animal drug. And the FDA’s animal-drug process allows companies to keep their proprietary information secret.
Now that in itself is extremely scary! AquaBounty made the classification request to the FDA which has allowed their petition. Since the FDA is in business to make money, and not protect our health, it seems logical this agency would keep the media ignorant of these facts.
This is obviously a little fishy, considering the fact there is no other benefit we will obtain from this “genetically engineered” salmon. What’s more is this may open the door to many other not-so-desired gene tampering scientists!
The FDA, in a public meeting about this GE salmon, raised many concerns from the attendants of this meeting. AquaBounty took an Atlantic salmon and added a growth hormone gene from Chinook salmon. Then they spliced in a genetic “on-switch” from an eel-like ocean fish called pout.
A higher yield is the only reason this “on-switch” was considered necessary. Salmon don’t normally produce growth hormones in cold weather. But adding this “on-switch” keeps the GE salmon producing the growth hormones year round. This makes the salmon a valuable commodity if it grows year round.
It doesn’t grow any larger than the natural salmon, however it does grow twice as fast. Instead of maturing in two to three years, it matures in 12 to 18 months. It also grows year round. This is ideal from a commercial standpoint.
But the question is does it provide the same quality as natural salmon? Also does it produce health risks that natural salmon don’t?
AguaBounty was suppose to provide scientific data to the public meeting to collaborate their findings of this GE salmon. It conducted its own studies and submitted them to the FDA for review. And the FDA is making its decision based solely on this data. But even that data shows big problems. And independent experts who testified at the FDA public meeting say it’s seriously flawed.
One expert, was Dr. Michael Hansen. He’s the senior staff scientist for Consumer Reports. He’s also served on the USDA Advisory Committee on Agricultural Biotechnology. He also is on a joint WHO/ FAO board for GE Animals.
He says “The FDA review is critical to the future of the GE industry. That’s because the standards they set now will define how rigorous the safety tests are for all other products that come in the future.” Dr. Hansen says “The standards need to be set high. Unfortunately, that’s not the case here. There is sloppy science, small sample sizes, questionable practices, and woefully inadequate analysis.”
According to AguaBounty’s research they concluded there was no growth hormone detected in the fish they tested. But Dr Hansen warns that their testing procedures have major flaws that hinder adequate data.
Dr Hansen said “The company submitted data on the levels of the growth hormone in the flesh of these fish,” he said. “They tested 73 fish and the method they used was so insensitive that they could not detect it in a single fish. So that means zero data on the growth hormone levels. That’s just not good science.”
In other words… one of the AquaBounty studies didn’t show any risky growth hormones in the fish. But they used a detection method that couldn’t detect any growth hormones in any fish. That includes both GE and natural.
Now think about that for a moment. They chose a detection method which couldn’t find any growth hormones at all. But we know that all fish have growth hormones. And the GE salmon have been developed to produce growth hormone all year round… unlike natural salmon. Why is this so important? Because a certain growth hormone – IGF-1 – has been linked to cancer in humans. (More about IGF-1 a little later…)
Dr Hansen also warns why this data is flawed:
- AquaBounty wasn’t required to show data that meets the conditions that the GE salmon will actually be produced under. The fish they tested didn’t come from the water where the commercial GE salmon will spawn. That’s important because environment changes the development of fish.
- AquaBounty tested less than 100 fish. And they were allowed to handpick the fish they wanted to test. That’s also suspicious. Why is it suspicious? Because it makes it easier to reduce the differences between regular and GE salmon.
Frightening Facts About Frankenfish
AguaBounty’s petition to the FDA about approval of these GE fish with flawed data now comes under question.
- Remember that the primary AquaBounty study didn’t find any growth hormones in the flesh of salmon? A second, smaller AquaBounty study did. It looked at six fish, much smaller than what consumers would normally buy. And it revealed that these GE salmon did contain 40 percent more IGF-1 than natural salmon. That’s a hormone that’s been linked to breast, colon, lung, and prostate cancer in humans. However, based on the size of the fish…the small number involved… and some impressive number-crunching and data-spinning analysis by the FDA review…they concluded this wasn’t significant.
- The tests also showed that the GE salmon lacks the nutritional punch of wild-caught salmon. As longtime readers will know, salmon is a critical part of a healthy diet because it has a high omega-3 / low omega-6 ratio. That’s vital to good health for dozens of reasons. But the GE salmon had the lowest omega-3 / omega-6 ratio in all of the nutritional comparison studies that the FDA reviewed.
- Those comparison studies also showed that GE salmon has a 20-52-percent higher chance of causing allergic reactions. Again, experts like Dr. Hansen believe this finding requires further testing into the allergic potential posed by GE salmon.
Another very important aspect to consider is AguaBounty doesn’t want labels on the packaging identifying the fish as GE. The makers are concerned it will hurt sales. And the FDA is also considering this request.
AguaBounty contests that not all GMO foods are labeled as GMO foods. They are correct. But does that make it right, to not label GE altered animals as such? Should we as consumers be told whether the foods we buy are natural, or genetically engineered?
According to Professor Marion Nestle, which heads up diet and nutrition research for New York University, says it’s irresponsible that GE animal products may soon be turning up in your grocery store…with no acknowledging label. “The public wants to know and has a right to know,” she says. “I think the agency (is) under enormous political pressure to approve (the salmon) without labeling.”
So what is AguaBounty so afraid of about labeling their food as GE food? “Our fish is identical to traditional Atlantic salmon,” says Ronald Stotish. He’s a chief executive at AquaBounty. “If there’s no material difference, then it would be misleading to require labeling.”
But Dr. Hansen disagrees.
“This notion that there has to be (a) physical difference is just false,” he says. He points to Hydrolyzed protein to prove his point. This protein exists in canned foods. And in 1991 the FDA required that companies show whether it came from an animal. The decision was made so vegetarians, Jews and Muslims wouldn’t have to violate their dietary restrictions.
The question remains though why the FDA is not requiring more scientific data supporting the claims to produce a GE animal. One reason may be due to a legal loophole developed in 1992. That’s when the FDA published its policy stating that there is no need to test GE plants or animals for safety purposes. Why? Because the FDA argues that DNA is safe, so GE DNA is safe too.
Do you want more proof to question our FDA standard policy? The UK’s Food Standards Agency did a human study on how we digest GE food. They found that when we eat GE soy, the bacteria in our gut absorbs the soy’s engineered DNA. The scientists call it “horizontal gene transfer.”
In the case of new GE foods like salmon…it’s possible our digestive tracks will absorb the new engineered salmon genes. But because of their policy on DNA…the FDA isn’t reviewing this aspect at all or what the consequences might be.
There may be conflicts of interest in the FDA review, at least according to Jeffrey Smith, executive director of the Institute for Responsible Technology (IRT). He’s “the leading world expert in the understanding of health issues surrounding GE foods,” according to the US National Institutes of Health.
Smith proclaims that the FDA’s decision is a conflict of interest and it comes from the top. He points to Michael Taylor.
“Taylor is the US Food Safety Czar,” says Smith. “You’d think that if there were safety concerns about the GE salmon, our Czar would step in to preserve and protect. Don’t count on it.”
Taylor was named the deputy commissioner for foods at the FDA just last year. But what is so ironic is what the FDA webpage states versus the personal agenda of our top food Czar.
According to Taylor’s FDA webpage, he’s responsible for:
- strategies for food safety
- planning for new food safety legislation
- ensuring that food labels contain clear information on nutrition
What his FDA page doesn’t say is that 30 years ago he represented Monsanto. That’s the biotech company that dominates the GMO food industry. Or that he developed their “food and drug law” practice. And later…he became Monsanto’s vice president of public policy.
If that is not allowing the fox to guard the henhouse, then what about Alison L. Van Eenennaam? She is a temporary voting member on the FDA committee. She gets to vote on the AquaBounty application. But she’s also a former Monsanto employee. She’s joined by Kevin Wells. He’s also a temporary voting member on the committee. And he currently works at Revivicor. They genetically engineer pigs.
The Truth Comes Out
So what do we already know about GMO foods, and how it affects us all? Today about 95 percent of soy and 93 percent of corn have been genetically engineered by scientists. Genes are engineered to protect the plants from pests and disease, and to yield a better crop. So there’s plenty of thorough research on how GE vegetable products affect biology
Russian biologist Dr. Alexey Surov led a recent study for the Russian National Academy of Sciences. This study was very alarming to me, as should it also be alarming to you. In this study…
The study ran for two years. It involved 200 hamsters…and spanned three generations. The results made headline news. And that’s because the researchers observed the effect of GE foods on the evolution of hamsters…and not just on one generation.
Each group consisted of five hamsters. And each group was fed a healthy diet that is normal for hamsters. The only difference in the diet groups was how much GE soy they were fed.
- Group one was fed no soy at all.
- Group two was fed non-GE soy.
- Group three was fed GE soy.
- Group four was fed higher amounts of GE soy.
“Originally everything went smoothly,” says Dr. Surov. And the first generation showed no significant changes between the groups. But that began to change by the second generation. While non-GE groups enjoyed normal development…the results were very different for the GE groups.
“We noticed quite a serious effect when we selected new pairs from their cubs and continued to feed them as before,” says Dr. Surov. “Growth rate was slower and reached sexual maturity slowly.” Most third-generation GE soy-fed hamsters were entirely sterile. They had major growth problems. And there was a high mortality rate among the young.
Here are the statistics broken down:
- 78 pups were born in the non-soy group.
- 52 pups were born in the non-GE soy group.
- 40 pups were born in the GE soy group. (And 25 percent of these died.)
- 16 pups were born in the high GE soy group. (And only one single female was able to conceive. Plus 20 percent of her pups died.)
Yes I know this study was performed on animals (Hamsters) and may or may not be true about humans…but Dr. Surov’s study isn’t the only one to show the dangers of GMO (GE) foods. It’s just the most recent. There are dozens of international studies linking GMO foods to fertility and growth problems.
Of some recent studies made:
- The Russian National Academy of Sciences ran an earlier study which found similar results. They reported that mother rats that were fed GE soy lost 50 percent of their babies within three weeks. That was five times higher than a second group that was fed a non-GM soy diet. The babies that did survive were smaller and sterile. The study also showed a physical change in male rats that were fed GM soy. Researchers recorded that their testicles changed from pink to blue
- Italian researchers found that GE food caused changes in mice testes. Blood tests showed this resulted in damaged young sperm cells.
- An Austrian government study linked GE corn products to sterility. Researchers found mice raised on high GE corn diets had fewer babies. And the babies they had were smaller.
“We have no right to use GE (foods) until we understand the possible adverse effects,” says Dr. Surov. “Not only to ourselves but to future generations. We definitely need fully detailed studies to clarify this.”
The food that we eat may be about to take another evolutionary change. And if GE animal products are approved, you’ll have to be more aware than ever when shopping at the grocery store.
If detoxifying yourself was not important enough before now, perhaps it will be. We have to safeguard our children’s health as well as our own. If this tragic development in GE animals is approved, to safeguard yourself will become mandatory. Some steps to follow:
- First, stick with wild-caught fish like Wild Alaska Sockeye Salmon. It comes with lots of natural vitamins, minerals and nutrients. It’s a good source of protein. And unlike GE salmon, it’s rich in Omega-3 fatty acids. It’s also loaded with antioxidants and contains no detectable mercury.
- Next, purchase only organically grown fruits and vegetables. And only buy grass-fed beef.
- Detoxify yourself at least every six months with a mild detox solution like:
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