At a private residence in Los Angeles this past Saturday, chimpanzee researcher Jane Goodall revealed that Steven Druker, author of Altered Genes, Twisted Truth: How the Venture to Genetically Engineer Our Food Has Subverted Science, Corrupted Government, and Systematically Deceived the Public challenged Monsanto to review his research for any inaccuracies.
Ms. Goodall paraphrased Druker's premise: "If they find something that's wrong, [in the book] he will investigate and if they're proved right, he will apologize and withdraw it."
Goodall doesn't expect the chemical manufacturer to come up with a substantive argument against Druker's meticulously researched tome.
If the world suddenly gained full awareness of the actual facts about GE (genetically engineered) food and all opinions about them became thoroughly based in solid science, if we adhere to the routine rhetoric of the proponents of the products, we'd have to predict that a universal wave of enlightenment would cause all opposition to them to vanish. Because in the rendition of reality that they propound, opposition has been based solely in ignorance and concerns about risks have been due to lack of scientific understanding.
But in actuality, the phenomenon that would rapidly vanish is not the opposition to GE foods, but the foods themselves. If the actual facts became widely known, the entire GE food venture would quickly collapse. And that is because, as research in several different countries has consistently shown, the more people know about GE foods, the more they learn the facts about them, the more concerned they become. And that's why, despite repeated pretentions about wanting to educate the public, the biotech promoters have strenuously striven to suppress or distort critical facts.
Moreover, this twisting of the truth has reached massive proportions. My book documents case after case in which eminent scientists and scientific institutions have stooped to deception in order to enable the GE food venture to advance. And it demonstrates that if the truth had been told and the facts openly and honestly aired, these novel products would never have come to market, and we would not be having this discussion this afternoon.
Further, the sheer magnitude of the deception, in itself demonstrates how strongly the evidence weighs against the safety of these novel products because if the evidence were supportive, as their advocates claim it to be, there would be no need to distort it. If you have the facts on your side, you don't need to do anything except just present them. You don't distort them, you don't resort to trickery. The fact that trickery has been resorted to time and time again and that the facts have been misrepresented or suppressed, again, is strong evidence against the safety of GE foods.
The biotech industry asserts the following, each of which Druker addressed in the following video:
1. Genetic engineering (transgenics) is nothing new. Though the biotech industry would have you believe that natural selection and gene transfer from one plant to another occurs on a continuum, of which GE is part of that seamless continuum, Druker cited the late Nobel Laureate George Wald of Harvard University when he referred to genetic engineering as "the biggest break in nature that has occurred in human history," further stating that "such interventions must not be confused with previous intrusions upon the natural order of living organisms." Molecular biologist Liebe Cavaliere, representing the position of science prior to release of GE foods, said that scientists who are claiming that GE foods are essentially the same as traditional breeding are perpetrating a "sham."
2. GE foods have never caused any harm. Druker devotes a chapter in his book to the epidemic following ingestion of a food supplement of bioengineered bacteria that produced L-tryptophan, where in 1989 and 1990, according to the Center for Disease Control, dozens of people died and 1,536 people were seriously harmed with a rare illness. These cases could be traced back to the company Showa Denko K.K., a Japanese wholesaler that used biotechnology to engineer its tryptophan-making bacteria. Unintended consequences do result because the following assertion is a myth:
3. GE is precise and perfect; the gene insertion always produces the intended results. FDA scientists themselves have warned that new and novel GE genetic expressions are not reliable, that they may pose serious adverse health effects in the way of allergies, contaminants, and toxins. Despite these warnings, the FDA's mandate was to further biotechnology.
4. GE foods are rigorously tested and regulated by the FDA. In fact, the FDA does not require the inspection of GE foods for their safety. According to a paper published by the Physicians and Scientists for Responsible Application of Science and Technology, the "deadly supplements would have passed as a safe product if the established procedure for approval of GE foods had been used" because "the present safety assessment procedure for GE foods is far too insensitive to detect such dangerous poisons." Druker further noted that, "Not only can GE food be put on the market here in the U.S. without even a smidgen of testing according to the FDA, the manufacturer does not even have to inform the FDA that the food is being injected into the food supply."
5. Evidence abounds about the safety of GE foods. The Salk Institute's David Schubert, a medical research scientist, published a peer-reviewed critique of GE food safety testing. Schubert wrote, "I can state confidently that it is false to say such foods are extensively tested and have been proven safe." In fact, enough studies on laboratory animals have shown there is cause for concern, even when the studies rarely if ever extend longer than 90 days. When asked if there have been any human studies of the chronic ingestion of GE foods, Dr. Schubert said, "No. There's not been any long-term studies in humans. There are not even short term studies in humans at all."
An outspoken critic of GMOs, Goodall discussed some of the effects of RoundUp, the most prevalent herbicide used in the world. RoundUp Ready seeds produce corn, soy, and canola plants which are generously sprayed with chemicals. RoundUp, a combination of glyphosate and surfactants, seeps into the tissues of the food so that it cannot be washed off. In a paper published by the FDA, on page 6, they state:
Residue Chemistry Branch has determined that the metabolite aminomethylphosphonic acid (AMPA) is formed on plants in amounts that can range as high as 28 percent of the total residue on the plant. Since the extent of glyphosate metabolism was not adequately addressed in the rat metabolism study, the possibility exists that the AMPA metabolite could pose a hazard to humans that was not evaluated by testing the parent compound, glyphosate.
In a genotoxicity study by F. Manas et al, RoundUp's metabolite, AMPA, was found to significantly effect human genes, leading to sections of the chromosomes being deleted, added or rearranged. The study noted in its summary: "Very scarce data are available about AMPA potential genotoxicity." Keep in mind that these researchers had not looked at the health effects of glyphosate or its metabolite, AMPA, on the brain or on reproductive health.