Date Added: 2009-03-29
Date Modified: 2009-03-29
Human lab rats at the grocery store
document 82 of 174
Writing from the Yukon,
30 miles south of Whitehorse Al Pope, 29 March 2009
Human lab rats at the grocery store
In June, 2005, a German court ordered Monsanto Corporation to publicise the findings of its study on Mon 863, a genetically modified root-worm resistant strain of corn. The report revealed that rats fed on Mon 863 developed increases in lymphocytes and white blood cells, blood pressure problems, increased blood sugar levels, kidney inflammation, liver and kidney lesions, and other abnormalities.
A 2005 Russian study found that infant mortality in rats whose mothers were fed on Monsanto's Roundup Ready soy was 55.6%, as compared to 9% in a control group. In November 2008, the Austrian Agency for Health and Food Safety released the results of a long-term feeding study showing that GMO corn causes serious reproductive problems in mice.
As early as 1996, a study conducted by Britain's Rowett Institute found that rats fed on GMO potatoes demonstrated reduced brain, liver, and testicle sizes, weaker immune systems, partial atrophy of the liver, and a variety of other abnormalities.
In 2006, nearly 2,000 sheep died in India after grazing in a field of genetically modified cotton. Agricultural workers reported allergic reactions from handling the same cotton. As recently as this January, India Express reported that buffaloes were dying from eating GMO oil-seed cake.
And now for the bad news: if you live in Canada and the US, you're eating GMO foods. The list of foods contaminated with genetically engineered material includes everything from soy, corn, and canola to dairy products, meat, honey and bee pollen,
Baby formula, chips, veggie burgers, ice cream, and tofu.
If you can manage to find, let alone afford, a complete diet of certified organic foods, you are protected from GMO contamination - at least to some extent. Organic farmers with GMO neighbours report increasing difficulty in protecting their crops from wind-blown contamination.
Lab rats and mice helped to establish the links between diet and heart disease, between smoking and cancer, sugar and diabetes. Some of the symptoms exhibited by the animals in the GMO studies are markers for the presence of cancer. Isn't it odd that, with such compelling evidence of danger to livestock and human health, these products are in an estimated 70% of commercially available foods?
It's not so odd when you consider the power of Monsanto. A multi-billion dollar corporation, Monsanto never hesitates to wield the power of that money against farmers, competitors, and opponents. They have waged a successful campaign to prevent labeling of GMO foods in North America. In 2003, for instance, Monsanto's lawyers forced Oakhurst dairy in Maine to remove a label from its milk containers which read, "Our Farmers' Pledge: No Artificial Growth Hormones".
In addition to the power of money, Monsanto exerts the power of influence within government, as exemplified by the so-called revolving door syndrome. In the early 1990s, Monsanto was required to submit a report on the safety of its bovine growth hormone to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Monsanto researcher Margaret Miller wrote the report, and then moved over to the FDA, where she was responsible for reviewing her own work. Guess whether she approved her findings or not?
The hormone in question, rBGH, comes packaged as Posilac. The warning label on the product lists such dangers to cattle as "increases in cystic ovaries and disorders of the uterus . decreases in gestation length and birthweight of calves . increased risk of clinical mastitis .increases in somatic cell counts . increased frequency of use of medication in cows for mastitis and other health problems . periods of increased body temperature unrelated to illness . increase in digestive disorders such as indigestion and diarrhea."
In 1998, the Ottawa Citizen reported that 10/23/98 "Veterinary scientists from Health Canada's Human Safety Division testified yesterday that they are being pressured to approve a controversial hormone intended to boost milk production in dairy cattle (rBGH)." Scientists told the Senate that they had been "coerced" and offered bribes of $1million and $2 million by Monsanto, and that cnfidetial files related to the application had been stolen from a locked filing cabinet in Health Canada's office.
There are those who believe Monsanto's claims that GMO foods are safe, and that they represent the agriculture of the future, and there are those who are deeply suspicious of the products, methods, and goals of this ruthless giant corporation. If governments don't have the guts to ban sales and production of genetically modified foods until we really know what effect they have on health, the least they could do is require labeling, so consumers can decide for ourselves.
Al Pope's novel, Bad Latitudes, was released in 2004 by Turnstone Press.
Al's plays have appeared onstage and on CBC Radio, his short fiction and
poetry are published in journals and anthologies. His award-winning column,
Nordicity, appears weekly in the Yukon News, and at: www.alpope.net
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