BT cotton is proving a disaster in India, causing rashes, death in animals and thousands of farmer suicides. An excerpt from the important film, “Genetic Roulette.”
Note: Chattanooga-area critics of Monsanto will conduct a rally and march against GMOs on May 25, a Saturday. The group will gather at Miller Park downtown. The destination is the open pavilion at Renaissance Park. “Come learn about Monsanto, teach others what you know about Monsanto, express your distaste for Monsanto in your cleverly worded protest sign, bring your drum to beat, your whistle to blow, and let our city know how we feel about Monsanto.” The group has a Facebook page. — David Tulis
Jeffrey M. Smith has directed and produced the new documentary film, “Genetic Roulette: The Gamble of Our Lives,” on the health dangers of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), and wrote the bestselling book of the same title. He meticulously documents how biotech companies continue to mislead legislators and safety officials, endanger public health, and imperil the environment.
In Genetic Roulette, Smith’s third documentary film, prominent physicians, scientists, researchers, and investigators point to GMOs as a major culprit in the rise of chronic diseases in the US. You can rent or view it at geneticroulettemovie.com.
Smith’s first book, Seeds of Deception: Exposing Industry and Government Lies about the Safety of the Genetically Engineered Foods You’re Eating, combines storytelling with investigative reporting. His second book, Genetic Roulette: The Documented Health Risks of Genetically Engineered Foods, is the authoritative work on 65 GMO health dangers, including toxic and allergic reactions, infertility, and damage to virtually every internal organ in lab animals. Mr. Smith has lectured in 30 countries and has been quoted by world leaders and hundreds of media outlets.
Mr. Smith has united leaders to support The Campaign for Healthier Eating in America, a revolutionary industry and consumer movement to remove GMOs from the U.S. food supply. He is the executive director of the Institute for Responsible Technology, producer of the films “Hidden Dangers in Kids’ Meals” and “Your Milk on Drugs—Just Say No!,” writes an internationally syndicated column, Spilling the Beans. He lives with his wife in Iowa, surrounded by genetically modified soybeans and corn.
The Institute for Responsible Technology’s Campaign for Healthier Eating in America, mobilizes citizens, organizations, businesses, and the media, to achieve the tipping point of consumer rejection of genetically modified foods. The Institute publishes the popular Non-GMO Shopping Guide to educate people about how to make healthier non-GMO choices.
Ironically, as I was working on this interview the “Monsanto Protection Act” slipped quietly through congress, hidden inside a budget bill. It gives the USDA power to allow the planting, harvest, and sale of genetically engineered crops even if a court finds it harmful to human health or the environment.
Mr. Smith kindly made time for this interview on 27 March 2013. – F. Sanders
Building herbicide tolerance into plants
Moneychanger What is genetic engineering or genetic modification?
Smith Typically it is the transfer of genes from one species into the DNA of another species. I refer to genetic engineering, genetic modification, and genetically modified organisms interchangeably.
The process is rather crude. Say you want to create a corn plant that produces its own toxic insecticide. You take a gene from a bacterium that produces the insecticide, make millions of copies, put them into a gene gun, and shoot the gun into a plate of millions of cells hoping that some of the genes make it into the DNA of some of those corn plant cells. Then you clone the cells into a plant and now every single cell of that corn plant has a little gene sized spray bottle that kills insects by breaking open their stomachs. That is a genetically engineered crop planted on millions of acres in the U.S. called bT corn [for bacillus Thuringensis] and it’s one of the two major traits of genetically modified crops.
Moneychanger The other major trait is?
Smith “Roundup Ready” or more generally, herbicide tolerant. Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide normally kills bacteria, but some Monsanto scientists found bacteria growing in a chemical waste dump near their factory that survived Roundup. They figured, “Great, let’s put it in the food supply.” From the bacterium they took the gene that enabled it to survive Roundup and put it into soybeans to create “Roundup Ready Soy Beans.”
Now they have Roundup Ready soy, corn, cotton, canola, sugar beets and alfalfa, all engineered to withstand normally deadly doses of a toxic herbicide. In this case the plants drink up the herbicide and store a portion of it in the food that we eat. Our consumption of this deadly or toxic herbicide rises dramatically creating one of the problems of genetic engineering. In fact, the major trait right now for GMOs is herbicide tolerance — basically a way to help farmers weed but with no consumer benefits, just risks.
Moneychanger The generic name for Roundup is glyphosate?
Smith Yes. Glyphosate is supposedly the only active ingredient in Roundup although one of the so-called inert ingredients in Roundup is more toxic than the glyphosate.
How plants are disabled, killed
Moneychanger It works to deny the plant essential nutrients?
Smith Exactly. A lot of herbicides work because they’re chelators, binding with certain molecules – they hug them and won’t let go. Glyphosate is an unusual molecule in that it can bind with a wide range of nutrients or trace minerals. Binding with them makes them unavailable to the plant, disabling it from conducting certain basic functions. Glyphosate makes plants weak and sick, unable to defend themselves against diseases .
At the same time glyphosate promotes soil-borne pathogens or plant diseases so that they overrun the plant. If you just sprayed a plant in sterile soil with glyphosate it wouldn’t kill the plant. It would just stunt it. But the same plant in fertile soil with pathogens would die because the pathogens prey on this weak and sick plant. That’s how glyphosate, the world’s more popular herbicide, works. It makes weak and sick plants. This has serious ramifications for the entire food chain and for agriculture in the United States.
Moneychanger Is glyphosate is the stuff they use in the spring to spray the fields to kill everything before they plant? They spray one day and the next day everything’s dead?
Smith It’s called a burn down and is typically used at the beginning or end of the season. A scientist who’s an expert in glyphosate and Roundup was visiting a seed company and he noticed soybeans planted right near the headquarters building. Half of the field was infested with a disease called Sudden Death Syndrome, an extremely costly disease that turns the soybean plants yellow and kills them. The other half was fine and green.
He asked the business , “Do you notice what happened there?” The fellow hadn’t even noticed it.
The scientist asked, “Did you apply any glyphosate on this side?”
He said, “Oh you know, you’re right. On this side I used glyphosate as a burn down last year and that side I didn’t.”
Roundup readiness spreads diseases in crops
Glyphosate or Roundup promotes the prevalence of Sudden Death Syndrome disease for soybeans and more than 40 other plant diseases, so that the next season plants suffer more as a result.
When the farmers’ spray trucks turn at the row’s end, that spot that gets a double dose, and there you can see a higher concentration of disease from aerial photographs. So it’s pretty clear that when you spray with the glyphosate you end up with a much higher rate of diseases.
About 40 plant diseases in the United States are rising to unprecedented levels because of Roundup overuse. Hundreds of pounds of Roundup have been used and it’s promoting diseases all across America. Roundup persists in the soil for months or years, even decades in some cases, and can then make future plantings of any crop less successful. We’ve seen that with onions and potatoes and wheat and cotton, etc.
Monsanto farmyard fibs
Moneychanger But farmers have told me, “Oh that glyphosate is gone in 24 hours or 48 hours.” Does it persist much longer?
Smith They say that because the company that sells Roundup, Monsanto, lied. A New York court convicted them of false advertising for claiming that their glyphosate or Roundup was biodegradable. That didn’t stop them from continuing to advertise in Europe and then a French court convicted them. Went right to the French Supreme Court and they were convicted and fined. In the court proceedings it was clear that even Monsanto’s own research showed only two percent degradation in 28 days.
Smith It depends soil makeup, pH, clay, whether there are agricultural remnants in the soil and especially the presence of a specialized enzyme to break down glyphosate. Under certain conditions it’s extremely stable and the longest reported half life (the time it takes to degrade into half of its original volume) in a public study was 22 years. So glyphosate lasts.
Resistance in plants stirs more herbicide use
Moneychanger Nor does it kill all the weeds. Drive by one of those fields hit by glyphosate the year before and what’s coming up is almost exclusively foxtail. In Georgia spiny amaranth or pigweed has become glyphosate resistant, too.
Smith That’s a super weed. It can grow ten feet tall with stems the size of baseball bats and 400,000 seeds. That’s caused the cotton industry to abandon thousands of acres. Now instead of using a simple Roundup spray over cotton fields they’re weeding with hoes and machetes. Herbicides work just like antibiotics: overuse them, and you end up resistant diseases outfoxing the antibiotics. Eventually the weeds outsmart Monsanto. Up to 20 million acres now sport serious Roundup Ready weeds resistant to glyphosate. The industry’s answer? Create more herbicide tolerant crops that are resistant to the highly toxic 2, 4-D, a component of Agent Orange, or the very toxic dicamba [brand names Banvel, Oracle, and Vanquish – FS], or some combination of them all. That’s a very serious issue because the herbicide tolerant crops have already resulted in overuse of herbicides.
In the first 16 years of GMOs these crops resulted in an increase of 527,000,000 pounds of herbicide. If we end up with Agent Orange crops then we’ll end up with very high environmental concentrations of 2, 4-D which can be laced with dioxin, one of the most deadly chemicals, and we’ll have to deal with cancer and birth defects, etc. It’s a toxic soup. Already so much glyphosate is sprayed that it’s in 60% to 100% of air, rain, and water samples in the Midwest where it’s primarily used.
Moneychanger Nature has a cure for spiny amaranth: sheep. They love it. Turn them in on it when it’s young they’ll strip all the leaves off, essentially killing it. Back to what you said about a gene gun. Would you describe that as a shotgun or a rifle?
Smith It’s a shotgun, shooting millions of gold- or tungsten-coated particles into a plate of millions of cells. Some of them will hurt the DNA and smash through it. Others will end up depositing their DNAs – called a genetic cassette — in the vicinity of the cells’ DNA and then the cell will think that it’s wounded and by its wound repair mechanism incorporate the DNA right into itself. Then you’ll have a transformed or a genetically engineered cell with a gene from species of a kingdom that’s never before been in that plant. The process can cause mutations on either side of the insertion.
When you clone that plant you can end up with hundreds or thousands of additional mutations. As a result of the insertion or the cloning or both, many, many of the naturally functioning genes may change their levels of expression. So you end up with, for example, as much as a seven-fold increase of a known allergen in Monsanto’s GM soy or a completely new allergen in Monsanto’s bT corn. All that’s the background noise or unpredicted side effects of genetic engineering, entirely unpredictable and largely untested before GMOs are put on the market.
When the plant produces proteins in different amounts they interact and produce whole new levels or types of phytochemicals. We are at the infant stages of even knowing what those do. You’ve heard that broccoli and blueberries might be good for health and to ght cancer? We’re at the very early stages of understanding how foods are structured in nature’s medicine cabinet and yet we’re using a technology that completely disrupts that functioning in ways we don’t know how to test or evaluate.
Moneychanger Hold on! I thought the U.S. government and agencies like the USDA and FDA are supposed to safeguard the food supply. Did they not test these GMOs for safety before they approved them for sale?
Intentional blindness at FDA
Smith No. The FDA. has abdicated its responsibility and here’s how. Everyone these days is aware of how some government regulatory bodies are “captured” by the very companies they’re supposed to regulate. That’s happened at the FDA and to a large degree at the USDA as well. FDA scientists who were invited to speak on GMOs and submit their opinions towards a policy were uniformly concerned. Their consensus was that GMOs were different and presented a unique risk of allergies, toxins, new diseases, and nutritional problems. They repeatedly warned their superiors that these are dangerous and should be tested carefully.
Moneychanger These are scientists within the FDA?
Smith Yes. Read the memos. We have 24 memos posted on our website at ResponsibleTechnology.org under the Fraud tab. We’re aware of these memos only after a lawsuit made them public in 1999. Until then all we had in hand was the FDA policy from 1992, which claimed just the opposite of the reality. In reality they were very clearly aware that GMOs were different, according to the FDA compliance officer Linda Call. FDA technical experts’ opinion was that the process is different and leads to different risks. However, according to the policy the agency wasn’t aware of any information showing that GMOs were different.
So this lie was the basis for FDA not requiring any safety testing or labeling whatsoever. Companies like Monsanto, who told us that TCB, Agent Orange, and DDT were safe but got it wrong, can determine completely on their own if their GMOs are safe and market them without telling FDA or consumers they are present. The person who is in charge of that policy was Michael Taylor, Monsanto’s former attorney, later Monsanto’s vice president, now the U.S. Food Safety Czar.
Moneychanger [Laughs] I’m sorry for laughing but it looks like the foxes have not only gotten into the hen house, but also have taken it over and are manning the guard stations.
Smith They own the hen house. They’re selling stock in the hen house. [Laughter]
Most crops today genetically engineered
Moneychanger Well when did genetically modified foods begin to hit the marketplace?
Smith The first hit in 1994, a tomato that was taken off the market after about three years. But in 1996 they came in big time with soy and corn as well as some cotton and canola [oil made from GMO rapeseed – FS]. Today soy, corn, cotton and canola are the four major ones. We also have sugar beets, the source of most sugar in the US. Those crops are nearly all genetically engineered. Then we have alfalfa used as hay primarily for dairy cows, and we have a little zucchini and crookneck squash as well as papaya from Hawaii or China.
GMOs linked to birth defects, cancer, infertility
Moneychanger Well is it possible to pinpoint changes in human health patterns since GMOs were introduced into food?
Smith It is possible. It is difficult. The Canadian government in 2002 promised Canadian citizens they would monitor Canadians’ health to see if GMOs were causing problems. Within a year they abandoned it as too difficult. The British government was working with supermarkets to obtain loyalty cards to see if people purchasing GMOs had higher levels of birth defects, cancer, allergies, etc., and was going to compare that to the national health record. However, they had been promising everyone that there’s no problem with GMOs and when this was leaked to the press the embarrassed government stopped with even that level of monitoring.
We do know that when GMOs were introduced there was a very quick doubling of multiple chronic illnesses – people with at least three chronic illnesses — in just nine years, roughly 7 percent to 13 percent. Allergies jumped by 18 percent. Autism is up. Inflammatory bowel disease has risen 40 percent. Since GMOs were introduced a whole host of diseases have bumped up, especially inflammatory diseases.
According to the American Academy of Environmental Medicine, the categories of those disorders and diseases match the same problems that animals are experiencing in animal feeding studies. Based on those studies the Academy said that every doctor should prescribed non-GMO diet to every patient. Now thousands of doctors are doing that, and doctors and patients are reporting dramatic improvement in these same categories of diseases and disorders as well as mental affliction. Farmers and veterinarians report that livestock switched from GM to non-GM also improve along these same parameters.
So you have the animal feeding studies, the human experience, the livestock experience, the rise in negative health statistics in the United States. They look at things like gastrointestinal, immune, and reproductive disorders. If you look at the characteristics of the GMOs the Roundup Ready or the bT toxin genes in plants you’ll see that they are predisposed to creating just these types of disorders and diseases. It’s a complete logical circle that is being entirely ignored by the U.S. Government and covered up by the biotech industry.
Please return to Nooganomics.com for Part II of Franklin Sanders’ interview with Jeffrey M. Smith, producer of the documentary film “Genetic Roulette: The Gamble of Our Lives.” Resistance is growing to GM foods, and why it is important to avoid consuming it.
Used by permission. Subscribe to the Moneychanger’s daily commentary by dropping your email address at Franklin’s website, the-moneychanger.com. Franklin Sanders is publisher of The Moneychanger, a privately circulated monthly newsletter that focuses on gold and silver and the application of Christianity to economics, culture and family life. We have subscribed to this newsletter for more than 20 years, and consider it a must read. F$149 a year. Franklin is an active trader in gold and silver (he’ll swap your green Federal Reserve rectangles and give you real money in return). He trades with savers and investors outside Tennessee. F. Sanders, The Moneychanger, P.O. Box 178, Westpoint, Tenn. 38486 Tel. 888-218-9226.