By Dr. Mercola
After years of assurance that genetically engineered (GE) crops are the answer to pesky pest problems, corn rootworm is now turning into a nightmare for America's agricultural biotech companies.
These insects have developed resistance to an inserted gene in the genetically altered corn crop that is designed to kill them.
In a letter to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), 22 of the nation's top experts on corn pests are calling for the agency to take action "with a sense of some urgency."i
The researchers want seed companies to stop routinely inserting anti-rootworm genes into their corn lines.
Overuse of the gene increases the chances that insects will become resistant to it.
According to the NPRii:
"The researchers are calling on farmers in some parts of the country to stop planting corn with anti-rootworm genes altogether, or to plant such corn only intermittently ...
If the recommendations in this letter were, in fact, put into practice, it would compel wrenching changes in the way that major seed companies like Monsanto and DuPont breed and market their corn seed."
Why Monsanto Thought Weeds Would Never Defeat Roundup
The issue of resistance is a growing problem, not only is there growing resistance of pests, but also of weeds. There are now a number of different types of genetically engineered crops. Some are genetically altered to produce internal pesticides to ward off insects while others are altered to withstand otherwise deadly doses of weed killer.
Each is virtually guaranteed to eventually produce resistance.
In the U.S., the majority of all soybeans, cotton, and corn planted yearly are genetically engineered to be herbicide-tolerant and/or "stacked" with one or more genes to kill insectsiii. Such crops receive numerous applications of Roundup each and every year. As a result, glyphosate resistance is on the rise, and has produced super-hardy weeds that are nearly impossible to get rid of. It's estimated that more than 130 types of weeds spanning 40 U.S. states are now herbicide-resistant. In an effort to keep on top of the growing weed problem, farmers are applying ever increasing amounts of toxic herbicides to their crops.
Logic will tell you this is not a solution; it's only deepening the problem. Surprisingly enough, Monsanto's scientists were atrociously ignorant and did not believe or predict that weeds would become resistant to glyphosate, the weed-killing chemical in their herbicide Roundupiv.
In 1993, when they were requesting government approval for the herbicide, they claimed that "glyphosate is considered to be an herbicide with low risk for weed resistance," and that several university scientists agreed that "it is highly unlikely that weed resistance to glyphosate will become a problem." Today, the errors of their conclusions are obvious. According to NPR:
"Monsanto began a "massive effort" to figure out how the weeds withstand glyphosate. Some weeds ... appear to keep glyphosate from entering the plant at all; others sequester the herbicide in a spot where it can't do much damage. Monsanto's genetically engineered crops use a different technique entirely."
Can Genetically Engineered Foods Destroy Your Kidneys?
According to a new study published in the Journal of Applied Toxicology, low doses of the Bt biopesticide CryA1b, and the glyphosate-based herbicide Roundup, kill human kidney cellsv. The Bt biopesticide, which confers insect resistance, and the glyphosate tolerance trait tied to the use of glyphosate herbicides, can be found in nearly all genetically engineered crops grown worldwide.
Researchers tested the effects of Cry1Ab and Cry1Ac proteins as well as their combined effects with the herbicide Roundup. They found that Cry1Ab caused cell death at concentrations of 100 parts per million. Glyphosate at 57.2 parts per million -- 200 times below agricultural use ? killed half the cells. According to the Institute of Science in Societyvi:
"This study indicates that Bt toxins are not inert on human cells, and may indeed be toxic ... Bt crops have previously been shown to induce hepatorenal abnormalities ... as well as immune responses that may be responsible for allergies".
This is in addition to previous evidence showing that the Bt-toxin produced in genetically engineered corn and cotton plants is toxic to humans and mammals and triggers immune system responses... Disturbingly, Bt-toxin has been detected in the blood of 93 percent of pregnant women tested; 80 percent of babies; and 67 percent of non-pregnant women. The fact that it flows through our blood supply, and that is passes through the placenta into fetuses, may help explain the rise in many disorders in the U.S. since Bt crop varieties were first introduced in 1996.
Why We MUST Insist on Mandatory Labeling of GM Foods
Mandatory labeling may be the only way to stop the proliferation of genetically engineered foods in the U.S., because while genetically engineered seeds are banned in several European countries, several U.S. states have passed legislation that protects the use of such seeds and allows for unabated expansion!
Such legislation is bought and paid for through the millions of dollars Monsanto and other biotech companies spend lobbying the U.S. government each year. In the first quarter of 2011 alone, Monsanto spent $1.4 million on lobbying the federal government -- a drop from a year earlier, when they spent $2.5 million during the same quarter. Their efforts of persuasion are also made infinitely easier by the fact that an ever growing list of former Monsanto employees are now in positions of power within the federal government.
Fortunately, 24 U.S. states have (as part of their state governance) something called the Initiative Process, where residents can bring to ballot any law they want enacted, as long as it has sufficient support. California has been busy organizing just such a ballot initiative to get mandatory labeling for genetically engineered foods sold in their state. The proposed law will be on the 2012 ballot. Michigan and Washington are also starting similar campaignsvii.
Proof Positive that GMO Labeling WILL Change the Food Industry
Many don't fully appreciate the strategy of seeking to have genetically engineered foods labeled in California. The belief is that large companies would refuse to have dual labeling; one for California and another for the rest of the country. It would be very expensive and a logistical nightmare. So rather than have two labels, they would simply not carry the product, especially if the new label would be the equivalent of a skull and crossbones. This is why we are so committed to this initiative as victory here will likely eliminate genetically engineered foods from the U.S.
Powerful confirmation of this belief occurred in early 2012 when both Coca-Cola Company and PepsiCo Inc. chose to alter one of their soda ingredients as a result of California's labeling requirements for carcinogensviii:
"Coca-Cola Co. and PepsiCo Inc. are changing the way they make the caramel coloring used in their sodas as a result of a California law that mandates drinks containing a certain level of carcinogens bear a cancer warning label. The companies said the changes will be expanded nationally to streamline their manufacturing processes. They've already been made for drinks sold in California."
This is a PERFECT example of the national impact a California GMO labeling mandate can, and no doubt WILL, have. While California is the only state requiring the label to state that the product contains the offending ingredient, these companies are switching their formula for the entire US market, rather than have two different labels. According to USA Today:
"A representative for Coca-Cola, Diana Garza Ciarlante, said the company directed its caramel suppliers to modify their manufacturing processes to reduce the levels of the chemical 4-methylimidazole, which can be formed during the cooking process and as a result may be found in trace amounts in many foods. "While we believe that there is no public health risk that justifies any such change, we did ask our caramel suppliers to take this step so that our products would not be subject to the requirement of a scientifically unfounded warning," Garza-Giarlante said in an email."
Learn More about Genetically Modified (GM) Foods
Due to lack of labeling, many Americans are still unfamiliar with what GM foods are. I urge you to participate and to continue learning more about GM foods and helping your friends and family do the same. To start, please print out and use the Non-GMO Shopping Guide, created by the Institute for Responsible Technology. Share it with your friends and family, and post it to your social networks. You can also download a free iPhone application, available in the iTunes store. You can find it by searching for ShopNoGMO in the applications.
Your BEST strategy, however, is to simply buy USDA 100% Organic products whenever possible, (as these do not permit GM ingredients) or buy whole fresh produce and meat from local farmers. The majority of the GMO's you're exposed to are via processed foods, so by cooking from scratch with whole foods, you can be sure you're not inadvertently consuming something laced with GM ingredients. When you do purchase processed food, avoid products containing anything related to corn or soy that are not 100 percent organic, as any foods containing these two non-organic ingredients are virtually guaranteed to contain genetically engineered ingredients, as well as toxic herbicide residues.
To learn more about GM foods, I highly recommend the following films and lectures:
Important Action Item: Support California's Ballot Initiative to Label GMO's!
In 2007, then-Presidential candidate Obama promised to "immediately" require GMO labeling if elected. So far, nothing of the sort has transpired, but we aim to make it happen!
Since California is the 8th largest economy in the world, a win for the California Initiative would be a huge step forward, and would affect ingredients and labeling nation-wide. A coalition of consumer, public health and environmental organizations, food companies, and individuals has already submitted the California Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act to the State Attorney General. Now, they need 800,000 signatures to get the Act on this year's ballot.
I urge you to get involved and help in any way you can. Be assured that what happens in California will affect the remainder of the U.S. states, so please support this important state initiative, even if you do not live there!
- Whether you live in California or not, please donate money to this historic effort
- Talk to organic producers and stores and ask them to actively support the California Ballot. It may be the only chance we have to label genetically engineered foods.
- Distribute WIDELY the Non-GMO Shopping Guide to help you identify and avoid foods with GMOs. Look for products (including organic products) that feature the Non-GMO Project Verified Seal to be sure that at-risk ingredients have been tested for GMO content. You can also download the free iPhone application that is available in the iTunes store. You can find it by searching for ShopNoGMO in the applications.
- For timely updates, please join the Organic Consumers Association on Facebook, or follow them on Twitter.
- Look for in-depth coverage of the issue at the Institute for Responsible Technology, subscribe to Spilling the Beans, and check out their Facebook or Twitter.
- i EPA Docket ID: EPA-HQ-OPP-2011-0922,
- ii NPR March 11, 2012,
- iii USDA Data Adoption of Genetically Engineered Crops in the U.S.,
- iv NPR March 11, 2012,
- v Journal of Applied Toxicology February 15, 2012,
- vi Institute of Science in Society March 13, 2012,
- vii http://gmolabeling.webs.com/
- viii USA Today March 8, 2012,
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