Tuesday, November 23, 2010

If it is left to me, I would certainly not eat it.

Technology is dominated by two types of people: those who understand what they do not manage, and those who manage what they do not understand.
Putt's Law

Just in time for thanksgiving.  Despite the fact that 95% of Americans prefer that Genetically Modified (GM) food be labeled as such, there is no requirement for GM labeling.  What foods do you eat that could potentially contain GM ingredients?

Artificial Sweeteners

Baking Powder


Meat Substitutes


Canola Oil







Cottonseed Oil


Dairy Products from GM-Treated Cows

Enriched Flour (all kinds, not just white)

Food Additives

Fried Foods

Frozen Yogurt

High-Fructose Corn Syrup

Hot Dogs

Ice Cream

Infant Formula



Peanut Butter

Protein Powder

Rapeseed Oil

Salad Dressing


Soy Protein

Soy Flour

Soy Cheese

Soy Sauce

Sugar that is not 100% Cane




Tomato Sauce

Vegetable Oil

Veggie Burgers

Note that most of the affected foods contain soy or corn.  Did you know that 91% of the Soy planted in the US is RR GM (Round Up Ready Genetically Modified).  Troubling.  Is it a real issue or just more scare tactics?  See more: http://www.gmfreeireland.org/press/GMFI51.pdf.  Why is this an issue?

Recombinant crops that tolerate insects may be dangerous to humans because they contain toxics from another insect.  Companies that develop these plants claim that these modified crops can reduce the use of herbicide. For example, Monsanto claims that Roundup Ready Soybeans "were able to reduce herbicide use while controlling weeds better in their soybean fields."

Genetically modified crops that tolerate herbicide may also have harmful effects.  Farmers may use more chemicals. Roundup Ready Soybeans can be applied with twice the recommended levels of herbicide before the plant is damaged. Before, if too much herbicide was used, the plants would be damaged.  Instead of closely watching the application of herbicide, farmers may over-apply herbicide.  What are the effects to us/on us?

What is the process to developing recombinant crops?  Assume that insect A is killed by the toxin made by insect B. The toxin of B is inserted into the plant.  Since the plants can withstand insect A since insect A if affected by the plant toxin, herbicide to kill insect A can be reduced.  But the plants contain the toxin of insect B.  Is this harmful to humans?

Want a non-GMO shopping guide?  see http://www.nongmoshoppingguide.com/ 

More here http://www.responsibletechnology.org/

Well you say, there is no proven issue with GMO foods right? 

Food supplements, such as amino acids, are often manufactured by fermentative processes, in which large quantities of bacteria are grown in vats, and the food supplement is extracted from the bacteria and purified.

One amino acid, tryptophan has been produced in this way for many years. In the late 1980's the company Showa Denko K.K. decided to use genetic engineering to accelerate and increase the efficiency of the production process. They genetically engineered bacteria by inserting new genes that caused the bacteria to express new enzymes. The enzymes expressed in these bacteria through genetic engineering were not present in massive amounts, but they altered the cellular metabolism substantially, leading to greatly increased production of tryptophan.

These genetically engineered bacteria were immediately used in commercial production of tryptophan, and the product placed on the market in the USA in 1988. The Food and Drug Administration allowed Showa Denko to sell this genetically engineered product without testing because they had been selling tryptophan, produced in non-genetically engineered bacteria, for quite some time without ill effects. It was argued that the method of production (whether via natural or genetically engineered bacteria) was immaterial and that, since tryptophan had already been shown to be safe, the new material needed no testing. Furthermore, FDA regulations did not require that the new tryptophan be labeled as genetically engineered.
This product was placed on the market, and within three months, 37 people died and 1500 were permanently disabled from using this product. It took months to discover that the poisoning was due to the presence of traces of a toxic contaminant in the new genetically engineered tryptophan. One factor that contributed to the time delay was the fact that the product was not labeled as genetically engineered.

It is worth reading the rest of the story:


If it is left to me, I would certainly not eat it. We are putting new things into food which have not been eaten before. The effects on the immune system are not easily predictable and I challenge anyone who will say that the effects are predictable.

Professor Arpad Pusztai,

Food, Gut, and Microbial Interactions Group, Rowett Research Institute, Univ. of Aberdeen

1 comment:

  1. The first article was engaging until they talked about using 'herbicides' to control insects... most farmers would use 'pesticides' for that... the whole article loses credibility when they don't understand the basics.

    It also seems that the GMO tryptophan was not a problem, but the QA in getting toxic contaminants out of the product definately was. FDA should have required testing for purity...

    Not that I'm a fan of GMO stuff... I steer clear of HFCS and we're now subscribers to an organic farm delivery coop: semi-weekly fresh organic veggie deliveries from the local farms for $35. More than we can eat! (although, "local" means CA, BC greenhouses and Mexico in wintertime...)


You are not entitled to your opinion. You are entitled to your informed opinion. No one is entitled to be ignorant.

Harlan Ellison