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Frankenfoods and Their Effects

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1. Find a definition of “genetically modified organism.” How are genetically modified organisms different from non-genetically modified organisms?

When a gene from one organism is purposely moved to improve or change another organism in a laboratory, the result is a genetically modified organism (GMO). It is also sometimes called “transgenic” for transfer of genes.

Genetically modified organism have a better adaptation or quality than the non-genetically modified organism. For example: GM cow produces more high quality milk than a normal cow.

2. The recent acts of activists intent on destruction of research plots included plants altered by molecular as well as classical genetic techniques. Is it possible to distinguish between plants altered by classical genetics and those altered by modern techniques? If it is possible, how is it done?

If you have a DNA lab, then you could check: many GM crops will have other genes which have been inserted alongside the actual genes-of-interest. If you find them, then it is most likely you have a GM crop and not a conventionally-bred crop.

Also, many GM crops have features like “terminator technology”, which means that the seeds they produce are sterile. This prevents the crop from “escaping” and becoming a “superweed” (though it incidentally also means the unfortunate farmer has to buy seed every year, and cannot save seed over from one year to the next).

3. What safeguards are in place to protect Americans from unsafe food? Are these methods sciencebased?

* FDA will Ensure Adequacy of Industry Prevention Strategies through increased risk based inspections, audits of controls designed to prevent contamination, and sampling at the source. * FDA will Conduct Expanded Risk-Based Surveillance across the food and feed chain to identify gaps in detecting food and feed threats and to institute corrective action before illness or injury occurs. * FDA will Enhance the Ability to Detect and quickly identify risk signals by deploying new rapid screening tools and methods to identify pathogens and other contaminants in food and feed. * FDA will Increase Food and Feed Sampling and Testing through improved laboratory analysis. FDA must increase surveillance of animal food and feed ingredients to protect consumers from intentional and unintentional threats to vital components of the food Chain

4. Name as many examples as you can of harm to citizens from unsafe food. What percentage of these illnesses was caused by special genetic modifications?

HEALTH -Deaths and Near-Deaths

* Recorded Deaths from GM: In 1989, dozens of Americans died and several thousands were afflicted and impaired by a genetically modified version of the food supplement L-tryptophan creating a debilitating ailment known as Eosinophilia myalgia syndrome (EMS) . Released without safety tests, there were 37 deaths reported and approximately 1500 more were disabled. A settlement of $2 billion dollars was paid by the manufacturer, Showa Denko, Japan’s third largest chemical company destroyed evidence preventing a further investigation and made a 2 billion dollar settlement. Since the very first commercially sold GM product was lab tested (Flavr Savr) animals used in such tests have prematurely died.

* Near-deaths and Food Allergy Reactions: In 1996, Brazil nut genes were spliced into soybeans to provide the added protein methionine and by a company called Pioneer Hi-Bred. Some individuals, however, are so allergic to this nut, they can go into anaphylactic shock (similar to a severe bee sting reaction) which can cause death. Using genetic engineering, the allergens from one food can thus be transferred to another, thought to be safe to eat, and unknowingly. Animal andhuman tests confirmed the peril and fortunately the product was removed from the market before any fatalities occurred. The animal tests conducted, however, were insufficient by themselves to show this. Had they alone been relied upon, a disaster would have followed.

“The next case could be less than ideal and the public less fortunate,” writes Marion Nestle author of Food Politics and Safe Food, and head of the Nutrition Department of NYU in an editorial to the New England Journal of Medicine. It has been estimated that 25% of Americans have mild adverse reactions to foods (such as itching and rashes), while at least 4% or 12 million Americans have provably more serious food allergies as objectively shown by blood iImmunoglobulin E or IgE levels. In other words, there is a significant number of highly food-sensitive individuals in our general population. The percentage of young children who are seriously food-allergenic is yet higher, namely 6-8% of all children under the age of three. In addition, theincidence rates for these children has been decidedly rising. The same applies to the typical GMO that has novel bacterial and viral DNA artificially inserted. Many research studies have definitively confirmed this kind of overall risk for genetically modified foods:

HEALTH – Cancer and Degenerative Diseases
* Direct Cancer and Degenerative Disease Links: GH is a protein hormone which, when injected into cows stimulates the pituitary gland in a way that the produces more milk, thus making milk production more profitable for the large dairy corporations. In 1993, FDA approved Monsanto’s genetically-modified rBGH, a genetically-altered growth hormone that could be then injected into dairy cows to enhance this feature, and even though scientists warned that this resulted in an increase of IGF-1(from (70%-1000%).

As to other degenerative disease links, according to a study by researcher Dr. Sharyn Martin, a number of autoimmune diseases are enhanced by foreign DNA fragments that are not fully digested in the human stomach and intestines. DNA fragments are absorbed into the bloodstream, potentially mixing with normal DNA. The genetic consequences are unpredictable and unexpected gene fragments have shown up in GM soy crops. e). * Indirect, Non-traceable Effects on Cancer Rates: The twentieth century saw an incremental lowering of infectious disease rates, especially where a single bacteria was overcome by an antibiotic, but a simultaneous rise in systemic, whole body or immune system breakdowns. The epidemic of cancer is a major example and is affected by the overall polluted state of our environment, including in the pollution of the air, water, and food we take in. There are zillions of potential combinations for the 100,000 commonly thrust upon our environment.

HEALTH – Viral and Bacterial Illness
* Superviruses: Viruses can mix with genes of other viruses and retroviruses such as HIV. This can give rise to more deadly viruses – and at rates higher than previously thought. * Antibiotic Threat Via Milk: Cows injected with rBGH have a much higher level of udder infections. The Center for Food Safety claims a 25% increase in the frequency of udder infections in cows that are given this growth hormone. Since this hormone causes infections, farmers will use more antibiotics that may eventually end up in the dairy products we consume. ng concerns.

* Antibiotic Threat Via Plants: Much of the techniques of genetic implantation are ineffective so scientists must use a marker to track where the gene goes into the plant cell. The GMO Compass explains how the plants with the resistance markers are the only ones to survive after being injected with the antibiotic, thus proving they are resisting the antibiotic. We are vulnerable to those resistant cells due to easy transference. * Resurgence of Infectious Diseases: The Microbial Ecology in Health and Disease journal reported in 1998 that gene technology may be implicated in the resurgence of infectious diseases. This occurs in multiple ways. There is growing resistance to antibiotics misused in bioengineering, the formation of new and unknown viral strains, and the lowering of immunity through diets of processed and altered foods. HEALTH -Allergies

* Increased Food Allergies:
* Birth Defects and Shorter Life Spans:
* Interior Toxins: “Pesticidal foods” have genes that produce a toxic pesticide inside the food’s cells. The food is engineered to produce their own built in pesticide in every cell which produces a poison that splits open a bug’s stomach and kills them when the bug tries to eat the plant. * Lowered Nutrition: certain GM foods have lower levels of vital nutrients – especially phytoestrogen compounds thought to protect the body from heart disease and cancer.

HEALTH – General
* No Regulated Health Safety Testing:
* Unnatural Foods: It is well known that modified proteins exist in GE foods, new proteins never before eaten by humanity. * Radical Change in Diet: The current result is that approximately two-thirds of all processed foods in the US already contain GM ingredients – and this is projected to rise to 90% within four years according to industry claims. In short, the human diet, from almost every front, is being radically changed – with little or no knowledge of the long-term health or environmental impacts.

ENVIRONMENT – General Soil Impact
* Toxicity to Soil: The industry marketing pitch to the public is that bioengineered seeds and plants will help the environment by reducing toxic herbicide/pesticide use. Isolated examples are given, but the overall reality is exactly opposite. The majority of GM agricultural products are developed specifically for toxin-resistance – namely for higher doses of herbicides/ pesticides sold by the largest producer companies – Monsanto, Dupont Novaris, Dow, Bayer, Ciba-Geigy, Hoescht, AgroEvo, and Rhone-Poulenc.. Not to be fooled, the primary intent is to sell more, not less of their products and to circumvent patent laws. * Soil Sterility and Pollution:

* Extinction of Seed Varieties: Plants
* Superweeds: It has been shown that genetically modified Bt endotoxin remains in the soil at least 18 months (according to Marc Lappé and Britt Bailey) and can be transported to wild plants creating superweeds – resistant to butterfly, moth, and beetle pests – potentially disturbing the balance of nature. * Plant Invasions: We can anticipate classic bio-invasions as a result of new GM strains, just as with the invasions of the kudzu vine or purple loosestrife in the plant world. ENVIRONMENT -Trees

* Destruction of Forest Life:
* Terminator Trees:
ENVIRONMENT -Insects and Larger Animals
* Superpests: Lab tests indicate that common plant pests such as cottonboll worms, will evolve into superpests immune from the Bt sprays used by organic farmers. * Animal Bio-invasions: Fish and marine life are threatened by accidental release of GM fish currently under development in several countries – trout, carp, and salmon several times the normal size and growing up to 6x times as fast. One such accident has already occurred in the Philippines – threatening local fish supplies. * Killing Beneficial Insects: Studies have shown that GM products can kill beneficial insects – most notably the monarch butterfly larvae (Cornell, 1999). * Poisonous to Mammals:

ENVIRONMENT -Animal Abuse

* Support of Animal Factory Farming: Rather than using the best of scientific minds to end animal factory farming – rapid efforts are underway to develop gene-modified animals that better thrive in disease-promoting conditions of animal factory farms. ENVIRONMENT -Genetic Uncertainties

* Genetic Pollution: Carrying GM pollen by wind, rain, birds, bees, insects, fungus, bacteria – the entire chain of life becomes involved. Once released, unlike chemical pollution, there is no cleanup or recall possible. * Disturbance of Nature’s Boundaries: Genetic engineers argue that their creations are no different than crossbreeding. However, natural boundaries are violated – crossing animals with plants, strawberries with fish, grains, nuts, seeds, and legumes with bacteria, viruses, and fungi; or like human genes with swine.

ENVIRONMENT -IMPACT ON FARMING

Small Farm Livelihood and Survival

* Decline and Destruction of Self-Sufficient Family Farms: In 1850, 60% of the working population in the US was engaged in agriculture. By the year 1950 it was 4%. Today it is 2% (CIA World Factbook 1999 – USA). From a peak of 7 million farms in 1935, there are now less than one-third or 2 million left. In many urban areas, the situation is starker where family farms are becoming largely extinct. It is estimated that the biotech industry will find at least $14 billion dollars of substitutes for Third World farming products. Far beyond hydroponics, scientists are developing processes to grow foods in solely laboratory environments – eliminating the need for seeds, shrubs, trees, soil and ultimately the farmer. * General Economic Harm to Small Family Farms: GM seeds sell at a premium, unless purchased in large quantities, which creates a financial burden for small farmers. To add to this financial injury, Archer Daniels Midland has instituted a two-tier price system where it offers less to farmers per bushels for GM soybeans because they are not selling well overseas.

ENVIRONMENT -Organic Farming

* Losing Purity: At the present rate of proliferation of GM foods, within 50-100 years, the majority of organic foods may no longer be organic. * Mixing: A Texas organic corn chip maker, Terra Prima, suffered a substantial economic loss when their corn chips were contaminated with GM corn and had to be destroyed.

ENVIRONMENT -Losing Natural Pesticides:
Control and Dependency

* Terminator Technology: Plants are being genetically produced with no annual replenishing of perennial seeds so farmers will become wholly dependent on the seed provider. In the past Monsanto had farmers sign agreements that they would not collect seeds, and even sent out field detectives to check on farmers. * Traitor Technology: Traitor technologies control the stages or life cycles of plants – when a plant will leaf, flower, and bear fruit. This forces the farmer to use certain triggering chemicals if he is to yield a harvest – again causing much deeper levels of economic dependence. These technologies are being developed and patented at a furious pace.

ENVIRONMENT -Farm Production

* Less Diversity, Quality, Quantity and Profit:
* Fragility of Future Agriculture: With loss of biological diversity there inevitably develops a fragility of agriculture. * Lower Yields and More Pesticides Used With GM Seeds: * Monopolization of Food Production: The rapid and radical change in the human diet was made possible by quick mergers and acquisitions that moved to control segments of the US farming industry. Although there are approximately 1500 seed companies worldwide, about two dozen control more than 50% of the commercial seed heritage of our planet. The consolidation has continued to grow, In 1998 the top five soy producers controlled 37% of the market (Murphy Family Foods; Carroll’s Foods, Continental Grain, Smithfield Foods, and Seaboard).

One year later, the top five controlled 51% (Smithfield, having acquired Murphy’s and Carroll’s, Continental, Seaboard, Prestige and Cargill). Cargill and Continental Grain later merged. * Impact on Long -Term Food Supply: If food production is monopolized, the future of that supply becomes dependent on the decisions of a few companies and the viability of their seed stocks. Like the example of Peru, there are only a few remaining pockets of diverse seed stocks to insure the long-term resilience of the world’s staple foods. All of them are in the Third World. Food scientists indicate that if these indigenous territories are disturbed by biotech’s advance, the long-term vitality of all of the world’s food supply is endangered. 5. How have genetic modifications of fruits and vegetables improved crops with respect to nutritional composition, shelf life, eating quality, yields, and disease resistance?

Genetic modification is being used on fruits & veggies to obtain new strains with better nutritional value and greater yield. Engineered seeds are resistant to pests and slows food spoilage. We however do not know long term
effects of these procedures

6. Can you describe a scenario in which public health and safety might be threatened by food crops modified by biotechnology? Deaths and Near-Deaths
1. Recorded Deaths from GM: In 1989, dozens of Americans died and several thousands were afflicted and impaired by a genetically modified version of the food supplement L-tryptophan creating a debilitating ailment known as Eosinophilia myalgia syndrome (EMS) 2. Near-deaths and Food Allergy Reactions: Using genetic engineering, the allergens from one food can thus be transferred to another, thought to be safe to eat, and unknowingly.

Cancer and Degenerative Diseases
3. Direct Cancer and Degenerative Disease Links: In 1993, FDA approved Monsanto’s genetically-modified rBGH, a genetically-altered growth hormone that could be then injected into dairy cows to enhance this feature, and even though scientists warned that this resulted in an increase of IGF-1(from (70%-1000%). IGF-1 is a very potent chemical hormone that has been linked to a 2 1/2 to 4 times higher risk of human colorectal and breast cancer. Prostate cancer risk is considered equally serious – in the 2,8.to 4 times range. 4. Indirect, Non-traceable Effects on Cancer Rates: Scientists a few years ago were startled that combining chemical food additives into chemical cocktails caused many times more toxic effects than the sum of the individual chemicals. More startling was the fact that some chemicals were thought to be harmless by themselves but not in such combinations. In the US in the year 1900, cancer affected only about 1 out 11 individuals. It now inflicts 1 out of 2 men and 1 out of 3 women in their lifetime. Cancer mortality rates rose relentlessly throughout the 20th century to more than triple overall.

Viral and Bacterial Illness
5. Superviruses: Viruses can mix with genes of other viruses and retroviruses such as HIV. This can give rise to more deadly viruses – and at rates higher than previously thought. 6. Antibiotic Threat Via Milk: .The overuse of antibiotics can be strongly linked to hard-to-treat illnesses in people. Most companies have been catching onto the consumer’s uproar and many have since become rBGH free due to increasing concerns. 7. Antibiotic Threat Via Plants: The GMO Compass explains how the plants with the resistance markers are the only ones to survive after being injected with the antibiotic, thus proving they are resisting the antibiotic. We are vulnerable to those resistant cells due to easy transference. 8. Resurgence of Infectious Diseases: There is growing resistance to antibiotics misused in bioengineering, the formation of new and unknown viral strains, and the lowering of immunity through diets of processed and altered foods. Allergies

9. Increased Food Allergies: The loss of biodiversity in our food supply has grown in parallel with the increase in food allergies. 10. Birth Defects and Shorter Life Spans: We know that rBGh in cows causes a rapid increase in birth defects and shorter life spans and thenumber of calves born with birth defects to dairy cows has increased significantly. among the control group fed natural soy. The GM-fed babies were also smaller, and later had

11. Lowered Nutrition: A study in the Journal of Medicinal Food (Dr. Marc Lappé,1999) showed that certain GM foods have lower levels of vital nutrients – especially phytoestrogen compounds thought to protect the body from heart disease and cancer. In another study of GM Vicia Faba, a bean in the same family as soy, there was also an increase in estrogen levels, what raises health issues – especially in infant soy formulas. Milk from cows with rBGH contains substantially higher levels of pus, bacteria, and fat.Monsanto’s analysis of glyphosate-resistant soya showed the GM-line contained 28% more Kunitz-trypsin inhibitor, a known anti-nutrient and allergen.

7. Does biotechnology pose any risks to the environment? If so, what are these risks? ENVIRONMENT
General Soil Impact
1. Toxicity to Soil: The industry marketing pitch to the public is that bioengineered seeds and plants will help the environment by reducing toxic herbicide/pesticide use. Isolated examples are given, but the overall reality is exactly opposite. The majority of GM agricultural products are developed specifically for toxin-resistance – namely for higher doses of herbicides/ pesticides sold by the largest producer companies – Monsanto, Dupont Novaris, Dow, Bayer, Ciba-Geigy, Hoescht, AgroEvo, and Rhone-Poulenc. Also the majority of research for future products involves transgenic strains for increased chemical resistance. Not to be fooled, the primary intent is to sell more, not less of their products and to circumvent patent laws 2, Soil Sterility and Pollution: Professor Guenther Stotzky of New York University conducted research showing the toxins that were lethal to Monarch butterfly are also released by the roots to produce soil pollution. The pollution was found to last up to 8 months with depressed microbial activity. An Oregon study showed that GM soil microbes in the lab killed wheat plants when added to the soil.

Seeds
3. Extinction of Seed Varieties:
Plants
4. Superweeds: It has been shown that genetically modified Bt endotoxin remains in the soil at least 18 months (according to Marc Lappé and Britt Bailey) and can be transported to wild plants creating superweeds – resistant to butterfly, moth, and beetle pests – potentially disturbing the balance of nature 5. Plant Invasions: We can anticipate classic bio-invasions as a result of new GM strains, just as with the invasions of the kudzu vine or purple loosestrife in the plant world. Trees

6. Destruction of Forest Life: GM trees or “supertrees” are being developed which can be sprayed from the air to kill literally all of surrounding life, except the GM trees. There is an attempt underway to transform international forestry by introducing multiple species of such trees. The trees themselves are often sterile and flowerless. 7. Terminator Trees: These super deadly trees are non-flowering, herbicide-resistant and with leaves exuding toxic chemicals to kill caterpillars and other surrounding insects – destroying the wholesale ecology of forest life.

Insects and Larger Animals
8. Superpests: Lab tests indicate that common plant pests such as cottonboll worms, will evolve into superpests immune from the Bt sprays used by organic farmers. Toxic chemicals killed off their predators, unbalanced nature, and thus made them “major pests.” 9. Animal Bio-invasions: Fish and marine life are threatened by accidental release of GM fish currently under development in several countries – trout, carp, and salmon several times the normal size and growing up to 6x times as fast. One such accident has already occurred in the Philippines – threatening local fish supplies. 10. Killing Beneficial Insects: Studies have shown that GM products can kill beneficial insects – most notably the monarch butterfly larvae (Cornell, 1999). 11. Poisonous to Mammals:

12. Animal Abuse
13. Support of Animal Factory Farming: Rather than using the best of scientific minds to end animal factory farming – rapid efforts are underway to develop gene-modified animals that better thrive in disease-promoting conditions of animal factory farms. 8. Is there any reason to be concerned by the role of private corporations in the development of agricultural biotechnology? Should companies be allowed to patent organisms?

Yes, absolutely there is. Private corporations are going to be concerned with their own needs, which generally includes increasing their profit over actually helping people and the environment. Patents were historically developed to insure that inventors could share in the financial returns and benefits deriving from the use of their inventions. With the development of the modern corporation, patent rights were always assigned to the company rather than an individual. This gives the patent holder a form of monopoly control for 20 years from the filing of the patent, and creates a legal means of limiting competition. Private investors generally regard such monopolies as favorable to their interests, so in many industries patents aid in the development of new products.

9. Are the activists justified in their acts of vandalism against food that has been modified through biotechnology? Why or why not?

They were not justified because they did not understand they amount of research that was going into the project. A lot of the work was beneficial to the community. Technology at times can be used for harm, but also it can be used for good and in this case the actions harmed many years of beneficial research.

10. Do you think there are good reasons for using legal means against the development of biotechnology-modified foods? Why or why not?

We need government agencies that can monitor and regulate private companies, as the government agencies would have the best interest of human and environment and not only shareholders like private companies would. There are many dangers (health, environment, ecology, etc.) in altering genetically modified crops and only regulation will keep us safe.

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