Tuesday, June 24, 2014

HV for No GMOs Debates NY Farm Bureau on GMOs

I want to thank the Poughkeepsie Journal for providing an opportunity to discuss the subject of GMOs in a more depth fashion yesterday at their Editorial Board meeting.

You can see video of the discussion (which got a little heated at times!) here-


I was presenting views about the need to label GMOs and Mark Adams, president of the Dutchess, Putnam, Westchester Farm Bureau was presenting the other side. I was impressed that he expressed sympathy for people's desire to know what is in the food they are eating and feeding their families. We were, however, antithetically opposed when it comes to the impact GMOs are having on public health and our environment.

Mark contends genetically modified crops are the same as any other crops and are necessary to feed a starving world. He said that GM crops decrease pesticide use, increase yields and have never proven to be harmful.

I respect Mark and the NY Farm Bureau that represents 25,000 farmers. We at Hudson Valley for No GMOs count many farmers as our supporters. We appreciate the incredibly hard work they do to provide us with nourishing food. They are our heroes!

Yet, I feel I need to set the record straight and I also wanted to include links to sources I mentioned in the talk.

GMO Food is Not the Same as Non-GMO Food
Lab tests by the Russian National Academy of Sciences
GMOs Do Not Increase Yields 

GM Crops Do Not Decrease Pesticide Use
GM crops are failing and reports of the harm they cause are increasing. I mentioned the fact that Russia has completely banned GMOs after their senior scientists reported that they cause obesity and cancer in animals. I just learned today that GM grain and oil is also now banned for the 2.2 million Chinese army because of health concerns. Can it be long before they are banned entirely in that country too?

They would be joining many countries banning GMOs totally or in part. Additionally, three billion people in this world live in countries that require labeling of GMOs! Isn't it time for Americans to know what they are eating and feeding their families too?

Although we made great strides this year toward labeling in NYS, Assembly bill 3525 and Senate bill 3835 did not pass. Big thanks to GMO Free NY Director, Stacie Orell, who planted herself outside the doors to the Assembly for whole days to try to win more support/cosponsors for the bill! So many worked so hard this year for labeling and we thank all. Preparations for passing GM labeling for New York in 2015 have begun. Be a part and stay informed on the latest and most important news on GMOs - send your email to hvnogmos@gmail.com. We promise to never share your email with anyone.

Check out our page, 5 Ways to Avoid GMOs, if you are new to the subject and want to protect yourself and your family.

Thank you to Mark Adams, president of the Dutchess, Putnam, Westchester Farm Bureau for taking the time to discuss this important subject. Thanks too to: John Penney, community conversations/editorial page editor; Emily Stewart, reporter, food and drink; Dugan Radwin, editor of "My Valley" environmental section, Erika Smith, editorial assistant and all the good folks at the Journal. We appreciate the opportunity to share the facts on GMOs and the threat they pose to public health, the environment and food security.

Post Script 
At the end of the video I tried to give a shout out to my partner here at Hudson Valley for No GMOs  (but it got cut off).Thank you to Beth Dulay - committed, knowledgeable, persevering and passionate about a safe and healthy food supply for today and for future generations!

Why We Are Not Being Protected
With so many scientific studies showing harm- why this rush in the US?

Sunday, June 22, 2014

10 Scientific Studies Proving GMOs Can Be Harmful to Your Health

Reprinted from Collective Evolution- http://www.collective-evolution.com/2014/04/08/10-scientific-studies-proving-gmos-can-be-harmful-to-human-health  
gmoOver the past few years, a number of countries have completely banned GMOs and the pesticides that go along with them, and they are doing so for a reason. The latest country to consider a complete ban is Russia after top government scientists recommended at least a 10 year ban. 
The truth is, we don’t know enough about GMOs to deem them safe for human consumption. Believe it or not the very first commercial sale of them was only twenty years ago. There is no possible way that our health authorities can test all possible combinations on a large enough population, over a long enough period of time to be able to say with absolute certainty that they are harmless.

There are a multitude of credible scientific studies that clearly demonstrate why GMOs should not be consumed, and more are emerging every year.  There are also a number of scientists all around the world that oppose them.
By slipping it into our food without our knowledge, without any indication that there are genetically modified organisms in our food, we are now unwittingly part of a massive experiment.The FDA has said that genetically modified organisms are not much different from regular food, so they’ll be treated in the same way. The problem is this, geneticists follow the inheritance of genes, what biotechnology allows us to do is to take this organism, and move it horizontally into a totally unrelated species. Now David Suzuki doesn’t normally mate with a carrot and exchange genes, what biotechnology allows us to do is to switch genes from one to the other without regard to the biological constraints. It’s very very bad science, we assume that the principals governing the inheritance of genes vertically, applies when you move genes laterally or horizontally. There’s absolutely no reason to make that conclusion – Geneticist David Suzuki
If anybody ever tells you that we know with one hundred percent certainty that GMOs are totally safe to eat, they haven’t done their research. There is no reason GM foods should be approved safe for consumption, we just don’t know enough about them. We could easily feed the planet through organic, GMO free methods, there is absolutely no reason we need GM foods around.

Below I’ve presented just a bit of information to get you started on your research if you’re interested.

1. Multiple Toxins From GMOs Detected In Maternal and Fetal Blood
Research from Canada (the first of its kind) has successfully identified the presence of pesticides -associated with genetically modified foods in maternal, fetal and non-pregnant women’s blood. They also found the presence of Monsanto’s Bt toxin. The study was published in the Journal Reproductive Toxicology in 2011.(1) You can read the FULL study here.
“Given the potential toxicity of these environmental pollutants and the fragility of the fetus, more studies are needed, particularly those using the placental transfer approach. Thus, our present results will provide baseline data for future studies exploring a new area of research relating to nutrition, toxicology and reproduction in women. Today, obstetric-gynecological disorders that are associated with environmental chemicals are not known.  Thus, knowing the actual concentration of genetically modified foods in humans constitutes a cornerstone in the advancement of research in this area.” (1)
The study used blood samples from thirty pregnant women and thirty non-pregnant women. The study also pointed out that the fetus is considered to be highly susceptible to the adverse affects of xenobiotics (foreign chemical substance found within an organism that is not naturally produced.)  This is why the study emphasizes that knowing more about GMOs is crucial, because environmental agents could disrupt the biological events that are required to ensure normal growth and development.

2. DNA From Genetically Modified Crops Can Be Transferred Into Humans Who Eat Them
In a new study published in the peer reviewed Public Library of Science (PLOS), researchers emphasize that there is sufficient evidence that meal-derived DNA fragments carry complete genes that can enter into the human circulation system through an unknown mechanism.(2)

In one of the blood samples the relative concentration of plant DNA is higher than the human DNA.  The study was based on the analysis of over 1000 human samples from four independent studies. PLOS is an open access, well respected peer-reviewed scientific journal that covers primary research from disciplines within science and medicine. It’s great to see this study published in it, confirming what many have been suspected for years.
“Our bloodstream is considered to be an environment well separated from the outside world and the digestive tract. According to the standard paradigm large macromolecules consumed with food cannot pass directly to the circulatory system. During digestion proteins and DNA are thought to be degraded into small constituents, amino acids and nucleic acids, respectively, and then absorbed by a complex active process and distributed to various parts of the body through the circulation system. Here, based on the analysis of over 1000 human samples from four independent studies, we report evidence that meal-derived DNA fragments which are large enough to carry complete genes can avoid degradation and through an unknown mechanism enter the human circulation system. In one of the blood samples the relative concentration of plant DNA is higher than the human DNA. The plant DNA concentration shows a surprisingly precise log-normal distribution in the plasma samples while non-plasma (cord blood) control sample was found to be free of plant DNA.” (2)
This still doesn’t mean that GMOs can enter into our cells, but given the fact GMOs have been linked to cancer (later in this article) it is safe to assume it is indeed a possibility. The bottom line is that we don’t know, and this study demonstrates another cause for concern.

3. New Study Links GMOs To Gluten Disorders That Affect 18 Million Americans
This study was recently released by the Institute for Responsible Technology (IRT), and uses data from the US department of Agriculture, US Environmental Protection Agency, medical journal reviews as well as other independent research. (3)(4) The authors relate GM foods to five conditions that may either trigger or exacerbate gluten-related disorders, including the autoimmune disorder, Celiac Disease:
  • Intestinal permeability
  • Imbalanced gut bacteria
  • Immune activation and allergic response
  • Impaired digestion
  • Damage to the intestinal wall
The Institute for Responsible technology is a world leader in educating policy makers and the public about GMO foods and crops. The institute reports and investigates on the impact GM foods can have on health, environment, agriculture and more.

4. Study Links Genetically Modified Corn to Rat Tumors
In November 2012, The Journal of Food and Chemical Toxicology published a paper titled ‘Long term toxicity of a Roundup herbicide and a Roundup-tolerant genetically modified maize’ by Gilles-Eric Seralini and his team of researchers at France’s Caen University. (5)

It was a very significant study, which obviously looks bad for the big bio tech companies like Monsanto, being the first and only long term study under controlled conditions examining the possible effects of a diet of GMO maize treated with Monsanto roundup herbicide.

This study has since been retracted, which is odd, because the journal it was published in is a very well known, reputable peer reviewed scientific journal. In order for a study to be published here it has to go through a rigorous review process.

It’s also important to note that hundreds of scientists from around the world have condemned the retraction of the study. This study was done by experts, and a correlation between GMOs and these tumors can’t be denied, something happened.

The multiple criticisms of the study have also been answered by the team of researchers that conducted the study. You can read them and find out more about the study here.

GM Crop Production is Lowering US Yields and Increasing Pesticide Use

5. Glyphosate Induces Human Breast Cancer Cells Growth via Estrogen Receptors
A study is published in the US National Library of Medicine (4) and will soon be published in the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology. Several recent studies showed glyphosate’s potential to be an endocrine disruptor. Endocrine disruptors are chemicals that can interfere with the hormone system in mammals. These disruptors can cause developmental disorders, birth defects and cancer tumors. (6)
Glyphosate exerted proliferative effects only in human hormone-dependent breast cancer. We found that glyphosate exhibited a weaker estrogenic activity than estradiol. Furthermore, this study demonstrated the additive estrogenic effects of glyphosate and genisein which implied that the use of contaminated soybean products as dietary supplements may pose a risk of breast cancer because of their potential additive estrogenicity. (6)
Researchers also determined that Monsanto’s roundup is considered an “xenoestrogen,” which is a foreign estrogen that mimics real estrogen in our bodies. This can cause a number of problems that include an increased risk of various cancers, early onset of puberty, thyroid issues, infertility and more.

6. Glyphosate Linked To Birth Defects
A group of scientists put together a comprehensive review of existing data that shows how European regulators have known that Monsanto’s glyphosate causes a number of birth malformations since at least 2002. Regulators misled the public about glyphosate’s safety, and in Germany the Federal Office for Consumer Protection and Food Safety told the European Commission that there was no evidence to suggest that glyphosate causes birth defects. (7)
Our examination of the evidence leads us to the conclusion that the current approval of glyphosate and Roundup is deeply flawed and unreliable. In this report, we examine the industry studies and regulatory documents that led to the approval of glyphosate. We show that industry and regulators knew as long ago as the 1980s and 1990s that glyphosate causes malformation – but that this information was not made public. We demonstrate how EU regulators reasoned their way from clear evidence of glyphosate’s teratogenicity in industry’s own studies to a conclusion that minimized these findings in the EU Commission’s final review report (7)
Here is a summary of the report:
  • Multiple peer-reviewed scientific literature documenting serious health hazards posed by glyphosate
  • Industry (including Monsanto) has known since the 1980′s that glyphosate causes malformations in experimental animals at high doses
  • Industry has known since 1993 that these effects could also occur at lower and mid doses
  • The German government has known since at least 1998 that glyphosate causes malformations
  • The EU Commission’s expert scientific review panel knew in 1999 that glyphosate causes malformations
  • The EU Commission has known since 2002 that glyphosate causes malformations. This was the year DG SANCO division published its final review report, laying out the basis for the current approval of glyphosate
Another study published by the American Chemical Society, from the university of Buenos Aires, Argentina also showed that Glyphosate can cause abnormalities.(8)
The direct effect of glyphosate on early mechanisms of morphogenesis in vertebrate embryos opens concerns about the clinical findings from human offspring in populations exposed to glyphosate in agricultural fields (8)
7. Study Links Glyphosate To Autism, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s
When you ingest Glyphosate, you are in essence altering the chemistry of your body. It’s completely unnatural and the body doesn’t resonate with it. P450 (CYP) is the gene pathway disrupted when the body takes in Glyphosate. P450 creates enzymes that assist with the formation of molecules in cells, as well as breaking them down. CYP enzymes are abundant and have many important functions. They are responsible for detoxifying xenobiotics from the body, things like the various chemicals found in pesticides, drugs and carcinogens. Glyphosate inhibits the CYP enzymes. The CYP pathway is critical for normal, natural functioning of multiple biological systems within our bodies. Because humans that’ve been exposed to glyphosate have a drop in amino acid tryptophan levels, they do not have the necessary active signalling of the neurotransmitter serotonin, which is associated with weight gain, depression and Alzheimer’s disease. (9)

8. Chronically Ill Humans Have Higher Glyphosate Levels Than Healthy Humans
A new study out of Germany concludes that Glyphosate residue could reach humans and animals through feed and can be excreted in urine. It outlines how presence of glyphosate in urine and its accumulation in animal tissues is alarming even at low concentrations. (10)
To this day, Monsanto continues to advertise its Roundup products as environmentally friendly and claims that neither animals nor humans are affected by this toxin. Environmentalists, veterinarians, medical doctors and scientists however, have raised increasing alarms about the danger of glyphosate in the animal and human food chain as well as the environment. The fact that glyphosate has been found in animals and humans is of great concern. In search for the causes of serious diseases amongst entire herds of animals in northern Germany, especially cattle, glyphosate has repeatedly been detected in the urine, feces, milk and feed of the animals. Even more alarming, glyphosate was detected in the urine of the farmers.  (10)
9. Studies Link GMO Animal Feed to Severe Stomach Inflammation and Enlarged Uteri in Pigs
A study by scientist Judy Carman, PhD that was recently published in the peer reviewed journal Organic Systems outlines the effects of a diet mixed with GMO feed for pigs, and how it is a cause for concern when it comes to health. (11) Scientists randomized and fed isowean pigs either a mixed GM soy and GM corn (maize) diet for approximately 23 weeks (nothing out of the ordinary for most pigs in the United States), which is unfortunately the normal lifespan of a commercial pig from weaning to slaughter. Equal numbers of male and female pigs were present in each group. The GM diet was associated with gastric and uterine differences in pigs. GM pigs had uteri that were 25% heavier than non-GM fed pigs. GM-fed pigs had a higher rate of severe stomach inflammation with a rate of 32% compared to 125 of non-GM fed pigs.
The study concluded that pigs fed a GMO diet exhibited a heavier uteri and a higher rate of severe stomach inflammation than pigs who weren’t fed a GMO diet. Because the use of GMO feed for livestock and humans is so widespread, this is definitely another cause for concern when it comes to GMO consumption. Humans have a similar gastrointestinal tract to pigs, and these GM crops are consumed widely by people, especially in the United States.

10. GMO risk assessment is based on very little scientific evidence in the sense that the testing methods recommended are not adequate to ensure safety. (12)(13)(14)
Deficiencies have been revealed numerous times with regards to testing GM foods.
The first guidelines were originally designed to regulate the introduction of GM microbes and plants into the environment with no attention being paid to food safety concerns. However, they have been widely cited as adding authoritative scientific support to food safety assessment. Additionally, the Statement of Policy released by the Food and Drug Administration of the United States, presumptively recognizing the GM foods as GRAS (generally recognized as safe), was prepared while there were critical guidelines prepared by the International Life Sciences Institute Europe and FAO/WHO recommend that safety evaluation should be based on the concept of substantial equivalence, considering parameters such as molecular characterization, phenotypic characteristics, key nutrients, toxicants and allergens. Since 2003, official standards for food safety assessment have been published by the Codex Alimentarius Commission of FAO/WHO. Published reviews with around 25 peer-reviewed studies have found that despite the guidelines, the risk assessment of GM foods has not followed a defined prototype.(12) (15)
“The risk assessment of genetically modified (GM) crops for human nutrition and health has not been systematic. Evaluations for each GM crop or trait have been conducted using different feeding periods, animal models and parameters. The most common results is that GM and conventional sources include similar nutritional performance and growth in animals. However, adverse microscopic and molecular effects of some GM foods in different organs or tissues have been reported. While there are currently no standardized methods to evaluate the safety of GM foods, attempts towards harmonization are on the way. More scientific effort is necessary in order to build confidence in the evaluation and acceptance of GM foods.” (12) (15)
So, if anybody ever tells you that GMOs are completely safe for consumption, it’s not true. We just don’t know enough about them to make such a definitive statement. A lot of evidence actually points to the contrary.

(13) Reese W, Schubert D. Safety testing and regulation of genetically engineered foods. Biotechnol Genet Eng Rev. 2004;21:299–324
(14) Schubert D. A different perspective on GM food. Nat Biotechnol. 2002;20:969–969.
(15) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19146501

Monday, June 9, 2014

Our Response to Poughkeepsie Journal's Article on GMOs

We were pleased that the Poughkeepsie Journal ran a front page article on GMOs recently. The reporter, Emily Stewart, attended our Jeffrey Smith event on April 7. Ms Stewart did a good job in educating readers about the prevalence of GMOs in our food supply. We appreciate her coverage, but feel some points need correction and clarification.

Hudson Valley Residents Come Out in Force against GMOs Last Year                                                              B Upton

We thank Emily Stewart for her article ICYMI: GMOs in Food Stir Controversy, in the Poughkeepsie Journal on June 1. Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) have been in our food without our knowledge or consent for over 15 years. It is about time we had a public debate about it. 

The article quotes Margaret Smith of Cornell University as saying that GMOs "have been looked at pretty thoroughly," but your readers would be surprised to know that:
1. There has never been a long-term, human feeding study to see if they are safe.
2. Our Food and Drug Agency (FDA) does no safety assessments of GMOs, but merely relies on companies, like Monsanto, to tell us they are safe.
3. The biotechnology industry forbids the use of their seeds for independent research. 
4. All industry studies end at 3 months. In the first long-term, animal feeding study harmful effects from eating a GMO diet began to show at four months.

It is also disturbing to know that 20 years ago, most of the scientists at the FDA warned about the potential health problems of GMOs, saying they could lead  to new toxins, allergens and diseases, but were overridden by a political appointee at the FDA, Michael Taylor, with ties to Monsanto. The truth is, GMOs have not been adequately tested and have no business being in our food supply. 

The article did not include examples from the growing body of scientific evidence that show that GMOs pose a great risk to human and animal health and to the environment. Here is just one link that documents over 1,400 studies, surveys and analyses that show harm from eating GMOs.   http://gmofreeusa.org/gmos-are-top/gmo-science/ Over 300 scientists have signed a letter saying there is no consensus on the safety of GMOs.

We love our local farmers, but are dismayed to hear one is planning to plant Bt corn. Bt corn is genetically modified to produce the Bt insecticidal toxin in every cell of the plant and at concentrations many times stronger than Bt spray. This corn even has to be registered as an insecticide with the EPA. 

Ms Stewart’s article says Bt toxin is "said to be harmless to humans". It is not. Contrary to Monsanto’s claims, it does not break down harmlessly and pass through us. The University of Sherbrooke Hospital Center in Quebec found the Bt toxin in 93% of pregnant women,  in 80% of fetal blood samples and  in 69% of non-pregnant women. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-1388888/GM-food-toxins-blood-93-unborn-babies.html  Scientific studies have shown the Bt toxin damages the mammalian ileum (part of the small intestine) which can lead to digestive problems. Another study showed that low doses of Bt toxin and glyphosate found in Monsanto’s herbicide, Roundup, kill human kidney cells. 

Most GM crops are genetically modified to withstand massive doses of glyphosate, which is  now found in 60 to 100% of rain samples in US agricultural areas. It is in our soil, water, the air we breathe and in us. It has been shown that Roundup Ready GM crops are less nutritious and contain more of this toxic herbicide (that is in the plant and cannot be washed off)  than conventional crops. Glyphosate has been linked to Parkinson's, infertility and cancers. Click here for  more on this troubling herbicide.

It is a testament to the power of the biotechnology industry that there are so many peer-reviewed studies proving harm from GMOs and the primary herbicide used to grow them, but so few people are aware of the dangers. Doesn't that make you think, that at the very least, GMOs need more study before being on our food shelves?

GMO Myths
There are many front groups and individuals funded by the industry touting the wonders of GM crops and how they are going to "feed the world". Too bad none of it is true. GM crops do not increase yields; in fact organic performs much better in adverse weather conditions than GM. They do not decrease pesticide use- which is actually up by over 400 million pounds since GM crops were introduced. This is because massive spraying of Roundup has spawned super weeds requiring larger amounts and more toxic herbicide. The rootworm has also developed resistance to Bt corn. 

We don't think our food supply should be patented and owned by a handful of corporate, multinationals. We think farmers should be able to save their seeds, not get sued by Monsanto when their crops get contaminated by a neighboring farmer's GM crops. We think we deserve to know what we are eating and feeding our families. 

GMO Labeling in NY
Please support the GM labeling initiative in NY.  Assembly bill A3525 has already passed two committees. Over 62 other nations have done it, including China and Russia. In fact, GMOs are labeled for three billion people on this earth, but not us.

The article also says food prices could go up because GM and non-GM would have to be separated. They already have to be separated, as many countries ban GMOs all together. 

Saying that GMO labeling will result in increased grocery costs  is just a ploy used by the biotechnology industry to scare consumers into being against labeling. But what does happen when labeling passes is that food manufacturers voluntarily remove GMOs from their ingredients. In the EU for example, US companies like Heinz, Kelloggs and Kraft became GMO-free. Given the lack of consensus on their safety, wouldn't that be something we could all celebrate?

The End of Authentic Food?
In 1999, Monsanto told consultants at a biotechnology industry conference that their goal was for 100% of our food to be genetically modified and patented in 15 to 20 years with natural seeds becoming virtually extinct. They are on their way with about 90% of our corn, soy, canola, cotton and sugar beets being GM. Monsanto has also been gobbling up non-GMO seed companies in recent years. Monsanto, Dupont and Syngenta now control 50% of all seeds on earth.

This worries us. We simply want the choice to not have to eat GMOs and we want our kids and grandkids to have that choice too.

For your health and that of future generations, please learn more. Join us at Hudson Valley for no GMOs (HVnogmos.org) and send us your email at HVnogmos@gmail.com. We promise to never share it and will keep you apprised of what you need to know to protect yourself and your family.

Barbara Upton and Beth Dulay,
Co-Founders of Hudson Valley for No GMOs
GMO? OMG! Hudson Valley for NO GMOs