Health Hazards of Genetically-Manipulated Foods
("The most important food issue of the 21st century.")
Please print and read !
Since September 26, 1999.
Soy Info Online!
How to Avoid Genetically-Manipulated (GMO) Food Ingredients
In North America, all soy that is labeled "organic soy" is guaranteed
to not be genetically-manipulated and not be
treated with herbicides. Look for soy products and ingredients (e.g., tofu,
tempeh, miso, soy sauce, soy milk, etc.) which are organic.
All other soy ingredients are almost always genetically-manipulated and
herbicide-treated. The same is true for canola, corn, dairy products and
potatoes. Look for organic corn, potato and dairy ingredients at your local
health food store. Check the ingredients labels carefully. It may be best to
avoid canola altogether because it is rarely organic and is usually
chemically-treated as detailed by world expert,
Outside of Europe and Asia it may not be possible at this time to avoid
genetically-manipulated ingredients 100% of the time, but it is a good idea to
avoid them when possible. The List of Companies Pledging
to Remove GMO Ingredients is another very useful resource.
There are a number of compelling reasons to completely avoid genetically-manipulated
and herbicide-treated food ingredients from soy, corn, canola, dairy and potatoes.
Children should be particularly careful to avoid such non-organic food ingredients.
Additional authoritative information written by some of the world's leading
scientific experts for laypersons, physicians and scientists can be found at:
- Scientists attending the Open-ended Working Group on Biosafety
of The UN-Convention on Biological Diversity (13-17 October, 1998) implored
"all governments to use whatever methods available to them to bar from
their markets, on grounds of injury to public health, Monsanto's
genetically manipulated (GM) [herbicide-resistant] Roundup-Ready
(RR) soybean." Non-organic soy ingredients are made with Roundup-Ready
soybeans. Full Text of
News Release and Scientists' Statement.
- A recent experiment conducted by independent expert Dr. Alpad
Pusztai in the United Kingdom has shown that genetically-manipulated
foods can, when fed to animals in reasonable amounts, cause very gradual
organ damage and immune system damage.
The food used in the experiment was genetically-manipulated potatoes. Two
sets of potatoes were grown in the same pot and greenhouse:
1) a genetically-manipulated variety altered to produce a non-toxic
"GNA lectin", and 2) a normal variety of potato. The normal potato was fed to
animals with no adverse effects. The genetically-manipulated potato caused
gradual organ damage and immune system damage.
A separate followup experiment conducted by Dr. S.W.B. Ewen, a Senior
Pathologist at the University of Aberdeen, has confirmed that it was not
the "GNA lectin," but toxic or infectious by-products of the genetic manipulation
process led to the immune system damage and organ damage in the animals
fed genetically-manipulated potatoes. Because it was not the lectin in the
potatoes, but the genetic manipulation process itself which led to toxicity,
similar results might be seen in animals or humans fed genetically-manipulated
soy, canola, and corn over a long period of time (i.e., years or decades).
There were initial reports of flaws in the research when government agencies
audited the Dr. Pusztai's preliminary notes. But since that time, over
20 top scientists around the world have peer-reviewed the Final Report and
stated that the conclusions are justified. Parts of these experiments conducted by
Dr. Pusztai and Dr. Ewen were recently published in the scientific journal,
The Lancet. Most of The Lancet reviewers deemed it acceptable
research for publication.
A couple of reviewers and other scientists and organizations receiving biotech
money have been critical of the research. They have made the following statements
- "Raw potatos should not have been fed to the animals in the experiment."
However, the animals eating non-genetically manipulated raw potatos did fine.
It was only the genetically manipulated food which caused health problems.
- "Too few animals were used." Initial objections of The Lancet's statistician
reviewer were satisfied. Enough animals were used to show a statistically
significant difference between the test group and control group.
- "There was an inadequate control group." This is a non-specific criticism.
The experiment wasn't perfect. But the only difference between the two
groups of animals was that one group ate genetically manipulated foods
and the other didn't.
- "One cannot take the results of this experiment and apply it to all
genetically manipulated foods." The only difference was the genetic
manipulation of the potatos. The same hazards may or may not be found
in genetically manipulated soy, canola, etc. It is prudent to assume
that all genetically manipulated ingredients have the same
slow toxic effects until long-term, independent research can be conducted
on each genetically manipulated crop.
On ocassion, news reports of flaws in the research are mistakenly repeated,
but almost independent scientists who have seen the Final Report of
Dr. Pusztai's research and are aware of the results of Dr. Ewen's research
agree that the conclusions are justified.
- There are several differences between the normal breeding process and the
artificial genetic manipulation process. One key difference is the use of
highly-infectious viruses for artificial genetic manipulation as
a promoter to switch on the introduced gene. One commonly-used virus is
a highly-infectious form of the Cauliflower Mosaic Virus (CaMV). (The form
of CaMV virus found in normal foods is not highly-infectious and cannot be
absorbed by mammals.) The dangers were
described in detail by reknowed geneticist Dr. Mae-Wan Ho
in a meeting on March 31st 1999 at the invitation of UK Environment Minister,
Michael Meacher. Additional scientific information about the dangers presented
by infectious promoter viruses such as CaMV are
described by Dr. Mae-Wan Ho and Dr. Joe Cummins, Emeritus Professor of
Genetics, Department of Plant Sciences, University of Western Ontario.
recent scientific report by Molecular Biologist, Angela Ryan provides
further concerns regarding the use of the CaMV virus to create
- Another key difference between normal breeding and artificial genetic
manipulation is that the genetic manipulation greatly increases the risk
that the plant (e.g., soy) will develop toxic or allergy-causing
compounds. Such unexpected changes have already been shown to occur in
some genetically-manipulated crops.
The insertion of a new gene can sometimes alter the synthesis of chemicals
in the plant. Such an alteration can lead to the change in existing chemical
compounds in the plant (including a possible significant increase in
existing levels of toxic compounds) or the development of new toxic or
allergy-causing compounds. There would be no way to predict these effects
in advance and it would be difficult to test for these effects without many
years of careful, independent research on human test subjects. Gradual toxic effects
could occur over weeks, months, years, or even decades and society would
not be aware of the health damage until it was too late.
Genetic Manipulation industry representatives often point out that such
unexpected hazards could be seen when breeding plants. This is true. However,
the evidence demonstrates that there is a much greater likelihood of these
unexpected toxic and allergic effects from genetically-manipulated
plants/food ingredients. These potentially dangerous effects and their
greater likelihood in genetically manipulated crops/food ingredients were
discussed in some detail in by one of the world's top experts on genetically
For an excellent summary related to toxic and allergy-causing substances
appearing in genetically-manipulated foods, please see the
"Assessing the Safety and Nutritional Quality of Genetically
Engineered Foods" by Dr. John Fagan, Professor of Molecular Biology and
Biochemistry. At the end of the summary, there are examples provided
of genetically-manipulated crops/ingredients that unexpectedly produced toxic or
unusual chemical compounds.
- Another major risk from genetically-manipulated foods is the possibility
that regular exposure to foreign DNA and RNA material inserted into these
artificial foods could cause allergic reactions or autoimmune diseases. Recent
has shown that fragments of DNA from genetically-manipulated food ingredients
can be detected in the brains of animals fed these food ingredients.
Dr. Sharyn Martin, Ph.D. discusses the evidence that DNA and RNA fragments can
cause adverse immune system reactions including autoimmune disorders in
Immunological Reactions to
DNA and RNA.
Scientists in the United Kingdom
a 50% increase in soy allergies in one year. They believe that the
increase in soy allergies may be caused by the increase use of
genetically-manipulated soy ingredients.
- Finally, some genetically-manipulated crops are changed so that they produce
their own high levels of pesticides. For example, genetically-manipulated "Bt"
crops have been shown to
emit very high levels of toxins. Plants genetically-manipulated to produce
produce at least 1000 times more Bt toxin per acre than does a
heavy application of Bt directly on the plants. This may lead to problems
with long-term ingestion of such foods (such as non-organic corn and corn-based
sweeteners). Other hazards related to crops manipulated to produce their own
pesticides are discussed in more detail by Dr. Joseph Cummins, Professor of
"Plant-Pesticides in GE-food: A Potential Health Risk". Even if the
genetically-manipulated plant does not produce its own pesticides, it has
been shown conclusively in
scientific research that the herbicides used
on some of these non-organic, genetically-manipulated plants (e.g., soy,
canola, corn) are extremely toxic and can cause birth defects.
The risks of irreversible damage to the environment have caused scientists around
the world to demand a moratorium on the release of genetically-manipulated crops.
This document focuses on health hazards. For a discussion of the
environmental risks, please see the
Physicians and Scientists for Responsible Application of Science and Technology
Regulation of Genetically-Manipulated Foods
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not test nor require
significant safety tests for
genetically-manipulated foods. It has recently become known that the FDA's
own scientists have been
FDA officials that they are ignoring the potential hazards of
genetically-manipulated foods. Neither the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) nor the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)
require any significant tests for the health effects of these crops.
As has been widely-reported, FDA, EPA, and USDA officials are often rewarded with
lucrative jobs at companies that they were regulating. A recent report by the
lists several of hundreds of possible examples of the revolving door between
the regulators and the companies they are supposed to regulate.
have expressed concern that officials at these government agencies regularly ignore
concerns of their own scientists and the general public and then go out of
their way to please companies
that they regulate. For example, the health department in the U.K. raised the
allowable food residue levels of Roundup (Monsanto's soybean and canola
herbicide) by 200 times the existing level. This was done despite
dangers expressed by the
leading food safety experts. Similar increases in allowable pesticide and
herbicide residues have been granted in the U.S. and other countries at the
request of companies involved in genetically-manipulating foods.
Worldwide Condemnation of Genetically-Manipulated Crops/Foods
In many other countries, reknowned scientists, medical trade organizations and
are detailing the known health hazards and potential health hazards from genetically-
manipulated food ingredients. For example, in the last several months, a
top UK Scientist has warned
about potential hazards from genetically-manipulated foods, the
British Medical Association (BMA) has
called for a ban on genetically-manipulated foods and the
French President and German Chancellor
foods under "Global Threats" at a recent summit meeting. Top scientists in Asia and
other parts of the world are speaking out as well. This has caused many manufacturers
and grocery stores chains all around the world (outside of North America) to
ban genetically-manipulated food ingredients. In order to keep up with news
from around the world, please read through the following compilation of news
Corporate Public Relations (PR) Strategies
The multinational companies trying to sell genetically-manipulated foods
(Monsanto, Dupont, Novartis, Agrevo [Hoechst and Schering])
have spared no expense in their public relations campaign. They have sometimes
been successful in getting newspaper and magazine articles or television shows
created to help promote genetically-manipulated crops. In addition, these
multinational companies give huge sums of money to dietetic associations,
farming and seed associations, grocery associations, and PR organizations
(e.g., IFIC) in order to obtain help in propogating PR statements to the media
and general public. Common PR statements include:
- "Genetic Engineering is exactly like breeding and has been done for hundreds
As described above, artificial genetic manipulation of plants/food ingredients
is different from breeding and has significant hazards associated with it
including toxicity hazards seen in recent research.
- "Careful tests by the FDA, EPA, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture have
proven that these ingredients are safe." (Alternative: "We have the
strictest regulatory process in the world"!)
These government agencies have not conducted, nor required any significant
safety testing. Scientists around the world are calling for a
moratorium on genetically-manipulated food ingredients and long-term,
independent human studies lasting many years before these food
are allowed for sale on the market. Because these government agencies are
ignoring the hazards of genetically-manipulated foods, a very large
alliance of scientists, consumer groups, environmental groups, and religious
groups are suing the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
- "Europe and Asia are not making scientific evalations of the issue, but
relying on emotional arguments."
Many of the top scientists around the world are speaking
out about the hazards of genetically-manipulated crops/food ingredients.
A small selection of these scientists have signed the following
document calling for a moratorium on genetically-manipulated crops.
These are independent scientists who do not receive money from companies
researching, creating or selling these genetically-manipulated crops and
food ingredients. When U.S. officials make these sorts of public comments
(quoted above), they are insulting much of the population of Europe and
Asia and perhaps will strengthen the desire of European and Asian countries
to avoid imports of food ingredients from the United States and Canada.
- "Genetically-manipulated crops are safer because less pesticides and
herbicides are used."
recent research has shown that farmers growing
genetically-manipulated crops use,
on average, an equal amount or more pesticides than farmers growing
non-genetically-manipulated, non-organic crops.
- "Farmers are Reaping Rewards of Growing Genetically-Manipulated Crops."
Farmers are being victimized as well. Evidence of problems they are
The scientific journal Nature (September 9, 1999) has reported
that some farmers are considering class-action lawsuits because the
seed and chemical companies (e.g., Monsanto) were misrepresenting their
products as benign. The Washington Post reported (September 18, 1999):
"American farmers planted [gene-altered crops] in good faith,
with the belief that the product is safe and that they would
be rewarded for their efforts," the American Corn Growers
Association said in a statement last week. "Instead they
find themselves misled by multinational seed and chemical
companies and other commodity associations who only
encouraged them to plant increased acres of these crops
without any warning to farmers of the dangers associated
with planting a crop that didn't have consumer acceptance."
Wheat farmers should prepare to avoid these genetically-manipulated seeds
when they come on the market in the next year or two.
- "Genetically-Manipulated crops have the potential to produce "functional
foods" with extra nutrients and drugs which can save lives!"
The reality is that these nutrients or drugs can be taken separately when
needed. The high cost of drugs is largely due to drug commpanies trying
to recoup the millions of dollars of research money spent and is rarely
due to high production costs. The costs of developing a drug-producing,
genetically-manipulated plant is quite high. The costs of
drugs will remain high wheather they are genetically-manipulated into
plants or not. Therefore, these drugs and nutrients can be produced
without genetic manipulation as been the case in the past. It is also
important to keep in mind that Alternative Medicine techniques are now
replace the use of pharmaceuticals in some cases of disease treatment.
Originally, the corporate PR strategy was to say that genetically-manipulated crops
would help "feed the world." But when it was pointed out that the world
grows 1-1/2 times the amount of food needed to feed the population,
that the problem was food distribution, and that genetically-manipulated
crops have reduced yields, the companies changed their PR to say that
genetically-manipulated crops will grow drugs and save lives.
There is a very serious danger of pollen from these manipulated
crops infecting normal crops of the same species or of
different species leading to the unintentional ingestion of drugs
by the general population. Pollen can
travel a very long
way from fields to infect other crops. In addition,
concerned that accidental inhalation of pollen from these genetically-manipulated
plants might lead to adverse health effects in some people.
What You Can Do (7 Steps)
- Do what you can to remove genetically-manipulated food ingredients
from your diet and your family's diet. You can begin to do this by
locating stores in your area which sell foods with organic soy, corn, dairy,
and potato ingredients. The stores with the largest
selection of such products include:
- Print this web page out and share it with others!
- Join others in creating
web page links to the Soy Info Online! web page
or this subpage.
- Examine the organizations and web page resources below to determine which
group(s) you want to work with so that we can keep food free of
- Keep up-to-date on the latest news by subscribing to a discussion group
listed in the Resource section below and/or by checking the
page for news updates on genetically-manipulated food issues.
- Move your investments out of stocks, mutual funds, retirement funds, etc.
which involve companies that produce genetically-manipulated crops and foods
(Monsanto, Dupont, Novartis and Agrevo [Hoechst and Schering]). Europe's
largest bank recently warned large investors that "
GMOs [investments] are dead". These companies' stocks are
quickly and you will lose money or certainly not make as much money as
you can if you have stocks or mutual fund and retirement fund investments
that involve these companies. Please check the
mutual funds (e.g., Fidelity, Janus) that invest in Monsanto stock.
Also, please join others by checking the
Ethical Investing Web Page for ideas on moving your investments.
- Please contact grocery stores to ask them to carry more organic foods
including soy products, corn, potatoes and other produce. Contact food
product manufacturers and ask them to replace any non-organic soy, corn,
potato, dairy or canola ingredients they have with organic, non-genetically-manipulated
ingredients. Sometimes the manufacturer will listen to consumer requests
as is happening all over Europe. Sometimes they will claim that there
are no non-genetically-manipulated sources for the ingredients they use.
That is rarely the case as manufacturers all over Europe and Asia are
removing gentically-manipulated ingredients from their products
(Examples). Other times, they will respond
with statements which originated with the genetic manipulation industry.
However, it will only take a few major manufacturers in the U.S. to switch to
non-genetically-manipulated ingredients and the rest will follow in order
to avoid losing market share. So, please be persistent!
Campaign for Food Safety
Consumer Association dedicated to protecting food
safety. Excellent information on genetically-manipulated
foods and actions you can take. They also have a 4-page
GE Factsflyer that you can download.
People's Earlth Network
Large and quickly-growing consumer organization
managing a letter-writing campaign to encourage companies to eliminate
GMO ingredients from their products. Campaign has had
enormous success and is looking for others to get involved.
Mothers for Natural Law
"Mothers for Natural Law was founded in June 1996 to transform the
overwhelming problems facing Americans into simple, practical action steps
everyone can take to safeguard the future for us all. Our agenda originally
embraced everything from the environment to crime, education, health and the
economy. However, because of its extreme urgency, we have made genetic engineering our
only focus, and put all of our other plans on hold." Impressive, easy-to-follow
set of web pages including a detailed,
How to Avoid
Genetically Manipulated Food (How to Shop, What to Eat) web page.
Women Say NO to GMOs
"Like Paul McCartney and his family, we believe GMOs to be one of the most
important issues we face in our lifetime. Should it go wrong, genetic
engineering could have devastating consequences for our health and the
environment. This is why as women we feel we have to make a stand
TODAY." Petition signing. Press releases. How you can help section.
Physicians and Scientists for Responsible Application of
Science and Technology
Articles from the top scientists around the world.
Scientists and Physicians are encouraged to
become a member.
Genetic ID Inc.
Testing Lab that offers "Non-GMO Certification" to all
growers, processors, handlers and manufacturers of non-genetically
modified food products. Also offers the industry's first dual
Farm Verified Organic plus Genetically Natural (TM)
Campaign to Ban Genetically Engineered Foods
An international organization which provides many useful articles
and perhaps the most comprehensive
genetically-manipulated food issues.
Dedicated to provided resources to help make responsible investment
choices. Helpful for removing investments from mutual funds,
retirement accounts, etc. which help support the genetic manipulation
Greenpeace has been effective in getting European
and some U.S. manufacturers to remove genetically-manipulated
food ingredients. They have a web site specific to
genetically-manipulated foods. On the
Greenpeace USA page, you can join the GE Action Network or
sign up to receive action alerts.
True Food Campaign
Sponsored by Greenpeace, the True Food Campaign aims to
ban GM food, phase-out industrial farming, and promote organic
food. The website will tell you about the issues and how to
get involved in the campaign - not just in terms of the food you
buy, but through action to set a proper agricultural agenda.
Friends of the Earth (FoE) USA Safer Foods, Safer Farms Campaign
A federation of autonomous environmental organizations.
Great place to get addresses of food companies to write and
ask them to use organic ingredients to eliminate genetically-manipulated
FoE UK site has extensive information and action suggestions for those
in the United Kingdom.
International FoE site has links to FoE web pages around the world.
You can join FoE as well.
UK Genetic Engineering Network
A network of most of the UK organizations working to
eliminate genetically-manipulated crops. Network was set up
to exchange information between groups. Sponsors an online
discussion group and newsletter.
- Devinder Sharma
Articles on Links Between Biotechnology, Trade and Food Security
Wild Oats Supermarket Chain
Excellent page on genetically-manipulated foods. Includes
a easy-to-understand "Claims vs. Facts" section.
Norfolk Genetic Information Network (ngin)
Excellent United Kingdom-based site with UK and international news,
articles, news releases and GM food guide (applicable to
residents of the United Kingdom only). NGIN has a great
page that links to additional useful and fun web sites.
Rural Advancement Foundation International (RAFI)
International organization dedicated to the conservation and sustainable improvement
of agricultural biodiversity and to the socially responsible development
of technologies useful to rural societies. RAFI was instrumental in
getting Monsanto to distance themselves from their own deadly
Campaign to Label Genetically Engineered Foods
"To create a national grassroots consumer campaign for the
purpose of lobbying Congress and the President to pass
legislation that will require the labeling of genetically engineered
foods in the United States."
Natural Law Party
A growing political party that recognizes the hazards
of genetically-manipulated foods and is willing to stand
up for the people.
"A Campaign of Nonviolent Civil Responsibility." Publishes the
handbook, "A Guide to Safely Removing Genetically Modified
Plants From Release Sites in Britain." The Campaign section has
articles, press releases, chronology of the campaign, GE Data Center,
legal action Monsanto and others have brought against the campaigners,
statements, photos, etc.
Alliance for Bio-Integrity
An alliance of scientists, consumer groups, environmental
groups and religious groups "dedicated to the advancement of human
and environmental health through sustainable and safe technologies."
The alliance filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Food and Drug
Administration in May 1999.
The Institute is a non-profit, public interest organization
committed to the health and sustainability of ecosystems and
their inhabitants. The Edmonds Institute has published
some groundbreaking scientific and policy-oriented
publications including A Manual for Assessing Ecological and
Human Health Effects of Genetically Engineered Organisms
and A Brief History of Biotechnology Risk and Policy Debates
in the US.
Third World Network: Biotechnology/Biosafety
Articles written by experts from around the world relating to
biotechnology and biosafety. International news updates.
Biotechcentury.com: A Project of the Foundation on Economic Trends
Jeremy Rifkin's organization that is helping to spearhead a multi-billion
dollar antitrust lawsuit against companies involved in genetic
manipulation of foods.
Australian Gene Ethics Network
Information on genetics ethics and genetically-manipulated
foods (in the "Food" section).
Richard Wolfson, PhD Web Page
Articles, Information on Subscribing to Genetic Engineering
Mutanto Web Page
Spoof on Monsanto's Web Site. Instead of "Food, Health and Hope"
Mutanto offers "Fraud, Stealth and Hype." Mutanto has it's own
statement on genetically-manipulated foods.
Super Heros Against Genetix (S.H.A.G.)
U.K.-based group which takes action to alert people to the dangers
of genetically-manipuated foods. Fun site. Has copies of a few Monsanto
internal memos online.
Seize the Day
Includes the MonSatan web site and a free song
about Monsanto. Also has a good synopsis of Monsanto's
history along the right-hand side of the page. Fun site.
Students for Alternatives to Genetic Engineering
Online Discussion Groups and Newsletters
A mailing list for the discussion of genetically-engineered with the goal
of sharing independent and accurate information. The group is made up of
independent scientists and the general public.
To subscribe, send an email message to Ban-GEF@lists.txinfinet.com with
the following in the SUBJECT of the message:
An email newsletter with extensive news and both scientific and general
information about genetically-engineered food. Information from the Campaign
To Ban Genetically-Engineered Foods.
A mailing list about genetically-engineered food dangers. The
list is located in Germany, but the language used is English.
To subscribe, send email to GENTECH-REQUEST@tribe.ping.de with
the following in the SUBJECT LINE of the message: