U.S. scientists say there could be a "serious risk to human health," after they've discovered that major food crops are being widely contaminated by DNA from GM crops that are engineered to produce chemicals and drugs. Microbiologist Margaret Mellon, of the Union of Concerned Scientists, says, "If genes find their way from pharm crops to ordinary corn, they or their products could wind up in drug-laced corn flakes."
It's been shown that it's impossible to keep standard crops free from contamination by GM crops grown nearby. The pollen is spread by the wind, and dust from grain elevators mixes different types of crops together. This is disturbing for people opposed to eating GM foods, but it's especially troubling when crops are engineered to produce drugs or chemicals, which would be dangerous if they got into the foods we eat.
Fred Pearce writes in New Scientist that "pharm" crops could already be poisoning food crops, according to a study by the Union for Concerned Scientists. GM crops are now being grown that manufacture proteins for healing wounds and treating conditions such as cystic fibrosis, cirrhosis of the liver and anemia, as well as antibodies to fight cancer and vaccines against rabies, cholera and foot-and-mouth disease. While this could be a wonderful breakthrough against disease, it?s dangerous for people to take these drugs who do not have these conditions?but there may be no way to avoid it.
The UCS asked two labs to test seeds from traditional varieties of corn, soybeans and canola, looking for DNA from "pharm" crops. The labs reported that the seeds were "pervasively contaminated with low levels of DNA sequences from GM varieties."
"Seed contamination is the back door to the food supply," says Mellon. "The realization that some seeds may already have been contaminated [by pharm crops] is alarming" and could pose a "serious risk to human health."
Geoffrey Lean writes in the New Zealand Herald that more than two-thirds of U.S. crops are now contaminated with GM crops, meaning an eventual end to organic farms. A new report says that traditional varieties of seed are "pervasively contaminated" and states that the U.S. biotech industry says it is "not surprised" by this.
Due to GM contamination of ordinary seeds, the report says, farmers unwittingly grow billions of GM plants every year, spreading these plants even wider. Since they're stronger and more disease-resistant, they crowd out traditional versions of the same plants.
Union of Concerned Scientists has found that at least half the corn and soybeans and 83% per cent of the oilseed rape in the U.S. are contaminated with GM genes, and this has occurred only eight years after the first GM varieties were planted. They report that "contamination?is endemic to the system," and say, "Heedlessly allowing the contamination of traditional plant varieties with genetically engineered sequences amounts to a huge wager on our ability to understand a complicated technology that manipulates life at the most elemental level."
2763,1160789,00.html,John Aglionby writes in the Mail & Guardian that the pollen from GM corn grown in the Philippines last year may have made 100 people sick. Dr. Terje Traavik, of the Norwegian Institute of Gene Ecology, analyzed blood samples from 39 of them and thinks it may have been the GM pollen that caused the problems. He says, "My interpretation is there is a coincidence in time between two different phenomena."
The problems began last July when the GM corn plants started flowering. "There was this really pungent smell that got into our throats," says Maryjane Malayon. "It was like we were breathing in pesticides."
Her sister, their parents and her nine-month-old daughter began coughing, vomiting, feeling dizzy and suffering from head and stomachaches. Soon another family living nearby began having similar complaints, and eventually 100 people were affected. The Malayon family eventually had to move. "We were the only ones who moved because we were so close," Maryjane says. "But within a week we had all recovered."
Bernhard Nanquil, who rented their home while they were gone, says, "Within a week I too was sick with a stomach ache and diarrhea."
Livestock also became ill. "One day the horse ate some of the corn plants and its appetite disappeared," says Nestor Catoran. "The belly swelled, its mouth started frothing and it slowly died." Villagers link the GM corn to the deaths of four other horses as well.
It looks like the government and big business have kept the truth about GM foods secret until we've reached the point where there's no turning back. What other secrets are they keeping? (This book is part of our new sale. Books are drastically reduced and going fast!)
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