CONTRIBUTORS

Best label for genetically modified foods? Skull and crossbones

Posted May 05, 2013, at 11:59 a.m.

The same day Lauchlin Titus’ OpEd, “ Don’t label genetically modified foods” appeared in the BDN, the Huffington Post front page featured a Reuters report with the headline, “Roundup, an herbicide, could be linked to Parkinson’s, cancer and other health issues, study shows.”

The unnamed, 8,000-pound gorilla Titus’ OpEd was defending is Monsanto Corp., which is attempting to dominate the world’s seed market with genetically modified plants that can withstand huge doses of a chemical poison that goes by the cowboy-flavored brand name Roundup. But like the macho Marlboro cowman who sold us cancer by the pack, Monsanto is feeding us their weed killer one genetically modified bite at a time.

The peer-reviewed study, authored by Anthony Samsel and Massachusetts Institute of Technology researcher Stephanie Seneff and published in the scientific journal Entropy, indicates that residues of glyphosate, the chief ingredient in Roundup, disrupt normal body functions and induce disease. The Reuters story reports that Monsanto’s “biotech crops, including corn, soybeans, canola and sugar-beets, are planted on millions of acres in the United States annually. Farmers like them because they can spray Roundup weed killer directly on the crops to kill weeds in the fields without harming the crops.”

But the harm they do to people is something we in America are just beginning to understand. Earlier this year a study at the University of Sherbrooke Hospital Centre in Quebec, Canada, found a specific type of bacterial toxin from genetically modified crops in 93 percent of blood samples of pregnant women studied. The website Institute for Responsible Technology covers an American Academy for Environmental Medicine report that “several animal studies indicate serious health risks associated with genetically modified food, including infertility, immune problems, accelerated aging, faulty insulin regulation and changes in major organs and the gastrointestinal system.”

The IRT website offers links to other studies as well, indicating that genetically modified corn damages liver and kidneys; meat raised on genetically modified feed is different; Roundup could cause birth defects; and genetically modified soy is linked to sterility.

Many European countries, including Germany, Ireland and Hungary, have already banned genetically modified crops outright. But in the U.S., Monsanto has far too great an influence over the Food and Drug Administration. As the IRT site notes, “Before the FDA decided to allow [genetically modified organisms] into food without labeling, FDA scientists had repeatedly warned that GM foods can create unpredictable, hard-to-detect side effects, including allergies, toxins, new diseases and nutritional problems. They urged long-term safety studies, but were ignored.”

It should be noted that Monsanto has been a specialist in developing some of the world’s most destructive poisons, not the least of which includes polychlorinated biphenyls and the dioxin known as Agent Orange. Is it any wonder they spend millions on lobbying efforts to forbid the labeling of Roundup-sprayed, genetically modified foods?

Lee Witting is a former publisher/editor of the Castine Patriot and was a founding editor of the 1970s publication Farmstead, a magazine for organic farming and gardening in Maine. He is currently pastor of the Union Street Brick Church in Bangor.

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