The Failure of Congress, the FDA, USDA and the EPA to Regulate GMOs in a Scientifically Responsible Way

my first article  failure of congress

November 17, 2015

How can any responsible person say all GMOs are safe? Are they not patented? Are they not therefore unique? WHO recommends that each brand be tested for safety prior to approval; the US does not require that. WHO points out that post-marketing studies should be done, the U.S. does not require that. Hence we are all undergoing one grand experiment.

The Senate held a hearing on October 21, 2015. It was beyond a display of confirmation bias at its worst: everyone agreed that GMOs are absolutely safe, and nearly everyone agreed there was no need to label them. That was the first myth that was asserted: GMOs are safe, and so there is no need to label them.
The second myth was that GMOs are necessary to feed the world. This false assertion was also used to argue against labeling GMOs in the United States. Get the connection? If we had GMO labels, if we were informed consumers, somehow, through some unknown process that is utterly void of logic, we would be responsible for starving billions of people in the future. Colin Todhunter coined the term “emotional blackmail” in reference to this heaping mound of crap. It is not only completely unrelated to GMO labels, but it is another major myth: GMOs are not necessary to feed the world. A report just came out that pointed out the level of absolute failure of GMOs – “Twenty Years of Failure – Why GM Crops Have Failed to Deliver on Their Promises,” Edited by Janet Cotter, Marco Contiero, Dirk Zimmermann and Justine Maillot; Greenpeace, November 2015 (40 pages).
Yet even Senator Casey (D-PA) was on board with this great myth. That was certainly a disappointment as well. He cited a report from the UN from 2009 (although he did not give the name, I believe it may have been: “How to Feed the World in 2050 – Proceedings of the Expert Meeting on How to Feed the World in 2050,” 24-26 June 2009, FAO Headquarters, Rome (514 pages) [FAO=Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations].
There was a general consensus of agreement among the Senators at the hearing: the idea that the population in 2050 will grow so much that the citizens of the United States should not be allowed to know if their food has been genetically modified, that GMOs should not be labeled — what kind of logic is that?
Had Senator Casey done a little more research, he would have found that the UN published another report four years later, answering the questions in the 2009 report – and guess what the findings of that report are? Agroecology and organic/small farms are the solution to feeding the world — not GMOs. That report is called: “Wake Up Before it is Too Late: Make Agriculture Truly Sustainable Now For Food Security In A Changing Climate,” Published by the United Nations Commission on Trade and Development (UNCTAD); 2013 (338 pages).
While he was digging around for reports from 2009, he could have, SHOULD have, cited a different report that came to a similar conclusion four years earlier. The report said the same thing: Agroecology and organic agriculture – not GMOs is the answer. “Agriculture at a Crossroads – Global Report,” by Beverly McIntyre, Hans Herren, Judi Wakhungu and Robert Watson; Published by: IAASTD, 2009. (600 pages) (IAASTD = International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development). Why didn’t he reference this report since he was digging around in 2009? He did this because like others at the hearing, including the chairman Senator Roberts, they all employed the pseudoscience principle of confirmation bias, and only considered that which upheld their magic beliefs.
And so it went. GMOs are necessary to feed the world, and GMO labels in America will starve billions of people. The myth of safety of GMOs is a denial of science at its worst. Consider what Dr. Belinda Martineau, former genetics engineer who helped develop the first FDA approved GMO food says: “The Absurdity of Claiming that ‘All GMOs are Safe,’” Biotech Salon, June 16, 2015. The title of the article says it all. It is absurd.
The FDA held an open comment period that closed on November 13, 2015. (“Clarifying Current Roles and Responsibilities Described in the Coordinated Framework for the Regulation of Biotechnology and Developing a Long-Term Strategy for the Regulation of the Products of Biotechnology; Public Meeting”). An article came out that suggested over 130,000 comments were made to the FDA, yet oddly, less than 500 comments have actually been published. (“Groups Press Feds to Overhaul GMO Regulations,” By Lydia Wheeler, published in: “The Hill” on November 16, 2015). My own comment was NOT published, and this is quite a disappointment for me, and for many others who had some very important points to make about our food in America and how it is regulated – or not. The idea that Americans have been consuming genetically modified foods for over twenty years without knowing it, and the idea that these foods are NOT required to undergo long term chronic toxicity studies prior to being sold in the marketplace, is astonishing. Most Americans have no idea what has been going on. It is clear that there is a media blackout on this topic. Why are they not labeled? To paraphrase Dr. Huber, without GMO labels, there is no way to “monitor adverse health effects caused by the product and hold the producer accountable. The companies are well aware that [and] for this reason they will never be held accountable for the damage to human health their product may cause.” Dr. Kimbrell came to a similar conclusion: “Labeling is absolutely critical if we want health professionals to be able to trace the health effects of genetic engineering and hold those corporations liable for those effects. So the corporations hate labeling because they don’t want consumers to know – but they also know it saves them from liability and from anyone tracing health effects.”
Yet there are studies that show GMOs are NOT safe. Michael Hansen of the Union of Concerned Scientists has said that biotech companies control how safety studies are conducted and who gets to do those studies (these are patent issues, or IP laws). This, he says, prevents scientists from doing their job. According Hanson, that’s why most of the studies that show harm have come from Europe.
The few long-term chronic toxicity studies that have been done on animals prove GMOs are NOT safe – yet when representatives from the FDA, USDA and EPA at the Senate hearing say that GMOs are safe, the reaction that I had (and many others, as well), is that this is insane, outright absurd, a complete fabrication. When I heard the EPA say that the Bt Cry proteins only affect the targeted species, I was astounded at the brazen lie. When I heard the USDA talk about the dreams and magical thinking of the possibilities of co-existence, I was shocked at this incredulous declaration. Co-existence between GMO crops and non-GMO crops is NOT possible. (Carmelo Ruiz-Marrero, “Coexistence is Impossible,” July 7, 2014).
Science says so.
“Within 10 years we will have a moderate to large-scale ecological or economic catastrophe, because there will be so many GMO products being released.” Norman Ellstrand (Prof. Ecological Geneticist, University of California).
When I heard the FDA declare how safe GMOs are supposed to be, all the while knowing that no safety studies are required, I shook my head in disbelief at this absolute mockery against truth.
Only one human trial has been conducted and a review of that study declared: “GMOs are inherently unsafe.” Source:“A Review on Impacts of Genetically Modified Food on Human Health,” by Charu Verma, Surabhi Nanda, R.K. Singh, R.B. Singh and Sanjay Mishra; published by: The Open Nutraceuticals Journal, 2011, Volume 4.
They are not the only ones by the way. I was recently reading “Why GMOs Can Never be Safe”– By Dr. Mae-Wan Ho (Institute of Science in Society), Permaculture News; August 11, 2014.
Science is not about picking and choosing only the things you want to hear that support your position while denying all other sources of information – that is pseudoscience. “Even if researchers did largely agree on GMO safety, that doesn’t make them correct. To paraphrase Albert Einstein, it only takes one study to prove a whole theory wrong – no matter how many scientists believed in it.” — Dr. Margarida Silva, biologist and professor.
So, there is already proof they are not safe. But the issue here goes beyond that: Americans have the right in a free democracy to choose to support a technology by their purchasing power. Many people do NOT want to support this technology or the biotech industries behind them (“PCBs are safe,” and “DDT is safe,” and so on. Why should Americans be forced to support an industry that lies?) Remember when “science” said this: tobacco doesn’t cause cancer – ? What kind of science shrouds GMOs? Tobacco science. It’s been said that GMOs and their approval in America constitute the greatest scientific fraud in history. Those who say so are correct. Aruna Rodrigues states: “We arguably, are faced with the most serious scientific fraud in the history of science and hazardous technologies. And the multidimensional impacts of GMOs are staggering and they are global. These translate into a biosecurity threat of global proportions, a threat by “Monsanto and chemical companies, who continue to destroy the biosphere” (Samsel A) – from: “The Precautionary Principle Requires to be Interpreted Critically and Pre-emptively for its Proper Application to the Unique Risks of GM crops,” Third World Network; March – April, 2015.
The FDA has allowed the citizens of this country to undergo one massive long-term experiment on untested products by corporations we do not support: we are the rats in the experiment. It’s time to end the fraud: label them. Let people choose. The free market does not work unless consumers are informed. We are not informed, on the whole. Consider the label for “Dolphin-free” tuna. Is it “safe?” Does it matter? No. What matters is consumer choice. The science proves the FDA, etc. wrong: they are not safe. The socioeconomic impact of a lack of choice proves them wrong: they should be labeled. The right to choose to support a technology is fundamental in this free country, not labeling them is a violation of our freedom. “If the GMO industry can’t survive consumer choice, then those foods shouldn’t be sitting on grocery shelves of American grocery stores, and no scientist, corporation, political entity or university should stand in the way of that democratic process.” From: “The Health Effects of Genetically Engineered Crops on San Luis Obispo County,” Compiled by Mike Zelina, Teresa Campbell, Andrew Christie, Mark Phillips, Nancy Reinstein, PhD, RD, Elizabeth Johnson, August, 2006 (59 pages)
“If there is no consensus [about the safety of GMOs], and there clearly is not, if double standards exist, and they certainly do, then why are we, the public, and for that matter the environment, being used as guinea pigs in a massive experiment? We know why. It is an agenda that is based on arm-twisting, deception, false promises, duplicity and flawed science to benefit the bottom line of a handful of commercial enterprises and the wider geo-political aim of controlling the planet’s food supply.” (Colin Todhunter, “Monsanto Double Standards and the Crumbling “Scientific Myths” of the GMO Biotech Sector,” May 19, 2014)
How are we free to choose? Obviously there is corruption in the government – everyone knows this. Are members of the Senate going rise above this by representing the will of over 93% of Americans and do the right thing by voting against the DARK Act? Or are they going to continue to squander the potential health of millions of people to appease the biotech industry as they, along with the USDA, FDA and EPA, have been doing all along?
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