By Jeffrey Smith
The person who may be responsible for more food-related illness and death than anyone in history has just been made the US food safety czar. This is no joke.
Here's the back story.
When FDA scientists were asked to weigh in on what was to become the most radical and potentially dangerous change in our food supply -- the introduction of genetically modified (GM) foods -- secret documents now reveal that the experts were very concerned. Memo after memo described toxins, new diseases, nutritional deficiencies, and hard-to-detect allergens. They were adamant that the technology carried "serious health hazards," and required careful, long-term research, including human studies, before any genetically modified organisms (GMOs) could be safely released into the food supply.
But the biotech industry had rigged the game so that neither science nor scientists would stand in their way. They had placed their own man in charge of FDA policy and he wasn't going to be swayed by feeble arguments related to food safety. No, he was going to do what corporations had done for decades to get past these types of pesky concerns. He was going to lie.
Dangerous Food Safety Lies
When the FDA was constructing their GMO policy in 1991-2, their scientists were clear that gene-sliced foods were significantly different and could lead to "different risks" than conventional foods. But official policy declared the opposite, claiming that the FDA knew nothing of significant differences, and declared GMOs substantially equivalent.
This fiction became the rationale for allowing GM foods on the market without any required safety studies whatsoever! The determination of whether GM foods were safe to eat was placed entirely in the hands of the companies that made them -- companies like Monsanto, which told us that the PCBs, DDT, and Agent Orange were safe.
GMOs were rushed onto our plates in 1996. Over the next nine years, multiple chronic illnesses in the US nearly doubled -- from 7% to 13%. Allergy-related emergency room visits doubled between 1997 and 2002 while food allergies, especially among children, skyrocketed. We also witnessed a dramatic rise in asthma, autism, obesity, diabetes, digestive disorders, and certain cancers.
In January of this year, Dr. P. M. Bhargava, one of the world's top biologists, told me that after reviewing 600 scientific journals, he concluded that the GM foods in the US are largely responsible for the increase in many serious diseases.
In May, the American Academy of Environmental Medicine concluded that animal studies have demonstrated a causal relationship between GM foods and infertility, accelerated aging, dysfunctional insulin regulation, changes in major organs and the gastrointestinal system, and immune problems such as asthma, allergies, and inflammation
In July, a report by eight international experts determined that the flimsy and superficial evaluations of GMOs by both regulators and GM companies "systematically overlook the side effects" and significantly underestimate "the initial signs of diseases like cancer and diseases of the hormonal, immune, nervous and reproductive systems, among others."
The Fox Guarding the Chickens
If GMOs are indeed responsible for massive sickness and death, then the individual who oversaw the FDA policy that facilitated their introduction holds a uniquely infamous role in human history. That person is Michael Taylor. He had been Monsanto's attorney before becoming policy chief at the FDA. Soon after, he became Monsanto's vice president and chief lobbyist.
This month Michael Taylor became the senior advisor to the commissioner of the FDA. He is now America's food safety czar. What have we done?
The Milk Man Cometh
While Taylor was at the FDA in the early 90's, he also oversaw the policy regarding Monsanto's genetically engineered bovine growth hormone (rbGH/rbST) -- injected into cows to increase milk supply.
The milk from injected cows has more pus, more antibiotics, more bovine growth hormone, and most importantly, more insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1). IGF-1 is a huge risk factor for common cancers and its high levels in this drugged milk is why so many medical organizations and hospitals have taken stands against rbGH. A former Monsanto scientist told me that when three of his Monsanto colleagues evaluated rbGH safety and discovered the elevated IGF-1 levels, even they refused to drink any more milk -- unless it was organic and therefore untreated.
Government scientists from Canada evaluated the FDA's approval of rbGH and concluded that it was a dangerous facade. The drug was banned in Canada, as well as Europe, Japan, Australia and New Zealand. But it was approved in the US while Michael Taylor was in charge. His drugged milk might have caused a significant rise in US cancer rates. Additional published evidence also implicates rbGH in the high rate of fraternal twins in the US.
Taylor also determined that milk from injected cows did not require any special labeling. And as a gift to his future employer Monsanto, he wrote a white paper suggesting that if companies ever had the audacity to label their products as not using rbGH, they should also include a disclaimer stating that according to the FDA, there is no difference between milk from treated and untreated cows.
Taylor's disclaimer was also a lie. Monsanto's own studies and FDA scientists officially acknowledged differences in the drugged milk. No matter. Monsanto used Taylor's white paper as the basis to successfully sue dairies that labeled their products as rbGH-free.
Will Monsanto's Wolff Also Guard the Chickens?
As consumers learned that rbGH was dangerous, they refused to buy the milk. To keep their customers, a tidal wave of companies has publicly committed to not use the drug and to label their products as such. Monsanto tried unsuccessfully to convince the FDA and FTC to make it illegal for dairies to make rbGH-free claims, so they went to their special friend in Pennsylvania -- Dennis Wolff. As state secretary of agriculture, Wolff unilaterally declared that labeling products rbGH-free was illegal, and that all such labels must be removed from shelves statewide. This would, of course, eliminate the label from all national brands, as they couldn't afford to create separate packaging for just one state.
Fortunately, consumer demand forced Pennsylvania's Governor Ed Rendell to step in and stop Wolff's madness. But Rendell allowed Wolff to take a compromised position that now requires rbGH-free claims to also be accompanied by Taylor's FDA disclaimer on the package.
President Obama is considering Dennis Wolff for the top food safety post at the USDA. Yikes!
Rumor has it that the reason why Pennsylvania's governor is supporting Wolff's appointment is to get him out of the state -- after he "screwed up so badly" with the rbGH decision. Oh great, governor. Thanks.
Ohio Governor Gets Taylor-itus
Ohio not only followed Pennsylvania's lead by requiring Taylor's FDA disclaimer on packaging, they went a step further. They declared that dairies must place that disclaimer on the same panel where rbGH-free claims are made, and even dictated the font size. This would force national brands to re-design their labels and may ultimately dissuade them from making rbGH-free claims at all. The Organic Trade Association and the International Dairy Foods Association filed a lawsuit against Ohio. Although they lost the first court battle, upon appeal, the judge ordered a mediation session that takes place today. Thousands of Ohio citizens have flooded Governor Strickland's office with urgent requests to withdraw the states anti-consumer labeling requirements.
Perhaps the governor has an ulterior motive for pushing his new rules. If he goes ahead with his labeling plans, he might end up with a top appointment in the Obama administration.
Jeffrey M. Smith is the author of Seeds of Deception: Exposing Industry and Government Lies About the Safety of the Genetically Engineered Foods You're Eating and Genetic Roulette: The Documented Health Risks of Genetically Engineered Foods from Chelsea Green Publishing. Smith worked at a GMO detection laboratory, founded the Institute for Responsible Technology, and currently lives in Iowa—surrounded by genetically modified corn and soybeans. For more information, visit Chelsea Green.
And of course, surprise, surprise, the following article appears, ostensibly based on research in the UK. But notice how GENETICALLY ENGINEERED FOOD IS ABSENT FROM THE DEBATE - why is that?? Is this another smokescreen kind of study, to encourage people to use mainstream nutrition?
And a big question is; does organically grown food contain genetically engineered material, or not? After all, the SEED contains the genetic material, and I don't see why one wouldn't be able to grow genetically engineered seeds organically as well!
What is the position now?
Genetically modified foods available, or about to appear, in UK shops include tomatoes, yeast, maize, and soya (which is used in many processed foods, such as bread, pasta, confectionery, ice cream, pies, biscuits, margarine, meat products and vegetarian meat substitutes). Products derived from genetically modified organisms are also used to produce cheeses and rape-seed oil. But this is just the beginning. In a few years it may be almost impossible to find natural food.
'Organic' May Not Mean Healthier
British Study Finds no Better Nutrient Value Than in Conventionally Produced Foods
By Amanda Gardner
July 30, 2009
Food that beckons from the organic aisles of grocery stores may not be any better for you than what lines the rest of supermarket shelves.
According to a British review of studies done over the past 50 years, organic and conventionally produced foods have about the same nutrient content, suggesting that neither is better in terms of health benefits.
"We did not find any important differences in nutrient content between organically and conventionally produced foods," said study author Alan Dangour, a registered public health nutritionist with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
Nonetheless, the researchers noted, organic foods continue to grow in popularity. In the United Kingdom, the market share for organic foods increased 22 percent from 2005 to 2007, they said.
Likewise, the market for organic foods in the United States has grown at about a 20 percent rate each year since 1990, reaching $13.8 billion in consumer sales in 2005, according to the Organic Trade Association. That represents 2.5 percent of total food sales in the country, the trade group noted.
"As a registered dietitian, it is good to see that a systematic review of the literature supports what has long been believed -- that the nutritional content of traditionally grown foods and organic foods are comparable," said Connie Diekman, director of university nutrition at Washington University in St. Louis and past president of the American Dietetic Association. "This report provides confirmation for consumers that if they choose conventionally grown foods or organic foods they will be meeting their nutritional needs."
The review zeroed in on 162 studies that dealt with the nutrient content of foods. Only 55 were of what the researchers considered to be "satisfactory quality" -- a strong indicator that, overall, the science on the subject is not up to snuff.
They found no noted differences between conventional and organic crops with regard to vitamin C, magnesium, calcium, potassium, zinc and copper content. Organic crops did have higher levels of phosphorus, and conventionally produced crops had higher levels of nitrogen.
No differences in nutrient content were indicated in the livestock studies, according to the review.
The Oregon-based Organic Center, which promotes organic food, conducted a similar review of the literature, said Charles Benbrook, chief scientist for the Center. That study yielded results similar to those in the British study, but it also found higher levels of healthy antioxidants and polyphenols in organic foods.
"Given that some of the most significant differences favoring organic foods were for key antioxidant nutrients that most Americans do not get enough of on most days, we concluded that the consumption of organic fruits and vegetables, in particular, offered significant health benefits, roughly equivalent to an additional serving of a moderately nutrient dense fruit or vegetable on an average day," Benbrook said.
And there's another aspect to the organic vs. conventional food debate, said Sheah Rarback, director of nutrition at the Mailman Center for Child Development at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.
"You have to also look at what you're not getting" with organic foods, she said. "Maybe it's not a big difference nutritionally, but conventional products may have more pesticides."
And that's a particularly important issue for children, she said.
"We know that young children are getting the nutrition, whatever choice they make, but we also have to look at the pesticide issue," Rarback said. "A study published in Environmental Health Perspectives found that children eating conventionally grown fruit had pesticide residue in their urine, which decreased after just five days on an organic diet."
The production of organic food is subject to a variety of regulations, including those that govern the use of pesticides and other chemicals in fruits and vegetables and the use of medicines in animals, the authors of the review noted in their study, which will be published in the September issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Rarback indicated that the ability to get solid research on organic versus conventionally produced products is hampered by variations in the production process.
"There are so many variables," she said. "Where is something grown? Where is it shipped from? How long was it on the truck? There are going to be variables in terms of nutrition just from production methods."
There's more on food and the nutrients in food at the United States Department of Agriculture.
SOURCES: Alan Dangour, registered public health nutritionist, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine; Connie Diekman, M.Ed, R.D., L.D., director, university nutrition, Washington University, St. Louis, and past president, American Dietetic Association; Sheah Rarback, R.D., director, nutrition, Mailman Center for Child Development, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, Miami; Charles Benbrook, Ph.D., chief scientist, The Organic Center, Enterprise, Oregon; September 2009 American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
... and my question is also: why is this study labeled a BRITISH study, when in fact, most of the sources are American?
Read the article below. So THAT's how they managed to get this law passed. Now recent food illness outbreaks make a lot of sense, in retrospective; they were NEEDED in order for this law to be accepted by the general public, who has NO IDEA WHO is guarding the chicken coop.
Pass it around.
House passes far-reaching food safety bill
By MARY CLARE JALONICK (AP) – 27 minutes ago
WASHINGTON — The House has passed a far-reaching food safety bill requiring more government inspections and imposing new penalties on those who violate the law, reacting strongly to an outbreak of salmonella in peanuts that killed at least nine people.
The legislation would require greater oversight of food manufacturers and give the Food and Drug Administration new authority to order recalls. It also would require the FDA to develop a system for better tracing food-borne illnesses. Food companies would be required to create detailed food safety plans.
President Barack Obama praised the bill soon after it was passed, calling it "a major step forward in modernizing our food safety system."
Farm-state members had argued that the bill would be too invasive on farms and had pushed colleagues to vote against it as it was considered under a special procedure that requires a two-thirds vote. It was rejected Wednesday by a few votes.
Democrats scrambled to put the legislation back on the House floor Thursday under a rule that required a simple majority to pass. The vote was 283-142.
Supporters said the legislation would help the FDA change its focus from a reactive to a more preventive approach in keeping the nation's food safe.
"Americans are dying because the Food and Drug Administration doesn't have the authority to protect them," said Michigan Rep. John Dingell, the bill's sponsor and a long-serving Democrat who has been pushing for tougher standards for more than a decade.
A similar bill sponsored by Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., has not yet seen action in the Senate.
The legislation gained new momentum in the wake of one of the largest product recalls in U.S. history, stemming from salmonella in peanuts that killed nine people, sickened hundreds of others and was linked to shoddy practices at a peanut company in Georgia. Other recent outbreaks include contaminated spinach in 2006 and salmonella in peppers last year. The government estimates that 76 million people each year are sickened by food-borne illness, hundreds of thousands are hospitalized and around 5,000 die.
Those outbreaks have exposed a lack of resources and authority at the FDA as the embattled agency has struggled to contain and trace them. In the peanut outbreak, FDA inspectors quickly focused on the small Georgia processing plant but had to invoke bioterror laws to get lab reports that ultimately showed the company shipped tainted peanuts. Meanwhile, the agency had no authority to order a food recall.
Connecticut Rep. Rosa DeLauro has said the bill is a solid first step but said she believes Congress needs to go even further and reorganize FDA to help it better focus on its "food" mission. She has introduced legislation that would divide the FDA in two, separating the agency's drug oversight and food safety duties.
The FDA regulates most foods, though as many as 15 federal agencies have a hand in food safety. The Agriculture Department inspects meats, poultry and some eggs.
The bill, which has support from the food industry as well as a wide range of consumer groups, would give the agency the authority to order recalls if a company fails to act on its own, and would increase the frequency of inspections to high-risk food processing facilities. It would charge food processors an annual $500 fee to help defray the cost of increased enforcement.
Sponsors tweaked the legislation in recent days to appease the farm-state members who objected to it. Last-minute changes included modifying the way a trace-back system would work, clarifying that some hard-to-trace products, such as grains, would not be tracked to individual farms. It also lessened paperwork for some farms and clarified that some smaller operations would not have to register with the FDA or pay fees.
Those changes appeased most farm-state Democrats, but many Republicans still voted against it, saying it would be invasive to farmers and not do enough to improve food safety. Oklahoma Rep. Frank Lucas, the top Republican on the House Agriculture Committee, led the charge against the legislation.
"The bill still goes too far in the direction of trying to produce food from a bureaucrat's chair in Washington D.C.," Lucas said.