GMOs (genetically modified organisms) are an ever growing issue abroad, but in this country at least, most of the population appears to have accepted these foods with a mixture of resignation and inevitability. Well, I mean, where's the surprise? More than half of
In fact, years ago, bells ought to have gone off big time after Scot Arpand Pusztai's study in which he fed lab rats potatoes that had been genetically engineered to contain lectin (from a snowdrop bulb to make them pest resistant). When he digested and processed the results he found that the rats which consumed these high-tech potatoes showed evidence of organ (liver, stomach) damage and poor brain development. Pusztai's study went down as the very first independent study (i.e. one not sponsored by a biotech corporation) to examine the effects of bio-engineered food on mammals.
But because big bucks were involved, and lots of doctors already had shares in biotech, the PR meisters, their allies and hangers-on went ape shit. The bastards even got to Pusztai's Director Philip James (at the Rowett Institute) , who had approved a Pusztai TV appearance regarding his findings, but subsequently said the research results "didn't exist". According to a report -article from In These Times (Jan. 10, 2000);
"He fired Pusztai, broke up his research team, halted the six other similar projects his team was then working on and seized his data"
"Val Giddings, of the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) in Washington, applauded Pusztai's dismissal. Speaking to Biotechnology Newswatch, an industry journal, he damned the press for not being more skeptical of Pusztai's statements, pointing out that his results had never been published in a peer-reviewed journal. "This is a study that should never have seen the light of day," he said.
At Monsanto, the only corporation producing transgenic potatoes, spokesman Alyssa Hollier told Biotechnology Newswatch, "This really has nothing to do with us," adding that the company's transgenic potatoes, which are different than those used in the study, are "not approved in Europe right now." In February, however, it came out that the Rowett Institute had received a $224,000 grant from Monsanto prior to Pusztai's interview and subsequent firing. "
Connections anyone? Interested readers can read more on the expose of the PR muggers and their hands in the Pusztai debacle here:
Meanwhile, Hightower observes that the propaganda gimmick booklet now circulating in schools (be sure to check that your kid doesn't have one - if s/he does, explain the nature of propaganda, or at least PR, one is never too young to learn) comes in colorful, funny pages as it chirpily begins:
"Hi, kids! This is an activity book for young people like you about a really neat topic!"
Hightower asks 'Why is it so neat?' and quotes the booklet once more to provide the answer:
"As you work through the puzzles in this book, you will learn more about biotechnology and all the wonderful ways it can help people live better lives in a healthier world."
To quote Hightower again: "Fun? With genetically engineered food? Who's behind this book of fairy tales?"
Whereupon he identifies the "Council for Biotechnology Information" . Who or what are they?
"A PR and political front for the biotech industry, financed by such multi-billion dollar giants as Monsanto, Bayer, Dupont and Dow."
But he has reason to be concerned about this influence on kids, as well as the power of PR to snooker them. (Hey, I really like Hanks' word, so now choose to use it in the proper context of attacking PR!)
Consider the case of milk, specifically rBGH (Recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone ) milk. Recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone is a genetically engineered copy of a naturally occurring hormone produced by cows. Manufactured by Monsanto Company, the drug is sold to dairy farmers under the name POSILAC. When rBGH gets injected into dairy cows, milk production increases by as much as 10-15%. The use of rBGH on dairy cows was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in late 1993 and has been in use since 1994.
Never mind that rBGH is banned in Europe and
WHY would they do that? Hell, why would our trustworthy CIA (and National Archives) withhold files on perhaps the key linchpin to the JFK assassination? Because THIS is what the powers that be do when allowed too much power, beyond what their legal authority provides! They get away with it on account of weak, useless laws, weak politicos or both. Not to mention lobbyists and PR factories that have the power to buy doctors, scientists, legislators.... anyone they want.
Let's return to rGBH milk: In the PR demolition book, ‘Toxic Sludge is Good for You’ the authors note (p. 57) that:
“Monsanto’s own tests showed increased levels of mastitis, a painful udder infection, in cows injected with rBGH. According to food safety experts, increased mastitis would force farmers to use more antibiotics which would then be more likely to contaminate the cow’s milk.”
“Treated cows had to consume more protein – usually rendered animal protein (from carcasses of other cows) . These animals are then susceptible to bovine spongiform encephalopathy. “
Of course, nine years before the publication of 'Toxic Sludge' the PR industry – led by Burston –Marsteller – had swung into action. Before long, the PR meisters began using polling and focus groups to try to milk the view that rBGH milk was "identical to that from untreated cows".
Alas, the people weren’t buying it and (p. 58. op. cit):
the “pro rBGH Dairy Coalition responded by setting up consumer telephone hotlines and designated over 250 ‘regional experts’ – including doctors, nutritionists and animal scientists, to act as media contacts. This coalition also prepared media resource kits for distribution to over 5,000 target recipients including dairy retailers, state and national trade associations, national and state consumer media and the National Association of Science Writers"
The PR campaign didn’t stop there (ibid.) but also "lined up the
The rest, as they say, is history. Despite nationwide protests by consumer groups, Monsanto and the FDA, on Feb. 4, 1994, forced the world's first GE animal drug, recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH, sometimes known as rBST) onto the
Interestingly, as more and more news has since circulated concerning premature onset of puberty, especially in young adolescent girls, attention turned to rBGH as a prime culprit. Even as early as 1989, the 'Toxic Sludge' authors John Stauber and Sheldon Rampton noted(ibid.) : “particularly parents with children under 18, reported a fear that ill effects caused by rGBH would be discovered in the future.”.
As it turned out, the future didn't take long to arrive after millions of gallons of the stuff were imbibed over years - often underscored with parents best intentions: giving milk to kids as a healthy alternative to sugary soft drinks. Parents now rightly ought to be concerned about their kids ingestion of these GMO products, especially in terms of the effects on their kids' bodies. One can therefore fully endorse Hightower's end question:
"What are we going to do about corporate powers that are so avaricious and arrogant that they're willing to tamper with our food supply, our kids' minds, and our basic consumer rights?"
Perhaps an even better question is: 'What are we to do with a government that allows these kind of blatant corporate travesties, and refuses to protect its own citizens?"
Many will find the answers in my book: The Elements of the Corporatocracy!
The central premise of which is that we no longer have a government "of the people, by the people and for the people", but "of the corporations, by the corporations and for the corporations."
If you don't believe it, you're not paying attention!