John Phillips: Bio-geneticist, nutrition specialist and astronomer from Barbados.
John Phillips, 66 years old (see earlier blog also) is perhaps the closest person Barbados has to a ‘Renaissance Man’. He is a bio-geneticist, nutrition specialist,avid amateur astronomer (who devised a method to measure the speed of light using Bajan landmarks), and a spiritual scholar. Most interesting to me has been a recent conversation concerning “GMO” (genetically modified organisms) and their role in producing human cancers. John is convinced, from his research, that up to forty percent of all cancers are GMO-based.
His view is also reinforced by a number of studies.
For example, there is Arpad 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 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.
Tragically, Pusztai’s boss, the Director of the Rowett Institute, attempted to suppress the revelations in the GMO potato study. 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"
Drastic? Maybe! But the results had to be kept concealed so American corporate interests – already battling the America “haters” who demanded labels on GMO foods – were not put in greater peril. At least their profits. Interested readers can read more on the expose of the PR muggers and their hands in the Pusztai debacle here
Then there is the study just released Wednesday which found that rats fed Monsanto’s genetically modified corn or exposed to the biotech giant’s herbicide, Roundup, developed tumors and organ damage. As Reuters reported,
“The researchers said 50 percent of males and 70 percent of females [in the test group] died prematurely, compared with only 30 percent and 20 percent in the control group.” The lead researcher of the French study is an outspoken Monsanto critic, which, according to Reuters, “may make other experts wary of drawing hasty conclusions.”
None of this surprised John. Some of his takeaways for those interested:
On the occurrence of cancers:
This should come as no surprise because cancer is a disease affecting cell –DNA machinery. In this case, the cells of an organ undergo too accelerated mitosis and result in abnormal growth that can threaten the organism. GMO foods are developed at the gene level which directs genes and their function. Most haven’t been adequately tested over the long term, for adverse impacts on humans. But that they can cause tumors or abnormal growths should not amaze anyone.
If you splice mouse genes into tomatoes and hence enable the mouse as "GMO tomato", with its attendant genetic impact on a widely used human food, why be surprised if there’s a deleterious effect? Why be incredulous if when these manipulated tomatoes meet the human digestion system (and metabolism) certain untoward consequences arise?
On the lack of GMO food labeling in the United States:
Again, no surprise since the GMO corporate monoliths like Monsanto dominate in the U.S. Their interest is in keeping Americans uninformed about what they’re eating, so they don’t make a fuss. “Just eat it and pretend it’s a real, organically grown tomato and shut up!”
They know product labeling would mash up their sales because then consumers would immediately see what was engineered and not buy the products.
On the argument that GMO critics are threatening food production for starving peoples
This is an old and hackneyed argument. They’re basically saying it’s better the poor be fed with these foods now, and take care of their liver, bowel, stomach, prostate and pancreatic cancers twenty years hence. But who’s going to pay for their care? Surely not the critics of GMO skeptics! The solution to the food production problem is not to create more GMO foods but to control population, using birth control – contraception.
On his own dietary regimen:
There’s much to be said for growing one’s own foods! I grow all my own, don’t use ‘Roundup’ or any other poisons, but rather the natural, biologically-based weed and insect repellers developed over two decades ago by Colin Hudson here in Barbados. I eat no meats, no animal fats. That’s why I look 30 years younger than I am!
On the use of supplements if one can’t obtain nutritious foods:
I’ve no problem with them especially if people can’t grow their own vegetables, fruits, because of the extent to which modern foods are diluted in vitamins, minerals. I suggest at least one B-complex a day, and something like magnesium, to balance calcium intake.
On the continued media attacks on vitamin supplements:
This should amaze no one. The U.S. corporate media as the primary communication arm of its Fortune 500 corporations (comprising its management boards), including health insurance companies, don’t want Americans living overly long because of the claimed “entitlement crisis” and deficits. If people follow their advice and leave out supplements, they know they’re more likely to die before they can collect social security or Medicare. Deficit problem half solved!
Advice to Americans who consume GMO foods:
Make sure you get regular cancer screenings!