Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Do You REALLY Want A 'Frankenfish' With Those Fries?

A GMO-designed salmon, aka 'Frankenfish',  next to its smaller, normal cousin.

On the CBS Early Show medical spot, when the topic turned to the latest GMO-designed monstrosity-  a new salmon dubbed 'frankenfish' because its growth hormones don't stop pumping over its life cycle -  Dr. David Agus  didn't mince words. He averred he would not eat this beastie and further, Americans ought to know what the hell kind of food they're ingesting - it's not good enough for the Neoliberal-coopted FDA to just say everything is fine.

Agus explained the process entails first "taking a gene from a different salmon, e.g. Chinook, then taking genes that turn on other genes from an eel (ocean pout eel) which had one growing season so it makes the GMO salmon grow all the time."

He added: "The problem is we don't know much about it", noting "the FDA is standing out there saying this stuff is safe to eat but you do not have the right to know whether it's genetically modified or not".

Why not? Well, because like most federal agencies the FDA is in the maw of the big corporations so must do their bidding. Can't have the poor little rats losing profits because of a few cancers of the bowel, liver or kidneys.

Of course, the process itself - which may also involve other genes, e.g. mouse, rat, squid -  is not known given it's considered "proprietary". (We do know that mouse genes in GMO tomatoes help to preserve their shelf life at grocers who carry them.) Also, as Agus pointed out, there have been no long term studies done on humans. While a breast or bowel cancer may not show up in a year, it might in 16 years if a person keeps consuming GMOs.

Fortunately, a number of supermarkets - including Trader Joe's, Target, Kroger's, Whole Foods, Costco and Safeway - have taken matters into their own hands (according to the CBS graphic displayed) and vowed they will not sell this creature. If they can't label the damned thing, they won't sell it.

It brings to mind again the conversation I had with Barbadian geneticist and biologist John Phillips (below) back in 2012 when I asked what his worst nightmare was in terms of GMO foods.

He didn't hesitate and stated:

"That would be any developing any genetically modified organisms for food, for which abnormal growth is promoted by the use of growth hormones and using a source creature that enables it".

He feared such a food, such a 'creature' would spawn "millions of new cancers" and asserted - like David Agus on the CBS spot yesterday - that the precautionary principle ought to be the guiding one. That is, the designers ought to be the ones to have to prove eating this creature is safe. People, consumers ought not to have to prove it is unsafe.

Apart from the health concerns, environmental activists oppose the salmon because, as Dr. Agus notes, they can escape and mix with wild fish, even out competing naturally occurring varieties. This was the reason The Center for Food Safety has vowed to sue the FDA in order to block final approval.

According to a Wall Street Journal piece on this beast, a bunch named AquaBounty is developing it.  The Journal observes:

"AquaBounty estimate it will take several years before the fish hits the market, because it needs to expand its farm facilities and begin raising the salmon. Still the (FDA) approval is a major victory for the company, which initially sought approval in 1995 and has in the past struggled to maintain funding."

The piece also noted that while AquaBounty has contemplated labeling its salmon, the FDA's Director for Food Safety has maintained that :

"The FDA can only require labeling of GMO foods if regulators find a material difference from conventionally produced versions"

And in the case of the AquaBounty monster salmon:

"The FDA did not find such differences."

To which I call 'bollocks'. The very fact this thing "will grow to a market weight twice as fast as wild or farmed versions" (see photo)  shows it is materially different. It does not have to sport mouse ears to be so classified, for god's sake. The sheer increase in mass shows it is! The growth hormones needed to make it a reality include those extracted from eels, as well as Chinook salmon.

Again, if people choose of their own volition to purchase this monstrosity for a fish fry, fine. But more discriminating buyers ought to be able to see the different brands at stores labeled as Dr. David Agus and John Phillips insist. It's just a matter of honoring a basic right to know what the hell you are eating. The FDA's rubber stamp may be ok for Neoliberals not fussy about how their cancers occur, but the rest of us damned well want to know!

The corporate whore kingdom often cites the FDA or other government agencies to bestow benediction on GMO foods, i.e. that they are "safe" - but of course these federal agencies have already been bought out long ago and become de facto PR- whore extensions for the corporatocracy. This is why they incessantly fight to keep labels off GMO foods.

While anti-GMO folks are lampooned by the Neoliberal governmental -business estate and its lackeys, let's bear in mind 64 countries already require labeling of GMO foods or ban them outright. Why is the U.S. different? Or better, why is the U.S. the exceptional dumb nation here? Could it be the corporate state has our gov't by the balls, lock, stock and barrel? Maybe! As Heather White observed on Oz' s 9/19/14 show, they are only willing to "rubber stamp" what the corporations want and most of our agencies are in their maw. That makes them corporate whores!

The American thing to do is to provide labeling for all foods, not deny citizens (via the 'DARK' Act) to have the right to know what they're eating!

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