Tuesday, May 15, 2018

USDA Mandating Of GMO Food Labeling Is Welcome - But Interpretations Will Be Necessary

John Phillips: Barbadian bio-geneticist and nutrition specialist, was one of the first to point out the links between consuming GMO foods and Alzheimer's.

First, let's dispel the nonsense that there is an "anti-science" agenda on the Left as much as on the Right (e.g. John Stossel,  "The War on Science Has A Surprising Source - The Liberal Left', Colorado Springs Gazette,  April 26).   In Stossel's case (he's long since been a shill for the libertarian, corporate Right though he began his career as a general debunker) he insists the Left is way worse than the Right's climate deniers e.g. bringing up the campus attacks on 'Bell Curve' co-author Charles Murray, e.g. "scientists can't even talk about whether genes affect intelligence".   But maybe Stossel never saw or read the excellent skewering of that sham treatise ('Behind the Curve', Review by Leon Kamin in The Scientific American, February, 1995, p. 99).  As Kamin concludes, "On close examination this scientific emperor is wearing no clothes."  In other words, it's plain old pseudo science which merits no respect.   See also:


Stossel also weighs in on GMO foods with such claptrap as:  "Some research on genetically modified foods became taboo because of protests from the left and may have prevented a second green revolution."  Which is horse manure.  In fact, the left activists mainly objected to cross-species genetic modification, i.e. inserting mouse genes into tomatoes to enhance shelf life. It was not an all- out protest to stop all research, and indeed John Phillips (see photo)has encouraged more work on other genetic modifications so long as the results conform to the precautionary principle. By the precautionary principle it is not the activists who must demonstrate "safety concerns" attendant on GMO foods,  it is the GMO food producers' job to prove their products are safe.  Up to now they have not done so, all the corporate media banter and baloney to the contrary.  This is why we have insisted on proper labeling of GMO foods, not an outright ban on them.  Every citizen is entitled to know what he or she is ingesting, and not merely taking the word of some "authority".

Recall that in July, 2015  the House of Representatives - by a 275- 150 vote passed the 'Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act'.   Also known by anti-GMO activists as the DARK Act, it pre-empted all state and local labeling laws, such as those Vermont and Colorado had written. So even if your state happened to pass an amendment or referendum to mandate GMO food labeling, this specious law can overturn it. Welcome to Neoliberal democracy!

Earlier, in June, 2015,  the FDA rejected a citizens' petition by activist groups demanding mandatory  GMO labeling. The FDA response noted that the petition presented no evidence that "such foods present any different or greater concerns than foods developed by traditional plant breeding"   Of course, this merely shows the FDA to be another co-opted federal agency, more driven to uphold corporate profits than citizen welfare. But hell, don't take my word, do some of your own research.

Start with the well known study by Arpad Pusztai 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 foods. 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"

Interested readers can read more on the expose of the PR peddlers and their hands in the Pusztai debacle here:  http://www.inthesetimes.com/issue/24/03/bleifuss2403.html

Again, this tactic ought to come as no big mystery, considering that a multinational like Monsanto (the biggest GMO producer) has more power, heft than most nations

More recently, according to a 2016  Bulletin from 'Food & Water Watch' :

"GMO ingredients are hidden in 70 percent of processed food in this country. This is only a 'best guess'  because no one knows for sure as they are not labeled. Also, very little is known of the long term effects of what GMOs can do to your health because they've not been properly tested. But what facts we do have are alarming."

The Bulletin then references:

"Real lab rats fed GMOs have suffered kidney and liver damage, cancerous tumors and even premature death."

Among the other alarming facts is the horrific link to glyphosate as exposed by my long time friend and Barbadian geneticist and nutritionist John Phillips, who has noted:

"Among other toxins and other health-disrupting contaminants, GMO foods contain glyphosate, a horrifically destructive chemical that saps nutrients from foods and quite literally makes them toxic to consume."

 Phillips also tied the prevalence of glyphosate to the increasing numbers of people with Alzheimer's in the U.S. This disease destroys the brain and renders victims little more than zombies.  According to Phillips,  glyphosphates multiply the structures known as tangles in the brain. In concert with a sticky substance known as beta amyloids, the result can be Alzheimer's disease such as took out Janice's cousin Desmond, e.g.

And is now wreaking havoc with her sister-in-law, Krimhilde. 

By contrast, European incidence is lower per capita - attributed to their GMO labeling laws. Why the desperate refusal to label GMOs in the U.S.? Because it would cut into the profits of the biggest GMO producers like Monsanto which now rings up $11.8 billion a year in sales. 

Anyway, the latest news (NY Times, Sunday, 'What Will GMO Labels Tell Consumers?) is that the United States Dept. of Agriculture has mandated a new GMO labeling scheme to come into effect by 2020. The problem is that it will not carry the freighted letters "G.M.O," or "genetically modified".  The reasoning, according to the article is that the initials and words are "stigmatized".   Transl.  The terms G.M.O. and 'genetically modified'   are way too transparent and truthful so a more euphemistic, PR friendly substitute is needed. (As if we didn't already have enough mushy words in our language.)

The replacement term will be "bioengineered" (BE) .  It's bloodless, technical and relatively obscure, so will not likely make anyone squirm.  But be advised it still means genetically modified, and that means it still designates foods that have not met the standard of the precautionary principle.

In addition, it is well to point out the new labels will not apply to all genetically modified foods.  Thus, any foods that have been modified using the CRISPR technique will not have the "BE" label.  All such foods will have been introduced by maybe deleting a snippet of genetic information - or by inserting a more desirable trait from one breed into another. 

Labels will also be exempt from highly refined sugars and oils, such as made from genetically modified sugar beets and corn.  Not surprisingly, consumer groups oppose such a move which would drastically reduce the number of foods to carry any label.

If you're not satisfied with this labeling rubric now is the time to weigh in (at the USDA site). The public has until July 3rd to comment on the proposed guidelines.

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