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January 18, 2014

Health Hazards of Genetic Engineering: Overview and Perspective

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Before getting into detail about the health dangers of GMOs and their related poisons, I thought it would be well to put the whole topic in perspective.
 
The health hazards of GMOs taken in themselves is not at the core of my project, which will be focused more on the corporate domination of agriculture and food, the crisis of agricultural germplasm diversity, GM contamination of non-GM and organic agriculture and wild relatives of crop varieties, and the proven ruinous health, environmental, and agricultural effects of poisons like glyphosate and 2,4-D.
 
Nevertheless, the health hazard of genetic engineering as such is also one of the reasons we must abolish GMOs. There’s plenty of evidence of harm, more than enough to prove the need for the precautionary principle. Those who believe in trying to reform the system must therefore fight for a recall of existing commercialized GMOs and a moratorium on further commercialization until rigorous long-term independent safety testing has been done. We who think the system can’t and won’t reform itself must fight for the total abolition of GMOs. In this case, as in most others where it comes to agriculture and food, the practical goal is therefore similar, and is anti-GMO as such.
 
(In considering the health dangers of this technology, we must be aware that there’s three separate, but interrelated and probably mutually aggravating, aspects. There’s the health devastation wrought by herbicides like glyphosate. This is proven and severe. There’s the harm from Bt and other endotoxins taken in themselves. Here there’s considerable evidence of harm. And then there’s genetic engineering taken in itself. Here common sense would have said, and sufficient evidence has compiled, that no sane system would unleash this into the food supply without extensive safety testing. In practice this was never done or required.)
 
The abolition movement knows that the corporatist system will never undertake reforms which would at the very least significantly slow down the deployment of this enclosure system which is critical for its future economic control and domination, and would probably, if honestly undertaken, lead to a ban. Therefore anyone who truly cares about the future of agriculture, the environment, human health, and human prosperity and freedom, must move on to setting total abolition as the goal. We must then relentlessly seek that goal with zero extraneous prejudices.
 
As for the evidence of harm from GMOs as such, we have:
 
1. We have the lethal Showa Denko epidemic, incontrovertibly caused by GE and nothing but GE. This is proof of principle that the worst could happen at any time. The X-SCID leukemia incident reinforces the proof.
 
2. We have the StarLink allergic epidemic. In spite of the FDA’s attempt at a coverup, it’s clear beyond a reasonable doubt that the GMO caused an epidemic of allergic symptoms, some life-threatening.
 
3. Episodes like that of the soybean engineered with a transgene from the Brazil nut which was found to be allergenic prior to commercialization.
 
4. Plenty of animal and human cell studies demonstrating that GE by itself can be toxic, allergenic, carcinogenic, and/or have other chronic disease effects. The most important of these include the 2012 Seralini study, the 1999 Pusztai study, the 2005 CSIRO study on its GMO peas. There are many others where the GE effect can’t clearly be separated from the effects of glyphosate and/or Bt, but which nevertheless provide evidence of harm, and that GE could be the cause or a contributor.
 
5. Vast anecdotal evidence from working farmers who have studied the effects of non-GM vs. GMO-based diets on their livestock. This has been confirmed by scientific studies like the 2013 Carman study.
 
To sum up the main hazards:
 
*Glyphosate and other herbicides proven toxic to humans are assimilated into the crop tissue and are systemic in any food these crops become part of, including meat and dairy from GM-fed animals.
 
*Bt and other endoxins are also endemic.
 
*Antibiotic resistance among potentially pathogenic microbes is abundantly documented. The use of antibiotic resistance markers in GMOs is a major driver of this public health crisis.
 
*Genetic engineering in itself has probably greatly aggravated allergies and autoimmune diseases.
 
*Genetic engineering in itself probably causes liver and kidney disease, and has harmful effects on other organ systems.
 
*There’s also considerable evidence that genetic engineering as such can cause cancer.
 
I’ll document all this in the subsequent posts.
 
In assessing any evidence, we must always keep in mind the system’s near-complete refusal to undertake any safety studies itself, the barriers it has set up against such study, and the viciousness with which it has attacked the studies which have been done and the scientists who have done them, or who have even expressed any criticism at all of GMOs. This willful negligence and attempted intimidation and censorship on the part of corporations and governments is in itself strong proof that the system fears what the results of truly systematic, well-funded independent study would be. I’ll be writing lots more on this later, as we compile a Nuremburg brief.
 
What’s the probability of harm? Given the odds of a harmful mutation, promoter effect, harmful collateral protein etc., and considering all the stages through which a genetic modification must go to reach the human body, it may be unlikely in a given case that there will be a harmful effect from genetic engineering as such. (This leaves aside risks from pollen or crop dust inhalation, topical contact etc., as well as direct Frankenfoods which may be eaten cooked (sweet corn, salmon, “golden rice”, potatoes) or even raw (sweet corn, “non-browning apples”, papaya).)
 
But this is like air travel and plane crashes. The odds may be very low for any given flight, but have enough flights and plane crashes will happen. They do happen, sometimes catastrophic ones. So it is with GMOs. So far there’s only been one Showa Denko, and one StarLink. But no one knows how many lesser crashes there have been, since no epidemiological studies are done. Even more importantly, no one knows how gradual the most catastrophic crashes may be, where they involve later-developing chronic diseases like cancer. Again, the system assiduously avoids epidemiological study and tries to prevent independent researchers from carrying it out.
 
Lots of people say they don’t know what to think about this. If you’re not sure, here’s the basic default, for science, reason, and common sense:
 
1. WE DON’T KNOW what the health hazards are of GMOs. Anyone who claims to know GMOs are safe is expressing fundamentalist cult faith, or just lying. It’s not rational.
 
2. There’s copious evidence of harm to human health, and several incidents which prove the danger, including a lethal outbreak.
 
3. All this is for something worthless, a crappy product which doesn’t work and is good for no one but corporate gangsters, good for nothing but corporate profit and control.
 
4. All this is for nothing but to load our soil, water, crops, and food with severe poisons which are known to be destructive of human, livestock, and environmental health.
 
5. All this is to prop up an industrial agricultural system which is destructive and suicidal, and to forestall and suppress the great and necessary agroecology solution, which is the only possible way forward for agriculture and humanity.
 
GMOs are intended to destroy the future of humanity once and for all. Their health hazards are just one piece of this vast overall war. But knowledge and publicity of these hazards will help us protect ourselves and wage the political war. These hazards are one of the reasons we need to abolish GMOs, and the publicity of them will be one of the potent weapons in this abolition struggle.

 
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