GMOs: The Lie that Won’t Go Away
Richard Gale and Gary Null
Progressive Radio Network, October 25, 2018
Recent news on the GMO front includes a harsh warning to consumers who purchase genetically engineered produce and products containing GMOs. The ruling by a San Francisco court in favor of Dewayne Johnson, a groundskeeper with cancer, against Monsanto has set a precedent for cases against the agro-chemical industry. In effect, the jury’s ruling means that Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide (glyphosate) is now legally recognized as a health hazard and a carcinogen. Approximately 8,000 other victims of Monsanto’s Roundup are now lining up to sue the biotech firm, now owned by the German agro-chemical giant Bayer.
Although this is great news for consumers, the Trump administration is deaf, blind and dumb to GMOs’ environmental hazards and severe health risks and has been aggressively promoting the dumping of more toxins on Americans. In April 2017, Trump signed an executive order to eliminate “unnecessary regulations” that would hinder the economic growth of the largest agro-chemical corporations. This means a faster approval process for new biotech crops and pesticides. Trump has surrounded himself, not only with Wall Street stooges, but with shills for the agricultural industry. He has met privately with the heads of Bayer and Monsanto. But Trump and his GOP minions are not content with advancing Bayer-Monsanto’s interests in the US. During a Congressional House Science Committee last February, the GOP took up the industry’s cause and threatened to cut off funding to the World Health Organization for labeling Monsanto’s glyphosate as a carcinogen. What the majority of our legislators repeatedly ignore and deny is the hard science behind the GMO myth.
The original foundation of agricultural biotechnology was to advance sales of pesticides by engineering crops to become immune to toxic spraying. While weeds and insect pests would be eradicated, targeted crop would be spared, thereby allowing farmers to spray massive amounts of chemicals on soy, corn, cotton, sugar beets and other agricultural foods without injury. This was the assumption that led to the agro-genetic revolution. Only during the past decade, with more and more GM products in our diets, and more and more farm acreage being sprayed with glyphosate and other toxic pesticides and herbicides, are the long term health risks to animals, humans and the environment becoming more fully recognized within the scientific community.
The extent of pesticide runoff into rivers, streams and reservoirs means humans are now being exposed to life threatening chemicals on a daily basis. It was never the mission of Monsanto and the cartel of agro-chemical seed companies to increase yields and produce drought resilient crops. The evidence of higher GM crop yields was an afterthought. However, data from independent research now confirms that the years of higher GM yields are short lived and drop dramatically thereafter to levels far below yields from traditional, organic farming methods.
In a major paper published by Earth Open Source, “GMO Myths and Truths: An Evidence-Based Examination of the Claims Made for the Safety and Efficacy of Genetically Modified Crops,” Kings College molecular geneticist Michael Antoniou, molecular biologist John Fagan and GM Watch’s Claire Robinson outline the known health risks associated with glyphosate:
- DNA damage
- Premature births and miscarriages
- Birth defects including neural tube defects and anencephaly (absence of large parts of the brain and skull)
- Multiple myeloma
- Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
- Disruption of neurobehavioral development in children, including attention deficit disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
Since the release of the study in the journal Entropy, a researcher at MIT and a member of the Union of Concerned Scientists has discovered that glyphosate is in fact taken up by plants from the soil and found in our food—an accusation Bayer-Monsanto continues to deny. The study reports that the negative impact of glyphosate accumulation “is insidious and manifests slowly over time as inflammation damages cellular systems throughout the body.” In addition to links with problems ranging from cancer to infertility, a connection may also be made to the rising number of adults acquiring Parkinson’s Disease. A couple earlier studies on individual cases found a correspondence between glyphosate exposure and the onset of Parkinson’s. There are now growing concerns that glyphosate consumed by mothers and infants in GM tainted foods might be contributing to the autism epidemic that continues to worsen every year and now affects almost 1 in 50 children.
With each passing year, the body of scientific data challenging the safety of glyphosate expands. In several peer-reviewed studies conducted by researcher Andres Carrasco of the University of Buenos Aires, glyphosate was observed to cause teratogenic impairment of neural signaling and microcephaly, leading to craniofacial malformations.
In early 2014, the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health published a study linking glyphosate runoff in Sri Lanka’s water systems to an epidemic rise in a fatal unknown chronic kidney disease (CKDu). Until recently scientists were unable to find evidence of what was causing this new illness. Similar observations have been made in El Salvador and Nicaragua where more men die of CKDu than AIDS, diabetes and leukemia. However, in each regional population studied, Roundup exposure is rampant. Sri Lankan scientists hypothesize that glyphosate, originally discovered to act as a chelating chemical in 1964, takes up toxic heavy metals and binds them in the kidney without the body’s detection. According to the researchers, the buildup of these heavy metals ultimately leads to kidney failure and death.
In early 2014, the Ministry of Health in Cordoba, Argentina noted a dramatic rise in deaths from cancerous tumors– twice the national average. It just so happens that the elevated rates of malignancies were being reported in those regions where GM crops and toxic agrochemicals are most widely used.
GMOs’ health risks to animals and humans are also being reported more frequently in the scientific literature. Corporate agro studies claiming GMOs are safe generally rely upon a research methodology that supplies a variety of so-called “reference” diets to the animals under investigation. These convoluted studies are designed intentionally to produce an abundance of data without any standard reference control group. This enables corporate scientists to conflate and distort results. This common industry practice was exposed by Claire Robinson at GM Watch regarding a published DuPont study on the safety of its Roundup Ready canola. Robinson points out that “poor experimental design” is intentionally utilized to cover up toxic effects.
Dr. Gilles-Eric Seralini at the University of Caen identified changes in gene expression in sperm cells capable of altering androgen and estrogen sex hormones. The study suggests that glyphosate may be altering human reproduction. The rate of male fertility in the US has been dropping steadily since GM foods started to saturate the average American diet. The most recent figures, published by the Icahn School of Medicine at Mt. Sinai, indicate that the average sperm count in men has decreased as much as 60 percent.
Dr. Seralini’s earlier paper revealed a correlation between severe kidney and liver damage, advanced tumors and premature death in rats fed Monsanto’s NK603 maize. His paper has undergone more scientific review and scrutiny than any other study either proving or disproving GMO safety. With its republication, the paper should officially replace Monsanto’s flawed safety study alleging the health safety of its NK603 corn. Seralini’s most recent study showed that glyphosate adversely alters the gut microbiome in rats. A proliferation of pathogenic bacteria and a decrease in healthy bacteria were observed.
Bayer-Monsanto must rely on a veil of secrecy, claiming this is needed to protect its proprietary information, in order to avoid revealing to the public its actual GMO safety data. Lacking credible science to engage in an honest debate with the scientific community opposing GMO proliferation, the company must resort to the lowest and most vicious tactics. Attacking the integrity of scientists, launching smear campaigns against GMO labeling advocates and organic farmers, cyber attacks on anti-GMO organizations, and threats of lawsuits against state governments and media outlets advocating or even suggesting mandatory labeling are becoming more frequent. For example, supporters of GMOs pressured Reuters to fire veteran journalist Carey Gillam for reporting fairly on GMOs. The chemical industry will use whatever means necessary, except acknowledging scientific evidence, to silence its enemies.
Big Agriculture is widely recognized as one of the most dangerous, most-despised industries on the planet. The good news is that Big Ag’s imperial strategy for global food domination has been hit with setback after setback as national and local governments realize that genetically modified foods pose serious dangers to human and environmental health as well as national food security. Local populations and farmers who switched to GM seeds are becoming more vocal about the failure of GM promises and want to hold these private companies accountable. Already ninety percent of UN member nations, including most of Europe, either require GM labeling or have banned GM crops. Hungary officially prohibits GMOs in its national Constitution. Without having the blessing from the US government and the WTO, the GMO market would dry up. Therefore, the ag industry, in collusion with the US State Department, has had to focus its attention on Africa and South and Southeast Asia, those regions that appear to be the most susceptible to GMO myths.
As nations take a step back and reconsider the threats of climate change and global warning to future food supplies, GMOs are failing to hold up to their promises of higher yields and drought resistance. To the contrary, study after study lean towards the conclusion that GMO-based agriculture may be the most dismal failure since humans first started sowing seeds and harvesting crops. In 2014, the Guardian reported that the introduction of Monsanto’s Roundup Bt brinjal eggplant into Bangladesh is in crisis, with a failure rate of four out of five farms. GMO soy and corn are rapidly losing their pest resistance. Bugs and weeds are turning into mega-threats to the future of staple crop yields, which the industrial makers of processed foods depend on. Farmers in Latin America are demanding compensation from Big Ag companies for unexpected financial duress and being forced to purchase larger quantities of pesticides in order to sustain their harvests. In Brazil, after only three years of GM Bt cultivation, pest resistance has been observed. Similar observations are being reported in Bt maize in Puerto Rico, Brazil, Philippines, South Africa and US, and in Bt cotton in Australia, China, India and the US. American scientists confirmed that rootworms destroying corn fields are resistant to GMO corn.
An article in India’s Hindustani Times states that “There are over 500 research publications by scientists of indisputable integrity, who have no conflict of interest, that establish harmful effects of GMO crops to human, animal and plant health, and on the environment and biodiversity… On the other hand, virtually every paper supporting GM crops is by scientists who have declared conflict of interest or whose credibility and integrity can be doubted.” In late 2016, France’s National Institute for Agricultural Research undertook a thorough review of peer-reviewed publications addressing GMOs. The study, published in PLOS One, reported that “ties between researchers and the GM crop industry were common, with 40% of the articles considered displaying conflicts of interest.” The study also found that conflicts of interest were considerably higher in studies reporting positive results. Over two-thirds of those studies were from the US.
Monsanto’s Bt cotton in India has been particularly disastrous to hundreds of thousands of farmers. Aside from the oft-reported epidemic of farmer suicides who fall into debt and poverty after buying into Monsanto’s GM cotton, pest resistance is rampant, further weakening the natural immunity of GM plants and predisposing them to less serious pests. India is also witnessing record numbers of cattle die-offs after grazing on post-harvest cotton plants. Regions with higher proportions of Bt cotton farming are confronting grim water futures because GM agriculture requires more irrigation than traditional farming methods. The Indian state of Karnataka had to ban Bt cotton to prevent further crop failures.
One of the most massive GMO failures, spanning over a decade, has been the deplorable collapse of GM corn in the Philippines. The decimation of Filipino corn farmers came to world attention following the release of the film “Ten Years of Failure” which follows the lives of farmers whose families fell into debt and poverty after the introduction of GM corn by the Philippine government in cooperation with the US government and the agricultural industry. And China’s rejection of GM corn importation has agro-giants further worried as one of their largest potential markets takes a step back to reevaluate the safety and environmental impact of GMOs.
Big Ag’s only response to the failures of its genetic experimentation has been to increase the development of new GM seeds to compensate for the failures of the old ones. In addition to genetically engineering seeds to withstand higher levels of pesticides, new traits are being genetically engineered to withstand other toxic chemicals as well as targeting other crops and produce. Former plant geneticist Dr. Caius Rommens spent years at Monsanto and later Simplot to develop bruise-resistant GM potatoes. He estimates about $50 million has been spent on his research. They are now on the market in the US, Canada and Japan under the names Innate, Hibernate and White Russet. Now, looking back, Rommens calls his invention “Pandora’s Potatoes.” In his book by that title, he claims his potatoes are not properly bruise-resistant but rather conceal bruises. In addition, they are higher in carcinogenic acrylamide and pose health risks. During an interview with GM Watch, he stated that the potatoes, in addition to GM corn he researched, were higher than natural varieties in alpha-aminoadipate, a known neurotoxin.
Yet in the US, millions of acres of farmland growing GM corn, cotton and soy are experiencing invasions of super weeds resistant to overuse of pesticide. As pesticide use increases, soil quality is further depleted and yield per acre drops dramatically. The economic costs to farmers are becoming unsustainable as expenditures to fight pests and weeds increase and harvests diminish. A current trend among American farmers is to revert to traditional or organic methods. This aligns well with a UN Commission on Trade and Development report warning against corporate-dominated monoculture farming methods and promoting farm diversity and small scale organic farming as the most sustainable way to feed to the world’s population.
New GM strains now include genes resistant to the pesticide dicamba. In addition to glyphosate’s long list of human health risks, dicamba, a known neurotoxin, has been linked to adverse reproductive and mental development effects. Under Trump’s watch and against strong public opposition, Dow Agroscience’s new Enlist corn and soy strains were approved and launched this year. Enlist varieties are bioengineered to withstand a toxic cocktail of glyphosate and the herbicide 2-4 D, best known as a major toxic ingredient in Agent Orange that “has been linked to cancer, reproductive effects, neurotoxicity, kidney/liver damage and birth and developmental effects.” Agent Orange contamination has resulted in genetic abnormalities and the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people. Its use as a bioweapon in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos is a sad reminder of the extreme measures the US will take at the cost of innocent lives to reach its foreign policy objectives. Trump has resurrected one of the most toxic agrochemicals known to man and introduced it back into America’s food supply. Dow awarded Trump $1 million for his inauguration fund.[22 ]
American acceptance of GMOs has been based upon unproven hypothesis of “substantial equivalence” for over two decades. This ruling by the USDA during the early years of the Clinton White House gave GM seed companies a free pass to avoid submitting evidence proving GM food safety, claiming that GMOs are identical to non-GMOs and thus no additional compliance or safety regulations would apply. Therefore Big Ag firms do not have to worry about the strict regulatory hurdles which hamper the development of other products such as pharmaceutical drugs, processed foods, pesticides, cosmetics and chemical additives.
However, a flurry of research is now showing “substantial equivalence” is patently false. Alexandria University in Egypt, the Permaculture Research Institute and the Norwegian Center for Biosafety each found GMO crops to be fundamentally different to their natural counterpart. In addition, new studies are also showing that nutrient levels in traditional and organically raised crops are substantially higher than GM varieties. New technological methods to create concise profiles of a food’s molecular composition, notably “omics,” were not available in the early 1990s when President Clinton became America’s first biotech president. Now, omic technology is destroying arguments to support the lie about substantial equivalence. Kings College London published a study in Scientific Reports of Nature revealing substantial differences between GMO Roundup-Ready and non-GMO corn. The differences include changes in 117 proteins and 91 metabolites.
Russia has assumed an international leadership role to confront the remaining uncertainties in the debate over GMO safety, placing a 3-year moratorium on GMO imports. Prime Minister Medvedev is on record stating that Russia can be “self sufficient” with only organic farming. The government has requested the UN General Assembly create an international GMO watchdog organization to monitor Big Agriculture’s activities influencing other nations to accept GM seeds and support independent research into the long-term impact of GMOs. Unlike the US, the Russian government values its population’s demands for safe food, with over 75% of Russians preferring organic produce. On the other hand, over 90% of Americans support GMO-labeling – to say nothing of organic foods – but Washington prefers to protect corporate interests.
The good news is that GMO propaganda is increasingly being exposed as fallacious. As time passes, more and more research will inevitably emerge to further damn Bayer-Monsanto and the GM experiment. It is only a matter of time before the false promises of GMOs will be exposed as orchestrated by Big Ag and the US government to control the world’s food supply.
Although surveys show the American public is turning its back on GMOs, too much is invested in agro-biotech for it to disappear. A Pew Research Center survey showed that over 50% of Republicans and Democrats prefer organic foods. Rather, we can expect a new volley of propaganda coming from private industry and the US government claiming GM industrial agriculture is an ideal solution to combat climate change and global warming, a threat worrying national economies throughout the world. We can expect to hear more scientific denialism and junk science promulgated by the Trump White House, the small gangs of scientific determinists funded by Big Ag and the pharmaceutical industry, and major media presstitutes. We can expect to hear ever wilder and more irrational claims about how GMO-based agriculture might reduce CO2 greenhouse pollution and save humanity. And expect new trade agreements, written by corporations such as Monsanto to be rammed through the international community by the US and its allies that use the Washington Consensus to enforce international acceptance of GMOs.
In short, out of desperation in their quest for global food dominance, the agro-chemical industry and the US government will be declaring a full food war against the peoples of the world.
Richard Gale is the Executive Producer of the Progressive Radio Network and a former Senior Research Analyst in the biotechnology and genomic industries. Gary Null PhD is the host of the nation’s longest running public radio program on nutrition and natural health and a multi-award-winning director of progressive documentary films, including Seeds of Death: Unveiling the Lies of GMOs, which is available for free viewing https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eUd9rRSLY4A#t=24
 “Trump pushes GMOs in executive order,” Center for Food Safety. April 26, 2017
 Alexander Jacobo. “GOP sides with Monsanto, threatens to cut off WHO funding for agency that labeled glyphosate as a carcinogen,” Nation of Change. February 12, 2018
 M Antoniou, J Fagan, C Robinson “GMO Myths and Truths: An Evidence-Based Examination of the Claims Made for the Safety and Efficacy of Genetically Modified Crops,” Earth Open Source. June 2012 p. 66
 “Roundup, An Herbicide, Could be Linked to Parkinson’s, Cancer and Other Health Issues, Study Shows” Reuters. April 25, 2013
 Gang Wang, Xiao-Ning Fan, Yu-Yan Tan, Qi Cheng, Sheng-Di Chen Parkinsonism after chronic occupational exposure to glyphosate. Parkinsonism RelatDisord. 2011 Jul;17(6):486-7. Epub 2011 Mar 2
 Alejandra Paganelli , Victoria Gnazzo , Helena Acosta , Silvia L. López , and Andrés E. Carrasco Glyphosate-Based Herbicides Produce Teratogenic Effects on Vertebrates by Impairing Retinoic Acid Signaling Chem. Res. Toxicol., 2010, 23 (10), pp 1586–1595
 ChannaJayasumana , SarathGunatilake and PriyanthaSenanayake Glyphosate, Hard Water and Nephrotoxic Metals: Are They the Culprits Behind the Epidemic of Chronic Kidney Disease of Unknown Etiology in Sri Lanka? Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health2014, 11(2), 2125-2147
 Dario Aranda “Cancer Danger in the GMO Fields” Pagina 12 (Argentina), June 23, 2014
 Fessenden, Marissa. “Sperm counts have dropped 50 percent,” Daily Dose. August 29, 2018
 “Roundup causes changes in gut microbiome of rats,” GM Watch. January 1, 2018
 Ken Roseboro. “Biotech’s Assault on Balanced Journalism” Huffington Post, June 4, 2014 http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ken-roseboro/biotechs-assault-on-balan_b_5432699.html
 Guardian Newspaper Report Admits Widespread Failure of GM Btbrinjal” GMWatch June 5, 2014
 Deirdre Fulton, GMO Corn No Longer Resistant to Bugs Common Dreams 30 July 14
 Pushpa M Bhargava US is trying to control our food production Hindustan Times, August 7, 2014 http://www.hindustantimes.com/comment/analysis/us-is-trying-to-control-our-food-production/article1-1249456.aspx
 “Hundreds of GMO studies busted by discovery of major conflicts of interest,” Natural Blaze. December 26, 2016
 “Karnataka bans Mahyco’s Cotton Seeds” Business Standard (India) March 28, 2014
 “Ten Years of Failure, Farmers Deceived by GM Corn” MASIPAG (Philippines) October 16, 2013
 “Genetic engineer renounces his GMO potatoes,” GMO Science. October 22, 2018
 “GMO potatoes: the risks to health,” GM Watch. October 11, 2018
 UN Report Says Small Scale Organic Farming Only Way to Feed the World.” Technology Water. December 14, 2013 http://www.technologywater.com/post/69995394390/un-report-says-small-scale-organic-farming-only-way-to
 New Wave of Herbicide-Tolerant Crops Awaiting Likely U.S. Approval eNews Park Forest August 8, 2014 http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/science/science-a-environmental/54647-new-wave-of-herbicide-tolerant-crops-awaiting-likely-u-s-approval.html
 “Trump pushes GMOs in executive order,” Center for Food Safety. April 26, 2017
 “New study discovers major differences between GMO and non-GMO corn,” Natural Health 365, February 7, 2017
 “World Needs UN GMO Watchdog – Russia” RT June 5, 2014 http://rt.com/news/163852-russia-un-gmo-watchdog/
 “Survey reveals Americans don’t trust scientists on GMOs,” Natural Society. December 8, 2016