jueves, febrero 23, 2006



Easing fears of biotech food with bullsh*t

New Biotechnology Industry Organisation (BIO) man Sean Darragh is a former U.S. defense, national security and trade official.

The "new public face of the global agricultural biotechnology industry" is also a bullsh*t specialist par excellence and the newspaper interview he has given below has to be read to be believed!

Here's a couple of examples of Darragh, ducking and diving and laying it on thick:

Q: "Have you done studies over a long period of time to say whether people who eat more genetically modified foods get more cancers or get more of other diseases than people who eat more organically grown food? Have those sorts of studies been done?"

Darragh : Ten years have gone by without one documented case of any problem associated with the technology. ... I've never met anybody with a science degree, who has a Ph.D. in biology, ever, who was not comfortable with the safety of biotechnology."

"...If I had a conversation with anybody with a Ph.D. in biology and they could articulate why they were concerned about it and why this technology is any different than the stuff that's been happening for years - like Mendel's peas - then I could understand. But there's nobody out there."

Nobody out there?! Darragh really needs to get out more. He could try these for starters - none of them short of a Ph.d or two and some of them even to be found in America!

Dr Suzanne Wuerthele, US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) toxicologist, "This technology is being promoted, in the face of concerns by respectable scientists and in the face of data to the contrary, by the very agencies which are supposed to be protecting human health and the environment. The bottom line in my view is that we are confronted with the most powerful technology the world has ever known, and it is being rapidly deployed with almost no thought whatsoever to its consequences."

"With genetic engineering familiar foods could become metabolically dangerous or even toxic." - Statement by 21 scientists including the following, Professor Brian Goodwin, Professor Jacqueline McGlade, Professor Peter Saunders and Professor Richard Lacey

Professor Richard Lewontin, professor of genetics, Harvard University, "We have such a miserably poor understanding of how the organism develops from its DNA that I would be surprised if we don't get one rude shock after another."

Professor Norman Ellstrand, ecological geneticist at the University of California, "within 10 years we will have a moderate to large-scale ecological or economic catastrophe, because there will be so many products being released."

Dr Harash Narang, microbiologist and senior research associate at the University of Leeds, who originally pointed to the possible link between mad cow disease (BSE) and CJD in humans, "If you look at the simple principle of genetic modification it spells ecological disaster. There are noways of quantifying the risks... The solution is simply to ban the use of genetic modification in food."

Dr. Erik Millstone, Sussex University, "The fundamental problem of the way in which GM foods have been approved is that they haven't really been tested properly at all. All that has happened is something which I would characterise as an exercise in wishful thinking."

Professor Richard Lacey, microbiologist and Professor of Food Safety at LeedsUniversity - one of the scientists who predicted the BSE disaster from early on - has spoken out strongly against the introduction of genetically engineered foods because of "the essentially unlimited health risks."

Doctor Arpad Pusztai, world-leading nutrintional science expert, formerly of the Food, Gut, and Microbial Interactions Group, Rowett Research Institute, "If it is left to me, I would certainly not eat it. We are putting new things into food which have not been eaten before. The effects onthe immune system are not easily predictable and I challenge anyone who will say that the effectsare predictable."

Professor James (the main architect of the UK Food Standards Agency) has commented on genetically engineered food: "The perception that everything is totally straightforward and safe isutterly naive. I don't think we fully understand the dimensions of what we're getting into." He has also said, ""There is... a need to develop more effective and appropriate screening methods toalert companies and government agencies to the unexpected consequences of the often random insertion of genetic traits into plants." Professor James has also remarked that the current regulatory system is open to challenge simply because we are making all sorts of judgments with so little evidence at hand."

Dr Andrew Chesson, vice chairman of European Commission scientific committee on animal nutrition, "Potentially disastrous effects may come from undetected harmful substances in genetically modified foods"

Dr. Gerald B. Guest, Director of the FDA Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM), "...animal feeds derived from genetically modified plants present unique animal and food safety concerns ... Residues of plant constituents or toxicants in meat and milk products may pose human food safety problems."

Professor Gordon McVie, head of the Cancer Research Campaign: "We don't know what genetic abnormalities might be incorporated into the genome [the individual's DNA]. I'm more worried about humans than about the environment, to be honest. One of the problems is that because it' s a long-term thing, you need to do long-term experiments."

Dr Vyvyan Howard, expert in fetal and infant toxico-pathology at Liverpool University Hospital, "Swapping genes between organisms can produce unknown toxic effects and allergies that are most likely to affect children"

Dr Peter Wills, theoretical biologist at Auckland University writes: "By transferring genes across species barriers which have existed for aeons between species like humans and sheep we risk breaching natural thresholds against unexpected biological processes. For example, an incorrectly folded form of an ordinary cellular protein can under certain circumstances be replicative and give rise to infectious neurological disease".

Dr Michael Antoniou, Senior Lecturer in Molecular Pathology at Guy's Hospital says, "The generation of genetically engineered plants and animals involves the random integration of artificial combinations of genetic material from unrelated species into the DNA of the host organism. This procedure results in disruption of the genetic blueprint of the organism with totally unpredictable consequences. The unexpected production of toxic substances has now been observed in genetically engineered bacteria, yeast, plants, and animals with the problem remaining undetected until a major health hazard has arisen. Moreover, genetically engineered food or enzymatic food processing agents may produce an immediate effect or it could take years for full toxicity to come to light." Dr Antoniou has also warned MPs against believing there was any safe alternative to a ban on GM foods, "We should not lull ourselves into a false sense of security: we should not think that by regulating something which is inherently unpredictable and uncontainable it automatically becomes safe!"

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