domingo, abril 02, 2006

Bioethics 2006

When it comes to the safety of our food, who is watching the store?

“Monsanto should not have to vouchsafe the safety of biotech food.... Our interest is in selling as much of it as possible. Assuring its safety is the FDA’s job”
—Phil Angell, Director of Corporate Communications, Monsanto, quoted in New York Times Magazine, October 25, 1998

“Ultimately, it is the food producer who is responsible for assuring safety.”
— FDA, “Statement of Policy: Foods Derived from New Plant Varieties”, (GMO Policy), Federal Register, Vol. 57, No. 104 (1992), p. 22991

“We’re feeding the products of an infant science to millions of people and releasing them into the environment where they can never be recalled.”
- Jeffrey Smith, author, Seeds of Deception

Just who is in charge when it comes to the powerful and largely untested technology of Genetic Engineering?

"The U.S. government agencies have done exactly what big agribusiness has asked us to do and told us to do.
— Dr. Henry Miller, the FDA official responsible for biotechnology issues from 1979 to 1994

And why is it being introduced into our foods without out knowledge and consent?

“Without labeling of GMO products, it will be very difficult for scientists to trace the source of new illness caused by genetically engineered foods.
— Molecular Biologist, John Fagan

What's all the hullabaloo??

GMO- Genetically Modified Organisms, GE-Genetic Engineering.

Just a few years ago the technology sounded more like science fiction than reality. Imagine splicing together genes from two vastly different species, to create a third species-something Mother Nature never intended? Might this new mutant be able to fight diseases? Might we create Super Foods to feed the world?

Scientists were thrilled by the possibilities. So were venture capitalists who pumped in billions hoping to cash in on the potential promises. But why are we tinkering with the balances of nature? Why are we playing God? Do we know what we are doing?

You might be surprised by what we do know:
Genetic Engineering is an inexact science - the results of inserting bacteria into corn are unknown, and your consumption of such food is unknown.

Still it is happening.

Farmers cannot save seed from one planting to the next when they use GE seed. To do so means lawsuits from Monsanto, who requires the farmers to "re-license" the use of the seed every year. The lawsuits indicate that Monsanto is actively monitoring their client's fields, often trespassing and gathering samples without permission. A series of legal decisions, and an enormous amount of money, has upheld the rights of Monsanto's "intellectual property"-the ownership of its patented technology-over those of the farmers.

But, what do the scientists say about it?

The Federal Government didn't listen to its own FDA scientists' warnings about unintended consequences of GE foods - Especially about the toxic potential. The overwhelming consensus by these scientists was that GM foods are inherently hazardous and may contain poisons or allergens. They urged their superiors to require long-term safety studies, but were ignored by the political appointees, including biotech giant Monsanto's former attorney who was placed in charge of FDA policy. (See

How did the lawyers get around this?

GE food has a legal designation of "substantially equivalent" to other foods - and therefore does not require testing.

Politicians, many of whom receive campaign donations from Biotech and Big Agribusiness firms, vote against industry regulation, claiming it is, among other things, a "drag on economic growth".

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