excerpts from the book

Seeds of Deception

Exposing Industry and Government Lies about
the Safety of the Genetically Engineered Foods You're Eating

by Jeffrey M. Smith

Yes! Books, 2003, paperback


a biotech consultant

The hope of the industry is that over time, the market is so flooded that there's nothing you can do about it. You just sort of surrender.

Genetically modified potatoes were already being sold and consumed in the United States. Their DNA was spliced with a gene from a soil bacterium similar to Bacillus anthrax. The added gene caused the potatoes to create their own pesticide called Bacillus thuringiensis toxin or Bt. If insects had the misfortune to eat one of these genetically modified wonders, the Bt, which was manufactured by every cell of the plant, quickly killed the insect. The same Bt-creating genes have also been placed into the DNA of corn and cottonseed, also sold and consumed in the United States, and all officially classified as pesticides.

Dr. Arpad Pusztai, the world's expert on lectins, found that rats which were fed GM potatoes suffered damaged immune systems. Their white blood cells responded much more sluggishly than those fed a non-GM diet, leaving them more vulnerable to infection and disease. Organs related to the immune system, the thymus and spleen, showed some damage as well. Compared to rats fed a non-GM control diet, some of the GM-fed rats had smaller, less developed brains, livers, and testicles. Other rats had enlarged tissues, including the pancreas and intestines. Some showed partial atrophy of the liver. What's more, significant structural changes and a proliferation of cells in the stomach and intestines of GM-fed rats may have signaled an increased potential for cancer.

... In the end only the rats that ate the GM potatoes suffered the serious negative effects. From the evidence, it was clear that the lectins were not the major cause of the health damage. Rather, there was some effect from the process of genetic engineering itself that caused the damaged organs and immune dysfunction of the adolescent rats.

... Pusztai knew that his results strongly suggested that the GM foods already approved and being eaten by hundreds of millions of people every day might be creating similar health problems in people, especially in children.

... Furthermore, if human beings developed problems similar to his rats, it could take years to appear and it would be highly unlikely for anyone to suspect GM foods as the cause.

In April 1999, the British food industry bowed to consumer pressure. Unilever, England's biggest food manufacturer, announced it Would remove GM ingredients from its products sold in Europe. The announcement started a weeklong stampede by leading companies, all household names," reported the Independent. Nestlé made its announcement the next day, as did the major supermarket chains including Tesco, Sainsbury, Safeway, Asda, and Somerfield. McDonalds and Burger King also committed to remove GM soy and corn from their ingredients in European stores. In the end, no major retailer was left standing in the GMO camp. They would eventually spend millions sourcing new supplies of non-GM corn, soy, and their derivatives, or reformulating their recipes, removing corn and soy products altogether. (The European Union passed a law requiring foods that contain ingredients with more than 1 percent GM content to be labeled. Most European producers have eliminated GM ingredients in order to avoid the label. On July 2, 2003, the European Parliament voted to lower the labeling threshold to .9 percent.)

Researchers at Cornell University announced ... that monarch butterflies died when they came into contact with pollen from corn engineered to create its own pesticide.

GM foods are a regular part of the U.S. diet. Approximately 80 percent of the soy and 38 percent of the corn planted in the U.S. in 2003 is genetically engineered. Derivatives from these two crops are found in about 70 percent of processed foods. In addition, 70 percent of the cotton crop and more than 60 percent of the canola crop, both used for cooking oil, are also genetically modified. About 75 percent of these crops are engineered to withstand otherwise deadly applications of an herbicide, 17 percent produce their own insecticide, and 8 percent are engineered to do both. There are also hundreds of foods produced with genetically engineered cooking agents, food additives, and enzymes, as well as varieties of GM squash and papaya. And there are dairy products from cows injected with a GM bovine growth hormone. All these are sold without labels identifying them as GMOs.

The regulations in the U.S. are so lax, there are no required pre-market safety tests. There is no way to determine if GM foods are creating serious health problems. People get sick all the time without tracking their illness to food, or pesticides, or air or water pollution. The causes remain well hidden.

In 1990, no state had 15 percent or more of its population in the obese category. By 2001, only one state didn't. Diabetes rose by 33 percent from 1990 to 1998, lymphatic cancers are up, and many other illnesses are on the rise. Is there a connection to GM foods? We have no way of knowing because no one has looked for one.

With such slim research on the safety of GM food and such enormous risks, why are respected institutes, scientific panels, research journals, even government officials lining up to defend it as proven safe? And why are they so quick to condemn evidence that might be used to protect the public?

With less research money available from public sources, more and more scientists in the U.S. and Europe are dependent on corporate sponsors, and hence, corporate acceptance of their research and results. Among Britain's top research universities, for example, dependence on private funds often amounts to 80 to 90 percent of the total research budget.

A poll of 500 scientists working in either government or recently privatized research institutes in the UK revealed that 30 percent had been asked to change their research conclusions by their sponsoring customer.

In the U.S., corporate donations [to scientific research] rose from $850 million in 1985 to $4.25 billion in less than ten years. According to the Atlantic Monthly, "increasingly the money comes with strings attached .... In higher education today corporations not only sponsor a growing amount of research - they frequently dictate the terms under which it is conducted.

Atlantic Monthly

A study of major research centers in the field of engineering found that 35 percent would allow corporate sponsors to delete information from papers prior to publication.

Research in the Journal of the American Medical Association revealed that studies of cancer drugs funded by non-profit groups were eight times more likely to reach unfavorable conclusions as the studies funded by the pharmaceutical companies.

Jaan Suurküla, M.D., in an editorial for PSRAST (Physicians and Scientists for Responsible Application of Science and Technology)

Scientific experts cannot be expected to be independent and reliable advisors in safety issues considering the increasing dependence of science on financial support from the industry.

Dr. Arpad Pusztai

In the last four or five years ... I became very / concerned. The problems with GM foods may be irreversible and the true effects may only be seen well in the future.

The situation is like the tobacco industry. They knew about it but they suppressed that information. They created misleading evidence that showed that the problem wasn't so serious. And all the time they knew how bad it was. Tobacco is bad enough. But genetic modification, if it is going to be problematic, if it is going to cause us real health problems, then tobacco will be nothing in comparison with this. The size of genetic modification and problems it may cause us are tremendous.

If we injure the health prospects of humanity in this and the next and the next generation, then I think those people should be made accountable for the crimes they committed.

In 1985 pigs were engineered with a human gene that produces human growth hormone. The scientists' goal was to produce a faster-growing pig. What they got was a freak show... In one of the first litters born with the growth hormone genes, a female piglet had no anus or genitals. Some of the pigs were too lethargic to stand. Others had arthritis, ulcers, enlarged hearts, dermatitis, vision problems, or renal disease.

Recombinant (genetically engineered) bovine growth hormone (rbGH) when injected into dairy cows, increases milk production by 10 to f5 percent.

... Most critics of rbGH are far less concerned about rbGH residues in the milk than they are about another change that takes place in treated cows. The injections result in the increase of yet another hormone: insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1). Humans also have IGF-1. It causes cells to divide and is one of the most powerful growth hormones in the body. It also resembles insulin; hence the name insulin-like growth factor. Human IGF-1 is chemically identical to the IGF-1 found in cows.

... The FDA admits, rbGH treatment produces an increase in the concentration of insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) in cow's milk.

... Whatever the amount, according to Rachel's Environmental and Health News, "IGF-1 in milk is not destroyed by pasteurization. It's intact in the milk we drink.

Not only is there more IGF-1 in the milk, it is not destroyed in the stomach. The Canadian Gaps Analysis Report said IGF-1 "can survive the GI tract environment" and is "absorbed intact.

... A study on humans published in the journal of the American Dietetic Association measured the free levels of IGF-1 in two groups, one that drank milk and one that did not. The study reported, "Serum IGF-1 levels increased significantly in milk drinkers.

... By 1991, it was already documented that IGF-1 was "critically involved in the aberrant growth of human breast cancer cells."

... In 1993, the European journal Cancer concluded that IGF-1 "plays a major role in human breast cancer cell growth.

In January l998, a paper in Science established the cancer link even further. A Harvard study of 15,000 white males revealed that those with elevated IGF-1 levels in their blood were four times more likely to get prostate cancer than the average man. The report says, "A strong positive association was observed between IGF- 1 levels and prostate cancer risk" and "administration of GH [growth hormone in humans or IGF- 1 over long periods ... may increase risk of prostate cancer.

Four months later, a study in the Lancet found premenopausal women in the U.S. with high levels of IGF-1 were seven times as likely to develop breast cancer. The authors wrote, "with the exception of a strong family history of breast cancer... the relation between IGF-1 and risk of breast cancer may be greater than that of other established breast-cancer risk factors.

Cancer Research reported

Diet contributes to over one-third of cancer in the Western world, yet the factors in the diet that influence cancer are not elucidated.

The EU ended up instituting a permanent ban [on rbGH].. New Zealand, Australia, Japan, and other industrialized countries likewise do not allow rbGH.

... rbGH remains on the U.S. market.

In 1960, Senate investigators discovered that FDA officials had been receiving financial incentives from the companies they were supposed to regulate... In 1969, a congressional study revealed that thirty-seven of forty-nine top FDA officials who left the agency took jobs with food and drug companies.

[In 1976] several FDA officials and drug company executives were convicted on corruption, racketeering, and similar charges for a bribery scheme that went on from 1989-1992. Generic drug companies paid off FDA officials to approve their drugs and block approval of competitors' drugs. The generic drug companies also withheld data and even substituted other companies' brand name drugs for evaluation, instead of risking an evaluation of their own product."

former FDA Commissioner Dr. Herbert Ley said in 1969

Then thing that bugs me is that people think the FDA is protecting them. It isn't. What the FDA is doing and what the public thinks it's doing are as different as night and day.

In 2002, more than 2 million of the 9.2 million U.S. dairy cows were injected with rbGH. Larger dairies farms use it more often; 54 percent of farms with at least 500 cows compared to about 9 percent of farms with less than 100 cows. But since dairies typically mix milk from many farms, milk from hormone treated cows is in almost all U.S. dairy products.

FDA chemist Joseph Settapani

The FDA's failures have become a scientific breakdown that threatens the safety of America's food supply generally, and dairy products in particular .... As a result of [their] failure to act, the nation's milk supply - as well as products such as infant formula, ice cream, cheese and yogurt that are made from milk - is highly contaminated with unknown levels of animal-drug residues that have not been shown to be safe.

Organic dairies and many others take precautions to avoid the [rbGH] hormone.

Sheldon Rampton and John Stauber in their book "Trust Us We're Experts"

In the absence of labeling for genetically modified products, it is impossible to determine who has been eating mutant soybeans and who has been eating natural ones. If something toxic enters the food supply, tracing it to its source will be difficult if impossible.

Monsanto had assured the public that their Agent Orange, the defoliant used during the Vietnam War, was safe for humans. It wasn't. Thousands of veterans and tens of thousand of Vietnamese who suffered a wide range of maladies, including cancer, neurological disorders, and birth defects, blame Monsanto.

Monsanto had also declared their electrical insulator poly-chlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) as safe. They weren't. Outlawed in 1978, they have been linked to cancer and birth defects, and are considered a major environmental hazard.

Henry Miller, who was in charge of biotechnology issues at the FDA from 1979 to 1,994

The U.S. government agencies have done exactly what big agribusiness has asked them to do and told them to do.

public interest attorney Steven Druker, who has studied the FDA's internal files

References to the unintended negative effects of bioengineering [at the FDA from 1979-1994] were progressively deleted from drafts of the policy statement, and a final statement was issued claiming (a) that [GM] foods are no riskier than others and (b) that the agency has no information to the contrary.

James Turner, a long-time FDA watchdog and best-selling author of The Chemical Feast: The Nader Report on the Food and Drug Administration

At the top [of the FDA] there are political appointees not necessarily bound by science, but often influenced by other agendas. Many pass through the agency at a rapid clip, moving from one regulated enterprise to another. At the same time, some of the finest scientists and public servants that I have ever met worked at the FDA. Unfortunately many of them are often hired away by universities, nonprofit groups, and other public health agencies, leaving a less dedicated and less competent residue of people not highly sought after outside of government.

Richard Crout, former director of the FDA's Bureau of Drugs, April 1976 testimony before the Panel of New Drug Regulations

I want to describe the agency [FDA] as I saw it. No one knew where anything was .... There was absenteeism; there was open drunkenness by several employees, which went on for months; there was intimidation internally . . . . People - I'm talking about division directors and their staffs - would engage in a kind of behavior that invited insubordination; people tittered in the corners, throwing spitballs - now I'm describing physicians; people would slouch down in their chairs and not respond to questions; and moan-and-groan, the sleeping gestures. This was a kind of behavior I have not seen in any other institution from a grown man... FDA has a long-term problem with the recruitment of personnel, good, scientific personnel.

a congressional aide said in 1991

The result of OMB interference [over the previous decade] is that the expertise of scientists and career civil servants is being second-guessed by people who have no legal or scientific basis... At FDA morale stinks. Hundreds of people have either retired or quit in disgust. All the best people, who believed in working on behalf of public health, have gone.


FDA veterinarian Richard Burroughs describing what the saw at the FDA

There seemed to be a trend m the place toward approval at any price. It went from a university-like setting where there was independent scientific review to an atmosphere of 'approve, approve, approve... the thinking is, 'How many things can we approve this year?' Somewhere along the way they abdicated their responsibility to the public welfare.

The [Government Accounting Office] GAO [found] that more than half of the drugs approved by the FDA between 1976 and 1985 had severe or fatal side effects that had not been detected during the agency's review and testing.


Bt is a pesticide, so it's exempt from FDA regulation. That is, even though a Bt potato is plainly a food, for the purposes of federal regulation it is not a food but a pesticide and therefore falls under the jurisdiction of the EPA.

... The Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act specifically bars the FDA from including any information about pesticides on its food labels.

Phil Angel, Director of Corporate Communications for Monsanto

[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.

Ralph Moss

Further investigation revealed that Searle [Pharmaceutical Company] had known about the tumor-producing potential of [Aldactone and Flagyl] but had simply given the FDA fraudulent data. [Searle was the tenth largest pharmaceutical company at the time.]

The four leaders of the biotech industry - Monsanto, Dow, DuPont, and Novartis (now Syngenta) - gave more than $3.5 million in PAC, soft-money, and large individual contributions between 1995 and 2000 - three-quarters of it to Republicans.

The Globe and Mail [UK]

[Monsanto is] a virtual retirement home for members of the Clinton administration.

Another former EPA employee, Linda Fisher, became vice president

Betty Martini of the consumer group Mission Possible

The Food and Drug Administration is so closely linked to the biotech industry now that it could be described as their Washington branch office.

In Europe, nearly the entire food manufacturing and retail industry has banned GM ingredients, and the majority of the world's population are covered by restrictions on the sale and use of GM crops .

Because of the difficulty of segregating GM crops from non-GM crops, many overseas buyers have simply rejected all corn, soy, canola, and cotton from the U.S. and Canada. Since these four GM crops and their derivatives are found in most processed foods in the U.S., American-made packaged foods are also off-limits in many markets.

U.S. corn exports to Europe have been virtually eliminated, down by 99.4 percent. Likewise, Canada's annual canola sales to Europe vanished as has their honey - tainted by GM pollen.

U.S. soy, which enjoyed 57 percent of the world market, dropped by about a fifth to 46 percent. Soy is principally used for animal feed. U.S. soy sales have been supported by the fact that, until recently, few importers expressed concern about feeding animals GM feed. But overseas retailers are now promising to sell meat that was raised on non-GM sources.

GM tomatoes and potatoes failed to take hold and have been taken off the market. GM sugar beet, flax, and rice, while approved, were never commercialized. When Monsanto pushed hard to introduce GM wheat, more than 80 percent of U.S.- and Canadian wheat buyers said they didn't want it and might shop elsewhere if it were introduced. More than 200 groups, including the U.S. and Canadian National Farmers Unions, the Canadian Wheat Board, and the American Corn growers Association, lobbied against Monsanto, ultimately forcing them to announce on May 10, 2004, that they were canceling their plans to develop GM wheat for the near future.

Even in the U.S. where there has been [little] news coverage of the GMO issue, more and more food manufacturers are committing to remove GM ingredients from their products. First major health food retail chains such as Whole Foods and Wild Oats rejected GMOs. Now mainstream American retailer Trader Joe's has followed suit a result market research: 'The majority of our customers would prefer to have products made without genetically engineered ingredients.'' Other, even larger U.S.-based food companies, including Frito-Lay, Gerber, Heinz, Seagram and Han, have also decided not to use GMOs in their products. A 2003 ABC news poll also revealed that 92 percent the U.S. population want GM food to be labeled.

U.S. Deputy Secretary of Commerce David Aaron told European representatives in 1999

Not a rash, not a sneeze, not a cough, not a watery eye has been developed from [GM foods], and that's because we have been extremely careful in our process of approving them.

He said that the FDA found no scientific proof that GM foods were harmful. He said the reason that Americans were not against GM food is because they trust the FDA. The problem, according to Aaron, was not with the foods. It was the fact that Europe had no American-style FDA. Aaron said, "We would like the governments ... to develop a transparent, systematic approval process that is based on science."

Many of the world's media, particularly in the United States, have been the target of an intensive pro-biotech campaign by the industry. Hence, there has been a chronic underreporting of GM concerns-especially the health risks.

Food can have a profound effect on behavior, mood, happiness, and our entire quality of life. In 2002, research demonstrated that "food molecules act like hormones, regulating body functioning and triggering cell division. The molecules can cause mental imbalances ranging from attention-deficit and hyperactivity disorder to serious mental illness". Food can be "more powerful than drugs." The researchers also said that food could alter "genes that affect whether we get cancer, heart disease, depression, schizophrenia or dyslexia." Eating the right foods not only extends our lives, they said, but "more importantly, we would maintain a higher quality of life as we age."

A study by the UK's Asthma and Allergy Research Centre supports this conclusion. For two weeks, 277 three-year-olds were fed fruit juice dosed with a total of 20 mg of four artificial colors along with the preservative sodium benzoate. These amounts are well below levels allowed in children's food and drink. For another two-week period, the children received plain fruit juice.

The parents were not told which two-week period their kids got the plain juice and which period they got the spiked juice. They were asked to write reports on their three-year-olds' behavior. They covered areas such as "interrupting, concentration, disturbing others, difficulty settling down to sleep, fiddling with objects and temper tantrums." The data showed significant differences between the two trial periods. In fact, the study concluded that food coloring is the likely cause for one in four temper tantrums among the general child population.

Researchers said, "significant changes in children's hyperactive behavior could be produced by the removal of food colorings and additives from their diet." The benefits, they said, "would accrue for all children from such a change, and not just for those already showing hyperactive behavior or who are at risk of allergic reactions."'

If additives and junk food have such a powerful affect on infants, students and probationers, how much of our irritability, distractions, restlessness, insomnia, anger, or depression are being dictated by what we eat? Science does not yet have the answer. Food's impact on mental and emotional health is not evaluated in traditional food safety assessments. And no research has yet looked at these effects related to GM foods.

Currently, the major genetically engineered crops are soy, cotton, canola, and com. Other modified crops include some U.S. zucchini~ and yellow squash, Hawaiian papaya, and some tobacco. There may also be some remaining GM potatoes in the form of starch, but Monsanto is no longer marketing them. The GM tomatoes have similarly been taken off the market. U.S. dairy products may contain milk from cows injected with rbGH. And both meat and dairy products usually come from animals that have eaten GM feed. Even honey and bee pollen can contain GM sources.

In addition, there are genetically modified food additives, enzymes, flavorings, and processing agents in thousands of foods on the grocery shelves as well as health supplements. For example, the rennet used to make cheese is often a genetically engineered version. Aspartame, the diet sweetener, is a product of genetic engineering. And GM bacteria and fungi are used in the production of enzymes, vitamins, and processing aids.

In the United States and Canada, GM foods are not labeled.

Most generic vegetable oils and margarines used in restaurants and in processed foods in North America are made from soy, corn, canola, or cottonseed. Soy oil alone comprises 80 percent of U.S. vegetable oil. (Substantial portions of each of these four crops are genetically engineered and usually mixed together with their non-GM counterparts before being pressed into oil. Therefore, unless the oil specifically says "Non-GMO" or "Organic," it is probably genetically modified.

Most packaged foods contain soy and/or corn in some form: as soy flour, soy protein, soy lecithin, textured vegetable protein, corn meal, corn syrup, dextrose, maltodextrin, fructose, citric acid, lactic acid, and of course, soy or corn oil.

Foods that may contain GM soy or corn derivatives or GM vegetable oil include: infant formula, salad dressing, bread, cereal, hamburgers and hotdogs, margarine, mayonnaise, crackers, cookies, chocolate, candy, fried food, chips, veggie burgers, meat substitutes, ice cream, frozen yogurt, tofu, tamari, soy, soy cheese, tomato sauce, protein powder, baking powder, alcohol, vanilla, powdered sugar, peanut butter, enriched flour and pasta. Non-food items include cosmetics, soaps, detergents, shampoo, and bubble bath.

More than 50 percent of papaya from Hawaii is genetically modified to resist a virus. Most U.S. papayas come from Brazil, Mexico, or the Caribbean, however, where there are, no GM varieties. Some zucchini and yellow crookneck squash are also GM but they are not popular with farmers.

Dairies generally collect their milk from many sources. In the U.S., if a dairy product is not labeled organic, non-GMO, or made without hormones, it is likely that a portion of the product came from cows that were injected with rbGH... studies have been done on whether that affects the milk.

Honey can be produced from GM crops. For example, some Canadian honey comes from bees collecting nectar from canola. This has shut down exports of Canadian honey to Europe.

Organic meat and eggs come from animals that have been raised without hormones and with feed that is non-GMO. So-called "natural" meat is usually free of hormones and antibiotics, but the animal may have been raised on GM feed.

One common enzyme is called chymosin which is used in the production of hard cheeses. In the past, it was taken from the stomach linings of calves (called rennet). Since the GM variety was introduced in 1990, more than 70 percent of U.S. cheeses now use this variety. It is not allowed in organic cheese. Xanthan gum is another product that may be derived from a GM process.

New [US Department of Agriculture (USDA)] rules forbid the use of genetic engineering for products labeled as organic. If seeds or crops have been accidentally mixed with GM content, the product cannot be sold as organic. An exception is made in the case of contamination from cross-pollination.

... If a package says "100% Organic" each ingredient must be 100 percent organic. If the label says "Organic," at least 95 percent of the ingredients must be organic. The remaining 5 percent are not supposed to be genetically modified according to the organic standards. If the label states, "Made with Organic Ingredients," at least 70 percent of the ingredients must be organic-the non-organic ingredients are also not supposed to be GM. The non-organic ingredients, usually listed at the bottom of the label, do not need to be tested as non-GMO.

In Europe where food is labeled if its ingredients contain even a small amount of GM content, restaurants are supposed to list if any of their foods contain GM ingredients or have the information available upon request.

Food watch

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