Saturday, September 05, 2009
Chickens Not Fooled
by GM Crops
By Eleanor Momberg
Chickens refusing to eat the maize they had been fed has led to the discovery that their feed had been genetically modified to include a well-known weed and insect killer.
Strilli Oppenheimer was recently approached by Dawid Klopper, the head gardener at the family estate, Brenthurst, informing her that her indigenous African chickens were refusing to eat the mealies in the chicken feed bought from a large supplier. Concerned that the birds may be ingesting genetically modified maize, she instructed Klopper to have the maize tested.
The chickens' diet was immediately changed to include organic vegetables, Oppenheimer stopped consuming the home-grown eggs and the maize was sent to the GMO testing facility at the University of the Free State for analysis.
The results confirmed Oppenheimer's initial suspicion - the maize had been genetically engineered to produce proteins that are toxic to certain insects and weeds.
"It contained BT1 which makes the maize insect resistant, as well as Roundup which makes it weed resistant. This is the first report we have had of chickens not eating GM feed," said a GM expert.
While small quantities of BT1 and Roundup weed killer were found in the seeds, the concern remained with the cumulative effect of GM feed, not only on the chickens, but also on the eggs they produced for the family.
"This is of serious concern. Do you know that 96 percent of soya-based foods are genetically modified and that maize in South Africa is contaminated," asked Oppenheimer, pointing out that research by well-known scientist Dr Arpad Pusztai had shown that rats fed on GM potatoes suffered from a weakened immune system and stunted growth of their internal organs, including the liver, kidneys and brain.
Pusztai was fired by the Rowett Research Institute in the UK in 1998 after his research into the human nutritional consequences of GM. His findings had far-reaching implications for the biotech industry, which had contended that GM crops and products would not adversely affect human health.
International research has shown a direct link between certain types of genetic engineering and cancer.
Gundula Azeez and Coilin Nunan of The Soil Association, a UK environmental charity, stated in their paper, "GM Crops - the health effects", that international research had shown that milk, eggs and meat from GM-fed animals contained GM crop DNA, concluding that it was likely that people were frequently being exposed to GM DNA.
They concluded that because of the lapses in extensive safety assessments, there were "very good scientific reasons for being concerned about the safety of GM crops".
Rose Williams, acting director of Biowatch, said globally there was great concern that GM products had not been adequately tested in terms of their effect on people, animals and the environment.
"There has been no testing on humans, very limited testing on animals and very little research on environmental impacts. This is the case globally, but in South Africa even less work has been done, even though the commercial release of GM maize, GM soya and GM cotton has been approved."
Williams said concerns by NGOs such as Biowatch, the African Centre for Biosafety and SAFeAGE about the lack of control over GM crops and contamination of non-GM crops had largely been ignored.
"Government has not done enough to protect the public from the potential threats of GM foods. There is also the matter of liability - who will take responsibility for people's losses and any health problems relating to consumption of GM foods, whether they are for people or for animals."
Williams said the contamination of non-GM crops was a real problem, with the biotech industry leading people to believe that co-existence of GM and non-GM crops was possible. "But it is not," she said.
While the recently implemented Consumer Protection Act called for the labelling of GM foods, the regulations linked to the measure had yet to be finalised.
About her chickens' refusal to eat their maize, Oppenheimer said: "They're smart."
When an animal refuses to eat its regular feed it is oftentimes a clear sign that something is wrong with the food. Animals, as opposed to humans, tend to have a “sixth sense” about what’s safe to eat, and what’s not.
A 2003 report on the British Institute of Science in Society (ISIS) web site states that both experimental and anecdotal evidence shows animals seek to avoid GM food, and do not thrive if given no other choice.
In this case, the chicken feed turned out to contain BT1, an insecticide, plus built-in Roundup that makes it weed resistant.
If GM Crops Harm Animals, What are They Doing to You?
GM corn found itself in the hot seat late last year, after a highly reputable study commissioned by the Austrian Agency for Health and Food Safety discovered that mice fed GM corn had significantly smaller and fewer offspring compared to the control group.
The lead author of the study stated there was a direct link between the GM diet and reduced fertility.
Likewise, Jeffrey Smith, author of Seeds of Deception and Genetic Roulette, has documented 65 serious health risks from GM products of all kinds. Among them:
Offspring of rats fed GM soy showed a five-fold increase in mortality, lower birth weights, and the inability to reproduce
Male mice fed GM soy had damaged sperm
The embryo offspring of GM soy-fed mice had altered DNA functioning
Several US farmers reported sterility or fertility problems among pigs and cows fed on GM corn varieties
So the question is, what do these foods do to your body?
Personally, I strongly believe that genetically modified foods are a significant threat against the very sustainability of the human race.
The available research shows incriminating links between the side effects of GM foods and diseases that have skyrocketed since the release of GM ingredients into our food supply, such as autoimmune diseases and severe food allergies.
GM Foods are Flawed Scientific Dogma Run Amok
The well-known scientist Dr. Arpad Pusztai stated in an article last year,
“Reality really started to dawn on genetic scientists with the completion of the human genome project showing that the dogma of genetic determinism, the science basis of genetic engineering was untrue, as the less than 30,000 genes could not possibly code for the about 200,000 cellular proteins.
It was also realized that the about 97 percent non-gene “junk” DNA has a decisive role in the genome. Our primitive splicing techniques together with our inability to direct the transgene into “safe” zones in the genome, if such zones exist at all, were shown to lead to insertional mutagenesis with unpredictable consequences.
Although it is impossible to forecast in advance what these consequences for health and the environment will be, a few independent studies have already shown… new anti-nutrients, toxins, and allergens were formed as by-products of gene-splicing, and other, mainly unpredictable immunity-related problems also occurred.
… the industry still hangs on to the less costly but unscientific principle of “substantial equivalence”, i.e. the near identity of the GE crop with its parent line, as their main “safety testing,” and only commission simple contract animal feeding/production studies as a last resort to support their case of human/animal safety.
In fact, there are hardly more than over two dozens of published academic animal safety studies, and the results of only one human trial have been published, and even that was not a full clinical study (Netherwood et al. 2004).”
Dr. Pusztai’s earlier research into the effects of GM potatoes showed that rats suffered from weakened immune systems and stunted growth of their internal organs, including the liver, kidneys and brain, on such a diet. There is also compelling evidence indicating GM potatoes may cause cancer.
As is frequently the case, Dr. Pusztai’s disturbing findings of the human nutritional consequences of GM foods cost him his job. The British Rowett Research Institute fired him in 1998, as the results had far-reaching implications for the biotech industry, which insisted that GM products would not have any adverse effects on human health.
You are Part of a Massive Experiment
Some seem to believe that genetically modified animal feed will not cause any undue effects in the human body. This is flawed thinking at its finest. After all, we are part of the food chain!
Those who believe that what they eat will not affect them simply do not understand the basics of how the human body works.
The Soil Association, a British environmental charity, stated in their report, “GM Crops—The Health Effects,” that international research has found that milk, eggs and meat from GM-fed animals still contain the foreign DNA originally inserted into the GM crop.
The authors concluded, that “there are very good scientific reasons for being concerned about the safety of GM crops.”
With the abundance of GM ingredients currently being used in processed foods of all kinds, you are likely exposed to FAR more GM DNA than you ever thought.
Conventional Media Silence
Did you see the headline, “The American Academy Of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) Calls For Immediate Moratorium On Genetically Modified Foods”?
It’s quite likely you didn’t, but as recently as May 19th, 2009, the AAEM sent out a press advisory calling on physicians to “educate their patients, the medical community, and the public to avoid GM (genetically modified) foods when possible, and provide educational materials concerning GM foods and health risks.”
They also advised that physicians should “consider the role of GM foods in their patients' disease processes.”
In their position paper, the AAEM states that several animal studies indicate serious health risks associated with GM foods, including:
Changes in major organs
Gastrointestinal changes and problems
Do you suffer from any of these ailments? And if so, have you taken a long, hard look at what’s in your diet?
Perhaps you should.
The AAEM concludes,
“There is more than a casual association between GM foods and adverse health effects. There is causation, as defined by recognized scientific criteria. The strength of association and consistency between GM foods and disease is confirmed in several animal studies.”
Shocking Examples of Harm Caused by GM Crops
A study in the European Journal of Histochemistry reported that more than half the babies of mother rats fed GM soy died within three weeks, compared to a 10 percent death rate among the control group fed natural soy.
Since 2003 Indian farmers have been reporting deaths of thousands of sheep and other small livestock who graze on post-harvest fields. At no time before in India’s history has cattle died from this practice.
In 2006, more than 1,800 sheep died after grazing on post-harvest Bt cotton crops in four Indian villages. The symptoms and post-mortem findings strongly suggested they died from severe toxicity, most likely from the Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) toxin, which is incorporated in the genetically modified crops. Bt is a naturally occurring, toxic bacteria common in soils across the globe. Several strains can infect and kill insects.
In a recent article, Jeffrey M. Smith describes how about two dozen U.S. farmers reported that thousands of pigs became sterile after consuming certain GM corn varieties. Some had false pregnancies; others gave birth to bags of water.
Cows and bulls also became infertile when fed the same corn.
Likewise, India has reported that buffalo that ate GM cottonseed had complications such as premature deliveries, spontaneous abortions, infertility, and prolapsed uteruses. Many of the offspring died.
Which Foods are Most Likely to be Genetically Modified … and How Can You Avoid Them?
Nearly all of these foods are GM, and therefore best to avoid:
It would also be wise to limit products made from these ingredients, such as vegetable oils, maltodextrin, and high-fructose corn syrup. In fact, because corn and soy are so widely used in processed foods, at least 70 percent of the processed foods at your supermarket contain GM ingredients.
That’s seven out of every 10 products!
Other GMO products include:
• Some varieties of zucchini, crookneck squash, and papayas from Hawaii
• Milk containing rbGH
• Rennet (containing genetically modified enzymes) used to make hard cheeses
• Aspartame (NutraSweet)
Avoiding all of the products listed above, unless they are certified organic, is one way to cut down on your intake of GM foods. Buying products that are certified organic or that say non-GMO are other ways you can limit your family‘s risk from GM foods, as organic foods are not allowed to contain GM ingredients.
You can also tell GM foods by their PLU sticker:
A four-digit number means the produce is conventionally grown
A five-digit number beginning with 9 means it's organic
A five-digit number beginning with 8 means it's GM
Particularly in the United States, where GM products are not required to be labeled, it can be difficult to eat a GM-free diet. But there are some resources available to help you.
I recommend downloading the Non-GMO Shopping Guide, issued by the Institute for Responsible Technology. They also offer some helpful basic advice for how to avoid GMO’s when eating in restaurants.
In conclusion, remember to never underestimate the power of your pocketbook. If more of us begin to refuse GM foods, food manufacturers will have no choice but to listen.
One thing is for sure: if we do not put a stop to the spread of GM foods, our future generations may be forever saddled with needless health problems. If you haven’t yet taken the time to watch The Future of Food, please do so now. It’s a real eye-opener, and perhaps one of the most important videos on this subject.
I urge you to see it, and pass it on to everyone you know.
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