The following is a briefing on the facts and myths of GMOs which I prepared for members of the Panamanian Government and interested citizens concerning the dangers of genetically modified or, as they are known in Panama, transgenic foods.
The briefing notes the Panamanian legal situation. In Panama, as in the US, GMOs are permitted in the food chain without any labeling at all. This is an ecological, medical and consumer’s rights disaster.
Only strong consumer advocacy, and market pressure against anything which might have GMOs in it (that means avoiding anything which is not labeled “organic” or “GM Free”) will change US policy. But once the environment, or your body, is contaminated with foreign DNA, there is no know way to reverse that process.
Codex, like the US, is totally untroubled by GMOs.
Here is the Myth and Fact Summary
Yours in health and freedom,
Rima E. Laibow, MD
Summary of Myths and Facts RE: Transgenic Foods
Rima E. Laibow, MD
May 25, 2008
The provisions of Panamanian Law No. 48 of August 8, 2002 that created the National Commission of Biosecurity for GMOs, in Article 7 – Section 8 – that the Commission â€œPromote the permanent update of the registries, national and international, of organisms genetically modified based on the precautionary principal.â€ This principal requires the utmost caution in allowing transgenic products.
The Natural Solutions Foundation urges the Government of Panama to implement this provision of law by imposing an
immediate moratorium on any additional GMO approvals without strict risk analysis and competent scientific proof of
lack of risk.
Transgenic crops increase yield, reduce cost and reduce pesticide use. In fact, experience and analysis of the impact of GM crops have shown that none of these commercially useful, but unfounded, assertions is accurate.
– Roundup Â© Ready crops require increasing use of Roundup Â© since super weeds become resistant to the herbicide
– Additional herbicides and pesticides become necessary to maintain adequate crop status
– Crop yield is often disappointing, in part because Roundup Â© can cause sudden crop death
– Transgenic crops are more sensitive to drought, an increasing problem in a warming environment
– Studies since 1999 consistently show that economic, social and environmental degradation follow use of transgenic crops
– Pollinator and predator species are seriously impacted by transgenic crops, including both habitat destruction (Roundup Â©) and Bt production
Panama has no transgenic crops
Panama had registered coffee (arabica), yucca, yam, banana, banana tree, sugar cane, taro root, several varieties of rice, maize, pumpkin, kidney bean, sorghum, and strawberry with UPOV, the International organization, as of 2006 and is releasing a long grain transgenic rice in a few days.
Transgenic crops are carefully regulated before release in prepared foods or as crops
In the US, where virtually all transgenic crops originate, the FDA and USDA operate under a 1992 Executive Order which says that modified and unmodified foods are equivalent. Hence, no safety or other testing is required and both FDA and USDA refuse to require or examine safety testing. Only a patent is necessary to release a food into the food chain and environment. No environmental impact studies or statements are required.
Transgenic foods are safe
Transgenic foods have unintended and rapidly changing biological impact since the inserted genes, the promoter organisms and the marker organisms are foreign to the genome of the plant and are unstable in it.
– FDA and other US government scientists have issued strong warnings about the dangers of transgenic organisms which have either been suppressed or ignored.
– US Center for Disease Control found that food-related illness increased up to 10 fold since the commercialization of transgenic food
– The only published human feeding study verified that genetic material in transgenic soy transfers into the DNA of intestinal bacteria and continues to function
o Glyphosate (Roundup Â©) resistant DNA has been shown to revert and become a glyphosate producer in the gut and in digestive bacteria. Glyphosate is a highly toxic compound associated with infertility, cancer, auto immune diseases and other serious consequences upon ingestion or other exposure
– Every commercialized transgenic organism released into the food supply has already undergone extensive genetic revision and change
– Early understanding of the genome held that its function was fixed and rigid.
– Today we understand that the genome is a fluid and dynamic system.
o Foreign DNA changes the proteins coded for in unpredictable ways with unintended consequences which
may take years to manifest or be identified
o DNA remains active and viable long after the death of the cell or organism
o Transgenic DNA may not be broken down by the digestive tract
o Transgenic DNA transfers to living cells and inserts itself into the genome of plants, bacteria, humans and other
animals through horizontal transfers coding for unknown proteins and leading to antibodies, allergenicity,
– Allergenicity cannot be predicted in advance but all corn, maize and soy tested for allergenicity according to WHO standards have failed because they have allergenicity characteristics
– GM foods which may or may not be allergenic in themselves can confer allergenicity to other foods and tissues
– Transgenic genes are inserted by the same process used by researchers to provide models of unstable DNA and are
o Safety and quality are impossible to control with unstable genetic material
o Unintended horizontal transfer is impossible to control
o Expression of transgenic genes can change from generation to generation
– Promoter viruses mutate within the genome and have been linked to serious communicable and non communicable diseases:
o Multiple Drug Resistant Tuberculosis
o Cancer (including leukemia)
o Slow viruses
o Auto immune diseases
o Immune suppression
o Morgellonâ€™s Disease
– Soy allergies rose by 50% in the UK soon after transgenic soy was introduced.
– Transgenic soy creates multiple problems in animal studies:
o Cooking increases soy allergens by as much as 700%
o Digestive enzymes are reduced
o Livers show toxic injury which is reversible after switching to natural soy
– Rats fed transgenic canola had livers which were 12-16% heavier
– Bt crops produce huge amounts of Bt which are
o Often insufficient to kill pests
o Sufficiently poisonous to harm beneficial insects
o Provoke strong, sometimes lethal, allergic reactions
– Synthetic genes do not function identically to natural ones with serious/lethal consequences for animals consuming them
– Antibiotic resistant marker organisms are known to have transferred their resistance to other bacteria and somatic cells conferring resistance to formerly clinically useful antibiotics through horizontal transfer
– GM labeling is forbidden in the US. Lack of species specific or
any other identification of GM food makes impossible
– Bt toxins are significant toxins in themselves. While natural levels of Bt are safe for humans, transgenic Bt crops produce levels up to 10,000 greater and are documented serious
– Human and animal reproductive failure and sterility are common
consequences of exposure to
o Roundup Â©
o GM soy
o GM corn (including an organism patented by Epicyte in 2001 to cause permanent male sterility â€“ organism now
owned by DuPont and Monsanto)
– GM food consumed by animals causes the animals to become transgenic in unknown ways
– When consumed, these otherwise non-transgenic animals provide an unknown, and unregulated source of foreign DNA which then enters the human genome with unpredictable and unintended consequences
– Animal studies show when fed GM chow or feed
o Huge increases in
o Fetal death
o Low birth weight
o Failure to thrive after birth
o Sterility among offspring mated to each other
o Grazing animals die in large numbers
o Animal infertility when out-mated
Transgenic crops can be contained in the area where they are planted
Transgenic crops contaminate both same-species and other-species plants.
– Monsanto sues about 500 farmers per year for intellectual property rights through â€œvolunteerâ€ seeds trespassing on the farmersâ€™ land via pollen drift and pollinator contamination
– Organic and conventional plants are irreversibly contaminated by
o Although the US allows 10% GM contamination in certified organic foods (1), compared with most countriesâ€™ limits of 0.9% or 1.0%, organic foods sources are still in short supply in the US because of gross contamination of organic crops
o Conventional crops quickly become contaminated
o Louisiana rice crop contaminated with pharmaceutical rice grown by Bayer â€“ many farmers now growing corn instead to avoid contamination
o Pharmaceutical rice by Bayer Cropscience was shipped as human food to at least 30 countries
o All South African corn now contaminated with Monsantoâ€™s MON810 which has not been approved for human consumption and is considered unsafe in Europe
o New Zealand contaminated by 3 years of mislabeled shipment of maize by US
o All Mexican corn now contaminated by US corn
o Super weeds and super pests are prevalent wherever transgenic crops exist