Mitch Daniels, ex-governor of Indiana and President of Purdue University recently wrote a Pro-GMO editorial for the Washington Post declaring Anti-GMO arguments are “immoral” because GMO bio-technology prevents massive global starvation. His editorial went viral in all the major newsfeeds.(15,16) Left Image: Mitch Daniels Governor of Indiana Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
Like most politicians with a law degree and no science background, his editorial reveals lack of knowledge of GMO biotechnology. His editorial is essentially a cut and paste of pro-GMO propaganda directly from the public relations department of GMO giant, Monsanto.
Regarding GMO food, Mr Daniels claims:
“There has been no disruption of an ecosystem nor any adverse human health or even digestive problems, after 5 billion acres have been cultivated cumulatively and trillions of meals consumed.”
Regarding the impact of GMO plants on the environment:
Perhaps Mr Daniels has forgotten about the case of Liberty Link Corn and Liberty Link Rice by Aventis, both of which resulted in huge settlements for genetic contamination of the environment by the Aventis GMO products. Our judicial court system called GMO corn, a “public nuisance“. GMO contamination is far worse than chemical contamination of the environment which degrades over time. GMO contamination increases and magnifies over time as the GMO plants invade neighboring farms.
Perhaps Mr. Daniels has forgotten about the first GMO nutritional supplement made with biotechnology, L-Tryptophan by a Japanese company called Showa Denko, which resulted in a disease called EMS, Eosinophia Myalgia Syndrome, which killed 37 people, affecting as many as 1500 people before the FDA banned the importation of the product in 1989. The reality is that tinkering with genetic information in plants may have unpredictable results, and has produced adverse effects on human health. Both animal and human studies over many years have documented adverse health effects. Left image: Round Up Ready Soy Beans courtesy of Washington Post
Mitch Daniels Says: “Trillions of GMO meals have been consumed“:
Yes this is true. GMO food has been consumed as a giant medical experiment on the population without the consent of the subjects, without preliminary safety testing, and without any followup observational studies to determine long term adverse health effects.
Outside the US in China, feeding children GMO food is considered unethical medical experimentation. A study done by Dr Guangwen Tang fed GMO Rice to 68 children. This GMO study was published, and then later retracted on ethical grounds when authorities discovered that Dr Tang failed to obtain parental consent or proper IRB approval. (4-6)
In his editorial, Mitch Daniels says:
“but it was the likes of the plant pathologist Norman Borlaug and wheat breeder Orville Vogel, whose Green Revolution, powered by modern plant science, saved the most lives.“
Yes, it is true that Orville Vogel and Norman Borlaug are national heroes who revolutionized agriculture, and saved a billion lives from starvation with high yield semi-dwarf wheat. Norman Borlaug received the Nobel Prize and Congressional Medal.
However, Borlaug’s work on semi-dwarf wheat was done with traditional breeding in the 1960’s, before the advent of GMO biotechnology. Since Borlaug’s wheat is not a GMO product, using the Borlaug example to praise GMO Food is deceptive and misleading. In fact, according to the USDA, “no GM wheat is commercially grown in the United States“. In view of this error, one might suspect the speaker has limited understanding of the subject matter or is being intentionally deceptive. Left Image Indiana Rally for the Right to Know GMO labeling courtesy of Alexis Baden-Mayer, Flickr, Creative Commons.
Mr Daniels says:
“And though the new technologies are awe-inspiring, they are just refinements of cruder techniques that have been used for centuries. ”
This is a false statement. Think about this. Traditional breeding techniques for centuries involves breeding plants and animals together naturally for the purpose of producing desirable traits. Recombinant genetic biotechnology now allows the “unnatural” combination of genetic material from different species which cannot reproduce together in the wild. A major GMO crop is Bt corn which has genetic material from a bacterial species, Bacillus thuringiensis, which produces a pesticide. Bacteria species cannot breed with corn species. Golden rice is the product of combining genetic material from rice plants with the sunflower plants which confers the ability to produce vitamin A. Rice and sunflowers are different plant species which cannot breed together normally.
GMO biotechnology is an entirely new way to modify the genome of plants which never existed before, and in no way can be considered “a refinement of cruder techniques used for centuries.” GMO biotechnology inserts genes from different species which cannot breed together naturally. This is not a “refinement of a centuries old technique” this is an entirely new form of genetic manipulation which does not occur in nature.
Lets say hypothetically our GMO scientists combine the Foxglove plant gene for Digitalis into corn. We now have corn which produces a cardiac, drug called digitalis and is highly toxic when eaten. Is this safe to eat? Of course not. The point here is that final food product may be healthy or it may be toxic depending on how it is made. As you can see from this example, to make a blanket statement that all GMO food is safe to eat is naive and misleading.
Mr Daniels says: The science is settled:
I would dispute this claim. The science is not settled and never has been. GMO food was FDA approved without safety studies based on “substantial equivalence“, thanks to Michael Taylor, a Monsanto lawyer at the FDA. This “legal wording” allows GMO plant food products to enter our food supply without any required safety testing. Outside the US rigorous safety testing is required.
For the next generation of GMO products, these FDA rules will no doubt be changed, as safety testing will be necessary and mandatory according to David R Schubert, in his article, “The Problem with nutritionally enhanced plants in Journal Medicinal food 2008″
“Among the next generation of genetically modified (GM) plants are those that are engineered to produce elevated levels of nutritional molecules such as vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids, and amino acids. Based upon the U.S. current regulatory scheme, the plants and their products may enter our food supply without any required safety testing. The potential risks of this type of GM plant are discussed in the context of human health, and it is argued that there should be very careful safety testing of plants designed to produce biologically active molecules before they are commercially grown and consumed. This will require a mandatory, scientifically rigorous review process.”
Mr Daniels says:
“Travel to Africa with any of Purdue University’s three recent World Food Prize winners, and you won’t find the conversation dominated by anti-GMO protesters. There, where more than half of the coming population increase will occur, consumers and farmers alike are eager to share in the life-saving and life-enhancing advances that modern science alone can bring. Efforts to persuade the Africans otherwise, or simply block their access to the next round of breakthroughs, are worse than anti-scientific. They’re immoral.“
Here, I would disagree with Mr Daniels and take the opposite viewpoint. I consider introducing (GMO) genetically modified plants into our food supply without labeling, without any preliminary or long term safety testing, and without environmental safety studies to be unethical and immoral medical experimentation on the population.
Failure to Yield
Although Borlaug’s work did increase wheat yield by a factor of 10, current efforts to make GMO products have No Concern with plant yield, rather Bt corn is modified to produce its own pesticide which we unwittingly consume. In fact, historically, GMO crops have not increase yield any more than traditional breeding techniques.
“according to Failure to Yield, a report by UCS expert Doug Gurian-Sherman released in March 2009…. Despite 20 years of research and 13 years of commercialization, genetic engineering has failed to significantly increase U.S. crop yields.” (UCS FAilure to Yield)
Glyphosate Usage Skyrocketing (Round-Up)
Monsanto’s Round-Up Ready Soy has been modified to resist the herbicide, Round-Up (Glyphosate), leaving a chemical residue which contaminates our food. Because of herbicide resistant weeds, glyphosate usage has skyrocketed, and government records show associated increase in human disease associated with glyphosate contamination of our food supply.
Above charts show increasing human disease as glyphosate usage increases, courtesy of (Swanson, 2014) Genetically engineered crops Glyphosate and the Deterioration of Health
How Does Glyphosate Cause Human Disease?
The herbicide Roundup which contains glyphosate manufactured by Monsanto has received attention because animal studies show dysbiosis and disruption of gut flora in animals treated with glyphosate. (21-24) A series of animal studies by Dr. Kruger shows that glyphosate acts as an antimicrobial to gut bacteria preferentially killing beneficial bacteria while allowing pathogenic bacteria such as Clostridia and Salmonella to survive.(21-24) Dr Kruger says:
“evidence that the highly pathogenic bacteria as Salmonella Entritidis, Salmonella Gallinarum, Salmonella Typhimurium, Clostridium perfringens and Clostridium botulinum are highly resistant to glyphosate. However, most of beneficial bacteria as Enterococcus faecalis, Enterococcus faecium, Bacillus badius, Bifidobacterium adolescentis and Lactobacillus spp. were found to be moderate to highly susceptible. … A reduction of beneficial bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract microbiota by ingestion of glyphosate could disturb the normal gut bacterial community. “
Above left image courtesy of Dr Stephanie Seneff MIT Power Point Presentation: SeneffGlyphosateYale2014-2-Elephant in the Room
The Shikimate Pathway in Plants
Glyphosate was deemed safe for humans because it blocks an enzyme system in plants called the Shikimate pathway, a biochemical pathway which does not exist in humans. However, regulators forgot to consider the effect of glyphosate on friendly gut bacteria which do use the Shikimate pathway . The friendly gut bacteria are killed, and the pathogenic bacteria resistant to glyphosate survive. This produces gut dysbiosis similar to that found in autistic children. Which pathogenic bacteria are we left with? You guessed it, the Clostridia. Is it starting to make sense now?
Professor Don Huber Speaks Out
Here is a quote from Professor Don M. Huber:(3) from his document GMO Failed Promises Flawed Science Serious Health Safety Issue
”Future historians may well look back upon our time and write, not about how many pounds of pesticides we did or did not apply, but about how willing we are to sacrifice our children and jeopardize future generations for this massive experiment we call genetic engineering that is based on failed promises and flawed science, just to benefit the bottom line of a commercial enterprise.” Dr. Don M. Huber
In conclusion: Mitch Daniels’ editorial comes from a politician with close ties to GMO industry, with little or no understanding of GMO biotechnology, providing a cut and paste version of pro-GMO propaganda directly from the Monsanto PR department which is deceptive and misleading. Genetic tinkering by inserting genetic material from foreign species into a plant does not produce “substantially equivalent” food. Genetic tinkering creates a new drug with unpredictable adverse effects, and requires the same rigorous safety testing as any new drug submitted for FDA approval.
Rather than name-calling those questioning the GMO enterprise as immoral, perhaps Mr. Daniels should regard the GMO industry as immoral.
Articles With Related Interest:
by Jeffrey Dach MD
7450 Griffin Road Suite 190
Davie, Fl 33314
Links and references:
1) Union of Concerned Scientists: Eight Ways Monsanto Fails at Sustainable Agriculture
In fact, Monsanto has held back the development of sustainable agriculture, and continues to do so, in several ways:
2) Response to “Avoiding GMOs isn’t just anti-science. It’s immoral” Jan 04, 2018 In “Avoiding GMOs isn’t just anti-science. It’s immoral”, an op-ed published in the Washington Post, Mitch Daniels would have you believe that scientific research finds only benefits and no downsides to genetically engineered (GE) crops. The reality is not so.
The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine recently reviewed over 900 scientific research and publications studying the agronomic, environmental, social and economic effects of genetically modified crops.Significantly, the report finds that GE crops have no higher yield potential than varietals developed through traditional breeding.GE crops are not a silver bullet solution to feed our growing population. To suggest so is naïve, inaccurate…and may be immoral.
3) Don Huber GMO Failed Promises Flawed Science Serious Health Safety Issue Glyphosate ” Future historians may well look back upon our time and write, not about how many pounds of pesticides we did or did not apply, but about how willing we are to sacrifice our children and jeopardize future generations for this massive experiment we call genetic engineering that is based on failed promises and flawed science, just to benefit the bottom line of a commercial enterprise.” Dr. Don M. Huber is Emeritus Professor, Purdue University; COL AUS (Ret, Medical Intelligence); Former Chairman, USDA National Plant Disease Recovery Program; member, US Threat Pathogens Committee; former member of the Advisory Board, Office of Technology Assessment, US Congress; and OTSG Global Epidemiology Working Group.
4) Tang, Guangwen, et al. “β-Carotene in Golden Rice is as good as β-carotene in oil at providing vitamin A to children.” The American journal of clinical nutrition 96.3 (2012): 658-664.
5) Golden rice paper retracted after legal bid fails By Erik StokstadJul. 31, 2015 , 3:00 PM SCience Magazine
6) Retraction of Tang G, Hu Y, Yin S-a, Wang Y, Dallal GE, Grusak MA, and Russell RM. b-Carotene in Golden Rice is as good as
b-carotene in oil at providing vitamin A to children. Am J Clin Nutr 2012;96:658–64.Committee).
7) Washington Post Publishes Hit Piece Declaring Non-GMO Movement “Immoral,” Here’s What They Got So Blatantly Wrong
By Nick Meyer On January 4, 2018
8) Monsanto’s Four Tactics for Undermining Glyphosate Science Review
Genna Reed, science and policy analyst, Center for Science and Democracy | March 23, 2017, 1:58 pm
9) Food Industry Enlisted Academics in G.M.O. Lobbying War, Emails Show By ERIC LIPTONSEPT. 5, 2015 New York Times
Monsanto and its industry partners have also passed out an undisclosed amount in special grants to scientists like Kevin Folta, the chairman of the horticultural sciences department at the University of Florida, to help with “biotechnology outreach” and to travel around the country to defend genetically modified foods.
10) Monsanto’s Monopoly on Agricultural Research by Big Universities
by Yelena Sukhoterina | November 20, 2015
12) May 5, 2017 Collaborating With Academics and Universities Monsanto
13) Suppressing Research 8 Ways Monsanto Fails at Sustainable Agriculture: #7 multibillion-dollar agricultural corporations, including Monsanto, have fought independent research on their genetically engineered crops. They have often refused to provide independent scientists with seeds, or they’ve set restrictive conditions that severely limit research options. In 2009, 26 academic entomologists wrote to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that because patents on engineered genes do not provide for independent non-commercial research, they could not perform adequate research on these crops. “No truly independent research can be legally conducted on many critical questions involving these crops,” they wrote. A Purdue University entomologist who signed the letter put it more succinctly to a reporter for a scientific journal: “Industry is completely driving the bus.”
14) Forum, Jan. 5: Follow the GMO Money
Thursday, January 04, 2018
15) Avoiding GMOs isn’t just anti-science. It’s immoral.
By Mitch Daniels December 27, 2017
16) Avoiding GMOs isn’t just anti-science. It’s immoral
By Mitch Daniels The Washington Post Published December 29, 2017
17) Anti-GMO Activists: ‘Heartless, Callous and Cruel’
by Bruce Edward Walker • March 22, 2016
18) Purdue President Calls To End Of “Morally Irresponsible” Attacks On GMO’s amidst mass rejection by Isiah Holmes • March 1, 2016
19-20) left blank
Curr Microbiol. 2013 Apr;66(4):350-8. doi: 10.1007/s00284-012-0277-2. Epub 2012 Dec 9. The effect of glyphosate on potential pathogens and beneficial members of poultry microbiota in vitro. Shehata AA1, Schrödl W, Aldin AA, Hafez HM, Krüger M.
The use of glyphosate modifies the environment which stresses the living microorganisms. The aim of the present study was to determine the real impact of glyphosate on potential pathogens and beneficial members of poultry microbiota in vitro.
The presented results evidence that the highly pathogenic bacteria as Salmonella Entritidis, Salmonella Gallinarum, Salmonella Typhimurium, Clostridium perfringens and Clostridium botulinum are highly resistant to glyphosate. However, most of beneficial bacteria as Enterococcus faecalis, Enterococcus faecium, Bacillus badius, Bifidobacterium adolescentis and Lactobacillus spp. were found to be moderate to highly susceptible. Also Campylobacter spp. were found to be susceptible to glyphosate. A reduction of beneficial bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract microbiota by ingestion of glyphosate could disturb the normal gut bacterial community. Also, the toxicity of glyphosate to the most prevalent Enterococcus spp. could be a significant predisposing factor that is associated with the increase in C. botulinum-mediated diseases by suppressing the antagonistic effect of these bacteria on clostridia.
Glyphosate linked to botulism and other animal health problems
Three very interesting papers from Monika Kruger and her team in Leipzig on the effect glyphosate has on the gut micro-organisma in animals by damaging the beneficial bacteria
“A reduction of beneficial bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract microbiota by ingestion of glyphosate could disturb the normal gut bacterial community.”
There is now a strong probability that glyphosate residues in animal feeds result in botulism in the cattle and also in related ailments in poultry.
22) Visceral botulism at dairy farms in Schleswig Holstein, Germany – Prevalence of Clostridium botulinum in feces of cows, in animal feeds, in feces of the farmers, and in house dust by Monika Krüger, Anke Große-Herrenthey, Wieland Schrödl, Achim Gerlach, Arne Rodloff Anaerobe 18 (2012) 221e223 Accepted 11 December 2011 Available online 21 December 2011
From 41 dairy farms in Schleswig Holstein, Germany, 196 fecal specimens of diseased cows, 77 fecal specimens of farmers and family members from 26 of these farms, 35 animal feed specimens and 7 house dust specimens were investigated for Clostridium botulinum and its antigens, respectively. Four of the humans under study (one child, 8 month, and three adults) showed symptoms of infant/visceral botulism. Specimens were cultivated in reinforced clostridial medium (RCM). C. botulinum antigens were detected by ELISA. The aim of the study was to obtain information on the relationship of detected C. botulinum toxin-types in cows, in the feces of attending humans, and in the immediate environment. The results revealed that C. botulinum toxin-types were different for cows and humans. Toxin-type A was dominant in cow feces while type E was found in humans. Type E was also present in some animal feed specimens. Conversely, toxin-type A was prevalent in the house dust of farms. It may be assumed that the feeds were the source of human colonization with C. botulinum.
23) Effect Glyphosate Pathogens Poultry Microbiota In Vitro Krueger Shehata Curr Microbiol 2012
The Effect of Glyphosate on Potential Pathogens and Beneficial Members of Poultry Microbiota In Vitro by Awad A. Shehata, Wieland Schro¨dl, Alaa. A. Aldin, Hafez M. Hafez , and Monika Kru¨ger Curr Microbiol 2012 Springer
The use of glyphosate modifies the environment which stresses the living microorganisms. The aim of the present study was to determine the real impact of glyphosate on potential pathogens and beneficial members of poultry microbiota in vitro. The presented results evidence that the highly pathogenic bacteria as Salmonella Entritidis, Salmonella Gallinarum, Salmonella Typhimurium, Clostridium perfringens and Clostridium botulinum are highly resistant to glyphosate. However, most of beneficial bacteria as Enterococcus faecalis, Enterococcus faecium, Bacillus badius, Bifidobacterium adolescentis and Lactobacillus spp. were found to be moderate to highly susceptible. Also Campylobacter spp. were found to be susceptible to glyphosate. A reduction of beneficial bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract microbiota by ingestion of glyphosate could disturb the normal gut bacterial community. Also, the toxicity of glyphosate to the most prevalent Enterococcus spp. could be a significant predisposing factor that is associated with the increase in C. botulinum-mediated diseases by suppressing the antagonistic effect of these bacteria on clostridia.
24) Glyphosate suppresses the antagonistic effect of Enterococcus on Clostridia Kruger 2013 by Monika Krüger, Awad Ali Shehata, Wieland Schrödl, Arne Rodloff. Anaerobe 20 (2013) 74e78
25) GMO Opposition Is About Culture and Economics, Not Morals
Henry Homeyer For the Valley News Friday, January 12, 2018
26) The science is still out on GMO food safety David Schubert Professor The Salk Institute for Biological Studies May 13 2018 San Diego Tribune Opinion Letter.
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