Genetic Engineering - Frankenfoods And More

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Genetic Engineering - Frankenfoods And More
By Lita Lee, Ph.D.
Dangers of genetically engineered food
Describes Frankenfoods, Frankenanimals and Frankendrugs and the dangers of using them. The following information is from the Washington D.C. based Pure Food Campaign. Genetic engineering breaks down the fundamental genetic barriers, not only between species, but between humans, animals and plants. This technology permanently alters the genetic code of living organisms by combining the genes of dissimilar and unrelated species into novel organisms that will pass their genetic changes on to their offspring. The possibilities of creating thousands of novel organisms over the next few years are enormous and frightening.

Published Date: 4/27/2001

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If you thought Frankenstein and Jurassic Park were just movies, read on. The following information is from the Washington D.C. based Pure Food Campaign. Other references are listed where pertinent. ”Genetic engineering breaks down the fundamental genetic barriers, not only between species, but between humans, animals and plants. This technology permanently alters the genetic code of living organisms by combining the genes of dissimilar and unrelated species into novel organisms that will pass their genetic changes on to their offspring. The possibilities of creating thousands of novel organisms over the next few years are enormous and frightening.”

“Scores of companies are now using the new gene-splicing technology to produce never-before seen combinations of vegetables, fruits, fish, poultry and farm animals. Cantaloupe and squash containing genes for bacteria and viruses, potatoes with chicken and waxmoth genes, tomatoes with flounder and tobacco genes, corn with firefly genes, and fish and pigs with human genes, are just a few of the food products currently being developed and field tested.”

“The reasons for making these genetic changes have nothing to do with improving nutrition or taste. Rather, virtually all have been instituted to make processing more profitable, extend shelf life, allow for easier shipping, or allow crops to better withstand poisonous weed-killing herbicides - in other words, to make more money for major corporations.”

Frankenanimals: Scientists are creating animals nature never would have made. Human genes have been inserted into the genomes of pigs in an attempt to create bigger, leaner “superpigs” Nature took her revenge however. The pigs that were created were pain-racked with arthritis, stunted, crippled, cross-eyed and sterile. Not to give up however, scientists moved on to hens, and removed the genetic trait for brooding, which eliminated the “mother instinct.” The purpose? A hen that will produce 20 percent more eggs. Cows have been cloned, because genetic engineers think “Xerox cows” are better than naturally reproduced offspring.

Frankenfoods: One of the first genetically engineered foods approved of by the FDA is the “Flavr Savr” tomato developed by the Calgene biotech firm with financial support from the Campbell Soup Company. These tomatoes were genetically altered to ripen more slowly, giving them a much longer shelf life. This tomato and all genetically altered plants require the introduction of antibiotic-resistant genes, which are used as genetic markers in the laboratory during the development of the frankenplant. This antibiotic-resistant gene is expressed in every cell of the plant and its fruit. Dozens of plants, including squash, berries and fruits have been gene-tinkered. In an article on tinkered genes by Joseph E. Cummins, he says that 'antibiotic-resistant genes are well known to be transferred from the plants to soil bacteria by a process called “plasmid rescue,” and from soil bacteria to disease bacteria by mobilization of genes on a plasmid.” The fearful outcome of this is more antibiotic resistant diseases.

This is only the beginning! The FDA recently said “yes” to three more gene-tinkered tomatoes. One, from DNAP Plant Technologies in Oakland, California has a three-month shelf life (Flavr Savr’s is three weeks). Monsanto’s killer tomato has not only an extended shelf life but can withstand longer travel time. The third is produced by Zeneca Plant Science in Wilmington, Delaware in partners with Petoseed Company of Saticoy, California. This one is intended for use in ketchup, sauces and other prepared foods and is being evaluated by Hunts Foods. The reason I am mentioning names is because that’s the only way you will know which tomato is a frankenfood and which is not, unless you buy only organic tomatoes.

An article by the Pure Food Campaign adds: The risk of biological pollution increases when genetically engineered plants and animals are released outside the laboratory. The wind, nature’s way of pollinating, can carry frankenpollen across the land into other plants, including weeds. What would follow if genetically engineered crop traits, such as insect, antibiotic and virus resistance found their way into weeds? Creating herbicide resistant plants will allow farmers to increase their use of toxic herbicides on them to kill weeds. What will happen to natural species when genetically engineered fish such as salmon or trout are released into the environment which are 50% larger and eat 50% more food than their natural counterparts?

Frankendrugs: On March 31, the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine approved the use of a genetically engineered hormone, recombinant bovine growth hormone or rBGH for dairy cows. BGH is a synthetic mimic of bovine somatotropin or BST, the natural hormone occurring in cows. BGH is made by inserting a gene from cows into the genetic code of a common strain of bacteria. It is produced by Monsanto and sold under the name Posilac. The cost? $300 million and nine years of development. The purpose? To increase cow milk production by as much as 25%. Do we need more milk? No! America’s dairy farmers already produce such a surplus of dairy products that taxpayers spend billions to buy the excess through government dairy price supports.

On February 3, 1994, BGH-laced foods, including milk, cheese, butter, yogurt, ice cream, infant formula and beef (hamburger meat from old dairy cows) became available throughout America. You will not be able to avoid these products unless you buy organic dairy and beef (difficult to find). Why? Because the FDA refused to require labeling of BGH-laced products, despite surveys showing that the majority of consumers favor labeling of these products (Food & Water; The Pure Food Campaign).

Today, over 800,000 cows are injected regularly with BGH. The FDA did agree to allow organic milk to be labeled “BGH-free” but only if the label says that there is no difference between BGH-free and BGH-containing foods (Food & Water). In fact, FDA Commissioner David Kessler, said not only is BGH safe, “there is virtually no difference in. milk from treated and untreated cows “ (The Register Guard, November 11, 1993).

Dr. Samuel Epstein, professor of environmental and occupational medicine at the University of Illinois in Chicago disagrees. In a February 14th letter to Kessler, Epstein warned that consumption of milk derived from BGH-treated cows increases the risk of breast cancer to women and fetuses. BGH-milk contains elevated levels of insulin-like growth factor #1 (IGF-1) a cancer promoter (Safe Food News, Summer 1994).

FDA-released studies indicate that BGH milk has more saturated fat and less protein than regular milk and the milk from cows with mastitis contains large amounts of pus. Not only the milk, but also what about the beef? About 40% of the beef in hamburger meat comes from old dairy cows. BGH meat may contain high levels of antibiotics used to treat the sick BGH cows. No wonder the European Community has banned the use of BGH for the next eight years.

Monsanto’s warning label on Posilac blatantly states that BGH can indeed result in a 79% risk of mastitis, enlarged hocks, loss of body condition, reproductive problems, decreased birth weight, digestive disorders, and other health problems. They maintain that these problems can be controlled by ”good herd management.” Does this mean selling the sick cows?

Dairy farmers who have been using BGH are reporting bad news. For example, John Shumway, a New York dairy farmer was forced to discontinue the drug after less than two months, because of mastitis, swollen hocks and weight loss in his cows. ŇI had to sell 50 cows and I’ve got a 200-head herd, so I’ve lost a quarter of my dairy herd,” he said. “Every time I went to give a shot, I had 20 cases of mastitis.” To his further dismay, milk production from his remaining cows fell to 10 pounds less than before he began using BGH. “I guess I’m about $25,000 in the red. I hope I’ve learned my lesson.” (Safe Food News, Fall 1994).

Let me summarize the health effects of using BGH: increased udder infections (mastitis), greater stress, more disease, reproductive problems including deformed offspring, digestive disorders, foot and leg ailments, persistent body sores and lacerations. Does anyone really believe that a sick cow can produce healthy milk? So, if sick cows produce sick milk, what happens to those who drink it? Are you willing to find out by letting your kids drink it for the next fifteen years?

Don’t bother calling or writing the FDA. They never answer any of my letters and I doubt they will answer yours. Instead, demand BGH-free milk from your dairy and from your grocer. If they know you won’t buy it, they won’t sell it. That’s the bottom line. Do you wonder how such a dangerous genetically engineered drug got FDA approval? The FDA official that signed the FDA decision to approve BGH without consumer labeling was a lawyer named Michael Taylor, whose prior position was attorney for Monsanto. Want more? Taylor recently left the FDA to head the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, the agency that oversees the inspection of the meat and poultry industries. Don’t you feel safe folks?

Want another good one? Carol Tucker Foreman, the director of the Safe Food Coalition, a group calling itself a “consumer food safety organization,” accepted payola from Monsanto in return for speaking favorably about BGH. No one tried to explain how a group calling itself the Safe Food Coalition could ethically take money from Monsanto, the largest producer of herbicides that are known to contaminate farmers, food, wildlife and groundwater. One final revealing note about Monsanto’s ethics. On a TV show similar to 60 Minutes, the Canadian government has alleged that Monsanto offered a bribe for the Canadian government’s speedy approval of its BGH. According to the show’s Dr. Margaret Hayden, a Canadian health official, Monsanto offered “one to two million dollars with the condition that the company receive approval to market the drug in Canada without being required to submit data from any further studies or trials,” (Safe Food News, Winter 1995).

Olestra (Olean) – The Ultimate Fake Fat

What is Olestra? It is a name for turning any fat into an indigestible sucrose polyester (e.g. sucrose polymer or plastic) that supposedly passes right through the body. Thus, olestra has become the first legally sanctioned “macro-ingredient” that is present in food in large quantities, as opposed to the typical additives, such as preservatives, artificial sweeteners, or coloring agents. It is expected that P & G will eventually expand the market for olestra from potato chips and other “savory snacks” to many other foods, such as cookies, cakes, pastries, peanut butter, fried chicken and French fries. If this occurs, then a person who eats many such foods could ingest one half pound or more of olestra per week.

Side effects: include a wide range of gastrointestinal problems ranging from nausea, bloating, and diarrhea to the inconvenience (FDA’s words) of underwear staining and “anal leakage.” (a new phrase since the advent of olestra). Olestra depletes the body of fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, K and the carotenoids, such as beta-carotene and others). Olestra may also interfere with blood-thinning medications (especially Coumadin) taken by more than one million Americans.

Regarding testing, no studies were conducted on people over 44 years and poor studies were done with children. Using P & G data, epidemiologist Meir J. Stampfer calculated that just three olestra snacks a week could lead to a 10% decrease in blood levels of carotenoids. How many chips can you eat before getting unwanted side effects? Not many. One ounce of chips contain about 10 grams of olestra. The popular 3 and 1/2- ounce size usually eaten in just one sitting contains 35 grams. Yet, P & G estimated olestra intake at seven grams daily – only 14 chips. Does that make sense.?!

By the way, the FDA is planning to make a warning label that states something like this: “foods containing olestra may cause intestinal discomfort or a laxative effect.” Unfortunately, this is only the tip of the iceberg and it ignores vitamin depletion and contraindications for olestra. Perhaps P & G is too caught up in their 25 years of research plus a $300 million investment to be worried about side effects.

Ref: Food & Water, spring 1996, Vol 5, #2: On January 24, 1996, the FDA approved Procter and Gamble’s artificial fat substitute, called Olestra (Olean). This is in spite of health problems including depletion of nutrients, diarrhea or “anal leakage” and potential adverse drug reactions. On October 25, 1995, the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) and other scientists issued a new analysis of Olestra’s safety at a Washington, D.C. press conference.

“After more than 20 years of research work by Procter and Gamble and $200 million in corporate expenditures, the simple fact remains that olestra is an unfit substance for human consumption,” says Dr. Michael Jacobson, CSPI’s executive director. “Based on our review of the data, we believe the FDA should not approve olestra for use in foods and should not allow olestra to be introduced into the American food supply,” said Harvard nutrition chair, Dr. Walter Willett, M.D., and his colleague, Harvard professor of Epidemiology, Dr. Meir Stampfer, M.D.

Jacobson describes the following symptoms from those who ingest Olestra: it prevents important nutrients from being utilized by the body, by causing them to be excreted unabsorbed, and even modest olestra consumption can cause many gastrointestinal symptoms in all ages, such as gas, nausea, bloating, diarrhea and “anal leakage” of Olestra. These tests came from P & G. In addition, Olestra may interfere with blood-thinning medications taken by more than one million Americans, yet no research has been done to address these problems.

P & G says that these serious effects have been eliminated. Is this true? P & G suggested to the FDA that Olestra’s health problems would be self-limiting, meaning that if you get sick from Olestra, you won’t eat it. Jacobson suggested, “ Perhaps Procter and Gamble should be required to include a few Pampers and a bottle of Pepto-Bismol with every bag of Olestra chips they sell.”

Even at low levels, say just 15-20 potato chips per day, Olestra decreases beta-carotene and other carotenoids (of which there are more than 40) in the blood by as much as 60%, according to P & G’s own test data. A similar depletion has been observed in Olestra with the fat -soluble vitamins, A, D, and E. Not to worry, P & G will fortify Olestra with these vitamins, but not the missing carotenoids. It gets worse. Olestra also depletes vitamin K - a very important vitamin of special concern for more than one million heart patients who take blood-thinning drugs, such as Coumadin (Warfarin), which is highly sensitive to vitamin K fluctuations. Not to mention the special concern of hemophiliacs who need vitamin K.

CSPI’s concerns about Olestra are based on an intensive review of P & G research data conducted by CSPI senior scientist, Dr. Myra Karstadt from the University of California at Berkeley, who holds a doctorate in biophysics, specializing in nucleic acid biochemistry and a law degree from Harvard. Karstadt has been a staff scientist or consultant specializing in toxic chemicals for several organizations, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, National Institutes of Health, General Accounting Office, Harvard School of Public Health and the Mt. Sinai School of Medicine. “I am, of course, concerned for people who will develop gastrointestinal problems as a result of eating Olestra, but in a sense they are the lucky ones, since they will probably stop using it. My greatest concern is for the millions of consumers who will not experience those ill effects. They will continue to lose important nutrients.”

Ref: The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), Nutrition Action Healthletter, 1875 Connecticut Ave., N.W., Suite 300, Washington, D.C. 20009; Phone (202) 332-9110. Founded in 1971, the CSPI is a national consumer-advocacy organization specializing in food and nutrition issues. CSPI accepts no government or corporate funds. It is supported almost entirely by the 750,000 subscribers to its Nutrition Action Healthletter.

The Enzyme-Olestra Connection:

Any fake food be it fat or sugar or whatever, will poison enzymes that work to digest, absorb and assimilate the natural substances in the food you eat. Perhaps, the anal leakage caused by Olestra is the result of the body’s attempts to simply eliminate substances that cannot be digested, absorbed or assimilated. There is no enzyme that can digest, absorb, assimilate or handle fake foods which are chemically contrived in a chemical factory instead of from the earth.

Disclaimer: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. They are not intended to diagnose, prescribe for, treat or claim to prevent, mitigate or cure any human disease. They are intended for nutritional support only. The FTC requires that we tell you that the results in case notes and testimonials published here are not typical, however, they do show what some people have been able to achieve. Individuals vary, which is why we must always consider the whole person when recommending a course of action. The third party information referred to herein is neither adopted nor endorsed by this web site but is provided for general information purposes. The listing of specific disease terms is based upon medical literature and is not a substitute for competent medical advice. If you suspect a medical condition, you should consult a physician.

Copyright 2001 - 2006. Neither this article, nor any part of it, may be reproduced without permission.

If permission to reprint is granted, the article must include author and URL information.
Lita Lee, Ph.D.
Click here to email Lita.

ă 2001

02/04/01 rf3


* Cummins, Joseph E., ”More on Tinkered Genes,” Action Alive, #135, Nov. 1993.

* Food & Water’s Safe Food News, Depot Hill Rd., R.R. 1, Box 114, Marshfield, VT 05658, (802) 426-3700.

* The Pure Food Campaign, 1130 17th St., N.W., Suite 300, Washington, D.C. 20036. Tel. (202) 775-1132, Fax (202) 775- 0074.

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Notice: I am a chemist and an enzyme nutritionist, not a medical doctor. I do not diagnose, prescribe for, treat or claim to prevent, mitigate or cure any human diseases. I provide enzymes and other dietary supplements to improve digestion and to nourish and support normal function and structure of the body. If you suspect any disease, please consult your physician.

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