Posted by & filed under GMOs, Health & Disease.

We, unfortunately, live in a world where the dollar is king. It takes priority over everything, and everyone — well, except for those few who possess a lot of them. Any attempt to regulate profit-centric industry is proclaimed as ‘communism’ and deemed an injustice and an obstacle to everything from economic prosperity to world peace. This thinking somehow concludes that market forces and self-interest are always working in our best interest. But they are not.

When the U.S. Constitution was formed, the U.S. government’s role was to protect the rights of its populace, and little else. Today the goverment’s role is to protect the interests of Big Business, and little else. For us, the little people on the ground, the government, Big Business and the media — their PR department — have all the appearances of being on an extractive offensive against us all.

When it comes to GMOs, industry has been allowed to call its own shots. In the World According to Monsanto documentary we saw footage of George Bush senior on an early 1990s tour of a Monsanto laboratory, where Monsanto executives complained to him that they couldn’t sell their exciting new products due to onerous regulatory requirements. The ecologically inept Mr. Bush then essentially told them that this would no longer be a problem, as "we’re now in the deregulation business". Today, in countries like the U.S. of A., the GMO industry simply regulates itself. If the biotech industry deems its wares safe for people and place, they are placed on shelves ready for purchase. Worse, instead of a situation where discerning buyers can, at the very least, choose to take or leave these items, the industry has managed to get GMO ingredients into most of the nation’s edible, drinkable products, and unlabelled, so consumers don’t have a choice.

Currently, up to 85 percent of U.S. corn is genetically engineered as are 91 percent of soybeans and 88 percent of cotton (cottonseed oil is often used in food products). According to industry, up to 95% of sugar beets are now GE. It has been estimated that upwards of 70 percent of processed foods on supermarket shelves–from soda to soup, crackers to condiments–contain genetically engineered ingredients. — centreforfoodsafety.org

Big Biotech has even fought and made it illegal for other industries to market their goods as being without GMOs. The hypocrisy here is difficult to overstate. In order for a seed to be patented and sold under license, it needs to be shown to be substantially ‘different‘ from the non-GMO version. And yet, a Ma & Pa corner store cannot market their organically produced food as ‘non GMO’, due to the law of ‘substantial equivalence‘, which states that GMO and non-GMO ingredients are essentially the same, and thus to use ‘GMO-free’ labels is biological discrimination. (It should be noted that the person who initially coined the term ‘substantial equivalence’ and pressed it into law in order to ensure the speedy approval of GMO strains, is non other than Michael Taylor, the Obama administration’s senior advisor to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which is responsible for "protecting and promoting public health". These are the same people who are conducting armed raids on organic farms, and this Michael Taylor also happens to have spent the last few decades in the revolving door between either working for the biotech industry, or legally representing/defending it, or working at government level to oversee the regulations (or lack of) for it. Talk about a conflict of interests….)

New Long Term Study Throws Cat Amongst the Pigeons

Until now, most studies on the possible health implications of GMOs for us captive customers have been organised and monitored by the very same industries that make those GMOs. And, normally those studies have lasted no longer than 90 days. When an industry has spent billions on researching new GMO strains, it’s not hard to imagine there might be at least just a tad of bias about their products involved… but this is exactly how it works.

Now we have a new study at hand, one that has been independently financed and researched. And, unlike the industry-led studies, this one has been run over a much longer period — two full years. It’s the world’s first long term study of Monsanto’s widely used Roundup herbicide and Roundup Ready Maize — unless you want to count the decade of experimentation on the human race itself…. (But, that can’t count, of course, as there has been no proper research or control groups in this area….)

You can download the study (2.2mb PDF).

In the first ever study to examine the long-term effects of Monsanto’s Roundup weedkiller, or the NK603 Roundup-resistant GM maize also developed by Monsanto, scientists found that rats exposed to even the smallest amounts, developed mammary tumours and severe liver and kidney damage as early as four months in males, and seven months for females, compared with 23 and 14 months respectively for a control group.

“This research shows an extraordinary number of tumours developing earlier and more aggressively – particularly in female animals. I am shocked by the extreme negative health impacts,” said Dr Michael Antoniou, molecular biologist at King’s College London, and a member of CRIIGEN, the independent scientific council which supported the research.

GM crops have been approved for human consumption on the basis of 90-day animal feeding trials. But three months is the equivalent of late adolescence in rats, who can live for almost two years (700 days), and there have long been calls to study the effects over the course of a lifetime.

The peer-reviewed study, conducted by a team of researchers at the University of Caen, found that rats fed on a diet containing NK603 Roundup resistant GM maize, or given water containing Roundup at levels permitted in drinking water, over a two-year period, died significantly earlier than rats fed on a standard diet.

Up to half the male rats and 70% of females died prematurely, compared with only 30% and 20% in the control group. Across both sexes the researchers found that rats fed Roundup in their water or NK603 developed two to three times more large tumours than the control group. By the beginning of the 24th month, 50-80% of females in all treated groups had developed large tumours, with up to three per animal.

By contrast, only 30% of the control group were affected. Scientists reported the tumours “were deleterious to health due to [their] very large size,” making it difficult for the rats to breathe, [and] causing problems with their digestion which resulted in haemorrhaging.

The paper, published in the scientific journal Food and Chemical Toxicology today, concluded that NK603 and Roundup caused similar damage to the rats’ health, whether they were consumed together or on their own. The team also found that even the lowest doses of Roundup, which fall well within authorised limits in drinking tap water, were associated with severe health problems.

“The rat has long been used as a surrogate for human toxicity. All new pharmaceutical, agricultural and household substances are, prior to their approval, tested on rats. This is as good an indicator as we can expect that the consumption of GM maize and the herbicide Roundup, impacts seriously on human health,” Antoniou added. — TheGrocer.co.uk

Monsanto is already in active denial over this study. And this is perhaps the saddest part for me — as Monsanto and their ilk can turn the whole issue over whether GMOs are bad for us or not into an extended sideshow distraction that can be argued for years, or even decades. Just like the current U.S. election fiasco, where the critically important issues of climate change, peak oil and transition away from the perpetual growth paradigm are totally sidelined to instead focus on far more trivial campaign nonsense, the argument over the health implications of GMOs, as important as that is (don’t get me wrong on that point), still distracts us from far more profound root issues about them.

My point here is that the era of large scale, globalised industrial agriculture is coming to an end. We no longer have the energy to maintain it, and nature cannot take its abuse any longer. This ‘end’ will occur by one of the following means: 1) rapid human transition to smaller scale, biodiverse, low-carbon systems that actually pull carbon out of the atmosphere and put it back to work in our soils, or 2) it will happen by necessity as fossil fuels wane and starve the system to death, or 3) it will occur via the destructive forces of a biosphere out of balance.

In reality, all GMOs are is an attempt to deal with, and capitalise on, the symptoms created by reductionist industrial agriculture. Battling symptoms is a process that can never be won. The only real cure is prevention.

It’s clear that Big Biotech will ignore and/or work to undermine any study that contradicts their own. To be able to actually prove ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ the health implications for humans themselves, in a way that would satisfy them completely, I think, we’d have to have an island set aside just for a 20 year experiment, where half the population ate imported GMO products, and the other half ate island-grown organics. This would be the only way to ensure that all other conditions were at least similar. But even then I’m sure the industry would find ‘discrepancies’ in lifestyle between individuals in the groups, and the argument would go on, and on, and on….

In short, if the outcome of a study is negative towards GMOs, then that study will never be regarded as truly scientific by Big Biotech. You will never hear a Monsanto CEO — who has a legal obligation to make profit for shareholders — come out and say, "Oh, hell, I learned something new. You’re absolutely right — we’ll close up shop right now!"

As far as the consumer side of this goes, the base issue is the freedom to choose. Even though the cigarette industry denied its harmful effects for decades, at least people were not forced to smoke. Yes, through stealth advertising you were made to feel you were very uncool unless you partook, but at least it was not ground up and included, unlabelled, in almost every product available for purchase.

I hope this new study provides impetus to Proposition 37. Gaining critical mass in public desire to see GMOs labelled will do wonders towards seeing supermarket chains boycott them. This could spell the death knell for GMOs. But, as mentioned above, I’d like to see the ‘critical mass’ evolve even further, to include an holistic understanding of soil science, peak oil, climate change, industrial agriculture, perpetual growth economics, an unravelling ecology and society, and their interconnectness with each other. Unless this happens, we’ll always be dealing with symptoms and isolated ‘issues’, and will never create a permanent culture.

25 Responses to “First Ever Long Term Study of Monsanto’s Roundup and Roundup Resistant Maize Brings Shocking Results”

  1. Bert

    while the results are disturbing, this study has a lot of flaws. France is doing the right thing and initiating a probe and calling for additional testing. But this study isn’t helping the argument against GMOs in the long run. It’s methodology has some rather serious holes in it that needs to be addressed and, until they are, this study is just going to reinforce the idea that anti-GMO folks are half-cocked and not basing their position on good science.

    What we need is further studies using the same time-frames (an issue with all current GMO testing – 90-days is just too short of period to get meaningful results) that closes the methodology holes that exist in this study; too small a control, no blinds, no accounting for species previously existing risk for tumors, etc

    If we’re going to “win” the war against wide-spread GMO incursion into the environment and our food supply, we’re going to need rock-solid independent testing. (independent testing is a huge hurdle, as reported by Scientific America here: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=do-seed-companies-control-gm-crop-research )

    Reply
  2. David Hicks

    An excellent report of a vitally important piece of research.
    I have POSTED it to FaceBook to SHARE widely .

    Reply
  3. Craig Mackintosh PRI Editor

    I find it interesting that people will regard the study as flawed, despite it’s obvious thoroughness. People seem to be quick to forget that these studies are more thorough and for longer duration than the industry’s own 3 month tests – tests that the GMO industry themselves have regarded as sufficient. It would be good to keep some perspective here. It’s like the pot calling the kettle black. And, referring to the other points I made in this post – the argument over the relative merits of different studies can easily be used to obfuscate the larger issue, that being that we don’t have the energy for this kind of agriculture any more. GMOs are an attempt to continue with a system that is doomed to fail, and is failing….

    The ‘wonder’ of these GMOs is that they ‘allow’ us to pour poisons on our food. How is that smart? Dead soils will never a healthy planet make….

    Reply
  4. Bill Wilson

    Thanks for posting this Craig.
    It’s stunning to see how we as a culture can allow GMOs and some of the other blatantly destructive ways of our time. I’m guessing our grandchildren will look back in awe at how an entire culture could sleep through all this.
    We will forward this along…. Regards.

    Reply
  5. Scott Reimers

    While the opening was good information and there were a lot of solid points made I’m still scratching my head about one paragraph in particular.

    “My point here is that the era of large scale, globalised industrial agriculture is coming to an end. We no longer have the energy to maintain it, and nature cannot take its abuse any longer. This ‘end’ will occur by one of the following means: 1) rapid human transition to smaller scale, biodiverse, low-carbon systems that actually pull carbon out of the atmosphere and put it back to work in our soils, or 2) it will happen by necessity as fossil fuels wane and starve the system to death, or 3) it will occur via the destructive forces of a biosphere out of balance.”

    The topic was GM and how we dealt with it. In the middle of doing so, all of a sudden you were ranting about the energy and natural implications of Industrial Agriculture??? …and then you just returned to the point at hand as if this was just some sort of a Turett Syndrome Episode of the fingers.

    Regardless of whether I agree or not, the number of assumptions in that one paragraph take this from an very shareworthy article into a pseudo-science-conspiracy-end-of-times rant… that I don’t feel comfortable giving to others. Sorry for the harsh words. I wouldn’t have been so shocked if you didn’t normally share such clear, well written and on topic articles. :-)

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  6. Peter Brandis

    The end of globalised industrialised agriculture will come to an end – when 2) and 3) lead to 1). (It’s my dream/hope/desire that 1) will take precedence, but I just can’t see that happening.) Thanks for the post Craig.

    GMOs are used mainly for cash crops (corn/soy etc), ie they are inputs into the industrial food system – they are not food.

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  7. Marcus T

    Well, I agree with the basic points here, but expecting the government to do anything constructive to deal with peak oil/soil destruction/public health is about like expecting a malignant tumor to help you fight the flu.

    Bureauocracy is not a sustainable system of cooperation to begin with. Politicians spend 75% of their time on vacation at exclusive resorts provided courtesy of big business, to whom they funnel endless taxpayer dollars and brand new printed money that robs from anyone holding USD. When they go to “work”, it’s a good hundreds or thousands of miles from the people they claim to represent. Their only responsibility to voters is to lie and posture as much as is necessary to get (re-/)elected. They plunder whatever they want in endless wars against foreigners and citizens, and tax whatever is left. For these reasons (and there have been very few exceptions in history), bureauocracy will always attract the most self-serving scum, who are good at lying and not much of anything else.

    Regulation or its lack is not, in itself, a problem. Generally less regulation is better (and cheaper for the average taxpayer). The problem is the asymmetric and intrusive form that regulation takes. Tax brackets ransack small and medium businesses, who suddenly get hit with a huge tax hike just as soon as they make enough money to be on the edge of becoming a “big” business. Ridiculous regulations and endless taxes and insurance nonsense required of every business make it difficult or impossible for small businesses to hire people or manage their staff effectively. Positive discrimination laws force employers to hire people who are patently worthless and have no intention of ever working. In the example of “peak oil”, government oil subsidies manipulate oil prices so people can guzzle oil with no personal consequence. Get rid of the manipulation and redistribution of wealth and suddenly everyone is forced to live within their means and by their own ability, although without having to pay half++ to big brother most people would also have a lot more means to live within.

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  8. Shawburn

    Once again “some” of mankind wants to separate us from nature and the soil.
    Once they understand that we are wholly dependant on nature and inseparably part of it will they realise the folly of their ways.

    Reply
  9. Glenn

    GREAT PIECE. IMJ the folk who benefit most from earth destructive practices are not stupid. They are well informed, often very polite, educated folk who fully understand the ‘everything is connected’ thingy. They just don’t give a toss. They will take as much as they can as quickly as they can and then die. That’s why the legislation of ecocide seems such a vital step forward to me.

    Reply
  10. Bernie Edwards

    In answer to Scott Reimers criticism of Craig’s big picture view of things, I would say that yes, the anti-GM war (and it is a war, a war for freedom of choice) is very important (I recently felt it necessary for me to personally contribute to the Food Democracy Now campaign in the US), but it is not the main factor of change and should not therefore be the major focus of attention for those interested in the welfare and predicament of human kind at this point of time.

    Craig sees the big picture, something that I also humbly claim as one of my few major assets. To describe the view that he expresses as ‘a pseudo-science-conspiracy-end-of-times rant’ demonstrates a distinct absence of basic knowledge as to the real, not perceived, not imagined, not illusory, state of the world around us.

    Yes, it is important to put energy and bring awareness into fighting GM, promoting permaculture, environmentalism, transition networks. All of those things and more. But it is crucial to recognise that these things are mere background noise to the real issues that we face. Human plans and scheming weighed alongside the forces of nature and the limits of physical reality.

    Reply
  11. Craig Mackintosh PRI Editor

    Hi Scott

    I’m not sure why that paragraph you have trouble with is regarded as a “pseudo-science-conspiracy-end-of-times rant”. It’s purely a view based on biological realities (not conspiracies). Even if you take GMOs out of the picture (as wonderful as that would be), we’re still left with a totally unsustainable industrial agriculture system which only promises us widespread mayhem.

    I don’t know you, or your experience and knowledge base, and I’m not really clear on your concern with that paragraph, so I fear I’ll offend you if I put links to a lot of material that will help to explain the background to my opinions. But, in order to attempt to explain myself, perhaps if you start by reading my numbered points 1 – 11 in the article found in the next link, and anywhere you’re unsure, please click on the links provided in those numbered points for clarification:

    http://permaculturenews.org/2012/06/28/hope-for-a-new-era-before-after-examples-of-permaculture-earth-restoration-solving-our-problems-from-the-ground-up/

    It’s important to know that the earth’s soils are the second largest carbon sink on the planet (the oceans being the largest). But, we’ve turned our soils from being a carbon sink, into a carbon source, due to physical plowing of the soil, and, significantly, due to nitrogen applications:

    http://permaculturenews.org/2010/07/27/a-new-discovery-soluble-nitrogen-destroys-soil-carbon/

    Our large scale removal of biomass is putting all the carbon, that should be on and in our soils, into the atmosphere. See:

    http://permaculturenews.org/2009/12/14/the-biology-of-global-warming/

    And this form of agriculture is based on fossil fuels (oil is used to make pesticides/herbicides, and natural gas is used to make nitrogen fertilisers).

    We’re running out of affordable fossil fuels:

    http://permaculturenews.org/2010/11/10/peak-oil-the-debate-is-over/

    I’ve studied soil science, and it’s clear (to me at least) that the human race will only succeed if it reverts to small scale, biodiverse, relocalised agricultural systems (to be a ‘nation of farmers’, as Abraham Lincoln dreamed). This is due to resource constraints, biological realities, and the fact that if we don’t change course, nature herself will cast us off. Indeed, we’re seeing it happening already.

    If you need clarification in some area, just let me know exactly what. I’d hate for you to be left with the thought that I’m some conspiracy nut, as I don’t think that’s a very accurate picture. :)

    Getting rid of GMOs is important. Indeed, it’s one of my pet projects. But, I’m trying to help people to realise that the issues go deeper than that. Indeed, GMOs are merely an attempt to get out of a mess using the same thinking that got us into it in the first place – that being that we’re treating nature like a linear factory floor, instead of an interdependent biological powerhouse.

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  12. Aapo Leinonen

    I have to comment to this discussion the following:

    Gmo’s could be cultivated in a permaculture setting if it was wanted. Of course, big agribussiness corporations wouldn’t like this. But I find it bit strange that everytime genetic engineering is discussed the problems of monoculture farming and high fossil fuel and pesticide usage. These are not the result of applying synthetic biology. They are results of stupid agrucultural planning (which is result of many things, such corporate lobbying, misinformation etc.) But opinions on ge-crops should be based on their characteristics and properties. While it is true that big pharma and big seed are generally untrustworthy and they have conducted most of studies on gmo-crops and their effects, I find many opponents of gmos pretty suspicious too – because they are often promoting also homeopathy and other forms of pseudoscience.

    I think that we should slow down on gmos and dismantel all their patents. By slowing down I mean phasing out their usage to have time for research.

    Gmo proponents are trying to find one simple solution to our problems: engineering one good crop and applying it to everywhere. It might be possible to make some very drought tolerant crops that could survive in harsh conditions, but this aproach is not advisable. Polyculture and diversity is needed.

    But this is not a valid argument against genetechnology. Demonstrated mal effects on test animals could be one. I haven’t yet had time to read this study (more than just looking at it very briefly) so I won’t comment on it now.

    But it sounds a bit strange to me to say that inserting a gene on an organism would always make it cancer provoking to eat. There are always some viruses attacking crops (i.e. inserting their genes to them). Though it is true that plants survive to produce seed or fruits must have been able to defend them selves against these attacks, least to a certain degree. It is of course possible that human conducted virus attacks lead to some sort of disturbtance. But it’s problematic that some gmo opponents turn this immediatly into naturalist mystics condemn it as “unnatural” and there by evil.

    - Aapo

    Reply
  13. Craig Mackintosh PRI Editor

    Hi Aapo

    A virus attacking a plant is quite different from inserting genes from one species into another species. All organisms have natural genetic barriers to stop inter-species crossing. For example, if you try to cross a cat with a dog (feline with canine), it won’t work via any natural or semi-natural method. But, someone could attempt to make a dog/cat hybrid via genetic engineering. Genetic engineering is a very unnatural and mechanistic/reductionist approach, and it comes with unexpected results. Inserting the gene of one species into another can create unexpected proteins, which can cause allergic or even deadly reactions.

    I hope you can read these posts thoughtfully:

    http://www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_1823.cfm

    http://permaculturenews.org/2009/12/15/bayer-admits-it-is-unable-to-control-spread-of-gmos/

    http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/green-living/exposed-the-great-gm-crops-myth-812179.html

    http://www.non-gm-farmers.com/news_details.asp?ID=2253

    http://permaculturenews.org/2009/07/20/gm-crops-failure-to-yield-report/

    http://permaculturenews.org/2008/10/28/the-failures-of-genetically-modified-crops-continue/

    http://permaculturenews.org/2010/08/18/gm-crops-pesticides-and-the-poor/

    http://permaculturenews.org/2011/05/31/dangerous-toxins-from-genetically-modified-plants-found-in-women-and-fetuses/

    http://permaculturenews.org/2009/01/04/genetically-modified-foods-unsafe-evidence-that-links-gm-foods-to-allergic-responses-mounts/

    http://permaculturenews.org/2008/08/12/which-came-first-pests-or-pesticides/

    http://theconversation.edu.au/busting-the-gm-myths-a-view-from-greenpeace-3610

    http://permaculturenews.org/2008/08/09/orchestrating-famine-a-must-read-backgrounder-on-the-food-crisis/

    I could give you a great many more articles to read – but I think you should start with this book, researched and written by a noted geneticist:

    http://www.amazon.com/Genetic-Engineering-Dream-Nightmare-Science-Business/dp/1858600510

    If you’ve read these thoughtfully, you’ll see that GMOs are not only dangerous, but they’re totally unnecessary. We can create suitable plant strains for specific soils/climates through natural plant breeding methods much faster than Big Biotech, who spend years and billions of dollars on one particular seed strain which they then attempt to convince farmers with all kinds of soil types and climate conditions to utilise.

    As I’ve said before, GMOs are a ‘solution looking for a problem’. We don’t need them, and they merely attempt to further entrench a system of agriculture that cannot work, unless you somehow convince nature to change its Modus operandi (an impossible feat).

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  14. Ben McKeown

    See also the Documentary ‘Genetic Roulette’.
    It mentions the corellation between the GMO technology and the rise in the rates of allergies,leaky gut, disease etc because the glyphosate attacks the gut of the insect without damaging the crop, reality is the crops GM Tolerance allows it to be eaten by the disconnected humans and send them on a path of disease and suffering.
    Good post Craig, see also ‘Thrive’ talks of the Economic Pyramid and Beaurocracy.

    Reply
  15. Harald

    We have to be careful here.
    GMOs aren’t necessarily evil per se.
    The bad thing is the use of GMOs without actually knowing what they do to us or other creatures feeding on them as well as to the environment.
    What we need is legislation that requires proper testing (such as with pharmaceuticals……yes, yes, I know not everything is perfect there either) before any GMO gets out into the wild.
    Consumers also must have a choice. Every product must contain info on the label declaring any GMO used in it.

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  16. Harald

    @ Craig & Aapo:
    We have to distinguish between GMOs that create completely new organisms such a cat/dog hybrid or GMOs that only modify or improve certain characteristics already existing in a particular organism.
    In other words, if there is a SAFE way to modify, for example corn and give it a 30 % higher nutrient content or make it drought resistant, etc then I would be in favor of doing it.
    On the other hand, I wouldn’t like to see a rat crossed with a pumpkin for example.

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  17. Harald

    Craig: (you guys should find a way to allow a reply directly to the post in question, otherwise, if there are many posts it can get pretty messy)
    In addition to my previous post, I’d like to say that we also must be practical.
    Fact is that world population is growing fast, hence more and more food is needed.
    If we don’t like GMOs we better come up with other alternatives.
    So, question is how can we feed a fast growing global population without damaging the environment and/or ourselves ?
    As much as I’m a proponent of permaculture and organic food production, I just can’t see how we can feed the world based on these principals.

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  18. Carolyn Payne

    Harald, to quote Patrick Whitefield, a well known British Permie, in an interview with Rebecca Hosking, in her documentary, A farm for the Future.
    Rebecca asks “Can Permaculture feed the world” he replies, “A better question to ask is, can the current system feed the world?”
    Harald, if you are looking for some good alternatives, you have come to the right place.
    Personally, I think starvation is a better option than ingesting GMOs, and I don’t believe any are ‘less bad’ and worthy of consideration in any way.

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  19. Craig Mackintosh PRI Editor

    Harald

    I’m afraid I disagree with you entirely. There is not only no place for GMOs, there is absolutely no need for them. They have about as much chance of helping us feed the world as hitting my sore toe with a hammer has of healing it. GMOs are the direct result of the same mechanistic, reductionist mindset that have destroyed topsoils, watersheds and aquifers and removed diversity the world over. It’s using the same thinking that got us into this mess in the first place – that of trying to treat the natural world like a factory floor.

    It’d be great if you’d take the time to read the posts in the links I provided in my previous comment. A good place to start, since you seem to think GMOs can somehow help us ‘feed the world’, is here:

    http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/green-living/exposed-the-great-gm-crops-myth-812179.html

    GMOs do not produce more food. Studies have shown the opposite, and they’ve caused an enormous rise in the use of herbicides, and a very troubling rise of ‘superweeds’, etc.

    By shooting DNA from one species to another, or even just one plant to another, you’re bypassing the plant’s natural barriers, and in the process the plant’s DNA starts producing new and unknown proteins.

    Doing this is unnecessary, as it has been repeatedly shown that instead of spending millions of dollars and years of research to create a single strain of GMO, you can instead in much shorter time and with much less effort, create improve strains of plants through natural breeding processes. See the article I just linked to…

    Unfortunately you’ve fallen prey to the GMO PR hogwash. If you look at the big picture, including all the serious issues that industrial agriculture have created for us, and combine it with the peak oil issue, you’ll see that we need to head towards diversified systems that have plants developed for localised conditions through natural breeding methods – which means protecting our heritage seeds, and building on that basis. The GMO industry is all about ‘standardisation’, which nature does not understand…

    See also:

    http://permaculturenews.org/2010/09/09/monsanto-has-us-walking-the-gangplank-and-wants-to-give-that-final-push/

    http://permaculturenews.org/2008/09/23/biodiverse-systems-are-more-productive/

    http://permaculturenews.org/2011/10/13/the-rodale-institutes-30-year-farming-systems-trial-report/

    If you believe GMOs are helping to feed the world – please try to prove it. They are not.

    See:

    http://permaculturenews.org/2009/07/20/gm-crops-failure-to-yield-report/

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  20. Harald

    Craig, you didn’t understand my posts it seems.
    1) GMOs could be used (and are used) in other areas, beside food production (btw, I’m a biochemist) and actually are used for other purposes.
    2) I didn’t say that GMOs are the solution when it comes to feeding the world.
    I was challenging you and everybody else to provide solutions. It’s always easy to be against something, but you have to come up with alternatives. While I like the concept of permaculture, and actually apply it in my garden, I never saw any scientific data showing me that permaculture based agriculture leads to better yields than the systems currently in place.
    3) I don’t like it either that the world is treated like a factory floor, but you can’t ignore reality.
    The reality is that there are almost 8 billion people and counting on this planet. This population not only has requirements but obviously leaves a significant footprint.
    This issue brings us to other discussions concerning human population growth, our planet’s carrying capacity, etc.
    Again, ignoring this reality doesn’t get us anywhere.
    4) As to the pros and cons of GMOs:
    a) we don’t know enough about the long term implications of GMO use. Most data available come from biased sources (mostly industry sponsored), hence they are pretty useless from a scientific point of view.
    b) That said, GMOs are neither good nor bad. As with any technology it depends what you do with it.
    You can use nuclear energy in bombs as well as a source to provide energy. The same with GMOs.
    4) Your general assertion that GMOs can’t produce more food is simply false, there is also no logical nor scientific reason that GMOs MUST lead to higher pesticide use. (although, Monsanto probably designs GMOs in such a way, that their pesticide and herbicide sales doesn’t get hurt)
    5) Natural breeding: sure, that works. We are doing that since humans started growing food.
    Now, think about how long it takes for example an olive tree or chestnut tree to reach maturity. And then think about how long it will take to select and breed improved versions of those.
    In other words, breeding has some limits, especially when time is a factor (which it is with our rapidly growing population).
    Again, I’m NOT making a case for GMOs. As a matter of fact, if I can avoid them I do.
    However, I ask you to think practical. Radical views of any kind will not solve any problem that humanity faces nor will it serve the cause of permaculture.
    If we don’t agree with something we have to provide alternatives.
    Go for example to Idaho where there are huge potato plantations (monoculture obviously). Now try to convince these potato farmers to switch from monoculture to permaculture (or at least something more organic).
    Guess what they’ll ask you.
    Probably they’ll ask you a) how much the transition from one system to the other will cost them and b) what their short/mid/long term yield and production cost will be.
    The same goes for all the other huge monocultures.
    Make a case and convince them. Show how permaculture can be a viable alternative.

    Reply
  21. Harald

    Hi Carolyn:
    1) our planet has a carrying capacity. There are many different numbers as to how many humans our planet can sustain, but the fact is we will eventually reach a limit regardless of the system.
    In other words, if our population keeps growing at the current rate, there will be NO system that can feed us all.
    2) “Personally, I think starvation is a better option than ingesting GMOs”. Well, as you say, that’s your personal view and I’m not sure if you would maintain it in the face of real starving (e.g. people in sub saharan Africa). I’m also not sure how many people would agree with you.
    If having the choice of starving or eating GMOs, I most likely would prefer the GMO.

    Reply
  22. Carolyn Payne

    Harald, please don’t presume I know nothing about Planetary carrying capacity, I know enough.
    There are lots of great permaculture design people working on excellent permaculture design projects, check out Permaculture global. If you want evidence you will have to go and seek it out yourself and not really expect Craig and the other followers of this site to hand feed answers to you.
    It really is none of my business if anyone agrees with me or not regarding my preference to starve over eating GMOs, but keep in mind hunger strikes can be a powerful tool.
    You mention using Permaculture in your garden, is that the only place you use it?
    I prefer to use Permaculture DESIGN in all areas of my life, including my work.
    If you want to bounce your ideas of someone, I am keen to help.
    Yours Abundantly
    Carolyn Payne
    Mudlark Permaculture

    Reply
  23. ladybug2535

    Sure Marcus T MORE deregulation and less government is the answer–did you read the article? It doesn’t take much to come to the conclusion that businesses cannot be trusted to police themselves in the public’s best interests–so just who IS supposed to do that? Joe Public? Rely on “free market” forces to work and we have rivers burning, air we can’t breathe and people dying from poisons in our food and air, and unsafe work conditions. Businesses have a well-established history of lying to the government about safety (cigarettes=addiction=cancer anyone?), as much as the consumer. And yes, even some individuals in the government may be pressured to “look the other way”, or not be overly critical of a business’s hype. Greed exists in every level of commerce (and greed isn’t the only influence at work here), but it doesn’t mean you throw out the justice system because criminals keep breaking the law. The FDA is supposed to be neutral, but recently a stronger “Whistle-blower protection act” was passed so that FDA scientists can report internal problems (like pressure to shut up about their legitimate concerns), and raise red flags regarding suspect studies/results (which they have). Strengthening these protections was necessary due to retaliation towards FDA employees–up to and including being fired for disclosure to CONGRESS. Unfortunately most of the problems at the FDA have stemmed from deceptive reassurances and falsified or inadequate studies from self-policed industries–and worse, politicizing their head offices. Oh yeah, politics definitely plays a role here. Remember Bush W.’s big push for deregulation? Not so hot for our economy was it? I just don’t get how a party so distrustful of “big government” is so eager to believe that a free market (deregulated) could be trusted. By the time “market forces” (like killing their customers) takes the business down, they’ll have taken the money and run. Just like deregulated banking caused our latest economic disaster (gotten those foreclosure notices yet?) Then again, maybe I misunderstood, maybe you AREN’T for deregulation. You want protection but you don’t want a government to enforce it. Or you want a government but you don’t want to pay for it. Or you want regulation, but only what’s convenient–Yeah, that’ll work. Fortunately, the scientists at the FDA–being scientists (and smart human beings living in the same environment as the rest of us) dilligently scrutinize research data and test results for suspect protocols, skewed or inaccurate stats, hinky raw numbers and iffy or even bogus conclusions. I understand the rationale behind hiring industry “darlings” to head Public/government agencies (not just the FDA): supposedly being an insider will help cut through the BS–and some appointees/business-friendly hires have been very responsible in carrying out their jobs for the public benefit, even if it was to their own detriment career-wise. These are powerful positions with a lot of influence, and a LOT of responsibility. Unfortunately, there are far too many exceptions–appointed/hired as a political favor; to promote a political agenda–or perhaps worse, a hidden financial agenda such as the promise of a lucrative job in a few years if they can help “a buddy”… No, the FDA isn’t perfect–all things being equal, they have a massive job with iffy funding, but I ask YOU again, Mark T, if the government doesn’t regulate and monitor these businesses–who will protect the consumer? That’s you. You are the consumer. YOU are the government. But your answer is to complain about government taxes? Those taxes pay for your roads, your schools, your work safety, your clean food and water. Do you REALLY trust businesses to look out for the good of the people-or their own bottom line? Now, I MUST add, not all businesses ignore public safety in the name of profit. MOST of the people that work in the FDA are dedicated to protecting the public (or THEY wouldn’t need protection for speaking out). Certainly they could make better money working in the private sector. WE ARE the government. We need a balance–we need to encourage innovation, there is nothing inherently wrong with GMO in itself, AS LONG as we proceed very, very cautiously, monitor the science VERY closely long term, and clarify our goals as well as how we want to achieve them. Some enhanced food crops could have very positive benefits (such as increased nutritional value, or to produce medicines). Banning GMCs outright would be a mistake. People certainly have a right to know what’s in their food, and they have the right to decide.

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