Hypocrisy and Choice

June 6th, 2014

In this morning’s headlines several prominent agriculture groups spoke out against a state-initiated food labeling plan (without specifically referencing GMO’s). They claimed that “only FDA” should be the standard-bearer.

Ib Hagsten, PhD

This new-found faith in FDA is amusing given those same ag groups regularly “question” FDA’s wisdom when a new directive comes out that is uncomfortable for their membership.  And how confident can we feel in relying on FDA when only a week ago the FDA came out saying they needed to withdraw a proposal related to food safety, after learning it had too many discrepancies?

In the last two weeks I have read several US scientific society statements endorsing the technological advances through the use of GMO’s.  After all, they claim “the science” shows GMOs to be safe.  So let’s consider what “science” they are referencing.

Monsanto provided minimally-required data to FDA in the GMO submission, which covered the proscribed 90-days (12-week) testing period. That’s right, they only have to show what happens in the first 90 days. Yet all studies that have shown side effects on animals do not show significant deleterious effects appearing until week 18.   Thus the oft-repeated claim that Monsanto’s research “found no safety concerns” is accurate, if misleading on the larger question of long-term safety.

My own experiences during my master’s thesis on dietary salt requirements for sheep showed that the “standard wisdom” demanded only half of the amount. The half-percent salt fed to sheep between 1940-1970 was based on an insubstantial claim that took on a life of its own.

The claim that GMO’s “have never killed anyone” is a commonly used by the proponents of the GMO products.  And that statement is true.

However, it is probably time to put the non-lethal effects in context.

  1. These GMOs have been liberally utilized on crops intended for human and animal consumption for twenty years (and of course, the animals will eventually be consumed by humans, so as top-of-the-food-chain animals, we get the largest dosing).
  2. Twenty years ago there were no allergy concerns stated listed on food labels, whereas there are now 26 allergens that food manufacturers have to deal with daily in the production and packaging of food, and
  3. There are new health scourges with indeterminant causes that should make us at least question the value of the changes that have occurred in our food supply during this last 20 years as the number of cases of disabilities such as autism continue to climb each year. (1 in 74 children is now recognized to have some form of autism compared to 1 in 160 just two years ago).

Maybe the real question is not whether the GMOs either

A.   directly “cause” these chronic (not initially lethal) yet irrefutable side-effects on first children and later adults or

B.   indirectly “cause” the above-mentioned concerns through changes in gut-health and morphology that scientists – mostly outside the US – are observing and attempting to publish.

Maybe the real question should be whether GMOs, as something introduced during this time of rapid deterioration in the overall health of the US population that is costing not only a loss in human vitality but dramatic costs to the economy in lost productivity, may be a contributing factor that should give all of us pause for longer-term studies before we allow the GMO genetics to infiltrate our entire food supply.

Respectfully,
Ib Hagsten, Ph.D.
Certified Agricultural Consultant by ASAC
Diplomate, American College of Nutrition by ARPAS
Certified Professional Animal Scientist by ASAS
Accredited Organic Inspector by IOIA
Certified Technical Service Provider by NRCS/USDA
Approved Animal Welfare Auditor by GAP-5
Approved Food Safety Auditor by GAP-International

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