The following transcript is protected under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 License.
Kootenay Co-op Radio CJLY
Nelson, B.C. Canada
September 28, 2006
Title: GMO Trilogy: Part 3 - Hidden Dangers in Kids Meals: Genetically Modified Foods
Producer/Host: Jon Steinman
Transcript: Carol Elliott
Jon Steinman: And this is Deconstructing Dinner, a weekly program that takes an indepth look into our breakfast, our lunch and our dinner. Produced at Kootenay Co-op Radio in Nelson, British Columbia, this program is heard on radio stations across Canada and is equally available both from our website and as a podcast.
For those frequent listeners of this program who have had the recent opportunity to listen in on the three-part series here on Deconstructing Dinner titled The GMO Trilogy, today's broadcast marks the third and final episode of this series. For those who have not yet tuned in to Parts 1 or 2, this trilogy was produced by Jeffrey Smith at The Iowa-based Institute for Responsible Technology. Jeffrey Smith is the author of Seeds of Deception, one of the most comprehensive books on the risks of the genetic modification of our food. And while the subject receives a considerable amount of attention here on Deconstructing Dinner, it is perhaps not nearly enough exposure, given the vast majority of foods now found in grocery stores and on restaurant menus contain genetically modified organisms. And as that now makes both our planet and each and every one of us a guinea pig, the GMO Trilogy is certainly a series to pay close attention to.
The trilogy itself consists of two films, along with an audio recording. This final episode of the trilogy is one of these films that will be presented to you in audio format. The title is "Hidden Dangers in Kids Meals," and this episode hears from dozens of experts speaking on the genetic modification of food, and features Jeffrey Smith himself. That will take up about half of today's program after which we will hear a collection of additional clips on the topic, including some interesting segments produced by the biotechnology industry themselves.
increase music and fade out
A few quick mentions before we take a listen to the audio version of "Hidden Dangers in Kids Meals." On the website for Deconstructing Dinner is a link to a GMO Trilogy page, from which lists the two previous episodes of the series, and offers you the opportunity to take a listen to those broadcasts. But there is also a host of additional information on this topic, much of which can direct you to becoming more involved with the topic of genetic modification of food. One of these links will also take you to the website where the GMO Trilogy is available for purchase. And the producer, Jeffrey Smith, is also encouraging sharing this resource within your circle of friends and/or communities.
As the task of converting a film into a radio broadcast may seem rather challenging, the only challenge presented here for this episode is not knowing
the names of those who are speaking. So located on the web page for this broadcast, dated September 28th, will be an ordered list of those whose voices you will shortly hear. And that website is www.cjly.net/deconstructingdinner.
And here is The GMO Trilogy and the episode "Hidden Dangers in Kids Meals: Genetically Modified Foods."
Peter Rosset, PhD (Agriculture Ecologist): These are companies with decades and decades of well-documented lying to the American public.
Jeffrey Smith: Those who complained were fired, stripped of responsibilities, or forced out.
Jerry Rosman (Iowa farmer): As we started feeding the GMO corns to our animals we started to experience huge reproductive problems.
Jeffrey Smith: Rats that were fed genetically modified tomato developed stomach lesions - bleeding stomachs. Seven out of forty died within two weeks when the tomato was approved.
Steven Druker, JD (Director of the Alliance for Bio-Integrity): What did the FDA administrators do? They had ignored, overridden their own scientists' statements.
Jeffrey Smith: Tragically, children are most at risk for the potential dangers of genetically engineered foods.
Narrator: The biotech industry claims that genetically engineered foods are safe. But scientists and investigators around the world disagree.
New evidence suggest that industry pressure and political collusion force these foods onto the market, and their effects on health, particularly on kids, may be serious.
Jeffrey Smith: To create a genetically engineered food, you take a gene from one species and you put the gene into the DNA of another species. Now, typically they do this because they want to add a trait. They take, for example, a gene that creates a pesticide and they put it into corn so that the corn will create a pesticide.
And the process of genetic engineering can disrupt the normal functioning of the DNA in dramatic ways. It can turn genes off, permanently turn them on, change their levels of expression, and create all sorts of unpredicted production of allergies, toxins, carcinogens, nutrient problems, etc.
Steven Druker: When we got the FDA's documents and began to analyze them, we found something very shocking: that not only did the scientists who had joined our lawsuit have concern about genetically engineered foods, not only did hundreds of other scientists around the world have concerns about the potential hazards of genetically engineered foods, but the FDA's own scientific staff had the same concerns.
The overwhelming concensus within the FDA's own scientific staff was genetic engineering is inherently hazardous; it is very different than conventional breeding; and every food that is modified through it - every food that's been genetically engineered - has to be carefully safety-tested because it runs the risk of harbouring unintended, harmful substances such as new poisons, new allergens.
Jeffrey Smith: But their superiors were under orders from the White House to promote the biotechnology industry.
Ignacio Chapela, PhD (Microbial Ecologist, University of California at Berkeley): They were only told we need to have this technology moving and moving fast and we need to have a whole new industrial sector in place.
Jeffrey Smith: And the person in charge of policy was the former attorney for the large biotech company Monsanto.
Steven Druker: What did the FDA administrators do? They had ignored, overridden their own scientists' statements and presumed that all of these foods were safe.
Jeffrey Smith: No long term safety studies, no safety studies whatsoever are required before foods are put on the market.
David Schubert, PhD (Cell Biologist, Salk Institute for Biological Sciences): And that's like saying, you make the car and the producer of the car doesn't test it, well, let some people, you know, get killed driving the car to see if it is safe or not. It is an absurd position, but that is the position of a lot of the people who are promoting this technology.
Phil Regal, PhD (Biologist, University of Minnesota): People were saying in the industry and in the regulatory agencies that if the American people want progress they are going to have to be the guinea pigs.
Sue Kedgley (Member of Parliament, New Zealand): Now there were so many loopholes and flaws in the current regulatory regime for testing the safety of genetically engineered food that I consider this framework to be little more than a regulatory-free façade which enables food producers to claim that their products have been properly tested and to help persuade consumers that genetically engineered foods are safe.
David Schubert: They wanted to get something through that gave at least the illusion that this was being tested.
Jeffrey Smith: Rats that were fed genetically modified tomato developed stomach lesions - bleeding stomachs. Seven out of forty died within two weeks when the tomato was approved.
Rats fed genetically modified soy had misshapen nuclei in their liver cells. Rats fed genetically modified canola had livers that were heavier. Rats that were fed genetically modified corn had problems in the development of their blood cells.
Chickens fed genetically modified corn died at twice the rate of those fed non-genetically modified corn. Twelve cows died mysteriously in Germany when being fed genetically modified corn. And several mid-western farmers report that when they feed genetically modified corn to their pigs the pigs have reproductive problems.
Jerry Rosman: The mother hogs were going into their full pregnancies. And instead of a normal litter of babies they delivered bags of water or they wouldn't do anything.
As we worked our way through this we found through word of mouth and media coverage another twenty-five farmers in five states that had exactly the same problems.
Ralph Doran (Iowa farmer): Our whole problem was the fact that we were not getting sows pregnant. It wasn't just us but there were a lot of people in the area that had the same problem. So we figured out that everybody was feeding the same seedcorn.
Leland Kaufmann (Iowa farmer): We had trouble with conception rates. We did tests. We did everything, nothing worked.
We're finding out it's traced clear back to the seedcorn. It makes you wonder with the genetically modified stuff - what we are finding out now with it - and we are just touching the tip of the iceberg, I think.
Howard Vlieger (Iowa farmer): I had one gentleman in Nebraska. He was feeding the BT corn to the sows. And he had trouble with the conception of that group of sows. He switched away from using that BT corn and the problem went away.
Sue Kedgley: If thalidomide had not caused dramatic birth defects but rather cancer or other allergenic responses, it would still in all probability be in supply because of the difficulty of linking cause and effect.
Jeffrey Smith: If there were reproductive problems that were caused by genetically modified foods, or problems in liver cell development, or bleeding stomachs, who would know that it was genetically modified foods? No one is monitoring.
An example of how difficult it is to discover the cause of a problem came in the 1980s. There was an epidemic: about a hundred people died and five to ten thousand people fell sick. They finally traced it back to a food supplement that had been created from the process of genetic modification. Only the brand that was genetically modified caused this disease.
Now the only reason that they were able to discover that it was an epidemic was that the disease had three simultaneous characteristics: it was rare; it was acute; and it came on quickly. If any one of these three characteristics had not been in place, that same deadly food supplement might still be on the market.
Arpad Pusztai, PhD (Biologist, Expert on GM food safety studies): I think that the main problem is likely to be this long-term effect of GM. I think that the simplest analogy is smoking. How long did it take for the effects of smoking to be uncovered? Thirty, forty years.
Leland Kaufmann: Look it over like in Vietnam where they sprayed Agent Orange. Didn't think that was going to hurt. Well, it could be the same thing with genetically modified products, too.
Jeffrey Smith: We know that soon after genetically modified soy was introduced into the UK, soy allergies skyrocked there by fifty per cent. Now we can't say that it was definitely the genetic modification of the soy, but we do know that soy has an increase in trypsin inhibitor, the most commonly known soy allergen.
But we also know that you can transfer allergens into genetically modified foods. In fact, the process of genetically engineering soy disrupted the DNA, and caused a damaged section, which could in theory create an allergenic protein.
Also, the gene which they inserted into the soy rearranged over time without explanation. So it's creating actually a slightly different protein, one that was never tested or predicted or intended to be produced inside the soy. And that might be allergenic or toxic. So there are a lot of reasons why a genetically modified food could create an increase in allergies.
In the UK they took a genetically modified potato and they fed it to rats. And the rats ended up with potentially pre-cancerous cell growth in their digestive tract; smaller brains, livers and testicles due to retarded development of the organs; partial atropy of the liver; and a damaged immune system. And it remains the most indepth animal feeding study every published on the safety of genetically engineered foods. And it shows these foods might inherently be unsafe.
Dr. Arpad Pusztai, before the study was completed, was invited to speak on television. And he expressed his concerns about genetically engineered foods and how the public is being used as guinea pigs in an uncontrolled experiment.
When news of his research came out, he was a hero for two days at his prestigious institute. But then on a Tuesday evening, two phone calls were allegedly placed from the Prime Minister's Office, forwarded through the receptionist to the institute's director. The next morning, Wednesday morning, Arpad Pusztai was fired after thirty-five years and silenced with threats of a law suit.
Sue Kedgley: Personally, I have been contacted by telephone and email by a number of scientists who have serious concerns about aspects of the research that is taking place in various institutions in New Zealand and the increasingly close ties that are developing between science and commerce but who are convinced that if they express these fears publicly, or even if they ask the awkward and difficult questions, they will be eased out of the institution.
Mae-Wan Ho, PhD (Geneticist and Biophysicist, Director of the Institute for Science in Society): Because of my involvement in the genetic engineering debate, I became very unpopular with the genetic engineers in my department. So I was, let's put it mildly, very strongly encouraged to retire early. Okay, I mean I was basically handed out of the department and the university that I taught in for nearly twenty-five years.
Jeffrey Smith: And a UC-Berkeley professor claims that he was being threatened by a senior Mexican government official who tried to get him not to publish incriminating evidence.
Ignacio Chapela: He pressured me in a pretty nasty way, threatened and did everything he could to try and convince me that I shouldn't publish.
David Schubert: The vast majority of academic plant science is funded directly or indirectly from industry. And so that is one of the reasons at least I believe that academic plant biologists are somewhat hesitant about speaking, taking issue with some of the plant biotechnology, food issues.
Jeffrey Smith: This fear among scientists, and the control by the biotech industry, has meant that there has not been a lot of follow-up to evidence suggesting that genetically modified foods are unsafe, even inside governments.
For example, the Food and Drug Administration, they were approving the very first genetically modified drug. It was a drug injected into cows to increase milk supply. It's called recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone, or rBGH.
Scientists complain that this might be unhealthy for humans eating the dairy products and drinking the milk. But those who complained were fired, stripped of responsbilities or forced out. The remaining whistle-blowers had to write an anonymous letter to Congress, claiming that there was fraud and conflict of interest in the department.
Jon Steinman: And you're listening to Deconstructing Dinner, produced at Kootenay Co-op Radio CJLY in Nelson, British Columbia. Today's broadcast presents the third part of The GMO Trilogy, a series that has been featured here on Deconstructing Dinner in previous months.
GMOs, or genetically modified organisms, fill the shelves of grocery stores and restaurants, and this trilogy takes a critical look at this new way of producing food.
Today's broadcast features an audio version of the film "Hidden Dangers in Kids Meals." The trilogy contains two films and an audio recording, and it can be purchased from the Institute for Responsible Technology's website. And that website is seedsofdeception.com. And you can additionally dial 1-888-717-7000. And all of this info will also be listed on the Deconstructing Dinner website.
And here is the continuation of "Hidden Dangers in Kids Meals."
Jeffrey Smith: Scientists have been concerned that genes might jump from the genetically modified food to gut bacteria. The biotech industry had claimed that the genes were destroyed during digestion and that no transfer was possible. The only human feeding study, however, contradicted that. It showed that genes that had been inserted into soy actually jumped from the soy and now took up residence inside the DNA of the gut bacteria inside the human beings. So even if we stop eating genetically modified soy, it's possible that the protein that it's engineered to create will continute to be produced inside of us.
Organizations like the American Medical Organization, the World Health Organization and others were concerned that the anti-biotic resistant marker genes, which are inserted into genetically modified foods, might jump to our gut bacteria and that could create new diseases that would be resistant to anti-biotics.
Also, when you genetically modify something, you have to put in a promoter, something to turn on that foreign gene so it operates twenty-four/seven around the clock. But it turns out that this promoter can turn on other genes at random up and down the DNA. So inside the corn or soy it might turn on other genes which could be allergenic, or toxic, or carcinogenic, or anti-nutritional.
But we now know that that promoter also transfers to gut bacteria. In addition, preliminary evidence showed that the promoter transferred to the internal organs of rats after a single meal.
Now earlier we talked about corn that was genetically engineered to produce its own pesticide. Imagine the gene that produces the pesticide transferring to gut bacteria. Now you have a gene, inside the DNA, inside our intestines, producing pesticide. It converts our bacteria into living pesticide factories.
Tragically, children are most at risk to the potential dangers of genetically engineered foods. They have young, developing bodies so they are going to be more at risk for possible toxins or nutritional problems. Children are more susceptible to allergies, three to four times more susceptible than adults, especially children below two years old.
Also, children drink a lot of milk. Now, the cows injected with genetically engineered bovine growth hormone produce milk with an increased level of a hormone called IGF-1 - Insulin-like Growth Factor-1. Those with high levels of IGF-1 in their systems are much more likely to develop breast cancer and prostate cancer.
Also, a lot of children have to take anti-biotics because of ear infections or other problems. If there are anti-biotic resistant super diseases, that's going to have a tremendous impact on children.
Arpad Pusztai: American companies who release these genetically modified food stuffs have never done a proper risk assessment on them. Monsanto said that their genetically modified soya is safe, then the FDA regarded that as evidence for its safety.
Michael Antoniou, PhD (Molecular Geneticist, University of London): What concerns me is that the health risks of genetically modified organisms in agriculture are only assessed through relatively rudimentary biochemical analysis and short-term feeding trials of animals. And these are totally inadequate.
Judy Carman, PhD, MPH (Epidemiologist and Nutritional Biochemist, Director of the Institute of Health and Environmental Research): They feed these animals probably every four weeks, sometimes on one occasion even six weeks. You can't do cancer experiments in that time. And certainly they were not fed to animals, and pregnant animals, to see what happened in the offspring. And certainly biochemistry, immunology, tissue morphology, gut function, lymph function and kidney function do not seem to be done.
Peter Rosset: Personally, I have a hard time trusting the five or six companies in the biotechnology industry which now control our seed supply. I have a hard time trusting them because they are essentially the same companies that brought us pesticides, that told us that pesticides were harmless, that pretended to show spokespeople eating them on television by the spoonful. Of course, it turned out later what they were eating was powdered milk, because they weren't stupid enough to actually eat DDT. But these are companies with decades and decades of well-documented lying to the American public.
Jeffrey Smith: Many scientists say that industry research is rigged to avoid finding problems.
Judy Carman: We need to have good independent safety testing of genetically engineered foods. In other words, safety testing that is not done by the applicant company.
Sue Kedgley: I would recommend that perhaps we could set up human clinical trials using volunteers on genetically engineered scientists and their families because I think that they are so convinced of the safety of the products they are creating that I am sure that they would very readily volunteer to become part of a human clinical trial.
Jeffrey Smith: A lot of information today shows that food influences mood and behaviour. For example, a study on three-year-olds showed that twenty-five per cent of tantrums in the study were due to food colouring and additives added to the juice they were drinking.
Also, changes in diet of prisoners and probationers dramatically changed their behaviour. A Dutch student took two groups of mice. One he fed genetically modified food; the other other non-genetically modified food. Those on the natural food played with each other and acted like mice. Those with the genetically modified food stopped playing with each other, sort of retired in their corners, and were very non-social. Also, they were very much more scared of him when he went into their cages to pick them up to weigh them. And one was inexplicably found dead at the end of the experiment.
Now, does this mean that genetically modified foods will affect behaviour in animals or humans? It would certainly be irresponsible to say so based on a single experiment. But, by the same token, it would be irresponsible to say that it doesn't because no studies have actually been done to verify whether in fact there's an influence on behaviour.
There's a school in Appleton, Wisconsin that changed its diet from the normal daily school meals that kids eat all over the country to wholesome, delicious, nutritious food. And the change was amazing. They weren't intending to, but when they removed processed foods from the school meals, they removed almost all sources of genetically engineered products.
I mentioned this school in my book Seeds of Deception because after about seven chapters of telling the reader about the dangers of genetically engineered foods and all the rat studies and human problems, I figured someone would still possibly have the excuse, "Well, I'm going to die anyway."
I like sharing clips of the Appleton documentary as added inspiration for people to change their diet.
Narrator: The Appleton area School District in Wisconsin is taking a community-wide approach to school nutrition.
Greg Bretthauer (Dean of Students): In January of 1997 I visited Central High School as a prospective employee and observed the students that were housed here at the time and found them to rude, obnoxious, very crude and ill-mannered.
Dan Tauber (Police Liaison Officer): I was brought over to the school because the school was out of control. They were having a lot of problems with rebellious students, weapons violations, things of that nature. So they wanted a cop on the school premise at all times.
Mary Bruyette (Teacher): We started the food program approximately three-and-a-half years ago. One Friday the kids were here. They had candy machines and pop machines in the student lounge. The following Monday they came to school and they were greeted by water coolers, and healthy bagels, and energy drinks for breakfast.
LuAnn Coenen (Principal): Since we started the program, the nutrition, the Natural Ovens program, with the complete diet, a balanced diet, I have seen a total change in the students and the environment within the school. It's amazing.
Greg Bretthauer: Now that I actually have a job here - I was hesitant once again to start, and found that the atmosphere is entirely different. Students are calm, are well-behaved. I don't have to deal with the daily discipline issues. Out and out disciplining of the students - that just isn't an issue here.
LuAnn Coenen: Every year we are required to file a state report. On the state report they include information regarding the number of drop-outs, expulsions, drugs, weapons, suicides. Since we've started this program, "zeros" is what I have had to report. That's a pretty nice report to fill out.
Mary Bruyette: Our biggest problems right now at this school are parking in the parking lot and student tardiness. I don't have the disruptions in class or the difficulties with student behaviours that perhaps I experienced four years ago, before we started the food program.
Female student: Now that I concentrate I think it is easier to be around people. 'Cause now I am paying attention to what they have to say and just not worrying about what I need to say to them.
Dr. Thomas Scullen (Appleton Area School District Superintendent): Healthy food has had more of an impact than we thought. We believed it would help settle the kids down, which it has done. But I think we were surprised at the impact that it has had on academic learning.
Mary Bruyette: Personally I think I have been able to demand more academically from my students over the last few years.
Peg Schulze (Nutrition Teacher, Appleton East High School): I notice in conference time a lot of parents will say, "You know, that nutrition unit is really making a difference."
Mikki Duran (Phys Ed - Health Program Leader, Appleton Area School District): This is the first generation in history that might not outlive their parents because of health or lifestyle issues, nutrition and fitness.
LuAnn Coenen: I can't buy the argument that it is too costly for schools to provide good nutrition for their students. I have found that one cost will reduce another. I don't have vandalism, I don't have the litter, I don't have the need for high security.
Dr. Thomas Scullen: We have cut five million dollars out of our operational budget in the last two years. We did thirty-five focus groups in the community and not one person brought up the issue of "you should get back into junk-type foods," because they see that healthy lifestyles is important.
I believe in three or four years every school in the country will be into a nutrition program. Because the more schools that are going in that direction, they are seeing it does make a difference.
Peg Schulze: We have got to stop using our most precious commodity - our kids - to make extra money.
Jeffrey Smith: Schools throught the UK have banned GM foods a long time ago, as have schools in selected cities from around Europe. In Italy, in fact, schools are required to serve organic foods, as they are in Berkeley and Palo Alto, California.
And around the United States, more and more schools are removing junk food. They are removing the sodas, they are removing the candies. It's time that we extend that ban to include genetic modification.
There are four major genetically modified crops: soy; corn; cotton, which is used in cottonseed oil; and canola. Actually all four are used in vegetable oil. Now soy and corn have a lot of off-spring - derivatives that are found in many of the processed foods that we eat. So, to avoid genetically modified foods it's often easy to avoid processed foods, and you can avoid the two at the same time.
Now there is also Hawaiian papaya, and a little bit of zucchini and crookneck squash and Quest tobacco. And that's the only genetically modified crops that are currently commercialized. The tomato was taken off the market, the potato was taken off the market, and several other varieties have been approved but not introduced commercially.
Milk from cows treated with genetically modified Bovine Growth Hormone is also considered genetically modified. And there are also enzymes and additives that are created from genetically modified bacteria or fungus. Now typically they are not labelled. Aspartame, which is a sweetener, is one exception.
Peter Rosset: The same companies that produce GMO-laden processed food in the US market produce GMO-free products in the European market. We have a lot of power in consumers: we have to exercise it. We should be asking everywhere that we buy food if their products contain genetically engineered ingredients and insist that we will only buy products from them that are demonstrably free of GMOs.
Jeffrey Smith: So we have to get the word out and educate people to describe how these foods may be impacting ourselves and our children so we can make those choices and move the market.
Jon Carapiet (Market Research Consultant): Studies show that the majority of people do not want GM foods. That's interesting. The studies also show the more educated people are, the less likely they are to feel comfortable about it and support it. And the more knowledge people have about it, the less they like it.
Jeffrey Smith: Eyewitness reports from all over North America describe how several types of animals when given a choice, avoid eating genetically modified foods.
Howard Vlieger: The cows didn't care for it. We put BT corn and conventional corn in the feed bunk and they cleaned up the conventional corn and left the BT corn. They did not eat it. In South Dakota, where they leave food plots, stands for the wildlife, the deer won't eat Round-Up Ready corn.
Michael Antoniou: Our knowledge of genetics is still far too rudimentary and genetic engineering and technology far too crude for the release of genetically modified organisms into the environment and their entry into the food chain to be justified. It is particularly important when one bears in mind that genetically modified organisms once released are uncontainable and unrecallable if problems happen to arise.
Terje Traavik, PhD (Virologist, Director of the Norwegian Institute for Gene Ecology): Scientists are not supposed to use strong words but these might be the basis for real ecological and health catastophes. That's a fact.
Phil Regal: People who boost genetic engineering are going to have to do a mea culpa and come clean and ask for forgiveness like the Pope did on the inquisition (audience: laughter). You know, we made a mistake. Let's start over.
Alan Addison Saipe (Chef): I would just like to speak as a father. I think that we have to think of the next generation and I would hate for us now to make decisions that prohibit them from making their own decisions later on. I wouldn't like to sell my children's future for a handfull of magic beans.
Jeffrey Smith: We're part of this huge, uncontrolled experiment. Millions of people are being fed GM foods every day without knowing the impacts on health, behaviour or our children. These foods could be eroding the health of the people of the planet, and the impacts on children could be far worse. With the rise of obesity and diabetes, with the dramatic results in Appleton, with the growing body of research that suggests that GM foods are not safe and should never have been approved, a complete overhall of our diet and school meal programs is long overdue.
Song - "Farmer Dan," by Todd Butler, from the album Idle Canadian, Indy (CDN)
They made him promise
He was an honest man
They pulled the wool over
Poor old Farmer Dan
Danny was a dreamer
As far as your eyes could see
Danny got himself a ticket out
On a chemical degree
Seems he had become a company man
Sowing the company seed
It's the future
You don't want to be left behind
Mother Nature has surrendered
The time has come to make up your mind
We've got statistics to help you relax
Experts to help you decide
They made him promise
He was an honest man
They pulled the wool over
Poor old Farmer Dan
Dan was ten
When the circus came to town
The charlatans of self-serving science
And as the living soil
Died beneath his feet
They have turned another farmer
Into his own worst enemy
They made him promise
He was an honest man
They pulled the wool over
Poor old Farmer Dan
Jon Steinman: And you're listening to Deconstructing Dinner, produced at Kootenay Co-op Radio in Nelson, British Columbia. Each week on this program we explore food in ways often not approached by the mainstream media, and we look at how the food we choose to eat impacts ourselves, our communities, and of course, our planet.
All broadcasts of this program are archived onto our website, and that website is www.cjly.net/deconstructingdinner.
That musical contribution we just listened to was Courtenay, British Columbia's Todd Butler, who just recently released his cleverly titled album, Idle Canadian. And that song was "Farmer Dan." And you can find out more about Todd Butler on his website toddbutler.com and on that website is an audio link to the song you just heard, so certainly check it out.
Prior to that tune was the conclusion of the third part of The GMO Trilogy, a trilogy that has been featured here on Deconstructing Dinner over the past few months. Today's episode was an audio version of the film "Hidden Dangers in Kids Meals." And the other audio episodes of the trilogy can be found on the Deconstructing Dinner website. And the trilogy is available to purchase in its
original visual format, and you can do so by either visiting seedsofdeception.com or by dialing 1-888-717-7000.
We are going to take a quick musical intermission here on Deconstructing Dinner. And when we return, we will hear more from author Jeffrey Smith, the producer of this trilogy, as he presents to an audience a side of genetic modification that exists in the United States, but not here in Canada.
Now even though after hearing the details about the modification of this staple North American food, skeptical Canadians can rest assured that it does not exist here. But on the other hand, the scientists at Health Canada that prevented the product from being approved in 1999 have all since been fired. And you can stay tuned for that.
Song - "Saphir," by Nick Ayoub, from the album Ready or Not, Do Right! Music (CDN)
Jon Steinman: And you're tuned in to Deconstructing Dinner and that musical intermission was Montreal musician Nick Ayoub. That recording is off a new Toronto-based compilation titled Ready or Not, a collection of rare CBC recordings.
And on today's broadcast of Deconstructing Dinner, we just wrapped up the third episode of Jeffrey Smith's GMO Trilogy. Jeffrey Smith is the well-known author of Seeds of Deception, an exposé of the biotechnology industry and the genetic modification of food.
And in continuing on the topic, I do have here a clip from a speech that Jeffrey Smith presented at an event hosted by the Campaign to Label Genetically Modified Foods. And while the push to label GM foods is a topic that we will focus on in upcoming broadcasts, the methods by which these foods enter into our food system without public knowledge certainly presents some interesting stories.
And for us in Canada, perhaps one of the most illustrative is that of the genetically engineered Bovine Growth Hormone (or rBGH) - a hormone created by Monsanto to boost milk production in dairy cows. Now here in Canada, the hormone has been disallowed from entering the food supply, but that's not the case in the United States. And, while after hearing the details of this hormone may perhaps relieve some Canadians that it does not exist here, what may be troubling is how the key scientists at Health Canada who prevented the hormone from entering the food supply have all since been fired.
And here's Jeffrey Smith speaking on Bovine Growth Hormone.
Jeffrey Smith: That's the first category of genetically modified products.
Now, the second category is milk products. Milk products from cows that had been injected with genetically engineered Bovine Growth Hormone.
It's interesting that, in the process of approving genetically modified Bovine Growth Hormone, a number of scientists spoke out at the FDA. And one talked about how the process was putting the public at risk. And he had a supervisory role in the evaluation of rBGH until he made that comment in public and then he was stripped of responsibilities and sent to work at a trailer at an experimental farm on a different project.
A division director who said that the industry had too much control over what the FDA was doing - he was forced out. A veterinarian who asking for too many tests that were slowing the approval process down - he was fired.
The remaining whistle-blowers decided to be anonymous. They wrote an anonymous letter to Congress and said that there was conflict of interest and fraud going on at the Agency.
They talked about Margaret Miller, who for Monsanto, created a bunch of experiments in rBGH, then moved to the FDA to evaluate her own research. (audience: laughter) She also, according to this letter, at random changed the amount of allowable anti-biotics in milk in order to approve this injection. It was going to increase infections; it was going to increase the use of anti-biotics. So she raised the level from one part per hundred million to one part per million, a one hundred-fold increase.
When the Congress people eventually did an investigation, they also looked into Michael Taylor. Michael Taylor - just before becoming the number two man in the FDA in charge of policy, the man who decided that milk from cows injected with rBGH does not have to be labeled - he was formerly attorney for Monsanto Corporation. Monsanto produces rBGH. He later became a high-ranking official in the USDA and later the Vice-President for Monsanto.
And that's not unique. If we look into the current and previous administrations there's a revolving door. In fact, one interesting comment: someone described the Monsanto Board of Directors as a virtual retirement home for former Clinton administrators.
And, in addition to seeing the kind of pressure that was put on the US scientists, ten years later when Canada was evaluating rBGH, the same thing happened there. Six scientists testified before parliament there that they had been pressured. And one was told that if he didn't approve rBGH he would be shipped off where no one would hear from him from again. They said that Monsanto offered them a bribe of one to two million dollars if they approved the rBGH without further research. Monsanto responded on national Canadian tv that they had misunderstood an offer of research money. (audience: laughter)
Documents were stolen out of a locked file cabinet. And, they eventually got permission to approve - actually to review - the FDA's evaluation of rBGH and wrote a volume this thick on how it was full of gaps and improper assumptions and omissions, which I analyze in my Chapter Three called "Spilled Milk." And I describe some of the research that the FDA used to defend approval.
For example, I think you'll find this one entertaining, this bit of quote "science."
The FDA scientists wrote an article in Science magazine and said that the amount of natural Bovine Growth Hormone in milk does not increase substantially in cows treated with rBGH, but even if it did increase it wouldn't matter because ninety per cent is destroyed during pasteurization.
I looked into this with the help of some other investigators and it turns out there actually was, according to the citations that they were using, a twenty-six per cent increase in this growth hormone. A twenty-six per cent increase in a hormone. But apparently that wasn't significant because the researchers only injected three cows.
And I read in the study they injected the cows with 10.6 milligrams per day, parenthesis, the approximate dose. Now, by the time I read this, I had been doing a lot of investigation, and when it said approximate dose, my red flags went up. And I called a friend of mine, who I knew who would give me the straight scoop because he had published in his Dairy newsletter some stolen documents from the FDA years earlier. And he had showed that when Monsanto wanted to verify that injections did not interfere with fertility, the researchers apparently added cows to the study that were pregnant before injection. When cows got sick they were removed from studies all together. It also showed that immediately following injection there was an increase in hormone levels in the blood of up to a thousand fold.
So, I said to my friend, Pete Hardin, "Pete, it says 10.6 milligrams per day, the approximate dose." He immediately said, "No one injects every day. It would be economically infeasible. Dairy farmers inject every two weeks." I said, "How much do they inject?" He said, "500 milligrams. Not 10.6."
The researchers actually used a different company's rBGH, one that was never approved. A slightly different formulation. But used a daily dose, instead of that big two bi-weekly dose. And we know from the stolen documents that on the bi-weekly dose, hormone levels skyrocket by as much as a thousand-fold. So perhaps they chose a daily dose to avoid that spike in hormone levels in the milk. But, it doesn't matter, right? Because ninety per cent is destroyed during pasteurization.
Well, the same undergraduate did that research also. And they heated milk for thirty minutes at 162 degrees. Normally at that temperature you heat milk for fifteen seconds and call it pasteurized. So they heated milk 120 times longer. Imagine heating a turkey 120 times longer than the instructions.
But they only destroyed nineteen percent. They only destroyed nineteen per cent! They added powdered hormone - 146 times the natural occuring level of hormone. Heated it 120 times longer, and were then able to destroy ninety per cent. And that's what the FDA quoted. That was what the FDA used as the basis for safety.
Now we don't know if this particular hormone is bad for human beings. We might not even have receptors for it. But that's not the only thing that increases in milk. Antibiotics increase in milk, puss increases in milk, it's treated with rBGH. But also IGF-1 - Insulin-like Growth Factor-1.
Two very sophisticated journals published this information in 1998. Pre-menopausal women with high levels of IGF-1 are seven times more likely to develop breast cancer. Outside of family history it's the number one risk factor. Men are four times more likely to develop prostate cancer.
IGF-1 is also implicated in colon and lung cancer. IGF-1 in milk is identical chemically to the IGF-1 in human beings, and milk drinkers tend to have higher levels of IGF-1. And the milk from cows treated with rBGH has higher levels of IGF-1. Sobering news, isn't it?
Jon Steinman: And this is Deconstructing Dinner, produced at Kootenay Co-op Radio in Nelson, British Columbia. We were just listening to author Jeffrey Smith speak on the genetically modified Bovine Growth Hormone that is approved in the United States, but not here in Canada.
As our current federal government, though, pushes on with their agenda of economic integration with the United States, the future of this hormone entering Canada is certainly unknown.
But the industry pressure that facilitates such approvals of foods and food-related products onto the market is not always as direct as are the examples referred to by Jeffrey Smith. And to explore yet another way industry influences public perception and government approvals, here is a short radio clip created by the Biotechnology Industry Organization, a group representing almost every biotechnology company in the world.
Biotechnology Industry Organization audio segment
Jackson Bain: Welcome to "This Week in Biotechnology." I'm Jackson Bain.
The American Dietetic Association is the nation's largest organization of food and nutrition professionals. Recently the ADA released a position paper, saying that agricultural biotechnology can enhance the quality and increase the efficiency of food production.
Michael Phillips, Vice-President for Food and Agriculture of the Biotechnology Industry Organization, explains.
Michael Phillips: The ADA is one of many professional organizations that include the American Medical Association, the World Health Organization, and the American College of Nutrition that have attested to the safety and benefits of food biotechnology.
Jackson Bain: The ADA encouraged the government and nutrition professionals to inform consumers about the nutritional benefits of food biotechnology.
Michael Phillips: The ADA support for food biotechnology, its proven success and future potential provides valuable guidance for consumers everywhere.
Jackson Bain: That's "This Week in Biotechnology." Jackson Bain reporting. For more information, visit BIO.org.
Jon Steinman: And again, that clip was produced by the Biotechnology Industry Organization (or BIO). But what is not mentioned in that clip is who The American Dietetic Association is. For one, they work very closely with the International Food Information Council who, as the center for media and democracy indicate, is a public relations arm of the food and beverage industries. The staff of the Association are said to hail from industry groups such as the Sugar Association and the National Soft Drink Association, and they have repeatedly led the defense for controversial food additives including MSG, aspartame (or Nutrasweet), food dyes, and olestra. And the American Dietetic Association themselves receive funding from such pro-biotechnology companies as Coca Cola, ConAgra Foods, General Mills and the National Dairy Council.
Jon Steinman: In coming across this clip prepared by this industry organization, I did also come across a rather humourous clip highlighting the recent BioTech Fashion Show held in Toronto back in July 2006. And the fashion show was in conjunction with the World Congress on Industrial Biotechnology and Bioprocessing. And take a listen to this abbreviated version which, keep in mind, is available in video format on the website www.bio.org.
And so here is what happens when a biotechnology corporate executive becomes an MC for a fashion show. Take a listen.
Brent Erickson (Executive Vice-President of the Biotechnology Industry Organization's Industrial and Environmental Biotechnology Section): So, really the diversity of industrial biotech is amazing and it's all in our homes and we may not be aware of it. The detergents, the foods, the clothing, the paper - all made with the help of industrial biotech.
We talk a lot about biofuels, but it's really much broader than that. Enzymes are used to make stonewashed denim. Amylases, lactases, proteases, cellulases are used to process textiles. And Ingeo PLA is used in these designer gowns. So really from food to fuel to fashion, industrial biotech does it all.
During BIO 2006 in Chicago this past April we held our first BioTech Fashion Show for the media. Today we are pleased to welcome you to our Summer 2006 BioTech Fashion Show.
From the streets to the runway, industrial biotechnology is creating a new wave of sustainable fashion. Designers from Moral Fervor and Diesel to Halston and Oscar de la Renta are incorporating fabrics like PLA into their lines.
Today we will have the BIO staff modelling ready-to-wear clothing that is actually on the market. And then we have professional models from the Ford Modelling Agency wearing the designer gowns that Earth Pledge provided. So let's begin the show with ready-to-wear clothing by our BIO models.
Todd is vacation-ready in his transparent Ingeo shirt by Bagutta layered over an Ingeo shirt by Wickers. Even his jeans are made with the help of industrial biotech.
Amy is ready to hit the tennis court in style with her Ingeo hoodie made by Saliwa.
Joanna is wearing a Moral Fervor Ingeo racerback tank that can go straight from the club to a late night cappuccino.
So, who knew industrial biotech could be so interesting?
Jon Steinman: And that was this week's edition of Deconstructing Dinner, produced and recorded at Nelson, British Columbia's Kootenay Co-op Radio. I've been your host Jon Steinman. I thank my technical assistant Dianne Matenko.
The theme music for Deconstructing Dinner is courtesy of Nelson-area resident Adham Shaikh.
All of those affiliated with this station are volunteers, and financial support for this station is received through membership, donations and sponsorship from local
businesses and organizations.
And should you have any comments about today's show or want to learn more about topics covered, you can visit the website for Deconstructing Dinner at www.cjly.net/deconstructingdinner.