Bt toxin in GM crops kills non-target species

by Ethan A. Huff
Natural News
March 5, 2012

A new study out of Switzerland confirms once again that Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) toxin, the nefarious pesticide produced by certain genetically-modified (GM) crops, is harming non-target species. Published in the journal Environmental Sciences Europe, the study reveals that two-spotted ladybird (Adalia bipunctata L.) larvae exposed to Bt toxin experience a much higher mortality rate than those not exposed (1).

Contrary to repeated claims made by Monsanto and other biotechnology industry players about the supposed safety of Bt toxin for non-target species, this new independent study reveals otherwise. It also exposes the illegitimacy of the various industry-funded studies that claim Bt toxin is safe for non-target species, including humans, an unfounded claim that has been proven false time and time again.

The new research, conducted by Dr. Angelika Hilbeck and her colleagues from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, was actually a follow-up to previous research on ladybird larvae and Bt toxin conducted back in 2009. Pro-GM talking heads had tried, but failed, to discredit this earlier research, which was published in the journal Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology (2)

Independent research consistently demonstrates dangers of GMOs

But Dr. Hilbeck’s new study, which was not funded by the pro-GM lobby, confirmed the findings of the 2009 study. And in the interest of promoting sound science, she and various others who recognize the very real dangers associated with GM crops, and Bt toxin in particular, are now calling out those who continue to deny reality by insisting that Bt toxin is safe.

“It is time to move beyond the rather ‘dogmatic denial’ and ‘shooting the messenger’ stages of the debate and onto the more mature stage of scientific discourse where a meaningful examination of scientific ‘surprises’ dominates the discussion,” said David Gee, a senior science adviser on science, policy, and emerging issues to the European Environmental Agency (EAE) recently.

The EAE, of course, has formed many of its GMO policies based on flawed, industry-funded GMO studies. So Gee and others are urging the agency to begin looking at independent research on GMOs, which tells a far different story than the one being peddled by the likes of Monsanto and the pro-GM American government.

“We do not need biosafety research embedded in the visions of the biotechnology industry that supports unsustainable industrialized agriculture,” added Professor Brian Wynne from the U.K. Centre for Economic and Social Aspects of Genomics at Lancaster University. “Instead, we need independent research like Hilbeck’s which assesses the specific environmental effects of genetic engineering, uses sensitive methodologies and helps indicate the potentially damaging effects on biodiversity as well as on agricultural diversity, of the industrial production systems which GM agriculture only intensifies.”

Sources for this article include:

http://www.ensser.org/media/0112/

Did USDA Deregulate All New GMO Crops?

by Tom Philpott
Mother Jones
July 8, 2011

It’s a hoary bureaucratic trick, making a controversial announcement on the Friday afternoon before a long weekend, when most people are daydreaming about what beer to buy on the way home from work, or are checking movie times online. But that’s precisely what the US Department of Agriculture pulled last Friday.

In an innocuous-sounding press release titled “USDA Responds to Regulation Requests Regarding Kentucky Bluegrass,” agency officials announced their decision not to regulate a “Roundup Ready” strain of Kentucky bluegrass—that is, a strain genetically engineered to withstand glyphosate, Monsanto’s widely used herbicide, which we know as Roundup. The maker of the novel grass seed, Scotts Miracle Gro, is now free to sell it far and wide. So you’ll no doubt be seeing Roundup Ready bluegrass blanketing lawns and golf courses near you—and watching anal neighbors and groundskeepers literally dousing the grass in weed killer without fear of harming a single precious blade.

Which is worrisome enough. But even more worrisome is the way this particular product was approved. According to Doug Gurian-Sherman, senior scientist at the Union of Concerned Scientists’ Food and Environment Program, the documents released by the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) along with the announcement portend a major change in how the feds will deal with genetically modified crops.

Notably, given the already-lax regulatory regime governing GMOs (genetically modified organisms, click here for a primer), APHIS seems to be ramping down oversight to the point where it is essentially meaningless. The new regime corresponding with the bluegrass announcement would “drastically weaken USDA’s regulation,” Gurian-Sherman told me. “This is perhaps the most serious change in US regs for [genetically modified] crops for many years.”

Understanding why requires a brief history of the US government’s twisted attempts to regulate GMOs. Since the Reagan days, federal regulatory efforts have been governed by what’s known as the Coordinated Framework for Regulation of Biotechnology. Despite its name, the Coordinated Framework amounts to a porous hodgepodge of regulations based on the idea that overseeing GMOs required no new laws—that the novel technology could be effectively regulated under already-existing code.

Long story short, it means that the USDA theoretically regulates new GMO crops the same way it would regulate, say, a backyard gardener’s new crossbred squash variety. Which is to say, it really doesn’t. But that’s absurd. GM crops pose different environmental threats than their nonmodified counterparts. The most famous example involves the rapid rise of Roundup Ready corn, soy, and cotton, which were introduced in the mid-late 1990s and now blanket tens of millions of acres of US farmland. Spraying all of that acreage every year with a single herbicide has given rise to a plague of Roundup-resistant “superweeds,” forcing farmers to apply more and more Roundup and also resort to other, far-more-toxic products. Crops that aren’t engineered to withstand an herbicide could never have created such a vexation.

From the start, in a tacit acknowledgement that modified crops really are different, the USDA has resorted to a fiction that allows it to at least nominally regulate GMOs, Gurian-Sherman told me. A ’50s-era law called the Plant Pest Act gave the USDA power to restrict the introduction of organisms that might, well, harm plants. Genetically modified crops technically qualified as “plant pests” because industry scientists used DNA “promoters” derived from natural plant pathogens, most notably cauliflower mosaic virus, to amplify the genetic traits they introduced into new crops. “These promoters ensure that the desired trait is always ‘on,’ that is, expressed,” Gurian-Sherman explains.

The promoters—short stretches of DNA—are not themselves expressed by the engineered plant. In other words, the cauliflower mosaic virus used to bolster, say, Roundup Ready soybeans, poses no threat to actual cauliflower plants. In addition to promoters, GMO developers also use plant-pest substances at other points in the genetic-modification process—but again, they don’t express themselves in the finished project. “The Plant Pest Act was always just a regulatory hook to give the USDA authority to regulate engineered crops,” notes Gurian-Sherman. “Everyone—the industry, industry watchdogs, the USDA—always knew it was a fiction.”

Yet the fiction has endured. The industry accepted it, Gurian-Sherman says, because cursory oversight gave companies from a “fig leaf…They could say that their crops are regulated and have been deemed ‘safe’ by the USDA.” GMO foes accepted it as well, he adds, because without the plant-pest fiction, the USDA would have no authority to regulate genetically modified crops. Indeed, this plant-pest business has given activists important tools to force better oversight. For instance, the USDA is required by the National Environmental Policy Act to assess the environmental impact of the novel crops it regulates, and by the Endangered Species Act to gauge potential impact of GM crops on endangered species. Well, in recent years, the Center for Food Safety has successfully sued the agency for failing to conduct proper environmental-impact statements and endangered-species analyses for crops it removed from its plant-pest list.

Then, in 2000, Congress passed the Plant Protection Act, which broadened the Plant Pest Act slightly, adding one more regulatory hook (Gurian-Sherman’s words) to the USDA’s sparse GMO-regulation toolkit. That was the “noxious weed” status—any engineered crop that threatens to go rogue in the field and become a hard-to-control weed may be regulated.

That, roughly speaking, is where things stood. Until last Friday.

Obviously, a regulatory regime based on a lie was never really durable. Gurian-Sherman says the plant-pest schtick has been wearing thin for years now, because the industry has begun using nonpest material to develop novel crops. “If the companies don’t use plant pests, then the USDA ostensibly doesn’t have a legal hook to regulate the crops,” he says. To compensate, Gurian-Sherman says, the agency has resorted to tacitly acknowledging that it has no jurisdiction, but doing so quietly to avoid exposing the fiction.

But the agency’s decision on Scotts Miracle Gro’s Roundup Ready bluegrass may have changed all that. Scotts essentially shattered the code of silence in a Sept. 13, 2010 letter (PDF) to the USDA, which the agency released Friday. The company declared:

Because Kentucky bluegrass itself is not a plant pest, no plant pest components will be involved in the transformation, and the native plant genomes that will be used are fully classified, there is no scientifically valid basis for concluding that transgenic Kentucky bluegrass is or will become a plant pest within the meaning of the Plant Protection Act.

Based on that impeccable logic, the company went in the for the kill: “Scotts requests that [USDA] confirm that Kentucky bluegrass modified
without plant pest components…is not a regulated article within the meaning of the current regulations.”

In its July 1 response, the USDA agreed: “[N]one of the organisms used in generating this genetically engineered (GE) glyophosphate tolerant Kentucky bluegrass…are considered to be plant pests,” so Roundup Ready bluegrass “does not meet the definition of a ‘regulated article’ and is not subject” to the Plant Protection Act. In other words, go forth and multiply.

Read Full Article…

The Shocking Reality About GMOs

by Dave Opiyo
AllAfrica.com
July 12, 2011

The spectre of people developing new and strange allergies, indigenous seeds losing their genetic codes and disappearing altogether, farmers making bumper harvests — or no harvests at all — is in the air.

Two weeks ago on July 1, Kenya became the fourth African nation to permit imports of GMO crops, joining South Africa, Egypt and Burkina Faso.

Supporters of the move say it is essential in helping to stabilise prices and feed millions of hungry Kenyans, but matters are not that straightforward.

The online encyclopedia Wikipedia defines a genetically modified or genetically engineered organism (GEO) as one “whose genetic material has been altered using genetic engineering techniques.”

These techniques, generally known as recombinant DNA technology, explains the encyclopaedia, use DNA molecules from different sources, which are then combined into one molecule to create a new set of genes.

This DNA is then transferred into an organism, giving it modified or novel genes. Transgenic organisms, adds Wikipedia, are a subset of GMO organisms which have DNA that originated in a different species.

To put it more clearly, think of an orange with tomato genes. The coming into force of the Bio-Safety Act, 2009 on July 1 that allows the growing and sale of genetically modified crops has elicited mixed reactions.

GMOs are modified in the laboratory to enhance desired traits such as increased resistance to herbicides or improved nutritional content.

But, as expected, anti-GMO lobbyists have kicked up a storm, saying the safety of genetically engineered crops has not been proven beyond reasonable doubt.

“The developers of GMOs have exerted great pressure to ensure that the Bio-Safety Act serves the interests of foreign agribusiness, rather than farmers and consumers,” Ms Anne Maina, an advocacy coordinator for African Biodiversity Network (ABN), says.

Recently, anti-GMO lobbyists, mainly from the ABN, Unga Revolution and Bunge La Mwananchi, protested the move, urging the government to revoke it.

 On May 25, Jeffrey Smith, who describes himself as a “consumer advocate promoting healthier, non-GMO choices”, argued in a blog:

“When US regulators approved Monsanto’s genetically modified “BT” corn, they knew it would add a deadly poison into our food supply. That’s what it was designed to do.

“The corn’s DNA is equipped with a gene from soil bacteria called BT (Bacillus Thuringiensis) that produces the BT-toxin.

“It’s a pesticide; it breaks open the stomach of certain insects and kills them.” Monsanto is a market leader in bio-technology and production of GMOs.

According to the blogger, Monsanto and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) swore up and down that it was only insects that would be hurt.

The BT-toxin, they claimed, would be destroyed in the human digestive system and not have any impact on all of the trusting, corn-eating consumers.

“Now,” he continued, “doctors at Sherbrooke University Hospital in Quebec found the corn’s BT-toxin in the blood of pregnant women and their babies, as well as in non-pregnant women.”

This is one of the many fights in Monsanto’s hands. In its website, the firm says food derived from authorised genetically-modified (GM) crops is as safe as the conventional (non-GM-derived) version.

Putting the matter into perspective, Monsanto says the first large acreage plantings of GM crops — herbicide-tolerant soybeans and canola — took place in 1996 after successfully passing US regulatory review.

Since then, additional GM crops with herbicide tolerance, insect tolerance and virus resistance have been given clearance for planting and consumption.

 These include varieties of corn, sugar beets, squash and papaya. All of these crops have been assessed for food and feed safety in producing countries, “and many more countries have approved the import of food or food ingredients that contain GM products”.

Hundreds of millions of meals containing food from GM crops have been consumed. There has not been a single substantiated instance of illness or harm associated with GM crops, the company argues.

According to Monsanto, some of the negative health effects associated with GMOs could be caused by other considerations.

In one response, it says: “There has been an increased interest in food allergies. Unfortunately, there are no stable diagnostic criteria for testing for food allergies and food intolerance.

“Together, these two factors have probably resulted in an increase in reporting of allergies. Therefore, rates of allergies may not have actually increased as much as it would appear.”

Implications on health

Such is the nature of the GMO controversy Kenyans will soon find themselves embroiled in. Anti-GMO groups say scientific evidence has shown that continued consumption of GM food is likely to have serious implications on not only health, but also the environment and food production.

Studies such as the one by Sherbrooke University Hospital have shown that those who eat genetically modified foods tend to see an increase in their allergic reactions to the types of foods they are already allergic.

Further, by eating these genetically modified foods, people also form allergies to foods which they were never allergic to before.

 Naturally, Monsanto refutes such findings with its own, sometimes poking holes on the research methodology and the findings by its critics.

In lab tests done on animals, there were cases where once the animals ingested genetically modified food, they became completely sterile in a matter of weeks.

In other cases, experimental animals died in a matter of weeks of liver, kidney and pancreatic complications. But that’s one side of the story.

The University of Nairobi’s Centre for Biotechnology and Bio-informatics Director, Prof James Opiyo Ochanda, was quoted in the Business Daily recently as saying that the use of GMOs could be beneficial to Kenya’s attainment of food security because genetically engineered crops are resistant to pests and diseases that often require expensive and harmful chemicals to eradicate.

“Instead of applying chemicals, scientists have engineered the plants to introduce genes or molecules that allow the crop to protect itself.

This is better than the application of chemicals that pollute the environment and harm the body, thus posing dangers to our systems,” he said.

Similar remarks were also made by Prof Samuel Gudu, a plant breeding specialist and Moi University’s Deputy Vice chancellor in-charge of planning and development.

In an interview with the same paper, Prof Gudu reckons that GM technology could help Kenya increase the production of key crops such as maize.

“GMOs are meant to improve the quality of maize. They can protect the crop against insects and what Kenyans should be asking for are the details of the consignment to be brought in as opposed to fear-mongering,” he says.

However, increasing yields and food safety are come at a risk, as the Sherbrooke University Hospital findings show.

And, as the debate rages, the National Bio-Safety Authority (NBA), which is tasked with ensuring that GMOs imported into Kenya are safe both to human beings and the environment, has called for caution.

“Propaganda should not be used as justification as to whether to accept or deny individuals from using GMOs in the country…. We are solely relying on scientific facts,” says NBA chair Prof Miriam Kinyua.

“We have to make sure that what is brought into the country is safe. By doing so, we have to ensure that the risk assessment is well done scientifically,” adds Prof Kinyua, who is also a lecturer at Moi University’s Department of Biotechnology.

“If the importer proves to us that the GMO is good, we approve it and inform the public of the same. If we have reservations because of some findings, we shall say ‘Sorry’.”

According to the Bio-Safety Act, the regulatory authority will communicate its final decision of approval or rejection of an importing license after three months of receiving the application.

After allowing an importer to place a genetically modified organism on the market, the law also allows any person to submit a written opposition within 30 days from the date the notice is posted.

Organisations and individuals opposed to the importation of GMOs will most likely seize this opportunity.

“Is Kenya ready for GMOs?” we asked Prof Kinyua, and she curtly replied that the fact that the government had created a specialised institution and “put in place systems means that we are moving somewhere”.

But “moving somewhere” certainly doesn’t mean full capacity. According to Prof Kinyua, the authority is yet to publish regulations that will guide the process, but that will be done soon.

How will the authority ensure that GM seeds don’t end up in the stomach unprocessed — or the shamba, because Kenyans tend to eat what they grow?

Dr Roy Mugiira, the acting head of the National Bio-Safety Authority, says millers licensed to import genetically modified maize must ensure that this does not happen to avoid the possibility of anybody planting them as seeds. A tall order, this one.

Any lapse on their part that could allow the seeds to be planted will lead to a fine of more than Sh20 million or 10-year prison terms or both. If this happens unintentionally, they will have to meet the cost of removing such seeds from circulation.

According to Dr Mugiira, one of the options being considered is to have the maize milled at the point of landing and then transported as flour, hence avoiding any deliberate or accidental escaping of seeds.

 Widespread opposition

GMO seeds, just like conventional maize, have the capacity to germinate and produce.

Initially, bio-technology firms sterilised GM seeds to forestall germination; but the technology, called terminator, was never commercialised following widespread opposition.

The maize being targeted by the millers has been engineered to develop resistance against weeds and pests.

Another type of GM maize is being tested in Kenya for drought resistance, but it is not yet ready for commercialisation.

If the current bio-safety laws are to be followed strictly, then the earliest the first GM maize can land in to the country legally is around October.

 In 2008, The Daily Mail published a story to validate a claim by Prince Charles that Indian farmers were killing themselves after the improved yields promised by a bio-technology firm failed, therefore ruining the farmers economically.

Some had borrowed heavily. A farmer, Shankara Mandaukar, couldn’t take it anymore when a promised unheard-of-harvest turned into two crop failures after he abandoned indigenous seeds.

“Ranged against the Prince” reported the papers, “are powerful GM lobbyists and prominent politicians, who claim that genetically modified crops have transformed Indian agriculture, providing greater yields than ever before.”

Humanitarian crisis

“However”, wrote the paper, “official figures from the Indian Ministry of Agriculture do indeed confirm that, in a huge humanitarian crisis, more than 1,000 farmers kill themselves here every month.

“It seems many are massively in debt to local money-lenders, having over-borrowed to purchase GM seed.”

Pro-GM experts blamed the suicides on rural poverty, alcoholism, drought and ‘agrarian distress’.

Back to Monsanto, the bio-technology market leader says claims from anti-biotechnology activists that genetically-modified crops don’t increase yields, and that GM crops actually have lower yields than non-GM ones are simply false.

“In agriculture, desirable crop characteristics are known as traits. One of the most important traits is yield.

“Improving crop yield can be accomplished through both breeding and bio-technology. GM crops generally have higher yields due to both breeding and bio-technology,” explains Monsanto.

True, but Indian farmers will tell you of the other side of increased yields.

GMO created foods are biological weapons

“We have a greenhouse full of corn plants that produce anti-sperm antibodies,” said Mitch Hein, president of Epicyte, a California-based biotechnology company.

By Luis R. Miranda
The Real Agenda
June 1, 2011

Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) used to create food and crop seeds are true biological weapons to create infertility worldwide. There are several companies working in the field of biotechnology and nanotechnology, which exist for the sole purpose of studying, experimenting and creating genetically modified organisms that cause infertility in animals, plants and humans. The most famous of all the companies that produces GMO seed is Monsanto, whose executives have publicly said that they want Monsanto to become the only producer of seeds in the world and that no food should be grown that does not come from seeds manufactured by their company.

Monsanto is joined by other giants of biotechnology and chemistry such as Cargill, DuPont and ConAgra. But the creation and application of transgenic organisms is not limited to these multinational corporations. There are smaller contractors who do the same work, perhaps with more impressive results due to the expertise of its work. This is the case of Epicyte, a company in California, whose president has shown his satisfaction to be in possession of massive quantities of agricultural products infested with GMO ingredients, that after being consumed would cause the sterilization of those who ingest and absorb his company’s GMO ingredients.

A May 28 report states that the Codex international organization, founded by the United Nations, which regulates all foods, minerals and herbs in the world, does not believe that GMO products are food, and this places foods with these ingredients in a different place than food produced naturally, and as such, can be used for various practices, including birth control and the creation of infertility in a nation or people.

In one of his publications, the Salem News indicates that there are efforts at the local, regional, national and international levels to identify and label GMOs in products for human consumption, but governments and corporations refuse to accept such a request. After the implementation of Codex Alimentarius in 2009 the will of the big companies came true, for within the regulations set by Codex, it is clearly stated that GMOs are not considered food and therefore can not be identified on the labels.

The existence of genetically modified corn was analyzed in tests conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the company Epicyte. In announcing his success in a 2001 press conference, the president of Epicyte, Mitch Hein, said his company’s transgenic corn plants, “create anti-sperm antibodies.”

Hein said the creation of transgenic organisms and their use in food could be used as a tool to solve the overpopulation problem.

In 1996, after the creation and use of genetically modified organisms in corn and other grains sent to South America, Mexico and Africa, analysis revealed that, almost immediately after the introduction of Bt corn in the United States, the birth rate had fallen in an accelerated way; only three years after the introduction of GMOs into the food supply.

Many foundations push governments to expand and accept the use of GMOs in food and in that list are of course the corn, soybeans and rice. These three are the most widely used grains in the eradication of hunger and poverty in the world. The Gates, Rockefeller, Kofi Annan’s Agra foundations, are three of the most prestigious organizations that strive to increase the supply of funds and food to the neediest populations in the world. Many of these foods contain GMOs.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation spends billions of dollars “helping” with the planting and harvesting of genetically modified crops in Africa, Latin America and Asia. Do you recognize the genocide? These foundations not only evade tax collection with their alleged philanthropy, but collaborate with the murder of millions of people who do not know what their food contains, or even knowing it, have no choice but to feed themselves with GMOs.

In the United States there is a continuing struggle between consumers and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to label products that contain GMOs. However, the government agency has given way to the requirements of large corporations before the public’s interest. Most uninformed or misinformed people continue buying and consuming contaminated food. Meanwhile, because GMO’s are not considered as “food” by Codex Alimentarius, those who oppose the use of these ingredients in food do not understand why the FDA still allows the corporations to put it in basic grains used to manufacture most some of the products that people eat, drink and use daily.

Creating a GMO that is used in the manufacture of food consumed by humans, which was modified to sterilize, is essentially an example of the use of a biological weapon with the sole aim of reducing world population by stealth. Well, this is no longer a secret. GMO foods are not considered by Codex Alimentarius as “food”, but at the same time it allows large and small biotech companies to use them in making consumer products worldwide. The purpose is very clear.

GM Toxic Chemicals found in pregnant women and fetuses

By Jeffrey Smith
May 29, 2011

When U.S. regulators approved Monsanto’s genetically modified “Bt” corn, they knew it would add a deadly poison into our food supply. That’s what it was designed to do. The corn’s DNA is equipped with a gene from soil bacteria called Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) that produces the Bt-toxin. It’s a pesticide; it breaks open the stomach of certain insects and kills them.

But Monsanto and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) swore up and down that it was only insects that would be hurt. The Bt-toxin, they claimed, would be completely destroyed in the human digestive system and not have any impact on all of us trusting corn-eating consumers.

Oops. A study just proved them wrong.

Doctors at Sherbrooke University Hospital in Quebec found the corn’s Bt-toxin in the blood of pregnant women and their babies, as well as in non-pregnant women. (i)(Specifically, the toxin was identified in 93% of 30 pregnant women, 80% of umbilical blood in their babies, and 67% of 39 non-pregnant women.) The study has been accepted for publication in the peer reviewed journal Reproductive Toxicology.

According to the UK Daily Mail, this study, which “appears to blow a hole in” safety claims, “has triggered calls for a ban on imports and a total overhaul of the safety regime for genetically modified (GM) crops and food.” Organizations from England to New Zealand are now calling for investigations and for GM crops to be halted due to the serious implications of this finding.

Links to allergies, auto-immune disease, and other disorders

There’s already plenty of evidence that the Bt-toxin produced in GM corn and cotton plants is toxic to humans and mammals and triggers immune system responses. The fact that it flows through our blood supply, and that is passes through the placenta into fetuses, may help explain the rise in many disorders in the US since Bt crop varieties were first introduced in 1996.

In government-sponsored research in Italy (ii), mice fed Monsanto’s Bt corn showed a wide range of immune responses. Their elevated IgE and IgG antibodies, for example, are typically associated with allergies and infections. The mice had an increase in cytokines, which are associated with “allergic and inflammatory responses.” The specific cytokines (interleukins) that were elevated are also higher in humans who suffer from a wide range of disorders, from arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease, to MS and cancer (see chart).

Elevated interleukins Associations
IL-6 Rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, osteoporosis, multiple sclerosis, various types of cancer (multiple myeloma and prostate cancer)
IL-13 Allergy, allergic rhinitis, ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease)
MIP-1b Autoimmune disease and colitis.
IL-12p70 Inflammatory bowel disease, multiple sclerosis

The young mice in the study also had elevated T cells (gamma delta), which are increased in people with asthma, and in children with food allergies, juvenile arthritis, and connective tissue diseases. The Bt corn that was fed to these mice, MON 810, produced the same Bt-toxin that was found in the blood of women and fetuses.

When rats were fed another of Monsanto’s Bt corn varieties called MON 863, their immune systems were also activated, showing higher numbers of basophils, lymphocytes, and white blood cells. These can indicate possible allergies, infections, toxins, and various disease states including cancer. There were also signs of toxicity in the liver and kidneys. (iii)

Natural Bt is dangerous

Farmers have used Bt-toxin from soil bacteria as a natural pesticide for years. But they spray it on plants, where it washes off and biodegrades in sunlight. The GM version is built-in; every plant cell has its own spray bottle. The toxin doesn’t wash off; it’s consumed. Furthermore, the plant-produced version of the poison is thousands of times more concentrated than the spray; is designed to be even more toxic; and has properties of known allergens—it actually fails the World Health Organization’s allergen screening tests. (iv)

The biotech companies ignore the substantial difference between the GM toxin and the natural bacteria version, and boldly claim that since the natural spray has a history of safe use in agriculture, it’s therefore OK to put the poison directly into our food. But even this claim of safe use of Bt spray ignores peer-reviewed studies showing just the opposite.

When natural Bt-toxin was fed to mice, they had tissue damage, immune responses as powerful as cholera toxinv, and even started reacting to other foods that were formerly harmless. (vi) Farm workers exposed to Bt also showed immune responses.(vii) The EPA’s own expert Scientific Advisory Panel said that these mouse and farm worker studies “suggest that Bt proteins could act as antigenic and allergenic sources.” (viii) But the EPA ignored the warnings. They also overlooked studies (ix) showing that about 500 people in Washington state and Vancouver showed allergic and flu-like symptoms when they were exposed to the spray when it was used to kill gypsy moths.

Bt cotton linked to human allergies, animal deaths

Indian farm workers are suffering from rashes and itching and other symptoms after coming into contact with Bt cotton.

Now thousands of Indian farm laborers are suffering from the same allergic and flu-like symptoms as those in the Pacific Northwest simply from handling genetically engineered cotton plants that produce Bt-toxin. According to reports and records from doctors, hospitals, and pharmacies, as well as numerous investigative reports and case studies, workers are struggling with constant itching and rashes; some take antihistamines every day in order to go to work.

It gets worse.

When they allow livestock to graze on the Bt cotton plants after harvest, thousands of sheep, goats, and buffalo died. Numerous others got sick. I visited one village where for seven to eight years they allowed their buffalo to graze on natural cotton plants without incident. But on January 3rd, 2008, they allowed their 13 buffalo to graze on Bt cotton plants for the first time. After just one day’s exposure, all died. The village also lost 26 goats and sheep.

One small study in Andhra Pradesh reported that all six sheep that grazed on Bt cotton plants died within a month, while the three controls fed natural cotton plants showed no adverse symptoms.

Living pesticide factories inside us?

Getting back to the Bt-toxin now circulating in the blood of North American adults and newborns—how did it get there? The study authors speculate that it was consumed in the normal diet of the Canadian middle class. They even suggest that the toxin may have come from eating meat from animals fed Bt corn—as most livestock are.

All thirteen buffalo of a small Indian village died after grazing for a single day on Bt cotton plants.

I’d like to speculate on another possible source. But I warn you, it’s not pretty.

The only human feeding study every published on genetically modified organisms (GMOs) was conducted on Roundup Ready soybeans. Here’s their back story: Scientists found bacteria growing in a chemical waste dump near their factory, surviving the presence of Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide. The herbicide normally kills bacteria, but this organism had some special gene that allowed it to survive. So Monsanto scientists figured, “Let’s put it into the food supply!”

By forcing that genes from that bacterium into soybean plants’ DNA, the plants then survive an otherwise deadly dose of Roundup herbicide—hence the name Roundup Ready.

In the human study (x), some of the subjects were found to have Roundup Ready gut bacteria! This means that sometime in the past, from eating one or more meals of GM soybeans, the gene that had been discovered in the chemical waste dump and forced into the soy, had transferred into the DNA of bacteria living inside their intestines—and continued to function. That means that long after we stop eating GMOs, we may still have dangerous GM proteins produced continuously inside of us.

When the results of the study emerged, the funding from the pro-GMO UK government mysteriously dried up, so they were not able to see if the same type of gene transfer happens with Bt genes from, say, corn chips. If it does, it means that eating Bt corn might turn our intestinal flora into living pesticide factories—continually manufacturing Bt-toxin from within our digestive systems.

I don’t know of a test that can confirm that this is happening, but the Canada study may be showing the results—where Bt-toxins are found in the blood of a very high percentage of people.

If the “living pesticide factory” hypothesis is correct, we might speculate even further. Bt-toxin breaks open the stomach of insects. Could it similarly be damaging the integrity of our digestive tracts? The biotech companies insist that Bt-toxin doesn’t bind or interact with the intestinal walls of mammals, and therefore humans. But here too they ignore peer-reviewed published evidence showing that Bt-toxin does bind with mouse small intestines and with intestinal tissue from rhesus monkeys. (xi) In the former study, they even found “changes in the electrophysiological properties” of the organ after the Bt-toxin came into contact. (xii)

If Bt-toxins were causing leaky gut syndrome in newborns, the passage of undigested foods and toxins into the blood from the intestines could be devastating. Scientists speculate that it may lead to autoimmune diseases and food allergies. Furthermore, since the blood-brain barrier is not developed in newborns, toxins may enter the brain causing serious cognitive problems. Some healthcare practitioners and scientists are convinced that this is the apparent mechanism for autism.

Thus, if Bt genes were colonizing the bacteria living in the digestive tract of North Americans, we might see an increase in gastrointestinal problems, autoimmune diseases, food allergies, and childhood learning disorders—since 1996 when Bt crops came on the market. Physicians have told me that they indeed are seeing such an increase.

The discovery of Bt-toxin in our blood does not confirm all this speculation, but it does provide food for thought. And hopefully, that food is non-GMO.

Our Institute for Responsible Technology joins other organizations worldwide calling for an immediate ban on GM food crops, and the commencement of rigorous independent scientific research on the safety of GMOs in general, and Bt-toxin in particular.

Sources:

Jeffrey M. Smith is the Executive Director of the Institute for Responsible Technology, author of the #1 international bestselling book on GMOs, Seeds of Deception, and of Genetic Roulette: The Documented Health Risks of Genetically Engineered Foods. To avoid GMOs, which is the advice of the American Academy of Environmental Medicine, visit www.NonGMOShoppingGuide.com.

i Aris A, Leblanc S. Maternal and fetal exposure to pesticides associated to genetically modified foods in Eastern Townships of Quebec, Canada. Reprod Toxicol (2011), doi:10.1016/j.reprotox.2011.02.004 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21338670

ii Finamore A, Roselli M, Britti S, Monastra G, Ambra R, Turrini A and Mengheri E. (2008). Intestinal and peripheral immune response to MON810 maize ingestion in weaning and old mice. J Agric Food Chem, 16 November 2008

iii Seralini GE, Cellier D, Spiroux de Vendomois J. 2007, “New analysis of a rat feeding study with a genetically modified maize reveals signs of hepatorenal toxicity”. Arch Environ Contam Toxicol. 2007;52:596-602; and Vendômois, JS, François Roullier, Dominique Cellier and Gilles-Eric Séralini. 2009, “A Comparison of the Effects of Three GM Corn Varieties on Mammalian Health” . International Journal of Biological Sciences 2009; 5(7):706-726

iv Gendel, “The use of amino acid sequence alignments to assess potential allergenicity of proteins used in genetically modified foods,” Advances in Food and Nutrition Research 42 (1998), 45–62. See also: G. A. Kleter and A. A. C. M. Peijnenburg, “Screening of transgenic proteins expressed in transgenic food crops for the presence of short amino acid sequences indentical to potential, IgE-binding linear epitopes of allergens,” BMC Structural Biology 2 (2002): 8–19; H. P. J. M. Noteborn, “Assessment of the Stability to Digestion and Bioavailability of the LYS Mutant Cry9C Protein from Bacillus thuringiensis serovar tolworthi,” Unpublished study submitted to the EPA by AgrEvo, EPA MRID No. 447343-05 (1998); and H. P. J. M. Noteborn et al, “Safety Assessment of the Bacillus thuringiensis Insecticidal Crystal Protein CRYIA(b) Expressed in Transgenic Tomatoes,” in Genetically modified foods: safety issues, American Chemical Society Symposium Series 605, eds. K.H. Engel et al., (Washington, DC, 1995): 134–47.
Bt protein failed to break down quickly in a simulated digestive solution. In fact, it left fragments that were typically the size of allergens. The Bt also failed the heat stability test, and had shared 9–12 amino acid sequences of vitellogenin, an egg yolk allergen.

v Vazquez et al, “Intragastric and intraperitoneal administration of Cry1Ac protoxin from Bacillus thuringiensis induces systemic and mucosal antibody responses in mice,” 1897–1912; Vazquez et al, “Characterization of the mucosal and systemic immune response induced by Cry1Ac protein from Bacillus thuringiensis HD 73 in mice,” Brazilian Journal of Medical and Biological Research 33 (2000): 147–155; See also L. Moreno-Fierros, N. Garcia, R. Lopez-Revilla, R. I. Vazquez-Padron, “Intranasal, rectal and intraperitoneal immunization with protoxin Cry1Ac from Bacillus thuringiensis induces compartmentalized serum, intestinal, vaginal, and pulmonary immune responses in Balb/c mice,” Microbes and Infection 2 (2000): 885–90.

vi Vazquez et al, “Bacillus thuringiensis Cry1Ac protoxin is a potent systemic and mucosal adjuvant,” Scandanavian Journal ofImmunology 49 (1999): 578–584. See also Vazquez-Padron et al., 147 (2000).

vii I.L. Bernstein et al, “Immune responses in farm workers after exposure to Bacillus thuringiensis pesticides,” Environmental Health Perspectives 107, no. 7(1999): 575–582.

viii EPA Scientific Advisory Panel, “Bt Plant-Pesticides Risk and Benefits Assessments,” March 12, 2001: 76.

ix Washington State Department of Health, “Report of health surveillance activities: Asian gypsy moth control program,” (Olympia, WA: Washington State Dept. of Health, 1993); and M. Green, et al., “Public health implications of the microbial pesticide Bacillus thuringiensis: An epidemiological study, Oregon, 1985-86,” Amer. J. Public Health 80, no. 7(1990): 848–852.

x Netherwood, T. (2004) “Assessing the survival of transgenic plant DNA in the human gastrointestinal tract”. Nature Biotechnology, 22, 204-209.

xi Noteborn et al, “Safety Assessment of the Bacillus thuringiensis Insecticidal Crystal Protein CRYIA(b) Expressed in Transgenic Tomatoes,” 134–47.

xii Vazquez et al, “Cry1Ac protoxin from Bacillus thuringiensis sp. kurstaki HD73 binds to surface proteins in the mouse small intestine,” 54–58.