In a just-released position paper on GMO foods, the American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) states that ‘GM foods pose a serious health risk’ and calls for a moratorium on GMO foods. Citing several animal studies, the AAEM concludes ‘there is more than a casual association between GMO foods and adverse health effects’ and that ‘GM foods pose a serious health risk in the areas of toxicology, allergy and immune function, reproductive health, and metabolic, physiologic and genetic health.’ The report is a devastating blow to the multibillion dollar international agribusiness industry, most especially to Monsanto Corporation, the world’s leading purveyor of GMO seeds and related herbicides.
In a press release dated May 19, the American Academy of Environmental Medicine, which describes itself as ‘an international association of physicians and other professionals dedicated to addressing the clinical aspects of environmental health,’ called immediately for the following emergency measures to be taken regarding human consumption of GMO foods:
* A moratorium on GMO food; implementation of immediate long term safety testing and labelling of GMO food.
* Physicians to educate their patients, the medical community and the public to avoid GMO foods.
* Physicians to consider the role of GMO foods in their patients’ disease processes.
* More independent long term scientific studies to begin gathering data to investigate the role of GMO foods on human health.
The AAEM chairperson, Dr Amy Dean notes that ‘Multiple animal studies have shown that GM foods cause damage to various organ systems in the body. With this mounting evidence, it is imperative to have a moratorium on GM foods for the safety of our patients’ and the public’s health.’ The President of the AAEM, Dr Jennifer Armstrong stressed that ‘Physicians are probably seeing the effects in their patients, but need to know how to ask the right questions. The most common foods in North America which are consumed that are GMO are corn, soy, canola, and cottonseed oil.’ The AAEM’s position paper on Genetically Modified foods can be found at http:aaemonline.org.
The paper further states that Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) technology ‘abrogates natural reproductive processes, selection occurs at the single cell level, the procedure is highly mutagenic and routinely breeches genera barriers, and the technique has only been used commercially for 10 years.’
The AAEM paper further states, ‘several animal studies indicate serious health risks associated with GM food consumption including infertility, immune dysregulation, accelerated aging, dysregulation of genes associated with cholesterol synthesis, insulin regulation, cell signalling, and protein formation, and changes in the liver, kidney, spleen and gastrointestinal system.’
They add, ‘There is more than a casual association between GM foods and adverse health effects. There is causation as defined by Hill’s Criteria in the areas of strength of association, consistency, specificity, biological gradient, and biological plausibility. The strength of association and consistency between GM foods and disease is confirmed in several animal studies.’
GMO is toxic
The AAEM paper should give grounds for official rethinking of the current quasi laissez faire regulatory stance to GMO in which the solemn word of the GMO seed companies such as Monsanto is regarded as scientifically valid proof of safety. The AAEM study is worth citing in detail in this regard:
‘Specificity of the association of GM foods and specific disease processes is also supported. Multiple animal studies show significant immune dysregulation, including upregulation of cytokines associated with asthma, allergy, and inflammation. Animal studies also show altered structure and function of the liver, including altered lipid and carbohydrate metabolism as well as cellular changes that could lead to accelerated aging and possibly lead to the accumulation of reactive oxygen species (ROS). Changes in the kidney, pancreas and spleen have also been documented. A recent 2008 study links GM corn with infertility, showing a significant decrease in offspring over time and significantly lower litter weight in mice fed GM corn. This study also found that over 400 genes were found to be expressed differently in the mice fed GM corn. These are genes known to control protein synthesis and modification, cell signalling, cholesterol synthesis, and insulin regulation. Studies also show intestinal damage in animals fed GM foods, including proliferative cell growth and disruption of the intestinal immune system. ‘
The AAEM study also reviewed the biotechnology industry claims that GMO foods can feed the world through production of higher crop yields. It cited contrary evidence that the opposite appeared to be true, namely that over time GMO harvest yields were lower than conventional yields and required over time, more not less, highly toxic herbicidal chemicals such as glyphosate. The report noted, ‘The several thousand field trials over the last 20 years for genes aimed at increasing operational or intrinsic yield (of crops) indicate a significant undertaking. Yet none of these field trials have resulted in increased yield in commercialized major food/feed crops, with the exception of Bt corn.’ However, the slight yield gain for Bt corn they report was ‘largely due to traditional breeding improvements,’ and not to GMO.
They conclude that because GMO foods ‘pose a serious health risk in the areas of toxicology, allergy and immune function, reproductive health, and metabolic, physiologic and genetic health and are without benefit, the AAEM believes that it is imperative to adopt the precautionary principle, which is one of the main regulatory tools of the European Union environmental and health policy and serves as a foundation for several international agreements. The most commonly used definition is from the 1992 Rio Declaration that states: ‘In order to protect the environment, the precautionary approach shall be widely applied by States according to their capabilities. Where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty shall not be used as a reason for postponing cost-effective measures to prevent environmental degradation.’
Under intense public pressure, the German Minister of Agriculture recently issued a prohibition of planting for Monsanto MON810 GMO corn. Unfortunately, two weeks later she permitted planting of GMO potato seeds. Amflora, a genetically modified potato manufactured by chemicals giant BASF (a joint venture GMO partner of Monsanto), was declared by the German Ministry as posing ‘no danger for human health or the environment,’ The Ministry cited ‘in-depth examination’ and talks with scientific and economic experts as basis for the reckless decision.
The publication of the sensational critique of GMO by the American Academy of Environmental Medicine has been greeted with stone silence by most major US media and international press.
As I describe in great detail in my book, Seeds of Destruction: The Hidden Agenda of Genetic Manipulation, GMO was released on the general public in the early 1990’s in the USA under an executive decision by then President George Herbert Walker Bush, reportedly following closed door meetings with leading Monsanto executives. President Bush mandated that there should be no special health and safety tests done by any US Government agency before releasing GMO for food consumption. It came to be known as the Doctrine of Substantial Equivalence.
The US Government, on urging of Monsanto and the GMO lobby, further decided that labelling of a food product as ‘GMO free’ should be prohibited, using the vaguely formulated and entirely unscientific ‘doctrine’ proclaimed by President Bush in 1992, namely that GMO plants and non-GMO or ordinary plants were ‘substantially equivalent’ and hence needed no special testing before being released to the public.
That Substantial Equivalence Doctrine, despite the fact that it directly contradicts the demand of the GMO companies for exclusive patent rights to their GMO seeds as being ‘unique’ and different from ordinary seeds, enabled Monsanto, Dow Chemicals, DuPont and other GMO patent holders to proliferate their products with no control. Most Americans naively believe that the Government Food and Drug Administration and US Department of Agriculture are there to make certain industrial food products are confirmed fully safe for human and for animal consumption before licensing.
That de facto prohibition on labelling GMO foods has meant that most Americans have no idea how much of their daily diet from store-bought Corn Flakes to soybeans to corn and additives in every food on the supermarket shelf contained GMO contamination.
Coincident with the mass introduction of GMO into the human and animal diet in the United States beginning the end of the 1990’s, there have been reported epidemic levels of allergic outbreaks in humans, strange diseases and numerous other health issues. The fact it is forbidden by Federal law to label GMO products means most health professionals are not even aware there might be any connection to a GMO diet for millions of Americans. The US population, since the 1992 ruling of President Bush—a ruling reaffirmed by presidents Clinton, George W. Bush and now by Barack Obama and his pro-GMO Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack—has been in effect treated as human guinea pigs in mass experimentation for substances never independently proven in long-term (ten years or longer) studies to be safe.
It remains to be seen if the scientific critique of the AAEM is given the attention it warrants.