Updated: 12 October 99
Genetic Engineering of our Food
genetically engineered food is unnecessary, untested and unwanted
* * * The biggest experiment in human history has begun, with us as the guinea pigs and the
planets ecological system as the test site. The genetech industry wants it all kept quiet, as
they push products onto the market with unprecedented speed to create a 'fait accompli' from
which we can never return. Consumer opinion has been ignored and consumers have been treated
with contempt, as if they were irrelevant. There will be no open discussion about it, they are
arrogantly determined to push this technology on us whether we want it or not.
Why? Because they see $billions in short term profits. What else?
We want independent research whose starting point is the problems to be solved,
NOT a technology to sell..
* * * The industry prefers the term 'biotechnology' to 'genetic engineering', because it sounds
friendly and technically sophisticated and of course leaves out the word genetic! The reality is
that in the rush to cash in on the products, it's grossly under-researched. The scientific basis
of genetic engineering is still little understood and relies on lengthy hit-and-miss tests to
* * * Does this technology just speed up the traditional methods of developing new varieties by exchanging genes between similar species? No, this is a whole new ball game, cutting out
genes and splicing in new genes from totally unrelated species.
Scientists are giving birth to their bizarre creations as I write, transferring genes from fish
to tomato, human to pig, scorpion to potato, and just about any other unsavoury combination you
Monsantos infamous GE soya contains genes from a virus, a soil bacterium and a
* * * Already a genetically engineered food supplement, genetically engineered tryptophan, has
killed 37 people and disabled 1500 others.
* * * New toxins and allergens in foods. Proof already exists that allergens can be
transferred to plants through genetic engineering.
* * * Horizontal gene transfer and recombination, could result in creating new pathogenic bacteria and viruses.
* * * We could waste our defence against disease. The antibiotic resistance gene in
genetically engineered maize could be passed to harmful bacteria in the gut of animals fed with
it. Ampicillin is one of our most widely used defences against such harmful bacteria. If the
resistance gene spreads, Ampicillin could be rendered useless.
* * * Spread of virulence among pathogens across species by horizontal gene transfer and recombination.
* * * BSE demonstrates how little we understand. We assume feed contaminated with animal
remains caused it, but organophosphates may be implicated too. There's uncertainty how it's
passed on. We don't know how to cure it. We don't even know how to test for it. Now we're
creating thousands of transgenic lifeforms, releasing them into the environment, eating them,
and we're supposed to believe they can guarantee no disasters. Guesswork and hoping for the
'The best ever article on GE' by Dr Mae-Wan Ho
The Unholy Alliance
Feature Article from The Ecologist, July/August 1997
* * * We could be looking at the end of the world as we know it.
* * * Before we even have a real understanding of the normal environment, planet-wide GE
tests, releases and crop growing will turn it into a confused, mutated mess, and the knowledge
will be lost forever. The environment is already under enormous pressure, as we lose 50,000
species each year. We have had enough environmental and economic disasters just moving ordinary
lifeforms to other continents. Now we're told that totally new mutated lifeforms with unnatural
combinations of genes and unpredictable characteristics present no danger!
* * * New 'super crops' with an inbuilt resistance to disease or pests could have an
advantage over natural flora and become 'super weeds'.
* * * There are risks relating to gene transfer from genetically engineered plants to
micro-organisms, from micro-organisms to unrelated micro-organisms, from genetically engineered
crops to wild weedy relatives.
* * * New plant viruses could develop from genetically engineered crops that are virus
* * * Major insect pests could evolve bio-pesticide resistance. Bt is a soil bacterium that produces toxins to kill insects and is vital to organic growers. Plants developed to contain a gene for Bt toxin could cause insects to become resistant to it, wasting the world's most important biological pesticide.
* * * Genetically engineered soya has been engineered to be resistant to the chemical
glyphosate, which is lethal not just to weeds, but most vegetation and beneficial animals like lacewings, ladybirds(ladybugs), earthworms and beneficial fungi. The US Fish and Wildlife Service has identified 74 endangered plant species which may be made extinct by glyphosate.
* * * The impact of GE crops and 'deliberate releases' of GE material on the planets ecology
cannot be foreseen. Smaller genetech companies will inevitably take risks playing catch-up.
* * * There are stories of dangerous releases in Eastern Europe and third world countries
where regulations are weak or non-existent.
* * * "Genetic pollution" by self-replicating genetically modified organisms (GMOs) is
So why are we allowing this worldwide experiment when we have an obligation to future
generations to observe the 'precautionary principle' and safeguard the planets ecology?
Genetically Engineered Foods are,
well, look, you know,
kind of terrific, aren't they?
Leave it out Tony!
If this section was limited to proven benefits, there would be nothing to write.
To justify their ambitions to make obscene amounts of money by patenting life and buying up the major seed companies, to seize control of the world's food supply, the biotech companies make several dubious claims:
* Biotechnology is needed to feed the growing population of the world, especially the Third World.
* Reduced chemical inputs, which will be good for the environment.
* Higher yields, benefitting farmers and consumers.
It's all too reminiscent of the the promises made in the fifties, that nuclear energy would make electricity so cheap, it would be unmetered like water. The reality was that it would forever be the most expensive source of power, with radioactive waste in depositories that will be radioactive for 20,000 years!
Women say no to GMOs is a new initiative that offers everyone, if they are concerned about genetic engineering, the chance to say NO. Click here and join musician and former Beatle star Paul McCartney and his family by signing up TODAY to the new GMO Campaign; Women say NO to GMOs.
Urgent Action - Demand Five-Year Freeze
Early Day Motion (EDM) 334 calls for a Five-Year Freeze on Genetically-Modified Crops.
It has been sponsored by Norman Baker MP with Joan Ruddock, Alan Simpson, Mathew Taylor, Cynog Dafis and Paul Tyler.
Please Write to your MP(if not on above list), asking him/her to sign the EDM
The wording of the EDM is as follows:
"That this House calls upon the Government to recognise the scientific, human and animal health, environmental, economic and social uncertainties relating to the use of genetic modification in food and farming and the deep concern about the rapid expansion of this industry; and further calls upon the Government to introduce a five-year freeze on the growing of genetically-modified crops for any commercial purpose, the import of genetically-modified foods and farm crops, the patenting of genetic resources for food and farming and the placing of genetically-modified seed varieties on the National Seed List."
UK Five Year Freeze Find out here how to join the UK coalition (over 90 national organisations by July '99) calling for a five year 'freeze' on all releases of GE organisms, all GE food imports, and all patents on food crops
Main Documents on this site
News! News! News!
"Bad Science + Big Business = Bad News"
The Best Links to other GE Sites
Organisations campaining against GE foods in the UK
- Green Party 1A Waterlow Road, London. N19 5NJ
Tel: 0171 272 4474 - Fax: 0171 272 6653 - email: email@example.com
- Genetix Snowball One World Centre, 6 Mount Street, Manchester. M2 5NS
Tel: 0161 834 0295 - Fax: 0161 834 8187 - email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- The Food Commission (UK) Ltd, 94 White Lion Street, London. N1 9PF
Tel: 0171 837 2250 - Fax: 0171 837 1141 - Publish "The Food Magazine"
- Womens Environmental Network 87,Worship Street, London. EC2A 2BE
Tel: 0171 247 3327(Tues-Thur 10.30-4.30) - Fax: 0171 247 4740 - email: email@example.com
- Friends of the Earth 26-28,Underwood Street, London. N1 7JQ
Tel: 0171 490 1555 - Fax: 0171 490 0881
- Greenpeace UK Cannonbury Villas, Islington, London. N1 2PN
Tel: 0171 865 8100
- Soil Association Bristol House, 40-56 Victoria Street, Bristol. BS1 6BY
Tel: 0117 929 0661 - Fax: 0117 925 2504 - email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Earth First! c/o Action Update, PO Box 9656, London. N4 4JY
Tel: 0171 281 4621
- Genetics Forum 5/11,Worship Street, London. EC2A 2BH
Tel: 0171 638 0606 - Fax: 0171 628 0817 - email: email@example.com
- Natural Law Party Mentmore Towers, Mentmore, Buckinghamshire. LU7 0QH
Tel: 01296 662211 - Fax: 01296 662486
- Genetic Engineering Network Department 29, 1,Newton Street, Manchester. M1 1HW
Tel: 0161 224 4846
- Genetix Food Alert c/o 23,Fleming St, Denistoun, Glasgow. G31 1PQ
Tel: 0141 554 6099 - Fax: 0141 556 5589 - email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- The GAIA Foundation, 18,Well Walk, Hampstead, London. NW3 1LD
Tel: 0171 435 5000 - Fax: 0171 431 0551 - email: email@example.com
- GeneWatch UK The Courtyard, Whitecross Road, Tideswell, Buxton SK17 8NY
Tel: 01298 871898 - Fax: 01298 872531 - email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- MORE INFO - MORE GROUPS - NATIONAL and INTERNATIONAL
Support the Iceland and Greenpeace campaign for a ban on Genetically
Online Petition Click here for details of the the petition and email address
Who approves the safety?
* * * In the UK, the reputation of the Ministry of Agriculture Fisheries and Food(MAFF) lies in
ruins. Mistakes with pesticide approval(rarely admitted), BSE of course, cover-ups, collusion
with the food industry, indifference to consumers. DDT and many other extremely toxic pesticides
were approved for safety and later banned. Fortunately even DDT will degrade in time, but
dangerous GMOs will replicate ad infinitum. Are we now being asked to believe that MAFF is
suddenly 'all-knowing and infallible' and that we should accept their approval of genetically
engineered foods, on the same case by case basis as with pesticides?
Lindane is one example of a toxic pesticide, which causes multiple chronic illnesses, and is currently sprayed on crops. MAFF considers that safe, then asks us to trust them with safety approval of GM foods!
MAFF only uses data supplied by the company seeking approval, and it's just too tempting for
companies to be selective with the data they provide. Monsanto's tests of their soya were done
in just 10 weeks. There is no independent testing. Approval is refused only if it can be clearly
shown to be unsafe, rather than the onus being on the company to prove it safe. 'No evidence' is
equated with 'no risk'. Add to that the dangers pointed to by independent scientific research,
the almost inconceivable complexity of human biology and the ecology, the unpredictable results
of genetic meddling and it becomes clear that the idea of regulators being able to pass these GE
foods as safe is a myth.
* * * In the EU, any product designed to be released into the environment has to satisfy
conditions set in EU directive 90/220. Once again, when considering a product, the EU doesn't do
its own tests, it relies on information from the company.
* * * In the US, where 'regulatory relief' was granted to the genetic engineering industry,
a manufacturer simply has to state that its product is safe. No independent scientific evidence,
toxicological studies or long term food studies are needed for approval.
GM food illegal? The US Food and Drug Administration ignored their own scientists' warnings over GM food.
Who is against genetic engineering?
Some 86% of consumers questioned in a poll for Here's Health magazine said
they would switch to a different supermarket if it banned all such products.
* * * People outside industry mainly, consumers, consumer organisations, environmental groups,
independent scientists, European farmers, public health organisations. A Mori Poll covering 6
European countries tells us that of those with an opinion, 80% reject genetically engineered
food. The genetech industry doesn't want to hear this and research and development accelerates,
as they remain determined to force this technology on the unwilling people of Europe. Consumers
are looked on as an irritation, to be ignored or to have their opinions corrected with a stiff
dose of PR brainwashing if they look like getting out of hand.
* * * Some members of the public seem prepared to take the risk, after all they say, we take
risks every day crossing the road. Agreed, but that's a voluntary risk we take. Contaminating most of our processed food is a risk imposed on us.
March's 10 (if I can, 10 every month! Any contributions?)
Corporate Parasites, Corporate Crime
* * * Most people would criticize the arms industry for fuelling conflicts around the globe,
that result in millions of deaths.
* * * The tobacco industry uses advertising to persuade people smoking is fashionable and at the same time hides the information that it's addictive.
* * * Less likely candidates for criticism is the diet and cosmetics industry, worth over
$50 billion, using advertising/propaganda to play on the insecurity of girls and young women
about their appearance and weight. Apart from corporate profits, this worthless and parasitic
industry achieves nothing more than 150,000+ deaths each year from eating disorders.
* * * The agrochemicals industry. Around 20,000 deaths each year from pesticide poisoning,
mainly in the third world. Professor David Pimental of Cornell University has estimated costs of
$700 million in the USA from pesticide-induced cancer. He estimates total 'external' costs of
pesticide use at $8000 million, to which the agrochemical companies make no contribution
* * * Enter the genetech industry. Anyone hoping against hope that they are responsible and
kind people anxious to benefit society? They will reap the profits from this quick-fix
technology and the subsequent costs will be dumped on the taxpayer.
Monsanto - Ethical Company or Evil Giant?
"We should not have to vouch for the safety of biotech food. Our interest is in selling as much
of it as we can"
- Monsanto's Corporate Communications Director.
Agent Orange The Poisoning of Vietnam
* They gave us Agent Orange, the most widely used defoliant in the Vietnam war. It was
contaminated with dioxin, which caused up to 500,000 Vietnamese children to be born with
dioxin related deformities since the 1960's, and severe health problems to American soldiers
exposed to it.
Monsanto's BST Milk "It poses major potential health risks for the entire US population" - Prof. Sam Epstein
* Bovine Somatotropin as in BST milk, was Monsantos first genetech creation. Just
inject the hormone into the pituitary gland of cows every two weeks for 25% more milk. There are multiple health risks for the cows.
Health risks for humans drinking the milk include prostate cancer and breast cancer.
PCBs Can the World's Sea Mammals Survive Them?
* Monsanto produced or licenced the manufacture of virtually all the PCBs, and is responsible for the release of around 1.2 million tonnes of the deadly chemicals worldwide, chemicals proven to cause cancer and birth defects.
Aspartame (Nutrasweet) Toxicity Information Centre A Horrifying Catalogue of Chronic Health Risks.
* Nutrasweet(aspartame) has been identified as "a promising candidate to explain the
recent increase in incidence and degree of malignancy of brain tumours" by researchers at
Washington University Medical School, St Louis.
Roundup Monsanto is using genetic engineering to dramatically increase the use of herbicides on crops.
* Roundup kills beneficial insects such as parasitoid wasps, lacewings, ladybirds(ladybugs), and is toxic to earthworms, soil bacteria and beneficial fungi.
Terminator Technology Worldwide Biological Warfare on Farmers and Food Security.
* Since Terminator Technology has absolutely zero agronomic benefit, there is no reason to jeopardize the food security of the poor by gambling with genetic engineering in the field.
Not exactly amongst the greatest contributions to civilization!
And let us not forget the other Biotech Giants that are keeping a lower profile:
NOVARTIS BLACKMAILS IRELAND! - Novartis threatened to withdraw the supply of non-GM sugar beet seed to the Republic of Ireland in the face of resistance to the development of GM varieties, warning that: "Given the importance of Novartis on the Irish market, this would have serious implications for the Irish sugar beet industry."
The Future of Genetic Food
* * * Already we have enormous controversy over the first few GE products, but what we see now
is just the smallest tip of a giant iceberg. Already 60% of what's on our supermarket shelves
may contain genetically engineered soya. Some 3000 genetically engineered foods are lined up for
approval. The volume of 'deliberate releases' around the world, including dangerous unregulated
ones, will escalate exponentially. Monsanto says that in 10 years all commodity crops will be
genetically engineered. Are we prepared to accept a virtually 100% genetically engineered diet?
Have we the right to force such a diet on our children and grandchildren and those yet to be
Will we just tell them, "Errr..........sorry kids, that's all there is to eat now".
And Now the Hard Bit, Sending Letters!
"All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for enough good people to do nothing" - Edmund Burke
* * * It doesn't take that many letters do make a difference! Those receiving them know that for
every letter they receive, hundreds of others think the same way.
* * * Don't be put off demanding GE free food because of the complexity of the
arguments about genetic engineering. Independent experts say there are risks, so
you don't want it.
* * * No need to write a long fancy letter. Emphatic, but polite. Short, but send lots.
* * * Also tell the manager of any supermarket you go to.
* * * If the commercial interests reply with a 'standard' letter full of pacifying PR
propaganda, write back saying you don't accept their arguments, you still insist on GE-free
- ADDRESSES - Supermarkets - Politicians - Food Processors -
- Sample Letters - One to the Prime Minister - One to Monsanto - One
to the BBC
- Telephone Numbers - Politics - Supermarkets - Food Processors -
Genetech Companies - etc
The number of
Monsanto lawyers that have visited this site!