Life is not a Patent: Transgenic Foods - Know What You Eat

Life is not a Patent: Transgenic Foods - Know What You Eat

By Anna Bermeo Turchi

The development and commercialization of this new technology is focused on a handful of large multinationals, which control 85% of the world trade in cereals and 10 agrochemical companies in the world, which control 91% of their market and are called COMPANIES OF LIFE. ; The seven giants are: 1. BASF (1, 2 and 3) whose particular scientific studies defend their interests, trying to show that transgenic foods are also excellent and will alleviate hunger in poor countries.

The appearance of genetic engineering techniques (1950) brought as a consequence the development of biotechnology; when James Watson and Francis Crick discovered the structure of the DNA molecule, where genetic information, which is heredity, is stored in all living beings.

Based on this important discovery, the first genetic manipulation tests appear (1980 transgenic tobacco crops collected in 1992 - China, in 1996 23 cereal brands appeared in the United States, Canada and Japan), which in turn is any vegetable , animal or organism whose genetic material is intentionally modified.

The transgenics that most attract people's attention are plant animals (such as fruits or seeds), there are also animals that fall into this category, such as mice whose DNA has been altered to produce an enzyme used in treatments doctors in humans. A transgenic (GMO Genetically Modified Organism) is a living being that has been artificially created through Genetic Engineering; whose biochemical techniques make it possible to isolate genetic material (DNA and RNA sequences) by separating them or inserting them into a genome of another organism. (They have combined DNA from the cow in the soybean plant, or genes from the moth in an apple, or even genes from the rat in a lettuce)

The development and commercialization of this new technology is focused on a handful of large multinationals, which control 85% of the world trade in cereals and 10 agrochemical companies in the world, which control 91% of their market and are called COMPANIES OF LIFE. ; The seven giants are: 1. BASF (1, 2 and 3) whose particular scientific studies defend their interests, trying to show that transgenic foods are also excellent and will alleviate hunger in poor countries.

The question is: Why have no independent studies been done? A report published in the journal Nutritional Health, IF Pryme and R. Lembcke note that scientific studies on GMOs that are not funded by the industry tend to find problems with serious implications for human health, whereas industry funded studies never find no problem. One might wonder how many of these studies are public and not confidential? How many have gone through the peer review process and been published in the scientific literature? And how many were NOT funded by the biotech industry?

In 1995, the sowing of transgenic seed used two hundred thousand (200,000) hectares; six years later (2001) using 52.6 million hectares. The United States being the largest producer of genetically modified agricultural elements, with 68% of the world transgenic crop, Argentina, with 22%, Canada with 6% and China with 3% for a total of 99% only four countries and dominated by a single company "Monsanto". These are clear examples of unsustainable agriculture. In Argentina, the massive entry of transgenic soybeans exacerbated the agricultural crisis with an alarming increase in the destruction of its primary forests, which led to the displacement of peasants and rural workers, increased use of herbicides, and a serious substitution of the production of food for local consumption.

The foods that have been genetically modified are: corn, soybeans, grapes, salmon, rice, tomato, rapeseed. The four seeds commercially worldwide are: corn, soybeans, cotton and rape, developed and distributed by a single company "The multinational Monsanto". According to a FAO source, there are four transgenic foods that are currently available: Corn, soybeans, cotton, Escherillia coli K-12 and carnations and within the selection of GMOs elaborated in 2001 there were four: Grapes, tilapia, poplars, salmon, eucalyptus, rice and sheep.

The documentary Le Monde Selon Monsanto ("The World According to Monsanto") by French filmmaker Marie Monique Robin, shows how this corporation has spent decades denying responsibility for the horrendous damage to health caused by Agent Orange, a toxic defoliant, that it manufactured and was used extensively in the Vietnam War. (

Within the implication in human health (1998) the genetic manipulation of L-tryptophan (a common dietary supplement) caused the death of 37 Americans and the disability of another 5000, before being banned by the Food and Drug Administration. Showa Denko, a Japanese pharmaceutical company, admitted to using GMOs that were contaminated during recombinant DNA processing. Where they had to pay compensation of more than 2 billion dollars to the victims of the so-called Eosinophilia Myalgia Syndrome (SEM), which had caused severe blood disorders (cummins, p.1).

Marc Lappe (1999) published his research in the Journal of Medicinal Food, showing that beneficial phyto-estrogen compounds are reduced in genetically engineered foods. These concentrations represent a natural protector against cardiovascular diseases and malignant tumors. His work demonstrated that the generalization of transgenic foods can alter the natural defenses of the human body against infectious and degenerative diseases and, therefore, increase the severe natural diseases of the human body against infectious and degenerative diseases and, therefore, increase severe diseases.

The European Union decreed in 1999 a four-year ban on genetically modified foods. Then, in late 2002, strict identification controls were put in place for products of this nature. The current EU policy is not to ban the consumption or trade of GMOs. This prohibition establishes that all genetically modified products: be they raw materials, their derivatives or foods made from such ingredients, the labeling of GMOs is “mandatory”, stipulating penalties that range: from jail time and large sums of money; even the law recently sanctioned and ordered the identification of meat and milk from animals fed with transgenic grains. Ironically, the European Union has the second largest GM production company in the world: “SYNGENTA”, BAYER is also in the field and is of the same origin.

The United States does not have legislation that requires special characteristics or conditions for transgenics (incredible a legal vacuum of this nature), except for a previous inspection, by the Food and Drug Administration, which does not require labeling of genetically altered products, reasons for which there a trade dispute with the EU, because US products cannot enter that market.

Continuing with the antecedents, we find that the industrial production of milk in the United States and Mexico uses a transgenic bovine growth hormone called rBGH, owned by Monsanto (Somato-Tropina Bovina) with fatal consequences for those who consume these dairy products. The transgenic hormone causes the level of another hormone called IGF-1 (insulin-like growth factor 1) to rise in the milk. Recent studies show that abnormally high levels of this second hormone are associated with the development of breast, prostate and colon cancer (

Cows that receive this injection have a significant increase in the frequency of 16 diseases, including mastitis and pregnancy problems. Cows suffer a lot and, in addition, the milk contains traces of antibiotics, pus and blood, due to the continuous diseases and treatments to which they are subjected. Although the use of this artificial hormone is prohibited in Europe, Canada, Japan, New Zealand and Australia, its commercial use was approved in Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Costa Rica, Panama, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Venezuela and eight countries from other continents, based on studies that Monsanto itself provided to US regulatory agencies. (

In the biological field Scientists from Michigan State University have verified that plants resistant to certain viruses can mutate, sometimes in a virulent way, causing unknown pests. Researchers from Oregon documented that GMOs, for example Klebsiella planticola, kill essential soil nutrients that facilitate the biological fixation of nitrogen from the air, such as the bacterium Rhizobium melitoli.

There is evidence in laboratories that GMOs programmed to produce their own pesticide or resistance to certain herbicides, caused resistance in weeds, which would force the use of increasingly powerful pesticides in the future. In both cases, "super pests" or "super insects" can arise, difficult to be controlled with existing pesticides, but, above all, very violent for the natural environment.

Cornell University found and confirmed that Bt-engineered wheat poisoned the Monarch butterfly in its larval stage in laboratory tests. There is also a potential danger of creating insects resistant to agrochemicals that could destroy the natural environment and, therefore, also affect the biodiversity of wildlife and the food chain. The cultivation of seeds modified with Bt 176 was prohibited. For putting many species of protected insects at risk. Essential insects for plant pollination. A possible relationship was discovered between human consumption of Bt176 and resistance to certain antibiotics, losing their efficacy. To the wonderful properties of Bt176 they discovered that the accumulation of toxins of the gene in the soils had to be added, killing larvae and worms as well as necessary components.

The University of Nebraska found that soy, genetically manipulated with the Brazil nut, increased allergies in different foods. This condition was detected in 8% of children in the United States. It manifests itself, from mild symptoms, to sudden death.

On May 22, 2005, the English newspaper The Independent reported the existence of a secret report from the biotechnology company Monsanto about its genetically modified corn Mon 863. According to the 1,139-page report, rats fed this corn for thirteen weeks had abnormal counts. high levels of white cells and lymphocytes in the blood, which increase in cases of cancer, poisoning or infection; low reticulocyte numbers (indicative of anemia); weight loss in the kidneys (indicating problems with blood pressure); necrosis of the liver; high blood sugar levels (possibly diabetes); and other adverse symptoms. Monsanto spokesmen assured that the company would make the report public; It was not until a German court ordered its disclosure that a few months later the entire text was made public.

Hungarian scientists Arpad Pusztai and Susan Bardocz warned that it was found in genetically engineered potatoes with a CaMv (Cauliflower Mosaic Virus) viral promoter, a toxin that damages the immune system of mammals. Severe stomach infections were found in laboratory rats, which did not occur with unhandled potatoes. He continued to work with other GMOs and alongside other scientists they warned that genetic manipulation increases natural levels of toxins and allergens.

Genetic contamination and collateral damage in fields surrounding GMOs have biologically weakened entire regions. Winds, rains, birds, bees and insects have carried GMO pollen to surrounding fields and wild plants.

The climatic changes caused by the warming of the atmosphere, will transform the regions located in previously colder areas, into ideal granaries. The massive management of transgenics in these areas can change the natural composition of wild elements. The greatest risk occurs in tropical areas, characterized by their wide biodiversity in flora and fauna. Brazil prohibited any handling of transgenic seeds in Moto Grosso.

Other health damages come from the ingestion of meat or milk, from animals fed with transgenic seeds or hormones, its negative impact on the spread of cancer is being proven. Initial studies report a 180% increase in the incidence of breast cancer in pre-menopausal women and of malignant prostate tumor in men from ingesting milk and meat, treated with these hormones.

Within the socio-economic and cultural sphere, the impact of transgenics is more complex and severely affects those who have the least. In Third World and / or Developing Countries; Such technology can destroy food security, as poor farmers depend on the purchase of imported genetic material, in addition to reducing biodiversity, destroying microorganisms in the soil and causing resistance to antibiotics in humans and wildlife. By endangering the biodiversity of the tropics. It would also increase poverty, as destroyed soils require more chemical applications.

There is no common policy in the world regarding this type of food. Each nation or bloc has different positions in this regard, which is reflected in their regulations. The obvious thing is that we find these foods in supermarkets and we are consuming them without having information or knowledge of the true effects they produce on human health and the environment, which can be irreversible.

This fact obliges as part of the responsibility of the state to take a position of excessive care; It is necessary to legislate not only what is known, but also about potential risks. The precautionary principle in the face of the lack of secondary knowledge, but also that of potential long-term risks, must be considered before giving an approving vote to any transgenic management. Following Popper's epistemological postulates, it is better to err on the side of caution than irresponsible lightness, given that the survival of the human race and the planet itself is at stake.

An example of this is New Zealand, which has banned the use and import of GMOs, while the government encourages universities and private initiative to promote research related to sustainable agriculture.

Peru does not have legislation that explicitly prohibits or conditions the commercialization and consumption of transgenic foods. (Draft Law 12033-Law for the Promotion of Modern Biotechnology-General Law for the Promotion of Modern Biotechnology) Nor do we have a systematized legal body, nor sectoral provisions on agriculture, health, fishing, environment, etc. The Congress of the Republic does not process regulations on this issue, we do not have a creation of advisory committees or the commercial rights of those who create new plant varieties. It is important that the Ministry of the Environment and the Ministry of Health require food labeling where it is reported if it corresponds to an organism that has been manipulated through biotechnology; while this does not happen; the State has us unprotected.

Ecuador does not have established legal norms either; However, in 2001 they received food aid from the United States, and when they made samples they discovered that it was transgenic where children from 6 months to two years old and lactating mothers received soy. Problematic situation since Central America receives more food aid every year; where a quantity of transgenic seeds has been introduced, especially corn, from the USA.

Argentina created a legal framework in the early 1990s. Today some 13 million hectares of soy are cultivated, of which 95 percent are transgenic. Argentina has become a mono-producer of this crop, in a process in which the countryside stopped having farmers to have owners of a food production industry. Their shipments to Europe (US $ 1,500 million annually) are made up of soybean meal for livestock feed, but after the devaluation, shipments of food with higher added value increased sharply, many of them from modified grains.

The Consumers Union of Japan 80% does not want genetically manipulated food, no matter how much the government guarantees its safety. European and North American authorities in the face of the evidence were forced to act with greater speed in the case of transgenics, in order to protect their population and guarantee food security. The precautionary principle should govern in all biotechnology discussions, given their novelty and the little knowledge that scientists have about side or long-term effects.

There is an international agreement that governs the transparency, management and use of genetically modified organisms. The so-called “Cartagena Protocol” was adopted in 2000 and entered into force in 2003 as a complement to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity. The Network for a GMO-Free Latin America brings together peasant and indigenous organizations, civil society, researchers and academics dedicated to studying the impacts of GMOs in the region and the protection of biodiversity (http: //www.turcon .org)

The Network for a GMO-Free Latin America warned that the creation of a binding liability regime for damage caused by living modified organisms is "essential" for the communities in the region, where around 30 percent of the agricultural biodiversity of the region is found. world. This regime would allow the damage caused by GMOs to health and the environment to be adequately repaired by those responsible, and it should also ensure that these damages do not occur.

The approval of the Biosafety Protocol further legitimizes the Community position, since it explicitly recognizes the precautionary principle and allows non-scientific risks to be considered as well. Despite this, the entry into force of the Protocol is pending ratification by at least 50 countries and, today more than ever, ratification by the United States is unknown.

We support a model of sustainable agriculture based on the traditional knowledge of the peasant communities, under the control of the communities themselves and aimed at protecting the food sovereignty of our peoples. If you need more information write to the International Circle of Journalists of the XXI Century

Anna Bermeo Turchi - CCP 3504 Doctorate in Environment and Sustainable Development LIMA- PERU

November 2008 -

Video: Whats the Deal with Genetically Modified Food? (June 2021).