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Film exposes dangers, ineffective government oversight, of GM food
by Global Good News staff writer
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29 September 2012
In 1998 Steven Druker, a public interest attorney and founder and executive director of the Alliance for Bio-Integrity, filed a landmark lawsuit against the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that forced the agency to release to the public 44,000 secret memos on genetically modified (GM) foods.
After combing through the memos, Mr Druker concluded that since 1992, the FDA had been untruthful to the public in maintaining that GM foods were safe.
The FDA claimed that the overwhelming consensus from the scientific community was that the foods were safe. However, the documents showed that the majority of FDA scientific staff felt the foods were different and could not be presumed to be safe. Although staff repeatedly encouraged supervisors to do long-term studies in order to determine if GM organisms were safe for consumption in food, they were ignored.
Mr Druker's narrative, along with related aspects of this far-reaching topic, is included in the newly-released film Genetic Roulette.
The film was screened during a recent lecture presented by Dr Peter Swan, an expert in Maharishi Vedic Organic Agriculture, as an addition to the popular course on that subject that he created and has taught in many countries. The course's central theme is the benefits and principles of Maharishi Vedic Organic Agriculture, which in addition to using principles of organics, and innovative ideas and principles to improve the world's soil and food supply, uses ancient Vedic technologies to support and nourish the crops in their growth. The course also notes problems and challenges facing agriculture today—including major issues stemming from GMOs for world health and food safety.
The film also chronicles how Michael Taylor, in charge of policy at the FDA at that time, was formerly an attorney for and later a vice president of Monsanto, a multinational biotech company based in the United States which has played a major role in developing, producing, and marketing GM crops worldwide. He and others in the biotech industry promoted an FDA policy that created the illusion that genetically engineered foods were being diligently regulated—whereas in fact there was no regulation, no burden of proof of food safety.
The film goes on to explain that the FDA does not actually approve genetically modified crops. It employs a 'voluntary process' in which companies, such as Monsanto, generate their own scientific reports from their own data. If the FDA should petition further information from a company the request is typically ignored. In the end the FDA sends a final reminder letter informing the company that it is their responsibility to be sure the foods they market are safe and in compliance with regulations.
This leaves Monsanto, and other large biotech companies, with the sole responsibility and authority to inform the public that GM food is safe. They can market their products without telling either the FDA or the consumer.
Mr Druker concluded that if GM foods have been creating the kinds of problems that the FDA has been warned about from many sources—including his lawsuit, the panel of experts of the Royal Society of Canada, the British Medical Association, Third World Network (TWN), and scores of others—the health of many unsuspecting people, even of future generations, may already have been compromised.
According to information presented in Genetic Roulette, personnel appointed to top-ranking positions in the FDA, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) hold or have held executive-level positions in large biotech companies and are not interested in making independent, unbiased judgements on food safety. Routinely they approve foods that are known to pose health risks.
The film quotes Lawrence Plumlee, MD, former Medical Science Advisor, EPA Office of Research and Development, saying that the blatant governmental disregard for food safety is alarming. Not requiring careful and extensive testing of clearly new and unique products designed for human consumption, he said, must have its roots in financial gain.
Robin Bernhoft, MD, former president of the American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM), reported that the AAEM takes a strong stand against GM organisms in food because the research that has been done is very disturbing. He cited studies showing problems such as infertility, immune system weakness, insulin issues, accelerated aging, and changes in the liver, kidney, spleen and gastrointestinal system.
Dr Swan concluded that the film shows that the intimate connection existing between governmental food agencies and the biotech industry is not in the best interests of food safety.
See related articles:
∙ Expert in Maharishi Vedic Organic Agriculture describes dangers of genetically modified food, presents solutions
∙ Understanding the basics of genetically modified organisms: Maharishi Vedic Organic Agriculture expert's lecture
∙ Studies show perils of genetically modified organisms (GMOs)
∙ Actual results with GM crops fall short of biotech companies' claims: Maharishi Vedic Organic Agriculture expert
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