The technology of genetic engineering (GE), wielded
by transitional "life science" corporations such as
Monsanto and Novartis, is the practice of altering or
disrupting the genetic blueprints of living organisms--plants,
animals, humans, microorganisms - patenting them, and
then selling the resulting gene-foods, seeds, or other
products for profit. Life science corporations proclaim,
with great fanfare, that their new products will make
agriculture sustainable, eliminate world hunger, cure
disease, and vastly improve public health. In reality,
through their business practices and political lobbying,
the gene engineers have made it clear that they intend
to use GE to dominate and monopolize the global market
for seeds, foods, fiber, and medical products.
GE is a revolutionary new technology still in its early experimental
stages of development. This technology has the power to break down fundamental
genetic barriers--not only between species--but between humans, animals,
and plants. By randomly inserting together the genes of non-related species--utilizing
viruses, antibiotic-resistant genes, and bacteria as vectors, markers,
and promoters--and permanently altering their genetic codes, gene-altered
organisms are created that pass these genetic changes onto their offspring
through heredity. Gene engineers all over the world are now snipping,
inserting, recombining, rearranging, editing, and programming genetic
material. Animal genes and even human genes are randomly inserted into
the chromosomes of plants, fish, and animals, creating heretofore unimaginable
transgenic life forms. For the first time in history, transnational biotechnology
corporations are becoming the architects and "owners" of life.
With little or no regulatory restraints, labeling requirements, or scientific
protocol, bio-engineers have begun creating hundreds of new GE "Frankenfoods"
and crops, oblivious to human and environmental hazards, or negative socioeconomic
impacts on the world's several billion farmers and rural villagers. Despite
an increasing number of scientists warning that current gene-splicing
techniques are crude, inexact, and unpredictable--and therefore inherently
dangerous--pro-biotech governments and regulatory agencies, led by the
US, maintain that GE foods and crops are "substantially equivalent" to
conventional foods, and therefore require neither mandatory labeling nor
pre-market safety-testing. This Brave New World of Frankenfoods is frightening.
There are currently more than four dozen genetically engineered foods
and crops being grown or sold in the US. These foods and crops are widely
dispersed into the food chain and the environment. Over 70 million acres
of GE crops are presently under cultivation in the US, while up to 500,000
dairy cows are being injected regularly with Monsanto's recombinant Bovine
Growth Hormone (rBGH). Most supermarket processed food items now "test
positive" for the presence of GE ingredients. In addition several dozen
more GE crops are in the final stages of development and will soon be
released into the environment and sold in the marketplace. According to
the biotechnology industry almost 100% of US food and fiber will be genetically
engineered within 5-10 years. The "hidden menu" of these unlabeled genetically
engineered foods and food ingredients in the US now includes soybeans,
soy oil, corn, potatoes, squash, canola oil, cotton seed oil, papaya,
tomatoes, and dairy products.
Genetic engineering of food and fiber products is inherently
unpredictable and dangerous--for humans, for animals, the environment,
and for the future of sustainable and organic agriculture. As Dr. Michael
Antoniou, a British molecular scientist points out, gene-splicing has
already resulted in the "unexpected production of toxic substances...
in genetically engineered bacteria, yeast, plants, and animals with the
problem remaining undetected until a major health hazard has arisen."
The hazards of GE foods and crops fall basically into three categories:
human health hazards, environmental hazards, and socioeconomic hazards.
A brief look at the already-proven and likely hazards of GE products provides
a convincing argument for why we need a global moratorium on all GE foods
Information provided with the help of Ronnie Cummins at the Organic Consumers Association