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environmental kitchenarchivetoxins & poisons
Toxins and Poisons

Genetically engineered products clearly have the potential to be toxic and a threat to human health. In 1989 a genetically engineered brand of L-tryptophan, a common dietary supplement, killed 37 Americans and permanently disabled or afflicted more than 5,000 others with a potentially fatal and painful blood disorder, eosinophilia myalgia syndrome (EMS), before it was recalled by the Food and Drug Administration. The manufacturer, Showa Denko, Japan's third largest chemical company, had for the first time in 1988-89 used GE bacteria to produce the over-the-counter supplement. It is believed that the bacteria somehow became contaminated during the recombinant DNA process. Showa Denko has already paid out over $2 billion in damages to EMS victims.

In 1999, front-page headline stories in the British press revealed Rowett Institute scientist Dr. Arpad Pusztai's explosive research findings that GE potatoes, spliced with DNA from the snowdrop plant and a commonly used viral promoter, the Cauliflower Mosaic Virus (CaMv), are poisonous to mammals. GE-snowdrop potatoes, found to be significantly different in chemical composition from regular potatoes, damaged the vital organs and immune systems of lab rats fed the GE potatoes. Most alarming of all, damage to the rats' stomach linings--apparently a severe viral infection--most likely was caused by the CaMv viral promoter, a promoter spliced into nearly all GE foods and crops.

Dr. Pusztai's pathbreaking research work unfortunately remains incomplete (government funding was cut off and he was fired after he spoke to the media). But more and more scientists around the world are warning that genetic manipulation can increase the levels of natural plant toxins in foods (or create entirely new toxins) in unexpected ways by switching on genes that produce poisons. And since regulatory agencies do not currently require the kind of thorough chemical and feeding tests that Dr. Pusztai was conducting, consumers have now become involuntary guinea pigs in a vast genetic experiment. As Dr. Pusztai warns, "Think of William Tell shooting an arrow at a target. Now put a blindfold on the man doing the shooting and that's the reality of the genetic engineer doing a gene insertion."

Information provided with the help of Ronnie Cummins Organic Consumers Association

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