GM foods: prestigious British medical journal will publish negative research re potatoes, implications for soy and corn : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) Preparation Forum : One Thread

ISSUE 1592 Monday 4 October 1999

GM food critic set to reopen safety debate By Aisling Irwin

THE row over the safety of genetically modified food is set to enter a new phase as the scientist at the centre of the controversy publishes his results.

Dr Arpad Pusztai ignited the GM row last August when he claimed that GM food might directly harm human health. He is now to publish research on rats fed GM potatoes in The Lancet.

The research is believed to show that rats which ate GM potatoes developed a thickening of their stomach linings, not seen in control rats which received ordinary potatoes. The linings also became inflamed. The results may support the contention that, while a foreign gene inserted into a plant may theoretically be innocuous, the "constructs" used to insert and control it could be harmful.

Publication, if it goes ahead, would represent a milestone for the Aberdeen-based scientist, whose failure to publish his original GM potato research in a peer-reviewed journal left him open to potent criticism. A source in The Lancet said that it was one of the most heavily reviewed papers ever accepted, and it is thought to have passed through three sets of experts.

The controversy over GM food began last February, when scientists connected with environmental groups across Europe claimed that Dr Pusztai's work had been suppressed by his employers at the Rowett Research Institute. He has since retired. His work involved feeding rats raw potato carrying a gene found in snowdrops. It instructed the potato to produce an insecticide, GNA, from the lectin family.

The work caused alarm as the rats appeared to develop problems with growth rate, immune response and organ weight. Others fed potatoes merely spiked with GNA did not develop these problems. This implied that the process of genetic modification could cause health problems.

The research came in for scathing criticism at the Royal Society, where scientists formed a self-appointed committee to review it.

The work now to be published is believed to be based mainly on analysis of the same rats by Dr Stanley Ewen, a pathologist at Aberdeen University. He studied their intestines and claims to have shown that they had thickened because lining cells were multiplying much faster than usual. He found little or no change in rats fed only spiked potatoes.

Dr Ewen presented a summary of his work at a conference in Lund, Sweden, last November. He did not release detailed data because this would jeopardise publication. He has suggested that the blame may lie with a piece of genetic material known as the 35S cauliflower mosaic virus promoter. Promoters are little stretches of genetic material whose function is to switch genes on or off.

The 35S is popular as it can be easily manipulated. It has been used to perform genetic modification on bt-maize, resistant to the corn-borer moth, and Roundup-Ready soya beans, resistant to a common herbicide. The fear is that switches can end up in the wrong place and switch on the wrong genes. This has been ridiculed by scientists who say there are simple explanations for Dr Pusztai's results.

Raw potatoes are full of toxic compounds. The research was thought by critics to lack sufficient quality controls, making the results meaningless. As the new research was performed on the same rats, some of the same criticisms will apply.

Dr Pusztai said of the new paper: "I think it is in the public interest that it should come out."

Charles Secrett, director of Friends of the Earth, said: "The Government attempt to rubbish Dr Pusztai could be about to backfire. The Lancet is an important scientific magazine which does not publish without a reason."

Hotlinks at site (must subscribe to ET) 29 September 1999: [International] GM plants grow crop of plastic in their seeds / 9 September 1999: GM crop trials 'are not tough enough'/ 10 June 1999: Heartfelt fears of the whistleblower who spilled the beans over GM foods / 10 June 1999: Researcher's work 'had run its course'/ 15 February 1999: Mix-up over toxin tests led to scientist's job dispute / 13 August 1998: Genetic food fear scientist to retire / 11 August 1998: Immune system fear over altered potato

-- Old Git (, October 04, 1999


Old Git,

Gawd. Thanks so much for posting this. I had vague notions of getting instant potatoes to supplement our store of fresh ones, but your post sure put the kibosh on that one.

-- PH (, October 04, 1999.

I already have plenty of dehydrated and canned potatoes, plus a lot of soy protein stuff--bummer! I guess I'll try to stick with basmati rice and wholewheat pasta--the least messed-about with, I assume. But who knows these days? I believe cous cous might be safer too. There's a post in the old forum's food archive on how to grow potatoes in cylinders, above ground. If you search on "potatoes", I'm sure it'll crop up (chuckle). I'm going to go back and look at it myself one of these days, see if I can get the necessary stuff together and grow my own from some heirloom type.

Another substitute starch you might htink about is Jerusalem artichokes, the tubers from a variety of sunflower. They're very good. I understand they're so easy to grow they can become a problem if not kept in check! Also, if things get REALLY bad, the bad guys out to steal produce won't realize those pretty sunflowers are actually food! Jicama is another possibility, but I don't know if they can be grown in cooler areas. But that's what the Net and search engines are for! I must go and have a look when I'm in the mood for research.

The other thing I'm thinking of is buying a load of organic potatoes from the co-op and using my neighbor's pressure canner to can som. I do like my spuds! (Red ones--they're lower on the glycemic index, important if you're hyperglycemic or diabetic.)

-- Old Git (, October 04, 1999.

Does this mean that potatoes and instant potatoes currently for sale at grocery stores/etc. are genetically modified?

Yes, no, maybe?


-- winter wondering (, October 04, 1999.

so what happened to the rats that ate the rats that had eaten the GM food? I am very concerned about feeding GM corn and Beans to my chickens, and what effect eating the chickens by humans will have. I am seeing already that non-GM grain is bring a premim over GM grain. Long live the rats.

-- chicken farmer (chicken-farmer@, October 04, 1999.

Old Git -- See if you can dehydrate some of those organic potatoes. That's what I'm doing -- this morning in fact...

-- Libby Alexander (, October 04, 1999.

I would think it would be mostly harmful over time. But the worst would be for children. A society that can't consider its young is truly doomed... Odious...

-- Mara Wayne (, October 04, 1999.

I read somewhere that of the soy in this country, some 50-60% is GM. Of the corn, I think it's around 30-40%. Would someone do a search on the Net, see if you can find any reliable numbers? Got to go and put away stuff I bought over the weekend and do some other work! Been at the keyboard all morning, got to earn my keep!

-- Old Git (, October 04, 1999.

Check out the Y2K organic food monthly packages at

That's where I bought 3 months worth of my food from. (The rest was bought locally from the organic food coop addition to the vegies I dehydrated from the weekly pickup from the local organic CSA farmer I bought a subscription from last January.

-- Dennis Law (, October 04, 1999.

The only way to be sure you avoid GM foods is to buy strictly organic/grow strictly organic. Organic certification precludes the use of GM seed- despite attempts by the USDA to allow it in its proposed federal organic standards that were released to the public for comment .

Potatoes will keep well- buy fresh, whole unwashed spuds from an organic grower- if you don't grow them yourself. Keep them dark and cool- You can also grow soybeans yourself-

-- farmer (, October 04, 1999.

I have heard the french fries at McDonalds are made with 100% GM potatoes.

-- mommacarestx (, October 04, 1999.

Bt corn contains genes from a friendly bacteria that kills the insect that eats it.Thus,the corn itself becomes an insecticide.The theory here is that with the commodity itself insect resistant,less toxic nerve gas derived poison chemicals need be spread onto the corn stalks.Eat the corn,you eat the toxic part of the bacteria.There is no way to test the effect on the human metabolism without feeding it to at least two generations of humans.This is being done now,but without your consent.About 50% of the current corn crop is "Bt corn." Nearly everything manufactured as a baked or cooked product contains corn in one form or another.Eat only food you cook yourself from scratch from known organic sources or resign yourself to being Monsanto,DuPont,and Zeneca's laboratory rat. Next:soy.There is no such thing as an organic soya plant seed(bean).The current species was mutated in the mid-1950s by the Swedes to grow more soya oil as an industrial source.You cannot obtain the protein content of soy without high temperature chemical processing.Eat soy at your own risk,and the risk of your thyroid which it attacks to produce goiter and cancer.Read the extremely scientific abstract of the 9 page 1997 publication of the investigation by the National Toxicological Laboratory in Jefferson AR that is run by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on my website at: You will need a dictionary to decode some of the language.I highlighted the conclusory paragraph that should guide you re soy.While there,surf around and enjoy more good stuff,like exactly what is it that truly separates *organic* from *commercial*? Best regards to all-Burton Linne,Manager Organic Food Y2K Emergency Survival at

-- Burton Linne (, October 04, 1999.

What to Eat, How to Shop

If you really want to avoid the influence of genetic engineering, buy fresh organic produce. If you want to buy processed foods and avoid genetically engineered ingredients, you will have to read product labels. If the label mentions any of the ingredients listed below without explicitly qualifying it as organic, then the product probably contains genetically engineered ingredients.

Primary Suspects: Ingredients and Products to Check

Soybeans: Soy flour, soy oil, lecithin, soy protein isolates and concentrates. Products that may contain genetically engineered soy derivatives: vitamin E, tofu dogs, cereals, veggie burgers and sausages, tamari, soy sauce, chips, ice cream, frozen yogurt, infant formula, sauces, protein powder, margarine, soy cheeses, crackers, breads, cookies, chocolates, candies, fried foods, shampoo, bubble bath, cosmetics, enriched flours and pastas. Corn: Corn flour, corn starch, corn oil, corn sweeteners, syrups. Products that may contain genetically engineered corn derivatives: vitamin C, tofu dogs, chips, candies, ice cream, infant formula, salad dressings, tomato sauces, breads, cookies, cereals, baking powder, alcohol, vanilla, margarine, soy sauce, tamari, soda, fried foods, powdered sugar, enriched flours and pastas. Canola: Oil. Products that may contain genetically engineered canola derivatives: chips, salad dressings, cookies, margarine, soaps, detergents, soy cheeses, fried foods. Cotton: Oil, fabric. Products that may contain genetically engineered cotton or its derivatives: clothes, linens, chips, peanut butter, crackers, cookies. Potatoes: Right now the only potato that has been genetically engineered is the Burbank Russet, but you still have to look out for potato starch and flour. Products that may contain genetically engineered potatoes or derivatives: unspecified processed or restaurant potato products (fries, mashed, baked, mixes, etc.), chips, Passover products, vegetable pies, soups. Tomatoes: No plum or roma tomatoes have been genetically engineered. But one cherry tomato has, as have regular tomatoes. Products that may contain genetically engineered tomatoes or derivatives: sauces, purees, pizza, lasagna, and all of those wonderful Italian and Mexican foods. Dairy Products: Milk, cheese, butter, buttermilk, sour cream, yogurt, whey. You have to ask several questions when you are looking at dairy products. Have the cows been treated with rBGH? What kind of feed have they been given? If they are not being fed organic grains, chances are quite likely that they will be eating genetically engineered animal feed. What does this do to their milk products? No one knows. Animal Products: Because animal feed often contains genetically engineered organisms, all animal products, or by-products may be affected.

Please note that a food may contain some of these items and yet be free from genetically engineered organisms, but we have no way of knowing without tracking down every brand, every product and every ingredient. Even reading labels is no guarantee that you will be able to avoid genetically engineered ingredients, because manufacturers are not required to list every little ingredient, enzyme or organism used in the manufacturing process. The following products may also be genetically altered, contain or originate from genetically engineered organisms: candies, cookies, breads, cereals, corn syrups, oils, juices, detergents, dough conditioners, yeast, sugar, animal feed, vitamins and enzymes used in the processing of cheese

-- Old Git (, October 04, 1999.

Shop to Avoid Genetically Engineered Food

The Natural Law Partys Consumer Right to Know Campaign for Mandatory Labelling and Long-term Testing of all Genetically Engineered Foods is actively lobbying against genetically engineered foods in Canada. The groups email newsletter Biotech News has produced the following list of companies that use genetically engineered ingredients in some or all of their products:

Coca Cola (corn syrup and/or Aspartame) Fritos (corn) Green Giant Harvest Burgers (soy) McDonald's French Fries (potatoes) Nestles chocolates (soy) Karo Corn Syrup (corn) NutraSweet (Aspartame) Kraft Salad Dressings (canola oil) Fleishmann's margarine (soy) Similac Infant Formula (soy) Land o Lakes butter (rBGH) Cabot Creamery Butter (rBGH) Tomatoes: Genetically engineered with bacteria-derived kanamycin resistance genes, Antisense backwards DNA, antibiotic marker genes, viruses, and DNA of flounder and North Atlantic shellfish.

This and the following genetically engineered foods have antibiotic marker genes used to facilitate the genetic engineering process. They can cause allergies and autoimmune disease.

Potatoes: Genetically engineered with wax moth insect DNA; genetically engineered to produce its own pesticide internally with the DNA of bacillus thuringiensis bacteria. Corn: Genetically engineered to tolerate high quantities of the chemical pesticide glufosinate, and genetically engineered with a virus and the DNA of the bacteria bacillus thuringiensis. Soy: Genetically engineered and DNA-altered by Monsanto with bacteria; capable of tolerating heavy doses of Monsanto's Roundup brand chemical pesticide (glyphosate). Yellow crook neck squash: Gene-spliced with two experimental viruses and arbitrary marker genes, capable of causing unpredictable and unexpected effects. Canola oil: Genetically engineered and DNA-altered with California bay turnip and various viruses and bacterium in order to produce high quantities of lauric acid. Cotton seed oil: Genetically engineered and DNA-altered with Arabidopsis bacterium, and viruses to be able to withstand large applications of the chemical pesticide bromoxynil. Bromoxynil causes birth defects in human beings. Papaya: Some have been genetically engineered.

Last December, the Right to Know Campaign presented to Health Canada petitions with over 10,000 names calling for mandatory labelling of genetically engineered foods in Canada. The campaign is continuing, with a goal of 100,000 names. Contact the Campaign at the address below for copies of the petition.

-- Old Git (, October 04, 1999.

What gene foods are you eating? About 50 genetically engineered crops OKd for harvesting By Francesca Lyman MSNBC

Aug. 4  Many Americans might be surprised to know that a growing number of the natural foods they enjoy are being displaced by genetically-altered varieties, principally corn, soy, canola and potato. About 50 novel varieties of crops that have been genetically engineered have been approved for harvest. Click here for industry list.

SUCH PATENTED crops are widely grown commercially and now find their way into myriad products sold on supermarket shelves. Theyre also in hundreds of ingredients and additives in foods  intermediate byproducts such as lecithin, that could be found in chocolates, candies or frozen yogurts, and high fructose corn syrup, found in sodas and juice drinks. According to the Biotechnology Industry Organization, theyre found in: Corn and potatoes spliced with a protein found in a common soil bacterium, Bacillus thuringiensis, or Bt; Cooking oils made from sunflower, peanuts and soybeans Delayed-ripening fruits and vegetables, including tomatoes (and raspberries, strawberries, cherries, banana and pineapple sometime soon); Sweet potatoes, rice, squash, and papaya engineered with a vaccine to kill a viral plant disease; Soybeans, corn, canola and rice engineered to withstand greater herbicide applications. Here in the United States, where 74 percent of all transgenics are planted, about 44 percent of our soybeans and 36 percent of our corn were genetically altered products in 1998, according to the USDA. That percentage is expected to grow dramatically in coming years.

-- Old Git (, October 04, 1999.

I have ulcerative colitis and instant mashed potatoes is almost an everyday staple for me because it is so easy to digest. I have lots in storage. I have never had any problems eating them. Also lots of packaged noodles. I bought and ate a new box of mashed ptoatoes last week with no problems. If a food caused any kind of inflamation in the digestive system, I would know very soon.

-- Homeschooling Grandma (, October 04, 1999.

I'm not going to worry about it this late in the game. I plan to grow my sprouts and if they are genetically engineered so be it. Death will get us sooner or later.

-- not worried (notworried@notworrieddd.xcom), October 05, 1999.

Thanks Old Git, for all the information. The prospect of being experimented on with GM foodstuffs is something I want absolutely no part of, and I don't want that stuff going into my children either. The mess that is the food production system in this country inspired me years ago to seek out enough land to be able to grow much of our own food. Now I hear that even organically grown soybeans may contain risks? The few soybeans that I was able to get from my own garden might be GM? Oy vey!

This is an important call to change our basic food consumption habits: grow whatever you can, buy local and organic whenever you can, and avoid conventionally produced and processed food whenever you can. Don't give up the goal because you can't or won't do it 100 percent. As time goes by, new habits will emerge that are healthier, personally and for the planet.

-- Bingo (, October 05, 1999.

HSG, sorry to hear you have such severe stomach problems. The best clue about potatoes comes from this quote: "Right now the only potato that has been genetically engineered is the Burbank Russet. . ." Perhaps the potatoes you're eating aren't Burbank Russets.

I'm sticking to red and Yukon Gold potatoes for the time being, just to be safe. Besides, boiled, chunked red potatoes, for some reason, are better for hyperglycemics and diabetics--but not so good if baked, fried or mashed. Nothing to do with the butter or oil you might use, something to do with the starch.

-- Old Git (, October 05, 1999.

Thanks Old Git for alerting me to this thread. I appreciate any information you post on GM foods and pollution of the food supply. I've been working against corporate control of, our food supply for years, and the problem is growing daily, especially with all the corporate mergers lately taking place.

Homeschooling Grandma, just because a sympton doesn't show up immediately, from eating a particular food, doesn't mean that it's harmless. Sometimes it takes years for the problem to rear its ugly head. Just as DDT didn't show immediate damage, but developed in the next generation of eggs, with shells so soft that millions of birds were wiped out.

Toxic pollution shows up more often in the children of parents who have been exposed to toxic pollution. Such as those in the MOSES expose', where pollution from deep injection wells caused birth defects, and those children recently born with deformed limbs, whose families lived near a toxic dump in England. This was on CNNs Earth Matters Sunday. The same thing happened in the Love Canal tragedy. It was the children who were affected most by the toxic dump located under a school and playground.

-- gilda (, October 05, 1999.

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