In 2003, Jeffrey Smith’s “Seeds of Deception” was published. It exposed the dangers of untested and unregulated genetically engineered foods most people eat every day with no knowledge of the potential health risks. Efforts to inform the public have been quashed, reliable science has been buried, and consider what happened to two distinguished scientists.
One was Ignatio Chapela, a microbial ecologist at the University of California, Berkeley. In September, 2001, he was invited to a carefully staged meeting with Fernando Ortiz Monasterio, Mexico’s Director of the Commission of Biosafety in Mexico City. The experience left Chapela shaken and angry as he explained. Monasterio attacked him for over an hour. “First he trashed me. He let me know how damaging to the country and how problematic my information was to be.”
Chapela referred to what he and a UC Berkeley graduate student, David Quist, discovered in 2000 about genetically engineered contamination of Mexican corn in violation of a government ban on these crops in 1998. Corn is sacred in Mexico, the country is home to hundreds of indigenous varieties that crossbreed naturally, and GM contamination is permanent and unthinkable – but it happened by design.
Chapela and Quist tested corn varieties in more than a dozen state of Oaxaca communities and discovered 6% of the plants contaminated with GM corn. Oaxaca is in the country’s far South so Chapela knew if contamination spread there, it was widespread throughout Mexico. It’s unavoidable because NAFTA allows imported US corn with 30% of it at the time genetically modified. Now it’s heading for nearly double that amount, and if not contained, it soon could be all of it.
The prestigious journal Nature agreed to publish Chapela’s findings, Monasterio wanted them quashed, but Chapela refused to comply. As a result, he was intimidated not to do it and threatened with being held responsible for all damages to Mexican agriculture and its economy.
He went ahead, nonetheless, and when his article appeared in the publication on November 29, 2001 the smear campaign against him began and intensified. It was later learned that Monsanto was behind it, and the Washington-based Bivings Group PR firm was hired to discredit his findings and get them retracted.
It worked because the campaign didn’t focus on Chapela’s contamination discovery, but on a second research conclusion even more serious. He learned the contaminated GM corn had as many as eight fragments of the CaMV promoter that creates an unstable “hotspot.” It can cause plant genes to fragment, scatter throughout the plant’s genome, and, if proved conclusively, would wreck efforts to introduce GM crops in the country. Without further evidence, there was still room for doubt if the second finding was valid, however, and the anti-Chapela campaign hammered him on it.
Because of the pressure, Nature took an unprecedented action in its 133 year history. It upheld Chapela’s central finding but retracted the other one. That was all it took, and the major media pounced on it. They denounced Chapela’s incompetence and tried to discredit everything he learned including his verified findings. They weren’t reported, his vilification was highlighted, and Monsanto and the Mexican government scored a big victory.
Ironically, on April 18, 2002, two weeks after Nature’s partial retraction, the Mexican government announced there was massive genetic contamination of traditional corn varieties in Oaxaca and the neighboring state of Puebla. It was horrifying as up to 95% of tested crops were genetically polluted and “at a speed never before predicted.” The news made headlines in Europe and Mexico. It was ignored in the US and Canada.
The fallout for Chapela was UC Berkeley denied him tenure in 2003 because of his article and for criticizing university ties to the biotech industry. He then filed suit in April, 2004 asking remuneration for lost wages, earnings and benefits, compensatory damages for humiliation, mental anguish, emotional distress and coverage of attorney fees and costs for his action. He won in May, 2005 but not in court when the university reversed its decision, granted him tenure and agreed to include retroactive pay back to 2003. The damage, however, was done and is an example of what’s at stake when anyone dares challenge a powerful company like Monsanto.
The other man attacked was the world’s leading lectins and plant genetic modification expert, UK-based Arpad Pusztai. He was vilified and fired from his research position at Scotland’s Rowett Research Institute for publishing industry-unfriendly data he was commissioned to produce on the safety of GMO foods.
His Rowett Research study was the first ever independent one conducted on them anywhere. He undertook it believing in their promise but became alarmed by his findings. The Clinton and Blair governments were determined to suppress them because Washington was spending billions promoting GMO crops and a future biotech revolution. It wasn’t about to let even the world’s foremost expert in the field derail the effort. His results were startling and consider the implications for humans eating genetically engineered foods.
Rats fed GMO potatoes had smaller livers, hearts, testicles and brains, damaged immune systems, and showed structural changes in their white blood cells making them more vulnerable to infection and disease compared to other rats fed non-GMO potatoes. It got worse. Thymus and spleen damage showed up; enlarged tissues, including the pancreas and intestines; and there were cases of liver atrophy as well as significant proliferation of stomach and intestines cells that could be a sign of greater future risk of cancer. Equally alarming – this all happened after 10 days of testing, and the changes persisted after 110 days that’s the human equivalent of 10 years.
GM foods today saturate our diet. Over 80% of all supermarket processed foods contain them. Others include grains like rice, corn and wheat; legumes like soybeans and soy products; vegetable oils; soft drinks; salad dressings; vegetables and fruits; dairy products including eggs; meat and other animal products; and even infant formula plus a vast array of hidden additives and ingredients in processed foods (like in tomato sauce, ice cream and peanut butter). They’re unrevealed to consumers because labeling is prohibited yet the more of them we eat, the greater the potential threat to our health.
Today, we’re all lab rats in an uncontrolled, unregulated mass human experiment the results of which are unknown. The risks from it are beyond measure, it will take many years to learn them, and when they’re finally revealed it will be too late to reverse the damage if it’s proved GM products harm human health as independent experts strongly believe. Once GM seeds are introduced to an area, the genie is out of the bottle for keeps.
Despite the enormous risks, however, Washington and growing numbers of governments around the world in parts of Europe, Asia, Latin America and Africa now allow these products to be grown in their soil or imported. They’re produced and sold to consumers because agribusiness giants like Monsanto, DuPont, Dow AgriSciences and Cargill have enormous clout to demand it and a potent partner supporting them – the US government and its agencies, including the Departments of Agriculture and State, FDA, EPA and even the defense establishment. World Trade Organization (WTO) Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) patent rules also back them along with industry-friendly WTO rulings like the February 7, 2006 one.
It favored a US challenge against European GMO regulatory policies in spite of strong consumer sentiment against these foods and ingredients on the continent. It also violated the Biosafety Protocol that should let nations regulate these products in the public interest, but it doesn’t because WTO trade rules sabotaged it. Nonetheless, anti-GMO activism persists, consumers still have a say, and there are hundreds of GMO-free zones around the world, including in the US. That and more is needed to take on the agribusiness giants that so far have everything going their way.
In “Seeds of Deception,” Jeffrey Smith did a masterful job explaining the dangers of GM foods and ingredients. Engdahl explains them as well but goes much further brilliantly in his blockbuster book on this topic. It’s the story of a powerful family and a “small socio-political American elite (that) seeks to establish control over the very basis of human survival” – future life through the food we eat. The book’s introduction says it “reads (like) a crime story.” It’s also a nightmare but one that’s very real and threatening.
This review covers the book in-depth because of its importance. It’s an extraordinary work that “reveals a diabolical World of profit-driven political intrigue (and) government corruption and coercion” that’s part of a decades-long global scheme for total world dominance. The book deserves vast exposure and must be read in full for the whole disturbing story. It’s hoped the material below will encourage readers to do it in their own self-interest and to marshal mass consumer actions to place food safety above corporate profits.
Engdahl’s book supplies the ammunition to do it and is also a sequel to his earlier one on war, oil politics and The New World Order and follows naturally from it. It covers the roots of the strategy to control “global food security” that goes back to the 1930s and the plans of a handful of American families to preserve their wealth and power. But it centers on one in particular that above the others “came to symbolize the hubris and arrogance of the emerging American century” that blossomed post-WW II. Its patriarch began in oil and then dominated it in his powerful Oil Trust. It was only the beginning as the family expanded into “education of youth, medicine and psychology,” US foreign policy, and “the very science of life itself, biology, and its applications” in plants and agriculture.
The family’s name is Rockefeller. The patriarch was John D., and four powerful later-generation brothers followed him – David, Nelson, Laurance, and John D. III. Engdahl says the GMO story covers “the evolution of power in the hands of an elite (led by this family), determined (above all) to bring the entire world under their sway.” They and other elites already control most of it, including the nation’s energy, the US Federal Reserve, and other key world central banks. Today, three brothers are gone, David alone remains, and he’s still a force at age 92 although he no longer runs the family bank, JP Morgan Chase. He’s active in family enterprises, however, including the Rockefeller Foundation to be discussed in Part II of this review. …