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GMOs — A Toxic Plume to Rival Your Worst Fears

We have addressed before the threats posed by genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in the food production system. We say “in the food production system” rather than “in food,” because these GMOs, once introduced into the environment, may have effects far beyond a particular genetically modified food and whether or not we eat it.

In a striking analogy, GMO researcher and activist Jeffrey Smith compares the spread of genetically modified material to BP’s massive oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico. As he points out, as devastating as the leak was, it could eventually be capped. In time physical and biological processes will break down the pollutants, however devastating a toll on wildlife is wreaked along the way. By contrast, genetic pollution not only spreads from one organism to another but, by definition, carries its own self-perpetuating mechanism. No new oil is being produced in Prince William Sound after the Exxon Valdez spill, and oil that does leave the ecosystem, as opposed to being trapped there, has moved a step toward degradation. GMOs, on the other hand, will continue to reproduce themselves and disperse until the time of their individual extinction or the end of life on Earth, whichever comes first.

Many maps of the prevalence of GM agriculture throughout the world are tied to national boundaries, since policies on GMOs are often set nationally. While useful for knowing where to apply pressure at the national level, such maps have two inherent flaws:

  • Global versions are less likely to account for local resistance to GM agriculture, struggles which may take place on the level of state or province, or as in Vermont, township by township.
  • Even more fatally, such maps fail to account for biology not generally respecting national boundaries — as Smith remarks in another context, dispersing bacteria don’t always read the signs.

One source of current (and apparently updated) dispersal data uses circular representations, good insofar as they break the connection of dispersion with national boundaries, more closely approximating how GMOs spread in nature.

To this, add the knowledge that GM agriculture acreage has increased by 10% just in the last year. Go ahead; try to visualize that. You will see a metastasizing growth at least as scary as the “plumes” from the BP oil leak or the crippled Japanese nuclear plants.

As noted, this plague of mutant foods and related organisms not only spreads beyond its theoretical boundaries, but reproduces itself throughout foreseeable time. Much of the discussion about the spread of genetically modified material focuses on plants and how their seeds and pollen are made for dispersal into all corners. Missing from any sources we were able to find online is projection of how intended dispersal of GMOs and the inevitable contamination of adjacent crops are affected by Earth’s patterns of wind and weather.

Transgenic animals are also part of the agenda of giant biotech. The latest issue to arise in the U.S. is the pending introduction of transgenic salmon. In the short term, if you are buying salmon, you probably already know that Pacific salmon, wild-caught, remains the gold standard for nutritional value and relative freedom from pollutants. For now, the new Frankenfish proposal covers only so-called “Atlantic” salmon—essentially all of which is already farmed (including regular infusion of antibiotics and dyeing its gray flesh to resemble natural salmon), and arrives at your butcher or fishmonger offering less protein per pound, along with more of the wrong kinds of fat—i.e., not the omega-3s valued in fish oil. (Hint: Practically all canned salmon is wild-caught and immediately canned at sea.)

Already on the market, of course, are dairy products from cows treated with rBGH, recombinant bovine growth hormone (it’s the recombinant part that involves genetic tinkering). In several ways the introduction of this genetically engineered hormone encapsulates the dangers of GMOs and of runaway corporatism.

Recombinant BGH is a direct threat to human health, according to the European authorities who banned it, because it increases Insulin-like Growth Factor 1 (IGF-1) in milk, posing a cancer risk increase of up to sevenfold. Some of you will be familiar with use of IGF-1 for therapeutic purposes; without going deeper into endocrine chemistry than we are qualified to do, we’ll note that hormones are both powerful and wide in their reach, and the idea of introducing any hormonal modification into the general diet—particularly in this case as a matter of increasing yield and thus profit without regard to human health—is virtually impossible to justify by any scientific or ethical criterion. Other direct risks, including contamination of our gut flora, are detailed on Smith’s site.

Apart from direct threats, rBGH illustrates the kind of cascading effect such deep-level tinkering can have. The fiddled hormone makes cows lame and increases udder inflammation, which in turn invites infection—which are, of course, treated with increasing levels of antibiotics. It is a system practically designed to breed antibiotic- resistant bacteria. So what arrives in the store? Milk contaminated not only with the artificial hormone and elevated IGF-1, but with pus from dairy cattle’s attempts to fight infection, plus the residue of veterinary- and industrial-strength doses of antibiotics.

This massive, uncontrolled experiment on human health comes to you courtesy of a long tradition: American industries and the government agencies that supposedly regulate them are connected by a revolving door of careerism. In particular, Michael R. Taylor, former lawyer for and officer of one of the largest agri-giants, a global megacorporation that seeks to own the planet’s agriculture, manages to get periodically appointed to positions at the Food and Drug Administration—he’s back there now, overseeing food safety. During his tenure from 1991-1994 he quashed all scientific opposition to approving use of rBGH in the food supply.

Consumers and producers familiar with this history may not have much hope for protection from any protective agency, certainly not at the federal level. Information, however, may be available through local agricultural extension programs, which may or may not have bought into the federal-corporate agenda. Knowledge is probably your best ally in self-protection. We note also that both official and activist information sites on the web have been built with open-source tools. If there is a struggle or incursion going on in your area, you may be able to connect to or emulate online databases for other concerned citizens.

Sources and Resources

Non-GMO Shopping Guide is just what it says.

Mike Adams interviews Jeffrey Smith for Smith quickly and lucidly lays out the range of currently known dangers from GMOs.

Food activist John Robbins gives more detail on the particular risks of rBGH, with research references, and expands on the sordid political history of its approval.


© Copyright Off The Grid News


  1. There is a food safety bill which is up for a vote, and it was originally S510 food safe ty bill, but now if you go to which is a website that will send your voice to the Senators etc., the food safety bill is now S216 and what was originally the food safety bill under S510 is now something else. Basically, from what I am understanding about this bill, they are trying to establish so many laws and regulations, that at any time they can stop small people from selling their food at farmers markets, and even from giving their food to neighbors, and if they so choose, to even stop people from growing their own foods. Frankly this new legislation they are trying to set up is to pull the rug out from under the American people and force them to eat polluted foods and dna damaging vaccines, etc to go along with what is their “Agenda 21” which I hope you will have someone look up. These big multinational conglomerates need to be stopped, and especially Monsanto, because they have so much money, and with the economy as bad as it is, they are buying out seed companies and buying land to plant their polluted seed on, to destroy God, and what he’s created. Please let people know they can vote on and it will be sent to their Senator, if you want to. Thank you for all your constant awareness and warnings about what’s going on. Sincerely, Linda E.

    • This is horrendous. We all need to grow our own food as soon as we can and fight tooth and nail these kind of intrusians into our lives. That is population control like war is population control to not see that is to be blind also a way to control the sheeple!!

  2. Here’s one for ya:

    Q. Why hasn’t the government banned rBGH?
    A. rBGH is still used in the United States because government studies have not shown that rBGH is harmful to animals or humans. It is clearly stated on the Posilac label, however, that use of rBGH is associated with an increased frequency of use of medications in cows. A 1990 Committee on Governmental Operations charged that Food and Drug Administration studies have found no significant difference between milk from cows not treated with rBGH and milk from cows treated with rBGH. However, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Japan, and the EU have banned the use of rBGH.

  3. While you are planting all of your own food just remember to use a greenhouse with some kind of small micron filtration (not sure how small) to filter out all the pollen that may or may not be floating around from all these contaminated plants. Right now unless you live close to a large farm it may be overkill, but as these companies spread their contaminated plants everywhere it may become an issue

  4. We’re in trouble folks. The only,and I MEAN THE ONLY HOPE for this country are the Christian Conservative Constitutionalists. We MUST CLEAN HOUSE IN 2012. IF WE DON’T GET OBAMA, PELOSI, REID, SHUMMER, FRANK, AND THE REST OF THE SOCIALISTS OUT, (REPUB OR DEMS) THIS NEXT ELECTION… THIS COUNTRY IS FINISHED.

  5. Genetic Engineering

    Hey, the world’s a crazy place. The human creature is endowed with infinite cleverness and almost zip wisdom.

    Genetic engineering is the latest example of this. But unlike past manifestations of our cleverness, genetic engineering represents the first time in history where human decisions have the potential to change life on our planet forever.

    I see a pattern here.

    The pesticides and toxic waste we’ve created and continue to release into our life support system will take tens and potentially hundreds of generations to be rendered harmless to human and other life.

    With nuclear power, we’ve created and continue to release radioactive materials into our life support system that will take thousands if not hundreds of thousands of generations to become safe for unprotected human exposure.

    Now comes genetic engineering with potentially infinite consequences.

    Given our track record up to now, I don’t believe that the human family is yet conscious enough to be trusted with making potentially forever decisions.

    Especially considering some people are:

    •So insane for money and power that they are capable of doing anything to impose their agenda on the world.
    •So sure they are doing God’s will that they will do anything to impose their religious agenda on others.
    •So sure that their ideology is correct that they will do whatever they deem necessary to impose their worldview on the rest of us.
    And even when our motives are pure, intelligent, democratic, and totally dedicated to improving the common good, who among us has the wisdom to fully comprehend the ultimate consequences of releasing self-replicating organisms of human creation into our common environment, however noble our motives?

    I’m not saying that we should abandon our quest for knowledge in this or any other area.

    I’m insisting that for the sake of our youth and future generations, that wisdom and its partner humility should be foremost in our minds and hearts before we choose to unleash whatever our cleverness makes possible.

    The human family has lived at least 100,000 generations, each generation being 33 years (enough time for a human to reproduce and raise their child to adulthood). Our job is to ensure that we leave the next 100,000 generations with a healthy, happy, functional world.

  6. How do you know if a given piece of food you buy is GMO or not? Should we only buy organic to be on the safe side?

  7. Liz is correct with her comment. Organic foods are not safe from GMO cross pollinations. People think they are getting and pay out the extra $$$ for 100% Organic, but since 1970 there is no such thing. And when you go to your fridge to get a glass of milk for you or your child thinking it’s safe…watch the movie with Ron Howard called Bitter Harvest. The milk is tainted and always will be. They killed “his” cows in the movie, but there were others that were auctioned off, producing more cows with this toxin in their fat. People losing their hair, their minds, and science spending $$$$ trying to find out why…duh…just test the milk! Monsanto the developers of GMO’s, the toxins that were given to the cows, agent orange. I could go on and on. But I’ll leave it to whoever reads this to research Monsanto corporations. One farmer stated, Monsanto is more powerful than God….

  8. The Urban Gardener

    Smart consumers will grow their own food from non GMO seeds! Most of us live in an area where our growing season is too short to maximize the life span of the plants. I have 8 AeroGardens in my home, growing year round romaine and buttercrunch lettuces, kale, ruby heirloom tomatoes, sweet bell peppers, mega cherry toms that are 3 x the size of regular cherry tomatoes and just a bit smaller than romas, spinach, and many herbs.
    Hydroponic gardening is faster than soil based gardening and free of pests, diseases, and you use no pesticides. Growing plantw with advance hydroponics in an Aerogarden is even faster than with hydroponics! Abundant yields, simple and fool proof . . and your plants clean your indoor air while you enjoy the “happy light” of full spectrum grow lights inside.

    The rate at which your plants mature and the way they triple the harvest over putting those same plants in the ground makes it a no-brainer. In 16 days I was putting lettuce on my sandwich and at 21 days pulling off a salad. My tomato plants had their first green fruit in 8 weeks and I started them from seed. ANYONE can be successful with these space age devices, from a 4 year old to a 90 year old, no green thumb required. I’d be happy to help any OTG readers out with their order as I am now a distributor. We’re looking for distributors in other states so please check us out and see if this is something you resonate with!

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