Genetic Engineering : When Science Becomes a Menacebibliotecapleyades.net
This article first appeared in Third World Resurgence magazine
from NewAge Website
recovered through WayBackMachine Website
Biotechnology’s benefits continue to be heavily advertised. Its risks are too little discussed.
Yet, unknown to many, the dangers of genetic engineering have already surfaced. Here are some comments on the kinds of problems that have arisen, showing that the results of bio-engineering are unpredictable and often dangerous.
US scientists have transplanted the entire AIDS virus genome into laboratory mice. In February 1990, scientists reported the potential creation of a "SUPERAIDS’ virus as the AIDS virus combined with native retroviruses in the mice. One scientist stated that the new virus might be capable of airborne transmission.
L-tryptophan is a natural product sold for decades at health food stores to treat insomnia and depression. It was always safe for consumption. However, a Japanese firm began to genetically engineer the product. When it reached the market, dozens died and hundreds were made seriously ill by consuming the genetically altered version of L-tryptophan.
Insulin is the first commercial product of genetic engineering. However, some British users of the genetically engineered Insulin have collapsed unconscious. No fewer than 500 diabetics filed a class action suit against Eli Lilly.
Thousands of children in the United States today use human growth hormone produced through biotechnology. However, children are unnecessarily exposing themselves to serious health problems. The growth hormone may not only be expensive and ineffective, children may be predisposing themselves to ill health. The use of biotech-derived human growth hormone is linked with leukemia and melanoma.
Bovine growth hormone (BGH) produced through biotechnology can increase the milk yields of cows by 5 to 20%. Yet the European Economic Community and the United States recently imposed a 7 1/2 year moratorium on BGH. Policy-makers were worried that the large-scale use of BGH would wipe out small farms and restructure the dairy industry. BGH use has also resulted in the increased incidence of mastitis in cows.
US government scientists engineered human growth genes into permanent genetic code of pigs - hoping to create a ’super pig’ far larger than normal. Instead of becoming larger, a pig was born arthritic, bow-legged, and cross-eyed. Each year tens of thousands of transgenic animals are being created, many engineered to contain human genes.
Carp, catfish, trout and salmon have been engineered with a number of genes from humans, cattle and rats to increase their growth and reproduction. If released into the environment the novel mutant fish could mate with native species, polluting the gene pool of native species quickly and permanently.
Wishtar Institute of Pennsylvania could not get a permit to test its biotech-created pseudo-rabies vaccine in the United States. Instead, unknown to both the US and Argentinean government, it tested its vaccine in Argentina. The biotech vaccine resulted in ill health in animals and also infected some of the personnel involved in the experiment. The Argentinean government closed down the experiment.
This incomplete list of unpredictable, negative impacts of biotechnology clearly shows that proponents of biotechnology cannot assure the safety of their products. The potential for large damages is one reason why in the United States the insurance companies, which are normally the best gauge of technology risk, have refused to grant insurance cover for biotech related activities. Biotechnology is not going to be a new panacea that will confer untold blessings to humanity.
Given its current track record, biotechnology can potentially be a nightmare.
Genetically Engineered Food
A Serious Health Risk
Genetically Engineered Foods containing genes derived from animals, fish, insect and bacteria are soon to appear in the shops. The genetic changes now being made to our food are completely different to those resulting from traditional methods of breeding.
Yet the sale of these foods is to be permitted without proper assessment of the risks and without adequately informing the public even though many scientists say that genetically modified foods could cause serious damage to health and the environment.
What is genetic engineering?
Genes are the blueprints for every part of an organism. Genetic engineering is the process of modifying this information, particularly by artificially transferring the genes specific to one type of organism into another.
Why do it?
Scientists want to transfer desirable qualities form one organism to another, for example, to make a crop resistant to a herbicide or to enhance flavour in foods.
Is it necessary?
At first sight it may seem appealing. However, close examination of the issues gives a different picture. We should by now be alert to the dangers of interfering with nature. We already have to feed the world’s population economically without the risks posed by genetic engineering. Commercial and political motives are taking precedence with little regard to the possible dangers.
What are the dangers?
Those identified so far include:
What is the position now?
Genetically modified foods available, or about to appear, in UK shops and here include tomatoes, yeast, corn and soya beans (which is used in many processed foods such as bread, pasta, confectionery, ice cream, pies, biscuits, margarine, meat products and vegetarian meat substitutes). Genetically modified organisms are also used to produce cheeses and grape seed oil. But this is just the beginning. In a few years it may be almost impossible to find natural food.
The food industry and government appear to be complacent. They assume that these new foods are not substantially different to existing food and pose no special risks. But this assumption is wrong and dangerous. The radical changes being made by biotechnologists could not happen in nature, and have already caused toxic side-effects. Currently a minimal degree of safety testing is required for some foods, and none at all for others. In no case is testing required on the long term impact on health.
Most genetically modified foods will not be labeled. Under present regulations manufacturers are already introducing genetically modified ingredients into some processed foods, without informing consumers. The government is ignoring the wishes of the public. A survey by the Consumers Association found that 93% of consumers want clear labeling of all such foods.
We must act before it is too late!
Genetically engineered foods are being introduced without regard for health, yet many damaging effects will be irreversible.
What is needed!
It is quite clear even from existing research that a ban on genetically engineered foods and a moratorium on the release of all genetically modified organisms is essential to protect health. In the meantime, labelling should be required for all foods which contain any genetically modified ingredients, even if it is only one, or where genetically modified organisms have been used in the production of the food.
Full disclosure labeling will allow consumers to choose what they eat. It will also help scientists trace the source of health problems arising from these foods.
What you can do.
Write to your MP and your supermarkets, the press and consumer groups, expressing your concern and enclosing this article.
Write to The Food Liaison Officer of the Australian & New Zealand Food Authority, PO Box 7186, ACT 2610.
Sign our petition. Make copies of this sheet for friends, family, colleagues, students, trade unions, clubs and societies. Alert everyone to the dangers.
Genetic Engineering poses the greatest danger of any technology yet introduced.
Safety testing will never be adequate because organisms once introduced can never be recalled from the environment and their effects will spread without limit. If action is not taken now, virtually everyone in the world will soon be eating genetically engineered foods and will be at risk.
For further information and solutions read:
’Genetic Engineering: The Hazards. Vedic Engineering: The Solutions’ by John Fagan PhD - an award winning geneticist who returned his government grants and began new research in Maharishi’s Vedic Science. To order phone (02) 9977 5066.
Campaign to ban genetically engineered food:
To support this campaign, or for bulk orders of this article in leaflet form, please contact:
The Natural Law Party
68 Wood Street, Manly, NSW 2096
Ph: (02) 9977 5066
Fax: (02) 9977 0204
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