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Genetically Modifying Genes and Scientific Evidence

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Altered
Genes, Twisted Truth, by Steven M. Druker

Institute of Science in Society    June 22, 2015

Review of Altered Genes, Twisted Truth, by Steven M. Druker,  Clear River Press, Salt Lake City UT, 2015. ISBN 978-0-9856169-1-5 (hardcover), 978-0-9856169-0-8 (softcover).

Prof Peter Saunders

According to the advocates of genetic engineering, GMOs have been proven by countless rigorous trials to be safe, no humans or even animals have ever been harmed by them, genetic modification is no different from the natural and artificial breeding that has been going on for millennia, it has produced crops with all sorts of desirable properties such as drought resistance, we cannot hope to feed the world without it, and so on.

These statements are all false. And in Altered Genes, Twisted Truth, Steven Druker, a lawyer, shows them to be false exactly as if he were in a courtroom. He has collected a vast amount of documentary evidence: scientific papers and also internal reports and memos. He has interviewed many of the people who were involved and he explains the science so that lay readers can follow the arguments.

The book is a surprisingly good read, considering how long it is and the amount of detail it contains, but it is also a valuable reference text. When the GMO lobby confidently state that genetic engineering is the same as ordinary breeding, this is where you can learn why it is not. When they describe the work of Arpad Pusztai or of Gilles-Eric Séralini as ‘discredited’, you can find out what actually happened, and why neither result has ever been properly challenged, let alone refuted.

It’s not just a matter of one person’s word against another. Unlike the GM lobby, Druker presents solid evidence for what he claims. It’s there in detail and it is fully referenced; you are welcome to check it for yourself.

To give you a flavour of the book, here are brief outlines of two of the early chapters, one on Asilomar and one on tryptophan. Both stories are very important in the history of genetic engineering, but they are seldom mentioned today. When they are, the usual spin is that a few scientists raised their concerns at a meeting but soon accepted that these were unwarranted, and that the tryptophan incident had nothing to do with GM. In both cases, the truth is quite different.

Asilomar

Forty years ago, when transferring genes from one organism to another was first becoming a standard research technique, scientists naturally began to worry about its potential hazards. The US National Academy of Sciences (NAS) appointed a commission to look into the issues, and this led to a letter to the journal Science [1] and then, in February 1975, a meeting of over a hundred scientists at the Asilomar Conference Center in Monterey, California. The outcome was a statement [2] with a list of safety guidelines, including the requirement that research should be carried out using only disabled bacteria that could not survive outside the laboratory. Just the sort of thing you would expect when there is a possibility of danger. Chemists, after all, work in specially designed laboratories, not out in the open, and they have to make special arrangements to dispose of the waste from their experiments; they are not allowed to pour it down the sink and into the public sewers.

The Asilomar guidelines were, however, soon abandoned. They are seldom mentioned today, and if you have heard of them at all you’ve probably been told that while they were an understandable reaction to a new technology, they were soon shown to be unnecessary because it was conclusively demonstrated that the techniques pose no significant hazards.

Druker, who has looked carefully through the published records and interviewed many of those who were around at the time, tells a very different story. One of his key points is that the claim that genetic engineering was safe was largely based on research involving only one bacterium, E. coli K-12. But K-12 had been used in laboratories for many years and was relatively weak, i.e. it would be unlikely to survive outside the laboratory. So while the release of a genetically modified K-12 into the environment might not be dangerous, that would be reassuring only if all future research were confined to K-12. Even then, there would remain the risk that the transferred gene would pass into another, stronger organism.

Yet molecular biologists used, and continue to use, this evidence to justify their claim that genetic engineering involves no special risks and that GM organisms require no more testing than those that have been conventionally bred; they are, in the words of the US Food Additive Amendment of 1958, “generally recognized as safe” (GRAS) and consequently exempted from testing.

It’s easy to understand why so many molecular biologists, rushing to push ahead in what they saw as an important and exciting new area, allowed their enthusiasm to cloud their judgement. They could also see the prospect of turning their research into profit, and that made them even less anxious to think about the dangers. Crucially, they managed to convince the Reagan administration that there was money to be made and jobs to be created and that the US must not be left behind. That, combined with the Reagan-Thatcher policy of relaxing all regulation – in banks as well as in molecular biology – made support for genetic engineering a part of government policy. The US government has consistently backed the GM industry and has used its strength to pressure other countries into accepting GM crops. The Asilomar guidelines and the concerns that led to them have been totally forgotten.

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Why the Dems are as bad/worse than the GOP

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In our rush to defend them, we compromise any chance of living with integrity.  It’s a major sign of the times that this obvious fact matters so little to most people.  I spent a number of years in the streets confronting illegitimate authority- when I was much younger and had more to lose.  And now when the stakes are even higher, the preponderant vibe is malaise.

Meanwhile in our current wars, “official” figures acknowledge 4427 military deaths (32,900 wounded) in Iraq and 1385 dead in Afghanistan– all supposedly for “freedom” we no longer care about.  Here again one of my favorite Founder’s quotes:

“If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude than the animated contest of freedom, go from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains sit lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that you were our countrymen!”

Samuel Adams

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The World as He Finds It – Paul Krugman

“Right at the beginning of his administration, what Mr. Obama needed to do, above all, was fight for an economic plan commensurate with the scale of the crisis. Instead, he negotiated with himself before he ever got around to negotiating with Congress, proposing a plan that was clearly, grossly inadequate — then allowed that plan to be scaled back even further without protest. And the failure to act forcefully on the economy, more than anything else, accounts for the midterm “shellacking.” Even given the economy’s troubles, however, the administration’s efforts to limit the political damage were amazingly weak. There were no catchy slogans, no clear statements of principle; the administration’s political messaging was not so much ineffective as invisible.”

US government offers Israel $3 billion weapons deal in exchange for 3-month settlement freeze

In exchange for the temporary, partial moratorium on construction, the Israeli military would receive a gift of 20 F35 fighter jets, worth $3 billion, from the US. The US-made jets that Israel already has have been used for aerial bombardment of Palestinian civilian areas in violation of international law, and to drop missiles on Palestinians that Israel claims are ‘wanted’ for crimes against Israelis – but instead of being tried and convicted, they are extrajudicially assassinated by missiles, in violation of international law. The US government also promised Israel that after the 90-day moratorium, they would not seek an extension, and settlement construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem (all of which is illegal under international law) could continue unabated.

Democrats and the rule of law – Glenn Greenwald

If it were true — as most Obama defenders argued — that giving civilian trials to accused Terrorists is not merely a good option, but required by the Constitution, the rule of law, and our values, then isn’t it logically and necessarily true that Obama’s refusal to grant such trials constitutes a violation of our Constitution, our rule of law and our values? And if so, doesn’t this require rather severe condemnation from the same people who defended civilian trials as necessary under our system of government? After all, if the President is violating our Constitution, the rule of law, and our values, isn’t that cause for some rather serious protest and denunciation, no matter his motives?

Scrambled Eggs: Report Spotlights “Systemic” Abuses in Organic Egg Production

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Family Farmers Face Unfair Competition from “Organic” Factory Farms
The Cornucopia Institute, Sept 26, 2010

CORNUCOPIA, WI – An independent report has been released that focuses on widespread abuses in organic egg production, primarily by large industrial agribusinesses. The study profiles the exemplary management practices employed by many family-scale organic farmers engaged in egg production, while spotlighting abuses at so-called factory farms, some confining hundreds of thousands of chickens in industrial facilities, and representing these eggs to consumers as “organic.”

The report will be formally presented to the U.S. Department of Agriculture at the October meeting of the National Organic Standards Board in Madison, Wisconsin.

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5 Key Principles that Unite Populist Progressives and Tea-Party Libertarians

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The Republicrats agree on perpetual war, playing monopoly with other people’s money, Big Brother surveillance, crony capitalism, and hit-and-run resource extraction.

October 7, 2010    Human World Order     Activist Post

The establishment must do everything it can to suppress unity among the growing herd of angry citizens. However, victory for the people is within our grasp.  In a dangerous scenario for the establishment, populists from the left and the right are increasingly finding common ground.  A recent Mother Jones article titled “Tea Party or Pot Party?” revealed to progressives that they can actually agree with Tea Party libertarians on issues such as legalizing marijuana.  With an honest look at each other’s principles we may find that what unites Populists is far more powerful than what divides us.

First, we must be cognizant that the establishment seeks to divide us by using such vile tactics as labeling progressives as “evil communists” and the Tea Party libertarians as “racists.”  Naturally, old-school civil rights liberals hate racists, and free-market conservative purists hate communists. Can we not see that the establishment knows precisely what buttons to push to keep us from uniting?  These false labels are irrelevant in our current struggle with a tyrannical Corporate State.

It is clear that we the people are all suffering in similar ways under the current system. We grasp for someone to blame for this manufactured suffering, and the establishment is all too eager to provide a culprit to misdirect our anger.  Progressives have been conditioned to blame big evil corporations, while conservatives have been conditioned to blame big evil government. But now, both are finally realizing that corporate cartels and the government have merged into a most evil monster that cares not for them, or the health of America for that matter.  Even Michael Moore is waking up to the fact that Obama is a mere puppet of the corporate masters.

The people have been fooled and divided for long enough.  Now, we must go beyond phony labels that the establishment has carefully crafted for us, and join our fellow populists to unite around our common human principles.

Here are five co-dependent principles that unite populist progressives and tea party libertarians: Read the rest of this entry »

Pick your poison

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surprise

a trio of stories about betrayal of the public trust: 

Obama’s trail of broken promises
The prophet of hope now doesn’t even bother with explanations when he reneges on his campaign pledges.
By David Sirota

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Obama nominee withdrawing over interrogations
 
President Obama has, reportedly, lost another high-level nominee. The latest to go is Philip Mudd, who was tapped to be under secretary of intelligence and analysis at the Department of Homeland Security.

During the Bush administration, Mudd had served for a time as deputy director of the Office of Terrorism Analysis at the CIA. According to the Associated Press, in that position, he had direct knowledge of the administration’s interrogation program………..>>

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Glenn Greenwald       

Are House Democrats about to block Obama’s new secrecy law?

………….For more on why this new secrecy law is so dangerous, see my post here; even The Washington Post Editorial Page excoriated the amendment and Obama’s support for it…..>>

Written by laudyms

June 6, 2009 at 4:57 pm

Posted in Liberty, Politics

Tagged with , ,