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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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U.S. No Longer An Actual Democracy- Princeton Study

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Princeton Study: U.S. No Longer An Actual Democracy

By Brendan James  April 18, 2014    TPM

A new study from Princeton spells bad news for American democracy—namely, that it no longer exists.

Asking “[w]ho really rules?” researchers Martin Gilens and Benjamin I. Page argue that over the past few decades America’s political system has slowly transformed from a democracy into an oligarchy, where wealthy elites wield most power.

Using data drawn from over 1,800 different policy initiatives from 1981 to 2002, the two conclude that rich, well-connected individuals on the political scene now steer the direction of the country, regardless of or even against the will of the majority of voters.

TPM Interview: Scholar Behind Viral ‘Oligarchy’ Study Tells You What It Means
“The central point that emerges from our research is that economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy,” they write, “while mass-based interest groups and average citizens have little or no independent influence.”

As one illustration, Gilens and Page compare the political preferences of Americans at the 50th income percentile to preferences of Americans at the 90th percentile as well as major lobbying or business groups. They find that the government—whether Republican or Democratic—more often follows the preferences of the latter group rather than the first.

The researches note that this is not a new development caused by, say, recent Supreme Court decisions allowing more money in politics, such as Citizens United or this month’s ruling on McCutcheon v. FEC. As the data stretching back to the 1980s suggests, this has been a long term trend, and is therefore harder for most people to perceive, let alone reverse.

“Ordinary citizens,” they write, “might often be observed to ‘win’ (that is, to get their preferred policy outcomes) even if they had no independent effect whatsoever on policy making, if elites (with whom they often agree) actually prevail.”

Glyphosate, the primary ingredient in Roundup, linked to epidemic diseases

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Stop Monsanto's Roundup Credo Action     In case you weren’t sure yet if the massive use of the herbicide glyphosate – the primary ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup – was cause for concern, here’s the sobering takeaway from an MIT senior researcher who just conducted a review of the stuff:

“I’m certain at this point that glyphosate is the most important factor in an alarming number of epidemic diseases.”1

The introduction of Roundup in 1973 has corresponded with a rise in conditions including celiac disease (gluten intolerance), autism, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, obesity, pancreatic cancer, thyroid cancer, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, Parkinson’s and others.2

And its use – along with the rates of many of these diseases – has gone stratospheric over the last 15 years, with the approval of Monsanto’s GMO “Roundup Ready” crops specifically engineered to tolerate massive exposure to glyphosate. Roundup is now used all over the world on staple crops like wheat and soy, and has become the most widely used herbicide in the US.

Despite these trends, the EPA and FDA still consider glyphosate to be relatively safe and harmless – based largely on unpublished, industry-produced studies. That position is looking increasingly dangerous, and possibly wrong.

Tell the EPA and FDA: Immediately suspend the use of Monsanto’s Roundup until it can be proven safe. Click here to  sign the petition.

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Walmart: Welfare Queen extraordinaire

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Table of tax breaks and subsidies used by Walmart and the Walton family to save $7.8 billion a year.

Americans for Tax Fairness
1726 M Street NW Suite 1100
Washington, D.C. 20036
www.AmericansForTaxFairness.org

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Resist the happily drifting handbasket! (Gradual fascism in an era of decline)

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Gradual fascism is an easy trick in an era of decline.  Don’t go there!

The New Democrats: The Coalition Pharma and Wall Street Love

a private weekend on Maryland’s Eastern Shore…. . lobbyists for large banks, pharmaceutical firms, insurance companies, and big-ticket trade groups. However, 28 were members of Congress, and 29 were legislative staffers, all part of a coalition of House Democrats

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Chris Hedges on the Liberal Class:The World Liberal Opportunists Made

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Jurassic Ballot: When Corporations Ruled the Earth By  Rebecca Solnit
They’ve invaded; they’ve infiltrated; they’ve conquered; and a lot of the most powerful people on Earth do their bidding, including five out of our nine Supreme Court justices

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Fool Me Twice? American multinationals have about $1 trillion in profits stashed abroad


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Understanding America’s Class System By Joe Bageant

the truth is that when we are looking at the political elite, we are looking at the dancing monkey, not the organ grinder who calls the tune.

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American Everyman on Cindy Sheehan’s Soapbox

dismissing the real left (what’s left of us) by the so-called left (the Vishy Dems).  Note: s/b Vichy- (those ever-practical French who caved to the Nazis)

Deficit Cutters – Here’s Your First Trillion

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By Dave Johnson June 14, 2010  OurFuture.org *** Updated below

Today the country is looking for ways to cut spending and borrowing. Yet military spending, the biggest spending item in the budget, is barely part of the discussion — obviously because of the amount of campaign and lobbying dollars it generates.

The corrupting influence of lobbying money is clear: the fact that the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991 has not yet penetrated the bubble around the country’s capital. In fact, military spending has soared in recent years:

Military_spending_chart
(Source http://www.usgovernmentspending.com/ Includes DOD, Veterans, Foreign military aid, Foreign economic aid. Does not include military share of debt interest.)

Because of this application of lobbying dollars our military spending vastly surpasses the amount spent by the rest of the world, and dominates our country’s budget:

Military_spending_chart
(Source http://www.dailykos.com/story/2008/4/6/175138/6287/942/491304)

Now a bipartisan commission is willing to take this on. Commission outlines ways to cut defense spending by $1T over the next decade,

The Sustainable Defense Task Force, a commission of scholars from a broad ideological spectrum appointed by Frank, the House Financial Services Committee chairman, laid out options the government could take that could save as much as $960 billion between 2011 and 2020.

Task force sees Pentagon cuts key to US budget fix,

U.S. lawmakers and watchdog groups on Friday called for a dramatic revamp of the defense budget to reverse widening U.S. deficits, including termination of the $382 billion Lockheed Martin Corp (LMT.N) F-35 fighter.

This should be a litmus test to determine the seriousness and honesty of any deficit cutters. Do they take on the big lobbying interests, or do they take it out on the poor and elderly. We’ll see. The record so far is not good.

***  See also:

The U.S. War Addiction: Funding Enemies to Maintain Trillion Dollar Racket

Four ways to see the true drivers of current wars around the world.

How Corrupted Drug Companies Deceive and Manipulate Your Doctor

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by Dr. Mercola | May 18 2010 | Mecola.com

Dr. Beatrice Golomb, Associate Professor of Medicine at University of California, San Diego, masterfully exposes the corruption that has metastasized like a tumor throughout the pharmaceutical and medical industries, in the video above.

If you have any doubt about drug companies being riddled with conflicts of interest, those doubts will be shattered after seeing the evidence she presents.

The corruption has become so prolific that it has literally debased medical science.

In the above linked Chicago Breaking News article, Dr. Paul Offit, an infectious disease specialist at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, is quoted as saying:

“Science is not a democracy where people’s votes decide what is right. Look at the data, look at science and make a decision based on science that has been published.”

What he is really advocating is for you to blindly believe in “facts” that may have been produced in the midst of MASSIVE conflicts of interest.

Before you assume the science in medical journals is credible, let’s take a look at what is going on behind the scenes of editing and publishing in medical science.

See full article for more on:

Bias #1: Unwanted Results are Not Published

Bias #2: Bad Results are Submitted as Good

Bias #3: A Favorable Study is Submitted Multiple Times

Bias #4: Follow-Up Reviews Done by Biased Experts

Bias #5: Ghostwriting

Bias #6: Journal Bias

Bias #7: Drug Companies Masquerading as Educators

Hell Hath No Fury (for whistleblowers)

“Too Big to Nail”