A Monsanto official told the New York Times that the corporation should not have to take responsibility for the safety of its food products. “Monsanto should not have to vouchsafe the safety of biotech food,” said Phil Angell, Monsanto’s director of corporate communications. “Our interest is in selling as much of it as possible. Assuring its safety is the FDA’s job,” Angell said. — Playing God In the Garden New York Times 10/25/98
The 10/25/1998, New York Times, printed an article, Potato-Playing God in the Garden, by Michael Pollan. This article explains that Monsanto has genetically engineered a potato (Labeled “New Leaf”) that is immune to insects that attack potatoes.
Monsanto has genetically engineered a naturally occurring pesticide into this new breed of potatoes. Thus the FDA, considers this potato a pesticide under present law, and this means that consumers do not have to be told that they are eating a pesticide. Monsanto sees genetic engineering as a way to get off “the pesticide treadmill” and to have environmentally safe agriculture. But this course has many pitfalls.
In past articles I have explained that prior to the large scale introduction of pesticides one third of all crops were lost to insects, weeds and bacteria. Today, the loses are exactly the same because insects, bacteria, and weeds multiply quickly and develop immunity to the pesticides.
This has led to more and more pesticides being used and continuously higher costs for agriculture.
The great tragedy is that humans (unlike insects) do not reproduce fast enough to develop immunity to the chemicals used in farming. We now know that many pesticides cause cancer after long-term exposures. Unfortunately, there has been no extensive testing about the long-range effects of consumption of this pesticide.
One of the Monsanto executives interviewed by Michael Pollan in response to questions about this issue said: “Trust Us.?!”
Monsanto, it must be remembered, was one of the manufacturers of “Agent Orange” which Monsanto considered safe to spray on civilians and soldiers during the Vietnam War.
Monsanto also produces other similar products: Roundup and rBGH. rBGH is used to increase milk production in cows. Monsanto wants us to “trust them” that this compound, too, is safe.
rBGH, when injected into cows, produces milk that contains rBGH. And when rBGH is consumed it becomes IGF-1 in the body. Recent scientific studies have shown that IGF-1 increases the risk of breast cancer and prostrate cancer.
Dr. Samuel S. Epstein at the University of Illinois in Chicago has criticized the FDA for doing nothing. In a paper published in the 1996 INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF HEALTH SERVICES (Vol. 26, No. 1), he wrote:
. . . . with the active complicity of the FDA, the entire nation is currently being subjected to an experiment involving large-scale adulteration of an age-old dietary staple by a poorly characterized and unlabeled biotechnology product [rBGH]. . . . Disturbingly, this experiment benefits only a very small segment of the agrichemical industry while providing no matching benefits to consumers. Even more disturbingly, it poses major potential public health risks for the entire U.S. population.”
The question is: will men and women who, in their youth, drank this milk get prostrate cancer or breast cancer at an earlier age? Is it worth the risk? Of course not!
Yet, Monsanto and other chemical companies are putting products on the market that are not independently tested for risks to human beings. It will only be after the “body count” that the government regulatory agencies will declare a disaster.
Monsanto, in its quest to capture the milk market, has even gone to court against dairies that label their milk as free from rBGH. According to Peter Montague, editor of Rachel’s Environmental Health Weekly:
(The) “FDA has sided with Monsanto in opposing labeling of milk produced by drug-treated cows, and has gone one step further. FDA opposes labeling of products that are free of rBGH. FDA has even threatened legal action against milk suppliers and grocers who label their milk as free from the rBGH drug. FDA continues there is “no significant difference “ between milk from rBGH-treated cows and milk from cows not treated, and thus, a label saying “rBGH-free “ would imply a difference that did not exist, and this would constitute false labeling.
“Monsanto has filed two lawsuits against milk processors who labeled their product as free of rBGH and has mailed warnings to others who might be tempted to label their milk as rBGH-free.  The FDA’s position on labeling was developed under the direction of Michael R. Taylor, a lawyer who joined FDA in 1991 after almost a decade as a partner in the law firm that Monsanto hired to gain FDA approval of rBGH and that last month brought Monsanto’s lawsuits against milk producers who labeled their products rBGH-free.”
Montague also pointed out: “In the fall of 1996, award-winning reporters Steve Wilson and Jane Are were hired by WTVT in Tampa to produce a series on rBGH in Florida milk. After more than a year’s work on the rBGH series, and three days before the series was scheduled to air starting February 24, 1997, Fox TV executives received the first of two letters from lawyers representing Monsanto saying that Monsanto would suffer ‘enormous damage’ if the series ran. WTVT had been advertising the series aggressively, but canceled it at the last moment. Monsanto’s second letter warned of ‘dire consequences’ for Fox if the series aired as it stood.” When these two Emmy award winners, refused to change their reports-they were forced to leave the TV station and have since filed a lawsuit. The story was aired, but all mention about harmful effects such as cancer were deleted from the story.
In the past year, Monsanto wrote a threatening letter to Vital Health Publishing in Bloomingdale, Illinois over the proposed publication of AGAINST THE GRAIN, a book by Marc Lappé and Britt Bailey. Monsanto said the new book would libel its best-selling product, the herbicide Roundup (glyphosate).
Like rBGH, Roundup, becomes part of the products that humans consume. We do know that this pesticide causes eye injuries in farm workers, that some tests by Monsanto raise the possibility that it can cause cancer.
Once again, Monsanto is the only company that has tested this product. Monsanto and the government regulatory agencies are playing Russian Roulette with our future.
Recently, The Ecologist, a world-renowned environmental magazine for the past 25 years, wrote an in depth study of Monsanto and its genetic engineering. But the magazine’s printing company, fearing a lawsuit, turned all of the copies that it had printed into pulp before they could be distributed.
The human tragedy is that Monsanto and other large capitalist enterprises are unregulated by government. They will do anything for profit, including large-scale murder of people that consume their products.
(rBGH milk is milk produced by cows treated with injections of genetically engineered = recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH) also called rBST.)
This week’s New England Journal of Medicine (April 27, 2000, Vol. 342, No. 17) is more proof of biotechnology’s failure.
I have written about this story many times, but publication in a peer-reviewed journal now confirms what I have been saying for many years. This message bears repeating.
In 1989, Monsanto was aware that cows in test herds treated with the genetically engineered bovine growth hormone developed sores and lesions on their udders that were collectively called mastitis. Milk from rbST-treated cows contained increased levels of pus, blood, and virulent bacteria.
In order to deal with the problem, Monsanto’s top dairy scientist, Margaret Miller, left the firm and became FDA’s Monsanto “plant.” Once at FDA, Dr. Miller arbitrarily changed the existing antibiotic standard. She increased by 100 times the allowable level of antibiotics that farmers could put into milk.
The consequences of her action were that new strains of bacteria developed in dairy cows that were immune to existing antibiotics, which no longer worked when they were needed. People drank milk containing increased amounts of antibiotics and new species of bacteria with immunities to those antimicrobials.
The latest issue of the New England Journal of Medicine contains a study by Paul Fey, et al, confirming the emergence of a new strain of salmonella that was isolated from a 12-year-old boy who was admitted into a hospital with fever, abdominal pain, and diarrhea.
That salmonella strain is resistant to a new wonder drug, Ceftriaxone, which has also been used on dairy cows. We wonder why few scientists have previously noted why wonder drugs are no longer so wonderful.
Sophisticated methods of plasmid analysis were performed on the bacteria obtained from the child and from the cattle, and they were found to be indistinguishable. In addition to the resistance to Ceftriaxone, the bacteria had developed resistance to thirteen other antibiotics.
The study raises extreme health concerns, and provides evidence that disease is directly related to antibiotic-resistant strains of salmonella that have resulted from overdosed farm animals. Such errors do not develop in the natural scheme of things. This error is a direct result of Monsanto’s genetically engineered bovine growth hormone.
How much more evidence must FDA and Congress examine before government regulators once again show concern for the health and safety of the American people?