by Patryk Battle
Steven M Drucker has authored an incredibly important book. Jane Goodall says it’s “one of the most important books of the last 50 years” and is deserving of a Nobel Prize. Another reviewer compares its capacity to drive change in public policy to the impact of Ralph Nader’s book Unsafe at Any Speed and Rachel Carlson’s Silent Spring. In Altered Genes Twisted Truth Mr. Druker thoroughly documents (with over 80 pages of highly detailed footnotes) that there has never been consensus within the scientific community as to the safety GE foods. He also shows how the promoters of GE foods have systematically suppressed evidence and distorted the truth to promote them, and that the entire GE foods venture’s viability depends on this deception. Indeed, the FDA suppressed extensive warnings from its own scientists, lied about the facts and is in violation of food safety law with regards to GMOs. All of that is in the first of fourteen chapters! Other chapters document the lethal effect of the first ingestable GE product: tryptophan, how scientists who exposed the dangers GMOs have had their careers damaged and their research fallaciously discredited, and so much more. Fortunately, we also learn that a 4-year massive study involving the UN the World Bank and 400 experts from 80 countries determined that it is going to take fundamentally redirecting agricultural modes of production to be more environmentally sustainable and socially just in order to “feed the world”– not GMOs.
Yet Steven’s remarkable exposé has yet to have the impact That Rachel Carson’s and Ralph Nader’s books had. Perhaps this is because although our government’s regulatory agencies failed to regulate the industries responsible for the problems exposed by their books, the government was not actively promoting unsafe cars and toxic pesticides. Early in its first term, The Ronald Reagan administration decided that GMOs and other high-tech industries were the solution to repairing the American economy. To that end it directed government scientists to not act on their serious concerns– making it clear that careers would suffer if they did. Our government also paid scientists to write forwards and afterwards to the proceedings of the early scientific gatherings which addressed what the potential issues of genetic modification might be. These forwards and afterwards claimed results from the proceedings that were the opposite of what actually came out of these proceedings. Invariably much caution and serious scientific investigation of potential side effects and consequences were the recommendations of these early proceedings.
This deliberate suppression and distortion of much of the scientific community’s early expression of serious concerns about GMOs and misrepresentation of their calls to proceed with great caution with regards to the introduction GMOs into our environment and our food supply was greatly aided by leading geneticists, molecular biologists and biochemists. Many of these scientists already had a financial stake in venture capital supported corporate applications of genetic engineering technology. Also, most of them shared a disdain for environmental science and its necessitated consideration of the complexity and interdependence of all life. The final piece in this perfect storm of what became mythology of benign GMO technology was the failure of the American press. Literally, European reporters would read American reports on the early conferences and incredulously ask their American colleagues if they had read the middle of the reports along with the forwards and afterwards! At the same time, the minority of responsible reporters had their reports suppressed or distorted by their editors or publishers. All of the broadcast networks, including PBS and NPR, submitted briefs in support of Fox News when it was defending itself in a lawsuit brought by whistleblowers Jane Acer and Steve Wilson. Fox News’ defense in this case was that there was no law that said that they had to tell the truth in their news reports. Fox lost before a jury but their deep pockets wore Jane and Steve out on appeal. Of course the rest of the broadcast media join Fox News and the preponderance of newspapers and magazines and lumping GMO critics with 911 truthers and “anti-vaxxers”.
Meanwhile, insect populations are crashing, people are becoming increasingly allergic to common foods, ever-increasing amounts of herbicides are being used, including older more toxic ones, as farmers struggle with super weeds that have become resistant to herbicides. Most of these outcomes cannot be definitively tied to GMOs, as far as reductionist science is concerned. This is because it would take the kind of science that was employed to finally document the carcinogenicity of cigarette smoking. But of course our government refuses to even begin to look at these issues let alone fund comprehensive studies.
So, it is up to us. We need to listen to Steven and read his book and begin to take seriously the defense of our food supply and our environment.
Each GMO introduced into our environment is permanently there. There is no taking them back. And none of them have been seriously evaluated with regards to environmental impacts.
The good news is that the UN, the World Bank and 80 nations are right. And we are proving it every day. We can replace herbicide dependent farming with the use of highly productive multi species cover crops that are terminated and planted into by means of no till technology. The resultant residues from these cover can have similar effect as far as weeds suppression goes. Serendipitously, as these residues decompose they we will obviate the need for most supplemental fertilizing. BT crops such as corn and cotton can be protected with the biological diversity engendered by farmscaping. The never realized myth of Golden Rice need alarm no one with its abject failure. David Kennedy, in his amazing book 21st-Century Greens provides many answers to the issue of adequate vitamin A. Indeed an impressive number of these solutions are the leaves of other crops, weeds and perennial edge shrubs and trees. The fancy term for some of these solutions is Permaculture! Hopefully you will come hear Steven speak, Tuesday October 9th at UNCA (Robinson Building Room 125) buy and read his book and actively join the resistance to the government/corporate juggernaut that is hell-bent on breaking nature.