In the May 2007 issue of Men’s Health, there is an article entitled “Guess who’s coming to dinner – should you give frankenfoods a chance?”. This article spends 6 pages basically extolling the virtues of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), without mentioning many negatives. The negatives that are mentioned, are done so with an explanation of why they might not really be negatives.
The tag line for Men’s Health is “The magazine men live by”, and unfortunately that is quite true for a lot of people. As Spiderman would tell you, with great power comes great responsibility. I am sorry to see Men’s Health presenting such an obviously biased article and thereby leading the man in the street astray.
The article is blatantly one-sided and full of untrue statements. I would love to just ignore it but I feel that it’s my duty to balance the story. I don’t have time to write the whole story of GMOs, it could fill several books (which are available, by the way). Instead I will take the statements they make and show that they are untrue as succinctly as possible.
Untruth #1: “Oft-repeated concerns surrounding these (GM) foods – increased risks of allergies and diseases like cancer – remain unproven”
The truth: There are many studies which show that GM foods cause anomalies which could lead to allergies and diseases. The most well known example is of Dr Arpad Pusztai. As a very distinguished and respected scientist in his field of experimental biology, he was awarded the grant to develop standards for testing GM foods for safety. These standards were to be used by Britain and possibly the entire EU. When his tests showed that rats which were fed GM potatoes, suffered numerous and serious problems, he was fired and placed under a gag order. It’s no surprise that scientists are afraid to find problems with GM foods.
Untruth #2: Genetic modification has been done for millennia.
The truth: There is a very big difference between creating hybrid plants by mixing two strains together and inserting the genes from a completely different organism. Organisms naturally adapt to their environment over time. So you will find drought resistant crops in certain areas. These develop naturally and any inappropriate mutations are weeded out naturally. To insert genes into an organism from a completely different organism is contrary to nature.
Untruth #3: “Regulatory compliance for a biotech crop is enormous”
The truth: In 1992, Vice President Dan Quayle announced the Bush administration’s new policy on GM food: “The reforms we announce today will speed up and simplify the process of bringing better agricultural products, developed through biotech, to consumers, food processors and farmers. We will ensure that biotech products will receive the same oversight as other products, instead of being hampered by unnecessary regulation.
The food would not have to undergo any special safety tests and would not have to be labeled as genetically modified. It would be treated just like normal food. Not much regulation there then.
Untruth #4: The article gives the impression that the process of inserting the genes into the organism has been perfected over time.
The truth: This process is highly random. The scientists have no control over what happens. The genes could be inserted at any point in the DNA helix, disturbing important balances. This can lead to all sorts of problems including cancer and allergies. Apart from this, they need to use ‘marker genes’ which could result in anti-biotic resistant bacteria in the gut. This could lead to a situation where taking anti-biotics won’t cure us.
Untruth #5: Crops engineered to be allergen free could save us from the ever-growing problem of allergies.
The truth: Soy allergies increased by 60% in the UK after the introduction of GM soy. It seems to me that GM soy is the problem, why do we need another type of GM soy to solve it? Let’s just go back the original unmodified version.
I could carry on, but I think you have the idea now. The article is basically a load of horse poop. The biotech corporations spend millions trying to disseminate this type of propaganda but it’s scary to see it in a ‘reputable’ magazine like Men’s Health. I will be sure to take all their other articles with a healthy dose of skepticism.
There a many interesting books and documentaries out there for those of you who are interested in learning more, here are some to get you started:
Seeds of Deception by Jeffrey M. Smith
Genetic Roulette by Jeffrey M. Smith (not in stock at Kalahari.net nor Exclusive Books – try Amazon.com)
Future of Food (Available from Safeage 021 447 8445 – read my review here)
Seeds of Change (Contact me if you are interested in this, I will send it to you)
For those who feel they would like to actually do something about this scourge of GMOs, check out the websites below. Safeage (Sa Freeze alliance on genetic engineering) are looking for support as they petition the government to label GM foods. Considering most surveys indicate that 70% of consumers would like GM products labeled, and 60% say they would not buy them, it looks like our rights are being abused. There is a lot of other useful info on the Safeage site. I have listed some additional sites too.