An ecosystem, you can always intervene and change something in it, but there’s no way of knowing what all the downstream effects will be or how it might affect the environment. We have such a miserably poor understanding of how the organism develops from its DNA that I would be surprised if we don’t get one rude shock after another.
— Professor Richard Lewontin, Professor of Genetics, Harvard University, speaking of genetically engineering nature!
So, the article on genetically altered food, or SOYA, posted for less than 24 hours and I received quite a lot of hate mail, but some smart mail, which will follow. I posted the link to my DV piece (see “Soy Mafia and GMO Assassins Aided and Abetted by Scientific American“) on the comments sections of Scientific American and Alternet (dot) org, as a way to reach out and promote DV as something a bit more than a clearing house of middle of the road thinkers and re-posted mainstream-ish writing by the vanguard who have ivy sap dripping from their veins or possess some East Coast sensibility that the world revolves around K-Street, Madison Avenue and NYC and everything and everybody else and their opinions, well, just don’t rank high or count at all.
It’s a minor miracle of the internet, in nano-time, what we might get as cogent, and collectively strong additions to my sometimes lumbering pieces. I’ve been a journalist and communications instructor – oh, English, writing, lit, reporting – for decades, and I understand the lay of the land is imploding, sort of the melting of the ice caps, sucking up the oxygen from normality, and the New Normal is a world without thinkers … or one of tinkers. DNA tinkers, chemical creators, land razers, ecosystem eviscerators, and recombinant recruits. A world where Bezos-Dell-Zuckerberg-GulagGoogle rule, and the concept of human-to-human real-time agency and interaction are a joking memory-about-to-be-erased thing of the past, thank-you very much Skype, Massively Open On-Line Globe of a Brave New World of Work-Play-Education Digital Big Bro’.
Okay, back to the future: the article on taking Scientific American to task for imploding any ethical or philosophical consideration around why allowing a few mean thug corporations and their inhumane workers called scientists-technologists-propagandists to control the planet’s food system through manipulation of plant gene with bacteria gene, or fish gene with vegetable gene, or whatever the Future of Food imagination they dream at night in-on-under their One Percenter Gated-Guarded-Gargantuan Compounds.
Future of Food trailer –
Our battles go way back beyond the United Food Company, but now, with a few controlling our food distribution, and a fewer still controlling seeds, soil and sowing, we are cooked. These people, with the glean of Melinda Gates and Bill, with the pudgy smile of Hilary and Bill Clinton over at Walmart, with Michele and Barack and their gang of Chosen One Percenters, they are worse than Del Monte, or the fruit lobby of fire and bombs in Latin America:
The United Fruit Co.
When the trumpet sounded, it was
all prepared on the earth,
the Jehovah parceled out the earth
to Coca Cola, Inc., Anaconda,
Ford Motors, and other entities:
The Fruit Company, Inc.
reserved for itself the most succulent,
the central coast of my own land,
the delicate waist of America.
It rechristened its territories
as the ’Banana Republics’
and over the sleeping dead,
over the restless heroes
who brought about the greatness, the liberty and the flags,
it established the comic opera:
abolished the independencies,
presented crowns of Caesar,
unsheathed envy, attracted
the dictatorship of the flies,
Trujillo flies, Tacho flies,
Carias flies, Martines flies,
Ubico flies, damp flies
of modest blood and marmalade,
drunken flies who zoom
over the ordinary graves,
circus flies, wise flies
well trained in tyranny.
Among the blood-thirsty flies
the Fruit Company lands its ships,
taking off the coffee and the fruit;
the treasure of our submerged
territories flow as though
on plates into the ships.
Meanwhile Indians are falling
into the sugared chasms
of the harbors, wrapped
for burials in the mist of the dawn:
a body rolls, a thing
that has no name, a fallen cipher,
a cluster of the dead fruit
thrown down on the dump.
Okay-okay, no more waxing poetic. Here, the Soy-Soya Assassin piece prompted two righteous emails, and they go as follows – one tied to the next un-free trade agreement, TPP, Trans Pacific Partnership (err, mafia, continuing criminal enterprise, lobby, cabal). Read:
Just wanted to send you links from the EU/UK. Just read your article and comment regarding free trade (TPP). Thank you.
“Unraveling the spin: a guide to corporate rights in the EU-US trade deal” **
Avaaz petition at very bottom of link —
We call on you to protect your citizens by vetoing this free trade agreement and to encourage small and local enterprise, local economies are essential to the well being of any country, after all without local employment who can afford to buy, to invest, to donate or to pay taxes? We call on you to protect workers by vetoing this free trade agreement and to encourage responsible management of personnel and fair employment. Standards in employment create a level playing field, where employees are treated fairly without one business being able to undercut another. We call on you to protect the environment by vetoing this free trade agreement and to encourage responsible management of the earths resources and respect for the rich bounty that nature endowed us with. Our current model is far from sustainable, we need to put limits on our consumption of natural resources and reduce the pressure on earths ecosystems if we want our civilisation to be enduring. **
The proposed deal is being closely followed by public interest groups concerned that the deal will open the floodgate to GMOs and shale gas (fracking) into Europe, threatens digital and labour rights and will empower corporations to legally challenge a wide range of regulations which they dislike. With all this and more at stake, Corporate Europe Observatory wanted to find out who sat on the group which recommended negotiations. Under EU access to information rules, on 4 March 2013, we requested the “full membership list of the High Level Working Group on Jobs and Growth”. In fact, we had to make numerous requests.
I have highlighted fracking because it’s all kicking off here in the UK on fracking. Public feeling is strong.
Major incompetency in Government and in UK’s Environment Agency. **
Transnational Institute — Corporate Bill of Rights!
This briefing analyses leaked proposals for so-called investor-state dispute settlement under the proposed EU-US deal and reveals a determined lobby campaign from industry lobby groups and law firms to grant unprecedented rights to corporations to sue governments for legislation and regulations that interfere with their profits.
Such far-reaching investor rights would bring a corporate litigation boom – that has so far mainly affected developing countries – to the US and Europe. Investor-state disputes have risen thirteen-fold from 38 cases in 1996 to 514 cases in 2012, often involving millions of dollars and regularly undermining democratic policies. In both Uruguay and Australia, US-based tobacco giant Philip Morris has sued over health warnings on cigarette packets; Swedish energy multinational Vattenfall is seeking $3.7bn from Germany following a democratic decision to phase out nuclear energy; and US-company Lone Pine is suing Canada for US$250 million over a moratorium on controversial shale gas extraction (fracking) in Quebec.
Spotted Brunei in the following:
“Something is looming in the shadows that could help erode our basic rights and contaminate our food. The Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) has the potential to become the biggest regional Free Trade Agreement in history, both in economic size and the ability to quietly add more countries in addition to those originally included. As of 2011 its 11 countries accounted for 30 percent of the world’s agricultural exports. Those countries are the US, Australia, Brunei, Chile, Canada, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Viet Nam. Recently, Japan has joined the negotiations.
Which is interesting because……. will have to search for link :-)
P.S. Hope to send another email on uranium, the OECD and the bioeconmy and nanotechnology
And, alas, another comment, and thanks for weighing in and for going to Alternet!
To Paul Haeder:
I just posted this at Alternet, in response to pablosharkman commenting on “13 Lies GMO Labeling Opponents Are Pushing to Keep People in the Dark” by Zack Kaldveer, with a link to this article here.
The reason the Scientific American editors gave for not labeling GMO foods is that when this labeling was introduced in Europe, people did not buy the foods so labeled, and the manufacturers eliminated the GMO ingredients. This is why the Scientific American editors feel it is better to keep people in the dark so that the GMO industry can continue to do its thing behind the back of the consumers who become unwitting guinea pigs for the corporate masters. This is not an isolated
incident but there is a parallel trend now in medical research to do away with the cornerstone of medical ethics which had been until recently the requirement for informed consent of the research subjects.
Several recent medical experiments on restricting oxygen breathing help for premature babies were done without telling the parents anything about the known added risks because the researchers knew no parent could have agreed. Indeed, one of those studies killed 23 “extra” babies in the low-oxygen group, but its defenders continue to assert that obtaining parental consent would be a burden on the researchers who need the freedom to pursue their agenda.
This is a return to the pre-Nuremberg-Code medical ethics that allowed Nazi doctors to run their experiments without the consent of their subjects, just as the Scientific American editors advocate now to run the uncontrolled GMO experiment without the knowledge and consent of the consumers whom they prefer to treat like disposable guinea pigs.
Those editors should be ashamed of themselves for this abandoning of basic ethics, but it seems the concept of informed consent includes too much respect for the autonomy and intelligence of those subjected to the “benefits” of scientific manipulation behind their backs and against their will. No wonder the credibility of “scientific studies” has taken such a nosedive when many scientists willfully ignore all ethical obligations.
So much for what I posted there. If you want to know more about the parallel breakdown of medical ethics and the proposed abolition of informed consent for medical experiments, see Protect Human Research Subjects where you find also details about a Public Meeting called by the Office for Human Research Protection to be held on August 28 about this topic. That OHRP has caved in to the NIH extremists and is here putting on a show to pretend it cares.
Good luck with your job search!
Thanks, for the good luck. The Job Search is a Whole Other post upcoming. But, I need to alert people first to some fine writing, tied to the Soy Mafia, a la Internationalists.
Here, read — **
And, alas, this follow up post is predicated on the Scientific American article on why GMOs are the best thing since sliced bread (sic). Again, science divorced of ethics, community relationships, local and bio-regional responsibility is science of the oppressors, the science of Hitler, of secret nuclear weapons programs in Israel, of nerve and biological weapon production, of all the science in surveillance and riot and crowd control technology. It is not SCIENCE.
Read this great piece on how SOY-SOYA kills people, cultures, countries:
The Agricultural Export Industry—A Poisonous Green Desert
A biologically diverse Interior Atlantic Forest once covered 85 percent of Eastern Paraguay. Intermingled with the necessary shade and fruit-bearing trees of the forest, farmers grew diverse crops and raised a variety of livestock. However, today only 5–8 percent of that forest remains. The land now resembles the rolling hills of a green desert. Brazilian industrial farmers have invaded Eastern Paraguay and bought up the much of the land, bit by bit, in order to grow monoculture crops for export. Their bounty is sold to such companies as Cargill, Archer Daniels Midland, and Bunge. They transform communities and strong-arm farmers to produce soy, corn, and cotton for export. Paraguay and parts of Brazil and Argentina have become “soy republics.”
Soy production has increased exponentially in recent years to keep up with worldwide demand for animal feed, as well as the ecologically bankrupt, but still thriving, agrofuel industry. Industrial soy is directed toward these markets, not human food. Today, Paraguay is the world’s fourth-largest exporter of soybeans. In 2003, five million acres of land were devoted to soy cultivation—more than double the amount ten years before that.5 Today, according to sociologist Javiera Rulli, that number is closer to thirty million acres, and is expected to continue rising exponentially.6
The expansion of the soy industry in Paraguay has occurred in tandem with the violent oppression of small farmers and indigenous communities. Farmers have been bullied into growing soy with pesticides, at the expense of their food crops, health, and subsequently their farms. Farmers who live next to the soy fields have been driven away by the chemicals, which kill their crops and animals and cause illnesses. Since the first soy boom, almost 100,000 small farmers have been evicted from their homes and fields. Countless indigenous communities have been forced to relocate. Mechanized production reorganized labor relations, as those who stayed to work in the soy fields were replaced by tractors and combines. Entire communities fled to the cities to be street vendors and live in the exploding semi-urban slums around large cities. Farmers who refuse to leave their land are targeted by hired security forces, employed by the surrounding soy growers, in hope that they will eventually sell. A simultaneous campaign of “criminalization” has allowed the soy industry to use the state security and judicial apparatus to remove and punish resistant farmers. More than a hundred campesino leaders have been assassinated, and more than two thousand others have faced trumped-up charges for their resistance to the intrusion of agribusiness.
That’s April Howard at –Monthly Review, 2009, Volume 61, Issue 02 (June) / “Saying No to Soy: The Campesino Struggle for Sustainable Agriculture in Paraguay.” Try out her In These Times piece, with Benjamin Dangl — “The Multinational Beanfield War.”
So, I go back to my work bringing Sonia Shah to Spokane in 2006 – Crude: The Story of Oil was her book that I dovetailed into a year-long sustainability conference, film series, speakers bureau, arts and media events thing. But, we also talked (at public events, at colleges and on my radio show, which I am about to get up as archives since I interviewed so many leaders in food security, sustainability and environment) about the Mengele stuff going on with American and other Western drug-pharma outfits, sort of a Constant Gardner [see interview with flick’s director here **] scenario using people as guinea pigs, unknowingly so, and here is her piece on Z-Net and some interviews. Why do I end this posting with this? Because, if you read the stuff on soy and food allergens, on the GMO Project – a few thugs getting 90 or 95 percent of everything 90 or 95 of the human population eat as genetically altered unsafe food, well, it’s clear that we are a giant Clinical Trail.
Ya think it’s easy to put two and five together? How many more young people have tics, how many more people have constant attention deficit, or that love handle at age 15, or the constant aches and gut pains, or the other maladies of our time? How many compounds put in our gut and that bio-accumulate in our physiologies and in nature, how many are the root of our collective medical problem?
Here, Sonia Shah –
FDA Puts Medical Test Subjects in Danger
With hardly a word in the mainstream press, the FDA has gutted the rules restraining drug companies from exploiting clinical trial subjects in developing countries.
Now that 80 percent of clinical trials fail to recruit sufficient numbers of test subjects on deadline, drug companies increasingly export their trials to developing countries, where sick, undertreated patients abound. It’s faster, it’s cheaper and it’s easier to conduct the placebo-controlled trials that companies and the FDA prefer. There is precious little oversight of these trials. Unlike for domestic trials, the FDA does not require advance notice before drug companies take their trials outside US borders. And with 90 percent of trials failing to gain FDA approval, a massive number of trials are conducted, fail and then vanish with no agency review at all — and little public record, if any.
Until now, the FDA’s sole requirement for these overseas trials is that they adhere to the Declaration of Helsinki (or local rules, on the off chance that they are more stringent). Signed by the United States and thirty-four other countries in 1975, the Declaration of Helsinki consists of several dozen pithy principles to govern ethical research on humans, and is widely considered the gold standard in research ethics. Crafted and updated by the World Medical Association, a group representing dozens of national physicians’ organizations from around the globe, the Declaration of Helsinki (DOH) urges voluntary informed consent, the use of independent committees to review and oversee trials, that investigators prioritise their subjects’ well-being, that research subjects be assured access to the best health interventions identified in trials and that their societies enjoy a “reasonable likelihood” of benefiting from the results of trials.
It’s not a perfect document. It’s very short. It’s a little vague. The FDA does not bother to enforce it. Even when they know of infractions — such as in Pfizer’s trial of the antibiotic Trovan in Nigeria, which not only failed to procure informed consent but didn’t even have an oversight committee in place at the time of the trial — the FDA has done nothing and approved the drug anyway. We know of that particular trial’s violations only because the Washington Post exposed them several years later. In researching a book I wrote on clinical trials in developing countries, I similarly found many examples of trials clearly in violation of Helsinki provisions that were nevertheless reviewed and approved by the FDA.
The FDA has been agitating against the DOH since the late 1990s, when the World Medical Association strengthened the document’s restrictions on placebo-controlled trials, which an unlikely alliance of industry, public health and academic researchers angrily challenged. The strengthened DOH, the FDA’s medical director Robert Temple railed, “doesn’t look like a group of suggestions that are worth discussing.” Under pressure from the agency and drug companies, the World Medical Association diluted the objectionable language about placebo trials — increasing the document’s vagueness — but by then the FDA was on the warpath. Just as President Bush opted out of international treaties on climate change and anti-ballistic missiles, in 2001 the FDA bucked two decades of its own precedents and refused to adopt updated versions of the internationally sanctioned Declaration of Helsinki. That done, in 2004, the agency proposed dumping the DOH from its codes altogether, and on April 28 announced it would indeed be summarily excised starting in October.
In its place, the FDA will incorporate “Good Clinical Practice” rules. Good clinical practice sounds, well, good, but these rules are no replacement for the Declaration of Helsinki. Unlike Helsinki, which describes ethical principles agreed upon by the international medical community, GCP rules are bureaucratic regulations crafted by regulatory authorities and drug industry trade groups, behind closed doors. They offer little by way of ethical precept. There is no injunction, for example, that research subjects be assured access to study drugs after trials end, or that their communities have a reasonable likelihood of enjoying the benefits of the research, principles of justice enshrined in the DOH.
The FDA’s move against the DOH is more than a symbolic change. With drug companies rushing to countries where the domestic regulatory infrastructure is weak at best — India, where Pfizer and GlaxoSmithKline have set up global clinical trial hubs, being perhaps the prime example — and the FDA turning a blind eye, the business of protecting impoverished, sick, under-treated patients from exploitative experimentation falls almost entirely upon local people convened by clinics and hospitals to sit on FDA-required ethics committees. Theirs is a nearly impossible job, much of it shrouded in secrecy. Some, from India and South Africa, spoke to me, anonymously. They told me of how their clinics and hospitals desperately need the income drug-industry trials bring in. Of how, often, their bosses sit on the committees with them, pressuring members to approve as many experimental protocols as come in. They are overworked, underpaid and poorly trained — if trained at all — in the principles of research ethics. Even the most courageous among them find it difficult to challenge problematic experiments and interrupt the flow of industry dollars.
And yet, they do, and when they do, they rely upon the only set of rules that their administrators and drug company clients consider legitimate: those backed by the FDA.
The last-stand oversight of local ethics committees has clearly been insufficient. A growing body of evidence, from anthropological research to case studies, suggests that the consent of trial subjects in many poor countries is uninformed, and worse, non-voluntary. Many clinical-trial companies openly promote the non-voluntariness of trial subjects in developing countries, not as a reason to conduct fewer trials, but to conduct more. (Specifically, they promote the low dropout rates, a telling signal of coercion.) Anecdotal evidence of the abrogation of the principles of justice — the lack of access to study drugs after trials end, the inaccessibility of the benefits of research, whether because of brand-name prices or the irrelevance of the resulting drug — abounds.
That’s how bad it has been with the Declaration of Helsinki on the books. What we don’t know is how manymore violations have been averted by the nameless, faceless people sitting on ethics committees in developing countries, relying upon the strictures of the Declaration of Helsinki. There is no way to know how many times they’ve been able to extract guarantees, protections, and promises from industry researchers, or to amend experiments so that subjects’ rights and safety are better protected, thanks to the principles of the DOH.
All we can know is that come October, thanks to the FDA’s scrapping of the gold standard in research ethics, their already difficult work will be made more so. Research subjects in developing countries — often the poorest, the sickest, those with the fewest options — can only become more vulnerable.
Sonia Shah is the author of a new book on malaria forthcoming from Farrar, Straus & Giroux and the websiteResurgentMalaria.com. Her book The Body Hunters: Testing New Drugs on the World’s Poorest Patients is now available in paperback.
Body Hunters web site — **
“If it is left to me, I would certainly not eat it. We are putting new things into food which have not been eaten before. The effects on the immune system are not easily predictable and I challenge anyone who will say that the effects are predictable.”
—Professor Arpad Pusztai, of the Food, Gut, and Microbial Interactions Group, Rowett Research Institute, on the health risks associated with genetically engineered food.
Pusztai on inability of the regulatory system to cope with prospect of the arrival of large numbers of GM crops:
“Once the floodgate was opened, it’s almost impossible. A committee cannot deal with it.”
“Information provided to governments and food suppliers by the biotechnology industry is not fully representative of the technical limitations of genetic engineering, and therefore does not give a complete picture of the potential dangers in its use.” …. “Once released into the environment, unlike a BSE epidemic or chemical spill, genetic mistakes cannot be contained, recalled or cleaned up, but will be passed on to all future generations indefinitely.”
—Dr Michael Antoniou, senior lecturer in molecular pathology from London, biotechnology adviser to the farming and food industries, and chief biotechnology adviser to the Natural Law Party
Or, Viruses ‘R Us:
“Probably the greatest threat from genetically altered crops is the insertion of modified virus and insect virus genes into crops. It has been shown in the laboratory that genetic recombination will create highly virulent new viruses from such constructions. Certainly the widely used cauliflower mosaic virus is a potentially dangerous gene. It is a pararetrovirus meaning that it multiplies by making DNA from RNA messages. It is very similar to the Hepatitis B virus and related to HIV.”
–Dr. Joseph Cummins, professor emeritus in genetics from the university of West-Ontario