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GMO Genetically Modified Organisms
 

GMO'S

GMO FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

Editors note: In January, the College of Food, Agri-cultural, and Environmental Sciences formed a committee to address concerns raised by GMOs (genetically modified organisms). One of the committee’s first goals was to put together a Q&A—this is a portion of that effort. As with any public policy issue, the university itself has not and will not adopt a formal position. However, faculty members are in a position to share scientific information to help consumers and farmers make up their own minds on the issue.


Q. Who regulates GMOs in the United States?

A. Several agencies:

  • The USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) regulates the field testing of genetically engineered plants and certain microorganisms.
  • The Department of Health and Human Service’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA) governs the safety and labeling of drugs and the nation’s food and feed supply, excluding meat and poultry.
  • The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ensures the safety and safe use of pesticidal and herbicidal substances in the environment and for certain industrial uses of microbes in the environment.

The Department of Health and Human Service’s National Institutes of Health oversees guidelines for the laboratory use of genetically engineered organisms. They are generally voluntary, but are mandatory for any research conducted under federal grants. These are widely followed by academic and industrial scientists around the world.

Q. Some food manufacturers have announced that they won’t accept GMO foods. Isn’t that proof that GMOs are unsafe?

A. Companies such as Nestle, and Unilever in the European Union, and Gerber, Heinz, Frito-Lay and Iams have dropped GM ingredients in their foods not because they think they are unsafe, but because they are reacting to consumer concern and the pressure of interest groups. As firms, they have invested in building up a brand name over a period of time, and they are concerned about losing that investment if consumers, rightly or wrongly, choose to boycott their products because they contain GMOs. Even a small segment of the market can make a difference in their bottom line.




Different species of wildlife and farm animals are trying to tell us something by clearly preferring not to eat Genetically Engineered foods when they have a choice of naturally grown corn, soybeans and other crops as the following wisdom of nature anecdotes confirms. They are smarter than people when it comes to the right choices for eating.

Neil Carman, Ph.D.
Sierra Club Genetic Engineering Committee
http://www.SierraClub.org/biotech


Excerpts from the new book Seeds of Deception: Exposing Industry and Government Lies About the Safety of the Genetically Engineered

Foods You're Eating

by Jeffrey M. Smith
http://www.SeedsofDeception.org

WISDOM OF THE GEESE  - p. 45 excerpt

There's a farmer in Illinois who's been planting soybeans on his
50-acre field for years. Unfortunately, he also had a flock of
soybean-eating geese that took up residence in a pond nearby.

Geese, being creatures of habit, returned to the same spot the
next year to again feast on his soybeans. But this time, the geese ate
only from a specific part of this field. There, as a result of their
feasting, the beans grew only ankle high. The geese, it seemed, were
boycotting the other part of the same field where the beans were
able to grow waist-high. The reason: this year, the farmer had tried
the new, genetically engineered soybeans. And you can see exactly
where they were planted, for there is a line right down the middle
of his field with the natural beans on one side, and the genetically
engineered soybeans, untouched by the geese, on the other.

Visiting that Illinois farm, veteran agricultural writer C.F. Marley
said, "I've never seen anything like it. What's amazing is that the
field with Roundup Ready [genetically engineered] beans had
been planted to conventional beans the previous year, and the
geese ate them. This year, they won't go near that field." 1
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WISDOM OF THE COWS - p. 76 excerpt

In 1998, Howard Vlieger harvested both natural corn and a
genetically modified Bt variety on his farm in Maurice, Iowa.
Curious about how his cows would react to the pesticide-
producing Bt corn, he filled one side of his sixteen-foot trough
with the Bt and dumped natural corn on the other side. Normally,
his cows would eat as much corn as was available, never leaving
leftovers. But when he let twenty-five of them into the pen, they
all congregated on the side of the trough with the natural corn.
When it was gone, they nibbled a bit on the Bt, but quickly
changed their minds and walked away.

A couple of years later, Vlieger joined a room full of farmers in
Ames, Iowa to hear presidential candidate Al Gore. Troubled by
Gore's unquestioning acceptance of GM foods, Vlieger asked Gore
to support a recently introduced bill in Congress requiring that GM
foods be labeled. Gore replied that scientists said there is no
difference between GM and non-GM foods. Vlieger said he
respectfully disagreed and described how his cows refused to eat
the GM corn. He added, "My cows are smarter than those scientists
were."  The room erupted in applause. Gore asked if any other farmers
noticed a difference in the way their animals responded to
GM food. About twelve to fifteen hands went up. 1

        "If a field contained GM and non-GM maize, cattle would
        always eat the non-GM first." -Gale Lush, Nebraska

        "A neighbor had been growing Pioneer Bt corn. When the cattle
        were turned out onto the stalks they just wouldn't eat them." 2
                -Gary Smith, Montana

        "While my cows show a preference for open-pollinated corn over
        the hybrid varieties, they both beat Bt-corn hands down."
                -Tim Eisenbeis, South Dakota

According to a 1999 Acres USA article, cattle even broke
through a fence and walked through a field of Roundup Ready
corn to get to a non-GM variety that they ate. The cows left the
GM corn untouched.
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WISDOM OF THE COWS AND HOGS - p. 106 excerpt

Bill Lashmett watched as two or three cows were let into a
feeding area at a time. The first trough they came to contained fifty
pounds of shelled Bt corn. The cows sniffed it, withdrew, and
walked over to the next trough, which contained fifty pounds of
natural shelled corn. The cows finished it off. When they were
gone and released from the pen, the next group came in and did
the same thing.  Lashmett said the same experiment was
conducted on about six or seven farms in Northwest Iowa, in
1998 and again in 1999. Identical trials with hogs yielded the
same results, also for two years in a row.
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WISDOM OF SQUIRRELS, ELK, DEER, RACCOONS, AND MICE - p. 126 excerpt

For years, a retired Iowa farmer fed squirrels on his farm through
the winter months by placing corncobs on feeders. One year, just
for the heck of it, he decided to see if the squirrels had a preference
for Bt corn or natural corn. He put natural corn in one feeder
and Bt corn in another about twenty feet away. The squirrels ate
all the corn off the natural cobs but didn't touch the Bt. The farmer
dutifully refilled the feeder with more natural corn and sure
enough, it was soon gone. The Bt, however, remained untouched.

The retired farmer got curious.  What if the Bt variety was the
squirrels' only choice? To find out, he didn't refill the natural corn.
At the time, Iowa was plunged into the coldest days of the winter. But
day after day, the Bt cob remained intact. The squirrels went elsewhere
for their food. After about ten days, the squirrels ate about
an inch off the tip of an ear, but that's all. The farmer felt sorry for
the squirrels and put natural corn back into the feeders, which the
squirrels once again consumed. 1

        "A captive elk escape and took up residence in our crops of
        organic corn and soy. It had total access to the neighboring
        fields of GM crops, but never went into them." 2
                -Susan and Mark Fitzgerald, Minnesota

Writer Steve Sprinkel described a herd of about forty deer that
ate from the field of organic soybeans, but not the Roundup Ready
variety across the road. Likewise, raccoons devoured organic corn,
but didn't touch an ear of Bt corn growing down the road. "Even the
mice will move on down the line if given an alternative to
these 'crops.' " 3

A farmer in Holland verified the food preference of mice when
he left two piles of corn in his mice-infested barn. One pile was
genetically modified; the other was natural. The GM pile was
untouched while the non-GM pile was completely eaten up.
Lashmett, who has a background in biochemistry and agriculture,
says that animals have a natural sense to eat what is good for
them, and avoid what isn't He witnessed this firsthand in another
experiment conducted by a feed store in Walnut Grove, Iowa. They
put twenty-three separate vitamins and minerals, each in their own
bin, out where cows could eat them. The cows would alternate
their choice of bins in such a way, according to Lashmett, that they
received a balanced, healthy diet. Moreover, their preference
changed with the seasons and climate, demonstrating a natural
inclination to follow the dictates of their bodies' needs. 1

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WISDOM OF THE MICE - p. 157 excerpt

The Washington Post reported that mice, usually happy to munch
on tomatoes, turned their noses up at the genetically modified
FlavSavr tomato scientists were so anxious to test on them.
Scientist Roger Salquist said of his tomato, "I gotta tell you,
you can be Chef Boyardee and mice are still not going to like them."1

The mice were eventually force fed the tomato through gastric
tubes and stomach washes. Several developed stomach lesions;
seven of forty died within two weeks. The tomato was approved
without further tests [for human consumption].
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
MISSING CHICKENS - p. 182 excerpt

According to BBC News, April 27, 2002:

        "Safety tests on genetically modified maize currently
growing in Britain were flawed, it has emerged. The crop, T-25 GM maize
[corn], was tested in laboratory experiments on chickens. During the tests,
twice as many chickens died when fed on T-25 GM maize, compared
with those fed on conventional maize.  This research was apparently
overlooked when the crop was given marketing approval in 1996." 1
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