Abraham Lincoln aptly observed: “Public sentiment is everything. With it, nothing can fail. Without it, nothing can succeed.” Thirty states have launched initiatives to require labeling of genetically engineered food, and federal legislation was introduced on February 12, 2015. The Genetically Engineered Right-to-Know Act was introduced in the Senate by Senator Barbara Boxer from California, and Senator Richard Blumenthal from Connecticut. Congressman Peter DeFazio from Oregon introduced it in the House. They declared to the press: “Food manufacturers have a duty to disclose what is in the food we buy and feed our children.” Anyone who would defy the will the American people was openly challenged: “You will do so at your own peril.”
National grass roots political action is the key to passing the GMO Right-to-Know Act, which representatives of 28 states are currently co-sponsoring. For mandatory GMO food labeling to become law, ‘we the people’ must make it clear we need to know what is in the food we buy and feed our children. We must flood the office of every single member of Congress with phone calls!
The Unintended Effects of Genetic Engineering
Luther Burbank did not develop the russet potato by using the techniques of genetic engineering; neither did Herbert Mendel, the father of modern genetics, or Norman Borlaug. Genetic engineering is a laboratory technique which is fundamentally different from traditional methods of selective breeding or hybridization.
Genetically engineered ‘Bt’ corn is produced by taking DNA from one life form (bacillus thuringiensis) belonging to one domain: (Bacteria); and engineering it into another life form (corn) belonging to another domain (Eukarya). Unlike conventional breeding or hybridization, genetic engineering is performed outside the natural reproductive context, by forcibly violating the natural barriers that exist between species – producing outcomes that could never otherwise occur.
The public and scientific debate could be raised to an entirely new and more productive level if certain undisputed facts were more widely known. Documented evidence, published primarily in peer reviewed literature, reveals the following facts:
1) When DNA is taken from one species and genetically engineered into another species (or when the DNA of a single organism is genetically engineered), the physiology and the behavior of the genetically engineered organism have been affected in unexpected ways.
2) The quality of food and feed produced from genetically engineered seed has been affected in unexpected ways.
3) Animals and humans who have eaten genetically engineered food and feed have been affected in unexpected and harmful ways.
4) Genetically engineered organisms pass on their DNA to future generations. Unlike a horse and a donkey, which, when mated, produce offspring that are sterile (mules) – genetically engineered seed is capable of reproducing itself generation after generation.
The Nature Institute has posted a study on its website documenting the unintended effects of genetic engineering on more than thirty-five species of plants and animals, including humans. It has collected examples from the scientific literature and written short reports on each example. By clicking on the title of each report, one can view the intended (or ‘target’) effect of each transgenic experiment, the unintended (or ‘non-target’) results, who funded the project, author affiliations, and the commercial status of the genetically engineered organism. This compilation is by no means exhaustive, and the literature still to be reviewed is extensive. It lists of nearly one hundred published studies is accessible at: http://natureinstitute.org/nontarget/browse_titles.htm.
In light of the evidence – revealed in one research report after another – the frequently heard claim that genetic manipulation of organisms is a ‘precise science’ without dramatic risks can no longer be honestly made.