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GM CAUSES SIGNIFICANT HEALTH PROBLEMS

OFA ORGANIC UPDATE - April 2011

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Chair's Report

This issue of Organic Update features the latest peer reviewed study by French scientists showing that GMOs cause significant kidney and liver damage in rats and mice. The scientists have stated: '…that it is unacceptable to submit 500 million Europeans and several billions of consumers worldwide to the new pesticide GM-derived foods or feed…'

The emerging science of epigenetics is showing that environmental conditions have a major role in how genes work in living organisms. This is illustrated by an article below that shows how Atrazine works to turn genes on and off, causing hormone disruption.

Another study below is on the role of genes in disease and shows that environmental factors are critical to influencing gene functions.

This opens up the need for more research about genes that are taken from viruses, bacteria, humans and fish and inserted into plants or other animals to be used for human food. These transgenic creations are uncontrolled experiments given the lack of scientific understanding and more crucially the new body of research showing that many of the assumptions underlying science's current theories on how genes work are fundamentally wrong.

On the bright side there is more good news about the health benefits of organic food.

Best Regards,

Andre Leu
Chair
 


GMO News

GM Causes Significant Health Problems

A peer reviewed scientific paper published in Environmental Sciences Europe on March 1, 2011 showed that GM corn and soybeans caused significant kidney and liver problems in rats and mice. The scientists have stated: '… that it is unacceptable to submit 500 million Europeans and several billions of consumers worldwide to the new pesticide GM-derived foods or feed…'

Professor Gilles-Eric Séralini and colleagues reviewed data from 19 animal feeding studies. They found that the kidneys of males had 43.5% of all the pathological changes and the livers of females had 30.8% of the changes.

The scientists stated that 'several convergent data appear to indicate liver and kidney problems as end points of GMO diet effects.'

The authors also found problems in other measured parameters such as blood, urine, organ weights and body weights. Microscopic analyses (histopathology) of the organs showed differences between the GM and Non GM fed animals. The scientists stated that 'Other organs may be affected too, such as the heart and spleen, or blood cells.'

The GM corn and soybean used in the trials constitute 83% of the commercialised varieties and are consumed by hundreds of millions of people. The scientists expressed strong concerns about the current inadequacies of the feeding trials used to evaluate the safety of GMOs.

This is particularly the case of pesticidal GMOs. Every cell of these plants produce a pesticide, however they do not have to undergo the same testing rigour that is applied to pesticides before they are approved.

The scientists stated: 'We can conclude, from the regulatory tests performed today, that it is unacceptable to submit 500 million Europeans and several billions of consumers worldwide to the new pesticide GM-derived foods or feed, this being done without more controls (if any) than the only 3-month-long toxicological tests and using only one mammalian species, especially since there is growing evidence of concern (Tables 1 and 2). This is why we propose to improve the protocol of the 90-day studies to 2-year studies with mature rats, using the Toxotest approach, which should be rendered obligatory, and including sexual hormones assessment too. The reproductive, developmental, and transgenerational studies should also be performed. The new SSC statistical method of analysis is proposed in addition. This should not be optional if the plant is designed to contain a pesticide (as it is the case for more than 99% of cultivated commercialized GMOs), whilst for others, depending on the inserted trait, a case-by-case approach in the method to study toxicity will be necessary.'

Sources:
Link to full article: http://www.enveurope.com/content/23/1/10
Link to an excellent review by Jeffery Smith:http://www.responsibletechnology.org/blog/1340
Download a PowerPoint for more information and pictures of similar pathological problems associated with GMOs: http://www.ofa.org.au/pages/Presentations.html


German Federal Council Supports Zero GMO Tolerance in Seeds

The German Federal Council has rejected a proposal to allow a tolerance for GMOs in seeds. The proposal led to protests by farmers and citizens in many of the German States resulting in Germany maintaining its zero tolerance of GMO contamination.

Source: Organic Monitor 

First Drought-Tolerant Corn Varieties Hitting the Market

Syngenta Seeds has beat Monsanto and Pioneer Hi-Bred in bringing drought-tolerant corn varieties into the corn seed market. The new varieties are called "Agrisure Artesian," and were developed using molecular markets and classical breeding.

Because these varieties were developed without additional genetic engineering, they require no review or approval by USDA. The varieties will include already-approved GE traits including herbicide tolerance and insect protection.

Syngenta started with 100 genes that seemed to play some role in drought-tolerance, and identified 13 that clearly did play a key role. Corn varieties that naturally expressed these genes were selected to create the parental lines used to produce Agrisure Artesian seeds.

Sources:
Organic Center
"The Race to Market Drought-tough Corn," www.newsobserver.com, December 21, 2010 


Organic Health News

Editor's Note

One of the great concerns around GMO technology is the fact that many of the assumptions around the roles of genes are being proved wrong. The assumption that one gene equates to one trait has been shown to be incorrect. The emerging science of epigenetics is showing that environmental conditions have a major role in how genes work in living organisms.

See the article below that shows how atrazine works to turn genes on and off causing hormone disruption.

This opens up the need for more research about genes that are taken from viruses, bacteria, humans and fish and inserted into plants or other animals to be used for human food. These transgenic creations are uncontrolled experiments given the lack of scientific understanding and more crucially the new body of research showing that many of the assumptions underlying science's current theories on how genes work are fundamentally wrong.

The study below on the role of genes in disease is a good example of these wrong assumptions and shows that environmental factors are critical to influencing gene functions.

The study also shows environmental factors are the main causes of diseases and this is consistent with the US President's Cancer Report that showed that the majority of cancers have environmental origins, especially from exposure to chemicals. It recommended that people eat food grown without synthetic pesticides and fertilisers. 

Intriguing Analysis Undercuts the Role of Genes in Disease

Bioscienceresource.org has published a compelling analysis of recent data demonstrating a very modest role of genes in disease causation. The December 8, 2010 paper is entitled "The Great DNA Data Deficit: Are Genes for Disease a Mirage?" and was written by Jonathan Latham and Allison Wilson.

Since sequencing the first human genome, genetic researchers have searched intensively, at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars, for inherited genes that cause common diseases. Very few have been found. Indeed, for common diseases, which include heart disease, stroke, cancers, diabetes, and disorders such as autism, ADHD and dementia, as well as mental illnesses such as schizophrenia and depression, a significant role for genetic causation can now be ruled out with a high degree of confidence.

Despite profound implications, awareness of these results is almost non-existent. Some scientists believe these findings represent the most important scientific breakthrough in understanding human health in twenty five years. Among the key new insights -

  • Human disease is primarily of environmental and not inherited origin;
  • Knowledge of the human genome is not going to fulfill most of the medical progress and therapeutic roles it was intended to;
  • For most people, personalized genomics is never going to be useful for predicting the diseases they will develop; and
  • Society needs to get serious about researching the broader environmental and dietary causes of all these diseases.

Sources:
Organic Center
"The Great DNA Data Deficit: Are Genes for Disease a Mirage?", Jonathan Latham and Allison Wilson. 


Organic Broiler Production Dramatically Cuts Salmonella Risk

Organic and conventional chicken operations in North Carolina were studied by a team of scientists from the University of Georgia to assess the prevalence and distribution of Salmonella, as well as the presence of antibiotic resistant strains of this common food borne pathogen.

Three organic barns and four conventional barns were studied. All were operated by the same company, using the same genetics and many similar management practices. Salmonella was far more prevalent in fecal samples in the conventional barns compared to the organic barns - 38.8% positive versus 5.6%.

Feed in the conventional barns was five-times more likely to be contaminated with Salmonella.

Multi-drug resistant Salmonella was more common in the conventional birds and environmental samples than the organic ones.

The findings of this careful study point directly at Salmonella contamination in the conventional feed supply as a major cause of Salmonella contamination in conventional broiler operations. Two possible sources of Salmonella in conventional broiler feed are cross-contamination on the farm and animal by products added to feed that were not fully pasteurized. As a food safety precaution, the National Organic Program rule prohibits the addition of animal by products to organic broiler feed.

Sources:
Organic Center
Alali, W. et al., "Prevalence and Distribution of Salmonella in Organic and Conventional Broiler Poultry Farms," Foodborne Pathogens and Disease, Vol. 7, No. 11, 2010, pages 1363-1371 


Several Studies Show that Organic Milk has Higher Levels of CLA and Beneficial Fatty Acids

Several studies have shown that organic milk has higher levels of beneficial fatty acids. The January edition of Organic Update feature a study just published in the Journal of Dairy Science that found that 'Organic milk had higher concentrations of beneficial fatty acids than conventional milk, including total polyunsaturated fatty acids and conjugated linoleic acid'

The increasing importance of these beneficial fatty acids has been highlighted in the two studies below. 

Fatty Acids from Milk Can Dramatically Cut Risk of Type 2 Diabetes

Scientists at the Harvard School of Public Health have published research showing that trans-palmitoleic acid, a fatty acid uniquely found in milk and dairy products, reduces the risk of Type 2 diabetes.

Trans-palmitoleic levels in the blood of 3,736 adults were measured. The 20% of individuals with the highest levels had 60% lower risk of Type 2 diabetes, compared to the 20% of individuals with the lowest levels.

Sources:
Organic Center
Mozaffarian, D. Et al., "Trans-Palmitoleic Acid, Metabolic Risk Factors, and New-Onset Diabetes in U.S. Adults," Annals of Internal Medicine, December 20, 2010. 


CLA Reduced Body Fat in Overweight Children

Three grams per day of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) in chocolate milk significantly reduced fat accretion in obese and overweight children in a study conducted at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Sources:
Organic Center
"CLA Reduced Body Fat in Overweight Children," Health Studies Journal, November 12, 2010, Racine, M.N. et al.,
"Effect of CLA on body fat accretion in overweight or obese children," American J. of Clinical NutritionVol. 91, No. 5, pages 1157-1164. 


Pesticide News

Study Illuminates How Atrazine Disrupts Growth Hormone Gene Expression

In an elegant study, scientists at Michigan State University have identified one way that atrazine functions as an endocrine disruptor. This widely used herbicide binds to a gene that must be turned on for a cell to produce growth hormone. By blocking this key "on/off" switch at the cellular level, atrazine brings about deficient growth hormone excretion, and a cascade of related developmental problems.

The effects were noted by the Michigan team at environmentally relevant levels of exposure.

Sources:
Organic Center
Fakhouri, W.D., et al., "Atrazine Binds to the Growth Hormone-Releasing Hormone Receptor and Affects Growth Hormone Expression," Environmental Health Perspectives, Vol. 118, No. 10, October 2010-12-17 


Endocrine Disruption Disrupts Breeding of Wild Fish

Scientists in the United Kingdom have shown that Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals (EDCs) can have adverse impacts on the sustainability of wildlife populations. A large number of chemicals, especially pesticides, cause the feminization of male offspring, creating a condition called intersex. This has now been reported in many species including humans.

Atrazine is an example of a commonly used pesticide that has been extensively documented to disrupt hormones. Several studies link it to problems with male offspring, particularly in frogs.

The UK scientist researched the feminization of male fish and concluded that: 'The intersex condition reduced reproductive performance by up to 76% for the most feminized individuals in this study, demonstrating a significant adverse effect of intersex on reproductive performance.

Conclusion: Feminization of male fish is likely to be an important determinant of reproductive performance in rivers where there is a high prevalence of moderately to severely feminized males.'

Source:
Harris CA, Hamilton PB, Runnalls TJ, Vinciotti V, Henshaw A, Hodgson D, et al. 2011. The Consequences of Feminization in Breeding Groups of Wild Fish. Environ Health Perspect 119:306-311. doi:10.1289/ehp.1002555 


Prenatal OP Insecticide Exposure Impairs Attention among Children

A study of farm worker families in California has shown that by age 3.5, children born to mothers exposed to OP insecticides have lessened attention spans and are more vulnerable to attention deficit, hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Male children were more likely to be impacted.

Sources:
Organic Center
Marks, A.R., et al., "Organophosphate Pesticide Exposure and Attention in Young Mexican-American Children: The CHAMACOS Study," Environmental Health Perspectives, Vol. 118, No. 12, December 2010 


New Organic Center Website

This newsletter regularly features news sourced from the Organic Center in the USA. They have just announced a new website Generations of Organic (www.generationsoforganic.org).

The site is designed to be an engaging online resource for people seeking easy-to-understand information about the fact-based benefits of organic food and farming.

The information on the website remains grounded in the credible, evidence-based science for which The Organic Center (TOC) is known. Highlights include:

  • All About Organic is the perfect starting place for simple, straightforward facts about organic. Included are features such as "Organic versus Natural" and "The Facts about GMOs."
  • In the Kitchen features recipes from Sara Snow, green-lifestyle expert and author, and from TOC's staff. A section on shopping tips includes an article entitled: "10 money-saving tips when buying organic."
  • Heath and Nutrition contains essential information about food nutrients, pesticides and a selection of TOC's 2-page science summaries based on in-depth science reports. The full reports can be found at www.organic-center.org.
  • Organic Stories highlights leaders in the organic movement, displays photos from organic farms and farmers, and eventually will include a timeline displaying the history of organic in the United States.
  • News Exchange will help consumers keep abreast of the latest topics of interest in the organic community.

Weed as an e-Book

ABC e-books has released Weed in this first wave of titles. Weed is an excellent resource book on the numerous methods organic methods that can be used to manage weeds in crops and gardens. Tim Marshall, OFA Deputy Chair, is the author of Weed.

It will be available for purchase from the following E stores:
www.borders.com.au
www.angusandrobertson.com.au
www.kobobooks.com
www.amazon.com
Apple iBookstore