Science in Society Archive

Science in Society #21 - Spring 2004

The only radical science magazine on Earth

Science in Society 21 cover


From the Editor
Cows ate GM maize and died - Public enquiry needed
GM Food Safe?
Bt Toxin Binds to Mouse Intestine
Liver of Mice Fed GM Soya Works Overtime
Syngenta’s Spanish GM Trojan Horse
Animals Avoid GM Food, for Good Reasons
Transgenic DNA & Bt Toxin Survive Digestion
Good Food
Food Quality? What’s That?
Do Animals Like Good Food?
Assessing Food Quality by Its After-Glow
Rethinking Health
The Obesity Epidemic
How Carbohydrates Make Fats
How to Survive 40 Days Starvation
ISP News
Approving GM Crops is Abusing Science
GM Crops Increase Pesticide Use
Unstable Transgenic Lines Illegal
Roundup Ready Sudden Death Syndrome
New GM Toxin Looms over Our Food
Transgenic Fish Coming
Keeping Europe GM-Free
Regulatory Sham on Bt Crops
Corrupt Science
Rotten to the Corp
Biotech Critic Denied Tenure
Pollution Watch
Mercury A Growing Scourge
Methyl Bromide Ban
Nanotech & Nanotox
Metal Nanoshells, Cure or Curse?
Nanotubes Highly Toxic
Rethinking Agriculture
GM Crops Threaten Cultural & Ecological Integrity
Organic Outperforms Conventional in Climate Extremes
"The Answer Lies in the Soil"
Living Energies
No System in Systems Biology
Biology’s Theory of Everything?
Energy, Productivity & Biodiversity
Why Are Organisms So Complex?

From the Editor

Cows ate GM maize and died - Public enquiry needed

Could this be the "three mile island" or the "thalidomide" of GM: the clinching evidence that there is something seriously wrong with most if not all GM food and feed? Twelve dairy cows died in Hesse, Germany after being fed Syngenta’s Bt176 GM maize; and other cows had to be slaughtered due to mysterious illnesses. Protestors in front of the Robert Koch Institute suspect a cover-up. But is there a news blackout as well?

There has been no coverage in the mainstream media; not even after ISIS circulated a detail report, showing how Bt176 has the worst of features common to practically all commercially approved GM crops. Not only is Bt176 unstable like all GM varieties analysed so far, it is also non-uniform, so that different samples of the variety gave different results. Either of those features would make the GM variety illegal under European law.

The dead cows in Hesse are not an isolated case. In 1999, Pusztai and colleagues reported that GM potato engineered with the snowdrop lectin adversely affected every organ system of young rats, in particular, it made their stomach lining twice as thick. Scientists in Egypt found similar effects in mice fed a Bt potato. Several years earlier, the US Food and Drug Administration already had data showing that rats fed a GM tomato with an antisense gene to delay ripening developed holes in their stomach. Add to that the report from Aventis (now Bayer) which showed that glufosinate-tolerant T25 GM maize (about to be approved for growing by the Blair government) killed twice as many broiler chickens compared to non-GM maize, and a host of anecdotal evidence that livestock, wildlife and lab animals avoid GM feed when given the choice, and failed to thrive or died when forced to eat it.

There must now be a public enquiry, not only into the safety of GM food and feed, but especially on why this and other evidence have been systematically misrepresented, suppressed, ignored and denied in the rush to commercialise GM crops and GM food and feed. It amounts to a serious abuse of science and scientific evidence, and our governments’ scientific advisors must be called into proper account.

Britain’s pro-GM scientific establishment appears to have entered into an elicit relationship, willingly or otherwise, with a gang of biotech corporate warriors – remarkably metamorphosed from their previous Marxist tendencies - who promote their agenda by infiltrating the establishment and using smear tactics borrowed from America’s far-right to discredit critics.

Read the evidence and judge for yourselves. There’s plenty more: US Department of Agriculture’s own data showing that GM crops increased pesticide and herbicide use by more than 50 million pounds between 1996 and 2003; Roundup Ready herbicide linked to sudden death of GM soya and fusarium head blight in wheat; and the regulatory sham surrounding Bt crops that’s allowing synthetic, altered toxins of both known and unknown toxicities to enter our ecosystems and food web.

Send a copy of this issue to your government representatives demanding a public enquiry.

Nanotech & nanotox

Another area where science and technology have gone way ahead of safety considerations is nanotechnology, in particular, nanoparticles and nanotubes.

The science is fascinating, and the possibilities enormous, but that’s precisely why it raises a host of new safety concerns. It seems that all kinds of substances acquire entirely new properties when shrunk to the nanoscale (about a billionth of a metre). They become super-efficient catalysts, they concentrate light energy enormously, acquire new electrical properties, and so on.

But the first evidence of the hazards has already emerged. Nanotubes could be worse than asbestos, and both nanotube and other nanoparticles can accumulate in organs and tissues.

Fortunately, at least some scientists involved in developing the technology are much more willing to consider and discuss the safety concerns openly and engage in real dialogue with the public; in contrast to those scientists involved in exploiting GM.

Biology’s theory of everything and the obesity epidemic

When the "Living energies" series was circulated, we received an unprecedented number of positive responses from people who know too well that the secret of life is not to be found in genomes and genes or other molecular nuts and bolts.

I think it may well be in how organisms capture, store and transform energy.

Indeed, a universal metabolism appears to lie at the basis of all life, which can explain its patterns of biodiversity and many other biological phenomena. This brings together diverse fields that have hitherto developed independently, such as bioenergetics, ecology, physiology and yes, even the new field of food quality research, where it is found that animals do tend to prefer organically produced food!

And, it could also enable us to better understand a range of fundamental problems from sustainable systems to the obesity epidemic, and what to do about it.

Biology is groping its way towards a theory of everything. Thank goodness not all biology has been swallowed up by genomics and related research.

There are signs that the National Institutes of Health in the United States, at least, have read the writing on the wall with regard to genomics; and are actively inviting generous grant applications from scientists (US citizens only) that can "change the current paradigms of medical research."

All other governments should take heed.

Article first published

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