Health Supreme by Sepp Hasslberger

Networking For A Better Future - News and perspectives you may not find in the media

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August 20, 2006

Transgenic Eggplant, Wheat - Are We Losing The Food War?

In India, Monsanto partner Mahyco is experimenting with Brinjal - we call it eggplant - which has been genetically modified to insert a toxin. This is the first time the toxic BT (bacillus thuringiensis) gene has been incorporated into an actual food plant. Although BT has been reported safe for mammals and even for humans, there has been an incident of mass death of sheep grazing on BT cotton.


Last year, Aruna Rodrigues, together with others, filed a public interest petition before the Indian Supreme Court to ask a moratorium on the release of genetically modified organisms into the environment in India. She has recently applied for an urgent injunction in this same legal proceeding to halt all open field testing of genetically modified plants, including brinjal.

Her request is motivated by a hazardous potential of the new vegetable for human health. The safety for human consumption of genetically modified foods, especially of BT laced vegetables, has never been established, she says, by direct feeding tests. In the few tests that were conducted, problems appeared. Contamination of traditional varieties of the staple food crop is another argument, as well as the likelihood that the toxin will be killing beneficial insects and birds or will cause insects to mutate so as to adapt to the toxin. Setbacks for organic agriculture are envisioned as a result of the spread of the BT gene to traditional varieties of eggplant by cross-pollination.

Meanwhile, in Germany, transgenic wheat is to be planted in field trials in a very special location: Gatersleben, home to the heritage seed bank for traditional seed stocks, where hundreds of traditional wheat varieties are kept and some are sowed out each year to propagate them. Although wheat does not seem to cross-contaminate, it appears strange that such a unique locale with an important role in preventing crop plants and their wild relatives from dying out, has been selected for GM wheat trials.

William Engdahl argues in a recent article titled Seeds of Destruction:
The Geopolitics of GM Food
that genetic modification of our foods could be part of an agenda of forcefully reducing the population of this planet, proposed by globalists who feel that we are too many. Of course, no one is saying openly that GM might be used for population control, but the Engdahl article comes quite close:

Washington US-AID food assistance for Africa in recent months has been linked to willingness of a country to accept US GM crops. US assistance to combat AIDS in Africa has similar strings. GM has clearly become a strategic, geopolitical tool for Washington.

Defenders of GM technology argue that no one in their right mind would consider such a drastic use of GM crops as to control entire areas of world food supply. "We're tempted to say that nobody in their right mind would ever use these things." Stanford biology professor Steven Block stated in another context. Block hastened to add, "But not everybody is in their right mind!" Block, a leading consultant to the US Government, went on to warn, "Any technology that can be used to insert genes into DNA can be used for either good or bad." Genetic engineering can create rice with enhanced vitamin A, but can just as well create seeds containing highly toxic bacteria. US researchers first did this in 1986. Genetic engineering of more toxic and harder to detect bioweapons was a major motivation for nations to call for a stronger convention on bioweapons...

No safety testing

Ignoring dangers to the health of the population, the Indian authorities are proceeding with the introduction of a potentially disastrous GM crop without any safety testing. USAID is pushing and the FDA helps by alleging that genetically modified crops are "substantially equivalent" to the natural varieties. A PDF of the full text of the application is available here.

The court filing to India's Supreme tribunal is supported by several scientists critical of the deployment of this technology in food production. One of them is Robert Mann, a former senior lecturer in biochemistry at the University of Auckland, New Zealand. He says:

"The science upon which GM technology is founded is under strenuous criticism from scientific thinkers. Genes are not Lego modules which can be blithely slotted into very different organisms free from unintended effects. Rogue diseases are a genuine concern arising from detailed, sceptical appraisal of some GM projects by highly qualified scientists. But global ecological damage is the gravest threat."

Mann goes on to say that the science on which genetic modification is based is wrong in a big way and he lists three examples:

1. It is routinely assumed that there are only 4 letters in the 'alphabet' of DNA (called for short G, C, T, and A). But it has been known for several decades that other 'letters' exist in DNA. The functions of the 'odd' bases - methyl-C, methyl-G, and others - are largely unknown, but that does not mean they're equivalent to 'The Big Four'. They are often ignored by genetic engineers sequencing DNA "copied" by systems that can produce only 'Big 4' polymers. The synthetic genes inserted by GM are, on this basis, all made with just 'The Big Four' bases. This is a glaring fallacy.

2. Synthetic genes are routinely inserted which are deliberately different from actual genes. An example in the present case is the 'Bt' genes that have been inserted into GM-Brinjal; the 'Bt' toxin gene must be different from that for any actual toxin produced in the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis, in order for the plant to make the novel protein to any useful extent.

3. It is routinely assumed that the effects of genes inserted by radically unnatural methods are predictable, when in fact they are known to be extremely variable (frequently lethal). It is pretended that a cell surviving such genes-insertion processes, and then selected on just one property - resistance to an antibiotic - and then grown into a whole organism, e.g. an eggplant, will have all properties at least as good as those of a normal organism. On the contrary, insertional mutation damages the target genome in unpredictable ways, rendering literally unforeseeable the many properties of any surviving GM-cells. The unforeseeability is compounded by somaclonal variation in theGM-progeny: plants grown from single cells, taking advantage of what is called the 'totipotence' of some plant cells, are known to exhibit much more variability than plants grown from normal seed.

The text of Mann's submission is available here.

See also:

Monsanto Whistleblower Says Genetically Engineered Crops May Cause Disease

October 2006: India Halts Field Trials of Genetically Engineered Crops
An exciting development has taken place in India, where the Supreme Court has ordered the Genetic Engineering Approvals Council (GEAC) to stop all further approvals of GM field trials until further notice.

This follows a challenge by citizens to the proposed field trials of Bt
Brinjal (also known as aubergine or eggplant). Although the court has not yet ruled for the GEAC to stop the Bt Brinjal trials, or the Bt cotton which is already grown commercially, they did order a stay on further applications for GM trials.

April 2008: Mass Protests against GM Crops in India
As India edges closer to what is probably the last year of field trials for Bt Brinjal (eggplant, aubergine) before commercial approval may be granted, large scale resistance has been building up all over the country.

Bt Brinjal, if allowed in India, would be the first food crop in the world with the Bt gene inserted into it that is to be directly consumed by human beings. Indians feel that they are about to be made guinea pigs by USAID, and by Monsanto and Cornell University that have developed this crop.


posted by Sepp Hasslberger on Sunday August 20 2006
updated on Saturday December 4 2010

URL of this article:


Related Articles

Schmeiser's Battle for the Seed
Biotechnology giant Monsanto has been aggressively pursuing legal action against Canadian farmer Percy Schmeiser for allegedly using its GM canola seeds without paying a $37-per-hectare fee for the privilege. Schmeiser says he never bought Monsanto's GM canola and has sued the company for contaminating his fields. The legal battle has been dragging on for years and Schmeiser has now obtained leave to make his case before the Supreme Court. The... [read more]
July 10, 2003 - Sepp Hasslberger

FDA Sued Over GM Food Labels - But US Consumers Strangely Unconcerned
According to a recent article by Julian Watson of UPI, the Center for Food Safety has filed a lawsuit against the FDA to require labeling and pre-market testing of GM-derived - genetically modified - foods. What seems quite normal in European countries - a demand for thorough examination of the science used to justify genetic modification of foods and insistence on being told when a food has been so modified... [read more]
June 16, 2006 - Sepp Hasslberger

GMO - no thanks, say British
Britain has had its public consultation over the introduction of genetically modified foods and the growing of GM crops to produce them. The response was overwhelming as reported by The Independent's environment editor Michael McCarthy today. 85% of the respondents thought GM crops would benefit producers, rather than ordinary people and a similar percentage (84%) believed they would cause "unacceptable interference" with nature. The industry response from the umbrella body... [read more]
September 25, 2003 - Sepp Hasslberger

GM Soy Found To Kill Rats - Russian Study
Genetically modified soy affects posterity: Results of Russian scientists' studies On October 10 2005, during the symposium over genetic modification, organized by the Russian National Association for Genetic Security (NAGS), Doctor of Biology Irina Ermakova made public the results of research led by her at the Institute of Higher Nervous Activity and Neurophysiology of the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS). This is the first research that determined clear dependence between... [read more]
October 31, 2005 - Sepp Hasslberger

India Supreme Court Petitioned To Halt Uncontrolled Spread of GM Crops
India could lead the way in making sure that transgenic food technology is used safely, according to Aruna Rodrigues, who has filed a petition to the Indian Supreme Court asking that it make sure the government fulfill its obligation of actually testing the GM varieties to be imported as food or grown in India. After a reply by Monsanto's lawyers, Aruna has filed an additional pleading - called a rejoinder... [read more]
May 08, 2006 - Sepp Hasslberger

Public comments on GE food labelling.
Here is another example (as if more are needed) about the government abusing it's power to protect the industry at our expense. Why we are even having a debate and/or a discussion on the straight forward labeling of GE foods is beyond me. The fact that they have to go to these lengths, is indirectly admitting potential risks hence reason enough to identify unknown food products. Supposedly we elect governments... [read more]
October 04, 2003 - Chris Gupta




Readers' Comments

GM crops are not against nature. What nature has been doing for years, the scientists are trying to do in a precise way, i.e. inserting a single gene for a specific trait. Of course all safety measures including labeling could be done. Let us not simply discard a beautiful technology on speculations and imaginations. Let the public be involved at the time of selection of the research program to gain their confidence and support in development of such technology.

Posted by: S.Sadasivam on January 4, 2007 11:25 PM


plece sir give the information about GM plant in wheat

Posted by: bhanderi shailesh on November 2, 2007 03:22 AM


To get more information about genetically modified wheat, please see the following link:

Posted by: Sepp on November 2, 2007 10:10 AM


30 January 2010 - protest in India (found on facebook here: Thousands of people all over India and the world are joining the National Day of Fast on Jan 30th - Gandhiji's anniversary. From Kerala to Delhi and Bengal to Gujarat in Inda, and Baton Rouge to Boston in the US (see list of events/locations below), they are opposing the introduction of genetically modified (GM) Bt Brinjal into the Indian markets. GM foods like Bt brinjal pose a large threat to health, agriculture and environment, and they need to be strongly opposed in order to preserve farmers' self-reliance and control over seeds and agriculture, and protect the consumers' access to safe healthy food. You can take part in the National Day of Fast from wherever you are, from home or office or street! Please click on to sign up for the fast or lighting a candle. More than 500 people have already joined online, in addition to the thousands who cannot access the web but plan to join on the street. Consumers, scientists, medical community, public servants, and even government agencies are joning at this historic juncture. It is your turn to join the effort to protect all our food. Bt Brinjal is made by inserting a toxin-producing gene from the Bt bacteria into the brinjal plant. India is the first country where the seed companies are trying to introduce Bt brinjal, and indeed the first time a directly consumed vegetable is being modified. Animals grazing in Bt cotton fields have died or faced serious illnesses, and introducing this technology into our own food is very risky for health, bio-safety and environment. Groups organizing fasts and candle light vigils to Stop Bt Brinjal in various towns and cities have sent us their locations that are appended below. If you plan to organize a gathering on jan 30 please send an email to aidsite@gmail .com to be listed on the site with the rest of the locations. The site is carrying daily updates of the evolving response to BT Brinjal through National Consultations and actions prior to Jan 30 as well. Several state governments representing the bulk of the brinjal growing states have already decided to say no to Bt Brinjal. - Kiran Vissa Sign up for fast or to light a candle | Why Save Brinjal | Why the National Day of Fast? Locations for Jan 30 Fast Last updated on Jan 25, 2010, 5:30 PM IST [We have received interest in solidarity fast/vigil actions from International locations; we highly encourage the same and request all International locations to send details about their vigils]. Gujarat: Fast in public places in following cities -- VADODARA, AHMEDABAD, RAJKOT, BHAVANAGAR AND BHUJ CONTACT Kapil Shah at Jatan Trust Phone: 0091-265-2371429 E-MAIL: Andhra Pradesh: Farmers and pastoralists who are members of the Mahila Brathukuderuvu Sangham and Mekala-Gorrela Pempakadharlu Sangham of Medak District - will be fasting on 30th Jan 2010- at Narsapur and Narayankhed Taluka. (They will join the ongoing relay-hunger strike in Telangana region with the additional issue of saying "We do not want Bt Brinjal" in Telangana, and the rest of the country). Farmers and Pastoralists will be fasting on 30th Jan 2010 at Kalahasthi, Chittoor district, Andhra Pradesh. Adivasi Aikya VEdika- a platform for Adivasi Peoples organisations in Telangana and Andhra regions- will be fasting on 30th Jan 2010 at the following regions: Adilabad, Khammam, East Godavari, Visakhapatnam, Vizianagaram, Srikakulam Contact for above: Sagari R Ramdas E-mail: Run against BT Brinjal on Jan 30 at NTR Gardens and Necklace Rd in Hyderabad. Contact: Orissa: 12 districts will observe the National day of Fast: Baripada, Sundargarh, Malkangiri, Phulbani, Koraput, Nayagarh, Nuapada, Bargad, Jagatsinghpur, Ganjam, Sambalpur, and Kendrapada. Dr Damodar Rout, State Agriculture Minister, has agreed to join in the fast in Bhubaneswar. The organizers of the two day National Convention on Peace , Non Violence and Communal Harmony on the 30th and 31st January at BBSR are seriously thinking to give a call their delegates to participate in this fast . Contact: Jagannath at Phone: 0674-2430176 Delhi: Jantar Mantar/Raj Ghat Contact: Selva 9891358457 Arun Raj: 099-109-08774. E-mail: Maharashtra, the fast will include a very significant place: Bapu Kuti, Sewagram, Wardha - the contact person is Nitin Mate - 093-721-56005 Madhya Pradesh: Polytechnic Chowk, Near Gandhi Bhavan (Syamala Hills), Bhopal. The contact persons would be Garima Verma: 099-813-04669 and Nilesh Desai: 094-253-29222 Bihar, the fast venues are: Patna: Near Gandhi statue, Gandhi maidan,Patna Muzaffarpur: Shahid Khudi Ram Bose smarak Campus,Company Bagh,Muzaffarpur Contact person: Pankaj Bhushan - 094-702-30999 Kerala: At Sulthan Battery, Wayanad and in Thrissur Also at Trivandrum, where environmentalist and farmers organisations, and people from all sector will join for the fast. In solidarity there will be fasts in other districts as well. To know more, please contact Sridhar R - 09995358205, Usha S - 09447022775 / mail: Uttar Pradesh: Fast is going to be organized in 5 districts , Lucknow, Sidhharth nagar, Gorakhpur, Fateh Pur and Jalaun with Hamara Beej Abhiyan.To know more, please contact Utkarsh Kumar Sinha - CSR/ INSAF, I nd floor, /205,Vivek Khand Gomti Nagar, Lucknow 226010 +91 99357 36877 - Bangalore: Venue to be decided yet. Please contact Krishna Prasad - (Sahaja Samrudha) Jason (09980056315) - West Bengal: At the Kolkata Book Fair, Hall Number 1, Stall No. 20 (The Earthcare Books Stall). The Kolkata Book Fair (Boi Mela) will be at the Milan Mela ground opposite Science City in Kolkata. Contact: Tamilnadu: In Thiruvaroor, Farmers, expectedly about 2000 mainly from the districts of Tanjavur, Thiruvaroor and Nagapattinam, would join on a Fast led by Dr Nammalvar. There would also be a call given to all families in the district to undertake a solidarity fast, wherever they are. Contact : R Jayaraman, CREATE :09443320954 Sheelu Francis of TN Women's Collective and FEDCOT (federation of consumers organisations) are together organising the hunger fast in the following districts: Chennai, Kancheepuram, Vellore, Thiruvannamalai, Salem, Madurai, Theni / Dindhugal, Tutucorin, Thirunelveli, Kanyakumari. Apart from joining these events, SFA is organising a relay rally across Chennai city. (The current plan is to carry brinjals on push carts / bamboo baskets / cycles (with signs) in the rally from several points across the city all ending at the beach where we plan to have some kind of a culminating event. The plan is still evolving and we wil post more information when plans firm up.) Contact: Sangeetha

Posted by: Sepp on January 27, 2010 11:21 AM


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