--Dan Worley in Sunny Puerto Rico--
>Date: Thu, 5 Mar 1998 17:14:50 -0500
>From: Richard Wolfson <email@example.com>
>Subject: Dr. Cummins article and presentation
>Basta-Liberty (Glufosinate) Spells Birth Defects
>by Joe Cummins, PhD
>Professor Emeritus of Genetics, University of Western Ontario, Canada
>Basta-Liberty (Glufosinate) Spells Birth Defects
>Glufosinate is a herbicide that kills almost everything green, it is used
>extensively with genetically engineered crops including corn, canola and
>soybeans. The herbicide resistant crops were approved by Canada and United
>States government even though there was clear evidence that the herbicide
>caused birth defects in experimental animals. The chemical acts by causing
>premature cell death in the immature brain by a process called apotosis. It
>also prevents development of glutamate channels in the brain, thus
>disrupting cellular communication. The birth defects observed in animals
>included brain defects leading to behavioral changes. Cleft lip and
>skeletal defects or kidney and urethra injury were observed in treated
>newborn. The herbicide also caused miscarriage and reduced conception in
>Prior to the primacy of genetic engineering by multinational chemical
>companies drugs and herbicides that caused birth defects in three species
>of test animal ( all species tested) were designated teratogens and banned
>from human exposure. Clearly, the fact that treated crops are not labeled
>(many states have passed laws on behalf of the chemical companies making it
>illegal to label crops genetically engineering free) have made chemical
>companies bold about using toxic herbicides. The human birth defects cannot
>be studied using the science epidemiology because the crops are not labeled
>and the relationship between eating the crops and birth defects cannot be
>established. The chemical companies and their paid lackeys in the Canadian
>Agriculture Department are aware of this advantage.
>Indeed, it is clear that Basta-Liberty is a paradigm for most of the
>genetically engineered crops now on the market. The food allergy,
>autoimmune disease, birth defects or cancer caused by consuming the crops
>cannot not be meaningfully studied using epidemiology. The government
>agencies regulating genetic engineering appear to be collaborating with the
>chemical companies to protect them from the liability flowing from the
>injury caused by their products. In Canada one government agency that
>regulates and promotes genetic engineering is also in the pay of the
>chemical industry giants. Matching funds from tax payers and chemical
>industry are used to support research on behalf of the chemical companies.
>The millions of dollars spent on such activities studiously avoid studies
>that might incriminate the products of the chemical giants. Government
>department bureaucrats demand and receive huge salaries from their
>brainless pawns among the elected politicians.
>I have discussed these findings in public meetings or before the standards
>board for organic farming. News media have stonewalled the issue. In
>particular, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, now headed by a
>reactionary right wing politician from a government that was discredited
>and nearly completely eliminated by election, has side stepped the
>The Basta-Liberty affair would probably greatly impress the public if it
>were allowed to be known by the public.
>References on glufosinate and birth defects:
>FuJii,T. and Ohata,T. J.Toxicol.Sci. 1994,19,328.
>Watanabe,T. and Iwase,T. Terat.Carcinog. Mutagen 1996,287,1996
>Watanabe,T. Neurosci Lett. 1997 ,222,17
>Watanabe,T. Teratology 1995, 4,25B
>Presentation to: the Canadian Organic Advisory Board, AGM Canadian Organic
>Advisory Board, Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, Ontario Headquarters,
>Guelph, Ontario, Canada February 28,1998
>by Joe Cummins, PhD, Professor Emeritus of Genetics, University of Western
>"What has to change if organic agriculture is to prosper?"
>? What is genetic engineering?
>? What is wrong with genetic engineering?
>? Is there a threat to organic agriculture?
>? What can we do to protect organic agriculture?
>Genetic engineering is changing the genetic makeup of plant and animal
>crops in the laboratory. Genes from insects, animals or humans have been
>added to crop plants or human genes have been added to pigs and cattle.
>Contrary to the claims of biotechnology genetic engineering is not the
>normal progress of crop breeding. Humans have not been mating with Canola
>nor fish with tomatoes for centuries to my best knowledge.
> The danger in genetic engineering is that industry has "convinced"
>government that the gene tinkered crops are substantially equivalent to
>normal crops. For that reason the crops are not tested extensively to
>insure that they are safe. One genetically engineered product, tryptophan,
>has been associated with at least seventy deaths and crippled thousands.
>At least one billion dollars has been paid in compensation for the
>Other health concerns include allergy and autoimmune diseases. The
>antibiotic resistance genes engineered in the crop plants contribute to the
>spread of antibiotic tolerant disease bacteria. Some genes used as plant
>pesticides have been implicated in skin disease in farm and market workers
>and those crops caused cancer in laboratory animals. The crops are sold
>without labels so the only secure food at present is certified organic.
>Along with impacting on human health the crops have been found to spread
>genes to neighbouring crops and weeds and to promote rapid appearance of
>resistance in organic pesticides such as Bt. Gene tinkered crops have been
>found to injure pollinating insects in some cases. They also promote the
>use of toxic herbicides.
>For example, the herbicide glufosinate (Basta or Liberty) caused birth
>defects in laboratory animals including brain and skeletal defects. In
>spite of those findings the herbicide is used very extensively both prior
>to planting ( where it kills nearly everything green) and to finish pulses
>and canola. Liberty ready canola is genetically engineered to tolerate high
>levels of the herbicide. It has been approved for use in Canada since 1995.
>Liberty ready corn has been grown in the United States since last year.
>Food contaminated with glufosinate if eaten by women of childbearing age
>is likely to produce birth defects in children. The effect cannot be
>detected using the science epidemiology because the genetically engineered
>crops are not labelled in the market and they are mixed with the general
>pool of crops. Such crops are marketed before their impacts have been
> There is a threat to organic agriculture from the aggressive methods of
>the biotechnology industry along with its apparent control of government
>regulators in Canada and the United States. In Canada Agriculture and
>Agri-Food Canada not only regulates biotechnology but promotes it and
>takes millions in direct funds from industry for that support. There is
>growing pressure from industry to have genetically engineered crops
>declared organic by government regulation.
>Recently , the Minister of Health Canada, Hon. Alan Rock, has begun to
>assemble a review of the bovine growth hormone prior to its approval for
>use in Canada. The information I was provided by Senator Whelan's office
>was that the panel was to be selected from the Royal Colleges of
>Physicians and Surgeons and the professional organisation for Veterinary
>Medicine. A panel of that type is industry dominated and will ignore the
>input organic agriculture and the family farmer.
>The Codex Alimentarius Commission of the United Nations is taking on a key
>role in setting standards for organic products, unfortunately that
>organisation is dominated by industry but with strong independent voices
>from the organic farmers in Australia and Europe. As a delegate to the
>Codex committee on food labelling I observed the power and
>manipulativeness of industry in that committee. It is that committee which
>will set the standards defining organic crops for international commerce.
>Under the trade arrangements that emerged in recent years Codex will set
>the standards that will have to be followed in Canada if crops are to be
>exported and the standards used in imported foods that compete with
>domestic organic crops.
>The clandestine introduction of genetically engineered products into
>organic agriculture has been a problem and will be a growing problem. For
>example, the Mycogen company introduced forms of Bacillus thuringiensis
>(Bt) toxin such as MVP II that is described as a patented encapsulated form
>of Bt (Cell Cap). The product is marketed extensively to control insect
>that damage berries and tree fruit in the northwest. The product is sold to
>organic farmers with no acknowlegement that the product consists of a
>bacterium, Psuedomonas flourescens, that is genetically engineered with a
>gene for the delta endotoxin of Bt variety kurstaki. There is no
>requirement that buyers, including organic farmers, be informed that
>materials are genetically engineered.
>However, the art of detecting genetic engineered crops and applied
>pesticides is advanced. It is based on the methods used in crime detection
>which are both rapid and inexpensive. Pesticide residues are also detected
>at very low levels using monoclonal antibody techniques that are both rapid
>and inexpensive. Interestingly, some US states have passed laws on behalf
>of chemical industry giants making labels saying not genetically engineered
>My recent experience with Canadian and United States government
>agricultural bureaucrats and scientists is that they openly promote
>genetically engineered crops as organic crops. They also openly promote use
>of "natural" pesticides in organic farming. However, their "natural" is
>chemically synthesised improvements of natural products. The "organic"
>industry should consider demanding agriculture research and regulation
>separate from the official government agencies that are in the pay of large
>chemical companies. This is a serious matter, I have seen the government
>agents pushing organic agriculture into conflict with the international
>perception of organic crops. We may very soon see a situation where we have
>government sanctioned organic foods are sold in some stores while real
>organic foods are sold in others (it is likely that real organic foods will
>not be allowed to call themselves organic based on laws and regulations
>promoted by chemical industry lobbies).
>Things to do to save organic agriculture from the threat of biotechnology
>mainly consist of making organic visible in Ottawa. Make certain that a
>lobby is persistent and well informed. Try to make certain the press is
>aware of the concern , the CBC is very influential in Canada but growing to
>be a propaganda machine for government and big business. It is good to
>remind the CBC that real news exists. The organic industry should consider
>putting together a campaign on biotechnology. Individuals should make an
>impact on open line talk shows and write letters to the editor. To your
>politicians demand participation on review panels and commissions and
>insure that those representing organic are strong and vocal. Prof. Joe
>Cummins, 738 Wilkins Street, London, Ontario, N6C4Z9 Phone 519 681 5477
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