Volunteers wanted – no pay, possible suffering & death

Volunteers are needed to test a new food technology. Volunteers will continue their lives as normal but their regular food will be substituted with modified versions. Volunteers will not be able to tell the difference and won’t know which foods have been substituted. The effects of these foods on humans is unknown, but early results from animal tests indicate abnormalities which could result in various fatal and non fatal maladies. For their involvement in this testing program, volunteers will receive absolutely no remuneration and any health complications will be paid for by their own medical aid or by taxpayers through government funded medical facilities.

Doesn’t sound very appealing does it? Can’t imagine too many people would volunteer for this kind of testing program. The scary thing is that you are already a volunteer and there is very little you can do about it. How does that make you feel? If you’re anything like me, it should make you feel very angry. What gives giant corporations the right to carry out human testing of their products on us without asking our permission? Surely we should have a choice in something as serious as this? Surely this is a violation of our human rights?

You may be wondering what I am referring to, and the answer to that is:

Gentically Modified Foods. These foods have not been through any long term testing to determine if they have any detrimental effects on humans and yet we are already eating them every day. Most maize and soy in this country are genetically modified. Eat a mielie or some pap. Grab a packet of Doritos or Niknaks and have a happy GM day. Drink some soy milk, eat some tofu or consume one of the many soy based vegetarian products available, and have a happy GM day.

Tests that have been done on animals have shown some serious problems caused by the consumption of GM foods. If you’re ever curious about why there has been such an increase in cancer, allergies and other medical conditions in the last few years, I can tell you for free that there is a very likely culprit in genetically modified foods.

Let’s ignore for the moment the debate about the danger of GM foods and focus on one thing: My right as an individual to know what I am eating and decide what I want to eat. Whether GM foods are bad for you or not, is not the point. The point is why do I not have a choice? GM foods should be labelled so that I can make an informed choice about what I consume.

So why aren’t GM foods labelled? Because surveys indicate that the majority of people will choose not to eat them and the biotech companies can’t have that. The biotech companies spend billions ensuring that labelling legislation never becomes law. Do you know that our recently introduced consumer protection bill originally included regulations for GM labelling but the biotech industry had them removed.

The only way you can extract yourself from this involuntary testing program is to eat organic or non-GM cottonseed oil, maize and soy. Educate yourself about what’s going on. Tell people about it and hopefully we as consumers can rid the earth of this evil. Even if you do this, as a taxpayer you are still funding the medical costs of this trial.

See this website for info on a campaign to introduce GM labelling regulation http://www.safeage.org

There is also going to be a presentation by Prof. Chris Viljoen from the GMO testing facility of the University of the Free State entitled “Genetically Modified Crops: What do we absolutely know about them? Labelling, safety, hunger relief and other myths”

The event will take place at the Cape Town Medi Spa in Kloof Street on Wednesday 28th November, 2007 at 6:00pm for 6:30pm. Tickets are R75 and include snacks & organic wine.

RSVP to safeage@mweb.co.za or phone 021-447-8445. Please include your contactable phone number when emailing your RSVP.

Read my other posts on GM foods

Where is James Bond
Men’s Health – the magazine men die by

Take 10 minutes to fill out the Pick ‘n Pay survey and tell them you want your food labelled, click here.

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5 Responses

  1. Alistair says:

    Dax, I’m afraid your science is bad. It is human nature to fear change – and in my experience genetic modification (GM) is a good example of this. Because people do not properly understand the issue they fear it – and in some cases drum up support for that fear. Do you worry that your cellphone is going to give you brain cancer?

    From what I can see you cherry-pick your evidence to drum up a mob. Here is an article that has been thought out (a little long I know).

    But:
    – GM crops are actually heavily regulated and tested – more so than other crops
    – There is no reason to believe that they are causing cancer (basic knowledge of biology would tell you that). Increases in cancer incidence are due to increased longevity – we now live long enough to die of cancer!
    – GM crops are highly beneficial to farmers and to the environment
    – Cross breeding has been used for hundreds of years to produce much the same effect as GM tech – no worries there right?

    Anyway, I will say that I agree that genetically modified foods should have labeling (people have a right to know, even if they are ignorant of the details). However, GM is sometimes so slight that it is hard to even define.

    Another thing I notice is that you assume organic farming to be good for the environment. See this article which refuting that claim.

  2. Dax says:

    Thank you for your comment, Alistair.

    I’m glad that you agree on the labelling issue, that is really a fundamental point and independant of the safety of GMOs. The other point which I’d like to get your agreement on is the precautionary principle. When GMOs are released into the environment, they can never be recalled. Seeing as we are toying with nature and don’t know what the long term effects could be, we should be very careful before we release things into the environment. I believe that this is another fundamental point which is independant of the safety of GMOs for consumption.

    In response to your points:

    – GM crops are in fact not heavily tested and regulated. In their 1992 policy on GM foods, the United States Food & Drug Administration (FDA) stated “The agency is not aware of any information showing that foods derived by these new methods differ from other foods in any meaningful or uniform way.” On the basis of that sentence, the FDA claimed that no safety studies are necessary and that “Ultimately, it is the food producer who is responsible for assuring safety.” Biotech companies thus determine on their own if their products are harmless.

    – I don’t have data on the demographics of cancer sufferers, but I’m confident that it’s not just old people that get cancer. I’m not going to try and argue this point, but the medical fraternity is wondering what is causing the significant increase in cancer. Just as I can’t prove that GM foods cause cancer, it can’t be proved that they don’t and when I see rat studies showing potentially precancerous cell growth in the digestive tract after consuming GM feed, I start to wonder.

    – GM crops are not at all beneficial to farmers nor the environment. According to the April 13, 2005 Deccan Herald, “A study that tracked genetically modified Bt cotton crop for three years in Andhra Pradesh has proved conclusively that it has failed on all fronts including yield, cost of cultivation, returns to farmers and resistance to pests.” Bt cotton cost 12% more, yielded 8.3% less, and the returns were 60% lower. Some farmers even complained “that they were not able to grow other crops after Bt because it had infected their soil very badly.”

    – Cross breeding or hybridisation uses the natural reproductive process of the organism. This has 2 benefits of genetic modification 1) you can’t ‘mate’ organisms which are not similar. ie, you can’t ‘mate’ a pig and a type of maize. 2) The genetic sequence is created through a natural process which we do not understand nor can we replicate. In genetic modification the genes are inserted in a very random way, causing untold damage to the gene sequence with unknown repercussions.

    – Organic farming is much better for the environment than other types of farming, particularly GM monocultures. Check out this website http://www/indsp.org and download the report in the right side of the page called ‘The Case for a GM free Sustainable World’.

    I’ve tried to keep this short but I could go on for ever and ever. There is plenty of information out there for people who are interested in learning more.

  3. Roddy Rhodes says:

    There has to be a problem with the reported failure of GM cotton in India. I know that GM cotton on the Makhatini Flats has far outperformed the old cotton they used to plant. Now of course the farmers there are totally dependent on Monsanto or whoever is manufacturing the stuff, and will have to pay whatever price is demanded. They will never again have the freedom to choose from a selection of suppliers and strains. Progress?

  4. Dax says:

    Roddy, I agree with you. Biodiversity is an important issue and I also think that having a corporation control the food supply is not a good idea. I’d say we should be prepared to sacrifice yield for freedom, but luckily we don’t have to because the GM yields are no better.

    Your mention of Makhatini reminded me of some info I read about that, the following is an extract from a Biowatch (www.biowatch.org.za) newsletter…

    In Makhatini, South Africa, often cited as the showcase Bt cotton project for small farmers, 100,000 hectares were planted with Bt cotton at the start of the project in 1998. By 2002, that had crashed to 22,500 hectares, an 80% reduction in 4 years. By 2004, 85% of farmers who used to grow Bt cotton had given up. The farmers found pest problems and no increase in yield. Those farmers who still grow the crop do so at a loss, continuing only because the South African government subsidizes the project and there’s a guaranteed market for the cotton. The only farmer who defends Bt cotton in the film is T J Buthelezi, who has long touted GM crops around the globe courtesy of Monsanto. Apparently, though, Monsanto forgot to include Mrs Buthelezi on its hospitality programme. She states on camera that her family makes no profit from the crop. Even Mr. Buthelezi seems low-key, saying that Bt cotton is only suitable for large holdings and that farmers need other options.

  5. Dax says:

    Another interesting article I spotted about GM cotton says this

    “…this multi-year study of GM and non-GM cotton cultivation shows, ‘When considered as a whole, no transgenic technology system provided greater returns than a nontransgenic system in any year or location.”

    You can read more on this study here http://www.gmwatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=8797