As we have noted before in this space, most Americans don’t have knowledge of the health risks involved with eating genetically modified foods, such as GMO corn and GMO soybeans. That’s because Monsanto, the extraordinarily powerful company that manufactures the vast majority of these has a strong hold on our government.
They have successfully lobbied to disallow even the labeling of GMO foods. This has happened despite the fact that in numerous polls, Americans want such labeling on the products they buy.
In other nations, however – Europe, China, and Japan– GMO labeling is required. More and more scientific studies are emerging to raise grave concerns about health risks from ingesting GMO foods. Recently in Egypt, Hussein Kaoud, a scientist with Cairo University’s Faculty of Veterinary Hygiene, self-funded an experiment in which his team fed genetically modified food to nine groups of rats and mice.
For three months, 10 percent of the rodents’ diet was made up of different kinds of genetically modified foods, including potatoes, corn, grapes and tomatoes. The remaining 90 percent of the diet was conventional. After just four weeks he began seeing problems. “I recorded the alteration of different organs, shrinkage of kidneys, change in the liver and spleen, appearance of malignant parts in the tissues, kidney failure and hemorrhages in the intestine,” Kaoud told the Egypt Independent newspaper. “The brain functions were touched as well, and the rats’ learning and memory abilities were seriously altered.”
Some of the rodents developed cancer. Some became more sensitive to pollution in the environment, and had lower immune responses. The death rate of babies raised by mothers on the diet increased by 35 percent. Half of the babies died after three weeks.
Kaoud’s results are slated to be published soon in two peer-reviewed scientific journals, Neurotoxicology and Ecotoxicology.
Another Egyptian scientist, a plant pathologist at Monufiya University, fed genetically modified corn to goats and sheep, the newspaper reports. The animals experienced liver and kidney deficiencies. The scientist, Mohamed Fathy, is in the process of publishing two papers on the experiment. “As it is,” Fathy says, “the product is not safe for human consumption.” He is hoping that the information will convince Egyptian officials to freeze importation of GMOs, such as MON 810, Monsanto’s genetically modified corn, 70 tons of which was planted in Egypt in 2010.
The GMO labeling issue finally is beginning to surface in public awareness. Recently, labeling advocates in California were able to collect enough signatures to place Proposition 37, the California Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act, on this November’s ballot. Pesticide and processed food companies, of course, have so far contributed nearly $10 million to defeat Proposition 37, according to campaign finance reports.
The results of the California vote are expected to have impact on the American food system. Stay tuned for further developments. Meanwhile, you can read more about GMOs and health risks at WellWise.org.