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WHAT IS IT? AND HOW DOES IT AFFECT YOU?
Biogenetic engineering is the industry of using the scientific knowledge and research about genetics that is information about chromosomes and DNA and manipulating the reproduction of life forms with that knowledge for commercial purposes. Many including myself have been concerned about all the possible horror stories that could develop from scientists having the ability to create mutant species of life in the laboratory by knowing how to alter the very substance of life, DNA, that determines the characteristics of an organic, life form. Truly there are mad scientists among us and there has been for a long time. Unfortunately science and technology develop at a far more rapid pace than social and legal institutions can keep abreast of. Moral concerns are at the last it seems in the development of technology but more importantly for the purposes of this website apparently health concerns are at the back door in this profit driven industry. Ironically the biogenetic industry uses the promise of developing a cure for cancer as its main excuse to drive forward with technology that seems to go against nature itself. Amazingly much of what biogenetic engineering has been used for commercially is in the same camp with big agribusiness and food processing corporations that are at the core of using technology that destroys people’s health and causes cancer. There has been a lot of debate as to whether a corporation can own a patent on a life form. Many have not been familiar with the technology of biogenetic engineering until the term GMOs was created. GMO means genetically modified organism. I have always referred to these altered organisms as biogenetically engineered organisms.
To start with speaking about the horrors of biogenetic engineering I should mention the Monsanto corporation, a major chemical company that along with two other chemical companies created napalm, the insidious, incendiary bombs that were used to burn entire villages of Vietnamese people alive within minutes. The Monsanto corporation by virtue of biogenetic engineering developed genetically engineered soy beans that cannot be killed by a poisonous, herbicide manufactured by Monsanto that kills all other plants and is incredibly toxic to human beings. In addition these genetically modified soy beans are used in feed that is fed to livestock that in turn become human food. This, also, affects other animal, food products besides meat such as eggs, milk and cheese. Parts of these genetically altered soybeans such as soy lecithin and soy oil are, also, used in lots of processed foods.
Photo by Petr Krotochvil
Besides the pollution of the environment and foods with poisonous residues from the herbicide what dangers do the genetically engineered food materials pose to humans? In fact no one exactly knows because there has been no testing and it may take a few generations to see the effect on humans. Truly people are the guinea pigs in this mad scientists’ scheme to increase corporate profits with no benefit to the people at all. It is known that when cattle are fed feed containing these genetically engineered soy beans a certain kind of antibiotic will not work with them anymore so the cattle industry has to use another kind of antibiotic. Is this not proof enough that scientists are tampering with things they do not know about and understand with little thought to the possible consequences? Is this nothing new for scientific researchers who are highly paid by the academic, government, industrial complex? Those who have been readers of this website I’m sure are already impressed with the fact that it is much less costly, much easier and makes much more sense to go back to everything natural while learning from the natural traditions of all the cultures on this planet. It seems self evident that all of the answers and solutions can be found in traditional knowledge. It is nice to have the wonders of electronics but in the areas of food and medicine massive questioning is truly needed. It is interesting that the faster people are moving toward wanting what is natural the faster certain corporations move to use new technology to poison people without their knowledge. It, also, bears noting that people’s desire for what is natural in healing and nutrition creates new companies that have something better to offer that actually heals instead of making people ill. One however must, also, learn to recognize the same types of corporations previously mentioned exploiting people’s desire for what is natural by offering snake oil medicine concoctions with exaggerated claims.
Photo by Виталий Смолыгин
One who is reading this may wonder exactly how scientists can alter life forms. One would think that scientists have knowledge of chromosomes and DNA that is almost mathematical and that they can alter life forms like changing numbers. In the sub-microscopic world of DNA and working with biology this in fact is not possible. Scientists manipulate life forms by splicing the genes of one life form with another. There is no way that this can be an exact science. One might still wonder how this is possible. Consider that certain life forms that reproduce generations in a very short period of time such as bacteria and fruit flies can naturally mutate very quickly. Viruses are a good example in which new strains of a life form can develop within a short period of time. Once I was listening to public broadcasting radio and heard a story that scientists had spliced a human gene into a sheep. Not only was this a scary thought but even scarier was the fact that the news radio show I was listening to did not give any details or explain what the purpose of splicing a human gene into a sheep was for.
Once when I worked as a charter bus driver doing business convention work I did a business convention for the AMGEN corporation. I had to hold up a sign at the airport that said,”AMGEN”, to locate the business convention visitors as they got off the plane so I could shuttle them to the luxury hotel for the convention. An older man saw the sign and excitedly asked me how AMGEN stock was doing. I had to tell him that I didn’t know. As I worked the convention shuttling the hotel guests for the convention to events such as dinner and entertainment at a luxurious estate home and back I asked some of the people when I had only a few on a bus trip what AMGEN did. Interestingly, unlike with business convention people from other companies, the AMGEN people responded to my question with extreme displeasure and would just blurt out,”curing cancer”. None of them wanted to talk about what the company really does which is biogenetic engineering. I assume that is because they were very aware that there is a lot of public sentiment against biogenetic engineering. Interestingly the NPR public broadcasting radio network has long ago added AMGEN to its list of corporate sponsors. This is why NPR radio does not carry stories about the dangers and possible consequences of biogenetic engineering as other alternative media sources do. Since NPR has “sold out” to corporate sponsors it, also, gives very little labor news. It only covers the most major labor stories. When NPR radio mentions AMGEN as a corporate sponsor at the end of one of its shows it only mentions,”working towards finding a cure for cancer”.
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Despite the controversy about a corporation being able to own a patent on a life form corporations now do in fact own patents on life forms. The biogenetic engineering industry claimed that its genetically altered plants could not reproduce with and corrupt natural strains of plants. Now it is known that biogenetically engineered strains of plants have developed in countries where it is illegal to bring in genetically altered produce and grains or any food products containing them into their countries to avoid tainting natural plants with the genetics of biogenetically altered life forms. Recently a news story came out about a farmer in Canada where biogenetically engineered foods are banned from being brought into the country having corn crops that were tainted by biogenetically engineered genetics from genetically modified corn. The Monsanto corporation was trying to sue the farmer to pay them royalties because they owned the patent on that biogenetically modified corn that tainted his crops. In Mexico where GMOs are, also, banned from the country biogenetically modified corn has corrupted corn in the remotest mountain areas such as Chiappas where native people have grown corn in traditional ways for thousands of years and have tried to keep their strains of heirloom corn pure. Biogenetically engineered produce and grains are banned in Europe and countries throughout the world and yet the corporations of America push blindly forward without regard for the will of the people against it.
After years of personally learning about and talking with people about biogenetic engineering the natural foods industry has created the term GMOs (genetically modified organisms). Now packages of natural foods including organic and vegan foods bear the words,”contains no GMOs.” Interestingly I have found that many do not understand what GMOs exactly means. Corporations have for a long time been developing GMO corn that produces a poison that kills the pests that live on corn but this GMO corn does not work on all the pests that damage corn crops and there is the danger that the pests it works on will develop an immunity to the poison that derives from a bacteria whose genetics were spliced into corn. Some GMO corn that is resistant to herbicides has caused weeds that damage corn to develop the same resistance to the herbicides so farmers have to use more herbicides and work harder to protect their crops. Is this the kind of food that people want or do US corporations simply not care? One story I heard on public broadcasting radio that is worth noting is the story of a biogenetic engineering scientist who worked very hard to develop rice that has vitamin A in it. His justification for his research was to keep people in China from going blind due to vitamin A deficiency. The radio news story made the comment that there are lots of other foods that have vitamin A in them. I have to add the comment myself that I can’t believe the country of China with its major universities, scientists and public health administrators would allow people to go blind due to vitamin A deficiency. Obviously the government of China cares more about its people than America’s does. This scientist must have been playing on people’s ignorance and racial stereotypes to justify his research. Along with these horror stories is the realization that corporations have produced crops that are incapable of reproducing themselves. This was done to force farmers to buy all their seeds from these companies since the farmers would not be able to grow their own seeds.
Now eighty per cent of the corn that is commercially grown in this country is biogenetically engineered corn. This is how fast the industrial food complex works in secrecy while people such as myself struggle to just inform people that such a phenomenon even exists. Some may think that the organic foods movement is fighting against the same toxins of big agribusiness and the food processing industry such as pesticides like DDT and preservatives. In fact the industrial food complex does not rest in inventing new ways to destroy everything natural. Keep in mind that GMO corn has wider effects in feed to animals and using parts of corn such as corn syrup and corn starch in processed food products.
What’s next with biogenetic engineering? The best solution is to learn about organic foods and boycott the “food” produced by the mad scientists. I have long ago “dropped out” of the commercial foods vicious circle so I don’t have to worry about getting cancer and having children with birth defects.