About the 50 Harmful Effects of GM Foods
This article does more than dispute the industry and certain government officials’ claims that genetically-modified (GM) foods are the equivalent of ordinary foods not requiring labeling. It offers an informative list of the vast number of alarm signals, at least fifty hazards, problems, and dangers. also interspersed are deeper philosophical discussion of how the “good science” of biotechnology can turn against us as a thano-technology, grounded in a worldview that most seriously needs to be revisied.
When pesticides were first introduced, they also were heralded as absolutely safe and as a miracle cure for farmers. Only decades later the technology revealed its truer lethal implications. Here the potentially lethal implications are much broader.
The following list of harms is also divided into several easily referred-to sections, namely on health, environment, farming practices, economic/political/social implications, and issues of freedom of choice. There is a concluding review of means of inner activism – philosophical, spiritual, worldview changing. Next there is a list of action-oriented, practical ideas and resources for personal, political and consumer action on this vital issue. Finally, I want the reader to know that this article is a living document, subject to change whenever new and important information becomes available.
“Recombinant DNA technology faces our society with problems unprecedented not only in the history of science, but of life on Earth. It places in human hands the capacity to redesign living organisms, the products of three billion years of evolution. Such intervention must not be confused with previous intrusions upon the natural order of living organisms: animal and plant breeding…All the earlier procedures worked within single or closely related species…Our morality up to now has been to go ahead without restriction to learn all that we can about nature. Restructuring nature was not part of the bargain…this direction may be not only unwise, but dangerous. Potentially, it could breed new animal and plant diseases, new sources of cancer, novel epidemics.”
Deaths and Near-Deaths
1. Recorded Deaths from GM: In 1989, dozens of Americans died and several thousands were afflicted and impaired by a genetically modified version of the food supplement L-tryptophan creating a debilitating ailment known as Eosinophilia myalgia syndrome (EMS) . Released without safety tests, there were 37 deaths reported and approximately 1500 more were disabled. A settlement of $2 billion dollars was paid by the manufacturer, Showa Denko, Japan’s third largest chemical company destroyed evidence preventing a further investigation and made a 2 billion dollar settlement. Since the very first commercially sold GM product was lab tested (Flavr Savr) animals used in such tests have prematurely died.
2. Near-deaths and Food Allergy Reactions: In 1996, Brazil nut genes were spliced into soybeans to provide the added protein methionine and by a company called Pioneer Hi-Bred. Some individuals, however, are so allergic to this nut, they can go into anaphylactic shock (similar to a severe bee sting reaction) which can cause death. Using genetic engineering, the allergens from one food can thus be transferred to another, thought to be safe to eat, and unknowingly. Animal and human tests confirmed the peril and fortunately the product was removed from the market before any fatalities occurred. The animal tests conducted, however, were insufficient by themselves to show this. Had they alone been relied upon, a disaster would have followed.”The next case could be less than ideal and the public less fortunate,” writes Marion Nestle author of Food Politics and Safe Food, and head of the Nutrition Department of NYU in an editorial to the New England Journal of Medicine. It has been estimated that 25% of Americans have mild adverse reactions to foods (such as itching and rashes), while at least 4% or 12 million Americans have provably more serious food allergies as objectively shown by blood iImmunoglobulin E or IgE levels. In other words, there is a significant number of highly food-sensitive individuals in our general population. The percentage of young children who are seriously food-allergenic is yet higher, namely 6-8% of all children under the age of three. In addition, the incidence rates for these children has been decidedly rising. Writes Dr. Jacqueline Pongracic, head of the allergy department at Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago, “I’ve been treating children in the field of allergy immunology for 15 years, and in recent years I’ve really seen the rates of food allergy skyrocket.” The Center for Disease Control confirmed the spike on a US national level. Given the increased adulteration of our diets, it is no wonder at all that this is happening. Yet the FDA officials who are sacredly entrusted to safeguard the health of the general public, and especially of children, declared in 1992, under intense industry-lobbying pressure, that genetically-modified (GM) foods were essentially equivalent to regular foods. The truth is that genetically modified foods cannot ever be equivalent. They involve the most novel and technologically-violent alterations of our foods, the most uniquely different foods ever introduced in the history of modern agriculture (and in the history of biological evolution). To say otherwise affronts the intelligence of the public and safeguarding public officials. It is a bold, if not criminal deception to but appease greed-motivated corporate parties and at the direct expense and risk of the public’s health. The FDA even decided against the advice of its own scientists that there was no need at all for FDA allergy or safety testing of these most novel of all foods. This hands-off climate (as promoted by the Bush Administration and similar to what was done with the mortgage and financial industry) is a recipe for widespread social health disasters. When elements of nature that have never before been present in the human diet are suddenly introduced, and without any public safety testing or labeling notice, such as petunia flower elements in soybeans and fish genes in tomatoes (as developed by DNA Plant Technology Corporation in the 1990s), it obviously risks allergic reactions among the most highly sensitive segments of our general population. It is a well-know fact that fish proteins happen to be among the most hyper-allergenic, while tomatoes are not. Thus not labeling such genetically modified tomatoes, with hidden alien or allergenic ingredients, is completely unconscionable. The same applies to the typical GMO that has novel bacterial and viral DNA artificially inserted. Many research studies have definitively confirmed this kind of overall risk for genetically modified foods:
POTATOES – A study showed genetically-modified potatoes expressing cod genes were allergenic.
PEAS – A decade-long study of GM peas was abandoned when it was discovered that they caused allergic lung damage in mice.
SOY – In March 1999, researchers at the York Laboratory discovered that reactions to soy had skyrocketed by 50% over the year before, which corresponded with the introduction of genetically-modified soy from the US. It was the first time in 17 years that soy was tested in the lab among the top ten allergenic foods.
Cancer and Degenerative Diseases
3. Direct Cancer and Degenerative Disease Links: GH is a protein hormone which, when injected into cows stimulates the pituitary gland in a way that the produces more milk, thus making milk production more profitable for the large dairy corporations. In 1993, FDA approved Monsanto’s genetically-modified rBGH, a genetically-altered growth hormone that could be then injected into dairy cows to enhance this feature, and even though scientists warned that this resulted in an increase of IGF-1 (from (70%-1000%). IGF-1 is a very potent chemical hormone that has been linked to a 2 1/2 to 4 times higher risk of human colorectal and breast cancer. Prostate cancer risk is considered equally serious – in the 2,8.to 4 times range. According to Dr. Samuel Epstein of the University of Chicago and Chairman of the Cancer Prevention Coalition, this “induces the malignant transformation of human breast epithelial cells.” Canadian studies confirmed such a suspicion and showed active IGF-1 absorption, thyroid cysts and internal organ damage in rats. Yet the FDA denied the significance of these findings. When two award-winning journalists, Steve Wilson and Jane Akre, tried to expose these deceptions, they were fired by Fox Network under intense pressure from Monsanto. The FDA’s own experiments indicated a spleen mass increase of 40-46%– a sign of developing leukemia. The contention by Monsanto that the hormone was killed by pasteurization or rendered inactive was fallacious. In research conducted by two of Monsanto’s own scientists, Ted Elasser and Brian McBride, only 19% of the hormone was destroyed despite boiling milk for 30 minutes when normal pasteurization is 15 seconds. Canada, the European Union, Australia and New Zealand have banned rBGR. The UN’s Codex Alimentarius, an international health standards setting body, refused to certify rBGH as safe. Yet Monsanto continued to market this product in the US until 2008 when it finally divested under public pressure. This policy in the FDA was initiated by Margaret Miller, Deputy Director of Human Safety and Consultative Services, New Animal Drug Evaluation Office, Center for Veterinary Medicine and former chemical laboratory supervisor for Monsanto. This is part of a larger revolving door between Monsanto and the Bush Administration. She spearheaded the increase in the amount of antibiotics farmers were allowed to have in their milk and by a factor of 100 or 10,000 percent. Also Michael Taylor, Esq. became the executive assistant to the director of the FDA and deputy Commissioner of Policy – filling a position created in 1991 to promote the biotech industry and squelch internal dissent. There Taylor drafted a new law to undermine the 1958 enacted Delaney Amendment that so importantly outlawed pesticides and food additives known to cause cancer. In other words carcinogens could now legally be reintroduced into our food chain. Taylor was later hired as legal counsel to Monsanto, and subsequently became Deputy Commissioner of Policy at the FDA once again. On another front, GM-approved products have been developed with resistance to herbicides that are commonly-known carcinogens. Bromoxynil is used on transgenic bromoxynmil-resistant or BXN cotton. It is known to cause very serious birth defects and brain damage in rats. Glyphosate and POEA, the main ingredients in Roundup, Monsanto’s lead product are suspected carcinogens.
As to other degenerative disease links, according to a study by researcher Dr. Sharyn Martin, a number of autoimmune diseases are enhanced by foreign DNA fragments that are not fully digested in the human stomach and intestines. DNA fragments are absorbed into the bloodstream, potentially mixing with normal DNA. The genetic consequences are unpredictable and unexpected gene fragments have shown up in GM soy crops. A similar view is echoed by Dr. Joe Cummins, Professor of Genetics at the University of Western Ontario, noting that animal experiments have demonstrated how exposure to such genetic elements may lead to inflammation, arthritis and lymphoma (a malignant blood disease).
4. Indirect, Non-traceable Effects on Cancer Rates: The twentieth century saw an incremental lowering of infectious disease rates, especially where a single bacteria was overcome by an antibiotic, but a simultaneous rise in systemic, whole body or immune system breakdowns. The epidemic of cancer is a major example and is affected by the overall polluted state of our environment, including in the pollution of the air, water, and food we take in. There are zillions of potential combinations for the 100,000 commonly thrust upon our environment. The real impact cannot be revealed by experiments that look at just a few controlled factors or chemicals isolates. Rather all of nature is a testing ground. Scientists a few years ago were startled that combining chemical food additives into chemical cocktails caused many times more toxic effects than the sum of the individual chemicals. More startling was the fact that some chemicals were thought to be harmless by themselves but not in such combinations. For example, two simple chemicals found in soft drinks, ascorbic acid and sodium benzoate, together form benzene, an immensely potent carcinogen. Similarly, there is the potential, with entirely new ways of rearranging the natural order with genetic mutations and that similar non-traceable influences can likewise cause cancer. We definitively know X-rays and chemicals cause genetic mutations, and mutagenic changes are behind many higher cancer rates or where cells duplicate out of control. In the US in the year 1900, cancer affected only about 1 out 11 individuals. It now inflicts 1 out of 2 men and 1 out of 3 women in their lifetime. Cancer mortality rates rose relentlessly throughout the 20th century to more than triple overall.
Viral and Bacterial Illness
5. Superviruses: Viruses can mix with genes of other viruses and retroviruses such as HIV. This can give rise to more deadly viruses – and at rates higher than previously thought. One study showed that gene mixing occurred in viruses in just 8 weeks (Kleiner, 1997). This kind of scenario applies to the cauliflower mosaic virus CaMV, the most common virus used in genetic engineering – in Round Up ready soy of Monsanto, Bt-maise of Novaris, and GM cotton and canola. It is a kind of “pararetrovirus” or what multiplies by making DNA from RNA. It is somewhat similar to Hepatitis B and HIV viruses and can pose immense dangers. In a Canadian study, a plant was infected with a crippled cucumber mosaic virus that lacked a gene needed for movement between plant cells. Within less than two weeks, the crippled plant found what it needed from neighboring genes – as evidence of gene mixing or horizontal transfer. This is significant because genes that cause diseases are often crippled or engineered to be dormant in order to make the end product “safe.” Results of this kind led the US Department of Agriculture to hold a meeting in October of 1997 to discuss the risks and dangers of gene mixing and superviruses, but no regulatory action was taken. A French study also showed the recombination of RNA of two Cucomoviruses, and under conditions of minimal selection and in supposedly virus resistant transgenic plants. The issue and research involved are also detailed in the consumer reports article by Mae Wan Ho, Angela Ryans and Joe Cummins, Cauliflower Mosaic Viral Promoter – A Recipe for Disaster?
6. Antibiotic Threat Via Milk: Cows injected with rBGH have a much higher level of udder infections. The Center for Food Safety claims a 25% increase in the frequency of udder infections in cows that are given this growth hormone. Since this hormone causes infections, farmers will use more antibiotics that may eventually end up in the dairy products we consume. Even worse, labels do not warn of this growth hormone so many do not realize what they are consuming. The unacceptable levels of antibiotic residues in the milk can cause allergic reactions and weaken the effects of other antibiotics due to a growth in resistant bacteria. Scientists have warned of public health hazards due to growing antibiotic resistance.The overuse of antibiotics can be strongly linked to hard-to-treat illnesses in people. Most companies have been catching onto the consumer’s uproar and many have sincebecome rBGH free due to increasing concerns.
7. Antibiotic Threat Via Plants: Much of the techniques of genetic implantation are ineffective so scientists must use a marker to track where the gene goes into the plant cell. In the article “Why We Need Labeling of Genetically Engineered Food,” Jean Halloran and Michael Hansen state that the most common marker is a gene for antibiotic resistance and most genetically engineered food products contain this gene. GM maize plants use an ampicillin resistant gene. In 1998, the British Royal Society called for the banning of this marker as it threatens a vital antibiotic’s use. Halloran andHansen elaborate on this saying that some European countries have prohibited the growth of certain genetically engineered corn due to the fact that the gene can be transfered to the food chain. The resistant qualities of GM bacteria in food can be transferred to other bacteria in the environment and throughout the human body causing society to be less receptive to common antibiotics. What’s worse is that some genes can be transferred to disease-causing bacteria making them also resistant to our antibiotics in the future. The GMO Compass explains how the plants with the resistance markers are the only ones to survive after being injected with the antibiotic, thus proving they are resisting the antibiotic. We are vulnerable to those resistant cells due to easy transference.
8. Resurgence of Infectious Diseases: The Microbial Ecology in Health and Diseasejournal reported in 1998 that gene technology may be implicated in the resurgence of infectious diseases. This occurs in multiple ways. There is growing resistance to antibiotics misused in bioengineering, the formation of new and unknown viral strains, and the lowering of immunity through diets of processed and altered foods. There is also the horizontal transfer of transgenic DNA among bacteria. Several studies have shown bacteria of the mouth, pharynx and intestines can take up thetransgenic DNA in the feed of animals, which in turn can be passed on to humans. This threatens the hallmark accomplishment of the twentieth century – the reduction in infectious diseases that critically helped the doubling of life expectancy. A study by the UK Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAFF) recommended that due to the secondary horizontal transfer of transgenic DNA on livestock and human beings, no genetically modifed food be fed to animals since it can render our common infectious diseases untreatable via the food chain.
9. Increased Food Allergies: The loss of biodiversity in our food supply has grown in parallel with the increase in food allergies. This can be explained as follows. The human body is not a machine-like “something” that can be fed assembly line, carbon copy foods. We eat for nourishment and vitality. What is alive interacts or changes with its environment. Unnatural sameness – required forpatenting of genetic foods – are “dead” qualities. Frequently, foods we eat and crave are precisely those testing positive for food allergies.Allergic reactions are misguided defense reactions aganist incoming parasites and in GM food cases, the body senses an unnatural invasion. Cells in our body recognize this lack of vitality, producing antibodies and white cells in response. This is analogous to our brain’s cells recognizing and rejecting mechanically repeated thoughts – or thinking “like a broken record.” Intuitively our body cells and the overall immune system seems to reject excess homogeneity. Each new food item produced contains many new potentially allergenic proteins.
10. Birth Defects and Shorter Life Spans: As we ingest transgenic human/animal products there is no real telling of the impact on human evolution. We know that rBGh in cows causes a rapid increase in birth defects and shorter life spans and the number of calves born with birth defects to dairy cows has increased significantly. A Circle of Responsibility article says that while no thorough study of long term effects has been conducted, Canada and the European Union have taken precautions and banned the use of rBGH in their dairy cows. In a very recent study by Cornucopia Institute Research the following information was reported:
“…The experience of actual GM-fed experimental animals is scary. When GM soy was fed to female rats, most of their babies died within three weeks—compared to a 10% death rate among the control group fed natural soy. The GM-fed babies were also smaller, and later had problems getting pregnant.
When male rats were fed GM soy, their testicles actually changed color—from the normal pink to dark blue. Mice fed GM soy had altered young sperm. Even the embryos of GM fed parent mice had significant changes in their DNA. Mice fed GM corn in an Austrian government study had fewer babies, which were also smaller than normal.
Reproductive problems also plague livestock. Investigations in the state of Haryana, India revealed that most buffalo that ate GM cottonseed had complications such as premature deliveries, abortions, infertility, and prolapsed uteruses. Many calves died. In the US, about two dozen farmers reported thousands of pigs became sterile after consuming certain GM corn varieties. Some had false pregnancies; others gave birth to bags of water. Cows and bulls also became infertile when fed the same corn.
In the US population, the incidence of low birth weight babies, infertility, and infant mortality are all escalating…” Reported May 20,2009.
As a result of this research “the American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) called on ‘Physicians to educate their patients, the medical community, and the public to avoid GM (genetically modified) foods when possible and provide educational materials concerning GM foods and health risks.’ They called for a moratorium on GM foods, long-term independent studies, and labeling. AAEM’s position paper stated, ‘Several animal studies indicate serious health risks associated with GM food,’ including infertility, immune problems, accelerated aging, insulin regulation, and changes in major organs and the gastrointestinal system. They conclude, ‘There is more than a casual association between GM foods and adverse health effects. There is causation,’as defined by recognized scientific criteria. ‘The strength of association and consistency between GM foods and disease is confirmed in several animal studies.’ (see: Institute for Responsible Technology.)
11. Interior Toxins: “Pesticidal foods” have genes that produce a toxic pesticide inside the food’s cells. The food is engineered to produce their own built in pesticide in every cell which produces a poison that splits open a bug’s stomach and kills them when the bug tries to eat the plant. This represents the first time “cell-interior toxicity” is being sold for human consumption. There is little knowledge of the potential long-term health impacts. However, while some biotech companies claim that the pesticide called Bt has been approved safe and used by farmers for natural insect control, the Bt-toxin in GM plants is thousands of times more concentrated than the natural bug spray, can not be washed off the plants, and has a properties of allergens. We are now ingesting this interior plant toxin from GM foods.
12. Lowered Nutrition: A study in the Journal of Medicinal Food (Dr. Marc Lappé, 1999) showed that certain GM foods have lower levels of vital nutrients – especially phytoestrogen compounds thought to protect the body from heart disease and cancer. In another study of GM Vicia Faba, a bean in the same family as soy, there was also an increase in estrogen levels, what raises health issues – especially in infant soy formulas. Milk from cows with rBGH contains substantially higher levels of pus, bacteria, and fat. Monsanto’s analysis of glyphosate-resistant soya showed the GM-line contained 28% more Kunitz-trypsin inhibitor, a known anti-nutrient and allergen.
13. No Regulated Health Safety Testing: The FDA only requests of firms that they conduct their own tests of new GM products in what Vice President Quale back in 1992 referred to as a “regulatory relief program.” The FDA makes no review of those tests unless voluntarily requested by the company producing the product. Companies present their internal company records of tests showing a product is safe – essentially having the “fox oversee the chicken coup.” As Louis J. Pribyl, an FDA microbiologist explained, companies tailor tests to get the results they need. They further relinquish responsibility as Pjil Angell, Monsanto’s director of corporate communications expressed it “Monsanto should not have to vouchsafe the safety of biotech foods. Our interest is in selling…Assuring its safety is the FDA’s job.” But the FDA has not assumed the responsibility. Essentially it is “like playing Russian roulette with public health,” says Philip J. Regal, a biologist at the University of Minnesota. In his contacts with the FDA, he noted that in the policy of helping the biotech industry grow, “government scientist after scientist acknowledged there was no way to assure the health safety of genetically engineered food… [yet] society was going to have to bear an unavoidable measure of risk.” The situation was summarized by Richard Steinbrecher, a geneticist working for the Women’s Environmental Network “To use genetic engineering to manipulate plants, release them into the environment and introduce them into our food chains is scientifically premature, unsafe and irresponsible.”
14. Unnatural Foods: Recently, Monsanto announced it had found “unexpected gene fragments in their Roundup Ready soybeans. It is well known that modified proteins exist in GE foods, new proteins never before eaten by humanity. In 1992, Dr. Louis J. Pribyl of the FDA’s Microbiology Group warned (in an internal memo uncovered in a lawsuit filed) that there is “a profound difference between the types of expected effects from traditional breeding and genetic engineering.” He also addressed industry claims of no “pleiotropic” (unintended and/or uncontrolled) effects. This was the basis for the industry position that GM foods are “equivalent” to regular foods, thus requiring no testing or regulation. “Pleiotropic effects occur in genetically engineered plants…at frequencies of 30%…increased levels of known naturally occurring toxicants, appearance of new, not previously identified intoxicants, increased capability of concentrating toxic substances from the environment (e.g. pesticides or heavy metals), and undesirable alterations in the level of nutrients may escape breeders’ attention unless genetically engineered plants are evaluated specifically for these changes.” Other scientists within the FDA echoed this view – and in contrast to the agency’s official position. For example, James Marayanski, manager of the FDA’s Biotechnology Working Group warned that there was a lack of consensus among the FDA’s scientists as to the so-called “sameness” of GM foodscompared to non-GM foods. The reason why this is such an important issue is that Congress mandated the FDA to require labeling when there is “something tangibly different about the food that is material with respect to the consequences which may result from the use of the food.”
15. Radical Change in Diet: Humanity has evolved for thousands of years by adapting gradually to its natural environment – including nature’s foods. Within just three years a fundamental transformation of the human diet has occurred. This was made possible by massive consolidations among agri-business. Ten companies now own about 40% of all US seed production and sales.The Biotech industry especially targeted two of the most commonly eaten and lucrative ingredients in processed foods – corn and soy. Monsanto and Novaris, through consolidations, became the second and third largest seed companies in the world. They also purchased related agricultural businesses tofurther monopolize soy and corn production. Again within three years, the majority of soybeans and one third of all corn in the US are now grown with seeds mandated by the biotech firms. Also 60% of all hard cheeses in the US are processed with a GM enzyme. A percentage of baking and brewery products are GM modified as well. Most all of US cotton production (where cotton oil is used in foods) is bioengineered. Wheat and rice are next in line. In 2002, Monsanto plans to introduce a “Roundup” (the name of its leading herbicide) resistant wheat strain. The current result is thatapproximately two-thirds of all processed foods in the US already contain GM ingredients – and this is projected to rise to 90% within four years according to industry claims. In short, the human diet, from almost every front, is being radically changed – with little or no knowledge of the long-term health or environmental impacts.
“Genetic Engineering is often justified as a human technology, one that feeds more people with better food. Nothing could be further from the truth. With very few exceptions, the whole point of genetic engineering is to increase sales of chemicals and bio-engineered products to dependent farmers.”
David Ehrenfield: Professor of Biology, Rutgers University
General Soil Impact
16. Toxicity to Soil: The industry marketing pitch to the public is that bioengineered seeds and plants will help the environment by reducing toxic herbicide/pesticide use. Isolated examples are given, but the overall reality is exactly opposite. The majority of GM agricultural products are developed specifically for toxin-resistance – namely for higher doses of herbicides/ pesticides sold by the largest producer companies – Monsanto, Dupont Novaris, Dow, Bayer, Ciba-Geigy, Hoescht, AgroEvo, and Rhone-Poulenc. Also the majority of research for future products involves transgenic strains for increased chemical resistance. Not to be fooled, the primary intent is to sell more, not less of their products and to circumvent patent laws. According to an article by R.J. Goldburg scientists predict herbicide use will triple as a result of GM products. As an example of the feverish attempt to expand herbicide use, Monsanto’s patent for Roundup was scheduled to expire. Not to lose their market share, Monsanto came up with the idea of creating “Roundup Ready” seeds. It bought out seed companies to monopolize the terrain – then licensing the seeds to farmers with the requirement that they continue buying Roundup past the expiration of the patent. These contracts had stiff financial penalties if farmers used any other herbicide. As early as 1996, the investment report of Dain Boswell on changes in the seed industry reported that Monsanto’s billion dollar plus acquisition of Holden Seeds (about 1/3rdof US corn seeds) had “very little to do with Holden as a seed company and a lot to do with the battle between the chemical giants for future sales of herbicides and insecticides.” Also as revealed in corporate interviews conducted by Marc Lappé and Britt Bailey (authors of Against the Grain – Biotechnology and the Corporate Takeover of your Food), the explicit aim was to control 100% of US soy seeds by the year 2000 only to continue to sell Roundup – or to beat their patent’s expiration. In fact in 1996, about 5000 acres were planted with Roundup Ready soy seeds when Roundup sales accounted for 17% of Monsanto’s $9 billion in annual sales. Not to lose this share but to expand it, Monsanto saw to it that by 1999, 5000 acres grew to approximately 40 million acres out of a total of 60 million – or the majority of all soy plantings in the United States. Furthermore, Roundup could now be spayed over an entire field, not just sparingly over certain weeds. However, the problem with evolving only genetically cloned and thus carbon-copy seeds and plants is that historically, extreme monoculture (high levels of sameness in crop planting) has led to a loss of adaptive survival means – or where deadly plant infections have spread like wildfire. As a separate issue, according to the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, Monsanto’s Roundup already threatens 74 endangered species in the United States. It attacks photosynthesis in plants non-specifically – their quintessential, life-giving way to process sunlight. Farmers sowing Roundup Ready seeds can also use more of this herbicide than with conventional weed management. Since the genetically modified plants have alternative ways to create photosynthesis, they are hyper-tolerant, and can thus be sprayed repeatedly without killing the crop. Though decaying in the soil, Roundup residues are left on the plant en route to the consumer. Malcolm Kane, (former head of food safety for Sainsbury’s chain of supermarkets) revealed that the government, to accommodate Monsanto, raised pesticide residue limits on soy products about 300-fold from 6 parts per million to 20 parts. Lastly Roundup is a human as well as environmental poison. According to a study at the University of California, glyphosate (the active ingredient of Roundup) was the third leading cause of farm worker illnesses. At least fourteen persons have died from ingesting Roundup. These cases involved mostly individuals intentionally taking this poison to commit suicide in Japan and Taiwan. From this we know that the killing dose is so small it can be put on a finger tip (0.4 cubic centimeters). Monsanto, however, proposes a universal distribution of this lethal substance in our food chain. All of this is not shocking, given Monsanto’s history – being the company that first distributed PCBs and vouched for their safety.
17. Soil Sterility and Pollution: In Oregon, scientists found GM bacterium (klebsiella planticola) meant to break down wood chips, corn stalks and lumber wastes to produce ethanol – with the post-process waste to be used as compost – rendered the soil sterile. It killed essential soil nutrients, robbing the soil of nitrogen and killed nitrogen capturing fungi. A similar result was found in 1997 with the GM bacteria Rhizobium melitoli. Professor Guenther Stotzky of New York University conducted research showing the toxins that were lethal to Monarch butterfly are also released by the roots to produce soil pollution. The pollution was found to last up to 8 months with depressed microbial activity. An Oregon study showed that GM soil microbes in the lab killed wheat plants when added to the soil.
18. Extinction of Seed Varieties: A few years ago Time magazine referred to the massive trend by large corporations to buy up small seed companies, destroying any competing stock, and replacing it with their patented or controlled brands as “the Death of Birth.” Monsanto additionally has had farmers sign contracts not to save their seeds – forfeiting what has long been a farmer’s birthright to remain guardians of the blueprints of successive life. Golden Harvest Organics explains in an articlethat “the failure of commercial plant breeding has left global agriculture badly prepared for the challenges of the near future, such as climate change and the need to wean ourselves off dependence on fossil fuels. It is now time to start rolling back the monopoly privileges of the seed industry, not to strengthen them further.”
19. Superweeds: It has been shown that genetically modified Bt endotoxin remains in the soil at least 18 months (according to Marc Lappé and Britt Bailey) and can be transported to wild plantscreating superweeds – resistant to butterfly, moth, and beetle pests – potentially disturbing the balance of nature. A study in Denmark (Mikkelsen, 1996) and in the UK (National Institute of Agricultural Botany) showed superweeds growing nearby in just one generation. A US study showed the superweed resistant to glufosinate (which differs from glyphosate) to be just as fertile as non-polluted weeds.Another study showed 20 times more genetic leakage with GM plants – or a dramatic increase in the flow of genes to outside species. Also in a UK study by the National Institute of Agricultural Botany, it was confirmed that superweeds could grow nearby in just one generation. Scientists suspect that Monsanto’s wheat will hybridize with goat grass, creating an invulnerable superweed. The National Academy of Science’s study stated that ” concern surrounds the possibility of genes for resisting pests being passed from cultivated plants to their weedy relatives, potentially making the weed problem worse. This could pose a high cost to farmers and threaten the ecosystem.” (quoting Perry Adkisson, chancellor emeritus of Texas A&M University, who chaired the National Academy of Science study panel). An experiment in France showed a GM canola plant could transfer genes to wild radishes, what persisted in four generations. Similarly, and according to New Scientists, an Alberta Canada farmer began planting three fields of different GM canola seeds in 1997 and by 1999 produced not one, but three different mutant weeds – respectively resistant to three common herbicides (Monsanto’s Roundup, Cyanamid’s Pursuit, and Aventis’ Liberty). In effect genetic materials migrated to the weeds they were meant to control. Now the Alberta farmer is forced to use a potent 2,4-D what GM crops promised to avoid use of. Finally Stuart Laidlaw reported in the Toronto Star that the Ontario government study indicated herbicide use was on the rise primarily largely due to the introduction of GM crops.
20. Plant Invasions: We can anticipate classic bio-invasions as a result of new GM strains, just as with the invasions of the kudzu vine or purple loosestrife in the plant world.
21. Destruction of Forest Life: GM trees or “supertrees“ are being developed which can be sprayed from the air to kill literally all of surrounding life, except the GM trees. There is an attempt underway to transform international forestry by introducing multiple species of such trees. The trees themselves are often sterile and flowerless. This is in contrast to rainforests teaming with life, or where a single tree can host thousands of unique species of insects, fungi, mammals and birds in an interconnected ecosphere. This kind of development has been called “death-engineering” rather than “life-” or “bio-engineering.” More ominously pollen from such trees, because of their height, has traveled as much as 400 miles or 600 kilometers – roughly 1/5 of the distance across the United States.
22. Terminator Trees: Monsanto has developed plans with the New Zealand Forest Research Agency to create still more lethal tree plantations. These super deadly trees are non-flowering, herbicide-resistant and with leaves exuding toxic chemicals to kill caterpillars and other surrounding insects – destroying the wholesale ecology of forest life. As George McGavin, curator of entomology Oxford University noted, “If you replace vast tracts of natural forest with flowerless trees, there will be a serious effect on the richness and abundance of insects…If you put insect resistance in the leaves as well you will end up with nothing but booklice and earwigs. We are talking about vast tracts of land covered with plants that do not support animal life as a sterile means to cultivate wood tissue. That is a pretty unattractive vision of the future and I for one want no part of it.”
23. Superpests: Lab tests indicate that common plant pests such as cottonboll worms, will evolve into superpests immune from the Bt sprays used by organic farmers. The recent “stink bug” epidemic in North Carolina and Georgia seems linked to bioengineered plants that the bugs love.Monsanto, on their Farmsource website, recommended spraying them with methyl parathion, one of the deadliest chemicals. So much for the notion of Bt cotton getting US farmers off the toxic treadmill. Pests the transgenic cotton was meant to kill – cotton bollworms, pink bollworms, and budworms – were once “secondary pests.” Toxic chemicals killed off their predators, unbalanced nature, and thus made them “major pests.”
24. Animal Bio-invasions: Fish and marine life are threatened by accidental release of GM fish currently under development in several countries – trout, carp, and salmon several times the normal size and growing up to 6x times as fast. One such accident has already occurred in the Philippines – threatening local fish supplies.
25. Killing Beneficial Insects: Studies have shown that GM products can kill beneficial insects – most notably the monarch butterfly larvae (Cornell, 1999). Swiss government researchers found Bt crops killed lacewings that ate the cotton worms which the Bt targeted. A study reported in 1997 by New Scientist indicates honeybees may be harmed by feeding on proteins found in GM canola flowers. Other studies relate to the death of bees (40% died during a contained trial with Monsanto’s Bt cotton),springtails (Novartis’ Bt corn data submitted to the EPA) and ladybird beetles.
26. Poisonous to Mammals: In a study with GM potatoes, spliced with DNA from the snowdrop plant and a viral promoter (CaMV), the resulting plant was poisonous to mammals (rats) – damaging vital organs, the stomach lining and immune system. CaMV is a pararetrovirus. It can reactivate dormant viruses or create new viruses – as some presume have occurred with the AIDES epidemic. CaMV is promiscuous, why biologist Mae Wan-Ho concluded that “all transgenic crops containing CaMV 35S or similar promoters which are recombinogenic should be immediately withdrawn from commercial production or open field trials. All products derived from such crops containing transgenic DNA should also be immediately withdrawn from sale and from use for human consumption or animal feed.”
27. Animal Abuse: Pig number 6706 was supposed to be a “superpig.” It was implanted with a gene to become a technological wonder. But it eventually became a “supercripple” full of arthritis, cross-eyed, and could barely stand up with its mutated body. Some of these mutations seem to come right out of Greek mythology – such as a sheep-goat with faces and horns of a goat and the lower body of a sheep. Two US biotech companies are producing genetically modified birds as carriers for human drug delivery – without little concern for animal suffering. Gene Works of Ann Arbor, Michigan has up to 60 birds under “development.” GM products, in general, allow companies to own the rights to create, direct, and orchestrate the evolution of animals.
28. Support of Animal Factory Farming: Rather than using the best of scientific minds to end animal factory farming – rapid efforts are underway to develop gene-modified animals that better thrive in disease-promoting conditions of animal factory farms.
29. Genetic Pollution: Carrying GM pollen by wind, rain, birds, bees, insects, fungus, bacteria – the entire chain of life becomes involved. Once released, unlike chemical pollution, there is no cleanup or recall possible. As mentioned, pollen from a single GM tree has been shown to travel 1/5th of the length of the United States. Thus there is no containing such genetic pollution. Experiments in Germany have shown that engineered oilseed rape can have its pollen move over 200 meters. As a result German farmers have sued to stop field trials in Berlin. In Thailand, the government stopped field tests for Monsanto’s Bt cotton when it was discovered by the Institute of Traditional Thai Medicine that 16 nearby plants of the cotton family, used by traditional healers, were being genetically polluted. US research showed that more than 50% of wild strawberries growing inside of 50 meters of a GM strawberry field assumed GM gene markers. Another showed that 25-38% of wild sunflowers growing near GM crops had GM gene markers. A recent study in England showed that despite the tiny amount of GM plantings there (33,750 acres over two years compared to 70-80 million acres per year in the US) wild honey was found to be contaminated. This means that bees are likely to pollinate organic plants and trees with transgenic elements. Many other insects transport the by-products of GM plants throughout our environment, and even falling leaves can dramatically affect the genetic heritage of soil bacteria. The major difference between chemical pollution and genetic pollution is that the formereventually is dismantled or decays, while the later can reproduce itself forever in the wild. As the National Academy of Science’s report indicated – “the containment of crop genes is not considered to be feasible when seeds are distributed and grown on a commercial scale.” Bioengineering firms are also developing fast growing salmon, trout, and catfish as part of the “blue revolution” in aquaculture. They often grow several times faster (6x faster for salmon) and larger in size (up to 39X) so as to potentially wipe out their competitors in the wild. There are no regulations for their safe containment to avoid ecological disasters. They frequently grow in “net pens,” renown for being torn by waves, so that some will escape into the wild. If so, commercial wild fish could be devastated according to computer models in a study of the National Academy of Sciences by two Purdue University scientists (William Muir and Richard Howard). All of organic farming – and farming per se – may eventually be either threatened or polluted by this technology.
30. Disturbance of Nature’s Boundaries: Genetic engineers argue that their creations are no different than crossbreeding. However, natural boundaries are violated – crossing animals with plants, strawberries with fish, grains, nuts, seeds, and legumes with bacteria, viruses, and fungi; or like human genes with swine.
31. Unpredictable Consequences of a Gunshot Approach: DNA fragments are blasted past a cell’s membrane with a “gene gun” shooting in foreign genetic materials in a random, unpredictable way. According to Dr. Richard Lacey, a medical microbiologist at the University of Leeds, who predicted mad cow disease, “wedging foreign genetic material in an essentially randommanner…causes some degree of disruption…It is impossible to predict what specific problems could result.” This view is echoed by many other scientists, including Michael Hansen, Ph.D., who states that “Genetic engineering, despite the precise sound of the name, is actually a very messy process.”
IMPACT ON FARMING
“The decline in the number of farms is likely to accelerate in the coming years…gene-splicing technologies… change the way plants and animals are produced.”
Small Farm Livelihood and Survival
32. Decline and Destruction of Self-Sufficient Family Farms: In 1850, 60% of the working population in the US was engaged in agriculture. By the year 1950 it was 4%. Today it is 2% (CIA World Factbook 1999 – USA). From a peak of 7 million farms in 1935, there are now less than one-third or 2 million left. In many urban areas, the situation is starker where family farms are becoming largely extinct. For example, Rockland Country, New York (1/2 hour from New York City) had 600 family farms in 1929. Exactly seventy years later only 6 remained. Similar declines have occurred throughout the US and abroad. Of the one-third remaining US farms, 100,000 or 5% produce most of our foods.Agri-corporations have taken economic and legislative power away from the small, self-sufficient family farms – sometimes via cutthroat competition (such as legal product dumping below production costs to gain market share – what was legalized by GATT regulations). The marketing of GM foods augments this centralizing and small-farm-declining trend in the US – as well as on an international level. For example, two bioengineering firms have announced a GM vanilla plant where vanilla can be grown in vats at a lower cost – and which could eliminate the livelihood of the world’s 100,000 vanilla farmers – most of whom are on the islands of Madagascar, Reunion and Comoros. Other firms are developing bioengineered fructose, besides chemical sugar substitutes, that threatens, according to a Dutch study, a million farmers in the Third World. In 1986, the Sudan lost its export of gum arabic when a New York company discovered a bioengineering process for producing the same. Synthetic cocoa substitutes are also threatening farmers. It is estimated that the biotech industry will find at least $14 billion dollars of substitutes for Third World farming products. Far beyond hydroponics, scientists are developing processes to grow foods in solely laboratory environments – eliminating the need for seeds, shrubs, trees, soil and ultimately the farmer.
33. General Economic Harm to Small Family Farms: GM seeds sell at a premium, unless purchased in large quantities, which creates a financial burden for small farmers. To add to this financial injury, Archer Daniels Midland has instituted a two-tier price system where it offers less to farmers per bushels for GM soybeans because they are not selling well overseas. Many GM products, such as rBGH, seem to offer a boom for dairy farmers – helping their cows produce considerably more milk. But the end result has been a lowering of prices, again putting the smaller farmers out of business. We can find similar trends with other GM techniques – as in pig and hen raising made more efficient.The University of Wisconsin’s GM brooding hens lack the gene that produces prolactin proteins. The new hens no longer sit on their eggs as long, and produce more. Higher production leads to lower prices in the market place. The end result is that the average small farmer’s income plummeted while a few large-scale, hyper-productive operations survived along with their “input providers” (companies selling seeds, soil amendments, and so on). In an on-going trend, the self-sufficient family farmer is shoved to the very lowest rung of the economic ladder. In 1910 the labor portion of agriculture accounted for 41% of the value of the finally sold produce. Now the figure has been estimated at between 6-9% in North America. The balance gets channeled to agri-input and distribution firms – and more recently to biotech firms. Kristin Dawkins in Gene Wars: The Politics of Biotechnology, points out that between 1981 and 1987, food prices rose 36%, while the percentage of the pie earned by farmers continued to shrink dramatically.
34. Losing Purity: At the present rate of proliferation of GM foods, within 50-100 years, the majority of organic foods may no longer be organic.
35. Mixing: A Texas organic corn chip maker, Terra Prima, suffered a substantial economic losswhen their corn chips were contaminated with GM corn and had to be destroyed.
36. Losing Natural Pesticides: Organic farmers have long used “Bt” (a naturally occurring pesticidal bacterium, Bacillus thuringiensis) as an invaluable farming aide. It is administered at only certain times, and then sparingly, in a diluted form. This harms only the target insects that bite the plant. Also in that diluted form, it quickly degrades in the soil. By contrast, genetically engineered Bt corn, potatoes and cotton – together making up roughly a third of US GM crops – all exude this natural pesticide. It is present in every single cell, and pervasively impacts entire fields over the entire life span of crops. This probably increases Bt use at least a million fold in US agriculture. According to a study conducted at NYU, BT residues remained in the soil for as much as 243 days. As an overall result, agricultural biologists predict this will lead to the destruction of one of organic farming’s most important tools. It will make it essentially useless. A computer model developed at the University of Illinois predicted that if all US Farmers grew Bt resistant corn, resistance would occur within 12 months. Scientists at the University of North Carolina have already discovered Bt resistance among moth pests that feed on corn. The EPA now requires GM planting farmers to set aside 20-50% of acres with non-BT corn to attempt to control the risk and to help monarch butterflies survive.
Control and Dependency
37. Terminator Technology: Plants are being genetically produced with no annual replenishing of perennial seeds so farmers will become wholly dependent on the seed provider. In the past Monsanto had farmers sign agreements that they would not collect seeds, and even sent out field detectives to check on farmers.
38. Traitor Technology: Traitor technologies control the stages or life cycles of plants – when a plant will leaf, flower, and bear fruit. This forces the farmer to use certain triggering chemicals if he is to yield a harvest – again causing much deeper levels of economic dependence. These technologies are being developed and patented at a furious pace.
39. Less Diversity, Quality, Quantity and Profit: One of the most misleading hopes raised by GM technology firms is that they will solve the world’s hunger. Some high technology agriculture does offer higher single crop yields. But organic farming techniques, with many different seeds interplanted between rows, generally offer higher per acre yields. This applies best to the family farm, which feeds the majority of the Third World. It differs from the large-scale, monocrop commercial production of industrialized nations. Even for commercial fields, results are questionable. In a study of 8,200 field trials, Roundup Ready soybeans produced fewer bushels of soy than non-GM (Charles Benbrook study, former director Board of Agriculture at the National Academy of Sciences). The average yield for non-GM soybeans was 51.21 bushels per acre; for GM soybeans it was 49.26. This was again confirmed in a study at the University of Nebraska’s Institute of Agricultural Resources. They grew five different strains of Monsanto soya plants in four different locations of varied soil environments. Dr. Elmore of the project found that on average GM seeds, though more expensive, produced 6% less than non-GM relatives, and 11% less than the highest yielding conventional crops. “The numbers were clear,” stated Dr. Elmore. The yield for Bt corn, however, in other studies was higher. But this did not lead to greater profit because GM related costs in terms of insecticides, fertilizer and labor were nearly $4 more per acre.
40. Fragility of Future Agriculture: With loss of biological diversity there inevitably develops a fragility of agriculture. During the Irish potato famine of the 19th century, farmers grew limited varieties of potatoes. This allowed a crop blight to spread throughout. By contrast, there are thousands of varieties of potatoes in Peru – what provides adaptability and thus a constant resource for blight resistance. Farm researchers have tapped into this treasure chest for the benefit of the rest of the world. Reminiscent of the Irish potato catastrophe of the 1840’s, Cornell Chronicle reports a still more virulent strain than ever – known as potato late blight is presently attacking Russian potato crops and threatening regional food shortages. The new strain can survive harsh winters. In January of 2000, the NY Times reported a citrus canker blight in Southern Florida – one seriously threatening the state’s entire $8.5 billion citrus fruit industry. Coca plants, monocropped and nearly identical, are also endangered by an international blight. Thus the destruction rather than preservation of alternative, adaptable seed stocks by GM companies, follows a dangerous path for the future of all of agriculture.
41. Lower Yields and More Pesticides Used With GM Seeds: Contrary to claims, a Rodale study shows that the best of organic farming techniques – using rich natural compost – can produce higher drought resistance as well as higher yielding plants than with current technological attempts. Dr. Charles Benbrook, a consultant for the Consumer’s Union, published a summary of a report revealing Roundup Ready soybeans actually used 2-5 times more pounds of herbicides per acre than conventional soybeans sprayed with other low-dose pesticides.
42. Monopolization of Food Production: The rapid and radical change in the human diet was made possible by quick mergers and acquisitions that moved to control segments of the US farming industry. Although there are approximately 1500 seed companies worldwide, about two dozen control more than 50% of the commercial seed heritage of our planet. The consolidation has continued to grow, In 1998 the top five soy producers controlled 37% of the market (Murphy Family Foods; Carroll’s Foods, Continental Grain, Smithfield Foods, and Seaboard). One year later, the top five controlled 51% (Smithfield, having acquired Murphy’s and Carroll’s, Continental, Seaboard, Prestige and Cargill). Cargill and Continental Grain later merged. With corn seed production and sales, the top fourseed companies controlled 87% of the market in 1996 (Pioneer Hi-Bred, Holden’s Foundation Seeds, DeKalb Genetics, and Novaris). In 1999, the top three controlled 88% (Dupont having acquired Pioneer, Monsanto having acquired Holden’s and DeKalb, and Novaris. In the cotton seed market, Delta and Land Pine Company now control about 75% of the market. The concentration is staggering. National farming associations see this dwindling of price competition and fewer distribution outlets as disfavoring and threatening the small family farm. Average annual income per farm has plummeted throughout the last decade. Almost a quarter of all farm operating families live below the poverty level, twice the national average – and most seek income from outside the farm to survive. A similar pattern is developing in Europe.
43. Impact on Long -Term Food Supply: If food production is monopolized, the future of that supply becomes dependent on the decisions of a few companies and the viability of their seed stocks. Like the example of Peru, there are only a few remaining pockets of diverse seed stocks to insure the long-term resilience of the world’s staple foods. All of them are in the Third World. Food scientists indicate that if these indigenous territories are disturbed by biotech’s advance, the long-term vitality of all of the world’s food supply is endangered.
ECONOMIC, POLITICAL AND SOCIAL THREATS
44. Biocolonization – In past centuries, countries managed to overrun others by means of fierce or technologically superior armies. The combined control of genetic and agricultural resources holds a yet more powerful weapon for the invasion of cultures. For only when a person loses food self-sufficiency do they become wholly dependent and subservient. That is why 500,000 farmers in India staged a protest on October 2, 1993 against GATT trade regulations and now oppose GM seed products.
45. Dependency: Under the new regulations of WTO, the World Bank, GATT, NAFTA, the autonomy of local economies can be vastly overridden. Foreign concerns can buy up all the major seed, water, land and other primary agricultural resources – converting them to exported cash rather than local survival crops. This is likely to further unravel the self-sufficiency of those cultures – and as with the past failures of the “green revolution.”
46. Health/Environmental/Socio-Political Reasons: The lack of labeling of genetically modified food violates and harms your right to know what is in our foods – given the list of health, environmental, and socio-political reasons to avoid GM ingredients. Even if GM foods were 100% safe, the consumer has a right to know such ingredients – due to their many potential harms.
47. For Religious Dietary Reasons: Previously if someone wanted to avoid foods not permitted by certain religions, the process was simple. With transgenic alterations, every food is suspect – and the religious and health-conscious consumer has no way of knowing without a mandated label. The lack of labeling makes it impossible for religious people to observe dietary customs.
“All things are connected like the blood which unites one family. Whatever befalls the Earth befalls the sons [and daughters] of the Earth.”
Chief Seattle of the Duwamish Tribe
48. Contradiction in Terms: The term bioengineering is a contradiction in terms. “Bio” refers to life – that which is whole, organic, self-sufficient, inwardly organizing, conscious, and living. That consciousness of nature creates a web that is deeply interconnecting The term “engineering,” on the other hand, refers to the opposite – to mechanical design of dead machines – things made of separate parts, and thus not consciously connected – to be controlled, spliced, manipulated, replaced, and rearranged.
49. Imposing a Non-Living Model onto Nature: “The crying of animals is nothing more than just the creaking of machines,” wrote the philosopher René Descartes in the 17th century. This powerfully expressed an inhumane and mechanical view of nature that does not respect life. The genetic model is derivative of this mechanistic way of relating to nature.
50. Atomic Weapons vs. Gene Mutated Foods: The image of modern progress brought about solely by perfected mechanisms or technology was punctured in the 1940’s with the explosion of atomic weapons – which brought humanity to the brink of global annihilation. Einstein’s formulas created the bomb. His formulas hinged on the very same ideas of the philosopher René Descartes for their foundation. Descartes developed the underlying geometry that space may be universally or infinitelyseparated (“Cartesian coordinates”) into distinct points. If we perfectly visualize this, we run the risk of bringing that exact image to life. Einstein’s famous formula (E = mc2), for example, allows us to explode space. Only in hindsight and seeing this result, Einstein expressed the wish of never having taken on the career of a physicist. Genetic engineering, or the splicing of genes, may be viewed as a still more perilous outcome of a Cartesian-like approach to nature. We can prevent nuclear disaster or hopefully keep nuclear weapons bottled up. But genetic engineering applies a similar philosophy and creates products intentionally released – with potential chain reactions that may not be stoppable. Genetic engineering essentially forms a violence against nature. It takes gene guns and aims them at the heart of each cell or its nucleus, and where the depth of life and consciousness lives. This does violence to that innate consciousness, the life principle in nature, as we impose the mechanical view of genetics. It is much overdue that in the 21st century we become wiser – and learn to rather live in peace and harmony with ourselves and all other living creatures on earth.