Engineering Our Own Extinction? GE Corn Linked To Increasing Infertility

By: Christy Hardin Smith Friday November 21, 2008 4:30 pm

This is truly the stuff of nightmares.  As someone who lived through years of infertility and miscarriage misery, I can’t imagine being in the shoes of a desperate-to-be-mother who found out that an ingredient in our foodunmarked because of government bowing to the lobbying interests of farming giants like Monsanto who don’t want you knowing that there is frankenfood in your meal — was the cause?

Via Gourmet:

…Yet none of our regulatory agencies required long-term animal feeding studies before allowing all that test-tube corn to enter our food supply, according to the Center for Food Safety, and much of the short-term research that has been done was sponsored by the biotech companies that stood to profit from GE crops.

Which is why it was particularly chilling late last week to read the results of an experiment that was both long term and not conducted under the auspices of a big chemical company.

Dr. Jurgen Zentek, a professor at the University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna, reported that he fed one group of laboratory mice traditional corn and another group GE corn made by the Monsanto Company. The GE crop is bred to survive being sprayed by herbicide and to produce its own insecticide. The mice maintained their diets for 20 weeks, long enough to produce four litters of offspring.

Zentek found that the mice who dined on modified corn had fewer litters, fewer offspring, and more instances of complete infertility than those receiving a conventional diet. Not only that, but the infertility of the GM-corn-fed rodents became more pronounced with each passing litter.

Zentek said that further studies to corroborate his results were “urgently needed.”

Suddenly that “not nice to fool Mother Nature” commercial from my childhood has sprung to life.  (Oh, the irony.)

Worse, because fertility issues are intrinsically linked with hormonal fluctuations, it makes me wonder whether this could also impact issues of breast and cervical cancer for women whose cancers are hormone-sensitive? As one of those people, suddenly organic produce is looking even more important.  And it isn’t just cancer that could see applicability.  Oh joy.

We finally achieved our miracle when we had The Peanut. As such, I try my hardest to feed her healthy, whole foods whenever possible at home. But now I have to worry about what she’s eating wherever it may be — and how it may cause problems for generations to come.

This corn has already been shown to harm aquatic ecosystems.  Additional questions have been raised about threats to monarch butterfly populations, among other species.   The Center For Food Safety is calling for a moratorium on use of GE corn in food products until more extensive testing can be done.

Are we engineering our own extinction?  Shouldn’t we ascertain that before we feed more GE corn to our children?

15 responses to “Engineering Our Own Extinction? GE Corn Linked To Increasing Infertility

  1. I cannot begin to understand why we are not hearing more about this! It’s horrific and so under-reported. Thanks for this post and your others!

  2. We must combat the industry control of the food we eat! We in Canada should, at the very least, demand that we are told which foods we consume are GMOs and which aren’t. Unlike the Europeans, we are treated like guinea pigs–we don’t even have the right to know what we eat unless we eat organic foods. The Monsanto monopoly is horrible and unacceptable.It is high time to mobilize and insist that Canadian consumers be given the option to consume or not to consume GM food. To this end, we must know which foods are GMOs and which are not.

  3. As in the case of Frankenstein’s Monster, it is lack of understanding that makes folks find problems in every new thing. I find more concern in the lack of exercise and poor eating habits of people than I do in the actions of Monsanto. Our modern world’s system is the safest there has ever been, and yet it is not safe enough.

    • Feel free to eat your Frankenfood Michael,if you are so proud of what you grow put a label on it so we that choose to avoid it can and I would be more than Happy to label what i grow!

  4. Unfortunately, people have few skills when it comes to their survival: their eating habits and sedentary lifestyle are killing them. It doesn’t detract from Monsanto however: should GM foods ever be found safe (by independent testing, not corporate) I still would not support it: who thinks corporate control over farmers, seeds, governments and markets is okay? While farmers in corn may be experiencing higher yields with corn, those markets may soon be subject to volatility as well. Why put yourself in such a spot? Why risk your families livelihood should a few canola plants be growing on your back corner, especially in light of Monsanto’s recent press release about taking farmers to task much harder in 2010: they are ‘going after’ any and all infringements, bank accounts and land seizures. They are lobbying Canadian and American governments as we speak, to allow them further ‘rights’ to your life.

    Where I live in Canada, we have no GM crops other than a few corn varieties that are well tended (the farmers fear losing friends). We “intense” farm at $3 per square foot (this year around $4). Do the math: I’m not sure any canola or soy farmer gets that. We have little overhead, mass markets that grow over 20% a year and a great life. Why change it? I’m not so caught up with ‘yields’ as I am with profit. When corn can make me $120,000 an acre, I may listen.

  5. I totally disagree with Michael about the alleged safety of our current food. He seems to be entirely divorced from the reality. It is absolutely untrue that our food is safest it has ever been. The unnatural and cruel stuffing of animals and poultry into small quarters where they are fed unnatural food leads to frequent meat poisoning. There are toxic pesticide residues in our food grown conventionally. As well, adverse health effects have now been documented in connection with some GM food. Of course, organically grown food is safer. However, organic farmers, especially in the Canadian West and California, are endangered by GMO contamination. When this happens they are held liable, which is manifestly unjust.

  6. So you choose to believe every scare story ever published, good for you. Now here’s some news for you.
    DDT does not cause egg shell thinning, never did, never will. That means that the whole environmental movements beginning salvo was based on a lie. By the time DDT was introduced to the world the number of raptors was already on the rebound. What did cause the egg shell thinning? Mercury, lead and oil spills are all proven causes. By the time science disproved the DDT scare it was too late and millions of people still die of malaria because insects are not controlled.
    New studies from the poultry industry, not funded or done by the poultry industry show that chickens are just as stressed in free range conditions as in cages. Birds left out in the elements are stressed by cold, heat and fights by birds checking out their “Pecking order.”
    The food fed to animals in confinement is not unnatural. In most cases it is the same stuff fed to these animals when they are free range. It may even contain fewer antibiotics since animals that are not subject to pathogens carried in by transient creatures (dogs, cats, birds, people) do not need to be treated for those diseases.
    Most meat poisoning is caused by improper preparation or storage.
    The most common herbicide used in the corn belt, Roundup, was originally developed as a soap, and has all of the characteristics of soaps when tested on organic material.
    The most common organic pesticide, copper sulfate, is used at such high levels that it actually changes the color of the food it is put on, and it is very toxic to organic material.
    Some of the latest outbreaks of tainted food in such things as spinach were traced to the application of organic fertilizer (cattle manure) on the plants.
    So please forgive me for not wanting to go back to butchering my own animals or raising them organically. I’m old enough to have done that. I’ve been there. I’ve seen the problems of improper storage and transportation of food. The food carried diseases and bugs that we no longer have to worry about.
    You see, it’s not that I’m out of touch, it’s that I’ve been around a bit longer and studied a bit more of the farm to food system. I’ve seen all of the fads and scares of so many years. I’ve seen “new” information on food be disproved with time.
    By all means go back and live in a hut and eat only what you catch or raise yourself. In the mean time don’t talk about food problems with your mouth full.

  7. Roundup is not soap and science never did disprove the DDT scare. All kinds of nonsense has been written about DDT. Roger Bate is a veteran think tank scientist notorious for his creation of an organization called Africa Fighting Malaria (AFM). Currently Bate operates out of the conservative American Enterprise Institute (AEI). He is notorious for spreading the myth that environmentalists, by preventing the use of the DDT, have heartlessly caused millions of malaria deaths worldwide. In fact no organized effort to abolish anti-malaria DDT spraying has ever occurred in Africa and elsewhere. Blaming Rachel Carson for Africa’s malaria is a shameful perversion of truth.

  8. In my previous comment I indicated that it was not science that disproved the DDT scare but a propaganda campaign by a single individual, Roger Bate. I don’t believe for a moment that free-ranging animals are just as stressed out as are those which are confined or that their diet is virtually identical. There is a big difference between antibiotics given to sick animals on rare occasions, when absolutely necessary, and antibiotics applied as a matter of routine to confined animals. You don’t have to live in a hut and eat only what you catch and raise yourself in order to obtain a healthier lifestyle. I purchase some organic food from a farmer to limit my exposure to pesticide residues.

  9. My but I seem to have stirred up a storm. OK, I’ll agree that we all have our sources, and we all want to believe they are right. Here’s the thing, why is science always wrong for so many people? Is the first report of a problem always right? Why is it that when someone says something like DDT causes egg shell thinning and is killing all of our birds right, when peer reviewed science that comes out years later says the opposite? Is it wrong to engineer the genome to give us better crops and right to engineer the human genome to treat diseases?

    • I think it’s important to do due diligence on any subject: learn more, dig, research to find truths no one is willing to tell you. I never take anything at face value, and that was especially true with GMO foods. For me, I became very sick on corn years back. So I began to research GE crops. I also went to a completely organic diet and solved my health issue plus many others. Today I speak about GMO issues full time: one of the few that does. It made that profound of an impact on me, especially after trying to speak with Monsanto about issues: their “closed door” policies did it for me. I still try to speak with them almost daily.

      For me it’s common sense. No, it’s not wrong to engineer a genome for better crops, and yes, corn has increased exponentially from 20 bushels an acre to around 200: that’ s something to think about and it makes sense to me that farmers look at that and try it.

      What doesn’t make sense are the other factors. This is what I know: this is the result of years of research and speaking with scientists, farmers and professionals (I’m only speaking of food issues):
      1. Monsanto repeatedly speaks of “feeding the world”. They have never done this in all their 14 years of having GE crops in the ground, and never will. Why? How can poor penniless people possibly afford it? Is Monsanto going to give it away? They can’t: legal shareholder responsibility and value. So, for me, it’s pure propaganda.
      2. The 4 big crops: soy, canola, corn and cotton all make JUNK FOOD: HFCS, cheap fillers, cheap oils – just look down the junk food aisles of your grocery store and you’ll notice they all contain the same ingredients. Just packaged differently. And that’s what you want to feed poor people/the world?
      3. Here are the real facts for pesticide use: it has gone up, in some areas several hundred times (overall). While some farmers may have found less use, this has not been the case for the majority. Pesticides alter the bacteria and organisms in the soil. Pesticides leach into rivers and streams, causing pollution. Pesticides are dangerous: note the labeling on the bottle. Also, note that no farmer, after arguing it’s total safety, will wash their hands in it if asked. You KNOW it’s not safe: just cut the crap.
      4. Monocrops – are they feasible? Do they offer anything that traditional/conventional crops offer? Every farmer use to know that seeds adapt to climate changes. But somewhere in this biotech dream farmers have lost their connection to this. I speak to farmers daily: many are trying to give up GE: it’s almost impossible once you’re in.
      5. Farmers don’t work for themselves anymore (see above statement). Many feel the pressure of not knowing next years seed prices, both in buying and selling. Markets are becoming more volatile and many farmers are looking for ways to farm much like I do. I don’t know any traditional farmer that makes $3 per square foot. Once HFCS begins to disappear off store shelves (junk food) and it will, corn commodities could crash. Where does that leave farmers – they don’t make the profits anymore? Rising pesticide prices – do the math here: Monsanto has you in their grip. Is this farming? Is this under your control? Or is it under a huge TNC’s?
      6. Genetic engineering has been done for centuries, but not the DNA alteration in a lab. Where would a tomato find a deep sea flounder? Enough said here: people get this picture. No plant would attract a virus, pesticide, bacterial or foreign gene alteration. Ever. Why? Because they don’t have to. Any farmer that’s in full understanding of plants know this: they have an uncanny ability to adapt, change and heal us. Call it Mother Nature or science: it doesn’t matter. It just is, and no technology can improve it. Technology can only change it.
      7. Health issues: still unknown, and now, Monsanto has court injunctions that stops the independent testing of their products and seeds. What does this tell you? It screams plenty to me. Monsanto does it’s own testing, then fires off the conclusions to the FDA (or Health Canada). If you truly believe that the very company that creates these products, under legal obligation to increase shareholder value, can police itself appropriately, then you should work there: you would fit in very nicely. Ask about: StarLink corn scandal – rGBH milk, IGF-1 (causes cancers: proven) – L-tryptophan – tomatoes…… all were given clean bills of health before released to the public: that would be your kids and grandkids…..
      8. Many things humans have done over the years are now showing up in signs of serious health issues: smoking (20-30 years), junk food (obesity, cancers, heart…) and more. Just because something isn’t killing us immediately doesn’t make it okay to eat today. Once again, no one can test whether or not GMO foods are to blame: Monsanto has this sealed and locked away. And you trust that?
      9. The increases in cancers, autism, allergies and many other diseases (and many new ones) have emerged onto the scene at the same time and increase that GE crops and foods have.

      Correlation or coincidence? Why would anyone even ask? It’s your kid’s futures you’re playing with here. No one knows because we are in the middle of the big experiment, and farmers are happily participating. Perhaps the “Cautionary Principle” would be a reasonable plea here.

      I could go on forever, but the picture is clearer. I do understand why farmers grow for Monsanto. I do understand that they need to increase profits by as much as possible: it’s your ‘business’. What I don’t understand is why don’t you ask more questions? It’s important to dig and find out the risks involved in any business venture, regardless of the hype Monsanto’s salespeople give you. This is your responsibility, but unfortunately it’s either too late for those that want out, or they just don’t care and it’s up to us “crazy fear mongering activists” to sort it out. That’s all we’re doing: we care about your kids. We care about the environment. We don’t like the fact the FDA and Monsanto lie, and use massive force to control their own interests. No one on this comment board “wants” to see farmers fail. No one. We cherish the work you do, and we are all grateful for what farmers provide. I hear it from my customers every time I feed them.

      As with any pendulum, it must swing hard the other way to find the balance. And there is a balance.

      I don’t begrudge corn growers anymore: we have lost our traditional corn through cross contamination of GE crops – it doesn’t matter. Plus people will continue to eat junk food like it’s going out of style. I can’t change their eating habits and neither can anyone on this comment thread: we are all responsible for our own lives and health. The only thing corn growers could be participating in today is the decline of bees, but that needs more investigating by independent research.

      The road ahead is not on any map. Decisions we make today create a legacy for future generations. We all live downstream.

  10. “Peer reviewed science” sounds so impressive, but was that science really “peer reviewed”, meaning reviewed by objective professionals without ties to the industry? It is an undisputed fact that after the DDT was banned in North America the pertinent bird population began to recover. Was this pure coincidence? I don’t think so. There is absolutely no evidence that engineering the genome results in better crops and it does result in many problems, such as necessitating the use of larger quantities of pesticides and new huge weeds, not to speak of potential harm to humans, e.g. GM corn leading to decreased fertility. It has been difficult for independent scientists to study the effect of GMOs as the industry is determined to fully control any GMO research. The industry is also striving to gain control over farmers’ seed supply. Engineering the human genome to treat diseases is not comparable to the plight of farmers who wish to retain their independence.

  11. Forgot one more thing: the science of GMO. A few things to consider:

    1. Vertical inheritance versus horizontal inheritance:
    Traditional plant breeding it done by crossing two plants to create a third newer stronger plant: thus the vertical inheritance.
    Genetic alteration of DNA is horizontal inheritance: a foreign and new concept for any plant or animal.
    The ‘science’ is too young and unproven to assure anyone that it’s going to work the same as vertical, and thus be safe.
    2. Genes:
    Genes do not function alone. They work as they are needed; until then they are ‘asleep’ (layman term).
    However, adding a bacterial gene or virus gene means that the plant now has full time genes ‘expressing’ themselves. This has never happened in the plant or animal world before. Genes work in a sequence, but the sequence has been altered. Once again, an unproven science.

    To take a fish gene into a tomato and expect it to function is unrealistic. The fish gene has no idea what to do and how to do it. So scientists add another gene (promoter) to help ‘wake it up’ and work. These genes can be antibiotics, viruses and other foreign material the plant has to use horizontally. They never sleep: they never shut off.

    It’s an inherently uncertain process.

    Environmental threats:
    Every living cell on a corn plant is a living pesticide factory. While this may be a great idea for the short term, eventually the pests will grow resistant, and that spins the entire Monsanto cycle into a treadmill to continually re-engineer all plants. Eventually, this treadmill could also apply to animals – now you are talking about living, breathing, feeling beings, much like humans. How many alterations have to happen before we are creating foods that threaten our survival as a species in a shorter time frame?

    The pesticide bacteria is moving through soil systems through the roots, causing new and abnormal bacteria and super bugs in the soil. Natural and wild plants may eventually succumb to this. The widespread impact is unknown, but likely disastrous.

    Because the plant cells are all pesticide factories, once the plant dies, the pesticide contamination continues. All you are doing is composting a solid form of pesticide that doesn’t ‘die’. So who benefits? Monsanto’s profit margin.

    These built-in pesticides also take out insects you need: it’s not discriminatory. The Monarch butterfly is one of those casualties. This causes a disruption to the balance of nature: the nature your kids will inherit.

    We are being forced into a grand experiment without our consent. We have asked for labeling, organic grower protection, independent testing, but no one is willing to part with any of their profit margins and shareholder values.

  12. Another thing:
    Currently the rainforest is being stripped at a higher rate than any cattle farm. They are planting Monsanto soy crops.

  13. Despite this distressing news, is this our new population cap? I mean we do have a ever increasing population where it is now becoming a huge problem…
    (I also hate GE food, that comment is just a thought)

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