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CHICAGO, Nov. 18, 1999/PRNewswire/—The following was released today by Samuel S. Epstein, M.D., Professor of Environmental Medicine, University of Illinois School of Public Health, Chicago:
The FDA and Monsanto, besides other biotechnology industries, have repeatedly assured the public of the safety of genetically engineered (GE) soy and other foods. However, these assurances have been made in the total absence of any published short and long term health and safety tests, as the FDA and industry both insist that there are no differences between GE and natural foods.
To what extent can we rely on these "Trust-Us" assurances? The short answer is not at all. The strongest evidence for this is provided by examination of FDA's and Monsanto's two decade long complicit track record on GE milk from cows injected with the genetically engineered bovine growth hormone, rBST, in order to increase milk production.
In 1985, the FDA allowed the sale to an unsuspecting public of GE milk from Monsanto's large scale nation-wide milk production trials. Both the FDA and Monsanto knowingly and falsely claimed that:
- The GE hormone is harmless to cows
- There are no differences between GE and natural milk
- GE milk is safe to humans.
By 1989, analysis of available industry information showed clear evidence of adverse veterinary effects, especially reproductive and a high incidence of mastitis. Additionally, Monsanto files, leaked to me from the FDA in October 1989, showed clear evidence of other serious pathology in cows injected with the GE hormone. Review of these documents by Cong. John Conyers, Chairman of the House Committee on Government Operations, led to the serious accusation that "Monsanto and FDA have chosen to suppress and manipulate animal health test data," besides data on contamination of GE milk with high levels of the GE hormone.
GE milk is entirely different from natural milk: nutritionally; biochemically; pharmacologically; and immunologicaly. It is also contaminated with: pus and antibiotics used to treat mastitis; high levels of the GE hormone; and high levels of the naturally occurring growth factor IGF-1. Elevated levels of IGF-1 in GE milk have been strongly associated with high risks of colon, breast and prostate cancers, besides promoting their invasiveness. However, in spite of such well-documented scientific evidence, the FDA still authorized the sale and marketing of GE milk in 1984, while blocking any labeling. In contrast, both Canada and Europe have banned the sale of GE milk. The USA is now isolated in its reckless and unscientific insistence on the safety of GE milk.
Against this well documented background, we are being asked to accept FDA/Monsanto assurances on the safety of soy and other GE foods. The conclusion is inescapable. The FDA public hearings today are tokenistic efforts to further mislead the public, rather than inform them of the very real hazards of GE milk and of the serious potential public health and environmental hazards of the manufacture, sale, and consumption of GE goods.
Labeling of GE milk and foods is an inadequate response to this critical situation. There should be an immediate, complete ban on all GE products. This should be followed by a mandatory comprehensive testing program by an independent agency, but not the FDA, or group with strong NGO representation and other safeguards, at the industry's expense. An equally critical and overdue initiative is a Congressional investigation of the gross misconduct of the FDA and Monsanto with particular focus on the long-term systematic suppression and manipulation of health and safety data on GE milk.
Source: Samuel S. Epstein, M.D.
Contact: Samuel S. Epstein, M.D., Professor of Environmental & Occupational Medicine, University of Illinois at Chicago, School of Public Health, and Chairman, Cancer Prevention Coalition, 312-996-2297