Seeds of Deception



By Jeffrey M. Smith


Exposing Industry and Government Lies About the

Safety of the Genetically Engineered Foods You’re




Praise for the Book


“Outrageous! That’s what you’ll say over and over

again when you read how the biotechnology

companies have manipulated the government, our

food, and the media, and put an entire generation

at risk. Notions of independence and integrity in

the nation’s food regulatory agencies are

shattered in this well-documented, captivating


- Ben Cohen, Co-Founder,

Ben & Jerry’s


“Clear, profound, and unerringly accurate, Seeds

of Deception tells you what you need to know about

genetically engineered food — and what Monsanto

won't tell you. If you care about the safety of

our food supply, if you care about the future of

life on this dear planet, if you care what

corporations are doing to your food and health,

this is the book to get.”

- John Robbins, author, The

Food Revolution, and Diet For A New America


“This pivotal exposé leaves no doubt that politics

and corporate influence, not sound science,

allowed these potentially dangerous GM foods onto

supermarket shelves.”

- Joe Mendelson, Legal Director, Center

for Food Safety


“I have seen first hand how Monsanto and the FDA

have resorted to scientific deceit of the highest

order to market genetically engineered milk. With

captivating style and a flair for describing

science in clear, accurate language, Seeds of

Deception unveils the distortions, omissions, and

lies for all to see.”

- Samuel S. Epstein, M.D., professor emeritus

environmental and occupational medicine

University of Illinois at Chicago

School of Public Health

Chairman, Cancer Prevention



Chapter Summaries with Excerpts




On May 23, 2003, President Bush proposed an

Initiative to End Hunger in Africa[1] using

genetically modified (GM) foods. He also blamed

Europe’s “unfounded, unscientific fears” of these

foods for thwarting recovery efforts. Bush was

convinced that GM foods held the key to greater

yields, expanded U.S. exports, and a better world.

His rhetoric was not new. It had been passed down

from president to president, and delivered to the

American people through regular news reports and

industry advertisements.


The message was part of a master plan that had

been crafted by corporations determined to control

the world’s food supply. This was made clear at a

biotech industry conference in January 1999, where

a representative from Arthur Anderson Consulting

Group explained how his company had helped

Monsanto create that plan. First, they asked

Monsanto what their ideal future looked like in

fifteen to twenty years. Monsanto executives

described a world with 100 percent of all

commercial seeds genetically modified and

patented. Anderson Consulting then worked

backwards from that goal, and developed the

strategy and tactics to achieve it. They presented

Monsanto with the steps and procedures needed to

obtain a place of industry dominance in a world in

which natural seeds were virtually extinct.

Integral to the plan was Monsanto’s influence in

government, whose role was to promote the

technology worldwide and to help get the foods

into the marketplace quickly, before resistance

could get in the way. A biotech consultant later

said, “The hope of the industry is that over time,

the market is so flooded that there’s nothing you

can do about it. You just sort of surrender.”[2]

The anticipated pace of conquest was revealed by a

conference speaker from another biotech company.

He showed graphs projecting the year-by-year

decrease of natural seeds, estimating that in five

years, about 95 percent of all seeds would be

genetically modified.

While some audience members were appalled at what

they judged to be an arrogant and dangerous

disrespect for nature, to the industry this was

good business. Their attitude was illustrated in

an excerpt from one of Monsanto’s advertisements:

“So you see, there really isn’t much difference

between foods made by Mother Nature and those made

by man. What’s artificial is the line drawn

between them.”[3]

To implement their strategy, the biotech companies

needed to control the seeds—so they went on a

buying spree, taking possession of about 23

percent of the world’s seed companies. Monsanto

did achieve the dominant position, capturing 91

percent of the GM food market.[4] But the industry

has not met their projections of converting the

natural seed supply. Citizens around the world,

who do not share the industry’s conviction that

these foods are safe or better, have not “just

sort of surrendered.”

Widespread resistance to GM food has resulted in

a global showdown. U.S. exports of genetically

modified corn and soy are down, and hungry African

nations won’t even accept the crops as food aid.

Monsanto is faltering financially and is desperate

to open new markets. The U.S. government is

convinced that EU resistance is the primary

obstacle and is determined to change that. On May

13, 2003, the U.S. filed a lawsuit with the World

Trade Organization (WTO), charging that the

European Union’s restrictive policy on GM food

violates international agreements.

On the day the WTO suit was filed, U.S. Trade

Representative Robert Zoellick declared,

“Overwhelming scientific research shows that

biotech foods are safe and healthy.”[5] This has

been industry’s chant from the start. It is the

key assumption at the basis of their master plan,

the WTO challenge, and the president’s campaign to

end hunger. It is also, however, untrue.

The following chapters reveal that it was industry

influence, not sound science, which allowed these

foods onto the market. Moreover, if overwhelming

scientific research suggests anything, it is that

the foods should never have been approved.

Just as the magnitude of the industry’s plan was

breathtaking, so too are the distortions and

cover-ups. While many of the stories in this book

reveal government and corporate maneuvering worthy

of an adventure novel, the impact of GM foods is

personal. Most people in North America eat them at

every meal. These chapters not only dismantle the

U.S. position that the foods are safe, they inform

you of the steps you can take to protect yourself

and your family.


Chapter 1: A Lesson From Overseas


When eminent scientist Arpad Pusztai went public

about his accidental discovery that genetically

modified (GM) potatoes severely damage the immune

system and organs of rats, he was suspended from

the prestigious Scottish research institute where

he had worked for thirty-five years. He was

silenced with threats of a lawsuit while the

Institute denied or distorted his findings.


In the ensuing war over public opinion, biotech

advocates tried to spin the science in favor of GM

foods, but were thwarted at each attempt by leaked

documents and compelling evidence. Pusztai, who

describes this chapter as “the most thorough and

accurate report on the topic,” was ultimately

vindicated when his potato study was published in

the Lancet. His remains the only independent

safety assessment in a peer-reviewed journal. It

contrasts sharply with the handful of published

industry studies, an analysis of which reveals how

they were designed to avoid finding problems.




When Susan answered the door, she was startled to

see several reporters standing in front of her.

Several more were running from their cars in her

direction and she could see more cars and TV news

vans parking along the street.

“But you all know that we can’t speak about what

happened. We would be sued and—”[6]

“It’s OK now,” the reporter from Channel Four

Television interrupted, waving a paper in front of

her. “They’ve released your husband. He can talk

to us.”

Susan took the paper. “Arpad, come here,” she

called to her husband.

Arpad Pusztai (pronounced: Are-pod Poos-tie), a

distinguished looking man in his late sixties, was

already on his way. As his wife showed him the

document, the reporters slipped past them into the

house. But Arpad didn’t notice; he was staring at

the paper his wife had just handed him. He

recognized the letterhead at once—The Rowett

Institute, Aberdeen, Scotland. It was one of the

world’s leading nutritional institutes and his

employer for the previous thirty-five years—until

his sudden suspension seven months ago. And there

it was, clearly spelled out. They had released

their gag order. He could speak.

The document was dated that same day, February 16,

1999. In fact, less than twenty minutes before,

thirty reporters had sat in the Rowett Institute

press conference listening to its director,

Professor Phillip James, casually mention that the

restrictions on Dr. Pusztai’s speaking to the

press had been lifted. Before James had finished

his sentence, the reporters leaped for the door.

They jumped into their cars and headed straight to

the Pusztai’s house on Ashley Park North, an

address most were familiar with, having virtually

camped out there seven months earlier. Now those

thirty reporters, with TV cameras and tape

recorders, were piled into the Pusztai’s living


Arpad Pusztai read the document—twice. As he

looked up, the reporters started asking him

questions all at once. He smiled, and breathed

more easily than he had in a long time. He had all

but given up hope. Now he finally had the chance

to share what he knew about the dangers of

genetically engineered foods.

The story of Arpad Pusztai made headlines

throughout Europe for months, alerting readers to

some of the serious health risks of genetically

modified (GM) foods. It was barely mentioned,

however, in the U.S. press; the media watchdog

group Project Censored described it as one of the

ten most underreported events of the year.[7] In

fact, major U.S. media avoided almost any

discussion of the controversy over genetically

modified organisms (GMOs) until May 1999. But that

was all about saving the monarch butterfly from GM

corn pollen, not about human food safety.


It wasn’t until the massive food recall prompted

by StarLink corn that Americans were even alerted

to the fact that they were eating GM foods

everyday. Moreover, the American press was forced

to question whether GM foods were safe. Up until

then, the media had portrayed European resistance

to America’s GM crops as unscientific

anti-Americanism. But as the story of Arpad

Pusztai reveals, the European anti-GMO sentiment

had been fueled, in part, by far greater health

risks than the scattered allergic reactions

attributed to StarLink.


Between the Chapters: The Wisdom of Animals



Mice avoid eating GM foods when they have the

chance, as do rats, cows, pigs, geese, elk,

squirrels, and others. What do these animals know

that we don’t? At the end of each chapter is a

one-page story describing how farmers, students,

and scientists discovered that animals refuse to

eat the same GM foods that we consume everyday.



The Washington Post reported that laboratory mice,

usually happy to munch on tomatoes, turned their

noses up at the genetically modified FlavrSavr

tomato. Scientist Roger Salquist said of his

tomato, “I gotta tell you, you can be Chef

Boyardee and mice are still not going to like

them.”[8] The mice were eventually force fed the

tomato through gastric tubes and stomach washes.

Several developed stomach lesions; seven of forty

died within two weeks. The tomato was approved

without further tests.


Chapter 2: What Could Go Wrong—A Partial List


Genetic engineers continually encounter unintended

side effects—plants create toxins, react to

weather differently, contain too much or too

little nutrients, become diseased or malfunction

and die. This chapter describes the process of

genetic engineering and twenty-one ways in which

it can create unexpected, potentially serious



New DNA chip technology has recently allowed

scientists to monitor changes in DNA functioning

when foreign genes are inserted. In one

experiment, there was a staggering 5 percent

disruption of gene _expression. In other words,

after a single foreign gene had been added through

genetic engineering, one out of every 20 genes

that were creating proteins either increased or

decreased their output. According to Professor

David Schubert, “while these types of unpredicted

changes in gene _expression are very real, they

have not received much attention outside the

community of the DNA chip users.” He adds that,

there is currently no way to predict the

resultant changes in protein synthesis.”[9]


Chapter 3: Spilled Milk


“The scientists’ testimony before a Senate

committee was like a scene from the conspiratorial

television show The X-Files.”[10] This was how

Canada’s leading paper described the story of six

Canadian government scientists who tried to stand

up to pressure to approve Monsanto’s genetically

engineered bovine growth hormone (rbGH) which they

believed was unsafe. The scientists were

threatened by senior government officials, files

were stolen from their locked file cabinets,

Monsanto allegedly offered them a bribe of $1-2

million, and one senior official suddenly quit and

disappeared, avoiding an appearance before a

Parliamentary Committee.[11] What was happening to

the Canadian scientists in 1998 amounted to

re-runs” of what U.S. government scientists faced

in the 1980s. When FDA scientists tried to blow

the whistle on what was happening, they were

stripped of responsibilities or fired. The FDA

eventually approved rbGH on the basis of a

research summary submitted by Monsanto that had

distorted and deleted data about serious health

effects, including cancer.



The FDA’s article states, “it has also been

determined that at least 90 percent of bovine

growth hormone (bGH) activity is destroyed upon

pasteurization of milk. Therefore, bGH residues do

not present a human food safety concern.”[12]

Robert Cohen decided to investigate this claim. He

uncovered what he considers to be blatant

scientific fraud. The research had been conducted

by undergraduate Paul Groenewegan. His three

co-authors all had close ties with Monsanto. The

paper described how they heated milk at 162ºF for

thirty minutes.

Cohen said, “when I read that, I said, wait a

second, milk is pasteurized for 15 seconds at that

temperature—not 30 minutes. They intentionally

tried to destroy the hormone…. That must have been

their mission. Why else would they heat the milk

for 30 minutes at a high temperature reserved for

a 15 second treatment?” But even after thirty

minutes only 19 percent of the bGH in milk from

hormone-treated cows was destroyed. According to

Cohen, “They then ‘spiked’ the milk. This is their

word, ‘spike.’ They added artificial bGH … 146

times the level of naturally occurring bST in

powdered form to the milk and heated it. The

powdered bGH in milk was destroyed! They saved the

day for Monsanto. The experiment worked. These men

of science could claim that heat treatment

destroys bGH.”[13]


Chapter 4: Deadly Epidemic


In 1989, first dozens, then thousands fell sick.

About one hundred people died, others struggled

with paralysis, unbearable pain, and debilitating

symptoms.[14] Authorities eventually tracked its

cause: contaminants produced in one company’s

genetically modified variety of the food

supplement L-tryptophan.[15] This chapter

describes the evidence implicating genetic

engineering as the cause of the epidemic and the

efforts by industry and the FDA to divert the

blame. Current regulations are so loose, they

would allow that same type of deadly supplement

onto the market today.


Chapter 5: Government By the Industry, For the



Henry Miller was in charge of biotechnology issues

at the FDA from 1979 to 1994. According to Miller,

U.S. government agencies have done exactly what

big agribusiness has asked them to do and told

them to do.”[16] This chapter reveals how industry

influence has dictated policy, and how the FDA

ignored the recommendations by the majority of

their own scientists by approving GM foods without

requiring safety tests.




The biotech industry’s success with these

government leaders became apparent on May 26, 1992

in the Indian Treaty Room of the Old Executive

Building. There, Vice President Dan Quayle

announced the Bush administration’s new policy on

genetically engineered food: “The reforms we

announce today will speed up and simplify the

process of bringing better agricultural products,

developed through biotech, to consumers, food

processors and farmers. We will ensure that

biotech products will receive the same oversight

as other products, instead of being hampered by

unnecessary regulation.”[17]


By “receive the same oversight as other products,”

Quayle meant that GM foods would be considered

just as safe as natural, non-GM foods. And

sidestepping “unnecessary regulation” meant that

the government would not require any safety tests

or any special labels identifying the foods as

genetically engineered. The rationale for this

hands-off policy was spelled out in an FDA

document dated three days after Quayle’s

announcement. “The agency is not aware of any

information showing that foods derived by these

new methods differ from other foods in any

meaningful or uniform way.”[18] Monsanto had what

it wanted: government endorsement of safety, and

no regulations that would interfere with its plans

for rapid worldwide sales.


Political Science at the FDA


Attorney Michael Taylor was involved in the

development of FDA policy. Prior to working at the

FDA, Monsanto was his personal client. Taylor had

helped Monsanto draft pro-biotech regulations that

the industry would lobby for. While working for

the FDA, Taylor could implement those laws

himself. For Monsanto, there was no better person

to step into a leadership role at the FDA.


Taylor did not simply fill a vacant position at

the agency. In 1991 the FDA created a new position

for him: Deputy Commissioner for Policy. He

instantly became the FDA official with the

greatest influence on GM food regulation,

overseeing the development of government policy.

According to public interest attorney Steven

Druker, who has studied the FDA’s internal files,

“During Mr. Taylor’s tenure as Deputy

Commissioner, references to the unintended

negative effects of bioengineering were

progressively deleted from drafts of the policy

statement (over the protests of agency

scientists), and a final statement was issued

claiming (a) that [GM] foods are no riskier than

others and (b) that the agency has no information

to the contrary.”[19] In 1994, Taylor became the

administrator at the Department of Agriculture’s

Food Safety and Inspection Service, where he was

also involved in biotechnology issues. He later

became Vice President for Public Policy at


When the FDA announced its policy, the public was

not aware of any internal dissent. The policy

boldly claimed that there was no information to

indicate that GM foods were different or more

risky than natural varieties. Since the American

public generally trusts the FDA, people assumed

that no such risks existed. But nearly a decade

later, the agency’s internal documents—made public

for the first time through a lawsuit—told a

different story.

Linda Kahl, an FDA compliance officer, protested

that by “trying to force an ultimate conclusion

that there is no difference between foods modified

by genetic engineering and foods modified by

traditional breeding practices,” the agency was

trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.”

She insisted, “the processes of genetic

engineering and traditional breeding are

different, and according to the technical experts

in the agency, they lead to different risks.”[20]

One such expert was FDA microbiologist Louis

Pribyl. “There is a profound difference between

the types of unexpected effects from traditional

breeding and genetic engineering,” wrote Pribyl in

a letter to James Maryanski, the FDA’s biotech

coordinator. Pribyl said that several aspects of

gene splicing “may be more hazardous.”[21]

According to the New York Times, “Dr. Pribyl knew

from studies that toxins could be unintentionally

created when new genes were introduced into a

plant’s cells.”[22]Moreover, Pribyl wrote “there

is no certainty that [the breeders of GM foods]

will be able to pick up effects that might not be

obvious.” He declared, “This is the industry’s pet

idea, namely that there are no unintended effects

that will raise the FDA’s level of concern. But

time and time again, there is no data to back up

their contention.”[23]

Pribyl was only one of many FDA scientists asked

to provide input during the formulation of the

FDA’s policy on genetically engineered food.

According to Druker, records show that the

majority of these scientists identified potential

risks of GM foods. Druker was the main organizer

of the lawsuit that forced the FDA documents into

the public domain. His nonprofit organization, the

Alliance for Bio-Integrity, was the lead

plaintiff. Having sorted through tens of thousands

of pages of FDA documents, he described the

opinion of the agency’s scientists as follows:

“The predominant view was that genetic engineering

entails distinct risks and that its products

cannot be regarded as safe unless they have been

confirmed to be so through appropriate feeding

studies.” Druker says several scientists “issued

strong warnings.”[24]

The Toxicology Group, for example, warned that

genetically modified plants could  “contain

unexpected high concentrations of plant

toxicants,” and described the reasons why these

might be very difficult to identify.[25] Their

director wrote, “The possibility of unexpected,

accidental changes in genetically engineered

plants justifies a limited traditional

toxicological study.”[26]

The Division of Food Chemistry and Technology

outlined four potential dangers:

1)  “Increased levels of known naturally

occurring toxins”

2)  “Appearance of new, not previously

identified” toxins

3)   Increased tendency to gather “toxic

substances from the environment” such as

pesticides or

heavy metals”, and

4)  “Undesirable alterations in the levels of


They warned, “unless genetically engineered plants

are evaluated specifically for these changes,”

these four “may escape breeders’ attention.” The

division recommended testing every GM food “before

it enters the marketplace.”[27]

Gerald Guest, the director of FDA’s Center for

Veterinary Medicine (CVM) sent a letter to the

FDA’s Biotech Coordinator, James Maryanski, saying

that he and the other CVM scientists concluded

that there is “ample scientific justification” to

require testing and review of each GM food before

it is eaten by the public. He stated, “CVM

believes that animal feeds derived from

genetically modified plants present unique animal

and food safety concerns.” He pointed out that,

residues of plant constituents or toxicants in

meat and milk products may pose human food safety


In spite of repeated internal memos outlining the

potential for increased health risks posed by this

new technology, subsequent drafts of the FDA’s

policy statement, overseen by Taylor, deleted more

and more of the scientist’s input. In a fiery memo

to Maryanski, Pribyl challenged the direction the

policy statement had taken: “What has happened to

the scientific elements of this document? Without

a sound scientific base to rest on, this becomes a

broad, general, ‘What do I have to do to avoid

trouble’-type document…. It will look like and

probably be just a political document…. It reads

very pro-industry, especially in the area of

unintended effects.”

But while the FDA’s scientists were emphasizing

caution and testing, its leaders were beholden to

an altogether different lobbying effort. A March

1992 memo from FDA Commissioner David Kessler,

confirmed the White House’s influence in the

crafting of the agency’s policy. “The approach and

provisions of the policy statement are consistent

with the general biotechnology policy established

by the Office of the President…. It also responds

to White House interest in assuring the safe,

speedy development of the U.S. biotechnology


But even the draft of the policy that Commissioner

Kessler praised as White House-friendly was

subject to further revision as it went up the

political chain of command. A memo from the Office

of the Assistant Secretary for Health, at the

Department of Health & Human Services, expressed

reservations about the length and depth of the

policy statement’s concern for environmental

effects of GM crops. The letter said, “The

extensive twelve page discussion seems to

be…dangerously detailed and drawn-out.” [30] In

the end, it was the political, rather than

scientific considerations that prevailed.

The agency not only ignored its scientists, it

claimed their concerns never existed. For example,

the State Department’s Melinda Kimble, while

negotiating GMO trade policy said, “I want to make

very clear that it is the position of the United

States government that we do not believe there is

a difference between GMO commodities and non-GMO

commodities.”[31] Likewise, a March 2003 statement

by Speaker of the House Hastert declared, “There

is general consensus among the scientific

community that genetically modified food is no

different from conventional food.”[32]

When the FDA documents eventually became public,

Maryanski defended the agency’s policy. On

February 28, 2000, he told the OECD Conference on

GM Food Safety in Edinburgh, Scotland that the FDA

scientists had merely been asking questions about

the various issues involved in bioengineered food.

Maryanski was unpleasantly surprised when Druker,

who was a member of the conference, stood up and

invited the audience to read the FDA memos that

were posted on his organization’s website. They

could see for themselves that the agency’s

scientists were not merely asking questions; many

of their statements were quite emphatic about the

unique risks of GM foods.

Maryanski, other FDA officials, and

representatives throughout the U.S. government

continue to claim that there is overwhelming

consensus among scientists that GM foods are safe.

In an October 1991 letter to a Canadian official,

however, Maryanski himself had admitted that this

was not true. He said, “there are a number of

specific issues… for which a scientific consensus

does not exist currently, especially the need for

specific toxicology tests.” Maryanski also said,

“I think the question of the potential for some

substances to cause allergenic reactions is

particularly difficult to predict.”[33]

Commenting on statements made by FDA scientists,

the New York Times wrote. “The scientists were

displaying precisely the concerns that Monsanto

executives from the 1980’s had anticipated -- and

indeed had considered reasonable. But now, rather

than trying to address those concerns, Monsanto,

the industry and official Washington were

dismissing them as the insignificant worries of

the uninformed.”[34]


Many scientists who understood the dangers,

however, were not convinced by the FDA’s

assurances. Geneticist David Suzuki, for example,

said, “Any politician or scientist who tells you

these products are safe is either very stupid or

lying. The experiments have simply not been

done.”[35] A January 2001 report from an expert

panel of the Royal Society of Canada likewise

supported the conclusions of the FDA scientists.

The report said it was “scientifically

unjustifiable” to presume that GM foods are safe.

The report explains that the “default prediction”

for any GM foods is that “_expression of a new

gene (and its products) … will be accompanied by a

range of collateral changes in _expression of

other genes, changes in the pattern of proteins

produced and/or changes in metabolic activities.”

This could result in novel toxins or other harmful

substances. The report emphasized the need for

safety testing, looking for short and long-term

human toxicity, allergenicity, and other health

effects. The panel began their comprehensive

245-page report by quoting the editors of the UK’s

Nature Biotechnology. “The risks in biotechnology

are undeniable, and they stem from the unknowable

in science and commerce. It is prudent to

recognize and address those risks, not compound

them by overly optimistic or foolhardy



FDA veterinarian Richard Burroughs described the

changes he saw at the FDA. “There seemed to be a

trend in the place toward approval at any price.

It went from a university-like setting where there

was independent scientific review to an atmosphere

of ‘approve, approve, approve.” He said, “the

thinking is, ‘How many things can we approve this

year?’ Somewhere along the way they abdicated

their responsibility to the public welfare.”[37] A

congressional aide said, “At FDA morale stinks.

Hundreds of people have either retired or quit in

disgust. All the best people, who believed in

working on behalf of public health, have gone.”

Dan Glickman, former Secretary of Agriculture,

describes the government’s pro-biotech mind-set.

“It was almost immoral to say that it wasn’t good

because it was going to solve the problems of the

human race and feed the hungry and clothe the

naked.” He said, “You felt like you were almost an

alien, disloyal, by trying to present an

open-minded view…. So I pretty much spouted the

rhetoric… It was written into my speeches.”[38]


Chapter 6: Rolling the Dice With Allergies


An infant girl in England broke out in cold sores

from drinking soymilk, but was tested as “not

allergic” to normal soy. Was she allergic to

something in GM soy instead? Perhaps it was the

increased amount of the allergen—trypsin

inhibitor—found in Monsanto’s Roundup Ready

soybeans? Could this also explain why soy

allergies in the UK jumped by 50 percent after

Roundup Ready soy was introduced? It’s difficult

to say, because although scientists have confirmed

that deadly allergies can be transferred into

foods via genetic engineering, there are no robust

allergy tests done on GM foods. This was brought

to the public’s attention only after StarLink had

been blamed for severe, potentially fatal allergic

reactions. It took the FDA nearly a year to

develop a test to see if StarLink was allergenic.

The test was so poorly designed and unreliable,

even the EPA rejected the results.


In March 1999, the York Nutritional Laboratory,

Europe’s leading specialists on food sensitivity,

reported that soy allergies skyrocketed over the

previous year, jumping 50 percent. The increase

propelled soy into the top ten list of allergens

for the first time in the 17 years of testing.

York scientists tested 4,500 people for allergic

reactions to a wide range of foods. In previous

years, soy affected 10 percent of consumers. Now,

15 percent reacted with a range of chronic

illnesses, including irritable bowel syndrome,

digestion problems, and skin complaints, as well

as neurological problems, chronic fatigue

syndrome, headaches and lethargy. Researchers

confirmed the link with soy by detecting increased

levels of antibodies in the blood. Furthermore,

the soy tested in the study was likely to contain

significant percentages of the genetically

modified Roundup Ready variety.

The fact that GM soy had just entered the food

supply was not lost to the researchers, who,

according to the Daily Express, “said their

findings provide real evidence that GM food could

have a tangible, harmful impact on the human

body.” A spokesman said, “We believe this raises

serious new questions about the safety of GM


The British Medical Association had already

warned that the technology may lead to the

emergence of new allergies.” With the York’s

research in hand, now British scientists urged

their government to impose an immediate ban on GM

food until further testing evaluated their safety.

Pathologist Michael Antoniou said that the

increased allergic responses “points to the fact

that far more work is needed to assess their

safety. At the moment no allergy tests are carried

out before GM foods are marketed.”[39]

At a business lunch with co-workers, 35-year-old

Grace Booth dined on three chicken enchiladas,

which she later recalled were very good. Within

about fifteen minutes, however, something went

wrong. She felt hot, itchy. Her lips swelled; she

lost her voice and developed severe diarrhea. “I

felt my chest getting tight, it was hard to

breathe,” recalled Booth. “She didn’t know but she

was going into shock,” reported CBS news. “I

thought, oh my God, what is happening to me? I

felt like I was going to die.” Her co-workers

called an ambulance . . . .[40]


Booth didn’t know what had caused her nearly

deadly allergic reaction. But this was September

2000 and within a few days she heard the news. A

genetically modified corn product called StarLink,

a potential allergen not approved for human

consumption, was discovered in tacos, tortillas,

and other corn products. More than 300 items were

eventually recalled from the grocery store shelves

in what was to become one of the world’s biggest

GM food debacles.


Chapter 7: Muscling the Media


The biotech industry uses its considerable

resources to mold public opinion about genetically

modified foods. In addition to promoting a

one-sided image of the foods as safe and

necessary, they stifle coverage about health and

environmental damage. For example, a Fox TV

station canceled a news series, a publisher

canceled a book contract,[41] scientific journals

refused papers, and a printer shredded 14,000

magazines, all due to fear of lawsuits by

Monsanto. Other stories presented in this chapter

describe how the industry manipulated news that

was reported.



A national TV commercial showed a montage of

smiling Asian children, caring doctors, rice

paddies, and a narrator who says that golden rice

can ‘help prevent blindness and infection in

millions of children’ suffering from vitamin-A

deficiency.”[42] Time magazine went so far as to

claim on their cover, “This rice could save a

million kids a year.” The biotech company Syngenta

claims one month of a delay in marketing Golden

Rice, would cause 50,000 children to go blind.[43]


The biotech industry had found its poster child,

genetically engineered rice that makes its own

beta-carotene—a precursor to vitamin A. In his New

York Times Magazine article, “The Great Yellow

Hype,” Michael Pollan says that golden rice

impales Americans on the horns of a moral dilemma:

if we don’t get over our queasiness about eating

genetically modified food, kids in the third world

will go blind.”


“Yet the more one learns about biotechnology’s

Great Yellow Hope,” Pollan continues, “the more

uncertain seems its promise.”[44] A closer look

reveals some interesting omissions in the

industry’s numbers. According to a Greenpeace

report, golden rice provides so little vitamin A,

a two-year-old child would need to eat seven

pounds per day.”[45] Likewise, an adult would need

to eat nearly twenty pounds to get the

daily-recommended dose.


“This whole project is actually based on what can

only be characterized as intentional deception,”

writes Benedikt Haerlin, former international

coordinator of Greenpeace’s genetic engineering

campaign. “We recalculated their figures again and

again. We just could not believe serious

scientists and companies would do this.”[46]


Even the president of the Rockefeller Foundation,

which funded development of golden rice, said “the

public-relations uses of golden rice have gone too

far” and are misleading the public and media. He

adds, “We do not consider golden rice the solution

to the Vitamin A deficiency problem.”[47]


There are other considerations as well. No

published study has confirmed that the human body

could actually convert the beta-carotene in golden

rice. Also other nutrients such as fat and

protein, often lacking in the diets on

malnourished children, are needed in order to

absorb Vitamin A. And it is not clear whether the

genes from the daffodil, which are used to create

golden rice, will transfer known allergens from

the flower.[48]


The biotech proponents also admit that to persuade

people to eat yellow rice may require an

educational campaign. But if they are going to

spend the time to educate, Pollan asks, why not

instead teach “people how to grow green vegetables

[that are rich in vitamin A and other nutrients]

on the margins of their rice fields, and maybe

even give them the seeds to do so? Or what about

handing out vitamin-A supplements to children so

severely malnourished their bodies can’t

metabolize beta-carotene?”


Distributing supplements is precisely what the

Vitamin Angel Alliance is doing. They give

children who are at risk a high potency tablet,

strong enough so that only two are required per

year to prevent blindness. At a cost of only $.05

per tablet, only $25,000 is needed to prevent

500,000 children from going blind per year.[49]

Contrast this with golden rice, which has cost

more than $100 million dollars so far, and is not

yet ready.


Michael Khoo of Greenpeace says golden rice “isn’t

about solving childhood blindness, it’s about

solving biotech’s public relations problem.” If

the industry were truly dedicated to the problems

of malnutrition and starvation, a tiny fraction of

their advertising budget could have been diverted

to make an enormous difference already. Khoo says,

“It is shameful that the biotech industry is using

starving children to promote a dubious



Grains of Delusion, a research report jointly

released by humanitarian organizations in

Thailand, Cambodia, India, Philippines, Indonesia

and Bangladesh, concluded that, “the main agenda

for golden rice is not malnutrition but garnering

greater support and acceptance for genetic

engineering amongst the public, the scientific

community and funding agencies. Given this

reality, the promise of golden rice should be

taken with a pinch of salt.”[51]


Chapter 8: Changing Your Diet


This chapter describes all the sources of GM foods

and explains how to remove them from your diet. It

also provides additional motivation to make a

change, describing how food can dramatically

influence mood and behavior.


Chapter 9: What You Can Do


This chapter offers some practical ways to stay

informed and to make a real change. One of these

is to get this book into the hands of those who

can make a difference.




Books have power. Upton Sinclair’s novel The

Jungle exposed the unsanitary conditions of the

meat packing industry. After Teddy Roosevelt read

the book on a long train trip, he pushed a bill

through congress creating meat inspection. At a

press conference, President Kennedy acknowledged

the importance of Rachel Carson’s book Silent

Spring, which exposed the dangers of pesticides.

Kennedy then had his scientific advisor look into

the issue. The book was eventually “credited with

beginning the American environmental movement, the

creation of the Environmental Protection Agency,

and the 1972 ban on DDT.”[52]


Officials around the world who are in charge of GM

food policy need to be made aware of the foods’

dangers and of how their approval was based on

politics, not science. They have been subjected to

relentless promotion by the biotech industry and

bullying by the U.S. government to accept GM foods

and crops. The revelations in this book might

change that.




This section ties in recent events with a summary

of some of the salient points from the book.




There are the numerous ways in which industry

researchers apparently doctored their studies to

avoid finding problems with GM foods. For example,

Aventis heated StarLink corn four times longer

than standard before testing for intact protein;

Monsanto fed mature animals diets with only one

tenth of their protein derived from GM soy;

researchers injected cows with one forty-seventh

the amount of rbGH before testing the level of

hormone in the milk and pasteurized milk 120 times

longer than normal to see if the hormone was

destroyed; and Monsanto used stronger acid and

more than 1,250 times the amount of a digestive

enzyme recommended by international standards to

prove how quickly their protein degraded. Cows

that got sick were dropped from Monsanto’s rbGH

studies, while cows that got pregnant before

treatment were counted as support that the drug

didn’t interfere with fertility; differences in

composition between Roundup Ready soy and natural

soy were omitted from a published paper; antibody

reactions by rats fed rbGH were ignored by the

FDA; and deaths from rats fed the FlavrSavr tomato

remain unexplained.


Overturning a myth is not easy and cannot be

accomplished by only a few individuals. Please

join with those of us who are dedicated to getting

the truth out.





[1] See the White House press release on this at

The comments mentioned are about two-thirds of the way

down the web page.

[2] Stuart Laidlaw, “StarLink Fallout Could Cost

Billions,” The Toronto Star, January 9, 2001

[3] Robert Cohen, Milk, The Deadly Poison, Argus

Publishing, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, 1998, p133

[4] See

[5] See

[6] Unless otherwise indicated, quotes from Arpad

Pustai, his wife Susan, or Philip James are based on

personal communications with Arpad Pustai.

[7] Project Censored,

[8] Rick Weiss, “Biotech Food Crop Raises a Crop of

Questions,” Washington Post, August 15, 1999; p. A1

[9] David Schubert, “A different perspective on GM

food,” Nature Biotechnology, Vol. 20, 2002, p. 969

[10] Anne McIlroy, “Pierre Blaise thought it was his

duty,” Globe and Mail (Canada), November 18, 1998

[11] James Baxter, The Ottawa Citizen, October 23, 1998,

p. A1

[12] Judith C. Juskevich, C. Greg Guyer, “Bovine Growth

Hormone: Human Food Safety Evaluation,” Science, 1990,

vol. 249, pp. 875-884

[13] Robert Cohen, Milk, The Deadly Poison, Argus

Publishing, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, 1998

[14] Phillip A. Hertzman and others, The

Eosinophilia-Myalgia Syndrome: The Los Alamos

Conference, Journal of Rheumatology, vol. 18, no. 6,

1991, pp. 867-873

[15] William Crist, Investigative report on

L-tryptophan, found at

[16] Kurt Eichenwald, and others, “Biotechnology Food:

From the Lab to a Debacle,” The New York Times, January

25, 2001

[17] Ibid.

[18] “Statement of Policy: Foods Derived From New Plant

Varieties,” Federal Register vol. 57, No. 104 at 22991.

May 29, 1992

[19] Steve Druker,

[20] Linda Kahl to James Maryanski, about Federal

Register document “Statement of Policy: Foods from

Genetically Modified Plants,” January 8, 1992,

[21] Louis J. Pribyl “Biotechnology Draft Document,

2/27/92,” March 6, 1992,

[22] Kurt Eichenwald and others, “Biotechnology Food:

From the Lab to a Debacle,” New York Times, January 25,


[23] Louis J. Pribyl “Biotechnology Draft Document,

2/27/92,” March 6, 1992,

[24] Steve Drucker,

[25] Edwin J. Mathews to the Toxicology Section of the

Biotechnology Working Group. “Analysis of the Major

Plant Toxicants.” October 28, 1991,

[26] Samuel I. Shibko to James Maryanski, “Revision of

Toxicology Section of the Statement of Policy: Foods

Derived from Genetically Modified Plants,” January 31,


[27] Division of Food Chemistry and Technology and

Division of Contaminants Chemistry, “Points to Consider

for Safety Evaluation of Genetically Modified Foods;

Supplemental Information,” November 1, 1991,

[28] Gerald B. Guest to James Maryanski, “Regulation of

Transgenic Plants--FDA Draft Federal Register Notice on

Food Biotechnology.” February 5, 1992,

[29] David Kessler, “FDA Proposed Statement of Policy

Clarifying the Regulation of Food Derived from

Genetically Modified Plants--DECISION.” March 20, 1992,

[30] Eric Katz to John Gallivan, “Food Biotechnology

Policy Statement,” March 27, 1992,

[31] Bill Lambrecht, Dinner at the New Gene Café, p 322

[32] “Speaker Hastert Calls for End of European Union’s

‘Protectionist, Discriminatory Trade Policies,” U.S.

Newswire, March 26, 2003

[33] James Maryanski, to Dr. Bill Murray, Chairman of

the Food Directorate, Canada, “The safety assessment of

foods and food ingredients developed through new

biotechnology,” October 23, 1991,

[34] Kurt Eichenwald, and others, “Biotechnology Food:

From the Lab to a Debacle,” The New York Times, January

25, 2001

[35] Andrea Baillie, “Suzuki Warns of Frankenstein Foods,” CP Wire, October 18, 1999[36] “Expert Panel on the Future of Food Biotechnology,”

January, 2001,

[37] Craig Canine, “Hear No Evil,” Eating Well,

July/August 1991

[38] Bill Lambrecht, Dinner at the New Gene Café, p 139

[39] Mark Townsend, “Why soya is a hidden destroyer,”

Daily Express, March 12, 1999

[40] “Life-Threatening Food?” CBS News, May 17, 2001,

[41] Read this unbelievable account at, first story

[42] Michael Pollan, “The Great Yellow Hype,” New York

Times, March 4, 2001, Section 6; p 15

[43] “GE rice is fool’s gold,” Greenpeace,


[44] Michael Pollan, “The Great Yellow Hype,” New York

Times, March 4, 2001, Section 6; p 15

[45] Greenpeace demands false biotech advertising be

removed from TV, Letter, February 9, 2001

[46] Opinion piece about Golden Rice by Benedikt



[47]  Greenpeace demands false biotech advertising be

removed from TV, Letter, February 9, 2001

[48] “Grains of Delusion,” Jointly published by BIOTHAI

(Thailand), CEDAC (Cambodia), DRCSC (India), GRAIN,

MASIPAG (Philippines), PAN-Indonesia and UBINIG

(Bangladesh), February 2001,

[49] Vitamin Angel Alliance,

[50] FIFRA Scientific Advisory Panel (SAP), Open

Meeting, July 17, 2001

[51] “Grains of Delusion,” Jointly published by BIOTHAI

(Thailand), CEDAC (Cambodia), DRCSC (India), GRAIN,

MASIPAG (Philippines), PAN-Indonesia and UBINIG

(Bangladesh), February 2001,

[52] Dorothy Mclaughlin, “Fooling with Nature, Silent

Spring Revisited,” PBS,


copyright © 2003 Jeffrey M. Smith