HARD QUESTIONS ABOUT "THE BIOTECH CENTURY"
''You wake up one morning in 2159,
and you don't feel so good. Maybe your blood pressure is high again. That's
really no surprise, considering you are 101 years old practically at
retirement age in an era in which we live to be 125,'' began a breathless
page 1 article in ''The Washington Times'' on Tuesday.
''You've reached this ripe old age
because your genetic map years ago showed you carried the mutations for
Alzheimer's disease, heart disease, and diabetes. Gene therapy eradicated
those problems for you.
''The risk of those diseases and a
host of others isn't even there for your children. You selected their genes
from a menu of options and had the embryos analyzed before they were
implanted in an artificial womb,'' said the Times.
''As for the high blood pressure,
there's no need to call the doctor. The tiny ''biomonitor'' robot floating
in your bloodstream will take a reading and adjust the problem...''
Sounds wonderful, but is it too
good to be true? The article raised few hard questions. Similarly, the
news programs of ABC, CBS, and NBC have almost nightly reports about a new
breakthrough of genetic research, implying there are no dangers or ethical
issues to be considered.
However, a recent ad was published
in ''The New York Times'' by 60 groups such as Friends of the Earth and
Center for Food Safety with this headline: ''UNLABELED, UNTESTED...AND
YOU'RE EATING IT.'' Beneath it in bold type: ''In secret, genetically
engineered foods are showing up on American grocery shelves. Though other
countries now label biotech foods, the U.S. FDA still does not require
labels or safety tests.
''Don't you have the right to know
what's in your food? And if it is safe for your family?''
Polls indicate that more than 90%
of Americans support the labeling of genetically engineered (GE) foods. The
European Union passed a law requiring GE foods to be labeled. And a 1999
TIME poll reported that 60% of Americans would avoid such foods if they were
No wonder the food and biotech
industry doesn't want labels to go on GE products!
Yet half of foods made with
soybeans and 40 percent of corn is genetically engineered. Other GE products
are Frito-Lay Fritos Corn Chips, Kellogg's Corn Flakes, Enfamil ProSobee
Formula, Quaker Chewy Granola Bars, Ultra Slim Fast, Gardenburger and
So what? Consider issues of
toxicity, allergic reactions, antibiotic resistance and cancer.
Toxicity: ''Genetic corn has a toxic gene, reproduced
in every cell, which kills the corn bore. But it is also making ground
water much more toxic. And it does kill good insects. Cornell took
genetically engineered corn, exposed it to Monarch Butterflies, and 44
percent of their larva died, while none exposed to regular corn died''
says Jeremy Rifkin, president of the Foundation on Economic Trends, the
leading sponsor of the ad quoted above.
Allergic reaction: Some FDA scientists warn that GE
foods could spark allergic reactions. A ''New England Journal of
Medicine'' study showed that when a gene from a Brazil nut was
engineered into soybeans, people allergic to nuts had serious reactions.
Without labeling, consumers with allergies do not know they might be
harmed by eating certain GE foods.
Antibiotic resistance: GE foods are often modified
with antibiotic resistant genes, which could make some people more
susceptible to bacterial infections. The British Medical Association
says that antibiotic resistance is ''one of the major public health
threats to be faced in the 21st century.''
Cancer: Canada and Europe have banned the use of
genetically engineered bovine growth hormone in the production of milk
and dairy products because they fear it may increase the risk of breast
cancer as well as prostate and colon cancer.
Immuno-suppression: The NY Times ad. said ''22 leading
scientists recently declared that animal test results linking
genetically engineered foods to immuno-suppression are valid,''
Most of these dangers are more suspected than
proven. We simply do not know what risks lie in eating foods that have been
genetically altered. That is why the FDA must assume responsibility to test
these foods and why, at the minimum, all GE foods should be labeled.
What can you, the individual reader do about
this? First, become more informed by reading ''The Biotech Century,'' the
most comprehensive overview of the dangers we face. It was written by Jeremy
Rifkin, who wrote a book nearly 25 years ago which presciently predicted
transgenic species, animal clones, test tube babies, the rental of surrogate
wombs, the fabrication of human organs and human gene surgery by the year
2000. All have proven accurate.
Second, ask candidates for public office where
they stand on these issues. To date, no presidential candidate has dared do
so. Third, ask your grocery store to label GE foods.
Finally, pray that God will remain in charge of
creation not man.
Copyright 2000 Michael J. McManus.
2019: Column 1961: Gun Control Laws Needed
Eight Reasons To Marry
Ten Myths of Marriage
The Ministry of Marriage 911
The Worst Valentine:
Pornography: A Public Health Hazard
Sextortion Kills Teens
Cohabitation: A Risky Business
same sex marriage,
abortion and infanticide,