Press Release from the Institute for Responsible Technology
Kuala Lampur, Malaysia
24 February 2004
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CONTACT: Institute for Responsible Technology
Terje Traavik +47 9581 7537
Jeffrey Smith +60 (0)12-333-7495
Data from three groups of studies currently being conducted by the Norwegian Institute for Gene Ecology, in Tromsö, Norway, reveal potentially serious health dangers of genetically modified (GM) foods and vaccines. Jeffrey M. Smith, Director of the Institute for Responsible Technology, presented a summary of the findings and their implications for human health to delegates at the UN Cartagena Protocol for Biosafety meeting. Smith also presented additional evidence of health dangers from his recently published book, Seeds of Deception, including new information that incriminates the genetic engineering of the food supplement L-tryptophan as the cause of an epidemic in the U.S. in the 1980s, which took the lives of about 100 Americans and caused 5-10,000 to fall sick or become disabled. The Norwegian findings are summarized below and are elaborated in accompanying documents.
1. Bt-maize (Dekalb 818 YG), during pollination, may have triggered disease in people living near the maize field in the Philippines.
2. The cauliflower mosaic virus (CaMV) promoter, used in most GM foods, was found intact in rat tissues two hours, six hours, and three days after it was mixed into a single meal, and was also confirmed to be active in human cells.
3. Genetically engineered pox viruses in cell cultures recombined with natural viruses to create new hybrid viruses with unpredictable and potentially dangerous characteristics.
Terje Traavik, PhD, Director of the Norwegian Institute for Gene Ecology, announced the findings at a meeting held on February 22 in Kuala Lumpur, sponsored by the Third World Network. The studies are ongoing and not yet published, but Traavik says, "Publication of results typically requires a waiting period of up to one year or more. With such evidence of possible human health impacts of foods already on the market, we believed that waiting to report our findings through publication would not be in the public's interest." Traavik acknowledged that unpublished results are considered preliminary, but the findings, he said, are considered reliable and warrant immediate investigation. Traavik presented the data the day before the UN conference on biosafety began so that the results could be taken into consideration when drafting regulatory guidelines. Smith put the Norwegian findings into context by presenting related findings. He said, "The fact that the CaMV promoter can transfer to mammalian cells might explain the excessive cell growth found in the stomach and intestines of animals from other GM feeding trials, and raises additional concerns that GM foods might encourage genetic instability and mutation, accidental expression of allergens or toxins from non-target genes, and even activation of dormant viruses." Smith said that the link between Bt-maize pollen and disease in the Philippine villagers is supported by other studies on Bt-toxin and the crops genetically engineered to express it. Smith said, "Because Bt-toxin appears to increase the sensitivity of mammals to other allergens or immunogens, we must investigate whether Bt-crops contribute to the unexplained rise of allergies."
Smith also provided evidence that the L-tryptophan epidemic had started four years earlier than is generally cited, and was linked to a series of genetically modified bacterial strains used by a Japanese manufacturer between 1984 and 1989. This information undermines the alternative explanation that the epidemic was created as a result of a change in the manufacturing methods introduced in 1989.