Book Review: Seeds of Deception By Jeffrey M. Smith
BOOK: Seeds of Deception By Jeffrey M. Smith
A 10 Page Summary
Exposing Industry and Government Deception About the Safety of the Genetically Engineered Foods You’re Eating
Praise for the Book Seeds of Deception
“Outrageous! That’s what you’ll say when you read how the biotechnology companies have manipulated the government, our food, and the media, and put an entire generation at risk.
– Ben Cohen, Co-Founder, Ben & Jerry’s
“Clear, profound, and unerringly accurate, Seeds of Deception tells 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 what corporations are doing to your food and health, this is the book to get.”
– John Robbins, author of The Food Revolution and Diet For A New America
“I’ve seen first hand how Monsanto and the FDA 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 Coalition
On May 23, 2003, President Bush proposed an Initiative to End Hunger in Africa  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.” 
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.
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-” 
“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 room.
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 under-reported events of the year.  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.
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 problems.
Excerpt: 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.” 
Chapter 3: Spilled Milk
“The scientists’ testimony before a Senate committee was like a scene from the conspiratorial television show The X-Files.”  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. 
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.
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