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Is There Anything Worse Than a Girl Scout Cookie?

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Today as we were leaving our local market, several Girl Scouts and their adult “minders” asked us if we wanted to buy Girl Scout cookies. My wife stopped and asked, “Are they organic? If they’re organic, we’ll buy some.” The adults there started to laugh and one woman chuckled, “Oh yeah—they’re all organic.” Then the girls picked up the prompt and started chanting, “Organic Girl Scout cookies. Organic Girl Scout cookies.”

But my wife was serious.

Look, we try very hard to eat only organically grown food, and that’s because as people who have been deeply involved in the organic movement for decades, we know the ill health effects of conventional food and especially, processed foods like cookies. Not only that, we want to support the organic farmers who are caring for the land intelligently, in a sound, sustainable, environmentally aware manner. Like almost everyone, we also want to support the Girl Scouts—or, we thought we did, although come to think of it, we didn’t really know what that organization was teaching young girls, or what activities it supported.

That made us think of the Boy Scouts and its homophobia. What do you think it teaches young Boy Scouts when the national organization says it won’t allow gays to participate? I think it says, “Boy Scouts good. Gays bad.” Twelve-year-olds usually don’t parse such messages with nuance.

So what message do Girl Scout cookies send to the Girl Scouts? To find out, I looked up the ingredients in their range of cookies. This is what I found:

For starters, they all—Lemon Chalet Cremes, Trefoils, Do-si-dos, Samoas, Dulce de Leches, Thank You Berry Munch, Tagalongs, and Thin Mints—contain palm oil. Palm oil, cultivated in the forests of Indonesia, has been added to the U.S. Department of Labor’s list of goods produced by child labor and forced labor. The International Labor Rights Forum is spreading the word about slave labor on palm oil plantations with the message, “Don’t Let Cargill Profit from Slave or Child Labor in Palm Oil.” Cargill’s recent annual revenues soared to over $120 billion, with palm oil being one of the company’s most important commodities. Meanwhile, underage children and indentured laborers are working in Indonesia’s palm oil industry for less than 40 cents a day for back-breaking work clearing forests and spraying pesticides. Some recent slave laborers escaped and said they hadn’t been paid a penny for months.

By the way, those forests they are clearing are some of the last habitat for orangutans. According to AllAboutWildlife, “Human encroachment on the Indonesian rainforests is pushing the orangutan ever closer to extinction in the wild. The Sumatran species (Pongo abelii) is listed as Critically Endangered, with only 7,000 of the animals remaining in a patchwork of forestland that is fast disappearing due to logging and the replacement of native trees with vast plantations of oil palms.”

Now there’s a lesson for the Girl Scouts. Their cookies are helping to eradicate one of the world’s most advanced animals, orangutans, apes who are smart enough to make themselves hats of leaves to protect themselves from the rain.

As you may know, trans fatty acids and saturated fatty acids are both implicated in the development of cardiovascular disease. Trans fatty acids are particularly nasty. They are formed when fats are either entirely or partially hydrogenated—that is, hydrogen gas in bubbled through them to make them into hard fats that help stabilize baked goods like cookies. Do Girl Scout cookies contain trans fatty acids? Here’s the rundown, from the cookie labels:

Do-si-dos contain “hydrogenated rapeseed, cottonseed, and/or palm oil,” and yet the label claims 0 grams of trans fatty acids. Now, how can that be, since hydrogenating fats creates trans fatty acids? Samoas contain “partially hydrogenated palm kernel oil or cottonseed oil,” yet the label claims they contain no trans fatty acids. Two cookies will give you 6 grams of saturated fat, however, 30 percent of your daily limit. Tagalongs and Thin Mints also contain hydrogenated fats but also claim zero trans fatty acids.

Oh—and that cottonseed oil? According to the Organic Trade Association, “Cotton is considered the world’s ‘dirtiest’ crop due to its heavy use of insecticides, the most hazardous pesticide to human and animal health. Cotton covers 2.5 percent of the world’s cultivated land yet uses 16 percent of the world’s insecticides, more than any other single major crop. Aldicarb, parathion, and methamidophos, three of the most acutely hazardous insecticides to human health as determined by the World Health Organization, rank in the top 10 most commonly used in cotton production. All but one of the remaining seven most commonly used are classified as moderately to highly hazardous. Aldicarb, cotton’s second best selling insecticide and most acutely poisonous to humans, can kill a man with just one drop absorbed through the skin, yet it is still used in 25 countries and the U.S., where 16 states have reported it in their groundwater.

So what else do these cookies contain? Well, lots of corn products, including corn starch and high fructose corn syrup. Over 90 percent of the corn grown in the U.S. has been genetically altered to include a gene from bacteria that produce a pesticide. This corn, with a pesticide factory built into every one of its cells, has created evolutionary pressure resulting in the emergence of pesticide-resistant insects that severely damage the corn crop in the U.S. What’s worse, when we eat the products of this GMO corn, the genes that create the pesticide can migrate from the corn cells into our intestinal bacteria, so that we become living, walking pesticide factories. Have another bite of that Girl Scout cookie.

New this year is a cookie called Mango Crème. Carey Polis, writing in the Huffington Post, takes a good look at this cookie under the headline, “Mango Crème Girl Scout Cookies Boast Questionable ‘NutriFusion’ Ingredient.” What is NutriFusion? It is a combination of palm oil with extractions of “cranberry, pomegranate, orange, grape, strawberry, and skiitake mushrooms,” Polis says. Where’s the mango? There ain’t any, which prompted the Jezebel website to call the Mango Crème cookie, “bullshit.”

Oh, and there are lots of soy products in these cookies, too. Do you know that almost 90 percent of the soybeans grown in the U.S. are genetically altered? Almost all the soybeans and corn grown in the U.S. today have been genetically modified to resist injury from glyphosate herbicides like Monsanto’s Roundup. Since the introduction of so-called “Roundup Ready” crops in 1996, herbicide use in the U.S. has tripled, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. The U.S.G.S. sampled hundreds of streams in the Midwest and found herbicide or its degradation products in 70 percent of the streams tested. Such heavy use of herbicide has another consequence: nature has responded to this assault by producing herbicide-resistant “super weeds” that are now plaguing soy and corn farms in America’s heartland. Do the Girl Scouts teach this when they hand out the cookies for the girls to sell?

You’ll also find artificial food dyes like yellow #5 lake, yellow #6 lake, blue #2 lake and artificial flavors (read chemical compounds created in factories) used in one or another of the cookies.

Hey—I’m just reading the labels here.

I just wish the Girl Scouts of America would decide to send their girls a message about wholesome, organically grown food. And take the chemicals, dyes, health-threatening fats produced using child and slave labor, and environmentally destructive palm farms that threaten our close relatives, the sweet and gentle orangutans, out of their cookies.

Maybe, unlike the indefensible homophobes over at the Boy Scouts, the Girl Scouts could then proudly sell their cookies instead of mocking the simple question, “Are these organic?”

The Lesson of Saag Paneer

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Made saag paneer from scratch last night. Saag paneer—you know, that Indian dish of spiced-up spinach in a creamy sauce with lumps of sautéed fresh cheese dotted in it. All organic ingredients. And I learned something important while preparing it.

Started by making the cheese with a quart of whole, organic milk and a half teaspoon of sea salt. I brought the milk to 180 degrees, slowly increasing the heat and standing by the stove to stir the milk repeatedly so it wouldn’t scorch. The milk must not boil, but it’s ready when it’s hot and giving off wisps of steam. Then I removed it from the heat and poured in a quarter cup of fresh-squeezed organic lemon juice. Stirred. Within 30 seconds, curds formed.

I lined a large strainer with four layers of cheesecloth, with plenty of cloth falling outside the strainer so that I could pull up the loose cloth ends and make a bag. I set the strainer on a large bowl and poured the curds and whey into the cheesecloth. Using a tablespoon, I stirred the curds so most of the whey—the greenish liquid—drained through into the bowl. When it stopped dripping, I pulled all the loose ends of the cheesecloth up and tied them off to make a bag with butcher’s string, then wrung the bag with my hands to drive off more whey. When I got most of it drained off, I set the bag in the kitchen sink, filled an eight-gallon soup pot with water, and set it on the bag, pushing it down hard, then leaving it to press out the remaining whey. I let it finish draining for an hour.

At the store, I’d filled a clear plastic vegetable bag—the kind markets provide on rolls for keeping your vegetables separate—full of organic spinach and now I washed and de-veined the leaves and put them into my vegetable steamer. Steaming them took about four or five minutes until they were limp and reduced to green lumps. I put the steamed spinach into a bowl, and cut them with two knives for about 120 cuts, until they were chopped into little pieces.

In a small bowl, I combined three coarsely chopped, peeled garlic cloves and a coarsely chopped jalapeno, a quarter teaspoon each of sea salt, ground cardamom, ground cumin, ground turmeric, garam masala, and a pinch each of ground nutmeg and yellow curry powder. I put this mixture into a Magic Bullet—a brand of small food processor—and whizzed it until it made a thick paste.

Now I drained any excess water off the spinach and returned the spinach to a skillet set on low heat, added a half cup of heavy cream, and thoroughly mixed in the spices. The spinach mixture needed thickening. Ordinarily I would have used a roux, but I had a leftover baked potato from the previous night’s dinner. So I spooned the potato into a bowl, added a good splash of heavy cream and a thick pat of butter, and mashed it into a paste with my potato masher. I stirred this mashed potato mixture into the spinach and let it all return to a low heat on the stove, where it thickened up perfectly to creamy but not watery consistency. Then I turned the spinach mixture into a pretty serving bowl and put it into a 170 F. oven to keep it toasty warm without further cooking it.

Now I put a piece of wax paper down on my cutting board, retrieved the cheesecloth bag, unwrapped it, and there was my lumpy mass of fresh cheese. I flattened it with the heel of my hand until it was about ¾-inch thick, and with my fingers, formed its edges so it all stayed together into a rough rectangle. Then I cut it into ¾-inch squares. The beauty part of the saag paneer is to sauté the cheese so the squares acquire a nice golden brown crust. Indian cooks use ghee—clarified butter—but I just used plain organic, unsalted (sweet) butter. Using a scrupulously cleaned skillet, I put in a quarter stick of butter and melted it over medium-low heat. The higher the heat, the more likelihood that the cheese will stick to the pan and when you go to turn the squares, you’ll leave behind the golden crusts. So easy does it. I put the squares into the melted butter. When I thought they were probably golden brown, I used a metal spatula shoved under each one to make sure it wasn’t sticking, and then turned the squares over using the spatula and a fork to gently turn them. When both sides (and a few got browned on more than two sides) were golden, I took the serving bowl with the spinach from the oven and gently dotted the surface with all the little squares of fresh cheese.

Then I served it forth with a large serving spoon to rave reviews from the family. And I was grateful it turned out so well, because while I had a basic grasp of this dish, I totally winged it in the details and it was delicious.

And what did I learn that was important?

I learned that home cooking of long-standing traditional dishes of ethnic cuisines around the world—like this seemingly simple but actually complex Indian dish– require a lot of prep work, and that requires someone to be at home in the kitchen to do the prep work and realize the dish. In times past, that was typically the woman of the house. But times have changed, especially in industrialized societies, where men and women work full days in their workplaces and have precious little time, at least during the week, to turn out food that requires time and patience.

I’m concerned that today’s grandmothers, even those who learned to cook from their grandmothers, don’t have the time to carry the traditional recipes into the future. This opens the door for the makers of industrialized processed foods and all the problems they cause.

Much will be lost with the loss of time to cook, because the traditional recipes afford one of life’s true pleasures. The recipes I’m talking about actually define their cultures: tortellini in brodo, pate de campagne, sauerbraten mit rotkohl, saag paneer. With the loss of cultural definition, the feeling of belonging to a vibrant, alive tradition will be lost. This will be—maybe already is—an impoverishment of the human race because in social diversity is resilience, strength, and health.

There are counterbalancing trends, though: Slow Food, community supported agriculture, fermenters making their own pickles, organic-minded folks who seek out the best from their local farmers markets, artisanal cheesemakers.

Organic agriculture is the farming equivalent of home cooking.


Some U.S. farmers are considering returning to conventional seed after increased pest resistance and crop failures meant GMO crops saw smaller yields globally than their non-GMO counterparts. Farmers in the USA pay about an extra $100 per acre for GMO seed, and many are questioning whether they will continue to see benefits from using GMOs.
“It’s all about cost benefit analysis,” said economist Dan Basse, president of American agricultural research company AgResource. “Farmers are paying extra for the technology but have seen yields which are no better than 10 years ago. They’re starting to wonder why they’re spending extra money on the technology.”

One of the biggest problems is that pests such as corn rootworm have formed a resistance to GM crops in as few as 14 years. View original article on Farmers Weekly.


Even those well versed in the head scratching, closed door negotiations in Washington last January are hard pressed to explain how– or why–nearly $500 million in organic and sustainable agriculture funding disappeared in the Farm Bill Extension, according to the Organic Farming Research Foundation.
The 2008 Farm Bill extension was signed by President Obama and is in effect until September, 2013. A lot needs to happen between now and then.

The Extension contains no funding for organic agriculture or organic research, no commodity subsidy reform, no disaster assistance, and no extension of funding for farmers markets, value-added agriculture, rural micro-enterprise assistance, beginning farmers, minority farmers, renewable energy, and specialty crop research. It also fails to include disaster assistance for livestock and fruit producers, and fails to correct a previous congressional mistake that is curtailing the Conservation Stewardship Program sign-up this year. And yet, the organic industry experiences significant growth year after year, growth that is driven by people like you and me, the OFRF writes.

Well, gee—this is Jeff writing now—let me guess why all funding for organic agriculture has been eliminated. Could it be that agribusiness flacks in the FDA (yes, you Michael Taylor, former Monsanto executive) and the USDA and agribusiness lobbyists have convinced Congress to cut this funding? Of course it is. What’s really disappointing is that Barack Obama, whose wife has planted an organic garden on the White House grounds, signed this legislation. That’s organic veggies for the Obamas, but the old crapola for the rest of us.


On December 21, 2012, the Food and Drug Administration released an Environmental Assessment with a “Finding of No Significant Impact” from allowing transgenic (GMO) salmon into the public food supply. The FDA action is widely viewed as confirmation that GMO salmon is on the fast track for approval, in the face of widespread public outcry.

This decision would mean that the first genetically engineered animal, intended for human consumption, would be in our grocery stores. It’s clear that the FDA is intent on expanding the number-–and types-–of genetically engineered foods we eat. But without labels, we can’t make informed decisions, and it’s now more important than ever that we have that ability.

Luckily, the FDA is legally required to consider public opinion, and has decided to open a comment period–they need to hear your voice before the comment period ends April 26th. Take action today!

Why the concern? These salmon are genetically engineered to produce growth hormones year-round to make the fish grow at twice its natural rate. There have been no long-term studies on the safety of eating genetically engineered salmon, nor has the environmental or economic impact of this salmon been adequately evaluated. Some scientists are warning that if these oversized, genetically altered salmon escape to the wild, they could wipe out stocks of natural salmon by their breeding and feeding advantages.

Most importantly, while the USDA requires labels to let consumers know whether fish is wild-caught or farm-raised – these salmon will enter the marketplace unlabeled as genetically engineered.

What’s the bottom line? The introduction of genetically engineered salmon into our food supply is moving forward without the right questions being asked, and without proper labeling.

You have the right to know what you are eating. Tell the FDA, before the April 26th deadline, that you want GMO salmon to be labeled and fully reviewed.

U.S. Chocolate Contains GMOs

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Dagoba chocolate may be organic, but its parent company, Hershey, spent more than a half million dollars to defeat Prop 37, the California Right to Know GMO labeling law. No wonder. The Hershey’s kisses and chocolate bars sold here in the U.S. are loaded with cheap genetically modified beet sugar and genetically engineered soy lecithin. And where does the giant chocolate maker get its cacao? From regions where child labor and workers’ rights abuses run rampant, according to the Organic Consumers Association.

In countries where GMOs are either banned or required to be labeled, however, companies don’t seem to have a problem. In Europe, for instance, where genetically modified ingredients are required to be labeled, Hershey and Mars have adapted their candy recipes to formulate Kisses and M&Ms without GMOs. According to Confectionery News, Hershey products made for distribution in Europe will be formulated without GMO ingredients, in order to meet the requirements of major retailers which ban the sale of products with genetically modified ingredients and to satisfy increasing consumer concern about the safety of GMOs. Do European retailers care more about their customers’ health than ours in the United States? The answer is an obvious yes.


The latest tally of how much money Big Ag and the biotech industry spent to narrowly defeat Prop 37 is $46 million. And now labeling measures are proposed for forthcoming ballots in Washington and Colorado, which the GMO industries will have to fight at great cost, with no assurance that they’ll be able to defeat the measures in those two states.
So now we find out that the industry representatives have met with Food and Drug Administration folks about getting a federal law that requires GMO foods to be so labelled. We all know what this means: a weak federal law. Keep tabs on this because it’s the heart of the labeling fight. There are two things to watch out for.
First, the biotech industry and Big Ag will not want a label that states the positive; that is, the label says, “Contains genetically modified ingredients.” I guarantee you they will want a label that states the negative; that is, foods that don’t contain GMO ingredients would be allowed to state, “Contains no GMO ingredients.” This is wrong for a couple of reasons.
One, only the positive label warns people that the food they are considering buying does actually contain genetically modified ingredients. If the negative label is approved, GMO-containing foods would not have to have any label concerning GMOs at all. Second, with a positive label, the food processors and industries would have no incentive to cheat. They would not put a positive label on their foods if those foods didn’t contain GMOs. On the other hand, if the label says, “Contains no GMO ingredients,” the big food companies have every incentive to cheat and put GMOs into labeled foods, because then it’s up to the government to prove they actually do contain GMOs. There would have to be a new and very expensive bureau set up within the FDA to test these foodstuffs. And given that the big food, pesticide, and biotech companies already have infiltrated the FDA (google Michael Taylor at the FDA for details), how much watchdogging do you think FDA is really going to do? Not much at all. And so corporate interests will have their way.
We can stop it by demanding that any FDA label must state the presence, not the absence, of GMOs in food.
There is a third consideration here, and it is nicely summed up by an article written by Michele Simon of Appetite for Profit. She points out that any effort to label GE foods at the federal level could bring the current grassroots movement to a grinding halt by preventing any stronger local laws from ever being enacted.
There is, she wrote, an ominous potential downside of federal GMO labeling: a sneaky legal concept known as preemption. Most advocates don’t find out about it before it’s too late.
“Preemption simply means that a higher law trumps a lower law: so federal trumps state, and state trumps local. But in practice, it’s industry’s way of ensuring uniformity and stopping grassroots efforts,” she writes. “Here is the pattern: a grassroots effort builds over time to enact local or state laws (such as gun control, indoor-smoking laws, or restricting alcohol sales), and industry fights these efforts for years, until they can no longer win. At that point, industry lobbyists turn around and either get their own weak bill passed, or work with advocates to pass a compromise version. In exchange, this law will preempt or prevent any state or city from passing a different or stronger law. Forever.”
The role of the federal government should be to set minimum standards, while still allowing states and localities to go further. “This, however, is not the end-game that Walmart et al have in mind,” Simon writes. Under preemption, a weak labeling law, written by and for the GMO food processors, would prevent any state or municipality from writing a tougher law with real teeth.


Frogs exposed to herbicides at levels routinely sprayed on farm fields can die in as little as one hour, according to a new study by German and Swiss scientists, reported in the journal Chemistry World. The scientists say that herbicide use is an overlooked contributory factor in the global decline in amphibian populations.
Carsten Bruhl, lead author and ecotoxicologist at Koblenz-Landau University in Germany, says that the team used concentrations recommended on the labels of seven herbicides, yet the effect was dramatic.
“’The extreme mortality after one hour is shocking,” says amphibian biologist Malcolm McCallum of the University of Missouri. “It makes me concerned not just for amphibians, but also for birds, mammals and even humans who come into contact with these compounds in this manner.”
Remember when you are buying organic food that herbicides and other pesticides were not used in their production, avoiding the onslaught against terrestrial life that’s caused by these toxic chemicals.


Potentially Dangerous Virus Gene Discovered in GM Crops

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A European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) scientist has just discovered that major GM crops and products the regulatory agency has been approving for commercial release over the past 20 years contain a potentially dangerous virus gene.
(Note from Jeff: The gene in question promotes and enhances the invasion of cell DNA by a wide range of viruses, including HIV, creating the potential for mass infections of plants and animals. The following is relatively thick going for those without much grasp of biotechnology, but is so important that I’m re-posting it for your information.)
The gene – Gene VI – overlaps with the cauliflower mosaic virus (CaMV) 35S promoter. The CaMV 35S promoter is the commonest, most widely used regulatory sequence for driving gene expression in GM crops. This momentous discovery was published in a little known journal during the holiday season at the end of 2012 [1], and would have passed unnoticed had it not caught the attention of Jonathan Latham and Alison Wilson of Independent Science News. They described the finding and carried out a proper retrospective risk assessment on the Gene VI fragment in a report posted on their website [2]. This attracted so much public attention that EFSA and its counterpart Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) are said [3] to have jointly “shredded” the scientific paper on which Latham and Wilson’s report is based.
EFSA and FSANZ say the allegations that the viral Gene VI hidden in the CaMV 35S promoter might not be safe for human consumption and could disturb the normal functioning of crops are completely false. A spokesperson from FSANZ states: “Human exposure to DNA from the cauliflower mosaic virus and all its protein products through consumption of conventional foods is common and there is no evidence of any adverse health effects.”
Ironically, the first author of the scientific paper [1] Nancy Podevin is from EFSA, while the second author Patrick Du Jardin is at University of Liège in Belgium; and EFSA GMO Panel is acknowledged for “advice given.” The main thrust of the paper is in fact a screening of Gene VI amino acid sequence against existing databases for known allergens and finding none; thereby offering false reassurance while the real hazards are swept under the carpet.
This is not the first time that the safety of CaMV 35S promoter is being questioned.
Serious concerns had been raised over the safety of CaMV 35S promoter
ISIS first raised concerns over the CaMV 35S and similar promoters in a paper published in the journal Microbial Ecology in Health and Disease in 1999 [4] (Cauliflower Mosaic Viral Promoter – A Recipe for Disaster?) when it was discovered to have a recombination (fragmentation) hotspot that would enhance unintended horizontal gene transfer and recombination, and in the process create new viruses or activate old ones, and trigger cancer in animal cells by well-known processes of ‘insertion carcinogenesis’. The CaMV 35S promoter was known to be highly promiscuous in being able to function in most if not all species across the living world (including human cells, as it turned out). To make matters worse, many synthetic versions of the promoter have been constructed with additional enhancers for gene expression and sequences from other sources, all of which increase its instability (tendency to fragment) as well as its ability to drive inappropriate gene expression. (We also reported the overlap of the 35S promoter with Gene VI, so this knowledge must have been widely known, although its safety implications were not obvious, at least to us.)
As a precautionary measure, we strongly recommended that all transgenic crops containing CaMV 35S or similar promoters should be immediately withdrawn from commercial production or open field trials.
Our first paper brought a swift reaction. Within two days of its being published online, someone managed to solicit at least nine critiques, including one from Monsanto, which were posted on a website funded by the biotech industry and widely circulated on the internet. The critiques varied in tone from moderately polite to outright abusive. We wrote a detailed rebuttal, which was likewise circulated and posted to the same website, and have not received any replies from our critics since. But in January 2000, Nature Biotechnology published a distorted, one-sided and offensive account of our paper, concentrating on the criticisms and ignoring our rebuttal completely, which we published in the same journal that carried the first paper[5] (Hazards of Transgenic Plants Containing the Cauliflower Mosaic Viral Promoter).
Regulators’ objections irrelevant and false.
It is of interest that the objections for ‘shredding’ the scientific paper of Podevin and du Jardin [1] and Latham and Wilson’s report [2] are exactly the ones used against us. The first objection is that humans have been eating the CaMV for millennia without ill effects; the second is that the CaMV 35S promoter is only active in plants and certainly not in animal or human cells.
Our rebuttal to the first objection is that the intact CaMV, consisting of the CaMV genome wrapped in its protein coat, is not infectious for human beings or for other non-susceptible animals and plants, as is well-known; for it is the coat that determines host susceptibility in the first instance. So eating the intact virus is of little consequence. However, the naked or free viral genomes (and parts thereof) are known to be more infectious and have a wider host-range than the intact virus. Furthermore, the synthetic CaMV 35S promoters are very different from the natural promoters, and are both much more aggressive as promoters driving inappropriate gene expression as well as more prone to fragment and recombine.
The second objection – that CaMV 35S is not active in animals and human cells – is simply false as we discovered in the scientific literature dating back to 1989, and pointed this out in a third paper [6] (CaMV 35S promoter fragmentation hotspot confirmed, and it is active in animals ). The CaMV 35S promoter was found to support high levels of reporter gene expression in mature Xenopus oocytes [7], and to give very efficient transcription in extracts of nuclei from HeLa cells (a human cell line) [8].
What of our original concern over the CaMV 35S promoter activating viruses in host genomes? There is new evidence suggesting that the CaMV 35S promoter may indeed enhance the multiplication of disease-associated viruses including HIV and cytomegalovirus through the induction of proteins required for transcription of the viruses [9] (New Evidence Links CaMV 35S Promoter to HIV Transcription).
It is in this context that Latham and Wilson’s report for ISIS [10] (Potentially Dangerous Virus Gene Hidden in Commercial GM Crops, SiS 57) should be read, which fully justifies our original recommendation for a total recall of the affected GM crops. This same call is now repeated by Latham and Wilson.
1. Podevin N and du Jardin P. Possible consequences of the overlap between the CaMV 35S promoter regions in plant transformation vectors used and the viral gene VI in transgenic plants. GM Crops and Food 2012, 3, 1-5.
2. Latham J and Wilson A. Regulators discover a hidden viral gene in commercial GMO crops, Independent Science News 21 January 2013, http://independentsciencenews.org/commentaries/regulators-discover-a-hidden-viral-gene-in-commercial-gmo-crops/
3. “Alarming GM study shredded by authorities”, Kondinin Group, 24 January 2013, http://www.kondiningroup.com.au/StoryView.asp?sectionsource=s1450060&StoryID=795111855
4. Ho MW, Ryan A, Cummins J. Cauliflower mosaic viral promoter – a recipe for disaster? Microb Ecol Health Dis 1999, 11, 194–7.
5. Ho MW, Ryan A, Cummins J. Hazards of transgenic plants with the cauliflower mosaic viral promoter. Microb Ecol Health Dis 2000, 12, 6–11.
6. Ho MW, Ryan A, Cummins J. CaMV35S promoter fragmentation hotspot confi rmed and it is active in animals. Microb Ecol Health Dis 2000, 12, 189.
7. Ballas N, Broido S, Soreq H, Loyter A. Efficient functioning of plant promoters and poly(A) sites in Xenopus oocytes. Nucl Acids Res 1989, 17, 7891–903.
8. Burke C, Yu XB, Marchitelli L, Davis EA, Ackerman S. Transcription factor IIA of wheat and human function similarly with plant and animal viral promoters. Nucleic Acids Res 1990, 18, 3611–20.
9. Ho MW and Cummins J. New evidence links CaMV 35S promoter to HIV transcription. Microb Ecol Health Dis 2009, 21, 172-4.
10. Latham J and Wilson A. Potentially dangerous virus gene hidden in commercial GM crops. Science in Society 57
This important article is reposted from the Institute of Science in Society. It deserves your attention. Remember that organic food contains no genetically modified ingredients. The full article is posted at this URL: