Reviewed by Sue Frazer
Seeds of Deception: Exposing Industry and Government Lies About the Safety of the Genetically Engineered Foods You’re Eating, Jeffrey M. Smith, 2003. ISBN 0-9729665-8-7, $17.95 pb., pp. 289, with index. Yes! Books, PO Box 469, Fairfield, IA 52556. Ph: (888) 717-7000 www.seedsofdeception.com
The Foreword is by Frances Moore Lappé. Thirty years ago she wrote Diet for a Small Planet, an explosive best-seller that challenged us to use the world’s food resources more efficiently. Today, she says world hunger is further complicated—and compromised—bycorporate globalization, agriculture monopolies, and genetically modified organisms.
Her Foreword sets the stage for Jeffrey M. Smith’s equally explosive exposé of how government and industry have lied to us and manipulated scientific information about the safety of our food.
This book’s title, Seeds of Deception, highlights the main point of its content: government and industry are not telling us everything we need to know about genetically modified (GM) foods and food organisms (GMOs). Worse, the feeling conveyed is that of urgency to disclose essential knowledge about the instability—and the dangers—of genetically modified foods. In fact, the book is an exposé of the biotech industry written in clear language, leaving no doubt that politics and corporate greed have supplanted science as the principal factor in food safety for North American consumers.
Dr. David Suzuki, Canadian geneticist, has said bluntly in regard to GM foods, “Any politician or scientist who tells you that these products are safe is either very stupid or lying.” (Oct.18/99, “Suzuki warns of Frankenstein Foods.” CP Wire).
The driving concern throughout Jeffrey M. Smith’s investigation is the effects that consuming GM foods will have on people. He tells us that one of the principal dangers lies in the fact that by altering genetic material, evolution is ignored. In a chapter titled, “What Could Go Wrong? A Partial List,” is the basic fact that natural breeding works with single or similar species, while foreign (and largely synthetic) inserted genes can have unpredictable results, including human health hazards.
Industry manipulations in search of maximized profit have used entire populations, including humans, as guinea pigs. Monsanto has employed threats, intimidation, and bribes to gain compliance in the widespread use of GM corn, cotton, soy, dairy products, canola and, more recently, wheat, and from there into their various processed uses.
Remember the furor in Health Canada (analogous to the US Food and Drug Administration, FDA) when Shiv Chopra and five other scientists reported that they had been pressured to accept the rbGH (a form of bovine growth hormone) drug for cattle, despite human health concerns? These were later described to the Senate Committee by Dr. Margaret Haydon, another of Health Canada’s scientists. Their Gaps Analysis Report indicated failures in the US experiments and (deliberate?) omissions in their reporting.
As well, veterinarians had showed that bovine growth hormone was a serious danger to cows. The FDA allowed the drug to be sold over the counter in the US, but because Ottawa only allowed veterinarians to control this GM drug in milk in Canada, it was withdrawn. It is significant that free-ranging cattle and hogs, as well as squirrels, rats, raccoons, mice, deer, and elk will refuse to eat GM products.
Despite cover-ups through the media, and the invalid claim that only GM foods (not fair food distribution) could eliminate famine, US government scientists in 1999 revealed concerns about toxins, allergies, new diseases and epidemics, nutritional, mental, and environmental dangers in GM foods. Most industrial countries now favour labelling and regulation to try to control deadly epidemics.
The book gives information on which foods and additives likely contain GMOs, and concludes with positive diet suggestions. Overall, it explains the subject matter very well for the average reader, and is well-referenced.
Jeffrey M. Smith founded the Institute for Responsible Technology. He lives in Iowa surrounded by GM corn and GM soybeans.