Kaiser Speaks about GMOs


Kaiser Permanente, the nation’s largest not-for-profit health plan, has made an official statement on GMOs (genetically modified organisms in food,) calling the topic important both scientifically and politically.

In our last issue, Salem Weekly described “What You Need To Know About GMOs,” an article we found printed in Kaiser Permanente’s Northwest Fall 2012 newsletter, Partners in Health.

Because the author is not credited and the article itself is not available on Kaiser Permanente’s web site, Salem Weekly queried David Northfield, Media Relations Manager of Kaiser Permanente’s Communications & Organizational Research in Portland, to learn more.

Among other questions, we asked if the text of the article, reflected Kaiser Permanente’s official position on genetically modified organisms in food.

Northfield responded on November 25.  He said, “The article appearing in this fall’s issue of Partners in Health, Kaiser Permanente’s newsletter for members, was written by one of our nutritionists, and presents her views and insights on the subject. As a mission-based non-profit healthcare organization, we believe it is important to share information with our members on a wide range of topics related to health care and health, but we do not take an organizational position on every issue.”

Northfield went on to say, “Kaiser Permanente believes the ongoing research and debate on bioengineered foods, or genetically modified organisms (GMOs), is important.  We also recognize there are important conversations about related initiatives and propositions.  While we believe these are important scientific and political debates, we do not have policy positions on these subjects.”

Though Kaiser Permenente will not state an official policy on GMOs, the nutritionist-author of “What You Need To Know About GMOs” (who is not named,) described studies that showed significant physical damage caused by GMOs and listed ways its members could avoid them.

GMO crops, or biotech crops, are plants whose DNA has been modified by genetic engineering techniques.  The process is believed to have begun in 1982 to make tobacco plants hardier.

It has burgeoned since then; a 2011 article published by an industry publication claims a 94-fold increase in worldwide acreage between 1996 and 2011.

In their article, the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications calls biotech crops “the fastest adopted crop technology in the history of modern agriculture.”

Opponents to GMO foods organized in California this year with Proposition 37, which attempted to require food with GMO content to be labeled, and to prohibit from calling itself “natural.”  The Proposition failed on November 6.

Currently in the United States, although ingredients like peanuts must be mentioned on labels, foods with GMOs are not required to be.

Biotech and food corporations spent an estimated $39,000,000 to defeat the California proposition and hide their GMO ingredients.

In addition to a software app suggested by Kaiser Permanente’s nutritionist, Salem Weekly recommends the affiliated web site, nongmoshoppingguide.com.

Meanwhile, an original hard copy of the Partners in Health issue, including the article “What You Need To Know About GMOs” is available in our offices.

CHECK OUT OUR PREVIOUS STORY HERE: http://www.willamettelive.com/2012/news/corporate-giant-comes-out-against-gmos/

18 thoughts on “Kaiser Speaks about GMOs”

  1. Thank you for looking into this. You should also note that the citations “she” gives in her article have been widely debunked by the scientific community across the globe. If this doesn’t represent the position of KP, perhaps they should actually say so.

  2. Sandra, I did see that, however, all of Seralini’s anti-gmo publications have been thoroughly debunked, multiple times in multiple places (see for example numerous references on biofortified.org). The second reference from Food and Chem Tox. found no significant differences in Gm vs non GM. The authors merely implied there could be one. I am unfamiliar with the third reference, however, having followed this issue for many years, I have yet to see any credible evidence of negative health effects from GM products currently in use.

  3. The paper by Seralini et al has been debunked by scientists, but I suspect that the statistical arguments are hard to follow unless the reader is well versed in statistical theory.

    I’d like to raise an objection that may be easier to understand.

    Seralini’s test rats were a breed called Sprague Dawley rats. This is a test animal favored in research about curing cancer. The rats have a high probability, a near certainty, of developing cancer spontaneously. If you want to research a possible cure for cancer, you want to use rats with cancer. If you want to research whether some diet or other condition protects against cancer, you want to use rats with a high likelihood of getting cancer. But if you want to research whether a food or treatment causes cancer, the worst choice of rats for your experiment is a breed that gets cancer most of the time anyway. Why did Seralini choose this breed?

    Let’s consider an analogy. Suppose someone wants to know whether praying for good weather is effective. (In this analogy, the prayers stand in for the diet, and good weather stands for cancer.) The scientific approach to such a question is to try praying for sunshine on some days and not praying on other (control) days. But nobody in his right mind would conduct such an experiment in Death Valley, CA.

    1. Seralini used the same protocol as Monsanto, same rats too, same number of rats. If his study is flawed and bad science, then we need to look at the industries studies. The protocol cannot be good for Monsanto but bad for everyone else. There is way too much effort to prevent us from knowing what is in our foods, which leads me to believe they (Monsanto, and these lame biotech scientists) are hiding something. I am going to continue avoidind GMOs. Thanks but no thanks.

    2. Same breed of rats used by Monsanto for their safety tests! The Seralini test has not been debunked. You’re listening to the Monsanto’s propaganda machine.

  4. Seralini’s most recent study was “debunked” by the very same organization that approved Monsanto’s GMO corn. This “debunked” story is the same crap recycled again, with almost no mention of the very valid criticism of the EFSA “conclusion”.

    Including, but not limited to:
    the exact same species of rats, SD rats, that Monsanto used in their studies
    the same number of rats used as in Monsanto’s studies
    Seralini dissected ALL rats, whereas Monsanto only dissected selected rats
    besides testing the effects of the GMO corn and active ingredient glyphosate, Seralini tested Roundup with other ingredients as actually used in the field
    Monsanto’s studies used rats from other studies to introduce “noise” into the “control group”
    Seralini tested for 2 years, but Monsanto tested for 90 days
    If the EFSA finds Seralini’s study invalid, then the EFSA’s own approval of Monsanto’s studies is also invalid–they can’t have it both ways!
    Most importantly, EFSA ignored the points made by Seralini et al (http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.fct.2012.11.007) in their “answers to critics” on 9th November

    1. Dr. Seralini’s most recent study is absolutely fine; it was published in a very highly respected peer reviewed scientific journal (Food and Chemical Toxicology), more highly respected than Nature for example.

      Seralini based his study on the chronic toxicity OECD protocol no. 453 as does Monsanto. And it showed that after 4 months we did indeed see organ damage in the GMO/Roundup groups such as liver, kidney & thyroid damages etc.
      The key point about Seralini’s tumor findings was that the controls got some tumors (as expected and in line with what is usual for this often used rat – Monsanto and others due to its docility), but the “treated” groups got significantly more tumors, and these appeared sooner and were more aggressive than those of the control groups, and also showed female rats being far more susceptible to ill effects, Seralini has now called for Monsanto to fund carcinogenic testing in line with OECD cancer testing protocols due to these unexpected results, of course they won’t…
      Monsanto’s earlier 90-day feeding study on NK603, submitted to the EU in support of its approval, had been re-analyzed by Seralini’s team. They found it revealed signs of liver and kidney toxicity:
      de Vendomois, J. S., F. Roullier, et al. (2009). “A comparison of the effects of three GM corn varieties on mammalian health.” Int J Biol Sci 5(7): 706-726.
      Let’s also not forget that Seralini also won a defamation conviction against Prof. Marc FELLOUS and the AFBV (Association Française des Biotechnologies Végétales),with links to the Biotech Industry established (AgBioWorld ) at this trial in Paris in 2011.
      In 2002, the British newspaper The Guardian revealed that AgBioWorld had played a major role in a “viral campaign” of defamation against the whistleblower Ignacio Chapela after he uncovered the genetic contamination of Mexican corn.
      The inquiry revealed that the [AgBioWorld] organisation’s website was hosted by the communications firm Bivings, which was employed by Monsanto and directed by one Jay Byrne.
      Henry Miller’s, one of the most vociferous “debunkers” CV is just as interesting because he is the “founding father” (1989-1994) of GMO regulation at the US Food and Drug Administration. He is the architect, with former Monsanto lawyer Michael Taylor, of the infamous “principle of substantial equivalence”, the cornerstone of GMO regulation across the world. So no conflict of interest there then…
      Another striking tactic among critics of Seralini is concealing their relationship with industry and systematically presenting themselves as scientists from universities or research centers.

      This applies to Anthony Trewavas and Bruce Chassy, experts in biology and GMOs at AgBioWorld, and both authors of a letter demanding the retraction of Seralini’s paper by the journal, Food and Chemical Toxicology.

      Presenting himself as Professor Emeritus of Food Safety at the University of Illinois, Chassy is a lobbyist who participated in the drafting of a paper for Dow Chemicals, another biotech giant, aimed at simplifying or removing food safety regulations for GMOs. He is also the lead author, with an employee of Monsanto, of two policy reports [2004, 2008] on the regulation of GMOs for the International Life Sciences Institute (ILSI), the main lobby group of the food industry.

      Anyway you pay your money and you take your choice, while we still can.

      There’s also the threat of ruined careers which helps folks make the “right choices”:
      Dr. Arpad Pusztai was fired from his position at the Rowett Institute of Nutrition and Health after his independent study on GM potatoes revealed that GM traits are inherently dangerous. (30 year career, hundreds of per reviewed journals..but he’s the reason non meat items have to be labelled as GMO in the UK). Here’s a few other people who’ve had their livelhoods destroyed for daring to speak out against Monsanto.
      Rosalind Anderson, Ph.D
      Dr Ignacio Chapela
      P. M. Bhargava
      Dr.Judy Carman
      Dr.Terje Traavik
      Dr.Andrés Carrasco
      Allison Snow
      Marc Lappé and Britt Bailey
      Professor Bela Darvas
      Journalists Steve Wilson and Jane Akre

  5. It will do little good to label products once they all contain GMOs. Monsanto, etc. are buying up small farms, buying seed companies, and threatening farmers. Once the genie is out of the bottle, you cannot put it back. Do you want the entire food supply under the control of Monsanto (with the blessing of those in power in govt.) or do you still favor letting people have some choice in their destiny. Look up Agenda 21. The government and Monsanto are NOT here to help you or starving people or anyone else.

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