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Paul Craig Roberts/ Institute for Political Economy

Tom Mysiewicz is a biotechnologist. In this article he shares with us his conclusions about the dangers of GMO crops.

By Tom Mysiewicz

Recently, an NGO (non-governmental organization) in Russia—the National Association for Genetic Safety–began working closely with the Russian Duma to enact a set of laws criminalizing the introduction of harmful genetically-modified crops (GM or GMO crops) as well as withholding information on harmful effects of such crops. Russian President Vladimir Putin has indicated he will sign such legislation, saying Russia can grow enough food for itself without genetic engineering it.

“If Americans like to eat such foods, they can eat them,” Putin is reported to have said. But with GMO companies in the U.S. massively campaigning to hide GMO content—do Americans really know what they are eating?

I believe Russia and, increasingly, countries elsewhere, are on the right track in this regard. And I base this belief on my first-hand observations from the inception of GMO crops—and the original promises made and assurances given for this technology—to the much different reality I see today.

As founder and editor of the weekly biotechnology newsletter–BioEngineering News–I covered GMOs and ag-biotech from 1980 through 1993 and was the first journalist allowed (under a secrecy agreement) to cover a Gordon Research Conference. This groundbreaking conference, on Plant Genetic Engineering, was at U.C. Davis in the early 1980s. I have also had hands-on research experience, including lab courses on plant tissue culture in which I cloned a variety of plants from jojoba to redwood.

The original promise of genetic engineering was that crops could be grown without fertilizer or pesticides, in salt water if fresh water was scarce, and that the nutritional content could be altered at will by the addition of genes for amino acids (the building blocks of protein) such as L-lysine and genes coding for vitamins, such as vitamin A. In this “brave new world” hunger and malnutrition would be eliminated by massively higher crop yields. And there would be no down side: We were assured that there would be no actual or consequential harmful effects from such alterations.

Many Americans are not aware that the system of clinical trials and double-blind studies for new drugs means that it can cost $30- to $60-million to get a single new drug through FDA-mandated clinical trials. And, still, how many horror stories have we heard of dangerous drug side effects? Imagine if NO clinical trials were required for new drugs and only some rudimentary safety testing was necessary? Would you feel safe taking a new drug?

Well, that is the situation with GMO crops. More