Genetically engineered foods have been controversial since their introduction in the mid-1990s, and are probably more controversial now than ever. The seeds of the GMO controversy were sown decades ago as detailed in a hard-hitting new book, Altered Genes, Twisted Truth, by attorney Steven M. Druker.
The book launches a broadside against the science of genetically engineered foods and its multi-billion dollar industry, revealing a history of government fraud, sloppy science, industry deception, and media spin to promote a potentially dangerous technology.
Altered Genes, Twisted Truth is the result of 15 years of research and investigation by Druker, who filed a lawsuit in the late 1990s against the US Food and Drug Administration over its policy of regulating GM foods.
Altered Genes, Twisted Truth provides the most in-depth history of genetically engineered food that I’ve seen. Druker meticulously details how the science of genetically engineered foods was corrupted from the very beginning when the technology was being developed in the 1970s. During this time molecular biologists advanced the technology and greased the political wheels for loose regulation, while dismissing concerns about its risks raised by other scientists.
One of those scientists was Philip Regal, a biologist at the University of Minnesota. Druker writes that for 20 years Regal “spearheaded the endeavor to get the genetic engineering enterprise aligned with solid science and tempered by responsible regulation.”
Unfortunately, Regal’s and other scientists’ warnings were suppressed, and pushing ahead with GMO technology, while ignoring its risks became the norm in the United States—to the peril of American citizens.
With an attorney’s skill, Druker convincingly attacks the genetic engineering venture from all sides. He describes the technology as “unnatural, uncontrollable, and unpredictable” and highlights how the gene insertion process is “highly imprecise” and can cause “disruptions throughout the genome.” He sheds light on the tryptophan supplement disaster of 1989 when dozens of people died and thousands harmed after consuming a genetically engineered form of the supplement. He describes how GM food supporters viciously attack scientists who published results finding negative impacts from GM foods. He shows how the media has helped promote GMO technology while giving “scant coverage to other scientists who have likewise expressed doubts about GE foods.” And there’s lots more.
One of the key assertions in Altered Genes, Twisted Truth is that GM foods are on the market illegally. Druker recounts his lawsuit against the FDA, and how he forced the agency to divulge its files on its policy toward GM foods. The files revealed that the agency had ignored warnings of its own scientists about the dangers of GM foods. Druker also describes how, according to US food safety laws, GM foods should be classified as food additives and be subject to a safety review. Instead the FDA has exempted GM foods from this review, which Druker says violates the law. As a result, he goes beyond the argument for labeling GM foods by emphasizing that, based on US law, they should be banned.
For those wanting a comprehensive understanding of the controversy surrounding genetically engineered foods, Altered Genes, Twisted Truth is must reading. Steven Druker’s book provides a much needed reality check to the biotechnology industry’s multi-million dollar PR campaign to put a glossy sheen on their dangerous technology.