|Indian shepherd. Photo Creative Commons|
What if you noticed during the following four years that up to 20% of the people around you died or became sick with the same symptoms?
You might expect government health departments to be checking the GM food for possible GM-related toxins and checking out the sick and the dead for possible chronic GM-related reactions. You might expect a focus on the health of the organs which deal with toxins, the liver and kidneys, and effects on the organ most exposed to the questionable food, the gut.
If the response of the Indian government to the plight of shepherds and farmers whose livestock were grazed on 'Bt' insecticidal cotton is anything to go by, you can expect ...
Your concerns, and those of the doctors tracking the cases will be dismissed as "unsubstantiated", "exaggerated and unscientific", and "based on hearsay".
There will be a persistent reluctance amongst the overwhelmingly pro-GM scientific establishment to respond, investigate and research the problem.
Testing of your food will be limited to known pollutants, such as fertilizers and pesticides, whether these can be linked to the symptoms or not.
The blame will be focused on any convenient infectious disease which happens to be around at the time, and the answer will be vaccination: the question of whether the identified organism was the cause of the symptoms, or whether it took hold because of a GM-related debilitation won't be explored.
You will be assured that the GM food you have been eating has been safety-tested, even if there's no such protocol.
You will be assured that the government authorities have assessed the food for safety, when they mean they have looked only at confidential industry-designed and industry-sponsored data.
You will be assured that the GM toxin is within "tolerable" levels, even if there's no information on how these have been defined.
You will be given a circular argument that the GM food is safe because its manufacturers and their pals in government say so. Clinical trials have never been contemplated, nor testing for chronic, cumulative damage.
Of possible immune-system reactions to the Bt protein itself or to some other novel protein generated by the disturbed genome, you'll hear not a word.
No one's telling if that GM food you're eating from year to year is changing over time.
OUR COMMENTThe most worrying thing here is that the close control by shepherds of what their sheep are eating, plus their intimate long-term knowledge of their flock, make any toxic reactions easy to spot. Sick and dying humans, with their varied diet and tendency to swallow junk will be much easier to dismiss.
If this seems far-fetched, check out GMO MON 810 MAIZE GUT ROT - January 2017
- Sagari R. Ramdas, Interrogating the Science of Safety - Unknown Aspects of Bt Toxin that continue to pose a threat to the Health of Domestic Animals in India, Third World Network Scientific Conference, Hyderabad, India 28-29 September 2012.