- An eight-month investigation revealed shocking flaws in Merck’s clinical trial design, which effectively prevented assessment of safety. Serious adverse events arising outside of a two-week period post-vaccination were simply marked down as “medical history”
- A systematic review of pre- and post-licensure trials of the HPV vaccine concluded its effectiveness is both overstated and unproven. Merck’s own research reveals you increase your risk of precancerous lesions if you’ve been exposed to HPV strains 16 or 18 prior to vaccination
- Reported side effects of Gardasil vaccination include immune-based inflammatory neurodegenerative disorders, suggesting something is causing the immune system to overreact in a detrimental way, sometimes fatally
- One Gardasil 9 trial reported nearly 10 percent of subjects experienced “severe systemic adverse events” affecting multiple system organ classes, and over 3 percent suffered “severe vaccine-related adverse events”
- HPV infection is spread through sexual contact and research has demonstrated that using condoms can reduce risk of HPV infection by 70 percent, which is far more effective than the HPV vaccine
By Dr. Mercola
In December 2017, Slate magazine published an astonishing article about the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine Gardasil, revealing how the safety trials for this controversial vaccine actually “weren’t designed to properly assess safety.”1 Gardasil is supposed to prevent infection by certain strains of HPV virus, which in rare cases may cause cervical cancer if left untreated.
However, trial data from Merck shows that Gardasil vaccinations may actually increase your risk of cervical cancer by 44.6 percent if you have been exposed to HPV strains 16 or 18 prior to vaccination.2 The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has made this document inaccessible, but we’ve saved a copy of it. In his Slate article, investigative journalist Frederik Joelving recounts the story of Kesia Lyng, a 30-year-old Danish woman who, at the age of 19, participated in a clinical trial for Merck’s Gardasil vaccine
“Lyng’s grandmother had died of cervical cancer the year before, so when a letter arrived offering her $500 to take part in a crucial international test of Gardasil, the decision was easy,” Joelving writes. “She got her first shot of the vaccine at Hvidovre Hospital in Copenhagen on September 19, 2002. The symptoms snuck up on her shortly after her second shot on November 14.
They never abated. It wasn’t until 2016 that she received her diagnosis — chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) … In recent years, Lyng has become suspicious that there is a connection between her disease and her Gardasil immunization. Her ailments evoke descriptions found in hundreds of news stories from women who also received the vaccine, as well as several medical case reports from around the world.”
HPV Vaccine Linked to Serious Side Effects, Including Death
Reported side effects of Gardasil vaccination include immune-based inflammatory neurodegenerative disorders, suggesting something is causing the immune system to overreact in a detrimental way, sometimes fatally.3,4 The dangers of high immunogenicity was addressed in my 2015 interview with Lucija Tomljenovic, Ph.D., a research scientist at the University of British Columbia. In it, she explains that by triggering an exaggerated inflammatory immune response, vaccine adjuvants end up affecting brain function.
In collaboration with a team led by professor Yehuda Shoenfeld, a world expert in autoimmune diseases who heads the Zabludowicz Autoimmunity Research Centre at the Sheba Hospital in Israel, Tomljenovic has demonstrated how the HPV vaccine can cause brain autoimmune disorders. It was these findings that prompted the Japanese government to remove the HPV vaccine from its list of recommended vaccines.5 The vaccine injury law firm Sadaka Associates also claims that:6
“Medical researchers have accused drug regulators and manufacturers of concealing the real dangers of the HPV vaccine. Many girls have suffered life-threatening injuries as the result of the vaccine. The HPV vaccine has also caused death … The drug regulators have also been accused of adding aluminum to the placebo in order to manipulate scientific data. Even though aluminum was used in the placebo, scientists have confirmed that the HPV vaccine has been linked to death.
There was a study done that involved 2,881 girls who receive the vaccine. Fourteen of the girls who received the vaccine died. Three of the girls who received the placebo died. There was a team of researchers at the National Institute of Cardiology that also found that there is a link between HPV vaccine and life-threatening reactions.
They looked at 28 studies that involved girls who had been given the HPV vaccine. They also looked at 16 randomized trials. They found that girls were given a placebo with aluminum in 14 of the randomized trials.
If aluminum is placed in a placebo, then a person is more likely to have an adverse reaction. Spanish researchers found that girls who receive the HPV vaccine are 10 times more likely to react to it. Canadian scientists found that 10 percent of the girls who were vaccinated had to be hospitalized due to a reaction. These girls had to be hospitalized within 42 days of receiving the vaccination.”
Overstated and Unproven Effectiveness
A 2012 systematic review7 of pre- and post-licensure trials of the HPV vaccine also concluded that the vaccine’s effectiveness is both overstated and unproven. According to the authors, the review revealed:
“… evidence of selective reporting of results from clinical trials (i.e., exclusion of vaccine efficacy figures related to study subgroups in which efficacy might be lower or even negative from peer-reviewed publications). Given this, the widespread optimism regarding HPV vaccines long-term benefits appears to rest on a number of unproven assumptions (or such which are at odd with factual evidence) and significant misinterpretation of available data.
For example, the claim that HPV vaccination will result in approximately 70 percent reduction of cervical cancers is made despite the fact that the clinical trials data have not demonstrated to date that the vaccines have actually prevented a single case of cervical cancer (let alone cervical cancer death), nor that the current overly optimistic surrogate marker-based extrapolations are justified.
Likewise, the notion that HPV vaccines have an impressive safety profile is only supported by highly flawed design of safety trials and is contrary to accumulating evidence from vaccine safety surveillance databases and case reports which continue to link HPV vaccination to serious adverse outcomes (including death and permanent disabilities).”
Gardasil Safety Trials Were Not Designed to Detect Safety Problems
It’s precisely these kinds of design flaws that are highlighted in the December 17, 2017, Slate article.8 Joelving reports that Merck has repeatedly “issued reassurances about the thorough randomized trials the vaccines were subjected to before approval.”
The public was told that the three HPV vaccines marketed in the U.S. were tested on tens of thousands of individuals around the world, without any compelling evidence of serious side effects having emerged. While that reads well on paper, the shocking truth appears to be that these trials were never designed to detect and evaluate serious side effects in the first place. According to Joelving:
“An eight-month investigation by Slate found the major Gardasil trials were flawed from the outset … and that regulators allowed unreliable methods to be used to test the vaccine’s safety. Drug regulators tend to look much more seriously at potential side effects that surface during a pre-licensure study, which is what Lyng participated in, rather than after a product has already been found to be safe and been put on the market.
But regulators never learned of Lyng’s plight. In fact, her repeated complaints of debilitating symptoms were not even registered in the study as potential side effects … Lyng’s experience was not unique. Interviews with five study participants and more than 2,300 pages of documents obtained through freedom-of-information requests from hospitals and health authorities suggest inadequacies built into Merck’s major clinical tests of Gardasil.”
Joelving describes these inadequacies in great detail, showing how Merck made the vaccine appear far safer than it actually is by using “a convoluted method that made objective evaluation and reporting of potential side effects impossible during all but a few weeks of its yearslong trials.” Serious adverse events were only recorded during a two-week period post-vaccination.
Moreover, during this narrow window of time, trial investigators “used their personal judgment to decide whether or not to report any medical problem as an adverse event.”
Side Effects Simply Marked Down as Medical History
Importantly, and shockingly, most of the health problems that arose after vaccination were simply marked down as “medical history” rather than potential side effects — a tactic that basically ensured that most side effects would be overlooked. No record was made of symptom severity, duration or outcome.
Even with this gross reporting flaw, at least one Gardasil trial of the new nine-valent vaccine reported nearly 10 percent of subjects experienced “severe systemic adverse events” affecting multiple system organ classes, and over 3 percent suffered “severe vaccine-related adverse events.”9 The 2012 systematic review10 of Gardasil pre- and post-licensure trials mentioned earlier isn’t the only report out there that has offered up severe criticism of Merck’s trial tactics. Joelving writes:
“In an internal 2014 EMA report11 about Gardasil 9 obtained through a freedom-of-information request, senior experts called the company’s approach ‘unconventional and suboptimal’ and said it left some ‘uncertainty’ about the safety results. EMA trial inspectors made similar observations in another report, noting that Merck’s procedure was ‘not an optimal method of collecting safety data, especially not systemic side effects that could appear long after the vaccinations were given.'”
Study Subjects Betrayed
In other words, when Merck says Gardasil has been extensively studied for safety, it’s referring to studies set up in such a way that data on potential side effects were actually excluded. If side effects are not included in the data collection, how can you rightfully claim that no significant problems exist? Sadly, shoddy and incomplete documentation of adverse events, and follow-up periods that are too short to detect problems, can have tragic ramifications, and this is what appears to have happened with the release of Gardasil.
Joelving’s investigation reveals at least five other Danish women went on to develop debilitating health problems during the Gardasil trial. One developed severe fatigue, persistent flu-like symptoms, and had to be admitted to the hospital for a serious infection shortly after one of her vaccinations. All of her symptoms were marked down as “medical history” and were not processed as adverse events.
A year after her vaccination, she developed such debilitating pain she had to use a wheelchair. To this day, she still sometimes has to use crutches, and has been given a tentative diagnosis of psoriatic arthritis. Another young woman also developed severe fatigue and headaches. She told Joelving she reported it to study personnel, yet there’s no mention of these problems anywhere in her file. Joelving writes:
“‘If I were a research subject, I would feel betrayed,’ Trudo Lemmens, a bioethicist and professor of health law and policy at the University of Toronto, told me. ‘If the purpose of a clinical trial is to establish the safety and efficacy of a new product, whether it’s a vaccine or something else, I would expect that they gathered all relevant data, including whether it had side effects or not.'”
Vaccines are often riskier than oral drugs, since they’re injected into your body and contain a number of toxic adjuvants. When there’s risk, you’d expect the benefit to be worth it, but research shows many drugs provide shockingly little benefit for a majority of people, and one wonders whether the same does not hold true for vaccines as well.
The following graphic is from a Nature article published April 29, 2015.12 It shows the effectiveness of the top 10 highest-grossing drugs in the U.S. Nexium, for example, commonly prescribed for heartburn, is beneficial for just 1 out of every 25 patients.
Advair, prescribed for asthma, helps 1 in 20; Cymbalta eases symptoms of depression in 1 out of 9 patients; Crestor, prescribed for high cholesterol, benefits 1 in 20. While not included in the graphic below, the article13 also cites research14 suggesting statins may benefit as few as 1 in 50.
Truly, when you’re talking about a benefit rate of 5 percent or less, can you really say that the drug in question is an effective one? Yet they’re certainly marketed as such. Meanwhile, all of these drugs have side effects, which means all those who gain no benefit from the drug are risking their health for no good reason whatsoever.
As noted in Nature, a wide variety of factors play into how you might respond to any given medication, including your gender, age, ethnicity and genetics giving rise to differences in absorption, metabolism, excretion and more.
“The drug vemurafenib, for instance, was approved in the United States to treat late-stage melanoma in people whose tumors carry the BRAF(V600E) mutation. But some tumor cells develop other anomalies that make them resistant to the drug. Thus clinicians considering whether to prescribe vemurafenib may need to take into account a whole slew of biomarkers,” the article states.
Pregnant Women To Be Included in Experimental Drug Trials
Historically, pregnant women have been discouraged from taking drugs and vaccines during pregnancy, as there’s very little data on their safety for the growing fetus. Pregnant women have thus far not been included in clinical drug and vaccine trials. The reason for this should be obvious.
A pregnant woman is not only putting her own health on the line, but also that of her unborn child. Now, that’s all about to change. In April 2018, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued draft guidance15 for industry on when and how they may include pregnant women in clinical trials for drugs and therapies. As reported by Science News:16
“It addresses considerations such as the effect pregnancy has on the absorption of drugs, nonclinical studies that should be conducted, and appropriate data collection and safety monitoring. The key concern with pregnant women participating in clinical trials is safety of the fetus.
The terrible birth defects that resulted from the wide use of the sedative thalidomide in the 1950s and ’60s weighed heavily on the eventual decision to largely exclude pregnant women from trials that test drugs. But that tragedy didn’t happen because pregnant women were studied, [obstetrician Anne] Lyerly says — it was because they weren’t studied.
‘If you don’t study a drug in a highly-controlled research setting,’ Lyerly says, ‘it’s not like the risk that would be imposed on those individuals goes away.’ Instead, the risk gets shifted to women who need the drug or women who get pregnant while on the drug.'”
According to research17 published in 2011, 94 percent of pregnant women in the study had taken one or more over-the-counter or prescription medications during their pregnancy; 70 percent used at least one prescription drug. The average number of drugs used during pregnancy has also nearly doubled in recent decades, from 2.5 in 1976/1978 to 4.2 in 2006/2008. The researchers also concluded there was insufficient data to determine the risks to the baby for 98 percent of these drugs.
While the inclusion of pregnant women in drug trials may be justifiable, as Lyerly tries to claim above, what guarantee do we have that drug companies will design studies to actually FIND side effects, opposed to doctoring studies in such a way that side effects are simply obscured?
The fact is, there are no guarantees whatsoever, as these studies will be a) done by the same companies mass-marketing drugs that are effective for 5 percent of patients or less, and b) regulated by the same government agencies that let drug companies get away with doing safety studies that don’t actually record side effects.
Safety Is a Hindrance to Profits
Getting back to the HPV vaccine, research18 shows Merck played a distinct role in state HPV vaccination policy, promoting school-entry mandates19,20,21 “by serving as an information resource, lobbying legislators, drafting legislation, mobilizing female legislators and physician organizations, conducting consumer marketing campaigns and filling gaps in access to the vaccine.”
It also found that most stakeholders thought the company “had acted too aggressively and nontransparently” to achieve their aim. Again, Merck designed their safety studies so as not to find side effects, and then aggressively lobbied to maximize vaccine uptake. So, in essence, children and teens were sacrificed in these studies just to allow the company to say they had studied the vaccine and found it safe and effective (even though it has NEVER been proven to have prevented a single case of HPV and/or cervical cancer).
And now we’re going to allow Merck and others to include pregnant women in their studies as well? What could possibly go wrong? Again and again, we see a pattern suggesting safety is not allowed to get in the way of profits and policy. History also reveals a pattern of marketing drugs and vaccines by playing on people’s fears. Most recently, Bill Gates stated he believes a global pandemic that could kill 30 million in six months is on its way, and we’re completely unprepared for it.22,23
His comments were made during an “Epidemics Going Viral, Innovation Vs. Nature” speaker series on April 27, 2018, sponsored by Massachusetts Medical Society and The New England Journal of Medicine. According to Gates, the next pandemic killer might well be a disease we’ve never encountered before.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has a history of supporting questionable vaccination agendas with their millions, so it makes sense, I guess, that Gates would be anxious to create a need for some costly remedy by amping up the fear factor. In the past decade, there’s been a string of attempts to rile up the masses and increase demand for pandemic vaccines.
The predicted pandemics all fell flat, and no mass casualties ever occurred, yet the fearmongering strategy is not easily abandoned. In the case of the HPV vaccine, it’s promoted as an anticancer vaccine, even though no proof exists that it actually prevents cancer. As mentioned earlier, Merck’s own research revealed an increased risk of cervical cancer with the vaccine under certain circumstances.
The Dangers of HPV Are Overhyped — Understand What You’re Vaccinating Against and What the Alternatives Are
It may be worth remembering the basics when pondering the decision of whether or not to vaccinate your child against HPV:
•There are over 200 viral strains of HPV. Gardasil 9, licensed in 2015, contains the original Gardasil HPV types 16, 18, 6 and 11, plus types 31, 33, 45, 52 and 58, which are associated with cervical, vulvar, vaginal and anal cancers. Cervical cancer accounts for less than 1 percent of all cancer deaths in the U.S. and anal cancer kills approximately 300 Americans each year. So, HPV vaccine is not targeting a major public health threat, no matter which way you look at it.
•Most HPV cases are in fact harmless, and your immune system is typically able to fight and clear out the infection naturally, even without treatment. In 90 percent of cases, HPV resolves within two years or less; 70 percent clear within one year. In a small percentage of individuals, HPV can persist for years, and may cause symptoms to appear, particularly when the immune system weakens. High-risk HPV strains may also cause lesions that sometimes can evolve into cervical cancer if left untreated.
•To avoid contracting HPV, use condoms during sexual activity. Research24 has demonstrated that using condoms can reduce the risk of HPV infection by 70 percent, which is far more effective than the HPV vaccine. If you have children nearing sexual maturation, teach them about the importance of safe sex — not just for the avoidance of HPV, but also to avoid other sexually transmitted diseases, many of which are now resistant to antibiotics and exceptionally difficult to treat.
•Get regular Pap smears once sexually active, and get treatment if testing positive for HPV infection. Remember, it’s the long-term, untreated infections that can trigger cancer. According to research published in 2014, shiitake mushroom extract can speed up the elimination of HPV infection in women by boosting immune function.
Routine Pap smear testing is a far more rational, less expensive, and less dangerous strategy for cervical cancer prevention, as it can identify chronic HPV infection and may provide greater protection against development of cervical cancer than blind faith in an unproven HPV vaccine.
Protect Your Right to Informed Consent and Defend Vaccine Exemptions
With all the uncertainty surrounding the safety and efficacy of vaccines, it’s critical to protect your right to make independent health choices and exercise voluntary informed consent to vaccination. It is urgent that everyone in America stand up and fight to protect and expand vaccine informed consent protections in state public health and employment laws. The best way to do this is to get personally involved with your state legislators and educating the leaders in your community.
THINK GLOBALLY, ACT LOCALLY.
National vaccine policy recommendations are made at the federal level but vaccine laws are made at the state level. It is at the state level where your action to protect your vaccine choice rights can have the greatest impact.
It is critical for EVERYONE to get involved now in standing up for the legal right to make voluntary vaccine choices in America because those choices are being threatened by lobbyists representing drug companies, medical trade associations, and public health officials, who are trying to persuade legislators to strip all vaccine exemptions from public health laws.
Signing up for NVIC’s free Advocacy Portal at http://www.NVICAdvocacy.org gives you immediate, easy access to your own state legislators on your smart phone or computer so you can make your voice heard. You will be kept up-to-date on the latest state bills threatening your vaccine choice rights and get practical, useful information to help you become an effective vaccine choice advocate in your own community.
Also, when national vaccine issues come up, you will have the up-to-date information and call to action items you need at your fingertips. So please, as your first step, sign up for the NVIC Advocacy Portal.
Share Your Story With the Media and People You Know
If you or a family member has suffered a serious vaccine reaction, injury, or death, please talk about it. If we don’t share information and experiences with one another, everybody feels alone and afraid to speak up. Write a letter to the editor if you have a different perspective on a vaccine story that appears in your local newspaper. Make a call in to a radio talk show that is only presenting one side of the vaccine story.
I must be frank with you; you have to be brave because you might be strongly criticized for daring to talk about the “other side” of the vaccine story. Be prepared for it and have the courage to not back down. Only by sharing our perspective and what we know to be true about vaccination, will the public conversation about vaccination open up so people are not afraid to talk about it.
We cannot allow the drug companies and medical trade associations funded by drug companies or public health officials promoting forced use of a growing list of vaccines to dominate the conversation about vaccination.
The vaccine injured cannot be swept under the carpet and treated like nothing more than “statistically acceptable collateral damage” of national one-size-fits-all mandatory vaccination policies that put way too many people at risk for injury and death. We shouldn’t be treating people like guinea pigs instead of human beings.
Internet Resources Where You Can Learn More
I encourage you to visit the website of the non-profit charity, the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC), at www.NVIC.org:
- NVIC Memorial for Vaccine Victims: View descriptions and photos of children and adults, who have suffered vaccine reactions, injuries, and deaths. If you or your child experiences an adverse vaccine event, please consider posting and sharing your story here.
- If You Vaccinate, Ask 8 Questions: Learn how to recognize vaccine reaction symptoms and prevent vaccine injuries.
- Vaccine Freedom Wall: View or post descriptions of harassment and sanctions by doctors, employers, and school and health officials for making independent vaccine choices.
- Vaccine Failure Wall: View or post descriptions about vaccines that have failed to work and protect the vaccinated from disease.
Connect With Your Doctor or Find a New One That Will Listen and Care
If your pediatrician or doctor refuses to provide medical care to you or your child unless you agree to get vaccines you don’t want, I strongly encourage you to have the courage to find another doctor. Harassment, intimidation, and refusal of medical care is becoming the modus operandi of the medical establishment in an effort to stop the change in attitude of many parents about vaccinations after they become truly educated about health and vaccination. However, there is hope.
At least 15 percent of young doctors recently polled admit that they’re starting to adopt a more individualized approach to vaccinations in direct response to the vaccine safety concerns of parents.
It is good news that there is a growing number of smart young doctors, who prefer to work as partners with parents in making personalized vaccine decisions for children, including delaying vaccinations or giving children fewer vaccines on the same day or continuing to provide medical care for those families, who decline use of one or more vaccines.
So take the time to locate a doctor, who treats you with compassion and respect, and is willing to work with you to do what is right for your child.
- Ekaterina Yakovleva embarks on a journey to investigate the human health effects of GMOs and pesticides after learning they may be the cause of her son’s food allergies
- Yakovleva learns there is a huge movement against genetically modified (GM) crops despite there being 190 million hectares (469.5 acres) planted in 28 countries worldwide
- The investigation takes her to India where she learns about the mass farmer suicides spurred by the failure of Monsanto’s Bt cotton
- Yakovleva talks to environmental activist Vandana Shiva, who explains how seed and chemical corporations use imagery of rich American farmers to persuade Indian farmers into buying faulty GM seed
- Yakovleva meets with Zen Honeycutt of Moms Across America about the link between GMOs, pesticides and chronic disease in humans
By Dr. Mercola
After being told by her doctor that genetically engineered (GE) food and pesticides could be responsible for her son’s food allergies, Ekaterina Yakovleva set out to investigate. Her quest for answers was captured by the Russian Times in the featured film, “The Peril on Your Plate: Genetic Engineering and Chemical Agriculture.”
The film shows Yakovleva and her team traveling the world to meet “the people who lift the lid on the perils of GMOs and the chemicals used in the industry,” as well as proponents of GMOs who argue that genetic engineering is a “high-tech” solution to feeding the world’s growing population. Advocates for genetic engineering tell Yakovleva that the technology is beneficial to farmers in that it increases resistance to pests and disease, as well as produces higher yields. But Yakovleva isn’t convinced.
She learns nothing could be further from the truth after witnessing the devastation caused by mass farmer suicides in India as a result of the failure of Monsanto’s Bt cotton. Yakovleva visits the U.K. where she meets Lady Margaret, Countess of Mar, a member of the House of Lords and a former farmer who suffered from chemical use, and then to the U.S. where she meets with Zen Honeycutt of Moms Across America about the link between GMOs, pesticides and chronic disease in humans.
What Is Genetic Engineering?
In order to better understand genetic engineering and its impact on human health, Yakovleva starts to research the technique and how it’s used. She learns that genetic engineering enables DNA to be transferred not only between different kinds of plants, but even between different kingdoms, meaning scientists can take DNA from an insect or animal and insert it into the genome of a plant.
Many GMO proponents claim that genetic engineering is just an extension of natural breeding methods, and just as safe. Nothing could be further from the truth — on both counts. Genetic engineering is radically different from conventional breeding techniques used to improve a crop. For starters, it’s a laboratory-based technique allowing scientists to create a food that could never be created by nature.
Claire Robinson, editor of GM Watch and coauthor of the book, “GMO Myths and Truths: A Citizen’s Guide to the Evidence on the Safety and Efficacy of Genetically Modified Foods and Crops,” says:
“Genetic engineering enables DNA to be transferred not only between different kinds of plants, but even between different kingdoms. You can take DNA from an insect, an animal, a virus or a bacterium, and insert it into the genome of a food crop plant. This is actually a very imprecise process. The truth is that the genetic engineering process disrupts the genome (organization and function of genes) of the plant.
As a result we found time and time again that there are unexpected effects on the plant that is genetically engineered. They tell us that it’s exactly the same, except for the inserted gene that’s been deliberately put in … But this isn’t the case. The genome is very complex. It’s not like Lego; you can’t just take out one bit, put in another bit, and expect there to be no knock-on effects.”
US Leads World in GM Crop Production
Yakovleva learns that an estimated 190 million hectares (469.5 acres) of GE crops1 — an area three times the size of France — are cultivated in 28 countries worldwide.2 The U.S. leads the world in GM crop production, growing about 40 percent,3 while Brazil grows 27 percent and Argentina 13 percent. Canada and India each grow 6 percent.4 GE crops currently in production include squash/pumpkin, alfalfa, sugar beet, potato, papaya, rapeseed oil, corn, soy and cotton.
Monsanto, soon to forgo its name and merge with Bayer, controls a vast majority of GE crops including 80 percent of GE corn and 93 percent of GE soy in the U.S. The first GE crop to hit the market was tobacco. It was genetically modified in 1983 to be resistant to an antibiotic.5 It was later altered for other reasons, including to remove a gene that turns nicotine into a carcinogen in tobacco leaves,6and to increase the amount of nicotine in cigarettes.7
The first genetically engineered food crop was the Flavr Savr tomato, produced by Calgene, a California-based company later bought by Monsanto. The tomato was genetically modified to stay riper longer by inhibiting a gene responsible for producing a protein that makes a tomato soften.8 Calgene is reported to have been transparent in its marketing of the tomato, clearly labeling the product and adding an 800 number for people with questions. Monsanto later removed the Flavr Savr tomato from store shelves.
A Growing List of Countries Say No to GMOs
The film highlights regions that are completely GMO-free, including Romania, which stopped cultivating GE crops despite being the first country in geographical Europe to introduce them.9 Portugal and Spain have reduced the amount of areas under GE crop cultivation,10while a number have enacted a total ban including France, Germany, Austria, Poland, Greece, Switzerland, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
Russia forbids GE crop cultivation,11 but does not prevent GMOs from entering the country’s food chain, according to the film. Yakovleva travels to the Agrarian University in Moscow to meet GMO proponent Arkady Zlochevsky, chairman of the Russian Grain Union. She confronts him about the human health effects of eating GE foods.
“There is absolutely no risk to the human body associated with eating GM foods compared to traditional equivalents, not a single one,” he says, adding that GMOs are “high-tech” and have “significant advantages.” He even went so far as to say that glyphosate, the key active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup weedkiller, is safer than 100 percent manure.
Glyphosate Doubles as Herbicide and Suicide Poison in India
Unconvinced, Yakovleva travels to India where glyphosate doubles as a lethal human poison. The Punjab region, formally known as the bread basket of India, is now known for colossal suicides among farmers, particularly young farmers between the ages of 20 and 35.
Yakovleva meets with families of farmers who committed suicide. She learns that thousands of farmers have taken their own lives after agriculture corporations granted them loans they could never repay to purchase seeds and pesticides that ultimately failed to provide the profits that were promised.
Inderjit Singh Jaijee, chairman of Punjab’s Baba Nanak Educational Society, says farmers who commit suicide often take drugs, drink alcohol or even take a swig of glyphosate to muster up the courage to go through with it. Singh Jaijee, who is on a mission to raise awareness about the serious issue of suicides in Punjab, says that young farmers are more susceptible because they don’t yet have the experience older people do to survive.
Thousands of Indian Farmers Commit Suicide Over Faulty GE Crops
The amount of suicides in the Punjab region is so massive that some people are making a profit removing dead bodies from a local canal. Ashu Malik, an underwater diver, uses surveillance cameras to monitor the canal for floating bodies. If a body is not claimed, it’s placed back into the water, he says. Ending up in the canal as a result of suicide is so common in this region that families built a house on the canal’s shoreline for them to stay in while they search for their loved ones who are missing.
The exact number of suicides occurring annually in the Punjab region remains unknown. One estimation found the annual suicide rate to be about 2,200. However, Singh Jaijee’s research estimates it to be closer to 4,000 suicides per year, while farmer organizations estimate up to 6,000. Shocked by what’s become a normality for agricultural communities in India, Yakovleva interviews agricultural scientist Kiran Kumar Vissa to learn more about Monsanto’s Bt cotton, the crop responsible for placing so many farmers into debt.
Monsanto’s Bt cotton was marketed as a solution to the challenges faced by cotton farmers, many of whom were in crisis; however, it ended up causing farmers more problems. There are many places where Bt cotton is not suitable for cultivation, including dry, nonirrigated areas, explains Vissa. The packaging says that Bt cotton is suitable for both irrigated and nonirrigated conditions, but it’s not true, says Vissa, adding, that it’s deceptive to farmers.
Big Ag Uses Images of Rich, American Farmers to Sell GMOs Abroad
Next, Yakovleva meets with renowned scholar and environmental activist Vandana Shiva, who blames the mass suicides solely on the corporations that sell the seeds and chemicals. Monsanto spends huge amounts of money on advertising. Between the fiscal years 2011 to 2017, Monsanto spent more than $500 million on advertising worldwide.12
Shiva explains that seed and chemical agents show farmers in India images of American farmers with big tractors and promise them that if they just take this seed, which they can pay for later, they will be rich. But what they don’t tell the farmer is that they can’t save the seed and that it might fail because the seeds aren’t meant for dry, nonirrigated areas, says Shiva.
So, the farmer takes it on credit, not having a good understanding of the costs involved, and the seed fails, Vandana explains, adding that in two years’ time the agents who sold the seed and pesticide return and repossess the farmer’s land because he could not pay his loan. Shiva tells Yakovleva that she has personally spoken to widows whose farmer husbands committed suicide and when she asked what their debt was, they showed her packages of Monsanto’s Bt cotton seed.
Are Farmers Risking Their Health by Using Chemicals?
Yakovleva’s investigation proceeds to the U.K. where she meets with Lady Margaret, Countess of Mar, a member of the House of Lords and a former farmer who suffered from chemical use.
While serving organic tea and pudding, Lady Margaret says she had to give up farming after she was exposed to harmful chemicals while dipping sheep. The sheep dip contained organophosphates, the same class of chemicals to which glyphosate belongs. The chemicals are used as both flame retardants and pesticides. According to National Geographic:
“Organophosphates attack the nervous system in the same way as nerve agents like sarin … [and] are so toxic to humans that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has taken steps to limit their availability to the public.”13
Within weeks of being exposed, Lady Margaret says she began to suffer from intense fatigue and neurological problems. She even felt suicidal. At one point, she was forced to rely on an oxygen tank for up to 16 hours a day. Lady Margaret was ill for three years before doctors diagnosed her with organophosphate poisoning.
Most of Americans Have Glyphosate in Their Bodies
Humans are increasingly testing positive for residues of glyphosate.14 In tests conducted by a University of California San Francisco lab, 93 percent of the participants tested positive for glyphosate residues.15 In the European Union, when 48 members of Parliament volunteered for glyphosate testing, everyone one of them tested positive.16 Humans are exposed to glyphosate via the food they eat, the air they breathe, the water they drink and the lawns, gardens, parks and other environments they frequent.
What impact is this having on human health? To find out, Yakovleva and her team head to the U.S. to meet with Honeycutt, who blames chemicals in our food for the rise in chronic disease. A number of chronic diseases have been linked to pesticides, including autism, cancer, food allergies, endocrine disruption, diabetes and Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease.17
One in 4 females over the age of 30 now has a gluten intolerance, says Honeycutt; however, she believes it’s not gluten that’s the problem, but the glyphosate that’s applied to wheat as a drying agent prior to harvest.
“It’s destroying their gut lining. They can’t process it and then the body acknowledges it as a gluten intolerance,” says Honeycutt, adding that food today not only has more chemicals, but is also less nutritious. Chemical-intensive agriculture has depleted our soils of essential nutrients and has drawn out vitamins and minerals that make our food healthy, she adds.
Long-Term Safety Studies Are Sorely Lacking
Yakovleva and her team reached out to Monsanto regarding the public health concerns tied to its Roundup weed killer, but the company refused to comment, instead directing them to its website which, of course, states that all of their products are safe and environmentally friendly. The deceptive GMO talking points Yakovleva received from the seed and chemical industry failed to convince her that GE crops are safe for human consumption, as there’s no real evidence to support this claim.
While few in number, longer-term animal feeding studies have been published over the past several years showing there’s definite cause for concern. Liver and kidney toxicity and immune reactions tend to be the most prevalent. Digestive system, inflammation and fertility problems have also been seen. A major part of the problem is that safety studies conducted for regulatory purposes to gain market approval for a GE product are too short to show the damage that could occur from life-long consumption of the GE food.
Some independent studies looking at lifetime consumption of GMOs have found rather dramatic health effects, whereas the safety studies used to promote GE foods as safe have all been short-term. There seems to be an agreement among biotech scientists to not test GE foods longer than 90 days in rats, which is only about seven to nine years in human terms. That’s nothing when you consider the average human life span is somewhere in the 70s, and the current generation is fed GMO food from Day 1.
How to Protect Yourself From Toxic Agriculture
The biotech giants have deep pocketbooks and political influence and are fighting to maintain their position of dominance. At the end of the day, we must shatter Monsanto’s grip on the agricultural sector. There is no way to recall GMOs once they have been released into the environment. The stakes could not be higher. Will you continue supporting the corrupt, toxic and unsustainable food system that Monsanto and its industry allies are working so hard to protect?
For more and more people, the answer is no. Consumers are rejecting genetically engineered and pesticide-laden foods. Another positive trend is that there has been strong growth in the global organic and grass-fed sectors. This just proves one thing: We can make a difference if we steadily work toward the same goal.
One of the best things you can do is to buy your foods from a local farmer who runs a small business and uses diverse methods that promote regenerative agriculture. You can also join a community-supported agriculture (CSA) program, where you can buy a “share” of the vegetables produced by the farm, so that you get a regular supply of fresh food.
I believe that joining a CSA is a powerful investment not only in your own health, but in that of your local community and economy as well. In addition, you should also adopt preventive strategies that can help reduce the toxic chemical pollution that assaults your body. I recommend visiting these trustworthy sites for non-GMO food resources in your country as well:
Monsanto and its allies want you to think that they control everything, but they are on the wrong side of history. It’s you, the informed and empowered, who hold the future in your hands. Let’s all work together to topple the biotech industry’s house of cards. Remember — it all starts with shopping smart and making the best food purchases for you and your family.