By Victoria Kelley, editor of ASC Magazine
In the past two years I have been following a lot of what Dr Thierry Vrain has been explaining to the world in regards to GMO and RoundUp. When I recently asked Dr Vrain if he would consider doing an interview with our magazine, I was thrilled and honored that he accepted my invitation.
Millions of people are becoming more aware of the cover-ups and untruths regarding GMO. I knew that by asking a scientist with a background in biology – research who could tell the truth about GMO would be very important for everyone to read about.
Thank you Dr. Vrain for doing this very important interview with the ASC Magazine.
Could you give us some background information on who Dr Thierry Vrain is?
I came from France in 1971 to teach Plant Physiology at Université du Québec à Montréal. Six years later I graduated from North Carolina State University as a soil biologist and worked as a Research Scientist for the Canadian Department of Agriculture for 30 years.
Tell us something about your previous work.
In 1987 I started studying the DNA of my soil dwelling animals, and soon after that I started engineering plants to make them resistant to soil parasites. There was plenty of funding to do engineering research but I soon became disenchanted with academic capitalism. When I retired 12 years ago I was head of a government biotechnology program, adjunct Honorary Professor at two Universities, president and vice president of national and international bodies of science, and an associate editor of several scientific journals in Europe and the USA. I left it all behind, met an amazing woman and settled on a small piece of land just outside of Courtenay on Vancouver Island we call Innisfree Farm. A year ago I decided to speak publicly and tour the country.
Can you explain to us exactly what GMO is and how it affects every living being?
GMO means genetically modified organism. They are plants that have been modified to express a new protein that is not killed by the herbicide RoundUp, so the plants can be sprayed and the weeds die but not the modified plants.
The Biotech Industry is correct to say that we have been genetically modifying our crops for 10,000 years. What is not said however is that there are consequences to this new technology to modify plants.
Shooting bacterial and viral genes in the plant chromosomes creates many new proteins and some of them can be dysfunctional or toxic, and that must be tested. More importantly, almost all engineered crops are modified to resist being sprayed with the herbicide.
The technology is very appealing to the farmers as it saves them labor and money in weed management. But as predicted 20 years ago the weeds have evolved to become resistant, so more sprays are needed. So much so that RoundUp has become a major pollutant of our drinking water and food supply. Then comes the day when it doesn’t work anymore, another herbicide has to be used.
Now we have the next generation of engineered crops, modified to resist the herbicide 2, 4-D. That was the major ingredient of Agent Orange used to defoliate the jungle during the American war, as the Vietnamese people call it. It seems that 50 years later the American continent is about to be doused too. The Vietnamese must be amused and think Americans have gone crazy.
The Biotech companies are relentlessly reassuring people that their crops are safe to the environment and that their food products are safe to eat. That trillions of meals of engineered foods have been eaten by billions of people for so many years, and there has never been a single report of illness. Indeed, this is not the case.
There are several epidemiological studies published in the last few years that confirm the toxicity of the herbicide in contaminated water and food.
We know that everybody in North America is eating about 200 lbs of engineered food every year, and we have published evidence that laboratory mice and rats on a RoundUp diet develop severe organ damage, and considerable anecdotal evidence that an increasing number of people become celiac or diabetic or develop severe illnesses.
The active ingredient of RoundUp herbicide is called glyphosate. The molecule was created and patented as a descaling agent, back in 1964. A descaling agent is a chelator, a small molecule that can hold onto metal ions.
A chelator effectively competes with protein enzymes in living cells and robs them of metal ions – many of them essential co-factors to many enzymes.
This basically results in a slow poisoning of many organs of the digestive system. This chronic toxicity takes months to develop in mice and rats, and presumably it should take years in humans.
Glyphosate was later re-discovered as a very broad spectrum herbicide and patented in 1970 by Monsanto. This molecule has become the best seller of all pesticides, being liberally sprayed on 500 million acres of genetically engineered crops modified to resist it. It is toxic to all living cells, be they plants with their rhizosphere symbionts or humans with their gut bacteria.
It is sold as completely safe to humans because it allegedly only interferes with one protein of a certain metabolic pathway in plants. By replacing that protein with a bacterial version that is not affected by Glyphosate, you have a plant that can be doused with the chelator and the protein and the life of the plant is not affected.
There appears to be many pathways that glyphosate is toxic to mice and rats and human and bacterial cells at very low concentrations, much less than what is found in grains and vegetables and now allowed by the US EPA.
Glyphosate was reinvented again and patented by Monsanto in 2010 as an antibiotic. Now this pesticide is so widespread in the food system, we are all basically on a daily antibiotic diet, with severe consequences for the human microbiome and its whole digestive system – read celiac and a whole host of other maladies.
These statistics are kept by the US Department of Agriculture and the Centre for Disease Control in Georgia.
Do you think that fish being fed GMO ingredients like Cottonseed meal, Canola meal, Soybean meal and Corn meal could be affected health wise?
In your opinion how can we change the current situation that is happening worldwide with GMO? What about farmers coming under fire over patented seeds being found in their farms?
Think Globally, Act locally. I don’t know enough about the global situation and I don’t know how to change it, other than offer you banalities. I get to feel good for sparking so much interest in local actions across Canada.
People need to know that they have power in their kitchen and dining room, at the grocery store, at the municipal and regional level. Our elected leaders, if they don’t want to read scientific reports, need to reflect on why 64 countries in the world today regulate or ban GMOs.
Do you plan on continuing your advocacy and enlightening the public about GMO?
I plan to continue to speak up publicly about published scientific studies that conclude that engineered grains with residues of RoundUp herbicide create serious health damage to lab animals.
I don’t know that I am enlightening anybody, but I am clear that someone must raise the alarm. I wish many other scientists would come forward and speak up. But you don’t need to be a toxicologist or a PhD to understand the studies.
I wish everybody would speak up, for change is not going to come from the top. As usual it will come from the street.
Why do you think it is important that people relearn gardening and growing skills again?
I think learning to grow your own food is going to become a preoccupation for many people in the near future. I am quite convinced that we will soon enter an age of transition, going back to a century ago, when most homeowners had a garden that was a significant source of food.
Can you tell us a little bit about InnisFree Farm and your work there?
My wife walked in my office the day after we bought the property, reading a poem by Yeates “The Lake Isle of Innisfree”, and asked if we could name it Innisfree. It had been a long dream of hers. My wife chairs a Botanical Medicine Department at a Naturopathic School, and has a private clinic. We are recreating our property as a Botanical Garden called “Gardens without Borders” – at Innisfree Farm in Courtenay on Vancouver Island.
It will be a place to reconnect with nature and put a name on its many faces. We grow food and medicinal plants and we teach biophilia, the love of life, our connection and interdependence with all living creatures.
We have a project to write a book “Who do you think you are”. We have a fixation on health and food and social justice, so we run workshops about “Food as Medicine” and I travel the country to speak publicly.
Innis Free Farm: http://innisfreefarm.org/
Practically all engineered foods contain residues of the herbicide Roundup they were sprayed with. There is published evidence that fish on a RoundUp diet get a bad case of celiac disease.
Could any of this be passed onto humans?
The risk to humans is not from fish but from engineered corn and soy and canola and sugar – all laced with RoundUp, that find their way into 80% of food items in the grocery stores.
“Fish exposed to glyphosate develop digestive problems that are reminiscent of celiac disease. Celiac disease is associated with imbalances in gut bacteria that can be fully explained by the known effects of glyphosate on gut bacteria.” –Quote taken from Glyphosate, pathways to modern diseases II.
Read more at the supplied link: http://sustainablepulse.com/wp- content/uploads/2014/02/Glyphosate_II_Samsel-Seneff.pdf