Saturday, 29 June 2013

Terminator Seeds are a Patent, not a Concept

Genetically modified crops were again in discussion in the House of Lords on 26 June 2013.  The question was what the UK government is doing to “reform the regulations regarding the commercial cultivation of genetically modified crops.”  Some of the usual rhetoric was raised such as GMOs being a tool in the box to feed the starving people in the world.
 
Exactly one year ago on 26 June 2012, GM companies Monsanto, Syngenta, Bayer and BASF and their industry body, the Agricultural Biotechnology Council (ABC), joined Science Minister David Willetts and Lord Taylor at a roundtable meeting to discuss the “Growing for Growth” report, including bringing more agricultural GM crops research into the UK and removing regulatory and political barriers.  Additional information is available in my article called GeneWatch UK/GMF press: Monsanto Meets Ministers to Push Return of GM Crops to Britain, or for the basics, see the following links:
 
 
I wrote a little history about Monsanto based on a comic I made for entry in a contest at the Positive Visions for Biodiversity Conference (16-19 November 2010) which I attended in Brussels, Belgium.  I didn’t win the contest, but that blog article has proved to be very popular.  In the article, I mention how Monsanto acquired Delta and Pine Land Company that jointly had a patent for the GM “terminator technology” with the US government.  The patent is called Control of plant gene expression, number US 5723765 A.
 
Monsanto made a commitment in 1999 not to commercialize sterile seed technology in food crops. We stand firmly by this commitment. We have no plans or research that would violate this commitment in any way.”
 
They say they have no plans or research to market terminator seeds, but since 2007, they own a patent for this technology.  The fact is that the technology exists and is the property of Monsanto, and if Monsanto can make money from it, they will.  Also, please note that Monsanto’s pledge is specifically for food crops and there are many other types of crops in the agribusiness such as cotton, tobacco, and crops for animal feeds, biofuels, and micro-ingredients.  Here is what Lord de Mauley (Whip, House of Lords; Conservative) said:
 
“My noble friend raises an issue that is known as “terminator technology”; that is, the concept that seeds may not reproduce. Terminator technology is a concept rather than something that is being applied in practice. There are no GM crops in existence, to my knowledge, that produce sterile seed and no plans to market such crops.”
 
However, a patent is a lot more than a concept.  Sterile seeds exist in the real world.  They are not an idea in someone’s mind.  I found where this came from though.  It came from Monsanto who say on their website that “this is a group of technologies, all still in the conceptual or developmental stage, that could potentially be used to protect the investment companies make in developing genetically-improved crops, as well as possibly providing other agronomic benefits.”
 
As far as I know, Lord de Mauley is correct in that the terminator technology is not being marketed, but if anyone thinks that Monsanto will not take advantage of its property to make money, they are naive.  Furthermore, GM hybrid seeds, for example Bt Cotton, lose vigour after one year and this keeps farmers buying new seed stocks each year anyway.  Because of this, we are a short step away from accepting the terminator seeds.  One sales point for sterile seeds is that they will not contaminate the environment and Monsanto is presently selling the concept of putting this technology on the market.
 
 
Monsanto explains that the terminator seeds are a type of GURT (Gene Use Restriction Technology).  GURT “includes a range of technologies employed at the genetic level, designed to limit the use or spread of specific genetic material in agriculture.”  Monsanto further explains that “the need for companies to protect and gain a return on their investments in agricultural innovation is real. Without this return, we would no longer be able to continue developing new products growers have said they want.”
 
I would like to clarify with information from my article about Monsanto where I explained that GURT is basically divided into two types:  V-GURT is where the plant variety produces sterile seeds so that farmers need to purchase seeds for future planting; and T-GURT is a type of restriction at trait level where a crop is modified so that the genetic enhancement engineered into the crop does not function until the crop plant is treated with a chemical that is sold by the biotechnology company. Farmers can save seeds for use each year. However, they do not get to use the enhanced trait in the crop unless they purchase the activator compound.
 
I previously wrote on this blog about the GM blight resistant potato trials in Norwich and how organic potatoes that are blight resistant are available.  This is an example of how GM is not about being a solution to a problem such as feeding the world.  There’s more to it.  GM is about money and control for the Elite via corporations.  Monsanto says it clearly on their website as I set-out above.
 
In my article about the GM potato trials, I mentioned Professor Jones who was in charge of the research on potatoes at the John Innes Centre and how he co-founded Mendel Biotechnology in Hayward, California with its most important customer and collaborator for its business being Monsanto.  Professor Jones sits on the Scientific Advisory Board of this corporation which is “dedicated to being a premier biotechnology company serving large agricultural companies with new genetic and chemical solutions and to becoming the leading seed company serving the bioenergy industry” (my emphasis).
 
Now, I realise that the UK and US governments (and others) are in partnership with Monsanto and the other such corporations in more ways than joint ownership of one patent, but as the UK government still professes to represent me as a citizen living here, I am sending a link to this article to Lord de Mauley with hopes that he and others in the House of Lords may look at some of what I have written and/or links and possibly other information readily available on the Internet and reflect on their involvement in the development of GM crops and food technology in general.  After all, this technology is not in my favour.  In fact, it’s not in anyone’s favour, but especially not those who, like me, buy only organic food and do not take any medication.  I do not believe this technology is the best way forward.
 
Technology may seem like a great idea, but what about when it doesn’t work?  Modern food is already showing signs of not working when one considers the health statistics.  It’s all fine and dandy that we can sue the GM Company when something goes wrong (see Genetics, Molecular Biology and the Law (2010)), but how will it be fixed?  GMOs are irreversible.  No amount of money can put it back to the way it was before.  We are losing our alternatives.  And no amount of saving seeds in seed banks will be able to reverse the damage that is occurring to the human race because of the technological manipulation of food that is progressing every day at an ever faster rate (as well as the deluge of chemicals spewing out of factories).
 
Funnily enough, Lord de Mauley discussed the issue of moving forward with GM crops “with Commissioner Borg in order to emphasise the importance of finding a solution that gets the current system working. The commissioner has signalled that he wants to try to resolve the problems at European level and we look forward to further discussions on this issue.”  Pretty soon, Commissioner Borg (or someone like him) will be at a global level and the solutions that stem from this level will be creating big problems indeed, probably including the extinction of the human race.  In this system, freedom is a delusion and human beings need freedom to flourish.
 
It bears thinking about where we are headed once in awhile.  In other words, where are GM crops leading to?  Are they leading to the marketing of terminator seeds?  What effect is the GM technology having on the environment and human health already?  Where is the research on these questions to guide us?

Friday, 21 June 2013

London Café Technocracy Events

 

I received an email about a technocracy update today and thought I would pass it on for anyone in the vicinity of London who might be interested in attending any of the planned meetings.  Technocracy is very possibly an abbreviation of technology crazy.  It's the ultimate expression of human madness.  Anyway, this programme is very much in tune with what I write about on this blog.

Technology out of control? Drones, Killer Robots and the Arms Trade

Remote controlled drones have already caused many civilian casualties in the 'war on terror', and people in the target zones and in Britain are campaigning against their use. But the military is moving towards letting battlefield 'killer robots' take their own decisions without human input. Should we allow computers to decide who lives and who dies, and who is legally responsible for their actions? This first meeting in our 'Breaking the Frame' series on the politics of technology will address some of the ethical and 'existential' issues raised by the march of technocracy. There will be plenty of time for informal discussion.

When: 7pm July 8th 2013
Where: Fairly Square cafe, 51 Red lion St London WC1R 4PF

Introductions from:
For more information visit www.luddites200.org.uk, or contact luddites200@yahoo.co.uk

Breaking the Frame: discussions on the politics of technology

Technology dominates our world, but many people think ‘its just a neutral tool’ or that technology = progress.  Although it does bring some benefits, most technology designed and controlled by corporate, military and technocratic elites to serve their interests and exert their power.  Luddites200 is organising a series of monthly events to look at the technology politics of food, energy, work, gender, war, the economy, health etc.  There will be speakers from campaigning groups and lots of time for discussion.  We are preparing for a 3-day gathering in May 2014 on these issues.


July 8th  Technology out of control? Drones, killer robots and the arms trade
August New nuclear and the lessons of Fukushima
September Gender and the politics of technology 
October Economic crisis and austerity: “It’s the technology, stupid”
November Food, GM and synthetic biology
December Extreme Energy (fracking, tar sands etc) and climate change
January The politics of alternative technology and workers’ plans
February Digital technology, surveillance and Big Data
March Toxics and nanotechnology
April ‘Mental health’, big pharma and the new eugenics

When: 7pm 2nd Monday of the month
Where: Fairly Square cafe, 51 Red lion St London WC1R 4PF

For more information visit www.breakingtheframe.org.uk, Facebook: breaking the frame or contact luddites200@yahoo.co.uk.

Synthetic Biology

Luddites200 is starting an action group on synthetic biology and would like to hear from you if you;re interested. Synthetic biology is an extreme form of genetic engineering in which scientists do not merely tinker with a couple of genes but chemically synthesise large amounts of DNA, up to and including the whole genome. This raises massive environmental and ethical concerns; you can find more information at http://www.etcgroup.org/issues/synthetic-biology, or http://www.humanebiotech.com/theissues/syntheticbiology.html. Recently environmental groups have been alarmed by proposals by a group of 'biohackers' based in California to start releasing into the environment plants that had been manipulated using synthetic biology techniques to glow in the dark. Please email luddites200@yahoo.co.uk if you would like to be involved in planning campaigns around these issues. 

Geoengineering

We are also planning to set up a campaign on geoengineering ie efforts to prevent climate change by directly engineering the climate system, eg by trying to reflect sunlight away from the earth by filling the upper atmosphere with sulphite particles, as happens after volcanic eruptions.  You can find more information at www.handsoffmotherearth.org about this and other similarly dangerous and crazy schemes. The Campaign Against Climate Change recently voted not to support calls for geoengineering made by certain scientists. Luddites200 recently held a successful workshop on geoengineering and those who attended are keen to make contact with people throughout Britain who would be interested in campaigning on this issue. 

Saturday, 15 June 2013

Moving Inequities from the Bowels of the B’org

This may sound like an unpleasant topic, but our bowel movements are an important indication of our health or disease.  Also, since corporations (the B’org) are legally persons, they must have bowel movements too.  The B’org take in resources, use what they want and discard the rest, and this refuse is at least as toxic as the waste coming out of the people who use their products, although often much more toxic.  Everywhere I turn nowadays, I’m coming up with millions of tonnes of more chemicals being produced.  One such chemical is macrogol (aka polyethylene glycol).  This chemical is used in association with bowel dysfunction and used by the B’org to promote this health problem in order to add value and grow.
 
One very popular product that contains macrogol is called Movicol.  It’s a laxative for the treatment of chronic constipation and faecal impaction.  It’s manufactured by Norgine, a corporation that specialises in chemical manipulation of the bowels.  I don’t particularly want to pick on Norgine, but because I’ve come across their product Movicol lately, they’ve been selected to use as an example.  They happen to specialise in mostly crap and I’ve listed their products from their website below because I think they are quite impressive.  You’ll see that there are lots of partners involved with them as well.
 
Norgine’s two production units “produce and pack more than 45 million units of pharmaceutical products each year for sale in Europe and around the world.”  One company, 45 MILLION UNITS.  The photo is of the plant in Hengoed, Wales, UK.  The other one is in France.
 
In 2011, Norgine’s net product sales were €247 million.  The most prominent contributor to Norgine's growth is Movicol.  However, sales of Norgine’s bowel cleansing preparation, Moviprep, is also growing rapidly.  It contains over 17 times the amount of macrogol as Movicol.  So first let’s take a quick look at Norgine’s products and then I’ll discuss the chemical macrogol in a little more detail, and tie it altogether to show how products that contain macrogol are harmful.
 
MOVICOL®
 
For the treatment of chronic constipation and faecal impaction
(Contains Macrogol 3350                    13.125 g
Sodium chloride                 350.7 mg
Sodium bicarbonate          178.5 mg
Potassium chloride            46.6 mg
Plain / Chocolate / Lemon and Lime / Paediatric / Liquid Orange
mmm, I wonder what Paediatric flavour tastes like ...
 
One of the people I know taking Movicol told me he’s supposed to take it every day, but doesn’t like taking it.  He uses the chocolate flavoured one.  He’s been in the hospital for specialist treatment before because of a blockage and may have to go again because it’s been about a week since he last had a bowel movement.
 
MOVIPREP® see link for lots of information including My Moviment Prep Kit with videos and Colonoscopy for Dummies book (they said it) and you can download it for free!
For bowel cleansing prior to any clinical procedure requiring a clean bowel.
(Contains:  233 mg Macrogol).  I can’t believe the photo!
 
KLEAN-PREP®
KLEAN-PREP is under licence from Helsinn Healthcare
Bowel preparation prior to colonoscopy, contains:
Macrogol 3350        59.0g (over 4 x the amount that’s in Movicol)
Sodium Sulphate   5.685g
Sodium Bicarbonate         1.685g
Sodium Chloride                1.465g
Potassium Chloride           0.743g
The other ingredients are aspartame and vanilla flavour.
 
Klean-Prep (possibly more accurately called Klean-Krap) which is used in colon cancer screening is becoming ever more popular along with Moviprep (or Movicrap) because the medical industry is pushing colonoscopies.  Screening for breast cancer isn’t the only one that’s a risk to your health that is offered in this guise.
 
ORAMORPH®
ORAMORPH is under licence from Molteni Farmaceutici
For the treatment of moderate to severe pain, it’s available from Boehringer Ingelheim in the UK.  Ingredients include morphine and it’s taken orally, hence the handy name.  After all, having compacted pooh can be very painful.
 
NORMACOL®
NORMACOL is a registered trademark of the Norgine group of companies
For the treatment of long-term constipation, particularly simple or idiopathic constipation and constipation during pregnancy, Normacol granules contain the active ingredient sterculia which is a vegetable gum from the karaya tree, native of dry deciduous forests of dry rocky hills lands having tropical climate.  It contains a natural active ingredient but it still contains chemicals.
 
FIVASA® generic name mesalamine
FIVASA was acquired from Eli Lilly & Co. for defined European markets
For the treatment of Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn’s Disease (which you may need after taking products with macrogol, see below).
 
Not licensed in the UK.  Brand names in the US include Apriso®, Asacol®, Canasa® Suppository, Lialda® Pentasa®, Rowasa® Enema
 
NORTUSSINE®
NORTUSSINE is a registered trademark of the Norgine group of companies
Antitussive medication (for coughs)
 Not licensed in the UK
 
XIFAXAN®
TARGAXAN are registered trademarks of the Alfa Wassermann group of companies, licensed to the Norgine group of companies
For the treatment of traveller's diarrhoea and hepatic encephalopathy
Product under licence from Alfa Wassermann S.p.A. XIFAXAN and
 
SAVENE®
SAVENE is licensed from the SpePharm AG group of companies
An antidote for anthracycline extravasation.  I had to look this up and came across this gem on Wiki: “The anthracyclines are among the most effective anticancer treatments ever developed and are effective against more types of cancer than any other class of chemotherapeutic agents.[citation needed][3][4][5]  Their main adverse effect is cardiotoxicity, which considerably limits their usefulness.”  This really sums up drug use generally – drugs are really effective, but have adverse effects that are as bad as the original complaint.  Extravastion, by the way, is when the drug leaks into the body from the vein.
 
DANTRIUM® IV / DANTROLEN® IV
DANTRIUM IV and DANTROLEN IV are licensed from the SpePharm AG group of companies
For treatment of malignant hyperthermia (MH)
 
DANTRIUM® CAPSULES
DANTRIUM is licensed from the SpePharm AG group of companies
A peripherally acting muscle relaxant for chronic spasticity.
 
XEROTIN®
XEROTIN is licensed from Difa-Cooper SpA to the SpePharm AG group of companies
An artificial saliva for xerostomia (dry mouth) (which you may need after taking products with macrogol, see below).
 
PROTHER®
PROTHER is licensed from DMF Dietetic Metabolic Food srl to the SpePharm AG group of companies
A food supplement for special medical purposes (which you may need after taking products with macrogol, see below).
 
Cametor (Cetilistat)
 
And as an extra bonus to ensure that Norgine continues to increase profits and grow, they’re working with their Japanese partners Takeda on treatment for obesity called Cametor (Cetilistat).  It’s similar to Orlistat.  Cametor makes fat come out in the pooh.  It messes up the digestive system so that not only will the obese people not lose weight in the long run, they will no longer have a functioning gut or bowel.  Other Cametor side effects include oily, loose stools, fecal incontinence, and other such things.  In addition, the absorption of fat soluble vitamins are likely to be inhibited thus opening the risk of becoming deficient in them. They will become drug dependent for their bowel function and need nutritional supplements.

Macrogol 

Now for a little more in-depth information about Norgine’s star chemical, macrogol.  Macrogol is the International Nonproprietary Name (INN) for polyethylene glycol.  It is used in laxative medications as shown above and in a lot of other drugs as an excipient (bulking agents, fillers, or diluents) with variants sold in ointment bases, tablet bindings, film coatings and lubricants. The molecular weight of the polyethylene glycol is manipulated depending on the application, e.g., macrogol 3350, macrogol 4000, and macrogol 6000.
 
Polyethylene glycol
 
Polyethylene glycol (PEG, not to be confused with a PEG tube) is produced by the interaction of ethylene oxide with water.  PEG is also known as polyethylene oxide (PEO) or polyoxyethylene (POE), depending on its molecular weight. 
 
As an aside, the world's largest producers of ethylene oxide are mega chemical corporations including Dow Chemical Company (3–3.5 million tonnes in 2006[70]), Saudi Basic Industries (2000–2500 tonnes in 2006[70]), Royal Dutch Shell (1.328 million tonnes in 2008–2009[71][72][73][74]), BASF (1.175 million tonnes in 2008–2009[75]), China Petrochemical Corporation (~1 million tonnes in 2006[70]), Formosa Plastics (~1 million tonnes in 2006[70]) and Ineos (0.92 million tonnes in 2008–2009).[76] (references from Wiki).  Told you it was millions of tonnes of chemicals being produced, and this is just one chemical out of many thousands.
 
Macrogol works “by osmotically drawing water into the GI tract.”  This means that it changes the osmotic pressure to one of being high.  It may sound like magic, but the point is that the water is drawn from someplace it would otherwise not be drawn from because it is pressurized into doing so.
 
Osmotically means the diffusion of fluid through a semi-permeable membrane (such as cell membranes) until there is an equal concentration of fluid on both sides of the membrane. In fact, all biological cells have a semi-permeable membrane which allows water to pass by this method. Macrogol disrupts the normal equilibrium of water in the gut environment, taking it from the nearby cells in order to flush out the contents of the bowel.
 
To understand this better, see the photo of red blood cells just above (click on the link below to see it enlarged).  The hypertonic ones (first group) are where they are under high osmotic pressure (in other words, water is able to be sucked out of the blood cells because the pressure on the outside of the cell walls is greater than inside, and they end up with a spiky look (dehydrated).  This reminded me of a quote in my article about Sugar and Digestion which I reproduce here because it is quite relevant.
 
“We believe that the role of sucrose in causing diseases of the digestive tract derives from the fact that, in the large amounts we now consume it, it is the only dietary component that contributes to the creation of a high osmotic pressure, and hence to chronic irritation of the gastric and duodenal mucosa.”
 
Yeah, the only dietary component except for laxatives and colonoscopy preps.
 
Chronic irritation of the gastric and duodenal mucosa can amount to mucosal erosions and mucosal haemorrhages, infections, and contribute to a leaky gut.  Leaky gut, by the way, does not mean one that water comes out of, but rather, it is one where things that should not get into the bloodstream manage to do so because of damage to the microvilli that line the intestine.  Malabsorption occurs as well.  For instance, the microvilli have enzymes for the final digestion of sugar molecules.  If they are unable to perform this function because of damage, the sugar molecules do not get absorbed but stay in the gut as food for the so-called bad bacteria and fungi (e.g., Candida) that then excrete toxins which can pass into the bloodstream through the leaky gut.
 
Microvilli are microscopic cellular membrane protrusions that increase the surface area of cells as extensions of the plasma membrane.  Remember cell membranes above?  Removing water from the microvilli can lead to digestive problems.  We’re going to go deep into microscopic land now. The destruction of microvilli occurs when the cytoskeleton of each is disturbed.  The cytoskeleton is like the cell’s skeleton which is contained within a cell's cytoplasm.  The cytoplasm comprises a gel-like substance called cytosol which is ... aha ... enclosed within the cell membrane.  I’m not a scientist or a chemist, but I’m good at connecting dots.  Here’s the final one.  Cytosol is also known as intracellular fluid (ICF) or cytoplasmic matrix and contains the liquid found inside cells.  This is the liquid that can diffuse out of the cell if the osmotic pressure becomes higher on the outside.  This is what sugar and macrogol cause.
 
Now, I talk a lot about healing the gut and avoiding destruction of it because I follow a protocol that is designed to do these two things called the Gut and Psychology (or Physiology) Syndrome (GAPS for short) protocol.  It is clear that disruption in osmotic pressure can lead to malabsorption of nutrients, persistent osmotic diarrhea and a whole host of diseases due to toxic substances “leaking” into the blood stream.  So the side-effects listed for products such as Movicol do not tell the whole story by any means and they’re bad enough.
 
 
  • allergic reactions
  • anal discomfort
  • anaphylactic reactions
  • angioedema
  • borborygmi
  • breathing difficulties
  • diarrhoea
  • distension of the stomach
  • flatulence
  • headaches
  • heart problems
  • indigestion
  • itching
  • metabolic problems - seek immediate medical advice if you develop: oedema, shortness of breath, dehydration or tiredness
  • nausea
  • oedema of the extremities
  • redness of the skin
  • skin rash or rashes
  • stomach pain
  • urticaria
  • vomiting
 
The NHS page with the above side effects says that “a medicine is only made available to the public if the clinical trials have shown that the benefits of taking the medicine outweigh the risks.”  After having written this article, I find this especially very unbelievable.  Eat prunes and do an enema are alternative suggestions that pop into my mind.  But of course, it's a complex world.  All I would say is that if you can avoid laxatives and colonoscopies, you'll be doing your health a good turn.
 
Photo credit 1: manufacturing plant in Hengoed, Wales, UK.
 
Photo credit 2: Moviprep website.
 
Photo credit 3: blood in various osmotic states.