M. Smith 'Genetic Roulette
- the documented health risks of genetically
engineered foods' 329+pp hardback, 2007 Yes!
Books P O Box 469 Fairfield Iowa
reviewed by L R B Mann
the best book on GM-food - as Prof Samuel S Epstein puts it on the
cover, "the most comprehensive, well-documented and highly
readable exposť on the serious health dangers of GM
foods". Over 300 pp, near-A4, attractively laid
out like a textbook, cover the subject more thoroughly than has been
done previously, and persuasively.
first half of the book is brilliantly laid out. Each opening
consists of the L page with a highlighted relevant quote and a few
conclusions in large type, based on the details on the other p.
For instance, pp.60-61 'A GM food suplement killed
about 100 people and caused 5,000 - 10,000 to fall sick', tells
what would be known in a democracy about the novel illness EMS caused
by L-tryptophan mfd 1984-89 by Showa Denko, the only mfr to use
GM-bacilli to increase yield (I would not concede Smith's 'more
economically'). The page of small print states key details
- probably the last round of small changes before the facts
become widely standardised - unref'd 'CDC officials'
stating the numbers in the Headline, which are indeed as indicated by
the scholarly literature.
2002 Nature Biotek printed the briefest summary of the EMS
disaster (within The Schubert Letter). That jnl responded with a
letter from leading DNA-wankers Roger Beachy, Wayne Parrott etc
purporting to deny the main facts. I doubt they'll do that a
half-decade later, notwithstanding the refusal of leading medical jnls
to publish a scholarly account of the GM-tryptophan disaster.
The Eichelbaum travesty also misrepresented this important disaster.
Smith's account is right. Now let's see whether any govts take
obvious weakness is the near-absence of diagrams. Some of the
concepts entailed in GM are best explained with the help of diagrams,
so it is a surprise to see so few. Perhaps a future edition can
listed in the index with the same number of quotes -
5 - as Prof Jack Heinemann of our other island.
I'm flattered, as Jack is an involved practitioner whereas I'm no
longer at the bench - indeed, Smith's habit of identifying
me as 'University of Auckland', without my prior knowledge let alone
permission, may annoy some at that institution whence I retired many y
ago. But I don't expect any direct complaints about the quotes.
Perhaps my favourite has a page of its own starting the 5-openings
Section 6 on the theme 'GM crops may increase environmental toxins and
bioaccumulate toxins in the food chain': from my statement to the
supreme court of India:
gene-manipulators claim they can foresee the evolutionary results of
their artificial transposings of human genes into sheep, bovine genes
into tomatoes, altered bacterial genes into eggplant, etc. But
such claims are a reflection more of arrogance than of scientific
2000 I lectured the Ak branch of the RSNZ, mentioning inter
The depraved trade of mercenary deception,
commonly called PR, has enormous influence in the suppression and
distortion of information about GM. It is easy to predict
the reactions to Genetic Roulette of the PR agents who still exert for
Monsanto etc a near-stranglehold on public utterances about GM:
first ignore, pretending the book doesn't exist;
then, if praise emerges (as it did for Rachel Carson from Pres.
Kennedy), vilify the author. There are tiny errors
- far fewer than in many more prestigious works lately -
and the PR agents will wildly exaggerate pecadilloes in attempt to
invalidate the whole message. It's an old deceitful game.
I doubt it will work on this book which is generally well referenced
is himself a capable marketer. The first 4 pp. before the title
p. in this new book are endorsements from D T Suzuki, Epstein,
Pusztai, and many celebrities. The cover mentions
www.GeneticRoulette.com/ - could be cheaper than your
bookshop ? ... The final page plugs 'More products by
Jeffrey M. Smith' - viz. 4 books.
dimension of PR strife not yet tried on is implied by that
address Fairfield, Iowa - HQ
of the most vigorous Hare Krishna sect, Maharishi U of Management.
To me as a Christian it's embarrassing that such feeble opposition to
GM has yet emerged from the Church, and more effective, reliable
opposition has, to date, emanated from this sect. Affiliated there is
the brilliant John Fagan, a reliable source of science on the Showa
Denko GM-tryptophan, and provider of a valuable commercial service of
GM-food assays in the range (e.g 0.1%) of contamination that is still
(contrary to the hopes of Monsanto etc) causing strenuous objections &
consumer resistance. Fagan has not been used by the NZ Govt
during any of the long-drawn-out unintelligible PR-stunts around
alleged low-level GM-contamination of maize, diabolically designed to
annoy the public with questions they could not understand let alone
The effect, and I'm sure the purpose, of these media
stunts has been to convince most citizens that GM-food is a hopelessly
incomprehensible issue, so they shrug their shoulders and leave it to
expensive corrupt rubber-stamp agencies ERMA, ANZFA, etc. As one
election campaign was warming up with some publicity for the Green
party's opposition to GM-food and to uncontained GMOs generally, a
suspiciously complete dossier on some at most marginally
GM-contaminated maize was 'leaked' to a long-time campaigner against
the PR trade, N Hager. The media gave a lot of airtime, but
little clarity, to govt denials, cover-ups etc; but no clear picture
ever emerged on the measurements, let alone their significance.
The whole flurry was emotive, uninformative, and infuriating to most.
Green support dropped from 10% to 5.2% by the time of the election.
Absent reliable info such as Smith now makes available, people recoil
from GM as incomprehensible, and resent being bothered by it.
question now is whether the media will start to tell the truth about
GM. A monster wasting $10^11 gathers some momentum, even when
almost all the corporations "doing" it have yet to win a
dollar of revenue, let alone net a profit. Media that have no
advertising revenue from such corporations with nothing to sell should
surely be less credulous about the lies on which GM depends. Let
the media get Smith's Genetic Roulette, and face up to this danger
rather than continuing to propagandise for it.