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Former Pro-GMO Scientist Speaks Out On The Real Dangers of Genetically Engineered Food

By Thierry Vrain

I retired 10 years ago after a long career as a research scientist for Agriculture Canada. When I was on the payroll, I was the designated scientist of my institute to address public groups and reassure them that genetically engineered crops and foods were safe. There is, however, a growing body of scientific research – done mostly in Europe, Russia, and other countries – showing that diets containing engineered corn or soya cause serious health problems in laboratory mice and rats.

I don’t know if I was passionate about it but I was knowledgeable. I defended the side of technological advance, of science and progress.


In the last 10 years I have changed my position. I started paying attention to the flow of published studies coming from Europe, some from prestigious labs and published in prestigious scientific journals, that questioned the impact and safety of engineered food.

I refute the claims of the biotechnology companies that their engineered crops yield more, that they require less pesticide applications, that they have no impact on the environment and of course that they are safe to eat.

There are a number of scientific studies that have been done for Monsanto by universities in the U.S., Canada, and abroad. Most of these studies are concerned with the field performance of the engineered crops, and of course they find GMOs safe for the environment and therefore safe to eat.

Individuals should be encouraged to make their decisions on food safety based on scientific evidence and personal choice, not on emotion or the personal opinions of others.

We should all take these studies seriously and demand that government agencies replicate them rather than rely on studies paid for by the biotech companies.

The Bt corn and soya plants that are now everywhere in our environment are registered as insecticides. But are these insecticidal plants regulated and have their proteins been tested for safety? Not by the federal departments in charge of food safety, not in Canada and not in the U.S.

There are no long-term feeding studies performed in these countries to demonstrate the claims that engineered corn and soya are safe. All we have are scientific studies out of Europe and Russia, showing that rats fed engineered food die prematurely.

These studies show that proteins produced by engineered plants are different than what they should be. Inserting a gene in a genome using this technology can and does result in damaged proteins. The scientific literature is full of studies showing that engineered corn and soya contain toxic or allergenic proteins.

Genetic engineering is 40 years old. It is based on the naive understanding of the genome based on the One Gene – one protein hypothesis of 70 years ago, that each gene codes for a single protein. The Human Genome project completed in 2002 showed that this hypothesis is wrong.

The whole paradigm of the genetic engineering technology is based on a misunderstanding. Every scientist now learns that any gene can give more than one protein and that inserting a gene anywhere in a plant eventually creates rogue proteins. Some of these proteins are obviously allergenic or toxic.

I have drafted a reply to Paul Horgen’s letter to the Comox Valley Environmental Council. It is my wish that it goes viral as to educate as many people as possible rapidly. Any and all social media is fine by me. This can also be used as a briefing note for the councilors of AVICC or anywhere else. Thank you for your help. [Click here for original source with replies from Dr. Paul Horgen]

— Thierry Vrain, Innisfree Farm

I am turning you towards a recent compilation (June 2012) of over 500 government reports and scientific articles published in peer reviewed Journals, some of them with the highest recognition in the world. Like The Lancet in the medical field, or Advances in Food and Nutrition Research, or Biotechnology, or Scandinavian Journal of Immunology, European Journal of Histochemistry, Journal of Proteome Research, etc … This compilation was made by a genetic engineer in London, and an investigative journalist who summarized the gist of the publications for the lay public.

GMO Myths and Truths – an evidence based examination of the claims made for the safety and efficacy of genetically modified crops. A report of 120 pages, it can be downloaded for free from Earth Open Source. “GMO Myths and Truths” disputes the claims of the Biotech industry that GM crops yield better and more nutritious food, that they save on the use of pesticides, have no environmental impact whatsoever and are perfectly safe to eat. Genetic pollution is so prevalent in North and South America where GM crops are grown that the fields of conventional and organic grower are regularly contaminated with engineered pollen and losing certification. The canola and flax export market from Canada to Europe (a few hundreds of millions of dollars) were recently lost because of genetic pollution. Did I mention superweeds, when RoundUp crops pass their genes on to RoundUp Resistant weeds. Apparently over 50% of fields in the USA are now infested and the growers have to go back to use other toxic herbicides such as 2-4 D. Many areas of Ontario and Alberta are also infested. The transgenes are also transferred to soil bacteria. A chinese study published last year shows that an ampicillin resistance transgene was transferred from local engineered crops to soil bacteria, that eventually found their way into the rivers. The transgenes are also transferred to humans. Volunteers who ate engineered soybeans had undigested DNA in their intestine and their bacterial flora was expressing the soybean transgenes in the form of antibiotic resistance. This is genetic pollution to the extreme, particularly when antibiotic resistance is fast becoming a serious global health risk. I can only assume the American Medical Association will soon recognize its poorly informed judgement.

In 2009 the American Academy of Environmental Medicine called for a moratorium of GM foods, safety testing and labeling. Their review of the available literature at the time noted that animals show serious health risks associated with GM food consumption including infertility, immune dysregulation, accelerated aging, dysregulation of genes associated with cholesterol synthesis, insulin regulation, cell signaling, and protein formation, and changes in the liver, kidney, spleen and gastrointestinal system. Monsanto writes “There is no need to test the safety of GM foods”. So long as the engineered protein is safe, foods from GM crops are substantially equivalent and they cannot pose any health risks.” The US Food and Drug Administration waived all levels of safety testing in 1996 before approving the commercialization of these crops. Nothing more than voluntary research is necessary, and the FDA does not even want to see the results. And there is certainly no need to publish any of it. If you remember 1996, the year that the first crops were commercialized, the research scientists of the US FDA all predicted that transgenic crops would have unpredictable hard to detect side effects, allergens, toxins, nutritional effects, new diseases. That was published in 2004 in Biotechnology if you recall seeing it.

I know well that Canada does not perform long term feeding studies as they do in Europe. The only study I am aware of from Canada is from the Sherbrooke Hospital in 2011, when doctors found that 93% of pregnant women and 82% of the fetuses tested had the protein pesticide in their blood. This is a protein recognized in its many forms as mildly to severely allergenic. There is no information on the role played by rogue proteins created by the process of inserting transgenes in the middle of a genome. But there is a lot of long term feeding studies reporting serious health problems in mice and rats. The results of the first long term feeding studies of lab rats reported last year in Food and Chemical Toxicology show that they developed breast cancer in mid life and showed kidney and liver damage. The current statistic I read is that North Americans are eating 193 lbs of GMO food on average annually. That includes the children I assume, not that I would use that as a scare tactic. But obviously I wrote at length because I think there is cause for alarm and it is my duty to educate the public.

One argument I hear repeatedly is that nobody has been sick or died after a meal (or a trillion meals since 1996) of GM food. Nobody gets ill from smoking a pack of cigarette either. But it sure adds up, and we did not know that in the 1950s before we started our wave of epidemics of cancer. Except this time it is not about a bit of smoke, it’s the whole food system that is of concern. The corporate interest must be subordinated to the public interest, and the policy of substantial equivalence must be scrapped as it is clearly untrue.

Thierry Vrain is a former research scientist for Agriculture Canada. He now promotes awareness of the dangers of genetically modified foods.

Originally published in: Prevent Disease.

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  • http://facebook.com/profile.php?id=1532594287 Nagarajan Krishnamoo


  • http://facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000532781106 Neil Forte

    Don't tell me it's not being tested We consumers are the test animals.

    • David

      Too true, we are the lab rats, well you are, as in Britain, we are assured that as yet, we are not eating GM foods, but the problem now is, that our cattle may well be.

  • http://facebook.com/profile.php?id=1289933083 Gina Skillings

    Excellent article, we all do need to educate ourselves. Thank you Dr. Vrain for speaking up. Thierry Vrain is a former research scientist for Agriculture Canada. He now promotes awareness of the dangers of genetically modified foods.

  • http://facebook.com/profile.php?id=1233187803 Froydis H. Beckerman

    Finally, someone from a Canadian GMO research organization is speaking up about the dangers of genetically modified food. This should be the beginning of more and more informatiom coming out about the GMO dangers to humans, animals and the entire world. We have to turn around and begin do.
    ing farming the way farming should be done with no GMO at all.

  • Eddie

    For safety testing purposes we should make a law requiring the manufacturer of a product, especially the head of the company, to personally use their own products everyday to prove the safety.

    I'll bet the heads of monsanto eat organic.

    • Tony

      Yes, as a matter of fact, the cafeteria at monsanto is organic. Their poison is for us, not them. We are the ones that need culling.

      Just a thought: real plots & conspiracies are long term opperations. Maybe the seed banks and all the cross polination adds up to this…Oh gee, now we have to kill all gmo crops for 3 years in a row (plow under). After that we can start anew with the seed banks. Sorry all of you starved in the meantime, but there was "nothing we could do." Nevermind that we wanted to kill all but half a billion people ANYWAY. That was just a coincidence, like having "training exorcises" everytime there's a major homicidal event that just happens to perfectly guess what will actually happen. these f****** aren't as smart as they think they are.

  • http://facebook.com/profile.php?id=1779501435 Judy D'Elia Pot

    More and more scientists will now be stepping up and exposing the truth. I hope its not too late for our planet.

  • http://facebook.com/profile.php?id=1134212148 Raymond R. Reines

    Now hopefully those who accuse others of conspiracy theories might realize the Truth of the matter, that Monsanto and their government ties are working to reduce the populations of many countries in more ways than gmo food…The New World Order shall falterl as the Peoples of the World AWAKEN…

  • http://facebook.com/profile.php?id=1364423597 Gertrude van Voorden

    Hi. Ocean maybe you could check out dr Peter Gariaev for your kids. He claims to be able to heal DNA and there is an interesting video up on Youtube about a child with downsyndrome. Regretfully in dutch. I could not find a video in englisch, but do know he worked in Canada I believe, so must speak english. A lot of video's in russian as well.

  • Shirley West

    We have more and more children who display attention deficit disorder, Our children are the scientific testing in this country. Let's stop this before it goes any further.

    • David

      World population are the lab rats on this one.


    As a society, the majority of us can be so corporate-controlled media-manipulated and buy into so much slickly presented political or marketing propaganda that we overlook or ignore whistleblowers or conspiracy theorists as nut cases, disgruntled employees, or Chicken Little alarmists, etc., and that’s exactly what THE POWERS THAT BE promote and do smoke screens and mirrors with to shield themselves behind until we have a 2008 financial crash, or a 9/11 horror, and recently the Bangladesh 1,000+ body count building collapse, etc. THEN THEY HAVE TO FESS UP “AFTER” THE TRAGEDY!!! That’s useless to those who suffer from the incidents. We all need to stay ever-vigilant, become activists and galvanized to question corporations, governments, politicians, scientists, etc., by digging further into the facts and reasons why a "whistle is being blown" or “suspicious and/or suppressed facts are being exposed,” etc. These are big red flags of “SOMETHING’S GOING ON” and should be seriously researched as being “real” or “imagined” as our first line of defense against potential disasters since those in control obviously don’t want us to know until the loss, damage, destruction or death are done and it’s too late!!!

  • elan sun star

    Actually the issue is that no one grows their own food or consideres the essential nature of that. So the development of food control came from giving it up generationsago. if you dont grow even if it is sprouts adn it dou dont work with food hours a day then you are part of the issue ..

  • Betty Lou Kishler

    He first worked and got paid handsomely to claim that GMO foods are safe and now he is jumping on the bandwagon to give talks and papers on the harm GMO foods are causing. You can't have it both ways.

    Who does he get his pension and big money from?

    • https://www.facebook.com/pages/Canadian-Raw-Dairy-Consumer-Advocacy/247020482049699 Raoul

      Madam :

      I have the pleasure of working with Dr. Vrain in BC . I fail to comprehend your logic. You are saying that now that the gentleman is retired he is not allowed to donate his time , as he is generously doing for all of us, in service to his community ? You are saying that a human being is not allowed to have a "change of heart" or grow into a new understanding over time ? If you read the above article he says please feel free to use my words in anyway to support the cause. This is a pretty different logic ,intention and energy than Monsanto trying to patent seed , confiscate property , and sue small farmers all because some of their unwanted pollen or seed blew in the wind to an adjacent field ?


      Raoul Bedi

      Local Food Advocate

  • http://facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000453905356 Maria Hernandez

    Telling the truth about the danger or results in the after reactions should be a right for every consumer. This way they decide if they want to buy it or no. Other wise Take it out from production and Marketing it.

  • http://Www.rawsomegal.wordpress.com Mindy

    We need to grow our own food as the first option and if not then buy local from your farmers market, join a CSA and also DEMAND that your stores carry non-GMO produce and other products or you will not shop there. Make the markets provide what we want because we keep them in business. We need to be proactive in our lives and not expect the government to do what is in our best interests!

    I have great interviews, articles, product reviews and my 42 day coconut water cleanse on my site. I only support products that are of the highest purity, integrity and environmental consciousness.

    I am also available for private counseling, educating and vegan chef services anywhere in the world. Please contact me by leaving a comment on my site. Click on my name above and it will take you to my blog.

  • http://facebook.com/profile.php?id=712809149 Val Birtzu

    Im sure that the Monsanto funded scientists will not be stepping up and I hope your right that its not to late

  • http://facebook.com/profile.php?id=804501483 David Yennior

    Better that he comes forward now than never.

  • http://facebook.com/profile.php?id=1529335711 Darold K Smith

    Right, shoot the whistl-eblowing messenger!

  • http://aol April Adams

    Funny how this Genetically Modified Foods was approved so quickly AND with a Revision Added, That not only states NO LABELING!!! ( How can this even be considered???) ( You would think, anyone with at least Half their Brain Power, Would see this as Suspicious!) But also, they (Monasato) do not ever have to be regulated by USDA, FDA, meaning they can add anything they want! And let's call it what it is a TEST!! Products are tested for Safety, to insure there is nothing that could cause the consumer Harm or Death! , That's the way things used to be! Used to be! Sadly, we put our trust in the Officials Elected to protect us and our Interest, but we are now Waking Up, to what is done behind closed doors, and the Effect it has on us! And the Effects it has on this Planet…Earth. We The People, need to make sure, Special Interest Corporations are not using their Power ( Profits) to get what they want, (regardless of the harm they could cause) to ensure more Profits. We The People have to take responsibility, and speak up to the Issues that we face, the Issues that effect us, our Family, our Health, Employment, Wildlife, and our FOODS!!! Educate ourselves to the Lies and deception of those who are suppose to represent the Best Interest of the People, (instead of their own personal gain) ! We have Believed for to Long, what we are told to be the Truth! And now that we are beginning to see, we all have a responsibility to speak up, to be a Voice and make that change! Get involved on the Issues that effect us, we have been silent for long enough!!! It is time for us to get rid of the Poison in Foods we Eat, in our Drinks , in our Earth and those in Washington, who support it !

    • David

      Hello April.

      I suspect the no labeling, has been used to help fund the GM research, for if the product was avoided, and couldn't be sold, who would plant it?

  • http://facebook.com/profile.php?id=682737129 Barbara Gibbs

    yes, we are the test animals and your children are paying the price for it.

  • http://facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002422546417 Kerry Michel

    I avoid as much as possible anything that might contain GMOs and support those companies that are certified non-GMO. Plus, I am vegetarian and trying to go vegan. Monsanto and the biotech companies are so crooked as is our government, USDA, FDA, and the pharmaceutical companies. They are all in it for the money and not for our health or the health of the environment, oceans, air, etc. Very sad.

  • Shirley Kirkup

    Thank you to a brave man for your honesty. Hope many more will follow your lead. It's hard when they have families to feed and mortgages to pay for them to stand up against bullies driven by power and greed. So many have had their credibility and livelihoods threAtened if they speak the truth. Most of us realise we've been guinea pigs for a long, long time.

  • http://facebook.com/profile.php?id=702035713 Daniel Ryan

    "never know what happens when we tamper with nature"
    Everything you have eaten has been tampered with.
    Have you seen a wild banana or wild carrots?
    GM food is the future, however we need a better company than Monsanto to lead it. We need someone like Google in the GM area…

  • http://facebook.com/profile.php?id=1483750495 Steven Johnson

    "Tamper with nature" is, of course, shorthand. Traditional selective breeding does not fundamentally depart from the process underlying natural selection, the process which has governed life for millions of years. Genetic modification, on the other hand, introduces a process of change that is fundamentally new, and the consequences, not only for human health, but also for ecosystems, for systems which are larger and more complex than our ability to understand, are not known. That is a recipe for trouble. See "Open Letter from World Scientists to All Governments Concerning
    Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs)" at http://www.i-sis.org.uk/list.php.

  • http://facebook.com/profile.php?id=1483750495 Steven Johnson

    If another profit-driven company like Google were to become the new Monsanto, it would simply be the new Monsanto. It is sheer insanity for a society to permit research and applications with such potential for adverse unforeseen consequences to be conducted by the private sector, which will always seek profits regardless of the externalized costs and risks to the rest of us. I am not categorically opposed to all forms of biotech research and applications. But a world community of publicly funded and financially disinterested scientists, and a genuinely democratic process, should be in charge, informed by a robust application of the precautionary principle. We do not need GM food crops to feed the world – rather, we need land reform, localized cooperative economies, and application of the best of today's advancing agroecological methods.

  • Don Spady

    "The only study I am aware of from Canada is from the Sherbrooke Hospital in 2011, when doctors found that 93% of pregnant women and 82% of the fetuses tested had the protein pesticide in their blood."

    Can you be more specific. There is no protein called "pesticide". Pesticides are a group of chemicals, some of which are proteins. To state that the protein pesticide is in someone's blood is non-sensical. If you say pesticides are in the blood OK; or a specific pesticide-oriented protein, but as written, it means nothing.


    • David

      One example of a protein pesticide, Don, NOT A PROTEIN CALLED PESTICIDE, but a protein produced by genetic modification of the plant, causing the plant to produce within itself a new protein, that is toxic to certain pests, hence refered to as a protein pesticide, for it is a pesticide, and its action is a protein; and one example is the use of scorpion venom inserted into cabbage DNA, and also snowdrop DNA, inserted into potato DNA, which was just an experiment, as snowdrops are toxic to humans. I am not sure to what degree scorpion venom was used, it was modified to make it non-toxic to humans.
      The action of the pesticide, which was produced by the plant itself, as a result of genetic modification, was as the result of introducing other animal, and plant DNA, engineering the plants to produce a protein that is toxic to pests that feed on the plants.

  • http://facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002409763962 Barbara Latham

    Neil, it's also called eugenics.

  • http://facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002409763962 Barbara Latham

    John Thompson III you are right and right.

  • http://facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002409763962 Barbara Latham

    Maria Rance, it is mind-boggling. It is Hitler reincarnated.

  • http://facebook.com/profile.php?id=1026026932 Belinda Paysinger

    Do you have a backgroind in biochermistry, or genetics?

  • http://facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000225387494 Stephanie Phillips

    There is a difference between natural selection/selective harvesting and GMO foods. One is done naturally over decades or even centuries, the other is done by man in a few hours in a laboratory. The difference is that natural selection still retains the complete, intact natural genome of the plant. In order to genetically modify foods, you have to remove part of its natural genetic code in order to replace it with something else. Once you do that, you no longer have the same plant. I think you would be interested to know that Monsanto executives DO NOT consume their own products!

  • https://www.facebook.com/pages/Canadian-Raw-Dairy-Consumer-Advocacy/247020482049699 Raoul

    This GMO DANGERS essay, published in the BOVINE, about former GMO Scientist Dr. Thierry Vrain, in support of "March Against Monsanto" on May 25, his radio interview on May 29 , and the June 5 Community Forum on GM Food in Surrey. Lots of great and colourful video and photography care of Tony Mitra ! Please share this widely. Let's make it go viral now in Canada just as it has already in the US ! Info announcing Dr.Vrain's interest and intention to do a cross-Canada tour as well in the fall .http://thebovine.wordpress.com/2013/05/23/dr-thierry-vrain-on-gmo-dangers-march-against-monsanto-may-25th/#comment-36790

  • http://facebook.com/profile.php?id=1699399937 Gail Gardner

    I disagree. When someone has been conditioned all their lives to believe in science and work every day with others who only believe the same things they are unlikely to know. They are busy working and believing, and do not take the time to look outside what it carefully delivered to them.

    Most often they start to doubt years after they've been true believers in what they've been doing. Then they start noticing studies that are buried, not published in mainstream resources, or carefully written to not draw attention to the growing evidence.

    Wise people change their beliefs as more evidence is presented. We should never tar and feather them for having the courage to speak out and suffer condemnation both from their former colleagues and the people who already believed the dangers were real. It is not the easy path they're taking. The easy path would be to know, but keep your mouth shut.

  • http://facebook.com/profile.php?id=1699399937 Gail Gardner

    Daniel Ryan It would not make things any better if Google took over what Monsanto does. Same types of corporations. Google IS involved in EVERYTHING. See the video at the top of http://growmap.com/google-fairy/ and all the links to what Google is REALLY like. [Hint: the really ARE evil.]

  • http://facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000423825071 Bunny Snow

    We are the test animals, but FDA and the biotech scientists do not keep track of the health damage we experience. They use sham studies if studies are done at all. Still they poison us with toxins which they claim is food, and the USDA is now considering putting list 3 proprietary ingredients in ORGANIC AGRICULTURE. Go to Cornucopia Institute web site for more!

  • Liz

    This is insanely important! Let's just hope his peers and former peers are smart enough and brave enough to join him.

  • Doug Kauffman

    This is something Global Edmonton should dig into and put it on the news to make more people aware of GMO's I hope Global Edmonton can pick up on this. I will be watching.

  • http://facebook.com/profile.php?id=574408298 Douglas Scott

    Steven greatt post Can I use your words ? I am being attacked from people who dont even want labeling .

  • http://facebook.com/profile.php?id=574408298 Douglas Scott

    Some people dont even want labeling let alone end GMOs I dont understand why they would be against labeling, Its not going to add cost to foods is it?

  • http://facebook.com/profile.php?id=574408298 Douglas Scott

    Neil and John Thats exactly What David Suzulki says and he has a Phd in Biogy and he is a geneticist Yet I still get attacked by people when I say Monsanto is conducting a massive long experiment on humans, we are guinea pigs

  • raoul

    A report about recent developments in anti-GMO activism in Canada. It includes a link to Dr.Thierry Vrain's, former GM Scientist, TEDx talk on "The Future of Agriculture". It is followed a summary of his recent town hall lecture to 200 people at the "Community Forum on GM Good" in BC, Canada . http://thebovine.wordpress.com/2013/06/11/the-gen

  • http://facebook.com/profile.php?id=547380406 Toni Priore

    To late for our planet? What about the people on our planet? Look at how many people now can not eat gluten. Why is that? Well maybe because wheat is no longer the same wheat that for hundreds of years fed all the peoples of the world. Do you honestly believe it is just a fluke that now so many people have more problems with food then every before? I don’t! And how about these GMO crops now polluting organic crops destroying the organic farmers livelihood… Beware what you put into your mouth!!!

  • http://facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000423825071 Bunny Snow

    We are the test animals, but FDA and the biotech scientists do not keep track of the health damage we experience. They use sham studies if studies are done at all. Still they poison us with toxins which they claim is food, and the USDA is now considering putting list 3 proprietary ingredients in ORGANIC AGRICULTURE. Go to Cornucopia Institute web site for more!

  • Ray Cole

    You say that there are many studies that have been done which support the position that GMO's are dangerous, but I didn't see any of them referenced in your writing. Did I just miss it or what? It would helpful and lend credence to your claims, if you included such references, otherwise they appear to be nothing more than unsubstantiated remarks.

  • http://facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002579024772 Diane Poland

    Well expressed explanation about why we need to be concerned about our food supply

  • http://facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002409763962 Barbara Latham

    Neil, it’s also called eugenics.

  • http://facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002409763962 Barbara Latham

    Neil, it’s also called eugenics.

  • Barbara Salkin

    I have never believed in GMO (genetically modified foods)..There can be ingredients
    in them that can be harmful to people. Also, big corporations in this country can make
    more money on GMO.s due to American Greed.