Back in the late eighties, I often used the food supplement known as L-tryptophan as an aid for sleeping. In as much as it was an essential amino acid found naturally occurring in meats, beans, brewer's yeast, and peanut butter I felt very safe in using it. In fact, I used it safely for over three years.
One day, I heard on television that the FDA had issued a nation-wide recall of all L-tryptophan packages. The reports stated that it was due to the discovery of a contaminated shipment from a producer in Canada that had reportedly caused dozens of deaths and thousands of adverse reactions from simple illness to heart problems, extreme light sensitivity, memory and cognitive deficits, to complete paralysis. The FDA ordered all remaining packages to be destroyed and the product was banned from being shipped into the nation.
Now, if it was true that it was a simple case of a contaminated shipment from an unnamed but apparently known Canadian source, one would expect that the ban would be lifted eventually and L-tryptophan would again be found on the shelves of health food stores and on the supplement's shelves in grocery stores. Well, one would be wrong in assuming that and the basis for that error would not be that the FDA still has concerns about any "contamination".
What would be the truth is that there was no Canadian manufacturer of the supplement. The only involvement that can be traced to Canada is the fact that the supplement was imported from Japan to a supplier in Canada which then shipped the product throughout North America.
What would also prove to be far closer to the truth is that there was no "contaminated" L-tryptophan, per se. Instead, the truth is far more frightening and disgusting when looked at as a warning to the nation today.
The single particular brand of L-tryptophan that caused all of the pain, suffering and death was manufactured by a Japanese company, Showa Denko, which is Japans third largest chemical company. Showa Denko had for years manufactured L-tryptophan without any problems.
The "contamination" arose when Showa Denko changed the manufacturing process that had for so long produced a safe and healthy product. In the past, L-tryptophan was produced using a fermentation process which involves a system similar to yogurt in which bacteria is grown in a nutrient solution. To create even greater amounts of the product at a faster rate, Showa Denko attempted to introduce genetically altered bacteria into the process that was thought would increase the fermentation.
Instead, these genetically altered bacteria produced an unexpected side effect of also producing a "novel amino acid" that was not present in traditionally produced L-tryptophan. Since the contamination was so similar to the true amino acid, normal testing procedures could not detect the altered acids.
The result of these toxic, altered amino acids was felt by over 5,000 Americans, of whom 1500 were permanently disabled and 37 died. The manner of their illnesses and deaths was due directly to the fact that these "novel amino acids" over stimulated the body's immune systems causing it to attack nerves and other body tissues. These attacks often resulted in what is termed "ascending paralysis", a horrible condition in which the body's nerves lose control beginning with the feet, then the legs, then bowels and lungs, the last condition requiring that the patient be confined to a respirator for the remained of their lives.
The name assigned to this terrible condition became EMS or eosinophilia-myalgia syndrome. The cause was the simple fact that, while Showa Denko believed that altering the genetic structure of the bacteria that produced the L-tryptophan would prove to be safe, there was no long term animal or human volunteer type testing performed nor were there any questions as to the effectiveness of the usual testing methods for purity.
Now, remember a few lessons from this instance that should have offered strong evidence that genetically altering products and then slipping them silently into the market is a very, very, very bad idea. First, the FDA lied to the public about the true cause of the problem and even lied about the source of the product. The product was not "contaminated" in the usual definition of that word nor was the country of origin Canada.
Second, the FDA was able to shield the company from a wide spread awareness as to their mistakes through the simple act of banning all importation and manufacturing of L-tryptophan in the United States. This allowed the public to erroneously gain the impression that the process to manufacture the product was flawed and was therefore impossible to guarantee the purity through testing.
Third, by banning all L-tryptophan within the United States, the FDA was able to conceal the fact that the fault of the disease and deaths was directly related to an untested use of genetically altered material that was introduced into the markets of the nation without even the most rudimentary testing for safety.
Finally, even though the victims sued the company for an estimated $2 billion in damages and even though Showa Denko quietly settled every single suit out of court, the FDA is still maintaining that there was absolutely no proof that the process of adding untested genetically altered bacteria to the process was to blame for EMS.
Gentle readers, very few Americans are aware that nearly 60% of the food products on your supermarket's shelves contain some level of genetically altered material. The fact that the food and chemical industries have completely succeeded in blocking their property in Congress from passing any legislation that would require GMO (genetically modified organism) labeling pretty much exposes just who owns this nation. The fact that these industries have gained the power to test their products directly on the unsuspecting and uninformed public shows you just how dangerous the "private sector" is and just how thoroughly we need a truly powerful government that cannot be forced to act in the best interests of Corporate America while allowing untold thousands or even millions of Americans to become ill or even die at the hands of truly evil and heartless suits in the suites of Corporate America.
How can you and I make any difference in this attack on our health and on the lives of our children? The very first and most important action you can take is to write to the corporate offices of whatever supermarkets and fast food outlets that you usually visit that, unless they publicly announce that they will insure that all of the products that they sell are completely free of Genetically Modified Organisms and that they will continue this practice into the future and will make a public announcement of any changes to that policy. Will it make a difference? It seems to have forced a number of fast food outlets to announce that they would refuse to purchase any potatoes that were genetically altered. That was a huge concession since you can be certain that a lot of money was at stake and undoubtedly changed hands in hopes of keeping the fast food industry in line by the chemical and agricultural lobbyists. If the public can be educated about the dangers that they find everyday on their dinner tables, perhaps we can make a small change in the decline of our civilization.
By the by, the information for this article was found in an amazing book written by Sheldon Rampton and John Stauber. "Trust Us, We're Experts - How Industry Manipulates Science and Gambles With Your Future" is a truly eye opening book that details the history of Corporate America's constant efforts to lie and hide the truth from the public about the mortal dangers that they place the American public in every single day. This book exposes Corporate America's vile habit of paying to create phony "grassroots" groups that are, in reality, made up entirely of employees and sycophants from the industries they pretend to monitor. They explain how Corporate America funds "studies" who's findings are predetermined by the funding industries. They also explain how easily Corporate America's property in government use these false results and outright lies to create legislation that favors Corporate America's interests at the expense, sometimes with their very lives, of the America people.
I don't care how you or where you buy this important book. It is, however, of great import to every American who demands that they remain educated about their lives and the food they eat to read and think about just what these authors have discovered. The publisher and such can be found here.
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