Robert Cohen Rips Monsanto
Over RbGH On C-Span
From Betty Martini <Mission-Possible-USA@altavista.net>
Subject: Robert Cohen's FDA Testimony on RBGH! Stand up and cheer!
Robert Cohen appeared on an FDA panel in Washington on Tuesday,
November 30, 1999 some of you may have seen his speech on C-Span Mr.
Cohen spoke last, and each of the other panel members read prepared
statements. Members of the panel also included Mildred Cody, who
represented the American Dietetic Association; Mario Teisl, a professor of
economics at the University of Maine; John Gray, president of the
International Food Service Distributors Association; Kendal Keith,
president of the National Grain & Feed Association; and Richard Caplan,
an environmental advocate with the US Public Interest Research Group.
***** Testimony 11-30-99 *****
Hi everybody, I've got to apologize first - I don't have a prepared statement
like the other panel members. All I'm going to give here is some facts.
I have a copy of the Federal Register. It says here advertising this meeting:
"FDA is not aware of information that will distinguish genetically
engineered food as a class from other foods."
[ROBERT COHEN TURNS AND ADDRESSES FDA PANEL
MEMBERS.] I'm going to give you some information today, guys.
The greatest controversy in FDA history was the approval process for
Monsanto's genetically engineered bovine growth hormone. We shouldn't
be here today! We should not be in this room and I shouldn't be here
because, in 1994, Congress HAD A BILL that was going to require
mandatory labeling of all foods that were influenced by genetic engineering.
I got my Congresswoman to co-sponsor that bill - 181 congresspeople
co-sponsored that bill, and you know what? I learned how Congress works
that year because in 6 months they stalled the bill - 12 members of the
Dairy Livestock & Poultry Committee - they stalled the bill until the 1994
session of Congress expired and the bill died.
I was so upset, I investigated these 12 men and found that collectively they
took $711,000 in PAC money from companies with dairy interests, and
four of the members of the committee took money directly from
Now we've got a lot of political intrigue and some real science here. We've
got science fiction, we've got a combination of John Grisham and we've
got a combination of Stephen King.
Nikita Khrushchev said that what the scientists have in their briefcase is
terrifying - [ROBERT COHEN THEN OPENED HIS BRIEFCASE AND
PULLED OUT A STACK OF PAPERS] and I've got some interesting
things in my briefcase to share with you today.
When Monsanto made their genetically engineered bovine growth
hormone, they noticed a couple of problems right towards the end - right
before approval. They noticed that laboratory animals were getting cancer,
and they noticed that cows were getting mastitis, ulcers in their udders.
They were putting more pus and bacteria into the milk. So Monsanto
We've heard from Dr. Maryanski this morning, and Dr. Maryanski talked
about the Pure Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act but what he didn't tell you
was that in 1958, Robert Delaney, a congressman from New York, added
the Delaney Amendment which was named after him. The Delaney
Amendment stated that if a food additive caused cancer, it was not to be
approved - a pretty good law - right?
Monsanto got their attorney, Michael Taylor from the firm of King &
Spalding By the way, when they started in 1979, they groomed their
attorney who is now in the Supreme Court, Clarence Thomas, from the
same law firm.
Anyway, Monsanto's attorney, Michael Taylor, wrote and minimized the
Delaney Amendment- he wrote a scientific paper that was published in the
"Journal of Toxicology". Lawyers -they write in law review journals, but
this lawyer wrote in the "Journal of Toxicology": "a De-Minumus
interpretation of the Delaney Amendment" became the new protocol, the
new standard operating procedure at FDA. They minimized cancer.
Michael Taylor was hired by the Food & Drug Administration, and became
the second most powerful man there, Monsanto's attorney - he wrote the
standard operating procedure. In other words, if you see cancer, ignore it.
Margaret Miller and Suzanne Sechen, Monsanto's scientists, were hired by
the FDA to review Monsanto's own research.
Margaret Miller knew cows were getting mastitis. The first week at the
FDA, December 3, 1989, she was given broad power, and here's an affect
of genetic engineering nobody has considered. She knew cows were
getting sick from the genetically engineered hormone. She changed the
amount of antibiotics that farmers could have in their milk. She changed it
from 1 part per 100 million to 1 part per million - this is a fact! She
increased it by 100 times.
There is a hero of mine in the audience, Michael Hansen from Consumer's
Union - Consumer's Union tested milk in the New York metropolitan area
and found the presence of 52 different antibiotics in milk samples.
FDA published on August 24, 1990, the first time ever in a peer-reviewed
journal, in "Science". "Science" was started by Thomas Edison in the
1880's. They published a review of bovine somatotropin -bGH -the
genetically engineered cow hormone. And in that review, there were seven
tables of data. Five of those tables came from one study authored by
Richard, Odaglia and Deslex. This is the famous "90-Day Study." Guess
what? This was actually a study lasting for 180 days and when I first heard
about this in 1994, I filed a Freedom of Information Act Request for that
study - because I saw from the data that the average spleen of a lab animal
I called FDA and spoke with Dick Teske. I said, "46%? You said there
were no biological effects!"
He said, "That's not statistically significant."
I said, "Well, let me see the raw data."
He said, "It's a trade secret."
I called Monsanto, they laughed at me. They said, "It's a trade secret and
you will never see it."
I'm smart, I filed a Freedom of Information Act Request, but I didn't realize
you can't find out the study. I went to Federal Court, I said, "Your honor -
spleen increase of 46%, that's leukemia in 90 days!"
I met with FDA on April 21, 1995, and found out that this was actually a
In Canada, they had this study. I have a letter here [ROBERT COHEN
REACHES INTO HIS BRIEFCASE], an internal memorandum:
"This is to advise you that the copies of reports, letters, etc. for drug
submissions have been stolen from my files."
This was stolen from a scientist's file in Canada. They stole the second half
of the "90-Day Study."
We've got real science here. I'm going to talk briefly about the real science
because when Monsanto made this hormone, they had to tell the FDA -
they had to draw a chart of every amino acid - the 191 amino acids. And
when FDA wrote their paper in "Science" magazine they wrote that one
amino acid changed - it was a different hormone than the naturally
At the same time, somebody hired C. Everett Koop to come and say that
genetically engineered milk and the good old wholesome milk is
indistinguishable. Well, it wasn't. Something happened to the hormone that
Monsanto made. The FDA said that there was one change in the endamino
acid. It became epsilon-N-acetyllysine. FDA had written if there was a
change in the middle of the protein, there could be disastrous results. They
cited Jerome Moore. I got Jerome Moore's paper. It said if there is a
protein change in the middle, there could be Alzheimer's or sickle cell
anemia or diabetes.
Four months after the hormone was approved, one of Monsanto's
scientists, Bernard Violand, published in the July 3, 1994 issue of the
journal "Protein Science" evidence that Monsanto made a mistake.
Oops! Monsanto created a freak amino acid. Did you ever see that movie
"The Fly" with Jeff Goldblum when the fly comes in and he becomes
half-human and half-fly? Monsanto created a freak amino acid. Monsanto
admitted it but didn't tell the FDA. [ROBERT COHEN TURNS AND
POINTS TO THE FDA PANEL MEMBERS].
Gentlemen, the hormone that's on the market today is different than the
one you tested for seven years. Monsanto spent 500 million dollars,
submitted 55,000 pages of information to you, learned late in the process
that they created a freak amino acid - that's what was tested on laboratory
animals and it didn't matter because FDA said to Monsanto, you know
something? It's safe because when you pasteurize milk, you destroy the
They performed this research up in Guelph, Ontario by Paul Groenewegan,
and I've got his study. [ROBERT COHEN AGAIN ADDRESSES FDA
PANEL MEMBERS] To this day, FDA thinks -it's on your web page -
that 90% of the bovine growth hormone is destroyed by pasteurization.
But what Paul Groenewegan did working with Ted Elasser and Brian
McBride, two Monsanto scientists, was he pasteurized milk for 30 minutes
at 162ºF, and when I read that - I said, wait a second, milk is pasteurized
for 15 seconds at that temperature - not 30 minutes. They intentionally
tried to destroy the hormone, they only destroyed 19% of it - somebody
lied. And at that moment, FDA said to Monsanto:
"Because you destroy it by pasteurization, you don't have to do further
toxicology studies. You don't have to develop a test for this hormone in
milk. It's now safe to drink."
They (FDA) developed a zero day withdrawal - they determined it was safe
We have a lot of political intrigue here. We have an interesting situation
where people have said that a revolving door policy exists at FDA. I mean,
where is the ex-FDA commissioner, guess who he is working for? He is
working for Monsanto. Bob Dole ran for President, his Chief of Staff was
Donald Rumsfeld (ex-president of Searle, owned by Monsanto). I have one
[AT THIS POINT, THE MODERATOR INTERRUPTS MR. COHEN
AND TELLS HIM TO WRAP IT UP AND TO ADDRESS LABELING]
I know, but we have a labeling issue here - we have a right to know - I
have listened to comments about "multi-faceted educational effort that we
need" - that's called brainwashing! I don't want a "multi-faceted educational
effort" - I want a double helical structure (AUDIENCE APPLAUDS) on a
piece of food that I'm going to buy in the supermarket because I have a
right to know.
Because the bottom line is - mistakes were made and when I hear from the
American Dietetic Association, [ROBERT COHEN ADDRESSES A
MEMBER OF THE AMERICAN DIETETIC ASSOCIATION WHO
PREVIOUSLY SPOKE AGAINST LABELING], I want to remind you
that Monsanto gave you $100,000 to set up a toll-free hotline about the
bovine growth hormone.
Mistakes were made! We've got political intrigue here and the bottom line
is we have a right to know what we are eating. Thank you. (APPLAUSE)
***** End testimony 11-30-99*****
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