The following is
a letter by Dr. Childers to the Fruit Growers News which
addresses the Foundation's concern with the Bt toxin in food plants. It was published in the
Fruit Growers News Vol. 11 November 2000. (a publication for
commercial fruit growers and others related to the fruit industry covering
timely issues affecting growers across the nation, along with featuring
top-notch operations and hosting columns from numerous Extension and university
To the editor:
I have read your opinion columns and there seems to be a strong favor for all
genetically modified food among media editors.
I've had a lot of experience with fruit growers and what they do over some 70
years. I would say one thing the non-ag gene scientists have done is a
stupid mistake - the Bt (bacillus thuringiensis) gene shift to staple foods.
Farmers should know what goes on in the scientific world before they could take
big losses. This whole problem is essentially due to the gradual demise of
the trustworthy information from the land grant college system in state
You may know of my work on the side trying to help arthritics by avoiding the
Solanaceae (nightshade family of plants). Since the 1950's, when I
discovered the relationship at Rutgers with my own problem, I have had up to
5,000 on my mailing list and now have about 3,800.
Over the past few years we have been having problems with something mysteriously
in our food not related to nightshades, since most cooperators have eliminated
them from their diets. I had trouble with a swollen right hand in the
summer of 1999: hot, hurt, fingers cracked when moved up and down,
etc. Nothing seemed to get rid of it until I learned of the Bt toxin in
corn and soybeans (I was behind on my reading).
I was eating a lot of sweet corn and seemed to have gotten the Bt toxin there
since when I ceased corn and soy products as best I could, the problem decreased
but never went away since I'm getting thinner trying to avoid these foods almost
across the board.
Later, I woke up one morning and could hardly get out of bed from paralysis of
the lower body. I was three days on a cane until I could wash it out of my
system with a lot of water. I went through all the checkups later and
apparently it was not a stroke. I traced my food and found they had dipped
mixed nuts in cottonseed oil and I liked them, eating several handfuls the
evening before, with no evening meal. That stuff was powerful. The
toxins seem to be fat soluble and oils retain them very well.
Then reports began coming in from my Diet cooperators. The media does not
report any people's symptoms, it seems. We as arthritics may be more
susceptible to something like this - cholinesterase inhibitors - which is
probably how the toxin kills insects along with disrupting their guts (USDA
report). We talk about this only among ourselves and try as best we can to
avoid the GM foods. Horticultural leaders should know of our experiences
since arthritics make up more than 10% of the population, although nearly all
older people get it if they live over 60 or 70 years.
I wish the scientists, who in this case apparently know little about
agricultural procedures, would run some animal feeding tests before they try the
foods on us as guinea pigs. Of course, here again are the big corporations
taking over the production and safety of our food to make BIG money. and the
gradual demise of our world famous land-grant college performance in food
We need to talk more about the land grant college system and try to get back the
public to operate them. If farmers know what happened, they may fight to
get it back for their own benefit as well as ours. But I do believe we
need first also to educate our own faculty and particularly the ag deans and
University of Florida