March 9, 2015
309 The Tryptophan Story [9 March 2015]
I’ve been rereading a 2003 book by Jeffrey M. Smith: “Seeds of Deception – Exposing Industry and Government Lies about the Safety of the Genetically Engineered Foods You’re Eating”. Smith devotes Chapter 4 to the story of tryptophan (read it here).
It is well known by genetic scientists, though rarely if ever acknowledged by the industry, that a common hazard of genetic engineering is the creation of new toxins or increased levels of known toxins. The tryptophan story is a good example of this phenomena.
The story begins in 1989 with an epidemic in the United States of a never before seen syndrome which included severe muscle pain, swelling, and a marked increase of a white blood cell called eosinophils. The CDC named it Eosinophelia-Myalgia Syndrome (EMS). The cases of EMS were linked to a tryptophan supplement manufactured by a Japanese pharmaceutical company, Showa Denko. Tryptophan is commonly extracted from fermented bacteria cultures. In December 1988 Showa Denko had started using a new genetically altered bacterium strain which greatly increased the production of tryptophan. No tryptophan by any other manufacturer was linked to EMS. Showa Denko eventually destroyed this bacteria strain and paid over $2 billion to more than 2,000 victims of EMS.
Michael Osterholm, one of the authors of an EMS study published in the New England J. Med., pointed out the obvious connection between the new strain of bacterium and EMS in an August 1990 Newsday article. The FDA immediately jumped to the defense of genetic engineering, blasting Osterholm for “propagating hysteria”. Instead of investigating the possibility of contamination by Showa Denko’s new bacterium, the FDA used the situation to attack the supplement industry, calling it “health fraud schemes”. The FDA successfully called for a ban of all tryptophan supplements except by subscription. Health Canada followed suit making tryptophan available in Canada by subscription only. This ban was not lifted until 2001 in the USA and 2011 in Canada. I wonder: if a contaminated batch of Aspirin killed 40 people, would all ASA products be banned for 10 or 20 years?
For more information on this or other natural health topics, stop in and talk to Stan; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.