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GM foods are poison, say biologists

MagazineJuly 2011 (Vol. 22 Issue 4)GM foods are poison, say biologists

GMOs (genetically modified organisms)-which may soon be available in meat throughout Europe follow-ing 'back-door' pressure from the US-could cause kidney and liver poisoning, leading biologists have revealed

GMOs (genetically modified organisms)-which may soon be available in meat throughout Europe follow-ing 'back-door' pressure from the US-could cause kidney and liver poisoning, leading biologists have revealed.
Also, Canadian researchers have discovered pesticides from GM foods in the blood and fetuses of 69 women-which GM advocates have claimed is impossible.
GM crops and animal feeds have never had to pass any safety trials because America's Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has main-tained from the outset that GM crops are "substantially equiva-lent" to non-GM crops, a view that has also been accepted by EU regulators, such as the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).
Any pesticides would break down during food-processing, while those in animal feeds would be destroyed in the gut, they maintain.
But new data reveal that GM foods could be harmful to our health, and may even affect the unborn child. Biologists from institutions in Paris, Rouen and Caen in France, working with Greenpeace, obtained a court order to force Monsanto-the US agricultural products group-to hand over the findings from several animal studies that had concluded that its GM crops were safe.
Because of lax safety controls, trials are not compulsory, they are not independently reviewed and they do not have to be published.
On analyzing the data, the biologists discovered "statistically significant" evidence that the crops were far from safe, but could cause liver and kidney poisoning,
a threat considered irrelevant by Monsanto and food regulators.
The biologists, led by Gilles-Eric Seralini, found pesticide residues in GM crops and feeds that were 1000 times above safe levels. In humans, the pesticide-from Monsanto's Roundup range-can affect the endocrine system, which regulates normal physical functioning.
Data on one GM maize, known as MON 863, suggested serious health implications, all of which the Monsanto researchers had disregarded. The data revealed that the maize caused chronic damage to the laboratory rats' kidneys. Monsanto maintained that the condition was common in old Sprague-Dawley rats, the type used in the tests-except that the French team discovered that the rats were only five months old.

Bad science

Despite these concerns, the European Commission considered the crop safe, based on the recommendation of the EFSA, and the maize has been available to European farmers since 2007.
Overall, the French team concluded that the Monsanto research uses bad science, often to obscure the findings. The tests, for example, often involve just 10 rats and 300 'controls'-rats not fed GM food-whereas the usual practice is to have equal numbers of cases and controls for compari-sons. Also, the longest study undertaken by Monsanto was just 90 days, after which the product was released onto the world (Int J Biol Sci, 2010; 6: 590-8).
Although not one industry-sponsored study has ever found health risks with any GM product, the few independent tests have come up with results as worrying as those uncovered by the French biologists. In one, researchers discovered that Monsanto's GM maize, MON 810, caused intestinal and peripheral immune damage in mice (J Agric Food Chem, 2008; 56: 11533-9).
A new study has discovered that GM pesticides are already in our bodies and could pass into the fetus, affecting the unborn child. Canadian researchers recently found pesticide residues from GM foods in the blood and fetuses of 30 pregnant women-and in 39 women who were not pregnant-in Quebec. The researchers fear that the discovery opens up a whole new area of reproductive toxicity (Reprod Toxicol, 2011; 31: 528-33).
These research findings are being published at a bad time for the GM industry, which also includes European conglomerates such as Nestl'e and Unilever. The US and Spanish governments have been working behind the scenes in a joint initiative to get the EU's official 'zero tolerance' of GM crops and foods overturned.
According to the Wikileaks website, the first stage of the strategy is to have animal feeds containing GM crops approved. If successful, we could be consuming GMOs from the meat we eat-and the Canadian study has demon-strated that the pesticides persist in the human food chain. However, the EU is refusing to confirm or deny that this is about to happen. In an astonishing statement that disregards public concerns about GM foods, John Dalli, the EU Commissioner for Health and Consumer Policy, has stated that the information is "sensitive, and cannot be accessible to the wider public".
This attitude smacks of the early days of GM foods. As the Soil Association's Peter Melchett says: "GM was introduced into food in North America and the EU without any public debate-effectively by stealth" (Mother Earth, 2010; Autumn). By the time the anti-GM campaign gained momentum towards the end of the 1990s, around 60 per cent of processed foods contained GM soya and derivatives. The campaign was focused on supermarkets-and especially Sainsbury's, which was openly supporting the GM industry-but it was Iceland, a relatively small player, that was the first to break rank and remove all its GM products from the marketplace. It coined the phrase 'Frankenstein foods' and the label stuck. Eventually, all UK supermarkets stopped selling GM foods.
Clandestine support of GM products within the EU bureau-cracy is unlikely to be echoed in the UK. The two current govern-ment scientists are far more sceptical about GM than were their predecessors, and Prime Minister David Cameron is the least GM-friendly UK leader in a long time. Former PM Tony Blair and his US counterpart, George
W. Bush, were both avid GM supporters, and Blair believed that the UK's future scientific growth would be based on GM technology.
As reported in WDDTY last month, one American expert believes that the introduction of GM feeds could affect livestock in the same way it has affected cattle on American farms.
Don Huber, formerly of Purdue University in Indiana, has collated reports from farmers in the US who say that the GM feeds have caused a 15-per-cent rise in infertility rates among their livestock, and a 35-per-cent increase in spontaneous abortion.

Bryan Hubbard

WDDTY VOL. 22 NO. 4


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