Add this Page to Facebook!   Submit to Twitter   Submit to Reddit   Submit to Stumble Upon   Pin It!   Fark It!   Tell A Friend  
Printer Friendly Page Save As Favorite Save As Favorite View Article Stats
1 comment

General News

Unsafe to Eat: A New Report Highlights the Dangers of Genetically Modified Foods

By (about the author)     Permalink       (Page 1 of 2 pages)
Related Topic(s): ; ; ; , Add Tags Add to My Group(s)

View Ratings | Rate It

Headlined to None 7/5/12

opednews.com


flickr image  by  agrilifetoday

"Aren't critics of genetically engineered food anti-science? Isn't the debate over GMOs (genetically modified organisms) a spat between emotional but ignorant activists on one hand and rational GM-supporting scientists on the other?"

These questions are posed by Earth Open Source, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to assuring the sustainability, security, and safety of the global food system. They answer their own questions in a new study "GMO Myths and Truths." The myth, they say, is that GM foods have been proven safe. The truth is that there are hidden dangers which corporate-funded research has not yet adequately investigated.

What makes this report unusual is that it was authored not by the usual food activists and environmentalists, but by two well known genetic engineers with help from an investigative reporter. The team conducted an exhaustive survey of hundreds of peer-reviewed scientific studies and concluded not only that GM food crops pose significant, if largely under-evaluated, health risks, but that they have so far failed to deliver on their promise to increase crop yields and lower herbicide and pesticide use.

The authors argue, moreover, that there are already safer environmentally friendly ways to grow more food for the planet's exploding population. By focusing on the false panacea of genetic modification as a way to feed the world's hungry, vital research dollars have been siphoned away from more promising lower-tech approaches to increasing the efficiency of the global food system.

The report's authors include Dr Michael Antoniou of King's College London School of Medicine in the UK, who helped to develop genetic engineering for medical applications, and John Fagan, a biomedical researcher and expert in food system sustainability and GMO testing, who returned $614,000 in grant money to the National Institutes of Health in 1994 because of his concerns about the safety and ethics of genetic modification.

The paper, produced together with Claire Robinson, research director of Earth Open Source, comes out at a critical moment as California voters are considering a referendum which will appear on their ballot in November calling for the labeling of genetically modified foods in the state. Such labeling is already mandatory in Europe, China, India and many other nations.

Seventy percent of the foods that Americans purchase in the supermarket contain ingredients (mostly corn, soy and canola oil) that are genetically modified. The food industry, and often the media, assure us that there is a scientific consensus that GM foods are equivalent nutritionally to foods that have not been modified and not a danger to those who consume them. But it is just not true that all scientists agree. Given the uncertainties in the field and the lack of long-term health studies, some groups like the American Academy of Environmental Medicine and the Union of Concerned Scientists have called for labeling of GM foods.

If Californians agree, it could have a big impact on the rest of us. Some believe that if the labeling referendum there passes, other states may follow suit. Furthermore, as I reported in the Guardian last month, if food companies are made to label GM foods in California, the nation's most populous state, they may well do so all over the country, rather than maintain a costly two-tier packaging and distribution system.

The food and biotech industries are expected to fight the labeling initiative with a multi-million dollar statewide PR blitz, like the one which helped to defeat a similar measure in Oregon in 2002. But nearly 90% of Americans-- Republicans and Democrats equally according to a recent survey-- want to see GMOs labeled. This latest report on the dangers of genetically engineered foods will give the referendum's advocates valuable ammunition in the upcoming California debate.

Here are some of the conclusions of the report:

*Genetically modifying crops, which involves the transfer of genes between biologically unrelated species, is not an extension of traditional plant hybridization, but a radical departure which can produce new toxins or allergens in food that are unlikely to be spotted in current regulatory checks.

*GM foods have not been adequately safety tested. There has been no long term research, and the few short term studies have been inadequate. In many cases proprietary restrictions put in place by biotech companies like Monsanto have prevented independent research by scientists not connected to the corporations which are making claims about their safety.

*Animal studies of the effects of GM foods have disclosed clear signs of toxicity- notably disturbances in liver and kidney function and immune responses.

*Over 75% of genetical modification are to to increase crop tolerance of herbicides. Where these crops are grown there has been a massive increases in herbicide use.

*Over half of GM crops are engineered to withstand application of Monsanto's best selling Roundup. Contrary to the company's claims Roundup is not safe at the levels it is being use, but has been found to be associated with miscarriage, birth defects, neurological development problems, DNA damage, and certain types of cancer. A public health crisis has occurred in GM soy-producing regions of South America, where people exposed to spraying with Roundup and other agrochemicals report escalating rates of birth defects and cancer.

*There is insufficient evidence that the BT toxin engineered into the plant structure of corn and cotton (whose seeds are used in food oil production) is safe for human consumption. Bt crops have been found to have toxic effects on laboratory animals in feeding trials. These toxins have also been found circulating in the blood of pregnant women in Canada and in the blood supply to their foetuses.

*GM crops have not been shown to offer higher crop yields, enhanced nutritional value or greater drought tolerance, as they have been hyped to do. The products of conventional breeding continue to outstrip GM in all of these arenas.

*Conventionally bred, locally adapted crops, used in combination with environmentally sustainable farming practices, offer a safer, cheaper and more efficient way to ensure global food security than genetic modification.

Next Page  1  |  2

 

Richard Schiffman is the author of two spiritual biographies and is a poet based in New York City, as well as a freelance journalist. His passions are his love of nature, studying the world's great mystical traditions and activist writing and (more...)
 
Add this Page to Facebook!   Submit to Twitter   Submit to Reddit   Submit to Stumble Upon   Pin It!   Fark It!   Tell A Friend
The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.

Writers Guidelines

Contact Author Contact Editor View Authors' Articles

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

Dow and Monsanto Join Forces to Poison America's Heartland

Do the Wealthy Lie, Cheat and Steal More Than the Rest of Us?

Guess What Drugs and Illegal Substances Are Showing Up in Chicken?

What the Insurance Industry Already Knows About Climate Change

The Truth About Thanksgiving: What They Never Taught You in School

How BP's historic Deepwater Horizon fine will be paid by the US military

Comments

The time limit for entering new comments on this article has expired.

This limit can be removed. Our paid membership program is designed to give you many benefits, such as removing this time limit. To learn more, please click here.

Comments: Expand   Shrink   Hide  
1 people are discussing this page, with 1 comments
To view all comments:
Expand Comments
(Or you can set your preferences to show all comments, always)

Anyone interested in joining the labeling campaign... by Richard Schiffman on Thursday, Jul 5, 2012 at 10:39:07 AM