Here is a picture I’ve made about real food and the benefits of eating a nutrient-rich diet that I shared on my facebook page. If you like it please share it with friends and family and on facebook, twitter, pinterest and anywhere else you may like to share it! She is also a passionate writer, recipe-creator and all-round foodie from Melbourne, Australia. No article questioning the safety of genetically modified (GM) foods is complete without a rebuttal consisting of reassuring comments to the effect that every credible scientific and government organisation has said that GM foods are safe. Take for example a recent article in the UK’s Guardian newspaper announcing the launch of a large long-term animal feeding study with a GM maize that’s been in the food supply for years.
Unfortunately, however, the claim that these bodies have declared “GMO crops to be safe” is both fraudulent and misleading.
Let’s look more closely at the positions of the organisations that reportedly say GMOs are safe. In 2012 the board of the AAAS, headed by GMO promoter Nina Fedoroff, issued a statement claiming GM was “safe” and opposing the labeling of GM foods, which it said “can only serve to mislead and falsely alarm consumers”. However, the board’s statement was promptly condemned by 21 scientists, including many members of the AAAS, as “an Orwellian argument that violates the right of consumers to make informed decisions”. The AMA’s Council on Science and Public Health has issued a statement opposing GMO labeling. Many opponents of GMOs are also skeptical about the safety of mutation breeding, and in fact, the scientific jury is still out on the relative safety of these two methods. But those who claim the WHO says GMOs are safe omit its preceding text: “Different GM organisms include different genes inserted in different ways. The WHO also recommends that “adequate post market monitoring” is carried out to ensure the safety of GM foods. However, the report presents no data that could provide such evidence – for example, from long-term feeding studies in animals. I and my co-authors on the book GMO Myths and Truths searched the report for peer-reviewed, published animal feeding studies with GMOs. So the EU research project provides no support for claims of safety for any GM food and actually provides evidence that some GM foods can be toxic or allergenic.


Interestingly, in 2013 another EU authority looked into GM crop safety and came to a very different conclusion – one that is often omitted from pro-GM arguments. What are we to make of the conflicting conclusions reached by different European authorities?
There is, of course, another side to the story, and that is the many expert bodies that have issued cautionary opinions about GMO safety.
The Society issued a report that was highly critical of the lax regulatory system for GM foods and crops in that country. A report by the BMA concluded that with regard to the long-term effects of GM foods on human health and the environment, “many unanswered questions remain” and that “safety concerns cannot, as yet, be dismissed completely on the basis of information currently available”. A recent report by ANSES confirms that there is still very little data on the long-term safety of the most commonly used GM crops.
ANSES searched the scientific literature to find comparable long-term studies on GM herbicide-tolerant crops, which make up over 80% of GM crops worldwide.
One, by a team of Italian researchers, found toxic effects from mice fed GM Roundup-tolerant soya over the long term.
This does not reflect how GM Roundup-tolerant soya is normally grown or the level of residues typically found in the harvested crop. Claims that august international institutions believe that GMOs are safe are often repeated secondhand or given with the confidence that few readers will bother to check for themselves to see what was actually said. Yet this is exactly what we must do if we are to immunise ourselves against the tide of misinformation generated by GMO promoters. The scientists warned in particular that the herbicides with which GMOs are grown “may induce detrimental health effects even at low exposure levels”. It did issue a report in which it analysed a range of plant breeding techniques and concluded that GM posed a higher risk of introducing unintended changes into food than any other crop breeding method other than mutation breeding – a method in which plant genomes are bombarded with radiation or chemicals to induce mutations. But the fact that mutation breeding slipped under the regulatory radar before scientists realised its potential harmful effects (such as the production of new toxins and allergens) doesn’t justify failing to regulate and safety test GMOs.
This means that individual GM foods and their safety should be assessed on a case-by-case basis and that it is not possible to make general statements on the safety of all GM foods.” Scientists on both sides of the GMO debate would agree with this statement. In 2010 two of its divisions, Research and Innovation and Biotechnologies, Agriculture and Food, issued a pro-GM report called “A decade of EU-funded GMO research”, which concluded that GMOs are “not per se more risky” than non-GM foods.


The project was not even designed to test the safety of any single GM food, but to focus on “the development of safety assessment approaches”.
The report said it is “scientifically unjustifiable” to presume that GM foods are safe without rigorous scientific testing and that the “default prediction” for every GM food should be that the introduction of a new gene will cause unanticipated changes, such as the production of new allergens. It is telling that even this report should reach this conclusion because it was issued in an apparent attempt to salvage the reputation of GMOs in the face of the long-term feeding study on GM maize and Roundup herbicide by Prof Gilles-Eric Seralini’s team. The Japanese study claimed to find no adverse effects in GM-fed rats (though they did show significant differences). She is also an editor at GMWatch, a news and information service dedicated to exposing the disinformation and spin of the GMO lobby.
Please don't use this form if you need to update your details, instead use the link from the bottom of any newsletter. It acknowledges “a small potential for adverse events… due mainly to horizontal gene transfer, allergenicity, and toxicity”. To argue that it does is equivalent to saying that because lead was once allowed in paint and petrol, we should not doubt the safety of other heavy metals, such as mercury.
This fact would explain the WHO’s statement that “No effects on human health have been shown as a result of the consumption of GM foods.” It’s difficult to find such effects if you are not looking. Seralini’s study had found that the GM maize and tiny amounts of the herbicide it was grown with caused toxic effects in rats over a long-term period.
However, the researchers seem to have used GM soya that was not sprayed with Roundup during cultivation, since glyphosate was only found at the limit of detection. It therefore recommends mandatory safety assessments prior to release of GM foods  – a system which, as the statement said, is not in place in the US.



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