The Big Lie: GE Foods & Crops Are Safe

Originated from: (Robert Vint)

By Robert Vint, Genetic Food Alert

The media has been saturated with statements from scientific bodies to
assure us that GM foods have been 'rigorously tested' and are 'totally safe'
. The Chief Scientist, the Royal Society, the Nuffield Foundation, the
American Food and Drug Administration and the European Commissioner for food
safety are just a few of those that have made such statements. Surely they
can't all be wrong?
Two months ago I began a survey to classify and evaluate the existing
independent published research on GM food safety. I was interested to find
the best research.. I wanted to find out about long-term experiments to
detect possible effects that may take a few years to appear. I wanted to
find out about tests on human volunteers and tests to detect effects on
children, the elderly or those prone to allergies. I wanted to look at
research that had been published in respected academic publications, such as
the Journal of Nutrition, and that had then been peer-reviewed by other
scientists. I was to be sorely disappointed.

I e-mailed all the experts - the biotech companies, government regulatory
bodies in the UK and USA and the leading academics promoting the genetic
engineering of food and crops - all of whom would have the facts at their
fingertips and be keen to share them.
Monsanto initially sent a vast list of references but these turned out not
to relate to published data but merely a collection of opinions and
statements by geneticists and government bodies. That was not very
reassuring so I tried again to find real data - without success. The
response from the Nuffield Foundation was almost identical.

Professor C S Prakash, the USA's biotech "ambassador", promised to send the
elusive data but warned me that "much of such research is financed by
agbiotech companies and it is hard to identify even when seemingly they
appear not to be financed by companies". In his follow-up message that
contained no references to published data, he explained "you will notice
that much of this is not from referred publications (a discussion on the
paucity of this research has just appeared in recent Science magazine)".

The British Medical Association, representing the UK's doctors, has not
blindly rubber-stamped the technology. They stated that "The BMA's Board of
Science is not aware of any major independent research considering the long
term health effects of GM foods that has been published since our report was
issued". This report, published last year, called for a moratorium until the
necessary research on GM food and crops had been carried out.

Despite receiving many other responses, the mystery data never did appear -
and respondents defensively explained that such research would be
'unnecessary', 'excessive' or 'impossible' and, indeed, that requests for
such research were 'hysterical'. [If any readers can find the missing
information please do pass it on to me].

I seem to have discovered the reason for there being 'no data to suggest
that GM foods may be dangerous' - the reason is that there is no data.
fullstop! No data means no bad data. The UK Government claims to be
'pro-science' yet it has commissioned no experiments to compare the effects
of conventional and GM foods on animals or on humans that have led to the
publication of any data (with one exception). Is their reason for not doing
the research the same as the reason the Pope refused to look through Galileo
's telescope? - fear of what they might find. Like the Pope, the scientific
establishment is using its status to support its opinions rather than
relying on factual data. In an age when multinational corporations fund most
research this is a highly disturbing development.

The 144 UK organizations - from the Women's Institute to the Local
Government Association - who are calling for a 'Five Year Freeze' on GM food
and crops so that proper research can take place - have been called
irrational Luddites and technophobes. It looks now, however, as if the
government and the biotech companies are the ones that are really afraid of
independent scientific research. Its time for us to demand facts.

There was, as I mentioned, one exception, a single published report on a
government-sponsored research project. It was published in the Lancet, the
Journal of the British Medical Association, and was of course the results of
Dr Arpad Pustzai's research into the effects of GM potatoes on rats. Maybe
that fact alone explains why no more research of this kind

In parallel with this e-mail I have sent another one entitled PLAY
GMQUEST2000 - a game in which players try to get the truth about safety
testing from the GM corporations, geneticists and politicians.. Please
forward copies to your contacts.

[Robert Vint is the National Co-ordinator of Genetic Food Alert - the joint
campaign of wholefood wholesalers, retailers and manufacturers for GM-Free
food. [ Website , e-mail ]


"Swapping genes between organisms can produce unknown toxic
effects and allergies that are most likely to affect children"
- Dr Vyvyan Howard: expert in infant toxico-pathology at Liverpool
University Hospital, UK. (Ref: The Guardian: 19/3/98)

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