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Scientists' Open Letter on the Hazards of Genetically Engineered Foods & Crops

Dec. 20, 2005

GM WATCH daily
well argued, carefully referenced letter - very useful.
from: Dr Dominique Beroule, on behalf of the JIGMOD Coordinating Committee

Dear Colleague,

Attached is the Independent Scientists' Letter provided for the 8th of April
2006 Joint International GMO Opposition Day (JIGMOD; see: ). This letter will officially be read during
the planned international
video-conference, and notably used at the related demonstrations (9th of
April in Chicago, 20th of April in Brussels). It is aimed at
parlementarians, and possibly at exercising an influence over the corporate
shareholders of Biotech multinationals. It was mainly written by Professor
Arpad Pusztai, and reviewed by anonymous contributors.

For the sake of accessibility to non-specialists, it comprises a synthetic
easy-to-read text completed with more technical references. You may also
notice that it is focused on the health dimension, to which our decision
makers are more particularly sensitive.

Currently circulated among the scientists who are likely to co-sign it, this
letter will be proposed for signature to the participating organizations.

If you wish to be one of the signatories, you may simply send us an email
indicating your professional position and coordinates, at the following

With our best regards,

Dr Dominique Beroule, on behalf of the JIGMOD Coordinating Committee.

P.S. Could you please pass on this message to your circle, and spread the
word over your grassroot contacts? Thank you in advance.

The current generation of genetically modified (GM) crops uneccessarily
risks the health of the population and the environment. Present knowledge is
not sufficient to safely and predictably modify the plant genome, and the
risks of serious side-effects far outweigh the benefits. We urge you to stop
feeding the products of this infant science to our population and ban the
release of these crops into the environment where they can never be

The current technology was rushed to market long before the science was
worked out. Its introduction was accompanied with rigged research, bribes,1
gagged scientists,2 cover-ups3 and regulatory agencies stacked with industry
representatives.4 With mounting evidence of serious health and environmental
problems, we must act quickly to end the charade and this dangerous abuse of
public trust.

Current safety assessments are inadequate to catch most of the harmful
effects. When a foreign gene is artificially inserted into a living organism
such as a GM crop, the preexisting natural gene of the organism can
unintentionally be deleted, switched off, permanently switched on, mutated
or fragmented. Hundreds of natural genes may change the way they generate
their proteins (basic molecules that form living cells), and even the newly
introduced protein may differ from what was intended.

· Key assumptions used as the basis for safety claims have been overturned
and several adverse findings suggest that GM foods are unsafe. GM-fed
animals had problems with their growth, organ development and immune
responsiveness, blood5 and liver cell6 formation, as well as damaged organs
(bleeding stomachs,7 excessive cell growth,8 inflammation in lung tissue9),
sterility problems10 and increased death rates,11 including among the

· Risks are increased by the fact that the genes inserted into GM food not
only survive digestion, but transfer into body organs and circulation.
Transgenes have been found in the blood, liver, spleen and kidneys.13 DNA
can even travel via the placenta into the unborn.14 The only human clinical
trial showed that transgenes from soy transfer into intestinal bacteria.15

· Claims that no one has gotten hurt from GM foods are misleading, since no
one monitors human health impacts. We do know that soya allergies
skyrocketed by 50 percent after GM soybeans were imported to the UK,16 and a
GM food supplement killed about 100 Americans and caused 5,000- 10,000 to
fall sick.17

· Some GM crops create their own pesticide called Bt. Their approval relied
on the assumption that Bttoxin is not bioactive in mammals. But Bt-toxin
caused powerful immune responses and abnormal and excessive cell growth in
mice. Filipinos living next to Bt cornfields developed mysterious symptoms
during the time of pollination - three seasons in a row - and blood tests
showed an immune response to Bt.18 A November 2005 report from India claims
that Bt cotton also creates allergic responses.19 What if Bt genes transfer
to gut bacteria like soya genes do? They could turn our internal flora into
living pesticide factories.

Despite the Public Relation spin, GM crops increase the use of herbicides20,
lower average yield, and endanger food security. They are detrimental to
sustainable and organic farming, and trap farmers in a cycle of indebtedness
and dependence. They endanger biodiversity21, harm beneficial insects22,
damage soil bacteria23, contaminate non-GM varieties24 and may persist in
the environment for generations.25

Insurance companies do not want to cover the risks inherent in GMOs.26
Consumers do not want them.27

Please act today to protect our health, our environment, and future

1 Monsanto fined $1.5m for bribery (7 January, 2005) BBC

2 Delborne, J.A. (August 27, 2004) Transforming Scientific Dissent into
Dissidence: Analysis of "The Pulse of Scientific Freedom in the Age of the
Biotech Industry", Annual Conference of the Society for the Social Studies
of Science, Ecole des Mines, Paris.
elborne.pdf )

3 GMO: French authorities wish confidentiality on sanitary studies: "OGM :
les autorités françaises veulent la confidentialité sur les études
sanitaires" (2005)

4 Among many other cases, (May 2004) 'Independent and objective consultants
servicing the agricultural, agricultural supply trade, rural and food
industries' ( )

5 French experts very disturbed by health effects of Monsanto GM corn (March
24 2004), (, Translation of
Le Monde article (June 2005) "L'expertise confidentielle sur un inquiétant
maïs transgénique," Confidential report on a worrying GM corn. Also see
Spilling the Beans,
by Herve Kempf,
22.04.04,(,1-0@2-3226,36-362061,0.html )

6 Malatesta M, Caporaloni C, Gavaudan S, et al (2002) "Ultrastructural
Morphometrical and Immunocytochemical Analyses of Hepatocyte Nuclei from
Mice Fed on Genetically Modified Soybean". Cell Structure and Function Vol.
27, No. 4 pp.173-18. (

7 Pusztai, A. et al. (2003) Genetically Modified Foods: Potential Human
Health Effects. In: Food Safety: Contaminants and Toxins (ed. JPF D'Mello)
pp.347-372. CAB International, Wallingford Oxon, UK

8 Ewen, SWB & Pusztai, A. (1999) Effects of diets containing genetically
modified potatoes expressing Galanthus nivalis lectin on rat small
intestine. Lancet 354, 1727-1728.

9 Prescott V.E., Campbell P.M., Moore A., Mattes J., Rothenberg M. E.,
Foster P.S., Higgins T.J.V., and Hogan S.P. (November 16, 2005) Transgenic
Expression of Bean-Amylase Inhibitor in Peas Results in Altered Structure
and Immunogenicity, Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, Volume 53,
Issue 23, , pp. 9023 ­

10 - Bt Corn Linked to Hog Breeding Problems (May 20, 2002), in
- Sterility indirectly favoured by round-up ready GM crops : Richard S.,
Moslemi S., Sipahutar H., Benachour N., and Seralini G.-E. (2005)
Differential Effects of Gly phosate and Roundup on Human Placental Cells and
Aromatase Environmental Health Perspectives Volume 113, Number 6, June 2005.
( )

11 Report for the Chardon LL Hearing, Non-Suitability of Genetically
Engineered Feed for Animals, Dr. Eva Novotny, Scientists for Global
Responsibility (May 2002). (

12 The study was presented at several conferences starting on October 10,
2005, but has not been published or subjected to peer-review. The results
must be considered preliminary and unverified, but medical organizations and
others are calling for the immediate repetition of the study, given the
disturbing findings. See

13 Pusztai, A. and Bardocz, S. (2005) GMO in animal nutrition: potential
benefits and risks. In "Biology of Nutrition in Growing Animals", R.
Mosenthin, J. Zentek and T. Zebrowska (Eds.), Elsevier Limited, pp. 513-54O.

14 Doerfler W; Schubbert R (1994) "Uptake of foreign DNA from the
environment: the gastrointestinal tract and the placenta as portals of
entry," Journal of molecular genetics and genetics Vol 242: 495-504.

15 Netherwood, et al (2 February 2004) Assessing the survival of transgenic
plant DNA in the human gastrointestinal tract, Nature Biotechnology, Vol 22

16 Townsend M. (March 12, 1999) "Why Soya is a hidden destroyer," Daily

17 Smith J. (2003), Seeds of Deception, Chapter 4 Deadly Epidemic, Yes!
Books 2003. See also, L-tryptophan section.

18 Preliminary evidence presented at a conference by the Norwegian Institute
for Gene Ecology, for delegates to the 2004 UN Biosafety Protocol
Conference. See as well as
several newspaper reports.

19 "Bt cotton causing allergic reaction; cattle dead" (November 23, 2005)
( )

20 Benbrook CM (November 2003) Impacts of Genetically Engineered Crops on
Pesticide Use in the United States: The First Eight Years, BioTech InfoNet,
Technical Paper No 6.

21 Independent Scientific Steering Committee (21 March 2005) Managing GM
crops with herbicides: Effects on farmland wildlife
( )

22 Koechlin, F (March 1999) "Bt Crops and Their Impacts on Insects and Food
Webs" ( )

23 Damage to soil bacteria, notably through horizontal transfer: Heinemann
J.A, Traavik T. (2004) Problems in monitoring horizontal gene transfer in
field trials of transgenic plants. Nat. Biotechnol. 22, pp 1105-1109.

24 Daniels R., Boffey C., Mogg R., Bond J. & Clarke R. (March 2004) The
Potential for dispersal of herbicide tolerance genes from
geneticallymodified, herbicide-tolerant oilseed rape crops to wild
relatives, Final report to DEFRA, contract ref: EPG 1/5/151.
( )

25 Jager, M.J. & Tappeser, B. (April 10, 1995). Risk Assessment and
Scientific Knowledge. Current data relating to the survival of GMOs and the
persistence of their nucleic acids: Is a new debate on safeguards in genetic
engineering required? - considerations from an ecological point of view.
TWN-Workshop on Biosafety, New York.

26 "Survey reveals: insurance companies say no to GMO" (October 9, 2003) ( )

27 Warwick H., Meziani, G. (September 2002) Seeds of Doubt, UK Soil
Association, based on an estimate by Charles Benbrook, former executive
director of the US National Academy of Sciences' Board on Agriculture.


This GMO news service is underwritten by a generous grant from the Newman's
Own Foundation, edited by Thomas Wittman and is a production of the
Ecological Farming Association <>