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Links to Recent Outstanding Research on the Hazards of Genetically Engineered Foods

Some of the research that caught our eye in 2007. Let us know anything good we missed, so we can add to the list.

+ GM CORN MAY AFFECT AQUATIC ECOSYSTEMS - STUDY Extremely important new study showing genetically engineered Bt corn (maize) byproducts could be endangering aquatic life. It also raises big questions as to how U.S. and other regulators gave the go ahead to Bt corn without undertaking sufficient testing of their impact on aquatic ecosystems. The study by scientists at Indiana University was published online by the journal Proceedings of the National Academies of Sciences

+ BT TRANSGENE DETECTED IN AQUATIC SYSSTEMS The Canadian Department of the Environment (also known as Environment Canada) has determined that the pesticidal Bt gene cry1Ab, found in GM corn, persisted in aquatic areas near the site where the Bt crop was planted. Varying amounts of the cry1Ab gene were found in sediment, soil, and surface water samples. The sediments were found to contain about 100-fold more cry1Ab DNA than the surface water. The cry1Ab transgene was also detected as far away as the Richelieu and St. Lawrence rivers - 82 km downstream from the corn cultivation plot. Because of the concern that the cry1Ab gene could be transferred to microorganisms through horizontal gene transfer, the researchers recommend monitoring and sustained attention to the fate of transgenes in the environment. Abstract in the journal Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety, with links to the complete paper for subscribers at

+ STUDY ON THE EFFECTS OF TRANSGENE FLOW A paper commissioned by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) studies the effects of transgene flow on human health, the environment, and genetic resources. The study concludes transgene flow is highly likely, with adverse implications for human health, the environment, biodiversity, and farm economics.

+ GM AND NON-GM CROPS TOO CLOSE, STUDY SAYS Field trials could be seriously underestimating the potential for cross-pollination between GM and conventional crops and buffer zone distances may be too small, according to new research from the University of Exeter in the UK.

+ CONTAMINATING THE WILD Useful introductory article to the report by Dr. Doug Gurian-Sherman on the danger of permanent escape of transgenes, that have undergone little risk assessment, into the natural environment.

+ NEW STUDY EXPLAINS HOW MONSANTO'S HYPE FOOLS FARMERS GM promoters claim the number of farmers growing GM cotton in India is a massive vote of confidence in the technology. But an important new study of farmers' Bt cotton adoption in the Warangal district of Andhra Pradesh explains why Monsanto's campaign of hype has had such an impact. Glenn Davis Stone of Washington University found a process of agricultural deskilling whereby farmers abandoned the old practice of gradual assessment and adoption of seeds and fell victim to "seed fads". -countries Download the study (well worth reading in full) GM WATCH comment: There is clear evidence that this kind of herd mentality can also affect the uptake of GM crops in developed countries like the US.

+ BT CORN SUSCEPTIBLE TO ROOTWORM Bt corn fails to protect against rootworms despite farmers paying Monsanto hefty sums for that protection, according to research carried out at the University of Illinois. Rootworms were found to have done significant early damage to GM varieties.

+ BT CORN SUSCEPTIBLE TO APHIDS Bt corn has been found to be significantly more susceptible to aphids than non-GM equivalents. Bizarrely, the study is being spun to claim that the Bt corn is better for the environment, as the higher aphid populations attract more parasitic wasps. Cold comfort for farmers battling aphids!

+ ROUNDUP MAY AFFECT REPRODUCTION AND FOETAL DEVELOPMENT Monsanto's Roundup has toxic effects on human embryonic cells, a new study shows. The toxic effects of Roundup are noticed at very weak doses (for the experiment, the product sold in stores was diluted up to 10,000 times). Effects were observed at dilutions less than the residues in discussion to be authorized in GMO feed in the US. The authors comment that the research may contribute to a better understanding of the problems of miscarriages, premature births or sexual malformations of babies.

+ AERIAL SPRAYING OF ROUNDUP DAMAGES DNA Aerial spraying of the Roundup herbicide by the Colombian government on the border of Colombia and Ecuador has caused a high degree of DNA damage in local Ecuadorian people, according to a study. DNA damage may activate genes associated to the development of cancer, and may also lead to miscarriage or malformations in embryos.

+ REPORT REVEALS BT CROP RISKS TO INSECTS AND SOIL Plants containing Bt toxins could severely damage soil and beneficial insect populations, suggests a published review of international scientific studies.

+ INDIA: BT COTTON AFFECTS SOIL MICROFAUNA - STUDY Bt cotton has serious effects on the soil microfauna in the root zone of the crop, according to as yet unpublished research For other problems with Bt cotton showing up in published research Hungarian research backs up Indian findings

+ ESCAPED TRANSGENES PERSIST IN NATURE There have been repeated claims that if transgenes do escape into the wild, they're unlikely to persist. But new research on GM oilseed rape (canola) conducted in Canada and published in Molecular Ecology shows that this is just not true. The herbicide resistant GM trait was found to persist over a 6-year period.

+ RESEARCH SHOWS HUGE VARIATION IN BT TOXIN IN GM MAIZE A study has found massive variations in the amount of Bt toxin present in GM maize plants.

+ ANOTHER MONSANTO MAIZE POTENTIALLY TOXIC New research into the health impacts of GM food already approved in Europe casts further doubt on the safety of the approvals system. The study, carried out by French scientific research institute CRIIGEN on the results of rat feeding trials using Monsanto's GM maize NK603, highlights 60 significant differences between the rats that were fed the GM maize and those fed normal maize (all for 90 days). The first group showed differences in their kidney, brain, heart and liver measurements, as well as significant weight differences.

+ ANIMAL FEEDING TRIALS GIVE REASONS TO FEAR GM FOODS Very useful summary of the animal feeding studies to date on GM foods at Article lacks references. For these see Jeffrey M. Smith's new book, Genetic Roulette, which lays out the health risks of GM foods and the flaws in the system designed to assess them. Available via Claire Robinson's review at

+ COMPANY RESEARCH ON GM FOODS IS RIGGED In a powerful overview, science writer Jeffrey Smith laments the poor quality and rigged status of company research on GM foods - all too often, the only research that is ever done on them.

+ DOES THE KNOWLEDGE-BASED BIO-ECONOMY ADD UP? What's the real basis for the vision of biotech as a major engine of economic growth etc.? An incisive, and at times funny, critique of the gung-ho-for-GM BIO4EU report for the European Parliament points the finger at technological utopianism. EXCERPT: Experts do not have an entirely unblemished record of predicting the future of agriculture. In the 1950s it was envisioned that agriculture would be irrigated with water from icecaps that had been melted by nuclear explosions, this water (naturally) would be stored in ponds, also "dug" by nuclear explosions. Claire Robinson article on the biobiz bubble

+ "JUNK" DNA HIGHLY ACTIVE Large swathes of the genome, previously dismissed as "junk DNA" because it was thought to serve no practical purpose, have been found to be highly active. The findings highlight how scientists have become so blinded by the importance of genes that the role of other parts of the genome have gone unappreciated.

+ COMPANIES KNOW BEANS ABOUT MOVING GENES The transnational seed, pesticide, and drug corporations have known for five or 10 years that the scientific foundation on which genetic engineering is built is false, but with billions of dollars riding on it they, with the support of governments, continue to mislead us, says an interesting article at


+ RETHINKING THE RISK OF VIRAL TRANSGENES IN PLANTS The use of intact viral transgenes to generate virus-resistant plants is controversial, and has been so almost ever since it was first proposed. This new analysis published in Molecular Plant Pathology makes a compelling case that active regulatory protection is needed from transgenes which otherwise may worsen disease problems, invite crop failures and enhance the evolution and spread of new diseases.

+ SKIN ALLERGY AND PULMONARY PROBLEMS REPORTED FROM BT COTTON In the Punjab, India, farmers and laborers are suffering with skin allergy and pulmonary diseases after picking Bt cotton. Dr Gurpiar Singh, who runs a private clinic, says that many cases have come to his notice.

+ NON-GM RESEARCH CUTS COTTON PESTICIDES 50%, BOOST PROFITS 75% A low-tech non-GM approach to managing pesticides promises to help hundreds of thousands of cotton farmers across Asia raise yields and reduce environmental contamination. See also NON-PESTICIDE, NON-GM COTTON MANAGEMENT SUCCESS IN INDIA