Scientists torpedo GM claims

Practising genetic engineers are challenging the scientific basis for applying genetic engineering to food and animal feed. One of the three-strong Earth Open Source team, Dr Michael Antoniou of King’s College London School of Medicine, uses genetic engineering for medical applications but warns against its use in developing crops for human food or animal feed.

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GM crops are promoted on the basis of ambitious claims – that they are safe to eat, environmentally beneficial, increase yields, reduce reliance on pesticides, and can help solve world hunger,” he declared. In fact, these claims are flimsy.

Research studies show that genetically modified crops have harmful effects on laboratory animals in feeding trials and on the environment during cultivation. They have increased the use of pesticides and have failed to increase yields. Our report GMO Myths and Truths concludes that there are safer and more effective alternatives to meeting the world’s food needs.”

In 1994, fellow author Dr John Fagan returned grant money of USD 614,000 to the National Institutes of Health, after concerns about the safety and ethics of genetic engineering. “Crop genetic engineering, as practiced today, is a crude, imprecise, and outmoded technology. It can create unexpected toxins or allergens in foods and affect their nutritional value,” he warns.

Recent advances point to better ways of using our knowledge of genomics to improve food crops, that do not involve GM.” Over three quarters of GM crops are intended to tolerate spraying with herbicides, which have created herbicide resistant strains, the so-called superweeds.

In addition, these toxic products have been linked to birth defects and cancer in epidemiological studies. “These findings fundamentally challenge the utility and safety of GM crops, but the biotech industry uses its influence to block research by independent scientists and uses its powerful PR machine to discredit independent scientists whose findings challenge this approach,” explains Dr Fagan.

The third co-author of GMO Myths and Truths is Claire Robinson, research director of Earth Open Source. “The GM industry is trying to change our food supply in far-reaching and potentially dangerous ways. We all need to inform ourselves about what is going on and ensure that we – not biotechnology companies – keep control of our food system and crop seeds,” she urged.

GMO Myths and Truths contains of 600 citations, many from peer-reviewed scientific literature. It is available for download at http://earthopensource.org/index.php/reports/58

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About Peter Crosskey (282 Articles)
Peter Crosskey is based in the UK. He writes about food production and policy issues in France and the UK.