GENET archive


FOOD: Big Deal - GMOs unfit for consumption

                                 PART I
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TITLE:  Big Deal - GMOs unfit for consumption
SOURCE: The Manila Times, Philippines
AUTHOR: Opinion, by Dan Mariano
DATE:   21.03.2007

Big Deal - GMOs unfit for consumption

The work of press agents consists of not just getting the media to carry
news favorable to their clients, but also to suppress information
inimical to their business. Jargon in the traditional newsroom has an
aptly descriptive phrase for it: "Kill story!"

One story that has suffered down play--as of this writing--comes from a
scientific study, which found that genetically modified (GM) corn
approved by Philippine authorities shows signs of toxicity to mammals.
The giant agribusiness multinational Monsanto markets the GM corn in
several countries, including ours, for animal feeds, food processing and
human consumption.

That the issue has a direct bearing on public health should be apparent.
Yet many major news organizations failed to give it the prominence it
obviously deserves--if they ran the story at all.

The study, written by a panel of three scientists in France, showed that
laboratory rats fed with GMO corn Monsanto (MON) 863 YieldGard Root-wom
displayed kidney and liver toxicity.

MON 863 is corn genetically manipulated to produce its own insecticide
called "modified Cry3Bb1" to kill rootworm insects in the soil. It
contains gene coding for antibiotic resistance.

Entitled "New Analysis of a Rat Feeding Study with a Genetically
Modified Maize Reveals Signs of Hepatorenal Toxicity," the study was
published in the scientific journal Archives of Environmental
Contamination and Toxicology (

The study analyzed results of safety tests submitted by Monsanto to the
European Commission (EC) when the company was seeking authorization to
market MON 863 in the European Union.

Although data showed significant health risks associated with the GMO
corn, the EC still granted licenses to market MON 863 for consumption by
both humans and animals.

The incriminating data were obtained by Greenpeace following a court
case, and was passed on for evaluation by a team of experts headed by
Professor Gilles Eric SÚralini, a governmental expert in genetic
engineering from the University of Caen in France.

"This case is especially significant to the Philippines right now in the
light of the Bureau of Plant Industry's claims [last] week that they
enforce stringent regulatory systems for the approval of GMOs," said
Daniel Ocampo, Greenpeace Southeast Asia genetic engineering campaigner.

MON 863 was approved in several countries around the world and in the
Philippines by the BPI in October 2003. "However, the approval of a GMO
is not a guarantee of its safety," Ocampo said.

According to Greenpeace, the genetic manipulation of organisms is
dangerously unpredictable. No GMO has ever undergone long-term testing.

"The MON 863 case is the first time that a GMO product authorized for
use as food for humans and animals has been shown to have adverse
effects on internal organs," Ocampo said. "It is a clear warning of the
inherent risks of GMOs."

MON 863 was approved by the EC, despite opposition from a majority of EU
member states, which raised concerns over the GMO's safety.

SÚralini's study validates these concerns. As the study points out,
"with the present data it cannot be concluded that GMO corn MON 863 is a
safe product."

At a press conference with Greenpeace in Berlin last week, SÚralini also
questioned Monsanto's analyses of MON 863, which was used as a basis for
its approval.

"Monsanto's analyses do not stand up to rigorous scrutiny," the French
professor said. "To begin with, their statistical protocols are highly

Greenpeace demanded the complete and immediate withdrawal of MON 863
corn from the global market and is calling on governments to reassess
all other authorized GE products and review current testing methods.

The environmental group also sought a moratorium on the approval of GMOs
for human consumption.

In the Philippines, 25 GMO food crops--including corn, soybean, sugar
beet, alfalfa, potato and cotton--have been approved by the BPI for
direct use in food, feed and processing. The BPI has also permitted four
GMO corn crops for propagation.

If this is the first time you got wind of this news, then the GMO
propagators' PR gremlins have obviously been hard at work.

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                                 PART II
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TITLE:  Scare over GM corn imports
SOURCE: The Sydney Morning Herald, Australia
AUTHOR: Kelly Burke
DATE:   21.03.2007

Scare over GM corn imports

FEARS that a brand of genetically modified corn found in a wide range of
imported foods may be harmful to humans is being investigated by
Australian food authorities.

But Greenpeace, which has lobbied long and hard on the issue of GM
foods, says Food Standards Australia New Zealand should never have
approved Monsanto's MON863 YieldGard Rootworm maize in the first place,
and has accused the authority of being complicit in a cover-up of data.

Although no genetically modified corn is grown here, Monsanto Australia
has confirmed that a range of imported goods - including corn chips,
tacos and products made with corn meal and corn syrup - could contain
traces due to the popularity of its GM corn among growers in the United
States and Canada since its introduction in 2003.

Food regulators here and in New Zealand approved the product for import
and food use the following year.

The company has insisted a comprehensive safety assessment of food
derived from the corn by the food standards authority found no potential
public health and safety risks.

About 18 months ago, however, Monsanto was ordered by a German court to
hand over its original data for independent analysis. That analysis,
conducted by a team of French researchers and scientists from the
universities of Caen and Rouen, found that rats suffered significant
reductions in growth and adverse effects on liver and kidney function
after 90 days of being fed Monsanto's genetically modified corn.

"With the present data it cannot be concluded that GM corn MON863 is a
safe product," the researchers said.

Yesterday the food standards authority said it had undertaken two
separate analyses of Monsanto's data and no adverse effects from the
consumption of the corn had been detected.

However, it said it would now review the French analysis and consider
any potential impact this might have on safety.

In a statement, Greenpeace said the corn should never have been
approved, because it was based on Monsanto's own study which had not
been subject to rigorous review.

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                                 PART III
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TITLE:  Modified maize 'found to harm rats'
SOURCE: Business Day, South Africa
AUTHOR: Tamar Kahn
DATE:   20.03.2007

Modified maize 'found to harm rats'

CAPE TOWN -- Lobby group Biowatch has launched a new attack on
genetically modified maize after a study published in Europe last week
showed that a variety developed by US seed giant Monsanto was harmful to
rats -- raising concerns about the safety of the grain for human consumption.

Research commissioned by the environmental group Greenpeace found that
rats fed Monsanto's MON863 maize for 90 days developed signs of kidney
and liver toxicity.

The maize was also suspected of causing slight weight changes in the
rats, with males losing an average 3,3% and females gaining an average 3,7%.

"With the present data it cannot be concluded that GM (genetically
modified) corn MON863 is safe to eat," wrote scientists from the
Committee for Independent Research and Genetic Engineering (CRIIGEN) at
the University of Caen, in France.

Their research is published online in the peer review journal, Archives
of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology.

Although MON863 is not available in SA, the study has provided Biowatch
with new ammunition in its campaign against genetically modified crops.

Biowatch said it supported Greenpeace's call for Monsanto's MON863 to be
withdrawn globally.

MON863 is a variety of maize engineered to be resistant to the maize
rootworm, which, though not a common pest in SA, is a big problem in
many parts of the world.

The genetically engineered maize grown in SA contains genes to protect
it against stalk borers or herbicides.

MON863 has been used in animal feeds in Europe since 2005 and was
authorised for human consumption in the European Union last year. It has
not been approved by South African regulators.

The agriculture department has rejected three applications by Monsanto
for a commodity clearance permit for MON863, according to a spokesman
for the company, Magda du Toit.

The rejections "had nothing to do with safety but were a trade issue" to
protect local maize markets, said Du Toit in an e-mailed response to

MON863 was not sold in SA or in neighbouring states, she said.

The European Food Safety Authority will discuss the CRIIGEN study this week.

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