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Whole GM Bt toxins found in human and foetal blood - GM crops and imports must be halted

1. Whole GM Bt toxins found in human and foetal blood - GM crops and imports must be halted
2. GM food toxins found in the blood of 93% of unborn babies - Daily Mail
3. Toxic pesticides from GM food crops found in unborn babies - The Telegraph

GMWATCH COMMENT: Bt toxin found in human blood is not harmless
http://www.gmwatch.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=13142
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1. Whole GM Bt Toxins Found in Human and Foetal Blood GM crops and imports must be halted
GM Freeze
Press release
Immediate Release   20 May 2011

New research from Canada has found a Bt toxin produced by GM insect resistant crops in the blood of women and clear evidence that it was passed to foetuses. [1]

Pesticides used on GM herbicide tolerant (HT) crops were also detected.

GM Freeze is calling for an immediate halt to GM Bt crop cultivation and imports of Bt GM food and feed until the findings are properly evaluated and further study confirms product safety. [2]

The same Bt toxin as detected by the researchers is present in Mon810 maize, which has EU cultivation approval but is currently banned in France, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Luxemburg and Greece.  

Regulators advise that no GM protein survives intact in the intestinal tract to enter the blood stream [4], so the detection of intact Cry1Ab toxin in human blood is of great significance.  

The new study was carried out by a team at Sherbrooke University Hospital in Quebec and has been accepted for publication in the peer reviewed journal Reproductive Toxicology. The team took blood samples from 30 pregnant women prior to delivery, 30 samples from umbilical cords immediately after birth and samples from 39 non-pregnant women who were undergoing treatment. All the women were of a similar age and body mass index, and none worked with pesticides or lived with anyone who did.

The results show that the toxic Bt protein Cry1Ab was present in blood serum from all three sources (93% of pregnant women, 80% in umbilical blood and 67% of non-pregnant women). The researchers suggest that the most probable source of the toxin is GM food consumed as part of a normal diet in Canada, where GM presence in food is unlabelled. The Canadian scientists have not speculated on any health effects from the presence of Cry1Ab protein as this was beyond the scope of their study.

The findings add to concerns about the toxicity and potential allergenicty of Bt proteins expressed by many scientists. [3]

In a statement issued in July 2007 the European Food Safety Authority stated:

"A large number of experimental studies with livestock have shown that recombinant DNA fragments or proteins derived from GM plants have not been detected in tissues, fluids or edible products of farm animals such as broilers, cattle, pigs or quails."

This was subsequently adopted as the official advice of the UK's Food Standards Agency in "Transfer of GM material from feed" [4].

Pete Riley of GM Freeze said:

"This research is a major surprise as it shows that the Bt proteins have survived the human digestive system and passed into the blood supply something that regulators said could not happen.  

"The study throws into serious doubt the validity of the risk assessment carried out on Bt crops, which always assumed it would be destroyed in the gut. Here there is also evidence that it has been passed on to foetuses.

"Regulators need to urgently reassess their opinions, and the EU should use the safeguard clauses in the regulations to prevent any further GM Bt crops being cultivated or imported for animal feed or food until the potential health implications have been fully evaluated.

"GM techniques repeatedly produce unexpected outcomes. This is yet another adding to the worry that its presence in the food chain is based on partial information and false assumptions."

Twenty-four types of GM maize and cotton containing Bt GM traits have been granted approval for importing into the EU and one can be grown (Mon810 maize). [5]    

The researchers also looked for, and found, two herbicides used on GM herbicide tolerant crops in blood samples. Glyphosate is used on Monsanto Roundup Ready (RR) crops and Glufosinate on Bayer's Liberty Link (LL) crops. Both were found in the non-pregnant women, as was glufosinate's metabolite 3-MMPA. The researchers did not speculate about potential health impacts, as this was beyond the scope of their study, although concerns about the safety of both weed killers have been repeatedly raised by other scientists since their use on GM crops has increased their use. [6] Scientists are particularly concerned that the studies done to demonstrate the "safety" of glyphosate were not long enough to ensure there are not long-term or cumulative health impacts of long-term exposure in food.

Use of glyphosate in South America and the US has escalated dramatically since GM crops were approved in the mid 1990s, despite the assurances from the GM industry that the intention of the crops is to reduce pesticide use. As a result of the increased use of, and dependence on, a single herbicide, weeds resistant to glyphosate have developed [7].

Safety concerns about both products have been growing since the introduction of GM herbicide tolerant crops, including links to Parkinson's disease and cancer in the case of  glyphosate. [8] Residues of these herbicides in food are infrequently monitored, and the maximum permitted residue level for crops directly sprayed with glyphosate, such at GM HT crops, were raised over 200 tines in the 1990s.

Pete Riley said:

"These weed killers are used directly on the growing crops close to harvest, so there is no surprise that they can pass along the food chain and into people. The long-term health implications of prolonged exposure to such residues need to be properly investigated and there is very strong case for suspending their use right now."

ENDs

Calls to Pete Riley 07903 341 065.

Notes
[1] Aziz A. and Leblanc S., 2010, Reproductive Toxicology, accepted 13 February 2011 Currently available online or from GM Freeze.

[2] See GM Freeze media briefing www.gmfreeze.org/uploads/GM_blood_study_summary_FINAL.pdf.

[3] Seralini G-E., Mesnage R. Clair E., Greese S., Spiroux de Vendômois J.ann Cellier D., 2010. Environmental Sciences Europe 2011, 23:10, see www.enveurope.com/content/23/1/10.

[4] See www.food.gov.uk/gmfoods/gm/gmanimal.

[5] See GMO Compass http://www.gmo-compass.org/eng/gmo/db/.

[6] For instance see Benachour N and Séralini G-E, 2009. Glyphosate Formulations Induce Apoptosis and Necrosis in Human Umbilical, Embryonic, and Placental Cells, Chemical Research in Toxicology Vol22 No1 pp 97-105 available from
http://pubs.acs.org/doi/pdf/10.1021/tx800218n.

[7] See www.gmfreeze.org/uploads/resistance_full_Briefing_final.pdf
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2. GM food toxins found in the blood of 93% of unborn babies
GM firms claimed toxins were destroyed in the gut
By Sean Poulter
Daily Mail
20th May 2011
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-1388888/GM-food-toxins-blood-93-unborn-babies.html

Toxins implanted into GM food crops to kill pests are reaching the bloodstreams of women and unborn babies, alarming research has revealed.

A landmark study found 93 per cent of blood samples taken from pregnant women and 80 per cent from umbilical cords tested positive for traces of the chemicals.

Millions of acres in North and South America are planted with GM corn containing the toxins, which is fed in vast quantities to farm livestock around the world including Britain.

However, it is now clear the  toxins designed to kill crop pests are reaching humans and babies in the womb apparently through food.

It is not known what, if any, harm this causes but there is speculation it could lead to allergies, miscarriage, abnormalities or even cancer.

To date the industry has always argued that if these toxins were eaten by animals or humans they would be destroyed in the gut and pass out of the body, thus causing no harm.

Food safety authorities in Britain and Europe have accepted these assurances on the basis that GM crops are effectively no different to those produced using conventional methods.

But the latest study appears to blow a hole in these claims  and has triggered calls for a ban on imports and a total overhaul of the safety regime for GM crops and food.

Most of the global research which has been used to demonstrate the safety of GM crops has been funded by the industry itself.

The new study was carried out by independent doctors at the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, at the University of Sherbrooke Hospital Centre in Quebec, Canada.

They took blood samples from 30 pregnant women and 39 other women who were not having a baby.

They were looking for residues of the pesticides associated with the cultivation of GM food.

These include so-called Bt toxins, which are implanted using GM techniques into corn and some other crops.

Traces of Bt toxin were found in the blood of 93 per cent of the pregnant mothers 28 out of 30. It was also found in 80 per cent of the umbilical cords 24 out of 30.

In the non-pregnant group, traces were found in the blood of 69 per cent 27 out of 39. It is thought the toxin is getting into the human body as a result of eating meat, milk and eggs from farm livestock fed GM corn.

The Canadian team told the scientific journal Reproductive Toxicology: 'This is the first study to highlight the presence of pesticides associated with genetically modified foods in maternal, foetal and non-pregnant women's blood.'

They said the Bt toxin was 'clearly detectable and appears to cross the placenta to the foetus'.

Calling for action, the team said: 'Given the potential toxicity of these environmental pollutants and the fragility of the foetus, more studies are needed.'

The director of GM Freeze, an umbrella group for community,  consumer and environmental organisations opposed to GM  farming, described the research as 'very significant'.

Pete Riley said: 'This research is a major surprise as it shows that the Bt proteins have survived the human digestive system and passed into the blood supply something that regulators said could not happen.

'Regulators need to urgently reassess their opinions, and the EU should use the safeguard clauses in the regulations to prevent any further GM Bt crops being cultivated or imported for animal feed or food until the potential health implications have been fully evaluated.'

The Agriculture Biotechnology Council, which speaks for the GM industry, questioned the reliability and value of the research.

Its chairman, Dr Julian Little, said: 'The study is based on analysis that has been used in previous feeding studies and has been found to be unreliable.'

He said the toxins found are also used in other farming systems and gardening 'with no harm to human health'.

Dr Little said: 'Biotech crops are rigorously tested for safety prior to their use and over two trillion meals made with GM ingredients have been safely consumed around the world over the past 15 years without a single substantiated health issue.'
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3. Toxic pesticides from GM food crops found in unborn babies
Toxic pesticides which are implanted into genetically modified food crops have lodged in the blood of pregnant women and their unborn babies, research shows.
By Andy Bloxham  
The Telegraph
20 May 2011
http://bit.ly/jLBEN9

Scientists at the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, at the University of Sherbrooke Hospital Centre in Quebec, took dozens of samples from women.

Traces of the toxin were found 93 per cent of the pregnant mothers and in 80 per cent of the umbilical cords.

The research suggested the chemicals were entering the body through eating meat, milk and eggs from farm livestock which have been fed GM corn.

The findings appear to contradict the GM industry's long-standing claim that any potentially harmful chemicals added to crops would pass safely through the body.

To date, most of the global research which has been used to demonstrate the safety of GM crops has been funded by the industry itself.

It is not known what, if any, harm the chemicals might cause but there has been speculation it could lead to allergies, miscarriage, abnormalities or even cancer.

One of the researchers told the scientific journal Reproductive Toxicology: "This is the first study to highlight the presence of pesticides associated with genetically modified foods in maternal, foetal and nonpregnant women's blood."

Pete Riley, the director of GM Freeze, a group opposed to GM farming, described the research as "very significant".

The Agriculture Biotechnology Council, which speaks for the GM industry, has questioned the reliability and value of the research.

Dr Julian Little, its chairman, said: "Biotech crops are rigorously tested for safety prior to their use and over two trillion meals made with GM ingredients have been safely consumed around the world over the past 15 years without a single substantiated health issue."