Well argued, carefully referenced letter - very useful.
Attached is the Independent Scientists' Letter provided for the 8th of April 2006 Joint International GMO Opposition Day (JIGMOD; see: http://altercampagne.free.fr/ ). 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.
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 recalled.
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 offspring.12
* 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 generations.
1 Monsanto fined $1.5m for bribery (7 January, 2005) BBC News(http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/4153635.stm)
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. (http://www.csi.ensmp.fr/WebCSI/4S/download_paper/download_paper.php?paper=delborne.pdf )
3 GMO: French authorities wish confidentiality on sanitary studies: "OGM : les autorités franÃ§aises veulent la confidentialité sur les études sanitaires" (2005) (http://www.novethic.fr/novethic/site/article/index.jsp?id=95406)
4 Among many other cases, (May 2004) 'Independent and objective consultants servicing the agricultural, agricultural supply trade, rural and food industries' (http://www.gmwatch.org/profile1.asp?PrId=308&page=P )
5 French experts very disturbed by health effects of Monsanto GM corn (March 24 2004), (http://www.lobbywatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=3308), Translation of Le Monde article (June 2005) "L'expertise confidentielle sur un inquiétant maÃ¯s transgénique," Confidential report on a worrying GM corn. Also see Spilling the Beans, (http://www.seedsofdeception.com/Public/Newsletter/June05GMCornHealthDangerExposed/index.cfm)
by Herve Kempf, 22.04.04,(http://www.lemonde.fr/web/article/0,1-0@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. (http://www.lobbywatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=3622)
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 9030(http://www.csiro.au/csiro/content/standard/pssp,,.html)
10 - Bt Corn Linked to Hog Breeding Problems (May 20, 2002), in http://www.gmfreecymru.org.uk/crops_bt.htm
- 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. (http://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/members/2005/7728/7728.pdf )
11 Report for the Chardon LL Hearing, Non-Suitability of Genetically Engineered Feed for Animals, Dr. Eva Novotny, Scientists for Global Responsibility (May 2002). (http://www.sgr.org.uk/GenEng/animalfeel_all.pdf )
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 www.seedsofdeception.com/Public/Newsletter/Oct05RatsDieWhenMothersEatGMSoy/index.cfm
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 Number.
16 Townsend M. (March 12, 1999) "Why Soya is a hidden destroyer," Daily Express.
17 Smith J. (2003), Seeds of Deception, Chapter 4 Deadly Epidemic, Yes! Books 2003. See also www.seedsofdeception.com, 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 http://www.seedsofdeception.com/utility/showArticle/?objectID=36 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 (http://www.defra.gov.uk/environment/gm/fse/results/fse-summary-05.pdf )
22 Koechlin, F (March 1999) "Bt Crops and Their Impacts on Insects and Food Webs" ( http://www.biotech-info.net/insects2.html )
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. (http://www.defra.gov.uk/environment/gm/research/pdf/epg_1-5-151.pdf )
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) ( http://www.greenparty.org.uk/news/836 )
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.