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The key scientific evidence on GM crops

NOTE: Check out this excellent summary of the key scientific evidence, drawing on 114 different studies plus other authoritative documents, on the risks of GM crops and the many safer alternatives.

Link plus a couple of extracts, to give a flavour, below on:
+ Small animal feeding studies
+ Are GM foods more nutritious?
All references at the link.

Please distribute widely. It's also possible to download this summary as a leaflet for printing.
GM CROPS: research documenting the limitations, risks, and alternatives


Animal studies on GM foods give cause for concern

Although studies on humans have not been done, scientists are reporting a growing number of studies that examine the effects of GM foods on laboratory animals. These studies, summarized below, raise serious concerns regarding the safety of GM foods for humans as well as animals.

+ Small animal feeding studies

* Rats fed GM tomatoes developed stomach ulcerations8
* Liver, pancreas and testes function was disturbed in mice fed GM soya9 10 11
* GM peas caused allergic reactions in mice12
* Rats fed GM oilseed rape developed enlarged livers, often a sign of toxicity13
* GM potatoes fed to rats caused excessive growth of the lining of the gut similar to a pre-cancerous condition14 15
* Rats fed insecticide-producing GM maize grew more slowly, suffered problems with liver and kidney function, and showed higher levels of certain fats in their blood16
* Rats fed GM insecticide-producing maize over three generations suffered damage to liver and kidneys and showed alterations in blood biochemistry17
* Old and young mice fed with GM insecticide-producing maize showed a marked disturbance in immune system cell populations and in biochemical activity18
* Mice fed GM insecticide-producing maize over four generations showed a buildup of abnormal structural changes in various organs (liver, spleen, pancreas), major changes in the pattern of gene function in the gut, reflecting disturbances in the chemistry of this organ system (e.g. in cholesterol production, protein production and breakdown), and, most significantly, reduced fertility19
* Mice fed GM soya over their entire lifetime (24 months) showed more acute signs of ageing in their liver20
* Rabbits fed GM soya showed enzyme function disturbances in kidney and heart21.

+ Are GM foods more nutritious?

There are no commercially available GM foods with improved nutritional value. Currently available GM foods are no better and in some cases are less nutritious than natural foods. Some have been proven in tests to be toxic or allergenic.

Examples include:

* GM soya had 12 14% lower amounts of cancer-fighting isoflavones than non-GM soya34
* Oilseed rape engineered to have vitamin A in its oil had much reduced vitamin E and altered oil-fat composition35
* Human volunteers fed a single GM soya bean meal showed that GM DNA can survive processing and is detectable in the digestive tract. There was evidence of horizontal gene transfer to gut bacteria36 37. Horizontal gene transfer of antibiotic resistance and Bt insecticide genes from GM foods into gut bacteria is an extremely serious issue. This is because the modified gut bacteria could become resistant to antibiotics or become factories for Bt insecticide. While Bt in its natural form has been safely used for years as an insecticide in farming, Bt toxin genetically engineered into plant crops has been found to have potential ill health effects on laboratory animals38 39 40
* In the late 1980s, a food supplement produced using GM bacteria was toxic41, initially killing 37 Americans and making more than 5,000 others seriously ill.
* Several experimental GM food products (not commercialised) were found to be harmful:
* People allergic to Brazil nuts had allergic reactions to soya beans modified with a Brazil nut gene42
* The GM process itself can cause harmful effects. GM potatoes caused toxic reactions in multiple organ systems43 44. GM peas caused a 2-fold allergic reaction the GM protein was allergenic and stimulated an allergic reaction to other food components45. This raises the question of whether GM foods cause an increase in allergies to other substances.