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Global calls for review of GM policy

1.Austria wants EU review of GM corn policy
2.Europe: GMO safety concerns - time to act
3.UK Government effectively guided by money not science
4.NZ: Immediate withdrawal of unsafe GM corn vital
5.France orders probe after rat study links GM to cancer
6.Suspect GM corn on the market in Canada since 2001
7.New long term research finds GM maize and Roundup increases death and cancer rates in rats


VIDEOS on the new study:
GMO - GLOBAL ALERT
http://www.ogm-alerte-mondiale.net/?lang=en
Experts discuss the findings of the GM cancer trial
http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=3SzXvBwvhd4

EXTRACTS: "One thing is clear: Given this study the European Commission has to rethink its verification practices and the approval process must get an in-depth review" - Austria's minister for agriculture and the environment (item 1)

The results raise serious new issues that need to be addressed by the EU's approval process including mandatory long term testing, and testing that includes the herbicides used in real farming situations. (item 2)

As well as posing unnecessary risks to human health, GMOs destroy biodiversity, lead to increased costs for conventional farmers, increase corporate control of the food chain, and fail to combat global hunger. (item 2)

...Defra effectively admitted that money, rather than science would govern its decision making on the matter of GM. (item 3)

"...why was it approved a decade ago without the necessary evidence that it was safe to eat? New Zealand has more than 70 GE foods approved for sale in New Zealand to date, and these approvals were mostly based on health studies that were 90 days long or less. This new research recorded effects for two years and the tumours and deaths showed up after that previous 90 day cut off point." (item 4)

"For the first time ever, a GM organism and a herbicide have been evaluated for their long-term impact on health, and more thoroughly than by governments or the industry. The results are alarming." (item 5)

"Health Canada must re-evaluate the safety of all GM foods based on these results and halt new approvals until we have long-term testing and transparent regulation. Are Canadians expected to continue eating GM corn? The federal government needs to redesign the entire system that approves GM foods because our regulations are not designed to look for the types of problems these scientists have found... We cannot rely on science from companies to prove safety. We need to turn to the precautionary principle to keep Canadians safe and this means keeping GM foods off the shelves." (item 6)

"We need urgently find out if Roundup residues are coming through into the human diet as a result of GM Roundup Ready maize being fed to livestock, poultry and farmed fish. Monsanto should do the ethical thing and withdraw such GM crops from the market until they are proven to be safe as well as being held fully liable for the health impacts of their products". (item 7)

NOTE: Sadly, referring the study to bodies like the European Food Safety Agency is likely to be a complete waste of time given that the EFSA is distinguished by longstanding and "scandalously close links between its members and the industry, and a lack of independence," as Greenpeace notes.
http://ogm.greenpeace.fr/nocivite-des-ogm-pour-la-sante-de-nouveaux-resultats-accablants
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1.Austria wants EU review of GM corn policy
Reuters, September 20 2012
http://af.reuters.com/article/commoditiesNews/idAFL5E8KKEFE20120920

VIENNA - Austria's minister for agriculture and the environment called on the European Commission to review its approval process for genetically modified (GM) food after a controversial French study linked a kind of GM corn to higher health risks in rats.

French scientists said on Wednesday that rats fed on Monsanto's GM corn or exposed to its top-selling weedkiller saw a higher incidence of tumours and organ damage and died earlier than those on a standard diet.

The French government asked its health watchdog to investigate the findings, although a number of scientists questioned the study's basic methods and Monsanto said it felt confident its products had been proven safe.

Calling the study a justification of consumer concern about GM products, Niki Berlakovich said Austria - like France a hardliner against GM food - would thoroughly examine results of the French study when they were available.

"One thing is clear: Given this study the European Commission has to rethink its verification practices and the approval process must get an in-depth review," he said in a statement.

Austria has banned all the genetically modified plants allowed by the EU, Berlakovich noted, adding: "We want to decide for ourselves in the future as well and keep the ban on plantings to protect out environment and our consumers."

Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are deeply unpopular in Europe but dominate major crops in the United States.

Europe's food safety agency advisory panel on GMOs has already expressed the opinion that NK603 - a seed variety made tolerant to dousings of Monsanto's Roundup weedkiller and the one used in the French study - is as safe as conventional maize.

But that opinion was based on 90-day studies, while the latest study tracked rats over two years.

 


2.GMO safety concerns - time to act
Friends of the Earth Europe, 20 September 2012
http://www.foeeurope.org/new-research-safety-concerns-GMOs-200912

*Friends of the Earth Europe calls for immediate suspension of GM foods

Brussels, September 20 Friends of the Earth Europe is calling for immediate action by the EU to protect public health following yesterday's publication of new research [1] which raises concerns about the safety of genetically modified (GM) crops and the herbicides used on them.

The peer-reviewed research in the internationally respected journal Food and Chemical Toxicology found significantly increased rates of cancer and death in rats fed both Monsanto’s GM maize and its herbicide Roundup.

Fifteen similar GM maizes and four GM soybeans that use Roundup are approved for consumption in the EU, and the research raises questions about the safety of all of these products. [2] Friends of the Earth Europe is calling for an immediate suspension of imports of all GM foods and feeds on which the herbicide Roundup is used.

Mute Schimpf, food campaigner for Friends of the Earth Europe said: "This research raises new questions about the safety of genetically modified foods. It is now time for the EU to act to protect public health. On the basis of this research, national governments and the European Commission should immediately suspend all similar GM foods and halt all further GMO approvals."

The maize tested in the new study, Monsanto’s NK603, has been modified so that it can survive spraying by Monsanto's own herbicide Roundup whilst all other plants in the field are destroyed. In the current EU safety checks only short term tests of 90 days are conducted to assess the potential risks. Longer tests, as conducted in this new research are not required.

The results raise serious new issues that need to be addressed by the EU's approval process including mandatory long term testing, and testing that includes the herbicides used in real farming situations.

A new safety assessment to be voted by EU member states in the coming weeks does not foresee these checks.

Friends of the Earth Europe is calling for:

*National governments and EU safety authorities to suspend immediately from the market all GM products with a resistance to the herbicide Roundup (glyphosate).[3]
*The European Commission to suspend all new GMO approvals and to start a root-and-branch reform of how the risks of GM foods are assessed.
*The EU to review the safety of the herbicide Roundup (glyphosate), including the link between GM crops and the use of this herbicide.

As well as posing unnecessary risks to human health, Friends of the Earth Europe believes GMOs destroy biodiversity, lead to increased costs for conventional farmers, increase corporate control of the food chain, and fail to combat global hunger.

NOTES

[1]  Food and Chemical Toxicology, Gilles-Eric Séralini (2012) Long term toxicity of a Roundup herbicide and a Roundup-tolerant genetically modified maize
http://research.sustainablefoodtrust.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Final-Paper.pdf

[2] Approved GM maizes with tolerance to glyphosate authorised in the EU:

Maize (DAS1507xNK603) authorised until 2017
Maize (GA 21) authorised until 2018
Maize (NK 603) authorised until 2015
Maize (NK603 x MON810) authorised until 2017
Maize (Mon88017) authorised until 2019
Maize (59122xNK603) authorised until 2019
Maize (MON863xMON810xNK603) authorised until 2020
Maize (Bt11xGA21) authorised until 2020
Maize (MON88017xMON810) authorised until 2020
Maize (MON863 x NK603) authorised until 2020
Maize (MON89034 xNK603) authorised until 2020
Maize (59122x1507xNK603) authorised until  2020
Maize (MON89034 xMON88017) authorised until 2021
Maize (MIR604 xGA21) authorised until 2021
Maize (Bt11xMIR604xGA21) authorised until 2021

(15 maize in total, 5 combined stacked events with NK603)

GM soybeans with tolerance to glyphosate authorised in the EU:

Soybean (MON89788) authorised until 2018
Soybean (MON40-3-2) authorised until 2022
Soybean (356043) authorised until 2022
Soybean (MON87701 x MON89788) authorised until 2022

[3] EU law allows member states to take immediate action to protect public health from GM risks:

Regulation 1829/2003 Article 34

Emergency measures
Where it is evident that products authorised by or in accordance with this Regulation are likely to constitute a serious risk to human health, animal health or the environment, or where, in the light of an opinion of the Authority issued under Article 10 or Article 22, the need to suspend or modify urgently an authorisation arises, measures shall be taken under the procedures provided for in Articles 53 and 54 of Regulation (EC) No 178/2002.

 


3.French study links GM maize to tumours in rats
Farming Online, 19 September 2012
http://www.farming.co.uk/news/article/7202

Researchers from the University of Caen, France have found tumours in rats fed a lifetime diet of Monsanto's genetically modified maize.

The study, published on Wednesday (19th September) in the peer reviewed journal Food and Chemical Toxicology, revealed rats fed on Monsanto's glyphosate-resistant NK603 seeds, or given water contaminated with glyphosate (sold as Roundup by the company) died earlier than a control group and suffered tumours and organ damage. The perturbing findings were unveiled at an event in London on Wednesday.

French researchers have claimed rats fed on GM maize suffered adverse effects

According to Gilles-Eric Seralini, who led the research, rats fed on the GM diet suffered liver and kidney damage and mammary tumours. 50 per cent of male rats and 70 per cent of females on the GM diet died prematurely, compared to 20 and 30 per cent in the control group. Tumours also tended to develop earlier in rats fed on the GM diet.

The researchers who conducted the tests are known to be staunch critics of the GM industry, and have previously conducted research which found similar results in rats. In 2009, research conducted by a number of French institutions, which included work by Seralini, demonstrated that rats fed on varieties of GM maize suffered side effects which researchers put down to the novel organisms in their diet. The varieties tested included including NK 603 and MON 810, the only GM crop currently licensed for cultivation in the EU.

The researchers said then that their investigation “clearly reveals”¦ side- effects linked with GM maize consumption, which were sex- and often dose-dependent. Effects were mostly associated with the kidney and liver; the dietary detoxifying organs.” They concluded that, judging by the effect on rats, “Unintended direct or indirect metabolic consequences of the genetic modification cannot be excluded.”

Whereas that study was conducted over a shorter space of time (three months), the Food and Chemical Toxicology study tracks rats’ progress throughout their 2 year lifespan. The researchers said they feel their latest findings give a more authoritative and substantial evidence base to their concerns than their previous work, which Monsanto dismissed in 2009.

Professor Seralini said on Wednesday, “After less than a year of different GMO maize menus there was carnage among our rats to a degree I had not imagined.”

The French government has ordered national health and safety watchdog ANSES to investigate the findings. Agriculture Minister Stephane Le Foll, Ecology Minister Delphine Batho and Health and Social Affairs Minister Marisol Touraine announced they had commissioned an investigation into the findings on Wednesday. Cultivation of GM crops is currently banned in France, though the European Food Safety Authority had previously deemed NK603 to be "as safe as conventional maize."

Some scientists have been quick to criticise the study, suggesting the type of rat used in the experiments is prone to tumours, particularly mammary tumours, and especially if the rats’ food intake is not restricted. However, sceptics maintain that, as GM crops are such a novel invention and their use is often strictly guarded by patent owners, no information available would clearly demonstrate whether or not the crops are safe.  

In response to calls made last week by the UK government’s environmental watchdog to tighten regulation and scrutiny on GM crops, over potential environmental and safety concerns, Defra effectively admitted that money, rather than science would govern its decision making on the matter of GM. A department spokesperson said Defra is concerned with ensuring “choice can be exercised and economic interests appropriately protected” and expressed the intention to “Leave the normal operation of the market to determine whether or not an approved GM product gains acceptance.”

The Environmental Audit Committee, which reviews government policy decisions from an environmental perspective, had called on Westminster to introduce “Additional conditionalities applied to GM crops beyond those which form part of the EU environmental risk assessment and authorisation procedure,” and recommended that “A new independent body should be established to research, evaluate and report on the potential impacts on the environment of GM crops, and their impacts on farming and on the global food system.”

 


4.Immediate withdrawal of unsafe GE corn vital
Green Party, 20 September 2012
http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PA1209/S00316/immediate-withdrawal-of-unsafe-ge-corn-vital.htm

Research released yesterday shows the Government’s lax policy on genetic engineering is putting the health of New Zealanders at risk, the Green Party said today.

The peer-reviewed research, published in the Journal of Food and Toxicology, shows disturbing results about the health effects of eating a genetically engineered corn that has been approved for human consumption in New Zealand for the last 10 years.

The rats in this study, fed with Roundup ready corn with levels of Roundup that are within approved limits, developed mutations and tumours at a hugely alarming rate.

"There are now huge concerns over the safety of this corn. Eating this corn has now been proven to cause the growth of tumours, so why was it approved a decade ago without the necessary evidence that it was safe to eat?" Green Party genetic engineering spokesperson Steffan Browning asked today.

"New Zealand has more than 70 GE foods approved for sale in New Zealand to date, and these approvals were mostly based on health studies that were 90 days long or less. This new research recorded effects for two years and the tumours and deaths showed up after that previous 90 day cut off point.

"We now know that eating this corn, called NK603, causes tumours and we can’t be sure that any products containing these GE foods currently out there being eaten by New Zealanders are safe either.

“FSANZ must immediately recall any products that have this strain of GE corn as an ingredient and reassess all previous approvals for long term eating safety.

“New Zealanders don’t want to be part of a science experiment. They rely on the Government to make sure these products are safe before they are released for human consumption.

“Despite legal requirements, most GE foods are unlabelled so New Zealanders can’t even choose to avoid them.

“I am hopeful that this study is on the top of the Minister for Food Safety’s reading list this morning and that she will take immediate action to protect the health of New Zealanders.

“GE foods should not be in our food chain,” said Mr Browning.

Click here to read the article in the Journal of Food and Toxicology: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0278691512005637
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5.France orders probe after rat study links GM to cancer
Agence France-Presse (AFP), 19 September 2012
http://www.expatica.com/fr/news/french-news/france-orders-probe-after-rat-study-links-gm-to-cancer_244487.html

France's government on Wednesday asked a health watchdog to carry out a probe, possibly leading to EU suspension of a genetically-modified corn, after a study in rats linked the grain to cancer.

Agriculture Minister Stephane Le Foll, Ecology Minister Delphine Batho and Health and Social Affairs Minister Marisol Touraine said they had asked the National Agency for Health Safety (ANSES) to investigate the finding.

"Depending on ANSES' opinion, the government will urge the European authorities to take all necessary measures to protect human and animal health," they said in a joint statement.

"(The measures) could go as far as invoking emergency suspension of imports of NK603 corn to Europe pending a re-examination of this product on the basis of enhanced assessment methods."

Earlier, French scientists led by Gilles-Eric Seralini at the University of Caen in Normandy unveiled a study that said rats fed with NK603 corn or exposed to the weedkiller with which it is used developed tumours.

NK603 is a corn, also called maize, made by US agribusiness giant Monsanto.

It has been engineered to make it resistant to Monsanto's herbicide Roundup.

This enables farmers to douse fields with the weedkiller in a single go, thus offering substantial savings.

Genetically modified (GM) crops are widely grown in North America, Brazil and China but are a hot-button issue in Europe.

The study, published in the peer-reviewed journal Food and Chemical Toxicology, says it is the first to look at rats over their normal lifespan of two years.

"For the first time ever, a GM organism and a herbicide have been evaluated for their long-term impact on health, and more thoroughly than by governments or the industry," Seralini told AFP. "The results are alarming."

Two hundred male and female rats were split into 10 groups of 10 animals.

One was a "control" group which was given ordinary rat food that contained 33 percent non-GM corn, and plain water.

Three groups were given ordinary rat food and water with increasing doses of Roundup, reflecting various concentrations of the herbicide in the food chain.

The other six were fed rat food of which 11, 22 or 33 percent comprised NK603 corn, either treated or not with Roundup when the corn was grown.

The researchers found that NK603 and Roundup both caused similar damage to the rats' health, whether they were consumed together or on their own.

Premature deaths and sickness were concentrated especially among females.

At the 14-month stage of experiment, no animals in the control groups showed any signs of cancer, but among females in the "treated" groups, tumours affected between 10 and 30 percent of the rodents.

"By the beginning of the 24th month, 50-80 percent of female animals had developed tumours in all treated groups, with up to three tumours per animal, whereas only 30 percent of controls were affected," it said

Males which fell sick suffered liver damage, developed kidney and skin tumours and digestive problems.

Breaking with a long tradition in scientific journalism, the authors allowed a selected group of reporters to have access to the paper, provided they signed confidentiality agreements that prevented them from consulting other experts about the research before publication.

Green groups say GM crops could be dangerous to health and the environment, although this claim has so far found no traction in large-scale studies.

In 2009, the European Food Safety Agency (EFSA) panel on GM organisms determined that NK603 was "as safe as conventional maize".

"Maize NK603 and derived products are unlikely to have any adverse effect on human and animal health in the context of the intended uses," it said, delivering a judgement based in part on a 90-day feeding study on rats.

NK603 can be imported but cannot be grown in Europe.

Only Monsanto's MON810 transgenic corn and a gene-modified potato, Amflora, made by BASF, have authorisation for being grown in Europe.

However, Austria, Bulgaria, France, Greece, Hungary, Luxembourg and Romania have outlawed the growing of MON810 on their territory, citing the principle of precaution.

 


6.Unprecedented Safety Study Finds Harm from GM Corn
CBAN, September 20 2012
http://www.cban.ca/Press/Press-Releases/Unprecedented-Safety-Study-Finds-Harm-from-GM-Corn

Ottawa - The first-ever GM food safety study to test over the entire life span of laboratory rats (2 years) was published yesterday and found serious health impacts from eating Monsanto's genetically engineered (also called genetically modified or GM) corn NK603, which was approved in Canada in 2001. The peer-reviewed study also tested the impacts of consuming residues of Monsanto’s herbicide Roundup, the widest selling herbicide in the world.

"Health Canada has approved this GM corn and all other GM foods based on corporate tests that were too short to observe the severe health impacts that this study found," said Lucy Sharratt of the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network, “Health Canada has never looked past the 90 days of Monsanto’s studies. Canadians have been eating this particular GM corn since 2001.”

The study, published in the scientific journal “Food and Chemical Toxicology,” is the first animal feeding trial conducted over the lifetime of rats (700 days). Health Canada evaluates the safety of GM foods based on industry studies, the longest of which have been 90-day animal feeding trials. The study tested three different diets: GM corn, GM corn with herbicide residue and without.

Monsanto’s GM corn NX603 is herbicide tolerant meaning it is genetically engineered to withstand sprayings of Monsanto’s herbicide Roundup. Health Canada approved it in 2001. French media are reporting that the GM corn samples used in the study were secured from a Canadian university.

The new study observed that rats fed the GM corn, or Roundup, developed tumours faster and died earlier than rats fed non-GM corn. Furthermore, the first tumour was observed after 120 days, with the majority detected after 18 months.

The study shows GM corn can cause severe negative health effects in laboratory rats including mammary tumours and kidney and liver damage, leading to premature death.

* Fed GM corn or Roundup, up to 50% of males and 70% of females died prematurely, compared with only 30% and 20% in the control group.

* Females developed fatal mammary tumours and pituitary disorders. Males suffered liver damage, developed kidney and skin tumours and problems with their digestive system.

* Rats fed GM corn or Roundup developed 2-3 times more tumours.

* By the 24th month, 50% to 80% of the females had developed large tumours compared to 30% in the control group.

“Health Canada must re-evaluate the safety of all GM foods based on these results and halt new approvals until we have long-term testing and transparent regulation. Are Canadians expected to continue eating GM corn?” said Lucy Sharratt, “The federal government needs to redesign the entire system that approves GM foods because our regulations are not designed to look for the types of problems these scientists have found.”

“The safety of GM foods cannot be assumed, it needs to be tested,” said Sharratt, “We cannot rely on science from companies to prove safety. We need to turn to the precautionary principle to keep Canadians safe and this means keeping GM foods off the shelves.”

The government of France is already calling for action in the wake of the study. The relevant ministers in France say that the research confirms that European Union regulations on GM foods are insufficient in regards to the study of toxicological effects.

The study was conducted by a team led by molecular biologist and endocrinologist Professor Gilles-Eric Seralini of the University of Caen in France and was supported by the independent research organization CRIIGEN, the Committee of Research and Independent Information on Genetic Engineering.

-30-

For more information: Lucy Sharratt, Canadian Biotechnology Action Network, Temporary cell: 613 263 9511 for September 20-23 (after September 23, 613 241 2267 ext 25) ; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

* The published paper, pictures and further background can be found at http://research.sustainablefoodtrust.org/

* A video summary of the research and results can be found at <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Njd0RugGjAg&feature=youtu.be>

* Background on NK603 in Canada can be found at <http://www.cban.ca/Resources/Topics/Human-Health-Risks>

 


7.New long term research finds GM maize and Roundup increases death and cancer rates in rats
GM Freeze, 19 September 2012

A new, independent life-time study has found that a diet of Monsanto’s Roundup Ready maize increases the rates of death and cancer in laboratory rats[1].

The CRIIGEN research team [2] used Monsanto’s NK603 Round Up tolerant maize to feed rats over their whole life time. Feeding trails used to assess the safety of GM crops and herbicides, such as Roundup, do not normally go beyond 90 days in duration. In this study the rats were fed a diet of GM Maize, GM treated with Roundup and the parental variety of non-GM maize with and without access to Roundup treated water supply for up to two years.

The research found that death rates in rats fed GM maize was 70% in females and  50% in  males compared to the 20% and 30% in control animals. In females there were 2-3 times as many deaths as the controls.  Mammary tumours were the most common cause of death in females, In male rats treated animals showed increase problems with liver and kidneys.

The researchers suggest that the observed effects are due to the hormone disrupting effects of Roundup and the impacts on metabolism of the GM traits which makes the maize tolerant to Roundup. Monsanto's GM Roundup Ready maize currently mainly enters the UK as animal feed from North and South America.

Meat, milk and dairy products from GM-fed animals are not labelled.

Commenting Pete Riley of GM Freeze said:
"These results raise major doubts about the overall safety of GM crops and the herbicide Roundup. The length of the feeding study goes well beyond that required in official risk assessments and are this more like exposure levels of animals and people consuming such crops. Regulators across the world should suspend approvals for GM crops  sprayed with  Roundup. When this weed killer is applied directly to the growing crop food and feed are far more likely to have higher residues present.

"We need urgently find out if Roundup residues are coming through into the human diet as a result of GM Roundup Ready maize being fed to livestock, poultry and farmed fish.

"Monsanto should do the ethical thing and withdraw such GM crops from the market until they are proven to be safe as well as being held fully liable for the health impacts of their products".

Calls to: Pete Riley, GM Freeze 07903 341 065

Notes

1. Séralini G-E, Clair E, Mesnage R, Gress S, Defarge N, Malatesta M, Hennequin D, Spiroux de Vendômois J, 2012. Long term toxicity of a Roundup herbicide and a Roundup-tolerant genetically modified maize. Food and Chemical Toxicology.   (copy available on request)
2. CRIIGEN (Committee for Research & Independent Information on Genetic
Engineering)
http://www.criigen.org/SiteEn/index.php?option=com_content&task=blogcategory&id=52&Itemid=103