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Government: listen to genetic engineers’ verdict on GM food

“10 reasons we don’t need GM foods”, a new short report from genetic engineers Dr Michael Antoniou and Dr John Fagan, the authors of “GMO Myths and Truths”, is published today as a free download by the sustainability and science policy platform Earth Open Source.

Download short report:http://earthopensource.org/index.php/reports/10-reasons-we-don-t-need-gm-foods

Claire Robinson, third co-author of the new report, said:

10 reasons no GM food cover“At just 11 pages plus references, ’10 reasons’ is designed for people who may not have the time to read ‘GMO Myths and Truths’, which extends to 330 pages. ’10 reasons’ is ideal for giving to friends, family, politicians, and journalists, when a longer document is not appropriate.

” ’10 reasons’ explains that GM crops do not increase yield potential or reduce pesticide use. Nor can they help us meet the challenges of climate change any better than existing non-GM crops, or deliver more nutritious foods. GM crops have been shown to have toxic effects on laboratory and farm animals.

“There is only one way in which GM crops outperform non-GM crops: they are easier to patent in a way that guarantees ownership not only of that GM plant variety but also all plants bred from it. This process enables consolidated ownership of the seed and food market by a few large companies on a scale that has never happened before.

“That is a recipe for loss of food sovereignty and security. It is the opposite to feeding the world – the line we are constantly fed to justify the introduction of GM crops.”

“10 reasons” is based on the extensive evidence collected in “GMO Myths and Truths”.

Download full report “GMO Myths and Truths” (2nd edition published 19 May 2014):
http://earthopensource.org/index.php/reports/gmo-myths-and-truths

Contact Claire Robinson claire.robinson@earthopensource.org

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The political-corporate drive for imposing GM crops continues: the PM’s new scientific advisor says there is ‘strong case’ for it

Dr Mark WalportDr Michael AntoniouBut who would know more about genetic modification: immunologist Dr Mark Walport, (right) – the prime minister’s news scientific adviser –  who before heading the Wellcome Trust specialised in medical research, or Dr Michael Antoniou who specialises in molecular biology and gene structure at Kings College, UCL?

A survey by the Food Standards Agency last year found that two in three people believe food from animals given a GM diet should be described as such. And a British Science Association study showed public support for GM food declining from 46% in 2002 to 27%.

Concerns have been raised over ministers’ secret meetings with GM lobby groups – details of which emerged only following freedom of information requests.

A large and growing body of scientific and other authoritative evidence from farmers shows that many of the claims made are not true. Evidence presented in the GMO Myths and Truths report of which Dr Michael Antoniou is lead author, indicates that GM crops:
  • cannot solve the problem of world hunger but distract from its real causes – poverty, lack of access to food and, increasingly, lack of access to land to grow it on.
  • are laboratory-made, using technology that is totally different from natural breeding methods, and pose different risks from non-GM crops,
  • do not reduce pesticide use but increase it,
  • can be toxic, allergenic or less nutritious than their natural counterparts,
  • create serious problems for farmers, including herbicide-tolerant “superweeds” and increased disease susceptibility in crops,
  • are not adequately regulated to ensure safety,
  • harm soil quality, disrupt ecosystems, and reduce biodiversity,
  • do not increase yield potential, and
  • are as energy-hungry as any other chemically-farmed crops.
As Peter Riley of GM Freeze says, ‘The push for GM is being orchestrated by large industry rather than in the interest of the consumer or public health.’

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DEFRA and other government departments, please note this article in The Grocer and resist corporate blandishments

The Grocer, not usually seen as a hotbed of radical protest, reports Monsanto GM  products implicated in ‘shocking’ new cancer study

The Grocer, a market-leading weekly magazine celebrating its 150th anniversary this year, is read by directors of the large multiples to independent retailers, wholesalers and suppliers, as well as growers, food processors, manufacturers, key opinion formers and the national media.

Yesterday its senior reporter, Elinor Zuke, wrote about a peer-reviewed study conducted by a team of researchers at the University of Caen, which has just been published in the scientific journal Food and Chemical Toxicology, though a link to the study is not yet online there.

The research found that rats fed on a diet containing NK603 Roundup resistant GM maize, or given water containing Monsanto’s Roundup at levels permitted in drinking water, over a two-year period, died significantly earlier than rats fed on a standard diet. Even rats exposed to the smallest amounts developed mammary tumours and severe liver and kidney damage as early as four months in males, and seven months for females, compared with 23 and 14 months respectively for a control group.

In 2008, in response to a Greenpeace press release, Monsanto made a statement on safety allegations related to transgenic maize NK603, published on its website.

Dr Michael Antoniou, molecular biologist at King’s College London, and a member of CRIIGEN, the independent scientific council which supported the Caen research, said: “This research shows an extraordinary number of tumours developing earlier and more aggressively – particularly in female animals. I am shocked by the extreme negative health impacts. The rat has long been used as a surrogate for human toxicity. All new pharmaceutical, agricultural and household substances are, prior to their approval, tested on rats. This is as good an indicator as we can expect that the consumption of GM maize and the herbicide Roundup, impacts seriously on human health”.

Roundup is widely available in the UK, and recommended on Gardeners Question Time, but the team found that even the lowest doses of Roundup, which fall well within authorised limits in drinking tap water, were associated with severe health problems.

A consultation led by DEFRA’s  Green Food Project  recommended as recently as 10 July 2012 that GM must be reassessed as a possible solution:

 

As yet, GM maize is not consumed directly by humans in the UK and Europe but is widely used in animal feed without the requirement for GM labelling.

A video link was given to a film – under three minutes long – in which an overview of the situation and research is given in plain language and the affected rats seen live.

 

Media 19: Why is John Innes Centre ‘winning’ £6m for GM research headline news – but not Government’s £445m?

A month after the event, the BBC has announced Gates Foundation funding for John Innes’ GM research – but fails to mention that this is minute compared with the British government’s contribution:

A team of British plant scientists has won a $10m (£6.4m) grant from the Gates Foundation to develop GM cereal crops. It is one of the largest single investments into GM in the UK and will be used to cultivate corn, wheat and rice that need little or no fertiliser. It comes at a time when bio-tech researchers are trying to allay public fears over genetic modification. The work at the John Innes Centre in Norwich is hoped to benefit African farmers who cannot afford fertiliser.

News? With no reference to genetic modification, this funding was first tactfully announced a month ago on the Gates Foundation website:

“Purpose: to test the feasibility of developing cereal crops capable of fixing nitrogen as an environmentally-sustainable approach for small farmers in sub-Saharan Africa to increase maize yields – Date: June 2012”

To date it is not mentioned in the online news section of the John Innes Centre, which describes itself as ‘an independent, international centre of excellence in plant science and microbiology’. 

Why does John Innes describe itself as ‘independent’?

Its website clearly says that more than 50% of its income is from UK government sources, with the majority – for ‘strategic funding’ – from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council [BBSRC.]  It is now the Norwich base of the Sainsbury Laboratory.

Its total income was not found online, but in May this year the Minister for Universities and Science, David Willetts, announced substantial funding for the UK’s bioscience research base: John Innes Centre (JIC), Norwich – £42M   

BBSRC background 

BBRC’s website informs us that it is one of 7 Research Councils that work together as Research Councils UK (RCUK) – funded by the Government’s Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS). Its budget for 2011-12 is around £445M, and it supports around 1600 scientists and 2000 research students in universities and institutes across the UK. 

Taking lessons from Goebbels?

PCU deplores media manipulation, designed to downplay the governmental support and funding for a technology while it repeatedly claims that the public is gradually finding the growing and consumption of GM crops more acceptable.

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For those new to the subject we recommend the GMO Myths and Truths report

Published by Earth Open Source, a not-for-profit organization, it was researched and written by Dr Michael Antoniou, reader in molecular genetics and head, Gene Expression and Therapy Group, King’s College London School of Medicine, London, UK,  Dr John Fagan, founder and chief scientific officer of one of the world’s first GMO testing and certification companies who earlier conducted cancer research at the US National Institutes of Health and Claire Robinson, MPhil, who has a background in investigative reporting and the communication of topics relating to public health, science and policy, and the environment.

Their summarised points are listed on a sister website.