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 Although, this is an older post … the concerns raised are still VALID – The Canadian

 

“The Canadian GM risk assessment process is so simplistic that not a single submission has ever been rejected in Canada. Everything submitted, almost wholly by industry, has been accepted,” according to Ann Clark PhD, one of this country’s leading experts on the dangers of genetically modified organisms.

“The Canadian GM regulatory process is a ruse, claiming to safeguard human and environmental health, but actually intended to facilitate commercialization of GM crops,” according to Dr. Clark.

In a 2005 brief to Parliament regarding its controversial Bill C-27, Clark warned that if the federal government passes the pending Canadian Food Inspection Agency Enforcement Act, it will have voted to, “Facilitate international trade primarily by streamlining inspections, replacing Canadian assessment with those by foreign powers, and harmonizing regulations with the US and other countries, all of which challenge, rather than safeguard, the health and safety of Canadians.”

Clark is an outspoken critic of Canada’s regulatory policies and the processes related to field trials and commercial production of genetically modified crops, whether modified to produce pesticides in every cell of the plant, to resist spraying by soil-sterilizing herbicides, or to produce proteins for medicinal or industrial uses.

She provided expert advice to the Royal Society of Canada Expert Panel on Food Biotechnology in 2001. The panel, the most influential and respected group of scientists in the country, concluded that the “regulatory process was severely flawed,” despite the government’s claim that ours is the best regulatory system in the world.

Beth Burrows, president and director of the Edmonds Institute, a public interest organization working on ecology, technology and social justice, tells us that “Genetic engineering increasingly means agribusiness and pharmaceuticals, two industries already important as sources of funding for science, higher education and those who run for office. Talking biosafety can mean putting one’s job and financial security at risk.”

“Even diplomats charged by their governments to discuss biosafety balk at doing so, perhaps because they are also charged to protect their countries’ industrial interests. The discussions that took place during the biosafety protocol negotiations begun in 1995 under the aegis of the UN Convention on Biodiversity were almost surreal in their avoidance of the topic [of bio-safety],” she stated recently.

Burrows ought to know. She has spent more than a decade attending UN biodiversity meetings and continues to provide vital background information on biosafety issues to Third World delegates negotiating these international agreements. Beth Burrows is founder of the non-profit public interest think tank, the Edmonds Institute, a “group of smart, passionate people working flat-out for environmental and social justice.”

These critical remarks should be read in light of growing evidence of extremely serious impacts on health, environment and the livelihoods of Third World farmers. A European regulatory requirement for genetic safety testing, which is not required in Canada or the US, has revealed genetic instability in many GM crop varieties.

Scientists are finding harmful impacts on soil micro-organisms, beneficial insects and laboratory animals exposed to genetically modified crops and GE food. Farmers in India are committing suicide by the hundreds in Andra Pradesh and other states because of GM crop failures. (www.navdanya.org/articles/seeds_suicide.htm)

People and animals have become ill and even died after consumption or exposure to products containing genetically modified organisms. Unlike traditional plant breeding, in genetic engineering of crops, unrelated organisms, such as bacteria, are snipped apart and sections of their genes inserted into plants with unpredictable results. www.gmwatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=5705

Ann Clark and Beth Burrows are outspoken citizens of Canada and the US respectively who are not afraid to speak truth to power.

Pat Howard is a professor of communications at SFU. phoward@popserver.sfu.ca

Arne Hansen is a Vancouver writer and can be contacted at abhansen@journalist.com

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Pick up a box of cereal or other packaged food at the grocery store, and chances are you’re looking at a genetically modified product. The Center for Food Safety, a nonprofit organization that seeks sustainable alternatives to harmful methods of food production technologies, estimates that more than 70 percent of the processed foods in U.S. grocery stores contain some genetically modified ingredients — mostly corn or soy. But, in most cases, these modified foods have received only limited testing.

For example, take the three genetically modified corn varieties already being sold by Monsanto that are the subject of new analysis by French scientists. Two of the varieties have been genetically modified to contain unique proteins designed to kill insects that eat them, and the third variety was engineered to tolerate Roundup, Monsanto’s best-selling herbicide. Foods containing this “modified” corn are now being eaten by people all around the world, but the French researchers contend that Monsanto’s studies do not prove the corns are safe to consume.

Under current U.S. law, corporations are not required to make industry-conducted studies public. But, in this case, thanks to a lawsuit and the involvement of European governments and Greenpeace attorneys, these studies were released for independent analysis by scientists not being paid by Monsanto.

The researchers, affiliated with the Committee for Independent Research and Information on Genetic Engineering (an independent, nonprofit association dedicated to studying the impacts of genetically modified organisms), published their detailed critique of the Monsanto studies in the International Journal of Biological Sciences (2009; 5:706-726). They concluded that the data — which Monsanto claimed proved the corn varieties were safe to eat — actually suggest potential kidney and liver problems resulting from consumption of all three modified corn varieties, as well as negative effects in the heart, adrenal glands, and spleen. The findings confirm a 2007 report from the same researchers on a single variety of modified corn.

An Apple Is an Apple Is a Genetically Modified Apple?

The new report also concludes that the Monsanto rat-feeding studies were so small and so brief that they clearly lack sufficient statistical power to prove the corn varieties are safe. So, why did governments grant permission to farmers to grow this genetically modified corn? Back in 1992, the industry persuaded the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to rule that their crops are “substantially equivalent” to traditionally bred crops. This assumption — that genetically modified foods pose no particular risk — has led to our current system of weak regulatory oversight.

Currently the only genetically engineered (GE) food crops commercially produced in Australia are cotton and canola. They can both be labelled under ‘vegetable oil’ without any indication that they are GE. Processed food commonly contains GE ingredients mainly through imported corn, soy and cottonseed oil.

GE crops pose a very real threat to our food because as living organisms they can reproduce and spread. Their effects are irreversible as once they have been released they cannot be recalled.

Concerns over genetically engineered (GE) food include unknown health risks, threats to biodiversity, contamination of conventional and organic crops, increase in pesticide and herbicide use and control over our food by multinational chemical companies who legally own the patents on the technology.

 

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