Daily News Archive
Finds Flaws in Biotech Crop Safety Tests
(Beyond Pesticides, November 18, 2004) A peer-reviewed
scientific paper published today in Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering
Reviews debunks the myth that biotech or genetically modified (GM)
crops are thoroughly tested, regulated and proven safe. The paper, “Safety
Testing and Regulation of Genetically Engineered Foods,” reveals
fundamental flaws in how biotech companies test and the U.S. government
regulates GM crops. The paper thus raises serious questions about whether
GM foods, which have been on the market since 1994, are in fact safe,
as claimed by the biotech industry and U.S. regulators.
The scientific paper includes a comprehensive case study of two types
of insecticide-producing GM corn (specifically the MON810 variety of
biotech giant Monsanto Co.), showing how flawed testing and regulation
allowed these varieties to enter into world markets despite evidence
that they could cause food allergies. The European Union recently approved
17 corn hybrids derived from MON810 over the objections of several European
Authors David Schubert, Ph.D., a cell biologist and medical researcher
at California’s Salk Institute, and William Freese, a research
analyst with Friends of the Earth U.S, based their meticulously documented,
25-page paper on nearly 100 sources, including little-known U.S. regulatory
documents and unpublished studies by biotech companies.
“One thing that surprised us is that U.S. regulators rely almost
exclusively on information provided by the biotech crop developer, and
those data are not published in journals or subjected to peer review,”
said Dr. Schubert. In one case, EPA ignored a published study by a Food
and Drug Administration (FDA) scientist suggesting that GM corn could
cause food allergies, and relied on studies by Monsanto and Syngenta
The US is the world’s largest exporter of GM crops and accounts
for nearly two-thirds of all biotech crops planted globally. GM soy
and GM corn account for 83 percent of all GM crops planted on the planet.
“The picture that emerges from our study of U.S. regulation of
GM foods is a rubber-stamp ‘approval process’ designed to
increase public confidence in, but not ensure the safety of, genetically
engineered foods,” said Dr. Schubert.
Mr. Freese added, “GM food regulation in the U.S. bears as little
relation to good science as the typical used car advert to the true
state of the automobile. Both are designed to sell a product.”
The authors outlined recommendations for making regulation of GM crops
more grounded in science.
For more information on the study, see the Friends of the Earth press
TAKE ACTION: Protect our land and food from
genetically engineered ingredients and crops by buying USDA certified
organic products. Lobby your supermarket to label GM food. Support local
efforts to prohibit growing GM crops. Contact your U.S.
Senators and U.S.
Representative, U.S.EPA Administrator Michael
Leavitt, and USDA Secretary Ann M.
Veneman and put pressure on them to toughen the regulation of GM
crops so that it is scientifically based. . For more information, see
Beyond Pesticides' Genetic Engineering Page.