Bogus consensus on GMO safety

February 2015

Evidence-free claims that there is now a "consensus" on the safety of GMOs have been firmly quashed by a fully referenced, "objective analysis of the scientific literature".

The paper was prepared by 15 scientists, backed by a joint statement from over 300 accredited experts in science, medicine, sociology, law and risk assessment. It has been peer-reviewed and published in a scientific journal.

As the authors point out, the science to date is clearly contradictory and gives no basis for any consensus. This isn't surprising because the research methods themselves are neither standardised nor agreed, the procedures in use are still not adequate, analysis and interpretation lack rigor allowing, for example, significant differences to be dismissed as "unimportant". An inherent bias is evident due to the constraints of limited independent funding, patents, and industry control over access to research materials and over publication. Fierce, defamatory responses to disturbing data, plus a failure to follow up scientific concerns, (and also manipulation of the media, for example see [1], [2],and [3]), have been employed to shore up the climate of complacency fostered by vested commercial and academic interests, and by regulators.

Besides the lack of consensus in the scientific literature, the authors point out the absence of epidemiological studies in human populations, the lack of united positive support from major medical associations (inluding Canada, UK and USA), and the use of politically-guided reports designed to promote GM.

Regarding the hundreds of studies claimed to "document the general safety and wholesomeness of GM foods and feeds", the authors highlight that few of these are toxicological investigations, many are too short to pick up anything more than the most acute toxic reaction, and any signs of toxicity have largely been dismissed without scientific grounds.

International agreements such as the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety and the UN Codex Alimentarius recognise the risks posed by GM crops and the unresolved state of existing scientific understanding.

In conclusion, the paper stresses the need for "strong scientific evidence on the long-term safety of GM crops and foods for human and animal health and the environment, obtained in a manner that is honest, ethical, rigorous, independent, transparent, and sufficiently diversified to compensate for bias."

OUR COMMENT

The only consensus possible is that the science on GM food and feed safety has gaps and is inconclusive.

How did such a patchy body of science manage to become a 'proof'' of GM safety?

In the case of the biotech industry and related vested interests it can only be wilful ignorance.

In the case of the regulators, who seem to be caught up in a current of industry spin designed to swamp any lone dissenting voice, it is ignorant wilfulness.

Next time you spot this silly lie echoing around the media, tell them that the GM debate is not over because there is no consensus on its safety. Send the editor Hillbeck's paper below and suggest that a little more properly researched and balanced journalism would be in order.


Background
[1] WESTMINSTER'S PRO- GM PUSH - January 2013
[2] WHEN NON-NEWS IS BAD NEWS - April 2013
[3] THE NEW YEAR GM PEP-TALK - February 2014

SOURCES
  • Angelika Hilbeck, et al., 2015, No scientific consensus on GMO safety, Environmental Sciences Europe, http://dx.doi.org/10/1186/s12302-14-0034-1
  • Clair Robinson, Who says GMOs are safe? And who says they're not? Beyond GM, 8.12.14

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