Unsafe GM maize a trigger for food shortages?

October 2012 
The reaction of the pro-GM lobby to the long-term experiment which found evidence of harm from NK603 GM maize and its companion herbicide, had all the hallmarks of a full-scale panic (see UNSAFE GM MAIZE A TRIGGER FOR US LABELLING - October 2012).

The more savvy have identified the biotech industry itself as being behind the furore. Biotech finger-prints were all over the scientists who immediately jumped up and tore the study apart in their customary ungentlemanly and unscientific fashion. Not to mention the industry-funded Science Media Centre which rushed to feed all the correct 'science' to the media, most of whom dutifully repeated it. Add to these, who knows what lobbyists (including, it seems, members of the GM assessment panel itself) were primed to make sure the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) took the right pro-GM decisions. All this happened in record time as befits a pre-planned and orchestrated suppression of unwelcome news. Just what the biotech industry PR boys do best.

However, here's another interesting angle to the bigger picture. What are the chances the order to kill the offending science with all possible speed came directly from the Whitehouse? A hotline from the US administration to key parties in Europe?
If that sounds far-fetched, consider the position the USA has got itself into.

Pride in false and misleading advertising

October 2012

In 1996, the Attorney General of New York ordered Monsanto to pull advertisements that misrepresented Roundup herbicide as “safer than table salt” and “practically nontoxic” to wildlife. A decade on, the Company was convicted in France of false advertising of Roundup for presenting it as biodegradable, and claiming it left the soil clean after use. Perhaps believing Brazilians to be more gullible than Americans and French, the Company seems to have tried the same trick again just a few years later: the outcome was another fine.

What happens in your gut when you eat unsafe GM maize

October 2012
Amid the furore of concern, counter-attack, and orchestrated disdain over the French experiment which found evidence of harm from the long-term consumption of NK603 GM maize and Roundup herbicide, one aspect has not been investigated nor discussed.

The NK603 and Roundup eaten by an animal pass through its gut. In the gut, they encounter a huge diversity of microbes with which they must interact: the bugs alter the food, and the food alters the bugs.

The secrecy surrounding GMOs

October 2012

When a team of scientists in France carried out the first long-term feeding trial of a GM maize, 'NK603', and Roundup herbicide, it highlighted a whole stack of flaws in the approach to assessing the safety of GM food (see GM MAIZE IS NOT SAFE TO EAT and EFSA STATEMENT ON UNSAFE MAIZE - October 2012). The most serious problems stem from the level of secrecy that has come to be part and parcel of every stage of GM development.

Unsafe GM maize a trigger for US labelling

October 2012
Corn grenade. Image by Greenpeace
In the rush to pour cold water on the study which found evidence of wide-ranging harm from a strain of Roundup-tolerant GM maize and Roundup herbicide, many critics fell over their own feet (see GM MAIZE IS NOT SAFE TO EAT and POLITICAL FALLOUT OF UNSAFE GM MAIZE - October 2012). Read PANIC?

Even the Science Media Centre (SMC) (identified as the driving force of negative press which has surrounded the publication in the UK) seems to have been in such a hurry to rubbish the research that it released a commentary from UK statisticians and experts which made other analysts wonder how closely they had read the paper or, indeed, whether their knowledge of statistical methods was as complete as would be expected. Read PANIC?

Likewise the European Food Safety Authority seems to be using every excuse it can dream up to wriggle out of taking the Roundup Ready Maize study seriously (see EFSA STATEMENT ON UNSAFE MAIZE - October 2012). Read PANIC?

EFSA statement on unsafe maize

October 2012
Only two weeks after the publication of the first ever long-term, comprehensive GM food safety study, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has already dismissed it (see GM MAIZE IS NOT SAFE TO EAT - October 2012).

The objections seem three-fold.

Pollitical fallout from unsafe GM maize

October 2012
Corn grenade. Photo by Greenpeace
The immediate reaction to the publication of the most in-depth safety study ever of a GM crop was very predictable (see GM MAIZE IS NOT SAFE TO EAT - October 2012).

The creators of the GM crop (Monsanto) rushed out a very familiar statement declaring the latest study had much the same short-comings as they had claimed for all the previous ones (COMMENT It also suggested they hadn't read the paper). Within hours, the usual gallery of GM aficionados started broadcasting familiar critical remarks about overwhelming design faults in the experiment (COMMENT Suggesting they hadn't read the paper either).

Interestingly, most of these adversaries shoot themselves in the foot.

GM maize is not safe to eat

The most in-depth GM-food safety study to date has been published.

It represents a landmark on three counts:
  • It's what GM-free Scotland and similarly concerned people have been asking for since the 1990s
  • The study is unprecedented in scale, control of variables, exposure time, and the breadth of parameters measured
  • And, it confirms that existing GM food safety testing protocols are totally inadequate to identify harm.
What was found was a shocking catalogue of chronic ill-health in all animals exposed to test diets. With regard to the disturbances in renal function alone, the lead author, Eric-Gilles Séralini, said “Any doctor would panic for a patient in this case.”