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?

Amidst a wealth of data indicating kidney failure, liver problems, pituitary damage, and endocrine disruption all of which can make you very ill or dead, the biggest criticism has focused on the evidence of increased cancer after long term consumption of the GM maize or Roundup. Cancer is particularly bad news, possibly the worst.

Scientific concerns about the safety of GM crops and Roundup have been raised repeatedly over the years, and each one has triggered a panic attack in the regulators responsible for feeding it to the population and in the industries making a tidy profit from it. But this time round, the panic has reached unprecedented levels.

Could it be something to do with the timing?

The ease with which GM was insinuated into the American diet was brought about by secrecy: the US public don't know it's there. Up until now, any danger of public rejection of GM food has been solved simply by avoiding all labelling, and any time a pocket of the US public have started demanding GM labelling, the upstarts have easily been quelled by threats of higher food prices and lawsuits (see UNITED STATES STRUGGLING WITH FOOD LABELS WHILE TURKEY LEADS THE WAY - May 2012).

However, something shifted recently on the other side of the pond. California voters are demanding labelling of GM products, and what California voters want, they generally get (See D.I.Y. GMO LABELLING - August 2012). And what California gets, the rest of the US generally gets too.

The biotech companies have just unleashed a $37 million dollar TV advertising blitz in California to scare the public into changing their minds in time for November's vote on the 'California Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act'. Clear evidence of long-term harm from a GM maize and the Roundup herbicide used on the vast bulk of US commodity crops is the last thing the biotech industry needs just now. And worse: GM maize and Roundup have been linked to cancer. This time round, the threat of cancer might just be more scary to the public than all the biotech industry claims of soaring food prices, bankrupt farmers, lawsuits, and mayhem.

The timing of the publication of evidence that Roundup Ready maize is harmful to health is impeccably bad.


If you have friends or relatives in America, make sure they know about the grassroots campaign in support of GM labelling in California.

For news, videos, advice and lots of action people can take to support the GM labelling initiative, they might like to check out California Right to Know at

Also, they might like to check out the Organic Consumers Association campaign against Monsanto and in support of labelling at

As the Organic Food Association says;
“This is a David versus Goliath battle. A Monsanto-trying-to-control-the-food-supply against consumer-tired-of-being-lab-rats fight. It's the food fight of our lives.” 
And in view of the harm suspected from GM maize and Roundup, they may be fighting for their lives. 

  • Before the Headlines Commentary,, Science Media Centre, 19.09.12
  • Research analyst's comments on science Media Centre's Comm-entary, Published by Gm Watch, 3.10.12

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