The testing barrier

November 2017

The chemical industries have long used a demand for ever more proof of harm to keep their unsafe products on the market.

Such 'proof' of harm realistically means testing on animal models. This takes time, while in-depth testing takes a long time, and the life-long studies to gain full evidence on the potential for chronic disease take a very long time. This can be used to keep the sales and the profits rolling indefinitely.

When it comes to GMOs and their associated agri-chemicals, however, manufacturers have fought tooth and nail to prevent animal testing. Huge biotech resources have been devoted to discrediting any animal feeding studies (and their authors) that demonstrate a problem. Industry clings to its outdated tests, its simplistic compositional analyses, its inappropriately designed in-house feeding studies (see Note below), its computer-based allergen assessments, and its simulated digestions, The danger which scares the industry is that one good, independent, long-term feeding study which demonstrated some harm not revealed by its tests will mean a requirement for long-term animal testing for all GMOs.

Perhaps this is a tacit admission that GM crops are unsustainable, because the extra years of development needed for safety testing would make biotech crops obsolete before they were ever available to market.

Note. Feeding studies can be designed not to demonstrate harm. You just need to make sure they're too short, measure the wrong parameters, use irrelevant controls from other experiments, or even remove sick animals from the experiment.

The ideal, of course, would be no animal testing at all. However, if we want to embrace high-tech foods with artificial qualities which humans (and livestock) haven't evolved to digest or assimilate, we're faced with a choice of safety testing them on established laboratory animals whose physiology sufficiently parallels the target consumer, or risk harming the whole population and future generations without any possibility of monitoring, tracing or removing the problem.

A world free from animal testing would be a world free from GMOs and chemicals, and a world in which agroecological methods of food production were the convention.


If you want to campaign for animals rights, the best place to start is a campaign for wide-spread adoption of agroecological principles in food production.

  • Is GM Watch in bed with industry over animal testing? GM Watch, 28.08.17

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