In a staggering move which may cause other nations to follow suit, Russia suspended all imports of genetically-modified corn from the U.S. last week on the heels of a newly released study suggesting a link between GM corn, cancer, and organ damage.
Typical studies done on the safety of Monsanto’s GM corn test the health of rats fed a steady diet of the corn for 90 days. Researchers at the University of Caen conducted a study that spanned the rats’ entire lives — two full years. Their research found an unsettling link between feeding GM corn to rats and incidents of breast cancer and liver and kidney damage.
In light of the study’s findings, Russia halted all imports of GM corn from the U.S. Although Russia and Europe have almost no demand for genetically modified foods, they do rely heavily on imported GM corn for animal feed.
In the meantime, scientists all over the world are lining up to review the study and offer their opinions about its significance.
A number of independent academics have praised the French team’s work, describing it as the most thorough and extensive feeding trials involving GM to date.
Mustafa Djamgoz, the Professor of Cancer Biology, at Imperial College, London, said the findings relating to eating GM corn were a ‘surprise’.
Prof Djamgoz, who describes himself as a neutral on GM, said: ‘The results are significant. The experiments are, more or less, the best of their kind to date.’
Yet, others have had no problem criticizing the study, including a panel from the EU’s food safety watchdog organization, the EFSA:
Among other criticisms, the panel of EFSA scientists that reviewed the paper said the authors had failed to establish appropriate control groups as part of the study, and had chosen a strain of rat that is prone to developing tumors during its normal lifespan.
Many believe, however, that the EFSA’s review was biased because of pressure put on the EU by the U.S. government.
Documents released by WikiLeaks also confirmed that the company [Monsanto] has a relentless ally in the U.S. government, which even tried to threaten other nations into approving GMOs. Top Monsanto officials also have what critics refer to as a “revolving door” with the federal government — allowing executives to move back and forth between regulatory agencies and the private sector at will.
The EFSA still has not released its final report on the recent study, instead asking for the study’s researchers to provide full details concerning the study’s design and procedures.
But the study’s lead author, Gilles-Eric Seralini, said he would only make further information publicly available if EFSA published all the data from its 2003 safety assessment of NK603, which concluded that it was as safe as non-GM corn.
“To play fair they can’t keep their data secret. The authorization of these products is based in our view on data and a methodology that are even more faulty,” he said.
In the meantime, this move by Russia has added fuel to the fire of support for California’s Proposition 37. The measure, which is up for election this November 6th, will require all foods containing GMOs to be labeled in California.
Supporters of the bill, myself included, argue that consumers have a right to know what’s in their food — particularly in the case of GMOs. I also believe that if we label GMOs, fewer people will unwittingly buy them, thereby reducing demand to near EU levels and making their manufacture totally unprofitable and unsustainable for behemoths like Monsanto.
Even if you aren’t a California resident (and I am not), you have a lot to win if Prop 37 passes. Food manufacturers will be forced to label GM-containing foods if they want to sell in California. The consequences of this will rock the nation. These food makers will either opt to stop selling in CA (unlikely, but possible for some of the smaller companies), or will change their labels. If they update their labels to reflect GM-ingredients, they will face two choices. The more expensive one will be to have a CA label outlining GMOs and a non-CA label for the rest of the country. The more economical option will be to have a single, nationwide label admitting to the presence of GMOs. Hence the saying, “As goes California, so goes the nation.”
If you’d like to see this measure pass, please consider donating to the Yes on Prop 37 campaign. They are grossly under-funded compared to what’s being put in by Big Food.
Even many of your favorite organic and natural food brands may be fighting against labeling GMOs, thanks to their subsidiary relationship with larger food corporations. Check out this shocking infographic created by the Cornucopia Institute:
Opinion polls and surveys demonstrate a near 2 to 1 support for the measure in California, making it VERY likely for this to pass. However, as big corporations have inundated the airwaves with ad campaigns against the measure, popular support has been steadily slipping. By election day a month from now, it may be neck and neck. (Aren’t almost all important measures, though?)
So please, if you can afford to, why not demonstrate your grassroots support for this measure by donating to the Yes on Prop 37 campaign? Every little bit helps.
(photo by formalfallacy)