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Monsanto GMOs lack Safety Evidence: Norway

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In Norway, where responsible adults run government, a new study commissioned by Norwegian officials and conducted by a scientific authority on the safety of biotechnologies concludes Monsanto GMO crops lack scientific data to prove their safety.

The scientific report, completed last year, was commissioned by The Norwegian Environment Agency. It was publicly released in June 2015 by the Genok Centre for Biosafety in the Arctic University of Norway.

No Evidence for Monsanto GMO Safety

The new study analyzes a dossier by Monsanto, the agribusiness giant conglomerate that submitted it to the Brazilian government. The study also conducts a comprehensive review of the available scientific literature from other sources.

The study’s focus is on Monsanto’s GM soybean Intacta Roundup Ready 2 Pro, grown in Brazil, but also authorized in Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay and likely also poisoning Bolivia due to illegal introductions from nearby countries.

Sustainability Assessment of GM Crops Not Possible

“Sustainability Assessment of Genetically Modified Herbicide Tolerant Crops” (the report’s title) concludes that major gaps in the scientific literature make it impossible to give a scientific verdict on GMO safety.  Monsanto’s dossier demonstrates a range of methodological weaknesses, says the report. It does, however, helpfully highlight the problem of incomplete information and research on GMO crops.

Monsanto sees no Evil

Monsanto says genetically modified organisms do not harm human or animal health, and therefore (non sequitur alert) GMOs have no adverse effects on crops and the environment.

Norwegian Study Contradicts Monsanto

The Norwegian study states: “Contrary to this [Monsanto’s see-no-harm] assertion, the literature provides indications of harmful and adverse effects to the environment and to health (both animal and human), as well as to socio-economic conditions, particularly over the medium- and long-term.”

The Norwegian study is authored by Georgina Catacora-Vargas, a researcher at the Agroecology Centre (AGRUCO) at the Faculty of Agricultural, Livestock and Forestry Sciences, University Mayor de San Simon, Cochabamba, Bolivia. Catacora-Vargas was until recently technical biosafety advisor at Bolivia’s Vice-Ministry of Environment, Water and Forestry Management.

Monsanto GMOs lack Safety Evidence: Norway

“Statements of the safety of GM crops rely principally on the absence of evidence of harm in specific research tests, rather than actual evidence of safety,” said Catacora-Vargas:

“Absence of evidence of harm is a too low standard for adequate protection of human and environmental health.”  Moreover, today, a large portion of the research on GM crops is based on short-term studies that have inherent methodological weakness for detecting subtle yet significant effects that materialize in the long-term. Another common weakness.” Catacora-Vargas also indicates that Monsanto GMO safety studies suffer from a lack of ” sufficient analytical rigour to derive any meaningful conclusions.”

According to her report, the large number of studies indicating positive impacts of GMO crops are questionable because of such “methodological limitations,” which largely ignore “possible long-term effects” and are [lamely] used as a “reduced and repetitive set of indicators.”

Monsanto GMO Study Designs Faulty

The study authors also explain that most of Monsanto GMO research fails to compare GMO crops with other production systems, such as IPM (integrated pest management), organic, and agroecological; focuses exclusively on “single-trait” GM plants rather than, more realistically, “the combinatorial and additive effects of multiple-trait GM crops”; and is based on experiments which do not adequately consider “real field conditions.”

“These limitations,” the Norwegian report concludes, “partially explain the kinds of findings reported by the applicant [Monsanto]: all of them showing no possible adverse effects in contrast to a significant body of literature.”

Monsanto responds

Monsanto through its spokesman Mark Buckingham unsurprisingly (if you know Monsanto) dismissed the report’s findings.

Buckingham said, “We are confident that GM crops can be and are being properly assessed for safety and that GM crops being used by farmers are just as safe and in some cases safer than conventional crops and foods.”

According to a compendium of EU-funded research published by the European Commission in 2010, “there is, as of today, no scientific evidence associating GMOs with higher risks for the environment or for food and feed safety than conventional plants and organisms.”

Buckingham added that GM crops are “designed to be safe” by scientists and plant breeders, and that national and international regulators whose job is “to check that a crop is safe and to protect consumers” have certified GM.

“Since GM crops were first grown on a large scale 19 years ago in the mid 1990’s, billions of meals including ingredients from these crops have been safety consumed by people around the world. No health effects what so ever have been observed”–”GM crops have a track record of safety,” said the Monsanto spokesperson.

Study Author disagrees with Monsanto Safety Proclamation

The author of the new study, however, disagreed. At the request of the Norwegian Environment Agency, the report focused on analyzing the herbicide tolerant trait of Monsanto’s ‘Intacta’ crop.

“The literature contains a number of recent scientific studies which do indicate potential adverse effects,” said Ms. Catacora-Vargas, noting that Monsanto’s comment solely concerned Intacta’s insect resistance.

She said that by selectively focusing on studies of only certain impacts of the crop, Monsanto and other biotechnology companies are misleading the public.

Ms. Catacora-Vargas added that the EU’s 2010 compendium, which is also cited in the new Norwegian study, “is one of the very few with specific research on Intacta.”  She said these few papers lack evidence to claim Intacta is safe for the environment and human health.

“If integral analysis of GM crops’ sustainability is incomplete, it is just because the knowledge available on GMO safety and sustainability is also incomplete,” Ms. Catacora-Vargas said. “There are more unknowns than evidence on the safety of GM crops.”

Monsanto’s flagship GMO condemned by WHO

The release of the new Norwegian report coincided with a rash of bad news for the biotech food industry.  An expensive two-year research trial to test GM wheat’s ability to repel aphids (plant lice) conducted by Rothamsted Research, failed spectacularly to produce the desired results.

Roundup Carcinogenic to Humans

Most GM crops contain the Roundup Ready glyphosate trait patented by Monsanto. In March 2015, an assessment by the World Health Organization’s (WHO) cancer arm published in The Lancet, found that Roundup (with its main ingredient glyphosate) is “probably carcinogenic to humans.”

The study evaluated evidence of human exposures to Roundup since 2001, largely for agricultural workers in the US, Canada and Sweden. Alarmingly, it found “limited evidence of carcinogenicity in humans for non-Hodgkin lymphoma,” along with “convincing evidence that glyphosate also can cause cancer in laboratory animals.”

Monsanto Crops fail, spawn Superweeds

Dr. Helen Wallace of the campaigning group, Genewatch UK, said Monsanto’s GM crops “are now failing in the field due to the growth of superweeds resistant to the weedkiller Roundup which is blanket-sprayed on these GM plants.”

Monsanto and Government collude to spread GMOs

Despite the “high failure rate of experimental GM crops,” Genewatch UK notes ongoing efforts at “collaboration between government-funded scientists, ministers and industry on a PR strategy to try to rehabilitate GM crops in Britain and weaken regulations.”

Money shouts, determines GMO Policies

Large amounts of industry and public money have incentivized academic scientists to produce research on GM crops that favors industry and downplays all contrary evidence.

The author of the new Norwegian study, Ms. Catacora-Vargas, said that given the current level of knowledge, “it is premature to assert that GM crops are safe. Currently, the more research we do on GMOs, the more questions and uncertainties arise.”

She added that non GMO based forms of agriculture such as low input agriculture, agroecological approaches and even peasant and family farming are receiving insufficient attention from governments. (Campaign coffers don’t get filled by small family farmers using non-GMO or organic methods; consequently, they get little help from politicians well-greased by ag-business’ money.)

These non-GM production systems, said, Ms. Catacora-Vargas, “have shown their capacity to produce adequate volumes of healthy and safe food and feed, besides being less energy and resource demanding. We still have a long way to go in designing scientific research that will provide the evidence needed to make justifiable claims of safety of GM crops, and their benefits in comparison to other production systems.”

These findings will add to growing public concerns over the addition of GM crops into the food-chain, and the role of the industry in suppressing scientific research that contradicts its claims.

It’s the Money, Stupid

Wonder why Norway behaves as adults and decides that GMOs must first be proven safe before they can be unleashed on their people, while the U.S.F.D.A., working in revolving door arrangement with industry, lets cancerous agents like Monsanto’s Roundup/glyphosate pass without comment into the food supply? Look at Norway’s universal healthcare system paid for in part by government subsidies. In such an arrangement, the government is incentivized to keep from poisoning its people, or else it could face bankruptcy.

By contrast, the American and to a lesser extent the UK systems of healthcare are  privatized. Profits rise for Big Pharma and the multi-billion dollar healthcare industry as people sicken.  It’s the money, stupid.

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