“There is no scientific consensus on the safety of genetically modified foods and crops”
An international group of more than 90 scientists, academics and physicians who are working in the relevant disciplines, released a statement to this effect today, published on the website of the European Network of Scientists for Social and Environmental Responsibility (ENSSER).
It has been written as a response to recent misleading claims from the GM industry and some politicians, scientists, journalists and commentators. It proves the claimed “scientific consensus” that GM foods and crops were generally found safe for human and animal health and the environment does not exist.
“Such claims may place human and environmental health at undue risk and create an atmosphere of complacency,” states Dr. Angelika Hilbeck, chairperson of the European Network of Scientists for Social and Environmental Responsibility (ENSSER), one of the signatories. The statement draws attention to the diversity of opinion over GMOs in the scientific community and the often contradictory or inconclusive findings of studies on GMO safety, including:
- toxic effects on laboratory animals fed GM foods,
- increased pesticide use from GM crop cultivation,
- and the unexpected impacts of Bt insecticidal crops on beneficial and non-target organisms.
Many unanswered questions remain and in some cases there is serious cause for concern
Prof C. Vyvyan Howard, a medically qualified toxicopathologist based at the University of Ulster and a signatory to the statement, said:
“A substantial number of studies suggest that GM crops and foods can be toxic or allergenic. It is often claimed that millions of Americans eat GM foods with no ill effects. But as the US has no GMO labelling and no epidemiological studies have been carried out, there is no way of knowing whether the rising rates of chronic diseases seen in that country have anything to do with GM food consumption or not. Therefore this claim has no scientific basis.”
The internationally agreed precautionary approach
The signatories to the statement call for the compliance to the precautionary approach to GM crops and foods internationally agreed upon in the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety and UN’s Codex Alimentarius.
It is misleading and irresponsible for anyone to claim that there is a consensus
Another signatory to the statement, Prof Brian Wynne, associate director and co-principal investigator from 2002-2012 of the UK ESRC Centre for the Economic and Social Aspects of Genomics, Cesagen, Lancaster University, said: “It is misleading and irresponsible for anyone to claim that there is a consensus on these important issues. Many salient questions remain open, while more are being discovered and reported by independent scientists in the international scientific literature. Indeed answering of some key public interest questions based on such research have been left neglected for years by the huge imbalance in research funding, against thorough biosafety research and in favour of the commercial-scientific promotion of the technology.”
Stop press: Getting agreement on the statement has been a complex process and is now translated into German, French, Spanish – and Chinese is underway.
There are now 92 signatories!