GMO safety concerns - time to act

20 September 2012

Friends of the Earth Europe calls for immediate suspension of GM foods

Brussels, September 20 – Friends of the Earth Europe is calling for immediate action by the EU to protect public health following yesterday’s publication of new research [1] which raises concerns about the safety of genetically modified (GM) crops and the herbicides used on them.

The peer-reviewed research in the internationally respected journal Food and Chemical Toxicology found significantly increased rates of cancer and death in rats fed both Monsanto’s GM maize and its herbicide Roundup.

Fifteen similar GM maizes and four GM soybeans that use Roundup are approved for consumption in the EU, and the research raises questions about the safety of all of these products. [2] Friends of the Earth Europe is calling for an immediate suspension of imports of all GM foods and feeds on which the herbicide Roundup is used.

Mute Schimpf, food campaigner for Friends of the Earth Europe said: "This research raises new questions about the safety of genetically modified foods. It is now time for the EU to act to protect public health. On the basis of this research, national governments and the European Commission should immediately suspend all similar GM foods and halt all further GMO approvals.”

The maize tested in the new study, Monsanto’s NK603, has been modified so that it can survive spraying by Monsanto’s own herbicide Roundup whilst all other plants in the field are destroyed. In the current EU safety checks only short term tests of 90 days are conducted to assess the potential risks. Longer tests, as conducted in this new research are not required.

The results raise serious new issues that need to be addressed by the EU’s approval process including mandatory long term testing, and testing that includes the herbicides used in real farming situations.

A new safety assessment to be voted by EU member states in the coming weeks does not foresee these checks.

Friends of the Earth Europe is calling for:

  • National governments and EU safety authorities to suspend immediately from the market all GM products with a resistance to the herbicide Roundup (glyphosate).[3]
  • The European Commission to suspend all new GMO approvals and to start a root-and-branch reform of how the risks of GM foods are assessed.
  • The EU to review the safety of the herbicide Roundup (glyphosate), including the link between GM crops and the use of this herbicide.

As well as posing unnecessary risks to human health, Friends of the Earth Europe believes GMOs destroy biodiversity, lead to increased costs for conventional farmers, increase corporate control of the food chain, and fail to combat global hunger.

 

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NOTES

[1]  Food and Chemical Toxicology, Gilles-Eric Séralini (2012) Long term toxicity of a Roundup herbicide and a Roundup-tolerant genetically modified maize
http://research.sustainablefoodtrust.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Final-Paper.pdf

[2] Approved GM maizes with tolerance to glyphosate authorised in the EU:

Maize (DAS1507xNK603) authorised until 2017
Maize (GA 21) authorised until 2018
Maize (NK 603) authorised until 2015
Maize (NK603 x MON810) authorised until 2017
Maize (Mon88017) authorised until 2019
Maize (59122xNK603) authorised until 2019
Maize (MON863xMON810xNK603) authorised until 2020
Maize (Bt11xGA21) authorised until 2020
Maize (MON88017xMON810) authorised until 2020
Maize (MON863 x NK603) authorised until 2020
Maize (MON89034 xNK603) authorised until 2020
Maize (59122x1507xNK603) authorised until  2020
Maize (MON89034 xMON88017) authorised until 2021
Maize (MIR604 xGA21) authorised until 2021
Maize (Bt11xMIR604xGA21) authorised until 2021

(15 maize in total, 5 combined stacked events with NK603)

GM soybeans with tolerance to glyphosate authorised in the EU:

Soybean (MON89788) authorised until 2018
Soybean (MON40-3-2) authorised until 2022
Soybean (356043) authorised until 2022
Soybean (MON87701 x MON89788) authorised until 2022

[3] EU law allows member states to take immediate action to protect public health from GM risks:

Regulation 1829/2003 Article 34

Emergency measures
Where it is evident that products authorised by or in accordance with this Regulation are likely to constitute a serious risk to human health, animal health or the environment, or where, in the light of an opinion of the Authority issued under Article 10 or Article 22, the need to suspend or modify urgently an authorisation arises, measures shall be taken under the procedures provided for in Articles 53 and 54 of Regulation (EC) No 178/2002.