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Professor Séralini has a simple request:
"We would like that they put on their
website all the blood analyses of humans
that eat transgenic wheat, or the rats
that eat transgenic canola, so that all the
medical community and scientists can
debate these results...otherwise, it's just
coffee talk." Rather than companies paying
for research, the money should be given to
the government, which would commission
independent research, not costing the
company "a dollar more" but increasingly
giving arms length transparency.
It doesn't take long in this debate to
realise a few important things. One: that
our Food Standards regulator, FSANZ,
doesn't do any testing of its own. Two:
that asking a corporation to research
and possibly make a case against its own
product has inherent risks of conflict of
interest. Three: GM studies on animals
seem impossibly short for new kinds of
genes in our food. (Séralini says: "Two
years on a lab rat before giving it to
humans, with labelling and traceability...
otherwise it's just the externalisation of
the risk on humans and society.") Four:
that independent studies should be
promoted, not limited, by companies and
government interested in reliable findings.
Five: blood analyses must be included in
the testing. Six: arguing science gets very
technical for the lay audience, yet we do
not resource citizen science to any
great extent in this country, making the
democratic process around GM difficult.
Seven: on the face of it, government
processes have made it easy for pesticide
companies to hide behind government
approvals that themselves are based on
nothing more than raw corporate data
we don't have a right to see and may not
have even been provided to the regulator.
From seed to supermarket, the world's
top four seed companies currently
controlling over half of the world's seed
sales, are on the way to a new kind of
control. It's about who grows, what is
grown, who it's sold to, and with skilful
footwork in Congress, what Americans
are even allowed to say about it.
They tug on farmer's spouses'
sleeves by claiming these new genetically
modified varieties are pesticide-tolerant,
obscuring the fact that the pesticides
owned by the GM company are still
required to kill every other plant around
them, and Roundup tolerance in the GM
plants leaves residues which link into the
food system -- and over time, the farmers
and their families. The GMO companies
promise bumper crops. But at the end of
it, there is debt, to buy all the seeds,
because the company will own all of them,
even seeds grown again by profligate
nature. And once farmers have planted
with GM, their paddocks are contaminated
with the GM strains, liable to pay patent
licences for every single stalk that might
Monsanto has persuaded the US
authorities to simply declare GM foods
"substantially equivalent" to other foods.
Here, labelling law effectively treats
them as the same: when there are small
amounts of GM canola or soy in the food
how are you to know? As Julie Newman
says, "You don't know it's in the food.
Highly refined products such as chicken
nuggets generally have soy ground up and
put in it as a cheap high protein filler, so
it's very difficult to know what is in the
food you eat. You need to lobby to have a
better system of labelling, and ability for
the non-GM farmer to market a product
that is non-GM and force the GM farmer to
contain their product and be responsible
for any economic loss or any ability to
The farmer I spoke to wouldn't be
drawn on whether it was okay to eat GM.
"I try to produce non-GMO foods so
people have a choice. I know our food,
organic food, is going to be good for us, so
I can be sure of that, and you can too." ●
Have you read these reports in NOVA?
Hard to Swallow - March 2012, Vol 19, No
1 - http://novamagazine.com.au/article_
GE Crops - Raising the Stakes - December
2009 Vol 16 No 10 - http://novamagazine.
Rolling the GE Dice - January 2008 - Vol
14. No 11 - http://novamagazine.com.au/
18-20 MAY 2012
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