*Genetically modifying crops, which involves the transfer of genes between biologically unrelated species, is not an extension of traditional plant hybridization, but a radical departure which can produce new toxins or allergens in food that are unlikely to be spotted in current regulatory checks.
*GM foods have not been adequately safety tested. There has been no long term research, and the few short term studies have been inadequate. In many cases proprietary restrictions put in place by biotech companies like Monsanto have prevented independent research by scientists not connected to the corporations which are making claims about their safety.
*Animal studies of the effects of GM foods have disclosed clear signs of toxicity– notably disturbances in liver and kidney function and immune responses.
*Over 75% of genetical modification are to to increase crop tolerance of herbicides. Where these crops are grown there has been a massive increases in herbicide use.
*Over half of GM crops are engineered to withstand application of Monsanto’s best selling Roundup. Contrary to the company’s claims Roundup is not safe at the levels it is being use, but has been found to be associated with miscarriage, birth defects, neurological development probles, DNA damage, and certain types of cancer. A public health crisis has occurred in GM soy-producing regions of South America, where people exposed to spraying with Roundup and other agrochemicals report escalating rates of birth defects and cancer.
*There is insufficient evidence that the BT toxin engineered into the plant structure of corn and cotton (whose seeds are used in food oil production) is safe for human consumption. Bt crops have been found to have toxic effects on laboratory animals in feeding trials. These toxins have also been found circulating in the blood of pregnant women in Canada and in the blood supply to their foetuses.
*GM crops have not been shown to offer higher crop yields, enhanced nutritional value or greater drought tolerance, as they have been hyped to do. The products of conventional breeding continue to outstrip GM in all of these arenas.
*Conventionally bred, locally adapted crops, used in combination with environmentally sustainable farming practices, offer a safer, cheaper and more efficient way to ensure global food security than genetic modification.
“Crop genetic engineering as practiced today is a crude, imprecise, and outmoded technology,” says the report’s coauthor John Fagan. “Recent advances point to better ways of using our knowledge of genomics to improve food crops, that do not involve GM.”
(The report’s authors include Dr Michael Antoniou of King’s College London School of Medicine in the UK, who helped to develop genetic engineering for medical applications, and John Fagan, a biomedical researcher and expert in food system sustainability and GMO testing, who returned $614,000 in grant money to the National Institutes of Health in 1994 because of his concerns about the safety and ethics of genetic modification. The report was also produced together with Claire Robinson, research director of Earth Open Source.)