Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Poisoning our people?

GM Food: Poisoning our people?
By Glenn Ashton
The South African Civil Society Information Service
June 6, 2011

One of the most massive unregulated experiments on humans ever is being carried out right here in South Africa. South Africans are the first people in the world to consume a genetically modified (GM) food as a staple. According to industry sources more than 75% of our white maize is now GM. This means that the pap and samp consumed daily in the majority of South African households is now mainly comprised of genetically modified maize.

The industry claim that nobody has become ill from GM foods is scientifically dishonest. It is based on the principle of “don’t look - don’t find.” Because GM foods are not clearly identified through clear labelling, it is impossible to know what sicknesses are related to the consumption of the product.

We are repeatedly told these are the most widely tested foods ever. However, GM producers claim their products to be ’substantially equivalent’ – identical to their natural counterparts. As such they do not require testing. Where testing has been done it has fallen prey to the same pitfalls that have dogged chemical and toxicological testing for decades. This is unsurprising as the GM companies have without exception evolved from agricultural chemical companies, infamous in their abuse of statistical and experimental protocols.

Most food tests have been undertaken and submitted by the very companies seeking approval. The design of these tests has been opaque and misleading. Research has shown results to have been routinely manipulated and skewed to the extent that epidemiologist Judy Carman said, ”Their whole approach to the analysis would fail a basic statistics class.”

[Read More…]

Friday, March 18, 2011

Floods wash away GM canola

Floods wash away GM canola crop, sparking contamination concern
By Laura Poole from Natimuk 3409
ABC Rural
March 18, 2011

The debate over genetically modified seed contamination has reignited, with floods spreading GM canola onto a non GM property.

At the base of Mt Arapiles in Western Victoria two broadacre farmers go about their day to day work, making cropping decisions best suited to their businesses.

They both grow cereal crops and oilseed crops, including canola.

On his boundary fence Lyall Hedt grew GM canola.

In January flooding rains washed part of the GM canola crop, over the boundary fence, into Bob Mackley’s paddock.

“Well I’ve got here a stubble left over from last year’s wheat crop, but it’s had a lot of water flow through it after a rain event in January.

“What’s happened is I have a neighbour who has grown a crop of GM canola, windrowed it and before it was harvested we had this rain event and it’s washed the GM canola material from his block, broken the fence and into my paddock.

“I now have GM canola material in this paddock on my block.”

Mr Mackley says he’s concerned a decision his neighbour has made, will cost him money.

[Read More…]

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Labeling claims wrong

‘Genetic labeling’ claims wrong
Prof. Chris Viljoen, GMO Testing Laboratory, University of the Free State
Business Day
February 03, 2011

It was with interest that I read recent press articles about calls to label modified foods. I was most interested in the comments on the perceived link between the threshold for labeling and the cost of labeling.

First , whether the threshold is 5% or 1%, there is no cost difference in laboratory testing — I should know as I run the GMO Testing Facility that performs routine genetic modification detection in SA.

Further, the regulations make provision for companies to assume an ingredient contains genetically modified matter if it was derived from a crop for which there is a genetically modified equivalent being produced in SA, such as maize or soybean. In such a case, no laboratory testing would be required, with no additional cost to the company. Compared to this, companies that want to indicate an ingredient has not been genetically modified would be required to verify this using laboratory tests — but this is no different to what is being practised.

Second, the proposition that genetic modification labeling will increase food costs 10% to 20% is unfounded and based on misinformation. In a comprehensive study in the European Union (EU) it was estimated that the added cost to food of genetic modification labeling ranged from 0.01% to 0.17%, depending on the stringency required. The EU system for genetic modification labeling is considerably more stringent than in SA and from this it is reasonable to suggest that the labeling cost to food would be much lower in SA.

There has never been a documented report that genetic modification labeling has led to a cost increase in food anywhere. What is being implemented in SA can be considered a minimum level compared to genetic modification labeling in other countries, including Australia, Brazil, China, New Zealand and the EU.

Third , the comment that some food products “cannot be accurately analysed or labeled because they do not contain detectable protein” is misleading. It is true that processing destroys protein, making it undetectable, but the world standard for performing genetic modification analysis on food is not based on detecting protein but rather DNA (the molecule responsible for making the protein).

DNA is considerably more stable than protein and genetic modification detection laboratories around the world routinely analyse highly processed food ingredients, including starches and oils.

It is true, however, that extremely processed products cannot be tested accurately for genetically modified content as even the DNA may be destroyed. In such cases the ingredients used to make the extremely processed product can be tested .

Finally, genetic modification labeling is no different to labeling foods for the presence of additives or colorants — common practice in SA. There is no report that this practice has resulted in any food cost increase either. If consumer rights are truly autonomous, genetic modification labeling should be no exception.

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