Thursday, 04 October 2012

France May Issue Call for Europe-Wide Ban on GM Corn

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According to French news source RFI, France is expected to call for a Europe-wide ban on Monsanto’s genetically modified corn following the release of a University of Caen study that found a link between Monsanto’s GM corn and tumors and organ damage in lab rats.

RFI reports, “France will call for a ban ‘at a European level’ if the national health agency (Anses) backs up the findings of the study by French scientist Gilles-Eric Seralini, Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault told an audience in the Burgundy city of Dijon on Thursday.”

Likewise, French Agriculture Minister Stephane Le Foll has indicated that Paris is considering a ban on the import of Monsanto’s NK603 corn, the same used in the French study.

Last month, Stephane Le Foll and Social Affairs Minister Marisol Touraine asked a health watchdog to conduct an investigation into GMOs, one that could possibly lead to suspension of genetically modified corn throughout the European Union. Le Foll and Touraine described the decision in a joint statement.

“Depending on ANSES’ opinion, the government will urge the European authorities to take all necessary measures to protect human and animal health,” they said. “[The measures] could go as far as invoking emergency suspension of imports of NK603 corn to Europe pending a re-examination of this product on the basis of enhanced assessment methods.”

The study, which provoked concern from French Agriculture Minister Stephane Le Foll, examined the long term effects of GMO consumption on lab rats. The study, conducted by Gilles-Eric Seralini of the University of Caen in France, utilized the Monsanto seed variety known as NK603, made tolerant to the company’s own Roundup, an herbicide.

The rats were found to have an abundance of tumors and experienced damage to both the kidneys and liver.

"While previous studies have usually lasted only about three months, Seralini's [French GMO study] lasted two years, the average rat's lifespan, and the illnesses developed later in the period covered," says RFI. 

Natural Society explains, “As a result of the mass tumors, liver and kidney damage, it was concluded that around 50 percent of the males and 70 percent of the females died prematurely as a result of eating only Roundup tolerant seed or drinking water with Roundup at approved levels set by the United States government.”

Natural News notes, “This is the same corn that’s in your corn-based breakfast cereal, corn tortillas and corn snack chips.”

Likewise, rats that drank trace amounts of Roundup at levels that are legally permitted in the water supply had a 200 percent to 300 percent increase in large tumors.

And rats that consumed the GM corn and traces of Roundup suffered severe organ damage.

Seralini’s study is the most thorough research into the health effects of GM crop foods to date, as Monsanto and other GMO companies have done their best to prohibit a full study of GM products through legal red tape and patent protection laws.

"'Several animal studies indicate serious health risks associated with GMO food,' including infertility, immune problems, accelerated aging, faulty insulin regulation, and changes in major organs and the gastrointestinal system," says the Institute for Responsible Technology (IRT). "The AAEM (American Academy of Emergency Medicine) asked physicians to advise patients to avoid GM foods."

Monsanto has a dark history of scandals that go back over the last several decades, involving PCBs, Agent Orange, and pesticides.

Groups such as IRT have issued warnings for years about the dangers of GMO consumption.

Several members of the U.S. Congress have been outspoken about their opposition to GMOs, including Representatives Dennis Kucinich and Ron Paul.

In a recent speech before the House, Kucinich called out Monsanto and demanded that good companies label GMOs. He added,

In 1992 the Food and Drug Administration decided that genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are the functional equivalent of conventional foods. They arrived at this decision without testing GMOs for allergenicity, toxicity, antibiotic resistance and functional characteristics. As a result hundreds of millions of acres of GMO crops were planted in America without the knowledge or consent of the American people: no safety testing and no long term health studies.

The FDA has received over a million comments from citizens demanding labeling of GMOs. Ninety percent of Americans agree. So, why no labeling? I’ll give you one reason: The influence and the corruption of the political process by Monsanto. Monsanto has been a prime mover in GMO technology, a multi-million dollar GMO lobby here and a major political contributor.

There is a chance that Monsanto’s grip will be broken in California where a GMO labeling initiative is on the ballot. And here in Congress, my legislation HR 3553 will provide for a national labeling law. Americans have a right to know if their food is genetically engineered. It’s time for labeling and for people to know how their food is being produced.

The state of Vermont attempted to pass a bill enforcing the labeling of GMO products, but Monsanto threatened the state with a heavy lawsuit, forcing Vermont to drop the bill.

Digital News writes,

Now Vermont legislators, in fear of a lawsuit from the billion dollar corporation, have put a hold on the voting regarding this new bill. Judging from previous lawsuits from the giant, who have unlimited resources to utilize in a court case, Monsanto is most likely to win the suit.

Before Obama was elected, he indicated on the campaign trail that genetically modified foods should be labeled. But his stance seemed to change after he won the election.

Natural News writes,

After the election, and during Obama's term as president, people who had been working to label GMO food and warn the public of its huge dangers were shocked to the core… The new president filled key posts with Monsanto people, in federal agencies that wield tremendous force in food issues, the USDA and the FDA.

And according to Alternet, not much would change under a hypothetical Mitt Romney administration, as the Monsanto Corporation also has close ties to him.

Ralph Willard, one of the founding partners of Bain & Company, told the Boston Globe in 2007, Romney learned the technical aspects of the chemical business so thoroughly that he sounded as if he had gone to engineering school instead of business school,” and that Monsanto executives soon began “bypassing” him to go directly to Romney.

Meanwhile, Monsanto has not yet commented on the findings of the French study, asserting it is “too soon.”

But those who oppose GMO products are hoping that France will lead the world against potentially dangerous GMOs.

Photo: French farm house in a cut corn field. via Shutterstock


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