Letters to the Editor

Letter: Science shows GMOs not dangerous to eat

To the editor:

The anti-GMO [genetically modified organisms] industry has ramped up their attacks on GE [genetically engineered] crops and food made from them. From GE test plot destruction to demand for GE specific labelling to calling for the banning of agriculture using GE crops, this global industry uses fear and public ignorance of the real science to advance their agenda.

Last week the GE-Free/Greenpeace sponsored Anti-GMO speaking tour began its 32 city myth-information campaign.

I have been involved with GE crops and food with an emphasis on public education for over a decade and therefore am very familiar with most of the discredited science that allegedly shows GE crops cause harm.

I attended the first stop on the tour in Courtenay to see what evidence the speakers would present to convince the audience of the alleged harm from GE crops and food made from them. The main speaker, Dr. Vrain, spoke about how ‘science’ proved GE crops and food were causing all manners of ills.

Each of the publications he cites has been examined by experts in toxicology, food safety, health as well as national and international scientific bodies. All the publications he uses in his presentation have been rejected for a variety of reasons related to multiple breaches of the scientific method.

One such example that Vrain claims to be evidence is the Rowett paper in The Lancet. However, after reviewing the paper the UK Royal Society said: “…the reported work from the Rowett is flawed in many aspects of design, execution and analysis and that no conclusions should be drawn from it. We found no convincing evidence of adverse effects from GM potatoes.”

Vrain claims a report (not a study) shows correlations of GE crop with a dozen diseases. The same correlation could equally apply to the rise in organic food consumption but every real scientist knows correlation does not equal causation. The author of that ?report? also published a ?report? last year claiming vaccines cause autism.

Another amusing bit of pseudo-science that Vrain presents as ‘evidence’ is actually the most discredited paper in the history of GE research, Seralini 2012. Every food safety authority in the world has unanimously rejected this preposterous publication. The third time publications from this author have been severely rebuked by world authorities.

Health Canada examined and rejected the conclusions of the Seralini paper. They said: “The overwhelming body of scientific evidence continues to support the safety of NK603, genetically modified food and feed products in general, and glyphosate containing herbicides. However, whenever new information concerning the safety of an authorized product arises, this new data is carefully reviewed.”

Vrain rejects virtually all North American research claiming it is inaccurate and biased.

Here is the European scientific opinion:

• European Academies Science Advisory Council: “There is no validated evidence that GM crops have greater adverse impact on health and the environment than any other technology used in plant breeding. There is compelling evidence that GM crops can contribute to sustainable development goals with benefits to farmers, consumers, the environment and the economy. (2013)

• European Commission: A Decade of EU-Funded GMO Research 2001-2010: “The main conclusion to be drawn from the efforts of more than 130 research projects, covering a period of more than 25 years of research, and involving more than 500 independent research groups, is that biotechnology, and in particular GMOs, are not per se more risky than e.g. conventional plant breeding technologies.”

Health Experts share the same safety opinion:

The Vancouver Coastal Health Authority: “There is no evidence that Health Canada approved GE foods and food crops are any less safe for human health than non-GE varieties. There is no public health reason for a ban on genetically engineered trees, plants and crops .” VCHA (2012)

WHO-Twenty Questions on GMOs: “The GM products that are currently on the international market have all passed risk assessments conducted by national authorities. These different assessments in general follow the same basic principles, including an assessment of environmental and human health risk. These assessments are thorough, they have not indicated any risk to human health.” WHO 2013

The American Association for the Advancement of Science said it best: “Moreover, the AAAS board said, the World Health Organization, the American Medical Association, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the British Royal Society, and every other respected organization that has examined the evidence has come to the same conclusion: Consuming foods containing ingredients derived from GM crops is no riskier than consuming the same foods containing ingredients from crop plants modified by conventional plant improvement techniques.” AAAS (2012)

Every example Vrain puts forward has been examined and dismissed by world food, health and science experts. This fact seems to be irrelevant to him. Simply put, he is promoting fear not facts.

My website http://web.viu.ca/wager can help people learn the real science and global opinion on GMOs.

Robert Wager,

Vancouver Island University, Nanaimo

 

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