Federal government should prioritize safe food supply

GMOs can never be taken ‘off the market’ as they are contagious to natural plants.

To the editor:

Re: CropLife President Says Food Standards Not Compromised, June 4 Capital News.

Lorne Hepworth is “concerned that some people are worried about the safety of genetically modified foods that they have taken to the streets.”

Two million people took to the streets in protest of GMO’s in 52 countries in approx 436 cities worldwide on May 25 including Kelowna, Penticton and Vernon.

Hepworth represents Monsanto, a chemical producing corporation that created Agent Orange, DDT, PCBs, Aspartame, Dioxin and Round Up Herbicide. The corporation is trying to change its image (but not its practices, since their latest ventures include buying up seed companies, creating genetically modified seeds, suing farmers when their crops become contaminated, and threatening to sue U.S. states that propose labelling of genetically modified foods.)

Hepworth says that there are “Extensive safety reviews completed by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency…” I point out that the reviews of the paperwork handed in by Monsanto on short-term animal feeding studies do not prove safety. Health Canada has not made any independent safety studies.

Is science above being questioned? A moment of reflection might give us more clarity. In the 1950s doctors (backed by scientific consensus) endorsed cigarettes. The drug thalidomide was a safe treatment for morning sickness—and thousands of babies were born without limbs. Many prescription drugs have been taken off the market after extensive safety testing proved false and people died.

GMOs can never be taken ‘off the market’ as they are contagious to natural plants.

Science is a work in progress, not the unquestionable truth. Yet it’s hard to find a major lab in agricultural science in any university which isn’t dependent on industry money. Therefore the work of independent scientists is especially valuable.

For the first time, genetically modified (GMO) corn and the herbicide Round Up have been evaluated for their long-term impact on health. The French study was conducted by independent scientists who are not financially tied to the makers of GMO corn. The study was conducted over two years.

The study by Gilles-Eric Seralini, a microbiologist from the University of Caen, found that lab rats developed massive tumours, suffered multiple organ damage and died prematurely. The researchers found that the majority of the tumours started after four months. Ninety per cent of the tumours in female animals were breast tumours.

With cancer rates on the rise, all scientific study should be welcomed. Monsanto used the same strain of rats in its three-month animal studies which it used to get authorization for its GMO corn.

Where are Canada’s regulatory bodies in all this? Health Canada approved this GMO corn (NK603) in 2001, three years before receiving feeding study data which was voluntarily submitted in 2004.

Health Canada takes at face value what the corporations submit. Is that good enough? Isn’t this asking the industry to police itself?

With so much at stake for our health it is time to stop blindly accepting the ‘safety’ of genetically modified crops just because corporations say they are safe.

Health Canada has an obligation to protect our health, and must conduct its own independent research on the safety of genetically modified food—and label it genetically modified food. If the federal government can afford to spend $847 million on the G20 meeting, surely it can afford to ensure the safety of our common food supply. The Seralini study only cost approximately $4 million.

Heidi Osterman,

certified nutritionist,



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