July 07, 2012
Genetic Engineers Debunk GMO Claims
by Robert Kropp
A report by Earth Open Source reveals that the claims of product safety and sufficient regulation
made by producers of genetically modified organisms are false.
For years, sustainable investors have lent their voices to a growing movement calling for increased
transparency and accountability by chemical companies that produce genetically modified organisms
(GMOs) for food. During this year's proxy season, a shareowner resolution filed by Harrington Investments (HII) called on
Monsanto to report on "material financial risks or operational impacts" associated with its
products, especially GMOs.
The resolution, which was presented at Monsanto's annual
general meeting by activist Adam Eidinger,
gained nearly six percent of support from shareowners, enough to have it appear on next year's
The US remains one of a decreasing number of countries that
neither regulate nor ban outright the use of GMOs in food. A legislative measure submitted by Sen.
Bernard Sanders of Vermont, if passed, would have acknowledged the right of states to regulate the
labeling of food products containing GMOs, and required government agencies to report to Congress
on the use of GMOs in food and beverages.
"It was opposed by virtually every major food
corporation in the country," Sanders said in a statement after the Senate voted down the measure.
Food & Water Watch
reported late last year that over the course of a decade the food and agriculture biotechnology
industry spent nearly $600 million in political contributions and lobbying "to ease the regulatory
oversight of genetically modified foods."
"Companies are also fighting to eliminate or
prevent labeling on genetically modified foods in the United States and preventing other countries
from regulating genetically modified foods," the analysis continued.
Efforts by the
industry to argue for the safety of GMO food products may have been dealt a serious blow recently,
when two genetic engineers associated with Earth Open Source produced a 123-page report debunking many
of the industry's claims for product safety.
The report, entitled GMO Myths and Truths, asserts that many
of the claims made by the industry and its supporters have been debunked by "a large and growing
body of scientific and other authoritative evidence." GMO foods can be toxic, allergenic, and less
nutritious than organic foods, and are insufficiently regulated, especially in the US, to ensure
In a telling statement on Monsanto's approach to product safety and
regulation, its communications director told author Michael Pollan in 1998, "Monsanto should not have to vouchsafe the safety of
biotech food. Our interest is in selling as much of it as possible. Assuring its safety is the
Furthermore, GMOs "Create serious problems for farmers, including
herbicide-tolerant 'superweeds', compromised soil quality, and increased disease susceptibility in
crops," and reduce biodiversity. They do not increase yield potential, and do not offer an
effective solution to climate change as has been claimed by some.
In short, the growing
movement calling for regulation of GMOs will find much in this report that provides scientific
support for their arguments. As the report states, "There is no need to take risks with GM crops
when effective, readily available, and sustainable solutions to the problems that GM technology is
claimed to address already exist."