This summer, British scientists are expected to begin field trials of a genetically modified (GMO) potato dubbed by proponents the ‘super spud’, whose developers boast will be free of fungal diseases and other pest problems. GMO maize and rapeseed oil could also be grown in England by the end of this year, as Westminster is pushing for more GMO foods to be introduced into the UK food supply.
In March of last year, David Cameron’s chief science advisers pressed for the government to allow the cultivation and spread of GMO crops in Britain, in addition to criticising “dysfunctional” European Union (EU) regulations which at the time restricted the quantity of GMO food in the European food supply.
EU law has changed since then, however, allowing individual EU governments to decide whether or not to allow GMO crops to be grown in their countries, with many seeing this as a backdoor for Big-Agri to push their products on the continent. “It is a stunning defeat and will result in a massive spread of GMO crops in the EU for the first time,” was how strategic risk consultant and author William Engdahl described the move in an article for New Eastern Outlook titled: “Monsanto’s Trojan Horse will eat in EU Fields”.
Britain looks set to follow in America’s footsteps as the US had allowed an abundance of GMO products into its food supply. “Currently, up to 93% of U.S. corn is genetically engineered (GE), as are 94% of soybeans and 96% of cotton (cottonseed oil is often used in food products). It has been estimated that upwards of 75% of processed foods on supermarket shelves – from soda to soup, crackers to condiments – contain genetically engineered ingredients”, according to the Center for Food Safety. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has also recently approved the planting of GMO potatoes and GMO apples, further opening up the US agricultural sector to GMO crops.
Paradoxically, despite many in Washington pushing for more GMOs, ordinary Americans are increasingly buying organic as the dangers of GMO foods becomes more apparent, with US farmers having to import organic produce to meet growing organic demand. Let’s hope this trend continues into the future, as supermarkets and other retailers will respond to consumer demand if it starts to infringe on their profits.
Monsanto’s Roundup “Probably” Causes Cancer
Despite many in the political and corporate sphere dogmatically arguing that GMO foods are safe to consume, copious volumes of scientific research completely contradicts this argument. In March, the World Health Organisation (WHO) cancer agency – the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) – conducted a study on glyphosate, the main ingredient in the most widely used weedkiller in the world, Monsanto’s Roundup. The IARC study chillingly concluded that glyphosate “probably” causes cancer in addition to revealing it was “classified as probably carcinogenic to humans”. Last year, a comprehensive report by The Ministry of Health in Cordoba, Argentina, found that in areas where GMO crops are grown and agro-chemicals are used, cancer rates are double the national average.
In 2012, Dr. Gilles-Eric Seralini of the University of Caen led a study which examined the long-term health effects on rats that had consumed Monsanto’s GM corn and its Roundup herbicide. The peer-reviewed study was conducted over a two-year period – which is the average life-span of a rat – as opposed to Monsanto’s usual period of 90 days, and discovered horrifying effects on the rats’ health, with a 200% to 300% increase in large tumours, severe organ damage to the kidney and liver, in addition to 70% of the female rats participating suffering premature death. The first tumours only appeared 4 to 7 months into the research, highlighting the need for longer trials. France, Italy and Poland are among the countries which have banned the cultivation of varieties of GMO maize.
A somewhat comical episode (if it wasn’t so serious) which illustrates the glaring hypocrisy of many who promote GMO foods, was when Big-Agri lobbyist Patrick Moore was asked to drink a glass of glyphosate during an interview with French investigative journalist and filmmaker, Paul Moreira.
Below is a transcript of the interview:
Moore: Do not believe that glyphosate in Argentina is causing increases in cancer. You can drink a whole quart of it and it won’t hurt you.
Interviewer (Moreira): You want to drink some? We have some here.
Moore: I’d be happy to actually… Not, not really, but…
Interviewer: Not really?
Moore: I know it wouldn’t hurt me.
Interviewer: If you say so, I have some glyphosate.
Moore: No, I’m not stupid.
Interviewer: OK. So you… So it’s dangerous, right?
Moore: No. People try to commit suicide with it and fail, fairly regularly.
Interviewer: Tell the truth. It’s dangerous.
Moore: It’s not dangerous to humans. No, it’s not.
Interviewer: So you are ready to drink one glass of glyphosate?
Moore: No, I’m not an idiot.
Controversy of a similar nature was sparked in 2010 when Downing Street refused 10 times to say whether David Cameron would eat GMO foods or serve it to his family, raising suspicions as to whether the British Prime Minister follows many other prominent political figures that only eat organic yet often promote GMOs. Cameron has now stated that he would eat GMO and feed it to his family, although many view these comments with scepticism considering his earlier refusal to answer the question.
The Sanity of Russian Policy on GMO Foods
In contrast to the governments in London and Washington, Moscow has taken responsible and effective action in protecting its food supply from GMO foods. “According to official statistics the share of GMO in the Russian food industry has declined from 12 percent to just 0.01 percent over the past 10 years,” as RT reported in November of last year. Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev announced recently that Russia would not import GMO foods and would concentrate instead on producing organic foods. “If the Americans like to eat GMO products, let them eat it then. We don’t need to do that; we have enough space and opportunities to produce organic food,” Medvedev remarked.
Russia has enacted laws which punish individuals and businesses that violate the GMO labelling laws in the country, with authorities having the power to fine violators in addition to confiscating the products. The Russian scientific community has also voiced scepticism over the safety of GMO foods. At the end of last year, leading Russian scientists urged the government to put a 10-year ban on GMO products so that researchers could vigorously study the health implications of the products on humans. This seems a logical and sensible recommendation for other governments around the world to follow (if they haven’t already), as it is clear there are serious questions over the safety of GMOs.
The good news is that demand for organic food continues to skyrocket as people around the globe become increasingly aware of the dangers of GMO foods. Let’s ensure this trend continues into the future and we leave our children a healthy, clean and safe food supply!
Steven MacMillan is an independent writer, researcher, geopolitical analyst and editor of The Analyst Report, especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”., where this article first appeared.