Friday, December 18, 2009

IMPORTANT ARTICLE: Amid Monsanto’s antitrust troubles, another study questions the health effects of GMOs

Amid Monsanto’s antitrust troubles, another study questions the health effects of GMOs
by Tom Philpott
16 Dec 2009

Better living through biotechnology? Pity executives at genetically modified seed giant Monsanto. Not only are they having to knock heads with Department of Justice lawyers over the company’s business practices, but some of their most-cherished PR talking points are being obliterated by researchers.

In the past few months, we’ve learned that its much-vaunted technologies don’t really increase yields after all; and aren’t really all that promising for adapting to climate change.

We’re also getting a trickle of information that calls into serious question the PR talking point on which the entire GMO seed industry hangs: that GMO products are safe to eat. This is a widely held assumption; but as Don Lotter showed in a recent paper in the International Journal of the Sociology of Food and Agriculture, there has actually been shockingly little research done on the long-term effects of eating GMO foods—and most of what has been was conducted by the industry itself.

The problem is that government funding for independent research on GMOs is scant—and industry funding is non-existent. And it’s extremely difficult for independent researchers to get their hands on GMO seeds without signing restrictive contracts with their patent holders, as the New York Times reported earlier this year.

The independent research that has been done on the health effects of GMOs paints an alarming picture. Here’s my discussion of the results of a multigenerational study, funded by the Austrian government, that came out last year on the effects of GMO corn on mice. Short story: in the third and fourth generations, mice fed GMOs showed “statistically significant” reproductive dysfunction.


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