Monday 27 June, 2011, Canberra: Prestigious scientists from around the world are questioning the safety and scientific rigour of world-first human feeding trials being conducted this year by the CSIRO on genetically modified (GM) wheat.
In an open letter to the CEO of CSIRO, eight leading medical, gene, and plant scientists - including Dr Michael Antoniou of the King’s College London School of Medicine and Dr Vandana Shiva, Professor at the Navdanya Research Foundation for Science Technology and Ecology - have raised serious concerns about the integrity of the feeding trials.
“The use of human subjects for these GM feeding experiments is completely unacceptable,” the letter reads. “There is a large body of evidence that shows that GM crops … can result in health damaging effects when GM food products are fed to animals.”
“The feeding trials should not be conducted until long-term impact assessments have been undertaken and appropriate information released to enable the scientific community to determine the value of such research, as against the risks.”
Greenpeace Food Campaigner, Laura Kelly, said that the lack of risk assessment around the trials raises serious doubts over the independence of Australia’s chief national science body.
“Years of budget slashes have forced Australian research bodies into partnerships with companies pushing PR-style research that gets profits into their pockets quicker,” said Laura Kelly.
“Some of these human feeding studies go for just one day, which is nothing better than a taste test,” says Kelly.
“The embarrassing health and ethics gaps in this research shows who is really running the GM wheat trials at CSIRO,” says Kelly. “GM companies like Limagrain and their partners BASF and Monsanto, want to push biotech bread on Australians without having to prove that it’s safe”.
Experts in the field recommend long-term (2 years) animal feeding studies need to be done prior to any testing on humans, to provide evidence of potential carcinogenic, developmental, hormonal, neural, and reproductive dysfunctions, as is the case for testing of new pesticides and drugs.
“This is the first generation of Australian children that will be exposed to GM in food for a lifetime. If Julia Gillard doesn’t stand up to foreign biotech companies, soon they’ll be eating it in their sandwiches and pasta, even though it has never been proven safe to eat,” says Greenpeace Food Campaigner, Laura Kelly.
For more information, contact:
Elsa Evers 0438 204 041