Monday, February 27, 2012

Bt toxin and ladybird larvae

Swiss researchers confirm lethal effects of genetically modified Bt toxin on young ladybird larvae
European Network of Scientists for Social and Environmental Responsibility (ENSSER)
Press Release
February 27, 2012

Counter-research based on flawed methodology

Zürich/Braunschweig - Swiss researchers of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zürich confirm earlier findings that the Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) toxin Cry1Ab produced for pesticidal purposes by genetically modified (GM) Bt maize increases mortality in the young ladybird larvae (Adalia bipunctata L., two-spotted ladybird) in laboratory tests. These ladybird larvae are typical ‘non-target’ environmental goods which are not supposed to be harmed by the GM maize. On February 15, the research team headed by Dr. Angelika Hilbeck published the results of additional tests after their first publication in 2009 was strongly criticized by proponents of GM crops in a coordinated attack in the scientific journal “Transgenic Research”. Following the well known pattern described by the U.S. science journalist Waltz , the counter-articles tried to discredit the 2009 research as “pseudo-science”, and presented their own research aimed at disproving the original work. Trigger for this concerted attack was the policy response by the German government which issued a ban in spring 2009 on the commercial planting of a GM maize that expresses the tested Bt toxin, based - among many others - on the results of the earlier 2009 study with A. bipunctata.

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Friday, February 17, 2012

GE maize health risks

Genetically engineered maize: New indication of health risks
By Testbiotech
February 17, 2012

Bt protein toxic to human cells

Caen/Munich - Insecticidal Bt toxins such as those produced in genetically engineered plants can be detrimental to human cells. This is a result of recent research led by researchers at the University of Caen (France). Their experiments showed that toxins produced in, for example, the genetically engineered maize MON810, can significantly impact the viability of human cells. The effects were observed with relatively high concentrations of the toxins, nevertheless there is cause for concern. For the first time, experiments have now shown that they can have an toxic effect to human cells. According to companies like Monsanto, which produces genetically engineered maize with these toxins, the toxins are supposed to be active only against particular insects and should have no effect on mammals and humans at all. The investigation of effects of Bt toxins on human cells is not a requirement for risk assessment in Europe or in any other region

Another finding of the researchers concerns a herbicide formulation sold under the brand name Roundup. Massive amounts of this herbicide are sprayed on genetically engineered soybean crops and its residues can be found in food and feed. According to the new publication, even extremely low dosages of Roundup (glyphosate formulations) can damage human cells. These findings are in accordance with several other investigations highlighting unexpected health risks associated with glyphosate preparations.

“We were very much surprised by our findings. Until now, it has been thought almost impossible for Bt proteins to be toxic to human cells. Now further investigations have to be conducted to find out how these toxins impact the cells and if combinatorial effects with other compounds in the food and feed chain have to be taken into account,” says Gilles-Eric Séralini from the University of Caen, who supervised the experiments. “In conclusion, these experiments show that the risks of Bt toxins and of Roundup have been underestimated.”

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