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GM Crops "Ruin Fields for 15 Years"

By Geoffrey Lean, Environment Editor
The Independent
October 9, 2005

GM crops contaminate the countryside for up to 15 years after they have been harvested, startling new government research shows.

The findings cast a cloud over the prospects of growing the modified crops in Britain, suggesting that farmers who try them out for one season will find fields blighted for a decade and a half.

Financed by GM companies and Margaret Beckett's Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the report effectively torpedoes the Government's strategy for introducing GM oilseed rape to this country.

Ministers have stipulated that the crops should not be grown until rules are worked out to enable them to "co-exist" with conventional ones. But the research shows that this is effectively impossible.

The study, published by the Royal Society, examined five sites across England and Scotland where modified oilseed rape has been cultivated, and found significant amounts of GM plants growing even after the sites had been returned to ordinary crops. It concludes that the research reveals "a potentially serious problem associated with the temporal persistence of rape seeds in soil."

The researchers found that nine years after a single modified crop, an average of two GM rape plants would grow in every square metre of an affected field. After 15 years, this came down to one plant per square metre - still enough to break the EC limits on permissible GM contamination.

Last night Pete Riley, the director of GM Freeze, said; "It is becoming clearer and clearer that it is going to be impossible to grow GM crops in Britain."

ploughed field


Genetically Modified Soy Affects Posterity

October 23, 2005

Results of Russian scientists' studies

MOSCOW - On October 10, during the symposium over genetic modification, organized by the National Association for Genetic Security (NAGS), Doctor of Biology Irina Ermakova made public the results of the research led by her at the Institute of Higher Nervous Activity and Neurophysiology of the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS). This is the first research that determined clear dependence between eating genetically modified soy and the posterity of living creatures.

During the experiment, doctor Ermakova added GM soy flour to the food of female rats two weeks before conception, during conception and nursing. In the control group were the rat females that were not added anything to their food. The experiment was formed by 3 groups of 3 female rats in each: the first one was control group, the second one was the group with GM-soy addition, and the third one with traditional soy addition. The scientists counted the number of female species to give birth and the number of born and died rats.

After the result of the first stage, the second part took place. Now the rats were divided into two groups – one with GM-soy addition in their food, and other without the GM-soy. In three weeks the scientists received following results:

Additions Females that gave birth Born rats Dead rats (in three weeks) Percent of dead rats Rats still alive
Control group 4 (of 6) 44 3 6,8% 41
With GM-soy 4 (of 6) 45 25 55,6% 20
With normal soy 3 (of 3) 33 3 9% 30

Thus, according to these results, the abnormally high level of posterity death has been detected at the posterity of the female species with GM-soy added to their food. And 36% percent of born rats weighed less than 20 grams that is an evidence of their extremely weak condition.

"The morphology and biochemical structures of rats are very similar to those of humans, and this makes the results we obtained very disturbing," said Irina Ermakova to NAGS press office. According to NAGS Vice-president Aleksey Kulikov, the data received by Dr.Ermakova confirm the necessity of full scale tests of GM-products influence over living creatures.

rats fed GE and non-GE soy

Photo of two rats from the Russian study, showing stunted growth - the larger rat, 19 days old, is from the control group; the smaller rat, 20 days old, is from the "GM soy" group.


Most Offspring Died When Mother Rats Ate Genetically Engineered Soy

By Jeffrey M. Smith
October 29, 2005

The Russian scientist planned a simple experiment to see if eating genetically modified (GM) soy might influence offspring. What she got, however, was an astounding result that may threaten a multi-billion dollar industry.

Irina Ermakova, a leading scientist at the Institute of Higher Nervous Activity and Neurophysiology of the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS), added GM soy flour (5-7 grams) to the diet of female rats. Other females were fed non-GM soy or no soy at all. The experimental diet began two weeks before the rats conceived and continued through pregnancy and nursing.

Ermakova's first surprise came when her pregnant rats started giving birth. Some pups from GM-fed mothers were quite a bit smaller. After 2 weeks, 36% of them weighed less than 20 grams compared to about 6% from the other groups (see photo below).

But the real shock came when the rats started dying. Within three weeks, 25 of the 45 (55.6%) rats from the GM soy group died compared to only 3 of 33 (9%) from the non-GM soy group and 3 of 44 (6.8%) from the non-soy controls.

Ermakova preserved several major organs from the mother rats and offspring, drew up designs for a detailed organ analysis, created plans to repeat and expand the feeding trial, and promptly ran out of research money. The $70,000 needed was not expected to arrive for a year. Therefore, when she was invited to present her research at a symposium organized by the National Association for Genetic Security, Ermakova wrote "PRELIMINARY STUDIES" on the top of her paper. She presented it on October 10, 2005 at a session devoted to the risks of GM food.

Her findings are hardly welcome by an industry already steeped in controversy.

GM Soy's Divisive Past

The soy she was testing was Monsanto's Roundup Ready variety. Its DNA has bacterial genes added that allow the soy plant to survive applications of Monsanto's "Roundup" brand herbicide. About 85% of the soy gown in the US is Roundup Ready. Since soy derivatives, including oil, flour and lecithin, are found in the majority of processed foods sold in the US, many Americans eat ingredients derived from Roundup Ready soy everyday.

The FDA does not require any safety tests on genetically modified foods. If Monsanto or other biotech companies declare their foods safe, the agency has no further questions. The rationale for this hands-off position is a sentence in the FDA's 1992 policy that states, "The agency is not aware of any information showing that foods derived by these new methods differ from other foods in any meaningful or uniform way."[1] The statement, it turns out, was deceptive. Documents made public from a lawsuit years later revealed that the FDA's own experts agreed that GM foods are different and might lead to hard-to-detect allergens, toxins, new diseases or nutritional problems. They had urged their superiors to require long-term safety studies, but were ignored. The person in charge of FDA policy was, conveniently, Monsanto's former attorney (and later their vice president). One FDA microbiologist described the GM food policy as "just a political document" without scientific basis, and warned that industry would "not do the tests that they would normally do" since the FDA didn't require any.[2] He was correct.

There have been less than 20 published, peer-reviewed animal feeding safety studies and no human clinical trials—in spite of the fact that millions of people eat GM soy, corn, cotton, or canola daily. There are no adequate tests on "biochemistry, immunology, tissue pathology, gut function, liver function and kidney function,"[3] and animal feeding studies are too short to adequately test for cancer, reproductive problems, or effects in the next generation. This makes Ermakova's research particularly significant. It's the first of its kind.

Past Studies Show Significant Effects

Other studies on Roundup Ready soy also raise serious questions. Research on the liver, the body's major de-toxifier, showed that rats fed GM soy developed misshapen nuclei and other cellular anomalies.[4] This indicates increased metabolic activity, probably resulting from a major insult to that organ. Rats also showed changes in the pancreas, including a huge drop in the production of a major enzyme (alpha-amylase),[5] which could inhibit digestion. Cooked GM soy contains about twice the amount of soy lectin, which can also block nutrient assimilation.[6] And one study showed that GM soy has 12-14% less isoflavones, which are touted as cancer fighting.[7]

An animal feeding study published by Monsanto showed no apparent problems with GM soy,[8] but their research has been severely criticized as rigged to avoid finding problems.[9] Monsanto used mature animals instead of young, more sensitive ones, diluted their GM soy up to 12-fold, used too much protein, never weighed the organs, and had huge variations in starting weights. The study's nutrient comparison between GM and non-GM soy revealed significant differences in the ash, fat, and carbohydrate content, lower levels of protein, a fatty acid, and phenylalanine. Monsanto researchers had actually omitted the most incriminating nutritional differences, which were later discovered and made public. For example, the published paper showed a 27% increase in a known allergen, trypsin inhibitor, while the recovered data raised that to a 3-fold or 7-fold increase, after the soy was cooked. This might explain why soy allergies in the UK skyrocketed by 50% soon after GM soy was introduced.

The gene that is inserted into GM soy produces a protein with two sections that are identical to known allergens. This might also account for the increased allergy rate. Furthermore, the only human feeding trial ever conducted confirmed that this inserted gene transfers into the DNA of bacteria inside the intestines. This means that long after you decide to stop eating GM soy, your own gut bacteria may still be producing this potentially allergenic protein inside your digestive tract.

The migration of genes might influence offspring. German scientists found fragments of the DNA fed to pregnant mice in the brains of their newborn.[10] Fragments of genetically modified DNA were also found in the blood, spleen, liver and kidneys of piglets that were fed GM corn.[11] It was not clear if the GM genes actually entered the DNA of the animal, but scientists speculate that if it were to integrate into the sex organ cells, it might impact offspring.

The health of newborns might also be affected by toxins, allergens, or anti-nutrients in the mother's diet. These may be created in GM crops, due to unpredictable alterations in their DNA. The process of gene insertion can delete one or more of the DNA's own natural genes, scramble them, turn them off, or permanently turn them on. It can also change the expression levels of hundreds of genes. And growing the transformed cell into a GM plant through a process called tissue culture can create hundreds or thousands of additional mutations throughout the DNA.

Most of these possibilities have not been properly evaluated in Roundup Ready soy. We don't know how many mutations or altered gene expressions are found in its DNA. Years after it was marketed, however, scientists did discover a section of natural soy DNA that was scrambled[12] and two additional fragments of the foreign gene that had escaped Monsanto's detection.

Those familiar with the body of GM safety studies are often astounded by their superficiality. Moreover, several scientists who discovered incriminating evidence or even expressed concerns about the technology have been fired, threatened, stripped of responsibilities, or censured.[13] And when problems do arise, they are not followed up. For example, animals fed GM crops developed potentially precancerous cell growth, smaller brains, livers and testicles, damaged immune systems, bigger livers, partial atrophy of the liver, lesions in the livers, stomachs, and kidneys, inflammation of the kidneys, problems with their blood cells, higher blood sugar levels, and unexplained increases in the death rate. (See Spilling the Beans, August 2004.) None have been adequately followed-up or accounted for.

Ermakova's research, however, will likely change that. That's because her study is easy to repeat and its results are so extreme. A 55.6% mortality rate is enormous and very worrisome. Repeating the study is the only reasonable option.

American Academy of Environmental Medicine Urges NIH to Follow Up Study

I presented Dr. Ermakova's findings, with her permission, at the annual conference of the American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) in Tucson on October 27, 2005. In response, the AAEM board passed a resolution asking the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) to sponsor an immediate, independent follow-up of the study. Dr. Jim Willoughby, the Academy's president, said, "Genetically modified soy, corn, canola, and cottonseed oil are being consumed daily by a significant proportion of our population. We need rigorous, independent and long-term studies to evaluate if these foods put the population at risk."

Unfortunately, there is a feature about GM crops that makes even follow-up studies a problem. In 2003, a French laboratory analyzed the inserted genes in five GM varieties, including Roundup Ready soybeans.[14] In each case, the genetic sequence was different than that which had been described by the biotech companies years earlier. Had all the companies made a mistake? That's unlikely. Rather, the inserted genes probably rearranged over time. A Brussels lab confirmed that the genetic sequences were different than what was originally listed. But the sequences discovered in Brussels didn't all match those found by the French.[15] This suggests that the inserted genes are unstable and can change in different ways. It also means that they are creating new proteins—ones that were never intended or tested. The Roundup Ready soybeans used in the Russian test may therefore be quite different from the Roundup Ready soybeans used in follow-up studies.

Unstable genes make accurate safety testing impossible. It also may explain some of the many problems reported about GM foods. For example, nearly 25 farmers in the US and Canada say that certain GM corn varieties caused their pigs to become sterile, have false pregnancies, or give birth to bags of water. A farmer in Germany claims that a certain variety of GM corn killed 12 of his cows and caused others to fall sick. And Filipinos living next to a GM cornfield developed skin, respiratory, and intestinal symptoms and fever, while the corn was pollinating. The mysterious symptoms returned the following year, also during pollination, and blood tests on 39 of the Filipinos showed an immune response to the Bt toxin—created by the GM corn.

These problems may be due to particular GM varieties, or they may result from a GM crop that has "gone bad" due to genetic rearrangements. Even GM plants with identical gene sequences, however, might act differently. The amount of Bt toxin in the Philippine corn study described above, for example, varied considerably from kernel to kernel, even in the same plant.[16]

With billions of dollars invested in GM foods, no adverse finding has yet been sufficient to reverse the industry's growth in the US. It may take some dramatic, indisputable, and life-threatening discovery. That is why Ermakova's findings are so important. If the study holds up, it may topple the GM food industry.

I urge the NIH to agree to the AAEM's request, and fund an immediate, independent follow-up study. If NIH funding is not forthcoming, our Institute for Responsible Technology will try to raise the money. This is not the time to wait. There is too much at stake.

Jeffrey M. Smith is working with a team of international scientists to catalog all known health risks of GM foods. He is the author of Seeds of Deception , the world's bestselling book on GM food, and the producer of the video, Hidden Dangers in Kids' Meals.


  1. "Statement of Policy: Foods Derived from New Plant Varieties," Federal Register vol. 57, no. 104 at 22991, May 29, 1992
  2. Louis J. Pribyl, "Biotechnology Draft Document, 2/27/92," March 6, 1992,
  3. Epidemiologist Judy Carman's testimony before New Zealand's Royal Commission of Inquiry on Genetic Modification, 2001.
  4. Malatesta M, Caporaloni C, Gavaudan S, Rocchi MB, Serafini S, Tiberi C, Gazzanelli G. (2002a) Ultrastructural morphometrical and immunocytochemical analyses of hepatocyte nuclei from mice fed on genetically modified soybean. Cell Struct Funct. 27: 173-180.
  5. Manuela Malatesta, et al, Ultrastructural analysis of pancreatic acinar cells from mice fed on genetically modified soybean, Journal of Anatomy, Volume 201 Issue 5 Page 409 - November 2002
  6. Stephen R. Padgette and others, "The Composition of Glyphosate-Tolerant Soybean Seeds Is Equivalent to That of Conventional Soybeans," The Journal of Nutrition, vol. 126, no. 4, April 1996 (The data was taken from the journal archives, as it had been omitted from the published study.)
  7. Lappe, M.A., Bailey, E.B., Childress, C. and Setchell, K.D.R. (1999) Alterations in clinically important phytoestrogens in genetically modified, herbicide-tolerant soybeans. Journal of Medical Food 1, 241-245.
  8. Stephen R. Padgette and others, "The Composition of Glyphosate-Tolerant Soybean Seeds Is Equivalent to That of Conventional Soybeans," The Journal of Nutrition, vol. 126, no. 4, April 1996
  9. For example, Ian F. Pryme and Rolf Lembcke, "In Vivo Studies on Possible Health Consequences of genetically modified food and Feed—with Particular Regard to Ingredients Consisting of Genetically Modified Plant Materials," Nutrition and Health, vol. 17, 2003
  10. Doerfler W; Schubbert R, "Uptake of foreign DNA from the environment: the gastrointestinal tract and the placenta as portals of entry," Journal of molecular genetics and genetics Vol 242: 495-504, 1994
  11. Raffaele Mazza1, et al, "Assessing the Transfer of Genetically Modified DNA from Feed to Animal Tissues," Transgenic Research, October 2005, Volume 14, Number 5, pp 775 - 784
  12. P. Windels, I. Taverniers, A. Depicker, E. Van Bockstaele, and M. DeLoose, "Characterisation of the Roundup Ready soybean insert," European Food Research and Technology, vol. 213, 2001, pp. 107-112
  13. Jeffrey M. Smith, Seeds of Deception, Yes! Books, 2003
  14. Collonier C, Berthier G, Boyer F, Duplan M-N, Fernandez S, Kebdani N, Kobilinsky A, Romanuk M, Bertheau Y. Characterization of commercial GMO inserts: a source of useful material to study genome fluidity. Poster presented at ICPMB: International Congress for Plant Molecular Biology (n°VII), Barcelona, 23-28th June 2003. Poster courtesy of Dr. Gilles-Eric Seralini, Président du Conseil Scientifique du CRII-GEN,; also "Transgenic lines proven unstable" by Mae-Wan Ho, ISIS Report, 23 October 2003

Court Orders Public Oversight of 'Biopharm' Experiment in Hawai'i
October 11, 2005

Environmental Review Required for Genetically Engineered Algae Project

KAILUA-KONA -- Yesterday, citizen groups 'Ohana Pale Ke Ao, Kohanaiki 'Ohana, GMO Free Hawai'i, and Sierra Club, Hawai'i Chapter, represented by Earthjustice, obtained a court judgment in their favor in a lawsuit they brought in the Circuit Court of the State of Hawai'i, Third Circuit, challenging the state Board of Agriculture's approval of a project to mass-produce potentially dangerous genetically engineered algae on the Kona coast of the Island of Hawai'i. Circuit Court Judge Elizabeth A. Strance agreed with the citizen groups that the Board was required to comply with the environmental review process under the Hawai'i Environmental Policy Act (HEPA) before approving the project. The Court granted the groups' request for a judgment declaring that, at minimum, an environmental assessment (EA) was required for the project, and that the Board's approval without such review was invalid.

"We're glad that the court upheld this important process of examining the risks of this project and its alternatives," said Earthjustice attorney Isaac Moriwake. "The state needs to be reminded that environmental review is not a nuisance to be brushed aside, but a basic public duty of all agencies."

The challenged project proposes to manufacture, in an outdoor environment at a state-owned technology park known as the Natural Energy Laboratory Hawai'i (NELH), "biopharmaceutical" microalgae that is genetically engineered to produce experimental and yet unapproved drugs. The state Department of Agriculture assigned the genetically engineered organism a heightened risk level because the project was the first of its kind and posed unique concerns and risks.

Many in the Kona community expressed their concerns about the risks of contamination of the coastal environment around the project area, which is highly valued and regularly used by local residents, and the dangers of human exposure to the experimental substances. The citizen groups and others urged the Board to undertake HEPA review before approving the project, but the Board ignored their pleas, failing even to give the reason for its refusal.

The biopharm algae project would use state lands and, therefore, triggers the requirement under HEPA that the state conduct an EA to determine whether the project "may" have a significant effect on the environment, in which case a more detailed environmental impact statement (EIS) would have to be conducted. The Board, however, claimed in the lawsuit that their permitting system was not subject to HEPA.

The Board also argued that EISs conducted several decades ago, when NELH was first built, covered this particular project. The Court rejected these arguments, noting during the hearing that HEPA applied to all agencies, and that the prior EISs recognized future projects would require their own environmental reviews.

"Introducing genetically engineered organisms to the ecologically sensitive Kona coast poses significant environmental threats," said Jeff Mikulina, director of the Sierra Club, Hawai'i Chapter. "We appreciate that the court is requiring the state to look before they leap."

"This case highlights the importance of citizen participation in the land use decision making process and the need for agencies to examine the environmental and cultural impacts of their decisions," said Karen Eoff, president of Kohanaiki 'Ohana. "The court's ruling recognizes these fundamental values."

"The court has upheld the protection of our unique and pristine Hawai'i ecosystem," said GMO-Free Hawai'i member Nancy Redfeather. "Introduction of any genetically engineered organisms must be carefully considered for their long-term effects on our land and community."


Canada Grants New Controversial Terminator Patent To US Company

October 25, 2005

Patent on "Suicide seeds" allowed

Ottawa – Today Greenpeace and the Ban Terminator Campaign revealed that new patents have been granted in both Canada and Europe for a Terminator technology owned jointly by US seed corporation Delta & Pine Land and the United States Department of Agriculture. The patents were granted on October 11 and 5 respectively. The move confirms the greatest fears of farmers', Indigenous peoples groups and social movements across the world that Terminator technology is once again being pushed towards commercialization.

Terminator seeds are genetically engineered to be sterile after first harvest so farmers cannot use the seed in the next season. It would force farmers to buy seed every year and concentrate even more power in the hands of major biotechnology and seed corporations. Intensive global uproar has kept the technology from being field-tested or commercialized but companies are now pushing for acceptance.

"These new patents confirm that corporations are once again actively pursuing Terminator seeds and an international ban on Terminator is urgently needed," said Lucy Sharratt, Coordinator of the new global Ban Terminator Campaign.

New fears that governments and corporations are working together to push Terminator were first confirmed in February 2005 when the Canadian government shocked the world by trying to overturn the international de facto moratorium on Terminator that exists at the United Nations under the Convention on Biological Diversity. Uproar from Canadian and international groups kept the moratorium alive. To address this crisis, the National Farmers Union and other Canadian-based groups including ETC Group, Inter Pares and USC Canada initiated a global Ban Terminator Campaign (

"The Canadian government must immediately stop promoting corporate Terminator seeds and protect the rights of farmers by banning the technology," said Terry Boehm, Vice President of the National Farmers Union, "Terminator is a great threat to farmers in developed and developing countries. The Canadian government should be ashamed to be associated with this technology. Terminator is an attempt to achieve biologically what the government has been unable to do legislatively."

"Corporate control of seeds is the only goal of Terminator. The corporate attempt to greenwash Terminator by saying it can help prevent genetic contamination is false as the technology itself is not 100% reliable and it can nevertheless contaminate the environment and threaten biodiversity'. This is an outrageous strategy to commercialize a dangerous, anti-farmer and non-ecological technology, " said Eric Darier, Greenpeace Canada campaigner, "Patents on Terminator can and must be denied for the public good."

The Ban Terminator Campaign is urging governments around the world to establish national bans on Terminator and to ban Terminator at the major meeting of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity March 20-31 2006 in Curitiba, Paraná, Brazil.

For more information: National Farmers Union, Saskatchewan; Greenpeace Canada Campaigner, Montreal; Ban Terminator Campaign, Ottawa

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Genetically engineered food is corporate bioterrorism