Tuesday, February 28, 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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Saturday, February 18, 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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Call for investigation

Ohio Congressional candidate calls for GMO investigation of Monsanto
By Karl Dickey,
West Palm Beach Libertarian Examiner
February 17, 2012

Richard C. Ehrbar III, a Libertarian candidate for congress in Ohio’s newly formed third district has released yet another stance that challenges mainstream republicans and democrats.

While speaking to a group of liberty activists on Ohio State’s Columbus campus, Ehrbar called for a congressional investigation into the controversial genetically modified crop, genetically altered seed, and herbicide producer Monsanto, citing multitudes of health issues that have been reported and analyzed by leading experts in the health and agricultural community.

“Republicans and democrats, especially President Obama, won’t stand up to Monsanto, but Monsanto must be investigated now, and after, depending on the conclusions, could face potential prosecution.”

Ehrbar cited studies that included a plethora of health issues: “Numerous studies are finding that genetically modified crops are more than likely the cause of infertility in animals, umbilical cord deformities, fatalities, obesity, sudden psychological disorders, miscarriages, seizures, and the list goes on. The most important place for us to look for harm is in the digestive tract. Everything goes from there”.

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Friday, February 10, 2012

A step backwards

New GM crops tolerant to old toxic herbicides a step backwards
By Prof. Joe Cummins
ISIS Report
February 09, 2012

Dow Agroscience petitions for deregulating new GM maize tolerant to 2,4-D and Quizalofop. This report has been submitted to USDA/AHIS on behalf of ISIS, please circulate widely and forward to your representatives

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Inspection Service (APHIS) has announced that Dow AgroScience Company is seeking deregulation of a new genetically engineered corn (DAS -4027809), tolerant to broadleaf phenoxy auxin herbicides such as 2,4-D and grass herbicides such as quizalofop, and is soliciting public comments by February 27, 2012, to be submitted at: http://www.regulations.gov/#!searchResults;rpp=10;po=0;s=APHIS-2010-0103

The herbicide 2,4-D was discovered in the early 1940s . For many years 2,4-D and its relatives in the phenoxy auxin group were the primary chemical used to control broad leaf weeds. In recent years 2,4-D has become the third most widely used herbicide in the world behind glyphosate and atrazine. The development of 2,4-D resistant crops will greatly increase the use of the herbicide and greatly amplify the environmental pollution associated with this old herbicide. Introduction of genetically modified (GM) crops tolerant to it is a step backwards for health and the environment.

According to USDA Economic Research Service, 73 % of the area planted to maize in the United States is GM herbicide tolerant (HT) varieties [1]. It has become increasingly clear that the current plantings of HT maize are plagued by weeds that have grown as tolerant to the herbicides as the HT maize.

As a solution, Dow Agrosciences are putting forward a GM maize variety DAS-40278-9 that is tolerant to the old herbicide 2,4-D and its relatives of the phenoxy auxin group, as well as the herbicide quizalofop, along with its chemical relatives of the aryloxyphenoxypropionate acetyl coenzyme A carboxylase (ACCase) inhibitor group; and has petitioned USDA/APHIS for non-regulated status [2]. APHIS has duly prepared a draft environment assessment [3].

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Friday, February 3, 2012

Monsanto data

Data from Monsanto do not meet basic scientific standards
Testbiotech and GeneWatch UK
February 02, 2012

Rising doubts about safety of genetically engineered plants

Bruxelles - In a letter to Commissioner Dalli, Testbiotech and GeneWatch UK give new evidence of EFSA´s failure to perform risk assessment of genetically engineered plants. A detailed analysis of original documents as filed by Monsanto for their genetically engineered maize sold under brand of Genuity VT Triple PRO shows that crucial documents do not meet the standards of so called Good Laboratory Practice (GLP standards). As for example the company states in their investigation of the combinatorial toxicity of insecticides produced in the plants “there was no intention to conduct this study according to Good Laboratory Practice (GLP) Standards. ” Nevertheless the data were accepted by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the plants were accepted as being safe.

“EU Regulations require that highest possible standards are applied during risk assessment. But EFSA accepted data for risk assessment of a questionable product that would have been rejected for any scientific publication”, says Helen Wallace from GeneWatch UK. “In conclusion, current practice is not in line with legal requirements.”

The detailed analysis of the documents was conducted after the EU Commission rejected a formal complaint of GeneWatch (UK) and Testbiotech against the market authorisation of Monsanto´s maize that is a combination of two genetically engineered plants (MON89034XMON88017, nickname SynthiToxStax). The Commission is of the opinion that risk assessment was conducted in accordance with EU regulations.

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