1GM Corn

[Published in the Guardian, October 12, 2012]

A new peer-reviewed scientific study of Monsanto’s genetically-modified corn undertaken by a group of scientists in France has concluded that “Fifty per cent of male and 70 per cent of female rats died prematurely, compared with only 30 per cent and 20 per cent in the control group.”
This disturbing study set off alarm bells in legislatures around the world. The government of France immediately ordered an urgent review of the study and said it will work for a Europe-wide ban of imports of the crop if the findings are found to be conclusive.

Health Canada has also stated that it will conduct a review of the study linking Canadian grown genetically-modified corn to elevated risks of cancer, organ damage and premature death in rats, and that it will take action if it finds that the corn “demonstrates a risk” to Canadians.  Let’s hope our government is sincere. However, we could be forgiven if we were a tad skeptical, given that the Canadian government has never previously undertaken any independent health studies of GM varieties prior to issuing regulatory approval to Monsanto to commercialize new genetically-altered crops. Monsanto undertakes its own studies and the government simply accepts the ‘safety claims’ made by Monsanto.

It is curious that Canadian regulations only require Monsanto to conduct three month toxicology health studies on rats with new GM crops whereas this new study found that the cancerous tumours only began to appear in the rats in the fourth month. These regulations clearly need to be changed, requiring much longer studies.

As well, the Canadian government has stubbornly refused to require labelling of GM foods to give consumers the choice not to buy GM food, despite its own regulations which state:

“Currently in Canada, labelling is mandatory if there is a health or safety issue with a food, which might be mitigated through labelling. For example, if the nutritional value or composition of the food has been changed, or if there is an allergen present in the food, the food must be labelled as such. In this sit ua tion, special labelling is required to alert consumers or susceptible groups in the population. This applies to all foods, including GM foods.”

So labelling of GM foods should be happening now, given the findings of an other recent GM food study by a group of doctors at the Sherbrooke University Hospital in Quebec who:

“…. found the corn’s Bt- toxin in the blood of pregnant women and their babies, as well as in non-pregnant women. ( Specifically, the toxin was identified in 93 percent of 30 pregnant women, 80 percent of umbilical blood in their babies, and 67 percent of 39 non- pregnant women.)”

Monsanto had previously told the Canadian government that the Bt- toxin is completely destroyed in the digestive process, and the Canadian government accepted that claim and granted approval to Monsanto for Bt GM crops. So now that this assurance has been proven false, why hasn’t the Canadian government implemented labelling in accordance with its own policy and regulations?

Sadly, nearly 100 percent of all corn and soybeans grown and sold in Canada – both to humans and also as animal feed – are now Monsanto’s herbicide- resistant GM varieties, so labeling isn’t really even necessary any more: we can now safely assume that if the label doesn’t say “certified organic” it contains genetically- modified food.

One wonders how long it might take Health Canada to complete a review of this troubling new study and report the findings to Canadians. In the meantime, it would be prudent for all of us to stop eating GM foods if we want to increase our odds of avoiding cancer and suffer premature death. It is truly lamentable that our provincial farm organizations and government are not sounding the alarm bells about the dangers of eating GM foods and doing more to make our province a GMO- free zone.