WTO policy on GMO food fuels fears in Russia
Tuesday, 18 June 2013 08:52
NOTE: The article below reports growing concern about GMOs among the Russian public and some scientists since Russia joined the World Trade Organization (WTO).
But there's also some crazy stuff from a pro-GM scientist, who inexplicably seems to believe GMOs can produce more intelligent people and save babies whose mothers suffered from starvation during pregnancy. He also believes we face a stark choice: between GMOs or cannibalism (don't ask).
His extraordinary statement, “GMO is our saviour", is revealing of the mindset of many GM proponents, even if not all of them are quite as straightforward in the way they express it.
WTO policy on GMO food fuels fears in Russia
Russia Beyond the Headlines, June 5, 2013
Protests against genetically modified food grow in Russia after WTO ascension. Yet some scientists insist there are no large health risks.
Russia is gradually starting to fulfil its obligations as a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO). One of these obligations is a more lenient attitude towards products that contain genetically modified organisms (GMO).
In line with WTO regulations, it will soon be possible to import GMO seeds into the country. This will enable producers to sell and label the resulting genetically modified products as any other product – that is, marking the food as containing genetically modified organisms will be made optional. Environmentalists are in an uproar, repeatedly taking to the streets with anti-GMO rallies in late May to get their voices heard.
The "Russia without GMO" movement is gaining momentum, with organisers collecting signatures from Russian citizens in support of their proposal to make the country a GMO-free zone.
“People should be allowed to choose what products they can buy. We believe it is necessary to label products that contain GMO accordingly,” says Yelena Sharoikina, director of the National Association for Genetic Safety (NAGS).
“About 50 people turned up for our rally. The Moscow authorities only gave permission for us to picket and not march, as we had initially planned. But several million people in more than 400 cities and 58 countries around the world took to the streets that day in protest,” she added.
Environmentalists are now planning to take the campaign a step further by collecting one million signatures before approaching President Vladimir Putin with the request to keep GMO out of Russia and continue labelling genetically modified products as such.
“We want to take every possible precaution. The experiments on hamsters, for example, are particularly troubling. Animals that have been fed with genetically modified foods stop reproducing after the second generation. Of course, you can’t directly apply these results to humans, but it’s definitely food for thought,” explains Sharoikina.
There are currently over 150 GMO-free territories in the world, including Switzerland, Serbia and Bulgaria. Sharoikina is confident that the government will not be able ignore the opinion of millions of Russians.
The main problem, however, lies in the fact that environmentalists cannot prove unequivocally the dangers of GMO. They can only talk about their possible but unverified effects, since experiments have thus far only been conducted on rats, mice, and hamsters.
Despite the fact that the results of these experiments cannot be fully applied to humans, they still evoke a sense of fear. However, as the Ministry of Agriculture’s Public Council representative and head of Russian Farms Group Andrei Danilenko said, the average Russian consumers are often uninformed on the matter.
What is more, they often buy products without reading the label.
People look at the "best before" date more than they look at the ingredients.
The results of a quick pool among we ran among a few regular Russian consumers seems to confirm a growing yet not overarching concern in relation to GMO. Yelena, for example, believes that if a product has made it to the shelf of a shop, then it has passed all the necessary checks and you can buy it with confidence. Yevgeny and Olga, on the other hand, read the labels and steer well clear of anything containing the letters GMO.
“Who knows what it’s made from? It’s particularly difficult to find real milk – how is it that milk can last for eight months without going off?” says Olga. “I’m very picky when it comes to buying food.” Yevgeny also avoids GMO foods, although he usually looks at the label to check the "best before" date.
Well-known Russian author Leonid Kaganov, on the contrary, says he is keen to try the new generation of food products, primarily because they break down completely in the stomach into the necessary nutrients – and the body does not distinguish between an orange that has been grown using the gene of a salmon and an orange that has been eaten after salmon.
Danilenko says that people are afraid of genetically modified products because there is still no conclusive evidence either way to prove that they are safe or dangerous. GMO cross breeding produces things that could never have emerged using natural methods.
“Businesses use GMO because it is extremely convenient. GMO cultures are resistant to pests and provide higher yields under the same conditions,” Danilenko says. “In the United States, Latin America and Ukraine, it is the norm. And no doubt there’s illegal GMO seeds in Russia as well.”
Danilenko is certain that once the GMO restrictions are lifted, nobody will be able to stop businesses from growing next generation plants.
But the expert notes that Russia and its territories are in a position to reject GMO and grow everything in the tried-and-tested way: “Russia has more than 20 percent of the world’s arable land – it’s not like we have a shortage of land.”
To do this, however, it is imperative that greater attention be paid to the development of homegrown agriculture. At the present time, the overwhelming majority of seeds in Russia are imported from overseas.
“In addition to developing agriculture at home, we need to establish a clear GMO checking system for food products. Right now, we’ve got pretty good ways for determining this,” Danilenko explained. “We are in a position where we can grow and consume products that are entirely free of genetically modified organisms.”
Meanwhile, scientists seem to much more positive about the potential and benefits of using GMO. Valery Glazko, who is in charge of Centre for Nanobiotechnology at the Russian State Agrarian University, says that thanks to GMO technology, we will finally be able to feed the world and a new generation of more intelligent people will appear.
“If a pregnant woman is not getting enough food, then her haemoglobin levels will drop. Her baby will be born and have every chance of living a full life, but he or she will not be able to make decisions. The baby will adapt, but its brain will not develop in the correct manner,” he says. “GMO is our saviour.”
Glazko explains that up to 5 percent of our organisms is made up of genetic defects, although this does not prevent us from going about our everyday lives. The herpes virus, for example, is hereditary and therefore embedded in one’s DNA. “Hunger is the flip side of terrorism. We are faced with a choice: cannibalism or GMO.”
RESUMO MENSAL N° 76
Monday, 01 March 2010 20:04
GM soy linked to health damage in pigs - a Danish Dossier
Friday, 27 April 2012 21:10
IntroductionA Danish farming newspaper has caused quite a stir by devoting a sizeable part of its 13 April edition to the discoveries by pig farmer lb Borup Pedersen that GM soy has a damaging effect both on his animals and on his farming profitability. On the front page of the paper there was a lead story under the headline "Pig farmer reaps gains from GMO-free soy". On a sidebar the paper referred to Mr Pedersen's contention that DDT and Thalidomide were minor problems when set alongside GMOs and Glyphosate. In an Editorial Comment on page 2, the paper argued that it would be grossly irresponsible for the authorities to ignore or ridicule the discoveries made by the farmer in his pig farming operations, and it congratulated the authorities for commissioning a new study designed to determine whether stomach lesions and other effects might be associated with GM soy; in the study 100 animals will be fed with non-GM soy and 100 with GM soy in their diets.
On pages 6 and 7 of the paper there was a big article written by Anne Wolfenberg, who is a very experienced journalist who knows the Danish pig farming industry well. This article was leaked in draft form, translated into English and widely circulated, appearing on various web sites. GM-Free Cymru helped with that translation, in the belief that this was the final published version and that the farmer, the writer and the newspaper would be happy to see it circulated to an English-speaking readership. Full acknowledgement and citation were made. However, we did not realise that there were one or two small errors in the draft which were corrected in the final printed version; and partly on that basis we received a complaint from the author. We apologised for the misunderstanding, and the article was immediately removed from the GM Watch web site. We also asked an American web site which had used the article to take it down, in line with the journalist's wishes. This was also done.
In deference to the concerns of Anne Wolfenberg, we are not including any translation of her article here. Instead, we have spoken to Mr Pedersen, and he has kindly given us permission to use content from his Powerpoint presentation, to use direct statements made by him, and to use his photographs. On that basis we have assembled the first part of this dossier.
In the second part of the dossier, we examine the key points arising from the coverage of this issue in the Danish farming newspaper Effektivt Landbrug. We congratulate the editor and the journalists involved on a very effective and well-researched piece of investigative journalism, and for having the courage to publish it in spite of the anger it was bound to provoke! We also congratulate Mr lb Pedersen for his very careful record keeping and for making the decision to place it in the public domain, in the public interest.
In the third part of this dossier we have translated a press release relating to the new Danish research project which will examine the effects of GM soy on pigs during the period of weight gain from 30 kg to slaughter at c 110 kg. While we applaud the fact that this research will be conducted, we are concerned that the feeding of the weaned animals from 7 kg (28 days) up to the 30 kg weight will potentially mask GM effects and compromise the results. As the newspaper suggests, it will be in nobody's best interests if these trials are mistrusted or later found to be fraudulent. Dr Brian John from GM-Free Cymru agrees, and says: "We have been involved in GM issues for more than a decade, and we know the score. We can take it as read that there are large sections of the GM industry, and maybe large parts of the farming community, especially in the United States, who will move heaven and earth to prevent anything damaging to the GM cause from seeing the light of day. We suspect that huge pressure has already been put on the Danish journalist and her newspaper by certain interested parties, including farming unions, agrichemical companies and so forth. That is plain stupid of them; their interests are served least of all if real animal welfare and food safety issues are brushed under the carpet."
In the fourth part of the dossier we report on an interview with another Danish farmer whose experiences relating to a shift from GM soy animal feed to non-GM soy feed appear to match very closely the experiences of Mr Pedersen.
Part 1. The Pilegaarden Findings
Animal Health and WelfareWhen Danish pig farmer lb Borup Pedersen replaced GM soy with non-GM soy in the feeding schedules on his farm, he immediately observed positive changes in the health of the sow herd. He has spoken to a mainstream Danish farming newspaper (Effektivt Landbrug) about this, and the editor has devoted much space to the issue – presumably on the basis that Mr Pedersen is not an organic farmer, but a regular farmer using the same intensive techniques to raise pigs as many other farmers across the country. He farms at Pilegaarden, Hvidsten, near Randers on Jylland.
Danish pig production is recognised worldwide for having a the highest level of productivity, with an average of almost 30 weaned pigs per sow per year. Combined with the an antibiotic use of less than 50 mg per kg of produced pork (most other countries except the other Scandinavian states use 2-4 times that amount), that makes them the unofficial "world champions" of swine production. The fact that all use of antibiotics is recorded and strictly controlled by veterinary officers makes statements from the Danish farmer strong, and both field trials and scientific trials made in Denmark are widely accepted all over the world. Research facilities in Denmark are controlled by the farmers themselves or they are governmental, which means the influence of the GMO industry is far less than in many other countries.
In his discussions with GM-Free Cymru Mr Pedersen itemised the following effects:
- Within 2 days diarrhoea virtually disappeared in the farrowing house, whereas before we had used 50-100 ml Borgal / day.
- Since switching, we have not experienced death from bloat in sows or death by ulcers, as opposed to minimum 1 per month previously. (36 sows died due to stomach related sickness over the last two years before switching)
- No sows have died through loss of appetite, whereas 2 sows died from this cause last year.
- Even without washing between farrowings, diarrhoea does not now reappear. Previously when we failed to wash between sows, we noticed more diarrhoea.
- Previously we have struggled with diarrhoea in first layer sows, we do not have this problem any more!
- Two years ago when the diarrhoea was as its worst, we had months with nearly 30% dead in the farrowing house. At that time it was impossible to find sows that could nurse piglets.
- Before it was unusual to have a sow with 13 piglets weaned. The average was about 10.5 per sow plus spare mothers. Now we are getting over 12 piglets on average weaned and 14 piglets weaned per sow is common. We have fewer nursing sows, simply because the sows are milking better and eating more.
- Sows farrow better and we have 0.3 more live births per sow, of which 0.2 is gained from fewer stillborn. Now we have 14.9 liveborn and 1.6 stillborn, averaged over the past 7 months.
- The piglets weaned are stronger and more evenly sized.
- Man-hours are reduced by 20-30 hours per month, partly by washing less and because everything is easier.
"We switched to fishmeal and non-GMO soya in the weaning house, instead of GMO HP 200 (purified GMO soya) and GMO soya. The piglets seem more active. We have only fed them on this for three months, so there is no secure data. From 15 Kg we have just stopped using GMO soya; we are still not certain about cause and effect, but medicine usage already appears to have fallen to near half of what it was."
Mr Pedersen says: "I have been looking after my 450 sows with the same worker for 5 years, and our management of the animals is unchanged. That is clearly not the reason for our improved results. When I switched to non-GMO soy in April 2011,1 chose not to tell my employee, but he was nevertheless quick to notice a difference. "You've changed the diet," he said to me a few days after the switch to GM-free soya feed. "Well, what's wrong now?" I asked, but it turned out that for the first time in many months there had not been any animals needing to be injected with Borgal against piglet diarrhoea. The positive trend has remained ever since and has indeed been further enhanced over the last year. Just the savings I have accomplished in medicine expenses have paid for the extra cost of the GMO-free soy."
Deformed and Stillborn Piglets
For whatever reason, dead and deformed piglets are a problem in all pig farming situations where GM soy is used in the diet. Mr Pedersen is convinced that this is connected to the residues of glyphosate that are allowed in feed within the EU – 20 ppm in corn and soybean. He says that residues have been measured at 17 ppm in soybean meal, and that the permitted level of tolerance has been fixed at the behest of the GM industry. In Argentina, he says, farmers typically spray 4 litres of Roundup in growing 1 tonne of GM soybeans. GMO crops are typically sprayed 2 times with Roundup in the growing season. Argentina is a major supplier of GM soy into the European market. He says: "When growers in Denmark dry out cereals and oilseed rape, the content of glyphosate in the harvested crop is quite high, since spraying takes place just 10-14 days before harvest. You know that 80% of the glyphosate remains in the plant; some is degraded and the rest stays in the plant and condenses in the growing points, which are at that stage the seeds."He says: "In my grain silo 15% of the grain is dried out with Roundup and I buy barley for the sows, so 40% of the feed could be sprayed with Roundup. From my study of the literature, it appears that malformations in foetuses in certain animal species start at 0.2 ppm, and that endocrine disruption starts in humans at concentrations of 0.5 ppm. Total death of human cells occurs at 10 ppm. We have had 13 malformed piglets (about one in 700) born over the last nine months, most of them liveborn. We know from experiments that glyphosate damages the cranium and spine in approximately 70% of test animals. I am convinced that Roundup causes serious birth defects especially of the head and spine in foetuses of both humans and animals." He cites information from Argentina concerning the effects on human beings of glyphosate / Roundup spraying in rural areas affected by spray drift. Some of his pigs had the same type of damage as the children in this YouTube film: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mqXId_-dTbw
Mr Pedersen adds: "Independent researchers have shown Roundup to be both a powerful and non-selective biocide and an endocrine disruptor, leading to birth deformities, abortion, cancer and changes in microflora in the gut of mammals, so that Clostridia becomes a problem. This, I think, is the direct reason for chronic botulism in cattle. I know that the diarrhoea and bloated sow problems which we had – and which disappeared with the changed diet – were due to Clostridia bacteria."
Looking to the future, he says: "I am sure that Danish farmers would stop using GM soy in the feed for their animals if they knew the harmful effects it is having on animals and humans. I believe that the effects of DDT and Thalidomide can be described as trivial compared to the effects we are now seeing from the use of GMO crops that are sprayed with Roundup. Those negative human health effects will greatly increase in the future as Roundup consumption increases worldwide. I dread to think how serious the situation might become before the world community calls a halt to this dependence on a harmful animal feed supply contaminated with herbicides." He cites researchers who urge the application of the the precautionary principle and who call for Roundup to be phased out.
Finally he quotes from Professor Don Huber: "We will not in future be remembered for being the generation that shed so many tons of chemicals on our fields, but as the generation who willingly sacrificed our children for a few multinational companies' profits."
Mr Pedersen has analysed the effects of converting to the use of non-GM soy in his farrowing house, and is convinced that his actions have resulted in increased farm profitability. This is how he assesses the situation: "We find that efficiency – measured in terms of man-hours required in the shed – is rising, since the animals are more contented and more healthy. Now we have 1.8 more piglets weaned per sow – 29.9 as opposed to 28.1 before the change to non-GM soy. Moreover, 1.8 more piglets weaned translates into 225,000 DKr. Another statistic is that 12 sows less per year die due to stomach problems; that translates into 24,000 DKr. Two thirds of the medicines saved in the sow herd translates into 30,000 DKr. Non- GMO soya contains more nutrition, protein and energy. The added value of protein and energy alone is 17 DKr. per 100 kg, translating into 12,750 DKr per year."
On the negative side of the equation, he refers to the extra cost of 75 tonnes of non-GMO as 55 DKr per 100 kg, giving a total of 41,250 DKr.
His total extra costs are equivalent to 28,500 DKr. for 450 sows, or 63.34 DKr. per sow.
Putting the positive and negative cost factors together, the farmer concludes: "The savings in medicine alone pay for the extra cost incurred by the purchase of non-GMO soya. In total, I am looking at an increased profit of 250,000 DKr. or 550 kr. per sow. My animals are happier and healthier, and my profit margins have increased. So I must be doing something right!"
The Situation Elsewhere
Between 32 and 36 million tonnes of soy is imported into Europe every year (mostly from Brazil, Argentina and USA) for use in the animal feed supply chain. Most of that is GM soy -- only about 7 million tonnes per year are classified as non-GM. The biggest importers of GM soy are France, Germany, and Spain, but Denmark is heavily dependent upon GM soy beans and meal imported from Argentina. We understand that about 1.7 million tonnes of processed GM soy for animal feed was imported into Denmark in 2011.
We have picked up on substantial evidence of health problems, stillbirths and malformed foetuses in pig farming operations in countries other than Denmark where GMO soy is used in feed supplies. Sadly, much of this evidence is anecdotal and it is not recorded properly in the peer-reviewed literature. There is, not to put too fine a point on it, a cover-up within the farming industry. This is an outrage, and research worldwide should be directed immediately at this question of cause and effect relating to pig herd health and GM soy. In the words of an American colleague: "To my knowledge I am afraid that there will not be records kept by any official entity or agency in the USA on this subject. Because of the lie of GMOs being "substantially equivalent" and "generally recognized as safe" (GRAS), there were very few people looking for a problem when GM soy was first introduced on a large scale into animal diets, and when one developed most people simply referred to it as "a new norm". I know of several individual cases where problems were anecdotally demonstrated with GMO corn and soy products, but the records were all from farming operations and not from official entities. To my knowledge these instances started in 1997."
To their eternal shame, the GM industry, the farming unions and the US regulators have conspired together to ensure that it has become effectively impossible to undertake proper research in the American pig farming industry into the effects of GM soy feedstuffs; it is not too late for such research to be undertaken in Denmark and other EU countries, as a matter of urgency. This is not simply an animal welfare issue; the health of European consumers is at stake too. We should not need to remind anybody that human beings have digestive systems that are very similar to those of Mr Pedersen's pigs.
Note: It is not our intention here to do anything to harm the Danish pig industry, which is of great importance in the economy of Europe. As indicated above, Denmark has a very highly regulated industry, including a lower use of medication in pig herds than in most other EU countries. Strict sanctions are applied to pig farmers if medication use rises above an agreed threshold. Indeed, it is because of this tight regulation, with a long tradition of openness and transparency, and the requirements for record keeping and veterinary surveillance, that Mr Pedersen has been able to assemble his information in the form described above. This would have been impossible in most EU countries. Denmark is to be congratulated in this respect, and it is our hope that if Mr Pedersen's experiences are replicated elsewhere, and if the industry takes action on the issue of GM soy, and improves the health of the national pig herd as a consequence, the country will obtain a strong competitive advantage in the market place.
Part 2: Assessment of the Danish Press Coverage
Pig farmer reaps gains from GMO-free soy
The journal EFFEKTIVT LANDBRUG published a front page piece on 13 April 2012 which appears to have caused quite a stir in Danish farming circles. The main headline article was written by Anne Wolfenberg and Jacob Lund-Larsen, and it briefly described the "significant improvements" which farmer lb Borup Pedersen has seen in his herd after changing from GM-soy feed to GM-free soy. He was quoted as saying: "Most obvious was the fact that our massive problems with piglet diarrhoea disappeared from day one following the change." The journalists reported that after switching to GM-free soy, the farmer noted a number of improvements - including easier farrowing, sows with higher milk yield, fewer dead piglets, more uniform pigs at weaning, lower medication use, a higher farrowing rate and an increase in weaned pigs per pen, with many litters of 14 piglets.
The journalists reported that the many improvements in the health of the herd were – in cash terms – more than enough to cover the cost of the more expensive GM-free feed. The farmer was reported as saying: "The savings that I have accomplished in the medicine account have already paid for the extra cost of the GM-free soya."
The article reported that Mr Pedersen is also critical of GM soya because it is grown with a significant use of glyphosate on the fields. On that basis, he said he is convinced that his colleagues would drop GM forage crops if they were better informed about the harmful effects which hey have on animals and humans.
The article reported that the Danish Center for Pig Research has just decided to test the gastrointestinal health of pigs that are fed with GMO and non-GM soy.
On the front page of the paper, there was a Sidebar Feature with the heading: "A Frightening Possibility?" and posing this question: "Are the use of GMO-crops and Roundup equally fatal for animals and humans, and are DDT and Thalidomide really only minor problems compared to GMO and Glyphosate?"
This question was explored on page 2 of the newspaper, in what was presumably an Editorial comment. The writer noted that there are many frightening prospects that come up in the wake of reading the story on the front page about farmer lb Borup Pedersen, who wished to make other Danish farmers aware of the apparently harmful effects of GM crops and glyphosate. "There may be those who will regard this pig producer in today's paper as a dangerous village idiot or fanatic," said the writer. "Regardless of the hype which is attached to him, the facts are that he (the farmer) as a layman has put a huge amount of time and energy into personal contacts with experts and researchers all over the world, in order to get to the bottom of this matter. Therefore, one can also simply call him a soul burning with desire." The reader was invited to judge for himself what Mr Pedersen's motives may be. The writer said that the big questions are these: "Is the pig farmer correct in the conclusions he draws from his experience? Is the use of GM crops and glyphosate fatal to animals and humans, and are DDT and thalidomide really only trifles compared to GM and glyphosate? Or is he horribly mistaken?"
–but what if there is some truth in the claims about health damage to animals fed on GMO feedstuffs? It was pointed out that it is very difficult nowadays to obtain GMO free soya such as that used by the pig producer mentioned in the articles. So what, asked the writer, can the other Danish farmers do, not to mention farmers across the rest of Europe, and those in the U.S.A.? This, thought the writer of the piece, would mean creating a whole new world order on the soya bean front, before GM free supplies could be guaranteed.
The writer of the article said that many different labels could be put on a man who has the courage to come forward with such controversial findings, where others may have conflicting interests. However, it was noted that this ordinary farmer had managed, just two months ago, to get the top agricultural professionals into a meeting, as a consequence of which the Pig Research Centre announced that an experiment designed to test the effects of GMO and Non-GMO soya will be launched this autumn.
The newspaper congratulated the Pig Research Centre for initiating this new study so quickly, in a field that can have such serious consequences, with the proviso that sometimes more haste leads to more work in the long run. "Nobody can of course be best served," said the writer, "if a subject with such menacing perspectives is not explored in depth with quality methods. The least that Danish pig producers, however, may reasonably ask, is that their money is not wasted on a single pro forma trial for the sole purpose of being able to say that they were"doing something." On that basis the writer of the piece wished the researchers well with improved design and greater security in the setup of their experiment, which has thus far been described only in outline terms.
The Main Article
On pages 6 and 7 of the newspaper, there was a double spread feature article called "Pig Focus: GMO-free soya gave a boost in production, by Anne Wolfenberg. In deference to her, we will not reproduce, translate or try to summarise that article here, but the published Danish version is readily available on request. On the whole, it is less detailed that the summary published (with the kind assistance of Mr Pedersen himself) in Part One of this Dossier, above.
Part 3: New Research Project Does GMO soy compromise pig's health?
VSP (The Danish Pig Research Centre) is testing for the effects of non-GMO soy and GMO-based soybean on pig finishers. Statements indicate that GM soy may have an effect on the pig's stomach health. The uncertainty will now be addressed in a study in pigs.
2 April 2012 Press Release
GM soybeans have been approved in the EU system and are considered to be safe to use as feed for livestock. Certain experiences, especially from the United States, however, suggest that in some herds there are health problems which can be attributed to the use of GMO soybean meal. Several observations related to GMO use have been made in the USA, but there still no clear scientific evidence that GM soy is a real risk.
Statements from the USA suggest that the use of GM soya treated with glyphosate can have a negative effect on pigs' stomach health. "The uncertainty prompts us to undertake this study, for the sake of the animals. By following and comparing 100 pigs receiving feed containing GMOs with 100 pigs given non-GMsoya, we expect to get an indication on whether it is the soy type that affects stomach health,"says Niels Jorgen Kjeldsen, Head of the Centre for Pig Production.
The VSP study is planned to map the stomach changes in Danish pigs, and it has launched a series of investigations designed to clarify how the stomach changes in swine can be reduced. With the current knowledge, gastrointestinal changes can be reduced but not eliminated. It is therefore interesting to elucidate how the use ofGM soy compared with non-GMO soy may have an effect on gastric lesions in pigs.
On VSP's experimental station Gronhoj 100 pigs have been allocated feed consisting of standard feed containing GMsoya and corn, which may also be treated with glyphosate. These piglets are then compared with wopigs given feed containing non-GMO soya and cereals, which has not been treated with glyphosate. The pigs are fed from 30 kg bodyweight to slaughter at ca. 110 kg. The stomachs are then assessed for changes attributable to the feed.
The trial will begin in the latter half of 2012.
Comment from GM-Free Cymru: We are aware that the Danish research team, operating within very tight financial constraints, wishes to commence and conclude this research as rapidly as possible, in view of the great public interest already aroused. However, we are very concerned that the study is not starting at 28 days (approx 7 kg animal weight), since it is quite possible – and indeed likely – that during the weight gain period between 7 kg and 30 kg bodyweight, toxic effects will be triggered off by the use of GMO feed in both groups of animals. That would distort the findings when the animals are killed and examined – possibly leading to charges that the experimental protocols have been "fixed." We also gather that in the experiments the control group of animals will be the 100 pigs fed on the GM soy diet; if the intention of the experiment is to look for chronic toxic effects, that seems to us to be scientifically perverse.
There are other questions too, which we would like the Danish research team to consider.
(a) Are they going to use antibiotics during this feeding study? These could mask effects with the researchers purport to be looking for.
(b) If they do not begin the study from weaning at c 28 days, what feed stuffs will they use in the preliminary feeding period? If GM material is included in the ration, the results will be compromised.
(c) What will the ration be for the sows that the pigs are farrowed from? The experimental results could be biased in one direction or another if all of the sows are fed GM soy, or indeed if they are all fed on non-GM soy.
(d) What will be the male / female balance in the two groups? Again this could influence the test results.
(e) Can the researchers guarantee that the non-GM soy used for one group of animals will not have been contaminated with glyphosate residues? We recommend that it should be ORGANIC non-GM soy.
There are other questions as well, but these are for scientists and farmers who are expert in the field. But we appreciate the fact that by "going public" with this research proposal, the Danish research team is effectively inviting specialist comments and advice.
Part 4: Mr Pedersen is not alone
Since preparing this Dossier we have spoken with another Danish farmer, Sigurd Christensen, who farms at Burkal in southern Jylland. He farms with both dairy cattle and pigs. He told us that prior to his use of GM soy in the feed for the cattle herd, he experienced hardly any cattle deaths; but he said that when GM soya came into the diet around 2007 the death rate in his milking herd gradually rose to the point where last year ten cows (10% of milkers) died. The causes of these deaths were difficult to determine, but four months ago, he vaccinated his animals and then moved to the use of non-GM soy in the diet in at attempt to resolve the problem. Since then there have been no deaths, and medication costs for the cattle herd have dropped dramatically. In his pig herd of 500 sows, Mr Christensen reported that he had a history of major problems with sow health and piglet diarrhoea, and again decided to shift to the use of non-GMO soy in December 2011. It is still early days, but he has already noticed an improvement in the health of his pig herd, a reduction in reproductive problems, and a fall in medication use. Productivity has risen from 27 piglets per sow per year to 33.7 – well above the national average.
We wonder how many other farmers there are in Denmark (and indeed in the other EU countries) who have similar experiences with GM soy animal feed, ailments in pig and cattle herds, use of antibiotics, and stillbirths and live piglet malformations? Are they numbered in hundreds? Thousands? We have spoken to another pig farmer (in the UK) and he tells us that farmers are notoriously secretive when it comes to such matters, since they are in a competitive industry, and since nobody wants to admit to problems. Veterinary officers, who certainly know what is going on, tend to abide by a code of confidentiality. Record keeping at a regional and national level is inadequate in many EU countries, and there seems to be no central collation of statistics which will allow proper "cause and effect" investigations to be undertaken with respect to GM soy animal feed. We hope that we will be proved wrong on this, and that Government Departments of Agriculture do indeed know what is going on down on the farm – there are animal welfare and human health issues at stake too.
But our pig farmer contact also tells us that farmers are very pragmatic. Their priorities have always been – and always will be – to produce food at a price which the market can bear, as efficiently as possible, with the lowest possible negative impacts on animals and the environment, and with the best possible returns on investment. On that basis, we hope that the experiences of Mr Pedersen and Mr Christensen will alert thousands of other farmers to the fact that their ongoing use of a potentially harmful product (namely GM soy animal feed) has animal welfare implications, causes health problems that have to be addressed, and – perhaps most important of all from their point of view – damages profitability.
The evidence of environmental and health harm arising from the cultivation and use of GM soy has been accumulating for more than a decade. Key research findings have repeatedly been brought to the attention of EFSA and the EC, but they have repeatedly been ignored. At the same time the GM industry apologists have systematically attempted to discredit all those who have conducted experiments which have linked animal health damage with GM crops such as herbicide-tolerant GM soy.
Further information can be found via the following links:
Letter to EU Member States concerning the vote on genetically engineered soybean 40-3-2 (Monsanto) and A5547-127 (Bayer CropScience) 9.11.2011 Christoph Then, Testbiotech Steffi Ober, Naturschutzbund (NABU), http://www.testbiotech.de/en/node/573
Antoniou M, Habib M, Howard CV, Jennings RC, Leifert C, Nodari RO, Robinson C, Fagan J. Roundup and birth defects: Is the public being kept in the dark? Earth Open Source, 2011.
GM SOY – Sustainable? Responsible? by Michael Antoniou, Paulo Brack, Andres Carrasco, John Fagan, Mohamed Habib, Paulo Kageyama, Carlo Leifert, Rubens Onofre Nodari, Walter Pengue 2010 GLS Gemeinschaftsbank eG and ARGE Gentechnik-frei
ISIS Report 06/10/10 Argentina's Roundup Human Tragedy Ten years of GM soy and glyphosate poisoning have escalated the rates of cancer and birth defects. Claire Robinson http://www.i-sis.org.uk/argentinasRoundupHumanTragedy.php
We apologize for any inaccuracies that occur in this dossier because of the problems of translating from one language into another. This is not a scientific dossier; it is a report of Mr Pedersen's findings on his own farm, with an attempt to put these into context and to draw some significance from them. We leave it to others to conduct a scientific debate. We acknowledge the great assistance given to us in interviews by Mr Pedersen and Mr Christensen. We will appreciate comments and corrections, which can be submitted via the GM-Free Cymru web site: http://www.gmfreecymru.org/
Published by GM-Free Cymru on April 27th 2012, with the kind cooperation of Mr lb Borup Pedersen. This material is freely available for use under the normal terms of the Creative Commons license, but in case of reproduction, acknowledgement will be appreciated.
GM-Free Cymru (Wales) 27th April 2012
Double standards from EU food watchdog
Friday, 05 October 2012 22:40
1.Double standards from EU food watchdog
2.French study raises questions on lack of long-term testing under EU rules
3.GM lobby pressures journal, pushes for study's retraction
EXTRACT: "The reaction from EFSA shows their double standards. If they had been as thorough with Monsanto's applications as they were with this new research then no GMO would have been approved in the EU." (item 1)---
1.Double standards from EU food watchdog
Friends of the Earth Europe, October 5 2012
Brussels – Friends of the Earth Europe has today criticised the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) for failing to take seriously enough concerns about the safety of genetically modified (GM) crops and the herbicides used on them.
Peer-reviewed research published last month in the internationally respected journal Food and Chemical Toxicology found significantly increased rates of cancer and death in rats fed both Monsanto's GM maize and its herbicide Roundup. 
Reacting two weeks after the study's publication, EFSA yesterday cast doubt on the quality and design of the paper. 
Mute Schimpf, food campaigner for Friends of the Earth Europe said: "We are not convinced that EFSA is putting public safety before the interests of agribusiness. For the past decade, EFSA has consistently sided with the biotech industry and disregarded health or environment concerns about genetically modified crops. Instead of picking holes in independent, peer-reviewed research, it should be taking public concerns seriously and making long-term safety tests for genetically modified foods compulsory in the EU.
"The reaction from EFSA shows their double standards. If they had been as thorough with Monsanto's applications as they were with this new research then no GMO would have been approved in the EU."
Friends of the Earth Europe is calling for:
*National governments and EU safety authorities to suspend immediately from the market all GM products with a resistance to the herbicide Roundup (glyphosate).
*The European Commission to suspend all new GMO approvals and to start a root-and-branch reform of how the risks of GM foods are assessed.
*The EU to review the safety of the herbicide Roundup (glyphosate), including the link between GM crops and the use of this herbicide.
As well as posing unnecessary risks to human health, Friends of the Earth Europe believes GMOs destroy biodiversity, lead to increased costs for conventional farmers, increase corporate control of the food chain, and fail to combat global hunger.
 Food and Chemical Toxicology, Gilles-Eric Séralini (2012) Long term toxicity of a Roundup herbicide and a Roundup-tolerant
genetically modified maize
 4 October 2012, EFSA publishes initial review on GM maize and herbicide study,http://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/press/news/121004.htm
2.European food agency issues preliminary review of GM maize rat study
Greenpeace, October 4 2012
*French study raises questions on lack of long-term testing under EU rules
Brussels - The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) today delivered a preliminary review of a new two-year French study which aimed to research potential long-term health impacts of a genetically modified (GM) maize, Monsanto’s NK603, and the herbicide it is engineered to tolerate, Roundup.
Since its publication, the debate surrounding the French study has brought into sharp focus the fact that no suitable, universally agreed protocols to conduct such long term tests so far exist. This raises fundamental questions on why the current EU safety regime does not include testing of the long-term effects of GM crops, said Greenpeace.
All GM crops currently consumed by humans and animals in the EU have been approved on the basis of testing by the biotech industry lasting between 28 and 90 days. This is not sufficient to identify problems which might emerge during the lifetimes of humans and animals consuming these crops or across generations.
Greenpeace EU agriculture policy director Marco Contiero said: "There is an unacceptable gap in current EU safety testing which largely ignores potential long-term health and environmental impacts of GM crops. This is yet another reason to immediately freeze approvals of new GM crops. The EU needs to redesign safety testing so that it routinely assesses impacts over the long term."
"EFSA recognises that appropriate methodology is crucial for serious scientific research, but omits to mention the fact that no agreed methods currently exist to carry out comprehensive testing of long-term exposure to GM food. This is why suitable methodologies must be developed and the French study should be replicated according to these agreed methods," Contiero added.
Notes to editors:
 For more information on the potential health risks of GM crops, see the concise Greenpeace briefing on the environmental and health impacts of GM crops.
This press release is also available on www.greenepeace.eu
For breaking news and comment on EU affairs: www.twitter.com/GreenpeaceEU
Greenpeace is an independent global campaigning organisation that acts to change attitudes and behaviour, to protect and conserve the environment and to promote peace. Greenpeace does not accept donations from governments, the EU, businesses or political parties.
3.GM lobby pressures journal, pushes for study's retraction
The GM lobby are rapidly following up the European Food Safety Authority's rushed dismissal of the Seralini study with demands for the authors to retract the paper and with attempts to pressurise the journal that published the study, and even to make sure that the peer review process is adjusted to prevent future publication of such studies.
Scientist raises concerns about GM crops and glyphosate
Monday, 24 December 2012 20:47
Scientist raises concerns about GM crops and glyphosate: Cause of diseases?
Western Producer, December 21 2012
Future historians may well look back and write about our time …. about how willing we are to sacrifice our children and jeopardize future generations with this massive experiment that is based on false promises and flawed science just to benefit the “bottom line of a commercial enterprise,” said Don Huber, referring to the North American “experiment” with glyphosate and genetically modified crops.
He was speaking at November’s Organic Connections conference in Regina.
He is an emeritus professor in plant pathology at Purdue University, a retired colonel who worked with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to reduce the impact of plant disease outbreaks in the United States and a member of the emerging diseases and pathogens committee of the American Phytopathological Society.
He has the usual markers of academic success: journal articles, books, awards and honours. In other words, he is a real scientist with the ability to read the scientific literature and weigh its impact, especially in the area of his expertise: plant diseases.
Huber began his presentation by describing glyphosate as a chelator, something that binds with a number of nutrients such as manganese, zinc, copper, and iron. Once a nutrient is chelated, it is unavailable to the plant, or for that matter, to most soil microbes.
He said it is through a change in the soil ecology, and by disabling the plant’s ability to resist disease, that the glyphosate has its effect.
“In agriculture, we’re farming an ecology,” he explained.
Glyphosate changes the soil ecology, killing many bacteria, and giving other bacteria a competitive advantage. It also makes plants highly susceptible to soil borne diseases. With increasing use of glyphosate, Huber said a number of plant pathogens are “emerging” or “re-emerging,” in-cluding a number of fusarium and root rot diseases.
At the same time that diseases are increasing, glyphosate has a negative effect on a number of beneficial soil organisms, including those that fix nitrogen, mycorrhizae, plant growth promoting organisms and earthworms.
Huber’s allegations of the impact of glyphosate in soil sterility echo those of Elaine Ingham, a soil ecologist with the Rodale Institute.
In insect and microbial communities, ecologists generally suggest that epidemics can be avoided by a balanced ecology. Beneficial organisms tend to overwhelm pathogenic organisms in a healthy system. This is why some suggest it is useful to eat yogurt after a round of antibiotics, and that antibiotic body products are probably not a good idea.
Local evidence is supportive of this idea. Myriam Fernandez, a plant disease specialist with Agriculture Canada, found that fusarium in organic systems tended to be dominated by saprophytic species (not disease causing) whereas pathogenic fusarium (causing disease) were more abundant in other systems where GM crops and glyphosate were commonly used.
“There is nothing substantially equivalent to gene insertion in nature,” Huber said.
He said he worries about the possibility of epigenetic effects that disrupt the normal control systems of the genes in the plant.
He said the GM crops had lower water use efficiency and less tolerance to lodging, tend to be nutrient deficient, have increased bud and fruit abortion and be predisposed to infectious diseases and insect damage. These he characterized as epigenetic effects.
Huber feels the application of phosphorus fertilizers could release the glyphosate in the soil so that it becomes active once again, damaging crop yields.
If all these problems are in fact linked to glyphosate and Roundup Ready crops, why are we not hearing of widespread crop failure? Introduction of GM crops into India is said by some to have delivered these effects.
Perhaps in North America these effects are overwhelmed by increased fungicide and insecticide use?
In many places on the Prairies, it would be hard to separate that from the effect of too much rain at the wrong time. As in any ecological disturbance, many factors are bound to be involved.
Huber suggested that Roundup Ready crops, treated with glyphosate, had higher levels of mycotoxins and lower nutrient levels than conventional crops. When consumed, the GM crops were more likely to cause disease, infertility, birth defects, cancer and allergic reactions than conventional crops.
Huber claimed that consumption of food or feed that was genetically modified could bring the altered genes in contact with the microbes in the guts of the livestock or people who ate them.
He felt this increased diseases such as celiac disease, allergies, asthma, chronic fatigue syndrome, diabetes, gluten intolerance, irritable bowel disease, miscarriage, obesity and sudden infant death syndrome.
Much of the data Huber showed here seemed correlational: the diseases and the use of glyphosate increased in a similar pattern over time.
This isn’t proof that the diseases are caused by the glyphosate, but it suggests a pattern to be investigated.
He feels safety evaluations have been inadequate, suggesting that research was “substandard and extremely misleading interpretation of results” or worse.
Because of difficulties for independent researchers to examine the licensing agreements for GM products, third party opinions are hard to come by.
The allegations that Huber has compiled are incredibly damning of GM products and the inherent increase in glyphosate that goes with the Roundup Ready products. Those people who have confidence in the wisdom of our governing and regulating bodies will find these stories hard to believe. Some will suggest that science has shown these technologies to be safe. That would be misinterpreting the science.
Unfortunately, science cannot prove a technology is safe. It can only fail to observe a problem under the conditions of the test. Perhaps scientists fail to observe a problem because none exists.
If even a small part of what he suggests is true, we would be well advised to reconsider the policy of treating GMOs as “substantially equivalent” to non-GM products and instead, investigate the technology further.
In the meantime, some of us may wish to avoid products using this technology. Some may claim this is fear mongering. If this is, in the end, a subject upon which we must agree to disagree, labelling of GM products would at least give us the ability to disagree in a meaningful way.
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