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Monsanto biosafety data show huge gaps

1.Monsanto's GM corn biosafety data raises serious questions
2.Genetically engineered maize ready for India? Monsanto data show huge gaps
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1.Monsanto's GM corn biosafety data raises serious questions
Greenpeace India, January 30 2013
 http://www.greenpeace.org/india/en/news/Monsantos-GM-corn-biosafety-data-raises-serious-questions/

If you thought the threat from genetically modified (GM) food crops was over with the moratorium Bt brinjal, think again. American biotech giant Monsanto has been conducting final biosafety research and field trials for its genetically modified corn which could be considered for commercialisation in India.

What’s even more shocking is the assessment process followed by our regulatory bodies to determine the biosafety of the GM corn which was allowed field trials in the country for the last four years. Greenpeace commissioned Testbiotech, an independent research agency, to assess the data presented by Monsanto to the Indian authorities for biosafety tests prior to commercial approval of its GM corn

The Testbiotech report concluded that, based on the data presented by Monsanto, no decisions can be taken on the safety of the GM crops. Apart from missing data and inadequate investigations, there are substantial indications pointing to health and environmental risks.

The biosafety and field trials data were accessed by Greenpeace through RTI procedures from the Department of Biotechnology (DBT) and Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC)- the nodal agency for all environmental releases of genetically modified organisms (GMO) in India. The RTI exercise also saw the Chief Public Information Officer of DBT being reprimanded by the Appellate Authority for providing wrong information to Greenpeace.

Shivani Shah, Sustainable Agriculture campaigner, Greenpeace India said, “On one hand the GM regulatory system in our country tries to hide crucial public information like the biosafety data of GM crops and on the other hand allows open field trials of them, which can lead to contamination of our food and seed supply chain. These field trials have been permitted for the last four years without biosafety studies being completed.”

According to DBT the trials were permitted based on biosafety data generated by Monsanto. However, the DBT seems to have failed to consider that Monsanto conducted the study and generated the biosafety data from its own labs in the USA. No independent research or study was conducted by our regulatory bodies before permitting these field trials.

The Testbiotech analysis highlighted that the data and assessments presented by Monsanto are incomplete and lacking in scientific rigour. Interestingly most of the data provided by Monsanto was not for the stacked gene variety of Monsanto's corn, which is the one they have been conducting field trials on, but of the parent lines with single genes.

Even in 2011 Greenpeace exposed grave violations of rules by Monsanto during field trials for the same corn in Bijapur, Karnataka. In light of increasing evidences of failure of the GM regulatory system in India and the dangers from GM crops to our food, farming, health of our people and environment, Greenpeace India demands the Minister for Environment and Forest, Jayanthi  Natarajan, who is in charge of the GEAC, to stop all open releases of GM crops including field trials.
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2.Genetically engineered maize ready for India? Monsanto data show huge gaps
Testbiotech, 29 January 2013
 http://www.testbiotech.org/en/node/762

Munich/ New Delhi - Testbiotech analysed data on the genetically engineered maize MON89034 x NK603 presented by the US company Monsanto to the Indian authorities. The plants, so called stacked events, are produced by crossing two genetically engineered plants. The maize produces two insecticidal toxins and is herbicide-tolerant. One of the insecticidal proteins is derived from a synthetic DNA that does not occur in nature.

The report published today shows the data from Monsanto are not consistent, suffer from several flaws, and some even are completely outdated. The analysis was performed at the request of Greenpeace India.

The findings include:
*Monsanto experts conducted nearly all of the investigations with no additional external and independent quality control of the data.
*According to patent application filed by Monsanto, unexpected higher toxicity can be observed in the case of the synthetic toxin - but this was not mentioned in the data filed by Monsanto.
*Combinatorial effects between the toxins and the residues from spraying were hardly investigated at all.
*No feeding studies to examine health effects with the stacked events were performed, despite the outcome of previous feeding studies with the single plants causing broad scientific controversy.
*No specific data are available for risks to biodiversity in India.

In conclusion, the data cannot be considered sufficient to make decisions on environmental releases or on human health.