ISIS Report 21/10/13
Scientists Declare No Consensus on GMO Safety
A group of 93 scientists from all over the world deplore the disinformation
over the safety of GMOs and expose the lack of empirical and scientific
evidence on which the false claims of “consensus” on safety are being made
the statement "No consensus on GMO safety"
Find the List of Signatories Here
The full statement is reproduced below
Announcing a new Report from ISIS. The most complete up-to-date summary of the dangers of GM agriculture in 52 pages. Buy Now
As scientists, physicians, academics, and experts from disciplines
relevant to the scientific, legal, social and safety assessment aspects of
genetically modified organisms (GMOs) , we strongly reject claims by GM seed
developers and some scientists, commentators, and journalists that there is a
“scientific consensus” on GMO safety   and that the debate on this
topic is “over”.
We feel compelled to issue this statement because the claimed
consensus on GMO safety does not exist. The claim that it does exist is
misleading and misrepresents the currently available scientific evidence and
the broad diversity of opinion among scientists on this issue. Moreover, the
claim encourages a climate of complacency that could lead to a lack of
regulatory and scientific rigour and appropriate caution, potentially endangering
the health of humans, animals, and the environment.
Science and society do not proceed on the basis of a constructed
consensus, as current knowledge is always open to well-founded challenge and
disagreement. We endorse the need for further independent scientific inquiry
and informed public discussion on GM product safety and urge GM proponents to
do the same.
Some of our objections to the claim of scientific consensus are
1. There is no consensus on GM food safety
Regarding the safety of GM crops and foods for human and animal
health, a comprehensive review of animal feeding studies of GM crops found “An
equilibrium in the number [of] research groups suggesting, on the basis of
their studies, that a number of varieties of GM products (mainly maize and
soybeans) are as safe and nutritious as the respective conventional non-GM
plant, and those raising still serious concerns”. The review also found that
most studies concluding that GM foods were as safe and nutritious as those
obtained by conventional breeding were “performed by biotechnology companies or
associates, which are also responsible [for] commercializing these GM plants”
A separate review of animal feeding studies that is often cited
as showing that GM foods are safe included studies that found significant
differences in the GM-fed animals. While the review authors dismissed these
findings as not biologically significant , the interpretation of these
differences is the subject of continuing scientific debate [8-11] and no
consensus exists on the topic.
Rigorous studies investigating the safety of GM crops and foods
would normally involve animal feeding studies in which one group of animals is
fed GM food and another group is fed an equivalent non-GM diet. Independent studies
of this type are rare, but when such studies have been performed, some have
revealed toxic effects or signs of toxicity in the GM-fed animals [12-17]. The
concerns raised by these studies have not been followed up by targeted research
that could confirm or refute the initial findings.
The lack of scientific consensus on the safety of GM foods and
crops is underlined by the recent research calls of the European Union and the
French government to investigate the long-term health impacts of GM food consumption
in the light of uncertainties raised by animal feeding studies [18, 19]. These
official calls imply recognition of the inadequacy of the relevant existing
scientific research protocols. They call into question the claim that existing
research can be deemed conclusive and the scientific debate on biosafety
There are no epidemiological studies investigating potential effects of GM food
consumption on human health
is often claimed that “trillions of GM meals” have been eaten in the US with no
ill effects. However, no epidemiological studies in human populations have been
carried out to establish whether there are any health effects associated with
GM food consumption. As GM foods are not labelled in North America, a major
producer and consumer of GM crops, it is scientifically impossible to trace,
let alone study, patterns of consumption and their impacts. Therefore, claims
that GM foods are safe for human health based on the experience of North
American populations have no scientific basis.
Claims that scientific and governmental bodies endorse GMO safety are
exaggerated or inaccurate
that there is a consensus among scientific and governmental bodies that GM
foods are safe, or that they are no more risky than non-GM foods [20, 21], are
For instance, an expert panel of the Royal Society of
Canada issued a report that was highly critical of the regulatory system for GM
foods and crops in that country. The report declared that it is “scientifically
unjustifiable” to presume that GM foods are safe without rigorous
scientific testing and that the “default prediction” for every GM food should
be that the introduction of a new gene will cause “unanticipated changes” in
the expression of other genes, the pattern of proteins produced, and/or
metabolic activities. Possible outcomes of these changes identified in the
report included the presence of new or unexpected allergens .
A report by the British Medical Association concluded
that with regard to the long-term effects of GM foods on human health and the
environment, “many unanswered questions remain” and that “safety concerns
cannot, as yet, be dismissed completely on the basis of information currently
available”. The report called for more research, especially on potential impacts
on human health and the environment .
Moreover, the positions taken by other organizations have
frequently been highly qualified, acknowledging data gaps and potential risks,
as well as potential benefits, of GM technology. For example, a statement by
the American Medical Association’s Council on Science and Public Health
acknowledged “a small potential for adverse events … due mainly to horizontal
gene transfer, allergenicity, and toxicity” and recommended that the current
voluntary notification procedure practised in the US prior to market release of
GM crops be made mandatory . It should be noted that even a “small
potential for adverse events” may turn out to be significant, given the
widespread exposure of human and animal populations to GM crops.
A statement by the board of directors of the American
Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) affirming the safety of GM
crops and opposing labelling  cannot be assumed to represent the view of
AAAS members as a whole and was challenged in an open letter by a group of 21
scientists, including many long-standing members of the AAAS . This episode
underlined the lack of consensus among scientists about GMO safety.
EU research project does not provide reliable evidence of GM food safety
EU research project  has been cited internationally as providing evidence
for GM crop and food safety. However, the report based on this project, “A
Decade of EU-Funded GMO Research”, presents no data that could provide such
evidence, from long-term feeding studies in animals.
Indeed, the project was not designed to test the safety
of any single GM food, but to focus on “the development of safety assessment
approaches” . Only five published animal feeding studies are referenced in
the SAFOTEST section of the report, which is dedicated to GM food safety . None
of these studies tested a commercialised GM food; none tested the GM food for
long-term effects beyond the subchronic period of 90 days; all found
differences in the GM-fed animals, which in some cases were statistically
significant; and none concluded on the safety of the GM food tested, let alone
on the safety of GM foods in general. Therefore the EU research project
provides no evidence for sweeping claims about the safety of any single GM food
or of GM crops in general.
List of several hundred studies does not show GM food safety
frequently cited claim published on an Internet website that several hundred
studies “document the general safety and nutritional wholesomeness of GM foods
and feeds”  is misleading. Examination of the studies listed reveals that
many do not provide evidence of GM food safety and, in fact, some provide
evidence of a lack of safety. For example:
of the studies are not toxicological animal feeding studies of the type
that can provide useful information about health effects of GM food
consumption. The list includes animal production studies that examine
parameters of interest to the food and agriculture industry, such as milk
yield and weight gain [31, 32]; studies on environmental effects of GM
crops; and analytical studies of the composition or genetic makeup of the
the animal feeding studies and reviews of such studies in the list, a
substantial number found toxic effects and signs of toxicity in GM-fed
animals compared with controls [33-38]. Concerns raised by these studies
have not been satisfactorily addressed and the claim that the body of
research shows a consensus over the safety of GM crops and foods is false
of the studies were conducted over short periods compared with the
animal’s total lifespan and cannot detect long-term health effects [39,
- We conclude that these studies, taken as a whole, are misrepresented on the Internet website as they
do not “document the general safety and nutritional wholesomeness of GM foods
and feeds”. Rather, some of the studies give serious cause for concern and
should be followed up by more detailed investigations over an extended period
There is no consensus on the environmental risks of GM crops
risks posed by GM crops include the effects of Bt insecticidal crops on
non-target organisms and effects of the herbicides used in tandem with
herbicide-tolerant GM crops.
As with GM food safety, no scientific consensus exists
regarding the environmental risks of GM crops. A review of environmental risk
assessment approaches for GM crops identified shortcomings in the procedures
used and found “no consensus” globally on the methodologies that should be
applied, let alone on standardized testing procedures .
reviews of the published data on Bt crops have found that they can have adverse
effects on non-target and beneficial organisms [42-45] – effects that are
widely neglected in regulatory assessments and by some scientific commentators.
Resistance to Bt toxins has emerged in target pests , and problems with
secondary (non-target) pests have been noted, for example, in Bt cotton in
China [47, 48].
GM crops have proved equally controversial. Some reviews and individual studies
have associated them with increased herbicide use [49, 50], the rapid spread of
herbicide-resistant weeds , and adverse health effects in human and animal
populations exposed to Roundup, the herbicide used on the majority of GM crops
As with GM food safety, disagreement among scientists on
the environmental risks of GM crops may be correlated with funding sources. A
peer-reviewed survey of the views of 62 life scientists on the environmental
risks of GM crops found that funding and disciplinary training had a
significant effect on attitudes. Scientists with industry funding and/or those
trained in molecular biology were very likely to have a positive attitude to GM
crops and to hold that they do not represent any unique risks, while
publicly-funded scientists working independently of GM crop developer companies
and/or those trained in ecology were more likely to hold a “moderately
negative” attitude to GM crop safety and to emphasize the uncertainty and
ignorance involved. The review authors concluded , “The strong effects of
training and funding might justify certain institutional changes concerning how
we organize science and how we make public decisions when new technologies are
to be evaluated.”
International agreements show widespread recognition of risks posed by GM foods
Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety was negotiated over many years and implemented
in 2003. The Cartagena Protocol is an international agreement ratified by 166
governments worldwide that seeks to protect biological diversity from the risks
posed by GM technology. It embodies the Precautionary Principle in that it
allows signatory states to take precautionary measures to protect themselves
against threats of damage from GM crops and foods, even in case of a lack of
scientific certainty .
Another international body, the UN's Codex Alimentarius,
worked with scientific experts for seven years to develop international
guidelines for the assessment of GM foods and crops, because of concerns about
the risks they pose. These guidelines were adopted by the Codex Alimentarius
Commission, of which over 160 nations are members, including major GM crop
producers such as the United States .
The Cartagena Protocol and Codex share a precautionary
approach to GM crops and foods, in that they agree that genetic engineering
differs from conventional breeding and that safety assessments should be
required before GM organisms are used in food or released into the environment.
These agreements would never have been negotiated, and
the implementation processes elaborating how such safety assessments should be
conducted would not currently be happening, without widespread international
recognition of the risks posed by GM crops and foods and the unresolved state
of existing scientific understanding.
about risks are well-founded, as has been demonstrated by studies on some GM
crops and foods that have shown adverse effects on animal health and non-target
organisms, indicated above.Many of these studies have, in fact, fed into
the negotiation and/or implementation processes of the Cartagena Protocol and
Codex. We support the application of the Precautionary Principle with regard to
the release and transboundary movement of GM crops and foods.
the scope of this document, we can only highlight a few examples to illustrate
that the totality of scientific research outcomes in the field of GM crop
safety is nuanced, complex, often contradictory or inconclusive, confounded by
researchers’ choices, assumptions, and funding sources, and in general, has
raised more questions than it has currently answered.
Whether to continue and expand the introduction of GM
crops and foods into the human food and animal feed supply, and whether the
identified risks are acceptable or not, are decisions that involve
socioeconomic considerations beyond the scope of a narrow scientific debate and
the currently unresolved biosafety research agendas. These decisions must
therefore involve the broader society. They should, however, be supported by
strong scientific evidence on the long-term safety of GM crops and foods for
human and animal health and the environment, obtained in a manner that is honest,
ethical, rigorous, independent, transparent, and sufficiently diversified to
compensate for bias.
Decisions on the future of our food and agriculture
should not be based on misleading and misrepresentative claims that a
“scientific consensus” exists on GMO safety.
the statement "No consensus on GMO safety"
In the US, the term
“genetically engineered” is often used in place of “genetically modified”. We
have used “genetically modified” because this is the terminology consistently
used by many authorities internationally, including the Food and Agriculture
Organization of the United Nations; the World Health Organization; Codex
Alimentarius; European and Indian legislation; peer-reviewed studies by
industry and independent scientists; and the international media. It is also
consistent with the Cartagena Protocol’s term “living modified organism”.
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Mark Lynas (2013). GMO pigs
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Keith Kloor (2013). Greens on
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Bordonaba (2011). Ibid.
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(2012). Long term toxicity of a Roundup herbicide and a Roundup-tolerant
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(2010). A comparison of the effects of three GM corn varieties on mammalian
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nuclei from mice fed on genetically modified soybean. Cell Structure and
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There are 6 comments on this article so far. Add your comment
|Robin Gaura Comment left 21st October 2013 17:05:18|
Thanks for the info, I love your site. I have referenced it in my letter to the California Public Safety Commission hearings today which relate specifically to prisoner health and safety.
My contention is that the processed foods diet given incarcerated people in California is a cause of the high cost of degenerative diseases and medical treatments given especially the aging population.
I especially reference studies on glyphosate, as gut dysbiosis is an apparent cause of so many degenerative diseases.
|DR. SEE Comment left 23rd October 2013 22:10:21|
This type of information should be made known to the people of all nations especialy to the key leaders.
I will try my best to let my friends know about this.
|Sharmin Ahmad Comment left 23rd October 2013 22:10:17|
This article is a must read for everyone who cares for environment, health and safety. More discussion on this important topic should be conducted for public aareness. Many thanks for sharing this article.
|Douglas Hinds Comment left 28th October 2013 17:05:27|
I must disagree: While to it is true that no consensus exists to the effect that GM Crops and Foods are in fact safe for the environment and consumer's health, sufficient evidence HAS accumulated to safely consider the following statements to be established, adequately documented facts:
1.- The Conceptual Basis underlying Genetic Modification is False! Because DNA is NOT a blueprint for predictable genetic behavior or protein fabrication. Other factors not taken into account by the biotech industry are present and furthermore, changes to the structure of the original genome generated by the mechanisms employed to insert the transgene packages into the host organism often alter the structure of original genome, and neither of these proven phenomena are either taken into account, or investigated by the biotech industry.
See: "Unraveling the DNA Myth: The Spurious Foundation of Genetic Engineering" by Barry Commoner:
"The Fluid Genome and Beyond" by Mae-Wan Ho: http://www.i-sis.org.uk/Fluidgenomeandbeyond.php
2.- The methods employed to insert normally (evolutionarily) incompatible genes into a preexisting host's genome are derived from either invasive pathological organisms or imprecise mechanical "gene guns", neither of which can be programmed to insert the "desired" (arbitrarily selected), normally incompatible gene packages into a definable location with any reliable degree of accuracy.
3.- As stated above, the results of introducing arbitrary packages of individual genes (rather than the much more orderly, balanced and time tested process of gametic reproduction, which evolved over millenniums) can not be predicted via currently available scientific methods, and the biotech industry doesn't even bother to investigate these phenomena, which never-the-less, have been demonstrated to occur. In conclusion, the technology is currently impossible to control and at present, the results are still impossible to predict.
4.- Given the above, GM organisms are obviously NOT Substantially Equivalent to Conventionally derived seeds and that apocryphal classification was applied erroneously, in response to the interested parties own economic interests and desire to evade the comprehensive scrutiny that all new pharmacological products are subjected to.
5.- The claims regarding the supposed benefits of GM Seeds made by the biotech industry have not been substantiated in practice: GM Crops do NOT require fewer agrochemicals, do NOT produce larger harvests and ARE both more costly and more prone to crop failure. (See Charles Benbrook's study):
6.- The behavior demonstrated by the owner's of the patented gene's in courts of law strongly suggests that rather than provide farmers with a reliable and cost effective technology or assure a sufficient supply of nutritious and safe food for consumers, the motivation for creating GM Seeds is to OWN a patent, corner a captive market and create a permanent state of farmer dependency on their own proprietary chemical products. (The majority of the world's seed producers were purchased by the chemical manufacturing companies).
7.- Furthermore: In order to accomplish those goals, the biotech industry has infiltrated the governmental agencies created to protect the environment and public health in the countries they have targeted for commercializing their products, unduly influenced legislators, the mass media, professional trade journals and research institutions via contributions and failing that, via threats and attacks, whenever their methods, the nature of their products or the results of their research are called into question.
In Conclusion: If a consensus does in fact exist, it is certainly NOT favorable to the safety or innocuousness of the presence of Genetically Modified Organisms in the open environment and international food supply but rather, quite the contrary. All available indicators point to the existence of a gigantic fraud perpetrated on the public by a an unethical, immoral and economically motivated group of corporate players, to the detriment of society itself.
|Paulo Andrade Comment left 28th October 2013 17:05:42|
Indeed, there is no need for consensus as both science and risk assessment are based on majority opinion. Please have a look at http://genpeace.blogspot.com.br/2013/10/no-need-for-scientific-consensus-on-gmo.html
|Flavio Togni Ferreira Comment left 27th November 2013 21:09:16|
The GM crops are a huge fraud. They are a risc to the environment and to the human health. They dont yield better nor are more profitable.
Brazilian mass media ignores the issue and prevents that a free discussion take place. Unlike in neighboring Argentina discussions arrived at Congress. The studies of Dr. Carrasco is a proof of the damage they can cause to health.