GMO tomato

An international group of over 85 scientists, academics and physicians recently released a statement to de-bunk the myth that genetically modified foods and crops are safe.

There is in fact no scientific consensus that GMOs are harmless to people or the environment, claims biotech companies like Monsanto have used as a rallying cry against proposed GMO labeling laws.

The statement, released by the European Network of Scientists for Social and Environmental Responsibility (ENSSER), comes in response to some scientists, industry “experts,” and commentators claiming that there is “scientific consensus” that GM foods and crops are safe for human and animal health, and the environment. Signatories of the statement call such claims “misleading” and say such a consensus is a complete fabrication meant to benefit the GMO industry.

The statement was prompted by the recent decision to award Monsanto and friends with the World Food Prize. Such a move seems to indicate that the debate around genetically modified foods is settled and supported globally. This couldn’t be further from the truth, says one of the signatories, Professor Brian Wynne, associate director and co-principal investigator from 2002–2012 of the UK ESRC Centre for the Economic and Social Aspects of Genomics, Cesagen, Lancaster University:

“There is no consensus amongst scientific researchers over the health or environmental safety of GM crops and foods, and it is misleading and irresponsible for anyone to claim that there is. Many salient questions remain open, while more are being discovered and reported by independent scientists in the international scientific literature. Indeed some key public interest questions revealed by such research have been left neglected for years by the huge imbalance in research funding, against thorough biosafety research and in favour of the commercial-scientific promotion of this technology.”

Other signatories of the statement include prominent and respected scientists, including Dr. Hans Herren, a former winner of the World Food Prize and an Alternative Nobel Prize laureate, and Dr. Pushpa Bhargava, known as the father of modern biotechnology in India.

“The joint statement and comments of the senior scientists and academics make clear those who claim there is a scientific consensus over GMO safety are really engaged in a partisan bid to shut down debate,” said Claire Robinson, research director at Earth Open Source.

“We have to ask why these people are so desperate to prevent further exploration of an issue that is of immense significance for the future of our food and agriculture. We actually need not less but more public debate on the impacts of this technology, particularly given the proven effective alternatives that are being sidelined in the rush to promote GM.”

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