The Russians are Coming…to Test Our GMO Foods?

The Russians are Coming…to Test Our GMO Foods?

“Factor GMO” is a new research project aimed at testing the safety of GMO foods.

Russian and European donors are funding the project–to the tune of $25 million—to study the safety of genetically modified foods and glyphosate, the companion herbicide marketed by Monsanto as Roundup.

Factor GMO will look at four major issues with GMO foods, reports the Huffington Post: “Is genetically modified food (or the herbicides it is sprayed with) toxic to organ systems over the long-term? Does this food (or its herbicides) cause cancer? Does it reduce fertility or cause birth defects? And is Roundup, as a chemical compound, more or less toxic than its most well-known single ingredient, glyphosate?”

Glyphosate use has increased in the U.S. from 27 million pounds per year in the mid-1990s to more than 250 million pounds per year presently.

“Farmers, retailers, governments, scientists and consumers have been involved in a heated international debate since GM foods were introduced in 1994,” Factor GMO says on its website. “However, there has never been a scientific study that is comprehensive enough to give them a clear answer regarding the safety for human health of any one GM food – until now.”

The study, slated to begin in 2015, is expected to last 2-3 years, with interim results published along the way, the group says. The study will be testing GMO maize and glyphosate. Testing will be conducted at “undisclosed locations in Western Europe and Russia,” with the exact locations being kept secret for security reasons, the group says.

“The experiment uses more rigorous approaches to investigate the fundamental question of the safety of GM foods and pesticides than are currently required by regulators,” Factor GMO says. “It will provide sufficient data to say with confidence whether the real world levels of consumption of the GM food and its associated pesticide are safe.”

While there are currently no federal U.S. regulations on GMO food, Europe and Russia have severe restrictions on genetically modified ingredients and certain herbicides and pesticides. Recently, Russian officials encouraged the country to enact a ten-year ban on GMOs until more research could be done guaranteeing their safety.

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Image: SLU Madrid Campus

Jill Ettinger

Jill Ettinger is a Los Angeles-based journalist and editor focused on the global food system and how it intersects with our cultural traditions, diet preferences, health, and politics. She is the senior editor for sister websites OrganicAuthority.com and EcoSalon.com, and works as a research associate and editor with the Cornucopia Institute, the organic industry watchdog group. Jill has been featured in The Huffington Post, MTV, Reality Sandwich, and Eat Drink Better. www.jillettinger.com.