Currently there are 64 countries world-wide that have GMO labeling laws. However, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has always seemed to take the stance that they think the countries labeling GMOs (or outright banning them) are doing so without the backing of science; because the testimony given in front the House Appropriations Committee on the FDA’s 2015 budget request by the FDA commissioner Margaret Hamburg, clearly states there is no scientific evidence to be concerned about GMO’s.
The Hill’s Benjamin Goad summarized Hamburg’s testimony as follows (for those wanting to read the entire hearing, the link is above):
“Margaret Hamburg told lawmakers this week that the agency remains comfortable with a 1992 policy decision concluding that food made with genetically modified organisms — or GMOs — is not materially different from other products.
“‘We have not seen evidence of safety risks associated with genetically modified foods,’ Hamburg said.”
How she can come to this conclusion when 64 other countries (and their scientist that specialize in this field) believe there is enough evidence to warrant a label?
Does she think they are labeling GMOs out of superstition and have not looked at scientific studies on the subject?
Coincidentally, these 64 countries are not the only ones that disagree with the FDA claims about not needing a label because there is no evidence to cause safety concerns. The New England Journal of Medicine recently published an article entitled “GMOs, Herbicides and Public Health”, that agreed with those 64 countries.
The articles second paragraph addresses the two major concerns about the chemical herbicides used on GMO crop:
Two recent developments are dramatically changing the GMO landscape. First, there have been sharp increases in the amounts and numbers of chemical herbicides applied to GM crops, and still further increases — the largest in a generation — are scheduled to occur in the next few years. Second, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has classified glyphosate, the herbicide most widely used on GM crops, as a “probable human carcinogen”1 and classified a second herbicide, 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D), as a “possible human carcinogen.”2
…But widespread adoption of herbicide-resistant crops has led to overreliance on herbicides and, in particular, on glyphosate.5 In the United States, glyphosate use has increased by a factor of more than 250 — from 0.4 million kg in 1974 to 113 million kg in 2014. Global use has increased by a factor of more than 10.
The Biotech industry and their lackeys have always claimed that herbicide use has gone down since herbicide-resistance crops (which make up around 90% of GMO crop in the US today) went to market. As you can see from the article, this claim is quite possibly the biggest lie that the industry says (and that is saying something). Again, this herbicide is a probable human carcinogen— meaning there is evidence that it does cause cancer but not enough yet to make it conclusive!
The article completely proves Margaret Hamburg’s claim that there is no evidence against the safety of GMOs is not factual:
The National Academy of Sciences has twice reviewed the safety of GM crops — in 2000 and 2004.3 Those reviews, which focused almost entirely on the genetic aspects of biotechnology, concluded that GM crops pose no unique hazards to human health. They noted that genetic transformation has the potential to produce unanticipated allergens or toxins and might alter the nutritional quality of food. Both reports recommended development of new risk-assessment tools and postmarketing surveillance. Those recommendations have largely gone unheeded.
It is hard to justify saying “We have not seen evidence of safety risks…” after a study (that the FDA had to have seen) had results like this. You could get away with saying there is no conclusive evidence, but to say there is no evidence of safety risks is an out right lie. The FDA’s stance about GMOs being safe and there is no need for labeling is extremely unethical. Especially considering the fact that no follow-up risk assessments have been done in over a decade and they never take the dangers of herbicides being sprayed on GMO crops into the equation (which has been talked about above but will also be discussed below). Sadly situations like this have become exceedingly more common in the US as big business continues to have a revolving door relationship with the United States regulatory agencies that are supposed to over see them.
But, we digress.
The article goes on to bring up serious questions about the corporate backed science that is used to approve products. In this case the herbicide 2,4-D:
…In our view, the science and the risk assessment supporting the Enlist Duo decision are flawed. The science consisted solely of toxicologic studies commissioned by the herbicide manufacturers in the 1980s and 1990s and never published, not an uncommon practice in U.S. pesticide regulation. These studies predated current knowledge of low-dose, endocrine-mediated, and epigenetic effects and were not designed to detect them. The risk assessment gave little consideration to potential health effects in infants and children, thus contravening federal pesticide law. It failed to consider ecologic impact, such as effects on the monarch butterfly and other pollinators. It considered only pure glyphosate, despite studies showing that formulated glyphosate that contains surfactants and adjuvants is more toxic than the pure compound.
The second new development is the determination by the IARC in 2015 that glyphosate is a “probable human carcinogen”1 and 2,4-D a “possible human carcinogen.”2 These classifications were based on comprehensive assessments of the toxicologic and epidemiologic literature that linked both herbicides to dose-related increases in malignant tumors at multiple anatomical sites in animals and linked glyphosate to an increased incidence of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in humans.
The scary thing about the EPA approval (besides all the flaws in the science and health risks) is that will increase the 2,4-D herbicide 3 to 7 times the amount that is currently spread!
The article concludes that more studies have to be conducted on both GMO’s and the herbicides used on them. The authors also call for the need to Label GMOs for a number of scientific reasons, as well as stating GMO’s should be labeled because the public wants to know what is in their food.
Honestly, this article could not come at a better time. As we have discussed in a few articles, the US government has taken a much more treasonous stance with GMO label as of late. They are now trying to pass a bill commonly known as the ‘Dark Act”, which will crush the tenth amendment by making state level labeling bills (largely started by the people in grass root movements) illegal!
For those of you that think the US Government and Big Business do not conspire together at the expense of the people, please explain this bill?
Hopefully, articles publish by respected Scientific Peer-Reviewed Journals, like the New England Journal of Medicine, will wake people up to the dangers of GMO’s and the herbicides being spread on them.