Interviews with Carman and Seralini
INTERVIEW WITH JUDY CARMAN
Judy Carman, Ph.D. is director of the Institute of Health and Environmental Research, Inc., a non-profit research institute based in Australia focusing on the safety of genetically modified food. She earned a doctorate degree in medicine from the University of Adelaide in the areas of metabolic regulation, nutritional biochemistry, and cancer. She has investigated outbreaks of disease for an Australian state government. Not someone known for rushing into prejudice, one assumes.
Dr Carman says very little safety testing is done on genetically modified foods, and when it is done, it is done in a minimal way by the biotechnology companies. Dr. Carman says that more extensive testing of GM foods is needed to ensure they are safe.
"We are conducting one the very few long-term, independent animal feeding studies with GM foods. To date, most of these types of studies have been done by biotechnology companies or scientists associated with biotechnology companies. Of the few independent studies being done, a study by the Austrian government recently made public found reduced fertility in mice fed GM corn. Another recent study done in Italy showed immune system problems in mice fed GM corn. The studies done by biotechnology companies tend to show no health problems associated with eating GM food. The independent studies are finding adverse effects."
Ain't that strange. The biotech companies find no problems but the independent studies do. How can that be?
Dr Carman: "It is disturbing that the study showed a gradually worsening effect on mice that ate the GM corn. I am worried that something similar is happening in humans. If it is, it could take many years for problems to become apparent, and by then it could be too late to do anything about it."
So let's have more independent research. Why isn't it happening?
Dr Carman: "First, it is very hard to get GM seed to conduct the research. In order to buy GM seed, you have to go to a licensed seed dealer, and sign a technology licensing agreement, which states that you won't do any research on the seed, which includes agronomic, health, and environmental research. Also, scientists who try to research health impacts of GM food get harassed and intimidated by people with vested interests in GM technology. I've had 10 years of abuse from such people who've defamed me, driven me out of a university, and tried to get me fired from jobs. With that kind of intimidation, scientists often decide not to do any research. Vested interests have been trying to find out about research I'm doing. They filed a freedom of information request with the Western Australian government to find out. The government denied their request. It could have ended up in court. My research protocol could have been stolen."
Any other problems?
Dr Carman: "If you want to do medical research, you have to go to an organization that funds such research. In order to get funding you need to have a proven track record in that area of research. However, in a new area of research such as GM food safety, no one has a track record, so it is difficult to get the funding. It's a Catch-22. We are thankful that the Western Australian government gave us funding. The research protocol was sent to 15 scientists worldwide for review and then approved by a steering committee. I wanted people to know that I was doing a thorough job with this research."
A question: If your research finds negative health impacts caused by GM foods, Dr Carman, are you prepared to deal with a negative onslaught from biotech companies?
Dr Carman: "Yes, I understand that will happen. I've been attacked many times. GM food advocates want to make people who do this type of work frightened of losing their jobs to make them stop working on the issue. They can't get me fired now. I work within my own organization, the Institute of Health and Environmental Research, which I established along with others who are committed to finding out if GM foods are safe to eat. The behaviour of GM food advocates makes me ask, "What are they frightened of?" If they believe GM foods are safe, they would be confident that I would not find any problems. Instead they are paranoid. What do they know that I don't know? What are they trying to hide? It makes me more curious and determined to find out."
These are extracts from an interview by Ken Roseboro for the Organic Growers Association magazine, Dec08/Jan09.
INTERVIEW WITH GILLES-ERIC SERALINI
In May last year I interviewed Professor Giles-Eric Seralini, professor of chemistry and molecular biology at Caen University. He studied GM techology for two years in North America and has successfully carried out GM transfers. This is an edit of what he said:
"I practised genetic modification not to make plants but to make bacteria to investigate the role of genes in cancer. I cloned several genes in human cells to look at hormonal promoted cancers.
When I heard that some commercalised GMOs were released in order to reduce pesticide use I thought it was great and asked to see the files as I was working on the effects of pesticides on cancers. I asked for the files and I found it was very difficult to get them. When I eventually got the working documents I saw nothing had been done to look at the actual effect of the pesticides within the plant. Instead of reducing pesticide use, three-quarters of the GM were created in order to absorb pesticides like Round-up and one-quarter designed to produce their own pesticides. I was worried about the control of that.
In 2003 I was chosen by the EU to review all the studies commercial GM sites in Europe. I saw that the reviews were not organised - they could not answer the controls that were needed to enforce GM in Europe. I felt the crucial controls were to have labelling and a ban on GM ingredients in food.
First Clinton and then Bush have said that the scientific arguments and request for more controls should be ignored and they complained about GM labelling and assessment in Europe.
I began to work on Round-up and I discovered several things - doses of Roundup lower than those recommended for agricultural use were potentially toxic, and Roundup is considered less toxic to the ecosystem than other pesticides. Even small amounts could disturb human and rat pregnancies, mouse kidneys, rabbit sperm and other human tissues. The pesticide disrypted endocrine production, which is necessary for the creation of oestrogen, even in the male.
Last summer (2007) we challenged a Monsanto advertisement extolling the biodegradability of Roundup - a dog finding a bone sprayed with Roundup and saying it was not toxic. The advert was banned and Monsanto was fined 15,000 euros.
I was asked to meet other experts and specialists from across Europe and we asked the Government for environmental assesments of GMOs. The result was EU Directive 201.
GM is not about feeding poor children. They are here to feed the rich of the G8 countries. Countries that are very rich, and their politicians, are in favour of it.
The technology has a lot of rich possibilities but the way they are exploiting and using it right now is to serve pesticides in the plant without the proper tests and assessments. If you were to do the proper tests and assessments, GM is not profitable as it is.
99.9% of GM plants are to absorb or produce pesticides. People don't see that. They only see the propaganda about growing food in a desert or feeding the world, how all other problems will be solved if this technology is allowed.
There are 30 million kinds of plants in the world and just four - rice, wheat,maize and soya - give 60% of the food and energy. It should be possible to change that, making different plants adapted to different countries to help feed the world, but not if you make thousands of hectares of the same plants just for feeding pigs and cows.
The fact that you have only four plants imposes monoculture and also the control of the seeds. If you control the seeds that feed the world you become 100 times richer than Bill Gates because you can say which country has which seed and which culture and you get paid every time somebody uses that seed anywhere in the world. And if you add the possibility of green oil you become master of the world. You are richer that any State or any country. You have more power, and you decide who plants what.
The drug companies want to do that. The eight biggest drug companies are the biggest GM makers and the biggest pesticide manufacturers. They are interested in GM not to make a lot of varieties but to have patents for these four species. They began with maize and soya and they had the patent last year (2007) for wheat in the United States and they are working on rice.
I believe GM seed will make hunger in the world. They will make people starve. Poor people will not have enough money to buy the seed.
I think GMOs are dangerous because of the results that have been produced in the laboratory, because of Roundup residue and probably because of Bt residue. Maybe they have some other dangers that have not been seen because of genetic engineering itself. It's possible in some cases and not in others.
I think GM technology is out of control.
It is abnormal at the beginning of the 21st century to give these seeds no more than three months trial, and this is a dishonest way of functioning for genetic engineeting control.
I am not against genetic engineering itself, but I think that not too many things are possible with it. It takes hundreds of genes to adapt to a changing environment and we are able to change a couple of them so we wont be able to adapt a seed to a different environment.
France has given 1bn euros to the genoplant project. German and Uk governments have done the same - they have invested a lot of money in biotechnology.
You can't feed 240 million Europeans without tracing the product and GM is not traceable. There's no traceability in the States where 98% are produced at the seed level.
I'm confident that the effects of GM are not like toxic effects. They are like pesticides - they increase endocrine diseases, increase cancers and increase neurologial diseases like we have seen in farmers, increase malfunction and reproductive problems. But if there's no traceability you can't ask the right questions. It's like Parkinsons and Alzheimers diseases. Nobody asked if pesticides are involved. I think they might be. A total of 400 pollutants have been found sticking to the DNA of a baby. You can't find out about GM created diseases if you don't study it.
We are almost eating GM already through animal feed in Europe. Are American people more sick because they are eating GM food directly? Are they living less and having more food-related diseases? The answer is yes to both of the last questions. Americans are living less and more dying are early from food-related problems. Is that linked to GM or hormones in the cow or to all the addtives in the food they eat? No one knows because no one is finding out. GM is not labelled over there. It will go on like that for years if we don't study the problem.
I wanted a moratorium of GM in Europe. We were successful in that, but we have been told we can't have any money for testing.
So this is the first time in the history of the world that what amounts to a drug or pesticide has not been tested before release by anybody other than the company that makes it."