- EU watchdog reveals approval for GM foods fails to identify poisonous gene
- 54 of the 86 GM plants approved contain the dangerous gene
- Gene found in food for farm animals producing meat, milk and eggs
- Biotech supporters argue there is no evidence that GM foods are harmful
A virus gene that could be poisonous to humans has been missed when GM food crops have been assessed for safety.
GM crops such as corn and soya, which are being grown around the world for both human and farm animal consumption, include the gene.
A new study by the EU’s official food watchdog, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), has revealed that the international approval process for GM crops failed to identify the gene.
As a result, watchdogs have not investigated its impact on human health and the plants themselves when assessing whether they were safe.
The findings are particularly powerful because the work was carried out by independent experts, rather than GM critics.
It was led by Nancy Podevin, who was employed by EFSA, and Patrick du Jardin, of the Plant Biology Unit at the University of Liege in Belgium.
They discovered that 54 of the 86 GM plants approved for commercial growing and food in the US, including corn and soya, contain the viral gene, which is known as ‘Gene VI’.
In this country, these crops are typically fed to farm animals producing meat, milk and eggs.
Significantly, the EFSA researchers concluded that the presence of segments of Gene VI ‘might result in unintended phenotypic changes’.
Such changes include the creation of proteins that are toxic to humans. They could also trigger changes in the plants themselves, making them more vulnerable to pests.
Critics say the revelations make clear that the GM approvals process, which has been in place for 20 years, is fatally flawed.
They argue the only correct response is to recall all of the crops and food products involved. Director of the campaigning group, GM Freeze, Pete Riley, said the discovery of the gene, ‘totally undermines claims that GM technology is safe, precise and predictable’.
He said: ‘This is a clear warning the GM is not sufficiently understood to be considered safe.’Authorisation for these crops must be suspended immediately, and they should be withdrawn from sale, until a full and extended review of their safety has been carried out.’
CLN Editor’s Note: This article has created quite the stir and controversy this week. You can read the EFSA’s response HERE.