GMO leaves sour taste

With Monsanto's track record of environmental crimes and health scandals, why should we trust the future of our food supply to this company?

To the Editor,

At a Nanaimo City Council meeting Monday night, I heard speakers opposing genetically engineered foods, and one supporting them.

Former soil biologist Thierry Vrain, who worked for 30 years for Agriculture Canada as a genetic engineer, is well aware that genetic engineering is a very imprecise technology. He explained that when genetic engineering technology began, it was based on the theory that each gene codes for a single protein. But in 2002, the Human Genome Project was completed, making the old scientific paradigm obsolete. The new knowledge means that “every scientist now learns that any gene can give more than one protein, and that inserting a gene anywhere in a plant eventually creates rogue proteins. Some of these proteins are obviously allergenic or toxic.”

Professor Robert Wager, who teaches at VIU and is a staunch supporter of GMO technology, told us there are no unintended consequences of GMO foods after 25 years. He has obviously not read a study completed in June of 2012 called GMO Myths and Truths, available for free online at Earth Open Source. He said there are no lawsuits being brought forth, but seems to be unaware of the fact that many US farmers are suing Monsanto whose GMO seeds are contaminating their non GMO crop fields. Mr. Wager continues to claim that “all of the alleged dangers of GM crops and food have been analyzed by global experts and dismissed.” He also rejects research that demonstrates harm from GM crops and food as “pseudo-science,” and boldly puts Dr. Vrain’s research in that dismissive category.

It is not uncommon to find experts and authorities on both sides of a controversial issue. For such  significant issues as the safety of our food supply and planetary environment, is it not appropriate to look at the integrity of the research, who is funding it, and who publishes it? In May of this year, a former Monsanto researcher joined the editorial staff of the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology. Such potential for conflict of interest, where one person can control or prevent the publication of research that would be inconvenient to the biotech industry, means that the public cannot trust peer-reviewed journals to reflect the true state of scientific knowledge. Add to this the well-known fact that scientists often choose to say yes to their research being funded by industry, a fact Dr. Vrain knows very well from being a member of the scientific community for 30 years.

On May 25 of this year, two million people from 52 countries marched against Monsanto, producer of 90 per cent of the world’s genetically modified seed. They marched against a trans-national company having monopoly control of the world’s food supply. Monsanto forces farmers who buy their seed to sign a contract stating they will not save seed. At a time when the world is focusing on food,¬† it is time we realized that we have food today because farmers have saved seed every year for the next crop. In no way is forcing farmers to buy seed every year a sustainable practice.

If you care about the future of our food supply, I suggest to devote 90 minutes to watch the hard-hitting 2008 documentary, The World According to Monsanto, in which investigative journalist uncovers Monsanto’s long track record of environmental crimes and health scandals. It is very important to understand that Monsanto is the same company that brought the world the toxins known as PCBs, dioxins and Agent Orange. Why in the name of everything we hold sacred should we trust the future of our food supply to this company?

Tsiporah GrignonGabriola Island