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EU chief scientist says precaution is 'irrelevant' regarding GMOs; gets called a 'dangerous imbecile' by Risk Engineering expert


(NaturalNews) After EU chief scientist Anne Glover stated in an interview that genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are so safe that the precautionary principle is "irrelevant," noted risk engineering expert Nassim Nicholas Taleb of New York University shot back, calling her a "dangerous imbecile."

"There are and have always been many dangerous imbeciles in science," Taleb wrote on Twitter.

Glover is a genetic engineer and one of the founders of the biotech firm Remedios. From August 2006 to December 2011, she served as chief science advisory to Scotland; she was appointed to the position of UN Chief Scientific Advisor in December 2013. Her use of these public platforms to promote GMOs and other dangerous industry-friendly positions actually led to calls for the post of Chief Scientific Advisor to be abolished. Critics alleged that the post gave a single person too much influence in setting policies that, if truly science based, should be more transparent and objective.

A few weeks after Glover's comments, her post was indeed abolished, effective January 2015.

GMOs risk global disaster

In an interview, Glover (falsely) claimed that GMO foods have been widely grown and consumed for more than 15 years without any evidence of harm to the environment or to human or animal health.

"[B\ecause we have so much very robust evidence... the precautionary principle is no longer relevant with GMO foods or crops," she said.

"I would be confident in saying that there is no more risk in eating GMO food than eating conventionally farmed food."

The precautionary principle refers to the idea, that when the possibility of public harm exists from a policy or technology, that policy or technology should be presumed dangerous until proven otherwise.

Taleb was, in fact, recently lead author on an article about the need to apply the precautionary principle to GMOs. His co-authors include well-respected researchers such as Raphael Douady at the Institute of Mathematics and Theoretical Physics in Paris, Yaneer Bar-Yam at the New England Complex Systems Institute and philosopher Rupert Read, author of Wittgenstein among the Sciences.

The reason why the precautionary principle is so important for GMOs, Taleb has noted, is that they pose the risk of wide-ranging systemic risks to ecosystems and human health around the globe.

"Calling the GMO approach 'scientific' betrays a very poor -- indeed warped -- understanding of probabilistic payoffs and risk management," he said.

"Severe limits" needed on GMOs

Contrary to Glover's statements, there is indeed a wide body of scientific evidence that GMOs are harmful to health and to the environment.

"I refute the claims of the biotechnology companies that their engineered crops yield more, that they require less pesticide applications, that they have no impact on the environment and of course that they are safe to eat," wrote Thierry Vrain, who spent years as a research scientist for Agriculture Canada and was one of that agency's main public defenders of GMOs.

"There is ... a growing body of scientific research -- done mostly in Europe, Russia, and other countries -- showing that diets containing engineered corn or soya cause serious health problems in laboratory mice and rats," he wrote.

Vrain points in particular to the recent report "GMO Myths and Truths," a review of more than 500 studies and government reports. These studies contain abundant evidence of not just health but also environmental harm from GMOs. For example, research has shown that modified genes from GMO crops can spread to soil bacteria, and even to bacteria in the guts of people that eat them.

"This is genetic pollution to the extreme," Vrain wrote.

"Genetically modified organisms represent a public risk of global harm," Taleb and his co-authors concluded in their own recent study. "The precautionary principle should be used to prescribe severe of limits on genetically modified organisms."

Sources for this article include:






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