Originally published April 18 2015
GMO assessment project uses public funds to generate biotech propaganda disguised as science
by J. D. Heyes
(NaturalNews) An organization founded to promote independent research and scientific transparency regarding genetically modified foods has filed a compliant with the European Union's ombudsman, alleging that "incorrect or inadequate statements" were made by officials involved in a GMO risk assessment study.
The organization, Testbiotec, said in its complaint that biotech experts involved in a study known the GRACE Project intentionally left out vital test information that was relevant to the study, likely because the data was considered damaging to GMO proponents.
"The GRACE project was initiated to investigate methods for the risk assessment of genetically engineered plants," says the complaint. "However, a recent GRACE publication on a feeding trial with rats makes no mention of relevant data indicating health impacts. This is one of the underlying signs that industrial nepotism appears to be prevalent within the GRACE project even though it is publicly funded."
The group goes onto to note that the GRACE test results are likely to be crucial in setting future standards of EU risk assessments of GMO plants and seeds. As such, Testbiotech says it was important to petition the EU Commission with its concerns and request that it take action to make sure that all tests be conducted with the highest ethical standards and scientific quality.
"We believe that the interests of EU civil society are being doubly undermined," said Testbiotech co-founding member Christoph Then.
'Undermined'"Firstly, it is consumers who will carry the risks associated with genetically engineered plants. And secondly, taxpayers' money is being misappropriated in order to conduct risk research that is heavily influenced by industry," Then continued. "The way in which the EU Commission is dealing with this project is likely to damage overall trust in publicly funded risk research."
In the past, officials associated with the GRACE Project rejected Testbiotech's concerns, stating in a November press release that the activist group was wrong in its assumption that data had been falsified.
"GRACE [GMO Risk Assessment and Communication of Evidence] has checked Testbiotech's arguments carefully and published a scientific statement in the form of an open letter. In it, GRACE once again concludes that the results obtained show that the MON810 maize at a level of up to 33% in the diet did not induce adverse effects in the trial animals. It was found, among others that Testbiotech's comments fail to distinguish between statistical significance and biological relevance," said the group.
The scientific statement is here.
GRACE officials also said that the project "expressly welcomes third-party assessments" of all research "as a matter of principle."
The larger issue is an attempt by the largest agri-biotech firms like Monsanto and Syngenta to spread GMO crops to all parts of the globe, including Europe, which has a de facto GMO ban in place.
Part of a larger effort to get GMOs in all of EuropeAccording to the EU's "Food" rules:
A number of Member States have invoked a so-called 'safeguard clause' (Art. 23 Dir. 2001/18/EC). According to this clause, Member States may provisionally restrict or prohibit the use and/or sale of the GM product on its territory. However, the Member State must have justifiable reasons to consider that the GMO in question poses a risk to human health or the environment.
Six Member States currently apply safeguard clauses on GMO events: Austria, France, Greece, Hungary, Germany and Luxembourg.
In January, following nearly five years of debate, the EU parliament passed legislation giving individual EU members the right to "opt out" of GMO cultivation. But the compromise law was widely panned by both pro- and anti-GMO factions.
"This is a bad move for Europe," said Monsanto, in a statement. "It undermines science, it undermines European farmers and it raises prices for European consumers."
But Bert Staes, the Greens' parliamentary food safety spokesman, said, "Despite a majority of EU member states and citizens being consistently opposed to GMOs, the real purpose of this new scheme is to make it easier to wave through EU authorizations of GM crops."
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