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By Anastasia Gubin
"Patents on living organisms, processes, seeds, cell lines and genes must be revoked and banned; and comprehensive public research is required on the future of agriculture and food safety for all," reported the Institute of Science In Society (ISIS).
The statement dates back to 1999. In 2003 it was superseded by the Independent Science Group report, and in 2013 by the most recent Ban OGM report.
The ISIS Institute published in June a study that provides more evidence on the fact that transgenic products release pieces of synthetic genes into soil, air and water that are causing problems of resistance to antibiotics and other diseases in humans. . “Patents on life forms and living processes should be prohibited because they threaten food security, promote biopiracy of indigenous knowledge and genetic resources, violate basic human rights and dignity, the commitment to health, impede medical research and scientific, and are against the welfare of animals, "added ISIS.
To farmers and consumers, scientists warn that "GM crops offer no benefits." "They bring with them many problems that have been identified, including production friction, increased herbicide use, erratic performance, and poor economic returns for farmers. GM crops also intensify the corporate monopoly on food, which is leading to family farmers to misery, and preventing the essential shift towards a sustainable agriculture that guarantees food security and health in the world ”, the researchers indicated.
In Montreal in January 2000, more than 130 governments pledged to apply “the precautionary principle and to ensure that national and international biosafety laws take precedence over trade and financial agreements of the World Trade Organization. In turn, the researchers maintain that ecological and family farming has low costs and inputs and is completely sustainable. "They offer the only way to restore agricultural lands degraded by conventional agronomic practices, and enable the autonomy of small family farmers to combat poverty and hunger," says the ISIS team.
Open letter from scientists around the world to all governments (Translation of Canal311, translated quotes are not found):
1 Patents on life forms and living processes should be prohibited because they threaten food security, promote biopiracy of indigenous knowledge and genetic resources, violate basic human rights and dignity, the commitment to health, impede medical research and scientific, and are against the welfare of animals. ( one). Life forms, such as organisms, seeds, cell lines, and genes are discoveries and therefore not patentable.
Current GM techniques that exploit living processes are unreliable, uncontrollable and unpredictable, and cannot be considered inventions. Furthermore, these techniques are inherently unsafe, as are many GMO organisms and products.
2. It is becoming increasingly clear that current transgenic crops are neither necessary nor beneficial. They are a dangerous distraction preventing essential shift towards sustainable agricultural practices that can provide food security and health around the world.
3. Two simple characteristics represent the almost 40 million hectares of transgenic crops planted in 1999 (2). Most (71%) are tolerant to broad spectrum herbicides, developed of course to be tolerant of their own brand of herbicide, while the rest are engineered with Bt toxins to kill insect pests. A statistic based on 8,200 field tests on the most popular transgenic crop, soybeans, revealed that transgenic soybeans yield 6.7% less and require two to five times more herbicides than non-genetically modified varieties (3). This has been confirmed by a more recent study conducted at the University of Nebraska (4). However, other problems have been identified such as: erratic performance, susceptibility to disease (5), fruit abortion (6) and poor economic returns to farmers (7).
4. According to the UN food program, there is enough food to feed the world one and a half times more. While the world population has grown by 90% in the last 40 years, the amount of food per capita has increased by 25%, and yet one billion go hungry (8). A new FAO report confirms that there will be enough or more than enough food to meet global demands without taking into account any performance improvements that GMOs might provide until well into 2030 (9). It is because of the growing corporate monopoly operating under the globalized economy that the poor are getting poorer and hungrier (10). Family farmers around the world have been driven to misery and suicide, and for the same reasons. Between 1993 and 1997 the number of medium-sized farms in the US fell by 74,440 (11), and farmers are charging below the average cost of production for their products (12). The agricultural population in France and Germany declined by 50% since 1978 (13). In the UK, 20,000 agricultural jobs were lost in the last year, and the Prime Minister has announced a £ 200 million aid package (14). Four companies controlled 85% of world grain trade at the end of 1999 (15). Mergers and acquisitions continue.
5. The new patents on seeds intensify corporate monopoly by preventing farmers from saving and replanting seeds, which is what most farmers in the Third World continue to do. In order to protect their patents, companies continue to develop terminator technologies so that seeds harvested from a bioengineered plant do not germinate, despite global opposition from farmers and civil society in general (16).
6. Christian Aid, a major charity working with the Third World, concluded that GM crops cause unemployment, aggravate Third World debt, and are a threat to sustainable agricultural systems as well as damaging the environment. (17) African governments condemned Monsanto's claim that GMOs are needed to feed the world's hungry: “We firmly oppose ... that the image of the poor and hungry in our countries is being used by large multinational companies. to promote a technology that is neither safe, nor for the environment, nor economically beneficial for us ... we believe that it will destroy the diversity, local knowledge and sustainable agricultural systems that our farmers have developed over thousands of years and ... undermine our ability to feed ourselves. (18) "A message from the Philippine Peasant Movement to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) of industrialized countries stated:" The entry of GMOs will surely intensify landlessness, hunger and injustice. (19) "
7 A coalition of family farmer groups in the US has issued a comprehensive list of the demands, including a ban on ownership of all forms of life; suspension of sales, emissions to the environment and more approvals of transgenic crops and derived products, pending an independent and exhaustive evaluation of environmental, health and economic social impacts; and that companies be obliged to be responsible for all damages derived from their genetically modified crops and livestock products, on human beings and the environment (20). They also demand a moratorium on all company mergers and acquisitions, on farm closures, and an end to policies that serve big agribusiness interests at the expense of family farmers, taxpayers, and the environment (21). They have filed a lawsuit against Monsanto and nine other companies for monopolistic practices and for endorsing GM crops to farmers without proper safety and environmental impact assessments (22).
8. Some of the dangers of GM crops are openly recognized by the UK and US governments. UK Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAFF) has admitted that the movement of GM crops and pollen beyond planted fields is inevitable (23), and this has already resulted in resistant weeds to herbicides (24). An interim report on UK Government sponsored field trials has confirmed hybridization between adjacent plots of different varieties of GM herbicide tolerant rape, resulting in multi herbicide tolerant hybrids. Furthermore, transgenic rapeseed and its hybrids were found as weeds in subsequent wheat and barley crops, which were being controlled with conventional herbicides (25). Bt-resistant insect pests have evolved in response to the continued presence of toxins in transgenic plants throughout the growing cycle, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is recommending that farmers plant up to a 40% non-GM crops in order to create refuges for non-resistant insect pests (26).
9. The threats to the biological diversity of the main transgenic crops already commercialized are becoming clearer. Broad-spectrum herbicides used with GM herbicide-tolerant crops not only decimate wild plant species indiscriminately, but are also toxic to animals. Glufosinate causes birth defects in mammals (27), and glyphosate is linked to Hodgkin's lymphoma (28). Bt-toxin transgenic crops kill beneficial insects such as bees (29) and lacewings (30), and Bt corn pollen is lethal to monarch butterflies (31) as well as papillionids (32). Bt toxin is exuded from the roots of Bt corn into the rhizosphere, where it quickly binds to soil particles and becomes part of the soil. As the toxin is present in an activated, non-selective form, target and non-target species in the soil will be affected (33), causing a huge impact on all species on land.
10. Products resulting from genetically modified organisms can also be dangerous. For example, a batch of tryptophan produced by genetically modified microorganisms was associated with at least 37 deaths and 1,500 serious illnesses (34). A genetically modified bovine growth hormone, injected into cows in order to increase milk production, not only causes excessive suffering and disease for cows, it also increases IGF-1 in milk, which is linked to cancers breast and prostate in humans (35). It is vitally important for the public to be protected from all transgenic products, and not just those that contain transgenic DNA or protein. This is because the genetic modification process itself, at least as currently practiced, is inherently dangerous.
11. Secret memoranda of the US Food and Drug Administration revealed that their own scientists' warnings that genetic engineering is a new starting point and introduces new risks were ignored. Furthermore, the first transgenic crop released for commercialization - the Flavr Savr tomato - failed the necessary toxicological tests (36). Dr Arpad Pusztai and his colleagues in the UK raised serious questions about the safety of the GM potatoes they were testing. They conclude that a significant part of the toxic effect may be due to genetic transformation or the process used to manufacture the genetically modified plants, or both (37).
12. The safety of GM foods was openly contested by Professor Bevan Moseley, molecular geneticist and current Chairman of the Working Group on Novel Foods at the European Union Scientific Committee on Food (38). He drew attention to the unforeseen effects inherent in the technology, emphasizing that the next generation of genetically modified foods - so-called 'nutraceuticals' or 'functional foods', such as vitamin A from 'enriched' rice - will pose even greater risks. for health due to the increased complexity of gene constructs. 13. Genetic engineering introduces new genes and new combinations of laboratory-built genetic material into crops, livestock, and microorganisms (39). The artificial constructs are derived from the genetic material of pathogenic viruses and other genetic parasites, as well as bacteria and other organisms, and include genes that code for resistance to antibiotics. The constructs are designed to break down species barriers and to overcome mechanisms that prevent foreign genetic material from inserting into genomes. Most of them have never existed in nature throughout billions of years of evolution.
14. These constructs are introduced into cells by invasive methods that lead to the random insertion of foreign genes into the genome (the totality of all the genetic material of a cell or organism). This results in unpredictable, random effects, including abnormalities in animals and unexpected toxins and allergens in food crops.
15. A construction common to virtually all transgenic crops already marketed or undergoing field testing involves a cauliflower mosaic virus (CaMV) gene switch (promoter) spliced together with the foreign gene (transgene) to over-express continuously (40). This CaMV promoter is active in all plants, in yeast, algae and E. coli. We have recently discovered that it is still active in amphibian egg (41) and human cell extract (42). It has a modular structure and can be exchanged, in part or in whole, with the promoters of other viruses to give infectious viruses. It also has a 'recombination hotspot' where it is prone to breaking apart and joining with other genetic material (43).
16 For these and other reasons, transgenic DNA - all the artificial constructs transferred in the GMO - may be more unstable and prone to transfer back to unrelated species; potentially to all species that interact with the GMO (44).
17. The instability of transgenic DNA in genetically modified plants is well known (45). Transgenic genes are often silenced, but loss of part or all of the transgenic DNA also occurs, even in later generations of propagation (46). We are aware of no published evidence for the long-term stability of transgenic inserts in terms of structure or location in the plant genome in any of the transgenic lines already marketed or field trials submitted.
18. Potential risks of horizontal GM gene transfer include the spread of antibiotic resistance genes to pathogens, the generation of new disease-causing viruses and bacteria, and mutations due to random insertion of foreign DNA, some of which can lead to cancer in mammalian cells (47). The ability of the CaMV promoter to function in all species, including humans is particularly relevant to the potential dangers of horizontal gene transfer.
19. The possibility for naked or free DNA to be taken up by mammalian cells is explicitly mentioned in a US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) draft guidance to industry on resistance marker genes antibiotics (48). In its comments on the FDA document, the MAFF UK noted that transgenic DNA can not be transferred just by ingestion, but by contact with airborne dust and plant pollen during agricultural work and food processing. (49). This caveat is all the more significant with the recent report from the University of Jena in Germany that field experiments indicated transgenic genes may have transferred via transgenic pollen to bacteria and yeast in the gut of bee larvae (50).
20. Plant DNA is not easily degraded during most commercial food processing (51). Procedures such as milling and grinding left grain DNA largely intact, as did heat treatment at 90deg.C. Plants placed in the silage showed little DNA degradation, and a special report from the UK MAFF advises against the use of genetically modified plants or plant residues in animal feed.
21. The human mouth contains bacteria that have been shown to take up and express naked DNA containing antibiotic resistance genes and similar transformable bacteria are present in the respiratory tract (52).
22. Antibiotic resistance marker genes from genetically modified plants have been found to transfer horizontally to soil bacteria and fungi in the laboratory (53). Field monitoring revealed that DNA from GM sugar beet persisted in the soil for up to two years after planting of the GM crop. And there is evidence to suggest that parts of the transgenic DNA will be transferred horizontally to bacteria in the soil (54).
23. Recent research in gene therapy and nucleic acid vaccines (DNA and RNA) leaves little doubt that naked / free nucleic acids can be taken up, and in some cases, incorporated into the genome of all cells of mammals, including those of humans. Adverse effects already observed include acute toxic shock, delayed immunological reactions and autoimmune reactions (55).
24. The British Medical Association, in its interim report (published in May 1999), called for an indefinite moratorium on GMO releases pending further investigation into new allergies, the spread of antibiotic resistance genes and the effects of transgenic DNA.
25. In the Cartagena Biosafety Protocol successfully negotiated in Montreal in January 2000, more than 130 governments have agreed to put into practice the precautionary principle, and to ensure that biosafety legislation at the national and international level takes precedence over trade and financial agreements in the WTO. Similarly, delegates to the Conference of the Codex Alimentarius Commission in Chiba Japan, March 2000, have agreed to prepare strict regulatory procedures for transgenic foods, including pre-market evaluation, long-term monitoring of health impacts, genetic stability tests, toxins, allergens, and other unwanted effects (56). The Cartagena Biosafety Protocol has been signed by 68 governments in Nairobi in May 2000.
26. We urge all governments to take due account of the already substantial scientific evidence of actual or suspected dangers arising from GM technology and many of its products, and to impose an immediate moratorium on new releases to the environment, including open field tests, according to the precautionary principle, as well as the science of sound.
27. Successive studies have documented the productivity and sustainability of family farming in the Third World, as well as in the North (57). Evidence from the North and South indicates that small farms are more productive, more efficient, and contribute more to economic development than large farms. Small farmers also tend to take better stewards of natural resources, conserving biodiversity and safeguarding the sustainability of agricultural production (58). Cuba responded to the economic crisis caused by the breakup of the Soviet bloc in 1989 by converting from conventional large-scale, high-input monoculture to small organic and semi-organic agriculture, doubling food production with half of the previous entry (59).
28. Agroecological approaches hold great promise for sustainable agriculture in developing countries, combining knowledge and techniques adapted to local conditions with contemporary Western scientific knowledge (60) of local agriculture. Yields have doubled and tripled and continue to rise. An estimated 12.5 million hectares worldwide are already successfully cultivated in this way (61). It is environmentally sound and affordable for small farmers. Recover marginal farmland by conventional intensive agriculture. It offers the only practical way to restore agricultural lands degraded by conventional agronomic practices. Above all, small family farmers are empowered to fight poverty and hunger.
29. We urge all governments to reject transgenic crops on the grounds that they are dangerous and contrary to an ecologically sustainable use of resources. Instead they should support the research and development of sustainable farming methods that can truly benefit farming families around the world.
The Epoch Times