Which side is to believed in the public information wars over genetically engineered crops and their associated synthetic chemicals like Monsanto’s Roundup and its active ingredient, glyphosate?
That depends on who you ask, but there is a growing tide of awareness focused on how the industry twists and bends “science” to fit its narrative, utilizing a highly organized system of front groups, academics on the payroll, PR spin masters, and even politicians assisting along the way thanks to big-money lobbying.
Now a new report is once again casting a shadow over the GMO and pesticide industry, revealing how the industry works to sweep the harmful effects of its products under the carpet in order to prevent them from being regulated or even banned.
New Report Slams the Pesticide, GMO Industry Over Safety Assessments
As noted in this article from the website GMWatch.org, the Pesticide Action Network out of Europe has released a new report on how GMOs and their associated pesticides are really assessed for safety purposes.
The report found that a shocking 11 out of 12 risk assessments studied for European and GMOs were developed or promoted by the industry itself.
Because of the use of these methods, harmful effects observed in animal safety studies may be swept under the rug, for example in cases where tumors are seen in test animals. According to the GMWatch.org report, these tumors can be classified as “irrelevant” to human health, despite their clear and alarming presence in safety studies designed by the industry.
Environmental risks may also be downplayed in order to achieve government approval, such as harmful pesticide residues in groundwater or the risks of them killing off as many as half of all non-target (potentially beneficial) insects when sprayed, greatly disrupting ecosystems.
Even genetically engineered (or GMO, which stands for genetically modified organism) crops may be shown to differ “markedly” in their composition from non-GM parent organisms in these tests, and yet still may be pushed through the approval process without opposition.
The latter issue is especially prevalent in the United States, where the false proclamation of “substantial equivalence” allows both new and long-used GMO crops to gain a rubber stamp of approval from government officials. The doctrine asserts that GMO crops are “substantially equivalent” to non-GMO crops, even though the genetic structure of the food has been changed in a laboratory and the plant is clearly different in many ways.
Most GMO crops are designed to either withstand large spraying of Monsanto’s flagship herbicide Roundup (with its active ingredient glyphosate, declared a “probable human carcinogen” by the World Health Organization in 2015), or to produce its own pesticides within the plant (in the case of Bt corn and similar crops). However, because of these industry-friendly terms and tests, these crops are seen as being virtually the same as non-GMO crops in the eyes of regulators (they do undergo some additional risk assessments, but critics say it is not enough and have demanded long-term, independent studies).
It all adds up to a pesticide and GMO friendly climate that takes a drastic toll on health and the environment, critics say.
Industry Lobby Group Infiltrating Safety Bodies to Support Its Own Products
Also according to the GMWatch.org report on the study, the industry lobbying group, ‘The International Life Sciences Institute,’ not only designs study methods but also manages to find ways to get its own “experts” appointed to regulatory panels.
This was seen in 75% of all cases studied, during which these experts were shown to be infiltrating regulatory panels of the EU Food Safety Authority, World Health Organization and others.
The report concludes that European safety studies and methods are beginning to mimic those in the U.S., where industrial agriculture based on synthetic chemicals and GMOs has taken over the rural landscape in most areas.
Despite the heavy lobbying and infiltration, the cultivation of GMOs for commercial purposes is still mostly banned throughout Europe, and many countries are taking steps to reduce their dependence on industrial pesticides; for example Germany recently has strongly discussed future plans to ban glyphosate.
This is in large part due to consumer rejection from European citizens who strongly prefer natural and organic foods.