Health Leaders Renew Calls for Prop 37 in Wake of Science Controversy
Oakland: Health leaders in California are calling for mandatory health studies for genetically engineered foods and have renewed calls to pass Proposition 37, as controversy continues over the first-ever long-term health study on genetically engineered corn, conducted by French scientist Gilles-Eric Séralini.
The Seralini study, which found serious health effects in rats fed a lifetime diet of genetically engineered corn and the herbicide Roundup, has been widely criticized. Last week, 60 scientists posted a letter pointing out that the study raises serious concerns about the state of the science on genetically engineered foods.
“Seralini and colleagues are just the latest in a series of researchers whose findings have triggered orchestrated campaigns of harassment,” said the letter posted in Independent Science News. “The Seralini publication, and resultant media attention, raise the profile of fundamental challenges faced by science in a world increasingly dominated by corporate influence.”
Health leaders in California described the problems with current GMO research and why passing Prop 37 is so important:
“What Dr. Séralini’s work points to is the need to take very seriously, and more rigorously understand, the risks to human health posed by genetically engineered crops and foods. Independent safety studies are urgently needed,” said Marcia Ishii-Eiteman, PhD, senior scientist at Pesticide Action Network.
“Unfortunately, independent research into the health effects of genetically engineered foods has been virtually impossible in the U.S. Licensing agreements expressly forbid research unless it has been approved by the companies that hold the patents on genetically engineered seeds, and these companies retain and exercise the right to prevent publication when results are not as desired.”
Most health studies on GMO foods, conducted under the direction of the biotech companies, have been short-term studies that are inadequate for assessing the risk of long-latency diseases such as cancer.
“The current standard 90-day experiment may not be sufficient to detect effects such as breast cancer and could be giving us misleading results. More research is needed on GMOs that examines long-term effects and specifically the effects on mammary glands,” said Sharima Rasanayagam, PhD, director of science at the Breast Cancer Fund. “In the meantime, people have the right to know whether food is genetically modified so that they can make informed purchasing decisions. That is why the Breast Cancer Fund supports Proposition 37,” Rasanayagam said.
Andrew Kimbrell, executive director of Center for Food Safety, said, “It is a scandal that the FDA, EPA and companies like Monsanto have failed to do long-term testing over the past decade. Until further research is done we should have a moratorium on new approvals of GE crops and labeling of all foods using this technology.” The US Food and Drug Administration requires no safety testing of GMOs, despite the opinions by the World Health Organization and American Medical Association that mandatory safety studies should be required.
Malinda Markowitz, RN, co-president of the California Nurses Association, stated: “Nurses work every day with patients suffering from serious diet-related diseases. The potential negative effects of eating genetically modified foods is the reason CNA supports Proposition 37.”
Robert Gould, MD, president of SF-Bay Area Chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility, said labeling is an important tool for tracking potential health effects. “Numerous peer-reviewed animal studies indicate that genetically engineered foods may be linked to allergies and other health problems. Labeling is a tool for knowing where GMOs are in the food system and for tracking any health reactions.”
Women’s, labor and environmental groups also renewed calls to pass Prop 37.
MonaLisa Wallace, California chapter of the National Organization of Women, said: “The new research adds to the health concerns about GMOs that many of us have had for a long time. That’s why thousands of volunteers, many of them moms like me, worked so hard to put Proposition 37 on the ballot. We have the right to know and to choose for ourselves whether to eat genetically engineered foods.”
Ken Cook, president of Environmental Working Group, said: “There is a giant question mark hanging over the safety of genetically engineered foods. More research is urgently needed, and in the meantime, consumers have the right to know and to choose for ourselves whether to eat these foods.”
These groups join more than 2,100 organizations, elected officials and civic leaders that have joined the Yes on 37 California Right to Know Campaign. For a full list of endorsements, see: http://www.carighttoknow.org/endorsements
The No on 37 Campaign has raised more than $32 million to date, mostly from pesticide companies and processed food companies based outside of California.
Paid for by Yes on 37 For Your Right to Know if Your Food Has Been Genetically Engineered. Supported by Consumer Advocates, Makers of Organic Products and California Farmers. Major funding by Mercola.com Health Resources LLC and the Organic Consumers Fund. FPPC ID No. 1342851, www.carighttoknow.org