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Genetically Modified Soy Linked to Sterility, Infant Mortality in Hamsters

After feeding hamsters for two years over three generations, Russian biologist Alexey V. Surov found those on the GM diet, and especially the group on the maximum GM soy diet, showed devastating results. By the third generation, most GM soy-fed hamsters lost the ability to have babies. They also suffered slower growth, and a high mortality rate among the pups. The hamsters were fed either: no soy, soy, low levels of GM soy or high levels of GM soy. Some in the third generation even had hair growing inside their mouths — something rarely seen, but apparently more prevalent among hamsters eating GM soy.

This finding reflects that of other researchers looking at the effects of feeding GM food to animals. The disorders include:

  • Infant mortality 5 times higher
  • Mice testicles changed from normal pink to dark blue (!)
  • the more GM corn was fed to mice, the fewer the babies they had, and the smaller the babies were.

Surov warns against jumping to early conclusions, saying, "It is quite possible that the GMO does not cause these effects by itself." In addition to the GMOs, it could be contaminants or higher herbicide residues, such as Roundup. ... GM soy always carries the double threat of higher herbicide content, couple with any side effects of genetic engineering.

Alexey Surov says, "We have no right to use GMOs until we understand the possible adverse effects, not only to ourselves but to future generations as well."

Food Labelling Review

Currently although up to 70% of processed food contains GM ingredients almost none legally require labelling. The Federal Governmetn called for a review of food labelling and received over 6000 submissions. Public consultations are being held in April and May (you can register for them here). This is your chance to have a say.

You may also ask whether the members of the panel are completely impartial in this. Nick Goddard is the Executive Director of the Australian Oilseeds Federation (AOF). He declared on his Conflict of Interest Statement that he is "Contracted to the Australian Oilseeds Federation to provide specific services, including promotion of the 'Market Choice' philosophy in relation to oilseeds crops which utilise GM technology."

AOF's Strategic Plan 2010 says "An important issue for the industry going forward is to continue to promote the positives of GM technologies to maintain access to this tool." It plans to "Continue to participate in working groups and other activites seeking to develop an appropriate policy framework for GM and other emerging technologies."

The Federation’s members include Monsanto, the owner of the Roundup Ready (GM) canola, other biotech companies like Bayer and Dow as well as agribusiness giants like Cargill.

As you may know, the biotech industry repeatedly and strenuously resists food labelling.

Pesticide Use Up With GM Crops

A new report by Dr Charles Benbrook, and published by the Organic Centre, uses data from the United States Department of Agriculture to show that the adoption of GM crops has increased pesticide use by 318 million pounds (about 144 million kilograms) over the past 13 years. The primary reason is that weeds have become resistant to the herbicides used with the GM crops. Read Report Here.

The biotech industry relying on the work of PG Economics made an attempt to disparage Benbrook’s work. However, Benbrook has detailed the flawed methodology of PG Economics in his report as shown here

More graphically, a US TV news report shows how Roundup Resistant hogweed is choking cotton fields in the American south. It breaks combine harvesters, hoes and means that cotton in some areas will need to be hand harvested. Click to View News Report

Nestlé, Foster's, Schweppes and Lindt to GM Free

Nestlé, Foster's, Schweppes and Lindt are the latest leading brands to commit to keeping their food and drinks free of genetically engineered (GE) ingredients in the 2010 Truefood Guide. However, it is not certain whether this policy applies to their products in countries like China and India.

Companies which do not have a clear non-GM policy or have refused to reveal whether they use GM ingredients include Cadbury, Western Star, Woolworths, Kraft and baby food producers Karicare and Nutricia.

Do You Want Better Food Labelling?

The Federal Government is announced an independent review of food labelling laws and has called for submissions. You need to act quickly as submissions close 20th Nov 09! You can email a personal submission to FoodLabellingReview@health.gov.au by that date. Your submission doesn't have to be long. For tips on what you can say, see here.

GM Canola Weeds Growing On Roadsides

Weed GM canola is growing unmanaged on Australian roadsides because the crop was approved for release by the previous Gene Technology Regulator Dr Sue Meek. Dr Meek did not conduct or commission any independent tests on behalf of the Australian people. Dr Meek released it on the basis that the oil had been approved for human consumption by FSANZ, but FSANZ did not conduct or commission any independent tests, neither on the oil, nor on the genetic material and products. These inadequately tested GM products are now flying around with the pollen and escaping from trucks.

No regulatory body has offered to clean up the patented GM weeds, which will soon dry, split their seed pods and spread seeds further. This GM pollen is flying around Australia, contaminating our food. Since GM patent holder, Monsanto, was successfully sued for the removal of GM canola weeds last year, are members of the public going to have to pull up GM weeds and bill Monsanto for the costs?" asked Fran Murrell

Read the MADGE Press Release for more information on this issue.

GM Food And World Hunger

Agriculture minister Tony Burke maintains we have to eat GM food or the world will starve. MADGE issued a press release refuting this link. Monsanto is the biggest patent holder of GM crops and is based in the US. MADGE has done an investigation into hunger and food safety in the US and worldwide to see if GM crops have helped.

There are 38 million hungry people in the USA; that is 12.5% of its population, that number has doubled since the 1980's. People who have difficulty feeding themselves include young families, those on the minimum wage, the elderly and even military families are on food stamps. Experts say the US grows more than enough food and, with political will, everyone could be well fed within months. It has been estimated that half of all the food produced for the rich world is thrown away. This happens before reaching the shops when produce is rejected as the wrong shape and size or by retail outlets over ordering from suppliers, cancelling at the last minute and refusing to pay for wastage. Suppliers and farmers accept this as, often, there are no alternative buyers.

Then there are people who throw food away once they have bought it. Sydney households throw away $600 million of fresh produce a year. Stopping food waste in the UK and the US could lift more than one billion people out of hunger worldwide.

October 2009

GM sugarcane trial

There is an application currently with the Office of the Gene Technology Regulator (OGTR) for a trial of GM sugar cane resistant to herbicide (able to be sprayed with a weedkiller and not die). The closing date for submissions to this application is 14th October. Details of how to respond are available here.

GM ingredients found in Nestle’s infant food in China

Greenpeace China sent a sample of a Nestlé-branded baby food cereal bought in Beijing to an independent laboratory to test for genetically modified DNA.

It came back positive. Greenpeace reported that the sample contained a range of GM DNA, including GM DNA from a virus and from a bacterial Bt gene. The Bt genes create insecticide in GM crops.

What’s in Infant Formula?

American Doctors are calling for a moratorium on GM food. There are concerns that GM ingredients have crept unlabelled into infant formula and may be harming babies. Many of the ingredients in infant formula could be GM, such as corn syrup, soy lecithin, soy and canola oils, maltodextrin. These ingredients would be labelled in Europe if they were GM, but not in Australia. Even Vitamin C can be GM.

Omega 3 and 6 oils derived from algae and fungi in baby formula

Omega 3 and Omega 6 oils have been added to infant formula with the claim that they will improve babies eyesight and cognitive development. This US report details that these oils have frequently been derived from algae and fungi and are causing serious illnesses in babies.

"When I worked in the hospital’s neonatal ward, the nurses all called it 'the diarrhea formula'. We've seen infants, tiny little humans, with diarrhea that just wouldn't stop after being given this formula." Sam Heather Doak, LPN, IBCLC, from Marietta, Ohio.

Virulent and long-term diarrhea is considered a serious and life-threatening medical episode."

Omega 3 – from fish or algae.

While the labels on some infant formulas in Australia suggest their omega 3 oils come from fish, the remaining formulas contain omega 3 oils batch produced by an algae known as "Crypthecodinium cohnii"

The particular omega 3 oil put into infant formula is Docosahexanoic Acid, and it may be labelled as DHA, DHASCO (DHA-rich Single Cell Oil), or "single cell production".

Omega 6 – from fungus

As far as MADGE can determine, all of the omega 6 oil in infant formula (Arachidonic Acid) is derived from batch production of a filamentous fungus, known as "Mortierella Alpina".

It may be labelled as 'AA', 'ARA', ARASCO (ARA-rich single cell oil), or "PUFA's from single cell production".

Karicare includes 'Arachidonic Acid' in their product which is a fungal oil".

How did this oil get into baby formula? The ANZFA (FSANZ) trail

The Australian food regulator ANZFA (now FSANZ) began the Infant Formula Review Proposal in 1993. ANZFA completed the Inquiry in November 1999 and decided that algae and fungi derived oils were not novel foods after the close of public discussion. The Infant Formula Review Proposal was finally signed off in 2002.

New policy guidelines for infant formula currently under development

The Food Regulation Standing Committee (FRSC) Working Group on the Regulation of Infant Formula Products is currently developing new Policy Guidelines for the Regulation of Infant Formula Products.

Protecting the growing and developing bodies and minds of all children is of the utmost importance. One baby in the US had severe diarrhoea for three months. Tests showed there was no sign of infection, bacteria or parasites. The mother took her son off the Omega 3 and 6 supplemented formula and his diarrhoea stopped. She said "My baby is not an experiment. Mead Johnson (the formula manufacturer) should be ashamed of itself for allowing this to happen and the FDA (US food regulator) should take responsibility for our health and the health of our children." Cornucopia Report.