This post is largely by way of a PSA; I’d found this article at the Ecologist while on an entirely different mission, and a lot of it is beyond my low level of scientific knowledge. The authors ask that this be widely disseminated, requiring only that we link to the original publication at ISIS, the Institute of Science in Society in the UK. I give you:
Dr. Eva Sirinathsinghji, 4th March 2014
New studies document substantial differences of GM maize and GM soybean from their non-GM counterparts, writes Dr Eva Sirinathsinghji – exposing a permissive regulatory regime that has failed miserably in protecting public health and safety.
GM causes very real and substantial, unpredictable and uncontrollable changes in the host genome including mutations, and rearrangements as well as new transcripts and proteins.
Several new studies carried out by scientists independent of the biotech industry are showing up glaring differences between GMOs and their unmodified versions.
This makes a mockery of the regulatory principle of ‘Substantial Equivalence’ which has facilitated approvals of GMOs with practically no protection for public health and the environment.
As has already been written, the so-called ‘Principle of Substantial Equivalence’ is both unscientific and arbitrary.
An unscientific doctrine
The concept of ‘Substantial Equivalence’ was first introduced in 1993 by the Organisation for Economic Development (OECD), an international economic and trade organisation, not a public health body.
The principle states that if a new food is found to be substantially equivalent to an already existing food product, it can be treated the same way as the existing product with respect to safety.
This concept has greatly benefited the trade of GM produce, allowing it to effectively bypass regulatory requirements that would apply to novel food and other products – including novel chemical compounds, pharmaceuticals, pesticides and food additives – all of which require a range of toxicological tests and can be subject to legal limitations on safe consumption / intake.
Regulatory agencies including the US Food and Drug Administration, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and Japan’s Ministry of Health and Welfare, generally base their GM food safety regulations on substantial equivalence.
Consumers are left unprotected
There are many good reasons for consumers to feel unprotected by these regulatory policies, not least because the principle itself is designed to be as flexible and open to interpretation for the approval of just about any and every GMO submitted.