By: Sean Poulter
Dame Jane Goodall, the renowned primate expert, has condemned ‘deluded’ politicians for pushing ‘Frankenstein Food’.
The highly respected academic has endorsed a new book, which argues the companies responsible for developing genetically modified farming and food have twisted the evidence to minimise the dangers.
Historically, critics of GM food have been lambasted by the GM companies, scientists who rely on their funding, and politicians, including the UK Government, as being ‘anti-science’.
However, Dame Jane argues that the advocates of GM food have ignored evidence of harm with the result it is they who are guilty of being ‘anti-science’.
The intervention is a powerful condemnation of the way biotech companies like Monsanto, Syngenta and Bayer, have forced GM crops and food on to dinner plates in the US without proper safety tests.
And she is joining a growing campaign warning that Britain and Europe must not drop safeguards that have kept GM crops out.
Dame Jane’s concerns have been raised in the foreword to a new book, ‘Altered Genes, Twisted Truth’, which is written by the American public interest lawyer, Steve Druker.
Its publication comes as the US is seeing a growing backlash against GM. Just last week it emerged that the country’s favourite chocolate manufacturer, Hershey, is to drop GM from its products.
Dame Jane said she has become appalled as what she calls a ‘shocking corruption of the life forms of the planet’.
She said the GM process, which involves adding foreign genes to plants to create toxins to fend off insects or give them immunity to being sprayed with chemical pesticides has fundamentally changed them.
However, she complains that supporters of the technology have committed a ‘fraud’ by trying to give the false impression that these new plants are essentially the same as those created by conventional plant breeding.
She said: ‘This very real difference between GM plants and their conventional counterparts is one of the basic truths that biotech proponents have endeavoured to obscure. As part of the process, they portrayed the various concerns as merely the ignorant opinions of misinformed individuals – and derided them as not only unscientific, but anti-science.
‘They then set to work to convince the public and government officials, through the dissemination of false information, that there was an overwhelming expert consensus, based on solid evidence, that the new foods were safe. Yet this, as Druker points out, was clearly not true.’
Importantly, she claims, the companies have spread disinformation to try and win public support.
‘Druker describes how amazingly successful the biotech lobby has been – and the extent to which the general public and government decision makers have been hoodwinked by the clever and methodical twisting of the facts and the propagation of many myths. Moreover, it appears that a number of respected scientific institutions, as well as many eminent scientists, were complicit in this relentless spreading of disinformation.’
Dame Jane is considered to be the world’s foremost expert on chimpanzees. She is best known for her 55-year study of social and family interactions of wild chimpanzees in Gombe Stream National Park, Tanzania.
She was made a Dame in 2004 and holds many other awards for her environmental and humanitarian work, including the Benjamin Franklin Medal in Life Science, the French Legion of Honour, the Benjamin Franklin Medal in Life Science, Japan’ s Kyoto Prize and the Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement.
The British government has signalled that it plans to use a new GM crop approval process to push ahead with growing the crops in this country. Separately, a new trade agreement between the EU and the USA, which is called TTIP, could make it much easier for GM foods from North America to appear on shelves here.
However, Dame Jane warns it would be an enormous risk to accept the technology and describes Mr Druker as a hero worthy of a Nobel prize for lifting the lid on the truth about GM.
She describes his work as one of the most important books of the last 50 years, and adds: ‘It will go a long way toward dispelling the confusion and delusion that has been created regarding the genetic engineering process and the foods it creates.
‘Although this book tells a story that’s in many ways distressing, it’s important that it has finally been told because so much confusion has been spread and so many important decision-makers have apparently been deluded.’
Mr Druker, who gave a press conference in London yesterday(wed), has challenged Britain’s Royal Society to apologies for its pro-GM stance and its part in rubbishing scientists who have safety doubts over the crops and food.
His work points to research which has found tumours, liver and kidney harm in animals given GM feed in trials. And he complains, that researchers who dare to raise these problems have been pilloried.
He said: ‘Contrary to the assertions of its proponents, the massive enterprise to reconfigure the genetic core of the world’s food supply is not based on sound science but on the systematic subversion of science – and it would collapse if subjected to an open airing of the facts.’
Pat Thomas, director of the campaigning group Beyond GM, warned the TTIP trade talks mean Britain and Europe could see a flood of biotech crops and food arriving here.
She said: ‘Steven Druker’s investigation into the history of fraud and deceit that ushered in the era of GM deserves serious consideration before we take actions that will irreversibly alter the European food supply’.
Dr Julian Little a spokesman for Bayer CropScience was not aware of Drunker's book.
He said: 'We are now up to the three trillion meals and counting, that is meals containing GM ingredients, without a single substantial health issue since the beginning of the technology.
'There has been much dirt thrown but none of it has stuck.'
On its website Monsanto say they place the 'highest priority' on the safety of their products and conduct 'rigorous and comprehensive testing on each.'
They state: 'In fact, seeds with GM traits have been tested more than any other crops in the history of agriculture – with no evidence of harm to humans or animals.
'In addition, governmental regulatory agencies, scientific organizations and leading health associations worldwide agree on the safety of GM crops.'
A spokesman for the company added: 'The denial of the safety of GM seeds and food ingredients is as baseless as the denial of clearly documented climate change.
'Countless peer-reviewed scientific studies performed with biotech crops — including more than 100 feeding studies — have confirmed their safety, as reflected in the respective safety assessments by regulatory authorities around the world.'
Originally Published: Daily Mail