The battle to keep GM food off your plate
1st November, 2007
It was a bad year for the biotech barons. At a conference in January 1999, the consulting firm Arthur Andersen revealed Monsanto executives’ vision of an ideal future – a world in which natural seeds were virtually all extinct and where commercial seeds were genetically modified (GM) and patented.
Andersen Consulting then worked backwards from that goal, developing the strategy and tactics to help Monsanto achieve industry dominance in a GM world. At the same meeting another biotech company, apparently with the same aspiration, showed a graph that projected a 95 per cent replacement of all natural seeds by GM varieties in just five years. Within weeks, their ideal future crashed.
By mid-February, Parliament had invited scientist Aìrpaìd Pusztai to tell what he knew. Just a few years earlier, in 1996, Pusztai had been given a grant of £1.6 million by the UK Government to design a rigorous safety assessment protocol for testing GM foods. In the course of his studies under the auspices of the Rowett Institute in Aberdeen, Pusztai, a pro-GM scientists with a stellar reputation, discovered that the GM potato he was working on caused massive systemic health problems in rats. Virtually every organ in the animals’ bodies was affected by eating the GM potato – their brains, livers and testicles were generally smaller, pathological changes in the thymus and spleen were detected and the animals’ immune systems were damaged.
Since most GM foods were created using the same...
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