The Guardian (Charlottetown)

It’s time to stop eating GM corn

- BY KEVIN ARSENAULT Kevin J. Arsenault of Fort Augustus obtained his doctorate from McGill University in social ethics. He has served as a former executive director of the National Farmers Union, and has worked as an agricultur­al consultant for more than

Anew peer- reviewed scientific study of Monsanto’s geneticall­ymodified corn undertaken by a group of scientists in France has concluded that, “Fifty per cent of male and 70 per cent of female rats died prematurel­y, compared with only 30 per cent and 20 per cent in the control group.”

This disturbing study has rightly set off alarm bells in legislatur­es around the world. The government of France immediatel­y ordered an urgent review of the study and said it will work for a Europe- wide ban of imports of the crop if the findings are found to be conclusive. Health Canada has also stated that it will conduct a review of the study linking Canadiangr­own geneticall­y modified corn to elevated risks of cancer, organ damage and premature death in rats, and that it will take action if it finds that the corn “demonstrat­es a risk” to Canadians.

Let’s hope our government is sincere. However, we could be forgiven if we were a tad skeptical, given that the Canadian government has never previously undertaken any independen­t health studies of GM varieties prior to issuing regulatory approval to Monsanto to commercial­ize new geneticall­y-altered crops. Monsanto undertakes its own studies and the government simply accepts the ‘ safety claims’ made by Monsanto. It is curious that Canadian regulation­s only require Monsanto to conduct threemonth toxicology health studies on rats with new GM crops whereas this new study found that the cancerous tumours only began to appear in the rats in the fourth month. These regulation­s clearly need to be changed, requiring much longer studies.

As well, the Canadian government has stubbornly refused to require labelling of GM foods to give consumers the choice not to buy GM food, despite sits own regulation­s which state: “Currently in Canada, labelling is mandatory if there is a health or safety issue with a food, which might be mitigated through labelling. For example, if the nutritiona­l value or compositio­n of the food has been changed, or if there is an allergen present in the food, the food must be labelled as such. In this situation, special labelling is required to alert consumers or susceptibl­e groups in the population. This applies to all foods, including GM foods.” [See:].

So labelling of GM foods should be happening now, given the findings of another recent GM food study by a group of doctors at the Sherbrooke University Hospital in Quebec who “.... found the corn’s Bt- toxin in the blood of pregnant women and their babies, as well as in non- pregnant women. ( Specifical­ly, the toxin was identified in 93 per cent of 30 pregnant women, 80 per cent of umbilical blood in their babies, and 67 per cent of 39 non- pregnant women.)” Monsanto had previously told the Canadian government that the Bt- toxin is completely destroyed in the digestive process, and the Canadian government accepted that claim and granted approval to Monsanto for Bt GM crops.

So now that this assurance has been proven false, why hasn’t the Canadian government implemente­d labelling in accordance with its own policy and regulation­s? Sadly, nearly 100 per cent of all corn and soybeans grown and sold in Canada — both to humans and also as animal feed — are now Monsanto’s herbicide- resistant GM varieties, so labeling isn’t really even necessary any more: we can now safely assume that if the label doesn’t say “certified organic” it contains geneticall­y- modified food.

One wonders how long it might take Health Canada to complete a review of this troubling new study and report the findings to Canadians. In the meantime, it would be prudent for all of us to stop eating GM foods if we want to increase our odds of avoiding cancer and suffering premature death. It is truly lamentable that our provincial farm organizati­ons and government are not sounding the alarm bells about the dangers of eating GM foods and doing more to make our province a GMO- free zone.

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