GMO’s, Science And European Politics

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Our Monday green news brings you the latest on nutrition, good causes and child education:

food safety, food additives

Photo courtesy of Slice of Chic via Flickr

  • GMO’s, science and European politics: Starting October 2015, seventeen European countries  including Austria, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands and Poland have adopted new European Union rules to announce bans on the cultivation of genetically modified crops or GMO’s. Although the bans do not apply directly to scientific research, these prohibitions expose the worrying reality of how far Europe has gone in setting itself against modern science. England and a handful of other countries have declared themselves open to cultivation of genetically modified organisms. However, the effect on European biotech science will be dramatic: “Why would anyone spend years developing genetically modified crops in the knowledge that they will most likely be outlawed by government fiat?” The historical irony is that Europe once led in biotech: In 1983, Marc Van Montagu and Jeff Schell at the University of Ghent in Belgium introduced the world to modern plant genetic engineering. Today, however, no rational young scientist interested in molecular techniques of crop breeding would choose a base in Continental Europe. Meanwhile, hypocrisy rules: Europe imports over 30 million tons per year of corn and soy-based animal feeds, the vast majority of which are genetically modified, for its livestock industry. Imports are preferred to European crops partly because biotech traits make them cheaper. Yet these same traits — such as herbicide tolerance and insect resistance — are now widely barred from domestic use.
  • Bread and possible cancer-causing additive: According to a recent report by the Environmental Working Group (EWG),  many common breads sold at the grocery stores may include an additive potassium bromate that’s been linked to cancer. The report indicates that this additive is used in at least eighty six baked goods and other products commonly sold in supermarkets, such as Hormel Foods breakfast sandwiches, Goya turnover pastry dough, and Weis Kaiser rolls. For the complete list of all products- see here. Back in In 1999 the International Agency for Research on Cancer determined that potassium bromate is a possible human carcinogen.  It’s forbidden to be used as a food additive in a number of countries, including the United Kingdom, Canada, Brazil and the European Union. The state of California requires food with potassium bromate to carry a warning label. In tests on lab animals, exposure to potassium bromate increased the incidence of both benign and malignant tumors in the thyroid and peritoneum – the membrane that lines the abdominal cavity. Later research confirmed and expanded these findings, concluding that ingesting potassium bromate resulted in significant increases in cancer of the animals’ kidneys, thyroid and other organs.
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