Rosemary Mason MB ChB FRCA
Dr. Mason confronts Prof. Jonathan Jones, Head of the Sainsbury Laboratory, about GMO scientists’ ignorance of the effects of glyphosate on humans and animals. She challenges the BBC for promoting the Agrochemical Corporations and failing to inform the public about the dangers of exposure to pesticides. She asks why the British Government and Media have been silent about the health risks of GM. She asks the Advisory Committee on Releases to the Environment (ACRE) why they approved a trial of GM wheat in the UK in 2013 when there was global evidence of widespread genetic pollution from uncontrolled escapes of herbicide-tolerant oil seed rape and a consignment of wheat for Japan in May 2013 was found to be polluted by Monsanto’s GE wheat trials which had been conducted between 1998 and 2005, but never been commercialised.
Repeated recent claims of a consensus affirming the safety of GMOs are misleading and “may place human and environmental health at undue risk and create an atmosphere of complacency,” states Dr. Angelika Hilbeck, chairperson of the European Network of Scientists for Social and Environmental Responsibility (ENSSER). She is one of over 90 signatories to a statement, released 10/21/2013, of scientists and academics concerned that deliberate and coordinated attempts are being made to preclude further research and discussion of the safety of GMOs. Dr Hilbeck continues: “The ENSSER statement draws attention to the diversity of opinion over GMOs in the scientific community and the often contradictory or inconclusive findings of studies on GMO safety. These include toxic effects on laboratory animals fed GM foods, increased pesticide use from GM crop cultivation, and the unexpected impacts of Bt insecticidal crops on beneficial and non-target organisms”. Further signatories to the statement are still being sought.
Letter to Professor Jonathan Jones FRS
Professor Jonathan Jones FRS
Head of the Sainsbury Laboratory
GM Researcher John Innes Centre
Co-Founder and Scientific Advisor to Mendel Biotechnology, a
US firm which has contracts with Monsanto, Bayer and BP
Holder of GMO patents
GMO Correspondent for the BBC
You may recall our email correspondence about glyphosate (Roundup®). I attach a PDF Glyphosate – Destructor of Human Health and Biodiversity about epidemics of obesity, type 2 diabetes and autism, reported in Scotland in 2013. Page nos. which I quote below refer to that document.
In January 2012 I sent you, among other documents, the Physicians’ Report from the Crop-sprayed towns of Argentina where the first GM Roundup® Ready Soy and GE corn were grown. The use of glyphosate went from 2 litres/ha in 1996 to 10-20 litres/ha by 2010 because of glyphosate-resistant weeds. There was a high incidence of birth defects, cancers, reproductive and endocrine disorders in the rural communities. Monsanto and the Argentine authorities ignored the rural farmers’ health problems because export of GM soya was making Monsanto and Argentina extremely wealthy. However, Prof Andrès Carrasco an embryologist from Buenos Aires showed that glyphosate caused malformation of amphibian and chicken embryos (pp14-16). Your reply was (p42):
“Glyphosate is not poisonous to mammals- it inhibits EPSP (5-enolpyruvylshikimate-3 phosphate) synthase, an enzyme that mammals lack because we obtain aromatic amino acids in our diet”.
Is that what Monsanto, Bayer and Syngenta have told you?
Jonathan, is that what you and the pro-GM scientists and lobbyists believe? You are all wrong.
Humans (and other mammals) can only absorb nutrients by courtesy of the bacteria in their guts – the microbiome. Glyphosate disrupts human gut bacteria, without which it is not possible to lead healthy lives. It is a strong chelator of essential minerals, such as cobalt, zinc, manganese, calcium, molybdenum and sulphate. In addition it kills off beneficial gut bacteria and allows toxic bacteria such as Clostridium difficile to flourish. Two key problems caused by glyphosate in the diet are nutritional deficiencies, especially minerals and essential amino-acids, and systemic toxicity.
The gut microbiome; the collective genome of organisms inhabiting our body
http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v500/n7464/abs/nature12506.html “We are facing a global metabolic health crisis provoked by an obesity epidemic.” In a multi-author study of obese and non-obese individuals, those with “low bacterial richness in the gut (23% of the population) are characterized by more marked overall adiposity, insulin resistance and dyslipidaemia and a more pronounced inflammatory phenotype when compared with those with high bacterial richness.” Current research is underway to try to find the links between various cancers, obesity, type 2 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, allergies, depression and possibly schizophrenia, all of which have increased dramatically in the Western World (The Danish newspaper: Politiken Sunday 6 October 2013, Københavns Universitet).
Biased reporting by the BBC on behalf of the Pesticides Industry
- On 06/08/2012 I complained to the BBC that it had presented a one-sided view of GM on Countryfile: 15/07/2012. After a prolonged exchange of emails (rejection of my complaints to both the BBC and the BBC Trust), Tim Davie, Acting Director General of the BBC, finally dismissed my claim in a letter sent on 15/11/2012. He wrote: If you are able to provide clear and specific examples when you believe a journalist has inappropriately conveyed messages from the pesticide industry…
- I emailed again on 10/12/2012 about Farming Today. The interviewer said “Today it is all about bees…”Let’s hear from all those involved.” Syngenta’s Mike Bushell said there was a huge weight of evidence from the industry to say that neonicotinoids were safe. He spoke in apocalyptic terms about what would happen if they were banned. He also said “our sales in the UK are modest; farmers would be the real losers.” The CEO of LEAF, (an organisation supported by the pesticides companies) vigorously endorsed his words. The presenter also said: “Defra is not convinced” and: “Environment Secretary Owen Paterson for the time being has ruled out a ban.” Where was the bee scientist? Mr Davie did not reply.
- This time it was Prof Brian Cox, a physicist presenting GMOs on Science Britannica who “has inappropriately conveyed messages from the pesticides industry”. Jonathan, in 2010 you admitted to an Observer journalist that you had links with Monsanto, Bayer and BP, but that you: “had never tried to hide them”. In that case Professor Cox and the BBC must have been aware of your involvement with the GMO industry. Why didn’t the BBC allow one of the many scientists who are against GM to present their evidence to Professor Cox?
You assert that glyphosate is not toxic to mammals. It seems that pesticide scientists who are allowed unopposed airtime on the BBC have no idea about the effects of pesticides on humans (or are they deliberately misleading the public?) It is outrageous that members of the public are paying television licence fees so that the BBC can promote the interests of the Agrochemical Corporations.
UK media – a conspiracy of silence over GM health risks
On 19/09/2012, French scientists (Séralini’s team from Caen) published a paper which confirmed that both GM food and Roundup® were toxic to mammals. The authors fed GMO corn (11% of their diet) to rats (with and without glyphosate as Roundup®) for 24 months instead of the 90 days which is used by the GM industry and approved by EFSA. The rats started to develop different sorts of tumours (mammary, ovarian, pituitary, skin and renal etc.) and hepato-renal disorders. The first large, detectable tumours occurred at 4 months in males and 7 months in females. On 24/09/2012
Lawrence Woodward wrote: http://www.nyrnaturalnews.com/campaigning/uk-media-a-conspiracy-of-silence-over-gm-health-risks/
“Last week saw the publication of the most important piece of research about the health risks of genetically engineered foods in recent years. It was widely covered in France and other EU countries; it was big news in the US where all the major media carried the story – over 10,000 articles appeared there during the week; and in the UK – monumental indifference. And as for the BBC, our national beacon of light, truth and integrity; a single fleeting mention on its website with only enough energy to feature the smokescreen put out by pro-GM lobbyists. Even the Russian authorities announced a ban on imports of GM maize from the US. The cultivation of GMOs is not allowed and Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has ordered the relevant agencies to consider a possible ban on the import into Russia of products containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs) by October 15.
Were Monsanto’s feeding studies on rats confined to 90 days because they knew that the German Authorities’ Draft Assessment Report and Industry Data had found some evidence of teratogenicity and reproductive toxicity, but had minimised them? (p22, 23)
For 3 years Germany, the Rapporteur Member State for glyphosate, failed to release the industry data to a third party for reasons of “commercial confidentiality.” On October 10th 2013 Curia Documents Court ordered the EU to reveal Roundup® impurities.
Will they soon be required to reveal industry data about glyphosate’s toxicity to mammals?
Jonathan, were you aware that Monsanto has been convicted in courts around the world for fraudulent advertisements about the safety of Roundup®? (p13)
A Press release on Monday 6th November 1996 from the Attorney-General of New York’s Consumer Frauds and Protection Bureau and Environmental Protection Bureau’s accused Monsanto of misleading advertising. Monsanto had claimed, or implied, that products containing glyphosate including Roundup® were “safer than table salt” and that they are safe for people, pets and the environment and “practically non-toxic” to mammals, birds and fish. A TV ad showed a homeowner with his head in the soil, with a dog standing nearby. The announcer said: “Roundup® can be used where kids and pets play, and breaks down into natural materials”.
Despite a conviction and a fine, Monsanto continued to promote the myth, not on TV ads, but in a written document for Europe: The Agronomic benefits of glyphosate in Europe  (p11). Phrases such as: “environmentally benign”… “uses which continue to expand to this day providing excellent weed control both in agricultural and non-crop uses to benefit mankind and the environment”… “excellent safety profile to operators, the public and the environment.”
On its recommendations for the use of Roundup® in UK Towns and Cities: “It is approved for weed control in amenity, industrial, forestry and aquatic areas”. As the Attorney General of New York pointed out, this is not compatible with the label: Environmental hazard. Do not apply directly to water. Instructions in the UK: “From 2012 new rules from the regulator, Chemical Regulations Directorate (CRD) prohibits blanket spraying of any herbicide on non-porous hard surfaces. Targeted treatment of weeds must be undertaken on roads, pavements, concrete and paved areas and drains must not be oversprayed.”
Report on the spread of GE Oil Seed Rape
GE plants have been grown for 30 years and commercially for 20 years. The Report provides a global overview of the uncontrolled escape of GE oil seed rape in various regions of the world (US, Canada, Japan, Australia, Switzerland and Germany). In Switzerland where no imports of GE OSR have been allowed since 2008: “Transgenic OSR was able to survive along rail tracks for long periods because extensive glyphosate spraying of these areas offer them selective advantages.” In Japan: “plants that proved to be resistant to glyphosate or glufosinate were found at ports and along transportation routes to industry plants where OSR is processed.”
Japan halts imports of U.S. wheat after USDA’s finding of genetic pollution from GMOs
In May 2013, the USDA admitted Monsanto’s GMO experiments from 1998 – 2005 were held in open wheat fields. The genetically engineered wheat escaped and found its way into commercial wheat fields in Oregon (and possibly 15 other states), causing self-replicating genetic pollution that now taints the entire U.S. wheat industry.
Advisory Committee on Releases to the Environment (ACRE)
Did ACRE know about the above when it approved the release of wheat lines genetically modified for resistance to aphids, with a vector carrying an antibiotic resistance marker gene and a gene that confers resistance to glufosinate ammonium herbicide (Basta: Bayer Cropscience)? Were the members of ACRE aware that glufosinate is teratogenic in rats and mice?
Mexico banned GE Corn 10/10/2013
Judge Jaime Eduardo Verdugo has ordered Mexico’s SAGARPA (Secretaría de Agricultura, Ganadería, Desarrollo Rural, Pesca, y Alimentación), which is Mexico’s Secretary of Agriculture, and SEMARNAT (Secretaría de Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales), which is equivalent of the EPA, to immediately “suspend all activities involving the planting of transgenic corn in the country and end the granting of permission for experimental and pilot commercial plantings”.
He cited “the risk of imminent harm to the environment” as the basis for the decision.
El Salvador votes to ban glyphosate
On 19/09/2013, on the anniversary of the publication of Seralini’s 2-year feeding study, El Salvador voted to ban 53 pesticides including glyphosate, paraquat and endosulphan, with 45 votes in favour: Press release from the Minister of the Environment and Natural Resources.
Bayer and Syngenta are aware that neonicotinoid insecticides kill bees; however, some British politicians are very gullible
- Imidacloprid is promoted for killing other colonial insects such as termites and ants (p16) by immune suppression.
- Imidacloprid binds to the nicotinergic acetylcholine receptors of insects, which leads to paralysis and eventual death.
- “When termites stop grooming the naturally-occurring fungi in the soil kill the termites. Premise® 200sc makes fungi 10,000 times more dangerous to termites. Nature assists Premise® in giving unsurpassed control.”
In response to an enquiry from Lord Hylton on behalf of our campaign, Lord de Mauley, the Defra Minister and CRD (31/08/2013) (at his request) sent a copy of their 9-page reply to me:
Systemic Neonicotinoid insecticides: “Dr Mason raises a number of points about the effects and properties of chemicals used for termite control. Termites are not a UK pest problem, but the points she raised are addressed through the explanation of various aspects of the EU regulatory system below.”
Glyphosate: “The review paper by Samsel and Seneff referred to by Dr Mason suggests possible links between exposure to glyphosate and a wide range of human diseases. CRD notes that many of the proposed associations between glyphosate and human disease seem hypothetical rather than being based on convincing evidence to support cause and effect.”
Pritchard, C. et al. Changing patterns in mortality from neurological deaths in the 10 major developed countries 1979-2010 Public Health (2013) http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.phe.2012.12.018
Ten major developed western countries and 10 smaller western countries were studied. There was a major reduction in general mortality in all 20 countries, but total neurological deaths rose substantially between 1980 and 2010 in both sexes in 16 out of 20 western countries. The mortality was significantly higher in females. “Moreover, looking back 30 or more years the concept of early dementia or the need for the creation of a Young Parkinson’s Disease Society in Britain would have seemed a tautology.” In the attached document, in graphs from the US, Pearson’s correlation coefficients are very strong and highly significant for Parkinson’s and Senile Dementia between glyphosate application and the percentage of GE corn and soy crops planted (35-36).
UK health performance: Findings of the Global Burden of Disease Study 1990-2010.
Murray, C.J. et al. Lancet. 2013 Mar 23; 381(9871):997-1020. The performance of the UK in terms of premature mortality is persistently and significantly below the mean of EU15+ and requires additional concerted action… premature mortality from several major causes such as cardiovascular disease and cancers…growing burden of disability, particularly from mental disorders…deserves an integrated and strategic response. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23668584
Science alone does not have all the answers.
The elderly are living longer, but at what price? What will be the integrated and strategic response of the NHS to the “growing burden of disability” from birth defects, autism, ADHD in children and Senile Dementia, Parkinson’s disease and cognitive declines in the elderly? Obesity and diabetes means that our population will be a continual burden to an already overstretched NHS. How are we going to manage the premature mortality of our breadwinners from cancers; breast, prostate, brain, lymphoma, leukaemia etc?
Like Argentina, the UK, the US and the Australian Governments are destroying human health and the environment by promoting a system of agriculture based on massive use of chemicals (p15-16, 27).
In the UK 485 pesticides are registered with 53 pesticide metabolites, some of which are more toxic than the original chemical. Here is an example of glyphosate, the use of which is widespread:
Evidence of in vitro genotoxicity of glyphosate metabolite in humans (15)
Mañas, F. et al. Genotoxicity of aminomethylphosphonic acid (AMPA), the environmental metabolite of glyphosate, assessed by the Comet assay and cytogenetic tests. Ecotoxicol Environ Safe. 2009, 72 (3):834-7. doi: 10.1016/j.ecoenv.2008.09.019. AMPA was found to be genotoxic in all tests.
Glyphosate induces human breast cancer cells growth via estrogen receptors (p31)
The study found that breast cancer cell proliferation is accelerated by glyphosate in extremely low concentrations. “The present study used pure glyphosate substance at log intervals from10-12 to 10-6 M. These concentrations are in a crucial range which correlated to the potential biological levels at part per trillion (ppt) to part per billion (ppb) which have been reported in epidemiological studies.”
Governments’ folly of supporting Global Corporations
“A phenomenon noticeable throughout history regardless of place or period is the pursuit by governments of policies contrary to their own interests. Mankind, it seems, makes a poorer performance of government than of almost any other human activity …”
“Why does American (or British) business insist on ‘growth’ when it is demonstrably using up the three basics of life on our planet – land, water and unpolluted air?”
The March of Folly: Barbara Tuchman, American Historian.