Health Supreme by Sepp Hasslberger

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May 08, 2006

India Supreme Court Petitioned To Halt Uncontrolled Spread of GM Crops

India could lead the way in making sure that transgenic food technology is used safely, according to Aruna Rodrigues, who has filed a petition to the Indian Supreme Court asking that it make sure the government fulfill its obligation of actually testing the GM varieties to be imported as food or grown in India.

After a reply by Monsanto's lawyers, Aruna has filed an additional pleading - called a rejoinder affidavit - with the Supreme Court giving more reasons why the safety testing is needed and why Indian authorities should not just close their eyes to the imminent danger the widespread use of GM technology in agriculture.


GM Watch reported on the recent filing, but I asked to take a look at the document. It actually tends to make one's hair stand up, so here is an excerpt and a link to the full document as filed.

Rejoinder affidavit filed in court. Some of the things discussed by Aruna Rodrigues in this affidavit:

The fact that GMOs in the US have received a blanket GRAS status (meaning that all GMOs in the US are automatically accepted as "Generally Recognized as Safe"), on the strength of a concept, which is the idea that GMO varieties are "substantially equivalent" to natural ones. This of course is equivalent to closing both eyes to the fact that the changes introduced by gene splicing are largely unpredictable.

Transgenic cotton is potentially poisonous. Cotton is used not only for its fiber but the seeds make oil consumed by humans and cottonseed cake which is used as animal feed. As an aside (not part of the affidavit, but interesting in this context), look at this recent report by the Institute for Science in Society: Mass Deaths in Sheep Grazing on Bt Cotton

The recent disastrous drug trial in the UK, involving a genetically modified (monoclonal antibody) drug is cited as one of the reasons why we must approach genetic modification with extreme caution. See also: Six In London Hospital After GE-Drug Trial

The justification for BT (bacillus thuringiensis) corn and cotton, the major transgenic crops, to be considered safe, apparently is the argument - strange as it might seem - that BT toxin has been used successfully and for a long time as a pesticide. ("It's been on the market for years - no need to test it"...)

A report from Dr. Arpad Pusztai and Susan Bardocz is cited, which states that “most GM and parent line crops fall short of the definition of substantial equivalence”, and concludes that "the safety of GM foods rests more on, trusting the assurances given by the biotechnology industry than on rigorous and independently verified risk assessment”.

... with regard to the growing criticism of EFSA, (European Food Safety Authority), as a deeply compromised watchdog of food safety, several of the EU's 25 environment ministers at their last meeting in March, accused EFSA of failing to take independent and national studies into account for its GMO risk assessments and of not allowing proper access to its research:

"There are questions like whether scientific opinions rendered by EFSA have relied exclusively on information provided by companies that look at short-term effects”, and "EFSA cannot give a sound scientific opinion on long-term effects of GMOs. There are also questions on whether GMO companies are providing the right information to the European Commission”.

Horizontal gene transfer is an "unintended side effect" of the release of genetically modified crops into the environment. The altered genes transfer from GMO crop to wild or "normal" crop plants. "...genes can also be transferred between distant species that would never interbreed in nature."

Monsanto is said to have lied about the equivalence of their modified soy to the traditional plants, by simply deleting the contrary information from their published study (1996). They report increases in yield from BT cotton, while the farmers "on the ground" see smaller yields.

The most common allergen in soy is called trypsin inhibitor. GM soy contains significantly more of this allergen compared with natural soy. The British Medical Association had warned that GM foods might lead to the emergence of new allergies.

... wild rape or Charlock in the UK being contaminated by GM rape reinforces ... the seriousness of the issue of contamination. Thus secret open field trials of rape and other foods in undisclosed and un-known locations, emphasise the extreme urgency for remedial action if the food chain is to be protected from GM contamination and potential biosafety hazards.

From examination of a report on a Monsanto BT Corn variety: ‘Mon 863 feeding study in 3 parts by AP’. "... rats fed Mon 863 developed several reactions, including those typically found with allergies (increased basophils), in response to infections, toxins and various diseases including cancer (increased lymphocytes and white blood cells), and in the presence of anaemia (decreased reticulocyte count) and blood pressure problems (decreased kidney weights). There were also increased blood sugar levels, kidney inflammation, liver and kidney lesions, and other changes."

A peer-reviewed study by Dr. Irina Ermakova, a biologist at the Institute of Higher Nervous Activity and Neurophysiology of the Russian Academy of Sciences showed that when female rats were fed Roundup Ready genetically engineered soy flour before and during pregnancy, and during lactation an astounding 55.6% of the offspring died within three weeks, compared to only 9% from the group whose mothers consumed non-genetically engineered soy flour.

An Australian project to develop genetically modified peas with built-in pest-resistance has been abandoned after 10 years, when tests showed they caused allergic lung damage in mice. It was determined that the results were too dangerous to continue with the project.

Depressing picture

The depressing picture that emerges from this court filing and the brief quotes above is that Monsanto and other GE multinationals are running circles around the national regulators that are supposed to keep our food supply healthy and our environment clean and protected.

We can only hope that actions like this one in India and others around the world will force the legislators and regulators will be made to take a hard look at what is happening and act to curb a technology that has obviously become a killing machine with the potential to wipe out more than a just butterflies.

The relief asked of the Indian Supreme Court is that imports should be certified GMO free, and that the release of any GMO into the environment should be suspended subject to proper bio-safety tests.

Too much to ask? I should say no - those things should have been required long ago.

Read the whole court filing (Rejoinder Affidavit) to the Indian Supreme Court...

Update February 2008:

New Delhi, February 13: The Supreme Court on Wednesday lifted the ban on fresh approvals of genetically modified (GM) crops for field trials.

On September 22, 2006 the apex court bench headed by the then Chief Justice YK Sabharwal had slapped a ban on any fresh approval of GM crops for field trials. This interim order was passed in response to a petition filed by Aruna Rodrigues, PV Satheesh and Rajiv Barua calling for a moratorium on GM crops. Later on October 13, 2006 the apex court made an exception to its ban order and allowed field trials of GM mustard crops on the request of the developer, subject to biosafety norms.

On May 8, 2007, the apex court bench headed by the new Chief Justice KG Balakrishnan further modified the ban order and allowed field trials of GM crops approved by the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) till September 2006. It also imposed certain new biosafety norms.

On Wednesday the apex court bench consisting of Chief Justice KG Balakrishnan, Justice RV Ravindran and Justice JM Panchal vacated the ban order and allowed the GEAC to approve new GM crops and events for field trials. It said that GEAC should put in place proper guidelines and biosafety norms.

While passing the order the apex court, however, asked the GEAC to invite eminent scientists like the founder director of the Hyderabad-based Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), Pushp M Bhargava and MS Swaminathan as invities in the meetings for approval of GM crops.

The Advocate for the petitioner, Prashant Bhushan said : "We pleaded that the GEAC in contempt of court order had allowed field trials of a number of GM crops. The field trials have created serious problems of genetic contamination. Russia has already said that it would not import food from India unless it certifies that no GM food crops were grown here. But the Chief Justice was in full praise for GM crops citing its benefits."

The next hearing of the case on moratorium on GM has been fixed for April, 2008.

See also:

India: Genetic Engineering - Petition Accuses Govenment Over Biosafety Testing

WTO, GMO and Total Spectrum Dominance
WTO rules put free-trade of agribusiness above national health concerns

Six In London Hospital After GE-Drug Trial

EU approves genetically modified foods despite serious concerns
Brussels, 18 April 2006 – New documents released to Friends of the Earth reveal that the European Commission has been approving genetically modified (GM) foods and crops despite having serious doubts over their health and environmental impacts.

India is not a guinea pig!
From Kavitha Kuruganti:
dear friends, a delegation representing Coalition for GM-Free India met with the Union Health Minister Dr Anbumani Ramadoss to bring up the serious issues of concern with regard to Bt Brinjal.

India: Monopolies Commission Sues Monsanto over Price of Cotton Seed
The Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices Commission has asked Monsanto, US seed multinational to respond within four weeks to the Andhra Pradesh government's contention that it was liable to pay compensation to the farmers for selling Bt cotton seeds at exorbitant prices.

In response, Monsanto said that its Indian subsidiary Mahyco - Monsanto Biotech was responsible for operations in the country. Opposing Monsanto's contention, the state government had said the US company has a controlling stake in its sister concern and demanded refund of the excessive money paid by cotton growers on the company's Bt cotton seeds.

April 2008: Mass Protests against GM Crops in India
As India edges closer to what is probably the last year of field trials for Bt Brinjal (eggplant, aubergine) before commercial approval may be granted, large scale resistance has been building up all over the country.

Bt Brinjal, if allowed in India, would be the first food crop in the world with the Bt gene inserted into it that is to be directly consumed by human beings. Indians feel that they are about to be made guinea pigs by USAID, and by Monsanto and Cornell University that have developed this crop.


posted by Sepp Hasslberger on Monday May 8 2006
updated on Saturday December 4 2010

URL of this article:


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Readers' Comments

Dear Sir
Please send E-mail ID of Respected Dr.Pushp M.Bhargava.
With Regards

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