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Genetically Engineered Foods
Scientists Issue Urgent Warning Regarding Genetically-Manipulated Soy Products

Today, an urgent appeal has been made by scientists from around the world attending the Third Meeting of the Open-ended Working Group on Biosafety of The UN-Convention on Biological Diversity (13-17 October) in Canada. The scientists implored "all governments to use whatever methods available to them to bar from their markets, on grounds of injury to public health, Monsanto's genetically manipulated (GM) [herbicide-resistant] Roundup-Ready (RR) soybean." New findings indicate that EU member nations should immediately invoke Article 16, the safeguard clause of Directive 90/220, banning the soya on the grounds of specific health risks.

Dramatic scientific evidence has revealed that the application of glyphosate (such as the herbicide Roundup) increased the level of plant estrogens of bean crops. Plant estrogens are known to affect mammals including humans. The signatories to the appeal, including Dr Ricarda Steinbrecher, UK Geneticist, stated: "Young children are especially susceptible to elevated levels of estrogen. Thus there is a clear and serious health issue at hand."

Further alarming evidence has now been released concerning the GM soybeans, hitherto ruled as been substantially equivalent to ordinary soybeans and safe for introduction into our food supply: Cows fed with the RR-soybeans were found to produce milk with significantly higher fat content than those fed with ordinary soybeans. The scientists concluded this to be direct proof of a substantial difference between the GM- and ordinary soybeans.

Monsanto's application for market approval of the RR-soybean provided no data on estrogen levels of RR-soybeans sprayed with glyphosate. Indeed, all data provided on the concentration levels of different compound was derived from unsprayed beans!

Scientific advisor to the UK Genetic Engineering Network commented on the findings: "It is horrifying that Roundup-Ready soya was released into our food chain with such insufficient data, especially as such as large proportion [60%] of supermarket products contain soya derivatives.... The lack of independent, full investigations prior to the approval of these genetically manipulated soybeans is illustrative of the US biotechnology industry's strangle-hold on the regulatory bodies entrusted with our food safety."

Further reports also presented at the Meeting, include the latest evidence of the detrimental environmental and agricultural impact of Novartis (formerly Ciba) insect resistant maize prematurely approved by the European Commission for marketing and cultivation (23 January 1997). The report calls for an urgent "moratorium for transgenic insect resistant plants" and details the evidence supporting legal action, which has been filed against the USA Environmental Protection Agency over its approvals by over 30 scientific, environmental and agricultural groups. The Meeting coincides with the Global Days of Action Against Genetic Engineering (2-16 October).

For further information or interviews, contact the Genetic Engineering Network in London at: 0181 374 9516

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