NGOs demand re-assessment of GM maize questioned in recent French study

Brazil | Rio de Janeiro | November 2012

NGOs demand re-assessment of GM maize questioned in recent French study

Civil society organizations have issued an official letter to Brazil’s federal government questioning the commercial release of the genetically modified maize NK603. Their request for reassessment of the release has been sent to various ministers and representatives of bodies linked to the area with the aim of suspending use of this technology until independent research confirms its dietary and nutritional safety. Social movements, civil organizations, scientific bodies and rights-based NGOs were among the entities signing the document.

The National Biosafety Technical Commission (CTNBio) approved the commercial release of the genetically modified maize NK603 in 2008, a glyphosate tolerant variety (Roundup Ready) owned by Monsanto, today grown throughout Brazil. The movements argue that, as is common practice with commercial releases of GMOs in Brazil, the research on which authorization was based involved short-term studies made by the applying company itself. Another five stacked varieties of GM maize include the NK603 event in their composition.

New scientific data on the adverse effects of NK603 was published in September by the renowned science journal Food and Chemical Toxicology. Researchers from Caen University in France found evidence of metabolic alterations caused by the consumption of GM maize, whether or not combined with the use of the Roundup herbicide. The study is considered unique because of its inclusion of more than 100 parameters over a 2-year period using 200 laboratory rats. The results revealed a higher and more frequent mortality rate when both these products were consumed, as well as non-linear hormonal effects related to sex. Females developed numerous large mammary tumours, as well as hypophyseal and kidney problems. Most of the males died from chronic hepatorenal deficiencies.

The study’s authors proposed that the GMOs concerned should be very carefully evaluated by long-term studies to measure their potential toxic effects. Brazil’s National Biosafety Law allows reassessment of technical decisions based on new scientific facts or knowledge relevant to biosafety. In addition the National Biosafety Council (CBNS), composed by 11 ministers, can also ban the use of particular products based on the national interest.

The civil society organizations producing the document emphasized the urgent need to reassess the commercial releases linked to NK603 maize and argued that, in the meantime, any authorizations based on these technical reports should be suspended. The objective is to ban the planting, use and sale of this kind of seed, given the risk posed by these crops to Brazil’s population. The NGOs argue that it is unacceptable for research with a bearing on the population’s health to be conducted only by the companies applying for commercial release of GMOs, whose interests merely reflect the profits accrued by these transnationals. They are therefore calling for studies by independent researchers unconnected to the economic interests of these companies. In their official letter they also demand that IBAMA and ANVISA, state agencies responsible for registration and control in the area, also make a formal request for the technical reports for NK603 maize to be reassessed and for the ministers on the CNBS to adopt a clear stance on the issue.

The letter is signed by:

AS-PTA Agricultura Familiar e Agroecologia

Articulação Nacional de Agroecologia – ANA

Articulação do Semiárido Brasileiro – ASA Brasil

Associação Brasileira de Agroecologia – ABA

Associação Biodinâmica – ABD

Associação Brasileira dos Membros do Ministério Público de Meio Ambiente –

ABRAMPA

Associação dos Professores de Direito Ambiental do Brasil – APRODAB

Associação Nacional dos Procuradores da República – ANPR

Campanha Permanente Contra os Agrotóxicos e Pela Vida

Centro de Agricultura Alternativa – Norte de Minas

Comissão de Bioética e Biodireito da Ordem dos Advogados do Brasil no Rio de

Janeiro – OAB/RJ.

Comissão Pastoral da Terra Regional Rio Grande do Sul – CPT/RSConselho Indigenista Missionário – CIMI

Conselho Federal de Nutricionistas – CFN

Cooperativa dos Agricultores Familiares e Agroextrativistas Grande Sertão – CGS

Coordenação Nacional das Comunidades Negras Rurais Quilombola – CONAQ

Fórum Nacional das Entidades Civis de Defesa do Consumidor – FNECDC

Grupo de Estudos em Agrobiodiversidade – GEA

Instituto de Estudos de Direito e Cidadania – IEDC

Instituto Nacional de Defesa do Consumidor – IDEC

Instituto “O Direito por um Planeta Verde” – IDPV

Movimento Ciência Cidadã

Movimento das Mulheres Camponesas – MMC

Movimento dos Pequenos Agricultores – MPA

Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra – MST

Núcleo de Cultura e Extensão – PTECA da Escola Superior de Agricultura da

Universidade de São Paulo – ESALQ/USP (NACE-PTECA/ESALQ/USP)

Núcleo de Saúde Coletiva da Universidade Federal do Paraná – UFPR

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