Study finds danger in GM herbicide
Herbicides frequently used in conjunction with genetically modified soya are highly toxic and can cause damage to human health, a summary of scientific studies has claimed.
Glyphosate, a chemical found in herbicides commonly used on GM crops, damages human embryonic cells and placental cells when exposed to concentrations below those recommended for agricultural use, according to the study which was published in Brussels last week.
Most GM crops are engineered to tolerate glyphosate - the most common formulation of which is Roundup – a herbicide manufactured by US multinational Monsanto.
The gene used to genetically modify soya allows the crop to be sprayed with glyphosate, killing the surrounding weeds but allowing the soya to survive.
The research, entitled ‘GM Soy Sustainable? Responsible?’, was sponsored by GLK Gemeinschaftsbank - a German bank focused on cultural social and ecological initiatives and Austrian NGO ARGE Gentechnik.
It also found that mice, rabbits and rats fed genetically modified soya beans suffered serious health side affects including liver, kidney, heart and reproduction problems.
Former minister of state with responsibility for food Trevor Sargent said the report highlighted the need for the introduction of GM-free labelling in Ireland.
“This is a concerning study, which concludes genetically modified soya endangers human and animal health”.
Mr Sargent said the research identified “real problems” with herbicides used in conjunction with genetically modified soya.
He called on grain importers to ensure availability of GM-free soya so that Irish farmers can cater for a growing demand for GM-free fed produce.
Mr Sargent said feeding animals GM-free feed would cost an additional 3c per kilo in the retail price of pork or 2c in the price of chicken.
The Programme for Government contains a commitment to declare Ireland a GM-free zone.
While this is currently not possible under EU law, the European Commission announced this summer that it will be introducing legislation which would allow member states to declare themselves to be GM-free.
The legislation is now awaiting first reading in the European Parliament.