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STATEMENT FOR THE PRESS
US GOVERNMENT DECEPTION ABOUT GMOs EXPOSED
American attorney reveals how scientists’ warnings were covered up - cautions British government about unsoundness of its biotech policy
London, 17 February 2000:
According to American public interest attorney, Steven M Druker, JD, the approval of genetically modified crops in the United States by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is based on a misrepresentation of the facts and a massive cover up of scientists’ warnings, and their import into the UK is therefore a great threat to our health and safety. In the light of this information, Dr Geoffrey Clements, leader of the Natural Law Party and candidate for Mayor of London, is calling on the Minister for Food Safety, Baroness Hayman, to rescind immediately all approvals for GM foods and crops, including all derivatives and animal feeds.Landmark lawsuit against the FDA
As executive director of the Alliance for Bio-Integrity, Steven Druker is the co-ordinating attorney in a landmark lawsuit against the FDA calling for the withdrawal of all genetically engineered foods in the USA until they have gone through adequate safety tests, and the subsequent labelling of all GE foods. The lawsuit has been filed by an unprecedented coalition of public interest organisations, eminent life scientists, and seventeen mainstream religious leaders. The International Center for Technology Assessment, which is supporting the lawsuit, says the quality and breadth of the 26 plaintiffs is without precedent in their long experience of such cases of litigation.
The plaintiffs are using official US government papers to show how the FDA claimed GMOs were safe in the face of broad disagreement from its own experts. The FDA was required to provide over 40,000 pages of internal documents during the lawsuit. For example, when the FDA approved the "Flavr Savr" tomato it did so ignoring statements from its own scientists that tests involving feeding the tomato to rats led to a pattern of stomach lesions that raised a safety issue and therefore failed to confirm that it was safe for human consumption. Safety testing of subsequent GMOs has been even less stringent and in many cases non-existent.
"Every genetically engineered food in the US is on the market illegally and should be recalled immediately for rigorous safety testing," Mr Druker says. "The FDA has deliberately unleashed a host of potentially harmful foods onto American dinner tables, in blatant violation of US law, in order to promote the interests of the biotech industry. Based on systematic misrepresentation, the US set improper standards for the release of GMOs. Britain and many other countries have largely followed the US, without knowledge of the facts."Warning to British Government
Mr Druker is in the UK to present his case to the Government and to agricultural leaders. At the end of last week he gave a special presentation to MPs at the House of Commons, at the invitation of Alan Simpson, MP, and also had a private meeting with Michael Meacher, Minister of State for the Environment.
He was joined for the presentations by Professor Terje Traavik, scientific advisor to the Norwegian government and one of the world’s leading experts in viruses and horizontal gene transfer. Prof. Traavik warned the British Government that the recombinant DNA technologies used to develop all of the GMOs on the market today are so imprecise and unpredictable that they do not even deserve to be called a technology.Inadequacy of current UK policy on genetically modified foods
In his meetings, Mr Druker highlights the inadequacy of the concept of "substantial equivalence" - a principal criterion in the approval of new GM foods in the US and the UK. "Substantial equivalence is based only on the comparison of the GMO and its natural counterpart across a limited range of constituents. It does not address any of the serious concerns of FDA scientists and other experts in the UK and elsewhere about novel, unexpected toxins or carcinogens that may result from the process of genetic engineering," Mr Druker said.
He pointed out that this is a violation of the "precautionary principle", which is clearly mandated by US law, and which the UK has recently adopted in the Montreal UN Bio-Safety Protocol. "The precautionary principle means that a GMO must first be proven safe before equivalence can be assumed. However, the US and UK governments are still approving new GMOs on the assumption that they are safe until proven harmful. This puts public health and safety at serious risk, especially when we consider the extent of the cover up of scientists’ warning about GMOs," he said.
A further issue compounding the situation in the UK is that there are no restrictions on the import of GMOs in the form of animal feed. There are also no regulations governing the proportion of GMOs allowed in the diet of animals nor the labelling of the resultant foods. "In the light of the fact that the US Government’s Center for Veterinary Medicine has warned that feeding GMOs to livestock entails ‘unique’ safety concerns due to the risk of unexpected substances that could make meat, eggs and milk harmful to humans, the British should recognise this as a totally unacceptable situation," Mr Druker said.Professor Richard Lacey testifies
He expressed surprise that the British government has learned so little from the mistakes that led to the BSE crisis. In fact, one of the sworn declarations submitted to the US court in the lawsuit against the FDA is from Richard Lacey, Professor of Medical Microbiology at the University of Leeds. Professor Lacey is one of Britain’s foremost experts in food safety and was the first to warn about the potential for an epidemic of the human variant of "mad cow" disease. Professor Lacey says the government ignored his warnings about BSE for far too long, and now they are making the same mistakes again with genetic engineering, which poses a serious risk to food safety.Natural Law Party offers new agricultural policy
Dr Geoffrey Clements said that the Natural Law Party applauds Mr Druker for alerting government officials to the serious limitations of current policy on food safety in this country. "The Natural Law Party would like to see a complete ban on GM foods. We are developing a new agricultural policy for the UK which we will present to the government, farmers and the general public," Dr Clements said. "In tune with public demand, we want to promote natural agriculture that puts human health and the protection of the environment first, rather than the profits of the biotech companies.
"The Government has been forcing upon us
something that we don’t need, we don’t want, and that is not good
for us, and we must stand up for what is right and in accord with
Natural Law," he said.