GE crops designed to survive toxic herbicides may increase people’s exposure to chemicals that are now being linked to reproductive and endocrine problems.
New research has just been published into the effects of glyphosate – one of the active ingredients in Roundup and other herbicides, showing endocrine disruption and adverse effects on reproduction.
Given that herbicide-resistant GE crops can absorb much higher levels of these chemicals than conventional plants, the findings are set to be another nail in the coffin of the most common type of herbicide-resistant GE plants.
Last year a study on glufosinate (found in the herbicide Buster) showed that certain gut bacteria could re-activate the herbicide in the digestive system. The effects of this are unknown, but glufosinate is a potent herbicide and toxic effects are known to impact vital organs like the liver and kidneys, causing digestive and skin reactions.
Research has also linked other forms of GE plants engineered to produce the Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) insecticide toxin, to the deaths of animals eating the leaves of such GE plants.
As yet, the New Zealand government has not acknowledged the potential adverse effects that these GE plants would have on our clean green image and in terms of animal and human health. The Budget has given money to research and development to take new products to market, but it is important we focus research on projects that fit with our country’s push for sustainability and shared community values. Such products should not therefore undermine our trading reputation or environment because of their mis-use of GE technologies.
The process and impending decision by ERMA on GE Brassica field trials, has uncovered a funding gap that means New Zealand continues to be exposed to unnecessary risk.
Money is urgently required to fund the development of diagnostic tools and safety tests for the environment, ecosystems, and human/animal health. Such research must be undertaken in containment before the known and unquantified risks from trialling organisms outside the lab can be reasonably and accurately assessed by authorities.
Jon Carapiet 0210 50781
N. Benachour1, H. Sipahutar2, S. Moslemi3, C. Gasnier1, C. Travert1 and G. E. Séralini, Time- and Dose-Dependent Effects of Roundup on Human Embryonic and Placental Cells, Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology, Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007,10.1007/s00244-006-0154-8