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How 121 Nobel laureates were misled into promoting GM foods

Over the last four months, 121 Nobel laureates have signed a letter extolling the safety and benefits of GM crops. Prof David Schubert and Steven M. Druker, JD (pictured above) explain why they consider the letter an affront to science and the public trust

Over the last four months, 121 Nobel laureates have signed a letter extolling the safety and benefits of genetically modified (GM) crops and alleging that organizations and individuals that don’t support their unfettered introduction are committing a “crime against humanity”. The campaign to obtain the signatures was organized by Richard Roberts, chief scientific officer of New England Biolabs, who, with assistance from Monsanto’s former head of corporate communications, staged a press conference in Washington, D.C. to publicize the letter.

Not surprisingly, this letter has had a major impact. However, although it purports to be science-based, most of its chief assertions are demonstrably false.

Among them is the claim that scientific and regulatory agencies have “consistently” found that GM crops are “as safe or safer” than conventional ones. This is clearly untrue, and multiple scientific panels have concluded otherwise. For instance, an expert panel of the Royal Society of Canada asserted that the  “default prediction”  for every GM food should be that it contains unintended and potentially harmful side effects. Other respected institutions, such as the British Medical Association and the Public Health Association of Australia have also expressed concerns, with the Australian association calling for an “indefinite freeze” on GM crops until their safety has been demonstrated. Most recently, Vladimir Putin, on the advice of Russian scientists, signed a ban on GM crops into law.

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