by Ethan A. Huff
August 25, 2013
It may not come as much of a surprise to our regular readers, but
the biotechnology industry as we currently know it is intrinsically
And a government
official-turned-whistleblower from Brazil recently admitted in a
government report that every single industry-prompted approval
for genetically-modified organisms
(GMOs) in his country has taken place outside the realm of sound
science and without proper legal precedent, which means all current
plantings of GM crops in Brazil are illegal.
These are sweeping claims, but they are backed by a lengthy report
recently published by Brazil's National Council for Food and
In this report, a man by the name of
Leonardo Melgarejo divulges key information about how GMOs have
never lived up to the promises made about them by their creators,
nor have any of the studies used to back their approval proven to be
To the contrary, most of the currently
accepted safety data on GMOs is utter rubbish, he claims, because it
relies on flawed methodologies and dishonest protocols.
One of the hallmarks of GMO technology has always been that GM crops
will 'help' end world hunger by increasing crop yields.
During the last 20 years that GMOs have been on the scene, however,
this simply has not been the case.
Yields have remained the same or even
decreased as a result of GMOs, while the use of dangerous and
potentially deadly crop chemicals to keep weeds and pests under
control has increased dramatically, a fact that is often omitted
from mainstream reports about the "benefits" of GMOs.
"The argument that world hunger will
be overcome by productivity gains offered by genetic engineering
remains an unfulfilled promise," writes Melgarejo in a
far below English translation
of his report compiled by GMWatch.org.
"In these 20 years of development of
transgenics, almost all... GMOs involve Bt and
herbicide-tolerant (HT) technologies, which are not designed to
achieve productivity gains."
Most NaturalNews readers are probably
already aware of the "superweed"
consequences of spraying mass amounts of pesticides and herbicides
on GM crops, but Melgarejo also says that GM crops themselves are
becoming superweeds - that is, GM crop weeds are becoming so robust
and chemical-resistant that not even the strongest chemical
treatments are able to mitigate them.
Superweeds, of course, have been showing
up all across the U.S., and now throughout Brazil, where GMOs have
also been widely adopted.
industry-funded GMO studies are pseudoscientific garbage, suggests
So why, exactly, has Melgarejo gone so far as to declare GMOs in
Brazil to be illegal?
According to his report, all filings for
GMO approvals in Brazil have thus far been in breach of established
legal norms, which require strict corresponding safety studies that
follow very specific scientific guidelines.
Every single GMO approval, he says, has
ignored these important requirements, whether by failing to use
proper sample sizes or by using sample materials that were not the
same as those that occur in the real world.
In every case, he insists, GMOs have
been illegitimately approved to serve corporate interests.
"Fundamentally, it should be said
that none of the cases so far approved by CTNBio (CTNBio is the
regulatory authority that governs GMO approvals in Brazil)
incorporates studies required by the legal norms," adds
"Long-term impacts (of GMO use and
consumption) are not evaluated. All tests submitted for
evaluation to CTNBio examine short-term reactions. The longest
is 90 days - not allowing the identification of cumulative
Besides this, industry-backed tests
routinely test the effects of grains and other GM materials that do
not contain pesticide and herbicide residues, despite the fact that
these same materials would contain such residues in a real-world
Tests involving GM proteins are also
flawed, in that they use proteins derived from separate bacteria
rather than from the GM plants themselves, which leads to false
You can read Melgarejo's
below report's excerpts, as
translated into English by GMWatch.org.
All GMO Approvals in Brazil are
Not Science-Based - Says Regulator
26 July 2013
All approvals of GM crops in Brazil fail to conform with legal norms
and twist science in the interests of GM companies, says regulator
The article below was submitted to Consea, the food safety advisory
body to the Brazilian president, by Leonardo Melgarejo, a
member of Brazil's GMO regulatory body CTNBio.
In the article, Melgarejo criticizes the release of GMOs in Brazil
and exposes CTNBio's negligence in assessing them for safety.
He describes unscientific tricks that
are also used by European Food Safety Authority in its evaluations
of GM foods, such as dismissing significant differences in GM-fed
animals as not being biologically relevant - without any scientific
Melgarejo adds that all releases of GMOs in Brazil thus far are
illegal because they fail to conform with legal norms set by the
He also warns that the approval of GM rice, which has so far been
prevented from being commercialized by Brazilian rice producers who
don't want to lose their European markets, is waiting in the wings
for a rice shortage to occur.
Then Europe could cave in, under the
threat of supplies running out.
The source who alerted us to this document commented,
"Like the US, Brazil has a wealth of
information about the experience of GMOs. However, I think in
Brazil, there's more information as government officials speak
out and aren't afraid."
The article, while long, is worth
reading to the end for anyone who's interested in how science is
abused to facilitate GMO approvals:
Elements for discussion by Consea
Controversies over GMOs in Brazil
Planalto - Presidência da República
English translation from
the Portuguese by GMWatch - EXCERPTS ONLY
Full report in Portuguese
In practice, the advantages of GMOs have been shown to be weak
or even misleading in the US, Argentina, and Canada. Naturally,
the situation repeats itself in Brazil.
The argument that world hunger will be overcome by productivity
gains offered by genetic engineering remains an unfulfilled
promise. In these 20 years of development of transgenics, almost
all of GMOs involve Bt and herbicide-tolerant (HT) technologies,
which are not designed to achieve productivity gains.
The massive use of herbicides with the same active ingredient is
causing the emergence and expansion in the number of resistant
weeds. This calls for new applications of pesticides and
applications of different herbicides. As the grains fall into
the crop fields during harvest, the corn itself becomes a weed
in subsequent GM soybean and cotton crops sown in the same area.
This requires additional
applications of narrow leaf herbicides.
The same occurs with soybean (requiring application of broadleaf
herbicides in corn fields). In a rotation of crops involving
crops of cotton and soybeans, this solution is not feasible.
To solve this problem, the solution
is to hand-weed the unwanted plants or hasten the release of new
genetically modified plants.
As companies tend to prefer the
second option, varieties of corn and soybeans with tolerance
gene to the herbicide 2,4-D are under evaluation by CTNBio. The
new generation of GMOs will bring massive applications of 2,4 D
- an extremely toxic herbicide.
The growth in the number of resistant worms that do not die
after eating Bt corn and Bt cotton, the emergence of new pests,
and the increase in the number of insect pests that were of
minor importance and that now cause serious damage, point
towards a reduction in the effectiveness of this technology.
There are records of important corn pests migrating to other
crops and vice versa.
Grubs, bugs and aphids are causing
unprecedented damage in corn, soybeans and cotton and the
emergence of pests which were not registered in Brazil (case of
Helicoverpa armigera) has required new and larger applications
Recently, the government authorized the import and application
of emamectin benzoate - a product that [Brazilian health
surveillance agency] ANVISA has condemned as neurotoxic.
MAPA [ministry of agriculture] wants
the state departments to be responsible for the application. So
far, only Bahia, where crop losses exceeded USD 1 billion, seems
willing to assume this responsibility. Again, if this product is
applied by aircraft, some problems may appear in the future -
including in children not yet born.
In addition to the elements discussed above, we should consider
the illegality of all GMOs marketed in Brazil. This illegality
is associated with the breach of legal norms. Fundamentally, it
should be said that none of the cases so far approved by CTNBio
incorporates studies required by the legal norms.
GM rice will soon be back on the agenda of CTNBio. It was not
approved because the company, in the face of pressure from
Brazilian rice farmers, withdrew the request for
commercialization. Regardless of the technical arguments, the
decision was made on the basis of commercial issues.
The European market rejects GM rice
and the impossibility of segregation in Brazil would undermine
exports. The process is waiting until in order to avoid the risk
of shortages, the EU will allow GM rice to be consumed.
The GM bean was approved based on studies with insufficient
emphasis on nutritional aspects. Just 10 rats that ate GM feed
with beans for a few weeks were evaluated. As revealed by the
dissenting opinion, only three mice were dissected. The problems
that have been identified require further studies, but were
assumed to be irrelevant.
GM vaccines, we do not have any
kind of monitoring, so we do not know what is happening.
Regarding GM mosquitoes, there are field trials in neighborhoods
of cities in the northeast. Little is known about the
development of these tests.
Consumption may be causing health problems for the following
In GM Bt crops there are
herbicide residues in unknown amounts - but all
[industry] tests presented to CTNBio involved the intake
of grains that had not received applications of the
pesticides that justified their creation;
Long-term impacts are not
evaluated. All tests submitted for evaluation CTNBio
examine short-term reactions. The longest is 90 days -
not allowing the identification of cumulative damage;
Acute toxicity tests
involving proteins associated with transgenes are not
performed with the existing proteins in plants. The
tests are performed with an "almost equivalent" protein
extracted from bacteria, not with the proteins produced
in GM plants as a result of the genetic modification.
The two proteins (from GM
plants and bacteria) have the same amino acid sequence
but have different properties. In the case of Bt
protein, the protein in the [natural soil] bacterium
only becomes active in the gut of insects, whereas in
corn, it is toxic at all times in all parts of the
GM plants containing the Bt protein
differ from non-GM plants:
Independent studies indicate
a higher lignin content in GM plants. Therefore, they
take longer to decompose in the soil. The insecticidal
protein remain active in the soil for a variable time.
In clay soils this can be up to 230 days. There are no
convincing studies examining impact on soil insects.
Some studies on insects that
act as predators of other insects are conducted on an
insect of […] a genus that does not exist in Brazil.
There are differences in the composition of GM plants
for some elements and some amino acids. These
differences may have an impact on feed formulation. In
the case of at least one cotton, there is a higher
content of gossypol. Gossypol alters sperm production,
reduces fertility in males and is present in the seeds
used for animal feed in the northeast.
Studies show impacts on
ladybugs that prey on aphids and some beetles that act
in the recycling of nutrients - which does not happen in
Brief summary highlighting the main
points of this article:
The promises of increased
productivity, as an element to overcome world hunger, lower
environmental impact (with reduced use of pesticides), to
protect human and animal health as a result of scientific
and rigorous processes have not yet been fulfilled.
The promises of GMOs that
tolerate drought and acid or saline soils, that are
qualitatively superior, have also not been fulfilled. The
available GMOs merely expand and consolidate the
oligopolistic processes of seeds and pesticides markets.
There is a significant reduction in the number of companies,
narrowing the range of varieties offered and the
The number of pests and
adventitious plants that are difficult to control is
growing; the degree of toxicity and hazard of pesticides
associated with the planting of GMOs is increasing.
The standards are not being met, the restrictions
established for contamination control are ineffective, and
coexistence with traditional crops has proven impractical.
Family farmers are losing control and mastery over
knowledge, seeds and traditional technologies, which were
socially constructed and historically adapted to different
A good part of the evaluations
in Brazil, attesting to consumer safety and the environment,
are weak and inadequate.
This can be verified by
examination of the processes contributing to the
deliberations, with arguments exposed in contradictory
opinions, which are public and available in CTNBio.
A new variety of corn GM was
released in mid June 2013. Many of the arguments presented in
the opinions were insufficiently supported by data to certify
the environmental and nutritional safety of the GM maize.
This is also valid for most GMOs
grown in Brazil and can be summarized as follows:
Insufficient studies, which
were drafted by the interested parties [GM developer
companies] - most of the arguments presented are
contained in the company's own technical reports
Studies that are inadequate,
short-term, and supported by poorly documented
involving only acute tests, which are performed with
proteins extracted from bacteria and not from the GM
plant. Evaluation of grain consumption, feed and fodder
involving herbicide tolerant technology, which only
exists in association with the associated herbicides, is
performed in the absence of pesticides - falsifying,
through the tests, the situation encountered in the real
The findings are
unrepresentative, there is an insufficient number of
repetitions, and data changes are not justified. In many
cases, these changes increased the probability of Type
II error (not finding differences where they exist) and
favour a finding of the safety of the GM plant (its
equivalence with unmodified parent variety).
Reviews of insect
populations are performed improperly, neglecting the
ecological importance of the same. As an example,
consider the lists based on simple counts, where
predators and pests are considered as identical
importance (in these lists, the genus Helicoverpa
caterpillar assumes the same value as an earwig of the
Doru genus, although the earwig consumes up to two dozen
of the caterpillars per day).
Circumstances where the
studies submitted by the companies show significant
differences between test and control (from the
perspective of the statistical tests used by proponents)
are discarded on the grounds of biological irrelevance
(unproven) or with the argument that they are due to
Contempt for the standards
of CTNBio, such as non-presentation of long-term studies
for two generations with animals consuming the GMO in
question. Non-submission of studies with pregnant
animals. Non-submission of studies in all biomes.
information on herbicide use in nutritional studies,
failure to submit data on [pesticide] residues in the
grain, failure to present studies on non-target
organisms in regions where GM plants are grown; failure
to submit studies of impacts on aquatic environments.
Failure to provide the data
required for a discussion of the results presented.
CTNBio's assessments are based on average data submitted
by the companies. In many cases, these averages involve
data on crops and second [late-season] crops obtained in
This composition increases
the variance of the resulting datasets and inflates the
possibility of false negatives - situations in which
differences are not noticed but do in fact exist, and
would be perceived in the data that is individualized
(for certain crops or second crops, in different
When requested, the original
data are not available.