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GMO expertise : assessment turns its back on science

18 janvier 2013
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The issue of GMOs is trapped in conflictual controversies which largely hide the core of the problem, this sphere beyond the technical realm is conditioning our future. In order to solve the technical issue so as to move onto more interesting and important things, Inf’OGM has gone through some cases with a fine-tooth comb and compared the positions of experts when they acting in a scientific capacity and when they are in the capacity of experts, so as to demonstrate their contradictions ; Particularly as the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), which had been asked for several years about the harmlessness of maize MON810, finally answered but avoided the question, thus implicitly admitting its failures.

GMO expertise : assessment turns its back on science

Concretely this means…selecting data, only keeping those which were favourable to industrialists, having statistical tests with such weak power that one could hardly see anything (which is what is done when one does not WANT to see anything), statements devoid of scientific bases, dishonest answers from EFSA to elected politicians and ministers who were concerned about these anomalies, the conclusion of safety based on “the weight of evidence”, which means that no data really allows this conclusion to be drawn, a test developed by Monsanto and imposed by ILSI which was to show that, if it were applied in this field and following EFSA’s logic, it would be very unlikely for cholera to be pathogenic for humans, in other words nothing but “Sound Science”, which is how European experts like to describe what they do.


Inf’OGM says “you emphasize science, then do it properly by following its basic rules”. In the meantime, activists will focus on something else, which they were too distracted to focus on due to the debate being pigeon-holed in the health question, wanted by the industry and some politicians.
In its conclusion, Inf’OGM reminds us that now what is really at stake involves the change to the cultural and ethical context currently underway.


Author : Frédéric Jacquement is a medical doctor, medical biology specialist and has a PHD in science. He is the founding chair of GIET (International Multidisciplinary Studies Group), co-pilot of France Nature Environnement’s (FNE) biotechnologies mission and has been the chair of Inf’OGM, citizen watch on GMO information, since 2010.


Editor : Inf’OGM is an association under Law 1901, for citizens’ watch which explains global current affairs and offers a unique information service on GMOs and biotechnologies in French. Its mission is to favour and encourage the democratic debate through critical and independent information, accessible to everyone. Inf’OGM also has the aim of working to achieve real transparency in the GMO debate.
Inf’OGM is financed by the Charles Léopold Mayer Foundation for the Progress of Humankind, amongst others, which has been providing support to the entire association since its creation in 1999. The list of donors is available on this website.

Contents


- INTRODUCTION
- 1. MON810 MAIZE, A PRESENTATION
- 2. THE ASSESSMENT CONDITIONS
- 2.1 Inappropriate identification of the insecticide protein from MON810 with the natural one
- 2.2 Compositional analyses
- 2.3 Using published and reported data
- 3. STATISTICAL ANALYSES
- 3.1 Sub-chronic toxicity testing
- 3.2 Basic concepts relating to statistical studies carried out in this context
- 3.2.1 Statistical error
- 3.2.2 The power of these tests
- 3.2.3 Null hypotheses : difference or equivalence
- 4. THE MON810 AFFAIR
- 4.1 The ANSES report on the statistics
- 4.2 The dose/response argument
- 4.3 The ANSES report’s conclusion on MON810
- 4.3.1 Histological data
- 4.3.2 The strange position of EFSA
- 5. ALLERGOLOGICAL EVALUATION
- 5.1 Basic concepts
- 5.2 “The recombinant protein comes from a non-allergenic organism”
- 5.3 In vitro digestion testing
- 5.4 Bioinformatic methods
- 6. OTHER APPLICATION FILES
- CONCLUSION : WHAT IS MOST IMPORTANT IS HIDDEN BY TECHNICAL


ANNEXES
- 1. Bt proteins : more than 600 proteins targeting specific insects
- 2. GIET letter to Manuel Barroso
- 3. Question from Member of Parliament Luca Romagnoli
- 4. Question from Member of Parliament Monica Frassoni
- 5. EFSA’s “answer” to the question asked by European Members of Parliament
- 6. Question by Member of European Parliament José Bove and Mr Dalli’s answer
- 7. EFSA’s answer to Inf’OGM
- 8. Anses’ answer to Inf’OGM

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Also available in french : http://www.infogm.org/spip.php?article5238