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Is there enough medical evidence to prove Monsanto unsafe?

Published time: October 12, 2013 19:12
Anti-genetically modified foods (GMO) protestors demonstrate on October 12, 2013 against US agro-chemicals giant Monsanto in the southern French city of Marseille during a day of worlwide action against the company. Banner reads: "Organize War Against Monsanto." (AFP Photo / Bertrand Langlois)

There is more than enough scientific evidence to raise a host of questions about the safety of genetically engineered organisms for human and animal consumption, GMO expert Pamm Larry told RT in an interview.

On the eve of global marches against Monsanto and other biotechnology companies proliferating genetically modified organisms (GMO) throughout the world, Larry said these public demonstrations for transparency encourage people to question what corporations and politicians tell them.

“[Marches] bring awareness to people - who maybe have never heard about these products - to look into not only Monsanto but other chemical companies and start to look a little deeper about what’s happening to our food supply and what’s happening to our environment,” she said.

RT: You are advocating against GMO and campaigning for the labeling of genetically engineered foods, can you explain why?

Pamm Larry: I believe that people have the right to know what they’re buying, eating and feeding their children. And that corporations should not be able to control what we eat without us knowing about it.

RT: Is there enough medical evidence to label Monsanto an Eternal Evil?

PL: The thing is is that the United States does not operate on the precautionary principle which is what most of the rest of the world does. For instance, Russia, the EU and quite a few other countries go by that principle, which says until these things are proven safe, then we will provide an abundance of caution, and we will watch and we will see what happens. In the United States, it’s the opposite. So I believe there is enough scientific evidence to raise a variety of questions about their safety, for human consumption and animal consumption, and for the environment. Not only for the genetically engineered food themselves, but the accompanying chemical inputs that they use, which are often hormone disruptors. So I believe that we should have a right to know what 64 other countries know in this world, which is if their food is genetically engineered.

RT: Some believe that GMO foods are the key to solving the food shortages as the world's population continues to grow...Is that a fair argument?

PL: Not at this point in time. If they were to develop something new, who knows what the future will bring. At this point in time, there has been nothing to indicate that that is the case. They’ve had 20 years to prove this and we have more hunger now than we did 20 years ago. I would suggest people read studies by scientists, such as “Failure to Yield.” Also, the ISTAT report done by the UN a few years ago, IAASTD, and also there is a study put out by the Rodale Press that shows that organic agro-ecological systems produce more food than mono-crop agribusiness.

RT: So this anti-Monsanto march, it will be the second such mass event - are these protests achieving anything?

PL: I believe that they bring awareness. Unfortunately the media here in the United States pretty much ignored them the last time, and we’re hoping they cover us more this time because we have hundreds of marches all across the United States and the world. But I believe that it raises questions, it brings awareness to people who maybe have never heard about these products, to look into not only Monsanto but other chemical companies and start to look a little deeper about what’s happening to our food supply and what’s happening to our environment.

RT: Aren't you arguing against economic sense here, many people are struggling to pay bills and are looking for cheaper food - GM is an answer to that surely?

PL: A lot of people would question the health value of the junk food that is out there, which is mostly what contains these ingredients. Alternatives are to plant a garden, to buy locally, to buy things that are, if you want to be really careful at this point, organic. Although some people, like you were saying, don’t have enough money to spend on organics, which is why we think labeling of GMOs is so important, because to not label is elitist. To require people to constantly buy organic food just to avoid genetically engineered food is not fair to a lot of moms that are working really hard, a lot of families that are just scraping by. So, we need change in our food system for sure, and at this point, you can get organic food at Wal-Mart, at Safeway in this country. But our best option is to buy as close to home as possible.

RT: Why are governments so supportive of Monsanto?

PL: I believe, because I’ve read this in reports and the newspapers, that basically this industry is what’s keeping our economy in the United States afloat. It is - maybe not the biggest but one of the largest - industries that we have as an export. So I think it’s a very difficult position for our President to be in, but I am incredibly disappointed in him and all of our elected officials because they are not listening to what the people want.

RT: Would traditional farming methods really work to meet the demands of today's economies?

PL: Yes, I do. And, again, I would refer your viewers back to the reports that I mentioned, and in particular the ISTAT report, which shows that the smaller agro-ecologically based farms that use truly sustainable methods - not ones that are just part of a PR campaign by the biotechnology companies. But things that replenish the soil, that return nutrients to it, that keep the microbes alive in the soil, those are the things that perform better in times of drought and in times of climate chaos. If they read something called “Failure to Yield,” which is a book put out by the Union of Concerned Scientists, they will find out that, in fact, many of the traits attributed to genetically engineered biotechnology transgenics, cisgenics and such are actually the result of conventionally-raised hybrids instead of things that are GMOs. But they are attributed to GMOs. So we have the capacity already to create what want. This is what I’ve learned from scientists that I study. This is not just me saying this. It is scientists talking about this. Which also brings me to another point in that there is no scientific consensus that GMOs are safe. We are hearing this a lot right now in the news and it simply isn’t true. There are many, there are hundreds of scientists all over the world that say - they question - the book should not be closed, that is the job of science to continually remain open to new ideas and to explore at all times.


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