This week's announcement by Monsanto that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) notice for omega-3 oil made from a genetically-modified (GM) soybean enables food companies to develop and test foods containing the ingredient (1).
Responding to the announcement, Dr Helen Wallace, Director of GeneWatch UK, said:
"The nutrient-by-nutrient approach to engineering 'healthy' fats back into the food chain is essentially a scam. Factory farming of meat and the use of products such as palm oil in margarine has shifted people's diets to consist of increasingly unhealthy fats. Engineering omega-3 oils back in to fundamentally poor diets is not a credible approach to improving people's health".
In addition, GeneWatch warned that the products will not be tested sufficiently to tell whether they are safe, which would require large scale long-term clinical trials.
"The problem with engineering supposedly healthy ingredients into the bottom of the food chain is that it may not be reversible if something goes wrong," said Dr Wallace. "In the long-term, other products will become contaminated: this does not happen when new ingredients are added to a final processed product rather than a plant. There is a long history of 'magic ingredients' turning out to be harmful to some people and even having the opposite effect on health from that originally claimed" (2).
Mass production of soya also creates serious environmental problems (3).
Dr Helen Wallace, Office: 01298-23400; Mobile: 07903-311584
Notes for Editors
(1) See joint Monsanto, Solae press release on: http://www.sys-con.com/node/1158479 . Solae is an alliance between the multinational companies DuPont and Bunge Ltd.
(2) For example, antioxidants (including the beta-carotene engineered into GM 'Golden Rice') may be beneficial to some people but harmful to others, and some may increase risk of cancer. See, for example: http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg19125631.500-the-antioxidant-myth-a-medical-fairy-tale.html . The experimental GM 'purple tomato', claimed to reduce cancer risk, is engineered to contain increased levels of anthocyanins, a poorly tested antioxidant.