Canada takes Monsanto, Dow’s word on safety

Martin Mittelstaedt of the Toronto Globe and Mail looks into the Canadian government’s approval of “one of the most complicated genetically engineered plants ever designed,” a strain of feed corn stuffed with eight different sets of foreign genes.

Photo by WayTru via Flickr

The super-corn will resist numerous common pests as well as the popular herbicide Roundup. The problem, Mittlestaedt reports, is that Canadian health agencies never assessed the new plant’s safety and instead relied on the plant’s developers to make sure it was safe.

The health agency said in response to questions from The Globe and Mail that it didn’t have to do so, because it is relying on the two companies making the seeds, agriculture giants Monsanto Co. and Dow AgroSciences LLC, to flag any safety concerns. But the companies haven’t tested the seeds either, because they say they aren’t required to.

Monsanto and Dow have, however, tested each of the eight characteristics individually, a precaution which some experts say doesn’t go far enough and may not detect allergens or other dangerous consequences of mixing so many traits in one place. Likewise, Mittlestaedt says that UN food safety guidelines recommend that the foreign genes be tested in combination as well as independently.

(Hat tip to Andrew Schnieder on Cold Truth)

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