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The Norwegian GMO scandal

Published: 02.10.2010
Written by Tore B. Krudtaa

In Norway we currrently does not generally allow GMO in food. But to make it simpler for food imports it is allowed with up to 0.9% of GMO in the food. The weird thing though is that the fishfarm industry has gotten a permission to use GMO in the feed. So the fishfarm industry currently have permission to use 19 different GMOs in their feed. It is incredibly irresponsible of the Norwegian authorities that they have given the fishfarm industry this kind of permission. It can be looked upon as a way to silently allow more and more GMOs into the Norwegian market.

GMO is not forbidden by law in Norway, but before any GMO-product is allowed in food or feed it has to be approved.

Currently the GMO situation is a real mess.

Is GMO safe?

See the documentary movie about GMO
Genetic Roulette - The Gamble of Our Lives

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Genetically modified food - NOT needed to ensure food supply


We have the "Norwegian Directorate For Nature Management". From their webpage we can read the following: "We serve as an executive and advisory body for the Ministry, and our main areas of responsibility are outdoor recreation and the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity."

The summer 2008, the Directorate For Nature Management recommended the Ministry Of The Environment to allow two types of CM-corn in food and feed in Norway.
This in itself is truly an amazing move by those which business is to protect the Norwegian biodiversity. Especially since we know that it is impossible to prevent the patented genes used in GM-crops world wide from spreading to conventional crops.

The other truly amazing thing is that the Ministry Of The Environment have not been able to make up their mind about the recommendation. This spring they stated in a national newspaper that it was a very complex matter. Looks like the Ministry Of The Environment is not aware of the simple fact that GMO released into the nature is causing genetic pollution which will have a negative effect on the nature biodiversity for a long time to come. This kind of pollution is probably not possible to clean up. It is not like an oilspill, this is living organisms.

What is the reason for the delay?

  • One reason may be that Norway have invested more than NOK 2.8 billion in Monsanto. It might be that some forces in our government believes that it is more important for Norway as a nation to earn as much possible as we can, as fast as possible, before the investors world wide realise that the GMO-industry is built upon a big lie, namely that the GMO-crops are virtually identical with the non-GMO crops.

  • Another reason might be that our politicians believe the amazing GMO risk analysises that is beeing produced by the Norwegian Scientific Committee for Food Safety. This committee has a special group which deals with GMOs. They are supposed to be objective in their risk analysises. What's interesting here is that both the current leader of this group, namely Audun H. Nerland and the former leader (currently also a member) Hilde-Gunn Opsahl Sorteberg, has published allegations, in Norwegian newspapers, that are incredibly positive towards the use of GMO. Nothing is mentioned about the danger of using GMO outside closed laboratories. Here is some of the allegations published by Audun H. Nerland (both translated from Norwegian): "In principle there is no difference between a genetically modified organism and an animal or plant that is obtained by traditional breeding or plant breeding" and "Through genetic engineering we know what's changed". Here is some examples of what Hilde-Gunn Opsahl Sorteberg has published (translated from Norwegian): From an article published in Aftenposten 2008.01.07: "Most people in Norway is, without any justification, sceptical against genetic modification and genetically modified organisms. Now we must move on", "Norway and the world need GMO", "If we are not allowed to develop and use GMOs, this may have consequenses that neither the environmentalists, politicians and researchers want to take responsibility for." and "Genetically modified plant products are consumed by more than 300 million Americans and even more Chinese people for many years, without having registered negative health effects of any kind."
    Another member of this group, Askild L. Holck, is an employee of Nofima. Nofima has developed a method that makes it possible both to detect and quantify many different genetic modifications in food at once.

    Kristin Færden, the current leader of Norwegian Scientific Committee for Food Safety, has in the Norwegian newspaper Nationen written the following words (translated from Norwegian): "Great emphasis is placed on the members impartiality, and everyone involved in VKMs work must provide any interests that may conflict with work in VKM."

    Not many months after this statement from Kristin Færden, another employee of the Norwegian Scientific Committee for Food Safety, Astrid Bjerkås (a communications advisor in the Norwegian Scientific Committee for Food Safety), published words like this, in Nationen: "It is not considered whether members of Norwegian Scientific Committee for Food Safety group of genetically modified organisms are for or against GMOs".

    It should be clear, that it does not matter for the Norwegian Scientific Committee for Food Safety how positive the scients, sitting in this group, are towards the use of GMO and it obviously does not matter if the members of this group are payed by the GMO-industry.

    My question now is: How is it possible for this group to be objective in their risk analysises, when people which repeatedly have published undocumented positive allegations about GMO or people that are payed by the GMO-industry are members of the same group?

    As if this was not enough the very same group is consequently trusting the GMO-producers own health studies about the GMO-products. One of the GMO-producers that tries to get their products into the Norwegian market is Monsanto. Monsanto has for many years proven to the world that they do whatever it takes to get their products on the world market. PCB is one of the products that Monsanto produced and sold, even after Monsanto knew about the extremely negative effects PCB had on the environment and on animal and human health. And do not forget about another extremely dangerous product from Monsanto, namely Agent Orange. It is quite startling that the Norwegian Scientific Committee for Food Safety blindly trust the studies from Monsanto and at the same time choose not to take into account many of the independent scientific studies that find that feeding mammals with different kind of GMOs may lead to damage to internal organs, cancer, sterility and a lot of other negative effects on the health.

In the recommendation from the Directorate For Nature Management, they use recommendations from both Mattilsynet (the equivalence of the U.S. FDA) and the Norwegian Scientific Committee for Food Safety as basis for their conclusion. The interesting thing here though, is that Mattilsynet base their recommendation on a risk analysis made by the Norwegian Scientific Committee for Food Safety. And the Scientific Committee for Food Safety base their risk analysis from data produced by the GMO-producer.

So basically it all boils down to what recommendations are made by the Norwegian Scientific Commitee for Food Safety in their risk analysises of the various GMO-products.

Something we should never forget here is that the U.S. FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) took the world by surprise by classifying GMO as GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe). This means that GMOs does not have to be tested in the U.S. before it is approved to be used in agricultural crops or to be used as food or feed. U.S. FDA just accept the health studies made by the GMO-producers.

In june 2010, the leader of the Ministry Of The Environment, Erik Solheim, informed the Norwegian population of the work that had been done in order to create a new FN-panel, which goal should be to protect the biodiversity of the world. In this article, published in Aftenposten, Erik Solheim said among other things (translated): "The global loss of biodiversity is one of the greatest global environmental problems".

If conservation of biodiversity is so important for Erik Solheim, then why has not Erik Solheim and the Ministry Of The Environment managed to produce an answer to the recommendation from the Directorate For Nature Management in relation to the two GM-corn varieties. Now, allmost 2.5 years after the Ministry Of The Environment received the recommendation, no answer is produced.

This summer I called the Ministry Of The Environment and asked Casper Linnestad the following question: "Why cannot Norway just ban all use of GMO?". One of his replies was that it is a very complex matter and that they are afraid of potential lawsuits from WTO.

As you all can se, the current GMO situation in Norway is a total mess. The reasons for this mess is probably due to the close connections to the biotech industry, both because Norway have invested more than NOK 2.5 billion in Monsanto, and because some individuals that do the risk analysises of GMO in the Norwegian Scientific Committee for Food Safety, clearly are unable to be objective at the work they do. At the same time, it is clear that the Ministry Of The Environment has not understood the simple fact that GMO-crops and conventional crops cannot coexist. If they did, then what should be so complex in this matter.

There is no justification for allowing GMO to be used outside closed laboratories. We know that the GMO-producers and GMO-farmers are unable to prevent the patentend genes from spreading to conventional crops. This is causing the worst pollution ever in human history. Agricultural crops in many countries are now beeing "infected" with the patented genes from the GMO-producers, and in some cases the patented genes are found in related species.

It is time for Erik Solheim and the Ministry Of The Environment to wake up at deal with this real threat to biodiversity.

Is Erik Solheim and the Ministry Of The Environment being dictated by scientists which is playing russian roulette with our genetic inheritance, or are they afraid of eventual lawsuits from WTO if they decided to totally ban the use of GMO outside closed laboratories? I would say that the current situation in Norway indicates a big YES to both questions?

I mentioned earlier that the fishfarm industry currently are allowed to use GMOs in their fish feed. It is truly amazing that our politicians has allowed this at all. The fishfarm industry in Norway are currently using a lot of engergy in trying to convince the Norwegian population that the farmed salmon are safe to eat. They are currently using highly toxic chemicals as well as antibiotics in the fish feed. 2010.01.04 we could read an article with the following title (translated) "Genetically modified soy just as good" here: http://www.forskning.no/artikler/2009/desember/237160
If you are not aware how these GMOs are produced and grown this so called scientific study might look valid, but if you take a closer look at it you will soon discover something which make the study on the RoundupReady GM-soy a big scientific flaw. Shortly after I read this article I phoned Ninni Hedberg Sissener and asked if the soy used in the study was sprayed with Monsantos Roundup. The answer was that she did not know. And she also told me that it was very difficult to get any information about this from Monsanto, which provided the RoundupReady GM-soy used in the study. Shortly after that I phoned the coordinator of the research project, Gro Ingunn Hemre and asked the same question. She told me that they did know the amount of Roundup in the GM-soy but that she did not have the numbers at hand. She told me she should send me the information by email. Have not received any information about this.
Here Norwegian scientists have been feeding fishfarmed salmon RoundupReady GM-soy for months, in order to find out if the RoundupReady GM-soy did produce any unwanted health effects on the farmed salmon. And scientists did not even know if the RoundupReady GM-soy where sprayed with Roundup in quantities a conventional farmer would use. In my opinion this major scientific flaw makes the whole study very doubtful. The bad thing now is that this study is circulating in the "scientific news cloud" on the internet.

Jeffrey Smith has finally created a documentary about GMO.
You can order the documentary here: http://geneticroulettemovie.com/

Genetic Roulette - The Gamble of Our Lives - Movie Trailer

 

Illustrations:
Pregnant woman: Photo by www.photogrphybyjoelle.com

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