Monsanto Genetically Engineered Soya has Elevated Hormone Levels:
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Public Health Threat
International Scientists Appeal To Governments World-Wide
Today, an urgent appeal has been made by scientists from around the world
attending the Third Meeting of the Open-ended Working Group on Biosafety
of The UN-Convention on Biological Diversity (13-17 October) in Canada.
The scientists implored "all governments to use whatever methods available
to them to bar from their markets, on grounds of injury to public health,
Monsanto's genetically manipulated (GM) [herbicide-resistant] Roundup-Ready
(RR) soybean." New findings indicate that EU member nations should
immediately invoke Article 16, the safeguard clause of Directive 90/220,
banning the soya on the grounds of specific health risks.
Dramatic scientific evidence has revealed that the application of
glyphosate (such as the herbicide Roundup) increased the level of plant
estrogens of bean crops. Plant estrogens are known to affect mammals
including humans. The signatories to the appeal, including Dr Ricarda
Steinbrecher, UK Geneticist, stated: "Young children are especially
susceptible to elevated levels of estrogen. Thus there is a clear and
serious health issue at hand."
Further alarming evidence has now been released concerning the GM soybeans,
hitherto ruled as been substantially equivalent to ordinary soybeans and
safe for introduction into our food supply: Cows fed with the RR-soybeans
were found to produce milk with significantly higher fat content than those
fed with ordinary soybeans. The scientists concluded this to be direct
proof of a substantial difference between the GM- and ordinary soybeans.
Monsanto's application for market approval of the RR-soybean provided no
data on estrogen levels of RR-soybeans sprayed with glyphosate. Indeed,
all data provided on the concentration levels of different compound was
derived from unsprayed beans!
Scientific advisor to the UK Genetic Engineering Network commented on the
findings: "It is horrifying that Roundup-Ready soya was released into our
food chain with such insufficient data, especially as such as large
proportion [60%] of supermarket products contain soya derivatives.... The
lack of independent, full investigations prior to the approval of these
genetically manipulated soybeans is illustrative of the US biotechnology
industry's strangle-hold on the regulatory bodies entrusted with our food
Further reports also presented at the Meeting, include the latest evidence
of the detrimental environmental and agricultural impact of Novartis
(formerly Ciba) insect resistant maize prematurely approved by the European
Commission for marketing and cultivation (23 January 1997). The report
calls for an urgent "moratorium for transgenic insect resistant plants" and
details the evidence supporting legal action, which has been filed against
the USA Environmental Protection Agency over its approvals by over 30
scientific, environmental and agricultural groups. The Meeting coincides
with the Global Days of Action Against Genetic Engineering (2-16 October).
For further information or interviews, contact the Genetic Engineering
Network in London at: 0181 374 9516
URGENT APPEAL TO ALL GOVERNMENTS TO REVOKE THE MARKET APPROVAL OF
We the undersigned scientists ask all governments to use whatever
methods are available to them to bar from their markets on grounds
of injury to public health Monsanto's genetically engineered Roundup
Ready (RR) soybeans. In the case of the European Union, of course,
we urge the individual governments to invoke Article 16 (Directive
90/220). We make this appeal on the following bases:
1) There is clear scientific evidence that application of glyphosate
can increase the level of plant estrogens. This has been shown for
the bean Vicia faba by German researchers (Sandermann and Wellmann,
1988, in Biosafety, p. 285-292, ed: German Ministry of Research and
Technology). Soya belongs to the same plant family (legumes) as
2) Plant estrogens are known to affect mammals including humans.
3) Feeding experiments were done on cows with transgenic and
ordinary soybeans by Monsanto. A statistically significant
difference in the daily milk fat production between the test groups
was found. Those fed transgenic RR-soybeans produced more fat per
day than those fed ordinary soya. All test groups had the same
intake of soya per day (Hammond et al., Journal of Nutrition, 1996).
We conclude that this is an indication of a substantial difference
between the transgenic and the non-transgenic soybean.
4). Monsanto's application for market approval provided no data on
estrogen levels of RR-soybeans sprayed with glyphosate. All data
provided on the concentration level of different compounds in
RR-soybeans was derived from unsprayed beans. Despite the lack of
information on sprayed beans, RR-soybeans were approved. And sprayed
beans have since entered the food chain.
We are concerned that the increased milk fat production by cows fed
RR-soybeans may be a direct consequence of higher estrogen levels in
those soybeans. Growing numbers of children are dependent on
soy-milk due to allergic reactions to cow's milk. Young children are
especially susceptible to elevated levels of estrogen. Thus there is
a clear and serious health issue at hand.
There is urgent need for further and independent scientific
investigation. In adherence to the precautionary principle, until
these investigations are completed, RR-soybeans should no longer be
allowed to enter the food chain.
Dr. Brian Goodwin, UK
Dr. Mae Wan Ho, UK
Dr. Hartmut Meyer, Germany
Dr. Peter Saunders, UK
Dr. Vandana Shiva, India
Dr. Ricarda Steinbrecher, UK
Dr. Beatrix Tappeser, Germany
Christine von Weizsacker, Germany
Montreal, 13 October 1997
Third Meeting of the Open-ended Ad hoc Working Group on Biosafety of
the UN-Convention on Biological Diversity
1) H. Sandermann, E. Wellmann, 1988, Bundesministerium fuer
Forschung und Technologie (Hrsg.), Biologische Sicherheit
1, Pages 285-292)
2) H. Sandermann (1994, in: W. van den Daele, A. Puehler,
H. Sukopp (Hrsg.), Verfahren zur Technikfolgenabschaetzung
des Anbaus von Kulturpflanzen mit gentechnisch erzeugter
Herbizidresistenz, Issue 6, Part A
This press release was distributed by the RTS genetics information email