- Judges have ordered the publication of a secret study
which has raised fears that eating GM food may harm human health, after
it was revealed in The Independent on Sunday last month.
- A court in Cologne last week granted Greenpeace access
to the 1,139-page study - by the giant biotech firm Monsanto - which found
that rats fed a modified corn had smaller kidneys and raised levels of
white blood cells and lymphocytes compared with those fed a non-GM corn.
- The maize - code-named MON 863 - is expected to be approved
for human consumption in Europe later this year. Professor Gilles-Eric
Seralini of the University of Caen, who scrutinises the safety of GM products
for the European Commission and French government, describes the findings
as "very worrying".
- Environmental groups in several European countries have
been pressing for the report's publication for months. They intensified
their campaign after The Independent on Sunday's disclosures, and the EC
also called for the secrecy to be lifted.
- Monsanto - which dismisses the differences between the
rats as pure chance - supplied the study to safety authorities on condition
it was kept confidential. It has consistently refused to make the study
public, saying it "contains confidential business information which
could be of commercial use to our competitors". Last week the dispute
ended in a German court, where Greenpeace argued the study should be published
under a European Union law, namely the public should have access to documents
assessing GM risks.
- The court agreed. Greenpeace hailed the victory as "an
important success". Monsanto appealed. Tony Combes, UK director of
corporate affairs, said: "Everyone who needs to see [the study] has
- The company denies environmentalists' accusations that
it is appealing to try to keep the study secret while European ministers
decide next month whether to allow the corn to be sold for human consumption.
If ministers cannot agree, the EC has made clear it will wave it through
anyway, using a loophole in European law.
- Dr Brian John, of GM-free Cymru, welcomed the court's
decision and said it would be "irresponsible and cynical in the extreme"
to pass the corn for human consumption.
- ©2005 Independent News & Media (UK) Ltd.