TWN Biosafety Info: Assessment of Stacked Bt Soybean Overlooks Potential Health Risks

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THIRD WORLD NETWORK BIOSAFETY INFORMATION SERVICE

Dear Friends and Colleagues

Assessment of Stacked Bt Soybean Overlooks Potential Health Risks

In June 2012, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) approved, for the first time, genetically engineered stacked soybean MON87701 × MON89788, produced by Monsanto and sold under the brand name Intacta, for import and use in food and feed in the EU. The soybeans combine the expression of an insecticidal Bt toxin, Cry1Ac, present in the parental event MON87701, with herbicide resistance to glyphosate from parental event MON89788.

A recent review, published in the Journal Environmental Sciences Europe, examines the associated health risks and the risk assessment undertaken by EFSA based on the data from Monsanto, which carried out field trials in the US and Argentina. The review found serious gaps in the assessment of Intacta, which need further examination: thepotential combinatorial effects between plant components and other impact factors that might enhance toxicity; the immunogenic properties of Bt toxins; the lack of reliable protocols for measuring the Bt concentration in the plants; and the impacts of glyphosate residues and their interaction with Bt toxins.

The researchers recommend a major review of the concept of comparative risk assessment. Among other things, they call for detailed investigations into: the toxicity of Bt toxins; combinatorial effects taking into account long-term effects and the residues from spraying with complementary herbicides; and the impacts on immune and hormonal systems. They stress that stacked events displaying a high degree of complexity due to possible interactions should not undergo a lower level of risk assessment than the parental plants. Since further soybean varieties expressing Bt toxins are already in the pipeline, these issues require urgent attention.

With best wishes,

Third World Network
131 Jalan Macalister
10400 Penang
Malaysia
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Websites: http://www.twn.my/and http://www.biosafety-info.net/
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