While conducting analysis for potential allergens in GMO crops, the European Safety Authority (EFSA) has made a discovery raising big questions about the safety of the controversial technology and the effectiveness of our regulation models. A significant fragment of a viral gene known as Gene VI that aside from being potentially unsafe for human consumption, may also disturb the normal functioning of crops, including their resistance to disease and pests. The discovery can only be understated as an embarrassment for the regulatory agency that has been approving the use of the affected products, including some of the most widely grown GMOs such as Roundup-ready soybeans and maize, for over twenty years.

European Union regulations call for monitoring of all GMO crops to allow for records of illness or death reported by farmers and health professionals, which should be usefull in tracing any patterns. Unfortunately, not one member of the EU has carried through on promises to scientifically monitor for any negative consequences resulting from the use of GMOs.

Faced with the discovery of the potential hazard, the agency was left with a hard decision to make. Do they issue an immediate recall of all GM products containing the Gene VI fragment, or launch a retrospective risk assessment to determine if any ill effects have resulted from its use. The political and financial implications of a recall quickly steered the agency toward the risk assessment which has since been carried out and clearly indicates a potential for serious harm. The only option left consistent with the scientific findings and the agency’s role of protecting the public would be a total recall which has yet to be announced.

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