Dr. Mae-Wan Ho (ISIS) ondersteunt het Burgerinitiatief ‘Nijmegen gentechvrij’

17 juni 2011

Tot onze vreugde ontvingen wij van Dr. Mae-Wan Ho, directeur van het Institute for Science in Society te Londen de volgende steunbetuiging gericht aan de gemeenteraad van Nijmegen:

8 June 2011

Dr. Mae-Wan Ho
Director, Institute of Science in Society
29 Tytherton Road
London N19 4PZ


Dear Municipal Council of Nijmegen,

I write in support of the Nijmegen citizens’ initiative to declare Nijmegen GM-free
on behalf of the Institute of Science in Society (ISIS), a not-for-profit
organisation dedicated to reclaiming science for the public good.

As part of the work of ISIS, and also as a member on the roster of scientific
experts of the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, I and my colleagues have been
monitoring and reviewing extensive scientific literature and empirical evidence on
genetically modified (GM) crops and livestock since 1994.

It has been widely recognized since the 1970s that genetic engineering is inherently
hazardous because it greatly enhances horizontal gene transfer and recombination, a
main route to creating new pathogens in nature. That was why genetic engineering
experiments were strictly controlled and contained in the laboratory well into the

When genetic modification of crops began, all caution was thrown to the wind. GM
crops were released freely into the environment and considered ‘safe’ a priori,
whereas they are even less safe than genetic engineering microbes in many respects.
Genetic modification of higher plants and animals – as opposed to microbes – is
unreliable and uncontrollable, thereby introducing the further risks of
unpredictable effects in the GMOs that can impact adversely on health and the
environment. In addition, the foreign genes transferred are either biopesticides
poisonous to a whole range of non-target organisms, including humans and livestock,
or genes making crops tolerant to toxic herbicides that thereby enter our food
chain, with disastrous effects. All these hazards have been confirmed in research
carried out by scientists independent of the industry: feeding trials have resulted
in unexplained deaths, liver and kidney toxicities, infertility, stunting, adverse
immune reactions, and birth defects. GM crops now grown in hundreds of millions of
hectares worldwide have brought new pests, and new diseases in crops and livestock.

Unfortunately, our national and international regulators have persistently ignored
and dismissed damning evidence against the safety of GMOs, and worse, colluding with
industry to manipulate science to promote GMOs. Worst of all, honest scientists are
being victimized, and often by their own academic institutions that should be
protecting and defending them.

Academic science is in danger of losing all public trust, and not just in the field
of GMOs. The European Assembly, in its recent resolution calling for lower exposure
limits to radiofrequency electromagnetic fields associated with mobile phones,
highlighted the need for “genuine independence” of scientific research and
expertise. It noted “clear parallels with other current issues, such as licensing of
medication, chemical pesticides, heavy metals or genetically modified organisms.”

Finally, a growing scientific consensus now see the need to replace
industrial, fossil-fuel intensive agriculture with organic,
agro-ecological farming in order to save the climate and feed the world.
This is all the more urgent in view of the current world food crisis
that has triggered the riots and political instability in North Africa
and the Middle East, and spreading to the rest of Africa, Latin America,
and some fear, soon to Europe.

In conclusion, the local government of Nijmegen is most fortunate in
having such popular support to go GM-free, and can now take the lead in
making the right decisions for the country, and ultimately for the world
at large.

Yours sincerely,

Dr. Mae-Wan Ho
For Institute of Science in Society