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Press release - 11 April 2008

GM: let true science prevail!

Open letter to the French Prime Minister Mr François Fillon; ministers for the Environment: Mr Jean-Louis Borloo and Ms Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet; and the minister for Health Ms Roselyne Bachelot, concerning the current debate on genetically modified (GM) products

GM : LET TRUE SCIENCE PREVAIL !

The current debate concerning legislation of GM products betrays a lack of understanding of human health issues. This lack of informed opinion applies both to those in favour, as well as those who are against GM products. The problem will not be solved by appointing high-level committees, who may, or may not, provide clear guidelines . Rather, we should apply common sense and good science by studying the effects of these GM products directly on human cell cultures.

Such science has been around for the last 15 years - so-called "omics" technology – which reveal the biological response of cells in culture to environmental stresses and other agents. The know-how to apply these research methods is readily available in France. The group Antidote Europe is among the organisations that are familiar with this technology, and in particular, the application known as “toxicogenomics”, which measures changes in gene expression in cells exposed to chemical substances or other environmental stressors (visit http://www.antidote-europe.org).

Antidote Europe has identified three areas of risk with respect to GM products:
1. Risks associated with the genetic make up of the GM product (especially “gene promoters”). It is a fact that GM components will subsequently be found in the cells of the intestines of humans or animals who consume such products. These components may include gene promoters, which are known to affect the behaviour of normal gene activity. Of particular concern is the effect on the body’s naturally-occurring “oncogenes”. Whereas these oncogenes are essential for rapid cell growth in the developing human embryo, these same genes can lead to uncontrolled cell growth and cancer, if their activity is not carefully regulated in the adult.
2. Risks associated with "downstream" GM products. An example of this is the so-called "bt" protein contained in GM maize. This protein has been shown to produce holes in the intestines of insects that have been exposed to this product. With the aid of toxicogenomics, it would be possible to study the effect of the “bt” protein on human cell culture.
3. Risks associated with pesticides that are well tolerated by GM products ( e.g. glyphosate,"Roundup Ready"). Here again, toxicogenomics would allow the study of glyphosate on human cell cultures. Antidote Europe has already conducted a pilot study using a range of other pesticides.

In the absence of a sound scientific evaluation, based on human cells, consumers will continue to be exposed to a largely unquantifiable risk posed by GM products.

Antidote Europe is a non profit organisation whose principal aim is the improvement of human health through sound science and preventive measures.

Please do not hesitate to contact us should you wish to receive any additional material. We should like to inform you that we are releasing this letter to the media.

Yours faithfully,

Dr Claude REISS Molecular biologist, President of Antidote Europe ; Tel :+33 04 76 36 35 87 ; 04 68 80 53 32
Dr Andre Menache MRCVS CEO Antidote Europe ; Tel +44-7906-446889
25 rue Jacques Callot – 66000 Perpignan (France)