Animals fed biotech food safe, industry-linked scientists say (26/7/2006)

"Meat, milk, and eggs produced by farm animals fed biotechnology-derived crops [ie GMOs] are as wholesome, safe and nutritious as similar products produced by animals fed conventional crops," says John Bonner, the executive vice-president of the the Council for Agricultural Science and Technology (CAST).

Who is Bonner?

Earlier in his career he was employed by the International Minerals and Chemical Corporation (first as marketing planning manager and then as international area technical manager) and Bio-Zyme Enterprises, Inc. (as director of technical marketing).

Then for 15 years before heading up CAST, Bonner was employed by Land O'Lakes Inc., first as beef production manager and then as beef production and marketing manager. Most recently, he has served as Land O'Lakes training and marketing manager and eastern sales manager. http://deltafarmpress.com/mag/farming_bonner_named_cast/index.html

In 2002 the National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) "recognized industry leader John M. Bonner Ph.D., beef marketing and training director for Land O’ Lakes Farmland, with its 5th Annual Integrated Resource Management (IRM) Achievement Award."

IRM is a producer education program that is dedicated to improving the economic efficiency of cattle operations. NCBA describes itself as "working to increase profit opportunities for cattle and beef producers by enhancing the business climate and building consumer demand." https://www.beef.org/NEWSACHIEVEMENTAWARDRECOGNIZESBEEFINDUSTRYLEADER4907.aspx

Land O'Lakes developed Roundup(R) Ready alfalfa, in collaboration with Monsanto. (Land O'Lakes Reports $35 Million in Second-Quarter Net Earnings) http://www.prnewswire.com/cgi-bin/stories.pl?ACCT=104&STORY=/www/story/07-25-2006/0004403075&EDATE=

In the article below Bonner says CAST is not beholden to its sponsors and did not send its paper "to any of the major biotech companies and say 'Is this okay?'"

Animals fed biotech food safe, scientists say http://www.truthabouttrade.org/article.asp?id=6098

Des Moines, Iowa — A nonprofit consortium of scientists says in a new report that food products from livestock that eat biotech crops do not present a risk to consumers.

A three-member task force of the Council for Agricultural Science and Technology (CAST) compiled the report, which looked at regulatory assessments and evaluated safety data.

"Meat, milk, and eggs produced by farm animals fed biotechnology-derived crops are as wholesome, safe and nutritious as similar products produced by animals fed conventional crops," said John Bonner, CAST's executive vice-president.

The council, formed in 1972, is a consortium of 38 scientific and professional societies as well as company and nonprofit members and more than 1,200 individual members.

The group brings together agriculture experts from round the world to assemble, interpret and communicate scientific information and gets funding from its members, which include biotech companies.

Doug Gurian-Sherman, a senior scientist with environmental advocacy group, The Center for Food Safety, said the centre recommends that people not eat genetically engineered products.

"Because the testing is inadequate, we can't be as confident about the safety as we should be," Mr. Gurian-Sherman said.

He added that CAST's support from the biotech industry must also "be considered in the background."

Mr. Bonner said CAST is not beholden to its sponsors and did not send its eight-page issue paper, released this month, "to any of the major biotech companies and say 'Is this okay?'"

"We assemble, interpret and communicate credible science," he said.

The issue paper is part of a series on animal agriculture's future through biotechnology, Mr. Bonner said.

Richard Phipps, chairman of the task force that wrote the paper, said that production of biotech crops, including corn, soybean, canola and cotton, has increased dramatically during the past decade and that biotech crops "are an important feedstuff in livestock production systems."

Animal products represent about one-sixth of humans' food energy and one-third of their food protein, the group said in a news release. "It is essential, therefore, to consider the safety of meat, milk and eggs obtained from animals fed crops derived from modern biotechnology," Mr. Phipps said in a statement.

The task force reviewed regulatory assessments on genetically modified crops, looked at results of feeding studies in farm animals and examined what happens when animals consume various proteins and DNA, among other areas.

The bulk of information it reviewed was from the late 1990s through last year.

The paper said evidence indicates that the possible presence of plant DNA fragments in animals tissue did not present a risk. In addition, it said the regulatory processes in place "have been effective in safeguarding the public health."

The task force recommends future research "to ensure continued safety and nutritive value of feeds in current and future crops derived from modern biotechnology," the news release said.

Mr. Gurian-Sherman praised the recommendation for continuing case-by-case evaluations, but he had concerns about the scope of the data that were reviewed.

He said most of the data now available are derived from a couple of biotechnology crops – which include weed and insect-resistant genes – while there are potentially hundreds of genes that can be used in genetically engineered crops.

Mr. Gurian-Sherman said crops fed to livestock are mostly regulated under a voluntary Food and Drug Administration program where companies are tasked with ensuring the safety of their own products.

"That has some serious implications for the quality of safety review that is done," he said.

Mr. Bonner said CAST's paper is slated to be presented at international science symposiums.

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