Monsanto responds to PREMIUM TIMES’ report, says own modified crops ‘safe’


A U.S. multinational agrochemical and agricultural biotechnology corporation, Monsanto, has debunked concerns about the safety of genetically modified crops.

In a response to a PREMIUM TIMES report, the organization said concerns about the safety of GMOs are unfounded.

“Many of us at Monsanto are parents who have spent a lot of time thinking about and studying GMOS and we feel confident feeding them to our kids,” Charla Lord, a Monsanto spokesperson said in an email Thursday.

“A big part of that confidence comes from knowing that independent experts who’ve looked at GMOs have concluded that they’re as safe as other foods. That includes groups like the American Medical Association and the World Health Organization, as well as government agencies like the FDA.

“GM crops undergo safety assessments that are more rigorous and thorough than assessments of any other food crop in history.

“The safety assessment strategy ensures that new GM crops are developed and tested in accordance with comprehensive risk assessment strategies and international safety assessment guidelines.”

‘Overwhelming weight of evidence’

PREMIUM TIMES had reported how Nigeria’s National Biosafety Management Agency issued two permits for the Commercial Release and Placing on Market of genetically modified cotton, and the confined field trial of maize, to Monsanto Agriculture Nigeria Limited.

The two permits are: ‘Permit for Commercial release/ Placing on Market of Cotton (MON15985) genetically modified for lepidopteran insect pest resistance’ with Permit No: NBMA/CM/IM/001 and ‘Permit for Confined Field Trial (CFT) of maize (NK603 and MON 89034 x NK603) genetically modified for insect resistance and herbicide tolerance’ with Permit No: NBMA/C FT/001.

The permits came despite concerted efforts of many Nigerians (comprising 100 groups of farmers, faith-based organizations, civil society groups, students, and local farmers) to prevent the introduction of genetically modified (GM) cotton and maize into Nigeria’s foods and farming system.

The NBMA approved the glysophate herbicide resistant maize despite the International Agency for Research on Cancer report that linked the active ingredient glyphosate to cancer.

But Monsanto said there’s “overwhelming weight of evidence” against IARC’s classification of glyphosate as a carcinogen.

“Importantly, IARC overlooked decades of thorough and science-based analysis by regulatory agencies around the world and selectively interpreted data to arrive at its classification of glyphosate,” Ms. Lord said.

“No regulatory agency in the world considers glyphosate to be a carcinogen.

“Regulatory agencies have reviewed all the key studies examined by IARC – and many more – and arrived at the overwhelming consensus that glyphosate poses no unreasonable risks to humans or the environment when used according to label instructions.

“In fact, since IARC classified glyphosate, regulatory authorities in Europe, Canada, Japan and Australia have publicly reaffirmed that glyphosate does not cause cancer.

“Additionally, in May 2016, the Joint FAO/WHO Meeting on Pesticide Residues (JMPR) concluded that ‘glyphosate is unlikely to pose a carcinogenic risk to humans from exposure through the diet.'”

Controversial glyphosate

In 2014, the Sri Lankan government ordered a ban on glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s top-selling herbicide Roundup, following concerns that the chemical may be linked to a kidney disease killing agricultural workers.

The ban came weeks after the publication of a new study in the country suggesting glyphosate as the leading cause of the illness.

While it did not provide new scientific evidence, the paper detailed a theory about how the use of the chemical in areas with heavy metals in the drinking water had caused the chronic kidney disease.

In its email to PREMIUM TIMES, Monsanto argued that glyphosate has a long history of safe use.

“In evaluations spanning four decades, the overwhelming conclusion of experts worldwide has been that glyphosate, when used according to label directions, does not present an unreasonable risk of adverse effects to humans, wildlife or the environment,” said Ms. Lord.

“In the many studies undertaken to date, there is no credible evidence that glyphosate contributes to kidney disorders or chronic kidney disease of unknown origin (CKDu).

“Glyphosate-based herbicides, including Roundup-brand formulated products with surfactants, all have a long history of safe use and do not pose any unreasonable risk to human health when used according to label directions.”

On May 26, 2016, a St. Louis jury ordered Monsanto to pay $46.5million in damages for negligence in the production of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).

The case, which went on trial on April 26, 2016, involved three of nearly 100 plaintiffs claiming that “exposure to PCBs caused cancer and non-Hodgkin lymphoma.”

While a number of plaintiffs had died as a result of the cancers they developed from the toxic PCBs, their claims were made by surviving relatives, according to environmental activists.

Ms. Lord said the court suit involved three plaintiffs and only one was represented by a relative.

“We have deep sympathy for the plaintiffs but the evidence simply does not support the verdict…, including the fact that scientists say more than 90% of non-Hodgkins lymphoma cases have no known cause,” she said.

“Monsanto’s predecessor company manufactured and sold PCBs, an industrial chemical, to large companies that then incorporated them as safety fluids and additives in their own products.

“Monsanto stopped manufacturing PCBs in 1977 and the current company focuses solely on agricultural products so this case has nothing to do with Monsanto’s business today.”


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  • Mama Kay

    Well, GM crops are not allowed in UK, why should Nigeria permit such?

    Our selfish rulers who only think of the money that they are bribed with but not of the good of the citizens.

  • Watch man

    For those who may accuse me of ‘copying and pasting’, I am again ‘copying and pasting’ some news headlines from around the world that shows a global protest against GMO. If the GMO pesticides and the like that the seed companies are dishing out are so good why is there a global protest against such? Why is it difficult for Nigeria govt to conduct an objective, independent and credible investigation about the cry of the people? When a child begins to point at a particular direction the onus is on the mother to find out what the child is pointing at.

    The News Headlines
    1. Brussels threatens to eradicate weed killer sold by Monsanto – CNBC

    2. Recall of Monsanto’s Roundup likely as EU refuses limited use of glyphosate – The Guardian

    3. Monsanto May Suspend Burkina Faso Business After Ban – Bloomberg

    4. Call on Cornwall Council to ban ‘toxic’ pesticides – West Briton

    5. Monsanto Loses Major PCBs Poisoning Lawsuit, Forced To Pay $46 Million To Victims – Mint Press News

    6. Thousands march against GMO giant Monsanto as Bayer takeover looms – RTdotcom

    7. Protesters worldwide slam US-based biotech giant Monsanto – PressTV

    8. Portsmouth joins 2016 Global March against Monsanto – Seacoastonline

    9. Nebraska Farmers Sue Monsanto for Allegedly Giving Them Cancer – Modern Farmer

    10. Slap in the Face for Monsanto: European Parliament Votes to Ban Most Uses of Glyphosate – Global Research

    11. Two-thirds of Europeans support ban on glyphosate, says Yougov poll – The Guardian

    12. Nine Out of 10 Americans Tested Positive for Monsanto’s Cancer-Linked Weedkiller Glyphosate – alternet

    13.Monsanto GMO Banned by Africa’s Largest Cotton Producer – telesur

    14.Glyphosate ‘Revolution’ Growing – Consumers Want Answers – U.S.Right To Know

    15. France Bans Monsanto’s Roundup as Environmental Groups Push WHO for Stronger Safety Standards – EcoWatch

    16. Why the EU should ban the world’s most popular herbicide – chinadialogue

  • Gary

    A multinational corporation is trying to use Nigerians as Guinea pigs for their carcinogenic GMO products. What else is new here? They were still marketing cigarettes to us when Govts in the West had banned smoking advertisements and actively curbing smoking in their countries. They will continue to abuse and enslave us for as long as our government allows them.

  • Prince Awele Odor

    Mr. Ben Ezeamalu,

    A friend sent me your report about the response of Charla Lord, a public matter representative of Monsanto, on the safety of GMOs/GM foods:

    I wish to respond to it VERY BRIEFLY—without all the available, necessary and important details—here.

    The first part of the report that is of interest to me is:

    “Many of us at Monsanto are parents”

    This statement, “Many of us at Monsanto are parents”, is fallacious, or absolutely irrelevant, unnecessary and unimportant, because it does not deal with the issue. In other words, it amounts to begging that the public should consider that workers at Monsanto are parents as a basis for consuming GM foods and giving same to their children. The speaker doe NOT want other parents and to insist that safety study should be carried out and evidence of the safety of GMO or GM foods should be universal or global before nations, especially children, begin to consume GM foods.

    But other parents have the right to insist on evidence that GM foods are safe before they give them to their children because if a parent does not give his or her child poisonous GM food, it does not mean that the parent will not give it to a Nigerian child or any other child.

    The second is: “we feel confident feeding them to our kids”.

    Concerning this absolutely false claim, it is noted ONLY generally accepted evidence of the safety of GM foods can give confidence to parents and nations that GM foods are safe and not a statement by workers for Monsanto who have interests (job preservation and salaries) in the production and consumption of GM foods. There is NOT EVEN ONE GENERALLY ACCEPTED EVIDENCE OF SAFETY OF GM food. Therefore, their claim of confidence is false, deliberately deceitful, and selfish. Moreover, if the statement is true, they should present their children for use in open and independent clinical study of the safety of any GM food by experts—which they should be present at—and not ask us to rely on their claim that they feed their children with GM foods. It is noted that this challenge has been made to them many times and that they have refused to present themselves or their children for the safety study of GM food. So far, only one such safety study has been done. It evidenced that GM food is harmful to health and deadly.

    Another statement:

    “A big part of that confidence comes from knowing that independent experts who’ve looked at GMOs have concluded that they’re as safe as other foods. That includes groups like the American Medical Association and the World Health Organization, as well as government agencies like the FDA”. (The FDA means that United States Foods and Drugs Administration}.

    It is noted that NONE of the organsations named is an INDEPENDENT body. Take note that the WHO, a US government organisation, does not carry out safety study of GM food. It relies on the Codex Allimentarious, which is also not independent, for its report. Take note also that all claims of safety that have been made by the American Medical Association and the FDA were repeated by truly independent experts who found them to be false. In this regard, it is noted that REPEAT of experiment is a standing rule before safety can be asserted about any GM food. It is also noted that when safety evidence is demanded, it is demanded as a general research-based position of people of opposite views or opinions as promoter and objectors, and not the view or opinion of one side, a producer of GM food, its consultants (e.g., AMA), a government agency (e.g. FDA and DPA), or its other kinds of agents (e.g., Monsanto workers who love their salaries, want to keep their jobs, and do not care about the children of Africa).

    Another point to be noted about that statement is that to say that GM foods are “as safe as other foods” does not say that the safety of GM foods has been studied and that the study revealed the generally accepted safety of GM foods. What I mean is that if the safety of any GM food is based on the safety of any natural or organic food, the natural or organic food was studied for safety and found to be safe while the safety of the GM food was studied.

    The author of this story, Mr. Ben Ezeamalu, should have demanded and presented in detail evidence of any GM food which Monsanto, any of its agents or any other company that produces GMOs claimed is safe, the safety of which was confirmed by an independent body of experts after its repeat of the safety study of the GM food.

    As support of this demand, it is noted that Monsanto declared that its GM corn NK603 was safe while after Giles-Eric Seralini and others repeated its experiment, using exactly the method used by Monsanto and the same rats used by it in 2012, they found that it caused the rats to suffer cancers and damaged their kidneys and livers. Controversy was created by the agents of Monsanto and a second independent body of experts repeated the experiment in 2014 and upheld their result

    • Watch man

      Prince, it may also interest you to read a precursor to the current news caption written by the same author (Ben Ezeamalu) which he captioned “Nigeria deploys genetically modified cotton, maize despite safety concerns”.
      You may also read the comments on the same article. I am glad you highlighted the mischief that is being orchestrated by this corporation. My primary concern is that I am not sure that Nigeria govt is truly interested in the health of her citizens. If they do, they ought to have paid attention to the opinion of her citizens. Thanks for your objective analysis.

      • Prince Awele Odor

        My brother, Watch man, thank your for you kind appreciation of my contribution.

        You noted: “I am not sure that Nigeria govt is truly interested in the health of her citizens. If they do, they ought to have paid attention to the opinion of her citizens”.

        This is a right observation. But this attitude is not limited to the government.

        Consider the fact that the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) has said nothing and done nothing about this issues while it does not sleep over fuel price increase, subsidy removal, unpaid salary and the sacking of workers, why? What I mean is, which is of greater necessity, importance or value between to ensure that Nigerians eat safe foods, stay alive in good health and enjoy longevity, and to ensure that Nigerians have fuel at cheap cost, have jobs, or earn “good” salaries? I have written the president of the NLC over it many times and got no reply to any of my letters although they were delivered with evidences about what I wrote. I wish to inform all that I delivered the letters in Abuja personally and could not see the president or any other top person.

        How many Nigerian universities have shown interest in the matter? Which Nigerian university has evidence that it has carried out independent safety study of any GMO or GM food and found that the former is safe for farming and the latter is safe for consumption? Has the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) demonstrated awareness of the matter and the issues concerning it? Has the academic body, ASUU, demanded proof of safety of GMOs and GM foods? What views have you heard from individual academics of of Nigerians universities on this matter?

        Have you discussed it with other Nigerians, including your friends, and got their responses to what you told them about GMO and, or GM food? What are their responses?

        How many television, newspaper and radio companies have been informing the people in government and other Nigerians objectively, honestly or rightly about the matter? Compare how much they inform Nigerians about the views of the people who promote GMOs and GM foods with how much they inform Nigerians about the views that those who oppose GMOs and GM foods and tell me which obe is more and, hence, where their loyalty is. Compare also their style or manner of presenting the two views and tell everyone where their loyalty is or which side is favoured by their presentation and its contents.

        As an example. They write and say: “The people who oppose GMOs/GM foods express CONCERN (my emphasis) over the safety of GM foods”. But the matter has gone beyond the expression of “concern” over the safety of GM foods because it has been established through safety study that GM foods are toxic, carcinogenic, allergenic, nutrient deficient, etc. While there is NO evidence of any safe GM food anywhere in the world, they report “Monsanto says that its GM foods are safe” or “as safe as organic foods”. They report in such positive and categorical manner when they report the false, commerce-and-profit-motivated claims of the other promoters of GMOs and GM foods.

        In other words, the facts of the people who oppose GMOs and GM food are presented in relative manner, which creates doubt or reason to reject it, while the lies of the promoters are presented in positive manner which creates belief and acceptance. This is the daily and aggressive source of information for the people in government

        I am trying to demonstrate that if the resistance or obstacle was due to the attitude of the people in government alone—including the president and the legislators—it would not last or get us to where we are now. While many of them act selfishly, many of them act ignorantly. The president and legislators are not left out of this fact

        By the way, why have you not used your real name so that you will be identified?

        • Watch man

          Ben Ezeamalu just posted another report on this subject few hours ago titled, “Amid complaints, Nigerian govt says experts assessing ‘genetically modified crops’ decision”.
          In the said report, “Shehu Ahmed, the permanent secretary, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, said the government would soon make a statement on the complaints made by Nigerians on the use of GMOs”.
          It is surprising that the same govt that claims that they have the interest of her citizens at heart now want to “make statement” after they had granted permits to Monsanto on a weekend (according to PT report of 8/June/2016). Like you wrote, the so-called NASS and NLC seem to be only interested in their own aspirations, desire and pocket. What shall we do? We would not stop talking and writing.

          Meanwhile I was only exercising my constitutional right by using my pseudo-name but then my identity is also not hidden because I’m already known.

          • Prince Awele Odor

            May I observe that the exercise of “constitutional right” by you in this matter could be seen as relative commitment to the fight and that otherwise, it is a way of serving your interest—financial or any other interest—and not the national interest that we should all me committed to absolutely as juggernauts.

          • Prince Awele Odor

            I wish to know who you are.

            May I observe that the exercise of “constitutional right” by you in this matter could be seen as relative commitment to the fight and that otherwise, it is a way of serving your interest—financial or any other interest—and not the national interest that we should all me committed to absolutely as juggernauts.