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Canola fieldA recent article from the BBC has shown that genetically engineered (GE) plants have become established in the wild.  Researchers from the University of Arkansas studied wild canola plants in the countryside of North Dakota and found that 80% of the wild plants were contaminated with transgenes. This study confirms what environmentalists and public health advocates have been concerned about for years – that GE plants will cross-breed with their natural counterparts and forever contaminate our wildlife with patented transgenes.

Friends of the Earth believes this study proves that we must take a precautionary approach to biotechnology. Our government does not test GE plants for safety (at the request of the biotechnology industry). Independent studies of GE crops have shown severe damage caused by consuming GE foods, such as damaged stomach lining after eating GE potatoes and sterility and infant mortality from eating GE soy. What makes this problem worse is that genetic pollution, unlike other forms of pollution (such as oil in the Gulf of Mexico) is permanent and can never be cleaned up. If it is found that GE canola is in fact dangerous to human health there will be no turning back – our canola will forever be contaminated with Monsanto’s genes that only benefit Monsanto and its shareholders.

It is becoming increasingly difficult for consumers to purchase GE-free canola products and if things continue in this direction it will soon be impossible. Citizens have a right to eat the foods they want, including foods free of genetic manipulation. Friends of the Earth helped uncover the controversy that genetically engineered corn not approved for human consumption had leaked into our food system in early 2000. Friends of the Earth continues to fight against the genetic engineering of our crops and animals. We are beginning to rev-up our campaign for the 2012 Farm Bill to ensure that dangerous technologies, such as genetic engineering, nanotechnology, and synthetic biology, stay out of our food system.