Interview excerpts from: The Organic and NonGMO Report: Dr. Ramon Seidler, a retired senior scientist from the US EPA, has become a leading spokesperson against genetically modified foods and the increasing use of pesticides with GM crops.
Dr. Seidler’s criticism of GMOs is noteworthy because during his career at the EPA he studied the impacts of genetically modified organisms on the environment. He and his fellow researchers developed methods to evaluate and predict the survival, multiplication, gene exchange, effects, and dispersal of GMOs. He published papers on these topics.
Prior to his work at the EPA, Dr. Seidler was a professor of microbiology at Oregon State University for 16 years.
Dr. Seidler was elected as Fellow in the American Academy for Microbiology. He was listed by the International Biographical Centre of Cambridge, England as one of the 2,000 Outstanding World Scientists of the 20th Century. He twice received the EPA Bronze Medal for research service to the agency and has authored or co-authored more than 150 scientific peer reviewed publications.
Key problems cited by Dr. Seidler on major risks and problems: “From the risk assessment, economic, and legal perspectives there are many issues. There is a mixture of unfilled promises, concerns over litigation resulting from cross pollination and seed comingling events, and a disappointment that crop management practices have had significant negative impacts upon environmental biosafety. All of these side effects are happening despite no yield or production advantages of GE crops over traditional crops. There are also major concerns over whether the increased use of pesticides on our food crops have impacts upon the human population.
Over 90 percent of Americans wish we had labels on our foods to indicate when GE products are present. One-third of the world has this choice because their foods are labeled, but Americans are denied that option.
Very little sound research has been conducted by independent scientists in American universities. This is because industry essentially restricted such research by requiring professors sign an agreement prior to the research that any published information first be sent to the biotechnology seed industry for review. This de facto censorship discourages scientists and their students from becoming involved in conducting years of research that may never reach the scientific peer reviewed literature. Other countries are rejecting US food products because of genetic contamination. The 2013 discovery of genetically engineered wheat growing illegally in Oregon prevented farmers in our county and elsewhere from exporting their non-GMO wheat until the situation was resolved.”
“Some people have expressed concerns about possible synergistic effects from the use of two herbicides together, that they might be stronger than each individually. I believe that regulatory scientists did not require industry to evaluate the combined effects of paired herbicides. It would be appropriate to see toxicology risk assessments conducted with chemical products that will be sprayed onto our food crops with the actual commercial mixture being tested, not just tests on the so-called “active” ingredients.
My first concern with 2,4-D is whether it is truly free from a horrifically toxic class of chemicals called dioxins. Industry has stated the 2,4-D that will be used is free from dioxin contamination. It would have been reassuring if the regulators had asked industry to conduct periodic chemicals analyses with batches of 2,4-D to document whether dioxins are present.” Dr. Seidler closes the interview by stating that a paradigm shift away from genetically engineered petrochemical-based farming is needed in favor of promoting agroecology, restoration ecology, and organic farming.