Scientists rebuff Center for Food Safety report alleging chemicals in infant soy milk

Just days before the mandatory labeling votes in Oregon and Colorado, the anti-GMO activist group Center for Food Safety injected itself into the campaign by claiming that infants might be at risk from drinking soy milk made from genetically modified soy.

Just as Oregonians are voting on whether to label genetically engineered foods, Center for Food Safety (CFS) announced that genetic testing has confirmed the presence of soy that has been genetically engineered by Monsanto for heavy pesticide exposure in infant formula that is being sold in Portland, Oregon.

I think most moms purchasing infant formula have no idea they are feeding their baby a product that has been genetically engineered to survive exposure to high levels of chemical pesticides,” says Aurora Paulsen with Center for Food Safety’s Portland office. “It’s no surprise that Monsanto is the top donor opposing Measure 92 which would give Oregonians the ability to know what foods have been genetically engineered. The presence of these products in infant formula being sold in Oregon really highlights the need for basic labeling.”

Center for Food Safety (CFS) is the driving force behind most of the current US campaigns to ban or label GM products, from Vermont to Hawaii to Oregon. Although a 501(c)(3) charity, the group is headed by Andrew Kimbrell, a lawyer, and focuses much of its efforts and resources suing local, State and federal government agencies over GMO issues.

The fact that pesticides are used to grow food is not news, so the CFS press release was seen as a last ditch publicity stunt to influence the election and was largely ignored by the news media. But one Oregon paper, the Statesman Journal in Salem, ran with the news release, presenting the CFS spin unfiltered.

Some infant formula sold in Portland contains soy that has been genetically engineered to withstand heavy pesticide spraying, laboratory testing has found. The Center for Food Safety, a national environmental advocacy organization, purchased the formula earlier this month and had the tests conducted. It found that two brands – Similac Soy Isomil and Enfamil Prosobee Powder Soy Infant Formula – tested positive for soy that is genetically engineered for resistance to Monsanto’s glyphosate and Bayer Crop Science’s glufosinate.

The pushback from scientists has been fierce. Steven Strauss, Distinguished Professor with the Center for Genome Research and Biocomputing at Oregon State University, called it “yellow journalism”. The CFS claim that there is “heavy pesticide exposure” in the infant formula is false on two grounds, scientists and farming groups noted: the most common pesticide used by soy farmers–those growing GM soy and those not–is glyphosate, which is sparingly used and has very low toxicity, is not harmful to infants as used in farming and is biodegradable; and the formula itself contains no harmful pesticide residues. Pesticides are widely used by all soy farmers, including organic growers.

Related article:  Viewpoint: Christopher Portier—well-paid activist scientist at center of the ban-glyphosate movement

The American Soybean Association released a statement, highlighting misrepresentations in the CFS release, many of which were repeated in the newspaper account.

CFS uses pseudoscience to try to needlessly scare parents away from foods that provide valuable protein to their children. In doing so, they place the health of Oregon children at risk, all in the name of winning votes for an upcoming ballot initiative to label GMOs. … The CFS ‘study’ found that soy infant formula contains soy.  That should not be shocking news, but what is shocking is the inaccurate information the CFS gave about soy that is genetically modified.

More than 95 percent of the nation’s soybeans are grown with the benefits of genetic modification. Farmers use this technology because it enables us to grow the soy that American consumers demand for their families, while using fewer natural resources and achieving the sustainable production practices that American consumers demand of us.

It is irresponsible for special interest groups to suggest safety concerns, directly or by innuendo, about products containing GM soy ingredients. In this case, the CFS has chosen to play politics with children’s health, all in the name of votes.

 

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