US scientists claim to have discovered a dangerous new plant disease linked to genetically modified crops and the pesticides used on them.
The research, which is yet to be completed, suggests the pathogen could be the cause of recent widespread crop failure and miscarriages in livestock.
Emeritus Professor Don Huber from Perdue University says his research shows that animals fed on GM corn or soybeans may suffer serious health problems due the pathogen.
“They’re finding anywhere from 20 per cent to as much as 55 per cent of those [animals] will miscarriage or spontaneously abort,” he said.
“It will kill a chicken embryo for instance in 24-48 hours.”
Professor Huber says it isn’t clear yet whether it is the GM crops or the use of the pesticide glyphosate that causes the pathogen. But he says his research shows both the pesticide and the GM crops also reduce the ability of plants to absorb nutrients from the soil that are necessary for animal health.
“If you have the [GM] gene present there is a reduced efficiency for the plant to use those nutrients. “When you put the glyphosate out then you have an additional factor to reduce the nutrient availability to the crop,” he said.
Professor Huber’s concerns came to light in February this year after a private letter he wrote to US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary, Tom Vilsack, was leaked to the media.