By David KnowlesNew York Daily News

It is estimated that 70 percent of the food on American supermarket shelves now contains genetically modified organisms, and a study undertaken at Caen University in France found that rats who were fed diets consisting of genetically modified corn developed tumors at higher rates than those who were not.

A review of the Caen study by six leading French academies found that it was flawed.

“Given the numerous gaps in methods and interpretation, the data presented in this article cannot challenge previous studies which have concluded that NK603 corn is harmless from the health point of view,” a statement from the national academies of agriculture, medicine, pharmacy, sciences, technology, and veterinary studies said.

Monsanto, whose net sales topped $13.5 billion in 2012, says claims that GMO crops are dangerous are without merit.

“They’re the most-tested food product that the world has ever seen,” Monsanto CEO Hugh Grant told the Wall Street Journal in January. “Europe set up its own Food Standards Agency, which has now spent €300 million ($403.7 million), and has concluded that these technologies are safe. France determined there’s no safety issue on a corn line we submitted there. So there’s always a great deal of political noise and turmoil. If you strip that back and you get to the science, the science is very strong around these technologies.”

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While scant data exists on the long-term health effects of eating GMO products, 61 countries, including China, have instituted labeling restrictions. Meanwhile, eight European countries—Poland, Austria, France, Germany, Hungary, Luxembourg, Greece, and Bulgaria—have gone as far as to ban the cultivation of GMO crops inside their borders.

Many activists say they simply don’t buy anything put forth by the executives of Monsanto, a company, they point out, that has manufactured such ecological scourges as Agent Orange, DDT, and saccharine.

“Yes, I have a complete mistrust of Monsanto,” Canal said.

Further fueling the animosity toward Monsanto is the inclusion of what has been dubbed the “Monsanto Protection Act” into a spending resolution recently signed into law by President Obama. The provision has been painted as a government gift to the company.

“This dangerous provision, the Monsanto Protection Act, strips judges of their constitutional mandate to protect consumer and farmer rights and the environment, while opening up the floodgates for the planting of new untested genetically engineered crops, endangering farmers, citizens, and the environment,” the group Food Democracy Now said on its website.

Canal said that she hopes the May 25 protests will help educate people about what she sees as a danger Monsanto’s products pose to the planet.

While dozens of local Facebook pages and videos featuring Hollywood stars have sprung up to promote the event, it remains to be seen just how many people will turn out to voice their displeasure with a company whose profits have grown by 87 percent over the past two years.

“Among the early-20s crowd in Salt Lake City, the message has been received fairly well,” Canal said. “The older-than-30 crowd really doesn’t seem to want to hear about it. But that doesn’t bother me. I think the more informed people become, the more likely they’ll be to change their behavior.”

This article was written by David Knowles and published in New York Daily News on May 8, 2013.

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