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IS GM FOOD SAFE FOR HUMAN HEALTH?

A Russian group has recently announced that they are working with scientists to launch a long-term health study on a GM food. According to the researchers, this $25m three-year experiment will represent the world’s largest and most comprehensive study about the safety of GM food.

The group has explained that this study involves scientists that will test thousands of rats which will be fed differing diets of Monsanto GM maize, and the world’s most widely-used herbicide that it is created to be grown with.

This project will investigate the long-term health effects of a diet of GMmaize developed by US seed and chemical company Monsanto, the researchers say.

Elena Sharoykina, a campaigner and co-founder of the Russian national association for genetic safety (Nags), the co-ordinator of the experiment, has outlined that the study will try to find out if GM food, and associated pesticide, are safe for human health.

Experts stress the importance of this project: the experiment will try to understand whether the GM maize and its associated herbicide cause diseases as cancers, reduce fertility or cause birth defects.

The GM foods were introduced in 1994: this issue has raised strong debates and doubts about the possible consequences on human health. However, many experts have highlighted that while there have been many  studies that show the absence of health risk, government regulators have not required evidence of long-term safety.

Huw Jones, senior research scientist at Rothamsted Institute, the Britain’s largest GM research centre, has recognized that if the science, conducted according to OECD guidelines, will show that there are risks with a particular event, then the public will receive the feedback.

In relation to that, the scale and format of this study will allow us to create a comprehensive data set on the mechanics of the impacts of a GM diet on the health of living organisms over the long term, the deputy science director at the Sysin research institute of human ecology and environmental health has indicated.

Moreover, from a scientific point of view, this project is highly ambitious. In this way, the study will be very interesting for both the public and for the scientists involved.

In addition to that, experts have argued that thecultivation of herbicide resistant crops is widespread in the US, and the use of the herbicides to which these crops are resistant has increased many-fold in the decades since they were introduced.

However, there is a significant lack of data on their safety, as well as data on the safety of the increased use of herbicides with which they are grown.

In this context, researchers stress that the previous studies have raised concerns for various reasons: choice of animal, insufficient statistics, duration of tests, research parameters, and researchers’ connections to the anti-GMO movement or the biotech industry.

In relation to that, the study will represent a significant step ahead, experts say. The project will try to remedy the situation, considering all of the points of disagreement surrounding this matter.

The experiment will be conducted in Western Europe and Russia. Although it was cautiously welcomed by both GM sceptics and proponents of the technology, experts have recognized the importance of this project that will try to reach a clear answer about the safety for human health of GM food.

According to Greenpeace, this study can be an important attempt in order to fill some of the major gaps in our knowledge about the impact of GM glyphosate resistant maize and glyphosate on health.

 

The gLAWcal Team

LIBEAC project

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

(Source: The Guardian)