“Tell me what you eat and I’ll tell you who you are”. Well if there is something I do not want to be that is a big yellow piece of genetically modified corn.
Genetically Modified Food, otherwise known as G.M ( “Genuinely Monstrous”) has made a comeback on the scientific scene mid-September as a group of French scientists published the results of their two-year experiment on GM corn in the very much praised American scientific revue “Food and Chemical Toxicology”.
The group of scientist led by Professor Séralini took on the first full experiment ever realised on GM food: a two year long study which corresponds to a rat’s life expectancy. Indeed, previous experiments had been made by the Monsanto Company (which owns 90% of the world’s GM seeds and their licence) but their length were kept under the period of 90 days beyond which the French Séralini and his colleagues have observed significant results.
The results are striking: They discredit the assumption according to which genetically modified corn is harmless. However these observations are being largely criticised on a scientific level as well as creating a huge polemic in scientific, sanitary, political and industrial fields.
200 rats were thus placed under observation for two whole years. They were split into groups fed with a more or less high proportion of Monsanto’s GM corn NK 603 in their diet.
What the scientists found out is that GM fed rats developed two to three times more tumours than non GM fed rats. At the beginning of the 24th month 50% to 80% of the GM fed female rats had developed tumours (which reached up to 25% of their weight) compared to 30% for the non GM fed. Male rats were touched much earlier, as soon as the fourth month, but they seemed less sensitive than females as “only up to 40%” developed tumours pathologies by the end of the second year.
For the story, the study, from its code name In Vivo, was led clandestinely. The French scientists were so afraid that Monsanto would try and prevent them to achieve any results that they forbade themselves any telephone conversations, encrypted all the emails and even launched a fake experiment to create confusion.
Those details play in favour of Séralini’s conclusions enhancing the evil character of the Monsanto firm. Yet, regarding the expenses for conducting such experiment, the precautious taken by the group are not only utterly justified but present strong evidence of the existing corruption in the scientific world. Sadly, financial interests have created so strong lobbies that science for progress seems demoted to a background motivation.
Yet, since the first publication of the team’s results, vivid criticisms have flowed. The scientific protocol is put into doubt as the team hasn’t (yet) specified the amount of food given to the rats nor their growth rate. Other concerns point out the fact that the type of rat used for the experiment is naturally more prone to tumour pathologies than other rat species.
Those scientific based criticisms find legitimacy in the core of scientific research: within a study, external factors can be numerous and impact on the results.
However, without questioning scientific methods, it seems that some of the criticisms regarding Séralini’s experiment stand outside of common sense. For instance, it has been argued that the team’s conclusion were overestimated according to the fact that GM food has been in use in the US for about 15years and that no such “tumorous epidemic” have yet hit the population…
Well the first thing I would answer to that is… FORTUNATELY didn’t 70% of women and 40% of men declared tumours! The whole point of the study is precisely to avoid such situation.
Anti-GM defendants are often accused of anti-scientific behaviours; but here evidence is growing that our current ability of producing GM crops is bound to be seriously dangerous for our organism (leaving apart the second chapter on its consequences on biodiversity). Although risk zero isn’t part of our world, I don’t think this particular risk is worth taking.
An interesting thing to note is that the study was for half financed by some major French agro-industrial companies which, to prevent a judicial sue against them for selling poisonous food, commissioned a full experiment on GMO crops.
This spontaneous action of some of the biggest lobbies in the French food chain illustrates the general mistrust towards GM food and calls for the right to know what is being sold to the common people directly and indirectly through milk, eggs and meat. The results are flagrant. Claims have been made for a suspension in the EU of the cultivation and import of GM crops. The unfolding of the story is likely to generate a major turn in the production of food and maybe also in our understanding of modern science.
Human nature has taken on an all mighty status in which it believes that nothing can stop man until a major catastrophe arises. Regularly new technologies are being put into practice without us knowing exactly the impact on ourselves and our surrounding world.
Scientific level has never been of such a high standard. Progress in technologies, better food distribution and redistribution and greater waste awareness would largely enable us to feed the world’s population. In that regard, GM poisonous food isn’t needed.
Further independent researches on GM crops are still necessarily to make sure we actually master completely this new technology. For the time being, GM crops ‘commercialisation has to stop for the basic right of health and safety regarding food.
Source: Le Nouvel Observateur