A Serial GMO fear monger is smoked out -Nairobi (October 19, 2012)


  A Serial GMO fear monger is smoked out

Nairobi (October 19, 2012)  – Despite coinstar financials Coinstar Money Transfer, CYPRUS, LIMASSOL
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of modern biotechnology towards food security, poverty alleviation and socio-economic development, this science continues to be engulfed in controversy that threatens to thwart its real value. Often, the discourse surrounding this crucial technology is hinged on misinformation and negative publicity fuelled by possible trade wars and not science. A case in point is a recent study linking genetically modified (GM) maize to cancer in rats.

Last month, a French Professor – Gilles-Eric Séralini – released a report linking the development of cancerous tumours in rats to consumption of GM glyphosate-tolerant NK603 maize. As expected, the study has been used to propagate negative publicity against GMOs and has re-ignited a massive global debate. Sadly, this has raised concerns about the safety of genetically modified crops.

“GMOs have been commercialized for food, feed and planting for the last 16 years with no adverse effects on human and animal health and the environment” says Kennedy Oyugi, Senior Programs Officer at African Biotechnology Stakeholders Forum. “A total of 16.7 million farmers in 29 countries worldwide have adopted GM crops, so the findings of this two year study go against a long history of safety and high uptake rates of GM crops” he added.

A number of credible bodies – the European Food Safety Authority included – and various renowned scientists have reviewed the study and are uniformly criticizing its objectives, flawed methodology and weak research design. The study is not based on sound science and deviates from internationally prescribed research principles and protocols. Agreeably, the data provided in the Seralini report does not support the conclusions and begs for answers.

“Any scientist worth his salt will confess that the Virgin albino Sprague-Dawley strains of rats used in the study are known to have a high incidence of spontaneous tumours. Such tumours develop randomly with increasing age” says Dr. Christopher Ngijabe, Assistant Director KARI.  The company Harlan that markets the Sprague-Dawley rodents confirmed this. Additionally, a study published in the Journal of Cancer Research and Clinical Oncology found that 81% of Sprague-Dawley rats naturally develop tumours. Having used a strain of rats prone to tumour development, it is misleading to link the development of tumours to GM.

In the Séralini study only 10 rats per sex were used – a blatant violation of the universally accepted experimental protocol. To Moneygram money order make such conclusions based on this small number of rats is again misleading and leaves a high probability of chance in the tumor incidence observed. Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) guidelines demand that a minimum of 50 rats per sex be used.

In terms of the research methodology used, statistical methods used by the researchers are questionable. “OECD internationally accepted protocols for long term toxicity and cancer studies currently recommended in the EU for food and feed safety assessment were not used in this study” says Kennedy Oyugi.

Besides, a lot has been said about the quality of feed. The quality of the GM feed given to the rats is also questionable as critical information on its integrity including formulation and contamination with toxins capable of causing disease and death is not reported.

The authors submitted incomplete data.  Even for data that is provided, there seems to be no mortality difference between rats fed with water and conventional non-GM maize and those fed with 11% GM. Ironically, the mortality of rats fed with 33% GM was lower than those fed with 22% GM. These results, contrary to the conclusion made in the report, suggest that the GM maize was safer.

Given the flawed research methodology, the choice of the test rats and the sample size used in the study, the conclusions made were incorrect and misleading. “We must not unnecessarily alarm the public. Debates on the benefits and perceived risks of modern biotechnology should be based on sound science and accurate reporting to enable Kenyans make informed decisions” says Dr. Christopher Ngijabe.

Safety of GMOs to human and animal health and the environment is an overriding priority. The Kenyan government has taken a forward looking stance in providing an enabling environment for the safe and responsible application of modern biotechnology. Significant developments include approval of the biotechnology policy in 2006 by the Cabinet, enactment of the Biosafety Act in 2009 and establishment of the National Biosafety Authority in 2010 to assure and ensure safe handling and use of GMOs.