GMO Foods, Part 2: Scientific Studies
As promised, here is the continuation of our GMO article. Like we said, there are many obstacles to conducting studies on humans. However, there have been some published studies that have suggested negative impacts from eating GM food. The first one was published in 1999, covering a research conducted by Arpad Pusztai in 1998. The scientist fed rats GM potatoes transformed with the Galanthus nivalis agglutinin (GNA) gene from the Galanthus (snowdrop) plant, allowing the GNA lectin protein to be synthesised. Lectin is known to be toxic, especially to gut epithelium. The result? Those rats had stunted growth and a repressed immune system, said Pusztai. The media picked up. The scientist was suspended from the Rowett Institute with misconduct procedures used to seize his data and ban him from speaking publicly. The institute concluded that the data did not support his conclusions.
A 2011 study was the first to evaluate the correlation between maternal and fetal exposure to Bt toxin produced in genetically modified maize. It reported presence of pesticides associated with GM foods in both non-pregnant women and pregnant women and their fetuses. The paper, and, of course, the media reports, were criticized for overstating the scary results. FSANZ (Food Standards Australia New Zealand) went as far as posting a direct response, a very unusual step, saying there was no evidence that that GM food was the source of the protein and it was more likely to come from conventional or organic sources. In 2007, 2009, and 2011 Gilles-Eric Seralini published studies that used data from Monsanto rat feeding experiments.
They covered three GM maize varieties (insect resistant MON 863 and MON 810, and the glyphosate resistance NK603). The re-analysis he published concluded that they had actually caused liver, kidney, and heart damage in the rats.
EFSA (European Food Safety Authority) reviewed the data and concluded that the small differences were all within the normal range and also stated that the statistical methods used were incorrect. Their conclusions were supported by FSANZ, a panel of toxicologists funded by Monsanto – surprise, surprise! - and the French High Council of Biotechnologies Scientific Committee.
Things went so far that six French national academies of science issued an unprecedented joint statement condemning the study and the journal that published it.
In March 2013, Seralini responded to these criticisms in the same journal that originally published his study and stood to his original findings. And what about the effect on the environment.
GMO crops planted in fields interact directly with organisms that feed on the crops, and indirectly with other organisms in the wider food chain. Logically there are concerns about the effects GMO crops may have on non GMO ones and possible gene flow to plants, animals, bacteria.
Recent studies show that spread of glyphosate-resistant weeds in herbicide-resistant weed management systems has brought substantial increases in the number and volume of herbicides applied.
There are concerns that the genetic diversity of various crops will decrease or that they will indirectly affect the diversity of other organisms. A 2012 study found a correlation between the reduction of milkweed in farms that grew glyphosate-resistant crops and the decline in adult monarch butterfly populations in Mexico.
A 2005 study designed to "simulate the impact of a direct overspray on a wetland" with four different agrochemicals by creating artificial ecosystems in tanks and then applying "each chemical at the manufacturer's maximum recommended application rates", found that "species richness was reduced by 15% with Sevin, 30% with malathion, and 22% with Roundup, whereas 2,4-D had no effect".
Which comes to clearly state that use of agrochemicals causes harm to the environment and to biodiversity. So as you can see the there is a lot of controversy. I`m leaving it to you to decide where you stand on the GMO dispute. As for myself, never bought that can of corn, by the way. Better off.