Cancer in rats reignites GM food debate
A new study has reignited the debate over the long-term health effects of eating genetically modified food.
Published in the journal of Food and Chemical Toxicology, results of the study show that rats fed a GM diet over their lifespan suffered mammary tumours and severe liver and kidney damage. Advocates of the study say Australia's regulatory bodies should act on the findings, but some scientists have criticised the study, saying it is seriously flawed. The French government has ordered its health regulator to conduct an urgent review of its findings as anti-GM campaigners worldwide leap on the results. They say it is the first time a trial has studied the lifetime effects of exposure to GM corn, in this case corn which was tolerant to the weedkiller Roundup. The director of Australia's Safe Food Foundation, Scott Kinnear, has urged the Federal Government to follow France's lead in approving an urgent review. "I would even call for them to put a halt on any further regulation and an urgent review of all of the existing products that have been allowed for use in Australia, certainly genetically modified crops and an urgent review of Roundup's regulation in Australia," he said. "Certainly there is a need for urgent follow-up studies with larger groups of rats involved because that will give greater statistical treatment to the study, but there is enough there now for people to be very concerned." 'Alarmist'
But Professor Mark Tester, director of the Australian Plant Phenomics Facility, says the study is alarmist. He says it also contradicts more than 100 other scientific studies over the past 20 years, which he says have found no difference in the health or mortality of a variety of mammals exposed to GM foods. "And they're dealing with geriatric rats. That's why the absence of controls in the study is an absolutely terrible omission," he said. "What they are doing is presenting deaths of rats after two years,...
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