FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
by Grupo de Estudos em Agrobiodiversidade – GEA
Monsanto’s NK603 corn safety meets no consensus in Brazil
Official body rejects French study but decision was reached by vote, researchers complain
BRASÍLIA, May 20th 2013 | On September 2012, another study associating the consumption of genetically modified crops with health risks appeared on the scientific literature. Food and Chemical Toxicology published a study headed by Gilles-Eric Séralini, from the French University of Caen, showing that rats fed GM maize NK603 tolerant to glyphosate herbicides (brand name Roundup Ready 2 in Brazil, resistant to Roundup), as well as rats exposed to Roundup itself, showed higher propensity to develop tumours. The authors thus concluded that “All treatments in both sexes enhanced large tumor incidence by 2–3-fold in comparison to our controls but also for the number of mammary tumors in comparison to the same Harlan Sprague Dawley strain”.
The study provoked furore among official biosafety bodies. Besides demonstrating serious problems caused by a product already on markets, it highlighted major flaws on the risk assessment criteria used by regulators. The first biggest tumours, for instance, appeared on the 4th and 7th months of the study, on males and females, respectively, being that regulators never asks for tests longer than 3 months.
It was no different in Brazil. The Foreign Affair Ministry (MRE) asked CTNBio – National Biosafety Commission information on the issue. It’s president informed that had nominated an extraordinary committee to contest MRE demand. The document produced is signed by four experts and repeats critics already answered by Séralini and colleagues in several interviews and on a letter to editors published by the same Food and Chemical Toxicology.
CTNBio’s president paper was only discussed by its other members last April. After a hot debate, four members voted against it, stating that, since the way rapporteurs were chosen, the document failed to consider contradictory views that emerged inside the Commission. Fourteen members were in favour of the document, although one know that science is not made on a vote base.
It was also judged in the same occasion a request presented by the National Consumers Forum (FNEDC) demanding CTNBio to reassess the decision which released NK603 for commercial growing in the country and also asked the suspension of all seed containing this GM event. Also by a 14 x 4 score the Commission refused both consumers petition.
A third debate still on NK603 took place. Fourteen members and former CTNBio members presented a document citing studies in support to the French group and their data and contesting the critiques they received. The document also mentions distinct levels of rigour which could be understood as a double pattern, since a great deal of the criticism to the original study would perfectly fit the data submitted to CTNBio by the company that developed NK603. Experts say they would welcome if the same rigorous standards were applied to all applications examined by CTNBio. Unless only studies showing negative impacts of GMs should be reviewed with such careful. Again a 14 x 4 score ended the debate.
The refusal to repeat a study correcting its methodological fails is a symptom of the prevalence of a belief that overcomes the own scientific method, sounding more like a desire to support the technology that ends disregarding the opportunity to better understand the risks posed by GM crops.
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