Researchers have discovered that the results of safety tests on the type of genetically modified corn that is currently grown in Britain were ignored. The crop, T-25 GM, was tested in laboratory experiments on chickens. During the tests, twice as many chickens died when fed on T-25 GM corn, compared with those fed on conventional corn.
This research was overlooked when the crop was given marketing approval in 1996 by Acre - the Advisory Committee on Releases to the Environment. Acre's chairman, Lord Alan Gray, admits the research should have been reanalyzed and that safety tests were not good enough to give a true picture of the risks involved.
T-25 was first approved by the French authorities, then the rest of Europe in 1996, but it was only when it reached the seed listing stage that doubts about its safety were raised. But these doubts came too late: T-25 GM Maize is now being grown throughout the UK as part of the government's field crop trials and the crop will be used as cattle feed.
Dr. Stephen Keston, a senior researcher at the department of veterinary sciences at Bristol Veterinary School, studied the initial safety test and says they were "not really good enough to base a student project on, let alone a marketing consent for a GM product. "It does surprise me that we have got so far down the line of licensing a GM crop apparently based on very weak and thin science."
When the marketing consent was granted there were only two animal studies relating to T25 available to the approval committees - one on rats and one on chickens - and both have since been criticized by independent scientists. Acme?s Dr. Gray was on the committee that gave the original consent and says advice given to the panel from experts said there was "nothing in any of the data they looked at which made them believe there was a risk to the animals, humans and the environment from feeding this product."
Peter Ainsworth, of the Department for Environment and Rural Affairs (Defra), is calling for an overhaul of the whole approvals process for GM crops. The British government has announced 44 more sites across the country where farm trials of genetically modified oilseed rape and beet will be conducted. Groups such as Friends of the Earth have expressed fears about the safety of the trials and the potential spread of genetically modified seeds.
To learn what?s really going on with GM foods, read ?Genetically Modified Food: A Self-Defense Guide for Consumers? by Ronnie Cummins and Ben Lilliston, click here.
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