News / Health

French Experts Question GMO Cancer Study

A product labeled with Non Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) is sold at the Lassens Natural Foods & Vitamins store in Los Angeles. Californians are considering Proposition 37, which would require labeling on all food made with altered genetic material. A product labeled with Non Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) is sold at the Lassens Natural Foods & Vitamins store in Los Angeles. Californians are considering Proposition 37, which would require labeling on all food made with altered genetic material.
x
A product labeled with Non Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) is sold at the Lassens Natural Foods & Vitamins store in Los Angeles. Californians are considering Proposition 37, which would require labeling on all food made with altered genetic material.
A product labeled with Non Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) is sold at the Lassens Natural Foods & Vitamins store in Los Angeles. Californians are considering Proposition 37, which would require labeling on all food made with altered genetic material.
French officials and experts have added their voices to the chorus of criticism over a recent study linking genetically modified corn to tumors in experimental rats.

The French national food safety agency joined six scientific academies in concluding the study was too badly done to support its conclusions.

The debate comes as voters in the U.S. state of California consider whether to require labels on all foods with ingredients from genetically modified organisms, or GMOs.

Disturbing images

The study in the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology included shocking photos of rats which researchers say grew giant tumors after eating GMO corn for two years.

Study author Gilles-Eric Seralini at the University of Caen says his findings show regulations on the crop are not good enough.

"GM foods have been evaluated in an extremely poor and lax way with much less analysis than we have done," Seralini says.

Experts Question Validity of GMO Cancer Studyi
|| 0:00:00
X
Steve Baragona
October 23, 2012 1:56 PM
A recent study claiming that genetically modified corn caused tumors in rats is drawing a chorus of criticism from scientists around the world. European officials say the study was too badly done to support its conclusions. VOA's Steve Baragona reports.


Eighty percent of the packaged foods on U.S. supermarket shelves contain GMO ingredients, according to the Grocery Manufacturers Association.

California advocates of a law requiring those ingredients to be identified on food labels have used the French study to bolster their argument.
 
The “Yes on 37” campaign, backing mandatory GMO labeling in this November’s statewide voter referendum, held a press conference with Seralini to announce the results of his research.

'Numerous problems'

However, other scientists immediately found problems with the study, including geneticist Alan McHughen at the University of California at Riverside, an expert with the prestigious U.S. National Academy of Sciences.

“First of all, the authors of the study used a line of rats that was genetically predisposed to form tumors in the first place," McHughen says. "So right off the bat the whole study was suspect.”

The European Food Safety Authority also found numerous problems with the French study, from not enough control rats to substandard analytical methods. And the French science academies said the release of the study, which coincided with the release of a book and a film highlighting the work, raised ethical problems.

At the University of California at Davis, toxicologist Alison van Eenennaam questioned the researchers’ motives.

“I think it was a cynical ploy to exploit the scientific process to create fear in the minds of consumers,” she says.

Long-term tests?

Even opponents of genetic engineering agree the study was flawed. But they believe more long-term studies should be done.

“There should be required safety assessments before these crops are put on the market," says Michael Hansen, with the advocacy group Consumers Union. "That is not what happens in the United States.”

The French food safety authority called for more publicly funded research covering the entire life span of experimental animals.

US tests

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration normally reviews voluntary safety assessments that companies submit for new GM crops. They typically include a 90-day rat-feeding test for toxicity.

That is the international standard. And the longer studies that have been done have not shown major problems, says UC Davis’s Alison van Eenennaam.

“The science doesn’t show there’s any additional data that wouldn’t already be caught at these 90-day studies,” she says.

Regulators OK GMOs

Regulators in the U.S. and Europe, as well as the U.N.’s World Health Organization and Food and Agriculture Organization, have concluded that genetically modified products on the shelves today are no more dangerous than products made the usual way, according to UC Riverside’s Alan McHughen.

“All of those, I think, give us the body of scientific evidence to state with a certain degree of confidence that yes, these products are as safe as other products on the market,” McHughen says.

Public confidence in this reassurance will be put to the test in the California referendum November 6, when state voters decide if GM foods should carry a special label.

You May Like

China Investigates Former Powerful Security Chief

Former security chief and member of Politburo Standing Committee, Zhou Yongkang, under investigation for suspected 'serious disciplinary violation' More

India, US Look to Reset Ties During Kerry Visit

This week's talks will be first high level interaction between two countries since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge More

Video Young African Leadership Program Renamed to Honor Mandela

YALI program, launched by President Obama in 2010, aims to build skills in business, entrepreneurship, public management and civic leadership More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Timur Tyncherov
October 24, 2012 10:56 AM
It’s a pretty controversial topic, but it’s all simple as I see it. Our digestive system assimilates molecules split by the stomach. Molecules, not genes. Chemical composition of organisms is rather consistent, whether genetically modified or not. The simplest example: If an organism wants water, it may take it from a genetically modified crop, and the water still be just water, not GM water any case. I would rather be concerned about the pesticides and synthetic fertilizers and all those artificial flavors-colors.


by: Ian from: USA
October 23, 2012 1:12 PM
So why do these GMO companies against labeling the food if they think it is safe .
I would love to see all the ingredient listed honestly just as artificial colors , flavors.
I don't care if they can prove that it is safe , same for irradiated food . I want to have the option to chose what go into my body .

In Response

by: Yoshi from: Sapporo
October 24, 2012 2:02 AM
I agree with you. It's impossible to verify any harmful event never happen even with any experiments. What could be verified is that some events have happened.  

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid