Tanzania Daily News (Dar es Salaam)

23 December 2012

Tanzania: Inadequately Tested GMOs Are Sneaking Into Supermarkets and Being Sold As 'Food'

I CAN never be sure what my editors will do with an article I send in. They often help. But they also have rules which I do not know.

If I send a photo that is not mine for example, they appreciate if I have received specific permission to use it. Last week they printed the caption of the photo: "Deaths of female rats being fed with a diet partially consisting of GMO corn were linked mostly to large mammary tumors such as suffered by study participant 9255 GMO."

But did not print the photo itself. In this case the unprinted photo can be freely downloaded from the web by accessing the article " Long term toxicity of a Roundup herbicide and a Roundup-tolerant genetically modified maize" by Seralini, Clair, Mesnage, Gress, Defarge, Malatesta, Hennequin and Spirous de Vendomois.

Briefly, the unprinted photo is a white laboratory rat being held gently, in the two gloved hands of a person. One hand is supporting the tail end of the rate, and the other is supporting it upright with abdomen exposed. What they are trying to show is the rat's mammary gland which is distended to about 25 per cent of the animal's weight.

It is horrible to see. Perhaps my editors did not want to wound your eyes. The research that rat participated in is shocking in several ways: 1/ realizing that regulatory authorities do not mandate or request chronic animal feeding studies to be performed for edible GMOs and 2/ now that independent research is examining the actual situation, the results appear horrifying.

A third shock is that this population of 200 rats is the most thorough testing done of genetically modified organisms as part of the diet. Two hundred rats is not a large sample. It is marginally solid, but it is not a huge feeding trial. Although it is the best that has been done so far, it is not what should be required. And it should have been conducted 25 years ago before GMOs were released.

Rats are a model for mammalian health and are thus helpful in modelling environmental risks for wildlife mammals. Ethically human experiments must be preceded by animal studies - knowing that rats are only a model; human reactions may be different. Moreover, previous research was at the most 90 day feeding trials, which is before the tumors even appeared in the research being reported.

Plus the current research was conducted for the lifetime of the rat, about two years, which is a big improvement over the 90 day trials - but far different from the lifetime of a human being. No scientific testing has been done on human beings. This means GMOs are being allowed into the environment and even for human consumption virtually without having been tested.

Meaning that corporations which produce and sell "food" (e.g. Monsanto, Syngenta, Coca Cola, PepsiCo, American Garden, Kellog's, General Mills, Nestles) and their fronts (e.g. Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, AGRA, USAID, CIDA, and Geoffrey Sack's Earth Institute), have been so eager to gain profits and control of the food chain that they have cajoled and bullied governments to be given permission to push their products on unsuspecting people and the environment.

And then marching forward through the supermarkets when they do not get permission. The Kenyan government through the Public Health Minister Beth Mugo is wise, brave and showing consideration for its citizens and environment on the banning of the importation of GMOS. How to implement it though is going to be tough. According to the press Minister Mugo has directed health officers at all border points to effect the ban.

What will they be looking for? - gunny sacks of soy and corn, bottles of canola and corn oil, from North America, Brazil, Argentina or South Africa? Will they go to the Ports and block off the syrup coming in from North America made almost certainly from GMO corn and/or beets, now being imported to make Coca Cola, Pepsi, Fanta, and other soft drinks. Will they reject products made with GM ingredients such as American Garden mayonnaise or the candy, cookies and cereals produced by Kellog's, General Mills and Nestles.. Definitely health officers are going to need working laboratories.

Note: A very useful source of information about GMOs can be downloaded from www.earthopensource.org. The title is: Myths and Truths. An evidence based examination of the claims made for the safety and efficacy of genetically modified crops written by Antoniou, Robinson and Fagan.

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