In the latest storm of controversy, critics of genetically modified products and organisms (GMOs or GMs) saw pictures like one of a distended lab rat and cried: “I knew it!”
The jury is still out on the methodology of the tests it was subjected to.
One sceptic questioned why, if the results are like this on the test animals, aren’t people in countries where many people have been eating the suspect stuff for many years not “dropping like flies?”
One of the findings’ co-authors, Joel Spiroux, is president of the Committee of Independent Research and Information on Genetic Engineering, CRIIGEN, in France.
Its mandate is to act in the interests of ordinary people, companies, unions, the scientific community, labelling bodies and economic study.
In his explanations to the media, Spiroux said that regulation tests lasting for only three months are ineffective in discovering the health impact of GMs over a life-cycle.
The rats’ life span is two years, and that is how long his tests went on.
Corrine Lepage is one of the heads at CRIIGEN, was once environment minister in the French government, and is now a member of the European Parliament. She’s not surprised.
At the parliament, Lepage said: “We’ve spoken plainly and bluntly about this, and I hope things are going to change. I’ve called it to the attention of the ministers of the 27 EU member states and the European Commissioner responsible for health policy John Dalli, to ask that all GMs consumed in Europe be subject to studies lasting for two years.”
The anti-GM movement has long sought to involve more players in seeking scientific answers.
As decisions on authorising biotechnology got to be a matter of ‘pass the buck’, they increasingly defaulted to the European Commission.
In 2010 it ruled to allow GM production and imports but left the choices up to individual countries.
Now ten countries in the world account for ninety-eight percent of all land surface on which GMs are grown – not total land under cultivation, but they it does account for 160 million hectares. The US and Brazil are the most enthusiastic.
In Europe, eight of the 27 EU members grow GMs, Spain and Portugal with the lion’s share, ninety percent, but others also grow Mon810 maize and the Amflora potato. A moratorium is already in force in France and Italy, and varyingly in others, notably Austria.
A key researcher in the latest GM bombshell, Gilles-Eric Seralini, said he looked forward to debating “fairly with peers who are real scientists, and not lobbyists.”