Last week, I had posted about Factor GMO, a study announced in London last week on Tuesday that is due to start early next year. The study will investigate the long-term health effects of a diet of a GM maize by developed by US seed and chemical company Monsanto.
The $25 million three-year experiment will involve scientists testing thousands of rats which will be fed differing diets of a Monsanto GM maize and the world’s most widely-used herbicide which the maize is engineered to be grown with.
“It will answer the question: is this GM food, and associated pesticide, safe for human health?” said Elena Sharoykina, a campaigner and co-founder of the Russian National Association for Genetic Safety (NAGS), the coordinator of the experiment.
According to the organization running the study, the experiment will try to establish whether the genetically modified maize and its associated herbicide cause cancers, reduce fertility, or cause birth defects. The scientists also want to know whether the mixture of chemicals present in Roundup are more or less toxic than its active ingredient glyphosate. Roundup is Monsanto’s trade-name for its glysophate herbicide.
The GM debate has been ongoing since 1994 when genetically modified food was first introduced into the market, and while there have been thousands of studies proving the harmlessness of the crops in comparison to the “unaltered” version, the studies and research continues.
Professor Huw Jones of the Rothamsted Research institute, which specializes in agricultural research and is the only research institute in the UK currently involved in GM crops trials, said that “[The Institute] would clearly support well-conducted, hypothesis-driven science. If the science is conducted according to the OECD guidelines and shows that there are hazards with a particular event, then the public will understand that.”
Despite there being several studies conducted within the guidelines of the OECD parameters that show that there are no hazards, there has been continued demand of additional research from the anti-GM campaigners. Factor NGO, working with a group of Russian scientists, will now spend a large amount of time and resources discussing and analyzing this field of science once again.
Sharoykina clarified that the study will have no input from the biotech industry or the anti-GM movement, in order to maintain the scientific and non-biased nature of the study. This is extremely good! Many such studies have been influenced by the vested interests of the parties involved with the studies, which leads some to question the results of the studies conducted.
“Comprehensive scientific safety studies on GMOs and their related pesticides are long overdue. All previous studies caused controversy for various reasons: choice of animal, insufficient statistics, duration of tests, research parameters, and researchers’ connections to the anti-GMO movement or the biotech industry,” Sharoykina said.
But I’ll say that once this study proves that there are no harmful effects of genetically modifying crops, the anti-GMO movement will go to great lengths to find some obscure “problem” with the study. They will only accept studies that align with their opinion, as history has shown.
Factor GMO has raised most of the $25M, and will release the names of the sponsors and founders before the start of the study. This transparency is something that I welcome fully, because it means that the direction of the study and any implied biases can be carefully analyzed. Once the list of founders is released, I will post that on this blog together with an analysis and the implications of the list.
Monsanto has previously informed the public and scientific community that trillions of meals have been eaten by consumers without ill effects, which in itself proves that there is no harm to what they are doing. But it will be nice to finally have a scientific study prove what we already know.