HindustanTimes Sun,21 Dec 2014

No proof that GM poses any risk to health: govt

Zia Haq, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, August 12, 2014
First Published: 00:37 IST(12/8/2014) | Last Updated: 11:06 IST(12/8/2014)

The government has told Parliament that there is no “credible scientific” proof yet to show that genetically modified (GM) crops pose any “risk” to human health, an official testimony to the safety of transgenic crops that could prove to be controversial.

The government’s stand came in a response to a routine question by a member, who sought to know if scientific research has shown any adverse effects of GM crops. In his written reply, junior agriculture minister Sanjeev Kumar Balyan said: “There is no credible scientific evidence proving that GM crops have adverse impact on the environment, human health and livestock.”

Globally, GM crops and foods containing genetically modified organisms have been the subject of a fierce debate. Advocates argue GM foods pose no more harm or risk than ordinary foods — frequently citing the case of American consumers who have been eating GM food for decades.

Anti-GM activists however have argued such technologies carry potential long-term hazards, citing their own body of research. “It’s a blatant lie to say there are no adverse impact,” Kavitha Kuruganti, an anti-GM activist associated with the Alliance for Sustainable and Holistic Agriculture (ASHA).

HT Analysis: India should not shut itself to GM crops

In India, those opposing GMOs have prepared their own dossier of “peer-reviewed” papers that have demonstrated unintended behaviour of GMOs. One such study caused a major controversy when renowned academic publisher Elsevier withdrew a widely discussed November 2012 study suggesting that genetically modified corn caused tumours in rats, after a year-long examination of data found the paper did not meet scientific standards. It was republished after the author Prof Gilles-Eric Séralini supplied extra material to support his arguments.

“Most of their studies are poorly designed and don’t fulfil mainstream scientific requirements. The US FDA, The European Commission, after a 20-year assessment, and Canadian Food Safety Agency have all found no evidence of any risk,” said Shanthu Shantaram, professor at the Iowa State University and former US biotech regulator.

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