Discredited French rat study just won’t go away

A Universidad de Costa Rica professor presented facts about a discredited French rat study to encourage a legislative committee to support a nationwide ban on genetically modified foods.

The professor, Mildred García González, identified in a summary of her presentation as a toxicologist, has long been a foe of modified crops. She is with the Escuela de Medicina and the Vicerrectoría de Acción Social

She appeared before the Comisión Permanente de Asuntos Agropecuarios, which is considering bill No. 18941.

The French study by Gilles-Eric Séralini and colleagues has been cited repeatedly during committee testimony. The study purports to show that rats fed Monsanto Co.’s glyphosate-resistant NK603 corn and with the company’s Roundup herbicide in the drinking water developed tumors and died sooner than rats in a control group.

The prestigious journal Nature said a year ago that “bowing to scientists’ near-universal scorn,” the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology retracted an article on the study. The original article was not peer reviewed. A detailed summary can be found HERE!

Professor García told the committee that the using of genetically modified products in food is an experimental risk whose effects have not been seen in their totality regarding humans, according to the legislative summary. The summary did not say that she presented any of the criticism of the study. She is believed to be the final witness to testify on the bill.

The flap over genetically modified crops stems from Monsanto’s desire to plant some smallplots with the corn variety. Monsanto’s modified corn varieties can eliminate creatures that consume the plant roots and provide protection against other insect pests.

Committee members may not be aware that the French study was criticisms because the type of rat the scientists used naturally develops tumors. The rats are of the Sprague-Dawley strain, according to the study. The French study also was criticized for using too few rates in the various test and control groups and for what some critics called non-standard statistical methods.

The biggest test group of genetically modified food in Costa Rica has to be its citizens. Nearly all the imported corn-based snack foods contain genetically modified grain.

Also Wednesday at a meeting of some 146 agriculturists in Tres Ríos de La Unión the moratorium on modified crops was promoted as a way to keep Costa Rica seed uncontaminated and to maintain the country’s concept of one without artificial ingredients.

Those who attended the meeting were asked by Jaime García of Universidad Estatal a Distancia and the Universidad de Costa Rica to sign a petition supporting the ban.

He said the ban also would protect farmers who might face Monsanto’s aggressive defense of its variety as has happened elsewhere.

Those supporting the ban have said it would protect the country’s native corn varieties, but there are at least 100 varieties now in Costa Rica.

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