Sunday, February 3, 2013

GMO Debate Heats Up: Critics Say Biotech Industry Manipulating Genes, And Science

GMO Debate Heats Up: Critics Say Biotech Industry Manipulating Genes, And Science

Sporting a white coat and tagged with impressive credentials, Dr. Ronald Kleinman carries an aura of authority on camera as he says, "There are no cancer risks associated with agriculture produced through biotech. None whatsoever."

The online advertisement featuring the physician-in-chief at Massachusetts General Hospital for Children and professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School was rolled out on Tuesday by a campaign opposing California’s Proposition 37, which would require the labeling of genetically modified foods -- so-called GMOs.

But on Wednesday, Californians -- along with the rest of the world -- heard a very different message: A two-year study, led by Gilles-Eric Seralini of the University of Caen in France and published in a prestigious peer-reviewed journal, found that a widely grown GMO corn variety raised the rate of cancer and increased the risk of kidney and liver problems in rats.

Dr. Kleinman consults for General Mills and presents webinars on children's health for Coca-Cola, both major funders of the fight against Proposition 37 -- along with Monsanto, DuPont and others.

So, what does this leave the public to believe? Where does the science stand on the safety of GMOs?
It's not easy to say. And that's exactly the problem, according to experts. There have been a handful of studies that have hinted at human health concerns, including allergies. And there have been studies, even a recent review of studies evaluating five different genetically modified crops, suggesting there are no concerns. But overall, few studies have looked at the range of potential effects that the introduction of foreign genes may have on a food's safety.

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