European officials order GM food to be healthy

Authoritative European institutions denied the information that GMO foods cause malignant tumors. However, this was done without any real tests - not so much in the spirit of modern science but, rather, medieval scholastics. This does not bring peace of mind to the consumer of genetically modified food.

In late September, a group of French scientists led by Professor Gilles-Eric Seralini with the University of Caen introduced the results of their study that may be called sensational. Within two years they fed several groups of mice with genetically modified corn and the same product treated with herbicide. As a result, 80 percent of females developed malignant mammary tumors, and males developed hepatorenal failure.

Naturally, this information caused panic in some circles. The French government, without waiting for a public outcry, immediately turned to the core European organizations that monitor the quality of food to assess the safety of this kind of food for people. However, the opponent scientists were also active.

Right after newspapers printed the scandalous news, an avalanche of criticism followed. The main criticism against Seralini and his colleagues was the fact that they chose the type of mice with high level of risk for their experiments. They argued that these mice had incidence of spontaneous tumors 80 percent higher than normal.

They argued that if mice are well fed, the probability of sad outcome is even higher. Particularly meticulous attention was paid to the fact that the mice were totally deprived of sexual contacts, which is fraught with the development of tumors of the reproductive system in both males and females.

The critics also used statistics to justify their criticism. They stated that for reliable results the number of animals involved in the experiment would have to be not two hundred but five times more. 

A number of reputable European regulatory authorities have a different opinion. They include the European Food Safety Authority, EFSA, and two French structures, the High Council of Biotechnology, HCB and the Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health & Safety (ANSES).

Their overall verdict is that Seralini and his team did not follow the accepted scientific standards, which makes their findings unreliable. Perhaps the most shocking in the decision of prominent European officials is the fact that they flatly refused to check the results they rejected. They assumed that if the researchers from the University of Caen did not adhere to scientific standards, there was no need to check their results.

Back when the Catholic Church began dealing with the "heretical" Galileo, before giving the scientist to the Inquisition, an astronomer was asked to look through a telescope to check the data provided by his great compatriot. He checked, and found that Galileo was right. The trial was postponed for several years and was held for another reason. But this was the "dark" Middle Ages. Interestingly, the polemicists of pro-Western beliefs often referred to a "Soviet-type" behavior based on some examples from the USSR history. For example, when the Soviet public unanimously criticized Pasternak's novel "Doctor Zhivago", proudly saying: "I have not read it - but I know".

Purely ideological labels of "reactionary pseudo-science" and "imperialism whores" placed on genetics and cybernetics in the 1940s-1950s are of similar nature. Generally, this approach is not purely a Soviet invention. Because this approach, if we discard the empty rhetoric, is a speculation relying primarily on the logical structure of the human mind. Speculations, with rare exceptions, had been dominant in the European history from ancient times until the new time. Then, finally, science in the modern sense of the word has emerged. It was based primarily on experience and practice. In the situation with the research about GMO the officials who are obliged to demonstrate scientific integrity of the highest standard acted as sensitive schoolchildren. Professor Seralini left out some little thing, so he should be criticized. Why check the shocking data for two years instead of three months normal for Europe, after which the products are considered to be completely safe. Instead, they acted as members of a medieval church council analyzing "heresy." They made a speculative conclusion based on the majority opinion followed by the final decision.

Of course, if the EU taxpayers are satisfied with the "quality" of the control over their health, it is their business. If they want to pay considerable money to the officials for dogmas and speculations instead of practical testing, it is their right. Even more so if there is interference from those who make enormous profits producing and selling GMO products.

The good thing is that despite the attempts of European experts to refute the studies inconvenient for them without testing, both Russian and world audience made right conclusions from this scandal.

Yuri Nosovsky


Read the original in Russian


Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov