Sunday, 6 January 2008

GM rice, wheat to damage liver, kidneys


January 5, 2008
By Syed Akbar
Visakhapatnam, Jan 4: Regular consumption of genetically engineered rice or wheat will lead to severe liver and kidney complications, warn senior scientists.
Though genetically modified or engineered crops improve yields and offer resistance to plants against a variety of pests, the damage they cause to human beings outweighs the over all benefits. GM crops particularly rice, wheat and maize formed the hot topic of discussion among scientists attending the 95th Indian Science Congress being held in this port city.
According to Prof GE Seralini, an expert on genetic engineering technology, a study conducted clandestinely by a multinational seed company showed that rats, fed on maize developed from GM technology, showed signs of severe damage to kidney and liver. "The same can happen to human beings if they consume such GM crops," he points out.
Another biotechnologist Dr D Krishna Rao, who was adviser to Clinton administration in the US, attributes regular stomach upsets among Americans to the use of GM maize and other GM crops. "Since we do not have supporting evidence, we attribute such gastric problems to things other than consumption of GM crops. But recent studies point out that GM crops are capable of making liver and kidney toxic which may ultimately lead to death, if untreated," Dr Rao points out.
Prof Seralini regrets that many countries have approved GM food crop despite the dangers associated with such food products. The testing procedures should be stringent and scientifically advanced enough to give accurate results.
In India, GM technology is increasingly utilised in cotton, though there are reports of GM bhendi (lady's finger) being developed in some parts of the country. However, the major concern will be the much touted Golden Rice which is rich in vitamin A. The Golden Rice is also a GM crop whose ill effects on human health is yet to be studied. The Hyderabad-based Directorate of Rich Research is conducting trials on Golden Rice in an effort to reduce incidents of preventable blindness due to vitamin A deficiency.
"In the wake of research on rats, the Central government should not allow any sort of GM food items in India before they are tested thoroughly for genetic toxicity. Only those crops that are proved to be good should be permitted. Otherwise the number of liver and kidney failure cases will go up and the nation will lose its precious healthy generation," Dr Rao warns.

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