> New Controversial Research Says GMO Corn ‘Not Substantially Equivalent’ - The Food Safety Company New Controversial Research Says GMO Corn ‘Not Substantially Equivalent’ - The Food Safety Company
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    Friday, 6 January 2017

    New Controversial Research Says GMO Corn ‘Not Substantially Equivalent’

    According to new research, GM NK603, a genetically modified variety of corn, is ‘not substantially equivalent’ to its corresponding non-GMO variety. According to Food Navigator, lead researcher Dr Michael Antoniou of King’s College London believes the findings ‘disprove industry and regulatory agency claims…and suggest that a more thorough evaluation of the safety of consuming products derived from this GMO corn on a long-term basis should be undertaken.’

    Img source: Lindsay Eyink
    Nonetheless, the report hasn’t been taken without a large degree of scepticism from certain portions of the scientific community. Perhaps most notably, Dr Antoniou was reportedly joined in his research by Séralini research group, which gained notoriety in 2012 with its assertion that GMO corn caused a higher rate of tumours in lab rats than non-GMO counterparts: a finding widely discredited by other scientists and even retracted from the scientific journal in which it was originally published.

    Nevertheless, Dr Antoniou claims that ‘The marked increase in putrescine and especially cadaverine is a concern since these substances are potentially toxic, being reported as enhancers of the effects of histamine, thus heightening allergic reactions, and both have been implicated in the formation of carcinogenic nitrosamines with nitrate in meat products.’

    Not everyone, however, was convinced. Dr. Alison Van Eenennaam, a Cooperative Extension Specialist in the field of Animal Genomics and Biotechnology in the Department of Animal Science at University of California, Davis, claimed that the new research paper has ‘a number of experimental design problems.’

    ‘The intent of the paper,’ she claimed in a blog post Tuesday, ‘was to examine both proteins and metabolites found in NK603 Roundup-tolerant GM maize (both treated and untreated with Roundup), and non-GM isogenic lines to determine if the three groups were substantially equivalent using sensitive “-omics” assays.

    ‘To perform such an evaluation requires a common agreement as to what substantial equivalence means, and what constitutes an appropriate comparator(s).  Unfortunately, not such common understanding exists.’

    The central problems identified by Van Eenennaam include the researchers’ failure to eliminate site variability and their ‘inexplicable’ merging of two different years’ cultivations.

    The new paper adds fuel to the already raging debate around the safety of GMO crops. Still, it’s unlikely to change many people’s views – after all, the wider debate is one of those things in which, if you don’t already have a side, you probably never will. 

    James Stannard

    James has a Bachelor’s degree in History and wrote his dissertation on beef and protest. His heroes list ranges from Adele to Noam Chomsky: inspirations he’ll be invoking next year when he begins a Master’s degree in London.
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