A recent pesticide study by renowned controversial French biologist Gilles-Eric Seralini has sparked a lot of debate on the effects of Genetically Modified Foods. In his report, that was published in the BioMed Research international Seralini clearly explains how pesticides ultimately kill cultured human cells. He creates more controversy when he concludes his article by claiming that pesticides have more toxic substances than the regulatory authorities assume. Nonetheless, some of the scientists appear to brush off Seralini’s arguments saying that they are neither surprising nor significant. In contrast, many environmentalist groups have started pushing for changes in how pesticides are being regulated. These environmental groups believe in the research made by Seralini, a professor at the University of Caen in France. They dwell most on the public fears about the use of genetically modified foods. The general populace has been increasingly concerned about the effects of GM foods especially when scientific evidence is backing low safety for public consumption.
According to this article, Seralini purports that he has done a detailed research that showed rats feeding on maize variety that had been engineered to resist the herbicide Glyphosate. He discovered that, the rats these rats showed a higher probability to develop cancer as compared to the ones fed on non-GM foods. This article that is reportedly used by the key GM opponents as a tool to show how dangerous these modified foods are to the life of a human being. This article reports that Seralini and his three other co-authors that are also affiliated with the University of Caen examined the effects of nine types of pesticides upon three human cells lines. In 8 of the 9 “there existed several hundred times more toxic pesticides than their general active principle” For instance, the total herbicide roundup was 125 times more toxic to the line cells than glyphosate that is the principle active ingredient. They claim that, “our results largely challenge the relevance of the acceptance on daily uptakes for pesticides from the genetically modified foods since this norm is usually calculated from the toxicity of their active principle alone”.
In their argument, the major trait that has been perfectly bred into GMO foods is its resistance to pesticides. Therefore, in the situation that a trait is bred into a crop leading it to become resistant to a particular herbicide, the herbicide can, therefore, be used carelessly against the weeds while not affecting the targeted crop. Nonetheless, this of course happens when a farmer uses a specific herbicide for the crops. Seralini explains that, the vast majority of the crops such as soybeans, corn, cotton and canola have over time been bred to resist glyphosate, one of the best-selling pesticides. Glyphosate is widely known to being a broad spectrum pesticide that has been designed to kill both pests and a wide variety of weeds. The chemical Glyphosate is the principle ingredient that has been used extensively used as a roundup herbicide. However, due to the large quantity of GM foods that has since, the recent past, been resisting glyphosate, bigger amounts of this chemical are being employed so that there could be an increased efficiency. The EPA claimed that, since the year 2007, between 190 and 195 million pounds of the chemical glyphosate is being used yearly. This creates concern to the amounts of chemicals that the people intake when they rely on genetically modified foods.
Another prolific biologist by the name Ralf Reski appeared very disgruntled by Seralini’s pesticide study. He strongly believes that Seralini’s works were not peer-reviewed and, therefore, should not be used at all in making decisions about policy changes in the country. He expounds on the issue of toxicity by saying that, “anything is always toxic in high concentrations, and the main question every researcher should question themselves is whether the level of toxicity can be equated to the levels of the agents that we are normally ingesting. He questions the experimental design that was used by Seralini so as to come up with this conclusion. He says that the paper failed to address the level of toxicity that glyphosate is realising to the GM foods. Therefore, he believes that the paper would have been better reviewed since the explanations put forth by the controversial biologist are wanting.
In conclusion, it becomes evident that, despite the level of criticism that the pesticide research carried out by Seralini, it surely raises eyebrows in regard to the amount of toxic that the people consume as a result of consuming genetically modified foods. I found this article interesting because, as much as most of the scholars view Seralini’s study as flawed, the topic of discussion and the questions that he addresses are of immense importance. He has created a room for further research to be carried out in this field that should always be approached with utmost care since it touches on our daily healthy living. In general, this pesticide study has created a justifiable angle of research to study.
Kupferschmidt, Kai. Pesticide Study Sparks Backlash. Science Mag News. Feb,10, 2014.
Retrieved from http://news.sciencemag.org/environment/2014/02/pesticide-study-sparks-backlash Feb, 19, 2014