News about GM foodstuff incorrect: scientist

Public concerns have been raised to the news that genetically modified foods are harmful, Ph.D. Nguyen Quoc Binh, a Vietnamese-Canadian scientist, deputy director of the HCM City Bio-technology Center, said it is not correct.

GM foodstuffs are not as harmful as the articles say

The website, The voice of Russia, April 16, 2010 had an article “Russia says genetically modified foods are harmful” and Jeffrey Smith re-publicize it on Huffington Post with different title on April 20 and next day an electronic website in Vietnam translated the article on The voice of Russia and posted an article with impressive title “Russia announced genetically modified foods are harmful”. After reading the articles, checking information sources, Binh disagreed with the article on Vietnamese website.

The original article on The voice of Russia says; ”Russia has started the annual Days of Defense against Environmental Hazards from the 15th of April to the 5th of June with the announcement of sensational results of an independent work of research. Scientists have proved that Genetically Modified Organisms are harmful for mammals. The researchers discovered that animals that eat GM foodstuffs lose their ability to reproduce. Concerning the experiment carried out jointly by the National Association for Gene Security and the Institute of Ecological and Evolutional Problems, Dr. Alexei Surov has this to say. “We selected several groups of hamsters, kept them in pairs in cells and gave them ordinary food as always,” says Alexei Surov.

“We did not add anything for one group but the other was fed with soya that contained no GM components, while the third group with some content of Genetically Modified Organisms and the fourth one with increased amount of GMO. We monitored their behavior and how they gain weight and when they give birth to their cubs. Originally, everything went smoothly. However, we noticed quite a serious effect when we selected new pairs from their cubs and continued to feed them as before. These pairs’ growth rate was slower and reached their sexual maturity slowly. When we got some of their cubs we formed the new pairs of the third generation. We failed to get cubs from these pairs, which were fed with GM foodstuffs. It was proved that these pairs lost their ability to give birth to their cubs,” Dr. Alexei Surov said.

However, Ph.D Binh said he did not find any newspaper in Dr. Alexei Surov’s Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution to prove that Dr. Alexei Surov has written such information and no article has same content with what on The voice of Russia. Therefore, the news lack of scientific evidence and it is not exact.

In addition, the title Russia says genetically modified foods are harmful meanwhile other newspapers only say a Russian says. It is clear that there is a big gap between Russia and a Russian says. It is groundless rumor that can caused loss to farmers as a few years ago, after a newspaper released the news that eating grapefruit can cause cancer, farmers who grow the fruit were in despair when they couldn’t sell the product.

Also on The voice of Russia; “The results of Russian scientists coincide with those of their colleagues from France and Austria. For one, when scientist proved that GM maize was harmful for mammals, France banned immediately its production and sale.” This news is not correct as French government has not banned production and sale of GM products but vice versa. For instance, European community decided to allow imported genetically modified maize is sold in its countries.

It should carefully consider publicizing news to avoid false information that can raise public concerns and badly affect to farmers.

By Ph.D Nguyen Quoc Binh - Translated by Quan Vu

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