Tuesday, November 01, 2005

You want fries with your pesticide?

A study under the auspices of a Russian neurophysiology institute claims to have found that over 55 percent of young rats fed "Roundup Ready" genetically modified soy died within 3 weeks, as opposed to 9 percent of controls. Russian scientists also found that the surviving GM fed rats tended to be stunted, 36 percent being significantly underweight, as opposed to 7 percent of the control group.

Female rats were fed GM soy beginning 2 weeks before conception, and continuing through the first 3 weeks of nursing their offspring.

The organization that did this study appears to be part of the Russian Academy of Science, and the experiment as described seems to be straightforward enough.

However, the results of the study were presented at a conference of the American Academy of Environmental Medicine in Tucson, which is decidedly a non-mainstream scientific organization with a strong bias towards natural medicine. So I dunno. The AAEM has its own agenda, and moreover, I don't know anything about any possible political or economic bias influencing Russian science, but I could imagine that such problems could exist.

But I'm kind of interested in it, anyway. I'd like to see the study repeated by someone else, and in fact the AAEM recommended just that, which is to their credit.

I remember reading a while back about the studies Monsanto itself did of its GM soybeans, and noting that (in the report I saw) very low doses of soy were given to animals tested, whose growth was, naturally, reported as being normal. It didn't seem to me that these studies looked very well designed. Nor do I know if non-in-house studies have been done by scientists not working for Monsanto.

I now find myself wondering if there is some problem for American scientists getting funding to try to replicate the Russian study, or to study GM foods in general. I wouldn't be surprised if there is. Monsanto tends to sue anybody who crosses them, a fact that may have inhibited healthy scientific research in the Western world.

Until more reassuring research is forthcoming, just as a cautionary matter, I think I'll go easy on the tofu, unless I know where it came from.

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