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Bt Corn Allegedly Detected in Dorritos Corn Chips is Safe
There was a news report in Times of India datelined May 3, 2008 under the title “GM food silently taking over the menu?” It seems Greenpeace, a global, die-hard anti-GM activist group sampled some corn chips from some shop in Delhi and got them tested in a German laboratory, and found to contain GM corn ingredient. According to the claim, these sampled chips contained GM corn MON863 and NK 603, which according to Greenpeace is considered unsafe. Greenpeace quotes an independent study on the safety of these GM corn. Since GEAC has not approved the importation of these corns, chips containing this unapproved GM corn have gotten entry into the country. Therefore, according to Greenpeace, India’s regulatory system is in shambles, and that the Indian pubic are being exposed to risky foods that have been rejected in France based on an independent study. Until another competent laboratory tests these corn chips under the supervision of the regulatory authorities, there is no need for the Indian public to believe this byline and get scared.

Here is the other side of the story. MON 863 and NK 603 are both approved in USA, Canada and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), and are being consumed by the public and animals in these countries without any ill effects. Serralini et al. carried out the independent study that Greenpeace refers to at the behest of Greenpeace itself, which paid for the study. By a quirk of bad editorial decision, the report was published in a peer-reviewed journal and Greenpeace’s authority is drawn from this publication. In a fit of irrational decision-making, French President Sarkozy banned MON 863 without consulting any competent scientific authority in the country. This decision has, since been revoked. In fact, scientific groups in the country wrote to the French president at the time criticizing the egregious decision he took. In the meanwhile, EFSA convened another scientific panel to review the food-safety data regarding MON 863 and that panel gave a clean chit. It upheld the previous food safety decision of EFSA regarding MON863.

Millions of people all over the world are consuming MON863 and NK 603, and the Indian public has nothing to worry about these GM corn chips. They are perfectly safe for human and animal consumption. As to the German lab where Greenpeace gets its samples tested, no one knows the name of this lab. However, this lab and another lab in Kong Kong seems to be favorites of Greenpeace as both labs always come up with positive GM contamination test results when no other accredited lab can detect them. No one knows what method or protocol these labs use to detect GM ingredients.

It is important for the Indian public to know that according to the overwhelming scientific evidence and regulatory review by competent food safety authorities in North America, Europe, Australia and Japan have all certified GM foods as safe and there is nothing to fear except the fear mongering by Greenpeace. Another important scientific fact that Indian public needs to know is that GM Bt corn is much safer and healthier because it is free of fungi that produce myco-toxins in non-GM corn. In fact, consuming Bt corn is healthier than non-Bt corn.

Dr. Shanthu Shantharam
Convener, FBAE
May 4, 2008