Scientists have debunked claims that Genetically Modified Organism (GMOs) cause cancer after assertions by a doctor that the products are deadly.
Dr Borneges Quarshie Nkosana Nartey of Sinel Specialist Hospital in an interview on Adom FM’s Burning Issues claimed according to his research, GMOs are cancer activators.
Outlining the effects of GMO products on Adom FM’s Burning Issues on Wednesday, Dr Nkosana Nartey explained that GMOs are bacteria mixed with plant genes of which the bacteria has the ability to cause cancer.
But Alliance for Science Ghana, a network of farmers, scientists, researchers, etc in a statement issued by its Chairman John Awuku Dziwornu and Executive member Reuben Nana Yaw Quainoo debunked the claim.
“No credible study has ever proven that GMOs have caused cancer among the population in countries like America, Brazil, South Africa, etc where they are consumed widely.
"In fact, there is evidence that cancer rates have been lower over the last 20 years in countries where GMOs are consumed than in countries where they are not on the market,” the statement said.
According to Alliance for Science Ghana (AfS Ghana), statistics show in America where a majority of their foods are GMOs, the rate of cancer per every 10,000 people is 318.0.
But in European countries like Denmark, France, Belgium and Norway where GMOs have not been commercialized, the rate is 338.1, 324, 321 and 318.3 respectively.
“The point is; all these European countries where GMOs are not grown have far higher cancer rates than the US where it is consumed widely. So let no one deceive the Ghanaians that GMOs cause cancer,” the statement noted.
The group also dismissed claims by Dr Nkosana Nartey that there is a case study of rabbits which were fed with GMO maize and they developed tumours which make GMOs deadly.
AfS Ghana says the said study by French Professor Eric Seralini was subsequently proven by his colleague scientists who peer reviewed it to be ‘inconclusive and unreliable,” and it was eventually retracted by the Food and Toxicological Journal which first published it.
“He used rats that are pre-disposed to tumours, which means they had a high chance of developing tumours in their lifetime regardless of what you feed them. And the sample size was not big enough. So if the gentleman knew what he was talking about, why would he cite such an example to show GMOs are harmful?” the statement said.
Alliance for Science Ghana also debunked claims by Dr Nkonsana Nartey that there is an instance of someone dying in 2015 in Spain after which autopsy reports showed that he died from eating GMO rice and tomatoes.
“There are currently no GMO counterparts of tomato and rice on the market anywhere in the world (although research is still ongoing on them), for the said man to consume and die. Where is this man getting his facts from?” the statement noted.
A claim by the doctor that 70% of premature deaths in females and 50 % of premature deaths in males are caused by GMOs also got a reaction from the alliance. “All over the world, we all know what the leading causes of deaths are.
Heart diseases caused by unhealthy lifestyles and poor eating habits, as well as respiratory infections, diarrhoea, malaria and all. Not GMOs. Right away, it is clear that his statistics fall flat in the face of conventional wisdom and evidence readily available to all of us,” the statement said.
Alliance for Science Ghana quoted various health institutions including the World Health Organisation (WHO), Ghana’s Food and Drugs Authority, Ghana’s National Biosafety Authority, Ghana’s Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine in the USA, American Medical Association, European Commission, and the Royal Society of Medicine in the United Kingdom as renowned organisations that have backed the safety of GMOs.
The group says the WHO is categorical on its website that “GM foods currently available on the international market have passed safety assessments and are not likely to present risks for human health. In addition, no effects on human health have been shown as a result of the consumption of such foods by the general population in the countries where they have been approved.”
The statement claimed anti-GMO campaigners are causing more harm to the world than good.
“They are blocking the chances of saving the millions of children dying from poor nutrition in Africa. They are stopping farmers from getting access to tools that can help prevent pests and diseases that can cause up to 100% yield loss on farms and leave them in perpetual poverty.
"And they are blocking the chances of reducing pesticide pollution of our atmosphere which endangers the health of our ecosystem and puts all of us at risk. All for their own parochial interests,” it added.
The statement concluded that “a lot of these individuals and organisations are peddling such untruths to build up fear among the populace about the kinds of foods they are consuming, and use that as a way to sell their own brands of foods and healthy living. We must open our eyes to their marketing strategies”.
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