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GE Corn Killed Chickens in
Previously Undisclosed Study

GM safety tests 'flawed'
BBC News, Sat 27th April.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/sci/tech/newsid_1954000/1954408.stm

Safety tests on genetically modified maize currently growing in Britain
were flawed, it has emerged.

The crop, T-25 GM maize, was tested in laboratory experiments on chickens.

During the tests, twice as many chickens died when fed on T-25 GM maize,
compared with those fed on conventional maize.

This research was apparently overlooked when the crop was given
marketing approval in 1996.

Lord Alan Gray, who chairs the government's advisory committee on
releases to the environment, voiced his concerns about the tests to BBC
Radio 4's Farming Today programme.

He said the safety tests had not been good enough to give a real picture
of the risks involved in marketing T25 GM maize.

But, following an investigation by BBC Radio 4's Farming Today
programme, Acre's chairman Lord Alan Gray admitted he believed the
research should have been re-analysed and that safety tests were not
good enough to give a true picture of the risks involved.

T-25 was first approved by the French authorities, then the rest of
Europe in 1996 but it was only when it reached the seed listing stage
that doubts began to be raised.

T-25 GM Maize is being grown throughout the UK as part of the
government's field crop trials and is intended to be used as cattle
feed.

Dr Stephen Keston, a senior researcher at the department of veterinary
sciences at Bristol Veterinary School, studied the initial tests.

'Thin science'

He said they were "not really good enough to base a student project on,
let alone a marketing consent for a GM product".

"It does surprise me that we have got so far down the line of licensing
a GM crop apparently based on very weak and thin science," he said.

When the marketing consent was granted there were only two animal
studies relating to T25 available to the approval committees - one on
rats and one on chickens - and both have subsequently been criticised by
independent scientists.

Dr Gray was on the committee that gave the original consent.

He said advice given to the panel from its experts had initially said
there was "nothing in any of the data they looked at which made them
believe there was a risk to the animals, humans and the environment from
feeding this product".

Fears

But he admitted it may have been better to re-analyse the chicken
feeding tests, given the doubts raised.

Peter Ainsworth, shadow secretary of state for the Department for
Environment and Rural Affairs (Defra), is calling for an overhaul of the
whole approvals process for GM crops.

In January, the government announced 44 more sites across the country
would be used for farm trials of genetically modified oilseed rape and
beet.

Campaigners, including Friends of the Earth, have long argued against
the trials and expressed fears about safety.

Several times trial fields have been taken over by protesters who have
uprooted the experimental plants in order to prevent what they describe
as contamination of other crops and wild species.

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