In Summary
  • Research made Kenya to declare a ban in the country
  • The study has been widely discredited since it was published last year by French scientist Gilles-Eric Seralini in the journal of Food Chemical Toxicology. It had said that genetically modified foods cause cancer in rats.

A study that persuaded Kenya to ban genetically modified food has been withdrawn by the journal that published it.

The study has been widely discredited since it was published last year by French scientist Gilles-Eric Seralini in the journal of Food Chemical Toxicology. It had said that genetically modified foods cause cancer in rats.

To date, the ban issued in 2012 by then Public Health minister Beth Mugo on all GM technology is in place and this latest development could rekindle the debate on the safety of the foods.

The Seralini paper, as the study is referred to, claimed that rats fed on a diet containing NK603 — a seed made tolerant to the spraying of the pesticide Roundup — died earlier than those on a standard diet.

BLOW TO ANTI-GMOs CAMPAIGNERS
It reported that 50 per cent of males and 70 per cent of females died prematurely, compared with only 30 per cent and 20 per cent in the control group.
This comes as a blow to campaigners opposed to the modified foods, who have relied on the fact that the study was published by a reputable journal.
Journal editor Wallace Hayes, sent Mr Seralini a letter saying that the paper will be withdrawn if he does not agree to do it voluntarily. Séralini received the letter last week as it is dated November 19.

The science world has questioned how the study found its way into such a reputable journal.
Dr Francis Nang’ayo of African Agricultural and Technology Foundation said the study had so many flaws and wondered why the journal took time to withdraw it.
According to him, the rats used for the study were a species susceptible to cancer even if they were fed on just water daily. “In science, the sample size for a study of such a magnitude should be at least 50 yet Séralini used only ten rats which to me greatly compromise the findings,” said Mr Nang’ayo.
Prof Dale Sanders, Director of the John Innes Centre, said that the withdrawal is the best thing given the much debate that the study has generated ever since it was published.
“The careful design of a scientific study is essential for generating results upon which reliable conclusions can be based,” said Mr Sanders.
Prof David Spiegelhalter, Winton Professor of the Public Understanding of Risk at the University of Cambridge said it is better late than never while fearing the withdrawal of the paper may not generate the publicity like its publication.
“It was clear from even a superficial reading that this paper was not fit for publication, and in this instance the peer review process did not work properly,” said Mr Spiegelhalter.
Pro-GMO crusaders may thus have a renewed leeway to push for the lifting of the burn on the technology in a move that could see such food access the Kenyan market.