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NS_115_term_ - The Existence of Substantial Equivalence...

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The Existence of Substantial Equivalence between MON corn and conventional products NS 115 10/31/08 In order to overcome worldwide food shortage problems, scientists have developed genetically engineered (GE) crops. The Monsanto Company introduced MON corn products that have had new genetic material inserted into the original corn plant to produce new traits and higher yields due to a higher herbicide tolerance and pest resistance. However, people are very fearful of the intervention of technology in their food crops. Consumers fear that GE foods pose a serious health risk to the general population. In Europe, several protests were held by European environmental organizations and public interest groups opposing GE foods. In order to resolve this health concern, finding a substantial equivalence between GE foods and conventional products is significant. Substantial equivalence is a relatively new concept that defines whether new food products have health and nutrition characteristics similar to conventional products. The controversy is: Is there a substantial equivalence between Monsanto Company’s corn products and non-transgenic conventional corns? There are numerous articles that claim MON corn products do not cause adverse health effects due to the existence of substantial equivalence. Some research claimed that genetically modified corn was safe because the rats portrayed no irregularities in hematology, growth, and other parameters (Hammond et al. , 2006, Healy et al ., 2008). Also, other studies supported substantial equivalence between MON and conventional products by measuring general health, body weights, and compositional analyses in other species (George et al. , 2004, Taylor et al. , 2005). George et al . (2004) conducted a randomized block experiment to determine whether there was a difference in nutritional composition between transgenic and non-transgenic corn. To
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carry out this experiment, MON 863 was acquired from four locations in the U.S. (two counties from Iowa, Nebraska and Illinois) and four locations in Argentina, using a modified cry 3Bb1 coding sequence, which enhanced insecticidal activity. Also, 18 different non- transgenic corns were grown in the same locations. Compositional analyses were conducted on these groups at Covance Laboratories, Inc. (Madison, WI), for the purposes of evaluating the following compositional elements: protein, fat, ash, carbohydrates and moisture, acid detergent fiber (ADF) and neutral detergent fiber (NDF), amino acids, fatty acids, and minerals. These components were measured with a 99% tolerance interval to describe the differences in composition (George et al ., 2004). Comparison of these two food products, which contain similar genetic backgrounds, showed non-significant differences with these two groups. For example, fatty acid composition data were compatible within the 99% tolerance interval with published literature ranges and historical conventional control values. The author concludes that MON 863 has a nutritional value equivalent to conventional corn (George et al ., 2004), based on the analyses of different
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