Groups claims Bt corn has bad effects on health (12/12/2004)

Groups claims BT corn has bad effects on health
by Ferliza Contratista
The Freeman, December 11, 2004

The genetically produced Bacillus Theuraigensis (BT) corn, which is widely used by farmers, poses adverse health effects to consumers and planters, according to a science group.

"Considering that BT is a toxin injected to the corn seed to fight certain pests and anything toxic is harmful to our health, it's just like having pesticide inside us," said Shen Maglinte, deputy director of Sibol ng Agham at Teknolohiya

Sibol, along with other non-government organizations, are documenting cases of diarrhea, headache, influenza and chest pains possibly brought by the corn pollens from Mindanao.

BT corn breeds are usually yellow corns commonly used as feeds.

However, Maglinte said that BT toxin is also used in white corn, which is used for human consumption.

BT, he said, is injected into the corn gene to produce a breed that can fight the Asiatic corn borer, a pest that preys on corn.

Physically, the corn crop is bigger, heavier and grows quicker than the traditional one.

Apart from the illnesses, Maglinte said it was observed that people residing near the field with BT corn crops experience itchiness when in contact with corn leaves.

He said these cases are found in Tinagakan, General Santos City.

"There are indicative studies but are not yet conclusive but we just want to pose a precautionary principle since food containing toxin is detrimental, the gestation of the adverse effect may take too long still," Maglinte said.

He said these genetically modified seeds are eroding the traditional varieties that actually produce good eating quality seeds.

BT corn breeds and other genetically modified crops are also too costly for the common farmer, he added.

Sibol is the convenor of the Visayas Wide NGO-People's Organization Conference on Genetics Conservation and Food Security.

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