Chemical Formed In Irradiated Food Damages DNA



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         Chemical Formed In Irradiated Food Damages DNA
                     http://www.citizen.org
                             3-11-1

In a rare opportunity to speak publicly about food irradiation
before a captive audience of government officials and food industry
executives, Public Citizen this week released the world's first
English translation of a recent German study revealing that a
chemical formed in irradiated food can damage DNA.

The study confirmed what safe-food advocates and many pioneering
researchers have known for more than 30 years: Exposing food to
ionizing radiation can lead to the formation of bizarre new
chemicals called "unique radiolytic products" that can cause
serious health problems. One such chemical, known as 2-DCB, caused
"significant DNA damage" in the colons of rats that ate the
substance. The chemical - - which, ironically, is a well-known
"marker" for determining whether food has been irradiated - - has
never been found naturally in any food on Earth.

The study was conducted in 1998 under the auspices of two prominent
pro-irradiation organizations. It was performed at one of the most
prestigious food irradiation labs in the world, the Federal
Research Center for Nutrition in Karlsruhe, Germany. And it was
co-funded by the International Consultative Group on Food
Irradiation, a United Nations-sponsored organization that promotes
food irradiation worldwide.

Public Citizen released an English translation of the study at a
Feb. 13 meeting at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in
Washington, D.C. The meeting was held to preview an upcoming
meeting of the Codex Alimentarius Commission, which sets food
safety standards for most nations of the world. Codex officials,
meeting March 12-16 in The Hague, will consider a proposal to
completely remove the maximum dose of radiation to which food can
be exposed. The current maximum dose is 10 kiloGray - - the
equivalent of 330 million chest x-rays and enough radiation to kill
a person 2,000 times over.

At this week's FDA meeting, Public Citizen told government
officials and food industry executives that health authorities have
used a variety of excuses to dismiss dozens of studies conducted
since the 1950s that suggest irradiated food may not be safe for
human consumption. In these studies, lab animals have suffered
premature death, a rare form of cancer, fatal internal bleeding,
stillbirths and other reproductive problems, chromosomal
aberrations, liver damage, nutritional deficiencies and low weight
gain. The excuses most commonly given are that the studies are old,
inconclusive or poorly designed.

None of these excuses apply to the German study, however, which was
conducted three years ago, yielded conclusive results, and was
performed under the guidance of cutting-edge scientific protocols.
Despite the study's clear findings and high quality, it was
distorted and dismissed by the World Health Organization, which
has endorsed the irradiation of any food at any dose - - no matter
how high. And, because it had never been translated into English,
FDA officials never reviewed it.

Now, FDA and WHO officials have no excuse. Now they know that
irradiated food holds the true potential to harm people who eat it.
Now they know that if they continue to approve the food industry's
requests to irradiate food - - such as the pending request to
irradiate ready-to-eat foods such as deli meat and pre-cut salads -
- they will be defying the truth. Now they should know better. The
question is: Will they?


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03-19-01


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