GENTECH archive


Should we label turkey too?

December 25, 1999
New Scientist

Turkey, vegetables, stuffing and more besides are full of natural substances
that give lab rats cancer, warn a group of New York scientists in a
Christmas menu which they have designed to ridicule scare stories about
pesticide residues in food and posted on the Internet.

According to the menu published by the New York-based American Council on
Science and Health, roast turkey and beef contain natural heterocyclic
amines, substances which trigger DNA mutations and cause cancer in rodents.
Rats also develop cancer when fed with the dyestuff aniline, which occurs
naturally in carrots. But if you're feeling particularly brave, eat
stuffing. There's a whole range of nature's nasties in the bread, onions,
celery, black pepper and mushrooms that cause cancer or DNA mutations in
rodents. The stuffing ingredients include acetaldehyde, a toxic breakdown
product of alcoholic drinks, benzo[*]pyrene, a potent carcinogen found in
cigarette smoke, and ethyl carbamate, a natural pesticide.
Ruth Kava, director of nutrition at the American Council on Science and
Health was quoted as saying, "We try to get across that just because
something is synthetic, it's not inherently any more dangerous than
something Mother Nature puts there herself."