An American researcher who claimed last year that carrageenin from the Philippines can cause cancer has admitted her research was at best inconclusive, according to the Seaweed Industry Association of the Philippines (SIAP), reports Business World.
Dr Joanne Tobacman from the University of Iowa carried out a study of carrageenin from Cebu and Tacloban in the Philippines, and claimed that her research showed "a cause-and-effect relationship between carrageenin and mammary carcinoma or breast cancer".
However, SIAP president Peter Borja said that Dr Tobacman had met recently with officials from the Filipino Department of Agriculture and had admitted that her research was not conclusive.
DA food quality specialist Dr Quintin A. Kintanar said that Dr Tobacman had admitted to him that "the research does not show a cause-and-effect relationship between carrageenin and mammary carcinoma and it seems very speculative". Dr Kintanar also provided a separate report presenting evidence of the safety of Philippine carrageenin.
Borja said he hoped to now see an end to the adverse effects of Dr Tobacman's report, which has hit the Filipino carrageenin industry.
Carrageenin, which is a by-product of seaweed, is a thickening agent used in a variety of products including paint, air fresheners and photographic film, pet food, beer, toothpaste and lipstick.
The Philippines is one of the largest exporters of carrageenin, earning more than $130 million in 1999 from the export of carrageenin and other seaweed products.