The first-ever GM food safety study to test over the entire life span of laboratory rats (two years) was published last month and found serious health impacts from eating Monsanto’s genetically engineered (also called genetically modified or GM) corn NK603, which was approved in Canada in 2001. The peer-reviewed study also tested the impacts of consuming residues of Monsanto’s herbicide Roundup, the widest selling herbicide in the world.
“Health Canada has approved this GM corn and all other GM foods based on corporate tests that were too short to observe the severe health impacts that this study found,” said Lucy Sharratt of the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network, “Health Canada has never looked past the 90 days of Monsanto’s studies. Canadians have been eating this particular GM corn since 2001.”
The study, published in the scientific journal Food and Chemical Toxicology, is the first animal feeding trial conducted over the lifetime of rats (700 days). Health Canada evaluates the safety of GM foods based on industry studies, the longest of which have been 90-day animal feeding trials. The study tested three different diets: GM corn, GM corn with herbicide residue and without.
Monsanto’s GM corn NX603 is herbicide tolerant meaning it is genetically engineered to withstand sprayings of Monsanto’s herbicide Roundup. Health Canada approved it in 2001. French media are reporting that the GM corn samples used in the study were secured from a Canadian university.
The new study observed that rats fed the GM corn, or Roundup, developed tumours faster and died earlier than rats fed non-GM corn. Furthermore, the first tumour was observed after 120 days, with the majority detected after 18 months.
The study shows GM corn can cause severe negative health effects in laboratory rats including mammary tumours and kidney and liver damage, leading to premature death:
Fed GM corn or Roundup, up to 50% of males and 70% of females died prematurely, compared with only 30% and 20% in the control group.
Females developed fatal mammary tumours and pituitary disorders. Males suffered liver damage and developed kidney and skin tumours and problems with their digestive system.
Rats fed GM corn or Roundup developed two to three times more tumours.
By the 24th month, 50% to 80% of the females had developed large tumours compared to 30% in the control group.
According to Sharratt, “Health Canada must re-evaluate the safety of all GM foods based on these results and halt new approvals until we have long-term testing and transparent regulation. Are Canadians expected to continue eating GM corn? The federal government needs to redesign the entire system that approves GM foods because our regulations are not designed to look for the types of problems these scientists have found.
“The safety of GM foods cannot be assumed, it needs to be tested. We cannot rely on science from companies to prove safety. We need to turn to the precautionary principle to keep Canadians safe and this means keeping GM foods off the shelves.”
The government of France is already calling for action in the wake of the study. The relevant ministers in France say the research confirms that European Union regulations on GM foods are insufficient in regards to the study of toxicological effects.
The study was conducted by a team led by molecular biologist and endocrinologist professor Gilles-Eric Séralini of the University of Caen in France and was supported by the independent research organization CRIIGEN, the Committee of Research and Independent Information on Genetic Engineering.
From Canadian Biotechnology Action Network (www.cban.ca)