French Study: GM Corn Caused Cancer Rats

Genetically modified (GM) food is a highly controversial issue in  Europe, less so in America where GM food is not identified in labels. This may change if a law that will be voted upon in November’s ballot in California, requiring mandatory labeling of genetically modified foods, will pass.  

We focus on a recent peer-reviewed published study by a French research team led by Dr. Gilles-Eric Séralini, a molecular biologist at the University of Caen, in which rats fed Monsanto’s genetically modified (GM) feed–maize NK603 and/or its Roundup herbicide were compared to those who did not consume GM feed.

The researchers found evidence not only for toxicity but also a high risk of cancer. The latter finding surprised the researchers inasmuch as the number of rats in the trial was small (200 rats) yet the cancer risk was identified.

"The proportion of treated rats that died during the experiments was much greater than the controls; moreover, in almost all groups a higher proportion developed tumours, and the tumours appeared earlier." gm_corn_tumors_in_mice.jpg

The researchers found:

  • Between 50 to 80 per cent of female rats developed large tumours by the beginning of the 24th month, with up to three tumours per animal. Only 30 per cent of the control rats developed tumours
  • Up to 70 per cent of females died prematurely compared with only 20 per cent in the control group
  • Tumours in rats of both sexes fed the GM corn were two to three times larger than in the control group
  • The large tumours appeared in females after seven months, compared to 14 months in the control group. The team said the tumours were ‘deleterious to health due to a very large size’, making it difficult for the rats to breathe and causing digestive problems.

Significantly, the majority of tumours were detectable only after 18 months – meaning they could be discovered only in long-term feeding trials.

"That cancers are found even with a small number of rats tested is strongevidence that the GM feed and herbicide are carcinogenic." Prof Peter Saunders

The study was published online in Food and Chemical Toxicology (September 2012) [1] and was immediately denounced by the GM lobby led by industry-funded Science Media Centre. ISIS reports that "According to a report in Times Higher Education, the SMC succeeded in influencing the coverage of the story in the UK press and largely kept it off the television news."

Many questions remain unanswered. The process by which plants are genetically engineered causes gene changes that are unpredictable, possibly resulting in unintended consequences for those who consume them.  Increased pesticide use means that humans are also eating more of these carcinogenic chemicals.

The Institute of Science in Society (ISIS)

Excess Cancers and Deaths with GM Feed: the Stats Stand Up

In September 2012, the research team led by Gilles-Eric Séralini at theUniversity of Caen published the findings of their feeding trial on rats to test for toxicity of Monsanto’s genetically modified (GM) maize NK603 and/or Roundupherbicide in the online edition of Food and Chemical Toxicology [1].

Séralini and his colleagues had previously found evidence for toxicity of GMfeed in data from Monsanto’s own experiments, which they had obtained through aFreedom of Information demand [2]. Monsanto challenged their conclusions and, to no one’s great surprise the European Food Standards Agency (EFSA) supportedMonsanto [3]. So the team decided to run their own experiment, using anunusually large number of animals and over a period of about two years, roughlythe life expectancy of the rats, rather than the usual 90 days required intoxicity trials including Monsanto’s.

What Séralini and his colleagues found was that NK603 and Roundup are not onlyboth toxic as expected, but also carcinogenic, which was unexpected. The proportion of treated rats that died during the experiments was much greaterthan the controls; moreover, in almost all groups a higher proportion developedtumours, and the tumours appeared earlier.

As soon as the paper appeared, the GM lobby swung into action. In particular, the Science Media Centre (SMC), a London-based organisation partly funded byindustry, quickly obtained quotes from a number of pro-GM scientists anddistributed them to the media [4]. According to a report in Times Higher Education [5], the SMC succeeded in influencing the coverage of the story in theUK press and largely kept it off the television news.

Séralini has rebutted the pro-GM critics point by point on the CRIIGEN website[6].  The statistician Paul Deheuvels, a professor at the Université Pierre et Marie Curie in Paris and a member of the French Académie des sciences, has now drawn attention to another serious error in the criticisms [7]: the complaint that Séralini used only 10 rats per group when the OECD guidelines [8] recommend50 for investigations on carcinogenesis. Because the experiments did not followthe accepted protocol, their results, they argue, can be safely ignored.

 In the first place, this was not a wilful disregard of the guidelines. The experiment was designed to test for toxicity, and for that the recommended group size is  10.

Read the complete fully referenced report on the ISIS website:
http://www.i-sis.org.uk/Excess_cancers_and_deaths_from_GM_feed_stats_stand_up.php

 

Read the original study report: Séralini G-E, Mesnage R, Gress S, Defarge N, Malatesta M, Hennequin D and  de Vendômois JS (2012),  Long term toxicity of a Roundup herbicide and a Roundup-tolerant genetically modified maize. Food and Chemical Toxicity. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.fct.2012.08.005

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MAIL Online

Cancer row over GM foods as study says it did THIS to rats… and can cause organ damage and early death in humans

·         French team claim bestselling brand of GM corn caused tumours and multiple organ damage

·         Leading scientists have questioned the study and its results, claiming it has ‘no value’

By Sean Poulter
19 September 2012

Rats fed a lifelong diet of one of the bestselling strains of genetically modified corn suffered tumours and multiple organ damage, according to a controversial French study published today.

Scientists said the results raised serious questions about the safety of GM foods and the assurances offered by biotech companies and governments.

The first lifetime trials involving rats fed on GM corn found a raised incidence of breast tumours, liver and kidney damage.

Dr Michael Antoniou, a molecular biologist at King’s College, London, and an expert on GM foods, said: ‘It shows an extraordinary number of tumours developing earlier and more aggressively – particularly in female animals. I am shocked by the extreme negative health impacts.’

The research was carried out by Caen University in France, and has been peer reviewed by independent scientists to guarantee the experiments were properly conducted and the results are valid.

It is the first to look at the impact of eating a GM diet over a lifetime in rats, which is two years. To date, safety assessments of GM crops have been based on rat feeding trials lasting 90 days.

The corn was genetically modified to withstand spraying with glyphosate, the main chemical in the weedkiller Roundup, developed by Monsanto. The idea is that the corn can be sprayed without being damaged, while weeds are destroyed.

The tests looked at the impact of several scenarios including eating the GM corn (NK603), eating the GM corn sprayed with Roundup, and consuming Roundup at low doses in water.

The results were compared against those for a control group fed a ‘clean’ diet without GM or Roundup.

The researchers found:

       Between 50 to 80 per cent of female rats developed large tumours by the beginning of the 24th month, with up to three tumours per animal. Only 30 per cent of the control rats developed tumours.

·         Up to 70 per cent of females died prematurely compared with only 20 per cent in the control group

·         Tumours in rats of both sexes fed the GM corn were two to three times larger than in the control group

·         The large tumours appeared in females after seven months, compared to 14 months in the control group. The team said the tumours were ‘deleterious to health due to a very large size’, making it difficult for the rats to breathe and causing digestive problems.

Significantly, the majority of tumours were detectable only after 18 months – meaning they could be discovered only in long-term feeding trials.

The study – led by molecular biologist Professor Gilles-Eric Seralini, a  critic of GM technology, and published yesterday in US journal Food and Chemical Toxicology – said the GM corn and Roundup weedkiller ‘may cause hormonal disturbances in the same biochemical and physiological pathway’.

The Daily Mail’s Frankenstein Food Watch campaign has long highlighted problems with the lack of rigorous safety assessments for GM crops and food.

Although GM corn is widely used in the US, British consumers have turned their backs on the technology because of  concerns about its impact on human health and the environment.

Although it is not available in British supermarkets, it is fed to farm animals including chickens, pigs and dairy cows.

Mustafa Djamgoz, professor of Cancer Biology at Imperial College, London,  said the findings relating to eating GM corn were a surprise.

‘We are what we eat,’ he added. ‘I work at the molecular level on cancer. There is evidence what we eat affects our genetic make-up and turns genes on and off.

‘We are not scaremongering here. More research is warranted.’

Dr Julian Little, of the Agricultural  Biotechnology Council, which speaks for the GM industry, insisted GM foods were safe, adding: ‘The industry takes all health concerns regarding biotech food and feed very seriously.’

Anthony Trewavas, professor of cell biology at Edinburgh University, questioned the way the research had been conducted, saying the number of rats involved in the study – 200 – was too small to draw any meaningful conclusions.

‘To be frank, it looks like random  variation to me in a rodent line likely to develop tumours anyway,’ he said.

He also claimed Professor Seralini was an anti-GM campaigner and that previous studies questioning the technology’s safety had not withstood scrutiny.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2205509/Cancer-row-GM-foods-French-study-claims-did-THIS-rats–cause-organ-damage-early-death-humans.html