Tumours and Premature Death in GM Maize Study
USING THE SAME TYPE OF RATS AS INDUSTRY AND GOVERNMENT TRIALS- BUT MORE OF THEM AND KEEPING THEM FOR MORE THAN 90 DAYS- INDEPENDENT RESEARCHERS HAVE FOUND THAT:
GM maize, GM maize sprayed with Roundup and Roundup itself cause tumours, multiple organ damage and premature death according to new research. French government to review findings urgently and consider an import ban.
According to Dr Michael Antoniou, molecular biologist at Kings College, London, "This is the most thorough research ever published into the health effects of GM food crops and the herbicide Roundup on rats. 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 rat has long been used as a surrogate for human toxicity. All new pharmaceutical, agricultural and household substances are, prior to their approval, tested on rats. This is as good an indicator as we can expect that the consumption of GM maize and the herbicide Roundup, impacts seriously on human health."
The research published in the peer reviewed scientific journal, Food and Chemical Toxicology, was carried out by a team of researchers led by molecular biologist and endocrinologist Professor Gilles-Eric Seralini, of the University of Caen in France. Serralini is an authority on studies into the health impact of GMO's and pesticides.
This is the first animal feeding trial studying the lifetime effects of exposure to Roundup tolerant GM maize (NK603), and Roundup, the world's best-selling weed killer.
The study found;
- Up to 50% of males and 70% of females died prematurely (before deaths could be put down to normal aging) compared with only 30% and 20% in the control group.
- Across all treatments and both sexes, researchers found treated rats developed 2-3 times more large tumours than the control group, defined as 17.5mm in females and 20mm in males.
- By the beginning of the 24th month 50%-80% of females in all treated groups had developed large tumours, with up to three per animal. Only 30% of the controls were affected.
- The tumours "were deleterious to health due to a very large size", making it difficult for the rats to breathe, causing problems with their digestion and resulting in haemorrhaging.
- The first large detectable tumours appeared after four and seven months in males and females respectively but only after 14 months in the female control group and 23 months in a control male. However, the majority of tumours were only detectable after 18 months.
- Treated males suffered severe liver and kidney dysfunction. Liver congestions and necrosis were 2.5 to 5.5 times higher than in the control group. There were also 1.3 – 2.3 times more instances of "marked and severe" kidney disease.
Current regulations shown to be inadequate
These findings call into question the current regulatory process for licensing industrial chemicals, pesticides and other novel crops:
Firstly; the lowest dose tested in the study (50 nanograms per litre) is below safety limits for glyphosate in water and crops. EU legislation sets the maximum permitted concentration (MPC) in water at 0.1 microgram/litre, 1 mg/kg in maize, and 20 mg/kg in other animal feeds like soy, oats and barley. The US sets a Maximum Residual Level (MRL) in some animal feed of 400mg/kg.
Secondly; GM crops have been approved safe for consumption on the basis of 90-day animal feeding trials whilst the first tumours in this study only appeared after 120 days.
Thirdly, the regulations have so far only required that Roundup's active principle, glyphosate, is tested rather than the commercial product, which includes ingredients that enable the glyphosate to penetrate plants more efficiently.
The team also identified a "threshold effect" where even the lowest doses were associated with severe health problems.
The report states: "Similar degrees of pathological symptoms were noticed in this study to occur from the lowest to the highest doses suggesting a threshold effect. This corresponds to levels likely to arise from consumption or environmental exposure, such as either 11% GM maize in food, or 50ng/L of glyphosate in R-formulation [the lowest concentration of Roundup in the rats' drinking water] as can be found in some contaminated drinking tap waters, and which falls within authorized limits."
Risks from genetic modification itself
What might be the most significant aspect of the results is that the GM maize itself as well as with Roundup caused similar damage to the rats' health whether they were consumed on their own or together.
The researchers hypothesize that the reason why NK603 GM maize, NK603 sprayed with Roundup, and Roundup on its own, all produced very similar negative health outcomes, is that both the GM maize and the weedkiller Roundup "may cause hormonal disturbances in the same biochemical and physiological pathway."
Glyphosate, the active ingredient in the herbicide Roundup is a known endocrine disruptor, and previous research has shown that it can cause liver and kidney failure if consumed above maximum permitted residue levels. However, this is the first research that suggests that even very low levels, such as those found in drinking water, are harmful when consumed over an extended period.
The paper says: "The results of the study presented here clearly demonstrate that lower levels of complete agricultural glyphosate herbicide formulations, at concentrations well below officially set safety limits, induce severe hormone-dependent mammary, hepatic [liver] and kidney disturbances."
It suggests that overexpression of the GM "transgene" EPSPS, which makes NK603 tolerant to Roundup in the field, may disrupt biosynthetic pathways and cause similar problems. Most edible GM crops use EPSPS to make them tolerant to Roundup.
French government to take action
The research also highlights the urgent need for more research into the long-term effects of all GM food crops, which are currently grown on 1.8% of the world's agricultural land. In the US, 70% of processed foods contain GM ingredients without GM labeling, and 85% of maize now grown in the U.S. is GM.
In the UK and Europe, GM maize is not consumed directly by humans but it is widely included in animal feed. Hundreds of thousands of tons of GM maize are imported to the UK each year for use in the diets of chickens, pigs and dairy cows. Meat and dairy products from animals fed on GM are currently sold in British supermarkets without any requirement for GM labeling.
In response to the research, the French government have asked the National Agency for Health Safety (ANSES) to investigate the findings. In a statement the Ministries of Agriculture and the Environment said they will “urge the European authorities to take all necessary measures to protect human and animal health,” This could go as far as “invoking emergency suspension of imports of NK603 corn to Europe pending a re-examination of this product on the basis of enhanced assessment methods.”
Download the paper here