While the debate over the safety of GM crops and other products that use them is still ongoing, there have been recent studies that show results that don’t bode well for the supporters of GM crops. A recent study has shown that one of the most popular of GM crops, GM Maize and its accompanying Roundup herbicide, are known to be causing cancer in mice that were fed with them. The study results are published on the online scientific journal Food and Chemical Toxicology.
GM Maize and the Roundup herbicide are both products by the American biotech giant Monsanto. The Roundup herbicide is considered as the best selling weedkilller, which is used in the Roundup tolerant GM Maize. But a recent feeding trial indicates that consumption of either one or both, even in dosages and levels considered safe by the regulatory boards, are known to cause tumors and multiple organ damage to study models of rats.
Researchers from the University of Caen in France reported that rats fed on a diet of GM Maize tolerant to NK603 Roundup or given water containing the said herbicide at levels permitted in drinking water in the US experienced death earlier than usual as compared to those rats fed on a standard diet. The researchers also discovered that the study group also developed mammary tumors and severe kidney and liver damage.
The said study, conducted by a team of researchers headed by Professor Gilles-Eric Seralini, a molecular biologist and co-director of the Risk Quality and Sustainable Environment Unit at the University of Caen, is believed to be the very first long-term animal feeding trial on mice in order to evaluate the effects of Roundup herbicide and the Roundup tolerant GM Maize. The said study analyzed 10 groups of mice, composed of 10 males and 10 females each, and followed over their normal lifetime, which is an average of two years. Previous feeding trials required by regulatory bodies in the US only required a 90-day feeding trial for approval of new GM crops and products.
Of the study groups, three were given Roundup in their drinking water at three different levels that are consistent with the normal exposure of the food chain in areas where the herbicide is being used. Another three groups were fed with diets that contain NK603 at 11 percent, 22 percent and 33 percent in terms of proportion. Another three groups were given both NK603 and Roundup at the same three dosages. A final control group was given an equivalent diet that contained no NK603 or Roundup but containing 33 percent of the equivalent of non-GM Maize.
Results showed that both NK603 and Roundup caused the same damage to the rats’ health when either one is consumed or both. The study showed that the female rats developed mammary tumors and pituitary disorders. The male rats showed liver damage and developed skin and kidney tumors. Up to 50 percent of the male rats and 70 percent of the females died prematurely. Other results found include 50 percent to 80 percent of the rats developing tumors 2 to 3 times more than the control group, of which only 30 percent were affected. The first tumors were seen to have developed in the 4th month of the study in males and on the 7th month in females. In the control group, the first tumors were seen after 14 months in the female control group and on the 23th month for the males.
The result of the study raises serious concerns regarding the regulatory processes in licensing such products. The research brings into the forefront the need for more studies to look into the long term effects of all GM food crops.