(Beyond Pesticides, January 19, 2010) A study conducted by the Committee of Research and Information on Genetic Engineering (CRIIGEN) and the Universities of Caen and Rouen in France shows that three genetically modified (GM) crops have numerous adverse health effects on lab rats. The study analyzes raw data initially gathered by Monsanto to gain approval for consumption in the United States and Europe. The three crops used, NK 603, MON 810 and MON 863, are varieties of corn available in food and feed all over the world. Both MON 810 and MON863 are engineered to synthesize Bacillus Thuringiensis (Bt) toxins, a type of insecticide, and NK 603 is engineered to be resistant to the broad spectrum herbicide glyphosate, which Monsanto sells under the brand name Roundup. All three crops show varying levels of adverse health effects, primarily in the liver and kidneys, in addition to the heart, adrenal, spleen and blood cells.
Researchers were assisted by Greenpeace in acquiring the data analyzed. Under a European Union directive, Monsanto should have made their raw data publicly available, but Greenpeace lawyers had to obtain some of the data through court action.
The study sharply criticizes Monsanto‚Äôs data analysis and conclusions, and calls for additional long term studies in at least three different mammals. Monsanto only gathered data for 90 days. This period is not long enough to examine chronic problems. Monsanto dismissed differences seen in male and female rats, while the CRIIGEN study concluded that males are significantly more susceptible to the adverse effects of NK 603. A similar study in 2007 published in Archives of Environmental Contamination and Technology, also concludes that MON 863 is linked to liver and kidney problems in rats. Monsanto‚Äôs response is that both studies used faulty analytical methods.
Monsanto introduced the first GM crops in 1996, and has always maintained that GMOs are safe for humans and the environment. Beyond Pesticides believes whether it is the incorporation into food crops of genes from a natural bacterium (Bt) or the development of a herbicide resistant crop, the approach to pest management is short sighted and dangerous.
Beyond Pesticides publicizes the serious health and pest resistance problems associated with the approach and provides important links to activists working in the pesticide community. Over 70% of all genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are altered to be herbicide-resistant. Beyond Pesticides’ goal is to push for labeling as a means of identifying products that contain genetically engineered ingredients, seek to educate on the public health and environmental consequences of this technology, and generate support for sound ecological-based management systems. Beyond Pesticides maintains that this technology should be subject to complete regulatory review, which is currently not the case, and supports litigation to achieve that end.