Daily News Archives
Modified Corn Causes Blood, Kidney Abnormalities In Rats
(Beyond Pesticides, May 27, 2004) Rats fed
with genetically modified (GM) corn exhibit health problems including
kidney abnormalities and blood changes that could indicate larger health
concerns, according to secret research by Monsanto, the details of which
were leaked by The
Independent (UK) earlier this week. The confidential 1,139-page
report shows that rats fed MON 863, a variety of corn currently grown
and sold in the US, had shrunken kidneys and variations in the composition
of their blood. MON 683 has been genetically engineered to be resistant
to corn rootworm by Monsanto, the world's largest producer of genetically
modified corn, soybeans, and canola.
The disclosure of the Monsanto report has raised concern over whether
the GM corn is safe for humans to eat without further research. Doctors
said that the changes in the blood of the rodents could be indicative
of larger health problems, such as damage to the rats’ immune
systems or a disorder that the immune system was fighting, such as a
tumor. Dr Vyvyan Howard, a senior lecturer on human anatomy and cell
biology at Liverpool University, called for the publication of the full
study, saying the summary gave "prima facie cause for concern."
Yet Monsanto refuses to release the full report on the grounds that
"it contains confidential business information which could be of
commercial use to our competitors." The full details of the research
that are included in the report are as yet unknown.
The Independent also revealed that these health problems are
absent from another batch of rodents fed non-GM food as part of the
research project, demonstrating a great deal of variation in the results.
Dr Michael Antoniu, an expert in molecular genetics at Guy's Hospital
Medical School, described the findings as "very worrying from a
medical point of view," adding: "I have been amazed at the
number of significant differences they found [in the rat experiment]."
Monsanto, on the other hand, dismissed the abnormalities as meaningless
and due to chance. British officials are reportedly taking the report
This is not the first time GMO foods have been shown to impact the health
of rats. A highly publicized UK study in 1998 on rats fed GM potatoes
shows similar health problems. That research, which was denounced by
ministers and the British scientific establishment, was halted and Dr.
Arpad Pusztai, the scientist behind the controversial findings, was
forced into retirement amid a backlash by the biotech industry (see
Daily News). Dr. Pusztai commented
on the recent study, saying a "huge list of significant differences"
between rats fed GM and conventional corn strongly indicates that eating
significant amounts of it can damage health.
come as European countries, including Britain, prepare to vote on whether
the GM corn should go on sale to the public. "This news couldn't
have come at worse time for Monsanto, which is already facing European
Union consumer rejection of its products, due to concerns over the health
and environmental hazards of GMOs," says Ronnie Cummins, executive
director of the Organic
Consumers Association in a press
release Wednesday. "European labeling laws require GMO ingredients
to be listed, making it easy to avoid them, but American consumers are
unwitting guinea pigs, since no such labeling is required. The only
way to be sure you are not eating GMO ingredients is to buy certified
ACTION: While European countries require foods with genetically
modified (GM) ingredients to be clearly labeled, the United States has
no labeling laws, even though around 75 percent of processed foods in
the U.S. contain some GM ingredients. To protect yourself and your family,
eat organic when possible.
American consumers have a right to choose for themselves what kind of
food they eat, and the U.S. government is acting irresponsibly by denying
that knowledge and that choice. Take two minutes to take action on this
issue by sending an online letter: go to The Center for Food Safety's
website to automatically send
a pre-written letter to the FDA demanding thorough safety testing
and mandatory labeling of GMOs.