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Urgent need for long-term toxicity and cancer studies on GM foods

Seralini research on gmo ratsGMOSeralini.org press release: New website shows public lied to about GM maize study

7 January 2013. Contact: Claire Robinson claire.robinson@gmoseralini.org

A new website set up by scientists and citizens challenges criticisms of a landmark study[1] that found genetically modified (GM) maize damaged the health of rats. The group concludes there is an urgent need for long-term toxicity and cancer studies on GM foods.

The website, GMOSeralini.org, analyses the study by Prof Gilles-Eric Séralini’s team at the University of Caen, France, which found that rats fed GM maize and tiny amounts of the Roundup herbicide it is designed to be grown with suffered severe organ damage, increased tumours, and premature death. The website examines criticisms leveled at the study and finds that they do not stand up to scientific scrutiny.

Séralini’s study was the first to examine the effects of eating a commercialized GM maize and its associated pesticide over the long term. It was shouted down by a chorus of critics, who claimed it was flawed. But many of the critics were later exposed as having links with the GM industry or to be involved in GM crop approvals, so were not independent.[2]

Spokesperson for GMOSeralini.org Claire Robinson[3] said in the weeks following the publication of Séralini’s study she was contacted by scientists who were unhappy that science was being distorted to protect the GM industry.

Robinson said: “The consensus was that the public was lied to. The criticisms seemed designed to bury the research under a storm of insults, but they do not stand up to analysis.”

GMOSeralini.org systematically answers the criticisms. These included claims that Séralini used a tumour-prone rat and that the small number of rats in the study made it meaningless.

Robinson said: “Séralini used the same rat that Monsanto used in its 90-day study on the same GM maize and its long-term cancer studies on glyphosate, the main chemical in Roundup. And the number of rats was appropriate for a chronic toxicity study.

“Séralini’s study wasn’t a cancer study but a chronic toxicity study that happened to find tumours. Critics claim the tumours were due to chance, but the only way to prove that is by doing a full-scale long-term cancer study – something industry has avoided.”

Robinson said Séralini’s study was “political dynamite” because the longest studies that are normally done on GM foods are only 90 days long. Signs of kidney and liver toxicity appeared in Monsanto’s 90-day tests on the GM maize, but they were dismissed as not biologically meaningful by EFSA. Séralini designed his study to test this claim by extending the study length. He found that the initial signs of toxicity seen in the 90-day tests developed into severe organ damage over the longer two-year period, proving that EFSA’s claim was incorrect.

Also, the first tumours in Séralini’s study only showed up 4-7 months into the study, peaking at 18 months. The findings show that 90-day tests are too short to detect long-term effects like organ damage and cancer.

Robinson said: “The study shows that the way GM foods have been tested for safety since they were introduced is inadequate to protect people’s health.”

GMOSeralini.org has started a worldwide Avaaz petition calling for independent long-term safety tests to be carried out on all GM foods and their associated pesticides.

The website quotes statements of support from many scientists – challenging claims that the scientific community condemned the study.

Robinson said: “Séralini’s study isn’t perfect – no study is – but it is stronger in terms of design, study length, and health effects measured, than the industry studies that claim GM foods are safe.”

ENDS

Notes

1. Séralini GE, Clair E, Mesnage R, et al. Long term toxicity of a Roundup herbicide and a Roundup-tolerant genetically modified maize. Food and Chemical Toxicology. November 2012; 50(11): 4221-4231

2. Matthews J. Smelling a corporate rat. Spinwatch. 12 Dec 2012. The Guardian’s environment correspondent John Vidal called this article “The definitive analysis of the Séralini affair”. Available at http://www.spinwatch.org.uk/-articles-by-category-mainmenu-8/46-gm-industry/5546-smelling-a-corporate-rat

3. Claire Robinson is also an editor at GMWatch (GMWatch.org) and research director at Earth Open Source (earthopensource.org).