Longest-Running GMO Safety Study Finds Tumors in Rats

Are GMOs dangerous? A new study shows that Monsanto’s genetically modified corn and Roundup herbicide cause negative health effects in rats, and is raising questions about the safety of GMOs.
By Tom Philpott
April/May 2013
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Monsanto’s Roundup-Ready corn caused a host of negative health effects in rats, including tumors and premature death.
Photo Courtesy AFP Photo/Criigen
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More than two decades ago, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted GMOs “generally regarded as safe” status, meaning the industry had no obligation to conduct long-term safety studies. And while GMOs don’t have what scientists call “acute” effects, what about “chronic” effects — those that come on gradually and can’t easily be tied to one cause? The French study — the most comprehensive GMO safety assessment ever conducted — highlights that concern. It involved 200 rats and spanned two years, the life expectancy of the species of rat used. Previously, the longest study had lasted 240 days, says Michael Hansen, senior scientist at Consumers Union and an expert on GMO research. Industry-funded studies typically last just 90 days.

The researchers investigated how eating Monsanto’s Roundup-Ready corn (and any Roundup herbicide traces that may come with it) affected rats’ health. They separated rats into 10 groups: Three had part of their standard diet replaced at varying levels with Roundup-Ready corn that had been treated with Roundup in the field; three received the same feed protocol, but with untreated Roundup-Ready corn; three ate no GM corn but had tiny amounts of Roundup herbicide in their drinking water; and one control group ate two-thirds standard rat chow and one-third non-GM corn. Each group contained 10 females and 10 males.

The researchers say their results show “severe adverse health effects, including mammary tumors and kidney and liver damage, leading to premature death” from Roundup-Ready corn and Roundup herbicide, whether they were consumed separately or together. Almost all of the ill effects manifested after 90 days. By the end of the study, 50 to 80 percent of the females had developed large tumors, compared with 30 percent developing tumors in the control group. In males, liver congestion and necrosis were 2.5 to 5.5 times higher than in the control group, and there were 1.3 to 2.3 times more instances of kidney disease. Overall, among the rats receiving GM corn and/or Roundup, up to 50 percent of males and 70 percent of females died prematurely, compared with only 30 percent and 20 percent in the control group.

So does the study close the case? Are GMOs dangerous? Predictably, industry-aligned scientists are questioning the study, but even longtime critics of GMOs, including Hansen, have concerns. Hansen says that while the new study was longer and better designed than any of the industry GMO safety studies, the sample size — 10 males and 10 females per group — was too small to draw conclusions from.

Hansen says, however, that while the individual comparisons may not be statistically significant because of sample size, the results still paint a troubling picture. The study made 54 comparisons between treated rats and control rats, and in all but four, the treated rats showed worse outcomes. “That’s suggestive that there’s something going on and that there should be further research,” Hansen says, adding that a possible reason the researchers didn’t use a greater number of rats to get more robust results is because multiyear rat studies are extremely expensive.

That fact highlights how little funding goes to GMO safety studies. Between 1992 and 2002 — a period of rapid GM crop development — the USDA spent about $1.8 billion on biotech research, of which only 1 percent went to safety testing. Meanwhile, the ag industry uses its patent power to maintain tight control over who researches what, and it dominates the research agenda at U.S. agriculture universities. The French study didn’t fully illuminate the situation, but it’s a start.

— Tom Philpott, adapted from Mother Jones


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Post a comment below.

 

Bruce123abc
8/3/2014 1:49:35 PM
Hi SoulM, If you copy and paste a website to notepad, then copy and paste that to the Internet, you'll probably get a cleaner copy. ----------- It seems very statistically significant that you would have an increase from 30% to (50 to 80)%. That's an increase of 66% to 166%. How can that be statistically insignificant? It seems that studies like this are a clear indication that there is something significantly wrong with GMO technology for food production. ----- From what I've read inserting new genes by (e.g. shooting GENE covered gold flecks into DNA) causes a lot of effects that would make the food worse, such as; - Inserting into the middle of other genes destroying or altering their functionality - having the gene on all the time (by using a protein that keeps the gene turned on continuously) in all the cells so that the poison or protein is always being produced throughout the plant (This I assume would lead to lower nutrition since the plant is spending a lot of it's resources producing a toxin continuously) - the activator may be turning on inactive genes that produce toxins or by producing more of a protein than normal produces unwanted protein production (e.g. 30,000 genes in the human body produce 80,000 different proteins -> a protein has more than one function) - Altering the function of other genes due to the fact that genes interact in a complicated way with each other and not singly as Genetic Modification assumes - using marker genes, that are cheaper, but promote anti-biotic resistance - the addition of extra DNA that my produce toxins - proteins that are possibly allergenic being added to foods that are normally not allergenic ----- The theories to explain why GMO's are bad for you make sense. The theories to explain why GMO' are good for you just say there's no definitive proof it's bad for you. That's not good science

Eric
7/22/2014 6:58:39 PM
google genetic literacy project, or Kevin Folta, a U. of Florida prof. and then start reading. You will soon finds that TMEN has harmed their credibility by printing this nonsense. There is no credible proof that there is any danger from consuming gmo food. Try checking with those who receive gmo insulin to see if they are dying from it or are grateful. What about all that gmo cheese out there? better do some checking you paranoid ones who have fallen for the wacko propaganda. Tmen needs to realize that more are realizing the truth that G.E. is safe technology when it comes to food. They also need to realize that their long term business model will have to quit catering to those who will never get home from woodastock.

gmosaregood
6/5/2014 12:31:31 PM
( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

gmosaregood
6/5/2014 12:30:23 PM
gmos taste good and are good for the enviroment. the rats deserved it

Turtlemamma
5/13/2014 1:47:08 PM
Anyone who tries to deny the harmful effects of GMO's is living under a rock! WAKE UP! Stop dissecting everything in life with denial...

Alex
4/28/2014 5:22:23 AM
"The study says the rate of tumors jumped from 30% in the control to 50-80% in the treated groups. This means even the control rats had a high rate of tumors" Yes, it also means that the increase was between 20-50%. Well within the scope of statistical significance. "With only 10 females, possibly closely related" Possibly related? Given you claim to be a scientist that kind of statement does not give you much credibiltiy. "The biggest problem is in the results showing that ' “severe adverse health effects, including mammary tumors and kidney and liver damage, leading to premature death” from Roundup-Ready corn and Roundup herbicide, whether they were consumed separately or together.' This leads to the conclusion that the GMO status had no effect at all." Another possible conclusion is that BOTH the GMO-corn and the herbicide are toxic. "It was the presence of Roundup as a contaminant on the corn that caused the adverse effects." " The only real problems that I have seen so far with GMO crops are the ones involving contamination of other fields (including organic fields) with the modified DNA genes and the problems with companies like Monsanto putting seriously outrageous restrictions on the way their seed is handles, grown and saved." Recommended reading: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/do-seed-companies-control-gm-crop-research/ 'To purchase genetically modified seeds, a customer must sign an agreement that limits what can be done with them. (If you have installed software recently, you will recognize the concept of the end-user agreement.) Agreements are considered necessary to protect a company’s intellectual property, and they justifiably preclude the replication of the genetic enhancements that make the seeds unique. But agritech companies such as Monsanto, Pioneer and Syngenta go further. For a decade their user agreements have explicitly forbidden the use of the seeds for any independent research. Under the threat of litigation, scientists cannot test a seed to explore the different conditions under which it thrives or fails. They cannot compare seeds from one company against those from another company. And perhaps most important, they cannot examine whether the genetically modified crops lead to unintended environmental side effects.' "I agree that we should be looking at these genetically modified crops to be sure nothing bad is happening to our food, but we need to go about it in a sane and scientific manner. Publishing such obviously flawed studies like this one does no good for anyone." Whether the study is flawed or not, it should raise enough concern to pursue further studies done according to standards critics like you consider professional.

Anabell Jones
11/9/2013 1:19:56 PM
The study is legitimate. No biased comment will change these scientifically obtained results. holler19 appears to err on the side of risk rather than caution. Eat lots of GMO food holler19, and let us know how your health is as time rolls on.

Anabell Jones
11/9/2013 1:09:41 PM
The study is legitimate. No biased comment will change these scientifically obtained results. holler19 appears to err on the side of risk rather than caution. Eat lots of GMO food holler19, and let us know how your health is as time rolls on.

holler19
11/6/2013 8:13:51 AM
Without reading the whole study, I can only make the following observations. As stated, the sample size is quite small for this type of conclusion. I have worked in a behavioral lab with rats, where they received nothing but standard rat chow. A rather large number of our rats develop mammary tumors without any Roundup or GM corn. The study says the rate of tumors jumped from 30% in the control to 50-80% in the treated groups. This means even the control rats had a high rate of tumors. With only 10 females, possibly closely related, the increase involved 2-5 rats. We don't do necropsies on rats, so I don't know if any other deaths were due to liver or kidney problems. The biggest problem is in the results showing that ' “severe adverse health effects, including mammary tumors and kidney and liver damage, leading to premature death” from Roundup-Ready corn and Roundup herbicide, whether they were consumed separately or together.' This leads to the conclusion that the GMO status had no effect at all. It was the presence of Roundup as a contaminant on the corn that caused the adverse effects. The only real problems that I have seen so far with GMO crops are the ones involving contamination of other fields (including organic fields) with the modified DNA genes and the problems with companies like Monsanto putting seriously outrageous restrictions on the way their seed is handles, grown and saved. I agree that we should be looking at these genetically modified crops to be sure nothing bad is happening to our food, but we need to go about it in a sane and scientific manner. Publishing such obviously flawed studies like this one does no good for anyone.

Kurt Luzny
8/9/2013 7:10:13 PM

The European Food Safety Authority's guidelines on long-term GM feeding studies validate Prof Seralini's study, which found serious health effects from NK603 maize. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has issued guidelines for two-year whole food feeding studies to assess the risk of long-term toxicity from GM foods.

 

http://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/efsajournal/pub/3347.htm

 

 

 

This is a fascinating document which largely validates the methodology and choices of Prof GE Seralini in his 2012 study on GM maize NK603 - methodology and choices that EFSA and countless other critics previously attacked him for. 

 

 

 

http://gmwatch.org/index.php/news/rss/14882-seralini-validated-by-new-efsa-guidelines-on-long-term-gmo-experiments 

 

One thing to remember is that the US deems biotechnology to be a strategic industry essential to the future survival of the USA.  As such, allowances and preferential treatment is given Monsanto by the US governement and federal regulators that are not given to some other American industries, and also which are not given by most other countries to biotechnology companies.  This often allows for more objective studies undertaken outside the US, as well as the reporting of these studies in various national media.  The US project is placing a lot of faith that Monsanto is central to the future power placement of the US internationally.  Most countries have their list of what they consider their critical industries.  Biotechnology is that for the US, and Monsanto is the biggest biotech player globally.  


Kurt Luzny
8/9/2013 7:09:28 PM

The European Food Safety Authority's guidelines on long-term GM feeding studies validate Prof Seralini's study, which found serious health effects from NK603 maize. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has issued guidelines for two-year whole food feeding studies to assess the risk of long-term toxicity from GM foods.

http://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/efsajournal/pub/3347.htm

 

This is a fascinating document which largely validates the methodology and choices of Prof GE Seralini in his 2012 study on GM maize NK603 - methodology and choices that EFSA and countless other critics previously attacked him for. 

 

http://gmwatch.org/index.php/news/rss/14882-seralini-validated-by-new-efsa-guidelines-on-long-term-gmo-experiments 

One thing to remember is that the US deems biotechnology to be a strategic industry essential to the future survival of the USA.  As such, allowances and preferential treatment is given Monsanto by the US governement and federal regulators that are not given to some other American industries, and also which are not given by most other countries to biotechnology companies.  This often allows for more objective studies undertaken outside the US, as well as the reporting of these studies in various national media.  The US project is placing a lot of faith that Monsanto is central to the future power placement of the US internationally.  Most countries have their list of what they consider their critical industries.  Biotechnology is that for the US, and Monsanto is the biggest biotech player globally.  


Fischer
7/16/2013 9:34:51 AM

@ Soulm

Yeah, yeah...  a Conspiracy to justify Saralini's study . 

Everyones out to get him hmmm?  That MUST be why he is wrong.

The original comment you replid to still stands. Seralini is a joke of the Scientific Community and has known to be twisting data and commiting faulty research just to try and justify his own agenda, which is probably for money as a lot of these people do it to get paid from Corporations which want to blur the certainty (Just look at Wakefield for Vaccines).

Then you try and insult someone for being Sceintifically Literate, telling them they are a "mole" or "sheep".
No, it is YOU who is brainwashed. So much so, in fact, that you are happy to debate someone who is actually scientifically literate in biology happily unaware your arguments are ignorant and stupid. You are a lost sheep, sir.

I agree, GMO should be labelled and more research should definitely be done. Propper, legit research.

Then we'll uncover the truth about GMO safety one way or another. I have to admit though, that i can't see how food with slightly altered genes could automatically make human consumption give them a billion diseases. The Anti-GMO hype is obviously fallacious.

I have to say that a lot of your so called evidence is either articles and not actual Peer-Reviwed Studies, or it is faulty and twisted evidence.

I'll continue to do more research into the subject though, and i hope you do more research on both sides of the argument too. Emotional bias just slows the path to uncovering truth. Even worse, it could knock you off completely, beyond any rationality.


SoulM
5/30/2013 12:40:24 AM

@ CeckG Sorry, I believe Saralini's study far more than the campaign to smear him by Monsanto and cronies... Did you know Monsanto has purchased the Scientific Journal that published Seralini study? Guess they don't want any more studies from that journal that are negative...

"Monsanto takes over Scientific Journal of Food & Chemical Toxicology (FCT), which published Seralini study. Richard Goodman, former Monsanto employee, appointed to FCT upper editorial board. Agrichemical companies take control of science."
http://independentsciencenews.org/science-media/the-goodman-affair-monsanto-targets-the-heart-of-science/

"Smelling a corporate rat: Seralini attackers exposed
http://gmwatch.org/latest-listing/51-2012/14514

Seralini's study was for a full 2 years. Monsanto’s own tests are always limited to no more than 90 days...

I know you are probably a biotech mole and won't learn anything but this is for other people who may read your post.

We need labels so we have a choice and we need more valid scientific research into the health dangers, although a lot has been coming out lately.

Want to know why there aren't more studies? Biotech firms such as Monsanto prohibit any research in the contracts the farmers must sign.. This should be against the law! (pardon the text, that's how it copied from the pdf.)

"Gro w er ma y no t pl a nt and ma y not tra n sfer to o t hers f o r planti n g a ny Se e d t ha t th e Growe r has produc e d co nta i ni n g pa t ented Mon sa nto T echnolo g i e s fo r crop breedi n g, re se arc h , o r g ener a tion of herbicide r egistrat i on data. Growe r may no t cond u c t resea r ch on Grower ' s c r op p r oduced f r om Seed ot h er t h a n to m a ke a g r onomic compar i sons an d con du ct yie l d test i ng f or Grower' s own u s e ."

http://thefarmerslife.files.wordpress.com/2012/02/scan_doc0004.pdf

600 articles on GMO safety studies.
http://gmopundit.blogspot.com/2007/06/150-published-safety-assessments-on-gm.html

Study reveals GMO corn to be highly toxic
http://rt.com/usa/toxic-study-gmo-corn-900/

"The American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) reported that “Several animal studies indicate serious health risks associated with GM food” including infertility, immune problems, accelerated aging, faulty

insulin regulation, and changes in major organs and the gastrointestinal system. The AAEM asked physicians to advise

patients to avoid GM foods."
http://responsibletechnology.org/gmo-dangers

Doctors Say No to GMOs
http://www.iowasource.com/food/2010_05_gmo.html

Want more? There is plenty.. Ask the millions of people who Marched Against Monsanto on May 25th. More marches planned, look them up on facebook and get involved in stopping this madness!

There are many other problems with GMO. They are killing the bees, many thousands of farmers are committing suicide going broke from GE crop failures, they are crosspollinating our native and heritage crops to the point of extinction and much much more.


CeckG
4/23/2013 10:28:15 PM

For HEAVEN SAKE...PLEASE STOP BEING SHEEPS! Learn how to read scientific papers and if you CAN'T understand what the process of a GMO is, then stop making a fool of you. Seralini is a clown among scientific community. His study is as boggus as the project one of my BIO 100 students can be! No methodology, bad statistics, and the most key error? His control is not a control! http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0278691512005637 READ THE LETTERS FROM PEOPLE WHO WORKS SERIOUSLY!









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