A study published in the International Journal of Biological Sciences asserts three tested varieties of Monsanto's genetically modified corn can cause organ failure, calling for further research.
The varieties of corn, Mon 810, Mon 863, and NK 603, were approved for food use for humans in Europe and North America. The research is described as the first to ever comprehensively study the potential mammal health risks that may arise from eating genetically modified food products. The research titled A Comparison of the Effects of Three GM Corn Varieties on Mammalian Health was conducted by four French scientists. The researchers summarized their findings saying "... Our analysis clearly reveals for the 3 GMOs new side effects linked with GM maize consumption, which were sex- and often dose-dependent. Effects were mostly associated with the kidney and liver, the dietary detoxifying organs, although different between the 3 GMOs. Other effects were also noticed in the heart, adrenal glands, spleen and haematopoietic system. We conclude that these data highlight signs of hepatorenal toxicity, possibly due to the new pesticides specific to each GM corn."
The French scientists said it was important to study gm foods because "... These substances have never before been an integral part of the human or animal diet and therefore their health consequences for those who consume them, especially over long time periods are currently unknown."
The scientists fed rats gm corn varieties for three months, and said the results called for longer-term studies.
The Coordinator of the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network (CBAN), Lucy Sharratt said this latest research highlights a need to impose a moratorium on all gm foods, as well as review of all the science behind existing approvals. "Health Canada does not do any testing but relies on Monsanto's data instead. This new study again shows that we cannot trust Monsanto's so-called science. Protecting the health of Canadians demands peer reviewed, independent science." Sharratt said via email Wednesday.
Sharratt said the findings confirmed those found in earlier research by the same scientists, and said ominously "Actually, five of Monsanto's GM corn products [are] pointing to serious problems with Canada's regulation. Health Canada recently approved an eight-trait GM corn - SmartStax - without assessing its safety, And recently Europe asked serious safety questions about a high-lysine corn Canada also approved years back. Health Canada must deal with the reality that it has approved GM foods that are increasingly understood as dangerous."
In December, Dr. Michael Hansen, who is with the U.S. group Consumers Union, criticized Health Canada saying “Health Canada has taken a dangerously negligent approach to the safety of SmartStax corn by not following the recommended guideline of the UN CODEX for a full safety assessment."
Monsanto has said that that its GM products are safe, although at least one other independent study has shown Mon 863 maize to have toxic effects on the liver.
Mon 810 corn was banned in a few European countries, contravening a directive from the European Commission, which had approved the corn. This controversial product contains Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) to control the Asian corn borer. Bt is bacteria commonly found in the soil. The safety of this product has been questioned frequently since it was released to the market in 1997.
NK 603 is a variety of corn engineered to be resistant to Monsanto's herbicide, Roundup. While the safety of this product has been a concern, there has been little scientific research demonstrating that NK 603 is not safe until recently. Sharratt said all three varieties are approved in Canada.
France, which banned Mon 810 in 2008, is calling for more research into the environmental safety of Mon 810 -- the only gm corn allowed to be grown in Europe. France presented its concerns to a European body reviewing Mon 810. The European Commission will finalize the review in February.
Monsanto posted a first quarter loss of $19 million, which is blamed on a decline in herbicide sales, but Monsanto has been focusing more on genetically modified crops, such as a genetically modified wheat which it plans to reintroduce to North America. Plans for GM wheat were first brought forward in 2004, but were shelved after protests by farmers and consumers.
Monsanto is also working on creating a drought-resistant maize which can be grown in semi-arid regions of the world. This work has received the financial backing of the Gates Foundation. The Gates Foundation, partnered with the Rockefeller Foundation are working to bring the next green revolution to Sub-Saharan Africa. Monsanto has developed a drought resistant corn for use in western countries, and has applied to the FDA for approval to sell the seed in the United States.
An attempt to contact Monsanto U.S.A. did not receive a response at this time.