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article imageRussian researchers plan public GMO study on rats

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By Anne Sewell     Sep 29, 2012 in Food
Moscow - Following the conclusion of the recent study in France on the effects of GMO food on rats, Russia suspended imports of GMO products. Now they are planning their own, more public, study into the effects of feeding GMOs to rats.
Digital Journal recently reported on the trial by scientists from France's Caen University, where they tested the effects of GMO food on rats over a lifetime period of two years. Results showed mammary tumors and organ damage to the rats after they were fed a diet of genetically modified (GM) NK603 maize produced by American chemical giant Monsanto.
After the report was published in Food and Chemical Toxicology, Russia immediately suspended imports of GMO products pending further investigation into GMOs.
Russian researchers from the National Association for Genetic Safety (NAGS) wish to run their own study, but more publicly, so that the public can see the process with their own eyes.
They are planning a year-long experiment, also using rats, which they expect to prove or deny the health-threatening influences of GMOs.
The scientists will install web cameras in the rats' cages, and will broadcast all stages of the experiment online, 24/7, as almost a unique reality show.
Project author, Elena Sharoykina told RT, “This is a unique experiment. There hasn’t been anything like it before – open, public research by opponents and supporters of GMO.”
In the test, several groups of rats will be fed different food. One will be fed soybeans and corn with a high GMO content, another will get the same products, but with low GMO levels, and a third group will receive food with no GMO content. A fourth group will receive standard rat food.
To keep the results pure, employees who feed the rats will not know which kind of food they are giving to them.
The scientists are expecting to observe five generations of rats, should they survive. “It is hard to predict how animals will react,” Sharoykina said.
A similar experiment was planned in 2006 but the researchers were unable to get financial support. They initiated another study, using hamsters, where scientists oversaw a few generations of the hamsters, and concluded that by the third generation some of these animals had become infertile.
They hope to launch the new research in March 2013, including both supporters of GMOs and foreign experts. They still need to work out their methods, form a team of scientists and acquire funding, as the project may cost up to $1 million.
Researchers are hoping to find commercial sponsors, get grants from the government, or even raise funds through public financing, for example, on the Internet.
According to Sharoykina, should the experiment prove the destructive influence of GMOs on animals, it should be the pretext to banning GMOs in Russia. “But we will have a chance to understand in what direction we should move,” she said. “If this research proves negative influence, and supporters of GMOs accept it, the next step should be a moratorium on products with GMOs in Russia.”
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