Since the introduction of the Flavr Savr tomato in 1994, genetically modified foods have been a topic of controversy. This tomato was the first commercially grown genetically modified food. It was produced by Calgene, a Californian company.
This method of farming was introduced to address increasing populations among developed countries. Proponents also claim that genetically modified foods have the following benefits: enhanced taste and quality, increased resistance to disease, and increased food security for growing populations.
Controversies surrounding this method of farming include: unknown long term effects, domination of world food production by a few companies, tampering with nature by mixing animal genes in plants, and a lack of labeling notification to inform consumers about what they are purchasing.
Proponents of genetically modified (GM) foods claim that the genetic manipulation of plants creates stronger, pesticide-resistant crops and improved nutritional contents. However, critics argue that GM plants will alter the Earth’s complex ecological balance, causing irreversible harm to the ecosystem and human health. Now, for the first time, research reports that the Monsanto Company’s MON863 GM corn caused liver and kidney toxicity in rats. MON863 GM maize has been approved in the European Union since 2005.
The study, published in Archives of Environmental Contamination and Technology, investigated the effect of MON863 GM maize in rats. French researchers from CRIIGEN (Committee for Independent Research and Genetic Engineering) at the University of Caen reanalyzed data from the Monsanto Company’s 90-day rat-feeding study. Researchers administered either a GM diet or an equivalent normal diet to rats for 90 days. The CRIIGEN scientists compared the biochemical parameters between the GM-treated rats and controls.
The researchers found that the GM-treated rats had signs of liver and kidney toxicity. The GM-treated female rats had a 40 percent increase in triglycerides and the GM-treated male rats had a 35 percent decrease in urine phosphorus and sodium excretions. Furthermore, the GM-treated female rats had a 3.7 percent increase in weight and the GM-treated male rats had a 3.3 percent decrease in weight.
“Longer experiments are essential in order to indicate the real nature and extent of the possible pathology; with the present data it cannot be concluded that GM corn MON863 is a safe product,” the study authors conclude.
1. Seralini GE et al. New Analysis of a Rat Feeding Study with a Genetically Modified Maize Reveals Signs of Hepatorenal Toxicity. Archives of Environmental Contamination and Technology, March 14, 2007, online edition.
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