European food agency issues preliminary review of GM maize rat study

French study raises questions on lack of long-term testing under EU rules

Press release - October 4, 2012
Brussels - The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) today delivered a preliminary review of a new two-year French study which aimed to research potential long-term health impacts of a genetically modified (GM) maize, Monsanto’s NK603, and the herbicide it is engineered to tolerate, Roundup.

A scientist at work at the Greenpeace research laboratories at Exeter University, in the United Kingdom.


Since its publication, the debate surrounding the French study has brought into sharp focus the fact that no suitable, universally agreed protocols to conduct such long term tests so far exist. This raises fundamental questions on why the current EU safety regime does not include testing of the long-term effects of GM crops, said Greenpeace.

All GM crops currently consumed by humans and animals in the EU have been approved on the basis of testing by the biotech industry lasting between 28 and 90 days. This is not sufficient to identify problems which might emerge during the lifetimes of humans and animals consuming these crops or across generations.

Greenpeace EU agriculture policy director Marco Contiero said: "There is an unacceptable gap in current EU safety testing which largely ignores potential long-term health and environmental impacts of GM crops. This is yet another reason to immediately freeze approvals of new GM crops. The EU needs to redesign safety testing so that it routinely assesses impacts over the long term."

"EFSA recognises that appropriate methodology is crucial for serious scientific research, but omits to mention the fact that no agreed methods currently exist to carry out comprehensive testing of long-term exposure to GM food. This is why suitable methodologies must be developed and the French study should be replicated according to these agreed methods," Contiero added.

Notes to editors:
[1] For more information on the potential health risks of GM crops, see the concise Greenpeace briefing on the environmental and health impacts of GM crops.

Marco Contiero – Greenpeace agriculture policy director: +32 (0)477 777034,
Janet Cotter – Senior Greenpeace scientist: +44 (0)781 2174783,
Greenpeace EU press desk: +32 (0)2 274 1911,

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