GM food, potential threat to fertility: New study Will Dr. Ramadoss act now?

Independent study shows that genetically engineered maize affects reproductive health. Similar maize used in Pepsico’s Doritos Corn Chips in India

Press release - November 14, 2008
BANGALORE, India — A study published this week by the Austrian government identified serious health threats of genetically engineered (GE) crops. In one of the very few long-term feeding studies ever conducted with GE crops, the fertility of mice fed with GE maize was found to be severely impaired, with fewer offspring being produced than by mice fed on natural crops. Considering the severity of the potential threat to human health and reproduction, Greenpeace is demanding a recall of all GE food and crops from the market, worldwide.

BT Brinjal is on the list of crops for approval by the GEAC.

The study, sponsored by the Austrian Ministries for Agriculture and Health, was presented at a scientific seminar in Vienna, Austria. Prof. Dr. Jürgen Zentek, Professor for Veterinary Medicine at the University of Vienna and lead author of the study, summarized the findings: Mice fed with GE maize had less offspring in the third and fourth generations, and these differences were statistically significant. Mice fed with non-GE maize reproduced more efficiently. They concluded that this effect could be attributed to the difference in the food source.

"GE food appears to be acting as a birth control agent, potentially leading to infertility - if this is not reason enough to close down the whole biotech industry once and for all, I am not sure what kind of disaster we are waiting for," said Dr. Jan van Aken, GE expert at Greenpeace International.

The Austrian scientists performed several long-term feeding trials with laboratory mice over a course of 20 weeks. One of the studies was a so-called reproductive assessment by continuous breeding (RACB) trial, in which the same parent generation gave birth to several litters of baby mice. The parents were fed either with a diet containing 33% of a GE maize variety (NK 603 x MON 810), or a closely related non-GE variety. A decrease in litter size and weight was found to be statistically significant in the third and fourth litters in the GE-fed mice compared to the control group.

Owned by Monsanto, the GE maize variety tested in this study is tolerant to herbicides and resistant to certain insect pests. It has been approved for planting and food use in a variety of countries, including the US, Argentina, Japan, Philippines and South Africa.

Unsafe, illegal GE food in India

Earlier this year, Greenpeace India had uncovered illegal GM food in India. The NK 603 strain was detected in the corn used in Pepsico's Doritos Corn chips sold in India. However, the GEAC (Genetic Engineering Approval Committee) has not taken any action on this yet.  

"Dr. Anbumani Ramadoss, has been silent on the health impacts of Bt brinjal which is about to be approved by the GEAC, turned a blind eye on the 169 new GM crops1 that are planned to be released in the next few years, has been apathetic on the priceless treasure of medicinal herbs being genetically engineered all this while. Now, with this study proving potential impacts on fertility and reproductive health, will he act now?" asked Jai Krishna, Greenpeace Sustainable agriculture campaigner.

"This study is yet another example that the food and feed safety of GM crops and food cannot be guaranteed. The reproductive toxicity of this GM maize was a totally unexpected result." added Dr. van Aken.

Upholding the Indian citizens' right to choose, Greenpeace demands:

•    Ban on all open air releases of GMOs, as they have not been proven safe either for human health or for the environment

•    The Health Ministry and the newly constituted FSSA take up the responsibility for bio-safety approvals of GM food crops

For further information, contact

Jai Krishna – Sustainable Agriculture Campaigner, Greenpeace India, +91 98455 91992

Ankur Ganguly – Communications Manager, Greenpeace India, +91 98453 73818

Notes to Editor

1. Data from Greenpeace’s Genetic Gamble report, which can be downloaded at
2. The Austrian government study can be downloaded at
3. GEAC on its website states:
Among Genetically Modified (GM) food products and seeds permitted in the country, only Bt cotton has been approved for commercial release in the country.The Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC), the statutory body constituted under the 'Rules for the Manufacture, Use/Import/Export and Storage of Hazardous Microorganisms / Genetically Engineering Organisms or Cells, 1989' notified under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 has given the approval.

While there is no ban on GM products and seeds, approval of GEAC is mandatory prior to their commercial use. The GEAC had earlier received request for import and commercial use of GM Soybean oil in India which was granted in July 2007. No other request has been received so far.

There is a provision to take punitive action against GM product which is found marketed illegally in India under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 and the Foreign Trade (Development and Regulation ) Act, 1992.