New study reveals signs of toxicity of GE maize approved for human consumption

Greenpeace demands immediate withdrawal of high-risk GE products

Press release - March 13, 2007
Laboratory rats, fed with a genetically engineered (GE) maize produced by Monsanto, have shown signs of toxicity in kidney and liver, according to a new study.(1) This is the first time that a GE product which has been cleared for use as food for humans and animals has shown signs of toxic effects on internal organs.

Aerial view of a crop circle made by local farmers and Greenpeace volunteers in Isabela province, 300 km northeast of Manila. The crop circle, with a slash over the letter 'M' symbolizes farmer's rejection of genetically-modified Bt corn crops from Monsanto corporation.

The study, published today in thejournal “Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology”, analysedresults of safety tests submitted by Monsanto to the European Commission whenthe company was seeking authorisation to market its GE Maize variety MON863 inthe EU. (2)

The data shows that MON863 hassignificant health risks associated with it; nonetheless, the EuropeanCommission granted licences to market the maize for consumption by both humansand animals. (3)

The incriminating evidence wasobtained by Greenpeace following a court case (4), and passed on for evaluationby a team of experts headed by Professor Gilles Eric Séralini, a governmentalexpert in genetic engineering technology from the University of Caen. (5)

In a joint press conference withGreenpeace at Berlin, Professor Séralini said, “Monsanto’s analyses do notstand up to rigorous scrutiny – to begin with, their statistical protocols arehighly questionable. Worse, the company failed to run a sufficient analysis ofthe differences in animal weight. Crucial data from urine tests were concealedin the company’s own publications.”

Greenpeace is demanding the completeand immediate withdrawal of Monsanto’s MON 863 maize from the global market andis calling upon governments to undertake an urgent reassessment of all otherauthorised GE products and a strict review of current testing methods.

“This is the final nail in thecoffin for the credibility of the current authorisation system for GEproducts.  Once it’s known that a systemdesigned to protect human and animal health has approved a high-risk productdespite clear evidence of its dangers, we need to start ‘strip-searching’ allGE products on the market, and immediately abort this flawed approvalprocedure,” said Christophe Then, Genetic Engineer campaigner, GreenpeaceInternational.

The data in question has been thesubject of fierce debate since 2003, when significant changes were identifiedin the blood of tested animals fed on MON863. MON863 was approved by theEuropean Commission, in spite of opposition by a majority of EU member states,who raised concerns over the safety of the maize. Professor Séralini’s analysisnow scientifically confirms these concerns. As the study states, “with thepresent data, it cannot be concluded that GM corn MON863 is a safe product.”And yet, MON863 has been authorised for markets in Australia, Canada, China,Japan, Mexico, the Phillipines, and USA, besides the EU.

“This is an international emergencyalert, requiring a global response,” concluded Then, “Only a completewithdrawal from all markets will curtail the possible damage.”

VVPR info: Christoph Then, Genetic Engineering campaigner, Greenpeace International: +49 171 878 08 32Namrata Chowdhary, Greenpeace International Communications: +44 77 261 751 48 Prof. Gilles-Eric Séralini, CRIIGEN : +33 231 56 56 84,

Notes: 1. The article is due to be published online (http://www.springerlink.com/content/?k=1432-0703) by the American journal Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology; it will be printed in May. A fax copy can be sent on request. A Greenpeace briefing on the study is available at: http://www.greenpeace.org/international/press/reports/gp_briefing_seralini_study 2. The tested GE maize named MON 863 produces a new insecticide called “modified Cry3Bb1” able to kill a pest insect in the soil (Diabrotica virgifera). This GE maize also contains a gene coding for antibiotic resistance. 3. The European Commission granted a license for MON 863 to be used in feed in August 2005, and subsequently approved it for human consumption in January 2006.4. For details, please refer to the Greenpeace paper: “The MON863 case -a chronicle of systematic deception” http://www.greenpeace.org/international/press/reports/mon863_chronicle_of_deception 5. The analysis team was headed by Professor Séralini from the University of Caen and included experts from the French independent scientific organisation CRIIGEN.