Mice! Forget about birth control - try GE maize instead!

Feature story - 11 November, 2008
Mice fed on genetically-engineered maize produce fewer offspring than those fed on natural foods, according to a new study published today by the Austrian government.

Greenpeace "mice" were already protesting at the risks to health and the environment from GMOs back in 2005.

Austrian scientists performed several long-term feeding trials with laboratory mice over a course of 20 weeks. One test - the so-called "reproductive assessment by continuous breeding" showed that mouse parents fed on a diet containing 33 percent of a Monsanto owned GE maize variety (NK 603 x MON 810) experienced a decrease in litter size and weight by the time they gave birth to their third and fourth litters. Mice fed on a closely-related non-GE maize had normal reproduction cycles.

Of mice and men…

The study is further evidence that the food and feed safety of GE crops cannot be guaranteed. The biotech industry is playing a game of genetic roulette with our food and with health.

The reproductive ramifications of this GE maize were totally unexpected - regulators around the world have previously considered this variety to be as safe as non-GE varieties: a potentially devastating error.

That alone should be a good enough reason to close down the whole biotech industry.

Protect consumers, not Monsanto's interests

The Austrian study should be carefully considered by food safety agencies around the world. The European Food Safety Agency (EFSA), for example, gave this same variety the "green light" in 2005, relying solely on Monsanto's data. The EFSA reported that it "considers it unlikely that NK603 x MON810 maize will have any adverse effect on human and animal health.

In effect, EFSA gave the thumbs-up to a GE variety that this latest study highlights potential danger to human health and reproduction. Clearly EFSA's GMO panel is in urgent need of reform.

Recall GE worldwide

Summarising his findings, Prof. Dr. Jurgen Zentek, Professor of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Vienna - the lead author of the study - said the differences between the mice was statistically significant, and that this effect could be attributed to the differences in food sources.

The GE maize variety in question has been approved for planting and food use in several countries, including the US, Argentina, Japan, the Philippines and South Africa. In Mexico and the EU, it has been approved for food and feed use. Considering the severity of the potential threat, Greenpeace is demanding a recall of genetically-engineered food and crops from the market, worldwide.

Take action...for a GMO-free Europe!

We have a golden opportunity: EU Environment Ministers will meet to decide on December 4 whether or not to strengthen the GMO risk assessment system. In light of the Austrian study we can call on politicians to speak up, defy the GMO lobby, and vote for the environment and consumer protection.


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