GMO corn approved in RP shows signs of toxicity, study reveals

Greenpeace demands immediate withdrawal, moratorium on GMO approvals

Press release - March 14, 2007
A genetically-modified (GM) corn strain approved for food, feed and processing in the Philippines shows signs of toxicity to mammals, a new study released today reveals. The study, and written by a panel of three independent scientists in France, showed that laboratory rats fed with the GMO corn Monsanto (MON) 863 YieldGard Rootworm displayed kidney and liver toxicity. MON 863 is corn genetically manipulated to produce its own insecticide called 'modified Cry3Bb1' to kill rootworm insects in the soil, and contains gene coding for antibiotic resistance.

GM maize: a dangerous experiment

Entitled 'New Analysis of a Rat Feeding Study with a Genetically Modified Maize Reveals Signs of Hepatorenal Toxicity,' the study is published this week in the scientific journal "Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology." The study analyzed results of safety tests submitted by Monsanto to the European Commission (EC) when the company was seeking authorization to market MON 863 in the European Union. The data shows that significant health risks were associated with the GMO corn; still, the EC granted licenses to market MON 863 for consumption by both humans and animals. The incriminating data was obtained by Greenpeace following a court case, and was passed on for evaluation by a team of experts headed by Professor Gilles Eric Séralini, a governmental expert in genetic-engineering from the University of Caen in France(1).

"This case is especially significant to the Philippines right now in the light of the Bureau of Plant Industry's (BPI) claims this week that they enforce stringent regulatory systems for the approval of GMOs. MON 863 is approved in several countries around the world and was approved in the Philippines by the BPI in October 2003," said Greenpeace Southeast Asia Genetic Engineering Campaigner Daniel Ocampo.

"However, the approval of a GMO is not a guarantee of its safety. The BPI can repeatedly assure the public that GMOs have passed their standards--but as this latest evidence shows, these remain empty boasts. Genetic manipulation of organisms is dangerously unpredictable; no GMO has ever undergone long-term testing. The MON 863 case is the first time that a GMO product authorized for use as food for humans and animals has been shown to have adverse effects on internal organs. It is a clear warning of the inherent risks of GMOs," Ocampo added.

The data in question has been the subject of fierce debate since 2003, when significant changes were identified in the blood of tested animals fed on MON 863. MON 863 was approved by the EC, despite opposition by a majority of EU member states who raised concerns over the GMO's safety. Professor Séralini's analysis now scientifically confirms these concerns. As the study states, "with the present data, it cannot be concluded that GMO corn MON 863 is a safe product."

In a joint press conference with Greenpeace in Berlin yesterday, Professor Séralini also questioned Monsanto's analyses of MON 863 which was used as a basis for the approval. "Monsanto's analyses do not stand up to rigorous scrutiny--to begin with, their statistical protocols are highly questionable. Worse, the company failed to run a sufficient analysis of the differences in animal weight. Crucial data from urine tests were concealed in the company's own publications."

Greenpeace is demanding the complete and immediate withdrawal of MON 863 corn from the global market and is calling upon governments to undertake

an urgent reassessment of all other authorized GE products, and a strict review of current testing methods. Greenpeace is also calling for a moratorium on the approval of GMOs for human consumption.

In the Philippines, 25 GMO food crops (including corn, soybean, sugar beet, alfalfa, potato, and cotton) have been approved by the BPI for direct use in food, feed, and processing, while four GMO corn crops are approved for propagation Twenty-four of the 29 GMOs approved in the country are owned by Monsanto. At present, the BPI is reviewing an application for a GMO strain of rice, LL62, developed by Bayer Cropscience. Greenpeace has been actively blocking the approval of Bayer LL62, asserting that the entry of GMO rice in the country's food chain will have disastrous consequences on the country's--and the world's--most important food crop.

"This is the final nail in the coffin for the credibility of the current authorization system for GMO products. Now that it's known that a system designed to protect human and animal health has approved a high-risk product despite clear evidence of its dangers, we need to start 'strip-searching' all GMOs in the market," said Ocampo

"No GMO has ever been proven safe for human consumption. The risks these manipulated organisms pose to the environment and human health are

simply unacceptable. Clearly, GMOs are not a sound basis for the futureof agriculture. It is time that our government realized that the future of farming must be grounded on the principles of sustainability and biodiversity, and which provides all people access to safe and nutritious food. The MON 863 case is a clear demonstration that GMOs can never be a viable option," added Ocampo.

Greenpeace campaigns for GE-free crop and food production grounded on the principles of sustainability, protection of biodiversity, and providing all people access to safe and nutritious food. Genetic-engineering is an unnecessary and unwanted technology that contaminates the environment, threatens biodiversity, and poses unacceptable risks to health.