View Full Version : Tumors and Organ Damage in Rats Fed Monsanto Corn

Lauren Johnson
09-19-2012, 10:11 PM

Rats fed a lifetime diet of Monsanto's genetically engineered corn or exposed to the company's popular Roundup herbicide developed tumors and suffered severe organ damage, according to a French study released on Wednesday.

The study could have a big impact on the battle over a California ballot proposal that would require groceries containing genetically engineered ingredients to be labeled as such. Monsanto has already donated $7.1 million to the campaign to defeat the proposal, known as Proposition 37.

The study, (http://research.sustainablefoodtrust.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Final-Paper.pdf) published in a reputable American journal, links varying levels of both the Roundup herbicide and the transgenes in Monsanto's patented NK603 corn to mammary tumors and severe liver and kidney damage.

The rats were either fed the NK603 corn alone, corn treated with agricultural levels of Roundup, or given water treated with Roundup at low levels commonly found in contaminated drinking water and used in agriculture in the United States. In each group, there were two to three more deaths compared to control groups, and the rats on the Monsanto diet died more quickly.

Gilles-Eric Séralini, a professor of molecular biology at the University of Caen who lead the research team, told reporters on Wednesday that the rats' diet reflected the kind of exposure that humans who eat genetically engineered food should expect.

"This is around the level [that] the American population may eat, where, unfortunately GMOs are not labeled," Séralini said. "In Europe, we have this labeling, and it helps us to avoid these compounds if necessary and promote personal choices."

The research team concluded that NK603's transgenic traits and the endocrine-disrupting effects of Roundup herbicide could explain the results. The study is the first of its kind to link enzymes overexpressed by transgenes to health problems, Séralini said.

Endocrine-disrupting chemicals cause health problems and cancers by impacting hormonal glands in mammals and are especially dangerous to children (http://www.nrdc.org/health/effects/qendoc.asp). Pesticide and herbicide critics often fear that chemicals used to kill weeds and pests could potentially be endocrine disruptors in humans.

Monsanto's NK603 and other varieties of corn are genetically engineered to tolerate Roundup herbicide, which contains the plant poison glyphosate and other additives, so that farmers can spray whole fields of crops to kill weeds while sparing the genetically modified corn. Genetically engineered crops are also known as genetically modified organisms, or GMO's.

Good News for Proposition 37

"The results of this study are worrying," said Gary Ruskin, who manages a campaign to pass the food-labeling initiative in California (http://truth-out.org/ http:/truth-out.org/opinion/item/11450-why-did-monsanto-support-genetically-engineered-food-labeling-in-the-uk-but-not-in-california). "They underscore the importance of giving California families the right to know whether our food is genetically engineered, and to decide for ourselves whether we want to gamble with our health by eating GMO foods that have not been adequately studied and have not been proven safe."

Ruskin's Yes on Proposition 37 campaign, which is supported by organic food companies and alternative health groups, has been vastly outspent (http://truth-out.org/news/item/11014-monsanto-dupont-spend-millions-to-defeat-california-genetically-engineered-food-labeling-initiative) by a campaign to defeat the ballot initiative funded by millions of dollars in donations from biotech chemical companies and food manufacturers such as Monsanto, DuPont, Bayer and Nestle.

Polls taken this summer, however, show that Proposition 37 remains popular among a majority of voters despite a multimillion-dollar campaign against the initiative.

GMO Information War

A spokesperson for Monsanto told Truthout that the company will thoroughly review the data, but pointed out that scientific claims made by Séralini in regards to previous studies on rats have been refuted by a European food regulatory agency.

In the past, Séralini, an independent scientist celebrated by biotech critics, has publicly wrangled with peer scientists, pro-industry groups and regulators over interpretations of data from 90-day studies on rats conducted by biotech companies that were used to justify regulatory approvals of Monsanto crops in several countries.

Séralini and his team believe the study released this week is more conclusive because it spans two years and followed the rats' entire lifecycle.
"It's bizarre and dramatic for us that the US government," said Séralini, "has not requested to make serious tests before releasing these products into the environment because these GMOs are pesticide sponges, and we know that pesticides can be harmful to humans."

Séralini also pointed out that his team started to see tumors after four months, while the industry studies on rats were limited to a three-month period.
"It shows the genetically modified foods should be withdrawn," said biotech critic and author Jeffrey Smith. Smith said the study further confirms reports he has heard from doctors and veterinarians who say they've seen their patient's health improve after they stopped eating genetically engineered foods.

In 2010, a lead embryologist in Argentina named Dr. Andrés Carrasco survived an attacked by an angry mob (http://archive.truthout.org/war-over-genetically-modified-crops-gets-ugly-birth-defects-superweeds-and-science-intimidation64915) determined to keep him from speaking at a public event about his own research on Roundup, which found that the herbicide caused deformations in chicken embryos that resembled birth defects in humans being reported in the country's agricultural areas where the herbicide is heavily used.

Magda Hassan
09-20-2012, 07:11 AM


In an alarming new study published in the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology, researchers from The Committee for Research & Independent Information on Genetic Engineering (CRIIGEN) reported on the results of a 2-year feeding study in rats given either NK603 Roundup-tolerant genetically modified maize, cultivated with or without Roundup, and Roundup alone, at levels permitted in drinking water and GM crops in the United States.

The authors of the study pointed out that currently no regulatory authority requires mandatory chronic animal feeding studies to be performed for edible GMOs and formulated pesticides, and the only 90-day feeding trials were conducted by the biotech industry.

This study, therefore, was performed in light of this need, and the results were an unprecedented confirmation of the cancer-causing effects of GM food and agrichemicals, reported as follows:

In females, all treated groups died 2–3 times more than controls, and more rapidly. This difference was visible in 3 male groups fed GMOs. All results were hormone and sex dependent, and the pathological profiles were comparable. Females developed large mammary tumors almost always more often than and before controls, the pituitary was the second most disabled organ; the sex hormonal balance was modified by GMO and Roundup treatments.

In treated males, liver congestions and necrosis were 2.5–5.5 times higher. This pathology was confirmed by optic and transmission electron microscopy. Marked and severe kidney nephropathies were also generally 1.3–2.3 greater. Males presented 4 times more large palpable tumors than controls which occurred up to 600 days earlier. Biochemistry data confirmed very significant kidney chronic deficiencies; for all treatments and both sexes, 76% of the altered parameters were kidney related. These results can be explained by the non linear endocrine-disrupting effects of Roundup, but also by the overexpression of the transgene in the GMO and its metabolic consequences. [emphasis added]

Below is an image of tumors induced through the experiment. More can be found at the journal website.

The results of this new study are doubly concerning. Not only has the consumption of a genetically modified food crop now been shown to cause tumor growth and accelerated mortality, but so has the primary herbicide these plants have been engineered to withstand exposure to: Roundup.

GMO plants actually incorporate glyphosate directly into themselves, with the herbicide residues and their metabolites persisting there, making dual exposure to transgenes and herbicide inevitable, and the synergistic amplification of their toxicities likely.

It is a shameful fact of history that Roundup herbicide was once marketed by its creator and original patent holder, Monsanto, as being "safe as table salt." Now, an accumulating body of research shows that glyphosate, Roundup's active ingredient, is genotoxic and endocrine disrupting -- both hallmark characteristic of many carcinogens -- at concentrations several orders of magnitude concentration lower than agricultural application. In fact, Monsanto has gone to great lengths to deny the emerging Roundup-Cancer link by pouring money into contract research companies like Exponent, who deny its well established harms.

This newest study provides clear and convincing evidence that GMO agriculture is contributing to cancer in exposed populations. The timing of this new study -- two weeks before Breast Cancer Awareness Month (BCAM) -- is all the more fitting, considering that "In female animals, the largest tumors were in total 5 times more frequent in males after 2 years, with 93% being mammary tumors." They also "...observed a strikingly marked induction of mammary tumors by R[oundup] alone...even at the very lowest dose administered." The annual pinkwashing campaign focuses on equating "prevention" with "early detection" by exposing women's bodies to breast cancer-causing x-rays, rather than to identify and remove the preventable causes, e.g. chemical exposure, carcinogenic foods, of breast cancer.

The precautionary principle requires that if there is indication in a non-human study that a chemical is toxic to those who are forced to ingest it, inhale it, or otherwise be exposed to it, the burden of proving it safe must be on those manufacturing, marketing it and/or releasing it into the environment.

For too long has America -- albeit, unbeknownst to most of the population -- been engaged in a mass chemical and feeding experiment, without the protection of informed consent, or even the right to know what it is eating through truthful labeling of GMOs.

Please help to spread this information far and wide, and to further garnish support for California's Proposition 37 (Just Label It), which could turn the tide against GM agriculture's systemic destruction of the biosphere, and by implication, our health.


Jan Klimkowski
09-20-2012, 05:48 PM
Read and weep.

The Day of the Triffids is nigh...

Agent Orange chemical in GM war on resistant weeds

By Matt McGrath

Science reporter, BBC World Service

19 September 2012 Last updated at 02:24

A US pharmaceutical company is set to introduce a controversial new genetically modified corn to help farmers fight resistant weeds.

Dow Agrosciences says its new GM product will use a chemical that was once a component of the Vietnam war defoliant, Agent Orange.

It is needed they say because so called "superweeds" are now affecting up to 15 million acres of American crops.

Dow argues the new approach is safe and sustainable.

For a farmer like Jeremy Leech who grows corn and soybeans near Humboldt, Nebraska, resistant weeds are a constant threat to his farm and his family.

Last year he spent around $7,500 on chemical sprays to combat the threat to his crops.

The herbicide failed to kill the giant ragweed that had grown on his land, strangling his soybeans and his income. Worse, the pungent pollen from the towering pests exacerbated his eight year-old daughter's asthma.

"When that stuff is pollinating it makes it hard for her to breathe outside and when you live on a farm you know the kids play outside all the time and they love it and when that pollen gets really bad she gets choked up," he says.

Farming revolution

Thousands of farmers across the US now face similar problems with weeds that can withstand powerful herbicides. Scientists say it is because of the success of GM crops that were introduced in the mid 1990s.

Monsanto became a world leader in the field thanks to the introduction of Roundup-ready corn and soybeans. These crops were engineered to be able to survive spraying with glyphosate, a chemical marketed as Roundup

Farmers just needed to use this one spray on their fields and it killed all the weeds but left the crops intact. Growers rapidly adopted the new technology as it cut their costs substantially.

"Roundup was the one that was supposed to do wonders," says Jeremy Leech's father, Van.

"And it did for the first few years; anybody could raise clean beans. Obviously over the last few years, bean fields are beginning to look more and more like this," he says, pointing to a field where weeds tower over shrunken crops.

To see how bad the weed problem can get, I travelled to an experimental plot near David City run by the University of Nebraska with Prof Stevan Knezevic.

We stand in a cornfield surrounded by towering green plants. But there is not an ear of corn in sight. The stalks that surround us are Giant Ragweed, one of the "dirty dozen" weeds that have acquired resistance to Roundup.

So powerful have these monster weeds become become that even spraying them with 24 times the recommended dose of Roundup fails to kill them.

These plants suck the light and the life from the crops. Just one resistant weed every 10 square metres can reduce the yields from productive plants by 50%.

"Over the past 15 years I said that if we continued using roundup, roundup roundup, we're going to have a problem - now we have that problem," says Prof Knezevic.

"The reason why we are here is that we all mismanaged this technology."

Back to the future

Recognising the scale of the problem, the biotechnology industry believes that newer more effective forms of GM are the solution. Dow Agrosciences is now seeking US government approval for the Enlist weed control system.

Instead of the crop being resistant to one chemical, it is engineered to resist two. Dow says this is a more effective solution because it allows farmers to mix and match their sprays more effectively, making for a far more sustainable system.

What is causing controversy though is the new trait which makes the crops resistant to a chemical called 2,4-D. Developed by a British team during the war, this powerful weed killer was a component part of Agent Orange, the defoliant used extensively by the US Army during the Vietnam war.

2,4-D is currently utilised as a herbicide in agriculture, though it is used sparingly because it is highly toxic. The change here would expand options for farmers to use 2,4-D.

Although it was is one of two chemical ingredients in Agent Orange, the chemical was not implicated in causing the devastating health impacts suffered by many people exposed to the defoliant.

Prof Dallas Peterson of Kansas State University who has co-operated with Dow in the past says this makes the chemical very suitable for working in combination with others.

"It is an old herbicide, one of the oldest synthetic herbicides around; we've used it for over 50 years in many different situations and to quite a large degree, and we haven't had many cases of resistance develop yet," he explains.

The US Environmental Protection Agency says that 2,4-D is safe for use in farming. The Department of Agriculture is expected to shortly grant final approval for planting next spring.

But weed scientists are concerned that if farmers are not educated to use the new GM product properly, resistance issues will soon re-appear.

"It will certainly help with weed resistance; it's a new mode of action," says Prof Dallas Peterson.

"But it's not a silver bullet - and if we utilise the technology too extensively and rely on it too exclusively, eventually we will develop resistance."

Back on the farm in southeastern Nebraska, Jeremy Leech is carefully cleaning his combine harvester to make sure he does not transport resistant seeds from one field to the next. He is also sceptical that a new GM alone is the answer.

"To me, it's a short-term fix. I think 2,4-D will work fine, but what I'm afraid is what's going to happen 4-5 years down the road if we keep using it. I think we 'll have the same problems we have now with Roundup."

What is emerging from Dow and other biotech companies in this field is the growing acceptance that greater education of farmers and a more comprehensive approach to weed management are crucial to the success of their products.

"When we grow Roundup-ready corn and rotate it with Roundup-ready soybeans the biodiversity is out of the window," says Prof Knezevic.

"It's just two crops, same chemical. We need more biodiversity if the biotech bandwagon is to succeed, like the organic farmers who rotate their crops more."

Ironically, the future of GM may well depend on re-incorporating some of the older skills that the technology once threatened to replace.

There's a map of Super Weeds at the link (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-19585341).

Magda Hassan
09-22-2012, 12:32 AM
France orders probe after rat study links GM corn, cancer

A variety of genetically modified maize (corn). France's government asked a health watchdog to carry out a probe, possibly leading to EU suspension of a genetically-modified corn, after a study in rats linked the grain to cancer.

AFP - France's government on Wednesday asked a health watchdog to carry out a probe, possibly leading to EU suspension of a genetically-modified corn, after a study in rats linked the grain to cancer.
Agriculture Minister Stephane Le Foll, Ecology Minister Delphine Batho and Health and Social Affairs Minister Marisol Touraine said they had asked the National Agency for Health Safety (ANSES) to investigate the finding.
"Depending on ANSES' opinion, the government will urge the European authorities to take all necessary measures to protect human and animal health," they said in a joint statement.
"(The measures) could go as far as invoking emergency suspension of imports of NK603 corn to Europe pending a re-examination of this product on the basis of enhanced assessment methods."
Earlier, French scientists led by Gilles-Eric Seralini at the University of Caen in Normandy unveiled a study that said rats fed with NK603 corn or exposed to the weedkiller used with it developed tumours.
NK603 is a corn, also called maize, made by US agribusiness giant Monsanto.
It has been engineered to make it resistant to Monsanto's herbicide Roundup.
This enables farmers to douse fields with the weedkiller in a single go, thus offering substantial savings.
Genetically modified (GM) crops are widely grown in North America, Brazil and China but are a hot-button issue in Europe.
The study, published in the peer-reviewed journal Food and Chemical Toxicology, says it is the first to look at rats over their normal lifespan of two years.
"For the first time ever, a GM organism and a herbicide have been evaluated for their long-term impact on health, and more thoroughly than by governments or the industry," Seralini told AFP. "The results are alarming."
Two hundred male and female rats were split into 10 groups of 10 animals.
One was a "control" group which was given ordinary rat food that contained 33 percent non-GM corn, and plain water.
Three groups were given ordinary rat food and water with increasing doses of Roundup, reflecting various concentrations of the herbicide in the food chain.
The other six were fed rat food of which 11, 22 or 33 percent comprised NK603 corn, either treated or not with Roundup when the corn was grown.
The researchers found that NK603 and Roundup both caused similar damage to the rats' health, whether they were consumed together or on their own.
Premature deaths and sickness were concentrated especially among females.
At the 14-month stage of experiment, no animals in the control groups showed any signs of cancer, but among females in the "treated" groups, tumours affected between 10 and 30 percent of the rodents.
"By the beginning of the 24th month, 50-80 percent of female animals had developed tumours in all treated groups, with up to three tumours per animal, whereas only 30 percent of controls were affected," it said
Males which fell sick suffered liver damage, developed kidney and skin tumours and digestive problems.
Breaking with a long tradition in scientific journalism, the authors allowed a selected group of reporters to have access to the paper, provided they signed confidentiality agreements that prevented them from consulting other experts about the research before publication.
Asked to respond, the French unit of Monsanto said "it is too soon to make a serious comment because we have to evaluate the study. As soon as it is available, our experts will look closely at it to give their scientific assessment."
Green groups say GM crops could be dangerous to health and the environment, although this claim has so far found no traction in large-scale studies.
The Monsanto spokesman said that "more than 300 peer-reviewed studies" had found that GM food was safe.
In 2009, the European Food Safety Agency (EFSA) panel on GM organisms determined that NK603 was "as safe as conventional maize".
"Maize NK603 and derived products are unlikely to have any adverse effect on human and animal health in the context of the intended uses," it said, delivering a judgement based in part on a 90-day feeding study on rats.
NK603 can be imported but cannot be grown in Europe.
Only Monsanto's MON810 transgenic corn and a gene-modified potato, Amflora, made by BASF, have authorisation for being grown in Europe.
However, Austria, Bulgaria, France, Greece, Hungary, Luxembourg and Romania have outlawed the growing of MON810 on their territory, citing the principle of precaution.