ministry links GM corn to infertility
By Stephen Daniells, 24-Nov-2008
Source of Article: http://www.foodnavigator.com/Science-Nutrition/Austrian-ministry-links-GM-corn-to-infertility
of genetically modified corn may lead to infertility, according to a new
study commissioned by the Austrian Agency for Health and Food Safety, and
carried out by Veterinary University Vienna.
Results from a
long-term feeding study with mice were interpreted as showing that
consumption of a genetically modified corn
developed by Monsanto
(NK603 x MON810) led to lower fertility and body weight.
The study has not been
peer-reviewed but a report was released on 11th November by the Austrian
Ministry of Health, Family and Youth, which managed the study. To read the
full report, click here.
“The number of females
without litters decreased with time in the GM and ISO group, especially in the fourth generation,” wrote the
researchers, led by Professor Jurgen Zentek. “In the group fed with [a non GM corn
cultivated in Austria]
fewer females were without litters, and accordingly more pups were weaned.”
The researchers noted
that a 90-day feeding study is considered “sufficient” for the detection of
adverse events, but chronic effects may only become evident in longer-term
“This is the first
study investigating a stacked event in a multigeneration
study focussing on mice in reproduction and development,” they added.
Biotech giant Monsanto
has been quick to respond to the study, and released a statement on Friday
emphasising that the study has not been peer-reviewed, as well as quoting
‘two internationally recognised experts’ who concluded that the study
contained “significant flaws”.
The feeding trials
lasted 20 weeks using the fertile outbred mouse
strain OF1/SPF. The animals were fed a diet containing 33 per cent of NK 603
x MON 810 corn, or a closely related non-GE variety.
MON810 is the only
genetically modified crop approved in the EU, although not for human
consumption. It has been cultivated for animal feed since 1998 and requires a
review every ten years. It is engineered to produce a naturally occurring
toxin, Bacillus thuringiensis, which has
insecticidal properties. It also contains genes that allow it to survive
applications of Monsanto’s herbicide Roundup
The results indicated
a statistically significant decrease in the sizes of the litters and the
weight of the pups in the third and fourth litters in the GM-fed mice,
compared to the control group.
“The trial indicates
that dietary interactions with the host organism have to be further
evaluated,” wrote the authors. “Regarding the sensitivity of the topic,
studies are needed to extend the database using standardized feeding trials
with clear endpoints such as reproductive performance and a backup by
genomic, proteomic and metabolomic traits.
findings could be expected for other animals, needs to be evaluated in
studies including reproductive traits. Future studies are necessary to
determine the impact of normal and transgenic dietary ingredients on the
organism,” they concluded.
In a statement by
Greenpeace, the environmental campaigners said that the study is “further
evidence that the food and feed safety of genetically engineered crops cannot
“The biotech industry
is playing a game of genetic roulette with our food and with health.
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,” said Greenpeace.
Jerry Hjelle, PhD, vice president of Monsanto’s regulatory
group responded to Greenpeace’s statements, saying:
“Once again, these organizations have demonstrated that their primary
interest is sensational headlines and not scientific substance.
“Every time a
preliminary study like this comes out, Greenpeace and the Center
for Food Safety cry ‘wolf’. And time and time again, scientific scrutiny
finds that GM crops and food are safe.”