A new French study published in Food and Chemical Toxicology is receiving great attention from natural-foods enthusiasts and Monsanto’s public relations department. The 2-year study is a unique contribution to the data pool, in that it is a longitudinal study.
Currently, no regulatory authority (such as the FDA) requires “chronic” studies in order to demonstrate safety. Industry practice is to conduct 90-day studies, which is insufficient to view long-term effects on health.
The GMO crops typically under scrutiny are Monsanto’s Roundup-ready soybeans and maize, which are engineered to produce modified Bt toxin insecticide. According to the report, “These GM crops contain new pesticide residues for which new maximal residual levels (MRL) have been established in some countries.”
This particular study focused on NK603 R-tolerant maize.
The problem with present studies is that they attempt to measure the effects of the active ingredient of a particular toxic compound, rather than the full-spectrum of adjuvants (a pharmacological or immunological agent that modifies the effect of other agents) and other ingredients.
The authors of the paper note that:
…toxicity evaluation of herbicides is generally performed on mammalian physiology through the long-term study of only their active principle, rather than the formulation used in agriculture, as was the case for glyphosate (Williams et al., 2000), the active herbicide constituent of R. It is important to note that glyphosate is only able to efﬁciently penetrate target plant organisms with the help of adjuvants present in the various commercially used R formulations (Cox, 2004). When R residues are found in tap water, food or feed, they arise from the total herbicide formulation, which is the most commonly used mixture in agriculture; indeed many authors in the ﬁeld have strongly emphasized the necessity of studying the potential toxic effects of total chemical mixtures rather than single components (Cox and Surgan, 2006; Mesnage et al., 2010; Monosson, 2005). Even adjuvants and not only glyphosate or other active ingredients are found in ground water (Krogh et al., 2002), and thus an exposure to the diluted whole formulation is more representative of an environmental pollution than the exposure to glyphosate alone in order to study health effects.
In other words, the authors are attempting to study more realistic variables over the long term.
They reported in the discussion of their findings that:
In conclusion, it was previously known that glyphosate consumption in water above authorized limits may provoke hepatic and kidney failures (EPA). The results of the study presented here clearly demonstrate that lower levels of complete agricultural glyphosate herbicide formulations, at concentrations well below ofﬁcially set safety limits, induce severe hormone-dependent mammary, hepatic and kidney disturbances. Similarly, disruption of biosynthetic pathways that may result from overexpression of the EPSPS transgene in the GM NK603 maize can give rise to comparable pathologies that may be linked to abnormal or unbalanced phenolic acids metabolites, or related compounds. Other mutagenic and metabolic effects of the edible GMO cannot be excluded. This will be the subject of future studies, including transgene and glyphosate presence in rat tissues. Reproductive and multigenerational studies will also provide novel insights into these problems.
This study represents the ﬁrst detailed documentation of longterm deleterious effects arising from the consumption of a GM Rtolerant maize and of R, the most used herbicide worldwide. Altogether, the signiﬁcant biochemical disturbances and physiological failures documented in this work conﬁrm the pathological effects of these GMO and R treatments in both sexes, with different amplitudes. We propose that agricultural edible GMOs and formulated pesticides must be evaluated very carefully by long term studies to measure their potential toxic effects.
In other words, the “safety thresholds” set by regulatory agencies are not enough. What we have seen in these rats, in an attempt to account for environmental synergistic factors, is illness: tumors, liver and kidney damage, and more.
If you trust the corporate-infiltrated FDA’s safety limits, then you have given your consent to be the lab rat.
The backlash from this study illuminated a number of problems in its design: first, that the rats tested were of a breed already prone to tumors; second, that there were not enough rats in the control group, and just one rat can seriously skew a correlation.
These are valid points. However, I wouldn’t discard the study completely. While the leading scientist already has a poor track record in the scientific community and has been accused of poor study design and misleading interpretations of results in the past, I will state something in his defense.
The findings of increased kidney and liver lesions from a diet containing GMO corn have been seen elsewhere. Check it out…
Whether is this enough to cause cancer, I cannot say. But lesions of any kind are enough to make me balk at a plant that produces more potent Bt toxin, which ultimately has a conversation with my organs.