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Canada GM Corn Linked To Early Death In New Study

Jan 6, 2005
Metro-Vancouver, B.C., Canada
GM corn linked to early death in new study

Health Canada reviewing results of French research

By Sarah Schmidt, Postmedia News - September 21, 2012

Health Canada said Thursday it will take action if its review of a new study that found Canadian-grown genetically modified corn is linked to elevated risks of cancer, organ damage and premature death in rats "demonstrate a risk" to Canadians.

The first GM food safety study to test the entire lifespan of laboratory rats, newly published in the peer-reviewed scientific journal Food and Chemical Toxicology, also found health impacts for rats exposed to Monsanto's herbicide Roundup, the widest selling herbicide in the world.

The French study, while challenged by some experts, is being taken seriously by the French government. On Thursday, it ordered an urgent review of the study assessing the safety of GM corn and said it will work for a Europe-wide ban of imports of the crop if the findings were found to be conclusive.

In Canada, where the GM corn is grown and used for animal feed and processed food ingredients, Health Canada said Thursday it would be premature to offer its assessment, saying departmental scientists are reviewing the findings.

"Should our review of this new study demonstrate a risk, Health Canada will take appropriate actions to protect the health and safety of Canadians," the department added.

The study of Monsanto's GM corn NK603, approved by Health Canada in 2001 and engineered to withstand sprayings of the company's herbicide Roundup, found rats fed the GM corn or Roundup developed tumours faster and died earlier than rats fed non-GM corn.

The study involving 100 female rats and 100 male rats were split into groups and fed different amounts of either Roundup-resistant corn, Roundup herbicide or both, over two years. There was also a control group, which was fed regular corn and plain water.

Up to 50 per cent of males fed GM corn or Roundup and 70 per cent of females died prematurely, compared with only 30 per cent and 20 per cent in the control group, the study found. And overall, rats fed GM corn or Roundup developed two to three times more tumours.

Regulatory authorities around the world, including Health Canada, require mandatory chronic animal feeding studies involving rats before approving GM corn and other GM foods, but none require full lifespan tests. Instead, the tests usually consist of 90-day rat feeding trials conducted by the biotechnology company.

"In our study, the tumours also developed considerably faster than the controls, even though the majority of tumours occurred at four to seven months into the study in males and females respectively, under-lying the inadequacy of the standard 90-day feeding trials for evaluating GM crop and food toxicity," the study states.

Lucy Sharratt of the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network zeroed in on this fact in calling for Health Canada to revamp its approvals system.

"This is the first ever long-term study and it also happens to be a peer-reviewed study on the corn that Health (Canada) approved based on a 90-day study from the company that wanted it approved," Sharratt said Thursday. "The federal government needs to redesign the entire system that approves GM foods because our regulations are not designed to look for the types of problems these scientists have found."

Monsanto Canada did not respond to a request for comment on this study. Monsanto spokesman Thomas Helscher told Reuters the company would review the study thoroughly.

© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun





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