Monsanto's GM Corn MON863 Showed Kidney, Liver Toxicity in
Animal Feeding Study
STRONG SUSPICIONS OF TOXICITY IN A GMO MAIZE
By By Stephane Foucart
Le Monde, March 14 2007
Straight to the Source
http://www.organicc onsumers. org/articles/ article_4790. cfm
Web Note: This english translation was obtained from
http://www.laleva. org/eng/2007/ 03/monsanto_ genetically_ mo...
The study itself can be found at
http://www.springer link.com/ content/02648wu1 32m07804/
The corn in the study, MON 863, is Bt variety that was approved for
commercial release by the USDA on March 23, 2002,
(http://www.aphis. usda.gov/ brs/aphisdocs2/ 01_13701p_ com.pdf) and is
marketed by Monsanto under the trademark "YieldGaurd Rootworm".
Allowed to go on the market in France and Europe, MON 863, a
transgenic corn invented by Monsanto, has been at the center of a
controversy over its innocuousness for over two years (April 23rd,
2004, Le Monde).
These debates could resume after the March 13th publication
in "Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology" of a
study suggesting this genetically modified organism (GMO) is toxic
to the liver and kidneys.
According to this work, consumption of MON 863 corn disturbs
numerous biological parameters in rats to a greater or lesser
extent: weight of the kidneys, weight of the liver, the level of
reticulocytes (new red blood cells), the level of triglycerides, etc.
Urinary chemistry is also changed, with reductions in excreted
sodium and phosphorus going as high as 35 percent. The effects vary
with the sex of the animals.
"Female rats exhibit an increase in blood fat and sugar levels, and
an increase in body weight - all associated with greater hepatic
sensitivity, " says Mr. Seralini, principal author of this study and,
moreover, president of the Research Committee for Independent
Research and Information on Genetic Engineering (Criigen). "Among
males, the impact is opposite, with a drop in body and kidney
The authors of this work used data drawn from an experiment
sponsored by Monsanto, which bore on the study of 400 rats for 90
days. The statistical treatment applied to these data by the experts
of the agrochemical firm was published in August 2005, by "Food and
That work brought to light significant variations in biological
parameters between animals fed MON 863 and those fed with its
isogene - the same plant variety without the genetic modification.
Monsanto researchers, for their part, had concluded that those
disparities were within the frame of the natural variability of the
measured parameters. The effects produced by the GMO were therefore
not considered pathological. As for the "natural variability, " it
had been established by measuring the same series of data on rats
fed with other varieties of non-GMO corn, with different nutritional
values from MON 863 and its isogene.
The raw experimental data - over a thousand pages - were kept
confidential by the agrochemical firm until Greenpeace obtained an
order for its publication in spring 2005 from the Appeals Court of
Criigen was thus able to examine the data in detail and to apply a
new statistical treatment to them. According to Mr. Seralini, that,
notably, consisted of extracting from the raw data the most
significant effects specifically imputable to GMO absorption.
"Of the 58 parameters measured by Monsanto," the researcher
details, "all those that were altered concern kidney or liver
functioning. " He continued, "furthermore, Monsanto had deemed that,
because the males and the females responded differently, there was
no reason for worry." He added, "Yet, the liver, for example, is an
organ that reacts differently as a function of sex." In the same
way, the fact that the measured biological response was not always
in exact correlation with the dose of GMO received was interpreted
by the company's experts as proof that the transgenic corn being
tested was not the cause. Mr. Seralini contests that
principle: "When the disturbances are hormonal, for example, the
impact may not be proportional to the dose."
Toxicologist Gerard Pascal, a member, like Mr. Seralini, of the
Committee on Bio-molecular Engineering, deems certain that Criigen's
conclusions are erroneous. "I reject the analysis of the animals'
weight curves, conducted without taking their feeding into account,"
says Mr. Pascal. "But I agree that the biological responses may vary
between males and females and with the principle that the effects of
a GMO corn must be compared with its isogene only and not take into
account effects produced by other corn varieties."
According to Mr. Pascal, the lack of direct correlation between the
GMO doses received and the impacts observed on the hepatic
parameters disqualifies the conclusions about liver toxicity.
Significant differences with respect to "kidney weight" and "urinary
sodium, phosphorus, and potassium" suggest a renal
impact. "However," Mr. Pascal recalls, "at my request, the CGB
pressed for investigations of the kidneys and had not found any
definitive evidence of toxicity" (December 15th, 2004, Le
Monde). "The variations in the levels of reticulocytes and
eosinophiles (white blood cells) remain," adds M. Pascal. "I don't
know how to interpret that, but those are parameters that move
around a lot in experiments. " As far as Mr. Pascal is concerned, the
information developed by Criigen is not of a nature to call into
question the favorable opinions delivered with respect to MON
863. "All that is nothing but a personal interpretation, " adds the
Criigen's work has been financed by Carrefour and Greenpeace, but,
as Mr. Seralini explains, "Unfortunately, today there is no public
budget for conducting this type of research." A situation all the
more harmful, according to Mr. Seralini, in that, "the whole
toxicological study ought to be redone, controlling for hormonal
dosages" and, above all, the tests should be continued well beyond
90 days and on species other than the rat to reach a definitive