The debate on the safety of genetically engineered food and its associated pesticides has continued for years, with Monsanto and other companies continuing to insist that it is “safe” for human and animal consumption.
But the deeper you dig, the more likely you are to find evidence of potential harm, including one curious case in Europe that was recently detailed by Claire Robinson of the website GMWatch.org.
In Robinson’s article she tells the story of how the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) ignored evidence of harm in GM-fed rats despite warnings from experts hailing from EU member states.
While GMO corn is mostly banned in Europe now, the story is a cautionary tale of what can happen when we blindly trust “safety experts” to protect us and don’t do their research first-hand.
Kidney Problems, Bladder Stones Found in Rats Eating GMO Corn
As noted in the article, which can be read in full by clicking here, concerns were raised by several EU member states about test results on lab rats with a type of Monsanto GMO insecticidal corn prior to its approval in 2011.
The corn was shown to cause kidney disease and bladder stones in a small but statistically significant amount — even in the industry’s own safety tests, the article noted.
The results of these tests have continued to be brought up whenever Monsanto’s newest type of corn is also brought up for approval, especially by France, one of the most vocal of the non-GMO nations.
But despite the continued protests across Europe from millions of citizens, as well as the heads of government agencies, the EFSA has continued to downplay the disturbing findings, the article says, issuing favorable opinions led have led to the approval of nine stacked trait corn varieties that contain this type of GMO material.
More on Possible Kidney and Bladder Effects of GMO Corn
In total, two out of the 20 female rats that ate a high dose of GMO maize (33% of the total diet) developed kidney damage and bladder stones, the study showed, and one of the two rats died after just two weeks on the GMO including diet.
The changes were deemed to be minimal chronic progressive kidney disease or damage, minimal to moderate transitional cell hyperplasia (cell proliferation that can be a precursor to cancer of the urinary system), inflammation and and hydronephrosis (presence of water in the kidneys due to obstruction).
Both were reported to have “urinary bladder calculi” or bladder stones.
Despite these symptoms, ill effects, and the one reported death, the EFSA said the changes in the rats were a “spontaneous” or chance finding that had nothing to do with the GMO diet, because the bladder stones issue is a known effect seen in the particular strain of rat that was used.
Germany was also concerned, as the article noted:
“While the applicant suggests that these findings are unrelated to consumption of the test diet, possible adverse effects of MON89034 maize on the health of the test animals cannot be excluded from this result and from other significantly different nephrological [kidney] and haematological [blood] findings in MON89034 maize fed female rats.”
Unfortunately, no additional feeding studies were ordered despite additional nations like Belgium and Austria expressing concerns as well.
The historical control data regarding this issue demonstrates another potential problem. In total the rats with serious health issues in this study accounted for 10% of the control group. However historical control data shows only a .49% rate of similar results in past studies.
Additional studies were clearly needed, as France and others have pleaded, but the EFSA did not address them. Also, the French food safety agency ANSES has said it “cannot conclude on the safety of products derived from maize varieties carrying the MON89034 transformation event,” a similar opinion to French experts who have no way to account for the discrepancy when giving safety recommendations.
For more info on this study and why further long-term studies should be required, check out the full article by clicking here.
What It Means for People in the U.S.
While it is possible to find some products containing GMOs in Europe (many of them imported or through animal feed), the continent’s food supply is far more GMO free than in the United States, where over 90% of the corn, soy and canola is GMO with much of it coming from Monsanto.
Monsanto insists its GMOs are safe because of government approvals and other health body proclamations, but critics point out the lack of long term testing in cases like these, as well as a strong industry influence on safety studies.
The story of these rats, however, and many other safety studies with questionable and industry-influenced outcomes, again shows just how much of a gamble it is to eat genetically engineered food, especially consistently.
Throw in the fact that most GMOs either produce insecticides within the plant or are engineered to withstand large sprayings of Roundup, and that Monsanto is a United States company in a country that profits handsomely off of the Biotech industry, and you can see why these nations are so cautious.
For more information on GMO and pesticide safety studies, concerns, and their flawed methodology, you can check out this article.