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EU food watchdog rejects GM study

Research showing increased cancer risk from genetically-modified maize rejected as of "insufficient scientific quality"

4 October 2012

EUROPEAN food safety watchdogs have criticised a recent study which used pictures of rats with giant tumours to highlight a claimed increased cancer risk caused by genetically-modified maize.

The European Food Safety Authority said that the paper, by Caen University's Prof Gilles-Eric Seralini, had incomplete data and added that its "design, reporting and analysis ... are inadequate".

It said the study of was of "insufficient scientific quality".

Prof Seralini has been asked to provide further information on his findings that genetically-modified maize which had been treated with Roundup herbicide could cause cancers.

However, he has refused to provide any more details until the EFSA publishes the data that allowed it to give authorisation for the maize in 2003.

EFSA said that its full examination of Prof Seralini's study would be complete by the end of this month, but said that on initial examination "no conclusions" could be drawn from his work and it was not necessary to look again at the authorisation for GM maize.

It had identified several problems with the study: it used a type of rats naturally prone to tumours; the numbers of rats used did not meet scientific standards; food storage and composition data was not reported, and there was no data on the exposure to Roundup.

Prof Seralini's study said that rats fed on GMO maize NK 603 (of which Monsanto owns the patent) were two or three times more likely to develop tumours than ones fed ordinary maize. At the end of their lives, aged two, 50-80% of female rats had tumours, compared to 30% of ones eating non-GM food.

After its publication the French government started an inquiry into the safety of GM foods.

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