Genetically modified corn wasn’t shown to harm lab rats

Last year, Gilles-Eric Séralini claimed that genetically modified (GM) corn or maize (Zea mays) was associated with severe health problems in rats which ate it. That report was soon discredited.

The corn was one of the Roundup Ready crops developed by Monsanto. These are crops which resist glyphosphate herbicides, meaning that they can be sprayed with the Monsanto product Roundup. Spray these crops with Roundup and the weeds die but the crops live. Anti-GM opinion was fired up by the story of these ‘harmful GM crops’. But the evidence was too weak for the conclusion.

Want more detail? A United Nations website, GMO Compass, tells us what happened when these ‘harmful GM crops’ weren’t found harmful.

[Edit] Here’s an article about what happened. Anti-GM corn study reconsidered: Seralini finally responds to torrent of criticism

[Edit] I was mistaken. The GM crop fed to those rats was MON863, which is insecticidal (it’s a Bt crop) but not Roundup Ready.

[Edit] No, I was still wrong! The GM crop fed to these rats was maize NK103, which is Roundup Ready, and the rats were fed Roundup too.

[Edit] Wrong again! but getting there. I’m unsure whether the rats ate maize NK603, maize MON863, or a cross between those two varieties. Several commentators say that the rats ate ‘maize NK103’ but I’m not convinced that variety exists. In any case, those rats didn’t eat a Bt crop.

[Edit] More than a year after I first mentioned Prof Séralini’s feeding trial, I’ve got to grips with it. My ‘Séralini affair’ post will appear as a pingback on this post.


About argylesock

I wrote a PhD about veterinary parasitology so that's the starting point for this blog. But I'm now branching out into other areas of biology and into popular science writing. I'll write here about science that happens in landscapes, particularly farmland, and about science involving interspecific interactions. Datasets and statistics get my attention. Exactly where this blog will lead? That's a journey that I'm on and I hope you'll come with me.
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4 Responses to Genetically modified corn wasn’t shown to harm lab rats

  1. pcawdron says:

    Thanks for bringing this up. I thought you might be interested in this post as it also talks about the lab rat scandal.

    The media focuses on the sensational, often missing the genuine scientific consensus. Certainly, there’s so much variability in the approach to GMO that there’s room for error so we should tread carefully and not assume everything’s going to be fine, but there’s some good research being done in this field that’s being irrationally attacked.

  2. Pingback: Don’t believe everything you read | Science on the Land

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