Professor Gilles-Eric Séralini is a French scientist researching pesticides and GM (genetically modified, genetically engineered) crops. A research paper from his team was published in 2012, retracted (withdrawn) in 2013 and republished in 2014. Here it is.
This is the first in a series of blog posts in which I’ll comment on Prof Séralini’s study.
The study was a feeding trial in which rats (Rattus norvegicus) ate a GM maize (corn, Zea mays) called NK603 from Monsanto and Monsanto’s weedkiller Roundup which NK603 had been engineered to resist. Different groups of rats ate NK603 grown with or without Roundup, or Roundup itself.
Today I’ll write about the maize. The, er, catchily named International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA) tells us that NK603 is one of Monsanto’s Roundup Ready crops.
Here’s how Roundup and Roundup Ready crops work. Like other Roundup Ready crops, NK603 has been engineered to carry a gene called cp4 epsps, originally from a bacterium called Agrobacterium tumefaciens strain CP4.
Don’t be fooled by the mention of Agrobacterium. There are three methods for doing GM. Sometimes people use Agrobacterium to insert the required gene, or they use protoplast fusion, but for monocots (grassy plants) you’d probably use a gene gun (microparticle bombardment). Maize is a monocot. So it’s no surprise that NK603 was made using a gene gun. That’s worth noticing here because if you do GM by gene gun, it’s relatively easy to get a licence for your new crop.
That’s enough for today, isn’t it? A bit of background before describing Prof Séralini’s rat-feeding study.