New Study Links Genetically Engineered Corn to Infertility

GM Watch (EU)
November 12, 2008

1. New study confirms GM food damages fertility – GM Free Cymru

2. Austrian study shows GM corn negatively affects reproductive health in mice – Austrian Agency for Health and Food

3. Monsanto’s statement on safety allegations related to transgenic maize NK603 X MON 810
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1. New study confirms that GM food damages fertility
GM Free Cymru, 12 November 2008

In a new Austrian study that will send shock waves through the corridors of power in the EU, and through the offices of the GM corporations, it has been discovered that GM corn has a damaging effect upon the reproductive system (1).

The work was done at the request of the Austrian Health Ministry, and the results were presented yesterday by Professor Jurgen Zentek and his team to an expert conference organized by the Austrian Agency for Health and Food Safety.  The work was done at the University of Vienna, using a GM maize hybrid line called NK603 x MON810, which has two copies of the RR gene in it, each copy with its own, different promoter sequence, as well as the MON810 gene.  In one of the very few long-term nutrition studies conducted so far with an approved GM product (2), it became apparent over a period of 20 weeks that the fertility of GM corn fed mice was seriously impaired, with fewer offspring than mice fed on non-GM equivalent material. In a multi-generational trial, mice fed with GM maize had fewer offspring in the third and fourth generations, and this difference was statistically significant. Mice fed with GM-free corn reproduced more rapidly.  In a series of carefully-controlled trials, it was also discovered that there was a statistically significant decrease in litter weight in the third and fourth litters of mice in the GM-fed group as compared to the control group.

Although the Austrian authorities have announced the findings in a somewhat cautious fashion, stressing the urgent need for “further studies”, the implications of the work are immediate and far-reaching.  Speaking for GM Free Cymru, Dr Brian John said:  “This work will do huge damage to the GM industry worldwide, since it shows that a crop — Monsanto’s maize line NK603 x MON810 — which has been approved as safe by EFSA, and given consent for use in food and feed by the EC, is in fact dangerous to health.  It demonstrates that the approvals process is at best inadequate and at worst corrupt.  This is what NGOs have been saying for years (3).  At the same time this work effectively confirms the findings of Irina Ermakova in 2005, who found that rats fed on a diet including GM soya produced offspring which were weak and which had a much higher mortality rate than rats fed on a non-GM diet (4).  She also found that when both male and female animals were fed on GM soy they becam e effectively sterile and produced no offspring.    Her work was heavily criticised in a despicable publishing scam by a GM industry which fully appreciated its importance (5).  However, there has always been a suspicion that ALL soya damages reproductive function (6).  That is why this new work — based upon GM maize rather than GM soy —  is of such massive importance.”

The Monsanto maize line MON863 has already been shown — in the company’s own experiments designed to mask health effects — to damage the internal organs of animals in feeding trials (7).  This new evidence, from an EU government-sponsored study, shows that the standard mantra that “GM does not damage health” is shown to be a lie.  GM food and feed DOES damage health in a number of ways, as this and other reliable studies have shown over the past decade, beginning with Arpad Pusztai in 1998 (8).

GM Free Cymru has now written to Environment Secretary Hilary Benn challenging him to revise his recent statement (9) that “the scientific evidence clearly demonstrates the safety of GM foods.”  The NGO has accused him — and his advisory committees — of promoting “a culture of complacency” relating to GM food safety, and of implying that the GM health debate is over and done with.  The letter (10) says: “You and your advisers have consistently shown a patronising and dismissive attitude towards independent researchers who have shown that animals fed on GM foods are harmed.  You have systematically ignored their results which show — over and again — that GM materials cause cellular and tissue damage.  Will you now revise your opinion that the GM / health debate is over, and demonstrate that you are prepared to  put the health of UK consumers above the commercial interests of the GM corporations?”


Contact: Dr Brian John

Tel 01239-820470


(1)  Austrian study shows GM corn negatively affects reproductive health in mice

Genetically-engineered food: potential threat to fertility

Greenpeace International, 11 November 2008

(2) NK603 x MON810 EFSA positive opinions for hybrid lines:

Commission approval for food and feed 24 October 2007 (includes EFSA opinion)



(5)  The Ermakova study was of course so appalling in its findings that the GM apologists McHughen, Moses, Chassy and Giddings “set her up” for an orchestrated attack, with the connivance of Nature Biotechnology.




(9)  Benn backs GM food safety News | 10 November, 2008.  By Jack Davies

(10)  Letter available on request

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2. Austrian study shows GM corn negatively affects reproductive health in mice Clarification on new findings on feeding GM corn

Need for further studies exists

Austrian Agency for Health and Food Safety, 11 November 2008.

Vienna — GM corn as animal feed may, under special trial conditions, have an influence on the reproduction rate of laboratory mice. This is the result of a study by Professor Jürgen Zentek (Veterinary University of Vienna, Austria), commissioned by the Austrian Federal Ministry of Health, Family and Youth Affairs and presented today during an expert conference to AGES, the Austrian Agency for Health and Food Safety. While this represents an individual study whose results may not be directly applied to humans, it shows, however, that there is a need for further studies.

Less offspring in the fourth generation

It was the objective of the study to analyze possible effects of GMO corn NK603 X MON810 in long-term feeding trials covering several generations of mice. Three trial designs were applied: A multi-generation study, the method of continued breeding, and a lifetime trial. The mice were fed a test diet of 33 percent corn of the GMO corn variety NK603 X MON810. In the multi-generation study, a control group was fed non-GM corn grown in Austria.

The results show no differences in the feed intake and the weight development of adult animals. Although in one of the trial designs the number of litters and of offspring in continuous breeding of the GMO feed group decreased more than in the control group: In the GMO feed group more females were without litter than in the control group. The lifetime trial showed no difference.

The study shows that multi-generation studies are indeed appropriate to show feeding influences in mice. Similar approaches must analyze whether similar findings can be expected in other animals. According to Prof. Jürgen Zentek, a validation of these preliminary results by further studies is urgently necessary.


AGES , Austrian Agency for Health and Food Safety

Corporate Communication: Univ.-Doz. Ingrid Kiefer Tel: +43 50 555-25000


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3. Monsanto’s statement on safety allegations related to transgenic maize NK603 X MON 810

ST. LOUIS (November 11, 2008) — On November 11, 2008, Greenpeace International published a press statement which questions the safety of two of Monsanto’s corn trait technologies, Roundup Ready Corn 2 (Event NK603) and YieldGard Corn Borer technology (Event MON810). The statement was based on a preliminary report of a study entitled,  “Biological effects of transgenic maize NK603 X MON 810 fed in long term reproduction studies in mice” released on the same day.

The full study is yet to be released, and so Monsanto cannot comment specifically on the findings. In fact, the author of the study, Dr. Jurgen Zentek, remarked that his team’s three studies show inconsistent results and should be considered preliminary.

Consistent with Dr. Zentek’s remarks, the scientific community refrains from making any substantive conclusions based on a preliminary report. The gold standard for communication of scientific results is a thorough peer review by qualified experts.

The Greenpeace press statement is inconsistent with over a decade of reputable, peer-reviewed, scientific studies, including multi-generational studies, which demonstrate and confirm the safety of GM crops.

“These products have been proven to be safe. This report does not provide any basis to conclude otherwise,” said Jerry Hjelle, Ph.D., Vice President of Monsanto’s regulatory group.

Activist groups for years have attempted to call into question the safety of biotech crops. “They have made multiple allegations based on data taken out of context and lacking rigorous scientific review. These have ultimately failed to be substantiated,” said Dr. Hjelle.

“The safety of our products is our utmost priority,” he said. “We will evaluate the full study when it is released along with other evidence.”

The Austrian study focused on MON 810 and NK603 corn technologies, which have a history of safe use since their introduction in 1997 and 2001, respectively. These products have been thoroughly tested and consumed for nearly a decade. Regulatory authorities in more than 20 countries have concluded that these products are as safe as conventional corn.

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