June 24, 2014. Ottawa. The Canadian Biotechnology Action Network (CBAN) is calling on Health Canada to place a moratorium on approving new genetically modified (GM) foods, to re-evaluate the safety of GM foods already on the market, and to initiate a complete overhaul of the regulatory system.
The call comes in response to the republication of a long-term study of a GM corn that exposes a lack of scientific rigour in Canada’s regulatory system.
“Many Canadians may be surprised to find out that Health Canada doesn’t require any long-term safety tests on GM foods and that this study is the first of its kind,” said CBAN’s Lucy Sharratt.
“The results of this study are a real concern, especially in Canada where we’ve been eating this GM corn since 2001.”
The long-term safety test on GM corn was conducted by a team of scientists in France, led by Caen University molecular biologist Giles-Éric Séralini. It was first published in September 2012 in the peer-reviewed journal Food and Chemical Toxicology, which then retracted the paper in November 2013. The paper is published today in Environmental Sciences Europe. The research team has now also released their raw data.
“We clearly need more independent and critical review of safety claims made by industry. There is too little independent science examining questions of GM food safety,” said Sharratt.
The GM corn, called NK603, is “Roundup Ready” which means it is genetically modified to be tolerant to Monsanto’s herbicide formulation called Roundup, the most widely used herbicide in the world.
Monsanto published a 90-day feeding trial of the GM corn in 2004, three years after Health Canada’s 2001 approval. The French team conducted their feeding trial over the full two-year lifespan of rats. The rats were fed three different diets: the GM corn alone, the GM corn grown with Roundup (with Roundup residues), and Roundup alone.
The study reported adverse effects including organ damage, tumor growth, and increased mortality in rats fed both GM corn with and without Roundup, and in rats fed low levels of Roundup.
“Canadians need to know about this study before they buy their sweet corn this summer,” said Thibault Rehn of the Quebec coalition Vigilance OGM, “Without long-term studies like this one, we don’t know enough about the safety of GM corn. Its important to remember that there is no labelling for consumers of GM foods.”
CBAN tests of sweet corn samples in October of last year found GM sweet corn in grocery stores, road-side stands and farmers markets across Canada.
For more information: Lucy Sharratt, Canadian Biotechnology Action Network, cell: 613 809 1103; Thibault Rehn, Vigilance OGM, cell: 514-582-1674.
- Séralini et al. paper, 2014
- Background notes, including on Health Canada’s response to the Seralini study when it was first published in 2012.
- More background.
- Press release from the Seralini research team.
The Canadian Biotechnology Action Network (CBAN) is a campaign coalition of 17 organizations that researches, monitors and raises awareness about issues relating to genetic engineering in food and farming. CBAN members include farmer associations, environmental and social justice organizations, and regional coalitions of grassroots groups.