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Russia suspends import and use of American GM corn after study revealed cancer risk

  • The European Food Safety  Authority orders  review in to the research, conducted at a French university
  • Russia’s decision could be followed by other  nations
  • Experts at the University of Caen conducted  an experiment running for the full lives of rats – two years
  • The findings found raised levels of breast  cancer, liver and kidney damage
  • The same trials also found minuscule amounts  of a commonly used weedkiller, Roundup
  • Both the GM corn and Roundup are the  creation of US biotech company Monsanto

By Sean Poulter

PUBLISHED:11:15 EST, 25  September 2012| UPDATED:11:17 EST, 25 September 2012

Russia has suspended the import and use of an  American GM corn following a study suggesting a link to breast cancer and organ  damage.

Separately, the European Food Safety  Authority(EFSA), has ordered its own review in to the research, which was  conducted at a French university.

The decision by Russia could be followed by  other nations in what would be a severe blow to the take-up of the controversial  technology.

Cancer risk? A farmer shows two corncobs of genetically engineered corn by U.S. company Monsanto, right, and two normal corncobs from Germany, left
Cancer risk? A farmer shows two corncobs of genetically  engineered corn by U.S. company Monsanto, right, and two normal corncobs from  Germany, left

Historically, biotech companies have proved  the safety of GM crops based on trials involving feeding rats for a period of 90  days.

However, experts at the University of Caen  conducted an experiment running for the full lives of rats – two  years.

The findings, which were peer reviewed by  independent experts before being published in a respected scientific journal,  found raised levels of breast cancer, liver and kidney damage.

The same trials also found evidence that  consumption of minuscule amounts of a commonly used weedkiller, Roundup, was  associated with a raised risk of cancer.

Both the GM corn, which carries the name  NK603, and Roundup are the creation of US biotech company Monsanto.

The decision by the Russians to suspend  authorisation for the American GM corn threatens to trigger a transatlantic  commercial and diplomatic row.

Contentious: A combine harvests corn in a field near Coy, Arkansas. The decision by the Russians to suspend authorisation for the American GM corn threatens to trigger a transatlantic commercial and diplomatic row
Contentious: A combine harvests corn in a field near  Coy, Arkansas. The decision by the Russians to suspend authorisation for the  American GM corn threatens to trigger a transatlantic commercial and diplomatic  row

Russia’s consumer rights watchdog,  Rospotrebnadzor, said today that it has suspended the import and use of the  Monsanto GM corn.

Rospotrebnadzor said the country’s Institute  of Nutrition has been asked to assess the validity of the study.

It has also contacted the European  Commission’s Directorate General for Health & Consumers to ask for the EU’s  position on the corn’s safety.

Consumer scepticism in the UK and Europe  means GM corn is not on supermarket shelves here, however it is fed to farm  animals, including hens, pigs and dairy cows.

Important: In the USA, and much of Europe, corn is used to make an array of food products including cornflakes (picture posed by model)
Important: In the USA, and much of Europe, corn is used  to make an array of food products including cornflakes (picture posed by  model)

Last week Monsanto said it did not think the  French study would affect its license to export the NK603 to Europe but would  wait to hear from EFSA.

The company said: ‘Based on our initial  review, we do not believe the study presents information that would justify any  change in EFSA’s views on the safety of genetically modified corn products or  alter their approval status for genetically modified imports.’

The biotech industry and university  researchers involved in GM research have mounted a major PR campaign over the  last year to win over sceptical consumers.

In the past week, pro-GM scientists have been  lining up to undermine the French experiments and criticise the way they were  conducted.

However, a number of independent academics  have praised the French team’s work, describing it as the most thorough and  extensive feeding trials involving GM to date.

Mustafa Djamgoz, the Professor of Cancer  Biology, at Imperial College, London, said the findings relating to eating GM  corn were a ‘surprise’.

Prof Djamgoz, who describes himself as a  neutral on GM, said: ‘The results are significant. The experiments are, more or  less, the best of their kind to date.’

However, he said that it is now important to  ensure they are repeated with more animals by independent laboratories to  confirm the outcome.

‘We are not scaremongering here. More  research, including a repetition of this particular study are warranted,’ he  said.

The professor said it will take two to three  years to get a definitive answer.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2208452/Russia-suspends-import-use-American-GM-corn-study-revealed-cancer-risk.html#ixzz27Xe8iyK1 Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

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