Thursday, September 20, 2012

Review of Recent GMO Research: Long term toxicity of a Roundup herbicide and a Roundup-tolerant genetically modified maize

I took the copy of "Long term toxicity of a Roundup herbicide and a Roundup-tolerant genetically modified maize" to bed with me last night for some late night reading. It got me so wound up that I almost got out of bed to write this. However, I pulled in the reins and waited until today. If you want to read the original research, and I suggest you do, click here for the link at the bottom of their page. (they have great photos here is why I send you here first) you can also go directly to the article HERE.

The article is from Food and Chemical Toxicology, September 19, 2012, Gilles-Eric Seralini, Emile Clair, Robin Mesnage, Steeve Gress, Nicolas Defarge, Mauela Malatesta, Didier Hennequin, Joel Spirousce Vendomois.

This is such great research for the following reasons:
• It was undertaken by individuals without conflicts of interest. 

• It was long-term. This was a life-long rat feeding study. The study was over a two year period.  Much of the GE(GMO, genetically engineered) research has been criticized for being so short term that it misses any chronic health problems that would occur from ingesting GE food. This study gives us a good idea of what happens when human beings eat GE food long-term.

• They used the actual formulation of Roundup that is used in agricultural use. Most research takes the active ingredient out and studies only the active ingredient called glyphosate. Glyphosate (active ingredient in Roundup) is only able to penetrate target plant organisms with the help of adjuvants that are included in various formulations on the market. So these researchers used the actual Roundup formulation available on the market with adjuvants so it would mimic what people actually get in their food or what has been found in tap water.

The Corn
The type of GE maize researched was MON-00603-6, also known as NK603. This is a Roundup-tolerant variety of corn owned by Monsanto. They compared it with a control group that was fed the nearest isogenic, non-transgenic corn. (So basically they compared Monsantos genetically engineered corn to a non-genetically altered corn that has similar dna structure.) Remember,  Monsanto claims their corn is theoretically genetically identical to this isogenic corn and they claim they should not have to study long term effects of their GE corn for this reason. Thank goodness, these researchers did not agree with Monsanto.

What Specifically Was Studied - How did they grow the corn to be studied?
They studied both the NK603 grown in a field by itself with no Roundup applied as well as the NK603 which had Roundup applied to it. They were careful to grow the "Normal corn", the NK603 and the NK603 with Roundup applied in similar fields and conditions. They also studied the effect of Roundup itself.

How It Was Done
There were 200 rats. 100 males and 100 females. Each were broken up in to ten different groups, each with ten rats. 

The rats were fed balanced diets that had either 11%, 22% or 33% of GE maize, cultivated either with or without Roundup or 33% of the non-transgenic control line. They also gave three groups of rats the control diet (normal maize) with the addition of Roundup in their drinking water. One of the Roundup water groups had 1.1 x 10(-8%) an amount that is a level found regularly in some tap waters (according to them). The second Roundup water group had .09% which is half of the US MRL(maximum residue limit) of glyphosate in some GE feeds and .5% which is half of the minimal agricultural working dilution.

What Body Samples Were Examined
Blood samples looking at hormones, minerals, blood sugar, indicators of various organ diseases, and inflammatory conditions. They were very thorough.  The blood samples were taken often enough to get a good picture of the animals health over the two year period. They also took urine samples at various time. At the end of the rats lives they took weights and  samples of most of their organs.  It was very thorough!

Organ retrieval: The idea was to follow these rats throughout their entire life-span and examine their organs at the end of  two years. Some animals became so sick they had to sacrifice them during the research and examine them at that time. This was done according to ethical rules. At the end of the two year study, any animals who had not died due to the research induced pathologies or due to old age were sacrificed. They then collected most of their organs  for weight, tumors and microscopy examination.

Results & Observations of Researchers 
Remember as you read this that this was a two year experiment and most lab rats live about two years. So this was an experiment following these animals through what a normal life-span would be for them.

They have a great summary table (Table 2) that you should take a look at. It gives you a quick comparison of the most frequent health effects caused by the GE corn and GE corn with Roundup and Roundup in water. The interesting thing that you notice right off is that indeed the GE corn and GE corn/Roundup and Roundup water groups always have more health problems than the controls. 

The largest palpable growths were found to be non-regressive tumors. Tumors were found to increase in size and number over the course of the experiment. The tumors were usually 2-3 times more likely in the treated groups than controls. This was in both females and males.

In females the largest tumors were in total 5 times more frequent than in males after the 2 year period. 93% of them were mammary (breast) tumors. (Hmmm, anyone thinking about the increase of breast cancer in human females?) At the end of the two years 50-80% of the treated female animals had developed tumors while only 30% of the controls were affected. The Roundup treatment groups showed the greatest rates of tumor incidence with 80% of the animals affected. These mammary tumors are generally known to be mostly estrogen-dependent.   (Roundup has been shown to disrupt aromatase which synthesizes estrogens as well as interfere with estrogen and androgen receptors in cells.)

The second most affected organ in the females was the pituitary gland. They were affected 2 times more than the controls for most treatments. (The pituitary gland is very important as it regulates many hormonal systems of the body.)

The big palpable tumors in the males (in their kidneys and skin mostly) were by the end of the two years on average seen twice as often as the controls.

 The most affected organs in the male rats were the liver, digestive tract and kidneys. Liver congestion and both visible and microscopic areas of dead tissue were 2.5-5.5 times more frequent in all the treatment groups than the control groups.

In females the androgen/estrogen balance in serum was modified by the GM maize and Roundup treatments. (Again they have a great table you should veiw.)  In the males at the highest Roundup treatment they had almost double the usual amount of estrogen. Any of you guys eating GE food that are using Cialis or some other errectile enhancer? Does this finally make you think of throwing your GE food in the trash? (Now I am thinking about all the farmers reporting poor fertility in their animals eating GE food. Plus, have you noticed the huge increase in fertility clinics. Infertility in humans is skyrocketing.)

The interesting thing to note is that the groups with smaller amounts of GE corn, GE corn/Roundup and Roundup water  caused as much damage as the groups who consumed or drank larger amounts. When you see this table, you realize people who are ingesting as much as 11% of their diet as GE food could be causing themselves as much organ damage and growing as many tumors as those  eating 33% of their diet as GE food. How scarey is that? People who think it is okay to eat a little bit of GE food better rethink that idea.


They pointed out some things in their discussion that I thought were noteworthy. 

• As I just mentioned similar pathological effects were seen to happen from lowest to highest doses. This suggests some sort of threshold effect. More about this below.

• The first large tumors in the rats occurred around 4-7 months in both males and females (This would relate to 13-22 years of age in a human eating GE food and Roundup sprayed food since birth. So far we have not gotten this far along in our human large scale experiment. Are you still a human rat or have you thrown out your GE food?) This proves that the standard 3 month studies are ridiculous as they won't catch much.

• Roundup all by itself is hazardous, even in the smallest doses they used. (Remember they said this dose is found in some tap water? Plus the larger dose  (their medium amount) that was given to the rats corresponds to the amount of Roundup that is acceptable levels of this pesticide as a residue on GE food.  Eeeek!!!

• You might start thinking that Roundup itself is the problem and not the GE food. However, the groups fed the NK603 corn without Roundup application still had the enhanced tumor activity and increased mortality rates.

• It is interesting to note that these researchers measured caffeic and ferulic acids in the GE diets. These  were significantly reduced. They hypothesized that this may lower the protective effects against carcinogenesis and mammalian tumors. Ferulic acid may also modulate estrogen receptors or the estrogenic pathway in the cells of mammals.  They thought this might explain why the effects of NK603 and Roundup are not additive and reach a threshold level. They think that both of them may cause hormonal disturbances in the same biochemical and physiological pathway.

Another thing regarding caffeic and ferulic acid is they have been shown to promote detoxification of embryonic kidney cells after Roundup contamination in prior research by Ganier in 2011. The decreased amount of them in the GE diet could account partially or wholly for the kidney damage.

• The disturbances found in the male's livers were indicative of long term chronic intoxication. The researchers thought the females were less effected by the liver intoxication due to their being better adapted to estrogen metabolism. They also mention that liver enzymes have been demonstrated to be sex-specific in their expression patterns. Deeper analysis at an ultrastructural level did show defects in cell nuclear structure that were similar in both sexes.

• They also point out that prior research had already shown glyphosate consumption in water above authorized limits can provoke liver and kidney failure. This study simply proves that lower levels of glyphosate (Roundup), below those set as safety limits can cause severe hormone-dependent breast, kidney and liver disturbances. In addition, GM NK603 maize can cause similar pathologies that may be linked to abnormal or unbalanced phenolic acids, metabolites, or related compounds. However, they do not exclude the possibility of other mutagenic or metabolic effects. (Okay, if you have not ran to your pantry and thrown out your GE food yet, what are you waiting for?)

• This makes me really glad that I and my animals eat organic food. Hope any of you reading this who are currently eating conventional food, will go throw out all your products with corn, soy, cotton seed oil, and canola oil from your pantry immediately and consider eating only organic in the future.

I take my hat off to the researchers Gilles Eric Seralini, Emile Calir, Robin Mesnage, Steeve Gress, Nicolas Defarge, Manuela Malatesta, Didier Hnnequin, Joel Spiroux de Vendomois. The planet is indebted to you and those like you who are spending countless hours working for the better of planetary life. You and others like you are in my prayers. You are going to need all the support you can get as you just took on a monster. Let us all support you in any way we can.