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[SANET-MG] Monsanto hurt by Mon 863 corn
As many may recollect Monsanto maintians the study showed injury to the
test animals was within the normal range for sick and dying animals.
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Breaking News on Food Development in the US
Monsanto fights back over controversial GM study
25/05/2005 - Published details of a Monsanto report are at the center of
a new storm over whether genetically modified (GM) food could be harmful
to human health, writes Anthony Fletcher.
Details of the report, published by the Independent on Sunday in the UK,
are alleged to show that rats fed the genetically modified (GM) corn MON
863 developed internal abnormalities, while these health problems were
absent from another batch of rodents fed non-GM food as part of the
The controversy comes as the Cartagena Biosafety Protocol summit meets
in Montreal this week to discuss issues such as bulk labeling of GM
crops and state liability in cases of contamination. Unsurprisingly
therefore, food safety campaigners have pounced on the disclosure.
"Monsanto's refusal to hand over animal feeding studies concerning its
biotech corn is outrageous,”Bill Freese, research analyst for Friends of
the Earth US told FoodNavigator-USA.com.
“I think it's fair to ask: Would Monsanto be hiding its safety studies
if it didn't have something to hide?"
He points out that controversy surrounding the rat study was first
broken by French daily Le Monde over a year ago, and that Monstanto is
still refusing to release the study in its entirety.
Nonethlesess, it appears that this most recent disclosure has hit
Monsanto hard. Shares were down 34 cents at $57.66 in early trading on
the New York Stock Exchange on Monday. But the US biotech giant insists
that it supplied all required information to the European Food Safety
Authority (EFSA) prior to EFSA's 2004 favorable scientific opinion on
the company's MON 863 corn.
What’s more, the company is adamant that there is no new information
about MON 863, modified to protect itself against corn rootworm, which
has not been submitted to EU regulators.
“That is not the case," said Jerry Hjelle, vice president for Monsanto
Worldwide Regulatory Affairs. "Monsanto has provided all required data
and studies, including the subject rat study, to European regulatory
authorities, and EFSA reviewed these studies before issuing its opinion."
Monsanto said that the product, which has been grown commercially in the
United States and Canada since 2003, is safe, and that EFSA's Scientific
Panel on Genetically Modified Organisms even published a statement on 29
October 2004 verifying this.
The company insists therefore that the research does not provide
evidence of any hidden dangers in biotechnology, only inconsequential
differences in kidney size and blood composition in the animals used. It
has also defended its right not to disclose the full study as it “could
be of commercial use to our competitors and exploited by others for
commercial advantage, if made available.”
It insists that all the information about its MON 863 maize, which was
sent to the Independent on Sunday many weeks ago, is available here.
Monsanto, based in St. Louis, Missouri, is the world's leading developer
of genetic modifications for corn, soybeans, cotton and canola. It
argues that GM corn resistant to corn rootworm larvae could save US
business millions of dollars; the US Department of Agriculture estimates
that this pest causes $1 billion in lost revenue annually to the US
U.S. farmers have largely embraced new biotechnology. But other
countries, notably in the European Union, have been slow to approve the
products because of questions about how genetic changes in the plants
affect humans and animals.
Monsanto is still seeking approval to import the biotech corn for use in
processed foods and derived food products, but the EU's 25 governments
remain deadlocked over the issue.
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