Ask Us Anything About GMOs!

Q:
You say that GMOs and food that based on GMOs is completely harmless for our health and that it is proven by many studies. Okay. Can you tell me a list of the latest 10 studies which can manifest that and where I can find them? Who was the the sponsor of these studies?
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A:Expert Answer

You can find a list of hundreds of studies available online through the independent GENERA database atwww.biofortified.org/genera/guide/. To answer your specific question, though, I’ve pulled fifteen publications from 2012 to 2013 related to food safety that contain, as best as I can identify, studies that were conducted by independent, third-party researchers. Panda et al. did have samples provided by the biotech industry. The list is below, including a link for each paper. (Please note: the full text of some of these studies may require a subscription to the publication.) Also, if provided, the funding source, as written in the manuscript, is provided in brackets for each study. I avoided review papers, since you asked specifically for studies. The paper from Van Eenennaam (#3 on the list) is mostly review but has some original data that were extracted from publicly available databases for billions of broilers (chickens raised for meat).

References:

  1. Buzoianu, S.G., M.C. Walsh, M.C. Rea, J.P. Cassidy, T.P. Ryan, R.P. Ross, G.E. Gardiner and P.G. Lawlor. 2013. Transgenerational effects of feeding genetically modified maize to nulliparous sows and offspring on offspring growth and health. J Anim Sci 91:318-330. Link to abstract [European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007–2013) under grant agreement number 211820 and the Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme (Carlow, Ireland).]
  2. Buzoianu, S.G., M.C. Walsh, M.C. Rea, L. Quigley, O. O'Sullivan, P.D. Cotter, R.P. Ross, G.E. Gardiner and P.G. Lawlor. 2013. Sequence-based analysis of the intestinal Microbiota of sows and their offspring fed genetically modified maize expressing a truncated form of Bacillus thuringiensis Cry1Ab protein (Bt Maize). Appl Environ Microbiol 79:7735-7744. Link to abstract. [The research leading to these results received funding from the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) under grant agreement number 211820 and the Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme.]
  3. Van Eenennaam, A.L. 2013. GMOs in animal agriculture: time to consider both costs and benefits in regulatory evaluations. J Anim Sci Biotechnol 4:37. Link to abstract. [National Research Initiative Competitive Grant no. 2009-55205-05057, and Agriculture and Food Research Initiative Competitive Grant nos. 2011-68004-30367 and 2013-68004-20364, from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture.]
  4. Walsh, M.C., S.G. Buzoianu, G.E. Gardiner, M.C. Rea, O. O'Donovan, R.P. Ross and P.G. Lawlor. 2013. Effects of feeding Bt MON810 maize to sows during first gestation and lactation on maternal and offspring health indicators. Br J Nutr 109:873-881. Link to abstract. [This study was funded by the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-3) under grant agreement no. 211820 and the Teagasc Walsh Fellowship programme and independently of any commercial input, financial or otherwise. None of the authors had a financial or personal conflict of interest with regard to the present study.]
  5. Yuan, Y., W. Xu, X. He, H. Liu, S. Cao, X. Qi, K. Huang and Y. Luo. 2013. Effects of genetically modified T2A-1 rice on the GI health of rats after 90-day supplement. Sci Rep 3:1962. Link to abstract. [This work was supported by Genetically Modified Organisms Breeding Major Projects of P.R. China grant 2011ZX08011-005 and 2012ZX08011003.]
  6. Zhu, Y., X. He, Y. Luo, S. Zou, X. Zhou, K. Huang and W. Xu. 2013. A 90-day feeding study of glyphosate-tolerant maize with the G2-aroA gene in Sprague-Dawley rats. Food Chem Toxicol 51:280-287. Link to abstract. [This work was supported by the Genetically Modified Organisms Breeding Major Projects of P.R. China grants 2011ZX08011-005 and 2011ZX08019-001B.]
  7. Panda, R., H. Ariyarathna, P. Amnuaycheewa, A. Tetteh, S.N. Pramod, S.L. Taylor, B.K. Ballmer-Weber and R.E. Goodman. 2013. Challenges in testing genetically modified crops for potential increases in endogenous allergen expression for safety. Allergy 68:142-151. Link to abstract.[Funding was provided by US EPA grant RD83303501 (Serum IgE methods development), BASF (the soybean study) and the Food Allergy Research and Resource Program (LTP purification). Monsanto provided rabbit anti-LTP IgG and some plasma samples. David Jackson at the University of Nebraska provided maize samples. BASF provided soybean samples. Dr. Cavell Brownie, Professor Emeritus, North Carolina State University, provided statistical guidance for the ELISA inhibition assay.]
  8. Buzoianu, S.G., M.C. Walsh, M.C. Rea, J.P. Cassidy, R.P. Ross, G.E. Gardiner and P.G. Lawlor. 2012. Effect of feeding genetically modified Bt MON810 maize to approximately 40-day-old pigs for 110 days on growth and health indicators. Animal 6:1609-1619. Link to abstract. [The research leading to these results received funding from the European Union's Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) under grant agreement number 211820 and the Teagasc Walsh Fellowship programme. None of the authors had a financial or personal conflict of interest regarding the present study, and the work was conducted independently of any commercial input, financial or otherwise.]
  9. Buzoianu, S.G., M.C. Walsh, M.C. Rea, O. O'Donovan, E. Gelencser, G. Ujhelyi, E. Szabo, A. Nagy, R.P. Ross, G.E. Gardiner and P.G. Lawlor. 2012. Effects of feeding Bt maize to sows during gestation and lactation on maternal and offspring immunity and fate of transgenic material. PLoS One 7:e47851. Link to abstract. [The research leading to these results has received funding from the European Union's Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007–2013) under grant agreement number 211820 and the Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish or preparation of the manuscript.]
  10. Buzoianu, S.G., M.C. Walsh, M.C. Rea, O. O'Sullivan, P.D. Cotter, R.P. Ross, G.E. Gardiner and P.G. Lawlor. 2012. High-throughput sequence-based analysis of the intestinal microbiota of weanling pigs fed genetically modified MON810 maize expressing Bacillus thuringiensis Cry1Ab (Bt maize) for 31 days. Appl Environ Microbiol 78:4217-4224. Link to abstract. [The research leading to these results received funding from the European Union's Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) under grant agreement number 211820 and the Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme. None of the authors had a financial or personal conflict of interest regarding the present study, and the work was conducted independently of any commercial input, financial or otherwise.]
  11. Buzoianu, S.G., M.C. Walsh, M.C. Rea, O. O'Sullivan, F. Crispie, P.D. Cotter, R.P. Ross, G.E. Gardiner and P.G. Lawlor. 2012. The effect of feeding Bt MON810 maize to pigs for 110 days on intestinal microbiota. PLoS One 7:e33668. Link to abstract. [The research leading to these results has received funding from the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007–2013) under grant agreement no. 211820 and the Teagasc Walsh Fellowship programme. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish or preparation of the manuscript.]
  12. Liu, P., X. He, D. Chen, Y. Luo, S. Cao, H. Song, T. Liu, K. Huang and W. Xu. 2012. A 90-day subchronic feeding study of genetically modified maize expressing Cry1Ac-M protein in Sprague-Dawley rats. Food Chem Toxicol 50:3215-3221. Link to abstract. [This work was supported by Genetically Modified Organisms Breeding Major Projects of PR China Grant 2011ZX08011-005, 2011ZX08011-006 and 2012ZX08011003).]
  13. Tang, X., F. Han, K. Zhao, Y. Xu, X. Wu, J. Wang, L. Jiang and W. Shi. 2012. A 90-day dietary toxicity study of genetically modified rice T1C-1 expressing Cry1C protein in Sprague Dawley rats. PLoS One 7:e52507. Link to abstract. [This work was financially supported by Shanghai Agricultural Science Committee Key Foundation of China, grant no.6-4 (2009) & 1-8 (2011), Shanghai Agricultural Science Key Research Foundation, grant no.1-8 (2011), The Public Research Platform Foundation of SSTC, grant no. 10DZ2294103, the National Science & Technology Support Programme, grant no. 2010BAK69B18, and the Shanghai Academy of Agricultural Sciences, grant no. 2012 (9). The authors also thank Experimental Animal Centre of Fudan University and Shanghai Agrobiological Gene Center, especially Dr. Weiwei Qiao, Dr. Xianzhe Zhao and Dr. Guolan Liu. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish or preparation of the manuscript.]
  14. Walsh, M.C., S.G. Buzoianu, G.E. Gardiner, M.C. Rea, R.P. Ross, J.P. Cassidy and P.G. Lawlor. 2012. Effects of short-term feeding of Bt MON810 maize on growth performance, organ morphology and function in pigs. Br J Nutr 107:364-371. Link to abstract. [The research leading to these results has received funding from the European Union's Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) under grant agreement no. 211820 and the Teagasc Walsh Fellowship programme and independently of any commercial input, financial or otherwise. None of the authors had a financial or personal conflict of interest in regard to the present study.]
  15. Walsh, M.C., S.G. Buzoianu, M.C. Rea, O. O'Donovan, E. Gelencser, G. Ujhelyi, R.P. Ross, G.E. Gardiner and P.G. Lawlor. 2012. Effects of feeding Bt MON810 maize to pigs for 110 days on peripheral immune response and digestive fate of the cry1Ab gene and truncated Bt toxin. PLoS One 7:e36141. Link to abstract. [The research leading to these results has received funding from the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) under grant agreement n° 211820 and the Teagasc Walsh Fellowship programme. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish or preparation of the manuscript.]

Answering this question was an interesting exercise because of some observations:

  • Several of these papers are from the Teagasc, the agriculture and food development authority in Ireland. Teagasc’s mission statement, on its website, is to “support science-based innovation in the agri-food sector and the broader bioeconomy that will underpin profitability, competitiveness and sustainability.” One of their research groups has published a comprehensive series of studies that they have done with swine and that include typical production and clinical endpoints from long- and short-term studies, microbiota data and data that spans two generations. These last two topics have recently been the subject of questions on this website, and the results of this series of studies show that swine fed diets with GM ingredients grow normally, reproduce normally and have normal litters and that gut microflora are not negatively impacted.
  • There are a series of toxicology studies from China that are not commercial products; however, they are relevant for confirming safety of crops developed by today’s GM methods.
  • I was not surprised to see that there were no published studies devoted specifically to nutritional composition, because the results are predictable and not very exciting, despite the time and expense put into these studies by technology providers, as required by the European Food Safety Agency (EFSA). EFSA puts a lot of weight on composition studies and has indicated that composition studies are critical to evaluating safety of GM crops. These are very expensive studies to conduct if they are going to conform to EFSA guidelines. A typical composition study takes almost two years to conduct and uses up to 14 independent contractors (12 farm locations that had crops grown and data collected by independent crop cooperators, a commercial analytical lab and an independent statistical consultant), for an average cost of $850,000. After all that, high-impact factor journals are not anxious to publish these studies. This is a great example of publication bias, where positive studies are sometimes not published in peer-review journals.

A:Expert Answer

Refereed literature compendia can be found at the following sources.

 

A list of 610 scientific articles on safety assessments of foods and feeds derived from genetically modified crops (updated to June 2013) can be found at:

http://chilebio.cl/documentos/Publicaciones.pdf.

 

A list of 1,080 studies can be found at:

http://www.biofortified.org/genera/studies-for-genera/.

 

In Europe, a 2010 European Commission Directorate-General for Research assessed available regulatory science for environmental and food-safety risks in “A Decade of EU-funded GMO Research (2001–2010)”: “The main conclusion to be drawn from the efforts of more than 130 research projects, covering a period of more than 25 years of research, and involving more than 500 independent research groups, is that biotechnology, and in particular GMOs, are not per se more risky than, [for example], conventional plant breeding technologies” (page 16). The full report can be downloaded from:

http://ec.europa.eu/research/biosociety/pdf/a_decade_of_eu-funded_gmo_research.pdf.

 

Recent summary articles:

“An overview of the last 10 years of genetically engineered crop safety research, including over 1,700 peer-reviewed studies,” Critical Reviews in Biotechnology 34, no. 1 (March 2014): 77–88,http://informahealthcare.com/doi/abs/10.3109/07388551.2013.823595.

 

“Assessment of GE food safety using ‘-omics’ techniques and long-term animal feeding studies,”

Agnès E. Ricroch, New Biotechnology 30, no. 4 (May 2013),

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S187167841200862X.

 

“Assessment of the health impact of GM plant diets in long-term and multigenerational animal feeding trials: a literature review,” Chelsea Snell et al., Food and Chemical Toxicology 50, nos. 3–4 (March–April 2012): 1134–48,

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0278691511006399.

 

Unfortunately, the three journals immediately above charge a fee, or require access through a subscribing library (such as a university library), to provide a PDF of the article. Usually the author will send you a free copy in response to an email request. Author emails can be found on the above-listed websites.

 

Study funding:

In all the referenced studies in the compendia listed above, the study sponsor should be listed in the paper either as a footnote on page 1 or in acknowledgments at the end of the text portion.

 

An analysis of the funding and its sources, with references, can be found athttp://realfoodorg.wordpress.com/2014/02/13/about-those-industry-funded-gmo-studies/.

The vast majority of published studies are not industry supported.

Topic: Safety, Health, and Nutrition  4 Comments | Add Comment