We conduct 90-day rat feeding studies on new biotech traits, which is consistent with the duration of safety studies conducted for many types of products. It’s important to note that this type of study is one component of the comprehensive testing that we conduct. The biotech process, from initial concept to commercialization, can take up to 13 years; more than 50 studies on food, feed and environmental safety are conducted in the regulatory-science phase of the process alone.
One of the most important parts of the safety testing we do is composition testing. In these studies, a GM plant is grown in the field along with non-GM plants, and the grain is harvested. The grain is then subjected to analytical chemistry testing to determine the concentration of the individual components we know are there. The concentrations of the different components are then compared between the GM and the non-GM corn plants. There is usually some variability in the concentrations of some of the different components, but that is nearly always observed in crops bred with traditional methods, too. Therefore, the historic concentrations from non-GM crops are available at an open-access website for further comparison. These methods have been very effective in demonstrating that GM technology does not introduce composition variability, and that the grains obtained from these plants are “substantially equivalent” to those obtained from non-GM crops.
The 90-day rat studies you are asking about have been conducted to assess the possibility that unintended changes could have occurred during the development process that may not have been detected in the chemical analysis. To date, no adverse effects associated with consuming diets containing GM grain have been observed in any of these studies.