(Reuters) – In a study that prompted sharp criticism from other experts, French scientists said on Wednesday that rats fed on Monsanto’s genetically modified corn or exposed to its top-selling weedkiller suffered tumors and multiple organ damage.
The French government asked the country’s health watchdog to investigate the findings further, although a number of scientists questioned the study’s basic methods and Monsanto said it felt confident its products had been proven safe.
Gilles-Eric Seralini of the University of Caen and colleagues said rats fed on a diet containing NK603 – a seed variety made tolerant to dousings of Monsanto’s Roundup weedkiller – or given water with Roundup at levels permitted in the United States, died earlier than those on a standard diet.
Experts not involved in the study were skeptical, with one accusing the French scientists of going on a “statistical fishing trip” and others describing its methods as well below standard.
The animals on the genetically modified (GM) diet suffered mammary tumors, as well as severe liver and kidney damage, according to the peer-reviewed study which was published in the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology and presented at a news conference in London.
The researchers said 50 percent of male and 70 percent of female rats died prematurely, compared with only 30 percent and 20 percent in the control group.
Monsanto spokesman Thomas Helscher said the company would review the study thoroughly. However, he added: “Numerous peer-reviewed scientific studies performed on biotech crops to date, including more than a hundred feeding studies, have continuously confirmed their safety, as reflected in the respective safety assessments by regulatory authorities around the world.”
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