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Organic Consumers Association

Does GMO Corn Really Cause Tumors in Rats?

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Genetic Engineering page, Millions Against Monsanto page and our Health Issues page.

This week, a French research team published a paper in a peer-reviewed US journal showing that rats exposed to low doses of both genetically modified corn and the widely used herbicide Roundup had negative health effects. The results, already generating plenty of debate, are not as clear-cut as they seem at first glance. But they do shine a harsh light on the ag-biotech industry's mantra that GMOs have indisputably proven safe to eat-and establish an urgent need for more long-term research.

Before I dig into the study's details, it's worth pondering what we know about the long-term effects of eating genetically modified foods. Surprisingly little, it turns out, given how ubiquitous they are in the US food supply. Genetically engineered seeds first hit commercial farm fields in 1996, and quickly became ubiquitous in the largest and most subsidized of US crops. Today, most non-organic US corn, soy, cotton, sugar beets are GMO-and combined, they provide a vast portion of the sweeteners, fats, and additives used by food manufacturers, and nearly all of the feed used by the meat industry.

Before they ever hit supermarket shelves or factory livestock farms, back in the '80s, the Food and Drug Administration gave GMOs "generally regarded as safe" status, meaning that the industry had no obligation to conduct long-term safety studies. And since the seed companies wield patent power over their products, researchers have little access to GMO seeds for independent safety testing.



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