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Inside the Monsanto Information War

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French food safety officials have decided not to ban a Monsanto variety of genetically engineered corn after dismissing the findings of a recent study that linked the corn to massive tumors in lab rats and set off a firestorm of global controversy, but the announcement was not a straight victory for Monsanto and the biotech industry. The French authorities agreed with one of the study's conclusions - and Monsanto's deepest critics - that more long-term testing of genetically engineered food must be done (Genetically engineered products are also known as genetically modified organisms, or GMOs.)

In an opinion released on Monday, the French food safety authority ANSES announced that the data offered in a study on Monsanto corn and Roundup herbicide conducted by a team lead by biotech critic Gilles-Eric Seralini did not support its author's controversial claims linking the products to health problems in rats.

ANSES also called attention to the "originality" of the study, which was one of the first long-term feeding studies of its kind, and called for more research on the "rarely investigated" subject of the long-term health effects of consuming genetically engineered crops and the pesticides associated with them.

The two-year study, published in a peer-reviewed US journal in September, found that rats fed a lifetime supply of either Monsanto's NK603 corn, the Roundup herbicide which NK603 is engineered to tolerate, or both suffered organ damage and premature deaths at higher rates than control groups.

Seralini hyped the cancer findings and told the media he stands by his research, but he has also said that more research needs to be done. The study, after all, was a long-term toxicology study modeled from short-term industry studies like those funded by Monsanto to gain regulatory approvals in Europe, not a carcinogenicity study. Similar industry studies span about 90 days, and Seralini's team said that many of the health problems appeared in rats after the 90-day mark.
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