Genetically modified corn has been linked to a threat to fertility
in an official study that could deliver a hammer blow to controversial
A long-term feeding trial commissioned by
the Austrian government found mice fed on GM corn or maize had fewer
offspring and lower birth rates.
The trial has triggered a
call from Greenpeace for a recall of all GM food crops currently on the
market worldwide on the grounds of the threat to human health.
of the research on GM crop safety has been conducted by biotech
companies, such as Monsanto, rather than outside independent
GM advocates have argued that the fact the US
population has been eaten some types of GM food for more than a decade
is proof of its safety.
However, these reassurances have
been turned on their head by the study commissioned by the Austrian
Ministries for Agriculture and Health, which was presented yesterday at
a scientific seminar in Vienna.
Professor Dr Jurgen Zentek, Professor for Veterinary Medicine
at the University of Vienna and lead author of the study, said a GM
diet effected the fertility of mice.
GM expert at Greenpeace
International, Dr Jan van Aken, said: 'Genetically Engineered food
appears to be acting as a birth control agent, potentially leading to
'If this is not reason enough to close down the
whole biotech industry once and for all, I am not sure what kind of
disaster we are waiting for.
'Playing genetic roulette with our food crops is like playing Russian roulette with consumers and public health.'
The Austrian scientists performed several long-term feeding trials with laboratory mice over a course of 20 weeks.
of the studies was a so-called reproductive assessment by continuous
breeding (RACB) trial, in which the same parent generation gave birth
to several litters of baby mice.
The parents were fed
either with a diet containing 33per cent of GM maize, a hybrid of
Monsanto's MON 810 and another variety, and a normal feed mix..
team found changes that were 'statistically significant' in the third
and fourth litters produced by the mice given a GM diet. There were
fewer offspring, while the young mice were smaller.
Prof Zentek said there was a direct link between the changes seen and the GM diet.
press release from the Austrian Agency for Health and Nutrition, said
the group of mice given a diet of genetically engineered corn saw a
significant change in fertility.
It said: 'The number of litters
and offspring decreased in the GE-fed group faster than in the control.
In the GE-fed group more females remained without litters than in the
Monsanto press offices in the UK and USA were unable to provide a comment on the findings.
which speaks for the biotech industry, claims GM crops have been
accepted as safe by Government authorities on both sides of the
British scientists recently unveiled a GM purple
tomato they claimed could help people avoid developing cancer. The
tomato is high in antioxidants - naturally found in other fresh produce
such as blueberrys, cranberries and carrots - which are seen as a
protection against ill health.