Austrian Government Withdraws Study Claiming Monsanto Maize Products Reduce Fertility

4/22/2010

Background:
On November 11, 2008 the Austrian Federal Ministry for Health, Family and Youth released a report on three studies assessing the impact of biotech corn on reproduction. Of the three studies, only one showed potential impacts of GM corn. One of this study’s authors, Dr. Jürgen Zentek, summarized the findings to state that "mice fed with GM maize had less offspring in the third and fourth generations, and these differences were statistically significant. Mice fed with non-GM maize reproduced more efficiently." The GM corn tested contained both MON 810 (Bt/insect resistance) and NK603 (Roundup Ready®) traits

Update:
The Austrian government has now withdrawn the study.

Austrian government representatives told the European Commission’s Standing Committee for the Food Chain and Animal Health on October 19 that the study did not present a satisfactory statistical analysis of the data.  Additional details of the Austrian government’s decision to withdraw the study can be found by clicking here.

The original study had not been subjected to peer review by qualified, scientific experts, nor published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal.

One the research authors, Dr. Zentek, said the results from the three studies produced contradictory results and the results were considered preliminary.

Despite this, Greenpeace International and The Center for Food Safety had immediately called for GM products to be taken off the market or subject to a moratorium.

Now the study has been withdrawn. The minutes of the EC’s Standing Committee from October 19 said: “The delegation of Austria indicated that the contracted researchers still failed to deliver a satisfactory report on this study, especially with respect to the statistical analysis of the data, and that the Austrian Ministries do not expect anymore to receive such a report.”

A broad body of scientific evidence indicates there are no effects from these products on reproduction. Several reproductive toxicity studies have previously been conducted with these products. None of the findings suggested negative effects. More than 20 regulatory authorities worldwide have determined that maize containing MON 810, NK 603 and the combination of the two traits are as safe as conventional maize.

At Monsanto’s request, two internationally recognized experts on reproductive toxicology have reviewed the online report:

Doctors Lamb and DeSesso have both concluded that 1) there are flaws in the study reporting and analysis which bring serious question to the validity of the findings and 2) that the results do not support any conclusion of adverse effects on reproductive performance. A review by Monsanto scientists resulted in the same conclusion.

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) Scientific Panel on Genetically Modified Organisms reviewed the study on December 3-4, 2008. The panel concluded that “On the basis of the data presented the GMO Panel is of the opinion that no conclusions can be drawn from the report.” (See Minutes of the 46th plenary meeting of the panel, available at: http://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/events/event/gmo081203.htm 
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