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Global Research Consortium Presents Findings on Safety of Genetically Modified Food

24 January 2012

A three year feeding study has shown no adverse health effects in pigs fed genetically modified (GM) maize. The maize, which is a Bt-maize bred for its insect resistant properties, was sourced from Spain.  The results were one of the key findings of trials conducted as part of the GMSAFOOD consortium undertaking post market monitoring: long term, generational and food chain studies to test food safety.

The research team conducted short-term (31 days), medium-term (110 days) and generational pig feeding studies where the health of piglets of sows fed Bt-maize is measured. No adverse effects were observed, suggesting that feeding Bt-maize to pigs of different ages is safe.  “These findings can offer some assurance to consumers as to the safety of consuming Bt-maize,” Peadar Lawlor, senior researcher at Teagasc, Animal and Grassland Research and Innovation Centre, Moorepark, Ireland, said; “The pig is considered to be an excellent model for humans due to similarities in gastrointestinal anatomy and physiology. Similar responses to Bt-maize consumption could be expected in humans,” he said.

In addition to testing for any unforeseen adverse effects, the researchers were also looking for biomarkers (fragments of DNA) associated with immune responses which could be used for predicting immune response to future genetically modified organisms (GMOs).  The GMSAFOOD consortium, funded by the European Commission, brings together researchers from Austria, Ireland, Norway, Hungry, Turkey and Australia.

These results and findings from other GMSAFOOD research teams will be presented at the GMSAFOOD conference at the Medical University of Vienna, Austria 6-8 March 2012. These include:
- Salmon feeding trials (Norway)
- Investigation of protracted allergenic response in mice feeding trials (Austria)
- Food chain trials where rats were fed pork and fish which had been raised on Bt-maize (Norway and Hungary)