Open Access Highly Accessed Review

Genetically modified crops safety assessments: present limits and possible improvements

Gilles-Eric Séralini1*, Robin Mesnage1, Emilie Clair1, Steeve Gress1, Joël Spiroux de Vendômois2 and Dominique Cellier3

Author Affiliations

1 Laboratory of Biochemistry - IBFA, University of Caen, Esplanade de la Paix, 14032 Caen, Cedex, France

2 CRIIGEN, Paris, France

3 University of Rouen LITIS EA 4108, 76821 Mont-Saint-Aignan, France

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Environmental Sciences Europe 2011, 23:10  doi:10.1186/2190-4715-23-10

Published: 1 March 2011

Abstract

Purpose

We reviewed 19 studies of mammals fed with commercialized genetically modified soybean and maize which represent, per trait and plant, more than 80% of all environmental genetically modified organisms (GMOs) cultivated on a large scale, after they were modified to tolerate or produce a pesticide. We have also obtained the raw data of 90-day-long rat tests following court actions or official requests. The data obtained include biochemical blood and urine parameters of mammals eating GMOs with numerous organ weights and histopathology findings.

Methods

We have thoroughly reviewed these tests from a statistical and a biological point of view. Some of these tests used controversial protocols which are discussed and statistically significant results that were considered as not being biologically meaningful by regulatory authorities, thus raising the question of their interpretations.

Results

Several convergent data appear to indicate liver and kidney problems as end points of GMO diet effects in the above-mentioned experiments. This was confirmed by our meta-analysis of all the in vivo studies published, which revealed that the kidneys were particularly affected, concentrating 43.5% of all disrupted parameters in males, whereas the liver was more specifically disrupted in females (30.8% of all disrupted parameters).

Conclusions

The 90-day-long tests are insufficient to evaluate chronic toxicity, and the signs highlighted in the kidneys and livers could be the onset of chronic diseases. However, no minimal length for the tests is yet obligatory for any of the GMOs cultivated on a large scale, and this is socially unacceptable in terms of consumer health protection. We are suggesting that the studies should be improved and prolonged, as well as being made compulsory, and that the sexual hormones should be assessed too, and moreover, reproductive and multigenerational studies ought to be conducted too.