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EXCERPTS: "If a trial produces such striking results, it must at all events be repeated... The safety standards in EU authorisation procedures for genetically manipulated plants are in general inadequate" - Professor Gilles-Eric Seralini of the French state Commission du Genie Biomoleculaire (CGB), which is responsible for risk assessments of GM plants

"It cannot be presumed that the damage to the rats' inner organs and the animals' blood picture are based on chance. The documents also show that the set-up for the experiments was inadequate and evaluation of the data incorrect. Further investigations are absolutely necessary." - Prof Arpad Pusztai, who made a risk assessment of Mon863 for the German government
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GM maize has risks and side effects
Greenpeace publishes company documents on rat-feeding trials
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
22 JUNE 2005

BERLIN Greenpeace is today publishing confidential Monsanto corporation documents on feeding trials conducted on rats using genetically manipulated (GM) maize. The animals displayed negative health effects after being fed Monsanto's Mon863 GM maize, which produces an insecticidal toxin.

The higher administrative court in M√ľnster released the documents on Monday after Greenpeace had successfully pressed to inspect them in accordance with the EU law on environmental information. The judgement sets a precedent for cases in which companies keep their documents on GM-plant risk assessment secret. The EU environment council in Luxembourg will decide whether to authorise imports of this maize on Friday. Greenpeace and scientists are together calling for an import ban on Mon863; the German government should vote against it being authorised.

"The GM maize should not be allowed to be licensed as food or feedstuff in EU countries," said Professor Gilles-Eric Seralini of the French state Commission du Genie Biomoleculaire (CGB), which is responsible for risk assessments of GM plants.

"If a trial produces such striking results, it must at all events be repeated."

The release of the documents means that scientists like Professor Seralini are no longer bound to maintain confidentiality. "The safety standards in EU authorisation procedures for genetically manipulated plants are in general inadequate," said Professor Seralini, speaking at a Greenpeace press conference in Berlin.

Professor Arpad Pusztai, who had already made a risk assessment of Mon863 for the German government, also warns against allowing the maize to be licensed. "It cannot be presumed that the damage to the rats' inner organs and the animals' blood picture are based on chance. The documents also show that the set-up for the experiments was inadequate and evaluation of the data incorrect. Further investigations are absolutely necessary."

Mon863 produces a so-called Bt-toxin, to protect it against the corn rootworm. This toxin is not identical to the substance contained in GM plants already licensed in Europe and which makes them resistant to the corn borer. Mon863 furthermore contains a controversial gene conferring resistance to antiobiotics, which according to EU release Directive 2001/18/EC should be avoided. It cannot be ruled out that the gene sequence will transfer to disease-causing agents and thus encourage the creation of new resistant pest organism.

The ministers will also vote in Luxembourg on existing national bans on the importing and cultivation of GM plants. Five EU countries including Germany are appealing to a national protection clause in the EU law. The Commission has called on countries to lift the bans. To date only the UK and the Netherlands are supporting the EU Commission.

"Few countries want to have their rights curtailed," says Greenpeace's Christoph Then. "Lifting national restrictions must be rejected just as the authorisation of Mon863 GM maize must be. The EU must prove that it believes in the importance of protecting consumers and the environment."

NOTES TO EDITOR

Please direct your enquiries to Christoph Then, mobile phone no. +49 (0)171-878-0832, or Simone Miller, press officer, tel. + 49 (0)171 870 6647.

You can obtain a paper with background information by calling +49 (0)40-30618 386. Greenpeace is on the internet in Germany at www.greenpeace.de and internationally at www.greenpeace.org