12 of 17 relevant studies show potential negative health effects of GMOs

Thanks to GMO Free USA for sending us this perceptive review of the recently released Van Eenennaam and Young review of animal feeding studies, which is being widely touted as showing that GMOs are safe.

The authors, who wish to remain anonymous, find many scientific shortcomings in the review.

The reference numbers start at number 39 because this analysis is part of a larger document – however, the references listed at the end are consistent with the text.

A separate analysis of this study by Claire Robinson of GMWatch is here.

The Van Eenennaam and Young review abstract is available here. Citation: Eenennaam ALV, Young AE. Prevalence and impacts of genetically engineered feedstuffs on livestock populations. J. Anim. Sci. 2014:jas.2014-8124. doi:10.2527/jas.2014-8124.

EXCERPT: If we look at just the six month or longer feeding trials using GE varieties currently on the market, and look at actual health parameters and not carcass weight, milk production or other performance parameters, and using rodents and non-rodents comparable to humans (pigs, dogs), and our translations of the Russian studies are correct, we see twelve of the seventeen relevant long term studies suggest some potential negative effects for the GE fed animals compared to the controls.

Van Eenennaam study marred by bias and scientific shortcomings

Published by GMWatch, 3 October 2014

A new review study is making its rounds in the pro-GMO media, with pundits claiming that the paper documents “1 trillion meals” served to “100 billion animals” and proves that GMOs are safe. Even before digging into the meat of the paper, we note there is a glaring bias considering Alison Van Eenennaam has previously worked with Monsanto(39). Additionally, the Journal of Animal Science is published by the Federation of Animal Science Societies (FASS), which has Gary Hartnell from Monsanto as their former president. Hartnell is also currently on the FASS Scientific Advisory Committee on Biotechnology.(40)

An initial review of Van Eenennaam’s paper titled, “Prevalence and Impacts of Genetically Engineered Feedstuffs on Livestock Populations,” suggests there are numerous problems.

First they state, "There is no evidence that long-term and multigenerational feeding studies of the first generation of GE crops that have been conducted to date have uncovered adverse effects that were undetected by short-term rodent feeding studies" (pages 8-9).

This would suggest they have looked at all the evidence, which they have not, to determine there is no evidence. We will assume they have read Seralini 2012/2014(15) since they reference it, but there are others. If we are reading the Russian translations correctly, Gubin-Vakulik 2013 observed no unintended effects for GE fed groups at two months duration, but did observe unintended effects at six months duration(20). Zinoviev 2014 also observed unintended effects in pigs at the eight month duration but nothing at the four month duration in the GE fed groups(5).  If we are reading the Russian translations correctly, there also appears to be at least one recent multigenerational study that reports adverse impact in the third generation(37) that was not detected in the first and second generation(38).   
They go on to claim, "A small number of experimental animal feeding studies have generated highly-controversial results suggesting deleterious health effects of GE feed." (page 13)  

However, as far as we are aware, the weight of the relevant long term feeding trials suggest unintended and potential adverse effects.  If we look at just the six month or longer feeding trials using GE varieties currently on the market, and look at actual health parameters and not carcass weight, milk production or other performance parameters, and using rodents and non-rodents comparable to humans (pigs, dogs), and our translations of the Russian studies are correct, we see twelve (1,4,5,9,10,11,12,15,16,18,19,20) of the seventeen relevant long term studies suggest some potential negative effects for the GE fed animals compared to the controls.  The other six (2,3,6,7,8,17) mostly either looked at only a few parameters, primarily just the aorta (6), etc., or they observed unintended effects such as, "The lasting albuminous concentrate supplementation from the genetically modified soybean to the rat's diet has been shown to modify hepatocyte membrane function and enzymatic activity" but dismissed this as being, "within physiological standards."(2) Therefore, these studies really cannot be used to suggest overall safety.  

There are also the two Sakamoto studies (13,14) but as far as we can tell, Pioneer soy 90B72 is not currently on the market so they do not appear relevant. The remaining long-term studies are not relevant to human health. They did not use rodents or anatomically and physiologically comparable non-rodents, did not use varieties currently consumed by humans, and did not use normal health parameters but instead just looked at milk production, bodyweight, whether or not the transgene was degraded, etc. (21 -33).  We suspect that if we also look at five month studies and include studies like Carman 2013(35) we would see this increase to an even greater than 2/3 of the relevant long term studies suggesting unintended effects. However, even with the six month rodent trials and nine month non-rodent trials previously used for medicinal products(34) this is not always sufficient to determine overall safety since some of these products have been recalled after post-market evaluation.    
Next they claim, "neither recombinant DNA nor protein has ever been found in milk, meat or eggs from animals that have eaten GE feed with the exception of a single study that reported the presence of fragments of transgenic DNA in both “organic” and “conventional” milk in Italy (Agodi et al., 2006). The organic milk was derived from animals not fed GE crops, so the authors postulated that the rDNA was due to feed and fecal contamination during milking of cows offered GE diets." (page 14)

Some might go so far as to call this claim of "the exception of a single study" intentional and fraudulent. Van Eenennaam seems to be aware of at least one other study regarding milk by Tudisco which states, "in blood and milk of treated goats, fragments both of the 35S promoter and the CP4 EPSPS gene were detected. These fragments were also found in treated kids with a significant detection of the 35S promoter in liver, kidney and blood, and of the CP4 EPSPS gene fragment in liver, kidney, heart and muscle".(41) Van Eenennaam referenced this Tudisco study in her paper in 2013.(42)  Other examples for milk include Mastellone 2013(43) and Hassan 2012(36).

There is little here in Van Eenennaam’s review paper that is really relevant to human health with the exception of swine data. Considering swine are often slaughtered at or before four months of age and studies such as Zinoviev 2014(5) and Carman 2013(35) observed problems after 4 months there is little usable data. Even in cases of slaughter at five months or longer it is extremely unlikely a limited inspection would find any of these issues since it would require a more thorough examination. This would also apply to several long term studies by Malatesta and Vecchio(9-12,16) where the cellular abnormalities would not be observed either. Other studies such as Battistelli(1) suggest an increased risk of intestinal infections. However, this would be masked in livestock due to the increased use of antibiotics. This increase in antibiotics could also mask an increase in mortality as well and is likely partially responsible for the increased carcass weights.

These observations and aforementioned limitations do not even seem to be mentioned by the authors in the paper, which is highly suspicious. A thorough reading of Alison Van Eenennaam and Amy E. Young’s paper and the original data sources used are in order before further comments are made.

1. S. Battistelli, B. Citterio, B. Baldelli, C. Parlani, and M. Malatesta (2010) Histochemical and morpho-metrical study of mouse intestine epithelium after a long term diet containing genetically modified soybean  Eur J Histochem. September 26; 54 (3):e36.  "in the duodenal villi of GM-fed animals, a lower amount of acidic mucins (Figure 1e, f) and sulpho-mucins (Figure 1g, h) was observed in comparison to controls.""acidic and sulpho-mucins are characterised by a higher viscosity compared to the neutral mucins, thus conferring a higher degree of protection to the intestinal surface,1 and their decrease could make the intestine less resistant to infections."

2. Tutel'ian, Kravchenko LV, Lashneva NV, Avren'eva LI, Guseva GV, Sorokina EIu, Chernysheva ON. (1999) [Medical and biological evaluation of safety of protein concentrate from genetically-modified soybeans. Biochemical studies].  Vopr Pitan. 1999;68(5-6):9-12

3. Tutel'ian, Kravchenko LV, Sorokina EIu, Korolev AA, Avren'eva LI, Guseva GV, Chernysheva ON, Tyshko NV (2001) [Medical and biological assessment of the safety of genetically modified corn lines MON 810 and GA 21: a toxicological-biochemical study]. Vopr Pitan. 2001;70(3):28-31.

4. Brasil FB, Soares LL, Faria TS, Boaventura GT, Sampaio FJ, Ramos CF. (2009) The Impact of Dietary Organic and Transgenic Soy on the Reproductive System of Female Adult Rat   Anat Rec (Hoboken). Apr;292(4):587-94.  

5. SG Zinoviev (2014) SOME BIOCHEMICAL INDICES OF BLOOD PIGS THE USE of GM soy in their diet. Animal Biology, 2014, vol. 16, № 1

6. Daleprane,J.B., Chagas,M.A., Vellarde,G.C., Ramos,C.F., and Boaventura,G.T. (2010). The impact of non- and genetically modified soybean diets in aorta wall remodeling. J. Food Sci. 75, T126-T131.

7. Daleprane,J.B., Feijo,T.S., and Boaventura,G.T. (2009). Organic and genetically modified soybean diets: consequences in growth and in hematological indicators of aged rats. Plant Foods Hum. Nutr. 64, 1-5.  

8. Yoshihiko Haryu, Yoko Taguchi, Eisui Itakura, Osamu Mikami, Katsuhiro Miura, Takakiyo Saeki and Yasuyuki Nakajima (2009) Longterm biosafety assessment of a genetically modified (GM) plant: the genetically modified (GM) insect-resistant Bt11 corn does not affect the performance of multi-generations or life span of mice. The Open Plant Science Journal, 3, 49-53  

9. Malatesta M, Caporaloni C, Gavaudan S, Rocchi MB, Serafini S, Tiberi C, Gazzanelli G. (2002)  Ultrastructural morphometrical and immunocytochemical analyses of hepatocyte nuclei from mice fed on genetically modified soybean.  Cell Struct Funct. 2002 Aug;27(4):173-80.  "our data suggest that GM soybean intake can influence hepatocyte nuclear features in young and adult mice"

10. Manuela Malatesta, Chiara Caporaloni, Luigia Rossi, Serafina Battistelli, Marco BL Rocchi, Francesco Tonucci, and Giancarlo Gazzanelli  (2002)  Ultrastructural analysis of pancreatic acinar cells from mice fed on genetically modified soybean  J Anat.  November; 201(5): 409–415.  

11. Malatesta M, Boraldi F, Annovi G, Baldelli B, Battistelli S, Biggiogera M, Quaglino D. (2008) A long-term study on female mice fed on a genetically modified soybean: effects on liver ageing.  Histochem Cell Biol. Nov;130(5):967-77.  

12. Malatesta M, Biggiogera M, Manuali E, Rocchi MB, Baldelli B, Gazzanelli G.  (2003)  Fine structural analyses of pancreatic acinar cell nuclei from mice fed on genetically modified soybean.  Eur J Histochem. 47(4):385-8.
13. Sakamoto Y, Tada Y, Fukumori N, Tayama K, Ando H, Takahashi H, Kubo Y, Nagasawa A, Yano N, Yuzawa K, Ogata A, Kamimura H.  (2007)  [A 52-week feeding study of genetically modified soybeans in F344 rats].  Shokuhin Eiseigaku Zasshi. 2007 Jun;48(3):41-50.
14. Sakamoto Y, Tada Y, Fukumori N, Tayama K, Ando H, Takahashi H, Kubo Y, Nagasawa A, Yano N, Yuzawa K, Ogata A.  (2008)  [A 104-week feeding study of genetically modified soybeans in F344 rats].  Shokuhin Eiseigaku Zasshi. Aug;49(4):272-82.

15. Gilles-Eric Séralini, Emilie Clair, Robin Mesnage, Steeve Gress, Nicolas Defarge, Manuela Malatesta, Didier Hennequin and Joël Spiroux de Vendômois (2014) Republished study: long-term toxicity of a Roundup herbicide and a Roundup-tolerant genetically modified maize. Environmental Sciences Europe, 26:14

16. Vecchio L, Cisterna B, Malatesta M, Martin TE, Biggiogera M  (2004)  Ultrastructural analysis of testes from mice fed on genetically modified soybean.  Eur J Histochem. Oct-Dec;48(4):448-54.

17. Tatiane da Silva Faria, Lavínia Leal Soares, Jorge L. Medeiros Jr., Gilson T. Boaventura, Francisco J.B. Sampaio, Cristiane da Fonte Ramos (2009) Morphological modification of female bladder after prolonged use of soy-based diets.  Maturitas  Volume 62, Issue 1, Pages 42–46, January 20




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34. ICH Topic S 4 Duration of Chronic Toxicity Testing in Animals (Rodent and Non Rodent Toxicity Testing)
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40. Former president Scientific Advisory Committee on Biotechnology
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