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Genetically Modified Organisms: Maize

Volume 501: debated on Thursday 26 November 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Health which studies of links between genetically modified corn and infertility in mice his Department has considered in the last two years; and how many genes were found by those studies to be expressed differently in the mice which were fed genetically modified corn. (301228)

The Food Standards Agency has sought advice from the Advisory Committee on Novel Foods and Processes (ACNFP) regarding what conclusions may be drawn from the following publication:

“Velimirov et al., (2008), Forschungsberichte der Sektion IV, Band 3/2008”, published by the Austrian Ministry of Health.

This is a summary report that presents the results of investigations into the fertility of mice fed diets containing a type of genetically modified (GM) maize (NK603 x MON810) and two types of non-GM maize. This research project also included a number of studies on third generation mice fed on these diets, including an innovative microarray analysis of ribonucleic acid levels that found large number of differences between the GM and non-GM groups. Based on this analysis the authors reported that a total of 440 genes were expressed differently in these two groups and a large number of differences were also seen between mice fed on two types of non-GM maize. The authors reported that it was not possible to draw any general conclusion from these findings.

The ACNFP considered this report at its meeting in November 2008 and advised that it was not possible to draw any conclusions about cause and effect or to assess the significance of this report for human health. The minutes of this meeting are available on the ACNFP website at: