Debate on GMOs health risks after statistical findings in regulatory tests

Int J Biol Sci. 2010 Oct 5;6(6):590-8. doi: 10.7150/ijbs.6.590.


We summarize the major points of international debate on health risk studies for the main commercialized edible GMOs. These GMOs are soy, maize and oilseed rape designed to contain new pesticide residues since they have been modified to be herbicide-tolerant (mostly to Roundup) or to produce mutated Bt toxins. The debated alimentary chronic risks may come from unpredictable insertional mutagenesis effects, metabolic effects, or from the new pesticide residues. The most detailed regulatory tests on the GMOs are three-month long feeding trials of laboratory rats, which are biochemically assessed. The tests are not compulsory, and are not independently conducted. The test data and the corresponding results are kept in secret by the companies. Our previous analyses of regulatory raw data at these levels, taking the representative examples of three GM maize NK 603, MON 810, and MON 863 led us to conclude that hepatorenal toxicities were possible, and that longer testing was necessary. Our study was criticized by the company developing the GMOs in question and the regulatory bodies, mainly on the divergent biological interpretations of statistically significant biochemical and physiological effects. We present the scientific reasons for the crucially different biological interpretations and also highlight the shortcomings in the experimental protocols designed by the company. The debate implies an enormous responsibility towards public health and is essential due to nonexistent traceability or epidemiological studies in the GMO-producing countries.

Keywords: Animal tests; GMOs; Health risks; Pesticides; Regulatory toxicology.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Crops, Agricultural / adverse effects*
  • Crops, Agricultural / genetics*
  • Food Safety*
  • Humans
  • Models, Statistical
  • Pesticides / adverse effects
  • Plants, Genetically Modified / adverse effects*
  • Plants, Genetically Modified / genetics
  • Rats
  • Risk Assessment / methods*


  • Pesticides