The GMO90+ Project: Absence of Evidence for Biologically Meaningful Effects of Genetically Modified Maize-based Diets on Wistar Rats After 6-Months Feeding Comparative Trial

Toxicol Sci. 2019 Apr 1;168(2):315-338. doi: 10.1093/toxsci/kfy298.


The GMO90+ project was designed to identify biomarkers of exposure or health effects in Wistar Han RCC rats exposed in their diet to 2 genetically modified plants (GMP) and assess additional information with the use of metabolomic and transcriptomic techniques. Rats were fed for 6-months with 8 maize-based diets at 33% that comprised either MON810 (11% and 33%) or NK603 grains (11% and 33% with or without glyphosate treatment) or their corresponding near-isogenic controls. Extensive chemical and targeted analyses undertaken to assess each diet demonstrated that they could be used for the feeding trial. Rats were necropsied after 3 and 6 months. Based on the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development test guideline 408, the parameters tested showed a limited number of significant differences in pairwise comparisons, very few concerning GMP versus non-GMP. In such cases, no biological relevance could be established owing to the absence of difference in biologically linked variables, dose-response effects, or clinical disorders. No alteration of the reproduction function and kidney physiology was found. Metabolomics analyses on fluids (blood, urine) were performed after 3, 4.5, and 6 months. Transcriptomics analyses on organs (liver, kidney) were performed after 3 and 6 months. Again, among the significant differences in pairwise comparisons, no GMP effect was observed in contrast to that of maize variety and culture site. Indeed, based on transcriptomic and metabolomic data, we could differentiate MON- to NK-based diets. In conclusion, using this experimental design, no biomarkers of adverse health effect could be attributed to the consumption of GMP diets in comparison with the consumption of their near-isogenic non-GMP controls.

Keywords: 6-month rat feeding trial; MON810; NK603; OECD TG408; genetically modified maize; metabolomics; transcriptomics.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animal Feed / standards
  • Animal Feed / toxicity*
  • Animals
  • Consumer Product Safety
  • Edible Grain / chemistry*
  • Edible Grain / genetics
  • Female
  • Food, Genetically Modified / standards
  • Food, Genetically Modified / toxicity*
  • Male
  • Plants, Genetically Modified / chemistry*
  • Plants, Genetically Modified / genetics
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Toxicity Tests / methods
  • Zea mays / chemistry
  • Zea mays / genetics*