Russia to Stop Importing U.S. Corn Linked to Cancer

A Russian consumer rights group said it would cease the purchase and import of American-grown, genetically modified (GM) corn after a study was released linking the GM food to breast cancer.

Study Details

The study, conducted by researchers at the University of Caen in France, documented the effects of GM corn on laboratory rats over a two-year period (the average life span of this rat species). The results showed a significantly greater occurrence of breast cancer, kidney damage and liver damage in the test groups fed GM corn.

In the past, GM corn had been defended by studies that lasted only 90 days.

The rats were fed various amounts of “Roundup-ready” corn, which is derived from seeds that have been genetically modified to survive the common weed killer. Other test groups were given water containing trace amounts of Roundup or fed all-natural corn. All groups that consumed Roundup showed elevated levels of cancer.

Russia’s Institute of Nutrition has contacted the European Union to for counsel, and the European Food Safety Authority is reviewing the study’s validity. The research has already been peer reviewed.

Russia is not the first country to take issue with the GM corn. Genetically modified American corn is not sold in stores in the United Kingdom, though it is still used in feed for hens, pigs and cows.

Significance and Impact

The study has drawn criticism for using small sample sizes in their testing. Regardless, the results are still noteworthy.

“The results are significant,” said Professor Mustafa Djamgoz in an interview with the Daily Mail. “The experiments are, more or less, the best of their kind to date. We are not scaremongering here. More research, including a reptition of this particular study are warranted.” Djamgoz is professor of cancer biology at Imperial University in London.

In the United States, the perils of genetically modified food products have been a controversial topic for about a decade. Concerns surrounding the industrialization of American food have popularized books, movies and fresh whole-foods markets opposing modified foods.

The film “Food, Inc.” specifically highlighted the dangers of genetically modified corn produced by the Monsanto corporation, the makers of Roundup weed killer and the corn fed to rats used in the French study.

Because of the nature of the study, it may be another two years before conclusive findings can be reached. Tom Philpott, food and agriculture blogger for “Mother Jones,” said the study should serve as a “disturbing hint that all might not be right with our food.”

“When we eat GMOs,as millions of Americans do every day,” Philpott continued, “we’re still eating in the dark. The French study didn’t fully illuminate the situation, but it’s a start.”

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