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Wed, May 25, 2005 - Page 12 News List

EU requests Monsanto's GM corn data


Agribusiness giant Monsanto has been asked to provide all its research results into a genetically modified (GM) corn that may be a health risk, a leader of the EU's food safety authority (EFSA) said on Monday.

"Monsanto must immediately transmit to EFSA its entire research into [the corn strain] MON 863," said Italy's professor Giorgio Calabrese, an EFSA member, in an interview with the Italian daily La Stampa.

Guinea pigs fed on the corn developed serious abnormalities, an internal scientific report at the US-based company found, according to Sunday's edition of the UK newspaper the Independent.

Kidney malformations and changes to blood indicating damage to the immune system were the most worrying aspects of the report.

The company is said to have given only partial results of its tests on MON 863 when first seeking backing for the strain from the EU, Calabrese said.

"It seems the multinational gave its own conclusions to the scientists working on GMOs [genetically modified organisms] for the European Agency," he said.

"European researchers made their own tests and have found results that differ with those put forward by Monsanto," he said.

"Researchers were not unanimous and that is why the regulation committee blocked [MON 863's] authorization in Brussels May 19," Calabrese said.

"MON 863 is a hybrid of two other strains of corn. We know the two corns but what we don't know is the result of their mix. This does not mean that MON 863 is a negative thing, but for the moment we do not know that it is a positive one," he said.

Italy prohibits the use of genetically modified corn and is holding votes in its 20 regions on the issue which are due to close by the end of the year.

Up until now, 14 of the regions have voted against it.

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