How useful are animal studies for assessing GM foods?

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This article or excerpt is included in the GLP’s daily curated selection of ideologically diverse news, opinion and analysis of biotechnology innovation.

If in doubt feed it to a rat and see what happens. So goes the philosophy of some regulatory jurisdictions around the world when it comes to the risk assessment of GM food crops.

So, just how valid are such studies scientifically, and if they are not robust and necessary, are they ethical under existing animal ethics regulations?

Unfortunately rats are a very insensitive instrument and, in isolation, are not necessarily a good model for human hazard identification.

The ultimate recommendation of the review was that the routine conduct or requirement of such toxicity studies is not supported scientifically and should be considered unethical given their very limited, if any, contribution to the safety assessment of GM crops.

Related article:  At National Academy of Sciences, GMO critics say technology is "failing"

Read the full, original paper (PDF): Of Rats and Regulators

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The GLP featured this article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion and analysis. The viewpoint is the author’s own. The GLP’s goal is to stimulate constructive discourse on challenging science issues.

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