Review of GMO safety assessment studies: glyphosate residues in Roundup Ready crops is an ignored issue

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Jane Arnold

Sep 29, 2015, 1:45:24 AM9/29/15
Environmental Sciences Europe, 27(1), 1-14.


Review of GMO safety assessment studies: glyphosate residues in Roundup
Ready crops is an ignored issue

Marek Cuhra



Genetically modified glyphosate-tolerant cultivar varieties have been a
commercial success widely known as Roundup Ready plants. As new
glyphosate-tolerant varieties are introduced to satisfy agriculture
demand, it is relevant to review the scientific evidence that documents
the quality and safety of such biotechnology. Assessments of genetically
modified glyphosate-tolerant plants are partly based on the reports from
laboratory comparisons with non-modified plants (near-isogenic relatives).
Such comparative testing is typically performed as analysis of plant
material composition and in animal feeding studies. The material for
testing is typically produced in test-fields set up as model environments.
Most of this research is planned, performed and reported by researchers
employed by biotech industry companies.


The present paper aims to: (1) review 15 reports on compositional analyses
of glyphosate-tolerant cultivars and 15 reports from animal feeding
studies, (2) discuss recent data indicating glyphosate residue in Roundup
Ready soybean, (3) outline recent developments of cultivars with increased
tolerance to glyphosate.


The reviewed industry studies show methodological flaws:
glyphosate-tolerant GM crops are designed for use with glyphosate
herbicide. However, glyphosate herbicides are often not applied in
test-study cultivation. In the studies where glyphosate herbicides were
applied to growing plants, the produced plant material was not analyzed
for glyphosate residues. This review has failed to identify industry
studies that mention glyphosate residues in glyphosate-tolerant plants.
This indicates that questions and evidence of importance for regulatory
assessment have been systematically ignored. Independent research has
investigated this issue and found that glyphosate-tolerant plants
accumulate glyphosate residues at unexpected high levels. Glyphosate
residues are found to have potential to affect plant material composition.
Furthermore, these residues are passed on to consumers.


Industry studies are not sufficient for regulation. Despite decades of
risk assessments and research in this field, specific unanswered questions
relating to safety and quality aspects of food and feed from GM crops need
to be addressed by regulators. Independent research gives important
supplementary insight.

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