Researchers recently found that a type of corn genetically modified to be tolerant to the herbicide glyphosate has significant molecular differences from conventional corn. The findings of the research team, led by Dr. Michael Antoniou at King’s College London, were published in the scientific journal Nature.
The study assessed whether the genetically modified (GM) corn known as NK603 is equivalent to traditional corn on a molecular basis. They found that “a total of 117 proteins and 91 metabolites have been altered in maize by the genetic transformation process.” They concluded NK603 corn is “not substantially equivalent” to conventional corn. In other words, the GM corn is not the same on a molecular level as non-GM corn.
“Our study clearly shows that the GM transformation process results in profound compositional differences in NK603, demonstrating that this GMO corn is not substantially equivalent to its non-GMO counterpart,” Dr. Antoniou stated. “Our results call for a more thorough evaluation of the safety of NK603 corn consumption on a long-term basis.”
Monsanto, the maker of GM crops and the herbicide glyphosate, maintains that GM corn is equivalent to non-GM corn. The company stated in a safety summary of NK603 corn that it is “comparable to traditional corn with respect to food, feed, and environmental safety.” Monsanto says on its website that GM crops “have been tested more than any other crops—with no credible evidence of harm to humans or animals.”
Governmental regulatory agencies use the information provided by companies like Monsanto to assess the safety of GM crops. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) concluded that NK603 corn is “compositionally equivalent to conventional maize, except for the presence of the CP4 EPSPS proteins.” Those are the proteins that make the GM corn tolerant of glyphosate.
Most of the corn in North America is genetically modified. The acreage of GM corn in the United States in 2016 was 89 percent, up from 10 percent in 1997, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Although the Canadian government does not track how much GM corn is grown in Canada, the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network (CBAN) estimates that in 2015 over 80 percent of grain corn in the country was GM. Neither the United States nor Canada require GM foods to be labeled.
Gina-Marie Cheeseman is a freelance writer armed with a passion for healthy living and a degree in journalism. The article was originally published on NaturallySavvy.com