GM Free Cymru

Review of the report on medical and biological testing of transgenic Colorado beetle resistant potato, carried out at the Nutrition Institute of the Russian Federation Academy of Medical Sciences in 1998.

The report an the medical and biological research includes results of a toxic and hygienic testing of the transgenic potato in comparison with conventional potatoes, carried out an animals.

The documents available contain statistically reliable differences in chemical composition between the conventional awl transgenic potatoes. Significantly different were concentrations of vitamins C, E, beta-carotene, carbons (fructose, glucose), fatty acids . Which is why the authors' conclusion about identical chemical composition of the transgenic and conventional potatoes is untrue.

The toxic. and hygienic testing included studies of general toxic effect of the transgenic potato and its specific types of toxicity: potential allergenic, immune toxic and mutagenic characteristics.

The studies of the general toxicity of the transgenic potato were done in the framework of a chronic (continuous, 6-month long) experiment when the potato were fed to the Vistar male rats with the background of the general vivaric rations. The control groups were made of rats with usual vivaric rations and rats that had conventional potato in their vivaric rations. To evaluate the nutrition safety of the transgenic potato far the rats, the researchers used integral hematological, biochemical and histological research methods. The conducted experiments showed that in a month of eating genetically modified potatoes the rats suffered from statistically confirmed weight loss, anemia and dystrophy-like changes in hepatocytes of the rats fed with the transgenic potato compared to the rodents that were getting conventional potatoes in their general vivaric rations.

Unfortunately the authors don't analyze the causes of the above mentioned changes that may characterize the toxic effects of the transgenic potato an animals. Besides, it is quite surprising that in the materials and methods the weight of the animals selected far the experiments was SG to 100 grams while the Methodological Instructions MUK 2.3.2. 970-00 require the use of animals of 60 to 80 grams.

However, the world experience says that such experiments should involve mature, 3-4 month old rats with the weight of at least 160 grams, as well as an young and developing animals.

Despite the uncovered and statistically confirmed deviations in whole (crude) protein in the blood serum of the experimental group in comparison with the control groups, the results interpretation contains significant mistakes and completely ignores the uncovered phenomenon. In the toxicology experiment part, the researchers, failed to explain what caused the statistically confirmed weight loss of the body, the liver, anemia in the rats that ate both the transgenic and conventional potatoes compared to the rats with usual vivaric rations.

Section 7.4.1. of the Methodological Instructions MUK 2.3.2. 970-00 envisages research of effects of genetically modified foodstuffs an the reproduction functions aiming to uncover the possible embryo-toxic gonado-toxic and teratogenic effects. This research was never conducted. There are no data an studies of potential mutagenic effects of genetically modified foodstuffs in the form of testing. of gene mutations an microorganisms or drosophilae. The impact of the transgenic potato an the lipid metabolism of the animals involved in the experiments.

We also believe that the Methodological Instructions MUK 2.3.2. 970-00, "Evaluation of safety of foodstuffs acquired from genetically modified sources" need to be revised and improved. It is necessary to set up single age, weight of the experiment animals, to take into account laboratory animals death percentage and extend the time of their examination (monthly).
In conclusion, the authors suggest that it might be necessary to conduct additional research to study effects of transgenic potatoes on 5 generation of laboratory animals and impact of genetically modified foodstuffs an the life expectancy of the animals.

So, the Nutrition Institute of the Russian Academy of Medical Sciences conducted research of the Colorado beetle resistant potato with obvious violation of the Methodological Instructions MUK 2.3.2. 970-00. The authors made significant mistakes in interpreting the results. The uncovered physiological histological deviations in the rats fed with genetically modified potato not only don't create any grounds to think of this potato as safe, but also confirm either the harm they might make (at least for the rats involved in the. experiments) or the necessity of further research.

It is absolutely obvious that further research is needed indeed to include, among other things, toxicology testing an more rats, mutagenic effects testing on microorganisms or drosaphilae, allergenic potential research that would include long-lasting clinic testing on healthy volunteers.

Until the above mentioned research is done, neither the use of the type of potato in question in food production nor release of the transgenic potato into the environment, in our opinion, are acceptable.

L. Krepkova Deputy Head Laboratory of Drug Toxicology VILAR
Ph.D. in Biology
V. Bortnikova Laboratory of Drug Toxicology VILAR
Ph.D. in Biology Leading research Scientist