GM maize is substantially different

February 2014

picture of a ripe corn cob
Corn. CC photo by UD Carvel REC on Flickr
Scientists in Egypt have published three studies on the safety of a GM version of their traditional GM corn. 

The novel corn they examined was Monsanto's MON 810 which generates an insecticidal 'Bt' protein.  It had been back-crossed into 'Ajeeb' Egyptian corn, ostensibly to produce a 'traditional' variety producing its own GM insecticide.  Safety studies on an analogue of the Bt protein have indicated that, in isolation, it's safe for mammalian consumption.  Since the MON 810 Ajeeb corn is  assumed to have an identical genetic background to Ajeeb,  can easily pass as 'substantially equivalent' to its traditional counterpart. 

One of the three studies compared the composition of Ajeeb grown side-by-side with its GM version.  A second examined the body and organ weight changes and blood biochemistry in rats fed MON 810, conventional Ajeeb or a standard rat diet for a standard 91 days.  A third investigated tissue responses in organs of detoxification and organs sensitive to toxin exposure in rats fed as in the second experiment. 

The feeding studies extended to a standard 91 days.  

Compositional analysis revealed a range of significant differences between the GM corn and its conventional counterpart.  The increased protein content in the MON 810 may be linked to the novel generation of the Bt protein.  However, higher levels of fat, fibre and non-starch sugars, coupled to decreased starch, calcium and sodium, and the absence of some types of fatty-acids and amino-acids, indicate wide metabolic disturbances in the novel version of Ajeeb.  These amount to non-substantial equivalence, and the authors concluded that the possibility of toxic effects could not be ruled out. 

Data on blood biochemistry, organ weights and tissue health in rats fed GM diets indicated pathology of the liver and kidneys, the major reactive organs in cases of chronic food toxicity.  Damage to the testes, which are particularly sensitive to toxins, was also evident in the GM-fed groups.  The small intestine of rats fed MON 810 showed changes indicative of a protective reaction to the presence of some harmful material. 


This is another major piece of evidence that the use of the elastic, unscientific and vague concept of “substantial equivalence” of GM food and its non-GM counterpart has been used to corrupt the regulatory process.  It has allowed compositional evidence of disruption to the plant's physiology by the artificial gene to be glossed over.  It has also allowed the biotech industry to avoid key tests on the organs and physiological systems which would reveal toxic reactions. 

Read in conjunction with SUBSTANTIALEQUIVALENCE UNRAVELLING (February 2014), these experiments from Egypt suggest all  GM foods should be withdrawn until meaningful, robust and comprehensive tests of safety have been established.  And substantial equivalence has been replaced by absence of any adverse reaction in key organs. 

Keep asking for it.


Abdo E. M., et al., 2013, Chemical Analysis of BT corn 'Monsanto810:Ajeeb-YG' and its counterpart non-Bt corn 'Ajeeb', OIOSR Journal of Applied Chemistry,4:1 March-April

Gab-0Alla A., et al.,2012, Morphological and Biochemical Changes in ale Rats Fed on GM corn Ajeeb YG), Journal of American Science 8(9)

El-Shamei Z.S., et al., 2012, Histopathological Changes in Some Organs of Male Rats Fed on GM corn, Journal of American Science 8(10)

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