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FAQs

Which question does this study aim to answer?

 

The ‘Factor GMO’ study will investigate the health effects of a genetically modified (GMO) crop that has been in our food and animal feed supplies for many years. It will answer the question: Is this GMO food and associated pesticide safe for human health?

Farmers, retailers, governments, scientists and consumers have been involved in a heated international debate since GM foods were introduced in 1994. However, there has never been a scientific study that is comprehensive enough to give them a clear answer regarding the safety for human health of any one GM food – until now.

‘Factor GMO’ will be the largest and most detailed long-term experiment ever conducted on of GM food and its associated pesticide. It will add invaluable data of unprecedented power to enable regulators, governments and the general public of every country to answer the question: Is the GM food and associated pesticide really safe at real world levels of consumption/exposure?

The study will also establish a new, higher standard for the rigorous testing of the safety of GM foods and their associated pesticides that will be applicable world-wide.

The full data and results of the study will be made publicly available.

Why do we need an in-depth study on GMO /pesticide safety?

‘Factor GMO’ is one of the main studies that should have been completed before GMOs and glyphosate-based herbicides were released in to the environment. The proposed study examines the long-term safety of the already commercialized GMO under test and of the glyphosate herbicides it is designed to be grown with.

Previous studies have not completed the full range of testing needed to both give the public and regulatory authorities a clear safety picture.

What have been the faults of all of the GMO and pesticide safety studies up until now?

  • The vast majority of GMO safety testing has been carried out on rats over a period of only 90 days: this period is not long enough to be able to detect long-term (chronic) health effects. Ninety days in a rat is equivalent to only around 7 years in human terms.
  • All safety tests used to justify placing GMOs on the market are carried out by scientists funded by the GM crops/pesticide industry. This has led to a lack of trust in the studies’ design and results.
  • Many so-called long-term safety studies that have been carried out on GMOs and glyphosate fail to meet rigorous scientific requirements. They include:
  1. Studies in which the animals eat the GM diet for only a small proportion of their natural lifetime and which are therefore not long-term at all
  2. Animal production studies on livestock, which do not examine health effects in detail but focus on effects of the GM diet on issues of interest to farmers, such as weight gain and milk yield
  3. Studies on animals with a very different digestive system and metabolism from humans, such as cows and fish
  4. Studies which do not include in-depth toxicity analysis, or multi-generational and carcinogenicity arms – which would give a fuller picture of safety or possible harm.
  • Glyphosate herbicides have never been tested in regulatory long-term safety studies in their complete formulations as sold and used by farmers. Only the isolated presumed “active” ingredient, glyphosate, has been tested in long-term studies for regulatory purposes ­– yet the complete formulations are alleged to be more toxic than the isolated ingredient glyphosate.

‘Factor GMO’ will meet rigorous scientific requirements and will give a more complete picture of the safety for human health of the GMO under test and the associated glyphosate herbicide.

‘Factor GMO’ is the first international long-term combined GMO/pesticide safety study that has involved full multi-generational, toxicology and carcinogenicity arms.

‘Factor GMO’ is the largest and most detailed study ever to be performed on a GMO and its associated pesticide.

What will the study consist of?

Laboratory animals (rats) will be fed certain GM foods and pesticides according to a protocol whose scale, rigour and range of measurements will meet and exceed current international standards for testing the toxicity of GM foods, pesticides, and other chemicals.

The experiment uses more rigorous approaches to investigate the fundamental question of the safety of GM foods and pesticides than are currently required by regulators. It will provide sufficient data to say with confidence whether the real world levels of consumption of the GM food or exposure to its associated pesticide are safe.

The three arms of the experiment will enable vital questions to be answered, such as:

  1. Is the GM food (or its associated pesticide) toxic to organ systems over the long-term?
  2. Does the GM food (or its associated pesticide) cause cancer?
  3. Does the GM food (or its associated pesticide) reduce fertility or cause birth defects?
  4. Is the mixture of chemicals present in ‘Roundup’ herbicide more or less toxic than its active ingredient glyphosate?
Where will the study take place?

The study will take place at undisclosed locations in Russia and Western Europe. The exact locations of the study must be kept secret for security reasons as we want to avoid any outside interference that could compromise the day-to-day running of the experiments and/or the final results.

Who is funding this study?

The funding process will be totally transparent and a full list of funders will be provided at the start of the experimental phase in 2015. We will not wait for the results to be published before publishing the full list of funders as many scientific studies do.

Up to this stage private individuals from across Russia and the EU have put forward the full funds (to be disclosed next year). We cannot disclose the exact amount of funds collected until now due to contractual agreements with the funders, however we can say that a high percentage of the total needed has been secured, allowing us to start the experimental phase in Spring 2015.

The close to $25 million in funding needed for this project has been/is being sourced from around the world.

Factor GMO has not and will not accept funds from the industry that manufactures GM crops and their associated pesticides.

The funders will have no influence on the design, results, or publication of the study.

Will the study include a multi-generational arm?

This study will be first ever to have a comprehensive multi-generational arm – this will be the first study to thoroughly test for effects on reproductive capability and incidence of birth defects of GMOs and their associated pesticides.

Which GM crop is being studied?

The study will test a herbicide-tolerant GM maize and realistic levels of the glyphosate herbicide it is engineered to be grown with.

We have concentrated our study design on a variety of GM maize. Factor GMO will study other GM Maize varieties and GM soybean varieties if extra funding is made available.

How is this study an improvement on the largest GM food safety study currently being undertaken?

The largest GM food related study that is currently being undertaken is the EUR 3 million EU funded KBBE feeding trial. The KBBE rat feeding trial studies GM maize NK 603.

The following information shows how we have greatly improved on this study:

  1. This study will have a long-term toxicology arm –  the planned EU study will only be for carcinogenicity (no multigenerational component and no focused toxicity component)
  2. Only EUR 3 million is allocated to the EU study, meaning the breadth of analysis that will be carried out will of necessity be small. The EU study has not been given enough money to conduct a thorough biochemical analysis as part of the carcinogenicity arm, so results will not give a full picture. We will allocate close to EUR 20 million for our study.
  3. This study will have multiple, interim testing points at regular periods throughout the chronic toxicity phase of the experiment, whereas the proposed EU experiment only has one testing point at the end of the 2 years. By incorporating interim measurements in the study design, this investigation will be the first to identify at what stage any ill-health begins to arise in the animals, and thus trace the progression of any diseases, and clarify the mechanisms (cause of the diseases).
  4. This study will include detailed molecular profiling analysis to provide mechanistic insight into any illnesses that arise.
  5. The range of feeding groups in this study is increased to give greater insight than the EU study will give.
  6. This study will be first to test currently permitted levels of relevant pesticides in both water and feed for toxicity.
  7. The structure of this study aims to give maximum information with regards to not only monitoring any negative health outcomes but also providing information on the progression and the mechanistic cause of any disease that is observed.
What is the Factor GMO Public Board?

The ‘Factor GMO’ international Public Board is being created to support the study by working with the media and the general public to discuss the need for precautionary science related to GMOs and pesticides, to protect public health worldwide.

The ‘Factor GMO’ Public Board will include influential members from all parts of society, with different points of views regarding GMO safety, however all members will agree on the need for precautionary science.

The Public Board will also support the public, corporate and government funding process for ‘Factor GMO’ and future precautionary science projects. However, the Public Board will have absolutely no involvement in the scientific study.

  • Camarelli

    I hope you grow the food needed using the seller specifications (consult farmers who grow them); use appropriate controls (non-GM soy/maize, treated with conventional methods and organic ones); use apropriate rats unlike those used by Seralini; give a realistic and healthy diet to the rats (do not feed them only with soy beans, of course); have in consideration that a soy-intensive diet is probably related to fertility issues in humans, etc. Do not make the mistakes of others, listen to the scientific reviews of those mistakes to improve the design of your study. I would like to know whose funds did you accepted, because if reject the GMO and pesticide industry ones, I expect you also reject funding from the Organic industry and well known anti-GMO NGOs. I would prefer you accepted funding from all sides, as I believe science prevails no matter the origin of the funding.
    I wish you good luck with your work, although I find a bit suspicious all this publicity before the work is even started.

    • Richids Coulter

      You mean the rats used by both Monsanto and Seralini right? Odd that you would omit this information, I find that a bit suspicious.

      • Camarelli

        Well, the difference is how you use the rats, wich was actually improperly done by Seralini unlike Monsanto. You can measure a table with a toothstick, but it is inadequate to measure the distance to the Moon with it. The study by Seralini is so flawed that his data also shows that glyphosate prolongs male rats lifes, does the fact that he evaded mentioning it makes you suspicious too?

        • Richids Coulter

          So using groups of 20 rats and selecting 10 without ever revealing the reason why or presenting the raw data on the other 10 rats is “properly done”? Interesting, that’s not how most of us understand science.

  • Mo Reno

    Best of luck to you all for the next five years. Our donation is forthcoming.

    • Ivan Lambert

      Thank you very much Mo!

      Best Regards,
      Ivan Lambert
      Factor GMO

  • DH

    I notice that this information says: “Factor GMO has not and will not accept funds from the industry that manufactures GM crops and their associated pesticides.” Your information, however, does not indicated that it will not accept funds from the organic industry or anti-gmo organization. Could you please explain why this is?

  • Dianne Tea

    Are you going to wash the corn before feeding them to rats to rinse off the pesticide as we are instructed to do with our vegetables? I cannot imagine unbiased results if you give them pesticide covered food.

    • Richids Coulter

      Can you post a pic of this instruction? I’ve never seen it in any supermarket either on conventional or organic food.

  • eko-logisk

    Camarelli, “use apropriate rats unlike those used by Seralini” , The Sprague-Dawly rat is o good choice, used in a lot of studies (even Monsanto). Humans develop cancer, so do this rat. The Seralini study showed a significant rize (tripled) cancer among the 60 GMO-eating rats. The Sprague rat is a good choice – it was after Seralini et al study there was comments about the kind of rat, not before, not the Monsanto choice to use the Sprage…

    • Jon Smith

      The Sprague-Dawley rat is NOT a good choice for long term study and there were only 20 rats in the control group. Anyone with even the most basic understanding of statistics knows this is far too small to draw any conclusions, especially when there were also tumors in this small control group.

      • Richids Coulter

        I presume you’ve lambasted Monsanto for using the same rats right?

  • marie72

    I am glad a fair study is being done.I think this study should put the safety or non-safety of GMOs to rest.

  • Mau Manco

    i think that there’s no such thing as a gmo risk, as there’s no such thing as a safe gmo either. I hope inspections and controls are made plant by plant and all the effects (ALL, not like in these years ) are validated before the market… and publicly promoted
    i also would like the satanic gmo reputation to be healed, but this is primarly a gmo company concern, and they deserve all the discredit ( some of them : other research istitutions pay the result of other errors and that is a shame )
    transparent policies, controls, labeling, public risks assessment, herbicide and pesticide routines, public confrontations with other non gmo products, everything scrutinized by third parties, political control over ecosystem protection and biodiversity preservation, economical safety, social safety: there’s a lot of work to do…
    i hope u do part of it and others do their part as well
    the actual situation, even in internet is a war ( between paranoia, a little, but mostly against free sicentifice reports too, opponent bashing, pseudo-scientific propaganda, biotech company propaganda )
    how many people are needed to solve this mess, created by economical avidity?

  • Veronika Chvátalová

    Hello, I would like to ask if you have started the project yet or for when have you postponed? thanks, Veronika

  • Jan Lucht

    According to the FAQ above (see “Who is funding the study?”), a full list of funders for this project should have been provided at the start of the experimental phase in Spring 2015. Now we have 2016. I did not find the promised information about the funders, nor any indication that any actual work (scientific experiments) has been started, despite the assertion (from 2014) that “…a high percentage of the total (financial) needed has been secured, allowing us to start the experimental phase in Spring 2015.” Information on the Factor GMO website is not updated, also on the Twitter and Facebook channels there is no recent relevant information about the scientific activities. At least from the outside, it looks as if the only ongoing activity is the collection of further donations. What will happen to the many millions that already have been collected so far, will they ever be used for the promised research, or will they disappear into a black hole? Right now, the many donations via this website do not go to an official institution, but to the personal account “sharoykina@oagb.ru”. One probably should think twice before giving any more money to this project, until the situation is clarified, and there is a satisfactory explanation about where the money goes, the current status of activities, and the proposed timeline for the research.

  • Guy

    Hello Ivan , just joined and donated . I would like to know if the tests have been started and if you have any results to offer the public . This is a very good initiative as no independent test have been done to my knowledge .Good luck with the project and keep us posted .Guy from the Canadian prairies .

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