EAST LANSING, Mich. – Small soil animals fed genetically modified soybeans showed no difference in health or reproductive ability from those fed conventional soybeans, according to research studies done at Michigan State University.
About the study. Roundup Ready soybeans, which are genetically modified to resist a specific herbicide, were fed to a common type of soil invertebrate, collembola (springtails), to study the effects of the soybean on its life cycle.
Collembola were fed diets of a conventional soybean variety, the genetically modified Roundup Ready soybeans or a 50-50 mixture of the two genotypes.
A control group was fed brewer’s yeast, the staple laboratory food for collembola. MSU soil scientists and zoologists monitored the animals for their growth and development, survival, egg-laying ability and egg hatching rates.
EPA rules. The Environmental Protection Agency requires the use of collembola in tests when seed companies apply for certification of genetically modified crop varieties such as Bt (insect-resistant) corn.
The EPA mandates an observation period of 28 days. To address potential long-term, cumulative effects, the MSU studies were expanded beyond the EPA requirements to 150 days.
Three successive generations of collembola were fed the various diets. Renate Snider, MSU zoologist, and Alvin Smucker, MSU soil scientist, said results from the studies showed that a diet of Roundup Ready soybeans had no adverse effects on the growth, reproduction or survival of the soil animals.
No differences. The scientists concluded that, in this study, there was no significant difference between soybean varieties developed by biotechnological methods and those developed by conventional plant breeding programs.
This study has shown that there are no short-term nor long-term effects of eating Roundup Ready soybeans on successive generations of these common soil animals.
Snider notes that similar studies on the safety of genetically modified corn (both Roundup Ready and Bt) indicated that neither of these genetically modified corn hybrids affects the health and reproduction of collembola.
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