Brussels, April 30, 2002 – Today Friends of the Earth is calling on the European Commission and the member states of the European Union to suspend a controversial GM maize after a key scientist in the UK admitted that the safety research should have been re-analysed and that the tests were not good enough to draw any conclusions over its effects on chickens.

The GM maize, called T25, was approved for marketing in the EU in 1996. It is produced by the biotech company Aventis and is resistant to Aventis own herbicides. At an on-going public hearing in the UK serious scientific concerns have been raised including:

  • The maize had never been tested on cows even though its only purpose is to be fed to cows
  • When it was tested on chickens, twice as many chickens fed the GM maize died, compared to those fed conventional feed.

In an interview for the BBC (1), Professor Alan Gray who chairs the UK Government’s GM advisory committee (ACRE), agreed that the chicken feeding tests should have been reanalysed and that the research wasn’t good enough to say what the possible impacts of the maize is. Professor Gray was also on ACRE when this Committee gave its original consent to commercialise the GM maize in July 1996. The chicken feeding study was the only study submitted by Aventis to support its application in 1996 which used whole maize grains. In the same BBC report, scientists from Bristol University, who have subsequently analysed the chicken research, called it “thin science” and that it was “not really good enough to base a student project on, let alone a marketing consent for a GM product”. (2)

Adding to the statements of the scientists, UK’s Shadow Environment Secretary Peter Ainsworth said that it is “wholly unacceptable” that the GM maize variety is already being grown in the fields. Mr. Ainsworth also said that the admission by ACRE that the agency made a misjudgement about the safety of the GM maize “points to a serious loophole in the existing arrangements.” (3)

Geert Ritsema, GMO campaign coordinator of Friends of the Earth Europe said: “ The admission by a key European scientist that the science behind this controversial GMO crop is inadequate is shoking. This GMO should never have been approved in the first place. The European Commission should withdraw its consent immediately.”

Geert Ritsema, office (+ 32-2) 5420182, mobile (+ 31 (0)6) 290 05 908
Adrian Bebb, office (+ 44-113) 389 9952, mobile (+ 44 (0)7712) 843 211

2. A full assessment of the chicken study by Bristol University is available from:
3. Quoted from BBC Radio. A full transcipt of the BBC interview is available from Friends of the Earth Europe