Bron:Friends of the Earth

Press Release: April 26th 2001


Invitation to the press: Media Briefing at 14.00H, Friday 27th April, in the press room, 2nd floor, Charlemagne conference centre (English, Français, Español) *

Friends of the Earth (FoE) will today call on European governments to
suspend the licence on a GMO crop which has been strongly criticised by independent scientists. The group has published for the first time evidence showing that chickens fed with the GM maize showed "suspicious" trends in growth and death rates [1]. One scientist concluded: "As a scientist, I wouldn’t drink milk
from cows fed [this] GM maize with the present state of knowledge" [2] .

The GM maize, called ‘T25' and produced by the Franco-German biotech
company Aventis, has been analysed by independent scientists in the UK after the British government tried in 2000 to approve it for commercial growing. The maize was granted EU approval in 1998 for cultivation and import. FoE groups around Europe are now demanding that this GM maize is banned.

During a public inquiry last year in the UK, independent experts examined the science behind Aventis T25 maize. The evidence presented revealed that the GM maize should never have been approved in the first place:

Though the maize is intended to be fed to cattle, it has never been tested on cows. The only studies conducted by Aventis related to chickens and rats. A UK expert
committee on animal feeds [3], set up in the wake of the BSE crisis to advise on animal feed issues, criticised the safety evidence presented by Aventis and demanded testing on cattle. Their advice was ignored.

Significant compositional differences were found: levels of amino acid, fatty acid, fat, carbohydrate, protein and fibre content of T25 maize were significantly different from normal maize.

The only experiment using whole T25 maize grains showed suspicious trends which were not further investigated: the 1996 feeding study of whole T25 maize grains to chickens. In this study, greater variations in weight and other measurements were recorded for chickens who were fed the GM grains compared with those fed the non-GM grains, and twice as many died (although this was not statistically significant). Scientists commissioned by FoE have analysed this research and concluded that it was not of a standard that would be acceptable for publication in a scientific journal. They reported that the trends for weight variations and higher mortality in the GM-fed birds were "suspicious" and were surprised that such a "poor study should have been presented as evidence and accepted as evidence in the first place."

Professor Bob Orskov, OBE, Director of the International Feed Resource Unit in Aberdeen, believes that "the scientific case put forward for this GM maize is not adequate" and said that "if the GM maize was approved for commercial growing ..... then people would be justified in turning their back on consuming milk derived from it."

Gill Lacroix, Biotechnology Coordinator at Friends of the Earth Europe said: "The approval process for this GM maize reveals a shocking catalogue of poor science and the failure of the regulatory system to protect human and animal health, and the environment. This maize should never have got so far in the approval process. With the full facts in hand, Friends of the Earth is urging EU governments to suspend Aventis T25 immediately."

More information:

Gill Lacroix, Brussels, T. (32-2-) 542.0182, mobile (32-) 0476-244161

Juan Lopez, Brussels, T. (32-2-) 542.61.00, Howard Mollet, Brussels, T. (32-2-) 542.0189

Adrian Bebb, Leeds (UK), T. 44-113-242.8153, mobile: 44-07712-843211

* Copies of FoE’s Briefing Paper "Bad Science, Bad Decisions - the evidence against Aventis GM maize", as well as "An analysis of "the Chicken Study" - the effect of Glufosinate Resistant Corn on Growth of Male Broiler Chickens" by scientists at the Department of Clinical Veterinary Science, University of Bristol" will be distributed at the Media Briefing.

[1] Evidence has been published on the FOE England, Wales, and Northern Ireland web site:


[2] Professor Bob Orskov, evidence to the Chardon LL Public Hearing, 18 October 2000. Transcripts of the hearing are available at:

[3] The UK’s Interdepartmental Group on Novel Feed Developments.

Friends of the Earth is the largest grassroots environmental network in the world. Friends of the Earth Europe's membership consists of 31 member organisations in 30 European countries with over 3000 local groups.