France’s Government has asked a health watchdog to probe the safety of GM corn after scientific research linked the food to higher cancer rates in lab rats.
French scientists at the University Caen in Normandy released a study that said rats fed with NK603 corn developed tumours and that a possible risk to humans could exist, The Age reported.
The paper found low levels of both the GM corn strain and Roundup — the world's best selling weed-killer — could cause major health effects over a rats' 2-year life-time, including mammary tumours and kidney and liver damage.
Up to 50 per cent of males and 70 per cent of females tested in the study died prematurely, compared with 30 per cent of rats in a control group.
However, the study has been criticised by independent researchers who say the species of rats used in the research are highly prone to tumours.
The strain of GM corn at the centre of the new study is sold, but not grown, in Australia. It is used in products such as corn syrup, cornflour and corn oil.
Food Standards Australia New Zealand said it had not seen compelling evidence of a safety risk.
FSANZ chief scientist Paul Brent said it would look at any new research, but its confidence in the safety of GM products was backed by regulatory counterparts in the US, Canada, Japan and Europe.
Scott Kinnear, director of GM-sceptic organisation the Safe Food Foundation, said the research highlighted a deficiency in local regulatory processes.
"To ensure that the public is protected against further exposure, there is an urgent need for a fundamental overhaul of the regulatory framework," he said.