1.13—Rabbits can eat Roundup Ready Soy too
Roundup Ready soy did not change cell metabolism in rabbit organs
Analysis of Peer-Reviewed Research:
Rabbits are not often used in laboratory studies. One of the reasons for this is poor animal-to-animal and study-to-study reproducibility. Jeffrey Smith doesn’t cite the numerous studies performed in more reliable test animals perhaps that do not show the “subtle” differences reported here. Other authors found no such differences in rats and they found no changes in LDH levels in other tissues. They did not find any cellular or organ changes.
It is important to note an important feature of the statistics of animal studies. When a large series of comparisons are made between independent measurements, by random chance alone, one out of 20 comparisons are expected to appear to be statistically different. But being statistically different does not mean that the differences are biologically significant (1.3, point 3). Very often, when repeated experiments that are intended to be exactly the same are carried out on different groups of animals, a different result is seen. Such experimental variability occurs because of unintended but biologically relevant differences between the experiments, such as genetic variation between animals or differences in their eating patterns. As there was no repetition of control experiments in this rabbit study, the differences that were observed by the scientists cannot with any certainty be attributed to a GM effect. Note also that the variety of soybeans used was not identified and two levels of soybean were not used in the design, so it is impossible to establish a dose response relationship for soybeans. Since neither this study, nor dozens of other published studies, reports any ill effects of feeding soybeans, it is reasonable to conclude this study proves nothing about the safety, or lack thereof, of Roundup it that finds nothing of biological interest.
1. Few medical research or nutrition studies are performed with rabbits.
Rabbits are not recommended as an experimental animal in part because large variations are observed in many experiments. They are sometimes used, however, as an alternative to rodents (Van Haver and others, 2008).
2. The levels of almost all enzymes vary from animal to animal; yet the levels reported were not really different.
The measured levels of LDH in this study were well within the normal range found in rabbits, and no changes in cell appearance or organ health were associated with the changes. The small differences claimed are simply not biologically meaningful. Perhaps Genetic Roulette calls the changes “subtle” because Smith knows that if the experiment were repeated, the opposite results would be equally likely to be observed.
3. There are real methodological problems with the study.
No information is given about the source and identity of the soybean varieties used, and no work details of the soybean composition reported. There are no repetitions of the control non-GM treatment. Animals were not fed two different levels of test material (in this case soybean) in the feed, it as is recommended for such studies. It is thus impossible to reproduce the experiments or determine if diet and consumption were equivalent in different groups. See Sec. 1.10 for a discussion of mythological problems related to animal feeding (and also Marshall and others 2007).
van Haver E, Alink G, Barlow S, Cockburn A, Flachowsky G, Knudsen I, Kuiper H, Massin DP, Pascal G, Peijnenburg A, Phipps R, Poting A, Poulsen M, Seinen W, Spielmann H, van Loveren H, Wal JM, and Williams A (2008). Safety and nutritional assessment of GM plants and derived food and feed: The role of animal feeding trials. Food and Chemical Toxicology 46:S2-S70.
Marshall A (2007). GM soybeans and health safety—a controversy reexamined Nature Biotech. 25:981-987.
Tudisco, R., Lombardi, P., Bovera, F., D’Angelo, D., Cutrignelli, M.I., Mastellone, V., Terzi, V., Avallone, L., Infascelli, F., (2006). Genetically modified soya bean in rabbit feeding: detection of DNA fragments and evaluation of metabolic effects by enzymatic analysis. Anim. Sci. 82: 193–199.
- Rabbits fed GM soy for about 40 days showed significant differences in the amounts of certain enzymes in their kidneys, hearts and livers.
- A rise in LDH1 levels in all three organs suggests an increase in cellular metabolism.
- Changes in other enzymes point to other alterations in the organs.
Genetic Roulette claims that “subtle changes” in the levels of an enzyme, lactic dehydrogenase or LDH1, increased in kidneys (but not other tissues) of rabbits fed Roundup Ready soybeans and speculates that the “subtle changes” may be precursors of illness.