GM Free Cymru

Traces of GM Toxins in the blood of women

Maternal and fetal exposure to pesticides associated to genetically modified foods in Eastern Townships of Quebec, Canada.

Authors: Aris A, Leblanc S.

Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Sherbrooke Hospital Centre, Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada; Clinical Research Centre of Sherbrooke University Hospital Centre, Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada; Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, University of Sherbrooke, Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada.

Reprod Toxicol. 2011 Feb 18. [Epub ahead of print]


Pesticides associated to genetically modified foods (PAGMF), are engineered to tolerate herbicides such as glyphosate (GLYP) and gluphosinate (GLUF) or insecticides such as the bacterial toxin bacillus thuringiensis (Bt). The aim of this study was to evaluate the correlation between maternal and fetal exposure, and to determine exposure levels of GLYP and its metabolite aminomethyl phosphoric acid (AMPA), GLUF and its metabolite 3-methylphosphinicopropionic acid (3- MPPA) and Cry1Ab protein (a Bt toxin) in Eastern Townships of Quebec, Canada. Blood of thirty pregnant women (PW) and thirty-nine nonpregnant women (NPW) were studied. Serum GLYP and GLUF were detected in NPW and not detected in PW. Serum 3-MPPA and CryAb1 toxin were detected in PW, their fetuses and NPW. This is the first study to reveal the presence of circulating PAGMF in women with and without pregnancy, paving the way for a new field in reproductive toxicology including nutrition and utero-placental toxicities.


Bt corn (maize) was developed by transferring cry1Ab from Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) into corn. It is to be found in the most common GM corn - Monsanto's Bt MON810 (marketed with the trade name YieldGard) - a corn genetically engineered to resist corn borers by producing its own insecticide, the Cry1Ab toxin. Global production of Bt corn takes place on many millions of hectares worldwide and many different types of foods contain Bt corn. In the European Union, seven countries - Austria, Hungary, Greece, France, Luxembourg, Germany and Bulgaria have banned Mon810.

NOTE FROM GM-FREE CYMRU: This is potentially a very important study, since it incorporates the three main types of GM food crops, associated with Roundup or glyphosate (RR crops), Liberty or glufosinate (LL crops) and BT crops which have built-in toxins. Interestingly, the residues of Roundup and Liberty were found in the blood of non-pregnant women but not in the blood of pregnant women, whereas the reverse was true with respect to traces of BT toxins. This clearly requires further research......


Here is my understanding of what the paper says:

Study participants: 30 pregnant women with vaginal deliveries and their just-born babies, and 39 healthy, fertile, non-pregnant women having tubal ligations. Age: average of 32.4 and 33.9 years respectively and there was no significant difference in age, or BMI between these two groups of women. Blood was taken from women pre- delivery and from babies from cord blood at delivery.

28 out of 30 (93%) pregnant women had Cry1Ab from GM corn in their blood and 24 out of 30 (80%) of their babies also had it in their blood. Of the women who had the Bt protein in their blood, 86% had passed it to their baby when the baby was in her uterus. 27 out of 39 (69%) of the non-pregnant women had it in their blood. A significantly higher proportion of pregnant women had the Bt protein in their blood than non-pregnant women (p=0.006).

My thoughts:

This Bt protein is not present in sweet corn (which can be eaten with minimum processing), it is only in certain varieties of GM maize such as MON810 and triple stack corn. Maize is usually strongly heated and/ or processed into corn chips, tacos, starch, high fructose corn syrup etc before it enters the human diet. Therefore, this paper shows that this GM protein can survive extensive food processing to enter the diet. It can then survive human digestion to enter the blood of the person eating it and then cross the placenta to enter the fetus.

The authors are suggesting that these women may have been exposed by eating meat contaminated with this protein. Therefore, they appear to be suggesting that GM corn, when fed to cattle, may survive digestion in the animal to enter the meat of that animal. (There is already evidence that GM DNA can survive digestion in cows to enter their milk.) The GM protein in the meat then survives cooking, then survives the woman's digestive system to enter her blood, where it then crosses the placenta to enter the fetus.

If women have this in their blood, so would men. It indicates that between 69% and 93% of the Canadian population has this Bt toxin in their blood. The proportion is likely to be higher in the US population as their dietary exposure is likely to be higher. Not only does the US grow a great deal of GM corn, but they have a higher Hispanic population, which tends to have a higher maize consumption.

As it is unlikely that all of these women would have eaten this particular variety of GM corn within hours of their blood test, this indicates that once the Bt toxin enters the body, it may be quite long- lived there and may in fact accumulate in the body.