I found this image circulating on Facebook:

enter image description here

Genetically Modified Food

Testicles of a rat fed normal food/FM fed/Normal fed/Monsanto GM fed

Laboratoy tests by the Russian National Academy of Sciences reported more than half the babies from mother rats fed GM soy died within three weeks. The babies in the GM group were also smaller and could not reproduce. Rats fed a commercial rat chow using GM soy within two months had infant mortality facility-wide reaching 55%.

Original image source

I note that most of the claims have no controls: did the babies of non-GM soy-fed mothers have mortality > 55%? Could any of the babies reproduce?

However, the "smaller" claim involves a control, and hence is the one I am interested in.

So, was this a legitimate study? If so, were these the conclusions? (Double points if the result was reproduced.)

  • 2
    I cannot even find the alleged study (not surprising, given the lack of detail). There is a study on hamsters rather than mice but that is three years old. A study on rats from 2005 cannot be found on Pubmed at all so it probably doesn’t exist. The reference in the image, ddees.com, isn’t very confidence inspiring. Jan 14, 2013 at 10:02
  • I did a reverse image search on just the image of the mice, besides on being linked on several anti-GM sites it was linked on this russian site (google translate). That site links to an article of The Independent. Not an answer as these are only leads, but might help someone researching a full answer.
    – Baarn
    Jan 14, 2013 at 10:09
  • Oh, RationalWiki has an article on the author of the alleged paper. But granted, RationalWiki isn’t the best resource. But according to them, and in corroboration of my first comment, no paper was ever published about those results. /EDIT: Hmm, that RationalWiki article is actually quite good and gives a lot of references. Maybe somebody else has the time to write up an answer? Jan 14, 2013 at 10:10

1 Answer 1


Based on the information from the RationalWiki article that Konrad found, the study in question seems to be one performed by Irina Ermakova and only published in the conference proceedings of the "Epigenetics, Transgenic Plants & Risk Assessment" conference in 2005 in Germany, partly sponsored by Greenpeace (Conference proceedings, the study in question starts on page 41).

In a correspondence on that article in Nature Biotechnology the following criticism of the study are listed:

Although Ermakova states that she received "soy clearly labeled as GM and non-GM soy," she still has not established the identity of the material tested, which is of paramount importance to an animal feeding study.


The Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) catalog states and B.C. contacted ADM on October 20 and November 5, 2007, to verify that they do not sell—and have never sold—a 100% GM-soy product containing the RR-40-3-2 line to which Ermakova refers.

The identity of the soy was not tested in the study, it was not verified if the GM and the non-GM soy were actually comparable. The company that the GM soy was allegedly procured from even states that they never sold such a pure GM-soy.

The authors are also state that the weight and number of pups are indicative of diet or environmental problems. They also criticize that the cause of death was not determined in the study.

The authors also cite three studies that contradict the results obtained by Ermakova and found no negative effect of the transgenic soy on rats:

The authors conclude:

We conclude then, that Ermakova's research relied on experimental designs that fall short of internationally accepted norms, with animals handled in such a way that even control lines were negatively affected. The feeding studies used materials that were characterized inadequately, incorrectly or not at all. Thus, no scientific conclusions can be drawn from the work.

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    One thing worth adding is that the publication is by no standard a scientific publication since the conference was nonscientific and the the proceedings papers did not undergo a proper peer review process, which is the minimum requirement for a scientific publication. Jan 15, 2013 at 15:27

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