The Noah Project

Rebuilding a sustainable world.

Opposition to GMO’s Growing Around the World – Cont’d.

4 Comments

A reader pointed me to an article by Jon Entine,  published by the American Enterprise Institute, that questions the methodology used by Séralini to conclude that rats fed genetically modified corn developed grotesque tumors.  I’ve posted an excerpt from the article below.  You can find the entire article here.

The study concluded, controversially, that rats fed corn genetically modified for herbicide resistance (NK603), with or without the herbicide, Monsanto’s Roundup, developed grotesque tumors—findings that contradict known studies, dozens of them, published to date.

More than two dozen scientists from around the world co-signed a stinging rebuke of the Séralini study, concluding: “We appeal to you to subject the paper to rigorous re-review by appropriate experts and promptly retract it if it fails to meet widely held scientific standards of design and analysis, as we believe it fails to do.”

Séralini and his seven co-authors mount their own defense in Food and Chemical Toxicology. They dismissed most of the criticism as coming from industry sympathizers or corporate scientists, claiming they had “no right to review the results” because of their alleged conflicts of interest. They produced a chart to respond to some of the criticisms, and offered more substantive responses on some issues, for example defending the choice of a rat strain prone to tumors. They reiterated their refusal to release their raw data, yet concluding, defiantly, “GM NK603 and R cannot be regarded as safe as long as their safety is not proven by further investigations.”

Another study conducted by Australian and U.S. researchers and published in the Journal of Organic Systems found:

“…few statistically significant differences between the two groups after comparing them based on nearly 20 different parameters, including weight gain, stomach ulcers and kidney abnormalities. The GM-fed pigs did, however, show significantly higher rates of “severe” stomach inflammation, as well as an average of 25 percent heavier uteri in relation to body weight.”

Here’s the number the study’s authors highlight as most concerning: 23 GM pigs had severely inflamed stomachs, while only 9 non-GM did. That much of a difference is a red flag deserving of further study, said Michael Hansen, Ph.D., senior scientist for Consumers Union.

This study, too, is mired in controversy based on the methodology used.  The point of contention “lies in the potential variance in nutritional composition between the GM and non-GM grain fed to the pigs in the study.”

 Because of patent-holder restrictions, the researchers were required to buy each type of feed from retail distributors, as opposed to growing the feed in a controlled environment.

According to the study’s authors, the GM corn and soy used in the study were considered compositionally and substantially equivalent to the non-GM varieties by government agencies. But the lack of a controlled feed-growing environment potentially calls the results into question, according to Kent Bradford, Ph.D., director of the Seed Biotechnology Center at the University of California, Davis.

“These are different products,” Bradford told Food Safety News. “For example, soy beans can have a wide range of phytoestrogens. The amount varies widely by production.”

And here we come to the grist of the matter:

Anyone who buys GM seeds is required to sign a technology stewardship agreement that says, in part, that they cannot perform research on the seed. Without express permission from the biotech patent-holder, scientists and farmers risk facing lawsuits for conducting any studies.

“Any study you want to do with these engineered crops, you need to get the company’s permission,” Hansen said. “Could you imagine if tobacco research was only done when the tobacco companies had the final say?”

In July 2009, a group of 26 public sector scientists wrote to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to complain about the restrictions imposed on them by the patent holders of GM seeds. In part, they said critical questions regarding GM foods could not be answered without more research freedom, which has still not been established.

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Author: Daniela

I was born in Croatia, at that time Yugoslavia. My family moved to the US when I was very young, but I still treasure the memories of my grandfather teaching me how to protect myself against the "evil eye," my grandmother shopping early every morning, at the open air market, to buy the freshest vegetables for the day's meals, and the traditions that were the underpinnings of our society. Someone once noted that "For all of us that want to move forward, there are a very few that want to keep the old methods of production, traditions and crafts alive." I am a fellow traveler with those who value the old traditions and folk wisdom. I believe the knowledge they possess can contribute significantly to our efforts to build a more sustainable world; one that values the individual over the corporation, conservation over growth and happiness over wealth.

4 thoughts on “Opposition to GMO’s Growing Around the World – Cont’d.

  1. I’d like to reblog this or link to it. Before I do that, please would you check the link to Dr Entine’s article? That link seems to be broken.

    Am I the reader you mention? If so, I’m honoured. The closing point – alleging that biotech companies control research – is important. If true, it means they’re gagging scientists. I hope to research more about this allegation.

    • Yes, you were the reader! And thanks again for the input and the readership. I fixed the link and checked it. It should work fine. If the problem still persists, please let me know.

      When you post your research, please send me a link so I can reblog on this site. I’m very interested in your point of view. From my standpoint, the possible health and environmental risks these seed cause is just one issue, although potentially a very important one. My biggest objection is that a handful of corporations are trying to monopolize the world’s food supply. And I don’t think that’s an overstatement. You posted an article recently that these modified seeds were not living up to their hype. They do not produce greater yields, they do not reduce the amount of pesticides required to grow them and they are responsible for the development of superweeds and pesticide resistant bugs. In their greed to make ever greater profits, they are reducing crop diversity which makes the world more, not less vulnerable to famine. I think, contrary to their public statements, these companies, like so many large international corporations, are primarily interested in their short-term profits and not the long term effects of their products.

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