A friend handed me a newsletter from a prestigious university–specifically their school of Nutrional Science and Policy. The headline article– “Should you Worry about GMOs?” She looked imploringly at me, “What am I supposed to think?” She obviously knows how I feel about genetically modified food.
She underlined pertinent passages like–
“ No harm has been demonstrated with ingestion of these foods from genetically modified plants… The opposition, while raising questions of safety, has actually been cultural rather than scientific. Even arguments against GMOs on environmental impacts have not been supported empirically,” according to the Dean of the school.
Or the AMA, the WHO, the FDA, the alphabet soup of agencies all say they are safe.
As I took a moment to read the whole article, it read like a counterargument written by Monsanto discounting critics…each criticism deflected point, counter-point.
Based on this article, no doubt most readers now truly believe GMOs are safe. So did my friend, and while I can play the same game arguing conversely, point, counter-point with the assertions of the article, I am Mara and her source… a Dean of a prestigious school of nutritional science. I completely understand her deferring to the Dean.
However, I asked her to give me time to research. Something did not seem kosher. Perhaps I have read one too many conspiracies, but in the world of GMOs and pharmaceuticals for that matter, if it seems like propaganda, then it most likely is propaganda. Look for industry ties. Follow the money…
And I found my answer on page 45 of a Monsanto marketing brochure. This Dean served on Monsanto’s Board of Advisors. http://www.monsanto.com/SiteCollectionDocuments/CSR_Reports/MonsantoPledgeReport-2005.pdf Bingo! I read the article again, looking for disclosure, but of course it was not there.
My friend was shocked and now lovingly calls me smarty pants. What she doesn’t realize, I would give anything for the Dean’s words to be true…to be able to trust him as a credible source. Oh how I wish this was an isolated incident, but it is not.
This story is repeated constantly in the world of GMOs. This may be a small, but egregious example, but how about the recent retraction of the French Seralini GMO study?
In 2012, French scientists released a long term study of GMOs published in the Journal of Food and Chemical Toxicology. The study tracked the health of rats–some fed BT corn, some fed food treated with Round Up herbicide, some fed Round Up water, but no GMO corn and a control group where they were fed neither the GMO corn or Round Up.
“…severe toxic effects (including liver congestions and necrosis and kidney nephropathies), increased tumor rates and higher mortality in rats fed Monsanto’s genetically modified NK603 maize and/or the associated herbicide Roundup.” 
Just look at the pictures above of rats from the study. They speak volumes.
As you can imagine, the Seralini study created quite a stir and an immediate backlash. Threatened, Monsanto and cronies attacked.
Seralini used the wrong rats although they were the same rats used in Monsanto funded studies. His results were inconclusive. Yet his results based on two years of testing were quite dramatic, particularly, compared to Monsanto’s studies that only lasted 3 months. Interestingly, Seralini noticed adverse health effects around 4 months. Even Monsanto’s studies found effects to the liver and kidneys by 3 months, but dismissed them as biologically insignificant. Did Monsanto limit their studies to 90 days because they knew the probable outcomes of a longer study?
Even scientists within the FDA suspected as much from the beginning. Back in 1998, attorney Steven Druker sued the FDA questioning the legality of GMOs. During discovery, he uncovered 44,000 FDA internal documents. According to these documents, many FDA scientists voiced concerns urging department superiors to order further testing. But THAT TESTING NEVER happened. Instead the FDA stuck to the party line written by Monsanto– GMO seeds are the substantial equivalent to conventional seeds, therefore no further testing required AND… that is not likely to change. Thanks to Obama, our Deputy Commissioner for Food at the FDA a.k.a. the “Food Safety Tsar” is… Michael Taylor–a man who worked for Monsanto for years!!!
Everywhere you turn, everyone seems to have ties to Monsanto. Well, everyone who claims GMOs are safe– the Dean of the illustrious university, Michael Taylor, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas (he worked for Monsanto), even Hilary Clinton’s old law firm, The Rose Law firm used to represent Monsanto. The list goes on and on. See for yourself: (Double click to enlarge)
However, tragically we are somewhat numb as a society these days to politicians with private agendas. Self serving seems to be synonymous with government, but science? No way. Science is sacred.
Yet when scientific fact, like the Seralini study, is discredited or undermined because the outcome is not to someone’s liking, all of science is in jeopardy. Going forward, how will we know a study is fact or manipulated to produce desired outcomes? How will we be able to assess credibility?
Generally there are strict guidelines for retraction– misconduct, fabrication or honest error, plagiarism, unethical research. Yet, in the case of the Seralini GMO study, these guidelines were completely ignored. The only reason cited for retraction was inconclusive results. However, in science how often are results CONCLUSIVE?! This is never grounds for retraction! Even the Editor of the Journal, Dr. A Wallace Hayes, admitted the paper did not meet any of these criteria. He found no evidence of fraud or intentional misrepresentation of the data.
Adding to the suspicion and as some like to call it– the conspiracy, around the time of the retraction, the Journal created a new position, Editor of Biotechnology and hired Dr. Goodman. Dr. Goodman’s first decision as editor was to retract the study.
It does not take long to connect the dots, to see the conspiracy. Look how quickly I uncovered the Dean’s ties to Monsanto and like the Dean and countless others in positions of authority, it turns out, Dr. Goodman is also hardly impartial. He too worked for Monsanto from 1997-2004 and then with GMO lobbyists and still does today. Bingo! I think I smell a rat…
“Should you worry about GMOs?” The truth? We really don’t know. It seems our scientific community has not done their homework or what little homework they did is certainly not enough or credible considering the ENORMITY OF THE SITUATION AND THE STAKES—i.e. our lives!! 80% of our food in the US is genetically modified!!
While there are many other independent studies linking cancer and other health consequences to GMO foods as well as a petition signed by 300 European scientists questioning the safety of GMO foods, if you were to make a choice between the 2 year independent, but “retracted” Seralini study or Monsanto’s 3 month study, which would you choose? Which would you stake your life on?
Me, personally? Retracted or not, the Seralini study has merit and should not be ignored. I never take chances with my family’s health and well being.
As 2013 comes to an end, I look ahead to the new year and I pray 2014 will be a year of transparency, integrity and many, many very credible independent studies on GMOS.
Wishing you a healthy and happy New Year!
Séralini, G.-E., Clair, E., Mesnage, R., Gress, S., Defarge, N., Malatesta, M., Hennequin, D., de Vendômois, J.S.: Long term toxicity of a Roundup herbicide and a Roundup-tolerant genetically modified maize, Food and Chemical Toxicology 50 (11), pp. 4221-4231 (2012)