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GLP Infographic: All GMO research is industry funded? Biofortified analysis sets record straight

| | November 26, 2014

Those who follow the issue of genetically engineered crops have heard claims that there is little independent research on their safety for consumption or the environment. A new public database of research tells a different story. The resource is the GENetic Engineering Risk Atlas (GENERA). The results, represented on the graphic below jointly developed by Biology Fortified, Inc. (BFI), an independent tax-exempt non-profit and Jon Entine’s the Genetic Literacy Project, show that independent peer-reviewed research on GMOs is common, conducted worldwide, and based on a random sampling makes up half of the total of all research on risks associated with genetic engineering.GENERA Map

GENERA is a searchable database of peer-reviewed scientific studies on the relative risks of genetically engineered crops. The database includes important details at-a-glance to help people find and learn about the science of GMOs. GENERA has now entered its beta-testing phase with the first 400 out of over 1,200 studies that have been curated.

The mission of BFI, popularly known as Biofortified, is to strengthen the public discussion of issues in biology, with particular emphasis on genetics and genetic engineering in agriculture. Founded in 2008 as a scientist-run information resource and public forum, Biology Fortified does not accept funding from industry sources, and is instead funded by the contributions of readers and grants.

Dr. Karl Haro von Mogel, Chair and co-Director of BFI, said that people are looking for independent information about GMOs. “People are looking for sources that they can trust that can help them find unbiased information about genetic engineering, but in a politically-charged debate, unbiased sources are difficult to find. We’ve been recognized for our independent expertise on this subject, so it was only natural that we should take a project like this on.”

GENERA started as a list of studies to show people how much research has been conducted on GMOs, however the members of BFI quickly recognized that something better was needed. To begin work on GENERA, BFI was awarded a peer-reviewed grant from the American Society of Plant Biologists (ASPB) Educational Foundation in 2012. The Atlas was developed during 2013 and 2014. BFI enlisted the help of a team of awesome volunteers who tracked down and entered the details of hundreds of studies into the Atlas.

Journalists, scientists, public officials, and anyone else can use GENERA to search for research on the effectiveness of using genetic engineering to modify the genetics of plants, and can find studies that compare GMOs to non-GMOs to see if they are equivalent. Studies conducted on the safety of consuming genetically engineered foods and their impacts on the environment are also included in the Atlas.

“We’ve made it really easy for people to find the information they are looking for in the Atlas,” said Dr. Anastasia Bodnar, co-director of BFI. “Every study has a page that tells you all about who did the research and in what countries, what crops and traits were studied, and who funded it.” Each study page also posts the results of the research, said Bodnar. “We read the studies so you don’t have to – and we have links to the studies so you can read them if you want to!”

GENERA also offers users a unique opportunity to look at the results of hundreds of studies at once with a built-in chart feature. After doing a search, users can turn that search into a chart of the selected studies to look at their results, funding sources, or almost any other attribute they want. The site currently includes two tutorials and a glossary of terms to help visitors learn how to use these features.

The team at BFI is already seeing patterns in the research. Out of the first 400 randomly-selected studies available in the GENERA beta test, half of them are funded entirely by government agencies and independent nonprofit organizations. Before the project began, rough estimates placed them at just a third of the research. And the government-funded research is worldwide in scope – concentrated in Europe and Asia, followed by North America and Australia. These findings should turn the heads of people who thought it was skewed to private, U.S.-based laboratories.

“Not all of our results are surprising,” said Bodnar. “Systematic reviews have concluded that genetically engineered crops are safe to eat, and when you look at the results collected in GENERA, it agrees with that conclusion.”

The Atlas is a work-in-progress, and BFI needs help to complete the project. Anyone can volunteer to help the project – you do not have to be a scientist to make a valuable contribution. Tax-deductible donations will help fund the maintenance and development of the Atlas. Even just trying out the resource and answering a brief survey will be a big help to the project.

Visit the GENERA website at genera.biofortified.org

XiaoZhi Lim is a writer/editor with the Genetic Literacy Project.

51 thoughts on “GLP Infographic: All GMO research is industry funded? Biofortified analysis sets record straight”

  1. Thank you for this resource. I hope that it will be well utilized. It is time for dialogue on this subject, not propaganda. The positive potential of GMO technology overall is mind-boggling. It is beyond time that we inform ourselves.

    Specifically with food, addressing world hunger will continue to be accomplished cooperatively via the knowledge-base established by research scientists and the labors of our farmers.

    Not by the wishes of Miss America contestants. (e.g.)…

    • More pro-GMO nonsense. We have a negative population growth in the Western world, and there is simply no need for GMO products. We already have plenty of non-GMO products to choose between, and are there really any people starving in USA or Europe because a general shortage of food? No!
      This supposedly need for GMO products is based upon lies and propaganda from an industry that’s more concerned with making money than health risks. Once these GMOs are put out there, they are spreading uncontrolled into the wildlife, and there is no going back. As far as the controlling bodies in the US (EPA, FDA etc.), they have all been infiltrated by GMO industry insiders. The whole is a joke.
      Right now USA is trying to push for more GMOs in Europe, especially through Ukraine. – Products people neither want nor need, and we’ll make sure the message is heard loud and clear if USA continues pushing this crap on us.
      As far as feeding the poor, the GMO industry has already infiltrated various poor country through bribes and corruption – so again this argument about we need more GMO to address world hunger is just BS. And oh, because GMO farming uses more chemicals, it affects soil quality and produces smaller crops over time. The opposite of what the GMO industry is promosing. Not to mention polluting ground water, weed/insect resistance etc…etc…

        • There is no respectful dialogue in reality. Normal citizens and farmers have less and less of a choice. Ask the farmers in Hawaii who wanted non-GMO farming, did they have a choice? Ask the consumers in the US (the GMO-industry fights food-labelling), do they have a real choice? USA is constantly scheming behind the scenes to force GMO on Europe, through legislatian that gives more power to supranational bodies like EFSA. GMOs are spreading uncontrolled and contaminating non-GMO farms. Do we consumers, or even sovereign countries have a real choice in the upcoming years? It’s time for people to log out from Facebook, and start connecting with the real world and oppose USA pushing potentially harmful products WHICH WE DON’T NEED – before it’s too late.

          • USA made opening up a Monsanto office and lifting the ban for GMO-production a prerequisite for the Ukrainian IMF loan. So now it seems USA might have a back door into GMO testing and farming in EU, against EUs wishes. If you want to wear blinders (ignoring all the issues with GMO-farming) and join the GMO-cult, that’s a shame. This is about a cynical business taking over the food production bit by bit, with products tested and approved by a rigged insider-controlled system. It’s time to say “NO”!

          • Hunger? The Western world has a negative population growth. Have you heard of anyone dying of starvation in Europe because of a shortage of food? No, don’t think so.. So there should be even less need for GMO in the future. Poor third world countries already have GMO, because the GMO industry pays off the corrupt governments. You sound like a strawman to me.

          • Hunger looks different in the modern world homey. It’s not manifested by the gauntness of the past, but with obesity. However, both are symptoms of malnutrition, and can lead to fatal consequences and astronomical healthcare, security and human costs. Yes, even in the EU. http://www.nationalgeographic.com/foodfeatures/hunger/

            If clinging to self-righteousness is more important to you than fact finding, then I’d say you sound very much like a flawedman to me.

          • But GMO farming typically uses more chemicals, which affects soil quality and the level of nutrients in the fruits/vegetables. Come on, your arguments are nonsensical. To combat obesity we need to grow more GMOs? Are you serious? What about attacking the crappy American food? What about banning High fructose corn syrup, which is more unhealthy than sugar (banned in the EU)? What about unnecessary and unhealthy adiditives in food? What about reducing the size of the meals in American resturants and fast food chains (American portions are much larger than what you’ll find in a typical European country)? So your answer is more GMOs? Gee, that makes sense…not.
            Btw. yes, we have negative growth in the ethnical population. Fact.

          • No. It doesn’t. The Ask the Farmers site (www.askthefarmers.com) is discussing that perception just today regarding seed choice. Come on over. There are many types of operations represented (organic, conventional etc.) each experts on why they grow the way they do!

          • My. God. Sir.
            So what you’re saying is : all this time I’ve been muddying the waters, by engaging in dialogue, with experts. Like farmers or the scientists at GLP, And all the answers are to be found by a “quick google search”?! Astounding.
            Its a wonder they’re not awarding advanced degrees or nobel prizes in googlesearchology! That’d show those snobby hard scientists. Bet they thought the battlelines were only drawn with the biblesearchology crowd! Ha!

          • Also, not sure where you’re getting your “negative population growth” from. You must be a better counter than the census. http://www.census.gov/popclock/

            Add that in the U.S., farmers make up only 2% of the population, and are on average are 58 years old (see the U.S. Ag Census). I think we have a recipe for disaster.

          • “Farmers who wanted non-GMO farming in Hawaii” is a load of bull. It’s mainland-based activists, trust fund babies who’ve never worked a day in their life, and developers who are behind the anti-GMO/pesticide/agriculture push there.

            For those who want to know more about the anti-gmo movement in Hawaii, go to kauaieclectic.blogspot.com or hawaiifarmersdaughter.com.

  2. GENERA does not supply any examples of SAFETY studies for human consumption done in SA as your map suggests – I would also suggest that author affiliations are reviewed before making statements such as “Independent” studies.

    • This was addressed in a reply to your other post. Just mentio0ningit in the unlikely event that somebody will see this post you made, but not the other one, an conclude nobody refuted you.

  3. Scientists for the South African ‘independent’ studies quoted work for CSIR and they have known business links to Syngenta – please check your facts before publishing misleading information on ‘Independent’ studies on GMO safety issues – please supply independent examples of this in South Africa – you make the claim so please supply the studies

    • GRASSConsumer,

      Thanks for the input. To respond to the statement you made that misleading information was presented about studies in our Atlas, taking a closer look at the study does not support your case.
      http://genera.biofortified.org/view/Barros2010
      The study was funded by the South African Department of Science and Technology, and the authors are all University faculty. No industry affiliation was declared for the authors in question. While you are correct that we should keep other affiliations in mind when thinking about research independence, you are making the mistake of assuming that the authors from CSIR have a financial stake in the outcome of the research because other people at the same organization collaborate with Syngenta. In fact, the study in question evaluated genetically engineered varieties made by Monsanto, not Syngenta. For several reasons, your smear of the scientists and the study in question is wrong.
      Finally, the study made a detailed comparison between different varieties of maize, genetically engineered and not, to see if there were detectable differences in gene expression or composition. This kind of research does in fact have implications for safety, and while it did not involve feeding the maize to any animals and measuring their response, it did conclude that the genetically engineered maize was equivalent to non-GE maize, and that growing maize in different environments had the largest impact on its traits.
      Please check your facts before you dismiss scientific research in the future.

  4. This is a great article, providing information on a fantastic, objective, pro-GMO resource!

    However, I must take issue with Dr. von Mogel who believes, “people are looking for independent information about GMOs.” They most certainly are not, anymore than they’re looking for information on the inner-workings of their smart-phones.

    As Dr. Jay Lehr, Dr. Klaus Ammann and I point out in a recent article, the overwhelming majority of consumers are perfectly happy with the status quo on GMOs and do not require any more information whatsoever.

    http://www.consumeraffairs.com/news/remind-me-again-who-wants-gmo-labeling-082514.html

    Still, a great article for those of us who defend GMOs on a daily basis!

      • And you are a phony. You use a phony name, and your Disqus profile is closed so no one can learn anything about you.

        You have claimed to work for an oil company, and for the United States Navy. Which one is the truth?

        • Wow. One would think that getting banned for trolling one one site would be enough for you.

          Well, you forgot everything I said when I answered these questions to you before. Only trolls act like that. Case closed.

          I’m an engineer. Engineers are relatively portable. (We don’t need to make up credentials like historians like you do, to get a job.)

      • Oh, how I wish that were the case … people with actual intellectual, open-minded curiosity. Actually, there are some, whose mental doors have not slammed shut with hype and preconceived ideas about biotech.

        This is a great article with helpful resources re: independent studies.

          • Not sure counterattacking organic activists directly means much … their opinion won’t change, any more than climate change deniers’ opinions will change. They have their factoids and are stickin’ to ’em.

            I was thinking that the “thinking public” should be educated so that they don’t fall into the hype and mythology and anti-science and “shill-screeching” tactics of the organic activists. I know a few colleagues of mine (with open, curious minds) have educated themselves about biotech, which gives me hope. And these people (including myself) won’t continue to buy the organic hype and “shill” accusations.

            I, too, would love to be a paid shill! I asked Monsanto and Syngenta and the rest if they’d pay me to support biotech, and they said they didn’t need my help, Thankyouverymuch. So I went to the organic guys, since I constantly tell people who are “afraid” of biotech to just buy organic

          • but the organic guys told me to p*$$ off. Gee. I could really use the money. Can’t anyone hire me as a shill?

          • their opinion won’t change

            It is a religion to them, you would have just as much luck trying to convince the creationist that evolution is real.

          • Oh, you know, the truth about GMOs which apparently isn’t allowed to be known because independent studies on them are illegal.

    • Ha! ha! Before I even finished reading Mischa’s statement, I said to myself, “I betcha a vanilla hazelnut latte that one of the next three comments is gonna accuse him of being a paid shill!” I win!

      • Enjoy! I’ve argued with him before. He makes about as much sense as a bag of squirrels. He constantly changes his story, and invents new garbage, and he’ll go on forever. He also has a toady (Sock Puppet?) that follows him around.

        In short he lies like a cheap suit.

  5. More pro-GMO propaganda. We have a negative population growth in the Western world, and there is simply no need for GMO products. We already have plenty of non-GMO products to choose between, and are there people starving in USA or Europe because of a general shortage of food? No!
    This supposed need for GMO is based upon lies and propaganda from an industry that’s more concerned with making money than our health. Once these GMOs are put out there, they are spreading uncontrolled into the wildlife, and there is no going back. As far as the controlling bodies in the US (EPA, FDA etc.), they have all been infiltrated by GMO industry people (google “Monsanto revoling door”). The whole system is one big corrupt joke.

    Right now USA is trying to push for more GMOs in Europe, through secret TTIP negotations and as loan requirements for Ukraine. These are products people and farmers neither want nor need, and we’ll make sure our message is heard loud and clear if USA continues to try pushing this crap on us.
    As far as feeding the poor, the GMO industry has already infiltrated various poor countries through bribes and corruption, so again this argument about more GMO to address world hunger as a way to push GMO upon Americans and Europeans is pure BS. And oh, because GMO farming uses more chemicals, it affects soil quality and produces smaller crops over time – the opposite of what the GMO industry is promising. Most GMOs are created to withstand more chemicals (produced and sold by the GMO industry of course). GMO farming also pollutes ground water, and creates weed/insect resistance (which forces farmers to use even more chemicals). No thanks!

  6. Look, we all know who funds this site, so stop fronting like you own science. If you want this agenda to succeed, you’ve got to stop saying that your science is the only real science. We all know that’s silly. The average person is becoming skeptical of some industry science because there are so many sites like this that give it bad name. Anti gmo people may be somewhat Anti Science, however prolabeling people are just natural (and understandable) skeptics. Respect your audience a little more and I think you’ll have better results.

  7. Showing that 198 out of 400 “randomly selected” studies were funded by government does Not show that almost half of all studies of GMO’s were randomly selected. That “Random Selection” was by “Biology Fortified”, an extremely biased organization. (There so-called “mascot” is Frank N. Foode, a pure propaganda tool created to make Gmo’s familiar, fun, and lovable.) There are only some thousands of studies of GMO’s existant. Of those studies you wish to credit as being legitimate, how many of them are from government? This should not be hard to determine. Your point, as made, I’m sorry, is phoney. Not scientific.

  8. Since when did government-sponsored research become “independent”? Does the author not realize that the U.S. government is Monsanto Occupied Territory?

  9. i see we have plenty of pro gmo shills on this website and in the comments section below. THe ask the farmers website is a gmo propaganda site btw and meanwhile in reality of recent we have an M.i.t. professor weighing in. Watch the shills go to work against this evidence.

    MIT Professor Stephanie Seneff: “I Have Evidence That Monsanto’s Roundup Causing Cancer!”

    http://investmentwatchblog.com/mit-professor-stephanie-seneff-i-have-evidence-that-monsantos-roundup-causing-cancer/

  10. An organization being “non – profit” merely means that this organization itself was not created for any profit obtained from it’s actions to go to the organization. The organization cannot DIRECTLY sell any products to make money.

    Most industry front groups are “nonprofits.” However they serve to increase the profits of their parent corporations.

    “Nonprofit” is a highly exploitable term. It generates images of charities, of hope for the poor, of hope for the starving.

    But in reality the term has become virtually meaningless because corporations know how to use unintended interpretations of the word -and other words- to obtain more profit. It’s all about profit, you see. Poor people don’t matter to a corporation if they don’t buy their products or somehow make the corporation more wealthy (I.E. forced taxes used to subsidize them.)

    Almost all universities and “independent nonprofit organizations” which have conducted studies on GMOs were funded by a major chemical, biotech or biochemical company. It’s absolutely disgusting.

  11. I haven’t seen research that has considered GMO risks other than the safety of the food itself. GMOs can be used to enable much higher use of herbicides. Some of the herbicide can enter the food chain, not necessarily through the GMO food, and it can be devastating to biodiversity. GMOs can increase production while decreasing soil health. GMOs can be used to squeeze small farmers out of business, especially in the third world.

    • All unfounded gloom and doom propaganda.

      Herbicides, themselves, are closely managed to contain them within the immediate environment, to keep within reasonable exposures and to assure residues remain within tolerances. Their movement through the food chain is also taken into consideration, as are any effects upon “biodiversity”. The naive notion of “enabling much higher use” is absurd. What benefit would be derived by using an herbicide irresponsibly and ineffectively? Instead a different herbicide would be selected. Common sense to anyone who has any sense at all.

      GE crops can, indeed, increase production. When that is their intent the need for corresponding soil resources is considered. To do otherwise would be counter productive. If farmers were in the habit of destroying their soils we would all have been out of business generations ago. Instead our farms are more productive than ever before. Rumors of the death of our soils are grossly exaggerated. Only a complete fool would permit himself to be suckered into believing such obviously bogus foolishness as you stated, Daniel..

      Genetic engineering technology is size neutral, that is if a “small farmer” plants a GE seed and manages that plant correctly and a “large farmer” likewise plants the same GE seed and manages that plant correctly the resulting plants will be virtually identical in performance. Small and medium sized farms succeed with GE plants all the time, as do large farms. The preposterous notion that “small farms” are damaged in any way by size neutral technologies of this sort is asinine. Doubt that? Just pause and take a close look at the frauds and crackpots who feed you full of such nonsense, then consider how they use you as their tool to spread their rumors.

      Time to mature your thinking process, Daniel, instead of taking the lazy way out and inviting cranks and snake oil salesmen to jerk you around by the hair and do your thinking for you. Years ago it was commonly said ‘a mind is a terrible thing to waste’…that remains true today.

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