Ayyadurai’s formaldehyde-in-GMOs claim challenged, engineer refuses verification offer

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 06: Inventor/entrepreneur Shiva Ayyadurai (L) poses with Fran Drescher as she celebrates her Cancer Schmancer Movement with DuJour's Jason Binn and SEN's Tora Matsuoka on November 6, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images for DuJour Magazine)

Perhaps the most effective way to scare consumers and regulatory agencies alike is to suggest that a certain product contains a ‘dangerous’ chemical. Even more effective? Have a scientist with four degrees from MIT — but none in food science or genetics — publish a study concluding that the food we eat every day contains formaldehyde.

Nobody wants to ingest harmful substances let alone feed them to our family, so the idea of an embalming fluid finding its way to our dinner plates sounds horrific. But that’s exactly what Dr. V.A. Shiva Ayyadurai claims.

Ayyadurai is certainly a smart and interesting person. While in high school in the early 1980s, he developed an electronic office messaging system that he dubbed EMAIL, which he copyrighted. He long claimed that he “invented” email, but that’s now widely dismissed as resume padding; we know that email took its first primitive steps in 1971, if not earlier. After the controversy unfolded, MIT disassociated itself from Ayyadurai’s EMAIL Lab and funding was dropped. MIT also revoked Ayyadurai’s contract to lecture in the bioengineering department.

Along the way, Ayyadurai received a degree in electrical engineering and computer science and later in biological engineering… He later secured a grant to study the integration of Siddha, India’s oldest system of traditional medicine with biology. Kind of woo woo. Last year, he married rabid anti-GMO activist Fran Drescher, better known as the actress who played The Nanny in the popular 1990s sitcom, in a spiritual ceremony.

Ayyadurai is now in the news after the publication earlier this month of a controversial paper, “Do GMOs Accumulate Formaldehyde and Disrupt Molecular Systems Equilibria? Systems Biology May alarming_new_evidence_GMOs_Formaldehyde_2015Provide Answers.” It was published in Agricultural Sciences. If you’ve never heard of it, that’s because it’s a low-impact “pay-for-play,” journal. Ayyadurai’s paper shows that its editorial standards are less than stringent.

Within days of lead author Ayyadurai and co-author Prabhakar Deonikar publishing the study, dozens of anti-GMO organizations, from Organic Consumers Association to GMO Inside, were hyping the paper with scaremongering headlines such as “Formaldehyde in GMO Soy?” and “New Study Shows GMO Soy Accumulates Cancer Causing Chemical Formaldehyde” with alarmist graphics to accompany them.

GMO Free USA, an anti-GMO lobbying organization, released an infographic meme declaring: “Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen. GMO soy is carcinogenic?”11755210_1058980887453334_2736665452952957029_n

Anti GMO activists are capitalizing on what’s known as “chemophobia”– irrational fear of chemicals (see book by GLP’s Jon Entine on the phenomenon, Scared to Death). Chemophobia is grounded in the simplistic, unscientific belief that chemicals are potentially dangerous simply because they are synthetic, while all things natural are chemical-free and therefore safe. So naturally, a scary-sounding chemical name can induce widespread public panic about a product or food.

The fact is that anything and everything is composed of chemicals, including all foods. A central tenet of toxicology, “the dose makes the poison” underscores the reality that everything from vitamins to Viagra can be toxic at certain levels. Take dihydrogen monoxide (DHMO), a colorless, odorless compound that causes death with inhalation, erodes metals, and is responsible for thousands of severe childhood burns every year, yet is found in almost all food and drink on the market. Pretty alarming right? But it’s a false alarm. DHMO is an unconventional term for H20, better known as water. A 1994 hoax used these scare tactics about good old water to demonstrate the need for critical thinking.

Objective vs. biased systems biology approach

A fact that likely flew under the radars of wary consumers reading the headlines following Ayyadurai’s publication? His research now celebrated by anti-GMO activists, with propaganda point work by the Fenton Communications, known for its work with anti-science activist groups, didn’t measure actual formaldehyde levels in soy. So how does a study conclude that there are dangerous levels of formaldehyde in a product without actually measuring levels of the chemical? The lay reader might gloss over the term “systems biology” in the paper’s title. Basically, the research didn’t involve testing levels in actual plants, but used data plugged into a computer algorithm to predict the presence of two chemicals found naturally in crops and food: Formaldehyde and glutathione.

In other words, it was a computer modeling study, so it “measured” what the researchers inputted. That works when the data is robust and independently verified. Otherwise the old adage applies: junk in, junk out. Systems biology can be a useful approach if employed properly, and that’s a big “if”. As explained in a recent post by Kevin Folta, a geneticist and head of the horticultural department at the University of Florida, the results from such methodology are only reliable if the data were derived from previous published work analyzed in silico, meaning performed on a computer model rather than in a living organism (in vivo) or in a test tube or petri dish (in vitro), to generate new hypotheses.

In this case, it is unclear what data were used, and where Ayyadurai sourced them. “Online databases including PuMed and Google Scholar were searched,” the paper indicated. Though Ayyadurai asserts that he aggregated data from over six thousand studies, it’s unclear what data, in particular, were plugged in to Ayyadurai’s algorithms. As Folta wrote,

“If you developed a computer program that integrated internet data to predict the location of Munich, and the program told you it was squarely in the Gulf of Mexico, right off Florida, it does not mean that Munich is in the Gulf of Mexico, right off of Florida. It means that your program, your assumptions, or your input data are wrong. These things are quite testable.”

Ayyadurai is now on a Fenton organized US tour, funded by a mystery organization, GMO Free News, a virtual organization with no clear structure or leadership but believed to be bank rolled by Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps, a key organic industry funder of the anti-GMO and mandatory labelling movements. The “GMO Free News” hosts are Kathleen Hallal, affiliated with Mom’s Across America, and Rachel Linden, linked to GMO-Free USA (an affiliate of MAA and linked to Henry Rowland’s Sustainable Pulse and GMO-Free Global campaign). In his speech at the National Press Club in Washington D.C. on July 14, Ayyadurai stated, “What we discovered was, there were two important criteria, at least from the study so far, that are very different in GMOs and non-GMOs. Particularly two chemicals, one is formaldehyde, and one is glutathione.”

Ayyadurai explained, correctly, that formaldehyde is naturally created in all plants. “The normal plant has a beautiful way of detoxifying it, it’s called formaldehyde detoxification. So in the normal case plants create formaldehyde during the process of photosynthesis, etcetera, other processes. And they also clear it.” He also explained that glutathione is an important and necessary antioxidant, helping plants and animals remove toxins and waste from their cells.

This is where Ayyadurai’s commitment to scientific objectivity apparently ended and his ideological convictions began to emerge. Genetic modification has “fundamentally modified the metabolic system of the soy,” he told reporters at the conference, a claim unsupported by either his research or any independent research. He presented no data. He went on to declare that “natural,” “normal” soy has a “beautiful way of detoxifying [formaldehyde]” while the “GMO of soy” as he called it, accumulates the chemical, presumably until it reaches to harmful levels.

Though metabolic processes of soy and other plants use myriad naturally-occurring chemicals, formaldehyde is among the big bad substances that would undoubtedly frighten the public. Kevin Folta wrote:

“If you wanted to design an experimental outcome that was scare parents and influence  political decisions, it might be effective to find something dangerous in their food.  What plant metabolite would you suggest?  Of the tens of thousands that occur in plants, nobody is going to freak out if you over-produce eugenol (the stuff that smells like clove oil) or ascorbic acid (vitamin C).  You need something scary, something evil — formaldehyde!”

The idea of even pursuing a computer model for formaldehyde in GE versus non-GE varieties is an example of confirmation bias in research design. Publishing the skewed results, à la locating Munich in the Gulf of Mexico, demonstrates that something fishy is afoot, to put it mildly.

Though the premise of the experiment itself is undermined by the flawed assumption that there are material differences between GE and non GE foods, and scientists are stepping up to respond to Ayyadurai’s misinformation campaign, much of the damage to public discourse is already done. The scare memes and articles have spread quickly across social media platforms; one article went so far as to claim that mothers are unknowingly poisoning their children.

Peer-reviewed publication plays on public panic

The EPA, along with global regulatory agencies, have concluded that formaldehyde poses no risk to humans via low-level ingestion in food but could pose harm at high exposure levels if inhaled over unusually prolonged periods of time. There is no evidence that GMO soy or any other genetically engineered plant accumulates formaldehyde at a higher level than non-GE counterparts–and the amount that does accumulate is thousands of times below levels that could conceivably pose any health risks. But that hasn’t stopped the authors from making exaggerated claims of the unique dangers of GMOs at one campaign stop after another.

In a live online Q&A hosted by GMO Free News on July 28, Ayyadurai asked rhetorically, “The real issue comes down to non-GMO vs. GMO, what’s the difference? What’s the difference between David Banner and the Hulk?” (It’s a silly analogy to the comic book legend, but Banner was transformed into the Hulk when he was exposed to an unusually high dose of gamma radiation.)

The paper claims that the concept of “substantial equivalence,” the federal guidance that dictates that a new food should be regulated as all other foods in matters of safety and nutrition if equivalent in composition to existing products, is flawed. U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulators have used the concept to determine that genetically-engineered products are inherently no different than their non GE counterparts, and thus don’t require federally-mandated labeling. That’s in line with the findings of every major scientific oversight agency in the world, which have issued a policy statement concluding that genetically engineered foods are as safe or safer than organic or other conventional alternatives, including the World Health Organization and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

No, genetically modified foods are not comparable to the “Hulk”, Banner’s mutant alter-ego. The term “GMO” refers to a set of processes collectively known as genetic modification, and not an end product. A GMO is not an ingredient that can be scooped into a jar; it’s a set of breeding techniques. The term GMO — Genetically Modified Organism — is itself fundamentally misleading. Many breeding techniques involve radically modifying the apparent “natural” state of a plant in a laboratory, such as altering a plant’s genome using chemicals or radiation — mutagenesis — and yet the food products that result from these lab manipulations can be certified and sold as organic and “non-GMO”. So why should molecular genetic engineering, the most precise way to modify a crop for a desired trait, and altering only one or a few genes versus thousands, be the only technique Ayyadurai throws under the substantial equivalence bus?

The answer appears to be ideology. Shiva Ayyadurai helped launch and serves on the board of an organization that promotes organic, non-GMO food while Fran Drescher is a rabid anti-GMO activist, who is a constant presence on social media tweeting about the dangers of modern science. And neither one of them has attempted to hide his or her bias.

Mr. and Mrs. Nanny spread their message on social media

The paper itself and online rantings from Ayyadurai and his wife Fran Drescher, who has over five hundred thousand social media followers between Twitter and Facebook, highlight the pair’s anti-ag biotech bias. For example, Ayyadurai has been flogging the narrative that genetically engineered soy has elevated formaldehyde levels:

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The impact of the unscientific fear mongering is hard to contain once it’s infected the public discussion. Though his work is skewed, blogs and some articles touting the results as fact have taken hold in the Internet. Ayyadurai’s propaganda study comes at a fortuitous time for the anti-GMO movement. It comes in the wake of a July 2 White House announcement outlining its intentions to overhaul safety and transparency of biotechnology regulation. Activists are already latching on to this study in an attempt to influence the policy debate.

In an apparent attempt to keep the momentum going, Ayyadurai has taken to Twitter, re-tweeting anti-GMO links, and demanding a debate with top Monsanto scientists.

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Numerous scientists, led by Folta, have attempted to reach out to Ayyadurai to discuss his methodology and propose rigorous testing of his thesis, but all they’ve gotten so far is crickets and censorship. Ayyadurai and anti-GMO social media admins have been deleting challenging Facebook comments, like this one from independent scientist Dr. Mary Mangan, within minutes of posting:

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After repeatedly calling anyone who dared to challenge her husband’s findings Monsanto shills, Drescher, apparently speaking on behalf of her husband, called for open and independent testing of formaldehyde and glutathione levels in GM samples. Yes, that could resolve this souped up controversy.

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But when an actual response came agreeing to take up Drescher’s challenge, her offer was withdrawn. Kevin Folta answered the call to #ShowUporShutUp by issuing The GMO Formaldehyde Challenge, in which he invited Ayyadurai to participate in university based testing of transgenic corn and soy samples, with analysis by an independent lab. Referencing Drescher’s hashtag, Folta wrote:

Let’s talk about #ShowUporShutUp. It is really simple to measure formaldehyde levels quantitatively in plant extracts. I’ve started to build a collection of materials to actually do the test. I’ll have probably a dozen soy/corn samples on hand in a week or so, both transgenic (GMO) and corresponding isolines. This way we can test the systems biology-driven hypothesis, potentially validating Ayyadurai’s findings. I was hoping to just do this on my own to not waste lots of time. However, transparency and wider involvement would be a good thing. Therefore, I’ve invited Dr. Ayyadurai via Twitter to come to [University of Florida] and do the extractions and analysis with me.

Ayyadurai has side stepped the invitation. On Tuesday, he said he would only agree to testing if there were new across-the-board standards — that he personally set up. He modestly proposed that he is willing to meet with “big agribusiness” himself to draw up these new standards. Why would Ayyadurai need to be involved in setting up “new” standards? Because, he said, only he has the expertise to establish the evaluation protocol, not the geneticists and scientists who have been working in the field for decades.

“The biologists that are approaching this have no knowledge of modern biology, and that biology is used in a lot of the [pro-GE] articles we’re seeing,” he stated. Explaining that systems biology, which he characterized as taking into account all of the complex metabolic interactions in a living cell, integrates and aggregates big data from a vast number of experiments, he continued, “These people don’t really know what biology is. Systems biology basically says you aggregate experiments.”

To paint all geneticists and biotechnology scientists with a “they don’t know what biology is” brush is simultaneously arrogant and brilliant. It casts Ayyadurai as the lone independent expert in this area of scientific inquiry. The crucial problem with his repeated assertions that scientists and science writers simply don’t understand systems biology, which he asserts is the modern biology of the post-genomic era, is that it’s not true.

Ayyadurai’s claims will be evaluated with or without his participation, Kevin Folta has told the Genetic Literacy Project. Folta expects to have samples of corn and soy within a week, and a full experimental plan is expected to be posted online. Results showing comparative levels of formaldehyde and glutathione in both GE and non GE varieties should be available shortly thereafter. The formaldehyde measurements will be contracted to an independent core facility and glutathione will be measured by either high school or undergraduate students. Folta, a public scientist who says he will pay for much of the testing himself, has been transparent on social media about the experiment, tweeting to followers after arranging for independent lab testing.

Ayyadurai’s refusal to participate in designing and performing such experiments is baffling. Why call for verification of his research predictions and then balk at following through? Will real science confirm substantial equivalence between GE and non GE plants? The answers are forthcoming. Stay tuned.

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Kavin Senapathy is a contributor at Genetic Literacy Project, Skepchick, Grounded Parents, and other sites. She is a mother of two, science popularizer, and freelance writer in Madison, WI. Contact and follow Kavin at fb.com/ksenapathy and Twitter @ksenapathy.

  • William

    Great article!

  • David Whitlock

    The paper is complete crap.

    The normal level of formaldehyde in human blood is 2.61 ppm


    That is 87,000 nM.

    If normal blood levels are ~87,000 nM, how can less than 0.1% as much in food be a health issue?

    • Jeff Leonard

      I was having trouble with that as well. Soy is not included in the this list of naturally occurring formaldehyde http://www.cfs.gov.hk/english/whatsnew/whatsnew_fa/files/formaldehyde.pdf but it seems like Ayyadurai’s estimate might be many orders of magnitude too low. Perhaps he should revisit his calc’s?

    • Tom

      If you don’t mind me asking, how did you get 87,000nM?

      I got around 500,000nM.

      2.61ug/g of blood
      ~6000g of blood in the human body
      So a of 15,660ug of formaldehyde in the blood
      That’s the same as 0.01566g
      Plugging 0.01566 into this converter:
      Gives 0.000519M

      Which is the same as 519,000nM.

      • David Whitlock

        nM is a unit of concentration, nanomoles per liter. 2.61 ppm is 2.61 micrograms/gram = 2.61 micrograms/30.03 grams/mole /g = 0.0869 micromoles/g = 86.9 micromoles/kg = 86.900 nanomoles/kg = 87,000 nanomoles per liter = 87,000 nM.

  • Jack Linton

    The paper was kind of hilarious really. Anyone who has read any legit scientific literature would know that barely any of it would have made it through editing, let alone peer review. The author forgot to mention that Ayyadurai specifically states in his paper that testing actual samples would be impossible. He even spent a bunch of time talking about how controversial the article would be. Very entertaining. Nonetheless, that software he was using sounds pretty neat. I wonder if anyone is doing anything interesting with it.

    • Aprilleigh Knapik Lauer

      There’s the rub, most people have never read any legit scientific literature. To be honest, that isn’t surprising, as it’s usually full of terminology they don’t understand and trying to read it when you don’t know what half the terms means is beyond frustrating.

    • Guest

      That’s great, “testing actual samples would be impossible”! Sorry, no one can disprove him, because he says testing is not possible! But therefor, it is also impossible to detect formaldehyde in samples (using his own logic), so no one can verify his work either! Guess we just have to take his word for it!

    • Bill

      Yes, it has been used to evaluate and predict outcomes in cardiology and visual neurosciences.

  • JohnDoe

    Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to be a sociopath and have no compunction about ripping off the ignorant and selling snake oil to whoever is buying….

    • Thomas Baldwin

      I was just thinking the same! Just come out with some outrageous conclusion about any GMO, then pay to publish or publish in a journal that won’t care about you skirting actual statistical conclusions.

      Come out with a book and tell-all or a movie the same time and it won’t matter if it’s retracted or not.

  • Carl G Craver

    And that is all I have to say about that.

  • Thomas Baldwin

    ICIS is or is not a part of MIT?

    • According to MIT, no.

      • Thomas Baldwin

        Speaking about MIT nonsense. This one is fresh off the press.

        • Michael McCarthy

          Oh, doesn’t Dr. Seneff look so lovely and happy with the wind whipping through her ears hair?

          • Thomas Baldwin

            how did you line out ears like that?

          • Michael McCarthy

            the code is strike in between . To end the strike, /strike between . Here’s a helpful guide for some different formatting options.


          • Thomas Baldwin

            Sweet! many thanks. If you listen to the podcast I posted, they are against the use of sun block. She quotes so many terrible sources.

          • Michael McCarthy

            No problem. I find it useful.
            Seneff cites terrible sources? That can’t possibly be true.

          • Peter Olins

            She also proposes that tobacco is only toxic because it’s (supposedly) treated with glyphosate! I kid you not.

          • GMO shill

            Shill money always brings a smile to ones’ face! Look how happy they are being all politically correct and everything! (What, me worry?)

  • Chad

    You say that Seralini’s last two papers were published by pay-to-play journals. Which papers would those be? Would it be the ones published by PLOS One or the ones published by Environmental Sciences Europe (a Springer journal)? PLOS and Springer are both reputable publishers.

    • Agreed, we made a mistake. Environmental Sciences Europe is a crap low end journal that was formerly open access. It has very low standards and sometimes does not peer review (as in the case of the republished Seralini article) but it does not officially fall into the category of Pay for Play/predatory journal. And PLOS One is not as well. Thanks for pointing this out.

    • Bill

      There were replies here earlier. I no longer see them but I looked up the data that was posted here. One was a link to one of the commentators being a Monsanto rep and abuser (I forget which one). I came back to find the link to Dr. Shiva’s patents and the emails were all deleted.

  • Sterling Ericsson

    The sad part of this, to me, is the damage this sort of association does to the field of systems biology. If I was a systems biologist, I would be furious with him. I mean, as the molecular biologist that I am, i’m already angry.

    • mem_somerville

      More bizarrely, when this is completely disproved–it undermines his software entirely. He’s pitching it to pharma. They are gonna laugh their butts off when they see the outcome.

      Massive fail on so many levels.

      • JoeFarmer

        Maybe he realized the fail was so unrecoverable that the only salvage value was to incite the anti-science bunch. Which has some commercial value.

        Pharmaceutical companies, not so much.

      • Benjamin Edge

        But, there is always the anti-GMO talk circuit, where debunked ideas live forever.

  • Thomas Haigh

    Great article. As a historian of IT, I’ve been involved in coordinating a similar response to Ayyadurai’s claims to have invented email. Those interested in his track record may enjoy http://www.sigcis.org/ayyadurai. AFAIK he has no current association with MIT other than as an alum.

    • db
      • Thomas Haigh

        Just this once I am going to feed a troll. The link goes to a 1980 newspaper clipping, documenting that he “created an electronic mail system with enough sophistication for immediate practice use.” So yes, he wrote a program. Here’s the interested thing. Nowhere does the story explain what an electronic mail system is. Now, if this really was the very first article ever published on the very first electronic mail system ever invented, wouldn’t the journalist maybe need to explain what this newly invented thing was? Why doesn’t it? Because, by the time Ayyadurai wrote his program, email had already been used for so long that even a local paper with a non-technical readership could assume people had heard of it.

        • Bill

          Why is everyone so hell bent against this guy? According to the Smithsonian literature, he was 14 when he invented it, was recruited to MIT at the age of 15 for the work, and the original patents at the Smithsonian in Washington. I live pretty close so am going to check them out. What is the point here, discredit him to discredit his GMO research? Rather than discredit, why not replicate the study or something similar?

    • db

      he did invent it…..check the papers….

      • Ripshed

        He created a program called “EMAIL”. He didn’t invent the actual concept of email which predated his program by about a decade or so, at least.

        • Bill

          Funny I thought I read replies to these emails that have since been deleted. I read them and looked up what had been written. Dr. Shiva Ayyadurai has patents for email and his early life history on display at the Smithsonian in Washington DC. Noam Chomsky talks about his work on youtube as well as I guess he was around back then when it happened.

      • He absolutely did not invent email. He copyrighted the word then lied that he invented the concept.

        • Bill

          You can view the patents online. Someone had posted a link to them here for some reason they are gone now. The patents are available online and apparently the originals at the Smithsonian in Washington. I don’t live too far from there so I’ll check them out when I’m there next time.

  • NotThatGreg

    “you don’t understand this field so your tests are invalid”. Hey, he could be a homeopath with that strategy.

    • Peter Vintner

      He may well be an advocate for homeopathy. Alternative-reality types tend to espouse anything that isn’t perceived as “establishment” – no matter how contradictory or divorced from reality.

  • Kirk McAllister

    In a properly ordered world (yeah, never is), this paper could end up being the “jumped the shark” event for the anti-GMO movement. No testing of physical plants — only Dr. Ayyadurai has the ability to actually measure formaldehyde levels — WTF! At many levels, this paper represents the most disingenuous crap to emerge from the anti-GMO movement since … well, maybe nothing. No amount of Sriracha hides the fetid taste of this concoction.

    At some point, some of the elements of the “mainstream” national media need to not only recognize the valid science behind transgenic technology, but also to call out the anti-GMO movement for such patently disingenuous nonsense. There’s no reason this shouldn’t be the time.

  • kenthefitter

    I find his attempt to link/combine Siddha, or any other ‘traditional’ types of treatments (I won’t call them medicine), with real medicine to be disturbing. It certainly lowers his credibility. I, personally, find that any system of treatments that uses ground up rhino horn as a treatment for erectile dysfunction (for an example) to be less than credible.
    I am also not surprised to find out that Fran Drescher’s obnoxious screeching is not confined to the entertainment (?) field.

  • Tom

    EFSA: “Endogenous formaldehyde turnover in humans compared with exogenous contribution from food sources”


  • Ariadne Caballera

    Good article, except for calling Fran Drescher “rabid” each time you talked about her, and calling the pair “Mr. and Mrs. Nanny.” You were convincing enough using science and logic without resorting to such emotionalism.

  • Larkin Curtis Hannah

    When is this guy scheduled for the Dr. Oz show?

  • crush davis

    I love it. The antis were all in on this one, thinking this would finally topple the giant. Nice try, losers. The only giant that will get knocked down is your anti-transgenic Ozymandius, and your fraudulent claims. It can’t happen too soon.

  • Benjamin Edge

    Notice how GMO Free USA carefully phrases their memes: “Study suggests” even though there is no data to suggest or confirm the claims. We just have the claims of the “study.” Then “GMO Soy is Carcinogenic?”, suggesting that GM soy is carcinogenic without actually saying it. They know these will be taken up by the public and other web sites and morphed into “New study says GMO soy causes cancer!” But when the claims are eventually shown to be totally without merit, GMO Free USA can say “We never said that.”

    • Bill

      All scientists say “suggest” as they are trained to know there is always a ‘chance’ something could be off. That’s good science without frivolous claims.

      • Benjamin Edge

        You totally miss the point. It is good science to say that something is suggested by the data, WHEN THERE IS DATA to support it. That is not the same thing as saying glyphosate was mentioned in this paper, cancer was mentioned in another paper, and that suggests there is a connection between glyphosate and cancer. When your data is inconclusive, you might say it suggests something for further research. Just because this guy creates a computer program with no calibration or validation, does not suggest anything, except that he is clueless about how research is done.

  • Peter Olins

    I love it! Another computer scientist from Boston with no actual data (hint: Stephanie Sennef) thinks he understands biology. I tried to read his paper, but all I could conclude is that he has developed a system for stringing together multi-syllabic words. (Could this be a Turing Test?).

    What strikes me is the lack of curiosity about whether his ideas are actually true. Formaldehyde is easy to measure, so why didn’t he team up with an actual research scientist to find out? He claims to be an expert on Email, so why doesn’t he email any of the dozens of people who might test his idea? He could have even, heaven-forbid, used a phone.

  • Dr. ASC

    The authors is one illiterate idiot who does not understand science. I have a PhD in Medicinal Chemistry and an MS in Bio-organic. So what is the focus of your article–to critique a paper or to rubbish someone who may be genuinely trying to stir a food safety debate? Its not a pro-GMO or an Anti-GMO question. It is about raising a well-founded concern in hows and whys of an obvious lack of transparency in conducting trials of so called “substantially equivalent” food products. If you conduct a Pubmed search, you will find a ton of articles attesting to the nutritional deficiencies of GMOs–as against non-GMOs. Your blatant display of attempting to malign those practicing scientific freedom displays a basic lack of understanding of how scienc
    e should operate.

  • Sandman123

    Anybody notice that at about 9 days the formaldehyde leveled off? and then what happened? I bet it was completely gone (if it ever was there) by the time any soy beans began to grow. The paper has no relationship to any real growing cycle.

  • Chris Day

    Shh, don’t tell Ayyadurai that ‘natural’ potatoes have neurotoxins in them.

  • Jessica Wopat

    As you may have heard by now, “lead scientist” Kevin Folta has been widely discredited as having accepted bribes from Monsanto and basically writing anything they ask him to.

    • agscienceliterate

      Wrong. Kevin Folta, who is a highly respected university professor and biotech research scientist, accepted $25,000 from Monsanto for educational purposes, which included travel and some sandwiches. Not a dime went into his pocket. Did you get that?He does not write anythingd they (or anyone else) asks him to. And, BTW, all that money was returned after all the garbage hoopla from people like you who demonize scientists like Folta, but you blindly turn the other way when organic shills like Charles Benbrook and Vandana Shiva line their own pockets with hundreds of thousands of dollars to misrepresent GE technology because they get paid through Big Organic, which is a $40 Billion / year industry. So, are you being a hypocrite here, Jessica?

    • Diana Pena

      Kevin Folta took $25,000 from Monsanto for his outreach budget. None went into his bank account. He also gave the money away to the food pantry at his school because morons like you would jump at the opportunity to discredit him.

  • A career scientist

    So my question, as a PhD biochemist currently working in pharmaceutical research, is where are Folta’s followup experimental results? Are these available for me to scrutinize? Because honestly, you spend a good chunk of this article trying to discredit not only Ayyadurai, but even the peer-reviewed journal his systems biology model was published in. That’s sort of like the pot calling the kettle black– what top-tier peer-reveiwed journals has Monsanto published in? References, please. It never ceases to amaze me how big corporate science likes to discredit peer-reviewed science while peddling their own internal data as gospel, and nvincing government bodies of its validity. No wonder no one trusts big Ag. No wonder.

    • gmoeater

      You didn’t read the article. Folta asked Ayyadurai to jointly participate in a study, in order to test Ayyadurai’s debunked woo claims. It’s up to Ayy to document his claims, not Folta.
      But then, you’re a big corporate Monsanto hater, so logic isn’t gonna have much impact.
      And his claims peer-reviewed? Where?
      I find it really a laff that someone who is employed by what many anti-corporate conspiracists call “Big Pharma” bashing “Big corporate science.” Get a grip.