For studies on GMO food safety, does length matter?

Anti-GMO activists have long demanded that scientist extend the duration of animal studies to evaluate the risks of genetically modified food and feed. In 2013, writer Tom Philpott began hyping the now-discredited Gilles-Éric Séralini study on GM corn and rats in Mother Earth News, he framed the study as the “longest-running GMO study” (at two years)--which was not accurate. Later that year, Australian researcher and anti-GMO advocate Judy Carman released a study on pigs, this one clocking in at 154 days, and claimed that the longer-term study found differences in inflammation among pigs fed GM feed.

The actual data from both of these, and other, studies, does not actually support the claims of harm made by the authors. But that hasn’t stopped activists from demanding animal feeding studies of increasingly longer durations, even up to 30 years.

So how long is long enough? The industry standard for any safety analysis of a consumer product is 90 days. Would longer studies show anything that the industry standard wouldn’t? Are animal studies even necessary?

Currently, about 100 studies longer than 90 days have been conducted on GMO products in animals for risk assessment purposes--a sizable amount. Only the infamous Séralini and Carman studies have raised serious safety issues. The bulk of the studies on GMOs--more than 2000--are 90 days or shorter, in line with accepted international guidelines. But anti-GMO activists continue to suggest "no long term studies" have been done, and they demand even more than the 100+ that have been done so far. Mischa Popoff, a former organic farm inspector who is now with the Heartland Institute, wrote:

Organic activists used to predict that negative health impacts from consuming GMOs would be rather immediate, within a year or two, 10 years tops. But as more major crops were genetically modified and the overwhelming majority of farmers adopted them, and as the years drifted by, organic activists found themselves at a loss for an explanation. We began to hear demands for long-term, multigenerational studies from within organic circles.

And many animal studies may not even be valuable, or even scientifically justifiable. Bruce Chassy, professor emeritus of food safety and nutritional sciences from the University of Illinois and co-author of an International Life Science Institute (ILSI) paper that set standards for food safety research, questioned the validity of longer animal feeding studies:

Animal studies are weak, lack power and have no hypothesis. If you study 500 parameters you’ll find something different between test and control groups. The longer you study, the more likely you will see differences between them. If you just look at a lot of data, and try to correlate with something, you’re more likely to make a false correlation than a true one. The few studies by anti-GMO activists cite significant differences but not actual harm.

No long term studies?

Here is a partial list of dozens of studies longer than 90 days (more here) on GMOs--none of which have shown serious safety issues:

  • Assessment of the health impact of GM plant diets in long-term and multigenerational animal feeding trials: A literature review: We examined 12 long-term studies (of more than 90 days, up to 2 years in duration) and 12 multigenerational studies (from 2 to 5 generations). … The studies reviewed present evidence to show that GM plants are nutritionally equivalent to their non-GM counterparts and can be safely used in food and feed.
  • A three generation study with genetically modified Bt corn in rats: Biochemical and histopathological investigation: This study was designed to evaluate the effects of transgenic corn on the rats that were fed through three generations with either GM corn or its conventional counterpart. Tissue samples of stomach, duodenum, liver and kidney were obtained for histopathological examinations. … No statistically significant differences were found in relative organ weights of rats within groups but there were some minimal histopathological changes in liver and kidney.

  • Effects of long-term feeding of genetically modified corn (event MON810) on the performance of lactating dairy cows: A long-term study over 25 months was conducted to evaluate the effects of genetically modified corn on performance of lactating dairy cows. Thirty-six dairy cows were assigned to two feeding groups and fed with diets based on whole-crop silage, kernels and whole-crop cobs from Bt-corn (Bt-MON810) or its isogenic not genetically modified counterpart (CON) as main components. … Milk yield (23.8 and 29.0 kg/cow per day in the first and the second lactation of the trial) was not affected by dietary treatment. There were no consistent effects of feeding MON810 or its isogenic CON on milk composition or body condition. Thus, the present long-term study demonstrated the compositional and nutritional equivalence of Bt-MON810 and its isogenic CON.

  • Organic and Genetically Modified Soybean Diets: Consequences in Growth and in Hematological Indicators of Aged Rats: There was an organic soy group (OG), a genetically modified soy group (GG), and a control group (CG). All animals received water and diet ad libitum for 455 days. At the end of this period, the weight of the GG group was the same as that of the OG, and both were higher than CG. Protein intake was similar for the OG and GG, which  were significantly lower (p<0.0005) than the CG. The growth rate (GR) of the rats, albumin levels, and total levels of serum protein were comparable for all groups.  Hematocrit (p<0.04) and hemoglobin (p<0.03) for the OG and GG were less than the CG. Although the OG and GG demonstrated reduced hematocrit and hemoglobin, both types of soy were utilized in a way similar to casein. This result suggests that the protein quality of soy is parallel to the standard protein casein in terms of growth promotion but not hematological indicators.

  • Histochemical and morpho-metrical study of mouse intestine epithelium after a long term diet containing genetically modified soybean: In this study, we investigated the duodenum and colon of mice fed on genetically modified (GM) soybean during their whole life span (1–24 months) by focusing our attention on the histological and ultrastructural characteristics of the epithelium, the histochemical pattern of goblet cell mucins, and the growth profile of the coliform population. Our results demonstrate that controls and GM-soybean fed mice are similarly affected by ageing. Moreover, the GM soybean-containing diet does not induce structural alterations in duodenal and colonic epithelium or in coliform population, even after a long term intake. On the other hand, the histochemical approach revealed significant diet-related changes in mucin amounts in the duodenum. In particular, the percentage of villous area occupied by acidic and sulpho-mucin granules decreased from controls to GM-fed animals, whereas neutral mucins did not change.

(more here)

What do the world's top regulators require?

In 2013, the European Union required a 90 day rodent feeding study for every GE transformation that’s introduced in feed or food. However, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), which provides independent scientific advice to inform food safety in the EU, has stated that this kind of testing is needed only when a specific hypothesis needs to be tested, such as a change in molecular, metabolic pathway or phenotypic characteristic. The United States, New Zealand, and Australia do not require these feeding studies.

Recently, the EFSA clarified the data requirements for assessing the risks of GM plants in the EU. In that clarification, the agency stated that it does not require animal studies — of any length. Instead, the agency re-emphasized that it was interested in comparisons between GM and the equivalent conventional plant, including data on observable appearances, yield, and pesticide tolerance. Only if those comparisons indicate a possible hazard should more detailed studies to better understand the nature of the hazard and risk be required (i.e., a hypothesis-driven approach).

The Codex Alimentarius, which documents the rules for food safety established by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), also calls for specific hazard assessment (i.e., identification of any chemical or allergen that may be present in the GM variety) but not for long-term, feeding studies.

The regulation of genetically modified food and feed is an exception in the consumer products world (outside of prescription drugs and pesticides, which are necessarily regulated quite differently). They are the only food (and one of the few consumer products) that is evaluated for risk before entering into the market. Conventional foods, including organic and those having undergone radiation or hybridization to produce certain traits, do not undergo this same testing in most places in the world (Canada being a notable exception).

Even for cosmetics in the United States, the U.S. FDA does not require animal tests unless searching for a suspected or known hazard. The FDA does issue guidelines on the use of rodent and non-rodent species (dogs) in toxicity studies, including studies that last more than a year, but these studies are hypothesis-driven evaluations of specific hazards. In the United States, government agencies have even urged testing for consumer products to be conducted in vitro, and to avoid the use of laboratory animals when possible.

Another 90 day study, same results

Just last month, the EU announced the results of a GMO Risk Assessment and Communication of Evidence (GRACE) 90-day feeding study of MON810 corn on rats. They also studied the rats for a year. The 90-day study didn’t produce anything that would have justified a longer-term study and the results of the one-year study corroborated the validity of that conclusion.

The study authors concluded:

Data collected by GRACE showed that non-targeted feeding studies could lead to randomly generated significant differences between animals fed with the GM test material and animals fed with a controlled diet. Such results are not informative for risk assessment.

As such, GRACE data supports the scientific reasoning that feeding trials with whole food / feed may provide an added scientific value for the risk assessment of GM crops, but only in case a trigger is available from the initial molecular, compositional, phenotypic and / or agronomic analyses.

With a re-evaluation of the safety and regulation of GM food about to begin in Europe, and the introduction of newer, “second generation” GM crops, food and feed starting to enter the regulatory and market pipeline, putting “long-term” into proper perspective has (almost) never been so important. We now have 17 years of data on existing food, with no documented adverse effects.

Andrew Porterfield is a writer, editor and communications consultant for academic institutions, companies and non-profits in the life sciences. He is based in Camarillo, California. Follow @AMPorterfield on Twitter.

  • Wackes Seppi
    • Andrew Porterfield

      Looks so much better in French. Merci!

  • KarlWheatley

    As someone who studies how people get fooled about research in various fields, I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.

    Nutrition research is riddled with problems, but what you’re describing here regarding the state of GMO research is truly pathetic.

    First, almost two dozen major diseases and one disability (autism) have in fact ramped up dramatically since we’ve increased GMO food consumption and the associated use of toxic biocides such as Round-Up. Furthermore, the charts of the increases in these disease track very closely the increased use of glyphosate (which serves as a proxy for GMO food consumption). The correlations are around 95%, a level of relationship that is extremely rare. In addition, human infertility has also ramped up.

    Second, with the exception of Golden Rice, GMO technology has primarily involved engineering biocides into the food itself or dumping more biocides on crops (Round-Up, etc.). Insecticides and pesticides have been shown to have a wide variety of toxic effects on living things, from increased cancers to infertility to altering sex organs in unusual ways to other diseases (e.g. neurological diseases). Given the known pathways by which insecticides and pesticides cause illness and disease, a reasonable starting assumption would be that the increased use of GMO farming approaches would produce more disease in the population, even if part of that harm comes from mechanisms such as schoolchildren breathing in Round-Up from a farm that is very close to their school.

    Third scientists don’t determine what is adequate science based upon the requirements of regulatory bodies, especially ones that barely regulate anything, such as the U.S. FDA. The fact that the FDA doesn’t require animal tests for something so important shows just how impotent the FDA is as a regulatory body. Furthermore, it has been well-documented by dozens of sources that these regulatory bodies (and their rules and recommendations) are heavily influenced by corporations, and that officials in key positions are often in a lucrative revolving door relationship with the companies they regulate. This is true for the USDA, FDA, and multiple other federal regulatory agencies. In a sane world that cared about scientific truth, the regulatory agencies would be very well funded and staffed, and conflict-of-interest-inducing revolving door employment would be strictly prohibited. The highly-paid and independent scientists at the FDA would run very large, long-term studies on the safety of something like GMOs before they are allowed to be used, a process repeated for every new GMO.

    Fourth, the situation you describe regarding the length of most GMO studies means that the majority of GMO research is totally useless for determining the safety of GMOs. 90 days?!!! Across multiple disciplines, from reading research to tax cuts to the effects of low-fat vs. low-carb diets, the observable short-term effects of interventions are often very different than the long term effects. What’s true across 90 days is often false across 1-2 years. Under one year in duration, systemic skills instruction is more effective for reading achievement and under 6 months, low-carb diets are more effective than low-fat diets for losing weight. However, in both cases, if you look at a broad array of effects in the long term, the intervention judged effective in the short run is broadly inferior in the long run. In health and nutrition, we care about the effects of policies and personal choices when we’re in our 70s and 80s. Running a 90-day rat study on the safety of GMOs is akin to a diet study that claimed that the Standard American Diet (SAD) is perfectly safe because it produces no observable increases in heart attacks, strokes, erectile dysfunction, arthritis, back pain, neuropathy, or dementia. You’d be laughed out of the room because other researchers know those are slowly-developing problems, and in the long run, the SAD diet reliably produces increases in all of those diseases, as well as cancer, obesity, diabetes, etc.

    Fifth, some of the independent variables in the studies you list here as good examples are ridiculous. The weight of organs?!!! That immediately smells like an effort by corporations to generate studies that find “no harm” even if there is harm because unhealthy organs may in fact weigh just as much as unhealthy ones. I’ve never seen a nutrition-health study that used the weight of organs as an outcome variable. This weight variable makes no sense unless it’s an obesity study looking at quantity of body fat. What you need are studies that look at the healthy or unhealthy functioning of the organs–such as the studies that look at the ability of the arteries to expand, the chemical output of the kidneys, indicators of inflammation, etc.

    Sixth the fourth study you list actually describes a puzzling change that occurred in the GMO-fed animals.

    Seventh, describing the Seralini study as “infamous” is hardly a balanced-sounding or scientific judgment. That study was stronger than most studies finding no harm from GMOs, and the circumstances surrounding the retraction of the paper suggest that is was a politically and financially motivated decision, not a truly scientific decision. The fact that pro-GMO forces have heavy influence in many journals has been well-documented.

    In short, while your article sounds like it’s presenting solid scientific evidence, to someone who understands science and corporate junk science, your article confirms my suspicion that there’s actually little or no substantive science showing GMO approaches to farming (including the food and related pesticides, herbicides, etc) to be safe for humans or other living things. And there is ample evidence pointing to harms resulting from GMO foods and/or their associated pesticides and herbicides. It’s been discovered that Round-Up itself is roughly 100 times more toxic than the Glyphosate in it, so we’re talking about pretty toxic chemicals here.

    • Farmer with a Dell

      To your first point, Karl, your claim not only of correlation but causation of autism and two dozen major diseases by “GMOs”, simply because they all possess an increasing trend during the past 20 years, or so, well, so too has consumption of organic foods increased dramatically during that time. So, it is just as likely autism and two dozen other diseases are “caused” by organic foods!

      After choking with laughter over your first twisted point, Karl, I simply ignored the remainder of your ridiculous diatribe. You’ve certainly put a lot of effort into typing out your brainless opinions. Are you addicted to self-humiliation, Karl? What else could explain your public display of scientific illiteracy?

      • KarlWheatley

        Hi Farmer with a Dell

        Drawing on research, I pointed out that the research supporting GMO safety is actually terribly weak (and BTW, it’s also riddled with corporate influence).

        I also pointed out solid empirical reasons for thinking that GMO crops may pose health risks to humans–either through the foods themselves or the associated pesticides and herbicides.

        In response, you made fun of me, and said I was scientifically illiterate, but you didn’t actually challenge any of the substantive points I raised, except for your organic foods hypothesis, which I’ll address.

        As it turns out, my PhD came with a major in human development and a minor in statistics, and I conduct research, train others to conduct research, supervise research studies, and am a peer reviewer for excellent journals. As with any scientist, I look forward to learning new things, but I am not insecure about my scientific literacy, so don’t expect to me rise to that bait or other ad hominem attacks. Let’s talk facts.

        1) I pointed out profound weaknesses with the research that has been used to claim that GMO farming and foods are safe for humanity, and you didn’t rebut any of those points. I take it that you don’t have any stronger research evidence to offer in favor of GMO safety?

        2) I also pointed out extremely strong relationships between the rates of GMO crops and Round-Up use on the one hand, and 22 diseases on the other hand. As GMO crops/Round-Up skyrocketed since the 1990s, so did those diseases, in a pattern that very tightly followed the increase in GMO crops/Round-Up use. You tried to laugh off this problem and suggested organic crops may be to blame, since consumption of organic crops has also increased. Hmm, which seems more plausible–increased diseases are linked to the farming method that increases the poisons spread on the ground, in the air, and into our waterways (GMOs), or increased diseases are linked to the farming method that decreases the
        use of such poisons?

        While such diseases may have multiple possible causes and triggers, GMO foods and the pesticides and herbicides used as part of GMO farming can’t be ruled out as causes until adequate research is done.

        In the meantime, there are many studies showing risks from pesticides and herbicides, especially for cancers, reproduction, and neurological disorders. It’s worth remembering that pesticides and herbicides are poisons intentionally developed to disrupt the cellular functioning of living things, so it’s hardly surprising when they damage living things other than a target insect or pest, including frogs, trees, or people.

        Pesticides and herbicides often bioaccumulate in the tissues of animals, and can accumulate at very high levels in top-level predators such as eagles and humans, through a process known as bio-magnification. There is evidence that “some pesticides may increase the risk of multiple allergic symptoms, male infertility, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, and cancer.”

        It’s worth remembering how science works: For a toxic such as cigarette smoking, no one ever conducted a long-term, large-scale, randomized controlled study assigning people to smoking and non-smoking conditions. Such a study would be unethical and impossible. No, instead the correlational studies piled up over time, while animal studies helped scientists identify how the compounds in cigarettes cause lung cancer.

        As occurred with cigarettes, we now have a growing body of research showing how various pesticides and herbicides cause cancer, disrupt reproduction, and cause neurological damage. While over 90% of Americans now have traces of Round-Up inside their bodies, scientists are becoming increasingly concerned with the possible toxic effects of long-term but low-dose exposures to pesticides, herbicides, heavy metals, and other industrial chemicals.

        Meanwhile, the company pushing GMOs the hardest is Monsanto. I’m sure that lots of lovely people work at Monsanto. However, is there any corporation in history who has a worse track record than Monsanto does of developing toxic chemicals (saccharine, dioxin, PCBs, Agent Orange, bovine growth hormone) and then misleading the public (and government) about the harms caused by those chemicals? Can you name a company with a worse track record on this front than Monsanto?

        So please forgive me if as a scientist I’m not easily swayed by weak research studies in a field in which there has been such profound and egregious corporate meddling and malfeasance.

        • JP

          You did not “point of profound weaknesses,” you parroted the same old anti-biotechnology tropes just with more wordiness.

          • agscienceliterate

            And his only citation is “Truthout.” I mean, really??
            Pretty sucky research.

          • KarlWheatley

            So you posted a reply without ever reading the research summary I linked to, right?

            When people give references, it’s very helpful to actually consult the evidence they provided rather than provide a superficial critique of the source. The first is science; the second isn’t. I said in my original post that you could access the charts from the research in the article in Truthout. However, that’s not the source–the actual research was published in the Journal of Organic Systems.

          • agscienceliterate

            Ah, the Journal of Organic Systems. A mouthpiece for the anti-GE organic industry. Ya ain’t got no betta citation than that? Do you really expect that to stand in for independent science?

          • Farmer with a Dell

            The charts you referenced to in the anti-GMO screed site Truthout are incomplete Karl. Where are the curves for increased consumption of organic foods? The curves for increased use of cell phone and wifi technology? The curves for increased air travel? The curves for increased fuel injection technology in automobiles? Shit Karl, there are any number of trending curves that could be plotted against an independent axis and made to appear “correlated” to your disease curves. Heh, your “source” didn’t even draw curves for improvements in diagnostic technology and access to health care that really could possibly be correlated with increased diagnosis and subsequent increased incidence and prevalence of those diseases.

            Admit it Karl, you aren’t any sort of scientist are you? You couldn’t possibly be and still make the ridiculous assertions you have been making here.

          • NotHyperzombie

            The curves for increased use of cell phone and wifi technology? The curves for increased air travel? The curves for increased fuel injection technology in automobiles? Shit Karl, there are any number of trending curves that could be plotted against an independent axis and made to appear “correlated”

            And it could also be trends that are decreasing (mabey they had a preventive effect). i blame it all on the disappearance of the vinyl album …

        • Farmer with a Dell

          Where’s your data Karl?

          We should have suspected your PhD would be in the social sciences.

          You are long on speculative opinion and deficient in facts.

          A “minor in statistics” does you (and, in turn us) no good at all without data to analyze, does it Karl?

          You fail to prove out your surmise causation: “GMO” (as a proxy for Roundup use – laughable) as the definitive cause of autism and two dozen unnamed diseases.

          If you truly are a peer reviewer, Karl, then the future of good solid science is in jeopardy and could explain the decline in quality of published research, such as Seralini’s and Wakefield’s, worldwide..

          It IS worth remembering how science works, Karl.

          It is worth understanding in the first place how science works, Karl.

          Science, true science, not the mamby-pamby emotive subjective social science malarky, relies upon the scientific method, Karl.

          1) In the scientific method, Karl, empirical observations, such as you scrape together into a large still steaming pile, are merely the basis for developing a hypothesis.

          2) Your hypothesis, once formulated, Karl, must be TESTED by conducting unbiased practical, ethical, properly designed experiments.

          3) As affirmative results emerge from these properly designed experiments, these must be replicated by additional properly designed experiments to establish the phenomenon is real and to explore modes of action accounting for the observed phenomenon.

          4) All this valid research eventually constitutes a body of literature within a field of study, at which time a reasonable theory of causation may emerge.

          5) With a solid body of literature and a rational theory of causation it becomes tenable to begin forming medical opinion, diagnosis and treatment and/or to begin designing some good effective applied science.

          6) We realize the scientific method seems much to stodgy and bothersome to someone in the social sciences who has been trained to be comfortable formulating opinions and leaping to conclusions base upon nothing more than nebulous theories, hunches, wive’s tales, urban myths and personal bias.

          So let’s cut to the chase, shall we Karl? How’s about you, the big time PhD peer reviewer, shift into true science mode here and propose precisely how these bogus causations you advance, that “GMO” causes autism and two dozen diseases, how these causations will be established with valid experimentation. You whine there are no “longterm human studies”, well Karl, design those and get on with the business of science around here. You are dissatisfied with the body of literature in this field of study, such as it is, well Karl, get up off your shrink’s couch and get the damned science done that rounds out the literature. Don’t waste any more of our time with your speculative long-winded shallow piss puddles of pseudo-scientific babble. If you possess data Karl, trot it out and analyze it legitimately to validate your hypothesis and guide scientific research into the future. If all you have is opinionated scare mongering to offer, well Karl, you can cram it.

          If you are a capable scientist Karl, then I am a goddam Russian ballerina.

          • KarlWheatley

            Hi Farmer

            Thanks for your response. Where are we?

            1) The available evidence that
            supposedly supports the safety of GMO crops is unacceptably weak, especially
            for crops/foods/biocides that have such potentially disastrous effects for
            humans, other life on earth, and the environment. I’ve given you two chances to
            prove that there’s actually strong evidence out there, but you have not
            responded to that challenge. You can stack bad studies from here to the moon
            and it proves nothing.

            2) There’s clear research evidence
            showing the GMO foods are NOT genetically and organismically comparable to the
            natural foods to which they are compared. Unexpected gene sequences and proteins with unknown effects ave been found by researchers in GMO foods, and GMO crops have been found to behave differently than the roughly corresponding natural crops.

            3) There’s clear evidence that the
            gene-altering process is a very crude process that has had a variety of
            unintended and unexpected side effects, and that the companies involved have
            not adequately studied all the genetic and organismic ripple effects from the
            crude process of genetic engineering. Monsanto has no idea of all the ways they
            have altered these food crops, and have no idea of what the long-term effects
            of the GMO process might be for human health, for healthy agriculture, or for
            the planet.

            4) There’s clear evidence that some of
            the herbicides and pesticides used in growing GMO crops are carcinogenic and/or
            are endocrine disruptors and/or harm animal or plant life in other ways (e.g.,
            neurological damage). Far from being the paragons of science, the GMO companies
            have aggressively work to suppress the science that shows the harm of these
            toxins, and they have worked to infiltrate regulatory bodies worldwide—so as to
            tilt regulations in their favor and hide from the public any evidence that
            their products harm living things.

            5) There’s clear evidence that GMO
            crops contaminate neighboring fields, lead to the rise of super-weeds and
            super-pests, and threaten the practice of organic farming.

            6) There’s overwhelming evidence that
            the process by which GMO food crops came to be approved was marked primarily by
            abandoning scientific standards in the face of corporate influence. The FDA
            violated the law and its own internal regulations in the unscientific and
            irresponsible way in which the FDA came to claim that GMOs were substantially
            equivalent to natural foods. And this process was carried out by FDA
            administrators, including former Monsanto officials, despite objections from
            the actual scientists inside the FDA).

            7) Medical research has increasingly
            focused on the harmful long-term effects of very low-levels of industrial
            pollutants on human health, and in some cases, harmful effects are observed at
            levels as low as one part per billion.

            8) Yes, it IS important to remember how
            real science works, and name calling and maligning the intelligence of one with
            whom you are debating is not part of real science. If my evidence and arguments
            hold water, then it does not matter whether I’m an eight-year-old, an
            educational psychologist, or a Russian ballerina.

            9) You keep claiming I made causal
            claims that I didn’t make. Where we’re at is that the safety of GMO foods and
            technologies has not actually been proven, AND there are very tight
            relationships between the dramatically increased use of GMO foods and/or
            Round-Up and the rates of 22 diseases.

            Here’s a brief article that has the
            graphs in question:


            Furthermore, there are reasons to
            suspect that GMO foods and/or pesticides and herbicides used in growing GMO
            crops MAY play some causal role in the increases in some or many of those
            diseases. After all “some pesticides
            have been more definitively linked to harmful effects on human health. For
            example, some pesticides may increase the risk of multiple allergic symptoms, male
            infertility, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, and cancer.” And we know that toxins such as heavy metals and many herbicides and pesticides
            bio-accumulate in the tissues of animals, including humans. And we know that
            Round-Up is 100 times more toxic than the glyphosate in Round-Up. So when
            industry runs or funds a study study on the effects of glyphosate and then uses
            that study to justify the safety of Round-Up, you know they’re trying to pull the wool over people’s eyes.

            10) You are correct in stating that more research will need to be done to identify where there are or are not risks or harms to humans and the broader environment. However, it’s not my job
            to run the needed studies—I’m simply pointing out that GMOs have actually NOT been proven to be safe, and there are VERY serious reasons for concern and for suspecting harm from GMO technologies (including strange changes to animals’ organs in studies run by Monsanto itself). And let’s not forget that one early
            GMO that was developed, but was fortunately stopped in its tracks by independent researchers, was a GMO that may have had the capability to kill any plant life it came in contact with.

            12) We also know that GMO research is expensive but funding for GMO research shriveled up after the FDA essentially declared GMOs safe without ever testing them. And we know that enormous intimidation has occurred
            against scientists who dared question the safety of GMOs—including stolen files, reassignment to terrible jobs, threats of firing, harassment, etc. This situation helps explain why a potentially hazardous substance could be in widespread use without being adequately studied.

            13) Although GMO advocates have adopted this false stance of being the defenders of science, the GMO approval process side-stepped any real scientific review and GMO advocates fight tooth and nail against any serious scientific studies being conducted into the safety of GMO foods and GMO agricultural practices. In fact, the blog post I initially responded to here
            was an effort to argue against long-term research—which is about as anti-science a stance I can imagine anyone taking in the life sciences. ONLY long-term research can tell you about the long-term effects of things, especially things like GMOs—which may take many generations to cause the effects that will ultimately matter to us the most.

            14) The US, Canada, and EU overwhelmingly rely on industry research as evidence regarding the safety of foods, drugs, chemicals, etc. And
            regulatory bodies and “blue-ribbon panels” worldwide have been infiltrated by revolving-door personnel who came from the industries that are supposed to be getting
            regulated well. That’s called “letting the fox guard the henhouse.” Here’s a partial list of the thousands of things that industry initially claimed were safe although they ultimately turned out to be dangerous: Cigarettes, asbestos, PCBs, PBBs, DES, benzene, leaded paint, leaded gasoline, Phthalates, BPA, DDT, PBDEs, microbeads, microfibers, trans fats, food coloring, nitrites, partially hydrogenated oils, high fructose corn syrup, red meat, VIOXX, Thalidomide, atrazine, saccharine, bovine growth hormone, dioxin, Agent Orange.

            Significantly, Monsanto, the leading advocate for GMOs, was also responsible for producing and then misleading the public about the health harms caused by saccharine, bovine growth hormone, dioxin, PCBs, and Agent Orange.

            13) Given this situation, in a sensible
            regulatory environment guided by science not $$$ and corporate coercion, we’d phase out or suspend the use of GMO crops and associated technologies until adequate long-term research
            on their safety has been done. The stakes are too high to keep using people and the planet as guinea pigs—especially when this particular experiment involves dumping more and more poison on the planet and introducing more and more untested organisms into the environment.

            So, do you have any actual EVIDENCE to refute any of this?

            And would you advise parents to feed their children foods that whose safety was never adequately tested–foods that were also engineered by a company that has misled the public as often and as badly as Monsanto has?

          • Farmer with a Dell

            Where is your “actual EVIDENCE” to justify asserting any of that long-winded anti-GMO conspiracy theory nonsense Karl? Where’s your data, your references? You’re attempting to make the case, so you are compelled to put up the evidence.

            While you’re at it go ahead and link to the long term human feeding studies that prove organic foods are 100% safe, especially to feed to children. Also explain away the reality that organic food has killed over 50 people, severely sickened over 3000, hospitalized over 1000 with over 100 of those requiring kidney transplants.


            Also can’t help noticing your obvious misplaced affection for the precautionary principle; Karl. Another of your less-than-informed attitudes skewing your thinking. You need to explain yourself, or at least offer some lame excuses for your elitist attitude on this point.


            And Karl, if you could please accomplish this without all the tiresome wordiness it would be a great favor to us all.

          • KarlWheatley

            So you’d like me to discuss complicated issues and provide exhaustive proof but you’d like me to do it in a paragraph or two? That’s amusing.

            Let’s try a couple of issues I can respond to briefly.

            I followed your link, and all it says is that there were casualties resulting from an industrial accident at an organic farm. That would seem to indict industrial accidents, not organic farming.

            So yes, let’s limit industrial accidents, such as the one at the West, Texas fertilizer plant that killed 15 people and injured 160.


            And let’s not forget Bhopal, a explosion of a pesticide plant that killed somewhere between 4,000-16,000 people.

            I suppose if we restricted use of pesticides and fertilizers more, we could perhaps prevent such deaths in the future, and prevent continuation of the current trend–in which millions of people are killed or sickened by pesticides, especially in developing countries.

          • Farmer with a Dell

            That’s a pretty big leap to an “industrial accident” (seriously?) from a little old local German organic farm poisoning and killing scores of customers with sprouts grown by organic methods that nurture fecal bacteria.

            And yes Karl, we expect you to provide evidence for all your assertions, however many and however dodgy those might be. It takes only one line of text to supply a link to appropriate peer reviewed literature, so one or two paragraphs should cover it (but take all the space you please since you’ve already been more than generous with yourself here). Simply understand that inundating us with verbose bullshit isn’t pulling the wool over anyone’s eyes around here, so cut to the chase and let’s get on with it Karl.

          • agscienceliterate

            “Industrial accident”? Pretty creative wordsmithing for e.coli poisoning, Karl. Kind of like calling accidental wartime deaths “collateral damage.” Cute, but disingenuous.
            If you presented that kind of garbage assessment in my critical thinking class, I’d throw you out long before giving you an F.

          • KarlWheatley

            That’s odd. when my undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral students correctly quote the original source material, I judge that to be a good thing.

            The source provided at the link to which I responded said “Yet, 23 deaths and more than 1,000 hospitalizations caused by an industrial accident at an organic farm in northern Germany have caused …”

            So I wasn’t wordsmithing, I was quoting.
            And I wasn’t being disingenuous, I was quoting.

            As for e coli, that’s a real problem, but it is overwhelming connected to meat and dairy, and since since I eat a plant-based diet, you won’t find me defending animal farming very much–organic or otherwise. Even when plants are infected with e coli, the source is generally traced to an animal source nearby.

            And if I talked to my students using that kind of language, I assume they would complain about me to the dean. We’re having a debate here, not WWIII.

          • Farmer with a Dell

            Wow Karl, if you are “teaching” undergraduate, graduate and doctorate students then your little corner of the world is completely ass-backward, there the inmates are running the asylum. You demonstrate precisely zero comprehension of science and less respect for the scientific method. When your misinformed students hit the real world, dude, are they ever in for a shock! Everything you have brainwashed them with will suddenly and harshly be exposed as the distorted malicious horseshit it is, and they will be the ones wearing it when it blows back all over them. If I was unfortunate enough to be one of your “students” I would demand my money back.

          • agscienceliterate

            I repeat. Massive e.coli outbreaks are food poisoning. “Industrial accident” – oops, whoopsie, didn’t mean to get that manure sludge into the package. It’s still wordsmithing and prevaricating, and mush-language, as only an organic journal could be expected to use.
            You are indeed disingenuous if you merely parrot fudge-language, especially to your students. Is it not your job to encourage critical independent thinking in your students?
            As I said, if you were a student in my class and you parroted excuses from an industry journal about an “industrial accident,” without questioning what happened, and then on top of that justified the wordmash by saying you were “quoting,” I’d throw you out of my class for not thinking. And my dean would laugh at you and tell you to grow a pair (but in nicer words than that) if you wanted to be in my critical thinking class, and to learn how to do good analysis and research or to suck it up and get into CherryPicking 101.

          • Farmer with a Dell

            Heh, ol’ Karl missed Mastio’s mild satire and seized upon “industrial accident” to crowd through the closest fire exit he could reach. He’s not come through with evidence or valid references for anything we’ve queried him on so far. Karl seems annoyed that we should ask him to put up or shut up…he doesn’t get treated like that in his classroom where his students routinely complain he has a “serious God complex”. Just imagine what those poor kids will say about him after he’s filled them full of his slippery crapola and they find themselves out in the real world impaled humiliatingly on some minor point of science-based reality…’well gee whiz, why didn’t Perfesser Wheatley tell us the truth about any of this stuff, he must have known, didn’t he?’…but, alas, if ever he did know he successfully bamboozled himself and everyone around him. A real triumph, eh Karl, you self deluded old fool?

          • KarlWheatley

            When life is at stake and the technology is very “iffy”–as is the case with GMOs, then the precautionary principle serves us well and is the responsible course of action. In general, the US has not applied the precautionary principle nearly enough, and so all sorts of toxic chemicals and have gone into widespread use in the last century, often with disastrous consequences.

            Of course, if people are in a hurry to make a buck and don’t care that much about the fate of other people or the environment, I can see why the precautionary principle would seem like a nuisance to them. And the reason we need far stricter regulation than we currently have is the existence of people like that.

          • Farmer with a Dell

            Ah yes, the precautionary principle. We need to apply the precautionary principle to organic food because we know that can kill. Likewise it needs to be applied to all nutritional supplements. Also apply it to most forms of alternative medicine; herbalism, homeopathy, naturopaths, chiropractic… If you’re going to apply the precautionary principle you really ought to make a clean sweep of it Karl. Oh, BTW, how are you coming along on supplying that long-term human feeding study on the safety of organic food, Karl?


          • agscienceliterate

            The precautionary principle is neither precautionary in its selective application, nor does it reflect any principles. It’s hogwash for “Prove it 100% or I’m not buyin’ it,” when any high school student can show that nothing in the universe can be “proven” to a 100% level of certainty. It’s just activist lingo for “I’m trying to appear smart while slamming my mind shut, by using polysyllabic words that pretend to mean something other than ignorance and a pathetic lack of intellectual curiosity.”

          • Farmer with a Dell

            The precautionary principle is a prized workhorse excuse perfect for sandbagging and protectionism, except dressed up in a junior business suit wearing a shit eating grin.

          • agscienceliterate

            Uh, GE foods are the most highly tested and regulated foods on the planet. Can you say that about organic foods? Food created through mutagenesis?
            And tell your students that the organic industry is a $70 billion industry, and that Whole Foods annual revenues are about the same as Monsanto’s, when you start drooling about “….making a buck…”

          • agscienceliterate

            All these ridiculous corporate-conspiracy speculations, and the only citation you can give is “Truthout”? Really??
            Ya gotta do better, dude.

          • KarlWheatley

            Apparently you didn’t actually read the article or the research summarized there. Attacking the popular source in which a research study was summarized isn’t science.

            The original research was published in the Journal of Organic Systems.

          • agscienceliterate

            You and Seralini. Birds of a feather. You go, man.

          • KarlWheatley

            I take that to mean that you have no rebuttal regarding the substance of the scientific issues I have presented.

          • Farmer with a Dell

            Your “scientific issues” have no substance until you provide valid supporting evidence Karl. As a bigtime scientist and peer reviewer you, of all people Karl, should know this. You provide the substance Karl and folks here will be happy to develop solid rebuttals.

            Admit it Karl, you were lying to us when you claimed to be a scientist and peer reviewer, weren’t you? You haven;t even supplied supporting evidence for those claims, only more of the same vacuous assertions.

          • agscienceliterate

            No. It means I am not going to even waste my time rebutting the lack of substance regarding the unscientific pro-organic industry spin you have presented.

          • KarlWheatley

            The history of corporate America includes many great achievements, but also an unending string of efforts to deceive the public and bring harmful products and services to market. No one can deny that.

          • Farmer with a Dell

            Well Karl, I suppose you might be right at least as far as certified organic foods are concerned. Those certainly are of questionable safety and their marketing has been mostly libelous and fraudulent. Organic has been a heartbreaking black eye on the otherwise upstanding reputation of agriculture. If you have other examples in farming or agribusiness you will need to enumerate those and provide supporting evidence Karl…otherwise you are merely making another unfounded assertion.

          • agscienceliterate

            Another “Truthout” conspiracy line. Well done.
            Parroting: A.
            Thinking for yourself: F.

Send this to a friend