New York Times reporter claims GMO crops have failed to live up to expectations

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The promise of genetic modification was twofold: By making crops immune to the effects of weedkillers and inherently resistant to many pests, they would grow so robustly that they would become indispensable to feeding the world’s growing population, while also requiring fewer applications of sprayed pesticides.

Twenty years ago, Europe largely rejected genetic modification at the same time the United States and Canada were embracing it. Comparing results on the two continents, using independent data as well as academic and industry research, shows how the technology has fallen short of the promise.

An analysis by The Times using United Nations data showed that the United States and Canada have gained no discernible advantage in yields … when measured against Western Europe… Also, a recent National Academy of Sciences report found that “there was little evidence” that the introduction of genetically modified crops in the United States had led to yield gains….

At the same time, herbicide use has increased in the United States… And the United States has fallen behind Europe’s biggest producer, France, in reducing the overall use of pesticides, which includes both herbicides and insecticides.

 

from The New York Times

 

screen-shot-2016-10-30-at-1-13-34-pm. . . .

Fears about the harmful effects of eating G.M. foods have proved to be largely without scientific basis. The potential harm from pesticides, however, has drawn researchers’ attention. Pesticides are toxic by design — weaponized versions, like sarin, were developed in Nazi Germany — and have been linked to developmental delays and cancer.

When presented with the findings, Robert T. Fraley, the chief technology officer at Monsanto, said The Times had cherry-picked its data to reflect poorly on the industry. “Every farmer is a smart businessperson, and a farmer is not going to pay for a technology if they don’t think it provides a major benefit,” he said. “Biotech tools have clearly driven yield increases enormously.”

Click here for a critique of Mr. Hakim’s piece by an independent weed scientist, Andrew Kniss

 

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion and analysis. Read full, original post: Doubts About the Promised Bounty of Genetically Modified Crops

  • Phil

    GMO will never increase yield in the long-term. It is false-advertising for GMO companies to say that.

    There are few unbiased long-term studies. These studies are suppressed. Nevertheless, do show GMO are carcinogens and have other harms. If you do not believe that because GMO companies have successfully gotten these studies blacklisted… Ask animal. When given a choice between GMO seeds and non-GMO seeds, they eat the non-GMO first and the GMO if starving. For example, see: https://relfe.com/2010/pigs_animals_won't_eat_gmo_corn_food.html

    • hyperzombie

      GMO will never increase yield in the long-term.

      GMOs do not increase the potential yield, but they do increase the realized yield. Farmers care about the realized yield (what you do get, not what you could get).

      No studies are blacklisted, and none show a cancer risk.

      When given a choice between GMO seeds and non-GMO seeds

      100% false. Most animal feed in North America and Europe is GMO. I know my cattle cant tell the difference.

      • Phil

        Well, a number of people have said that in the short term, GMO has more yield (phrase as you want). However, in the long term, due to pest adaptation to herbicide, monocultures disabling plant adaptation and other issues, organic farming is better. Organic farmer has feed the planets for thousands of year; and billions of years before humans. There is no reason why it should stop. And, food-supply is not a production issue. It is a distribution issue. We have more food to feed the entire planet than we need. Business, war, politics and other man/woman-made issues cause problems with supply. I know a case off-head in Nigeria during the civil war, where the military allowed people to starve so much, they resorted to cannibalism. They did this to weaken the opponents. That is how we are and GMOs wouldn’t stop that. If GMO were gonna feed the planet, 20 years is enough for it to do it. Has food gotten cheaper for you?

        There are two big studies that were blacklisted and showed GMO risk. One by Arpad Pusztai and the other by Gilles-Éric Séralini. The were quickly labeled bad results were they independently exposed problems with GMOs. No one bothers to do the work right and be open-minded. I also heard scientist are afraid to speak up against it, given what happened to these to guys.

        Put GMO and non-GMO side-by-side, animals eat the non-GMO first. When they finished that and are starving, then they go for the GMOs. A number of farmers have verified this. You get that? If you think this is rubbish, go try the experiments during the summer with squirrels or bird. Place GMO corn and non-gmo corn side by side and see which gets attention and which do not. Animals have heighten sense humans do not. Personally, that tells me something. And please, please, do not do tobacco or Monsanto science by using just two seeds.

        You are twisting my words and taking things out of context. Be open-minded. I personally have nothing against GMOs and think its a wonderful technology. But, we are introducing it into the food supply without unbiased studies and letting profit blind out from the other side of the coin.

        If you think this is rubbish, ask yourself why Russia Japan, and China support GMO research confined to the lab, but do not let it into the food supply? The same applies to other countries. I recall watching a video where a Japanese science broke down research by a big GMO company and showed it was nonsense. Starving regions refused to accept GMO as aid. Is this due to fear or them knowing what research says and the true results are suppressed in the United States. They are not blinded by corporate-greed so they can see pass the media propaganda we cannot. We in the United States, have a different tale.

        • hyperzombie

          Well in the short term and the long term, GMOs add additional tools for farmers to control weeds and insect pests. The more tools that farmers have the less resistance there will be over the long term. All weed and insect pest adapt to whatever method humans use to control them, there are fire resistant weeds, tillage resistant weeds, even hand weeding resistant weeds, and for insects they have evolved the ability to thwart many chemicals and even crop rotations.Back in the old days, they had to not plant anything every 5-7 years and spend that whole non growing year tilling the crap out of the soil just to get a handle on the weeds, and even that was only semi successful. Even when corn farmers in the US and Europe used crop rotations 2-3 years to deal with boring insects, the insects adapted their eggs, instead of hatching the next spring they hatched in (2-3) years. Defeating crop rotations. Nature always adapts, that is why more tools are better than less tools.
          Monocultures have been with man since the advent of farming, what do you think they grow on all those ancient rice paddies? The ancient egyptians only planted wheat (barley as well but it was considered a weed at the time). Plant adaptation as it pertains to human consumption is far better in a monoculture.

          Organic farming was invented in the 1950s, adopted in the 1970s and approved by the USDA in the late 1990s. It is a marketing scheme. The vast majority of farming before GMO was conventional, and it still is. there is no difference between raising a GMO crop compared to a conventional crop other than the timing of herbicides and way less insecticides. Oh and less tillage for the most part.

          And, food-supply is not a production issue. It is a distribution issue.

          It is a food supply problem where they need food. Most food does not travel well. Are you going to send a cheeseburger to a nigerian? Kale to Crimea? Turnips to tunisia? The people that need the food in these regions need the basics, that they can produce locally.

          Nigeria during the civil war, where the military allowed people to starve so much, they resorted to cannibalism.

          This is a no brainer for GMOs, the poorest farmers around the world get the most from GMOs. Lets say the Nigerian Gov bombed the farmers home, he ran away. With GMOs his crop would be safe from insects and weed pressure far more than conventional crops and if he could return at least he would have some harvest. With conventional it would be just a pile of insect poo.

          Has food gotten cheaper for you?
          It has gotten less expensive for everyone.

          But, we are introducing it into the food supply

          GMOs are just plant traits.

          ask yourself why Russia Japan, and

          Russia has no approval agency for GMOs, and that is why there are not approved. Japan imports millions of tons of GMOs and China is the 4th largest grower of GMOs, they even have China designed GMOs.

          Starving regions refused to accept GMO as aid.

          Activists should be punished for this, there is no difference between GMO and non GMO crops for the consumer.

          They are not blinded by corporate-greed

          Wouldn’t the Organic Corporations be the greedy ones, after all they are charging you 2x more for the same thing.

          • Phil

            You know what; believe what you want. If you want to believe the sky is orange. Great! I stated what I know and let’s leave it at that.

          • hyperzombie

            Well believe whatever you want, I will stick to facts, you can stick to beliefs.

          • Nathan Clark

            Phil, this is the typical position an anti-GMOer takes when confronted by those literate in science. If you trust your uneducated and ignorant beliefs, it is a pretty arrogant and pretentious position. It would be better to be neutral to even have an opinion about a topic you don’t understand. The propaganda from the corporate organic agenda all breaks down when confronted with science. I used to be on the other side of the fence and even had the pretentious idea that I was going to go to university to conduct research that would show the “Truth” about GMO’s. Luckily, I became literate in science before I embarrassed myself further. You should do the same.

        • Nathan Clark

          Phil, you obviously don’t understand science very well and how to search for reviews of published research. If you did you would see that the Seralini “study” was nothing more than a feeble attempt to manufacture data for ignorant masses. The methods of the Seralini study were very flawed from the breed of rat chosen to the conflict of interest Seralini had due to his receiving dividends from a manufacture of a bogus glyphosate detox sold at health food stores, not to mention the book and the movie Seralini had ready to release upon being published. And the breed of rat, Seralini chose a particular breed of rat that already had an 80% chance of developing horrible tumors naturally within 2 years to manufacture the desired results he was after. Oh, and did I mention his “research” was largely funded by Greenpeace, an organization known for it’s anti-GMO position? Don’t you anti-GMO’ers complain about biased research? Well, Seralini is about as biased as one can get and has major conflicts of interest.

          Here’s some links to why Seralini is BS. But I don’t your mind is open enough to handle information that threatens your ideological position. You should be able to download the entire review:

          http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.2903/j.efsa.2012.2910/abstract

          Seralini’s 2012 research retracted:

          http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0278691512005637s

          Science Based Medicine, a highly respected and reliable source for information has a great essay with links to all of their citations on this topic:

          https://sciencebasedmedicine.org/the-seralini-gmo-study-retraction-and-response-to-critics/

          I am less familiar with Pusztai, but easily found he was wrapped in controversy as well:

          https://www.researchgate.net/publication/242711715_Arpad_Pusztai%27s_Feeding_experiments_of_GM_potatoes_with_lectins_to_rats_Anatomy_of_a_controversy_1998_-_2009

          So you mention 2 highly contested studies with deeply flawed methods and yet there are literally thousands of studies on GMO’s supporting their safety. In 2013, this meta-analysis of almost 2000 studies was published. This study showed:

          “On average, GM technology adoption has reduced chemical pesticide use by
          37%, increased crop yields by 22%, and increased farmer profits by 68%.
          Yield gains and pesticide reductions are larger for insect-resistant
          crops than for herbicide-tolerant crops. Yield and profit gains are
          higher in developing countries than in developed countries.”

          What is often taken out of context by the corporate organic agenda in terms of 3rd world countries going into debt over GMO’s is that these countries generally lack crop insurance for when there is bad weather etc.

          http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0111629

          Phil, again, you are just regurgitating propaganda and don’t know what you are talking about. Almost all respected scientists have no problems with GMO’s and respected bodies of science around the world are in support of the evidence that overwhelmingly suggests GMO’s are perfectly safe:

          Blogs like the Skeptical Raptor and Science Based Medicine have done wonders to help me hone my critical thinking skill. You keep blowing your “keep an open mind” horn, yet you do not have a tenable position to blow it from bc you are on the fringes and lack critical thinking skills. This is from the Skeptical Raptor’s blog with many links to his citations and quoted studies. One major difference between legitimate science bloggers is that the studies they cite are cited, respectable and easy to look up where as the corporate organic agenda’s propaganda is often vague, anecdotal, and often completely misrepresents respected research. What research this group actually does get published is generally flawed and widely criticized for it’s poor methods. If you understood science better and actually read the research you tout like gospel, you would realize how gullible and ignorant you were, like many of us were (myself included), for believing the corporate organic agenda, which wants to sell you food produced very inefficiently at an inflated price that isn’t any more healthy overall, than non-organic food.

          https://www.skepticalraptor.com/skepticalraptorblog.php/gmo-science-overwhelming-consensus-safe/

          Starving regions refused GMO’s thanks to the pseudoscience propaganda people like you regurgitate with little understanding of the science you have such a strong opinion about. Be careful that you don’t open your mind so much your brains fall out. Golden Rice was made by Monsanto to save millions of children in Asia from malnutrition.

          In closing, you need to become more literate in science, Phil, and then review this topic again. Here is a YouTube video by a rather irreverent Dusty Smith talking about GMO’s. He cites many published studies in his rant. It’s pretty funny:

    • J. Randall Stewart

      “Ask animal. When given a choice between GMO seeds and non-GMO seeds, they eat the non-GMO first and the GMO if starving”

      Phil, if you stop to think about this statement for a minute, you’ll realize how wrong it is.

      There are 60,000 dairymen in the US, I am one of them. This means I have a pretty good idea of what we feed and how we feed it.

      Good feed is essential. Dairymen vetted GMO feed decades ago–there is zero difference. In fact, the opposite is likely true–low lignin feed (a new GE trait**) is not only more palatable, but more nutritious.

      Do you really think 60,000 dairymen are that dumb?

      **a low lignin has been also bred conventionally

    • Nathan Clark

      I was a bit concerned when I first read this article as I had in the last 2 years changed sides from the sensationalized propaganda, lies and fear mongering of the corporate organic agenda to support the science of GMO’s, but remained a skeptic as I picked up the faint whiff of pseudoscience, propaganda and bias within the first few paragraphs.

      Real science does a fairly good job at policing itself and debunking pseudoscience. If the study isn’t published and doesn’t stand up to the scrutiny of those specialized in the filed, someone will be all too happy to write a scathing review (if there is reliable evidence to support the criticism) and this makes respectable journals look bad and makes the scientist writing the review in a highly competitive field look great. Reputation is everything to a scientist and a journal and neither will stand by junk science for long if they wish to keep their reputations. Most people either don’t understand or realize that most researcher are highly educated and extremely underpaid for doing what they love, trying to make the world a better place. There are plenty of other jobs that pay better with fewer educational requirements.

      While science is far from perfect and a few research turds occasionally slip by the peer review process (not counting the open access journals that have lower standards and are much less reliable and respectable), it is still the most reliable source of information we have. Definitely more reliable than the New York Times and their obvious propaganda (to a critical thinker educated and up to date about GMO crop technology) they neatly try to disguise as journalism. Why does the NYT’s leave important stories like this to obviously biased journalists who obviously don’t understand what they are writing about or who are trying to mislead the gullibles for the corporate organic agenda?

      Phil, so sorry, but science doesn’t exactly work like how you say, unless you’re talking about the whiner scientists like Seralini who had his pseudoscience retracted from legitimate journal for fraudulent methods and refusing to provide the raw data. When the raw data was finally provided and the edited story (Seralini’s “research”) was republished in a pseudoscience “environmental” open source journal founded by several members of the Union of Concerned Scientists, to which Seralini also belonged, it was highly suspected to be fraudulent and his methods were still highly suspect as the only thing that had changed was the wording of the paper and not the actual research itself. Not everything published in open access “peer reviewd” journals is a turd, but they are definitely less reliable, overall bc it is easier to get pseudoscience published in them.

      Seralini’s main point of manufactured data to support the corporate organic agenda was that he used rats prone to developing tumors at 18 months in a 24 month study. He could have easily chosen a rat breed more suited for the study, if his intention was to be legitimate. Also, Seralini was highly financed by Greenpeace, which has an anti-GMO stance. Furthermore, Seralini had a book and “documentary” scheduled for release to coincide with his paper being published (the first time) which meant he had a vested financial interest in people believing his data to be true bc he wanted the gullibles to buy a homeopathic pseudoscience remedy for glyphosate detoxification made by Sevene which paid Seralini to research atrazine and glyphosate as well as royalties for the fake detox it sold with help from propaganda machines like Seralini.

      So the anti-GMO’ers need to look in the mirror when they claim “You gotta look at who is conducting the research and how” bc the corporate organic agenda is full of blatant lies. I think these folks are well-intentioned, but seriously misguided and very poor critical thinkers. I know very well, bc I used to be on the fanatical anti-GMO side and went to school later in life thinking I would conduct research that would expose how bad GMO’s really were. I didn’t stop to think how pretentious this was and how many other people thought and attempted the same thing until they became better informed on how to judge a sources reliability and then educated in the science as the advanced through the upper levels and took biochemistry, microbiology, organic chemistry and genetics.

      I was very ignorant and stubborn. I maintained my pretentious and arrogant opinions about a technology I was completely ignorant in. But over the years, one by one the myths and lies from the corporate organic agenda fell away and were exposed for the sensationalized propaganda that they were and finally I reached a point of critical mass against everything I had previously believed and underwent what I call my “conversion” to science and becoming a scientists. As a scientist, I am neither for or against GMO’s bc I am not emotionally attached to an opinion that I associate with the best data I am currently aware of, which suggests that GMO’s are safe and economically viable. I am attached to asymptotically approaching the truth, not to being right.

      I now understand that being “open minded” doesn’t mean that I will be only open to everything that goes against convention. I now understand that I will try and not be emotionally attached to a position and that the absolute truth, while capable of being asymptotically approached, it can never be fully attained due to the presence of error and bias in all data and observations, especially those relying on human perspective.

      Unless a person has never been wrong, it is highly arrogant to rely on one’s own perspective as being perfect and deny that one could be wrong about their position. Fanatics are especially guilty of this We are all delusional to varying degrees and more or less so, depending on the topic, but some of us, are definitely more delusional than others. Perspective is highly biased and flawed, which is one of the reasons why anecdotal claims are so highly unreliable. The mind is capable of playing all sorts of tricks on the brain as to what it sees.

      Neuroscience is full of these little tricks. Like the image below. At a quick glance, this image appears to be something that it is not. While perspective is important on some levels, it is hardly a reliable tool for collecting data.

      https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/96eff69aec6619d543e76a21f5356e7f7c0a1635d2b049899ecdb136a5818afb.jpg

      This short review reveals the main flaws of Hakim’s article. It is an adaptation of an older article by the same author used to address the same false claims made by people trying to mislead the gullibles before. Hakim shares little that it new and needs to either learn how to be a better journalist or that if they are going to try to intentionally mislead people, there are going to be people willing to counter his propaganda and put his misrepresentation of the facts into their proper perspective to give a more accurate understanding of the situation. Shame on you Hakim and shame on the New York Times for publishing this misleading story.

      While the Genetic Literacy Project supports GMO’s, as far as I can tell, it’s articles are very legitimate and backed by reliable research, unlike the propaganda from the corporate organic agenda. And if the science backing GMO’s happens to be lies, they have a hell of a lot better liars than the corporate organic agenda.

      https://geneticliteracyproject.org/2016/10/31/strawmen-selective-statistics-new-york-times-botch-critique-gmo-crops/

      • JP

        ^^^ This comment. This comment is everything. Bravo, sir.

      • Damo

        I feel you, man. I used to be drink the organic kool-aid, but then I found some scientific literacy AND the fact that organic has some issues that need addressed.

        I am not saying organic is bad, I just don’t understand why the fierce battle against GMOs. I also don’t understand the unsupported claim by those in the organic industry that organic is somehow ecologically sound. We are talking about agriculture here–and it is a sloppy, dirty mess. GMOs can help alleve some of that mess–though I will be honest and say that some individual farmers may overapply their pesticides because they can.

        The science about GMOs seems to be pretty conclusive. And I am not talking about consensus among scientists, I am talking about overwhelming evidence.

        Until evidence comes about that shows I am wrong, I will continue to believe in the safety of GMOs. When that evidence comes out, I will change my mind.

    • Nathan Clark

      Phil, so I must admit that I quickly dismissed your link and didn’t look at it bc, well, you are regurgitating typical anti-GMO propaganda. Due to your scientific illiteracy, you are allowing your ignorance to be exploited. If you are truly a critical thinker, I hope that you will at least consider the possibility that you are wrong if for no other reason than you obviously don’t know what you are talking about, despite all of the obvious sensationalized propaganda films and articles you have ready to validate and give you a delusional legitimacy. I’ve been there and done that until my conversion to science. Not that anecdotal evidence is reliable, but I grew up on a farm, so I can at least say I know you don’t know what you are talking about from personal experience.

      The “studies” are blacklisted bc if you understood science, it would be obvious to you that this is what the corporate organic agenda does, it creates sensationalized propaganda to exploit your ignorance and gullibility, which is actually the correct use for the word “nice”, which I am sure you are a well intentioned nice guy. “Science” comes from the Latin “scire” which means “to know” while “nice” is or more modern and common use of the word “nescient” or “nescire” in Latin which means “to not know” or to be “lacking in knowledge or ignorant.”

      I have investigated this from almost every possible angle and aspect bc it took a huge body of scientific evidence reach a critical mass for me to change my ideology. I think this often happens to people who find that they overly rely on validation from those around them bc this can limit one’s critical thinking, at least if that group is lacking in this area. Hanging out with professors and going to university helped give me a much larger and more mature perspective so that once I became more scientifically literate, I no longer relied on or valued validation for those easily swayed by propaganda.

      I encourage you not to trust what I say, but to learn how to think more critically. Google can help with that if you search for information on this subject. I am not calling your ignorance stupidity, but possibly undeveloped intelligence. Smart people are misguided all the time and it is getting easier and easier to do as more false information circulates and develops into modern day myths and superstition. All the best!

      • Phil

        I am not playing a propaganda game. To be frank, I do not care what people think or what they eat. I sincerely could not care less (and I have tried.) I am not regurgitating anyone. I am not trying to hurt or vex anyone (unless its in self-defense.) I am just saying what I believe is true given the evidence I have gathered. I personally like Genetics and GMOs (and do not mind doing research in this area myself). Do not get me wrong. I am not an anti-GMO activist. I do not protest in support or non-support of any cause. That said, I feel GMOs or any of its PR-friendly names like genetic-editing is not yet valid for human nor non-human consumption or having it interfere with the game-theories governing plant-life. Russian, Japan, European Union got the decision right for the most part. If you do not think that is true, here is a medal and have fun eating it and playing the genetic-roulette. It’s a matter of opinion like buying an iPhone or Android. Who cares? If people want to make this a political fight, I am not interested. Again, I am saying as I observe it.

  • Phil

    Let’s forget about whether you are Pro-GMO, anti-GMO or neither. Be open-minded. There is lots of proof that GMOs are good (marvelous science [I personally am a huge fan], increase short term yields, can fortify food with vitamins, no immediate ill effect after eating GMO, a differing experience of story that animal prefer non-GMO over GMO when given a choice (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QzS0DX0Vx8Y), brand-name science board and people like NAS and Bill Nye saying they are safe etc). Who do you trust, a non-scientist like Jeffrey M. Smith or one like Gilles-Éric Séralini, saying they are bad or a known genius like Neil Tyson Degrasse who says they are okay? Degrasse has my bet. The is also proof that they are poison (suppressed animal studies that show morbid-long term study-result (e.g. Séralini affair), increase in allergies and other health problems since their introduction, questioning regulation in the United States, animals rejecting them when given both a GMO and non-GMO food choice (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F1Rn3U3rcIg
    ), EU and China [yes China] rejecting them) and worse, the GMO story is playing out like PCB, DDT, Tobacco, high-amounts of Sugar and Agent Orange. But to each his/her own.

    Think, if GMOs are great for the world, why aren’t GMO companies proud of it and have their names all over it? I ever knew what GMOs were until a health-professional told me about them. GMO companies do not do this. History is littered with people hiding things from other, when they have or know sinister things. When people said Demi Moore could not play a stripper, in a movie. She did a pool dance on David Letterman or some other talk show to show she has the stuff to make it work. She did not try to suppress this or threaten newspapers with lawsuits or remove sponsorships; she answered the challenge. When GMO companies are threatened, they persecute researchers politically, they move their people and supporters into key government regulation roles, they use lobbyist to control government policies, they fight to hide the fact their products are in food. If they are worried that people won’t buy GMOs if they knew what it exist; that tells you something about people not wanting it. If you say its due to the noise by GMO-activist, why don’t GMO companies provide hard proof to shut them up. Akin to Demi Moore. Akin to Michael Jackson when they said Blacks cannot thrive on MTV (he made “Beat it” and proved them wrong.) The activist are not big corporations with huge profits to lose if GMO becomes accepted by the entire planet. They have presented GMO companies with a challenged and GMO companies are not doing enough to answer it. And to quit GMO-activist, why don’t they point to research studies done by people without ties to them. You can find them in places like Japan (who by the way banned GMOs after studying them.)

    If you do not want to eat GMOs. Good for you. If you want to eat GMOs. Good for you. But people, listen to someone other than the mouthpieces of the big corporations with huge profit at stake- hear what the little guy has to say. And then decide. There is no right or wrong. I do not think this topic is something worth a fight.

    • hyperzombie

      Think, if GMOs are great for the world, why aren’t GMO companies proud of it and have their names all over it?

      Funny, I am guessing you have never seen a modern seed catalogue.