In late 2014, an obscure Russian group called a press conference in London to announce the launch of the “world’s largest international study” — a three-year, $25 million experiment of genetically modified organisms, or GMOs.
In the Factor GMO project, the panelists explained, thousands of rats would eat genetically modified corn that had been grown with Roundup, a controversial weed killer. Scientists would then watch the animals for three years, round the clock, to see if they developed cancer or fertility problems.
“We hope this will be the definitive study that will establish whether or not these chemicals and these GMO products are safe and effective,” Bruce Blumberg, a scientist at the University of California, Irvine, a longtime GMO critic and one of the three scientists originally on the project’s advisory board, told the crowd of reporters.
The event attracted wide news coverage in the British press, everyone from the Guardian to the Daily Mail. Then Blumberg flew home to California. And that’s the last he ever heard from the Russians.
“It is weird,” Blumberg told BuzzFeed News.
Now more than three years later, the Moscow-based Factor GMO is not answering emails from the press. Although the donation button is still active on its website, the effort hasn’t uttered a peep since 2015.
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