Monsanto fail – they can’t sweep the latest shocking GMO study under the rug

  • Published on September 28th, 2012

Last week, we told you about an disturbing new study that found long-term damage caused by Monsanto’s Genetically Modified (GMO) corn and Roundup week-killer.

And despite a firestorm of invective from the agribusiness giant and its allies, it looks like they won’t be able to talk their way out of this one – France has promised, for the first time, to put GMO crops under a microscope and seriously look at possible health risks.

As Guardian (UK) environment blogger  noted, Monsanto’s corporate flacks and their bought-and-paid for allies trotted out every epithet imaginable to trash the study, including “biased”, “poorly performed”, “bogus”, “fraudulent”, “sub-standard”, “sloppy agenda-based science”, “inadequate” and “unsatisfactory”, and France was outed as “the most anti-science country in anti-science Europe”. (If those arguments don’t sound particularly “scientific” to you – there’s a good reason. They’re not. They’re completely ad hominem -attacking the person, rather than the facts.)

So, are anti-GMO researchers “anti-science”… or worse, “climate skeptics of the left”?

Does this sound like an anti-science crusader?

Unfortunately, it is impossible to verify that genetically modified crops perform as advertised. That is because agritech companies have given themselves veto power over the work of independent researchers.

…Under the threat of litigation, scientists cannot test a seed to explore the different conditions under which it Does Monsanto control GMO research? Scientific American illustration by Matt Collinsthrives or fails. …And perhaps most important, they cannot examine whether the genetically modified crops lead to unintended environmental side effects.

Research on genetically modified seeds is still published, of course. But only studies that the seed companies have approved ever see the light of a peer-reviewed journal.

…when scientists are prevented from examining the raw ingredients in our nation’s food supply or from testing the plant material that covers a large portion of the country’s agricultural land, the restrictions on free inquiry become dangerous.

Anti-science crusaders? Nope. That would be the Editorial Board of Scientific American magazine!

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What’s the truth?

  • This is the longest study ever performed – Monsanto’s studies nearly always ended at 90 days, so they never addressed any long-term health effects.
  • By showing an increase in tumors and shortening of lifespan, it makes pretty clear that Monsanto’s longstanding claim – that GMO food is just as safe as conventional, and Roundup is harmless – needs some serious looking-into.
  • This blows a hole in Monsanto’s decades-long practice of blocking publication of negative evidence, and then using the absence of evidence as evidence that everything was just fine with GMOs and Roundup. (See: Monsanto blocks research on GMO safety).
  • Most of the arguments being used to invalidate the study make good soundbites for public relations – but fall apart when compared to, you know, actual science. Which implies they’re actually part of a PR campaign to discredit, not an actual scientific debate of the merits. (See: Yes, scientists are attacking the latest Monsanto study – but not because of the science.)

Vidal runs down how meritless the arguments of the GMO industry are:

1. The French researchers were accused of using the Sprague Dawley rat strain which is said to be prone to developing cancers. In response Séralini and his team say these are the same rats as used by Monsanto in the 90-day trials which it used to get authorisation for its maize. This strain of rat has been used in most animal feeding trials to evaluate the safety of GM foods, and their results have long been used by the biotech industry to secure approval to market GM products.

2. The sample size of rats was said to be too small. Séralini responded that six is the OECD recommended protocol for GM food safety toxicology studies and he had based his study on the toxicity part of OECD protocol no. 453. This states that for a cancer trial you need a minimum of 50 animals of each sex per test group but for a toxicity trial a minimum of 10 per sex suffices. Monsanto used 20 rats of each sex per group in its feeding trials but only analysed 10, the same number as Séralini.

3. No data was given about the rats’ food intake. Seralini says the rats were allowed to eat as much food as they liked.

4. Séralini has not released the raw data from the trial. In response he says he won’t release it until the data underpinning Monsanto’s authorisation of NK603 in Europe is also made public.

5. His funding was provided by an anti-biotechnology organisation whose scientific board Séralini heads. But he counters that almost all GM research is funded by corporates or by pro-biotech institutions.

California Prop 37 would force labeling of GMO foodMeanwhile, California is taking the lead in forcing the food industry to at least reveal when the food we buy contains GMOs. Proposition 37 continues to lead in the polls. Learn more from CA right to know.


About the Author

Jeremy Bloom is the Editor of RedGreenAndBlue. He lives in New York, where he combines his passion for the environment with his passion for film, and is working on making the world a better place.
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  • Almightykingdom

    Serendipity just because someone may watch Fox News, doesn’t make them anymore wary of GMOs. I watch box CNN and Fox but that doesn’t make me some ignorant brainwashed conservative individual. Mikes answer was ignorant and lacked any sort of scientific reasoning but don’t lump me and others into that category.

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  • SimplyJohnnie

    Paxus, I disagree with you. President Obama is the only President in the history that he ordered Department of Justice to take up the cases against Monsanto for their deceptive marketing and placements of their agents in Federal. President Obama is Monsanto’s biggest nightmare and that explain why that company are investing heavily on Romney.

    • Ann

      Oh my goodness, Simply Johnnie, where have you been? Obama has absolutely licked the feet of Monsanto and other GMO companies, appointing Vilsack (a prime Monsanto man) as food safety Czar, and pushing him to OK with NO regs or health studies GMO’s such as sugar beets and alfalfa (both extremely adept pollinators which no doubt at all will cause much GMO contamination. Obama is a nightmare for conventional and organic farmers, as well as eaters and seed savers! He might do a few “surface” things to keep people thinking he’s on their side, but hey–his biggest lie in this area is the promise that he would IMMEDIATELY get GMO’s labeled. Instead, he appointed Vilsack, etc. etc. He is the wolf in sheep’s clothing–not just on GMO’s of course, but everything else too.

      • Tamara Verzal

        Good Call Ann! you’re right on the money on that one. Obama talks a good talk but all the while he’s signing deals in the backroom. Monsanto is one of the biggest threats to world stability in history. They are an evil corporation that has produced evil products that have done evil things. i.e. agent orange, PCB’s, Dioxins, polystyrene, and now GMO’s and many others. Bush appointed Michael Taylor (from Monsanto) to head the FDA. While Taylor was there he changed the recommendations made by the team of scientists which said that long term studies needed to be done to see what happens after some time has gone by. Michael Taylor removed that and wrote a sentence that says basically “GMO’s are no different than normal food.” and that has changed everything making us Americans “walking experiments”. When Bush left so did Taylor until Obama brought him back into the government as “Food Safety Czar” which is ludicrous since Monsanto epitomizes unsafe food production practices. So Obama was no better than Bush once again.

  • mike

    John Jan — you don’t understand how it works – the FDA doesn’t approve GM food – the EPA or USDA do. The FDA examine a submission and can pull a product on the market. Also these have been approved by many other world agencies – EU, Canada, Brazil, Argentina, South Africa, S Korea, japan, China, Australia, New Zealand etc etc. Are they all being paid by Monsanto? – you are the one who needs his head examined

    • Serendipity

      Yes, Mike, your post is a fine example of someone with an in-depth comprehension of scientific study. Only someone with your deep level of scientific knowledge would be able to use such compelling arguments as, “You are really a bunch of idiots,” or “…you don’t understand how it works.” So, genius of all scientific geniuses, do tell all us ‘idiots’ how it does work then. Your post doesn’t provide any answers, just some rubbish that makes it appear you’ve been brain-washed by a news source sharing your unique level of intelligence…Fox news maybe? Or maybe you just eat too many GMOs and it’s had a negative impact on your cognitive ability? Do tell…inquiring minds want to know…

  • mike

    You are really a bunch of idiots/ You don’t appear to have a clue about how science works. A toxin will get more toxic as the dose increases – it does not in these badly run experiments. They have zero validity except for idiots

  • Thanks for this bad news. Perhaps someone can make a campaign issue of Obama handing FDA to Monsanto.