With Monsanto refusing to cooperate, how can we study GMOs?

  • Published on June 17th, 2013

We can expect to see a lot of debate about the new study of pigs fed on a Genetically Modified (GMO) grain diet.

gmo-piggiesOn the one hand, a lot more pigs had severe stomach inflammation on GMO feed than on conventional.

On the other hand, “moderate” inflammation seemed to be more heavily concentrated among the swine getting the good food.

But, as Food Safety News points out, the bigger issue here is that Monsanto won’t cooperate in these kinds of studies. And that’s a serious problem.

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“Any study you want to do with these engineered crops, you need to get the company’s permission,” Michael Hansen, Ph.D., senior scientist for Consumers Union, told Food Safety News. “Could you imagine if tobacco research was only done when the tobacco companies had the final say?”

test tubesSee also: Monsanto blocks research on GMO safety

Some scientists are dismissing the study, since the GMO feed had to be bought commercially – it wasn’t grown under rigorously controlled conditions. But that’s a total Catch-22, since Monsanto would never give permission.

In the meantime, the GMO-defenders have brought out the big guns, dismissing the study as “junk science” and questioning the methodology – but primarily the motives – of the scientists who conducted it.

“Critics of GMOs are accused of letting ideology trump science,” writes Tom Laskawy at Grist. “But watching the scathing, knee-jerk reactions to any new piece of research that shines a less-than-positive light on GMOs, it makes me think that the shrill has found itself on the other foot.”

lab rat by bungirlSee also: Yes, scientists are attacking the latest Monsanto study – but not because of the science

And of course, this is also a window into how bad American factory farms are for the animals they “husband”.

 Roughly 60 percent of both pig groups had stomach erosions at slaughter, and nearly 60 percent from each group suffered pneumonia, which Lynas called “a classic indicator of bad husbandry.”

The animals were indeed raised in a commercial environment and the data were similar to what is expected in such a setting, said Howard Vlieger, co-author of the study and owner of Verity Farms in Maurice, Iowa, where the study was conducted.

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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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