GMOoooooops

There was a pretty robust discussion about GMOs over here on a recent Good News Friday thread where some longtime friends of the blog likened my anti-GMO stance to the anti-vaccine hysteria we’ve seen take root among less educated segments of the population.

So imagine my surprise to hear this story discussed on the radio today:

GMOSeralini.org welcomes the news of the republication of the chronic toxicity study on the glyphosate-based herbicide Roundup and a commercialized genetically modified (GM) maize, Monsanto’s NK603, led by Prof Gilles-Eric Séralini. The republication restores the study to the peer-reviewed literature so that it can be consulted and built upon by other scientists.

The study found severe liver and kidney damage and hormonal disturbances in rats fed the GM maize and low levels of Roundup that are below those permitted in drinking water in the EU. Toxic effects were found from the GM maize tested alone, as well as from Roundup tested alone and together with the maize. Additional unexpected findings were higher rates of large tumours and mortality in most treatment groups.

The study was first published in Food and Chemical Toxicology (FCT) in September 2012 but was retracted by the editor-in-chief in November 2013 after a sustained campaign of criticism and defamation by pro-GMO scientists.

Now the study has been republished by Environmental Sciences Europe. The republished version contains extra material addressing criticisms of the original publication. The raw data underlying the study’s findings are also published – unlike the raw data for the industry studies that underlie regulatory approvals of Roundup, which are kept secret. However, the new paper presents the same results as before and the conclusions are unchanged.

The republished study is accompanied by a separate commentary by Prof Séralini’s team describing the lobbying efforts of GMO crop supporters to force the editor of FCT to retract the original publication.

GMOSeralini.org editor Claire Robinson commented: “This study has now successfully passed no less than three rounds of rigorous peer review.

I believe this is the study I mentioned in comments on the GNF post that was derided as being not peer reviewed, pulled by the publisher for sloppy work, etc. Turns out it was pulled due to intensive Monsanto-generated pressure.

Dr Jack A Heinemann, Professor of Molecular Biology and Genetics, University of Canterbury New Zealand, called the republication “an important demonstration of the resilience of the scientific community”. Dr Heinemann continued, “The first publication of these results revealed some of the viciousness that can be unleashed on researchers presenting uncomfortable findings. I applaud Environmental Sciences Europe for submitting the work to yet another round of rigorous blind peer review and then bravely standing by the process and the recommendations of its reviewers, especially after witnessing the events surrounding the first publication.”

I continue to maintain that treating the earth like a petri dish with these genetically-modified crops simply for fun and profit is playing with fire.

14 Comments

Filed under food supply, science

14 responses to “GMOoooooops

  1. False flag by the POFFFJ* or the OFFOTHPFJ**?

    *Peoples’ Organic Farming Front For Justice

    **Organic Farmers’ Front Of The People For Justice.

  2. The faith in the omniscience of geneticists working for or in the pay of , agribusinesses is one of the most bizarre things in the group that thinks they are the great bastion of the highest sciencyness. One of the big problems of the totally artificial manipulation of genes is that, once out here, in the one and only biosphere we’ve got, once it’s gone feral, it can’t be called back. The generally otherwise admirable Chris Mooney and I broke over this issue. His faith in the benevolence and omniscience of scientists who are just as corruptible as anyone else is willful blindness.

    • I agree with one nitpick. As individuals, scientists are no more or less prone to being honest than any of us. As a profession, scientists tend towards honesty as it’s difficult to snow your peers in areas where data is data and not opinion.

      • Science, as a profession, isn’t notably good at following its own rules, as the frequent retraction of papers, at times due to fraud, quite often due to the review process being either faulty or fraudulent, itself. There is no one reviewing the reviewers and unless there are real, effective, professional punishments given to reviewers who rubber stamp and all who commit fraud, there is no reason to believe that scientists will police themselves. No profession should ever be trusted to police itself, especially when there is money to be made from fraud and lies.

        I always refer people to the excellent blog, Retraction Watch, if they want examples.

        http://retractionwatch.com/

        The second lead story just now is: Three PLOS ONE papers retracted for totally made-up data.

        One can only imagine how many papers out there to be cited haven’t been caught for that, even as reviewers OKed them.

  3. Right. That shit happens in every profession except politics and religion. The guardians of our morals whether they are standing in the pulpit or sitting in a swanky D.C. restaurant, think only of us and would never do ANYTHING dishonest or unethical.

    I don’t believe in omniscience, being atheist I expeshly don’t believe in GODLY omniscience.

    So, who brought the fraud to the attention of the scientific journal? It had to be someone with at least a modicum of scientific training, yes?

    • Who brought up religion? You. And if your argument is that science is as well self-policed as religion, I don’t see how you can make the claim that religion loses due to the superiority of science if science isn’t automatically superior. Since most of the legitimate criticism of religion comes from people in religion, that’s not much of an argument in your favor, either. People in different religions are far better at criticizing what people in other religions write than scientists would seem to be, and in many cases they are far better at internal criticism as well. The “social sciences” are a centuries long scandal which has never been adequately critiqued by physicists or chemists, sciences with an infinitely better record in upholding the methods and practices of science, though not as good these days, apparently.

      I could give example after example of scientists who have committed even obvious fraud using their credentials and standings as scientists who have not been defrocked, as it were. Some retaining major academic positions and renown within the community of scientists, Fritz Haber was given the Nobel in Chemistry in 1918 when he should have been on trial for war crimes using his science, for example. But I won’t abuse the hospitality of Southern Beale to do so. Only, apropos of her post, when it comes to biological creations that could reproduce, uncontrolled and to horrific results, there is no reason to trust scientists to police themselves and good reason to not allow them to.

  4. “Who brought up religion? You. And if your argument is that science is as well self-policed as religion, I don’t see how you can make the claim that religion loses due to the superiority of science if science isn’t automatically superior. Since most of the legitimate criticism of religion comes from people in religion,”

    Bullshit.

    Most criticism of religion comes from people who aren’t in thrall to the church in question.

    Science isn’t as well policed as religion? Are you fucking serious?

    Scientists have, beyond any doubt, committed fraud, rape, murder, larceny, bigamy, arson and any other crime that is covered by statute–as has every fucking church that’s ever become prominent. Oh, but, wait–that wasn’t the CHURCH it was some PERSON who is a MEMBER of the CHURCH or, in the case of numerous evangelical KKKristians over the past thirty to forty years–CHURCH LEADERS. Yeah, they’ve policed themselves extremely well.

    Wanna talk about war criminals or just regular ones? Howzabout Pope Pius XII, Cardinal Richelieu, Jim Jones, Reverend Sun Myung Moon, Father Coughlin, Cardinals Medeiros and Law, Jim Bakker, Jimmy Swaggart, John Hagee, Ted Haggard or any of dozens of preachers and church officials who’ve been found to be frauds, crooks and SINNNNNNNNNNERZ over the last–well, since GOD was invented. for fun and profit, by some just recently bi-pedal homo sapien.

    Scientists are JUST LIKE all of us. Some are selfless, some are shitheels. There is one HUGE difference between science and religion. Only religion gets to cling to “truths” that have no bases in fact.

  5. deep

    Oh dear, I was gone for a while and I see this was revisited.

    This makes me uncomfortable Beale because I’ve been a happy follower of you blog for a while now, and maybe I was just blinded because we agreed with each other 99% of the time, but it really seems like you’re cherry picking your criticisms of GMOs without noticing the vast amount of information and data out there that not only debunk the study but show just how biased and intentionally incendiary the study authors are.

    Since the original publication many governments funded studies of their own to determine if the allegations made by Séralini were true. In particular six French National Acedmies issued a joint statement condemning the study,the French HCB and the National Agency for Food Safety, the Vlaams Instituut voor Biotechnologie, Technical University of Denmark, Food Standards Australia New Zealand, Brazilian National Technical Commission on Biosafety and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). As far as I know none of these agencies could be influenced by Monsanto. Meanwhile, the quote you offer condemning Monsanto’s involvement doesn’t even mention Monsanto.

    I know it’s often the easy route to assume conspiracies everywhere, and that Monsanto has millions of dollars to spend buying out scientists, but think of it this way: Monsanto’s budget for this stuff is in the Millions while the Koch brothers have spent billions supporting Climate Denialism. The fact remains that the scientists could not be bought out by the Koch brothers and they certainly cannot be bought out by Monsanto.

    Anyway, my goal all along was just to you and others who read this blog thinking outside the typical liberal narrative of “mankind has ruined our world and now we are paying the price.” The climate debate makes it easy to side with scientists since it fits this narrative, while the GMO debate runs counter to it. I don’t want to get into who is right or wrong, since I am certainly not a scientist myself, and you and I are just throwing stuff from websites that have their own agenda. That said, the evidence they present is starting to become more and more clear that the rapidly growing Organic industry does not have the best interest of the public at heart and more questions need to be asked and more consideration given to the arguments of scientists.

    (Lastly, I noticed that the site you got all this from uses the Cavuto Mark in their related news section: “Is Monsanto the World’s Most Evil Corporation? ” Can you really take a any website seriously that does that?)

    • deep

      oops: forgot to provide the link to the joint statement of the French academies: http://phys.org/news/2012-10-linking-gm-corn-cancer-non-event.html

    • I’m sorry it makes you uncomfortable. One of the things I always thought separates the lefties from the right-wing fringe is that we tolerate more differences of opinion. What’s that old Will Rogers saying, “I’m not a member of an organized political party, I’m a Democrat?”

      It’s OK that we disagree on this but we do disagree. And the fact of the matter is, where science is concerned, it is a discipline where authors put forth their work for the express purpose of having it challenged by their peers, and thereby over time and trial the truth is sussed out. So yes you will find scientific disagreement, that is the point. But you also find scientific agreement.

      The fact that politics and corporate interests have corrupted even a small part of this process is alarming. “4 out of 5 dentists agree” but that 5th dentist was paid by the Wrigley Co. to disagree, or else was high on meth that day. In the meantime while all of that sussing is going on, shouldn’t we hold off on introducing some of this stuff into the global food supply? Don’t we hold off on human trials of certain pharmaceuticals until a certain point where we’re testing efficacy more than mortality? (Third World countries need not apply for that deal, I guess).

      I mean, that’s kinda what the debate is. I don’t think safety has been established.

  6. deep

    Popular Science recently made a top ten list on this subject too:

    http://www.popsci.com/article/science/core-truths-10-common-gmo-claims-debunked

    But they’re hardly a voice for the right-wing given their clear acceptance on climate change:

    http://www.popsci.com/category/tags/climate-change

  7. The problem with GMO is the same as the problem with NuKiller Power (and fossil fuel power, for that matter) and Gunzeverwhere; there’s a lot of money being made by a small %age of people who tell us we have nothing to worry about but are absolutely unwilling to prove it by indemnifying the rest of us from any harms that might arise when the genie gets out of the bottle.

    Popular science, btw, was promising us all jetpacks (and Southern Beale is, I think, well aware of this {;>)) since about 1950 or thereabouts.

    I’m not anti-nuke, anti-gun or anti-GMO. I’m very much anti-getting stuck with the bill when shit happens and it costs a fuckton to straighten out the mess that was created by NOTme–an expense that the folks who created the mess won’t be on the hook for.

    • “But agriculture doesn’t happen in a vacuum.”

      This is what I’ve been saying since this whole fucking discussion STARTED and Deep hasn’t addressed that, simply said “stop worrying” and “don’t be like those anti-vaccine extremists” etc etc etc

      God damm.