Respectful Insolence

Ideologically motivated bad science, pseudoscience, misinformation, and lies irritate me. In fact, arguably, they are the very reason I started this blog. True, over time my focus has narrowed. I used to write a lot more about creationism, more general skeptical topics, Holocaust denial, 9/11 Trutherism, and the like, but these days I rarely write about topics that don’t have anything to do with medicine. Sometimes, it even seems that I’ve narrowed my focus to the point that all I write about is antivaccine nonsense. That doesn’t mean that I’ve lost interest; rather it’s that over time I’ve realized what my strengths are and tended to play to them. Even so I need a change of pace every now and then, and leave it to that quackery promoter to rule all quackery promoters, Mike Adams, to give me just the opportunity to write about a topic I rarely, if ever write about. I’m talking about “genetically modified organisms” (GMOs), baby, and Mike is in a fine lather about them, with multiple posts in the last few days with titles such as The GMO debate is over; GM crops must be immediately outlawed; Monsanto halted from threatening humanity and, just yesterday, The evil of Monsanto and GMOs explained: Bad technology, endless greed and the destruction of humanity.

Hyperbole much, Mikey?

Not to be outdone, that other quackery supporter vying with Mike Adams to be the quackery supporter to rule all quackery supporters, Joe Mercola, also weighed in over the weekend with a post entitled First-Ever Lifetime Feeding Study Finds Genetically Engineered Corn Causes Massive Tumors, Organ Damage, and Early Death. It also turns out that Mike Adams had pontificated about this very same study a couple of days before Mercola with a title equally ominous, Shock findings in new GMO study: Rats fed lifetime of GM corn grow horrifying tumors, 70% of females die early. Whenever I see the cranks pile on a study like this, my curiosity is piqued. I noticed that Steve Novella had already discussed the study that had this not-so-dynamic duo in such a frothy lather. Of course, as you know, that a blogger as awesome as Steve Novella had covered a topic never stopped me from pontificating about the very same study before (well, actually, it has, but in this case it wasn’t enough). Besides, these sorts of studies are right up my alley, given that I’m a cancer researcher, and the study being touted as “smoking gun” evidence that GMOs are pure evil is such a steaming, stinking turd of a study that it actually irritated me more than the usual bit of bad science that I discuss on occasion.

Besides, there’s a lot in common between anti-GMO activists and antivaccine activists. Perhaps the most prominent similarity is philosophical. Both groups fetishize the naturalistic fallacy, otherwise known as the belief that if it’s “natural” it must be good (or at least better than anything man-made or “artificial”). In the case of antivaccine activists, the immune response caused by vaccines is somehow “unnatural” and therefore harmful and evil, even though the mechanisms by which the immune system responds to vaccines are the same or similar to how it responds to “natural” antigens. That’s the whole idea, to stimulate the immune system to think that you’ve had the disease without actually giving you the disease, thus stimulating long term immunity to the actual disease! In the case of anti-GMO activists, the same idea appears to prevail, namely that, because GMOS are somehow “unnatural,” they must be harmful and evil. That’s not to say that they might not have problems and issues that need to be dealt with, but the apocalyptic language used by many of the anti-GMO activists like Mike Adams and Joe Mercola is so far over-the-top that it is very much like the language of the antivaccine movement. In fact, not surprisingly, antivaccinationists are often anti-GMO as well, and vice-versa, an example of crank magnetism in action. Indeed, Joe Mercola himself is one of the biggest backers of California Proposition 37, which would require the labeling of GMO-based food, having donated $1.1 million so far.

This particular study was done by a group in France led by Gilles-Eric Séralini at the University of Caen with a history of opposition to GMOs. Also, as Steve pointed out, Séralini et al did not allow reporters to seek outside comment on their paper before its publication. If there’s a red flag that a study is ideologically motivated crap and that the authors know it’s ideologically motivated crap, I can’t think of one. Even if Séralini et al didn’t know their study was weak and were somehow afraid that the nefarious Monsanto scientists would plant negative sound bites into news stories about the study, I’m sorry, but trying to control initial news reports like this is just not how scientific results should be announced, period. It’s cowardice and an unseemly attempt at spin:

“For the first time ever, a GM organism and a herbicide have been evaluated for their long-term impact on health, and more thoroughly than by governments or the industry,” Séralini told AFP. “The results are alarming.”

Meanwhile, at his wretched hive of scum and quackery Mike Adams writes:

As a shocking new study has graphically shown, GMOs are the new thalidomide. When rats eat GM maize, they develop horrifying tumors. Seventy percent of females die prematurely, and virtually all of them suffer severe organ damage from consuming GMO. These are the scientific conclusions of the first truly “long-term” study ever conducted on GMO consumption in animals, and the findings are absolutely horrifying. (See pictures of rats with tumors, below.)

What this reveals is that genetic engineering turns FOOD into POISON.

Meanwhile, Mercola writes:

The research was considered so “hot” that the work was done under strict secrecy. According to a French article in Le Nouvel Observateur,2 the researchers used encrypted emails, phone conversations were banned, and they even launched a decoy study to prevent sabotage!

One wonders if they mixed up the “decoy” study with the real study, if the quality of the final published study is any indication. Let’s take a look. This study, by Séralini et al, was entitled Long term toxicity of a Roundup herbicide and a Roundup-tolerant genetically modified maize. Here’s the abstract:

The health effects of a Roundup-tolerant genetically modified maize (from 11% in the diet), cultivated with or without Roundup, and Roundup alone (from 0.1 ppb in water), were studied 2 years in rats. In females, all treated groups died 2–3 times more than controls, and more rapidly. This difference was visible in 3 male groups fed GMOs. All results were hormone and sex dependent, and the pathological profiles were comparable. Females developed large mammary tumors almost always more often than and before controls, the pituitary was the second most disabled organ; the sex hormonal balance was modified by GMO and Roundup treatments. In treated males, liver congestions and necrosis were 2.5–5.5 times higher. This pathology was confirmed by optic and transmission electron microscopy. Marked and severe kidney nephropathies were also generally 1.3–2.3 greater. Males presented 4 times more large palpable tumors than controls which occurred up to 600 days earlier. Biochemistry data confirmed very significant kidney chronic deficiencies; for all treatments and both sexes, 76% of the altered parameters were kidney related. These results can be explained by the non linear endocrine-disrupting effects of Roundup, but also by the overexpression of the transgene in the GMO and its metabolic consequences.

Wow. Sounds really disturbing, doesn’t it? Certainly, at first glance it did to me, but something seemed fishy. Although some have pointed out that the rat strain used (albino Sprague-Dawley rats from Harlan Labs) have a high propensity for tumors to develop as it is, initially I didn’t really consider that as big a problem as some do. You want a certain baseline of tumor development, and it’s not entirely unreasonable to pick a strain that develops tumors at a rate that is frequent enough that it’s likely that the strain will be sensitive to carcinogens. On the other hand, if the baseline rate of developing tumors is high enough, there’s not much room to go up further, and it’s harder to detect effects that result in an increased incidence of tumors. The problem with this particular rat strain is that the rate might well reach that point, which is why the control group size is a really big problem.

Indeed, what seemed fishier to me were two things. First, there were only 20 rats in the control group. In actuality, in practice it was less than that, because the authors looked at both males and females; so there were 10 male controls and 10 female controls, which struck me as a rather small number for a study of this type. Then there were nine other groups, with twenty mice in each group, 10 males and ten females each, making for a very complicated experimental design. Indeed, I agree with Marion Nestle, the Paulette Goddard professor in the Department of Nutrition, Food Studies and Public Health at New York University who supports labeling of genetically modified foods on a national scale, when she said, “It’s weirdly complicated and unclear on key issues: what the controls were fed, relative rates of tumors, why no dose relationship, what the mechanism might be. I can’t think of a biological reason why GMO corn should do this.”

“Weirdly complicated” doesn’t even begin to describe it. I found the experimental design unnecessarily complicated to a ridiculous degree, with too few mice in each group. In fact, these were the groups (the number of animals in the group is in parentheses):

  1. Controls (20)
  2. 11% GMO (20)
  3. 22% GMO (20)
  4. 33% GMO (20)
  5. 11% GMO + R (20)
  6. 22% GMO + R (20)
  7. 33% GMO + R (20)
  8. R(A) (20)
  9. R(B) (20)
  10. R(C) (20)

The percentage means the percentage of GMO corn in the rat chow, specifically the Roundup resistant strain NK603, and “R” means that Roundup had been applied to the corn. R(A) through R(C) are different concentrations of Roundup in the rats’ drinking water. This is way too many groups to have a high likelihood of producing interpretable data, particularly with only 10 females and ten males in each group. In essence, there were 20 experimental groups with ten rats in each group. Most problematic is the small number in the control group. There’s an old study on this line of rats published in 1979 that looked at the spontaneous development of endocrine tumors. After two years, 86% of male and 72% of female rats had developed tumors of the sort described by Séralini et al. Note that the time period of this 1979 study was the same as that of Séralini et al, two years. In other words, the “treated” rats developed as many tumors as expected for this particular strain of rats allowed to live to their natural lifespanand in fact the control groups arguably had an unusually low incidence of tumors.

Elsewhere, biologist Andrew Kniss ran a simulation (for which he provides the code) based on this study and found:

Let’s assume that the Suzuki et al (1979) paper is correct, and 72% of female Sprague-Dawley rats develop tumors after 2 years, even if no treatments are applied. If we randomly choose 10,000 rats with a 72% chance that they will have a tumor after 2 years, we can be pretty certain that approximately 72% of the rats we selected will develop a tumor by the end of 2 years.

In our very large sample of 10,000 simulated rats, we found that 71.4% of them will develop tumors by the end of a 2 year study. That’s pretty close to 72%. But here is where sample size becomes so critically important. If we only select 10 female rats, the chances of finding exactly 72% of them with tumors is much less. In fact, there is a pretty good chance the percentage of 10 rats developing tumors could be MUCH different than the population mean of 72%. This is because there is a greater chance that our small sample of 10 will not be representative of the larger population.

In other words, large numbers matter. In a group of 10 mice, each with a 72% chance of developing tumors after two years, there’s a much higher chance that the number of rats in the control group that develop tumors will be a number other than 7 (72%). Also curious is that the rate of mortality didn’t appear to be related to the dose of GMO corn. The authors attribute this to the GMO corn being so nasty that it was a “threshold” effect, where the observed effect maxed out before the lowest percentage of GMO corn was even hit, which, if true, would imply that a followup study was warranted looking at, for instance, 0% GMO corn to 11% GMO corn. However, more modeling of the study revealed:

But here’s the important part: Simply by chance, if we draw 10 rats from a population in which 72% get tumors after 2 years, we have anywhere from 5 (“t2″) to 10 (“t1″) rats in a treatment group that will develop tumors. Simply due to chance; not due to treatments. If I did not know about this predisposition for developing tumors in Sprague-Dawley rats, and I were comparing these treatment groups, I might be inclined to say that there is indeed a difference between treatment 1 and treatment 2. Only 5 animals developed tumors in treatment 1, and all 10 animals developed tumors treatment 2; that seems pretty convincing. But again, in this case, it was purely due to chance.

It’s even worse than Dr. Kniss demonstrates.

What do I mean? The investigators measured numerous parameters in each group, some of them at multiple different time points. An experiment with this many groups and this many parameters measured this many times is virtually guaranteed to generate multiple “positive” results. How did they control for all these multiple comparisons? I’ve read the study a few times now, and I still can’t figure it out. An experiment with this many groups in which this many parameters are measured is guaranteed to produce “statistically significant” differences in a number of variables by random chance alone. Heck, in Figure 5, I counted 47 different parameters measured, and in some tables thirteen different parameters recorded curiously as percentage changes. Even worse, for the mortality data (arguably the most critical data), no confidence intervals are reported, and there appears to be no discussion of how the mortality data were analyzed, as Michael Grayer points out in an excellent takedown of the statistical analysis (or, more appropriately, lack of statistical analysis) in this paper. I would only add to this a couple of questions. First, why was there no power analysis reported to justify the number of mice per experimental group and the number of experimental groups chosen? What was the statistical power of this design to detect significant differences? This is some very basic stuff here. Second, who the heck was the statistician on this? He or she should be fired for gross incompetence.

And don’t even get me on the lack of blinding of observers to the identities of the experimental groups. That’s just single blinding, which is the absolute minimum that could be acceptable in an animal experiment. Double blinding would have been better. Apparently, the researchers used neither.

There’s another fishy thing about how the results are reported. Steve Novella noted this, too, but it’s more pervasive than he pointed out. In fact, never before in a scientific paper have I seen a line like, “”All data cannot be shown in one report and the most relevant are described here”—that is, until this paper. Steve wondered whether the authors were cherry picking the results they were presenting. I more than wonder. I strongly suspect. In particular, I noticed that Roundup and the GMO corn appeared to have the same detrimental effects.

Then there are the graphs. Oh, God, there are the graphs. I was half tempted to reproduce the graphs here, but in reality I found Figure 1 (which contains them) so confusing. It consists of six graphs, three for males, three for females, each graph consisting of four curves for different percentages of GMO corn in the rat chow. Not only that, each graph had a shaded area stated to represent the mean lifespan and beyond. But not only that, each graph had an inset graph representing “cause of death” for mice who died before the lifespan of the gray area. That’s basically a total of twelve different graphs, in which it’s hideously difficult to directly compare the experimental groups that I would want to compare to each other. It’s almost as though the authors were trying to make it hard to interpret the results of this study. However, considering that, in essence, this was a study of 20 different groups (two controls and eighteen experimental groups), the results are well nigh uninterpretable to the point of meaninglessness. Besides, Emily Willingham went to the trouble (and it was a lot of trouble, I bet) of graphing the data in a much more standard way that makes it easier to interpret. Guess what? The differences mostly disappear. She also speculates whether BPA was a confounding factor, although I’m not particularly convinced by her arguments for that. She is correct, however, in pointing out how crappy the statistical analyses were and deceiving the graphs were. In fact, if you want an idea of why Figure 1 is so deceptive, you can find it in, of all places, this Tweet.

Finally, there is a question of whether the control groups were exposed to GMO corn. Tim Worstall, a blogger at Forbes.com, looked into the issue of whether there is GMO corn in normal rat chow sold for use in feeding laboratory rats. He contacted Harlan, the company that supplied the rats for this study, and asked about GMO products used in rat chow. The company told him that “we do not exclude GM materials from rodent diets.” He also points out that, if the findings of this paper were accurate, because there is a difference in the use of GMO corn in the U.S. and Europe, we’d expect to see a massive change in the incidence of tumors in this mouse strain in the U.S. but less so in Europe. He has a point, but I think he overstates his argument. If the incidence of tumors in these mice is really 72-86% by two years, it could very well be difficult to detect a significant increase in a number that is already so high. On the other hand, his point that the control mice might well have been exposed to GMO corn is valid. Certainly, there is nothing in the paper that demonstrated that the control group’s feed was free of GMO corn.

The bottom line is that this study is about as bad as studies get. The editors of Food and Chemical Toxicology, the journal in which this pitiful excuse for a study was published, ought to be ashamed. As it was so aptly put:

But it could more simply mean the GM maize and the herbicide had no measured effect, and that is why the dose made no difference. “They show that old rats get tumours and die,” says Mark Tester of the University of Adelaide, Australia. “That is all that can be concluded.”

Indeed. That is about all one can say about the study. Certainly we can’t say whether the GMO maize increased the propensity for tumors. It’s also interesting how the authors included so many photos of the rats and their tumors, photos that quacks like Mike Adams and Joe Mercola eagerly post on their websites, but failed to include photos of the control rats.

So why should we care? As I said before, I despise ideologically-motivated pseudoscience and bad science. It’s the same reason I come down so hard on antivaccine “researchers” like Andrew Wakefield, Mark and David Geier, and various other “researchers” who pump out bad studies that support the long-discredited hypothesis that vaccines cause autism or that vaccines cause a whole host of problems. This bad science has real implications. Already, Séralini’s risibly bad study has motivated the French government to order a probe into the results of the study, which could result in the suspension of this strain of genetically modified corn. Moreover, one can’t help but wonder a little bit about the timing of the release of this study, given that Proposal 37, which would require the labeling of GMO-based food, is a big issue in California right now, and a study like this might just influence the election.

When it comes to GMO, I don’t really have a dog in the hunt, so to speak, but brain dead studies like this one certainly prod me towards the view that much of the “science” behind anti-GMO activism just doesn’t hold water, and the easy acceptance of such nonsensical results as valid by “progressives” is just plain depressing. I mean, seriously. Even the worst depredations of pharma and Monsanto in terms of lousy studies don’t match this biased, incompetently performed and analyzed experiment. There might be valid reasons to be wary of the proliferation of GMO-based foods, such as concern over the control that large multinational corporations like Monsanto might exercise over the food supply, but the studies purporting to find horrific dangers of GMO-based food strike me as having the methodological rigor of a typical Andrew Wakefield or Mark Geier study. Perhaps that’s why I wasn’t too surprised when one of my readers pointed out that one of the authors of the study is also a homeopath and acupuncturist; so maybe the better comparison to make to this paper would be papers by homeopaths trying to show that homeopathy works. Either way, this is bad, bad science, and it’s sad to see how many people who should know better (but apparently do not) lap it up so credulously while applying much greater skepticism to science that doesn’t damn GMOs as pure poison.

Next up, I anticipate that someone, instead of calling me a “pharma shill,” will call me a “Monsanto shill.” It’s coming. You know it is. Just wait. Maybe I can generate a new revenue stream by adding all that filthy food industry lucre to all the filthy pharma lucre that antivaccinationists and quacks think I’m getting.

Comments

  1. #1 Billy D.
    September 24, 2012

    Thank you for this. I got into a discussion about this at work and made roughly the same points.

    People increasingly seem to conflate issues of corporate power with a distrust of science.

  2. #2 Grant
    September 24, 2012

    I hate being first, but I’m tired of waiting for someone else to say something…!

    Great take-down. Even if I was left wondering if the ’10 mail controls’ were done by postal delivery! :-) (Goodness knows, I write worse on an hourly basis…)

    There’s something similar on the local scene too. While not quite as dramatic perhaps, we’re fighting fires on a local scientist’s report published opposing Australian work on a GM wheat that increases yield of resistant starch via RNAi that was issued just before the story Orac relates broke.

    One element is that the researcher behind this report took it straight to media, via the
    Safe Food Foundation & Institute website (a video is hosted there), rather than to the relevant regulatory group. Naturally, that created some fuss that was echoed in local media. (I’ve no idea how it fared internationally – I imagine the Australian media at least would have also taken it.) To compound it, the researcher took part in a media “debate” of two opposing views on-line with following “voting” (readers were obliged to vote in order to comment).

    The two blog articles are both hosted by sciblogs, which I also write at. The first is by Assoc. Professor Deardon, a local geneticist, and the second a reply by the scientist who wrote the report, Prof. Heinemann:

    http://sciblogs.co.nz/southern-genes/2012/09/12/does-eating-transgenic-wheat-destroy-your-liver/

    http://sciblogs.co.nz/guestwork/2012/09/18/separating-the-chaff-from-the-grain-in-the-debate-on-gm-wheat/

    Anyway, if anyone here wants more to get their teeth into, the debate there is still on-going so join in if you feel so inclined.

  3. #3 Heliantus
    September 24, 2012

    I was hoping you would talk about this article.
    I went from distrust of the article, to second-guessing myself, to distrust again as more capable scientists than me started tearing apart the article.
    Eh, I did have some good hints, so maybe I’m not that bad a scientist.

    To my shame, the French journalists swallowed this whole bait and hook. And just yesterday, of course, obligatory poll resulting in 80% of my compatriots distrusting GMO “because off their toxicity”.

  4. #4 dingo199
    September 24, 2012

    I read the commentaries, then went back to the abstract.
    Why can’t people write decent abstracts anymore? Surely it isn’t just the fact that the authors are writing in their second language – english is the universal language of science and anyone published world-shattering research could at least have someone look the paper over first? Why write such a clumsily-worded, inept, imprecise abstract?

    “were studied 2 years in rats”

    “In females, all treated groups died 2–3 times more than controls, and more rapidly.”

    “Females developed large mammary tumors almost always more often”

    “the pituitary was the second most disabled organ”

    “Marked and severe kidney nephropathies”

    “Males presented 4 times more large palpable tumors than controls”

    Almost every sentence is mangled in grammar and in meaning. If the whole paper is like that, I don’t think I could get through it without harming myself.

  5. #5 Heliantus
    September 24, 2012

    Bad science on GMOs: It reminds me of the antivaccine movement

    Indeed.

    Oh, God, there are the graphs. I was half tempted to reproduce the graphs here, but in reality I found Figure 1 (which contains them) so confusing. It consists of six graphs, three for males, three for females, each graph consisting of four curves for different percentages of GMO corn in the rat chow. Not only that, each graph had a shaded area stated to represent the mean lifespan and beyond.

    You can actually learn quite a lot from Figure 1 if you look long enough.

    By example, the paper’s authors have been touting urbi et orbi how the rats started dying of cancer at 4 months, i.e. 1 month after the end of usual “official” testings (apparently, toxicology testing are generally limited to 3 months).
    Look at the graphs. Number of rats dying at 4 months: two.
    Only two out of 200.
    Next time any rat goes down: after 240 days. (although, unknown for controls)

    Number of male rats dying during the selected adult lifespan (before the right-handed grey area, representing “old age”): between 1 to 5. Control: 3.
    Remember me, chance of rats getting tumors? 43%? Oh, like about 4 in 10.
    But I swear, there is a difference between control and GMO/round-up feed..

    Number of female rats dying during the same period: between 1 to 7. Control: 2
    Ah, 7 to 2. Maybe there is something.
    But look at the cause of death. In grey, spontaneous death. Black, euthanized to stop its suffering.
    Male rats: a minority, 9 of them, were euthanized, most of the others were left to die by themselves.
    Female rats: it’s the opposite. Almost all of them were euthanized, including, to be fair, the two from the control group.
    In other words, the females were more likely to be put down.
    If they had left the female rats to die by themselves, however sadistic this may sound, a few of them may have lived long enough to step inside the “old age” side of the graph, and thus would not have been accounted as “killed by the GMO’ or whatever.

    Something I didn’t found in the method is if the rats were feed and observed in a double blind manner. If the observers knew which rats received the “poison”, I’m afraid that may have influenced their decision as to when a rat with very obvious tumors has suffered enough and should be euthanized.

  6. #6 Ellyn
    September 24, 2012

    Thanks for the brilliant smack down, Orac. I was pulling my hair out trying to read this paper. This isn’t the first time Seralini has tried to do some non-standard stats with toxicology data. (It’s here, if people are interested: http://www.biolsci.org/v05p0706.htm)
    Seralini has also spoken out against French high school students doing plasmid transformations in biology prac class; apparently it’s too risky. There’s definitely an agenda.

    Grant: As far as I’m aware, the GM wheat story hasn’t really made the rounds in the Australian media. (I can’t find mention of it in the major newspapers.) I’d only gotten wind of it because my Supervisor had been told about about it and went into a rant.

  7. #7 Orac
    September 24, 2012

    Almost every sentence is mangled in grammar and in meaning. If the whole paper is like that, I don’t think I could get through it without harming myself.

    The whole paper reads like that.

  8. #8 Orac
    September 24, 2012

    By example, the paper’s authors have been touting urbi et orbi how the rats started dying of cancer at 4 months, i.e. 1 month after the end of usual “official” testings (apparently, toxicology testing are generally limited to 3 months).
    Look at the graphs. Number of rats dying at 4 months: two.
    Only two out of 200.
    Next time any rat goes down: after 240 days. (although, unknown for controls)

    One might think that the authors were actually trying to obfuscate this by making the graphs unnecessarily complicated and hard to read…

  9. #9 Grant
    September 24, 2012

    Ellyn,

    “and went into a rant” Oooo :-) It’d be nice if the damage was limited, i.e. mainly covered only by NZ media. The story Orac covered has been everywhere. He points at French journalists, but one pet gripe of mine is that ‘downstream’ publishers (e.g. newspapers) like those in NZ have an opportunity to criticise the earlier reporting but rarely do. Instead they just paste up the AP copy or whatever. I’d love to see science editors in place. (There’s recent news that the Daily Mail and the Australian have just dropped their science editors. Great. Just what we need, etc…)

  10. #10 LW
    September 24, 2012

    It sounds from the description that the Roundup-no GMO groups had a higher rate of cancers too. How did they distinguish the effect of GMO from the effect of Roundup?

    Where did they get Roundup-ready wheat that hadn’t been exposed to Roundup? How did they know it had not been exposed to Roundup? The whole point of buying Roundup-ready wheat is to be able to use Roundup on it. Did they grow it themselves?

    It seems to me that their elaborate division of rats into groups might not be meaningful because they can’t account for Roundup exposure.

  11. #11 LW
    September 24, 2012

    Sorry, it’s Roundup-ready corn, not wheat. In my part of the country we mostly grow wheat so my mind just slipped a cog.

  12. #12 Heliantus
    September 24, 2012

    @ Orac

    One might think that the authors were actually trying to obfuscate this by making the graphs unnecessarily complicated and hard to read…

    The thought occurred to me. Surely, I’m too cynical.

    Apparently, people are wising up in my country, but the damage is done.
    On a personal level, my dad, who initially bought it, eventually sent me an article from a news website debunking the study (it was mostly a translation of an article from Sciencemedia).
    My mom, who is usually the more skeptical and rational of my parents, still half-believe in the article. The pictures of the rats and their giant breast tumors were too shocking.
    One wonders what is the scientific point of these pictures. On the other hand, these pictures have been joyfully reproduced with every press release, and they certainly have a emotional point…

    @ Billy D. #1

    People increasingly seem to conflate issues of corporate power with a distrust of science.

    Spot on.
    Point the defaults of the study, and people start ranting about Monsanto’s hegemony. Which is a different debate than GMOs’ supposed toxicity. Not totally unrelated, but still.

  13. #13 Heliantus
    September 24, 2012

    @ LW

    Not wheat, maize. Variety NK603 from Monsanto.

    From the article’s method, they actually cultivated the maize they needed in a field next to their lab, both the transgenic one (with or without round-up)and a closely-related non-GMO strain used to make the control feed.
    As far as I could read it, nothing on how many harvests, or how they stocked it (hence these questions about potential contamination by mycotoxins in the event of bad stockage).

  14. #14 Amy (T)
    September 24, 2012

    Thank you! The study just sounded like it was designed to be anti-Monsanto & no good science.

  15. #15 Krebiozen
    September 24, 2012

    I’m no fan of large corporations in general (apart from my Big Pharma paymasters, of course), but it does strike me as odd that in Wooville, Monsanto is widely thought of as part of an evil Illuminati conspiracy to reduce population, when much of their work aims to allow us to feed a larger world population.

    Their tactics to protect their intellectual property rights seem more than a little unsavory to me, but that’s how business works in our current economic system, and it seems likely that this kind of technology is the only hope we have of ending world hunger, especially with the disruption to food supplies that seems likely with climate change.

    There is good evidence that Roundup, for example, is not carcinogenic, has low toxicity*, does not adversely affect reproduction or development of a wide range of organisms, is not an endocrine disruptor, does not bioaccumulate, and rapidly breaks down in the environment. I cannot imagine any way that the genetic modification that makes plants resistant to Roundup could possibly make Roundup-Ready crops in any way toxic. It’s a natural mutation in a gene that codes for an enzyme only found in plants and bacteria.

    In short it seemeth to me that Roundup is as close to a perfect herbicide as anyone could hope for. Are the Luddites and yoghurt weavers celebrating this remarkable product? Of course not.

    * The surfactants in Roundup are more toxic than the glyphosphate itself. Note that vast quantities of surfactants are splashed liberally around environmentally-aware households every day – check out your favorite ecological detergent and see what the active ingredient is if you don’t believe me.

  16. #16 Renate
    September 24, 2012

    I’m not sure if it’s correct but I remember having read that the rats wich got de GMO food only got the maize, while the control group got a more varied diet.

  17. #17 T.
    September 24, 2012

    OT:
    I wonder if there is any Skeptical around the internet who has tackle with overpopulation denialist. Can anybody point me to him/her in case?

  18. #18 Ellyn
    September 24, 2012

    @ Grant:

    Disappointing, isn’t it? And with the departure of the science editor from The Australian, there are no dedicated science writers left at News Ltd. Not that I believe News Ltd had the most robust science reporting to start with…

  19. #19 dingo199
    September 24, 2012

    http://www.sciencemediacentre.org/pages/press_releases/12-09-19_gm_maize_rats_tumours.htm

    Some other relevant commentary from experts in the field.

  20. #20 Anj
    September 24, 2012

    @Renate,

    I don’t see “overpopulation” denialists as much as I see “limited resource” denialists.

    Their basic argument is that if we use the existing resources more efficiently, we can feed everyone. The biggest problem with this argument boils down to one word: water. (unintentional word play)

    Water is essential for food production, food processing and sanitation. Water is also essential for other things such as manufacturing and energy production. Limited water supply creates limits on most essential products and services. While dry foods such as grain are relatively easy and economical to move around, water is not.

    Denialists will insist we have enough FOOD to feed everyone, but tend to ignore other essential resources.

  21. #21 MikeMa
    September 24, 2012

    Study authors: If science doesn’t support your desired conclusions, ur doin it wrog.

    Its like the science behind this took lessons in spin from American politics. It is essential (maybe) to set some expectations but to steamroll the data or design the study to make it easy to misrepresent the data to fit those expectations is not science.

  22. #22 MikeMa
    September 24, 2012

    As was said earlier, Monsanto’s business model leaves a lot to be desired but our political system allowed their patents. They could have chosen to partner and build community support but they chose the bully beatdown method of IP protection. I hope the IP lawyer crap hurts Monsanto in the long run but it should have no impact on scientific research.

  23. #23 Renate
    September 24, 2012

    @ Anj
    I suppose your comment was adressed at T.

    Overpopulation is a different subject, which has several sides, which makes the discussion even more difficult than it already is, if we are just talking about the amount of food, water and other supplies.

  24. #24 kds
    September 24, 2012

    You describe the design of the experiment as “weirdly complicated”. As a statistician, I would simply call it complicated, but acceptable. The dates that the rats died in this design could be analysed using Cox regression analysis, a typical statistical method for survival analyses. But a quick look at figure 1 in the paper of Seralini makes it clear that such analysis would find that there is no statistically significant difference between ggo and non-ggo feed. Which makes me wonder: did they do this analysis, but don’t report it because it doesn’t fit with their beliefs? Or did they not know about this type of analysis? The statistical section of the paper is such gobbledegook that it could simply be that they don’t know enough about statistics, and never really understood how to properly analyse their data!
    BTW, the same journal recently also published a review of the long-term health impact of gmo plant diets by another French group (www.marklynas.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/lit-rev-GMOs.pdf). They found no effect at all!

  25. #25 Dangerous Bacon
    September 24, 2012

    I’m also dubious about a study that purports to find such wide-ranging problems associated with GM maize and/or Roundup. It’s not just tumors – but widespread “organ damage”, results not noted in previous work, by mechanisms that don’t make sense.

    I’m reminded of classic claims for a woo treatment that supposedly heals all ills – this time it’s a feared technology that _causes_ all ills.

    Never mind how small all these experimental groups were and the other problems pointed out with the study design; it’s guaranteed anti-GMO people will be whooping it up based on this report for a long time to come. If they only realized that their goals have actually been compromised by the poor quality of this research.

  26. #26 Calli Arcale
    September 24, 2012

    I got the feeling from this study that they really had absolutely no idea what influence GMOs had on their rats, but went ahead and wrote up the paper anyway. It’s just appallingly bad science that does nothing to advance the discussion whatsoever.

    I am reminded a little bit of a study that my dad described one of his classmates doing, in biology. To test the deadliness of dishwashing detergent, the student carefully watered plants with solutions of water and detergent — 20% detergent, 40% detergent, 60% detergent, 80% detergent, and 100% detergent. They all died, of course.

  27. #27 Denice Walter
    September 24, 2012

    Over the past year, Mikey and Gary have certainly ramped up the crazy about GMOs- it should be noted that one of them also sells ( and takes adverts for ‘heirloom seeds’) and today he continues perseverating on this topic. Mike is also BFF with Jeffrey Smith, an anti-GMO activist.( Their websites are rife with articles and videos on the subject).

    You see, as proponents of the Back-to-Nature/ health freedom/ natural medicine movement, they often extoll the benefits of living in the country: existing simply on a farm, raising chickens and organic vegetables- being off-the-grid and off the customer list of entrenched corporate oligarchia.

    Now it appears that the bread basket of their native land shall be contaminated by monstrous Monsanto mechanations ( 3M?) and they rail against the injustice of this horrid innoculation. The Great Midwestern Virginal Plains will become inseminated with the Monster Seed of mutant maize and woeful wheat. Corporatised Rape! The future looks grim indeed.

    But an even larger threat to natural-living nature children ( and their children) awaits just beyond the eastern horizon, soon to arrive in the heartland of purity and grace: according to Ed Arranga ( AoA), the Great Dark Lord of SB Journalism himself will speak about his part in the martyrdom of St Andy in Wisconsin. Imagine the horror and uproar that shall prevail as the armies of light gather in protest!

    Quake in your overpriced boots, fellow and sister minions, because we’re on the same list as His Darkness!

  28. #28 Ant'ney
    September 24, 2012

    Ohhh…. you called Marion Nestle “he”…. I hope SHE doesn’t kick your butt!

    Nice takedown of a crappy paper.

  29. #29 snoey
    September 24, 2012

    Maybe the real problem with the paper is that all corn is transgenic.

  30. #30 Pareidolius
    September 24, 2012

    If you thought the pseudo scientists went all crazy over that study, wait ’til they get ahold of this much-needed critique of malfeasance in the Pharma boardrooms. Lord Draconis help us all . . . http://www.amazon.com/Bad-Pharma-Companies-Mislead-Patients/dp/0865478007

  31. #31 Narad
    September 24, 2012

    Surely it isn’t just the fact that the authors are writing in their second language – english is the universal language of science and anyone published world-shattering research could at least have someone look the paper over first?

    You have to pay extra for editorial services in this Elsevier title (which also has no page charges); I don’t know whether this is their model across the board. But, speaking as an editor, you might be surprised at what can appear in the guise of the “universal language of science.”

  32. #32 Narad
    September 24, 2012

    (And yes, I myself create such monstrosities as that last sentence all the time.)

  33. #33 Todd W.
    http://harpocratesspeaks.com
    September 24, 2012

    You sheeple can eat all the frankenfoods you like. I’ll be over here with my all-natural, non-modified bananas, apples, potatoes and sweet corn, petting my all-natural, non-modified dog.

    Hmm? What’s that? Breeding…uh huh…oh. Oh my.

    Nevermind, folks! Carry on!

  34. #34 Mark
    September 24, 2012

    I couldn’t resist the urge to crap on it too. It’s a bad paper. Much of the focus has been on figure 1, 5 and table 3, but every other figure is weak or pointless.

    Has anyone seen a supportive article on this turd of a paper from any science bloggers with any chops? As far as I can tell, it’s been pretty one-sided so far. Sure the Stenographers wrote a bunch of uncritical stories, but as far as I can tell the science blogosphere smelled this turkey a mile off.

  35. #35 Krebiozen
    September 24, 2012

    snoey,

    all corn is transgenic

    Is that why it has ears?

  36. #36 trrll
    September 24, 2012

    I was also struck by the lack of any mention of blinding. Despite all of the loose talk (mostly from nonscientists) about scientists being biased based on pecuniary considerations, the biggest source of bias is that we all like to be right, and it is very easy to fall into unintentional bias–i.e. being more critical of data that don’t fit our hypotheses than data that seem to confirm our expectations. For that reason, good scientists try to blind everything that they can. Certainly which group was being fed what should have been blinded.

    I also find the statistics suspicious. There is a standard methodology used for studies of this sort: Analysis of Variance (ANOVA for short). It is well-validated. In particular, methods of adjusting for multiple comparisons (which can easily lead to false positives if not handled properly) are well established. Instead, the authors use a complicated multiple regression model. They don’t explain why they did not apply the standard method of analysis, and the citations they provide for it are not for this kind of work. My immediate guess is that they tried doing it by ANOVA, and nothing came out significant, for the reasons that Orac has articulated, so they chose the multiple regression approach to obfuscate this. Incidentally, “statistical test shopping,” in which you try multiple statistical tests on your data until you get one that gives you a result that you like, also elevates the likelihood of false positives, and is another manifestation of bias. The correct way to do it is to pick a test before you start, and then stick to it whether you like the results or not. Certainly, if you apply multiple tests, you are obligated to disclose that. I find it impossible to believe that this rather arcade approach was the authors’ first choice.

    I’m frankly amazed that this passed peer review. At the very minimum, a competent reviewer would have demanded a better justification for the choice of statistical technique (or even, better, made the authors do ANOVA as well, and report that analysis as well). Perhaps the authors had a friend on the editorial board or else the editor was unsophisticated enough to accept the authors’ suggestion of “friendly” reviewers who would provide a noncritical review. It is certainly a black mark for the journal, and also for the publisher Elsevier, who publishes some good journals but who has also gotten into trouble for publishing “phony” journals that were essentially vanity press for Big Pharm.

  37. #37 trrll
    September 24, 2012

    oops..that should have been “rather *arcane* approach”

  38. #38 Sigivald
    September 24, 2012

    In fact, never before in a scientific paper have I seen a line like, “”All data cannot be shown in one report and the most relevant are described here”—that is, until this paper.

    Well, in this day and age, I could forgive that.

    If they had a link to a place where you could download every byte of raw data to look at.

    I can imagine cases where there’s a whole lot of data (the high-energy physics guys, for instance, generate terabytes – and needless to say they don’t publish all that in their papers), for a real, honest, well-designed study, and just too much to put every last bit of it usefully in a report (if only for size reasons if it’s ever published on paper).

    But publish it somewhere, so that anyone can investigate it, and that’s not a big problem.

    Not publishing it at all? Bad juju.

  39. #39 Bob G
    September 24, 2012

    Sorry to be a copy editor type, but if you meant to say, “if there is a bigger red flag” rather than just “if there is a red flag” could you please fix this part, as I would like to quote it in public.

    Thanks.

  40. #40 snoey
    September 24, 2012

    Krebiozen:

    Ears with kernels that won’t release is therefore a plant that requires human intervention to reproduce? Yep.

  41. #41 Emily Willingham
    United States
    September 24, 2012

    Thanks for linking to my post. What I wrote about the polycarbonate cages and BPA is certainly speculative, but the literature actually supports the effects of cage-leached BPA exposures in rodents, which is more than I can say for their convoluted construct for laying the blame for any hormesis here on GM corn. I tied in the polycarbonate because, well, if I had been doing this study in the days I was doing endocrine disruption studies, I would *not* have housed rats for two years in polycarbonate cages. We didn’t use *any* plastic, particularly polycarbonate, because of the endocrine-disrupting leachates that unquestionably influenced outcomes. We even avoided plant oils as solvents for gavage, for the same reasons. Non-PC cages are available, and I don’t know why this team–which appears from their own work to have an awareness of endocrine disruption studies–didn’t avoid this potential route of exposure.

    It was not discernible from the videos from their labs, but if the water bottles were not glass … then what I wrote moves beyond the speculative.

  42. #42 Chris
    Neither here nor there...
    September 24, 2012

    snoey, kind of like most tree fruit like apples, peaches, pears, etc. Or seedless varieties of grapes, bananas, oranges, etc. They are cloned by graphing.

  43. #43 Heliantus
    September 24, 2012

    @ trrll

    Incidentally, “statistical test shopping,” in which you try multiple statistical tests on your data until you get one that gives you a result that you like, also elevates the likelihood of false positives, and is another manifestation of bias.

    Apparently, the main author of the study has been know to go “statistically fishing” before.
    It looks like it’s not a bug, but a feature.

  44. #44 Militant Agnostic
    Where Hiawatha thinks I am an A-hole.
    September 24, 2012

    Go ahead and eat those GMO foods you sheeple. This study clearly* shows that if you eat GMOs and I avoid them then my risk of developing cancer is reduced as long as you continue to eat GMOs. If you stop eating GMOs then my risk of developing cancer will go back up to baseline.

    *statistical significance is just a phrase used by Big Science meanies to dismiss THE TRUTH!!!!

  45. #45 Chris
    At lunch...
    September 24, 2012

    … with a salad that included tomatoes, cucumbers and pears that I grew (Orcas pears on a tree that also has Comice and Bosc).

    snoey, many hybrid food plants need human intervention to reproduce. That is not limited to genetically engineered corn. If you want to keep seeds from your veggie plants, you have to make sure to control where the pollen comes from. Even the heirloom Tom Thumb popcorn I grew this summer (which was eaten by raccoons!).

    Anyone interested in this subject should listen to the lecture by Dr. Toby Bradshaw. It was because of his research that Center for Urban Horticulture was firebombed.

    Of course, the “brainiacs” who did that targeted him for “genetically modifying” trees. Which he was doing through plant breeding methods that have been used for thousands of years, not genetic engineering. The “brainiacs” also (from the article above:

    For example, approximately one-fourth of the world’s supply of an endangered plant species, the showy stickseed, went up in flames. A specialist on endangered plant species, Forest Resources Research Professor Sarah Reichard, was trying to understand stickseed biology to help restore the species to its Cascade environment.

    Dr. Bradshaw now works with trangenic research. He says if he is going to be targeted for it, he might as well work in it. His department moved him into a brick building. His talk on plant research and the fire is excellent. It is also funny, especially when he posts the picture of the gigantic SUV that was driven by one of the arsonists.

  46. #46 snoey
    September 24, 2012

    Apples etc. are cloned because the exhibit far to much variability when they reproduce naturally, not that they are incapable of it. Seedless bananas and oranges are sports that occur in naturally reproducing populations.

    Corn was selected from a teosinte and has a significant % of genes added to it from other teosinte races. There is no naturally reproducing plant that resembles it.

    My point, such as it was, was that those who recoil in horror at adding “foreign” genes to corn are already dealing with a plant that has foreign genes added.

  47. #47 Denice Walter
    September 24, 2012

    Well, they say that ‘three’s the charm’ and yes, Mikey has produced another GMO opus ( Natural News today):

    From Zyklon B to GM Corn..

    It gets even worse, GM corn is presented as the ultimate weapon of genocide, something that H-tler himself would use to annihiliate those he considered Untermenschen. It is nearly as bad as Gates’ work to sterilise Africans with vaccines.

    As an alternative, Mikey presents a plan to save mankind from destruction through organic food, supplement, sunlight and avoidance of SBM at all costs. He advises that we “share wisdom with others”.

    Despite what you may suspect, I DID NOT make that up. Seriously.

  48. #48 Militant Agnostic
    September 24, 2012

    @trll

    oops..that should have been “rather *arcane* approach”

    I am not so sure – I think “arcade approach” may be more appropriate.

    A homeopath/acupuncturist doing bad science and engaging in statistical shenanigans – I am shocked.

  49. #49 Ron Edwards
    DePaul University
    September 24, 2012

    This was mentioned briefly already in the comments but I thought I’d bring it forward, as it’s a strong point in quelling hysterical responses.

    What is the causal variable supposed to be, GMO or Roundup? I can’t see any semblance of ordinary experimental design to address that. If you want to study Roundup’s effect, hold the other aspects of food (and everything else) constant; if you want to study GMO effect, feed’em GMO vs. non-GMO equivalent, with no Roundup present. If you can’t separate two causal variables (sometimes the case, but not here, I think) then run a two-factor experiment in which the levels of each are varied (low-low, low-high, high-low, high-high) and test for interaction prior to single-effect tests.

    Um, right? Does this mean I shouldn’t have teaching stats all these years? If I’m not crazy (for present purposes), then I think the profusion of other, also valid criticisms becomes secondary to a very basic flaw that makes the whole thing gibberish at the outset.

  50. #50 Chris
    September 24, 2012

    snoey:,blockquote>Corn was selected from a teosinte and has a significant % of genes added to it from other teosinte races. There is no naturally reproducing plant that resembles it.

    Which is very different. There is a display garden growing it nearby, and it is very different.

    Perhaps, snoey, if you wish to not be misunderstood you should try using longer sentences.

  51. #51 demandabanana
    USA
    September 24, 2012

    My first thought was, “How much of the corn did the rats eat?” The corn was added to the chow (pellets), so it would have been easy to measure. It may be that they animals picked out the corn (or chow). If I actually believed the study, that would explain why there was no dose effect. But 10 animals per group where 72% of all animals get tumors normally? That’s lousy.

  52. #52 Mark
    http://scienceblogs.com/denialism/
    September 24, 2012

    trrll you’re dead on about the statistics. I forgot to include that in my post but in my first read it i remeber looking at their stats and saying, “waaaaa?”. Half of their stats tests i had never even heard of, and I’m not exactly a biology/stats novice.

    ANOVA would have been more than adequate for this type of data.

  53. #53 snoey
    September 24, 2012

    or quit trying to explain jokes that fall flat.

  54. #54 Krebiozen
    September 24, 2012

    snoey,
    We may never overcome the pitfalls of internet communication. It looks like my joke fell flat too. Transgenic? Contains genes from other organisms? A plant with ears? Please yourselves…

    You have reminded me of claims that since there is no wild ancestor of maize, it must have been designed by the space aliens. Or its ancestor has died out.

  55. #55 Krebiozen
    September 24, 2012

    BTW, I do know that maize does have a wild ancestor, and that it wasn’t aliens (it was time traveling taco-fiends from the future). I think that claim is from Lyall Watson’s ‘Supernature’ and is also mentioned by Lloyd Pye as I recall.

  56. #56 Heliantus
    September 24, 2012

    @ Chris

    Ah, luddites at work. Aren’t they cute?
    I was somehow sympathetic to my French compatriots’ own brand (like Jose Bove), but that stopped a few years back then these self-righteous “volunteer reapers” made an habit to go around wrecking crops of supposedly GMOs, including fields sowed for research by French labs or companies, to the point a few labs gave up on it.
    And then these vandals complain that Monsanto is in a monopoly position or that no “independent” research has been done.

    It is also funny, especially when he posts the picture of the gigantic SUV that was driven by one of the arsonists.

    That’s different. This guy obviously needs a big car, his inflated ego wouldn’t fit in a smaller one.

  57. #57 Heliantus
    September 24, 2012

    Ah, broken link. Let’s try again:

    Faucheurs_volontaires

  58. #58 Chris
    Neither here nor there...
    September 24, 2012

    Krebiozen:

    BTW, I do know that maize does have a wild ancestor, and that it wasn’t aliens (it was time traveling taco-fiends from the future).

    At the first Bradshaw talk I went to, he showed a picture of teosinte (I might someday learn to spell and pronounce it), as an example of how humans have changed the look of certain plants. I see now it may not be the actual ancestor.

    There is some growing in a demonstration garden a couple of miles from here, along with some millet, buckwheat, spelt and a couple of other grains. I have been wandering over there during the summer to see it grow. I saw little husks. I went back last week and I can’t really find them. Maybe the raccoons got them too.

    Heliantus, that guy was finally arrested in China and deported back to the USA.

  59. #59 Chris
    Actually quite close to the Center for Urban Horticulture...
    September 24, 2012

    Heliantus:

    And then these vandals complain that Monsanto is in a monopoly position or that no “independent” research has been done.

    At the last Bradshaw talk I went to I learned that university researchers are not too happy with Monsanto’s patented vice grip on materials they would like to research. They are especially upset that they patented something that was developed at a university, and restricted even that university’s use (details muddled due it being verbally conveyed to my ears and my faulty memory). Which is why many research universities now have departments to patent research.

  60. #60 GMO Pundit
    Melbourne, Australia
    September 24, 2012

    Here some further comments on the same topic, including one where I was co-author
    http://theconversation.edu.au/genetically-modified-corn-and-cancer-what-does-the-evidence-really-say-9746

    Genetically modified corn and cancer – what does the evidence really say? by Ashley Ng

    http://theconversation.edu.au/modifying-the-message-how-tricks-masked-home-truths-about-anti-gm-science-9767
    Modifying the message: how tricks masked home truths about anti-GM science, by Rick Roush and David Tribe

  61. #61 GH
    September 24, 2012

    I kind of wonder if this study might have something to do with the new book/documentary coming out. My French isn’t the best, but from what I can gather, Séralini has a book that is to be released in two days titled ‘Tous cobayes!’ (All Guinea Pigs) which deals with GMOs. There is also a documentary of the same name premiering on the same date that, from the looks of it, was made while this study was being conducted (how fortunate for them that the study arrived at the conclusion ‘All Guinea Pigs’ was promoting!). I somehow think that the release of this paper was meant to coincide with these. Nice publicity.

  62. #62 Sir Eccles
    September 24, 2012

    I’m not so bothered about Roundup as a herbicide. What does bother me though is due to the planting of Roundup ready corn, there is now a Roundup resistant Ragweed that is growing amongst the crops. Misuse of herbicide is seemingly leading us down the same arms race we see with antibiotics.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-19585341

  63. #63 Narad
    September 24, 2012

    that guy was finally arrested in China and deported back to the USA.

    From the entry, “a device, which consisted of a digital alarm clock wired to a 9-volt battery and a model-rocket igniter was placed in a filing cabinet in the offices of professor Toby Bradshaw.” This is… an odd choice.

  64. #64 F.Y
    September 24, 2012

    The most perfidious way to harm a cause is to defend it with faulty arguments – F.Nietsche

    I am all for good science. So read the following accordingly please.

    In this study, if I recall correctly, the researchers used the same strain of rat and the same group sizes as the Monsanto research that attempted to demonstrate that these strains of GMO’s were harmless, except that their study was 90 days as opposed to 2 years.

    I’d really like to read an objective critique of the Monsanto research by the poster of this article.

    On a more personal note, I believe the onus of proof should lie with GMO manufacturers with independent peer reviews that are beyond doubt. Ideally it should have happened *before* their commercialization.

  65. #65 Heliantus
    September 24, 2012

    @ GH

    Séralini has a book that is to be released in two days titled ‘Tous cobayes!’ (All Guinea Pigs) which deals with GMOs. There is also a documentary of the same name

    As a French native, I confirm that your grasp of our language was good enough :-)
    Funny coincidence, isn’t it? A study getting published just in time for the book and the movie of the book.
    Not to mention the press conference before the article’s publication with mandatory non-disclosure clause forbidding journalists from seeking confirmation – or criticism – from other scientists.
    The Nouvel Obsservateur, the French journal who got first shot at the scoop, is certainly spending a good chunk of its activities sustaining the debate.
    There is also a secondary movie/documentary (or is it part of the promised movie?) following the team’s activities, including their efforts to keep the operation secret.

    If a seed manufacturer, or any “Big Pharma”, was doing this (and let’s be frank, sometimes they do), people would be rightly yelling Propaganda.

    In today’s news, Séralini pulled out the Pharma shill gambit and the tu quoque fallacy. And he is still refusing to make his raw data public.
    Oh, and these people are not anti-GMOs, they are pro-safe GMOs.
    The more I hear about him and his fellows, the more they look like our usual anti-vaxers.

    Speaking of this, are anti-vaxers aware that a number of vaccine are made by using GMOs? I’m surprised the Health Ranger, for all his wisdom and knowledge, didn’t make the connection.

  66. #66 ChrisP
    September 24, 2012

    Seralini has also published research where homoepathic medicines (although they are not called that in the paper) are shown to protect against the effects of floating cell cultures in Roundup.

    The research has about the same level of quality as this piece.

  67. #67 Michael
    September 24, 2012

    @T- there are denialists on both sides of the overpopulation issue. There’s plenty of people, for example, that argue that Paul Ehrlich’s predictions weren’t mistaken. (If you look at what he said in context, they were.) The problem with overpopulation studies is that you have to assume what the birth rates and death rates will be in the future, and that has a LOT of room for error.

  68. #68 Ed Compton
    September 24, 2012

    GMOs ARE a very bad idea. Instead of modifying our food, we need to ditch this latest lab based food, hybrid seeds, etc., and go back to some old seeds and start eating all natural again.

    it would be nice if we could get hold of some old fashioned plants like watermelons, tomatoes, butterbeans, etc. that predate the 20th century. The seeds that it. I am quite sure the foods back then were healthier and more nutritious than today’s man made GMO crap.

    GMOs need to be banned and everyone involved needs to pay restitution for damages done to the human genome because of this crank science.

    I remember when i was a kid when farmers would save their seeds for corn, watermelons, etc. and regrow that crop again the next year. This was done for centuries up until modern marvel science minds got ther greedy paws in the mix and started conjuring up plants that were hybrid ina ponzi scheme designed to keep making farmers buy seeds every year instead of saving their own.

    GMOs and hybrids are a scam, fraud, ponzi scheme, and adownright criminal. I move to arrested and permanently detain everyone involved.

  69. #69 Laura
    Ithaca NY
    September 24, 2012

    Marion Nestle is a SHE. She writes a blog http://foodpolitics.com

  70. #70 Candy
    September 24, 2012

    I am so glad you took this on, and hope to see more of it. Too many of my fellow travelers on the left are so blinded by their loathing for big corporations – I myself think there ought to be some Wall Street types in the slammer, rather than running about buying political candidates – that they simply can’t separate the business practices from the science. Every now and then I attempt to explain that we’ve been genetically modifying crops since the dawn of agriculture, it’s just that the methods have been refined, but I usually get that deer in headlights look for my pains. Eeeeeeeeeek! Frankencrops!

  71. #71 ChrisP
    September 24, 2012

    Ed Compton, some hard evidence to back your assertions would go down well. Otherwise, I am just going to conclude you are repeating a load of made up stuff.

    Damage to the human genome? really?

    I assume you must be totally unaware that numerous old cultivars of crops are still available: called heirloom varieties. I have such tomatoes in my garden at the moment. Farmers rarely use them for the simple reason that they no longer perform – either due to modern genetic improvments to yield or disease resistance.

    If you have an ideological objection to GMOs you can choose not to use them (unless you are diabetic or require HGH). It is that easy.

  72. #72 Orac
    September 24, 2012

    Marion Nestle is a SHE

    Geez. Chill out. It’s just a typo.

  73. #73 Mark McAndrew
    September 24, 2012

    Ed Compton – you might be quite sure, but you’re also quite wrong.

    Monsanto’s filthy business practices aside (and I agree that the Terminator gene is outrageous), human ‘meddling’ with crops is hugely beneficial and has literally saved billions of lives.

    Even regular corn/maize is a weird hybrid grass, cultivated over thousands of years to give it (and us) monster-huge seeds. Never existed in nature before we got our paws on it.

    Google ‘Norman Borlaug’.

  74. #74 Chris
    Neither here nor there...
    September 24, 2012

    Laura:

    Marion Nestle is a SHE.

    I’ve known men with that name. It was actually the original birth name of John Wayne (the actor in the original “True Grit” movie). So it was an honest mistake. Women typically are named “Marian” with an “a” instead of an “o.”

    Though for fun you should listen to last week’s Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe podcast where they correct the mistake of calling Dr. Frances Kelsey a guy. The male version of that name is often “Francis” with an “i” (like Francis Bacon).

    I know it is confusing. I usually keep them straight by remembering “Mario” versus “Maria” and “Francisco” versus “Francesca” from Spanish.

    And I never use my full name because I both hate it, and I like the gender neutral bit. I don’t even care when people guess wrong. And Dr. Novella includes an amusing anecdote about Dr. Kelsey getting a job in the 1930s in that podcast.

  75. #75 Shay
    September 24, 2012

    Ed — if you’re ever in SE Michigan in July, go to see the 19th century farm that has been re-created at Greenfield Village. Look at the cornfield, planted with heirloom corn. See how unevenly the corn has germinated and then grown. Count the bare patches.

    Then drive south to Illinois and take a look at a modern cornfield. And remind yourself why you aren’t paying $10/box for cornflakes.

  76. #76 Alain
    Autistic Planet
    September 24, 2012

    I took a look at the article and it made me conscious of my limitations, I can deal with good french, Quebec’s frenglish and good english; not that gibberish which is french translated to a bad english.

    I can’t read that publication but I’ll try over the next few weeks (midterm next week and I have to prepare for that first).

    Alain

  77. #77 rork
    September 25, 2012

    Statistical reality check:
    Complaining that sample size is too small is what you get to do when a difference is found NOT to be significant. Complaining when a difference IS found doesn’t make any sense.
    Same with a power calculation – if you find a difference give it’s estimate and confidence interval.
    Do not apply every argument to every situation.

    (I am not saying the stats from the paper are any good.)

  78. #78 Orac
    September 25, 2012

    I disagree. When the sizes are so small that chances are very good that any observed results are due to noise, it’s perfectly correct to point that out and to point out that such small number sizes mean that there’s little confidence in the results. Also, power calculations are a sign of statistical rigor and that the authors actually thought about the experimental design and the number of animals needed before the experiment began, rather than picking a number out of their nether regions.

  79. #79 ChrisP
    September 25, 2012

    Rork, you make a mistake here. Nothing has been found in this paper. All the claims are either cherry-picked from the data set without statistical tests or come from one of 9 multivariate analyses with 47 factors. They have way too few animals to create a robust multivariate analysis and have so many factors that they are guaranteed lots of false positives.

    Had they conducted standard statistical tests, I am wagering they would have found no significant differences. I am doing this on the basis that they had far too few animals in their test to have found anything.

  80. #80 Todd W.
    http://harpocratesspeaks.com
    September 25, 2012

    @Ed Compton

    You complain about hybrids? Really? You know what happens when you don’t cross varieties? Take a look at Ireland and the little problem they had with their potatoes.

    Hybridization is a good way to maintain genetic diversity, thus avoiding catastrophes like the potato famine. In fact, just about every single plant or animal we eat today is a hybrid of other species further back.

    As to lab-based GMOs (i.e., insertion of foreign genes that would not be possible through breeding programs), show some evidence that this is, in fact, harmful to humans. There are arguments to be made from an economic/business standpoint, as well as, potentially, an environmental angle, but as far as health goes? Pony up some data.

  81. #81 Prak
    September 25, 2012

    Great article, Thank you!

    “It’s also interesting how the authors included so many photos of the rats and their tumors,..”

    Which reminds me:
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22869334

  82. #82 Beamup
    September 25, 2012

    Had they conducted standard statistical tests, I am wagering they would have found no significant differences.

    I also suspect that they DID conduct standard statistical tests and only went on from there when they didn’t produce the desired answer.

  83. #83 Tsu Dho Nimh
    September 25, 2012

    Great … I can prove that organic foods, vegan diet, or various permutations of organic diets cause cancer:

    Get 100 of these rats, split them into groups of 10, feed 9 groups of them on purest organic foods (vegan, ovo-vegetarian, fruititarian, ovolacto vegetarian, etc.), and feed the control group on food bought at the local fast food places.

    Continue for two years, and then select those groups that outscored the control group and declare those diets are dangerous and should immediately be abandoned.

  84. #84 Heliantus
    September 25, 2012

    @ Tsu Dho Nimh

    I have one better: I can prove that diamond cards are attracted by the right hand.

    Pick a pack of cards, shuffle them. With your left hand, pick one card. With your right hand, pick nine cards.
    I’m ready to bet your right hand will have picked up more diamond cards than your left hand.
    Or maybe it’s spade cards. I can never remember.

  85. #85 Laura
    Ithaca NY
    September 25, 2012

    @Chris, @Orac
    By emphasizing that Marion Nestle is a she, I didn’t intend any comment on Orac’s intentions, or shaming in the name of political correctness. I don’t have any magical insight into his thinking and don’t like shaming in general. I wasn’t sure if Orac reads all the comments, I’d get tired of doing so if I were him.
    Marion Nestle is somewhat a public figure. She gives talks on food politics, the causes of obesity in the processed food industry, why processed food is heavily salted, addictive aspects of processed food, etc. Things everyone should know about, since they concern everyone directly. Her http://foodpolitics.com blog talks about these things. She blogged on 9/20 about the study that Orac discusses above.
    Also, there’s a lot of prejudice against women scientists, and pointing out that she is indeed a woman tends to counteract any tendency to assume a scientist is a man and fights that prejudice. I read about a
    study of employment discrimination by gender in science, at http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/unofficial-prognosis/2012/09/23/study-shows-gender-bias-in-science-is-real-heres-why-it-matters/ Scientists were given identical applications with male and female names attached, and both male and female scientists rated the application from a woman much lower, and were willing to pay a much lower salary to a woman! And this bias is often unconscious. It’s not a war between the sexes, but a war on women.
    Yes, androgyny is fun. I have mixed feelings about it. For a long time, I informally used an androgynous name, partly with the idea of protecting myself from gender bias. But I also want to be in-your-face with, Look, I’m a woman and I’m very good at math – So much for your prejudices and get used to it! I’m mostly a math and somewhat a physics person.
    That discrimination is (still) quite real and major, suggests that people in science could counteract discrimination in science by finding ways to hide a person’s identity before making a decision. For example it seems likely that a female student would be given a lower grade for the exact same homework, and if a teacher or TA could evaluate it first, then see the name, it would avoid inadvertently perpetuating discrimination.
    I think the assumption that the reader is male in science books is harmful. It’s certainly offensive to me and I’ve felt excluded by it, masculinized in the author’s imagination. For example, in one physics textbook there was a playful illustration at the end, a map of the reader’s head now occupied by physics topics in various regions … the reader’s male head. It doesn’t feel good, and I’m glad that in recent years various authors make a point of NOT assuming that their reader or that physicists or mathematicians are male.

  86. #86 Zen Faulkes
    Texas
    September 25, 2012

    I have emailed the editor of Food and Chemical Toxicology, asking them to update the conflict of interest statement in the paper to disclose the book about the research, the movie about the research, and the funding from Auchan, a major French retail chain: http://bit.ly/PhddxL

    I suggest that others might also consider taking a moment to make the same suggestion to the editor. You can email the editor through an online form here: http://www.journals.elsevier.com/food-and-chemical-toxicology/editorial-board/a-wallace-hayes/#contact

  87. #87 demandabanana
    September 25, 2012

    F.Y: “On a more personal note, I believe the onus of proof should lie with GMO manufacturers with independent peer reviews that are beyond doubt. Ideally it should have happened *before* their commercialization.”

    Yeah, OK, but what’s the hypothesis? Why on earth would eating a plant that expressed a protein from a bacterium that infects plants cause massive pathological changes in humans? Really, what’s the (rational) basis of the fear?

  88. #88 Orac
    September 25, 2012

    By emphasizing that Marion Nestle is a she, I didn’t intend any comment on Orac’s intentions, or shaming in the name of political correctness. I don’t have any magical insight into his thinking and don’t like shaming in general. I wasn’t sure if Orac reads all the comments, I’d get tired of doing so if I were him.

    After nearly eight years at this, pedantry and typo and grammar flaming annoy the hell out of me. I have no patience for it anymore, and I no longer even try to be nice when it irritates me enough to respond.

    I write 1,000 to 2,500 word posts daily on average. This one was longer than average (3,500 words). Try writing that much without making the odd mistake and typo here and there. Annoyance. That’s why I responded. After eight years of nit pickers jumping into the comments yelling “gotcha!” my reaction falls into one of two categories: I either ignore it or I get very cranky. Lucky you, I got cranky this time.

  89. #89 rork
    September 25, 2012

    Orac: Don’t confuse the power with the p-value. If there is insufficient evidence, that’s a function of both sample size and effect size. Are you trying to say that P<.01 is easier to obtain with small data than with big data? Good luck with that proof. Also, power calculations given in papers that find significant differences are an oddity – they are popular among doctors is all I can figure out, perhaps because they seem sophisticated.
    ChrisP: It's hard to argue if folks are going to say it is and it is not significant at the same time.

  90. #90 Chris
    In a medical building waiting room...
    September 25, 2012

    Laura:

    Marion Nestle is somewhat a public figure.

    So? If I have never heard of her I would not know, nor do I care, if she does or does not have a Y-chromosome. I just explained that she used a spelling of her name that does not convey her gender. You are making mountain out of a molehill.

    And as one of only two women in my aerospace engineering class during the late 1970s, you really should not lecture me on gender bias and STEM fields. Plus I had lots of fun answering the phone at work when the engineer they were looking for was not what they expected.

    So just drop it. But do listen to Dr. Novella talk about Dr. Kelsey on the SGU podcast I linked to. And if you want more fun, just search this blog for my dealings with Little Augie and Medicien Man. Both of them are hilarious when they could not wrap their heads around the concept that an engineer could also be a mother.

  91. #91 mark
    Indiana
    September 25, 2012

    If they are so safe, label them and shut the fuck up. Why the secrets?

  92. #92 Orac
    September 25, 2012

    Also, power calculations given in papers that find significant differences are an oddity – they are popular among doctors is all I can figure out, perhaps because they seem sophisticated.

    The reason most physicians prefer doing that is because we tend to set up our animal experiments like mini clinical trials, which, as far as I’m concerned, is the usually correct way to approach animal experiments. In my experience (the most fearful words in medicine), most basic scientists (and, remember, I’m both a clinician and a scientist) pick the number of animals for their experimental groups out of their nether regions (or just always use five or ten) rather than rationally deciding what parameters they are willing to live with based on estimated effect size and probability of detecting a difference before doing the experiment and then doing a proper power calculation to figure out the number of animals per group necessary to meet those parameters and minimize the likelihood of a false negative experiment.

    As for the rest, small numbers + large numbers of experimental groups do indeed equal greater chance of “statistically significant” results; that is, if you don’t control for multiple comparisons, which I almost guarantee you Seralini didn’t do.

  93. #93 Bronze Dog
    September 25, 2012

    If they’re safe, why would they bow to the people wanting unnecessary labels?

    That’s a catch-22. Similar thing with vaccines. If we pay attention to their paranoid rantings and put a non-zero amount of effort into proving their safety with extensive research, that means they’re a threat we take seriously, which means they’re onto something. If we ignore them, it’s because we’re trying to prevent bringing attention to them, which means they’re onto something. It’s easy to manufacture sinister motives for any possible action.

    So, where’s your prior plausibility and good evidence that there’s a danger? What’s wrong in the existing studies?

  94. #94 Heliantus
    September 25, 2012

    @ mark from Indiana

    If they are so safe, label them and shut the fuck up

    Err… We are not the ones who keep yapping at GMOs. Or vaccines. Or whatever else someone decided it’s not safe.
    So in all fairness it’s not up to us to “shut the fuck up”.

    Actually, I don’t mind if it’s decided to put labels on GMO food. No, really.
    I’m not even in the US, so frankly I don’t care much that you decide to do in your little corner of the planet. My country has gone for the “organic” (or “bio”) fashion for a few years, and the public – and political – opinion is hysterically mistrusting GMOs to the point of banning all of them indiscriminately, at least for human consumption.

    My totally biased opinion is that, given the paucity of controls and fuzziness of definitions, the “organic” label is just a commercial ploy to sell foodstuff at a 50% higher price, unreliable overhyped claims of better quality notwithstanding, and the GMO labeling or outright ban is just a way from some European corporations to limit competition from American companies in the local market and for self-righteous luddites to feel like they are David against Goliath. But that’s just me.
    And if you want to go down the same road, be my guest. Maybe you will fare better than us.
    (now, if efforts were made to grow and buy more food locally, local conditions permitting, rather than from the other side of the planet, that would be a more interesting topic)

    I don’t mind either if more studies are started in this field or another, as long as they are soundly designed.

    On the other hand, that I do mind is then people are basing their decisions on bad science. Or are fueling the mob’s paranoia with half-trues and true lies to feed their own inflated ego.

  95. #95 Jay Chaplin
    University of Washington, Seattle
    September 25, 2012

    @ rork

    So, in essence you are saying that there is no reason or point for the existence of any of the more rigorous forms of multi-comparison corrections than the Bonferroni? Seems that there is a widely acknowledged need for taking sample size into account for the increase in false positives, especially when there are multiple comparisons. You are arguing against common practice.

  96. #96 Todd
    September 25, 2012

    In general I thought this was a great post. However, I was a little disappointed to read this sentance near the end: “Even the worst depredations of pharma and Monsanto in terms of lousy studies don’t match this biased, incompetently performed and analyzed experiment.” This seems like a gratuitous comment do make sure people don’t think you are a “shill”, but it is somewhat irresponsible. What studies are you referring to? Are you implying industry has a bigger problem than academics in terms of shoddy science and outright fraud? If so, what is your evidence? As far as I know, all the empirical evidence actually suggests the opposite – in fact their were several recent studies, by pharma companies, about irreproducible results in big name journals. I also think many of the comments posted to this article that seem to accept the view of Monanto as an “evil” company are misguided and play into the whacko’s hands. I suggest people educate themselves on what the issues are and what you would do if you were in their shoes and spent $1B per year on research to develop these products. I hate to focus on the few things I did not like about this post because in general I thought it was great.

  97. #97 Ed Compton
    September 25, 2012

    Modern “disease resistance” plants are dangerous. They are gentically modified, so we have no way of knowing what damage was done to the plant by the geniuses in the lab and therefore we have no way of knowing how it will react in our body. It could cause cancer rather than give us beneficial nutrients.

    Colloidal silver spray is an effective way to keep disease at bay on plants. It is somewhat expensive to purchase, but you can make it at home. One 1 oz pure silver coin will make quite a large batch of colloidal silver.

    Now, I know people here may be all anti colloidal silver becuase it works so well and big pharma can;t make trillions when little peasants make their own cures, but that aside, it does work on plants. Colloidal silver will kill a variety of plant fungi and disease with little to no side effects like the crap you buy in the store that causes cancer.

    I realize people here may not believe in colloidal silver working, but everyone is entitled to his opinion. For me, I’ll keep on making it and using it. You do waht you want with yours and I’ll do what I want with mine and let the bes man win.

  98. #98 F.Y
    September 25, 2012

    @demandabanana
    @Bronze Dog (see my preivous post too)

    There are probably many rational reasons why we should demand uncontroversial results prior to commercialization, but I will cite one for now: We have no possibility of knowing beforehand what the effects of GMO’s are on humans on the long-term. When it comes to the intricacies of the functioning of the human body we are still learning. We have made mistakes before and there is no reason to believe we are incapable of them now. The *potential* detrimental effects of GMO’s both on human beings and the environment could be catastrophic and irreversible, could it not ?
    So the ‘rational’ approach as you put it would be the precautionary one.

    Another aspect, and this one is my personal opinion , is that our co-evolution with plants over millions of years is what allowed us to develop the mechanisms now in place to deal with and dispose of them adequately and with the least damage possible to our bodies. But this brings us back to the previous point of not knowing, which, I would like to emphasize, is my main point in this argument.

    Of course my argument is worth nothing if you have no moral objections to using human beings as test subjects without their consent.

  99. #99 Jay Chaplin
    University of Washington, Seattle
    September 25, 2012

    @F.Y

    We have a very solid understanding of how the human digestive tract processes proteins, fats, and nucleic acids. What do you think these GMO crops make, DDT, elemental arsenic, little bullets? The DNA codes for proteins that are then made by the plant, they are digested when you eat it. You can eat diphtheria toxin just fine, it is digested. Just don’t inject yourself with it. Are you injecting GMO corn or wheat? Didn’t think so. Wake up and think about the basic biology.

  100. #100 real science doesn't require name-calling
    midwest USA
    September 25, 2012

    I love how science needs to dehumanize those who distrust it.

    I never feared vaccines, but I don’t trust genetically modified food. I don’t want to be your guinea pig. I want you to prove that it’s safe – and by that, I mean I want you to prove to my satisfaction, not to yours. I am within my rights to have such an expectation. I have lots of different concerns, and the very fact that you need to use name-calling to denigrate me for having concerns speaks volumes about your ability to actually “use reason”.

    If not wanting to be your human guinea pig makes me some sort of anti-vaccine nut, then so be it: your opinion matters less than it did last year, and will matter less next year. The scientific community has started to lose the trust of ordinary people. Calling them nutsy for having healthy skepticism is not going to help. It took a lot of Albert Einsteins to build up that political capital you inherited, y’know – you shouldn’t spend it so recklessly.

  101. #101 DaveH
    Guelph, ON, Canada
    September 25, 2012

    @F.Y.

    GMO is actually a bit a misnomer, since we have modified the genetics of plants (and animals) for a long time, ever since we started domesticating them, or even earlier, if you want to count the selective pressures human use applies to them even in the absence of domestication (since you talk about co-evolution, I assume you do).

    The genetic modifications caused by “normal” or “natural” breeding, can be quite drastic, and crossing different strains (yes, including, and perhaps especially, “heritage” ones) of celery or potatoes, for example, can create enough toxins to KILL YOU OUTRIGHT. Or give the workers harvesting it horrible skin rashes, etc.

    Funnily enough, you don’t have to get pre-approval (US, Canada, or Europe, AFAIK) to sell these new hybrids, and there have been cases of produce almost making it to market before someone realized that they might be deadly. So where is the worry about the *potential* effects of these “natural” strains?

    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/harvest/interviews/hotchkiss.html

    Finally, I agree that we need to wrest control of genetic engineering technology from industry, put it in the hands of academics and non-profits with full publishing of data, focus on developing stuff for the Third World to be distributed freely, etc., rather than developing terminatior seeds and other methods of ensuring corporate profits. But that doesn’t mean we should embrace a neo-Luddism when it comes to food. There is more mouths to feed every day, and if we want to feed them all properly, and do it with less fertilizer, less pesticide, and less land, then genetic engineering is one of the best tools we as humanity have.

  102. #102 F.Y
    September 25, 2012

    @Jay Chaplin

    “Professor Heinemann has studied the similarity in the DNA sequencing of the wheat branching enzyme which makes starch in wheat, and the human branching enzyme which produces glycogen.
    CSIRO’s GM technology deliberately suppresses the wheat branching enzyme in GM wheat so there is less
    starch and the wheat has a lower glycaemic index.
    Professor Heinemann says there is strong evidence that siRNA, a type of dsRNA – which is a form of ribonucleic acid, like DNA – when produced in wheat will transfer to humans through food.
    “There is strong evidence that siRNAs produced in the wheat will remain in a form that can transmit to humans even when the wheat has been cooked or processed for use in food.
    “There is strong evidence that once transmitted, siRNA produced in wheat would have the biological capacity to cause an effect.””

    I cannot vouch for the quality of that study or any other study fro that matter. Point is, no-one here has proven beyond reasonable doubt that genetically modifying organisms for our consumption is safe. And as I mentioned earlier, the burden of proof lies with those who would have humanity consume it.

    I am all for proper science. At this point in the conversation, anyone pretending to know for a fact that gmo’s are not harmful needs to re-examine their scientific approach.
    Anyone disagreeing that the burden of proof needs to be with the proponents of GMOs are entitled to their opinion, but I would strongly urge them to re-consider, considering that going in one direction might cause irreperable damage, while going the other might save many lives. Why are we in such a hurry ? Considering that people are starving even today while SO MUCH food is simply wasted, i think there are more efficient and less dangerous ways to start dealing with world hunger.

    All of this does not take into account the environmental aspect of the potential damage by GMOs.

    And if feeding the world is really what this is all about, without pesticides, fertilizers and enormous tracts of land, may I recommend looking into permaculture ? Recent studies have shown that the output from permaculture can be 4 to 5 times that of conventional agriculture on 1 acre of land.

    @DaveH, I am not sure I understood what you meant in your first paragraph, however, domestication and hybridization of plants are at most 10.000 years old, with the birth of agriculture. The co-evolution I was talking about is over millions of years.
    Also I do not pretend to agree with “natural” breeding simply because it is natural, if those strains are dangerous, then by all means let us not perpetuate them! However, hybridization can happen in your backyard and no one can stop you. The effect your backyard will have on the world is negligeable. Corporations on the other hand have massive influence.

  103. #103 Chris
    Neither here nor there...
    September 25, 2012

    Well celiac has been around long before genetically engineered wheat.

    The co-evolution I was talking about is over millions of years.

    So you don’t count lactase persistence? That only started several thousands of years ago. About the time our ancestors were genetically modifying critters that moo.

  104. #104 Grant
    September 26, 2012

    F.Y

    re Heinemann’s work, see my comment at the top of this comment thread (second comment).

    Heinemann is over-reaching (JMHO) and his DNA sequence analysis is under question (something I wish I could find time to examine in detail). I certainly wouldn’t be writing “Professor Heinemann says there is strong evidence” – at best he is throwing up ‘possible what ifs’ and to my reading and recollection pretty much admits it, despite over-pitching his claims (JMHO again). You can throw up ‘what ifs’ like that to pretty much anything, even after a product is shown to be safe. (Think of how the various lobby groups keep coming up with new ‘concerns’!)

  105. #105 Narad
    September 26, 2012

    I cannot vouch for the quality of that study or any other study fro that matter.

    Don’t omit the lede when sloppily cutting and pasting from a press release, brah. Jack Heinemann is a world-renowned scientist. Now, what study?

  106. #106 Grant
    September 26, 2012

    Narad,

    It was a report commissioned by the Safe Food Foundation — see the second comment in this thread by me – links to blogs posts, incl. some criticism of it. (V. gentle stuff unless you know better – NZers tend to follow the approach Brits take.)

  107. #107 F.Y
    September 26, 2012

    @Chris @ Grant

    While I appreciate learning something new, my example with Heinemann served a specific function for my main argument which is we don’t know, we can’t know without proper studies, and the burden of proof lies with GMO manufacturers. Whether or not you agree that GMO’s are harmful, you cannot deny that that possibility exists unless you throw away the scientific method that prompted this whole conversation.

    If you re-read my previous posts carefully, you will see that i clearly noted first that co-evolution was a personal opinion that had no bearing on my argument and second that Heinemann could be a quack for all I know, but that also doesn’t affect my main argument.
    Which hasn’t been addressed by anyone here yet.

    It seems to me that quite a few people here are acting and reacting in the exact way that they condemn in anti-GMO crowds.
    Which makes this a political debate par excellence :)

  108. #108 F.Y
    September 26, 2012

    @Narad

    I realized after I posted that it was quite sloppy indeed. I apologize for that. Unfortunately the message board here does not allow for edits.
    Also, considering the size of that quote, google would have no trouble finding it for anyone wishing to look. However, like I mentioned in my preceding reply, it was meant as an example with no real bearing on the argument.

    @Grant, about the lobby groups, yes I agree, people can come up with loads of crap. My response to that is what I believe about where the burden of proof lies.

  109. #109 Todd W.
    http://harpocratesspeaks.com
    September 26, 2012

    @F.Y

    Would you at, then, that anyone who breeds new varieties should have to perform studies to ensure that their end plant is safe for both the environment and humans? I ask because breeding is a much messier and less controlled process than the lab insertion of one or two genes. The potential for a detrimental outcome is therefore much higher.

  110. #110 Eli Rabett
    http://rabett.blogspot.com
    September 26, 2012

    The problem with Roundup Ready GMOs and other GMOs that allow the broadcast use of herbicides is that they lead to much heavier use of the herbicides which then get much further into the food chain.

  111. #111 Bronze Dog
    September 26, 2012

    One thing to point out: Before genetic modification, farmers would irradiate some of their crop in hopes of producing beneficial traits by accidental mutation. I don’t recall anyone raising this much stink about that. Genetic modification is much more predictable and controllable.

    While there’s a pragmatic need to study a product’s safety to a reasonable extent, there’s a philosophical problem I’ve seen a lot of people fail to realize: Safety is a negative claim. It’s a claim about the nonexistence of danger. It’s hard to prove a negative like that. That’s why I ask for people to specify plausible dangers and shortcomings of existing studies. It’s easy to cry ‘safety!’ without specifying concerns.

  112. #112 DaveH
    Guelph, ON, Canada
    September 26, 2012

    “The co-evolution I was talking about is over millions of years.”

    Just the fact that humans start eating a plant will start changing it, perhaps for smaller and less conspicuous seeds or fruits, or perhaps for bigger ones, if humans are aiding in their dispersal. My point is that even in the absence of domestication, humans, just like all organisms, modify their environment, including the genetics, simply by interacting with it. And to assume co-evolution will always produce a palatable food is folly, what about when the plant doesn’t want us to eat it? (Apologies for the anthropomorphizing, it is a convenient short hand, though I am well aware of its drawbacks).

  113. #113 Krebiozen
    September 26, 2012

    Bronze Dog,

    One thing to point out: Before genetic modification, farmers would irradiate some of their crop in hopes of producing beneficial traits by accidental mutation. I don’t recall anyone raising this much stink about that.

    Or indeed about using chemicals like colchicine to produce polyploidal strains of plants.

  114. #114 F.Y
    September 26, 2012

    @Bronze Dog

    I am not sure about that philosophical claim, can’t anything be a ‘negative claim’ ? Dangerous is a claim about the non-existence of safety :). I only mention this because you said it’s philosophical.

    I agree with the need to study a products safety to a ‘reasonable extent’. Who defines reasonable extent ? And In the case where the effects are potentially disastrous and there are mountains of money to be made ? Because so far, regulation has been very lax considering it affects a big majority of the world poputlation and the studies that were accepted as ‘reasonable extent’ were performed by the manufacturer. Talk about conflict of interest !
    “That’s why I ask for people to specify plausible dangers and shortcomings of existing studies. It’s easy to cry ‘safety!’ without specifying concerns.”
    The plausibility of the dangers mentioned by anti-GMO campaigners cannot be questioned without proper scientific studies, independently verified etc etc… (both human and environmental).
    The rejection of those dangers are based on beliefs about the omniscience of current science, which by definition is anti-science.
    It doesn’t help that the corporations pushing these technologies have a poor track record and loose morals, so not taking their word for it is understandable.

    Again, I come back to my main argument, still unaddressed.
    The precautionary approach is the more rational choice here.

  115. #115 Krebiozen
    September 26, 2012

    Eli Rabett,

    The problem with Roundup Ready GMOs and other GMOs that allow the broadcast use of herbicides is that they lead to much heavier use of the herbicides which then get much further into the food chain.

    Except, as I pointed out above, there is good evidence that Roundup is not carcinogenic, has low toxicity, does not adversely affect reproduction or development of a wide range of organisms, is not an endocrine disruptor, does not bioaccumulate, and rapidly breaks down in the environment. Apart from the problem of resistance, I have trouble imagining a better herbicide.

  116. #116 Jay Chaplin
    September 26, 2012

    @F.Y
    Oh my. siRNA. That sounds very scary… And again it is obvious that you have no clue about the basic biology involved or you would have some clue as to how ridiculously implausible that is. Quoting Dr. Heinemann does not circumvent the fact that the claim is roughly equivalent to “the moon’s green cheese will contaminate the earth and end life as we know it”, it only shows that your alarmist du jour is willing to throw out basic principles like accuracy and professionalism for motivated reasoning.

    Fortunately for you I have to set up a rather complicated experiment now, that gives you roughly five hours to do a few minutes research on siRNA and codon bias, figure out any one of the (at least) three major errors that show you have no understanding of what you are claiming, and retract the B.S. before I return and do it for you (and the lurkers) in indelicate detail.

    Please, please, please, if you are going to comment on biology spend at least five minutes looking it up on Wikipedia before you make a total ass out of yourself.

  117. #117 Beamup
    September 26, 2012

    I would like to know why the precautionary principle should rule with RR corn, but not with grafted, hybridized, or otherwise “naturally” modified crops.

  118. #118 Narad
    September 26, 2012

    Or indeed about using chemicals like colchicine to produce polyploidal strains of plants.

    Actually suggested as a home project by one William Drake, Jr., in Marijuana: The Connoisseur’s Handbook (1971 first edition, at least), just by the by. Perhaps not the best idea for the committedly addled.

  119. #119 Bronze Dog
    September 26, 2012

    @Bronze Dog

    I am not sure about that philosophical claim, can’t anything be a ‘negative claim’ ? Dangerous is a claim about the non-existence of safety :) . I only mention this because you said it’s philosophical.

    I’m talking about philosophy of science and the concept of a null hypothesis. You can demonstrate a danger more easily than you can safety. If something is dangerous, it has a predictable, observable effect. If something is safe, you’re looking for a lack of effects.

    I agree with the need to study a products safety to a ‘reasonable extent’. Who defines reasonable extent ? And In the case where the effects are potentially disastrous and there are mountains of money to be made ? Because so far, regulation has been very lax considering it affects a big majority of the world poputlation and the studies that were accepted as ‘reasonable extent’ were performed by the manufacturer. Talk about conflict of interest !

    1. A sufficiently paranoid person can keep raising the bar for eternity. That’s the frame I’m usually stuck with when an anti-GMO person keeps being vague about their claims. They aren’t interested in moving the conversation forward or talking about the science and evidence, they’re interested in stonewalling.

    2. That’s what independent replication is for: People without those conflicts of interest try to duplicate the experiments and results. Same thing with peer review in general.

    3. I know the peer review process isn’t perfect, but at the moment, you seem to be asking me to perform the nirvana/perfect solution fallacy: If it isn’t perfect, we must reject it all.

    4. Prior plausibility. I want a plausible reason why GMO crops might be dangerous, rather than quiver in fear at unspecified, unknown horrors that might come from doing something slightly different than what we did before.

    I want you to give me a reason to take your concerns as sincere and reasonable instead of yet another case of Chicken Little, newage rationalizations, and tribalist politics.

  120. #120 F.Y
    September 26, 2012

    @Beamup

    Because of the potential of widespread exposure would be my first argument. We shouldn’t take this GMO debate out of context.

    @Jay Chaplin

    I have nothing to retract, and you would know that had you read and taken the time to understand my comments. What you just did is pluck the relevant information for the argument you wanted to make. Sounds familiar ?

  121. #121 Bronze Dog
    September 26, 2012

    @Beamup

    Because of the potential of widespread exposure would be my first argument. We shouldn’t take this GMO debate out of context.

    You mean there isn’t potential of widespread exposure from naturally modified plants being bred and sold to a wide market?

  122. #122 Narad
    September 26, 2012

    A sufficiently paranoid person can keep raising the bar for eternity.

    Ergo, in another antivaccine similarity, the open-ended “vaxed vs. unvaxed study” demand, which seems to point directly at a mass version of the Up series.

  123. #123 Jay Chaplin
    September 26, 2012

    @F.Y

    No, you are trying to sow fear, uncertainty, and doubt when you have no basis for doing so. You are, in effect, shouting “FIRE” in a crowded theater not because there is a fire in the theater, or outside the theater, or anywhere nearby, but simply because you want there to be one. You are making things up and not even bothering to do the most basic of research to determine whether what you are writing/copying is total B.S. or not. It is. I am calling you out on it. Deal.

  124. #124 F.Y
    September 26, 2012

    @Bronze Dog

    I agree with points 1 and 2.
    For point number 3, I am not asking anything of the sort, but I am asking for the same scientific integrity for both sides of the debate. A 90 day study by the corporation that stands to gain millions (and already has) doesn’t seem to me to be sufficient to prove safety to a ‘reasonable extent’, yet it was enough for the FDA. A blatantly wrong anti-GMO study is also not what I am asking for.
    Point number 4 I have addressed previously, also what you call ‘slightly’ different is seen as ‘extremely’ different to others, and it is a point I can understand considering the amounts of chemicals and the labs necessary for GMO’s as opposed to the long tradition of hybridization. Which makes your point a personal opinion same as the anti-GMO camp, which also includes scientists (though you might not want to call them that, it is a circular problem).

    This is a political debate that has no end in sight.
    Only the future will tell who was right about the GMO debate.
    There are alternative ways to feed ourselves and the world until this thing is settled. The problem remains wanting to impose one set of beliefs on the majority of mankind.
    That is what I was saying about exposure. Monsanto and other big corporations have the actual capability to impose their belief on everyone, which they are already doing, whereas the ‘other’ camp would be doing only what has been going on for millenia with no risk to anyone else but themselves.

    It’s been interesting. Cheers.

  125. #125 Jay Chaplin
    September 26, 2012

    @F.Y

    …and the flounce. Will it stick? I’ll be back when I’m done for a deconstruction of this siRNA B.S.

    You have called for “the same scientific integrity for both sides of the debate” but not demonstrating any yourself. This will be both fun and educational, whether or not you return.

  126. #126 Bronze Dog
    September 26, 2012

    F.Y, what’s the big difference you assert behind genetic modification compared to “natural” breeding? What big objective, concrete difference are you talking about? I want you to spell it out for me, not to coyly hint at it while wiggling your eyebrows and making ominous booga-booga gestures. Why are you trying to keep me in the dark about your position?

  127. #127 F.Y
    September 26, 2012

    @Bronze Dog

    I am amazed that no one here is responding to the actual arguments I am making rather than the red herrings I unfortunately inserted myself. Again, my opinion is my own and has nothing to do with my arguments.

    @Jay Chaplin

    I’m looing forward to learning a bit more today.

  128. #128 Bronze Dog
    September 26, 2012

    Your opinion has nothing to do with your arguments? Are you saying you don’t agree with the position you’re defending in this thread? That would qualify as “trolling for the lulz.”

    So, what’s the big difference between GMO crops and “natural” bred crops? For me, that’s a fundamental issue that’s often avoided because a negative answer undermines a lot of the rationalizations built on top of the alleged difference.

  129. #129 demandabanana
    September 26, 2012

    “A 90 day study by the corporation that stands to gain millions (and already has) doesn’t seem to me to be sufficient to prove safety to a ‘reasonable extent’”

    Is the 2 year study that showed nothing OK then? Just trying to tease out where your goal post is.

    “what you call ‘slightly’ different is seen as ‘extremely’ different to others, and it is a point I can understand considering the amounts of chemicals and the labs necessary for GMO’s as opposed to the long tradition of hybridization.”

    Wow, does that sounds like an anti-vax argument! So you’re arguing perception then? Because the introduction of one gene is FAR, FAR cleaner than irradiating seeds. Yet you focus on those scary test tubes.

    “Monsanto and other big corporations have the actual capability to impose their belief on everyone, which they are already doing”

    What is this “belief” of which you speak? That GMOs are superior, safe products? Of course they think that! You don’t have to, though. I’m not getting how this is an imposed belief.

  130. #130 F.Y
    September 26, 2012

    @Bronze Dog

    Is the choice only between pro and anti GMO ?
    I have no position on that in the absolute sense.
    That makes me a Troll ? It *try* to be unbiased in my arguments. And perhaps the fact that no one seems to be responding directly to them means I succeeded ? Though I doubt that idea will go down nicely :)

    As to the difference between GMO’s and ‘naturally bred crops’, it is irrelevant to the argument I made about imposing your point of view on others.
    Personally the only difference that matters to me is the unknown potential results. Yes, I do say potential results. Unknown.
    Yes, I know hybridization has unknown potential results, none of them so far in our history causing damage in a global noticeable way. That is a test GMO’s still do not have, not even close. Time.
    What I do know is the past experiences that have blown up in our faces, some of which are still costing us. But that is more an environmental issue for me.
    I am simply in no rush. The precautionary principle seems more rational to me than the need to grow our economies.
    Nowhere did I say or imply we should ban *research* on GMO’s.

  131. #131 trrll
    September 26, 2012

    Don’t confuse the power with the p-value. If there is insufficient evidence, that’s a function of both sample size and effect size. Are you trying to say that P<.01 is easier to obtain with small data than with big data? Good luck with that proof. Also, power calculations given in papers that find significant differences are an oddity – they are popular among doctors is all I can figure out, perhaps because they seem sophisticated.

    You are technically correct, but I still agree with Orac. You are right that the effect of too small a sample size would be to make it harder to attain statistical significance–but that is true only if proper correction for multiple comparisons are done. This paper does a huge number of comparison–lifespan, sex, 6 different treatment groups, 31(!) different blood parameters, 6 different urine parameters, cancer incidence broken down by organ, histological examination (with no mention of blinding [!]), organ weight. Just looking at the limited data they provide, it is hard to see how statistically significant results could have been obtained with such a small sample size. Added to that is that they did not do (or more likely, IMO, chose not to report) a conventional ANOVA with adjustment for multiple comparisons, but instead report a nonstandard statistical technique that has not been validated for this type of study.

    Then, on top of that, there are numerous suspcious anomalies in the data. No dose dependence (worse, in a number of cases it goes away; apparently, it’s more healthy to eat a lot of Roundup than a little bit); similar effects of GMO maize with and without Roundup (in fact, in some cases it looks like Roundup protects against the harmful effects of the GMO maize).

    Orac is correct that it is preferable to do a power analysis before hand. Basic scientists often don’t bother, particularly if they have a lot of experience with a particular system and have a good idea what sample sizes are needed for a particular type of study. But it is essential for human studies and long-term animal studies, because you don’t want to get to the end, do the statistics, and realize that your study did not have the statistical power to detect the effect(s) you were looking for. Setting the sample size in advance also protects against a subtle form of bias–adding more and more animals until you get a statistically significant result–which can result in a likelihood of a false positive that is substantially greater than the “p value” calculated by standard methods that implicitly assume a fixed sample size (but given the small sample sizes in this study, it seems pretty clear that they didn’t do that here)

  132. #132 trrll
    September 26, 2012

    Basically, it looks to me like what the authors have done is conduct the sort of “fishing expedition” that might be appropriate for a preliminary exploratory study: look at every variable you can think of to identify the ones that are most likely to show effects of a particular treatment. For this sort of thing, a stringent criterion for statistical significance is not really required, and the sort of multiple regression analysis the authors present could be appropriate, because you are just trying to get an idea of what is going on.

    But you aren’t supposed to stop there. Once you identify the best candidates for a treatment effect, you then do a follow-up experiment, with a completely different set of animals/subjects, that focuses on just a few of your best candidates for a treatment effect, using data from the preliminary experiment as a basis for a power analysis–and for this one, you *do* apply a stringent criterion for statistical significance. Unfortunately, it looks like that the authors only completed step 1, and instead of properly finishing the study, they reported their preliminary survey as if it were a definitive result (and manipulated the media to get international headlines).

  133. #133 Todd W.
    http://harpocratesspeaks.com
    September 26, 2012

    @F.Y

    So, let me see if I understand your argument from antiquity correctly:

    We have been essentially randomly inserting new genes into plants through breeding for a long, long time without any apparent negative consequences. Therefore, no testing is required.

    We have been inserting single, well-understood genes into plants through lab-based genetic engineering for a relatively short time without any apparent negative consequences. Therefore, we shouldn’t use them until more testing is done.

    Is this a correct summation of your position?

  134. #134 Todd W.
    http://harpocratesspeaks.com
    September 26, 2012

    Let me edit that first part slightly:

    We have been essentially randomly inserting new genes into plants through breeding for a long, long time without any apparent negative consequences, but without knowing exactly which genes we’re selecting for or what impact they will have. Therefore, no testing is required.

  135. #135 F.Y
    September 26, 2012

    @ Todd W.

    No, it isn’t a correct summation of my position.

    It is a good attempt at humourously undermining one aspect of a sideline argument I made by inserting what you are assuming to be Truths into your response.

    I will not respond directly to it, it would drag on a conversation I already feel I can not contribute anything new to.

    I’ve said my peace and until someone here makes an argument that can make me change my view on this topic, I’m done.

    I would like to suggest a project for anyone interested though. Maybe a library of all available studies, articles, stories on this topic, incorporating *all* sides of the debate from health to environment thru social justice etc… could allow people to make more informed decisions and arguments ?
    It doesn’t need to be anything very complicated. Pearltrees could be an easy platform to do this cooperative work on.

  136. #136 Todd W.
    http://harpocratesspeaks.com
    September 26, 2012

    @F.Y

    On the contrary. I was not attempting to use humor at all. I was trying to summarize what I understand of your position from what you have said. Apparently, what you’ve written so far has not been particularly clear.

    It seems like you are arguing that GMOs might have unintended consequences that we don’t know about because we haven’t had as much time examining them to figure out if they’re really safe. Based on this, it appears you recommend that new GMO crops should not be used until further testing is done.

    You also seem to be arguing that traditional methods of breeding and hybridization, grafting, etc. are okay and do not need to be studied for safety before a new plant/food is produced because we’ve been using these methods for millennia.

    Again, if this is incorrect, please explain your position more clearly.

  137. #137 Bronze Dog
    September 26, 2012

    In another sense, it’s like making sausage. If you like sausage, you probably don’t want to see how it’s made. Along comes a new method where we know exactly what new stuff we’re putting into a sausage and why, and suddenly they want us to go back to the old pre-FDA ways where we didn’t know half of what went in because they’re allegedly safer and it’s traditional.

  138. #138 Ewan R
    September 26, 2012

    Disclaimer in advance, I’m a Monsanto employee, the views herein are my own and not those of my employer (the lawyers made me say this, but no more than this!)

    F.Y. While espousing the precautionary principle (which is oft used as an arguement stopper, as proving safety is impossible) one rather ignores the effects of non-adoption of various technologies. Now, for big M (or big P, if you’re that way inclined, and many farmers are) sure, the money may well be the big effect of non-adoption, however as been expounded upthread roundup is, when compared to other herbicidal regimes, relatively benign – given that it has a significantly reduced environmental impact compared to previously used (or current alternative) weed management systems then what would the toll have been in terms of environmental damage and human life had RR been stymied by nebulous demands of following the precautionary principle?

    How many deaths to insecticides are worth not commercializing Bt transgenics?

    How many kids go blind waiting for golden rice?

    How many cotton farmers make 50% what they could have been making while waiting for conclusive (and unobtainable) evidence that Bt cotton is safe (while concurrently spraying far more dangerous insecticides on their crop)?

    Now weigh all of these very real risks against your nebulous imagined possible threat which for whatever reason hasn’t raised its head in any studies or become apparent since the release of GMOs. Clearly being cautious in this case is foolhardy – you’re protecting people from a non-existant danger while exposing them to a very real one.

  139. #139 Pro_spark
    CA, USA
    September 26, 2012

    Roundup is used extremely widely, in arid south dakota it is used in no-till agriculture to kill weeds between crops instead of plowing (which exposes soil and causes moisture loss). In some areas, 90% of the land area is sprayed with round-up once or twice every year. If it had such profound effects on animals, the wildlife in these areas would be notably affected.

  140. #140 Eli Rabett
    September 26, 2012

    Krebiozen @ 10:55 am

    “Except, as I pointed out above, there is good evidence that Roundup is not carcinogenic, has low toxicity, does not adversely affect reproduction or development of a wide range of organisms, is not an endocrine disruptor, does not bioaccumulate, and rapidly breaks down in the environment. Apart from the problem of resistance, I have trouble imagining a better herbicide.”

    The dose makes the poison. There will be significant effects, the problem is figuring them out before the dosing becomes global. As with DDT the issue is not only humans, but the entire food chain.

  141. #141 Grant
    September 26, 2012

    Jay Chaplin,

    If you’re going to tackle (your words) “B.S.”, could I invite you to copy what you write that is relevant to Heinemann’s report over to the sciblogs forums – links below – that way local people would get to see them. (Or, alternatively, just present it as general comments about siRNA, etc.)

    These threads:

    http://sciblogs.co.nz/southern-genes/2012/09/12/does-eating-transgenic-wheat-destroy-your-liver/

    http://sciblogs.co.nz/guestwork/2012/09/18/separating-the-chaff-from-the-grain-in-the-debate-on-gm-wheat/

  142. #142 Antaeus Feldspar
    September 26, 2012

    I will not respond directly to it, it would drag on a conversation I already feel I can not contribute anything new to.

    Oh, on the contrary, if you can show a difference of any significance, it would be quite new.

  143. #143 Grant
    September 26, 2012

    F.Y.:

    “you cannot deny that that possibility exists unless you throw away the scientific method that prompted this whole conversation.”

    See below – the scientific method bit applies both ways. The other bit, about raising possibilities: did you read what I wrote earlier: “You can throw up ‘what ifs’ like that to pretty much anything, even after a product is shown to be safe. (Think of how the various lobby groups keep coming up with new ‘concerns’!)” (You replied to this, after all!) ‘Possible’ concerns aren’t very meaningful if the same scientific criticism is not applied to them, too.

    “It seems to me that quite a few people here are acting and reacting in the exact way that they condemn in anti-GMO crowds.”

    The former looks a bit of a straw man. Most people here are interested in the science.

    “@Grant, about the lobby groups, yes I agree, people can come up with loads of crap. My response to that is what I believe about where the burden of proof lies.”

    The latter applies just as much to lobby groups, really – it’s applied to who makes claims not ‘who claimed first’. If lobby groups make claims in reply, then it’s up to them to back their claims. It’s a key reason that I suggested that Heinemann’s report might have been better presented as a simple request for information, without trying to hold up examples.

    “I am asking for the same scientific integrity for both sides of the debate.”

    You presented Heinemann’s quotes as ‘definitive’. If you were questioning both sides you’d be _questioning_ Heinemann’s report rather than taking it on face value. Others conclude that his report consists of ‘what ifs’ followed by some dubious sequence analysis. (I’m inclined to agree, but I’d need to return to the report to give a firmer opinion and lack time at the moment.)

  144. #144 F.Y
    September 26, 2012

    @Grant

    I understand where you are coming from, though I certainly did not mean for my Heinemann example to seem ‘definitive’ in any way.
    As I had pointed out, it was somewhat irrelevant to me whether the report was correct or not, not because I was not interested in “questioning” his point of view, but because it was simply a response to demandabanana and Jay Chaplins’ argument about sciences’ understanding of our digestive system in which they left little room for doubt as to the potential health impacts of GMOs.
    My point all along has been a very simple one, there are obviously opposing views on this whole debate, with scientists on both sides of the arguments and no definitive major study accepted by a great majority of them either dismissing the health problems outright or condemning GMO’s absolutely.

    —- If we cannot agree that there is a legitimate debate, then obviously we won’t get anywhere with the rest of my argument—– (Note: I do not believe in the legitimacy of the debate on climate change today, because of the overwhelming amount of scientists that agree vs the deniers allowed equal coverage time. {it might be wrong to assume correctness in numbers, but that’s scientific peer process at work} So if you believe this debate is equivalent to that, please provide me with all your sources as I’d love to put it behind me)

    However, If we can agree, then I believe that the precautionary approach is the way to go because of the reasons I’ve mentioned previously:
    ” going in one direction might cause irreperable damage, while going the other might save many lives. **Why are we in such a hurry** ? Considering that people are starving even today while SO MUCH food is simply wasted, i think there are more efficient and less dangerous ways to start dealing with world hunger.” & “There are alternative ways to feed ourselves and the world until this thing is settled. The problem remains wanting to impose one set of beliefs on the majority of mankind.
    That is what I was saying about exposure. Monsanto and other big corporations have the actual capability to impose their belief on everyone, **which they are already doing**, whereas the ‘other’ camp would be doing only what has been going on for millenia with **no risk to anyone else but themselves**.”

    I have to emphasize that this argument is worth nothing if we do not agree that there is a legitimate debate, otherwise I will be treated as a fear-mongerer again and/or we will start the whole debate of whether it is safe or not again. I do not pretend to have an answer to that.

    Lastly, I absolutely do believe that there are alternative ways of feeding the world and I would highly recommend looking into permaculture. Though to accept it as a premise of life might mean changing one’s priorities.
    Which would probably be a good thing for oneself and humanity.
    But that is a whole other debate :)

  145. #145 Grant
    September 26, 2012

    FY -

    “I certainly did not mean for my Heinemann example to seem ‘definitive’ in any way.”

    I suspect what you should saying is that you did at the time, but now wish you hadn’t having realised it’s not definitive.

    “As I had pointed out, it was somewhat irrelevant to me whether the report was correct or not,”

    Maybe this is the position you’ve shifted to, which is fine in itself, but at that time you presented as ‘definitive’ science opposing GMOs. Why not simply say you would like to revise your position on that particular report? There’s no great shame in that.

    “If we cannot agree that there is a legitimate debate, then obviously we won’t get anywhere with the rest of my argument”

    See my earlier point about sound science cutting both ways – i.e. if GMO opponents make claims they need to hold to that standard, too.

    “So if you believe this debate is equivalent to that, please provide me with all your sources as I’d love to put it behind me“

    FWIW, I cite one opinion piece in the first discussion thread I linked earlier – from EMBO Reports, I think. (Haven’t time to dig it out.) A point that opinion makes, IIRC, is that there’s going on 20 years of ‘what ifs’ with none being sound to be an issue. Something I said earlier was that you can raise ‘what ifs’ endlessly—and meaninglessly. In the end the most you can do is test that it’s safe for a large majority of people. (As is done with vaccines, medical treatments, etc.)

    “However, If we can agree, then I believe that the precautionary approach is the way to go because of the reasons I’ve mentioned previously”

    See immediately above.

    “Considering that people are starving even today while SO MUCH food is simply wasted, i think there are more efficient and less dangerous ways to start dealing with world hunger.” & “There are alternative ways to feed ourselves and the world until this thing is settled. The problem remains wanting to impose one set of beliefs on the majority of mankind.”

    The last is straw man. For the rest I suggest you learn what these products try achieve. It’s not (just) about *amounts* of foods. The GM rice, for example, is targeted at vitamin deficiency from memory and also from memory wasn’t a ‘big corporation’ effort either, but academic work.

    “Monsanto and other big corporations have the actual capability to impose their belief on everyone”

    As much as I see there might be business issues, your argument here is a straw man argument – they’re not trying to ‘impose beliefs’, but sell products.

  146. #146 Todd W.
    http://harpocratesspeaks.com
    September 26, 2012

    @F.Y

    I’m still rather confused about why you stress so much the need to research the safety of new GMO crops, but don’t seem to be calling for the same level of research on new crops developed through breeding.

    @Grant

    IIRC, the rice modification was to add vitamin A.

  147. #147 F.Y
    September 26, 2012

    @Grant

    ““I certainly did not mean for my Heinemann example to seem ‘definitive’ in any way.”

    I suspect what you should saying is that you did at the time, but now wish you hadn’t having realised it’s not definitive.”

    Considering that immediately following my Heinemann quote came this: “I cannot vouch for the quality of that study”, I do not understand how you insist I meant it as ‘definitive’ anything.

    “Maybe this is the position you’ve shifted to, which is fine in itself, but at that time you presented as ‘definitive’ science opposing GMOs. Why not simply say you would like to revise your position on that particular report? There’s no great shame in that.”

    I have to ask, have you read my previous posts ? I tried to point out that it was irrelevant previously: “my example with Heinemann served a specific function for my main argument which is we don’t know, we can’t know without proper studies”

    ““If we cannot agree that there is a legitimate debate, then obviously we won’t get anywhere with the rest of my argument”
    See my earlier point about sound science cutting both ways – i.e. if GMO opponents make claims they need to hold to that standard, too.”

    It is only about whether there IS a debate or not, not about who is right. I thought that was pretty clear.
    I guess what you are saying is there is NO legitimate debate and that the question of whether GMOs are safe has been absolutely settled and that the deniers are quacks ?

    ” I cite one opinion piece in the first discussion thread I linked earlier – from EMBO Reports, I think. (Haven’t time to dig it out.) ….. the end the most you can do is test that it’s safe for a large majority of people. ”
    Opinion pieces abound on either side (though I will find and read the one you suggest). And considering that the study that is the subject of this blog post is supposedly the longest one to date and it was done over a 2 year period only, I am not sure many studies qualify as sufficient to settle a debate that risks the lives of billions (please do not comment on this number, it is a circular argument). Also, 20 years doesn’t seem to be long enough in itself for effects over a lifetime of an individual.

    “The last is straw man. For the rest I suggest you learn what these products try achieve. It’s not (just) about *amounts* of foods. The GM rice, for example, is targeted at vitamin deficiency from memory and also from memory wasn’t a ‘big corporation’ effort either, but academic work.”

    The fact that people are starving is exagerated ? Or is it the amount of food we waste ? Which is straw man ?
    Or was it only the ‘imposing’ of beliefs ?
    I admit that last one could be seen as an exageration from a certain point of view. My point though, to clarify, is that they have the financial and political resources to influence the direction humanity takes on this issue. Those are facts: they are rich and they know people in the right places (whether those people have the integrity that we imagine politicians have is another story, but money is enough usually, they can market you an idea until you believe you came up with it), that gives them quite the advantage when it comes to ‘selling’ us stuff.
    If you agree that “there might be business issues”, I guess I could be content with that.

    As for the vitamin deficiencies, maybe we should address the root cause of them instead of trying to find technological solutions. Like any other vitamin deficiency, malnutrition is the root cause of the vitamin A deficiency addressed by Golden Rice. The root cause of malnutrition might propel us into yet another debate.

    ‘Everything is interlinked’ is no joke… our super-specialized society has difficulty connecting the dots.

    Grant, thank you for this gentlemanly discussion, but perhaps we can simply agree to disagree at this point ?

    Me: There is legitimate debate. It can affect billions. Burden of proof on them.
    You: No legitimate debate, GMO’s not harmful/ risk minimal if any. Proof available. Spread them.

    Does this sum it up ? :)

  148. #148 Grant
    September 26, 2012

    Todd W.,

    My recollection too.

    Regards the other points, perhaps FY should read my old post:

    http://sciblogs.co.nz/code-for-life/2009/12/15/gmos-and-the-plants-we-eat-neither-are-natural/

    Best to read it but the bottom line was “Either way, what makes the plant safe to eat is food safety testing, not how the plant was made.”

  149. #149 F.Y
    September 26, 2012

    @Todd W

    When I say naturally bred plants, or hybridized, I am talking about the kind that happens in situ through selection of traits by the farmers over several seasons. Not any specialized techniques that happen in labs. I do not know what you mean by ‘new’ crops developed through breeding, though I imagine it can’t be too diifferent from what I just described. Except for the in situ and farmer part maybe ?
    If the new crops you are talking about can be as widely distributed as fast as GMO crops, perhaps they too need to be sufficiently tested before distribution. Though I have to admit I have difficulty accepting that GMO are the same as even that breeding. We are taking genes that were never present in this particular form of life and inserting them there. We still have trouble computing all the effects of interactions certain drugs have with each other when we take several kinds at a time (what is that called ? I forget), I am not confident that we can predict all the effects a bacterial gene can have on a plant, or the bugs or humans that digest them.
    The hybridization done by my definition don’t need to be regulated as much because of the little exposure the world might have to them. Which environmentally speaking, could give the ecosystem more time to adapt to it.
    As any environmental scientist could tell you, the rate of change can have very different consequences on the surrounding ecosystem.

  150. #150 Grant
    September 26, 2012

    FY,

    “We are taking genes that were never present in this particular form of life and inserting them there.”

    Again, you really ought to read what’s being done. What you’ve said isn’t always true. Genetic engineering doesn’t always need to add new genes, but sometimes can work by altering existing ones. For just one example (again, my blog, sorry for pimping): http://sciblogs.co.nz/code-for-life/2011/10/12/carrots-for-my-neighbour/

    “I am not confident that we can predict all the effects a bacterial gene can have on a plant, or the bugs or humans that digest them.”

    Misses the point about the testing, really (never mind ‘special pleading’). This shows your colours nicely, though IMO. Think I’ll leave it here as you seem to be unwilling to engage with actual things, just hypothetical ‘what ifs’.

  151. #151 F.Y
    September 26, 2012

    @Grant

    That’s nitpicking no ? “isn’t always true” ? Yes, I am sorry for that generalization. Though my point remains the same, altered genes don’t make me warm and fuzzy inside either :)
    That has absolutely no bearing on my argument in the other posts though.

    “Misses the point about the testing”
    Not quite, the point about the testing I addressed in my post to you. This was just pointing out my confidence in our predictive abilities.

    “This shows your colours nicely”

    (Unnecessary) Ad Hominem fallacy….

    “unwilling to engage with actual things, just hypothetical ‘what ifs’”
    The ‘actual’ things are debates that I am not qualified to address. No, I did not just dig my own hole. My whole argumentation is based on the existence of uncertainty. At no point did I pretend to know for a fact that GMOs were good or bad.
    Whenever I mentioned my inclination to believe one side or the other, I tried to make sure to point out it was my personal opinion and irrelevant to the argument I was making.
    Which no one really addressed for what it was, most preferring a red herring approach.
    I still haven’t read vehement and clear denials that the debate is legitimate, which would end this conversation in a jiffy. The closest so far was pointing to this or that blog or article….

    Maybe it’s the internet’s memory that is holding some back ? Or is it scientific integrity ? Or maybe I am just thick and didn’t understand it when it was clearly stated :)

  152. #152 AdamG
    September 26, 2012

    I am not confident that we can predict all the effects a bacterial gene can have on a plant, or the bugs or humans that digest them.

    And this is where you’re incorrect. The above statement is just not an accurate reflection of the state of the genetics literature on this topic. You’re framing the question as if the null hypothesis were “genes introduced through recombineering will have unwanted, off-target effects on organisms that consume them” but there is little to no evidence of this actually occurring at all, anywhere. Nor is it, biologically, a likely event. What is the precise, GMO-specifc mechanism for host acquisition of these oh-so-scary genes? If you have articles illustrating examples of this, I’d be happy to take a look at them. The burden of proof should be on those who claim that GMOs will produce such effects.

  153. #153 Grant
    September 26, 2012

    F.Y.,

    Your entire response is argumentative and tries to put other meanings on my words. Clearly, I chose well to leave it where it was.

    No, it wasn’t nitpicking – you’d know that if you read what’s being, as I suggested you do.

    You *are* missing the point about the testing, but someone else can pick up on that – I have better things to do.

    No, it’s not ad hominem – you claimed to be interested in both sides (i.e. are neutral) – I was saying you show clearly you are not. (And some people are just too biased to waste time on.)

    Re: actual things you’re either missing the point or trying to walk around it. It’s not a red herring either.

    “I still haven’t read” – in other words you just want to go on forever.

    Your final paragraph is straight trolling.

    Try picking on someone else, I have better things to do.

  154. #154 Todd W.
    http://harpocratesspeaks.com
    September 26, 2012

    @F.Y

    I am not sure many studies qualify as sufficient to settle a debate that risks the lives of billions

    You imply that GMOs (potentially) risk the lives of billions. Yet you suggest that non-GMO foods do not have similar risks.

    I am talking about the kind that happens in situ through selection of traits by the farmers over several seasons

    Do you mean farming that is kept locally and not shipped outside of the resident community? That would mitigate, but not eliminate, the risks of uncontrolled genetic manipulation (which is really what breeding is).

    However, you still don’t seem to get the point I’m trying to make.

    You go on and on about the risks of GMOs, yet do not seem to consider the risks of non-GMO plants. Let me try to spell it out in a bit greater detail.

    For non-GMO plants, plants of different varieties or even different species cross-pollinate. This is accomplished either with intent by the grower or by accident through nature doing what it does. Alternatively, a grower may graft one variety or species onto another. Over successive generations or seasons, the grower selects certain individual plants to propagate the new variety. In doing this he/she exerts some control over the genes that are passed down, but without any knowledge of which genes get passed on or what any of those genes do.

    These changes in the genetic makeup of the plant line take place over a far shorter period than do any genetic changes in humans that would adapt to any potentially adverse alterations. The resultant plants may simply be propagated locally or seeds may be sold or transported nationally or internationally. Likewise, nature itself may cause those genetic changes to be transported far away from the original garden or farm (e.g., bees, birds, winds, etc.).

    To sum all that up, breeding and cultivation, though much slower than lab-based genetic engineering, has a far greater potential for genetic changes that may have an adverse effect on human health or the environment.

    By contrast, lab-based genetic engineering involves a limited few known genes (either modified native genes or insertion of foreign genes), rather than hundreds or thousands of genes. The functions of these genes are well-characterized.

    In either instance, there may be unintended consequences. But in the latter, there is at the very least a modicum of understanding about what could happen. The former has no such control.

    Again, I find it very perplexing how you call so strongly for extended research on GMO foods, yet do not call for similar testing for non-GMO foods. Recall that your very first post said:

    On a more personal note, I believe the onus of proof should lie with GMO manufacturers with independent peer reviews that are beyond doubt. Ideally it should have happened *before* their commercialization.

    I asked if non-GMO producers should also have the onus to show that their products are safe, which you have consistently waved off.

    “This shows your colours nicely”

    (Unnecessary) Ad Hominem fallacy…

    Grant did not use an ad hominem fallacy. It is a fallacy to attack you rather than your arguments (e.g., “You’re clearly anti-GMO, therefore your arguments are without merit.”). It is not a fallacy to make conclusions or observations based upon your arguments (e.g., “You argue based on fear, uncertainty and doubt, therefore you show your colors as an anti-GMO person.”).

  155. #155 F.Y
    September 27, 2012

    @AdamG

    I am now a little more confident that we might be able to predict all effects.

    It still doesn’t change what I believe is the more rational approach to something that is *still being debated in the scientific community*: The precautionary approach.

    Unless you were stating that there is no debate. Which I didn’t get from your post.

    “The burden of proof should be on those who claim that GMOs will produce such effects.”
    I still do not agree with that for the same reason, it is still being debated, and GMO is the new kid on the block that has yet to prove himself. It is enough that they *might* have off-target effects to warrant the precautionary approach because there is no rush to incorporating them into our daily diets.
    It might have been worth the risk, as Ewan R mentioned earlier, if we were in dire straits with no alternatives possible, which is where i disagree with him (among others), we are not there. As it stands today, all of us are test subjects, a lot unwillingly.

    For the life of me I still cannot understand why I am receiving so much resistance to my idea. I keep hoping that I am simply being misunderstood.
    Have we devalued human lives so much that any kind of risk that affects billions is worth taking ?
    Why are we in such a hurry to push new technologies onto the market ? The only answer to that I can find is either money, or the advancement of science. The first I cannot defend, the second entails human beings as guinea pigs, which I also cannot defend.
    Notice that I clearly stated earlier that I am not proposing that research on GMOs be stopped…

    If my arguments are irrational, I need hospitalization.

  156. #156 F.Y
    September 27, 2012

    I’d like to ask anyone reading this and agreeing with me (even if not every detail) to voice it somehow.

    If I am alone in this, I might have to seriously consider checking into an institution as I believe my arguments to be rational.

  157. #157 F.Y
    September 27, 2012

    It is 7am, please forgive my redundant mention of rationality and institutionalizing myself.

  158. #158 F.Y
    September 27, 2012

    @Todd W

    I just noticed your post.

    You make a good argument.
    I cannot at the moment find different words to explain why I still believe that between the way we’ve been doing things for millenia vs the new technology, if anyone needs to prove anything, it would be the new technology. cf. my notes on risk.

    I argue based on uncertainty and doubt, absolutely. That’s the basis for my argument. Fear, not so much.

    “showing your colours”, if not directly an Ad Hominem fallacy, certainly implies it, considering that uncertainty and doubt are at the center of my arguments, labeling me as anti-GMO on that basis is a fallacy.

    @Grant, I am sorry you feel like I am picking on you. I am sincere in my beliefs, I’d rather be a sincere idiot than a bully of any kind. I apologize for the paragraph you called trolling, you are right, though I meant it more light-heartedly.

    Goodnight or Good Day

  159. #159 AdamG
    September 27, 2012

    it is still being debated

    Do you realize this is the exact same reason climate deniers use to stymie progress on environmental laws? The ‘debate’ that you imagine is ongoing among scientists is just that, imaginary. It’s easy to understand where you’ve gotten this perception, as the media is quick to create false balance on such potentially controversial issues. The anti-GMO movement are the climate deniers of the left, they’ve fallen for the very same tactic they decry in AGW-deniers.

    For the life of me I still cannot understand why I am receiving so much resistance to my idea.

    I want to know what precisely gives you the impression that there is a heated, ongoing debate within the scientific community about the safety of GMOs.

  160. #160 F.Y
    September 27, 2012

    @Adam G

    You are the first that clearly states that there is no legitimate debate.
    It is pretty easy to to know what gives me that impression; google and the news media. A study like the one that just came out doesn’t help, but if you try to look up anything on GMOs, you (perhaps unfortunately) get bombarded by the ‘negative’ press first. There are a number of health food organizations, consumer protection organizations and what not with quite a library of scientific studies that they keep at the disposal of the googler. And all of this might be making me biased. It is not for nothing that I asked for a collaborative project a few posts back.
    Also, the track record of science on being wrong on certain things that were allowed to be manufactured and widespread (DDT, CFC among otthers) certainly doesn’t help me accept such a young technology as safe. The, even tiny, risk of us being wrong, far outweigh the benefits we (as in, the whole of humanity) could get from pushing this too far too fast.

    “Do you realize this is the exact same reason climate deniers use to stymie progress on environmental laws?”

    I mention somewhere in my earlier posts something about this.
    “—- If we cannot agree that there is a legitimate debate, then obviously we won’t get anywhere with the rest of my argument—– (Note: I do not believe in the legitimacy of the debate on climate change today, because of the *overwhelming* amount of scientists that agree vs the deniers allowed equal coverage time. {it might be wrong to assume correctness in numbers, but that’s scientific peer process at work} So if you believe this debate is equivalent to that, please provide me with all your sources as I’d love to put it behind me)”

    Also and more importantly, had there still been a legitimate debate on climate change, my position would have been the same: precautionary approach. Which would not stymie progress of environmental laws. Because “The, even tiny, risk of us being wrong, far outweigh the benefits we (as in, the whole of humanity) could get from pushing this too far too fast.”

  161. #161 Antaeus Feldspar
    September 27, 2012

    Have we devalued human lives so much that any kind of risk that affects billions is worth taking ?

    You exhibit a common misunderstanding of the precautionary principle: the idea that the “precautionary path” is not a risk affecting billions. The question is rarely, if ever, “Do we take a risk or don’t we?” It’s “Which of the risks that come from this decision do we take?” We have every reason to judge each case individually, and no reason to adopt a heuristic of “it’s better to take the risks of not doing something.”

  162. #162 Mrs Woo
    September 27, 2012

    I am mildly proud of myself and will give honor where it is due, Orac. Haven’t been as regular on RI the past few weeks – too many things to keep up with between the new colt that was given to me (can’t complain too much, he’s a registered Egyptian Arabian), start of school and football. Please forgive me my lack of attention.

    Anyhow – hubby came across this yesterday (it’s even on YouTube!) and said “You have to hear this. See? See?” and insisted I go watch. Immediately I thought to myself, “Well, there are lines of rats that almost get tumors as a result of breathing, finding tumors in some lines of rats isn’t too surprising with or without GMO’s,” followed by, “That is way too small of a study group size with inadequate controls to really be meaningful results. At best this study can at most recommend that more study to see if results can be duplicated in other animals or at least other rat strains. This really isn’t significant.”

    Thank you for the education. At least it is serving its purpose with one thinker.

  163. #163 KathyW
    The Garden State
    September 27, 2012

    Glad you wrote this article. When I hear it from one of the SBM gang, there’re enough facts to eliminate much if not all second guessing.

    Mercola bankrolled Prop 37. Enough said.

  164. #164 Bronze Dog
    September 27, 2012

    To sum all that up, breeding and cultivation, though much slower than lab-based genetic engineering, has a far greater potential for genetic changes that may have an adverse effect on human health or the environment.

    By contrast, lab-based genetic engineering involves a limited few known genes (either modified native genes or insertion of foreign genes), rather than hundreds or thousands of genes. The functions of these genes are well-characterized.

    Nicely said. Pretty much covers what I meant by my sausage analogy. Before modern genetic modification, we relied entirely on processes where we were largely ignorant of what was going on, and people weren’t aware of any of the hidden risks. They didn’t know what was in their sausage and they didn’t care because they naively assumed Mother Nature’s factory had their best interests at heart.

    Then genetic modification comes around so that we know what we put in the sausage, and all of the sudden, we have to assume the humans behind it are inherently evil and/or incompetent and thus inferior to the omnibenevolent, wise hand of Mother Nature. It’s like those pro-GMO people are silly enough to think that humans have some idea of what humans need in their crops.

    They don’t like watching sausage being made, so they want to go back to blissful, reckless ignorance and the lack of responsibility and control that allegedly comes with that ignorance. They’re more interested in displaying blind trust towards a poorly-observed Mother Nature than put accountable humans in the position of calculating knowable risks.

  165. #165 F.Y
    September 27, 2012

    @Antaeus Feldspar

    In both the examples I stated in these posts, I judged the cases individually.
    “It might have been worth the risk, as Ewan R mentioned earlier, if we were in dire straits with no alternatives possible, which is where i disagree with him (among others), we are not there.”

    You might not agree with my conclusion, but I do not exhibit a misunderstanding of the precautionary principle.

    Truth is, Life on the planet will survive, and I am personally able to choose whether I want to eat or plant GMOs. I was simply trying to argue the possible point of view of our children. It is very easy to see where we went wrong in retrospect. Not so easy to change the past. We are not so good at postponing todays’ pleasures for a longer term view. Could be acceptable at a personal level, but when the choice is made from humanity as a whole, it might be seen as a bit irresponsible, don’t you think ?

    I think I have said what I wanted to say in every permutation possible.

    @Todd W, @Adam G. Thanks for your explanations. I did learn something new, even if not enough for me to change my mind yet. It is always appreciated.

  166. #166 leah mcgrath
    September 27, 2012

    Thank you for this. I have no issue w/ the labeling of GMO’s but I don’t agree w/ the ” burn the witch” mentality that all GM items are bad.

  167. #167 JD
    Washington DC
    September 27, 2012

    I haven’t looked at the study in detail to say whether it is valid or not, but that does not make GMO safe. Your argument that just because this study may be flawed GMOs are safe is not valid either. There are NO studies to prove that it is safe, which is why GMOs are banned for human consumption in Europe (and they are given to animals only after the US complained to the WTO). I personally do not feel like being the guinea pig for Monsanto or any of the other pharmaceutical companies, just so that they can make themselves rich.

  168. #168 Eli Rabett
    http://rabett.blogspot.com
    September 27, 2012

    Truth is, Life on the planet will survive, Eli’s personal survival and that of his nearest and dearest are an entirely separate matter.

    Please try again.

  169. #169 Beamup
    September 27, 2012

    @ JD:

    There are NO studies to prove that non-GMO crops are safe, either. You can’t even invoke “they’ve been used for a long time” because each new hybrid strain is more different than the existing than anything Monsanto produces.

    If GMOs are considered sufficiently risky to be banned, then every other crop (and domesticated animal) should be banned too.

  170. #170 Grant
    September 27, 2012

    FY,

    ““The burden of proof should be on those who claim that GMOs will produce such effects.”
    I still do not agree with that for the same reason, it is still being debated,”

    As I tried to explain earlier the burden of proof always lies with whoever makes a claim. If someone opposing GMOs makes a claim – for that claim, the burden of proof is theirs. Ditto if you make a claim – for that claim, the burden of proof is yours.

    “and GMO is the new kid on the block that has yet to prove himself.”

    Read back to where I pointed out an EMBO Reports article – track it down in the link I suggested. I pointed out that one of things that article points out is how long GM has been around. There’s this constant selling of it as ‘new’ a good couple of decades down the track. There’s also this ‘overlooking’ that none of the products released in that time have had human health issues – i.e. they’ve proven their point.

    “It is enough that they *might* have off-target effects to warrant the precautionary approach”

    Yes/no. I’ve already pointed out several times you can say ‘what if’ to any product, even long *after* they’re demonstrated to be safe. The bottom line isn’t this specific ‘concern’, that specific ‘concern’, but basic testing that they are safe for the large majority, as I tried to explain earlier. This is no different to other products. It’s not how the plant is made really. (Yes, each new product should be taken on it’s own merit.)

    “all of us are test subjects, a lot unwillingly.”

    Just not true and the same thing as anti-vaccine lobbies, etc., spin. It’s playing a conspiracy/fear line.

    “For the life of me I still cannot understand why I am receiving so much resistance to my idea.”

    You should consider that it might be because it so wrong-headed, people have tried to point out why and you don’t really seem to be taking that on board. You clearly aren’t familiar with what is actually being done, yet criticise. I have favourite saying, a bastardisation of Dylan’s words: you can’t criticise what you don’t understand.

    “The only answer to that I can find is either money, or the advancement of science.”

    Why have you left out benefiting others? As I pointed out earlier several of these projects start as academic projects aimed to assist others. (Ultimately they will be sold through companies as academic groups aren’t marketing/manufactoring/distributing companies, but the initial drive is from the research teams.)

  171. #171 ChrisP
    September 27, 2012

    JD, you have the argument entirely wrong. There is a host of studies out there showing there is nothing dangerous about the process of genetic modification per se. It is all about the trait included. What the commentary is about is that this particular piece of research is so badly flawed – and rather obviously so. Indeed, the authors go out of their way to hide the real evidence: that there was no difference between their treatments. That means this particular research is junk and we fall back on the hundreds of other studies that show there is no harm from genetic modification per se and that glyphosate is one of the safest (for human health) herbicides we have.

    I might also point out that your claim that GMOs are banned for human consumption in Europe is not true.

  172. #172 Vince Whirlwind
    September 27, 2012

    Bad luck – all’s fair in love and war, and anybody sensible who cares about our environment will be pleased to see Monsanto’s dishonest activities being given a PR-blow like this.

    I don’t care how bad the study is, it’s a good, solid blow against the next worse thing to the energy industry.

    “GM food causes cancer”. The meme’s out there – good luck putting it back in its bottle.

    Now, if Monsanto actually sold GM crops in a responsbile way, they might have more supporters.

  173. #173 novalox
    September 27, 2012

    @vince

    [citation needed]

  174. #174 ChrisP
    September 28, 2012

    novalox, Vince has only expressed his own beliefs – that he was happy about the outcome regardless of the means used.

    I am left wondering whether he was also happy about the impact of Wakefield’s fraudulent paper.

  175. #175 Militant Agnostic
    By royal appointment official supplier of GMO free nonsense to HRH the Prince of Wales
    September 28, 2012

    @vince – how about

    “Climate Scientists are hiding evidence that AGW is not happening”. The meme’s out there – good luck putting it back in its bottle.

    I assume you approve of the tactics used to promote the myths of Climategate as well then.

  176. #176 herr doktor bimler
    September 28, 2012

    the next worse thing to the energy industry.
    I am intrigued and would like to know more about the “energy industry”, and what a future *without* an energy industry would look like.

  177. #177 puppygod
    September 28, 2012

    @Vince Whirlwind

    Bad luck – all’s fair in love and war, and anybody sensible who cares about our environment will be pleased to see Monsanto’s dishonest activities being given a PR-blow like this.

    I strongly disagree. While I agree that there are some valid concerns about GMO (mostly about ecological impact), so far there is none reasonable health risk identified. Spreading FUD and disinformation is, by and itself, a very bad thing, and in the long run may be counter-effective. Basically now there is no longer a place for factual, science-based discussion and it all becomes PR battle. And guess who, in the long run, have an advantage in PR? The end effect will be that GMOs will be adopted anyway, but their cost will be artificially inflated by needless extra safety theatre procedures and they won’t be available where they are most needed – in poor countries with degraded soil, water shortages and malnourished populations.

  178. #178 Grant
    September 28, 2012

    Here’s the EMBO Reports opinion piece I referred F.Y to:

    Stop worrying; start growing

    Risk research on GM crops is a dead parrot: it is time to start reaping the benefits of GM

    http://www.nature.com/embor/journal/v13/n6/full/embor201259a.html

    Similar issues as to what puppygod pointed to.

  179. #179 Ewan R
    September 28, 2012

    @FY:-

    “It might have been worth the risk, as Ewan R mentioned earlier, if we were in dire straits with no alternatives possible, which is where i disagree with him (among others), we are not there.”

    The point is though that despite alternatives being available it is clear they wouldn’t be used. Why? Because… they weren’t being used. Without the introduction of Bt cotton in India and China for instance cotton growers in both countries would be utilizing a much harsher regime of insecticidal spraying to control pests. it doesn’t matter what the alternatives are in this instance, it is literally an either or, not some philosophical hey, look, all possible options are on the table. People would be dead who aren’t now. People would be sick who aren’t now. More toxic herbicidal regimes would have been utilized across US corn and soy. Growers in general would have faced far higher costs in controlling insect pests (a recent analysis shows that due to the ubiquity of Bt even non-adopters get some benefit (kinda like herd immunity)

    You have a slew of very real tangible benefits which you’re ignoring while mentally masturbating about this nebulously fluffy idea of unseen risks hiding under the bed.

  180. #180 Militant Agnostic
    September 28, 2012

    @herr doktor bimmler

    I am intrigued and would like to know more about the “energy industry”, and what a future *without* an energy industry would look like.

    I think it will involve plenty of horse manure.

    @vince

    The “Energy Industry” would like to thank you for reinforcing the stereotype that people who accept the scientific consensus on AGW are mindless Luddites.

  181. #181 Greeniac
    September 28, 2012

    In the opening paragraph of his article Séralini states:

    “There is an ongoing international debate as to the necessary length of mammalian toxicity studies in relation to the consumption of genetically modified (GM) plants including regular metabolic analyses (Séralini et al., 2011). Currently, no regulatoryauthority requests mandatory chronic animal feeding studies to be performed for edible GMOs and formulated pesticides.”

    From what I understand, various regulatory agencies–American, European, etc–have conducted very rigorous studies (short-term and long) on RR grain using 20x the rats. What am I missing?

  182. #182 JGC
    September 28, 2012

    Bad luck – all’s fair in love and war, and anybody sensible who cares about our environment will be pleased to see Monsanto’s dishonest activities being given a PR-blow like this.

    But, Vince, this is neither love nor war:–it’s sciencewhere facts matter, and the truth evenutally outs. The lasting meme that won’t be “GMO foods cause cancer but instead “Seralini falsely claimed GMO foods cause cancer” (just as the meme “Vaccination causes autism” became “Wakefield falsely claimed vaccination causes autism”).

  183. #183 F.Y
    September 28, 2012

    @Ewan R

    “Why? Because… they weren’t being used.”

    I invite you to actually get to the bottom of that question. Who knows what you might find.

  184. #184 F.Y
    September 28, 2012

    @Ewan R

    I apologize, I misread the first sentence.
    I invite you to actually get to the bottom of the question of why they aren’t being used.

  185. #185 Ewan R
    September 28, 2012

    @FY

    It depends what methods you’re discussing, RR and Bt offer quick easily implemented and economic options for farm management.

    A change in how things work, which was implemented and took off.

    If other methodologies worked for farmers they’d use them. (as an example see how quickly GM tech was adopted – it worked, farmers adopted it, hybrids worked, farmers adopted them

    One can only assume that other methods for dealing with weeds and bugs don’t work better than the status quo for most farmers. It really is as simple as that for any solution which doesn’t rely on massive policy shifts (which is I assume what you may have been getting at, you were, alas, too vague) and changes in governance.

    So again, why are you ignoring the slew of very real tangible benefits in favor of invisible undiscoverable and most likely nebulous risks? (or postulating non-tangible alternative benefits from systems you refuse to disclose as some sort of weird counter)

  186. #186 ChrisP
    September 28, 2012

    Ewan R, the reasons for adoption of technologies are generally one of the following: the technology is cheaper than the alternatives; the technology works better than the alternatives; the technology is easier to use than the alternatives; the technology saves the farmer time; or the technology allows the farmer to implement other technologies they want to use.

    Taking a couple of examples:

    Herbicide tolerant canola in Canada (the Canadian regulators quite rightly don’t distinguish between GM and non-GM) was adopted principally because farmers wanted to adopt no-till cropping methods. The previous practice was to apply a pre-emergent herbicide and work it in – either in the fall or spring – and to plant canola after that. Herbicide tolerant allowed weeds to be controlled after the crop had been planted allowing planting at the earliest possible opportunity.

    Bt cotton in India was adopted principally because it allowed protection of the cotton crop and therefore increased yields. Indian cotton growers could not afford the expensive insecticides used in the West and so used older insecticides to which the bollworms had evolved resistance. These insecticides did not control the pest and much yield was lost.

    Bt cotton in Australia was adopted principally because it allowed farmers to spray fewer insecticides. Cotton now needs about 1 insecticide spray rather than the previous 12. In the early days when farmers were only allowed to plant 30% of their cotton to Bt varieties, they planted them preferentially around the homestead and on the side of the farm near neighbours, towns, waterways or natural vegetation to try to reduce the environmental impact of their insecticide regimes.

  187. #187 Militant Agnostic
    September 28, 2012

    @Greeniac

    From what I understand, various regulatory agencies–American, European, etc–have conducted very rigorous studies (short-term and long) on RR grain using 20x the rats. What am I missing?

    A tinfoil hat and a stack of the free (overpriced in my opinion) magazines you get at the organic/natural/health food store.

  188. [...] See the “GMOs cause cancer!!!!” headlines and Facebook updates? Not so fast. Bad science about GMOs: It reminds me of the antivaccine movement. [...]

  189. #189 Joseph Hertzlinger
    September 29, 2012

    I think manufacturers should not only label foods with GMOs, they should advertise them as a benefit. They should fight this bulshytt instead of pretending it doesn’t exist.

  190. #190 bob streit
    Midwest
    October 1, 2012

    In July of 2011 we were in USDA headquarters for a meeting with USDA officials asking for help with the plant health issue. We asked the Under Secretary for a list of long term, peer reviewed studies on the safety of feeding GM grain to animals. They said they had none.
    If all of the evidence has been so transparent why have the university researchers been threaten or told any cooperation with the anti forces would be unhealthy for them? Great tactics, right?
    We have volunteered to take any booster for a plane ride over the states’ diseased fields in mid August as well as ground tours to view what we see as to damage where follow crop or overspray evidence is so apparent. Lab studies are nice. Pure field observations and recognition of poor plant health over a large area of the US tends to back up the belief that something is seriously wrong.

  191. [...] Stenographers, anyone? GMO rat study authors engineered embargo to prevent scrutiny | Embargo Watch Bad science about GMOs: It reminds me of the antivaccine movement | Respectful Insolence Anti-GMO study is appropriately dismissed as biased, poorly-performed | [...]

  192. [...] could have done so for decades with much simpler tools.  Meanwhile, on Respectful Insolence, Orac debunks a new study that claims Roundup-ready maize causes cancer. (0) More [...]

  193. [...] Bad science about GMOs: It reminds me of the antivaccine movement – Respectful Insolence. [...]

  194. #194 Todd W.
    http://harpocratesspeaks.com
    October 2, 2012

    @bob streit

    You also need to take into account changing climate.

  195. [...] a week ago, I wrote one of my usual meandering posts in which I pointed out the similarities between two different anti-science movements. On the one hand, there are anti-vaccinationists, who fetishize the naturalistic fallacy (i.e., the [...]

  196. #196 Dave Hanley
    Toronto, ON, Canada
    October 2, 2012

    Please read this open letter from the , review the authors and signatories and write a post about which of these sceintists are psuedo-scientists, ideologically motivated or just frauds. http://independentsciencenews.org/health/seralini-and-science-nk603-rat-study-roundup/print/

  197. #197 ChrisP
    October 2, 2012

    Strewth, Dave Hanley you have collected yourself an interesting group of scientists there. So tell me why shoudl a bother with anything they say?

    I have briefly perused their letter and it is full of conspiracy theorising.

    The studies the authors mention have been criticised because they were poorly run studies, used the wrong methods or came to the wrong conclusions. Not because there is any conspiracy.

    It reminds me a lot of the climate change denialists complaining that other scientists are critical of their work. Well if they want people not to be critical, they should do their work properly. Although that would require them to change their minds.

  198. #198 Militant Agnostic
    October 2, 2012

    I notice Dave Hanley doesn’t have any rebuttal to any of the points made by Orac or any of the other commenters regarding the poor methodology and dogy statistics of this study. All he offers is an argument for authority and something signed by a buncha scientists – straight out of the AGW denialist playbook.

  199. #199 Militant Agnostic
    October 5, 2012

    The Merseyside Skeptics had this in the blurb for their Skeptics with a K podcast

    Putting some maize into a rat, it’s Skeptics with a K.

    Ouch

  200. #200 Judith Mercader
    October 5, 2012
  201. #201 Antaeus Feldspar
    October 5, 2012

    Interesting letter, Judith. But when one side says “these are the actual flaws in the study” and the other side responds with little to no “this is why those flaws do not significantly affect the study” and instead mostly “don’t you know there’s Powerful Vested Interests trying to discredit us?” I tend to trust the former rather than the latter.

  202. #202 ChrisP
    October 5, 2012

    Judith Mercader, this is the same letter that Dave Hanley posted a couple of days before. He like you appealed to authority.

    What I am more interested in is what they have to say and what evidence they bring to back that up. Frankly, what they have to say is conspiracy theorising. They cite a number of papers that have not stood the test of time, because they were wrong. Quist and Chapela, Ewen and Pusztai, Paganelli, and the current paper. The criticism these papers have received in the scientific literature and news has been because their methods have been insufficiently robust to make the conclusions the authors have made.

    What the authors of the letter have not done is review the rather larger literature that has shown the opposite to what these poor quality papers have demonstrated.

    The second part of the letter is simply farce. The authors of the Seralini study went to great lengths to manipulate the media to ensure there would be no negative coverage of their research – even to the point of making media outlets sign embargoes on getting independent comment on the research. The authors of the letter (and their supporters) have simply swept this under the carpet.

  203. #203 gs
    china
    October 10, 2012

    hi if monsanto and nestle and gmo are such nice foods why does monsanto have to pay off scientists and basicly whole european union to sell their seeds why do they fight with everything they got corrrupting everybody so that are no labels in the food packages why they have proihibited that their seeds and gmo foods to be tested if my products where totally safe i would not care less yet monsanto pays million to buy ppl in right places and almost every gov before bein g paid made sure these frnaken foods where illegal before monsanto and nestle came in and quietly started buying european officlas to let their gmo crap into europe with an increase of gmo foods in europe came the usual increase in cancer cases a 3000% increase, thanks monsanto the pharma companys also love gmo foods too monsanto kill us slowly then pahrma companys try to fix us for triple the money, but hey mr science man turned reporter why dont u show us its safe and feed your kids with gmo for couple years show us you have your words where ur life is… if not stop being a monsanto criminal paid off tool and shut fuck up

  204. #204 Chris
    Neither here nor there...
    October 10, 2012

    gs:

    if not stop being a monsanto criminal paid off tool and shut fuck up

    Who are you to tell someone how to think? Why should anyone obey you and limit their freedom of speech?

    And you are using a version of old tired Pharma Shill Gambit, and doing it quite badly.

  205. #205 Chris
    Neither here nor there...
    October 10, 2012

    I have a comment in moderation.

    It has to do with gs attempting to quell Orac’s freedom of speech.

  206. #206 herr doktor bimler
    October 10, 2012

    Gs has an anger problem but I would probably be angry too if I had been deprived of capital letters and punctuation.

  207. #207 Antaeus Feldspar
    October 10, 2012

    GS:

    Your whole rant is wasted, because you are arguing against a straw man. You are railing against Orac saying “GMOs are safe,” but since he didn’t say that, you have wasted your time and ours fighting a figment of your imagination.

    Why don’t you try responding (with punctuation this time, if you please) to the points Orac actually made? That Seralini’s team which supposedly uncovered such damning data against GMOs had to use non-standard statistical techniques in order to get the “GMOs are bad” conclusion they desired? To use your own trope, if GMOs are so bad why couldn’t they have shown that without massaging the data?

    And if their analysis was sound, why did they have to take the extremely non-standard step of not letting journalists do their job? Journalists are not supposed to get all their information from one source; they’re supposed to reach out to other sources and ask “Hey, is this really what this other source makes it out to be?” But Seralini’s extremely non-standard embargo gambit forced journalists to either a) not report on the study at the time everyone else was doing so or b) report Seralini’s study uncritically in defiance of good journalistic practice. Why would that be necessary if Seralini’s group’s work was sound?

  208. #208 novalox
    October 10, 2012

    @gs

    Thank you for that excellent display of utter stupidity and idiocy. Your ignorance is noted, and your stupidity worthy of laughs.

  209. #209 Deadtrout
    October 13, 2012

    So rats were the wrong animal to choose for the study. Maybe there should be a group of healthy hun volunteers to eat nothing but GMO food and another group to eat all natural foods. Then in 5 years see which group is healthier.

  210. #210 Scottynuke
    October 13, 2012

    Almost, deadtrout, almost…

    What sorts of “healthy” will you measure?
    How will you keep the two groups as similar as possible, apart from the food source?
    And how will you ensure neither group deviates from their assigned food source?
    How large will each group be?

  211. #211 David B.
    U.S.
    October 15, 2012

    I disagree with Orac. Below is why.

  212. #212 ChrisP
    October 16, 2012

    David B., you disagree with Orac because of nothing?

    You might need a better argument that that.

  213. #213 Lindsey
    United States
    October 18, 2012

    Yes I love the idea deadtrout I think the author of this article, and everyone that agrees with him in this thread, would make splendid subjects for a new study. The author and his scientific followers should eat strictly GMO foods for 5 years. Can’t beat human beings in a study, and it wouldn’t be considered cruel to submit humans to only GMO diet because GMOs are safe right? Compare them with another group eating a strict organic diet for 5 years. Then I would love to see the results. Please, this needs to happen now.

  214. #214 ChrisP
    October 19, 2012

    Lindsey, such a proposal would never pass an ethics committee. Not because GM foods are unsafe, but because there is no viable hypothesis. However, you could do a retrospective study as most North Americans have been eating GM for 15 years and so far there is no evidence of harm.

  215. #215 Lindsey
    October 19, 2012

    ChrisP to say there is no evidence of harm is the understatement of the century. That is why prop37 is so important. Now companies will have to be more accountable, and people will be better able to trace their ailments if no other factors are present.

  216. #216 Beamup
    October 19, 2012

    @ Lindsey:

    Pretty nearly every living person has been eating strictly GMO foods for their entire life. There are very, very, very few foodstuffs which have not been the subject of extensive modification over hundreds, even thousands, of years.

  217. #217 Lindsey
    October 19, 2012

    You can argue that beamup, but there are modifications, and then there are outright toxic changes that were made particularly in 1994 that affected not only people, but the ecological food chain, and the environment for the worse. Scientists like to sound so self righteous and smug, but in the end they can never, ever outsmart mother nature.

  218. #218 Chris
    Neither here nor there...
    October 19, 2012

    Lindsey:

    outright toxic changes that were made particularly in 1994

    Citation needed.

  219. #219 Lindsey
    October 19, 2012

    Watch this…actually developed in 94..then introduced into food supply by 1996. Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genetically_modified_organism

    “In agriculture, genetically engineered crops are created to possess several desirable traits, such as resistance to pests, herbicides, or harsh environmental conditions, improved product shelf life, increased nutritional value, or production of valuable goods such as drugs (pharming). Since the first commercial cultivation of genetically modified plants in 1996, they have been modified to be tolerant to the herbicides glufosinate and glyphosate, to be resistant to virus damage as in Ringspot virus-resistant GM papaya, grown in Hawaii, and to produce the Bt toxin, an insecticide that is documented as non-toxic to mammals.”

    Also interesting, watch this:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wnlTYFKBg18&feature=relmfu

  220. #220 Lindsey
    October 19, 2012

    Now keep in mind, improved product shelf life is not necessarily a good thing. I would rather eat something living that lasts a few days than a virtually “plastic” vegetable that would last for weeks. Also, the BT toxin is indeed harmful as well : http://www.gmfreecymru.org/pivotal_papers/BT_toxin.html The fact wiki got right was the introduction of gmo plants in 1996.

  221. #221 Narad
    October 19, 2012

    Scientists like to sound so self righteous and smug, but in the end they can never, ever outsmart mother nature.

    Ah, yes, the Chiffon gambit.

  222. #222 Antaeus Feldspar
    October 19, 2012

    You can argue that beamup, but there are modifications, and then there are outright toxic changes that were made particularly in 1994 that affected not only people, but the ecological food chain, and the environment for the worse.

    So you say, but – let’s be blunt here – what reason do we have to think you know what you’re talking about? You give no specifics as to which supposed effects on people and the environment and the food chain you’re referring to, much less give us evidence that justifies assigning blame to GM foods. As you’d know if you read the article, someone merely assertiing a connection cannot simply be taken at face value.

    Scientists like to sound so self righteous and smug,

    Are you familiar with the term ad hominem, Lindsey? Also, the expression “Pot, meet kettle”?

    but in the end they can never, ever outsmart mother nature.

    I’m sure there are places where that line knocks ‘em dead, but here it just raises questions. Just what does “outsmart mother nature” mean? I mean, would you say that wiping out smallpox counts as outsmarting mother nature? It sure doesn’t seem to me like an example of mother nature outsmarting us. So what does that do to your theory that “[scientists] can never, ever outsmart mother nature” (i.e., achieve something useful)?

  223. #223 Lindsey
    October 19, 2012

    You saw all the links I posted and I give no specifics because you refuse to click on them? I think you should check out the movie Genetic Roulette–free on youtube and incredible. Behind all of this is intention. There is a difference when scientists develop a vaccine for small pox to help people get well, and developing “suicide seeds” (google it) like Monsanto does, then claiming they want to feed the world. Monsanto and Dow etc are motivated by pure profit, not well being. With the advent of GMOs and monocultures, there has been some serious environmental damage, just look at rapid decline of bee colonies for example: http://www.globalresearch.ca/death-of-the-bees-genetically-modified-crops-and-the-decline-of-bee-colonies-in-north-america/25950

    GMOs are also found to be toxic to other beneficial insects, a threat to soil ecosystems, risky for aquatic life, increased weed tolerance. You can read more here for your documentation pleasure: http://www.gmfreecymru.org/pivotal_papers/environmental_and_health_impacts.html

  224. #224 Narad
    October 19, 2012

    There is a difference when scientists develop a vaccine for small pox to help people get well, and developing “suicide seeds” (google it) like Monsanto does, then claiming they want to feed the world.

    You’re attempting to refer to the “terminator gene,” which Monsanto doesn’t use and actually represents a form of protection for non-transgenic farmers?

  225. #225 Lindsey
    October 20, 2012

    Why yes, those fabulous terminator gene seeds that Monsanto does use and are rightfully banned from India http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/465969.stm

  226. #226 Narad
    October 20, 2012

    Why yes, those fabulous terminator gene seeds that Monsanto does use and are rightfully banned from India

    There are plenty of squirrels where I live already, thanks.

  227. #227 herr doktor bimler
    October 20, 2012

    Just what does “outsmart mother nature” mean?

    I work on the principle that anyone who conceptualises ‘nature’ in gendered terms as (a) a female and (b) one’s mother, is deeply enmeshed in culture-bound cliches and unlikely to be saying anything of interest.

  228. #228 Krebiozen
    October 20, 2012

    Lindsey,

    You saw all the links I posted and I give no specifics because you refuse to click on them?

    You really need to become more discriminating about your sources of information, and to develop your critical analysis skills. I suggest you do a bit more reading on this subject and try to find some accurate information (actually reading Orac’s blogpost above would be a start) instead of depending on extremely unreliable websites like ‘The Centre For Research On Globalization’ which was founded, and is edited and directed by Michel Chossudovsky, an pro-Milošević, anti-Semitic Holocaust denier and 9/11 conspiracy theory supporter. He has been described as one of “Canada’s nuttiest professors, those whose absurdity stands head and shoulders above their colleagues” and as a purveyor of “wild-eyed conspiracy theories”. Not a reliable source of information.

    GM Free Cymru is a pressure group opposing GM foods so they are hardly unbiased. They appear to have cherry-picked every bit of research they could find that could possibly be construed as supporting their position, while ignoring everything else. That’s not a good way to get at the truth.

    The movie you recommend is by Jeffrey M. Smith, a yogic flyer from the Natural Law Party who doesn’t appear to be very reliable either. Please read this rebuttal of Smith’s nonsense.

  229. #229 Chris
    Neither here nor there...
    October 20, 2012

    Lindsey shows that one similarity to those who oppose GMOs with those who oppose vaccines is that they both think Youtube videos can be “citations.”

  230. #230 Denice Walter
    October 20, 2012

    @ Chris:
    @ Krebiozen:

    It seems that both Natural News and the Progressive Radio Network are promoting themselves as anti-GMO Central as well as fighting for the Californian ballot question ( re labelling). Both give Jeffrey Smith access to their alt media audiences, present many articles- self-penned and otherwise- plus PRN’s chief idiot claims to be criss-crossing the state to raise awareness and votes and releasing videos on the topic via his websites…

    Information indeed.

  231. #231 Antaeus Feldspar
    October 20, 2012

    You saw all the links I posted and I give no specifics because you refuse to click on them? I think you should check out the movie Genetic Roulette–free on youtube and incredible.

    If I gave the impression that a lack of specifics was the only thing keeping you from being credible, I apologize for misleading you. The fact that you don’t give specifics is just the first of many factors that make your claims unconvincing.

    Behind all of this is intention.

    This is another of those factors, the fact that you are approaching it with two untrue assumptions already in place: 1) that you know what the intentions are in other people’s minds, and 2) that intention is the determiner of one’s results. It would be nice if the world really was that easy, but unfortunately, it’s not.

  232. #232 Chris
    Neither here nor there...
    October 20, 2012

    Ms. Walter, it is not a subject I go into much. I have attended a couple of talks by the biologist whose lab was firebombed because that particular brain trust thought he was using genetic engineering. He was not. He was breeding poplar trees the traditional way, but has switched to genetic engineering (and he has been moved to a brick building).

    I am presently listening to this Canadian radio show about GMO, and it is very interesting.

  233. #233 Krebiozen
    October 20, 2012

    the movie Genetic Roulette–free on youtube and incredible.

    I do agree that it’s incredible, literally. There’s nothing credible in it from beginning to end.

  234. #234 novalox
    October 20, 2012

    @lindsey

    Please, keep on posting. Your idiocy is quite amusing, and you seem like the perfect fool for a good laugh.

  235. #235 W. Kevin Vicklund
    October 20, 2012

    Why yes, those fabulous terminator gene seeds that Monsanto does use and are rightfully banned from India http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/465969.stm

    Of course, if you follow that link, it shows that Monsanto denies using terminator gene seeds. In fact, here is what they have to say on the subject:

    Monsanto has never developed or commercialized a sterile seed product. Sharing many of the concerns of small landholder farmers, Monsanto made a commitment in 1999 not to commercialize sterile seed technology in food crops. We stand firmly by this commitment. We have no plans or research that would violate this commitment in any way.

    There are certainly some business practices that Monsanto can be rightfully criticized for. Terminator seeds is not one, and you make yourself look like an idiot when you make these claims.

  236. #236 Scottynuke
    October 20, 2012

    Oh, but Kevin, I’m sure lindsey would conclude Monsanto’s statement provides clear proof they’re already using terminator genes… *eye roll*

  237. #237 Lindsey
    October 20, 2012

    In a nutshell…what is the freakin point of GMOs? Why do you all try so hard to defend them? All GMO scientists have managed to do is increase profit share for Monsanto, Dow etc, nothing more. They have not made tastier food, they have not made more nutritious food, they have not solved world hunger, they have not alleviated problems from famine. Why not divert energy to curing diseases instead of messing with our food? Currently, there is enough food in the world to feed everyone. If Monsanto etc really cared about “feeding the world” they would work on reliable and sustainable distribution systems on food that already exists rather than creating their own brand of frankenfood. Disagree with me all you like, but I want you to remember this conversation 20 years from now , when you realize supporting GMOs was akin to supporting DDT , Agent Orange (shoot and even radium was considered safe back in the day) in your daily meals.

  238. #238 Lindsey
    October 20, 2012

    Oh and you believe everything Monsanto says right? Because they NEVER lie about ANYTHING right? Like DDT was super safe? Bunch of jack asses

  239. #239 Scottynuke
    October 20, 2012

    @ Kevin — told ya!!

  240. #240 Scottynuke
    October 20, 2012

    Oh, and Lindsey –

    “they have not made more nutritious food”

    Try a little more reading, here’s one example:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golden_rice

    An ongoing project, yes, but certainly not one driven by profit motives.

  241. #241 Scottynuke
    October 20, 2012

    Specifically, from the Wikipedia article:

    “Free licenses for developing countries were granted quickly due to the positive publicity that golden rice received, particularly in Time magazine in July 2000. Golden rice was said to be the first genetically modified crop that was unarguably beneficial. Monsanto Company was one of the first companies to grant free licences.

  242. #242 Narad
    October 20, 2012

    Oh and you believe everything Monsanto says right? Because they NEVER lie about ANYTHING right? Like DDT was super safe?

    You seem to have skipped the part where you explain what precisely the problem would be even were sterile-seed technology to be deployed. You do know what an F1 hybrid is, right?

    Bunch of jack asses

    Detassle my stalk, baby.

  243. #243 Lindsey
    October 20, 2012

    Oh yes, the “golden rice” is so awesome: “However, its failure to make it to market is due to its lack of ability to thrive in many real-world growing conditions.” Nice fictitious rice.
    As an aside for mr “itoldyousoscott” if Monsanto is not using terminator genes…explain the rash of suicides in India in 2002 after use of BT corn.
    To answer your question F1 hybrid can be a type of jack ass. And if you want to further argue the definition of a true jack ass, well then you’re a jack ass.

  244. #244 Narad
    October 20, 2012

    And if you want to further argue the definition of a true jack ass, well then you’re a jack ass.

    You’re not very good at this.

  245. #245 Antaeus Feldspar
    October 20, 2012

    Oh yes, the “golden rice” is so awesome: “However, its failure to make it to market is due to its lack of ability to thrive in many real-world growing conditions.” Nice fictitious rice.

    Gosh, I know that I believe every claim made without a citation by “Yay-food“. What, you mean you didn’t look in the version history and see that that sentence you quoted was inserted in the article by a user who is known by no other name and has made no other contributions? You might as well say “Golden Rice is fictitious rice” (I’m not sure you even know what that word means) “and my proof is that some guy on a street corner told me so.” In any case, your argument was clearly that the companies making GMOs were not intending to do anything except increase profits; when faced with evidence that that wasn’t so, you shifted the goalposts to “have the GMOs that have been made for the purpose of making people healthier and alleviating human suffering done so perfectly?”

    As an aside for mr “itoldyousoscott” if Monsanto is not using terminator genes…explain the rash of suicides in India in 2002 after use of BT corn.

    *facepalm* Tell me you’re not actually serious. Tell me you didn’t make an argument this stupid in seriousness. You did, didn’t you.

    Look, if you want to assert that there’s a connection between GMO food and suicides, you have to provide evidence for that assertion before anyone else has the obligation to rebutt it. I mean, seriously, don’t you have a clue about burden of proof? If you don’t, it’s no wonder you can’t make a sensible argument about GMOs.

  246. #246 herr doktor bimler
    October 20, 2012

    Oh and you believe everything Monsanto says right? Because they NEVER lie about ANYTHING right?

    Monsanto are not actively visiting ‘Respectful Insolence’ and leaving comments full of dishonest claims. Unless they are doing so under a pseudonym, posing as anti-GMO alarmists, in an attempt to discredit those alarmists and make them look like truth-averse hysterics.

  247. #247 herr doktor bimler
    October 20, 2012

    F1 hybrid can be a type of jack ass.
    Would it be pedantic to point out that asses and mules are not the same thing?

  248. #248 Narad
    October 21, 2012

    Would it be pedantic to point out that asses and mules are not the same thing?

    It could maybe use a Diophantine flourish.

  249. #249 W. Kevin Vicklund
    October 21, 2012

    As an aside for mr “itoldyousoscott” if Monsanto is not using terminator genes…explain the rash of suicides in India in 2002 after use of BT corn.

    What “rash of suicides in India in 2002″? The suicide rate in India peaked in 1999 and quickly dropped until levelling out at ~10.5 from 2001-2006. source

    And as others have pointed out, why would a rash of suicides be indicative of a terminator gene being present?

  250. #250 Narad
    October 21, 2012

    It appears that the acutal “story” is Indian farmers and cotton, rather than corn, and it appears to be just as foolish either way.

  251. #251 herr doktor bimler
    October 21, 2012

    It could maybe use a Diophantine flourish.

    Introducing number theory strikes me as ambitious. It might be safer to start with elementary logic and check whether the Pons asinorum is a bridge too far.

  252. #252 Narad
    October 21, 2012

    It might be safer to start with elementary logic and check whether the Pons asinorum is a bridge too far.

    You’re simply trading number for group theory

  253. #253 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    October 21, 2012

    And as others have pointed out, why would a rash of suicides be indicative of a terminator gene being present?

    Seeds that include terminator genes are known by some as “suicide seeds”. People who consume the offspring of such seeds or inhale its pollen, presumably, would be infected by homologous recombinaltion tinikers. The plant “committed suicide” by producing sterile seeds; the new plant-human hybrids have the genetic drive to suicide amplified many fold.

    Or possibly the the plants take on a frightful karmic burden by not following the zeroth commandment (be fruitful and multiply) and the people who eat such plants inherit and concentrate that karma – causing them to desperately seek relief.

  254. #254 Krebiozen
    Fighting off transgenic triffids
    October 21, 2012

    Lindsey,

    In a nutshell…what is the freakin point of GMOs?

    If you really don’t know that you have no business commenting about them on a science blog. The point of them is to improve crop yields, to reduce the use of toxic herbicides and pesticides and to make food more nutritious, among many others.

    Why do you all try so hard to defend them?

    Why would anyone defend a technology that has massively increased yields, greatly reduced the use of toxic chemicals, promises other extraordinary benefits and that is extremely safe? I am interested in the truth, not fantasies invented by nutty anti-Semitic professors or yogic flying dance instructors. All you have linked to is misinformation and deliberate lies. Are you interested in the truth or just in confirming your prejudices? If GMOs are as safe and effective as it appears, people spreading superstitious lies about them are putting people’s lives and the future of the planet at risk.

    All GMO scientists have managed to do is increase profit share for Monsanto, Dow etc, nothing more. They have not made tastier food, they have not made more nutritious food, they have not solved world hunger, they have not alleviated problems from famine.

    Good grief! Please educate yourself about this. They certainly have made tastier and more nutritious foods, and they have massively increased yields. I am sure that GMOs will play an important role in eliminating world hunger in the face of climate change, unless Luddites like you have their way.

    Why not divert energy to curing diseases instead of messing with our food?

    You don’t think that a huge reduction in toxic pesticide and herbicide use, or producing more nutritious crops that resist viral infections reduces human disease?

    Currently, there is enough food in the world to feed everyone. If Monsanto etc really cared about “feeding the world” they would work on reliable and sustainable distribution systems on food that already exists rather than creating their own brand of frankenfood.

    That is a ridiculous suggestion. Monsanto is a biotechnology company, not a food distribution company. I think that developing more nutritious, pest and disease resistant crops with higher yields, allowing people to feed themselves instead of depending on handouts from other parts of the planet is a very important step towards feeding the world.

    Disagree with me all you like,

    It’s not a matter of disagreeing with you when everything you have claimed so far is demonstrably untrue. Any argument about GMOs has to be based on scientific evidence. You have not provided any credible evidence at all, quite the opposite.

    but I want you to remember this conversation 20 years from now , when you realize supporting GMOs was akin to supporting DDT , Agent Orange (shoot and even radium was considered safe back in the day) in your daily meals.

    Ironically, GMOs have hugely reduced the use of toxic pesticides and herbicides – look at my link above – though that doesn’t stop some people from whining about them. In 20 years time I think we will look back on anti-GMO protesters the way we do at people who claimed that human beings would die if they traveled at speeds greater than 40 miles an hour, or those that denied the possibility of heavier than air flight while the Wright brothers were actually doing it.

    if Monsanto is not using terminator genes…explain the rash of suicides in India in 2002 after use of BT corn.

    You are joking, aren’t you? No? Oh dear…

  255. #255 Militant Agnostic
    October 21, 2012

    @Lindsay

    Also, the BT toxin is indeed harmful as well

    You had better stay away from Organic produce since organic farmers use BT for insect control.

  256. #256 Chris
    Neither here nor there...
    October 21, 2012

    Lindsay is exhibiting the same intelligence of the guys who torched a university horticulture building because they thought one researcher was using genetic engineering, when he was actually using traditional breeding techniques (though had transgenic tissue samples that never left the laboratory). In the process they destroyed rare seeds going to be used to restore a damaged area and severely damaged several the library, which included some rare books and papers.

  257. #257 Chris
    Neither here nor there...
    October 21, 2012

    Militant Agnostic, I sincerely doubt that Lindsey has ever tried to grow organic food. Or wandered into the the organic pest control part of a nursery or catalog: Natural Pest Control Thuricide – Bacillus Thuringiensis.

  258. #258 novalox
    October 21, 2012

    @lindsey

    Please keep posting. Show the world how truly ignorant and scientifically and morally bankrupt you are.

    Your idiotic ramblings are amusing, that’s for sure.

  259. #259 Darwy
    Røde grøde med fløde
    October 21, 2012

    “What is the freakin point of GMO’s”?

    Gee, to help feed as many as possible, with the use of as little pesticides as possible, thus lowering the amount of pesticides that we, the consumers, are exposed to?

    Because the crop yield is greater (less loss to pests) than ‘conventional’ farming, you can get more harvest from the same area of land, which allows us to not have to utilize every single square hectare of arable land left to us.

    This allows us to retain some of the natural habitat for other species (you know – the birds, etc).

    There’s a lot of ‘freakin’ point’ to using GMO’s.

    Remove your head from your posterior and you might see the light.

  260. #260 Lindsey
    October 22, 2012

    The BT used in the organic sense is different than the BT used by Monsanto.

    This: “Gee, to help feed as many as possible, with the use of as little pesticides as possible, thus lowering the amount of pesticides that we, the consumers, are exposed to?”
    Is a pipe dream. The fact is there are plenty of pesticides, both built into the seed and sprayed on top of the plants. This depletes the nutrients and organisms in our soil to a point where literally nothing can grow. Despite claims that genetically modified organisms (GMOs) will lower the levels of chemicals (pesticides and herbicides) used, quite the opposite has occurred, with 1.6 billion pounds of glyphosate (the active in ingredient in Roundup) being applied to American soil in 2007 alone. This is of great concern both because of the negative impacts of these chemicals on ecosystems and humans, and because there is the danger that increased chemical use will cause pests and weeds to develop resistance, requiring even more chemicals in order to manage them. There are more than 130 types of weeds spanning 40 U.S. states are now herbicide-resistant, and the superweeds are showing no signs of stopping. In fact, the situation is getting progressively worse.We need to think about what’s sustainable for the long-term, not what’s profitable in the short-term.

    And do not insult my intelligence, or make bullshit assumptions about me just because I disagree with all of your opinions. Insulting me only shows you don’t have the facts to support your unfounded claims

    Good luck to all of you, would love to make you all a smoothie of your favorite ingredients, DDT, Agent Orange, Round Up, Aspartame, rGBH, and PCBs and watch you enjoy every last drop. :)

  261. #261 ChrisP
    October 23, 2012

    Lindsey, you are simply failing to understand. It is you who haven’t provided any evidence to support your opinions. We are just laughing at you. When you have been asked for evidence, you have failed to provide any and go in for some grandiose goal-post moving.

    So maybe we should start with your last lot of claims:

    The BT used in the organic sense is different than the BT used by Monsanto.

    You are partly correct here. BT used in organic agriculture contains a whole lot of stuff that is not present in the BT used by Monsanto in their crops. Monsanto just use the insecticidal genes in their crops and leave the rest of the stuff out.

    This: “Gee, to help feed as many as possible, with the use of as little pesticides as possible, thus lowering the the amount of pesticides that we, the consumers, are exposed to?” Is a pipe dream.

    Citation needed.

    The fact is there are plenty of pesticides, both built into the seed and sprayed on top of the plants. This depletes the nutrients and organisms in our soil to a point where literally nothing can grow.

    Citation needed. What is the evidence that Bt genes in plants deplete nutrients?

    Despite claims that genetically modified organisms (GMOs) will lower the levels of chemicals (pesticides and herbicides) used, quite the opposite has occurred, with 1.6 billion pounds of glyphosate (the active in ingredient in Roundup) being applied to American soil in 2007 alone.

    I think you should read this paper The argument about pesticide amounts is quite complicated, but GM crops have on average led to a reduction.

    This is of great concern both because of the negative impacts of these chemicals on ecosystems and humans, and because there is the danger that increased chemical use will cause pests and weeds to develop resistance, requiring even more chemicals in order to manage them. There are more than 130 types of weeds spanning 40 U.S. states are now herbicide-resistant, and the superweeds are showing no signs of stopping. In fact, the situation is getting progressively worse. We need to think about what’s sustainable for the long-term, not what’s profitable in the short-term.

    Sadly, I don’t have space to educate you properly about this and I am fairly sure you would not be willing to listen in any case. The short answer is that weeds develop resistance to any practice that is used to manage them persistently. Weeds are resistant to grazing, to cultivation. Resistance to herbicides is no different and not any more worrying.

    Good luck to all of you, would love to make you all a smoothie of your favorite ingredients, DDT, Agent Orange, Round Up, Aspartame, rGBH, and PCBs and watch you enjoy every last drop.

    At this point I think you should meet Paracelsus

  262. #262 Militant Agnostic
    Near the bathroom chugging GoLytely
    October 23, 2012

    Who the hell uses Agent Orange, PCBs or DDT in agriculture?

    Reduced yields in the USA the are due to drought that is probably a result of AGW. Meanwhile, in Western Canada farmers harvested bumper crops due to large amounts of precipitation at the right time, also probably due to AGW. As for food distribution being more of a problem than food production – thank Norman Borlaug for food production not being the primary problem.

  263. #263 novalox
    October 23, 2012

    @lindsey

    Please keep posting the stupid. Your utter stupidity is good for a few laughs, and your ignorance of basic elementary school science speaks volumes about your intelligence.

    You seem like a good fool to keep around for a few laughs, so keep it up.

  264. #264 Krebiozen
    October 23, 2012

    Lindsey,

    And do not insult my intelligence, or make bullshit assumptions about me just because I disagree with all of your opinions. Insulting me only shows you don’t have the facts to support your unfounded claims.

    What unfounded claims are those, specifically? All you have provided is unfounded opinions based on idiotic nonsense (Michel Chossudovsky and Jeffrey Smith, for goodness sake!), and made yourself look extremely foolish in the process.

    There’s no shame in being taken in by plausible-sounding lies, but you should be ashamed of yourself for still trying to defend them when they have been exposed as lies. Look at the facts. This is a science blog and you are expected to support your arguments with evidence, as in well-referenced articles that cite peer-reviewed studies, not just bluster about how you are entitled to your opinions.

    You cannot seriously equate glyphosphate, which has been extremely well studied and used safely for 40 years, with <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agent_Orange"Agent Orange.

    Glyphosphate acts on an enzyme that only exists in plants and bacteria, so it has no effect on insects, mammals, amphibians or fish. It degrades quickly in the environment, does not bioaccumulate, is not an endocrine disruptor, and safety tests have found that detergent of the kind you wash your dishes with is more toxic than glyphosphate itself. Most studies have found no harmful effects on soil bacteria. How could a herbicide be much safer? I would have thought anyone concerned about the environment would be delighted by the development of herbicides like glyphosphate and GM crops that are pest resistant. The only reasons I can see that they are not is an irrational fear of technology.

    In contrast, Agent Orange causes birth defects and horrendous ecological damage. There is simply no comparison.

    GM crops have led to a huge decrease in the use of toxic herbicides and pesticides in areas they are used. European reluctance to adopt GM crops has led to an increase in toxic pesticide use and carbon dioxide emissions that have almost certainly had serious environmental consequences. I think it’s a terrible shame that people who think they are protecting the environment may have caused much more harm than good.

  265. #265 Krebiozen
    October 23, 2012

    My comment in moderation has a broken link, so I shall provide an unbroken one. Lindsey, compare and contrast glyphosphate and Agent Orange. Why would anyone prefer to use Agent Orange when glyphosphate is available? Why do you prefer toxic herbicides to Roundup?

  266. #266 Darwy
    Røde grøde med fløde
    October 23, 2012

    Lindsey says:

    “This depletes the nutrients and organisms in our soil to a point where literally nothing can grow”

    What is the mechanism by which the pesticide degrades the soil quality and the soil fauna? Please cite a reputable, peer reviewed journal.

    Glyphosate has an average half life of around 60 days in soil. The oral LC50 in rats is over 4g/kg – a concentration which is unobtainable by humans via ingestion of plants which have been sprayed with glyphosate – as only 30-60% of glyphosate is actually absorbed via the GI tract.

  267. #267 Bronze Dog
    October 23, 2012

    The short answer is that weeds develop resistance to any practice that is used to manage them persistently. Weeds are resistant to grazing, to cultivation. Resistance to herbicides is no different and not any more worrying.

    I once took a forestry class called Range Wildlife Management and Ecology, which covered the use of land for grazing livestock, which in turn discussed the evolution of grass. A lot of the grass “family” has evolved specifically to be less palatable to grazers, forming thick cell walls to make them harder to digest. In the evolutionary arms race, many grazers kept pace, forming divided stomachs and cud-chewing to specialize their digestion process for grasses. It’s still an advantage for the grass, since grazers generally prefer “succulent” herbaceous plants over grass, since they’re less work to eat, and probably more nourishing since they’re spending their resources on things other than extra cellulose.

    Incidentally, touching on another altie topic, this is why humans can’t get anything out of wheatgrass. Our digestive tracts aren’t nearly as specialized, so if a human eats wheatgrass, his system would just give it one quick pass and get nothing out of it. I doubt many people would be willing to try the way of the rabbit.

    Incidentally, humans did develop one method for improving digestion of certain foods that a lot of alties demean. It’s been a part of our history long enough and prevalent enough that it made our mouths smaller by reducing the burden of natural selection on chewing: Cooking.

  268. #268 Krebiozen
    October 23, 2012

    Bronze Dog,
    Good point about the evolutionary arms race. We can deal with a wide variety of toxins because we have evolved livers and other mechanisms to deal with the toxins plants have evolved to prevent us from eating them. GM crops are a continuation of that arms race. The only way we will stop plants and insects from adapting to our efforts to control them is by ceasing to attempt to cultivate them. Solent Green anyone?

  269. #269 Krebiozen
    October 23, 2012

    Lindsey, I have been pondering your last statement which disturbed me:

    Good luck to all of you, would love to make you all a smoothie of your favorite ingredients, DDT, Agent Orange, Round Up, Aspartame, rGBH, and PCBs and watch you enjoy every last drop.

    Writing that you would like to poison us and watch us die horribly is not a very nice, especially considering no one here has in any way denied the toxicity of DDT, Agent Orange or PCBs. You might want to consider getting some professional help. Sick fantasies like that are suggestive of a serious underlying problem.

  270. #270 herr doktor bimler
    October 23, 2012

    And do not insult my intelligence

    How about if I insult your stupidity? Is that better?

  271. #271 dogctor
    Long Beach, CA
    October 24, 2012

    And don’t even get me on the lack of blinding of observers to the identities of the experimental groups. That’s just single blinding, which is the absolute minimum that could be acceptable in an animal experiment. Double blinding would have been better. Apparently, the researchers used neither.

    Please post a citation to a Single BLINDED GMO trial.

    Just One.

    You aren’t scientists at all– you are simply rabid hypocrites.

  272. #272 dogctor
    Long Beach, CA
    October 24, 2012
  273. #273 ChrisP
    October 25, 2012

    So what exactly is the ‘lousy’ science in that paper?

  274. #274 dogctor
    October 25, 2012

    Why don’t you apply the same critical thinking skills you did to the Seralini paper and analyze its statistical power; actually simple logic and arithmetic will do. And then check to see which test results are published and which strategic results are missing.
    I will be absolutely glad to help.

  275. #275 Bronze Dog
    October 25, 2012

    dogctor, what’s wrong with what people have already said about it in this comment thread?

  276. #276 Lawrence
    October 25, 2012

    Actually “dogctor” it is up to you to point out the “flaws” in that study. So, what are your issues?

  277. #277 dogctor
    October 25, 2012

    For the sake of argument make the following assumption : 10 % of the population exposed to the corn suffers adverse effects: e.g. develops chronic nephropathy, inflammatory bowel disease, pancreatitis or hepatobiliary disease.

    The population of subjects with Life-long exposure to this corn are people, dogs, cats, cattle, pigs, poultry, horses.

    The human population in the US Alone is: 314,634,030
    cattle: 34,500, 000,
    http://www.indexmundi.com/agriculture/?commodity=cattle&graph=production

    pigs 117.100,000

    http://www.sfgate.com/business/article/Pig-population-hitting-U-S-world-record-levels-3526257.php

    dogs 70,000,000

    cats 74,000,000

    http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/nation/story/2012-08-06/pet-ownership-down/56882786/1

    How many rats would it take to catch 10% of the affected people, cattle, pigs, dogs and cats ?

    Are 80 experimental rats sufficient to detect adverse effects in this population assuring us that the corn is safe?

  278. #278 Narad
    October 25, 2012

    And don’t even get me on the lack of blinding of observers to the identities of the experimental groups.

    “And”? This is your first comment on the subject.

  279. #279 dogctor
    October 25, 2012

    @ Bronze Dog: What’s wrong with it is that you all avoided a discussion of the article referenced in the Seralini paper:

    Results of a 13 week SAFETY ASSURANCE STUDY with rats fed grain from
    glyphosate tolerant corn

  280. #280 JGC
    October 25, 2012

    What’s wrong with it is that you all avoided a discussion of the article referenced in the Seralini paper:

    Let me see if I understand correctly–the paper you cited is itself flawed because commentors on a blog site (this one) aren’t discussing the article referenced in Seralini’s paper?

    That’s really your argument?

  281. #281 Narad
    October 25, 2012

    Dr. Valikov, could you clear up whether you and Lindsey are the same person?

  282. #282 herr doktor bimler
    October 25, 2012

    @ Bronze Dog: What’s wrong with it is that you all avoided a discussion of the article referenced in the Seralini paper:

    So before anyone is allowed to point out shortcomings in the Seralini paper, they have to go through every paper in Seralini’s reference list, criticising them first? And every paper cited by anyone cited by Seralini?

    I don’t think so.

  283. #283 herr doktor bimler
    October 25, 2012

    “And”? This is your first comment on the subject.

    E. Valikov DVM is citing a passage from Orac’s original post there, but omitted quote marks or italics.

  284. #284 Narad
    October 25, 2012

    Oh, I see, thank you. I thus concede that my question was unfounded.

  285. #285 ChrisP
    October 25, 2012

    dogctor said:

    Why don’t you apply the same critical thinking skills you did to the Seralini paper and analyze its statistical power; actually simple logic and arithmetic will do.

    How has this any relevance to the fundamental flaws in the Seralini paper? Hammond et al. being lousy science doesn’t make Seralini’s paper any better. That is a logical fallacy.

    However, I have looked at the paper briefly and come to the following conclusions about the methods.

    1. The statistical methods are mostly fine. The authors use omnibus tests rather than multiple t-tests like Seralini does. There are too many omnibus tests, but the authors recognise this.

    2. Test subjects were much better managed than in Seralini’s paper. There were a total of 8 control groups of 20 rats each and 2 treatment groups of 20 rats each.

    3. Statistical power. As the authors were looking for a difference outside 2 standard deviations from the mean, 10 rats measured for the biochemical tests is plenty for statistical power.

    So once again, what exactly is the lousy science in this paper?

  286. #286 dogctor
    October 25, 2012

    @ Herr doktor bimler. Thank you!. Is this how you italicize?

    @Narad. No. I just discovered this blog by following the link here : http://truth-out.org/news/item/12284-inside-the-controversy-over-a-french-gmo-study-and-the-monsanto-information-war
    I am not Lindsey.
    I’ve spent most of my time discussing this issue with Kevin on his blog : http://kfolta.blogspot.com/

    I posted another comment quite a long time ago, and it is still in moderation. I will return once it is posted.

    Point # 1, as Herr doktor pointed out is that the study cited is Not blinded, and neither are Any of the other studies on the subject. Lets see if this comment lives for hours in moderation :)

  287. #287 Krebiozen
    October 25, 2012

    Speaking of LOUSY SCIENCE

    Adding to what ChrisP has already written, that was a 90 day acute toxicity study done in accordance with OECD guidelines, and got exactly the results that you would expect, given that there is nothing in GM corn that is remotely likely to have any adverse effects on mammals. I don’t see any problem with it. If there was anything in this study that suggested any sort of damage, further studies would be indicated, there wasn’t and there weren’t. It wasn’t a long-term study trying to look for a tumor-inducing effect of GM corn against a high background level of tumors using a ludicrously small number of rats as Séralini et al.’s was.

    These are very different studies requiring different levels of statistical power to find what they are looking for. Hammond et al. used sufficient numbers to provide the required statistical power, Séralini et al. did not.

    BY the way, landing on a blog and immediately accusing everyone of being “rabid hypocrites” does not suggest you are looking for a rational discussion.

  288. #288 Narad
    October 25, 2012

    Lets see if this comment lives for hours in moderation

    If you include more than one link in a comment, you will wind up in the moderation queue, and that which releases the comments is traveling.

  289. #289 Krebiozen
    October 25, 2012

    Regarding blinding, I would be interested to now exactly how double blinding works in animal studies. Anyone?

  290. #290 Narad
    October 25, 2012

    ^ “more than two,” sorry. Freaking decaf.

  291. #291 dogctor
    October 25, 2012

    Ok. Thanks for posting the comment. I guess I need to stick to two links.
    1. Regarding blinding: Double blinding is important with people to prevent the bias caused by the placebo effect. Single blinding of RESEARCHERS is the scientific standard instituted to prevent the bias of researchers. It is Very simple to do: the researchers themselves can Not know which group received which intervention. This standard is not followed in any of the safety assurance studies by Hammond et al. which essentially allows them to cherry pick the animals/ data they wish to place into whichever column they wish. http://www.medterms.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=38695
    2. Medical standards of evaluating the accuracy and predictive value of any test: –in this case safety assurance test: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sensitivity_and_specificity
    The sensitivity of the feeding trials to adverse effects is Zero.

  292. #292 dogctor
    October 25, 2012

    3. Crucial test which were not published without which conclusions can not be drawn at all
    a>Urinalysis.
    b> amylase, lipase, trypsin (ogen)
    c> bile acid test
    d> actual pathological descriptions of the organs to be contrasted with Conclusions published and credited to Anonymous Pathologists.
    e. No conclusions can be drawn about kidney/liver/ pancreatic inflammation/ dysfunction without a Baseline and several data points, which are absent. The article only cites limited abridged results (bilirubin–indicator of jaundice for example for as few as SIX rats) at the end of the experiment, which makes it Impossible to assess Trends.

  293. #293 dogctor
    October 25, 2012

    What should have been done:
    baseline + several data points obtained every 3-4 weeks

    ALK. PHOSPHATASE 78 160 115 139 1-150 U/L
    ALT (SGPT) 54 40 33 26 5 – 107 U/L
    AST (SGOT) 28 26 20 5 – 55 U/L
    CK 73 137 83 10 – 200 U/L
    GGT 2 3 3 0 – 14 U/L
    AMYLASE 693 803 450 – 1240 U/L
    LIPASE 333 389 100 – 750 U/L
    ALBUMIN 3.3 3.6 3.2 3.4 2.5 – 4.0 g/dL
    TOTAL PROTEIN 6.8 7.1 6.4 7.0 5.1 – 7.8 g/dL
    GLOBULIN 3.5 3.5 3.2 3.6 2.1 – 4.5 g/dL
    TOTAL BILIRUBIN 0.2 0.1 0.2 0.1 0.0 – 0.4 mg/dL
    DIRECT BILIRUBIN 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.0 – 0.2 mg/dL
    BUN 9 15 17 13 7 – 27 mg/dL
    CREATININE 1.7 1.4 1.4 1.5 0.4 – 1.8 mg/dL
    CHOLESTEROL 293 241 224 112 – 328 mg/dL
    GLUCOSE 108 77 96 107 60 – 125 mg/dL
    CALCIUM 11.3 10.8 9.8 8.2 – 12.4 mg/dL
    PHOSPHORUS 4.9 4.1 3.8 2.1 – 6.3 mg/dL
    TCO2 (BICARBONATE) 18 21 16 17 – 24 mEq/L
    CHLORIDE 117 112 118 105 – 115 mEq/L
    POTASSIUM 3.9 4.3 4.1 4.0 – 5.6 mEq/L
    SODIUM 148 148 148 141 – 156 mEq/L
    A/G RATIO 0.9 1.0 1.0 0.9 0.6 – 1.6
    B/C RATIO 5.3 10.7 12.1 8.7
    INDIRECT BILIRUBIN 0.1 0.0 0.0 0 – 0.3 mg/dL
    TRIGLYCERIDE 90 57 20 – 150 mg/dL
    NA/K RATIO 38 34 36 27 – 40
    HEMOLYSIS INDEX ++ 1 + 8 + 12 + 17
    LIPEMIA INDEX N 2 N 9 N 13 N 18
    ANION GAP 17 19 18 12 – 24 mEq/L
    T4 2.0 3 1.2 11 0.9 20 1.0 – 4.7 ug/dL
    WBC 8.4 8.3 7.5 23.0 5.7 – 16.3 THOUS./uL
    RBC 7.95 7.68 6.67 5.77 5.5 – 8.5 MILLION/uL
    HGB 19.1 18.7 16.0 14.2 12 – 18 g/dL
    HCT 53.2 55.1 47.8 41.6 37 – 55 %
    MCV 67 72 72 72 60 – 77 fL
    MCH 24.0 24.3 24.0 24.6 19.5 – 26.0 pg
    MCHC 35.9 33.9 33.5 34.1 32 – 36 g/dL
    NEUTROPHIL SEG 65 67 69 94.0 60 – 77 %
    LYMPHOCYTES 22 23 17 3.0 12 – 30 %
    MONOCYTES 5 5 8 2.0 3 – 10 %
    EOSINOPHIL 8 5 6 1.0 2 – 10 %
    BASOPHIL 0 0 0 0.0 0 – 1 %
    AUTO PLATELET 135 4 165 138 14 168 164 – 510 THOUS./uL
    PLATELET COMMENTS 5 15
    REMARKS 6 10 16 19
    ABSOLUTE NEUTROPHIL SEG 5460 5561 5175 21620 3000 – 11500 /uL
    ABSOLUTE LYMPHOCYTE 1848 1909 1275 690 1000 – 4800 /uL
    ABSOLUTE MONOCYTE 420 415 600 460 150 – 1350 /uL
    ABSOLUTE EOSINOPHIL 672 415 450 230 100 – 1250 /uL
    ABSOLUTE BASOPHIL 0 0 0 0 – 100 /uL
    SPEC cPL 571 7 ug/L
    COLLECTION METHOD CYSTOCENTESIS NOT GIVEN NOT GIVEN
    COLOR YELLOW YELLOW YELLOW
    CLARITY CLEAR CLEAR CLEAR
    SPECIFIC GRAVITY 1.012 1.034 1.005
    GLUCOSE NEGATIVE NEGATIVE NEGATIVE
    BILIRUBIN NEGATIVE NEGATIVE NEGATIVE
    KETONES NEGATIVE NEGATIVE NEGATIVE
    BLOOD TRACE NEGATIVE 1+
    PH 6.0 6.5 8.0
    PROTEIN NEGATIVE NEGATIVE NEGATIVE
    WBC 0-2 0-2 0-2 0 – 5 HPF
    RBC 0-2 0-2 6-10 0 – 5 HPF
    BACTERIA NONE SEEN NONE SEEN NONE SEEN HPF
    EPI CELL RARE (0-1) 1+ (1-2) 1+ (1-2) HPF
    MUCUS NONE SEEN NONE SEEN NONE SEEN
    CASTS NONE SEEN NONE SEEN NONE SEEN HPF
    CRYSTALS NONE SEEN NONE SEEN NONE SEEN HPF
    UROBILINOGEN NORMAL NORMAL NORMAL
    OTHER AMORPHOUS DEBRIS PRESENT AMORPHOUS DEBRIS PRESENT
    % RETICULOCYTE 0.5 %
    RETICULOCYTE 29 10 – 110 K/uL
    ADD-ON TEST 21
    SAMPLE/TEST INFO NEEDED 22

    Comments:

    1.
    Index of N,+,++ exhibits no significant effect on chemistry values.

    2.
    Index of N,+,++ exhibits no significant effect on chemistry values.

    or = 400 ug/L – Serum Spec cPL concentration is consistent with
    pancreatitis.

  294. #294 ChrisP
    October 25, 2012

    dogctor, another series of fallacies to deal with. If there are errors in the Hammond et al. approach, that does not make the Seralini paper any better. It is still junk science done for ideological reasons.

    It wasn’t really possible for Hammond et al. to cherry pick which rats were placed in which column, because the rats were not being placed into arbitrary categories. Issues with blinding are likely when decisions for example about euthanasia are being made, not in objective measures.

    If there is no significant difference between the treated and control groups. There is no significant difference. That is the conclusion that is drawn. There is no need to have more data points, because they will not suddenly create a significant difference where one did not exist.

    Before this goes any further, it is worth pointing out that Hammond et al. is what is called (loosely) a safety assurance study. The real safety studies are done with specific components that address specific hypotheses. Hammond et al. is essentially a fishing expedition to see if there was something that the better studies missed. This is made quite clear in the introduction. Whole food feeding studies are inappropriate for determining whether there is toxicity associated with a specific component of food.

    As for your second post, that suffers from the Nirvana fallacy.

  295. #295 dogctor
    October 25, 2012

    @ ChrisP
    It wasn’t really possible for Hammond et al. to cherry pick which rats were placed in which column, because the rats were not being placed into arbitrary categories.

    a. False: you have 320 animals in the control group and 80 experimental animals ingesting Ge corn.
    It is entirely possible to publish any data you want when you know which animal is in which group and data is published for 6-20. This cherry-picking makes any statistical conclusions invalid.
    b. In an inverse way from Seralini who used 40 rats in his control group and 160 in experimental–to uncover adverse effects, reversal of the sizes of the group, and reduction of the size of the experimental group and increase of a control group of 320 animals reduces the sensitivity of this flawed test ( even if rat data Could be used to extrapolate to safety in cats, dogs, cattle and people ) to Less than 0

    If there is no significant difference between the treated and control groups. There is no significant difference.
    Conclusions- Not supported by Data.

    Before this goes any further, it is worth pointing out that Hammond et al. is what is called (loosely) a safety assurance study. The real safety studies are done with specific components that address specific hypotheses. Hammond et al. is essentially a fishing expedition to see if there was something that the better studies missed.

    The DATA of the research paper needs to support the title of the article: Safety Assurance Study. The study does Not. These 90 day rodent trials are the regulatory studies used to demonstrate the safety of the food, per OECD ( the specifications of which, by the way, Seralini also satisfied).

    Furthermore, s a medical professional I strongly disagree that basic research can or should be used to prove safety of this novel food- the safety / lack of -can only be demonstrated through Statistically- Valid- Blinded- Comprehensive & Complete- Long Term Feeding Trials on rodents, cats, dogs, cattle, pigs and People.

    Feeding trials is where the rubber meets the road. It is the ONLY scientific method to actually demonstrate or refute the safety of this novel in practice rather than theory.

    Such do Not Exist.

  296. #296 ChrisP
    October 26, 2012

    docgtor, You must be reading a different paper:

    Following acclimation to laboratory conditions, animals were assigned to one of ten experimental groups (20/sex/group) by stratified randomization so that mean body weights did not differ significantly (P<0.05) among treatment groups.

    Do you understand how randomisation works? The animals were randomised at the start of the experiment before there was any knowledge about how any would develop.

    b. In an inverse way from Seralini who used 40 rats in his control group and 160 in experimental–to uncover adverse effects, reversal of the sizes of the group, and reduction of the size of the experimental group and increase of a control group of 320 animals reduces the sensitivity of this flawed test ( even if rat data Could be used to extrapolate to safety in cats, dogs, cattle and people ) to Less than 0

    This makes no sense at all. Too many treatment groups increases the risk of Type I errors dramatically. All decent scientists should know that.

    Conclusions- Not supported by Data.

    This makes no sense. If there is no significant difference in the data – the conclusion is that the data shows no significant difference. To state anything else is ludicrous.

    The DATA of the research paper needs to support the title of the article: Safety Assurance Study. The study does Not. These 90 day rodent trials are the regulatory studies used to demonstrate the safety of the food, per OECD ( the specifications of which, by the way, Seralini also satisfied).

    It is untrue that the data of a paper needs to support the title. The title can simply be what the study is about. Or it can be a re-statement of the hypothesis. It doesn’t have to be the conclusion. This paper is titled the results of a study because it is the results of the study.

    The EU is the only regulator currently who requires 90 day safety assurance feeding studies. Just because this regulator requires something, does not mean that type of study is actually appropriate for the job.

    Seralini did not satisfy the requirements of the OECD guidelines. The guidelines for chronic toxicity studies require 20 animals per sex per treatment. The guidelines Seralini stated were followed in the paper require 50 animals per sex per treatment. Seralini only had 10.

    Furthermore, s a medical professional I strongly disagree that basic research can or should be used to prove safety of this novel food- the safety / lack of -can only be demonstrated through Statistically- Valid- Blinded- Comprehensive & Complete- Long Term Feeding Trials on rodents, cats, dogs, cattle, pigs and People.

    Attempted argument from authority. I don’t find your so-called authority all that convincing. Rather than these rants, it is evidence you should be providing.

    I despair of your self described professionalism given that human feeding studies of this sort are unethical.

    Feeding trials is where the rubber meets the road. It is the ONLY scientific method to actually demonstrate or refute the safety of this novel in practice rather than theory.

    Clearly your scientific training is wanting. The scientific method first requires the development of a hypothesis.

  297. #297 Militant Agnostic
    October 26, 2012

    @ChrisP

    What better Sign of professionalism is there than RANDOM Capitalization? How else are we going to “actually demonstrate or refute the safety of this novel in practice of this novel”? How do we know Moby Dick is safe?

  298. #298 ChrisP
    October 26, 2012

    Militant Agnostic, I have always been impressed by others use of random Capitalization And wondered Whether I Could learn to Do the Same.

    And would that make me appear more intelligent.

  299. #299 Darwy
    Røde grøde med fløde
    October 26, 2012

    @ChrisP

    I was all set to type up a response to docgtor, but saw that you pretty much covered it all.

    Sigh. I have to start getting up earlier if I want to get a decent comment in.

  300. #300 Krebiozen
    October 26, 2012

    dogctor,

    For the sake of argument make the following assumption : 10 % of the population exposed to the corn suffers adverse effects: e.g. develops chronic nephropathy, inflammatory bowel disease, pancreatitis or hepatobiliary disease.

    I can accept that for the sake of argument, though I cannot think of a mechanism by which the glyphosate tolerant EPSPS enzyme in GM corn could possibly have any of these effects. Why do you then give us the absolute numbers of humans, pigs, dogs and cats in the US? These are completely irrelevant. The size of the population doesn’t matter, since you have told us that 10% are affected.

    Are 80 experimental rats sufficient to detect adverse effects in this population assuring us that the corn is safe?

    Since the study under discussion was designed to detect acute 90 day effects not lifetime effects, and 40 not 80 rats were fed GM corn, and since it seems unlikely that 90% of a population would be entirely unaffected while 10% develop “chronic nephropathy, inflammatory bowel disease, pancreatitis or hepatobiliary disease”, your question makes little sense. However, accepting it on its own terms, according to your assumptions above, 10% of these rats, i.e. 4 of them, will develop chronic nephropathy, inflammatory bowel disease, pancreatitis or hepatobiliary disease. So yes, this would be detected by a study of this size.

    What should have been done:

    Perhaps you should contact the OECD and explain to them that their published protocols for this kind of study are wrong. I’m sure they would be delighted to hear from you.

    baseline + several data points obtained every 3-4 weeks

    You then share with us a great mass of raw data that you have presumably simply invented – why? Unless I have missed something that seems a very odd thing to do.

    The statistical data they published summarised the sort of results you made up, since publishing it in full takes up huge amounts of room and is difficult to make sense of.

    By the way, what is the point of looking at trends in data that is statistically identical to the control data? If it’s normal it’s normal

    My speciality is clinical biochemistry in humans, so I am very familiar with most of the parameters measured on these rats but I can make little sense of anything you have written. You don’t appear to understand the design of clinical studies like this, or the statistics involved. As far as I can determine you are alleging fraud simply on the basis that you can’t believe that GM corn could be harmless.

  301. #301 Bronze Dog
    October 26, 2012

    Militant Agnostic, I have always been impressed by others use of random Capitalization And wondered Whether I Could learn to Do the Same.

    And would that make me appear more intelligent.

    I remember years back when every woo I met online thought inserting random ellipses made them sound thoughtful. Or that they were building up suspense. Or something.

  302. #302 W. Kevin Vicklund
    October 26, 2012

    Single blinding of RESEARCHERS is the scientific standard instituted to prevent the bias of researchers. It is Very simple to do: the researchers themselves can Not know which group received which intervention. This standard is not followed in any of the safety assurance studies by Hammond et al. which essentially allows them to cherry pick the animals/ data they wish to place into whichever column they wish.

    What is your evidence that Hammond et al. didn’t use blinding? I certainly could have blinded that study as described in the paper.

  303. #303 dogctor
    October 26, 2012

    I’ve got things to do today and can’t play here much.

    For now, W. Kevin Vicklund I would like to draw your attention to simple arithmetic. 80 experimental rats
    Bilirubin results published for 12.
    Urinalysis results are no published.

    Please look up a subject every first year medical student understands : https://www.google.com/search?q=bilirubenemia+bilirubinuria&rlz=1C1ARAB_enUS491US493&oq=bilirubenemia+bilirubinuria&sugexp=chrome,mod=0&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8

  304. #305 ChrisP
    October 26, 2012

    So rather than address any of the points raised by their earlier claims, we get a version of the Gish Gallop.

  305. #306 W. Kevin Vicklund
    October 26, 2012

    For now, W. Kevin Vicklund I would like to draw your attention

    Oh, good, I was wondering where I missed where they admitted to not using blinding.

    to simple arithmetic.

    How is simple arithmetic going to show that this study wasn’t blinded? You aren’t trying to change the subject, are you? Because if you are, it’s going to make me conclude that you don’t have any evidence…

    80 experimental rats

    20 rats/sex/group * 2 sexes * 2 experimental groups = 80 rats

    You are correct. Where are you going with this?

    Bilirubin results published for 12.

    For male rats, TBIL N=4-6 rats/experimental group * 2 experimental groups = 8-12 male experimental rats

    For female rats, TBIL N=7-8 rats/experimental group * 2 experimental groups = 14-16 female experimental rats

    (8-12 male experimental rats) + (14-16 female experimental rats) = 22-28 total experimental rats

    You are wrong. You have failed simple arithmetic. Your argument, whatever it may be, has just lost validity.

    Urinalysis results are no published.

    This is not uncommon, and the results are described. Page limits are often part of the limitation of a published article, though including the data as an online supplement would have been nice. Still, I don’t see how this is evidence that no blinding occurred.

    Please look up a subject every first year medical student understands : https://www.google.com/search?q=bilirubenemia+bilirubinuria&rlz=1C1ARAB_enUS491US493&oq=bilirubenemia+bilirubinuria&sugexp=chrome,mod=0&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8

    Setting aside your inability to spell “bilirubinemia” (which indicates too much bilirubin in the blood), I fail to see how ‘educating’ me on bilirubin demonstrates that blinding wasn’t used in the Hammond et al. study.

    In light of your inability to advance even a hint of relevant evidence, plus your general incompetence, I must conclude that you were trying to change the subject because you have no evidence of your claim that blinding was not used in the study. Furthermore, the study authors noted several points at which blinding did or could have occurred (randomization of assignment to groups, off-site preparation of feed, etc.).

    tl:dr Red herring alert!

  306. #307 Krebiozen
    October 26, 2012

    I understand quite a lot about bilirubin in blood and urine, having spent half my adult life measuring it in humans, and these results and all the other results on these rats are clearly absolutely normal. There is not a hint of a whisper of anything abnormal here at all. Even where there are differences between different groups they are well within normal ranges for these rats.

    The study states, “There were no biologically meaningful differences in serum chemistry results,” and regarding urinalysis, “There were no differences between the control and treated groups that were considered to be test article related.” I suppose they could have added a huge mass of perfectly normal raw data as an addendum to their paper, but I doubt any journal would publish it. Why would they?

  307. #308 dogctor
    October 26, 2012

    Randomization of rats by weight does Not= Blinding of Researchers.
    >Following acclimation to laboratory conditions, animals
    were assigned to one of ten experimental groups
    (20/sex/group) by stratified randomization so that mean
    body weights did not differ significantly (P<0.05)
    among treatment groups.Please copy and past a statement from the cited article quoting the method of blinding. the researchers to which food the rats were eating.<—–

    Just cause you know how to spell bilirubinuria does not mean that you have Any idea what it means.

    How many rats were diagnosed with bilirubinuria?

    TBIL N=4-6 rats/experimental group
    Which is it?

    Which Is it?

    4 rats or 6rats?

    Serum chemistry mean valuesS.D. in male Sprague–Dawley rats following 13 weeks of exposure to Roundup Ready (RR) corn grain in the diet
    Parameter N 11% Control 33% Control 11% RR 33% RR N Reference Controls mean2 S.D.
    ALP (U/L) 10 81.818 75.913 83.814 77.910 60 86.034
    ALT (U/L) 10 39.56.9 39.67.8 40.96.9 39.24.3 60 44.216.4
    AST (U/L) 10 81.813 83.815 77.611 78.07.4 60 84.224.4
    GGT (U/L) 10 0.000.00 0.000.00 0.000.00 0.200.42 60 0.080.56
    BUN (mg/dl) 10 15.81.9 18.54.8 15.71.1 16.21.9 60 16.34.28
    CREA (mg/dl) 10 0.540.05 0.550.05 0.530.07 0.540.05 60 0.540.10
    TBIL(mg/dl) 4–6 0.200.00 0.200.00 0.200.00 0.200.00 36 0.200.04
    TP (g/dl) 10 6.590.25 6.770.52 6.770.34 6.710.37 60 6.760.68
    ALB (g/dl) 10 4.260.17 4.370.30 4.330.14 4.250.22 60 4.320.46
    A/G 10 1.840.19 1.840.19 1.790.14 1.740.19 60 1.790.34
    GLOB (g/dl) 10 2.330.22 2.400.31 2.440.23 2.460.26 60 2.440.44
    GLU (mg/dl) 10 20823 20936 21232 22743 60 20964
    CA (mg/dl) 10 11.20.48 11.60.41 11.30.32 11.40.33 60 11.41.16
    PHOS (mg/dl) 10 10.11.17 11.21.53 10.41.13 10.41.33 60 10.23.10
    NA (mmol/L) 10 1482.9 1492.9 1472.6 1482.6 60 1495.8
    CL(mmol/L ) 10 1011.9 1022.0 1002.0 1001.2 60 1026.0
    K (mmol/L) 10 7.271.4 7.681.6 7.581.9 7.521.0 60 7.312.72

    TBIL(mg/dl) 7–8 0.200.00 0.200.00 0.210.04 0.200.00 49 0.200.04

    Which is it : 7 or 8.

    Can you please show me the arithmetic that makes
    (4 to 6) * 2 + (7 to 8) * 2 =80 experimental rats

    Please explain how one calculates a standard deviation when the exact number of rats isn’t published?

  308. #309 dogctor
    October 26, 2012

    Where in the article is there any data on bilirubinuria given that urinalysis data is Never Reported in any of the safety assurance studies?

    Please copy and paste it….cause I can Not find it

  309. #310 dogctor
    October 26, 2012

    I now know how to make emoticons wearing glasses.

    Unfortunately, that is not what I meant.

    Can you please show me the arithmetic that makes
    (4 to 6) * 2 + (7 to 8) * 2 =80 experimental rats

  310. #311 dogctor
    October 26, 2012

    (4 to 6) x 2 + (7 to 8) x2 equal 80

  311. #312 dogctor
    October 26, 2012

    And finally, cause I’ve really gotta go– in spite of what a riot this has been— no ad hominem— no matter how cute or how elegant— will Ever synthesize Data that does Not Exist.

  312. #313 Narad
    October 26, 2012

    Just cause you know how to spell bilirubinuria does not mean that you have Any idea what it means.

    That’s a keeper.

  313. #314 ChrisP
    October 26, 2012

    dogctor, Your specific accusation about blinding was to do with “which essentially allows them to cherry pick the animals/ data they wish to place into whichever column they wish.”

    Randomization means this cannot happen.

    Just cause you know how to spell bilirubinuria does not mean that you have Any idea what it means.

    I know what it means, but there is no evidence that any of these rats suffered from such a condition. So I am still wondering where this is going. I suspect I know, but I will leave it up to you to attempt to enlighten the readers.

    How many rats were diagnosed with bilirubinuria?

    On the evidence before us, the answer is none.

    You then post: a table of values with no significant differences. OK, I get that, but why copy and paste it?

    Please explain how one calculates a standard deviation when the exact number of rats isn’t published?

    You calculate the standard deviation by taking the square root of the variance of the test sample. This is starting to get into teaching Grandmothers to suck eggs territory. Did you not do statistics as part of your professional training?

    Where in the article is there any data on bilirubinuria given that urinalysis data is Never Reported in any of the safety assurance studies?

    Why do you think bilirubinuria should have been diagnosed? What is the data that suggests this would be the case? The paper states there were no differences in urine chemistry other than urine P and K (and with these it was the male controls that were different, not the treated animals).

    And finally, cause I’ve really gotta go– in spite of what a riot this has been— no ad hominem— no matter how cute or how elegant— will Ever synthesize Data that does Not Exist.

    I have absolutely no idea what point you are trying to make here, but I am impressed by the random use of capitals.

  314. #315 ChrisP
    October 26, 2012

    Bah, humbug quote fail. Why can’t we have a preview function?

  315. #316 dogctor
    October 26, 2012

    You calculate the standard deviation by taking the square root of the variance of the test sample

    Did you calculate the standard deviation for serum bilirubin for 22 rats, 24 rats, 26 rats … 28 rats?

    The paper states there were no differences in urine chemistry other than urine P and K (and with these it was the male controls that were different, not the treated animals).

    Oblige me and allow me to be the judge by forming my own Conclusion.
    Please point me to a source of all the DATA– for the ENTIRE 400 rats. I much prefer that to Ve$ted Opinons.

    The DATA needs to include the parameters measured plus a complete urinalysis, lipase, amylase, trypsin (ogen), bile acids –at the beginning of the experiment, middle of the experiment and end of the experiment. A link to the DATA would be much appreciated.

    Randomization means this cannot happen.
    You randomized the rats by weight. That is all.

    The test results including histopathology need to be reported for a sum of
    80 + 320= 400 rats.

    Thanks very much

  316. #317 dogctor
    October 26, 2012

    The urinalysis results need to look like this for the experimental and control/ reference rats

    COLOR
    DARK YELLOW
    CLARITY
    TURBID
    SPECIFIC GRAVITY
    1.036
    GLUCOSE
    NEGATIVE
    BILIRUBIN
    3+
    HIGH
    KETONES
    NEGATIVE
    BLOOD
    3+
    HIGH
    PH
    6.5
    PROTEIN
    TRACE (<100 mg/dL) 1
    WBC
    0-2
    0 – 5 HPF
    RBC
    20-30
    0 – 5 HPF
    HIGH
    BACTERIA
    NONE SEEN
    HPF
    EPI CELL
    1+ (1-2)
    HPF
    MUCUS
    NONE SEEN
    CASTS
    NONE SEEN
    HPF
    CRYSTALS
    2+ BILIRUBIN (3-5)
    OTHER
    AMORPHOUS DEBRIS PRESENT
    UROBILINOGEN
    NORMAL

  317. #318 Narad
    October 26, 2012

    A link to the DATA would be much appreciated.

    Write to the authors. Journals are not in the business of republishing lab notebooks (although it wasn’t too long ago that this was considered to be the Next Big Thing).

  318. #319 dogctor
    October 26, 2012

    These days it is entirely too easy to put entire libraries online.

    I doubt that the authors will send it to me Norad, because

    Séralini’s team was forced to fight legal battles in court in order to secure Monsanto’s data for the comparative analysis, but once they did, they found that Monsanto somehow missed evidence that linked pesticide residue on the corn to toxic side effects. http://truth-out.org/news/item/12284-inside-the-controversy-over-a-french-gmo-study-and-the-monsanto-information-war

    In the absence of the DATA published Online–there is No Way that I can conclude that this corn is safe for my patients to ingest… a fact I learned anyways empirically by treating patients ( like the cat with cholangiohepatitis whose urinalysis I posted above) for twenty two years.

  319. #320 Narad
    October 26, 2012

    I doubt that the authors will send it to me Norad, because

    So, that Would be a no, i Will instead Point at some Thing else And make fun Of your Name?

  320. #321 Krebiozen
    October 26, 2012

    (4 to 6) x 2 + (7 to 8 x 2 equal 80

    It is an unusual way of putting it, but I understand it to mean 4 male rats on 11% RR and 6 males rats on 33% RR or vice versa, plus 7 female rats on 11% RR and 8 female rats on 33% RR or vice versa. That makes a total of 25 rats, not “Bilirubin results published for 12″ as you stated earlier. I don’t know why bilirubin results were not reported for all the experimental rats, but it is possible there was not enough sample. You can squeeze a finite amount of blood out of a rat, and bilirubin does require a moderate volume of serum on Hitachi 717s, which I have used in the past. Since all the bilirubin results were absolutely normal, that doesn’t bother me particularly.

    Where in the article is there any data on bilirubinuria given that urinalysis data is Never Reported in any of the safety assurance studies?

    In your 22 years experience treating animals, did you ever come across a case of bilirubinuria in an animal that did not also have elevated serum bilirubin? I certainly saw Such A Thing in humans.

    By the way, the examples you give of how pathology results should be presented may be how animals’ clinical results are reported (which seems similar to how human results were reported 30 years or more ago) but that’s not how a statistical analysis of a number of animals should be reported in a research paper.

  321. #322 Krebiozen
    October 26, 2012

    See what happens when I try to be a smartass. “I certainly neversaw Such A Thing in humans.”

  322. #323 AdamG
    October 26, 2012

    a fact I learned anyways empirically by treating patients ( like the cat with cholangiohepatitis whose urinalysis I posted above) for twenty two years.

    I find it amusing that the commenter going nuts about ‘closed access’ data and ‘incorrectly blinded’ studies uses his own personal observations as evidence for his claim. If your own conclusions are based on unblinded clinical observations, how can you hold the authors to a different standard?

    I’m not sure I believe your clinical observations anyways…Show Me the DATA! In the absence of the DATA published Online–there is No Way that I can conclude that any of your cats actually had cholangiohepatitis.

  323. #324 ChrisP
    October 26, 2012

    dogctor wrote:

    Did you calculate the standard deviation for serum bilirubin for 22 rats, 24 rats, 26 rats … 28 rats?

    I am a little unsure if your ignorance is feigned or real. Just on the off chance that it is real, to obtain a mean you sum all the values in the set and divide by the number of values. If a mean can be calculated a standard deviation can be calculated. Those doing the statistical analysis would have had all the raw numbers and would know how many were in each set. It is not that hard.

    Oblige me and allow me to be the judge by forming my own Conclusion.
    Please point me to a source of all the DATA– for the ENTIRE 400 rats. I much prefer that to Ve$ted Opinons.

    The DATA needs to include the parameters measured plus a complete urinalysis, lipase, amylase, trypsin (ogen), bile acids –at the beginning of the experiment, middle of the experiment and end of the experiment. A link to the DATA would be much appreciated.

    Why does the data have to include all this? What is the hypothesis you want to test? What is the evidence that this hypothesis is plausible to test?

    You randomized the rats by weight. That is all.

    I didn’t have anything to do with the study.

    The description in the paper indicates the rats were first stratified by initial weight and then randomized to groups within each weight class, so every group got one of the smallest rats and one of the largest rats. This was before the study started. Therefore, it would not be a case of the authors deciding afterwards which group the rats were in.

    In the absence of the DATA published Online–there is No Way that I can conclude that this corn is safe for my patients to ingest…

    Random capitals and ellipses all in one sentence. It is probably a good place here to remind any readers who are sticking with this that you are a vet.

    I don’t suppose you insist that all the data of long-term feeding trials are published on line of all the animal diets before recommending them to your patient’s owners. This is called a double standard.

  324. #325 kyle kohler
    New York City
    November 23, 2012

    Good science, is good observation……so why are GMO’s the exception?

  325. #326 Chris
    Neither here nor there...
    November 23, 2012

    Exception to what? Be specific.

  326. #327 ds
    December 19, 2012

    Some anti-vax seems to be also motivated by anti-abortion arguments or ulterior reasons, they seem to dislike the idea of vaccines that come from aborted fetal lines. I don’t recall seeing someone who seemed to think that abortion was like a production-line thing for such vaccines, they seem to get that it’s a cell line I guess, but this origin is unnaceptable.

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