What do you do when your scientific journal publishes a study that Monsanto doesn’t like? And the industry bombards you with complaints?
You hire a new editor. And retract the study.
In September 2012, the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology (FCT) published the findings of the first long-term study of rats fed genetically modified corn. The study’s authors, led by Gilles-Eric Séralini of the University of Caen, France, concluded that the GM corn caused cancerous tumors in the test rats.
The biotech industry wasted no time attacking the study, which was released about a month before Californians were set to vote “yes” or “no” on an initiative to require labels on foods containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs). The attacks were predictable. But who would have predicted what followed next?
Not long after the study came out, FCT created a new editorial position—Associate Editor for Biotechnology—and appointed none other than a former Monsanto employee, Richard E. Goodman, to the post.
Fast-forward to November 28, 2013, when the publisher of FCT announced it was retracting the study. Not because of fraud or misrepresentation of data. But because, upon further review, the journal’s editors had decided the study was “inconclusive.”
The biotech industry is puffing out its chest and throwing around a lot of “I told you so’s.” But the scientists who don’t have a vested interest in GMO technology are calling the retraction “unscientific and unethical.”
If there was no evidence of fraud or misrepresentation, why did FCT retract the study? Because, the journal said, “there is legitimate reason for concern about both the number of animals tested in each group and the particular strain of rat selected.”
But as Séralini and his supporters point out, “the offending strain of rat (the Sprague-Dawley) is used routinely in the United States—including sometimes by Monsanto to study the carcinogenicity and chronic toxicity of chemicals.” What’s more, Séralini told Sustainable Pulse, the FCT in 2004 published a study by Monsanto finding the same strain of GMO corn (NK603) safe after measuring its effects on only ten Sprague-Dawley rats for three months only.
“Only studies pointing to adverse effects of GMOs are rigorously scrutinized on their experimental and statistical methods,” he said, “while those who say GMOs are safe are taken at face value.”
FCT and Séralini are battling it out in the media for now. But the battle could move to the courts, if Séralini follows through on threats to sue the journal.
This time, the biotech industry isn’t even pretending that its technology will make life better for farmers, or feed the world, or reduce the use of pesticides, or any of the other lies it routinely feeds to consumers. This time, the industry is promising only one thing—that its latest darling, a genetically engineered apple, will look prettier after it’s been sliced. Because it won’t turn brown (like a normal, natural apple).
This latest biotech miracle food could be approved by Christmas.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is set to approve the Arctic Apple®, engineered for the purely cosmetic purpose of preventing browning after it’s been sliced, sometime this month. Scientists say that not only does the frankenapple offer no real benefit to consumers, but the technology used to create it is untested and inherently risky.
Dr. Hart Feur, a Senior Researcher at the University of Bonn, Germany, outlined for the USDA a host of reasons why, from an agricultural perspective, the agency should reject the Arctic Apple.
Unless the USDA heeds consumers, environmentalists and apple growers, all of whom are speaking out against deregulation of the Arctic Apple, the first GMO apple could soon turn up in fast-food restaurants, school cafeterias—even baby food. With no labels to warn consumers.
There’s nothing good to be said for fish raised on “farms.” Period. Many fish farms feed genetically engineered soy and canola, not to mention feathers, necks and intestines leftover from poultry processors. That can’t be healthy for the fish. Or the people who eat them.
But now the U.S. Food & Drug Administration is close to making matters worse, by approving the first genetically engineered salmon.
The list of reasons to reject genetically engineered salmon is long. Risk to our health. Risk to the wild salmon population. Risk to the environment. And most recently, complaints that the AquaAdvantage Salmon’s creator, AquaBounty, is mismanaging its experimental facility in Panama, where the company plans to grow and process its frankenfish creation.
At least 30 House members and 14 senators have lodged concerns with the FDA over its intent to approve AquaBounty’s GE salmon. Will the FDA heed them, and the 90 percent of consumers who say they don’t want frankenfish? Or will the agency charged with the safety of our food buy biotech’s story, instead . . . hook, line and sinker?
According to an article published last week on Politico.com, Monsanto is investing heavily in a campaign to improve (create a false and misleading) its image.
The biotech giant has “scaled up” its relationship with FleishmanHillard, one of the nation’s biggest public relations firms. It’s producing videos intended to promote the company’s “contributions to America’s farms, the job market and the wide array of food choices available.” And “play up” its “focus on sustainable agriculture.”
With 2013 profits of $2.5 billion on net sales of $14.9 billion, Monsanto has plenty of money to spend on lies and spin. But paying PR flacks to remake your public image is one thing. Buying scientists is another:
“Some scientists are shouting from the roof top” extolling the safety and benefits of GMO crops, “but they can’t afford a megaphone,” Conko said. “Biotech and food companies need to create a megaphone for scientists to shout through.”
Create? Or buy?
Following razor-thin wins against GMO labeling laws in California and Washington State, and facing battles in more than 20 other states, Monsanto is desperate to win friends and influence people. The biotech company will stop at nothing—including buying favorable research and planting former employees on the payroll of influential scientific journals—to force its toxic, unsustainable monocultures on the world.
The battle against GMOs will be won through education. Reasonable people, once they know the truth, will reject food that is harmful to their families.
Monsanto may be able to buy a bigger megaphone. But we’re counting on you to help us shout louder.
USDA: ‘Not Enough Evidence’ to Ban Bee-Killing Pesticides
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) spent god-knows-how-many of our tax dollars to study Colony Collapse Disorder, or more simply, why all the honeybees are dying.
Their conclusion? There are a lot of contributing factors—including pesticides—to the mass die-off of bees. But “not enough evidence” to ban the pesticides. The study called for more research before any meaningful action is taken.
Meanwhile, the European Union isn’t taking any chances. Researchers there will do more experiments to find out if pesticides are responsible for the bee die-off. But in the meantime, officials there have instituted a two-year ban on the use of neonicotinoids, the pesticides most frequently implicated in the bee die-off. Unlike here in the U.S. Where the pesticides will continue to flow.
OMG! Front-Row Seat for Monsanto Employees at Anti-GMO Film?
Monsanto took to social media to attack “GMO OMG,” a film that exposes the corporate takeover of seeds, and the hijacking of our global food system by Monsanto and its corporate cronies.
But the film’s director, Jeremy Seifert, suspects that the Monsanto public relations machine launched its attack without ever even seeing the film. So Seifert sent a letter to Monsanto CEO Hugh Grant, inviting Monsanto’s St. Louis, Mo. employees to enjoy the St. Louis premiere of the film on December 6, opening night. Free of charge.
Any bets on how many Monsanto employees take Seifert up on his offer?
Witnessing and reporting animal abuse isn’t a crime. Except when it is, according to the upside-down reasoning of Colorado lawmakers . . . or lawmakers in states that have passed ag-gag laws designed to turn whistleblowers into criminals.
Taylor Radig (pictured) went undercover at Quanah Cattle Company, where she filmed calves being thrown and kicked around and dragged by their ears, tails, and legs. For her efforts, she was able to get three workers charged with animal cruelty on November 15. But a week later, the whistleblower herself was charged with animal cruelty.
Factory Farms are responsible for a whole host of crimes. Against the environment. Against human health. Against workers’ rights. And, of course, against animal rights. Turning the whistleblowers into the criminals is just plain wrong.
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