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Biotech Science

Organ Damage In Rats From Monsanto GMO Corn 766

Posted by kdawson
from the ditch-the-high-fructose-corn-syrup dept.
jenningsthecat writes "A study published in December 2009 in the International Journal of Biological Sciences found that three varieties of Monsanto genetically-modified corn caused damage to the liver, kidneys, and other organs of rats. One of the corn varieties was designed to tolerate broad-spectrum herbicides, (so-called 'Roundup-ready' corn), while the other two contain bacteria-derived proteins that have insecticide properties. The study made use of Monsanto's own raw data. Quoting from the study's 'Conclusions' section: 'Our analysis highlights that the kidneys and liver as particularly important on which to focus such research as there was a clear negative impact on the function of these organs in rats consuming GM maize varieties for just 90 days.' Given the very high prevalence of corn in processed foods, this could be a real ticking time bomb. And with food manufacturers not being required by law to declare GMO content, I think I'll do my best to avoid corn altogether. Pass the puffed rice and pour me a glass of fizzy water!"
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Organ Damage In Rats From Monsanto GMO Corn

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  • by Doches (761288) <Doches@@@gmail...com> on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @09:18AM (#30749440)
    If it's going to damage my liver, I'm switching to scotch. I'm sorry, Jack, but I just can't take the chance...
    • by snowgirl (978879) * on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @09:34AM (#30749574) Journal

      If it's going to damage my liver, I'm switching to scotch. I'm sorry, Jack, but I just can't take the chance...

      Unfortunately, your scotch and bourbon is likely fortified with a corn product.

      The kind of "duh" think that I'm thinking about here is that, if this corn produces these insecticide-like chemicals, one should have to show that it is non-toxic in humans...

      One could feasibly find a way to splice in genes that would make the product lethal to humans... so if you're "adding" something to the corn, it should be controlled the same as any other food additive.

      Although, people wishing to avoid all GM foods, corn itself has been so selectively bred that it doesn't even resemble its nearest neighbors. It's even moribund if we ever disappear, because its seeds over compete and kill each other off. If you want to talk about crazy amounts of GM, take something that's essentially a grass, and turn it into corn.

      Not like corn provides all its nutritional value unless its treated with a relatively strong-ish base anyways... lime is what's mostly used to break up the proteins on the kernel to produce vitamin B12...

      • by Wonko the Sane (25252) * on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @09:37AM (#30749612) Journal

        ,

        The kind of "duh" think that I'm thinking about here is that, if this corn produces these insecticide-like chemicals, one should have to show that it is non-toxic in humans...

        That's the key: the problem is not the fact that this plant was genetically modified, but rather the specific proteins that it was engineered to produce.

        This distinction will be lost on millions of reactionaries.

        • distinction (Score:4, Interesting)

          by nten (709128) on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @09:58AM (#30749788)

          Correct, GM is truly a wonderful thing. But I do wonder if spot checks on produce wouldn't be advisable. Processed foods get spot checked, perhaps produce should as well. You can get a DNA sequencer on ebay for two grand now. Grabbing the sequence that produces abrin, or ricin from the rosary pea or castor bean respectively, and putting it in a couple corn plants, is within the ability of an undergrad certainly. The lab procedures are published out there, I saw them on the kindle store even. Corn is wind pollinated, so planting a few modified malcious plants upwind of a field could be really nasty. It is only going to get easier to do, and restricting the technology is the wrong way to try and prevent it. Spot checks of produce for common pathogens and dangerous chemicals would add to the price of food, so I wouldn't suggest they be mandatory. Might work kind of like an organic stamp, "Non-deadly GM" or somesuch.

        • by wall0159 (881759) on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @10:23AM (#30750076)

          Maybe these "reactionaries" aren't as ill-informed as you think. Maybe at least some of them are aware that in an ideal world, with ethical and moral corporations performing proper testing on products prior to release (and with unbiased, independent regulatory bodies ensuring proper standards are met), there would be little to fear in GM foods. Maybe they aren't that naive...

          Nah, I'm sure they're just a bunch of ignorant, tree-hugging hippies.

        • by Simon80 (874052) on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @10:51AM (#30750430)

          You have made the mistaken assumption that the techniques used to modify the corn and other plants works exactly as well in practice as it should in theory. The proteins that GMO foods are engineered to produce are already regulated as a food additive, but that's not enough to conclude that such products are safe. Unfortunately, Monsanto lobbied hard to ensure that they wouldn't have to prove the overall safety of the GM plants they were selling, just the safety of the specific proteins they were introducing. They've also done everything they can to ensure that studies that are critical of their products are suppressed. Without any new coverage of science specifically showing that their products are unsafe, they have successfully convinced the public (i.e. you) that their products should be safe in theory. "The World According to Monsanto" should be required viewing for people participating in this debate, it's a documentary about Monsanto's lobbying and litigation tactics, which have a history that goes further back than GM foods. For a much shorter read, see Árpád Pusztai [wikipedia.org]

        • by VShael (62735) on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @11:20AM (#30750860) Journal

          This distinction will be lost on millions of reactionaries.

          Maybe, but it's not lost on me or the people in my social circle who protested the so-called Frankenfoods.
          Basically, it's not GM manipulation of a crop that I have a problem with. It's Monsanto.

          In 1997, it was alleged a local FOX affiliate cooperated with Monsanto in suppressing an investigative report on the health risks associated with Monsanto's bovine growth hormone product, Posilac. Posilac, a synthetic hormone used to increase milk production in cows, while banned in many first-world countries, is used in the United States.

          Steve Wilson and Jane Akre disagreed with the inclusion of material in the story they felt was slanted or misleading. Both reporters were eventually fired for not being pro-Monsanto in their reporting. Wilson and Akre sued. The court held that Fox News had no obligation to report truthfully, and the First Amendment protects their right to lie. Therefore, the court held that firing a reporter for refusing to lie is not actionable under the whistleblower statute. The story can be seen in the feature length documentary film The Corporation.

          You show me a corporation that makes GM foods, ethically, and I'll support them to hell and back. But Monsanto? Not a chance.

      • by Narpak (961733) on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @09:58AM (#30749782)

        Unfortunately, your scotch and bourbon is likely fortified with a corn product.

        Bourbon is primarily made from maize corn [wikipedia.org], while scotch is primarily barley [wikipedia.org]. This is why it is important to ensure that your scotch is pure single malt!

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Truekaiser (724672)

        but due to monsanto's lobbying, they get to have their cake and eat it too. they lobby that their gm corn is 'different' enough that it requires patent protection, BUT they then turn around and lobby the fda(or have their former employee's that work there) declare it no different then normal corn so it gets the 'generally assumed as safe' status meaning it is exempt from special regulation and is treated by the fda as non-gma corn.

        Selective breeding though is a different process, they took a already existin

  • by fl!ptop (902193) on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @09:21AM (#30749460) Journal

    what's most disturbing about this is forbes magazine just named monsanto company of the year. [monsantoblog.com]

  • by plover (150551) * on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @09:23AM (#30749472) Homepage Journal

    Monsanto did the research in 2000 and 2001, and obviously knew the outcome. So how did they manage to suppress the data and results for 8 years?

    • by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @09:29AM (#30749528) Homepage Journal

      Monsanto did the research in 2000 and 2001, and obviously knew the outcome. So how did they manage to suppress the data and results for 8 years?

      The invisible hand of the free market made the data and research invisible.

    • by MrMr (219533) on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @09:32AM (#30749558)
      I [organicconsumers.org] have [dupont.com] no [commondreams.org] idea. [iowaindependent.com]
    • Monsanto did the research in 2000 and 2001, and obviously knew the outcome.

      You can't say "and obviously knew the outcome" unless you're Monsanto. I believe that GMO crops undergo far fewer tests for safety than pesticides. From the Wikipedia page on [wikipedia.org] one of the three crops in question (MON 863):

      In 1989 a 90-day rat-feeding trial done by the FDA, 40 rats that were fed the Bt corn developed multiple reactions typically found in response to allergies, infections, toxins and diseases. Gilles-Eric Seralini reviewed the study as part of the French Commission for Biomolecular Genetics and said that the response by the rats were similar to reactions caused by pesticides. Although the Bt-toxin is a pesticide, he points out that animal research on pesticide-producing corn is nowhere as thorough as that required for approval of pesticides. Follow-up studies on these serious findings were demanded from organisations worldwide. None were conducted and the corn was approved.

      MON 863 is even approved for use in the EU which is surprising considering the long history of European countries denying crops imported from other countries like the US where GMO crops are allowed on the off chance that said crops were cross pollinated with GMO plants in other fields. Very recently I believe Germany banned cultivation of GMO plants [spiegel.de]. If you want your data don't look toward Monsanto or even the underfunded FDA. Look to the European Union, I hope more studies follow in the path of this research but unfortunately it's hard to think of a source for major funding if it's not our tax dollars.

    • by vvaduva (859950) on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @10:03AM (#30749840)

      They do it through lawsuits. They are a very litigious company as they sue their own customers for failing to disclose harvest data and seed information. Since they patended certain varieties of soybeans and corn, you cannot keep seed from one year to the next. Also, a neighboring farmer who has his own non-Monstanto crops contaminated by Monstanto crops are also being sued and asked to prove themselves innocent.

      It's a travesty. I am not opposed to GM foods by any means, but this company's approach to solving problems with their products is completely unreasonable. A class-action suit seems to be the only answer.

  • by Sockatume (732728) on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @09:32AM (#30749544)

    From their conclusions:

    This can be due to the new pesticides (herbicide or insecticide) present specifically in each type of GM maize, although unintended metabolic effects due to the mutagenic properties of the GM transformation process cannot be excluded. All three GM maize varieties contain a distinctly different pesticide residue associated with their particular GM event (glyphosate and AMPA in NK 603, modified Cry1Ab in MON 810, modified Cry3Bb1 in MON 863). These substances have never before been an integral part of the human or animal diet and therefore their health consequences for those who consume them, especially over long time periods are currently unknown

    It sounds to me like the issue isn't the GM itself, but the over-use of novel pesticides that it permits.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by rhsanborn (773855)
      It sounds like that may be a possibility, but just as much as it may be a possibility that it's the corn itself. Other researchers need to replicate these results and do a couple of controls to try and isolate just the pesticides, just Monsanto corn, etc.
    • by Pedrito (94783) on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @10:00AM (#30749804) Homepage
      It sounds to me like the issue isn't the GM itself, but the over-use of novel pesticides that it permits.

      No, you're misunderstanding. They don't allow the use of pesticides, the pesticides have been inserted into their genome. The pesticides are derived from bacterial DNA that is naturally herbicidal. Unfortunately, it's also a rodenticide, which means it's probably pretty poisonous to us as well..
    • by Blakey Rat (99501) on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @10:15AM (#30749978)

      But how am I going to be SCARED of GM corn if it's due to something else?

      Big science-y words like "genetic" and "nuclear" are supposed to scare the pants off me for no reason!! You can't take that away from me, it's all I have!

  • by Dr_Barnowl (709838) on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @09:32AM (#30749548)

    I think the majority of "high prevalence of corn in processed foods" is HFCS - does this contain significant fractions of the proteins involved.

    Not that I think HFCS is a health food. I'm so glad that Iowa corn lobby influence can't reach over here to the UK.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by vlm (69642)

      I think the majority of "high prevalence of corn in processed foods" is HFCS - does this contain significant fractions of the proteins involved.

      Ideally it would contain approximately none, as the proteins would mess with the taste, odor, and color. HFCS is a very highly refined product... I would vaguely guess that there is about as much protein from random contaminants like rodent hair as protein from the corn.

      Generally speaking HFCS syrups are sold with nutritional information for 100g of the stuff, and the nutritional info always lists 0g of protein. Now that doesn't mean 0, it means rounded to 0. So, if scientists write the nutritional data,

  • Riddle me this (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @09:33AM (#30749562) Homepage Journal

    All you "free market" enthusiasts out there, answer this question for me:

    How would the unencumbered "free market" handle a problem like this? Especially since none of us who eat corn are actually direct customers of Monsanto's GM corn?

    Tell us how getting government out of business is going to prevent a little thing like people dying from organ failure for eating Monsanto's frankencorn?

    • Re:Riddle me this (Score:4, Insightful)

      by thepooh81 (1606041) on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @09:40AM (#30749638)

      We probably wouldn't have had the government subsidized corn so much that it turned into our main source of food.

      • MOD PARENT UP (Score:5, Insightful)

        by schnablebg (678930) on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @09:54AM (#30749748)

        This is exactly right. The reason GMO corn exists and is widespread is that the gov't has incentivized corn production so much that it is practical to grow huge fields of it. This crop monoculture results in the excessive need of pesticides, hence the requirement of "Roundup-ready" crops in the first place.

    • Re:Riddle me this (Score:5, Informative)

      by Wonko the Sane (25252) * on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @09:50AM (#30749718) Journal

      How would the unencumbered "free market" handle a problem like this? Especially since none of us who eat corn are actually direct customers of Monsanto's GM corn?

      People would stop eating corn products.

      Those who were damaged by the defective product would seek damages in a civil court.

      If the courts declined to provide relief then the injured parties would all get together, storm the Monsanto headquarters and lynch all the executives.

      • Re:Riddle me this (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Idiomatick (976696) on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @02:51PM (#30754132)
        Declining to comment on the silly lynching plan... You've got no chance in hell winning a law suit. There is no way to PROVE the corn is what caused your liver failure w/e. It damages millions of people just a little bit. Like second hand smoke.... Or factory/power plant pollution... I can't go sue the local steel plant because I have asthma.. though it was likely a huge contributor.

        What you would do if you got enough mad people is force a law to be made that shut them down.... Which is somehow socialist/evil. And no longer a 'free market'.

        Capitalism is a great and powerful force. Competition is an amazing thing that makes companies very efficient. The goal should be for the government to point this power and wield it. That way the companies work to our advantage not against us for their own advantage. Set rules and frameworks in which capitalism can prosper in a way advantaging the populace, Simple.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by vvaduva (859950)

      Yeah, I was out sick during that meeting where Monstanto's board of directors issued the "we need to kill all our customers" directive.

      This thing called "the legal system," where someone could sue someone else for damages, trespassing, etc. is amazing from what I hear. People from everywhere can come in, fill out paperwork and ask for these things called "damages," but hell..what do I know? I am just a free market enthusiast.

  • by ocularsinister (774024) on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @09:35AM (#30749582)
    I may be wrong here, but I think the current discussions regarding GMO are an 'all or nothing' approach - in other words, you can grow any GMO crop or GMO crops are all banned. This doesn't make sense to me - some GMO crops may be fine, others not so. In particular, I think some GMO should be banned, full stop:
    • broad-spectrum herbicide tolerant species should be allowed ever: this is giving the farmer instructions to completely soak the countryside with lethal chemicals (and who is to say the rats were sick because of the GMO or the herbicide?)
    • Genes that produce sterile crops: This is putting our food security at risk, if your business model can't cope with this - tough, find another model or another business - food security comes first.

    There may be others, but those spring to mind...

    • by Dr. Spork (142693) on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @11:56AM (#30751432)

      Your comment comes closest to what I also think about this issue. I am a rabid environmentalist and I have great hopes for genetic engineering. I'd be sad if we screwed it up as we did with nuclear fission - where a couple of greedy institutions didn't take universally understood precautions, and thus ruined a good thing for everyone.

      And while I have great hope for GM crops, I have zero faith in the moral integrity of Monsanto. They very well could be what ruins the promise of GM for two generations.

      The reason why, as an environmentalist, I support GM research is because it allows for a given area of land to feed more people. It's that simple: The more productive are our crops, the more of the Earth we can keep as wilderness. If we insist on using low-yield crops, we simply have to suck it up that more of the planet will be covered with agriculture. Because I want to keep as much wilderness as possible, while still keeping our population fed, the land we do cultivate should produce at its maximum. Many fellow environmentalists fail to understand that their insistence on low-yield agricultural species amounts to a demand to plow under huge swaths of what is now nature.

      Having said that, I of course want the GM crops to be certifiably safe for consumers and for the environment. Businesses that rely on GM should want the same, because if they get caught with their pants down like the nuclear industry did, they're fucked. Sadly, I have no faith that Monsanto understands this. If they really have been selling a toxic product and knew this, no amount of government connections will save their asses. I wouldn't mind seeing them go down. But with them would go the whole GM industry, because people don't make distinctions like the ones you made. For example, many people still think that all nuclear plants are functionally copies of Chernobyl. If GM gets taken out, we would lose one of our most important tools for the prevention of environmental destruction.

      We should realize that Monsanto GM crops are really the first products of an industry in its infancy. They are the equivalent of Netscape 1.0. We didn't give up on the internet just because the early browsers had serious defects. We fixed the defects and kept going. That's what we need to do with GM. But first and foremost, we need scientific openness in quickly discovering the defects, before they hurt people and cause a backlash.

  • by SpazmodeusG (1334705) on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @09:35AM (#30749590)
    What chemicals are in these plants that give them insecticide properties? Finding a chemical that harms insects but doesn't harm humans is a tricky problem and it's why fly spray companies and the like have R&D departments.
    If they are releasing a new never before ingested product onto the market shouldn't they be forced into similar regulations as pharmaceuticals?
  • by acidfast7 (551610) on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @09:37AM (#30749606)
    as a scientist, it has two things I dislike listed on its webpage... 1. In a prominent position its "unofficial IMPACT FACTOR" ... ugh. 2. In a prominent position its "UNOFFICIAL impact factor" ... well, if TR/ISI can't find it important enough to tabulate (assuming this is what unofficial indicates), why should we care :( in fact, this is the first time I have heard of the journal ... if the work is more widely useful, we not publish in a more widely-read journal?
    • Perhaps not (Score:5, Informative)

      by BigSlowTarget (325940) on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @09:51AM (#30749726) Journal

      It doesn't look like the 'impact factor' relates to anything. Its in the header whether you're looking at an article or their contact information. No explanation there.

      This note on the front page: This Journal is ranked among the top 2.1% of journals (29/1380) according to SCImago in the area of Agricultural and Biological Sciences ...details
      Indexed/covered by MEDLINE, PubMed, Science Citation Index (SCI) Expanded, Current Contents®/Life Sciences, EMBASE, CAS, CABI, Scopus

      Plus there isn't much anti-GM crapvertising elsewhere on the website. I'm normally among the first to call bs, but this could very well be the ideal journal for the paper as it seems specifically dedicated to issues in the biological/agricultural sciences.

      Anyone familiar with the journal or practices in submitting in the field?

  • by janek78 (861508) on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @09:37AM (#30749608) Homepage

    We knew that insecticides are harmful. Now we have a GM crop that instead of being sprayed with them actually makes them. Is it a surprise that it's harmful? If you make a crop that produces cyanide, it's going to be poisonous.

    This is not really related to GM technology (although TFA does not rule out mutagenic properties of the GM transformation process), rather content of toxic substances.

  • by tjstork (137384) <(moc.liamg) (ta) (ykswordnab.ddot)> on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @09:37AM (#30749610) Homepage Journal

    You have a food that kills rats. How can you possibly get angry about a food that kills rats? I mean, do you know how many people are starving because rats eat the food? This is absolutely a great thing.

  • Wary (Score:3, Insightful)

    by methano (519830) on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @09:43AM (#30749656)
    You know what? I don't believe this research is right. It may be correct and we're gonna learn of an interesting mechanism whereby this implementation actually allows a protein to avoid the digestive system and make it's way straight into the bloodstream. That would really be cool. But from what I know of the mechanisms of digestion and what types of molecules get through the whole process, I just don't believe this conclusion is correct. I suspect that it's bogus or a statistical fluke. As I said, there may be something here but my first inclination is to suspect something is wrong. Research has shown many mutually exclusive things to be "true" and so one has to have a mechanism that throws up a "bogus flag". This article does.

    So I'm gonna call bogus for now.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Hello,

          Somehow the Bt toxin makes its way through the bug's digestive system to kill it. Why is it so unbelievable that some of the toxin makes it through a human's digestive system?

      --PM

      • Re:Wary (Score:4, Informative)

        by vlm (69642) on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @11:09AM (#30750720)

        Somehow the Bt toxin makes its way through the bug's digestive system to kill it. Why is it so unbelievable that some of the toxin makes it through a human's digestive system?

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bacillus_thuringiensis [wikipedia.org]

        "When insects ingest toxin crystals the alkaline pH of their digestive tract causes the toxin to become activated."

        Most (all?) higher animals use a strongly ACIDIC digestive tract. Not a serious concern.

        No idea why it would directly affect rodents. Maybe it doesn't directly affect them at all.

  • Politics of GMO (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Kupfernigk (1190345) on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @09:45AM (#30749670)
    This demonstrates the European objection to GMO. It is not, as the manufacturers would like to suggest, a Luddite fear of new technology. It is a growing perception that there is no proper oversight of GMO development. In the US, the NIH acts as a counter to the pharmaceutical companies and does a lot of fundamental research. The GMO companies are perceived as being able to carry out inadequate trials, and not make their seeds and research sufficiently available to genuine independent researchers to ensure that the result is properly evaluated. (In the UK, the chief cheerleader for Monsanto is George Bush's pal Tony Blair, which goes a lot of the way to explain our concern. He's lied to us so often that now anything he promotes is immediately seen as being evil.)

    During the 19th century the issue was contaminated food produced by the new breed of large processed food manufacturers: in the early 20th it was the meat packing industry. Now it's Monsanto. In the first two cases it turned out industry was unfit to regulate itself, and bribery of Government officials was rife. But nowadays we regard processed food manufacturers as mostly benign (well, except for the junk food industry), and nobody worries about tinned meat. Regulation in the end was good for the industry. Monsanto needs to stop pissing on anyone who suggests it isn't perfect, and start to come clean. It would be in its long term benefit.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by jonbryce (703250)

      The chief cheerleader in the UK is the former science minister in Tony Blair's government - Lord Sainsbury, who's family owns a supermarket chain of the same name.

    • Re:Politics of GMO (Score:4, Insightful)

      by DeadCatX2 (950953) on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @10:45AM (#30750328) Journal

      It is a growing perception that there is no proper oversight of GMO development.

      Maybe if people would stop freaking out about the idea of GM food, we could have a rational discussion about what kind of oversight is appropriate. Instead, everyone panics, labels GM food the devil, and the debate is snuffed out.

      There's this stuff called Golden Rice, it's rice that has a Vitamin A gene. It will help lots of Chinese kids stop going blind. Maybe those researchers should study whether that rice kills rats.

  • Science (Score:4, Interesting)

    by takowl (905807) on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @09:47AM (#30749680)

    OK, I haven't read the paper in detail, but my initial impression is that, if academic researchers have found evidence that GM food damages your health, why haven't they put it in a really major journal--Nature, Science, PNAS, or something like PlosONE if the whole publication really had to be open access? I've got a degree in biology, and this is the first time I've ever come across the 'International Journal of Biological Sciences'.

    Glancing at their results table, it doesn't seem clear cut overall. E.g. there are cases where rats fed 11% GM corn show a response, but rats fed 33% GM corn don't, cases where male rats are apparently affected, but not females, and vice versa. They also don't name the maize they used as a control, so we don't know how accurate it is.

    All in all, it looks like they did a rather unconvincing study that prominent journals weren't prepared to accept, so they stuck it out there in this way. That doesn't mean it's wrong, but take it with a pinch of salt.

    • Re:Science (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Pedrito (94783) on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @10:41AM (#30750284) Homepage
      why haven't they put it in a really major journal--Nature, Science, PNAS, or something like PlosONE if the whole publication really had to be open access?

      Yeah, their editor-in-chief [biolsci.org] is only the chief of mammalian genetics at NIH, and their editorial board is a bunch of slackers from the likes of Georgeton, UCLA school of medicine, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, Vancerbilt, Nortwestern, UC, etc.

      OK, I haven't read the paper in detail... Glancing at their results table, it doesn't seem clear cut overall. E.g. there are cases where rats fed 11% GM corn show a response, but rats fed 33% GM corn don't, cases where male rats are apparently affected, but not females, and vice versa. They also don't name the maize they used as a control, so we don't know how accurate it is. Maybe you should read it in detail. FTFA: The raw data have been obtained by European governments and made publically available for scrutiny and counter-evaluation. So, they didn't actually perform the experiments, they're using the results of experiments that others did. It doesn't invalidate your point, but if you read further, I think they realize this:Furthermore, groups of animals were also fed with diets containing one of six other normal (non-GM) reference maize lines; the same lines for the NK 603 and MON 810 tests, but different types for the MON 863 trials. We note that these unrelated, different non-GM maize types were not shown to be substantially equivalent to the GMOs. The quantity of some sugars, ions, salts, and pesticide residues, do in fact differ from line to line, for example in the non-GM reference groups. This not only introduced unnecessary sources of variability but also increased considerably the number of rats fed a normal non-GM diet (320) compared to the GM-fed groups (80) per transformation event, which considerably unbalances the experimental design.

      Yeah, I know, actually reading the article before posting your critical analysis is pretty hard to avoid.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @09:52AM (#30749738)

    The study shows no organ damage. This is a lie by the esteemed Slashdot editor.

    The study shows slight changes in some parameters which could be signs of damage. It could also not be. Eating sausages will give you different kidney readings from eating chicken, yet neither sausages nor chicken has been banned. Correspondingly the study says these are "signs of toxicity and not proof of toxicity". I would have expected KDawsons "organ damage" to imply that organ damage had been found.

    Some data seems surprising - there is a significant effect for female rats consuming 11% Monsanto corn, but not male rats or female rats consuming 33%?

    Although I agree that multiple year teasts should be performed, and organ damage checked for. Though it would be extremely surprising if this has not already been done by anyone.

    Of course, since I write this I must be paid by Monsanto or just be evil, since all good-thinking progressives would never question criticism of an evil megacorp like Monsanto.

  • by locallyunscene (1000523) on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @09:55AM (#30749754)
    but WTF Monsanto, FDA. This is bad for EVERYBODY. Especially considering Americans eat more corn than anyone on Earth, ever(except maybe the Hopi).

    This is why you can't let lobbying continue as is. I don't think this out-and-out corruption through bribery, but I'd bet my bottom dollar Monsanto spent a lot of money wispering into ears that GMO posed no health risk and was a forgone conclusion. Hell, they didn't even need to check their own data, what could possibly go wrong? Besides that's the FDA's job right? Meanwhile the FDA hears all about how Monsanto wouldn't let any GMO through that would hurt their consumers. Of course they know the technology better, and their own analysis should be thorough enough to allow for FDA approval.

    I'll take a Department of Redundancy Department that does its goddamn job over a regulatory body that doesn't.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @09:56AM (#30749764)

    I don't know enough about toxicity studies to analyze this too closely but then as I read it, there is some "fishy" stuff going on.. First off, though - these researchers did not set up these studies. They used lawyers to get data from some of these companies or something like that- it's kind of vague. I have NEVER seen a study where you report like you did the research but you actually didn't. You are just trying to take the numbers and draw your own conclusion.
    They say in one part: "The most fundamental point to bear in mind from the outset is that a sample size of 10 for biochemical parameters measured two times in 90 days is largely insufficient to ensure an acceptable degree of power to the statistical analysis performed and presented by Monsanto. " They say that because they think Monsanto shouldn't say the corn is safe - but then they (these researchers) are using that same "Insufficient" data to say it's unsafe. That's the way this whole paper is- it just doesn't jive together.

    They also note that the control corn fed the rats in these studies was not similar enough to the GM variety to be good controls.

    OK - then why are they using these data at all - why not do their OWN study???!!! I"ll tell you why - because they found a way to skew this data for their own purposes. How can you pick apart an experimental design and then use that data and say YOUR conclusions are valid. This is insulting and I still do not believe this can be a legitimate journal (although I can't find much on it online).

    • by Dunbal (464142) on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @10:01AM (#30749816)

      here is some "fishy" stuff going on.. First off, though - these researchers did not set up these studies. They used lawyers to get data from some of these companies or something like that- it's kind of vague.

            Granted such a study is not scientific and has no merit per se. However this type of thing might be enough to get a real group of scientists interested in setting up a real, controlled study. After all science is all about asking questions and getting answers. There might be a valid question. So now someone will look for a reliable, reproducible answer.

      I have NEVER seen a study where you report like you did the research but you actually didn't.

            Tobacco companies claiming that smoking is "safe" circa 1970's and 80's?

    • by claus.wilke (51904) on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @12:59PM (#30752398)

      They say in one part: "The most fundamental point to bear in mind from the outset is that a sample size of 10 for biochemical parameters measured two times in 90 days is largely insufficient to ensure an acceptable degree of power to the statistical analysis performed and presented by Monsanto. " They say that because they think Monsanto shouldn't say the corn is safe - but then they (these researchers) are using that same "Insufficient" data to say it's unsafe. That's the way this whole paper is- it just doesn't jive together.

      You might want to re-read your statistics textbook. They say that the power of the Monsanto analysis is low. That implies that if Monsanto does not see a significant result, they cannot conclude that no effect exists. However, the authors of this study see significant results nevertheless. Thus, even though power was low, the effect was large enough to show up.

      In a nutshell: To demonstrate that there is a problem, all you have to do is find the problem in some instance. To demonstrate that there is no problem, you have to demonstrate that you looked very hard and yet could not find a problem. What the authors are saying is: "Monsanto didn't look very hard, and yet there is evidence of problems."

  • Stduy flawed (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Orga (1720130) on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @10:13AM (#30749962)
    If the GMO corn has been bred for high sugar, as we know that's the main focus, then the rats more than likely consumed more calories which I would expect to have a detrimental effect on most systems in the body. From the study: We note that these unrelated, different non-GM maize types were not shown to be substantially equivalent to the GMOs. The quantity of some sugars, ions, salts, and pesticide residues, do in fact differ from line to line, for example in the non-GM reference groups. This not only introduced unnecessary sources of variability but also increased considerably the number of rats fed a normal non-GM diet (320) compared to the GM-fed groups (80) per transformation event, which considerably unbalances the experimental design. A group consisting of the same number of animals fed a mixture of these test diets would have been a better and more appropriate control.
  • Good 'ol Monsanto (Score:4, Insightful)

    by revlayle (964221) on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @10:30AM (#30750136) Homepage
    They want to own food and the IPs for any GMOs they make and them force them into countries an markets. While i usually try to avoid hype documentaries, I do recommend watching "Food, Inc." as a starting insight into the evil of Monsanto (as well as the meat industry) - maybe biased but still a GOOD watch. The find a French documentary (usually it is subtitled or dubbed) called "The World According to Monsanto" for more details on the companies practices. Remember, before food, they created Agent Orange (as well as all the other "rainbow" Agent herbicides). Because of these shows, I have tried to buy my food from local source, and try to buy (unsuccessfully) in season (when i do buy out of season, I try Whole Foods, dunno if they are THAT better, but the one in Tulsa is good) - all my meat comes from a local butcher now and local livestock feed in conventional ways.
  • Food, Inc. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by tresstatus (260408) on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @10:46AM (#30750344)
    Nothing that Monsanto does comes as a surprise to anyone who has seen "Food, Inc.". http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1286537/ [imdb.com]

    the problem with GMO crops is that they can't be contained. a farmer doesn't have to plant monsanto's corn or soy beans for them to start growing in their fields.

    and to anyone who says "i will just avoid eating corn and corn products".... good luck. almost every product in the grocery store either contains corn or ate corn.
  • by cyberfunk2 (656339) on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @11:01AM (#30750582)

    If you actually read the journal article, all you will find is a LOT of criticism of Monsanto's statistical methodology (which may be valid), but very little (if any) of any actual evidence of toxicity.

    Basically , they claim (which may be correct): Monsanto didn't do their studies properly! They should've used more rats, for longer, and with more measured parameters !

    And THEN they turn around and claim... even though the study is statistically unsound (according to their own argument), we're going to draw some conclusions that are weak to begin with, even within the weak frame of this supposedly faulty study !

    It just doesn't make much sense.... from a professional scientists' standpoint (mine), this amounts to a lot of hemming and hawing about experimental methods, but absolutely nothing in the way of conclusions !

  • by Pedrito (94783) on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @11:03AM (#30750624) Homepage
    My concern, which doesn't appear to have been raised yet, is this shit blows around in the wind and cross-breeds with non-GMO corn. I'm guessing nobody has any idea how badly this has happened yet. This stuff could be ending up in our food, making the most important and second largest cash crop (after marijuana) in the US poisonous to consumers. I wonder why that doesn't sit well with me.

For God's sake, stop researching for a while and begin to think!

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