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GMO Study Aftermath: A Follow Up

January 11, 2013


There is controversy over the GMO study discussed in GMO Health Risks Revealed in New Study: What Happens When We Wait, Mainly asking whether or not results are substantiated. Let’s look at critique from both sides and underline the rational bottom line.

Scientist Squabbles

According to Scientific America and the international weekly journal of science, Nature, opposing scientists question the methodology and findings, saying experimental design and statistical analysis of differences between treatment and control groups was flawed and the strain of rats was particularly susceptible to developing tumors (Monsanto’s 90-day trial used the same strain of rats).

pinocchioOn the other hand, the president of the Committee for Research and Independent Information on Genetic Engineering (CRIIGEN) and the lead of the 4 million dollar study, Gilles-Eric Séralini, of University of Caen, France in collaboration with CRIIGEN, where he sits as head of the scientific board, argue opposing scientists are not toxicologists and may have vested interests, while Forbes argues the scientists who conducted the study had a biased agenda. Forbes’ blogger Tim Worstall states the study is, perhaps, more politics than science.

Big Claims Call for Big Evidence

In an article by NPR, it’s noted that “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence,” where this study has fallen short. Forbes reports the debate won’t be settled until detailed analysis of the paper and its data along with replications of the experiment are conducted. Séralini requests the data be assessed by an independent international committee to avoid potential bias, while the Chief of the European Food Safety Agency, Catherine Geslain-Lanéelle states her agency is well placed to give an impartial assessment.

Rational Reasoning Over Science

Nature notes Peter Kearns of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development in Paris questioning whether such feeding studies are most appropriate, as precise administered doses are far from the heterogeneous reality of random doses within whole foods.

This plays into the rational logic that will form the majority’s basis of belief aside from scientific evidence. As NPR put it, there has been a “giant feeding experiment that’s been going on for the past fifteen years–hundreds of Americans consuming GMO ingredients–(that) hasn’t produced evidence of harm”–yet.

The Bottom Line Remains

In my opinion, the negative health effects in rats associated with concentrated GMO feeding provides a lens into their potential harm to humans. People eating diets of various foods with strewed levels of GMOs may not have resulted in such robust results yet, but knowing the potential health risks associated with GMOs, do we want to sit back and wait for more serious results as America’s overall health rates continue to decline?

Waiting for serious illness to be definitively caused by GMOs in humans is a lazy, reactionary approach driven by vested interest. There is clear widespread citizen concern to ban GMOs and many countries have. In this age of change, departing from industrialism and entering innovative implementation, we need to rethink our food system–among other sectors.

While some argue agricultural biotechnology is required to feed a growing world population, that is another story altogether. However, science and reasoning lead me to believe natural agricultural practice that bolsters soil health, increases yield and nutrient values and passes on knowledge of the land will prove longstanding and prosperous over biotechnological food production comprised of mono crops, chemicals and many external inputs that both cost and deteriorate the environment, food and human health. That discussion garners deeper attention than I will delve here.

Aside from all the debate over GMOs, the bottom line is taking precautionary action and doing what’s right. I don’t want to find out what can potentially happen if we wait, do you?

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Alex Jones permalink
    January 11, 2013 1:11 pm

    The truth is that scientists who are messing with the genetics of plants and animals are ignorant of the impacts upon people and the ecosystem; profit rather than wisdom rules decision making; the impacts are evident that GM is causing problems from loss of bees to resistant strains of superweeds.

    • SolsticeSon permalink*
      January 11, 2013 1:24 pm

      Thanks for the comment, Alex. It’s true, whether ignorant or ignoring, deeper implications regarding ecosystems of fauna, flora and anthropogenic life and science necessary to expand our understanding of such implications are not given the concern they warrant. All in all, like climate change, it’s a complex, messy, wicked problem with heavy social integration.

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