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There’s some buzz about a new study in the International Journal of Biological Sciences, which states that the studies Monsanto used to justify the use of three varieties of genetically modified corn are flawed.

Thing is, in another life I’m a medical writer (mostly whoring for the drug companies, but that’s a story for another time), which means long bitter years of experience reading medical articles, so I figured I’d take a look and see if I could make sense of what’s going on.

If that's your cup of tea (and if you're pressed for time, RBC's diary got to the meat of the matter much faster than I'm going to), follow me below the jump.
EDIT: And see the edit at the end.

The basic facts:

• To meet EU requirements, Monsanto did studies on three strains of genetically modified corn (MON 810, MON 863, NK 603). Rats were given the GM corn (11% or 33% of their diet) or control corn for three months.
• The studies were done by an independent lab, but the data were analyzed and interpreted by Monsanto researchers, who concluded that the corn was safe.
• Greenpeace funded a reanalysis of the data of one study, and then another reanalysis of all three, which is the study that’s getting the attention. These reanalyses found problems with Monsanto’s analysis and conclusions, and found several statistically significant effects of the GM corn.
• The first reanalysis was in turn contradicted in Douro et al by an expert panel, which didn’t include Monsanto employees but may have been paid for by Monsanto (I don’t have access to the full article).

Some criticisms of the Greenpeace reanalysis, in order of compellingness (imho), are:

The Greenpeace authors cherrypick statistically significant results. “Statistical significance” is when a given result is very unlikely to have happened by chance and therefore can be treated as real. (If you lose to a royal flush, that’s bad luck. If you lose to three royal flushes in a row, it’s time to start stabbing). The conventional cutoff between “random noise” and “real effect” is the .05 significance level, which means that a result is considered significant if it would only happen by chance 5% of the time or less. The corollary is that 5% of truly random results will be statistically significant, so if you look at 500 variables, around 25 of them will be statistically significantly different just by chance. Looking only at these 25 variables (which is, in effect, what the Greenpeace researchers do) is misleading.

The effects they note are often not dose dependent. For instance, female rats with 11% of their diets made up of MON 810 corn lost kidney weight, but female rats whose diet was 33% MON 810 corn didn’t. Intuitively, if you’re eating a poison, more should be worse, and if it’s not, maybe it’s not a poison. The Greenpeace authors address this, saying:
• Many of the effects are in fact dose dependent
• Effects on metabolism are not always expected linear with dose
• With only two doses studied, it’s hard to establish a dose effect

The effects are often not time dependent. The rats were evaluated at 5 and 14 weeks; many effects that were seen at week 5 were not seen at week 14. Although intuitively, 14 weeks of a poison should be worse than 5 weeks, it’s actually entirely conceivable (imho) that early effects would be more dramatic than later ones. If you suddenly started drinking a fifth of vodka a day, it would lay you flat on your back the first day, but after a while your body would adjust until the vodka finally destroyed your health years later. (For that matter, if I remember Super Size Me correctly, Morgan Spurlock’s vital signs went way out of whack early on and then improved somewhat as he got used to a crap diet.)

Many of the results were not demonstrated in both sexes. This is where the Greenpeace researchers make a reasonably compelling case: their point is that there are in fact clear sex-specific effects, which is what you would expect from a substance that has effects on sex hormones, as many substances do (although the original study didn’t look for hormonal effects themselves).

Still, some of the criticisms are valid, and the Greenpeace researchers are clearly, in at least some cases, torturing the data until it confesses. So who to believe?

Drum roll please:

The Greenpeace authors.

The Greenpeace authors’ main conclusion isn’t that Monsanto’s corn is harmful. It’s that the data don’t prove Monsanto’s corn is not harmful. Which is 100% true. Monsanto’s studies were too small, and too short, to prove anything except that GM corn can be fed to a small number of rats for three months without immediately killing them. Long-term effects? Cancer? Reproductive effects? Birth defects? These studies prove nothing either way. (Heck, if you gave a small number of rats cigarettes for three months, you might not find any cancers.)

And the burden of proof should be on Monsanto. Two of the three strains tested—and I find this simply incredible—have been modified to express a toxin as an insecticide. So instead of dumping pesticide on the food (which is generally not the best idea), Monsanto has put pesticide in the food. The fact that many countries have allowed this to happen at all is bizarre on the face of it. The fact that they let it happen on the basis of one small rat study per strain is insane.

As I said, I’m familiar with pharmaceutical studies; when a pharmaceutical is tested, small studies on animals are just the first step. Everyone in medicine--even people on the fringe like me—understands that a drug that seems safe at first may turn out to be deadly, a result in one small study may disappear in the next, effects in rats may not hold true for humans, and so on. In real medicine, anyone who drew broad conclusions from a small rat study, or even a few rat studies, would be laughed out of the profession. And yet Monsanto does just that. Here’s the conclusion of the original MON 810 study:

This study complements extensive agronomic, compositional and farm animal feeding studies with MON 810 grain, confirming that it is as safe and nutritious as grain from existing commercial corn varieties.

There is simply no way that conclusion is warranted by the data. (For the record, the expert panel didn’t go nearly so far—they merely said that neither the original studies or the first reanalysis gave conclusive evidence of problems, which is true as far as I can tell.)

Now: there’s another study, undertaken by the Austrian government, that did much better—it studied several generations of rats, and while it found that GM corn had an effect on reproduction in the third and fourth generations (a result that has been criticized), the study is remarkable for all the problems it didn’t find—for instance, rats fed GM corn actually lived slightly longer than the other rats (although that was probably statistical noise, it still means that GM corn is unlikely to shorten a rat’s life).

So the point is not that GM corn is necessarily horrible; the point is that things like this have to be studied a lot better before we release them into the environment and the food supply. If these strains really do turn out to be harmless, that just means we got lucky this time.

And anyway, if Monsanto really believes that GM corn’s safety has been proven, why not do a legit study to confirm it? One obvious possibility is that Monsanto is not nearly as confident as it pretends to be; and simply doesn’t want to know what a real study would reveal.

But I do.

PS: I was basically done with this post when I read this, which makes many of the same points with a different take on them. My only disagreement is with the point that the funding source calls the Greenpeace results into question. Or rather, I don’t disagree with that at all (which is why I called them the “Greenpeace authors”), but the fact is, the same thing applies when Monsanto is funding a study. What’s needed is truly independent analysis.

EDIT: Dang, I thought this had run its course some hours ago, but I just checked in and the comments were still going strong. There's a lot of good info in them, (thanks especially to mem from somverville, bvig, and murrayewv) much of which is pointing out a whole universe of safety data on GM things that I was not aware of, and points on which I didn't do my homework.
So it turns out that this diary was a tad overwrought--I'll leave it as written, but take a look through the comments before rushing off to burn Monsanto headquarters.
Well, actually, scratch that--that's still a good idea.
/Edit

EDIT 2: Some of the commenters seem to be think that I pulled this paper out of obscurity in order to give it a currency it doesn't deserve. This paper was originally (I think) noted by the Huffington Post, and that got it to the front page of either Reddit or Digg or both (I forget where I saw it). If you think I'm alarmist, read the HuffPo take on it.  

Originally posted to Manfromporlock on Fri Jan 15, 2010 at 02:29 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (16+ / 0-)

    Check out Economixcomix.com, when it's up and running.

    by Manfromporlock on Fri Jan 15, 2010 at 02:29:34 PM PST

  •  Very good summary (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kurt, SweetLittleOkie

    of what's going on.  

    Really we should have independent scientists also doing the studies.

    Man's capacity for justice makes democracy possible, but man's inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary. ~ Reinhold Niebuhr

    by bvig on Fri Jan 15, 2010 at 02:39:44 PM PST

  •  Truly independent analysis indeed ... (6+ / 0-)

    ...Somebody ought to raise the issue of Monsanto's dioxin studies that included falsified data in the 1970s that were used to develop regulations by EPA.

    Don't tell me what you believe. Tell me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

    by Meteor Blades on Fri Jan 15, 2010 at 02:43:06 PM PST

  •  WTF? (6+ / 0-)

    The Greenpeace authors’ main conclusion isn’t that Monsanto’s corn is harmful. It’s that the data don’t prove Monsanto’s corn is not harmful.

    just how does one prove a negative?

    Are we back to Saddam being asked to prove he doesn't have WsMD?  Which is an equal logical impossibility.

    •  Okay, I could have phrased that better. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Odysseus, Clio2, SweetLittleOkie

      In medicine, "prove" is sometimes used sloppily for "show to be very very probable." You prove a negative--like "GM corn is not harmful" by giving it to enough subjects for enough time that the lack of effect is very unlikely to be a chance fluke.

      Check out Economixcomix.com, when it's up and running.

      by Manfromporlock on Fri Jan 15, 2010 at 02:50:21 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  No, you can't really do that . . . (0+ / 0-)

        for example, it is a "no-brainer" that something like water could be proved to not be harmful.

        Common sense would suggest so, but Sacramento Radio Station Contestants would beg to differ!!

        Bottom line, you are asking the impossible.  It's very silly.

        •  Perhaps you would prefer 'assess the safety' (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Odysseus, SweetLittleOkie

          instead.  What Greenpeace is saying is that they did not adequately assess the safety.  This is a big point in clinical trials as well.  I'm not exactly sure what you're confused about.

          Man's capacity for justice makes democracy possible, but man's inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary. ~ Reinhold Niebuhr

          by bvig on Fri Jan 15, 2010 at 02:55:03 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  If this is so unsafe.... (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            mem from somerville, Roadbed Guy

            why hasn't anyone done an experiment since this one to say the milions of cattle and people eating this food are harmed?  Is this some giant conspiracy to just focus on this mice data and ignore the dozens of studies done on farm animals and humans?

            Start with one of the comprehensive animal studies published in one of the bibliographies available.

            http://www.agbioworld.org/...

            Teshima et al. (2000) Effects of GM and Non GM soybeans on the Immune System of BN rats and B10A mice. J. Food Hyg. Soc. Japan Vol. 41, No. 3 (june). Reiko Teshima and his group are based at the National Institute of Health Sciences: 1-18-1, Kamiyoga, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo, 158-8501, Japan.

            http://www.biotech-info.net/...

            Ash, J.A., S.E. Scheideler and C.L. Novak. 2000. The Fate of Genetically Modified Protein from Roundup Ready_ Soybeans in the Laying Hen. Poultry Sci. 79 (Suppl. 1):26. Abstract 111.

            http://japr.fass.org/...

            Effects of grazing residues or feeding corn from a corn rootworm-protected hybrid (MON 863) compared with reference hybrids on animal performance and carcass characteristics1
            K. J. Vander Pol*, G. E. Erickson*,2, N. D. Robbins, L. L. Berger, C. B. Wilson*, T. J. Klopfenstein*, E. P. Stanisiewski and G. F. Hartnell J. Anim. Sci. 2005. 83:2826-2834

            http://jas.fass.org/...

            I can find you dozens more- possibly hundreds.  But everyone has a hernia over some crappy small sample from a decade ago.  

            The conspiracy theorists would rather ignore the abundant data that there aren't problems here.

            I have posted the references showing no allergic effects in humans before.  Crickets.  I have posted the references showing no lateral transmission.  No response.

            Scientists have looked at every possible harm that could be dome by these GMOs and nothing will ever convince people who just don't want to accept that GMO foods are not demonstrated to be harmful.

            You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

            by murrayewv on Fri Jan 15, 2010 at 05:07:54 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  None of these studies (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Manfromporlock

              that you cite address the concern of this study.  Some of them talk about other GM, some talk about whether it effects immunity, some talk about whether the protein is broken down.  Interesting questions but on a different topic.

              Also my comment was addressing concern about proving a negative and not about what you responded.

              Man's capacity for justice makes democracy possible, but man's inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary. ~ Reinhold Niebuhr

              by bvig on Fri Jan 15, 2010 at 05:14:03 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Read mem's bibliography..... (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                mem from somerville

                we and farm animals have been eating this for a decade.  If it is so harmful, you should be able to compare organic food fed animals vs. GMO animals and see a difference.

                Monsanto is a study, dissected a few mice, got mixed and not significant results.  THEN they didn't report the results.  They were sued to get these results.  Greenpeace wants to prove this is harmful so they can force Monsanto to be accused of fraud and conspiracy- hiding harmful data.  

                This is a political issue- some people prefer organic agriculture using Bt. spores not Bt in plants.  

                You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

                by murrayewv on Fri Jan 15, 2010 at 05:37:16 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

    •  That's the point of doing these studies (4+ / 0-)

      to demonstrate no harm.  That administering your drug or gene alteration or chemical does not cause unintended side effects.  In this case the study didn't look at enough organs or perform long enough of a study to determine if there were side effects.  

      Man's capacity for justice makes democracy possible, but man's inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary. ~ Reinhold Niebuhr

      by bvig on Fri Jan 15, 2010 at 02:52:55 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Of course, no matter what the study (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Fabian

        the criticism is that the animal(s) haven't been fed enough (note that anything including water is toxic at high enough does) of the "toxin", or they haven't been fed it for long enough (i.e., until the 5th or 6th generations instead of just the 3rd or 4th . .. .).

        In essence, it is simply not possible "to demonstrate no harm"  - in any event it is heartening, I suppose, to see the left wing nutcases pick up on this nuance that the right wing nutcases have so effectively exploited in the near past . ..

        •  They didn't ever say they weren't fed enough (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Odysseus, kurt, SweetLittleOkie

          They said their study didn't have enough animals and 3 months was too short, since toxins can build up over time.  You have controls in these studies as well to see if it's just corn in that mixture over that time  

          There were some significant differences between animals fed Monsanto and other feed sooo....you should have enough animals to distinguish differences.

          Man's capacity for justice makes democracy possible, but man's inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary. ~ Reinhold Niebuhr

          by bvig on Fri Jan 15, 2010 at 03:06:09 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  they studied 10 animals. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Roadbed Guy

            In statistics, 10 animals is a joke.  They did complex, weak nonparametric statistics.  They are polishing a turn.  They should redo the studies if they think this is so harmful.

            You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

            by murrayewv on Fri Jan 15, 2010 at 05:09:26 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  You are aware, of couse, (4+ / 0-)

    Mr. (semi) medical--that many plants make "toxins" right?  Alfalfa makes a little tidbit toxic to fruit flies.  Cucumber's fresh green scent?  Toxin.  All natural.  

    I think you should go after all plants that have toxins.  Please save us all.

    Do you want to talk about possible toxins the bacteria on and in your body my be offering you?

    Earns no money here for blogging, commenting, or driving traffic to any web site.

    by mem from somerville on Fri Jan 15, 2010 at 02:57:03 PM PST

    •  We've experimented for years on alfalfa (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Odysseus, kurt, Clio2, SweetLittleOkie

      and eating it.  Plenty of data there.  What there isn't plenty of data on is adding a gene that allows a crapton (a very scientific measure) of pesticide to be put on it and the effects that the reside will have on the person eating it.

      I think testing before messing is a wise decision.  I don't often head down a dark tunnel without at least a flashlight.

      Man's capacity for justice makes democracy possible, but man's inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary. ~ Reinhold Niebuhr

      by bvig on Fri Jan 15, 2010 at 03:00:15 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  "Natural" isn't necessarily "good." (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Odysseus, kurt, FG, SweetLittleOkie

      It's true that unlike synthetic pesticides, which tend to poison everything, natural toxins don't affect all species equally (grapes, for instance, are toxic to dogs but not us). But there are plenty of toxins that are all-natural and still deadly.

      And I for one want more than Monsanto's word before I start eating them.

      Check out Economixcomix.com, when it's up and running.

      by Manfromporlock on Fri Jan 15, 2010 at 03:05:15 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Help me out here (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        riverlover, Fabian, Roadbed Guy, FG

        can you explain to me the mechanism of action of this toxin?  And tell me if that receptor is present in humans?

        You know the literature, right?

        Earns no money here for blogging, commenting, or driving traffic to any web site.

        by mem from somerville on Fri Jan 15, 2010 at 03:06:22 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  the conclusion was just that it should be further (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Odysseus

          investigated.  You don't need to know the receptor before looking at whether something's toxic.  

          Man's capacity for justice makes democracy possible, but man's inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary. ~ Reinhold Niebuhr

          by bvig on Fri Jan 15, 2010 at 03:31:26 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  it has been investigated (4+ / 0-)

            for decades and it has been found not to cause harm.  No amount of sticking your fingers in your ears and pretending the studies haven't been done will help you.

            Earns no money here for blogging, commenting, or driving traffic to any web site.

            by mem from somerville on Fri Jan 15, 2010 at 03:39:57 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  can you site those studies? (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              murrayewv

              it's worth taking a look at those as well

              Man's capacity for justice makes democracy possible, but man's inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary. ~ Reinhold Niebuhr

              by bvig on Fri Jan 15, 2010 at 03:40:53 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  A good place to start (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                murrayewv, Roadbed Guy, indubitably

                is the National Academy of Sciences report.

                But there's been a lot more work outside of this all over the world.  Some of that is collected here:
                270+ published safety assessments on GM foods and feeds

                And Pam Ronald includes some here that people aren't even thinking about--how it may benefit farmer health:
                10 Things about GE crops to Scratch From Your Worry List

                Earns no money here for blogging, commenting, or driving traffic to any web site.

                by mem from somerville on Fri Jan 15, 2010 at 04:49:48 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Thanks..... (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  mem from somerville, indubitably

                  for the better summary.

                  You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

                  by murrayewv on Fri Jan 15, 2010 at 05:18:31 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                •  That's just about GM generally (0+ / 0-)

                  GM is a very diverse group.  Just because one thing is safe doesn't mean everything is safe.  Just because one drug is safe doesn't mean every drug out there is safe.

                  Man's capacity for justice makes democracy possible, but man's inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary. ~ Reinhold Niebuhr

                  by bvig on Fri Jan 15, 2010 at 05:19:53 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Funny, and wrong (3+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    murrayewv, Roadbed Guy, indubitably

                    the NAS article made the same point about conventional breeding. Too bad about those toxic heirloom potatoes...

                    But plenty of those papers address these specific Monsanto corns.  Why don't you find one you disagree with and let us know.  We can discuss it.

                    Earns no money here for blogging, commenting, or driving traffic to any web site.

                    by mem from somerville on Fri Jan 15, 2010 at 05:22:57 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  huh? The NAS is generally about GM food (0+ / 0-)

                      about many different GM food.

                      And who is us?

                      I hope you're not being paid to do this.  

                      Man's capacity for justice makes democracy possible, but man's inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary. ~ Reinhold Niebuhr

                      by bvig on Fri Jan 15, 2010 at 05:26:08 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  us is the folks in this thread (3+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        murrayewv, Roadbed Guy, indubitably

                        and no, Markos doesn't pay me.  You get me for free!

                        I doubt you could have read the whole NAS report already, but you'll find that they have references within the document. (That's how it works in science, you reference stuff).

                        And then there's that list of 270+.

                        Choose any of them.  

                        Earns no money here for blogging, commenting, or driving traffic to any web site.

                        by mem from somerville on Fri Jan 15, 2010 at 05:39:56 PM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  no those 270 don't all address this question (0+ / 0-)

                          nor specifically the question in this study

                          Man's capacity for justice makes democracy possible, but man's inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary. ~ Reinhold Niebuhr

                          by bvig on Fri Jan 15, 2010 at 05:41:41 PM PST

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  how do you know (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            murrayewv, indubitably

                            did you read them all?  

                            You were claiming there weren't studies.  We delivered them.  

                            Earns no money here for blogging, commenting, or driving traffic to any web site.

                            by mem from somerville on Fri Jan 15, 2010 at 05:42:20 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  then point out the specific one (0+ / 0-)

                            i did look over them and saw them not about this study.  Perhaps I missed the one that addresses what this study is asking specifically without the abundance of non-specific topics in addition.

                            Man's capacity for justice makes democracy possible, but man's inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary. ~ Reinhold Niebuhr

                            by bvig on Fri Jan 15, 2010 at 05:44:04 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  what animal do you want studied? (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            mem from somerville, indubitably

                            mouse?  Rat?  Cattle?  Chicken?  Pigs?

                            what GM product do you want studied?  Corn?  Soy?  Bt?  Round-up Ready?  Please be specific.

                            You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

                            by murrayewv on Fri Jan 15, 2010 at 05:45:49 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Go to exhibit 3 (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            indubitably

                            Exhibit 3.

                            Citation list of papers that test GM food safety in animal tests or directly and systematically measure safety parameters, such as allergenicity or potential toxin fingerprinting:

                            There are maize studies, roundup studies, and more.  Pick something you want to refute and we'll discuss it.  I'll need a couple of hours to get the paper and read it carefully. And then I'll meet you back here.

                            Earns no money here for blogging, commenting, or driving traffic to any web site.

                            by mem from somerville on Fri Jan 15, 2010 at 05:48:05 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                        •  and i definately wasn't implying kos (0+ / 0-)

                          was paying you.

                          Man's capacity for justice makes democracy possible, but man's inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary. ~ Reinhold Niebuhr

                          by bvig on Fri Jan 15, 2010 at 05:42:12 PM PST

                          [ Parent ]

                        •  perhaps if i missed it though (0+ / 0-)

                          you could point out the citation that directly addresses this study and not just talks about GM in general with 270 references not specific to the topic.

                          Man's capacity for justice makes democracy possible, but man's inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary. ~ Reinhold Niebuhr

                          by bvig on Fri Jan 15, 2010 at 05:43:07 PM PST

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  bvig..... (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            mem from somerville, indubitably

                            you need to do some work to learn.  You need to either accept that a panel from the national academy of science (folks higher on the food chain of science than me) did a good job, or you need to start reading the studies yourself and trying to find out if there is a study you find acceptable.

                            You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

                            by murrayewv on Fri Jan 15, 2010 at 05:47:48 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  this entry was not on GM foods in general (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Manfromporlock

                            no where did I say GM foods in general are bad.  Why then is a general essay on GM foods applicable to this discussion.  The discussion is on one published paper and how it concludes that more studies are needed.  Which I found to not be an unreasonable conclusion.

                            Man's capacity for justice makes democracy possible, but man's inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary. ~ Reinhold Niebuhr

                            by bvig on Fri Jan 15, 2010 at 07:10:29 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  I apologize..... (3+ / 0-)

                            we agree.  More studies are needed.  the National Academy of Science book suggests ways to do the studies properly and reveals that doing studies is complex.

                            One problem when scientists disagree (and they do) is you decide what the right experiment is in advance and then do it, without slanting the sata in any way- possibly even repeating it.

                            We are having trouble over the last 20 years in agreeing what a good study would be of the risk of Bt in plants.  This is relevant since Bt is used extensively and safely as a pesticide by organic gardeners for a century.  Bt has been fed to mice in large amounts with no deaths- the popular (LD)Lethal Dose 50 test.  Those who object to Bt in plants can't even say unambiguously why they think it is or could be harmful.

                            They are concerned about the Bt itself.  thoses tests get done and are ignored.  They are concerned the Bt could disrupt the genes of the plant and make some variation in normal plant genes that could be harmful.  Fine.  Test every cultivar generated and see what happens.  That is why they are suggesting testing all new plant breeds, not just Bt plants.  

                            Other people say allergies will occur to the new Bt protin- despite not seeing many allergies before.  Those studies have been done and published.  People who thought they were alergic were sought out and they were tested and found not to be allergic.  Lots of discussion in the book on how to test for allergens in all plants as well as GM plants.  What keeps you from eating food that contain allergens now, except labeling?  Soybeans and peanuts, which contain lectins, are far more of a problem in allergies.  There were experiments to introduce lectins to GM plants which were rejected by companies or regulatory agencies.  So the idea everything is allowed and there is no regulation is also incorrect.

                            Others suggest lateral transmission of the DNA to those who eat it.  This has been tested and not shown to occur.

                            I use this example when I teach biology class to university students- I get them to plan an experiment that would actually test for toxicity- there is a vast literature on how to look for effects.  This NAS book is a reference I suggest.  What is the point in Monsanto having people do studies- when folks here would never believe their work.

                            Recall toxic effects for tobacco (natural product) and how companies worked hard to show they didn't cause cancer.  If GM foods do cause problems, what should those problems be?  That should help in testing the hyppothesis they are harmful.

                            You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

                            by murrayewv on Fri Jan 15, 2010 at 07:56:06 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  This study was recently published (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            indubitably

                            and it doesn't take a lot of time to write a crappy blog post or media story on something like this.  But a full response in peer-review can take time.

                            I did offer the New Zealand food safety response though already:

                            http://www.foodstandards.govt.nz/...

                            Earns no money here for blogging, commenting, or driving traffic to any web site.

                            by mem from somerville on Fri Jan 15, 2010 at 06:07:49 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  that's a link that addresses the topic (0+ / 0-)

                            but is just rehashing the same data and is not an additional study with additional animals, which is what I was asking for.  A study that specifically refuted what this author is talking about.  

                            Man's capacity for justice makes democracy possible, but man's inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary. ~ Reinhold Niebuhr

                            by bvig on Fri Jan 15, 2010 at 07:12:43 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  You keep moving the goalposts (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Roadbed Guy, indubitably

                            First it was to cite the studies. I did.
                            Next it was that those were too general (even though that was false).
                            Then it was you wanted this study challenged. I gave you the SFANZ.
                            Now you want studies with additional animals--which is what I gave you in step one.

                            I can tell you won't be satisfied no matter how many times we go around this.  

                            Earns no money here for blogging, commenting, or driving traffic to any web site.

                            by mem from somerville on Fri Jan 15, 2010 at 07:34:17 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  perhaps i wasn't clear when i said cite studies (0+ / 0-)

                            but i meant on the paper that this diary entry was on.  I thought that was clear but I guess not.  

                            Man's capacity for justice makes democracy possible, but man's inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary. ~ Reinhold Niebuhr

                            by bvig on Sat Jan 16, 2010 at 08:24:37 AM PST

                            [ Parent ]

        •  diarist? Hello?? Halloooo??? (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          murrayewv

          I'm still waiting for you to explain the MOA to me.  

          If you are qualified to do this for pharma, I'm sure you are capable.

          Earns no money here for blogging, commenting, or driving traffic to any web site.

          by mem from somerville on Fri Jan 15, 2010 at 05:44:12 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Oops (0+ / 0-)

            Sorry, I thought the comments had run their course, but yikes apparently not.

            I never claimed to "know the literature"--only that I can read an article and understand what it's talking about, which (given the buzz around the article) seemed useful.

            Check out Economixcomix.com, when it's up and running.

            by Manfromporlock on Fri Jan 15, 2010 at 06:53:26 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  nice dodge (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Roadbed Guy

              but you made this claim about how bad it is to put a toxin in the food.  I want you to be more explicit about why that's so bad.  Speak to this toxin, and why it would be harmful for humans.  I'm sure you can scrape up the papers.  You managed to scrape up this one.

              Earns no money here for blogging, commenting, or driving traffic to any web site.

              by mem from somerville on Fri Jan 15, 2010 at 06:56:04 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  It's a freaking toxin (0+ / 0-)

                The point is, we're releasing a toxin where it never has been, in a way that may be impossible to get rid of. The idea that we have to show that a toxin is unsafe--rather than that the company that wants to sell it has to show (or rather, pay other, less untrustworthy people to show) that it's safe--is the attitude that gave us leaded gasoline, DDT, PCBs, and so on--all of which were considered safe, not so much because the companies involved set out to lie, but because they really did look safe given the state of science at the time.

                Maybe you're convinced that science has advanced to the point that we can simply predict how humans will now respond to a new delivery method for a toxin--one that's safe delivered in other ways--without testing actual humans. I'm not.

                If this corn was genetically modified to produce a cure for cancer, I'd say yes, get it out there with all speed. But is getting these strains of corn out there really so urgent? The selling point for the two strains of toxin-infused corn--that you can use less pesticide--sounds nice, but there are better ways to reduce pesticide use (without getting all hippie and foregoing industrial agriculture).

                Check out Economixcomix.com, when it's up and running.

                by Manfromporlock on Fri Jan 15, 2010 at 07:33:13 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  that's false (0+ / 0-)

                  this toxin has been all over farms for decades.  It is ok to use in organic agriculture.  All over the corn plants.

                  And as we've shown above, it has been tested.  Just because you don't like the answer doesn't mean it wasn't done.

                  Do you know this protects against mycotoxininfection?  I'll bet you don't. You need toread more.

                  I want to reduce chemical pesticides very much.  I want to reduce energy input and water input.

                  I want to improve food security and nutritionfor the poor.  Using people's fears to tie the hands of scientists on these things is shameful from someone who supposedly adheres to science.

                  Earns no money here for blogging, commenting, or driving traffic to any web site.

                  by mem from somerville on Fri Jan 15, 2010 at 07:48:08 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  "Where it never has been" = in corn, not on it. (0+ / 0-)

                    I also want secure and better food for everyone. And genetic modification does hold a lot of promise.

                    But many of our problems that GM is expected to solve are the results of yesterday's high-tech cures that also held a lot of promise. Why is reducing chemical pesticides such a priority? Because we were sold on their virtues and didn't pay enough attention to their problems. More caution back in the 1940s could have prevented a lot of problems of institutionalized pesticide overuse today.

                    And I'm sorry--making Monsanto do a small rat study is a step, but it isn't enough. In the large sense, the solution is a better agricultural policy that's more cautious and more respectful of how functioning ecosystems work (for instance, a functioning ecosystem generally deals with pests far better than chemicals do). (As with pesticides, GM crops can be a way to mask the deeper problems with our agriculture. The pests are gone, so we don't have to worry about why they were there in such numbers in the first place, and where their predators went.)

                    And you made it sound like GM corn directly protects against mycotoxin. Keeping pests away protects against mycotoxin, and GM corn is one way to keep pests away. But there are also other ways.

                    Check out Economixcomix.com, when it's up and running.

                    by Manfromporlock on Fri Jan 15, 2010 at 08:32:48 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  the fact that the bt is in the plant (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Roadbed Guy

                      means it is not all over the soil, nearby plants, and washing away, either.  More likely to target the specific pests in question.

                      I'm not saying GE is the solution for everything--no one is. The only people who claim that's being said are the foodies.  Anyone with a clue understands we need many solutions for many situations and many locations.  The right tool for  the right job.  

                      And withholding one tool that can help for some situations is wrong.  

                      But sure: why don't you make poor farmers work harder on their fields for smaller yields and increased likelihood of mycotoxin.  Good strategy from the well-fed as usual.

                      Earns no money here for blogging, commenting, or driving traffic to any web site.

                      by mem from somerville on Fri Jan 15, 2010 at 08:53:47 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                •  Talking about freaking toxins . . . (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  mem from somerville

                  how about plutonium, which I read on the web is something like "the most poisonous compound known to mankind" (or something like that):

                  When taken in by mouth, plutonium is less poisonous than several common substances including caffeine, acetaminophen, some vitamins, pseudoephedrine, and any number of plants and fungi.  It is perhaps somewhat more poisonous than pure ethanol, but less so than tobacco; and many illegal drugs.  From a purely chemical standpoint, it is about as poisonous as lead and other heavy metals.   Not surprisingly, it has a metallic taste.

                  link

                  Once again, since the point doesn't seem to be sinking in, calling something a toxin per se is meaningless because *many toxic compounds are deliberately ingested by people* !!

                  And many more less deliberately, the point being that important variable are the species specific mode of action and dose.  The "nuances" seem to be going totally over your head . . .

                  •  I'm still waiting for an explanation (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Roadbed Guy

                    on the mechanism of action.  

                    It's freaking me out that this person is a "medical writer", I have to say.  But I suppose that explains HuffPo....

                    Earns no money here for blogging, commenting, or driving traffic to any web site.

                    by mem from somerville on Sat Jan 16, 2010 at 06:48:07 AM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  It was about 5 years ago when I attended a (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      mem from somerville

                      presentation on the (then newly-discovered) mechanism of action, and I recall only  two things

                      1. it was really quite fascinating, involving some type of very specific receptor-ligand interactins.
                      1. the point in (1) ensured the toxicity would be limited to a very narrow range of types of organisms . . .

                      As someone who works in science, I totally get the impulse to conclude a paper with the idea that "more study is needed" (heck, we'd be out of job if that wasn't true, right?)  but this is one of the less compelling situations where more study is urgent in actual fact.

      •  Actually, synthetic pesticides are no more (0+ / 0-)

        likely to broadly toxic than natural pesticides . . .

        Speaking of Monsanto, glyphosate illustrates that concept.

        •  but what has the environment evolved to handle (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Clio2

          While naturally there exist many nasty toxins the environment has evolved to be in balance with them, even though they are deadly at times to certain species.  The species would not be in existence if it completely wiped them out.  However, addition of artificial pesticides gives no time for evolution and tolerance and balance to occur.

          Man's capacity for justice makes democracy possible, but man's inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary. ~ Reinhold Niebuhr

          by bvig on Fri Jan 15, 2010 at 03:15:11 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Huh, evolution to accomodate and (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            murrayewv, indubitably

            neutralize synthetic toxins occurs all the time, and rapidly.

            Ever heard of antibiotic resistant bacteria?

            •  yes evolution to it occurs but often (0+ / 0-)

              when you introduce new toxins they are . . . toxic and can affect many species since they are generally applied (whereas a bug may have evolved to not eat certain plants that produce a toxin).  While evolution still occurs and often the pesticide becomes useless it's often not without death and damage first occurring.

              Man's capacity for justice makes democracy possible, but man's inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary. ~ Reinhold Niebuhr

              by bvig on Fri Jan 15, 2010 at 03:22:25 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

          •  Have you ever tried to eradicate poison ivy? (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            RunawayRose, Catesby, indubitably

            I have tried the natural way, yanking out the plants with gloves on, and yanking out the nest year. A little glyphosate, properly applied can knock it down. If you want to live in balance with toxic or invasive species, that is your choice.

            Americans, while occasionally willing to be serfs, have always been obstinate about being peasantry. F. Scott Fitzgerald, the Great Gatsby

            by riverlover on Fri Jan 15, 2010 at 04:14:55 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Missing the point (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Manfromporlock

              I never said that it's all bad, I said it's good to test things and understanding what the consequences are before widely releasing them.  We do that with drugs, why should we not do that when we alter our food.

              Man's capacity for justice makes democracy possible, but man's inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary. ~ Reinhold Niebuhr

              by bvig on Fri Jan 15, 2010 at 04:28:05 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Are you kidding? (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                murrayewv, indubitably

                We don't do good drug testing until years after they hit the marketplace. I agree three week-drug testing on healthy subjects is not a good way to go, but we all know that there are ethical problems with drug testing and you want to apply the same thing to food?

                We are probably all guinea pigs (although mice are used way more) in long term drug studies, that will be meta-analyses. What is the alternative as you see it?

                Americans, while occasionally willing to be serfs, have always been obstinate about being peasantry. F. Scott Fitzgerald, the Great Gatsby

                by riverlover on Fri Jan 15, 2010 at 04:44:42 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  No I'm not kidding (0+ / 0-)

                  there are rigorous animal and clinical studies examining drugs before market.  Yes there are problems with some of these studies but there are many tests before drugs are released.

                  Man's capacity for justice makes democracy possible, but man's inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary. ~ Reinhold Niebuhr

                  by bvig on Sat Jan 16, 2010 at 08:26:40 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

        •  Glyphosphate is an herbicide (0+ / 0-)

          Meanwhile, farmers who commit suicide often drink pesticide--the very stuff that goes on our food.

          Check out Economixcomix.com, when it's up and running.

          by Manfromporlock on Fri Jan 15, 2010 at 08:37:26 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Or, they could use a knife, the very type (0+ / 0-)

            of knife used to harvest our food, to slit their wrists . . . .

            Eating many of the types of fertilizer used to grow our foods would also nicely do the trick.

            You are really getting desperate with your arguments now, aren't you?

  •  Have you written any alarmist diaries about (6+ / 0-)
    - for example - the safety of the Ruby Red Grapefruit?

    To explain, this fruit was bred through radiation breeding, which rips the genome up and allows it to recombine

    The process worked because the radiation had randomly mixed up the genetic material of the plants. The scientists could control the intensity of the radiation and thus the extent of the disturbance, but not the outcome. To know the repercussions, they had to plant the radiated material, let it grow and examine the results. Often, the gene scrambling killed the seeds and plants, or left them with odd mutations. But in a few instances, the process made beneficial traits.

    link

    In addition to the Ruby Red Grapefruit, over 2000 other human foods have been selected by this methodology - which unlike the somewhat precise genetic mutations done through GE technology totally scrambles the genome in completely unknown ways.

    Thus, if any genetically modified crops would seem to be in need of extensive testing, it would be these.  But, yawn, Monsanto isn't involved so nobody gives a fuck.  

    In any event, this clearly shows that Greenpeace's concerns *are not* founded in science.

    •  How is it alarmist to say (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Odysseus, kurt, Clio2, SweetLittleOkie

      So the point is not that GM corn is necessarily horrible; the point is that things like this have to be studied a lot better before we release them into the environment and the food supply. If these strains really do turn out to be harmless, that just means we got lucky this time.

      He doesn't even make a judgment in the title

      Man's capacity for justice makes democracy possible, but man's inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary. ~ Reinhold Niebuhr

      by bvig on Fri Jan 15, 2010 at 03:09:51 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  The comment "we just got lucky this time" (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        indubitably

        is totally a judgment call with essentially no basis in fact.

        But are you saying that as long as the title is fairly innocuous, plenty of poetic license can be taken with the rest of the content of the diary?

        •  but there is evidence that there is a difference (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Odysseus, kurt, SweetLittleOkie

          in Monsantos studies. And it should be further investigated so a more rigorous conclusion can be made.  When you leave it on the edge like that that you are lucky if you ignore evidence and it turns out to be nothing.  That's the point of his whole article.

          Man's capacity for justice makes democracy possible, but man's inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary. ~ Reinhold Niebuhr

          by bvig on Fri Jan 15, 2010 at 03:17:24 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  If we got lucky about anything this time (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            indubitably

            it is that a lot of people's heads haven't exploded upon reading this diary that takes scientific advice from Greenpeace.

            The same organization that advocated "banning chlorine" - yup, Google it, a complete and absolute ban on chlorinated molecules due to their incredible danger to both humans and pretty much the entire ecosphere.

            Despite the fact that chlorinated molecules are ubiquitous in nature . . .

            •  I'll take (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Odysseus

              Greenpeace's word over Monsanto's every damn day of the year.

              Sheesh.

              The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has its limits -- Albert Einstein

              by SweetLittleOkie on Fri Jan 15, 2010 at 03:25:28 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  I will grant you that Monsanto is every (3+ / 0-)

                bit as evil as, oh lets say Pat Robertson.

                I have no stake in the company, and if everyone reading this thread, or for that matter everyone in the world, wished to boycott them, that wouldn't bother me a bit.

                However, at their core they are a scientific company (again, whether they are using science for good or evil is beside the point of this post) and their investors and shareholders would abandon them if their science didn't work or was proven fraudulent.  Hence, they have a long term stake in the scientific veracity of their enterprise.

                By contrast, Greenpeace raises funds through publicity stunts, sensationalism, and so on.  Once again, I'm not ascribing any value judgments overall whether this is good or bad.  The point is simply when it comes to scientific matters, there are compelling reasons to bet that Monsanto would be just a tad more reliable than Greenpeace . ..

            •  while greenpeace says some wacky things (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Odysseus

              that doesn't mean that his analysis was wrong.  It's important to take biases into account, I mean Rush says a lot of crazy things.  But doesn't make everything he says crazy.

              Man's capacity for justice makes democracy possible, but man's inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary. ~ Reinhold Niebuhr

              by bvig on Fri Jan 15, 2010 at 03:25:40 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

          •  there is a difference in females.... (0+ / 0-)

            and not males.  But only if you feed them less and not more.  And only in 10 animals.

            10 is too small a number.  These differences could have occured by chance alone in so few mice.

            Why doesn't Greenpeace repeat the study?

            You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

            by murrayewv on Fri Jan 15, 2010 at 05:22:08 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  that's what they're saying (0+ / 0-)

              is that the study should be repeated and with more animals.  That's all the author was trying to say.  Is that the study was too small to make valid conclusions.  It was Greenpeace examining Monsanto's data.

              Man's capacity for justice makes democracy possible, but man's inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary. ~ Reinhold Niebuhr

              by bvig on Fri Jan 15, 2010 at 05:23:54 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Really? (0+ / 0-)

                Have you read the press on this....

                Greenpeace is saying the corn leads to organ failure.  That is the headline.

                Half the argument against Monsanto is they are making too much money by patenting these inventions and then they force people to keep rebuying the seeds, not save seeds and replant them.

                If these things are bad, why do farmers want them?  

                Is it fair to patent a gene?  A bacteria?  A drug made by moving a gene into a bacteria?

                Many here object to any patenting.

                This is an economic or a political conclusion, but not one about major organ failure.

                You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

                by murrayewv on Fri Jan 15, 2010 at 08:06:12 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Not quite sure what you're arguing (0+ / 0-)

                  The Greenpeace paper itself called for more research. The articles about the Greenpeace paper (like in the HuffPo) had the "organ failure" headline. (Which is what made me want to go into more depth and write the diary.)

                  I'm not sure where the argument about patents comes in.

                  "If these things are bad, why do farmers want them?"
                  Why do farmers want pesticides?

                  Check out Economixcomix.com, when it's up and running.

                  by Manfromporlock on Fri Jan 15, 2010 at 08:42:39 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

    •  This is one of the least alarmist diaries about (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RunawayRose, kurt, bvig, SweetLittleOkie

      GM foods I read here. The thing about random mutations is that they may mess up some gene but are unlikely to introduce anything new unless you select for it (e.g. color of a grapefruit). If you deliberately insert a gene that produces a pesticide, you'll have smth new (a pesticide) and it may be harmful to humans.

      •  Why is the grapefruit a different color? (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        murrayewv, indubitably

        Most likely (and it is difficult to think of an alternate explanation) different dyes are being produced by the genetically altered grapefruit trees.  Dyes which are chemicals that could be every bit as harmful as the pesticide (which, btw, is a protein that is harmlessly digested by mammals . . .).

        On the topic of coloring, if the above-discussed process does not render the grapefruit colorful enough, crushed beetle extract can be added to fix that problem  . . .

        In addition to grapefruit, people also like their salmon to be ruby red . . . and, something else I've never read a diary about here at DK (in stark contrast to all the Monsanto-bashing diaries) can also cause problems:

        The fresh, farm-raised salmon that shoppers buy also get their orange-red hue from eating the chemicals astaxanthin and canthaxanthin. Wild salmon are pink because they eat shrimp-like creatures called krill. But to achieve the same pink color, farmed salmon need chemicals, which are mixed with their feed. In the past couple of years, the European Union significantly reduced the level of such dyes that can be fed to salmon because of concerns that the dyes, at high levels, can affect people's eyesight.

        •  Grapefruit already produce dyes (0+ / 0-)

          and most likely it's just a difference in expression or activity levels of appropriate enzymes leading to higher level of production of red dyes. This is a NYT article that talks about this stuff:
          http://www.nytimes.com/...

          Food additives can cause problems as well. They are tested for toxicity but there are concerns that these tests are inadequate. In general, if you make safety a priority, all food additives (or pesticides expressed by GM foods) need to undergo safety testing like drugs or vaccines similar to phase I clinical trials. Some testing on these compounds is already done, of course.

  •  For people curious about the reactions (4+ / 0-)

    from others, to a paper done by statistical data mining in an obscure journal, please also see:

    http://www.foodstandards.govt.nz/...

    and

    http://www.biofortified.org/...

    Marion Nestle couldn't follow it.  But if you are more qualified in nutrition issues than her, you can go help her out:

    http://www.foodpolitics.com/...

    Earns no money here for blogging, commenting, or driving traffic to any web site.

    by mem from somerville on Fri Jan 15, 2010 at 03:14:10 PM PST

    •  Nestle's argument is that she can't understand it (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      SweetLittleOkie

      It was published in a science journal which are unfortunately often

      exceptionally dense and opaque language

      quoting her.  However, what she quoted is neither dense or opaque to scientists.  It made perfect sense and I'm sure many people on here would be willing to translate it.

      Man's capacity for justice makes democracy possible, but man's inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary. ~ Reinhold Niebuhr

      by bvig on Fri Jan 15, 2010 at 03:20:25 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  hee hee heee (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Roadbed Guy, indubitably

        Marion Nestle is Paulette Goddard Professor in the Department of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health (the department she chaired from 1988-2003) and Professor of Sociology at New York University. Her degrees include a Ph.D. in molecular biology and an M.P.H. in public health nutrition, both from the University of California, Berkeley (continues below).

        http://www.foodpolitics.com/...

        Earns no money here for blogging, commenting, or driving traffic to any web site.

        by mem from somerville on Fri Jan 15, 2010 at 03:26:23 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I'm not sure how that negates anything i said (0+ / 0-)

          science journals are dense and opaque and the paragraph she quoted as not making sense, did make sense to scientists (to me and at least to the people who peer reviewed it).

          Man's capacity for justice makes democracy possible, but man's inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary. ~ Reinhold Niebuhr

          by bvig on Fri Jan 15, 2010 at 03:29:00 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  so you are saying she's not a scientist? (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            murrayewv, Roadbed Guy, indubitably

            PhD in molecular biology, Masters in Public Health. Professor of biology, associate dean of UCSF School of Medicine?  

            Earns no money here for blogging, commenting, or driving traffic to any web site.

            by mem from somerville on Fri Jan 15, 2010 at 03:43:06 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  No I'm saying I don't know why she didn't (0+ / 0-)

              understand it.  It's not unclear.  Perhaps she was having a bad day.

              Man's capacity for justice makes democracy possible, but man's inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary. ~ Reinhold Niebuhr

              by bvig on Fri Jan 15, 2010 at 03:44:04 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  or she thought it was a crappy paper..... (0+ / 0-)

                with too small a data set and too short a time period to test the effects.  You do realize the data came from Monsanto originally?  If they are satan, then do the study over.

                You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

                by murrayewv on Fri Jan 15, 2010 at 05:26:58 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  The paper was studying Monsanto's data (0+ / 0-)

                  and said that they should have more data.  

                  That is what this author reviewed.  

                  That simple statement is what she said she did not understand.  

                  It’s that the data don’t prove Monsanto’s corn is not harmful. Which is 100% true. Monsanto’s studies were too small, and too short, to prove anything except that GM corn can be fed to a small number of rats for three months without immediately killing them.

                  We are in agreement.  

                  Man's capacity for justice makes democracy possible, but man's inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary. ~ Reinhold Niebuhr

                  by bvig on Fri Jan 15, 2010 at 05:29:41 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  So if all we need is more data..... (0+ / 0-)

                    then why won't someone please get some more data?

                    Is it a conspiracy?  Or is it because they aren't too sure what they will find.

                    You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

                    by murrayewv on Fri Jan 15, 2010 at 05:50:05 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                •  and perhaps she thought it was crappy (0+ / 0-)

                  but her explanation was not what was wrong with the paper but that it was hard to understand.  But I am just not clear on what was hard to understand.  You came to the same conclusion as the authors did, it's not a complicated conclusion.

                  Man's capacity for justice makes democracy possible, but man's inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary. ~ Reinhold Niebuhr

                  by bvig on Fri Jan 15, 2010 at 05:32:13 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

  •  Thank you, (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Odysseus, JuliaAnn, bvig, SweetLittleOkie

    Manfromporlock, for your effort to shed some light on this. As a sometime semi-technical writer on a different subject, I especially appreciate your perspective.

    It is a pity that among others the diary appears to have attracted one or two commenters whose appointed task seems to be willfully to misunderstand you and to bring up some of the chemical industry's favorite all-purpose distractors, like the potential toxicity of water and the existence of natural poisons in some plants.

    Just wanted you to know that others of us out here are able to read and get the bottom line: case not closed.

    •  I get annoyed at vaccine fearmongering too..... (0+ / 0-)

      it isn't just GMOs.

      I recognize absence of data is not proof foods are safe.  But poor quality data analyzed in a statistically marginal way is not proof these foods are dangerous.
       
      I put it to folks- show me some real data that GMOs are harmful to mice and it will be on the cover of Nature or Science.  

      You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

      by murrayewv on Fri Jan 15, 2010 at 05:55:24 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Many thanks (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      bvig

      Although some of the criticisms were on target, and I'm happy to be pointed to more data.

      None of us is as smart as all of us!

      Check out Economixcomix.com, when it's up and running.

      by Manfromporlock on Fri Jan 15, 2010 at 07:41:51 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  study wasn't by the Austrian government. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mem from somerville, indubitably

    Velimirov A, Binter C and Zentek J. Biological effects of transgenic maize NK603xMON810 fed in long term reproduction studies in mice. Report, Forschungsberichte der Sektion IV, Band 3. Institut für Ernährung, and Forschungsinttitut für biologischen Landbau, Vienna, Austria, November 2008.

    it was a private institute and was published as part of their report, not a refereed article.  Try to find the report to read- pretty hard to find either the institute or the pdf. Can't find it in pubmed.  I found it once or twice, but it is really difficult- which is startling.  I can't even find the institute.  Here is the link- enjoy.  https://www.dafne.at/...

    It is basing its effects on microarray data- notorious difficult to analyze.  They fed their mice two different GMOs and then pooled the data together- obscuring any interexperiment variation.  Their find lots of differences in gene expression- more than most people would expect in a typical experiment and the majority of differences are not significant.

    That said, it is still a better experiment than reanalyzing the ancient Monsanto data and picking out what you thought was important.

    You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

    by murrayewv on Fri Jan 15, 2010 at 04:49:02 PM PST

  •  Dear Diarist RE: Edit 2 (0+ / 0-)

    Earns no money here for blogging, commenting, or driving traffic to any web site.

    by mem from somerville on Sat Jan 16, 2010 at 10:18:28 AM PST

  •  If you hate teh toxins (0+ / 0-)

    you might also be interested in this research.  There's a toxin produced in cotton plants.  This means that the by-products of cotton (such as the seed) aren't used for food.  This is an unfortunate situation, since the stuff is growing anyway.  It could be used for food for animals or humans.  

    But there's research that removes the toxin part. Read up here: Cotton like Candy.

    Hope you'll support that effort to remove toxins :)

    Earns no money here for blogging, commenting, or driving traffic to any web site.

    by mem from somerville on Sat Jan 16, 2010 at 01:39:24 PM PST

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