Widely discredited study that fuelled fear of genetically modified ‘Frankenfoods’ finally retracted

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An arresting but widely criticized study that stoked fears about genetically modified foods (GMOs) was retracted Thursday.

The move was met with relief by scientists who heaped scorn on the French study after it was published last year. The study claimed a steady diet of genetically modified corn caused tumours in rats.

But observers say the damage will be hard to undo.

The retraction is “good news,” says biologist Robert Wager, at Vancouver Island University, who objected to the study from the outset. But he says “it’s worrisome it took over a year for the journal to do the right thing.”

He predicts Gilles-Eric Seralini, of the University of Caen who led the study, will now be viewed as a martyr by believers in the dangers of GM crops and food. “The power of pseudo-science to generate fear must not be underestimated,” said Wager. “Once instilled, facts rarely dissipate that fear.”

Written By: Margaret Munro
continue to source article at news.nationalpost.com

20 COMMENTS

  1. This report cannot get enough publicity.

    And of course, it won’t. Unfortunately.

    The zealots do not want their world view disturbed by anything which does not support their existing confirmation biases. So they will just carry on regardless.

  2. “The power of pseudo-science to generate fear must not be underestimated,” said Wager. “Once instilled, facts rarely dissipate that fear.”

    And here is Greenpeace yelling about human caused catastrophe. That sounds familiar…

  3. ” But observers say the damage will be hard to undo. “

    That is an understatement. Ideologues pay no attention to retractions of bad GMO work as they payed no attention to the good GMO work. Their ” minds ” were made up a long time ago

    • In reply to #7 by SaganTheCat:

      In reply to #1 by bluebird:

      Is that Keith Richards?

      yes, he’s famous for being very careful of what substances he lets into his body

      Is that why Keith Richards looks like he does? (joking).

  4. From what I had read the sample size wasn’t big enough, but the results did variant future bigger study. I don’t see any rebuttal of that. Doing study with small sample size is now pseudoscience? If they would do study with bigger sample size, and have negative results then that would be news worthy.

  5. I don’t remember exactly how big corn’s natural ancestor was, something like wheat, right? That would be an adorable protest, lots of tiny, angry, genetically pure “ears” of all-natural corn.

  6. The problem with some skeptics is they are easily led into supporting something they know very little about. For example, many “skeptics” deny there’s any problem with fluoride in water, not realising “fluoride” in water is not a naturally occurring substance but highly toxic industrial waste (hydrofluosicilic acid). Even when this is pointed out, “skeptics” say, well, ok, don’t drink it, but what’s wrong with having it in toothpaste? Somehow it eludes the all-knowing “skeptic” that membranes under the tongue disperse chemicals in the mouth directly into the bloodstream.

    Other “skeptics” make fun of people who are trying to dodge chemotherapy – never stopping to examine the molecular science behind its catastrophic track record. When tumour cells, for example, are exposed to chemical agents such as Cisplatin, the surviving ones come up with a highly complex molecular pump, which locks and ejects the chemical molecule from the cell. The DNA for this pump is then shared between cells so that all surviving tumour cells become MDR (multiuple drug resistant) and the patient, after a brief euphoria of seeing the mass reduce, is later blighted with super-tumours sprouting everywhere – the tiny assassins having spread during the absence of the patient’s Cisplatin-destroyed immune system.

    Regarding GM foods, a recent study conducted by independent physicians at the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Sherbrooke Hospital Centre in Quebec found traces of toxic chemicals from GMOs in 93 percent of pregnant women and in 80 percent of umbilical cords tested. Monsanto say this is impossible – and yet, here it is!

    The study’s research team took blood samples from 30 pregnant women and 39 who were not pregnant, looking for pesticide residues commonly found in GMO seeds called Bt toxins. The researchers found traces of Bt toxins in 28 out of 30 pregnant women and in 24 out of 30 umbilical cords. The non-pregnant woman showed residue in 67 percent—27 of the 39 women tested. The theory is that the pesticide-producing DNA segments are incorporated via horizontal gene transfer into the bacteria inside your stomach, meaning that they become pesticide factories, living forever inside your gut. You can’t get rid of them. What a shame Monsanto’s testing never found this out – but then, they were looking for sales, not downsides. If true, it would account for the dramatic increase in digestive disorders which strangely mirrors the increase in arable land given over to GM crops in the last few decades.

    The Caen study was not one study, but 19 and they were carried out by scientists using scientific methods – the question mark is whether the damage was caused by the pesticides or by the GM seeds themselves. But the two go hand in hand – the manufacturers of one generally being the makers of the other. And it does seem strange that the country which consumes pesticides can’t seem to rid itself of cancer. If you’re saying that scientists disagree with other scientists over scientific studies – then it’s tantamount to saying science is simply a matter of opinion, and whatever hurts profits is suspect. As for the Canadian study:

    “This is the first study to highlight the presence of pesticides associated with genetically modified foods in maternal, fetal and non-pregnant women’s blood,” said the research team in the scientific journal Reproductive Technology. The toxins, which the team claims were clearly detectable and crossed through the placenta to the fetus, are believed to be coming from the pregnant women’s consumption of meat, milk and eggs from animals fed GM corn. The researchers speculate that the damage could be minimal or as severe as allergies, miscarriages, abnormalities or even cancer. [Organic Authority]

    If someone is determined to be skeptical, they must at least read some books or something, and not become free pop-up shills for the fluoride, chemo, or GM industry – all of which seem to be getting free PR via noisy “skeptic” sites!

    • In reply to #14 by iain399:

      The problem with some skeptics is they are easily led into supporting something they know very little about. For example, many “skeptics” deny there’s any problem with fluoride in water, not realising “fluoride” in water is not a naturally occurring substance but highly toxic industrial waste (hydr…

      No, a proper skeptic would say ‘so what’? It’s been in water for decades with no negatively observed effects. Whereas its benefits have been widely reported. There are plenty of toxic chemicals we consume naturally that have no adverse effect in small qualities. Please look up the naturalistic and essentialist fallacies.

      Other “skeptics” make fun of people who are trying to dodge chemotherapy – never stopping to examine the molecular science behind its catastrophic track record.

      Holy crap, you mean chemotherapy is toxic. Color me shocked Capt. Obvious. Of course if you ignore the many thousands of studies that show a dramatic survival benefit of chemo for many forms of cancer it makes it look bad. Again, look up….

      What form of treatment would you suggest a patient with Stage III breast cancer? Regarding your example of cisplatin, it is often given in adjuvant therapy meaning other forms are therapy are used such as radiation or other forms of chemotherapy. If you redefine catastrophic record as saving thousands and thousands of lives you might be right about something.

      And it does seem strange that the country which consumes pesticides can’t seem to rid itself of cancer.

      And this ignores the fact that modern industrial farming would be impossible without it and without modern industrial farming we couldn’t support billions of people on this planet.

      What skeptics are reacting to and sometimes over-reacting to is people who spread misinformation because of biased worldview and fallacious thinking. Your facts are cherry-picked and mostly irrelevant.

    • Hey,

      Regarding GM foods, a recent study conducted by independent physicians at the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Sherbrooke Hospital Centre in Quebec found traces of toxic chemicals from GMOs in 93 percent of pregnant women and in 80 percent of umbilical cords tested. Monsanto say this is impossible – and yet, here it is!

      How much (traces) was found in pregnant women and umbilical cords BEFORE the “controversy”?

      In reply to #14 by iain399:

      The problem with some skeptics is they are easily led into supporting something they know very little about. For example, many “skeptics” deny there’s any problem with fluoride in water, not realising “fluoride” in water is not a naturally occurring substance but highly toxic industrial waste (hydr…

  7. Nothing is being said in the article as to why exactly the Seralini study was retracted. According to Thierry Vrain, former head of biotechnology for Agriculture Canada at the Summerland, British Columbia, research station, and now a GMO critic, the retraction is apparently not quite as straightforward in its rationale as it may appear. He also claims that Seralini was only replicating Monsanto’s tests and not specifically looking for the occurrence of cancer in the test animals. But then why all the noise about cancerous mice? Maybe we need to know more about the protocol used.

    Nevertheless, I do not agree with those either who now shout ‘victory’ for the GMO cause – that is just to facile. I have posted the following today in another article on this website, but it is worthwhile repeating it in this forum, and if only as a reminder that caution in the field of GM technology is a virtue.

    Here is what none other than Richard Dawkins has to say in his 2009 book ‘The Greatest Show on Earth – Evidence for Evolution’ (Free Press, Simon & Schuster hard cover, pages 304/305): “I am undecided about the politics of GM food, torn between the potential benefits to agriculture on the one hand and precautionary instincts on the other”. He goes on to say “Today we curse the way our predecessors introduced species of animals [and I might add certain plants] into alien lands for the fun of it” and then wonders “whether taxonomists of the future may regret the way our generation messes around with genomes”. Following several weird examples of gene transfers, he closes with an appeal to the precautionary principle, which, he says “after all is to avoid future repercussions of choices and actions that may not be obviously dangerous now”. And lest some think that I am quote-mining him: Not at all, the book passage is tightly packaged and stands on its own, short enough too that it could almost be recited here in its entirety.

    I doubt very much that Prof. Dawkins has changed his mind since the publication of his book. His comments sound to me like the voice of a searching and rightly skeptical scientist. The point he seems to be making is not about adequacy or inadequacy of any testing for potentially adverse effect we presently are aware of, but its inadequacy in generating data about what the future repercussions might be.

    • @ sedgewick -
      Here is what none other than Richard Dawkins has to say in his 2009 book ‘The Greatest Show on Earth – Evidence for Evolution’ (Free Press, Simon & Schuster hard cover, pages 304/305): “I am undecided about the politics of GM food, torn between the potential benefits to agriculture on the one hand and precautionary instincts on the other”. He goes on to say “Today we curse the way our predecessors introduced species of animals [and I might add certain plants] into alien lands for the fun of it” and then wonders “whether taxonomists of the future may regret the way our generation messes around with genomes”. Following several weird examples of gene transfers, he closes with an appeal to the precautionary principle, which, he says “after all is to avoid future repercussions of choices and actions that may not be obviously dangerous now”.

      Indeed!
      The escalating and very expensive problems of invasive species, could well be expanded by the careless creation or leaking, of modified genes. Genetically propagated and commercially distributed herbicide resistance, could easily create invasive Franken-weeds!

  8. In response to misfire, plant breeding and cultivation are quite different from genetic modification, whence non-related, sometimes bacteria DNA is incorporated in the plant’s native DNA. While our knowledge of bacteria is very limited, we learn more daily about the unpredictability of the DNA of these organisms.

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