Having failed to convince the public that biotech improved seeds present novel or unexamined risks, professional opponents are now working overtime to tar GMOs with the same brush they’ve used successfully to denigrate the use of synthetic chemistry in agriculture. Papers that look scientific to the casual observer are frequently cited in these attempts. We take a closer look at one particularly good example of a bad example.
Original Paper: Robin Mesnage, Nicolas Defarge, Joël Spiroux de Vendômois, Gilles-Eric Séralini. 2013. Major Pesticides Are More Toxic to Human Cells Than Their Declared Active Principles. BioMed Research International (Impact Factor: 2.88). 12/2013; 2014(Article ID 179691). DOI:10.1155/2014/179691
ScienceInsider: “Pesticide Study Sparks Backlash “
ravingscientist: “Séralini Has Done it Again!”
In the Pipeline: “Pesticide Toxicity?”
European Crop Protection Association (ECPA) Statement: “Séralini Study Fails to Meet Basic Scientific Standards “
Primary Claims of the Original Paper:
- Pesticide formulations as sold and used are up to 1000 times more toxic than the isolated substance that is tested and evaluated for safety
- Roundup the most toxic of herbicides
Opponents of agricultural innovation are in the second year of a massive campaign aimed at stampeding state legislatures into imposing mandatory labels on foods derived from crops improved through biotechnology. They cite a litany of justifications, none of which survives critical scrutiny. We take a closer look.
Original Article: Shubert, David, Why we Need GMO Labels, CNN, February 3, 2014
Primary Claims of the Article:
- The lack of labeling requirements for GM foods is because of money spent in opposition by seed companies.
- There is no consensus that these foods are safe.
- Labeling is required to ensure safety and enable consumer choice.
- Genetic engineering has not created any new varieties with “with increased yields and resistant to flooding and salt” as promised “When GMOs were introduced nearly 20 years ago.”
Salient Facts: Virtually every claim made is abundantly contradicted by data, experience, and the published scientific literature.
- The lack of State labeling requirements for GM foods is because of money spent in opposition by seed companies.
- Significant amounts of money have been spent by organic interests in support of labeling that would help expand their market share.
Points to Consider: Organic and Conventional Milk are Nutritionally Indistinguishable
Organic advocates often claim foods produced through organic methods are superior in one way or another to other foods. Time and again research has failed to corroborate these claims Yet the convictions of organic advocates remain undented, reinforced by uncritical reporting and/or misleading papers. A classic in this genre is a recent publication wrongly claiming the nutritional superiority of organic milk. We take a closer look.
Original Paper: Charles M. Benbrook, Gillian Butler, Maged A. Latif, Carlo Leifert, Donald R. Davis. 2013 (December 9). Organic Production Enhances Milk Nutritional Quality by Shifting Fatty Acid Composition: A United States–Wide, 18-Month Study. PLoS ONE 8(12): e82429. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0082429
Published Analysis: Tamar Haspel, A Paper Touting the Benefits of Organic Milk for Heart Health May be Overselling the Drink, Washington Post, January 27, 2014
Primary Claims of the Original Paper: Organic milk is nutritionally superior because of higher levels of ω-3 fatty acids.
Salient Facts: The study reaffirms something long known: that cows fed diets rich in pasture and forage have higher levels of ω-3 fatty acids than those fed … Read the rest
No innovation in the history of agriculture has been more rapidly adopted than seeds improved through biotechnology. Grown in negligible amounts starting in 1984, the first commercial plantings in 1996 led to explosive growth in the years since. The cumulative total area is expected to top 4 billion acres this year. Data confirming this remarkable success story compiled by the Economic Research Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture were released in February of 2014, but some of the stories got critical elements wrong. We take a closer look.
Original Article: Kaskey, Jack, Modified Crop Plantings Fall in Industrialized Nations, Bloomberg News, February 13, 2014
Published Analysis: Global Status of Commercialized Biotech/GM Crops: 2013 International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications, February 14, 2014
Primary Claims of the Original Article:
- “Genetically modified crop plantings fell in industrialized nations for the first time since the technology was commercialized in 1996, an industry report said.”
- “Plantings in those countries fell about 2 percent to 81 million hectares (200 million acres) last year as Canada sowed less modified canola and Australia cut back on cotton, the International Service for the
Earlier today, I participated in a panel discussion entitled “The Value of Medical Innovation to Patients, Economies and Societies”, which was a part of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturing Association’s Annual Meeting. The discussion centered on one common theme – prioritizing medical innovation has far-reaching benefits for society.
In the U.S., public health problems take a toll not only on individual patients but also on society as a collective whole. The Milken Institute recently concluded that the most common chronic diseases cost the economy an estimated $1 trillion each year and that figure could rise to $6 trillion by 2050. More specifically, a study conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health and the World Economic Forum found that cancer costs the economy about $250 billion in 2010 and anticipated that expense to rise to at least $458 billion by 2030. Promoting and investing in medical innovation could significantly reduce these economic costs and improve public health outcomes.
In addition, the U.S. economy benefits tremendously from expanded medical innovations and the industries it promotes. The field, which accounts for $69 billion of U.S. economic activity, produces highly-skilled jobs that pay, … Read the rest