By: Myles Power Edited by: Peter & Hannah
In September of last year, the highly discredited paper ‘Long-term Toxicity of a Roundup Herbicide and a Roundup-Tolerant Genetically Modified Maize‘ was published in the journal ‘Food and Chemical Toxicology’. Most people have heard of this paper, as it is currently being promoted by every anti-GMO group on the planet, as it supposedly shows a link between GMOs, cancer and premature death. I have previously written about this paper and its lack of scientific merit, including its sample size being too small, the choice of rats that are known to spontaneously grow tumours, and for misleading the reader into thinking that the tumours don’t occur in the control group. I also wrote about how I find this research to be HIGHLY unethical, as the scientists involved allowed the rats (known for spontaneously growing tumours) to remain alive, while 25% of their body weight was tumours so they could get pointless unscientific pictures. The only reason I can think of for them doing this is to provoke an emotional response in the reader.
However, some people online who have read my article refuse to change their mind regarding the paper. They simply shout “SHILL” and disregard everything I have said. These people believe that the paper is correct and there is a link between GM-maize and cancer. They also believe that this GM-maize will have the same effect in humans as it does in the rats. To these people I say, if you think this paper shows a link between GM-maize and cancer then you must also believe that drinking large concentrations of roundup herbicide will make men live longer.
To understand how the paper ‘proves’ the link between roundup and prolonged life in men, we first need to talk about the experiment itself. The experiment involved 100 male and 100 female albino Sprague-Dawley rats, who were divided into groups of 10. For each sex, a control group was fed on plain water and standard maize. Six groups were fed with 11%, 22% and 33% of GM-maize, either treated with Roundup or not. The final three groups were fed with the control maize, but had access to water contaminated with 1.1×10-8% (the contaminating level of some regular tap waters), 0.09% (concentrations found in some GM feed) and 0.5% (half of the minimal agricultural working dilution) of Roundup. The results apparently showed that 50% of males and 70% of females died prematurely, compared with only 30% and 20% in the control group.
If we look at the paper you will see there is something very strange with the table of data showing the mortality rates of the rats – it’s missing. For a paper that boasts about the death count of female rats fed GM-maize, this is very strange; especially considering they went to the trouble of producing a table that shows the rates of cancers in the rats in all groups. Instead of a nice neat table of data, we get six graphs to interpret the data from. Firstly, it should be said that these graphs are a mess. They use a series of lines differing in thickness to show the difference in the groups’ mortalities, with a dotted line representing the control group. The problem is that the lines are not different colours and frequently overlap making it difficult to see what is going on. They also have many other dotted lines going vertically for no reason and use the same key to show different things. For example, the think line represents rats that have been fed on 33% GM-maize but it also represents rats that have been given water contaminated with 0.5% Roundup herbicide. What we are left with is an almost unreadable mess and I believe that’s the whole point: it’s a mess so people don’t notice that the paper shows a link between Herbicide and long life in male rats.
The paper shows that male rats drinking pure water will have a 50% higher mortality rate than those drinking water contaminated with 0.5% Roundup herbicide. Unlike the other graphs in which the results don’t make sense (for example, more male rats die eating 11% GM-maize and sooner than those fed 0%, 22% and 33%), there is a clear correlation between the amount of Roundup herbicide consumed and life expectancies. Rats drinking water contaminated with 1.1×10-8% had a 11% less mortality rate, 0.09% contamination had a 22% less mortality rate and 0.5% contamination had a 33% less mortality rate. If this paper is correct then the more herbicide you drink, the longer you would live.
Control (dotted line). Rats fed water contaminated with 1.1×10-8% (thin line), 0.09% (medium line) and 0.5% (bold line) of Roundup.
In closing, next time someone tells you that there is a link between GM-maize and cancer (I am looking at you Hank Green!), ask them if they would be happy glugging large quantities of herbicide.
P.S. Don’t drink herbicide!