By: Myles Power Edited by: Peter
I recently wrote an article critical of a review sent to me as the ultimate proof that genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are dangerous from the anti-GMO food delivery company Green PolkaDot Box. This was after they tweeted me telling me that we need to know the "real dangers" of GMOs. I was curious about what dangers they were referring to, and therefore tweeted the company back, asking to see the peer reviewed data they are basing their tweets and business on. I was sent a link to the review ‘Glyphosate’s Suppression of Cytochrome P450 Enzymes and Amino Acid Biosynthesis by the Gut Microbiome: Pathways to Modern Diseases‘ which not only used unreliable and discredited references but was not about GMOs in the first place. The review was about the toxicity of glyphosate (Roundup herbicide) and even then most of this claims are not supported by the literature. After posting my article, I was once again contacted by the Green PolkaDot Box - this time on Facebook. They once again agreed with me that GM-food should be labelled, but then went on to say that "there is definitely a lack of GMO safety studies in scientific journals" and gave me a link to a post on naturalness.com.
The post was called "Published review highlights lack of proper GMO safety studies in scientific journals". Before I go any further, I want it known that I have a real problem with websites like this. Websites that are plastered with adverts for miracle cures directed toward the sick and dying. Examples of these adverts include one for a colloidal silver generator. This generator, by magic, will change the pH of water to 10 and spontaneously generate silver which apparently cures…….well….. everything. Another is called warrior mist and claims to cure nerve pain, post-surgery pain, arthritis and "many other kinds of pain!" But the most sickening adverts on the link sent to me by Green PolkaDot Box is one that claims it can cure cancer in 31 days for the low, low cost of $19.95 (plus $7.95 shipping and handling). Not only does it profit from people's desperation, but it actually promotes them to come off chemotherapy. I would not associate myself with this website in any way and I was shocked that a company that, apparently, cares about the health of its customers would.
The website flames that a “recent study published in the journal Environment International has found that within the body of published literature on genetically-modified organisms (GMO), there exists almost equal number of both studies suggesting they are safe and identical to natural varieties, and studies suggesting they are questionable and even dangerous”. It then goes on to say that “No long-term studies have ever been conducted to prove that GMOs do not cause harm to the environment, to animals, or to humans” and that there are “plenty of independent studies that continue to legitimately question the safety of GMOs, and why they have been allowed into the food supply without proper review” Everything this website says about GM-food is a flat out lie! There have been many long term studies researching GMOs including 81 projects funded by the EU over 15 years to investigate the potential dangers. All of which came to the conclusion that GM-food is safe and they are not the only ones as hundreds of other reputable peer-reviewed papers in the scientific literature also document the safety and nutritional value of GM food and feeds. This is backed up by the fact that GM-food has been consumed for 20 years now, and during that time no overt consequences on human health have been reported and substantiated in the peer-reviewed literature. Contrary to what this website is saying, a significant percentage is funded by organisations that are completely independent, and they all too came to the conclusion that GM-food is safe. The safety of GM-food is also backed by The Royal Society of Medicine, The European Commissions, The World Health Organisation to name just a few.
So you are probably thinking to yourself now “where is this blog getting it’s information from”. The blog lists the anti-GMO website gmwatch.eu as its primary, and only source, which has recently had a make-over to make it look more legitimate and less like the paranoid ramblings of a mad man. The website page linked consists of copied and pasted sections of the review “A Literature review on the safety assessment of genetically modified plants“. The review is critical of the number of long term studies and references potential dangers of GM-food, however most of its references are not to the actual research, but are instead to other reviews which are often in a different language. I followed the English links to try and find the actual research being quoted, and when I found it, I could not help but feeling like I had read it before. That’s when I realised that EVERY single anti-GMO paper I had read had the exact same formula.
To write one of these anti-GMO papers, simply obtain any GMO (it does not matter which one) and feed it to your test animal which should suffer from hereditary illness that you are not to mention in your paper. It does not matter if the GMO you are investigating is contaminated with any herbicides, pollutants, etc as this may help your case or explain any anomalous results. Make minimal effort to minimise external factors, and have an inadequate control group. Make sure that the sample size is ten or below but try and aim for 3 and remember to be very ambiguous about it. Run the experiments for as long as you like, ignoring the deteriorating health of your test subjects, but only publish the data up to the point where it backs up your hypothesis. At the end of the experiment, dissect your animals and try to find any difference between the control group and the test group. With the groups being so small there will no doubt be a difference between the two which you can blame on the GMO. Make sure not to investigate any health issues in the control group and only concentrate on the test group. To distract the reader from your bad data, put it in a graph with a confusing key. State in your abstract and your conclusion that you have found a link between GMOs and health risks – even if this contradicts your findings (don’t worry, this is the only part of your paper people will read). Publish your “research” wherever you can. It does not matter if you have to buy a fake journal to publish it is as long as it is published. And always – and I mean ALWAYS – say that you have found a link but you do not know the mechanism of action. Then instead of investigating this link further and possibly saving people from illness or death if true, simply move on to the next GMO.
This is not how science works. You do not simply rinse and repeat when you find a discovery as monumental as a link between GMOs and health risks. You investigate it further and you discover the mechanism, you minimise your variables, you increase your sample size and none of the researchers who publish this kind of research ever do. This is because this “research” is not designed to add to scientific understanding – it’s purpose is to poison the well. It’s also not made for scientists, as we can usually point out massive holes in every one, which makes the research useless. It’s designed for people with little scientific understanding who want to believe that GM-food has health risks – people like the Green PolkaDot Box.