Edited by: Peter
Earlier today, I received an email from one of my subscribers informing me about a seminar he attended organised by GM Free Cymru. The event was part of GM Health Risk Week - a weeklong event held around the UK in which people apparently examined "health risks surrounding GM food". This is a very strange event to have in the UK considering no GM crops are being grown commercially here. However, the UK does import GM commodities including animal feed and, to a lesser extent, some imported foods, so perhaps there is a need for such an event. The seminar that my subscriber attended was hosted at the University of South Wales and chaired by the very Welsh sounding Emyr Jones.
The poster for the event proudly proclaims that it was a "unique opportunity to hear from international research scientist Prof Gilles-Eric Séralini about the potential consequences of using GM animal feed." For those who don't know, Prof Gilles-Eric Séralini was the lead author of the highly discredited and, in my opinion, unethical paper “Long term toxicity of a Roundup herbicide and a Roundup-tolerant genetically modiﬁed maize". The paper clams to show a link between genetically modified food and Roundup herbicide to organ damage and increased risk of tumours. The poster however fails to mention that the sample size in the study was far to small and the strain of rat used is known to spontaneously develop tumours. The paper also shows that male rats drinking large quantities of Roundup will have a longer life expectancy however this is never mention by any one promoting this research.
The poster also says that a Ib Pedersen (a Danish farmer) noticed “digestive and reproductive problems developing in pigs” fed on Roundup ready crop. Don’t worry if you have never heard of him because neither have I but apparently he published research in the highly respected, critically acclaimed farming newspaper Effektivt Landbrug. Coincidentally, Pedersen’s newspaper article claims seemed to back up the paper ‘A long-term toxicology study on pigs fed a combined genetically modified (GM) soy and GM maize diet’ and was, coincidentally, released after it. This paper in reality fails to show any link between GMOs and adverse effects and instead showed that a diet of GMO can actually prevent heart abnormalities by more than 100%. Again, this kind of information is never mentioned by people promoting this research. What the poster fails to mention about Pedersen is that the original article which shot him to fame in the anit-GMO community (Svineproducent høster gevinst af gmo-fri soja) never mentions any digestive or reproductive problems, but instead blames GM round up ready crop for lower milk production by the mothers and diarrhoea in piglets. The claims of digestive or reproductive problems, accompanied with graphic images of deformed piglets, came much later after he was interviewed by GM Free Cymru. As hard as I have tried, I have been unable to find the raw data that Pedersens claims are based on, but what I have found is more of Pedersens claims on the GMO health risk week website. These include the extraordinary claim that the same birth defects found in Pedersen piglets as a result of the Roundup he used is also found in humans that lived near to his farm. The massive hole in Pedersens logic here should be obvious to everyone. Roundup herbicide is not only used in large scale GM farming. It is popularly available weed killer and can be bought at most garden centres. It has been on the market since the 1970s (well before the introduction of GM-crop). The level of exposure by people using this herbicide at home is far grater than any exposure from Pedersen’s (or any others’) farm. If Roundup exposure did cause birth defects and digestive problems we would know about it by now.
In closing, I think if this is the best that GM Health Risk Week can throw at us, then it shows how weak their arguments against GMOs are. I think it is high time that we stop treating events like this seriously and start to see them for the joke they are. If they want to be treated with respect and have a seat at the big boy table of science, then they must stop promoting thoroughly debunked research, and a man whose keep changing his claims.
Then again they do have free tea & sandwiches.