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Genetically Modified Maize Is Toxic — Greenpeace 655

Posted by kdawson
from the here's-to-your-liver dept.
gandracu writes "It appears that a variety of genetically modified maize produced by Monsanto is toxic for the liver and kidneys. What's worse, Monsanto knew about it and tried to conceal the facts in its own publications. Greenpeace fought in court to obtain the data and had it analyzed by a team of experts. MON863, the variety of GM maze in question, has been authorized for markets in the US, EU, Australia, Canada, China, Japan, Mexico, and the Philippines. Here are Greenpeace's brief on the study and their account of how the story was unearthed (both PDFs)."
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Genetically Modified Maize Is Toxic — Greenpeace

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  • Summary? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PrinceAshitaka (562972) * on Thursday March 15, 2007 @09:48AM (#18361857) Homepage
    Summary?
    Monsanto says "cases of liver and kedney damage not statistically significant."
    greenpeace says "liver and kidney damage cases are statistically significant." Rats not fat.

    No data is given.

    Maybe judgement should be reserved until someone has seen this data. I believe both sides here would have no problem with manipulating data for thier own interests.
    • Re:Summary? (Score:5, Informative)

      by interiot (50685) on Thursday March 15, 2007 @09:55AM (#18361937) Homepage
      Well, the peer-reviewed study entitled "New analysis of a rat feeding study with a genetically modified maize reveals signs of hepatorenal toxicity [nutraingredients-usa.com]" is being published soon, so that should be at least semi-reliable backup to Greenpeace's conclusions, since Greenpeace neither authored the paper, nor, obviously, peer-reviewed it.
      • Re:Summary? (Score:5, Funny)

        by j00r0m4nc3r (959816) on Thursday March 15, 2007 @10:04AM (#18362097)
        They should just market their new UltraMaize as a rat poison. Problem solved.
    • by Himring (646324)
      As the Jollylama always said when I b3wm3d him in netquake:

      "My Liver!"

    • Well Greenpeace is not a reliable source in this instance, so it's hardly surprising that they're announcing very strong findings on disputable data.

      That being said, I'd prefer that aggressively GM'd crops had to be labeled as such, so I could do my own damn research. Likewise meat products treated with x, y, or z hormone/antibiotic/preservative. If I bought a damn pop tart, I'd know more about what was in it than in a steak which costs 10 times as much.
    • Re:Summary? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by amerinese (685318) on Thursday March 15, 2007 @10:01AM (#18362059)
      Here's one case already of "modifying" the data. It was approved in the US, EU, Australia, Canada, China, Japan, Mexico, the Philippines, and Taiwan. It's hard to imagine how Taiwan gets left out, plus an and gets inserted between Mexico and the Philippines. Well, hard to imagine until you remember that there are tons of people that would like to pretend independent, democratic Taiwan is a part of authoritarian China.
    • by Fordiman (689627)
      I dunno.

      It seems to me that if you modify a plant to provide as little nutritive value as possible, contain an anti-bug enzyme, and essentially make the stuff permanently shelf-stable, it's no longer something that should be considered edible.

      Not even for the GMO fear that a lot of humans (both smart and incredibly stupid) have.

    • Re:Summary? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by neo (4625) on Thursday March 15, 2007 @10:12AM (#18362225)
      Maybe judgment should be reserved until someone has seen this data.

      I believe the judgment not be reserved until the data is seen and the assumption should always be that genetically modified material needs to be tested vigorously and that any potential problems be assumed dangerous. There is enough room in the genetically modified realm to stick to things that don't exhibit any bad effects to spend any time with ones that do.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jandersen (462034)
      Maybe judgement should be reserved until someone has seen this data.

      Would you like to eat products containing this? I think the problem here is not 'do we have clear proof' - this is about whether it is right or not to sell foodstuffs that can be suspected of being poisonous. This is like the BSE infected cattle - for a long time nodoby was actually sure that eating the meat from a cow with BSE was dangerous, but UK still slaughtered just about every cow in the country and burned them, because of the risk.

      I
    • Re:Summary? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by ArcherB (796902) * on Thursday March 15, 2007 @10:49AM (#18362959) Journal

      No data is given.


      Here is all the data I need:
      the variety of GM maze in question, has been authorized for markets in the US, EU, Australia, Canada, China, Japan, Mexico, and the Philippines.

      So this corn has been eaten in all these places and no one has gotten sick yet? Now here comes Greenpeace, who has proven [mindfully.org] that they would rather see populations starve to death than have them eat GM foods, claiming that these foods caused liver problems in rats, and therefor should be banned, even though in all these countries, no one has gotten sick off this corn. I call Bullshit! [imdb.com]
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by quax (19371)
        <SNARK>
        Because ever liver disease and kidney failure in these countries would have immediately been connected to the consumption of corn.
        </SNARK>

        Have you even put 2 seconds of thought process into this before typing your comment?
    • Re:Summary? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Znork (31774) on Thursday March 15, 2007 @12:34PM (#18364849)
      Monsanto has knowingly poisoned people several times before. The company is pretty much the poster boy for corporate death penalty.

      To quote the wikipedia entry: 'On February 22 2002, Monsanto was found guilty of "negligence, wantonness, suppression of truth, nuisance, trespass, and outrage" Under Alabama law the rare claim of outrage requires "conduct so outrageous in character and extreme in degree as to go beyond all possible bounds of decency so as to be regarded as atrocious and intolerable in civilized society".'

      I dont see Greenpeace being beyond being manipulative, but Monsanto is in a whole different league. In fact, I have a hard time understanding why the company isnt permanently terminated and its governors banned from conducting any business anywhere.
  • Hmm. (Score:2, Informative)

    by mdm-adph (1030332)
    Oh -- now they're not pre-biased against it, not at all.
  • by Overzeetop (214511) on Thursday March 15, 2007 @09:56AM (#18361953) Journal
    And we're surprised at this?

    There are two sides to this:

    (1) GM is bad, and this corn is a good example - see the potential damage
    (2) GM is new, some food are bad for you, this is an example where some people are sensitive to...(blah blah blah)

    GM peanuts would be pretty toxic to a small percentage of the population, and might even have a (small but barely significant) increase in reaction from those sensitive.

    TFA is light on detail, and I'm not a biogeneticist. I think I'll pass on judgement here right now. I don't trust Monsanto to tell the truth, but I also don't trust GreenPeace to not have an agenda.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jstomel (985001)
      I am a biogeneticist, and while I have not read the technical article (as it has not been published yet), I do have a few points. 1) According to TFA, this corn has been in use for a while. Remember the callifornia spinach ecoli thing? It took what, a couple dozen people getting sick for the authorities to track back to the source of the problem. Conspiricy theories aside, you will note that there have been no outbreaks of illness associated with this corn. On an acute level, it seems to be as safe as
  • Not conclusive (Score:4, Insightful)

    by SpaghettiCoder (1073236) on Thursday March 15, 2007 @09:57AM (#18361975)
    From those documents, it seems that there is "some toxicity" in rats, when they are fed with this particular GM product. It also appears that the company Monsanto has been deceptive in its presentations to German officials and in their publicly released research conclusions. It is particularly serious, that reports have allegedly been "retyped" in the light of evidence found by Greenpeace.

    However, it is also apparent that no experiments have been carried out to investigate this product's effect on human subjects. The toxicity symptoms found in rats should have been a springboard for further investigation, but it seems it was not (unless this has been covered up).

    Unfortunately these days corporate dishonesty is not seen as unusual or unacceptable in any way, so what we need is smoking gun evidence of toxicity in human beings, exceeding such toxicity as may be found naturally in other foodstuffs.

    • by msobkow (48369) on Thursday March 15, 2007 @10:10AM (#18362193) Homepage Journal


      Aspartame has some of the "smoking gun" evidence you mention, yet it is still on the market. The number of people actually poisoned by Aspartame are very low, and treated as "statistically insignificant", so the product continues to be used.


      Even if the GMO corn is used by humans and someone is killed by it (not just poisoned), there would just be a number of studies and some finger pointing to show that it was actually something else that may have been responsible for the poisoning. As long as something else may be responsible, there is reasonable doubt and the GMO food would remain on the market.


      You need a lot of "smoking guns" to get a product off the market after it's been established. It's much easier to keep such products off the market in the first place.

  • What? (Score:5, Funny)

    by voice_of_all_reason (926702) on Thursday March 15, 2007 @09:57AM (#18361983)
    It appears that a variety of genetically modified maze produced by Monsanto is toxic for the liver and kidneys

    Keep calm, mazes are not that hard. There is no reason to get that stressed out. Just follow one of the walls at the entrance and you'll eventually get out.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by *weasel (174362)

      Keep calm, mazes are not that hard.

      It's not the maze, it's the Minotaur.
  • Did anyone else see any data in any of those links? All I saw was Monsanto saying that there are no health risks, and GreenPeace saying that there are. Both are just as biased, so it is a little hard to know who to believe.

    They talk about "statistical significance" and "normal variation", but dont say what the actual data shows. What are the standards for natural maise? Are they much different than the genetically engineered products? I am definetly in favor of quality control, but are they just holdin
  • I don't care how great their Goofy Gopher Revue [wikipedia.org] is, this time they've gone too far!
  • by mveloso (325617) on Thursday March 15, 2007 @09:58AM (#18361997)
    This is the first time I've ever read a news report that shows Greenpeace doing something besides political grandstanding. They actually went out and hired someone to do an analysis of the data. Maybe this is the start of a new trend - results-oriented activism, as opposed to the feel-good activism of the past.
  • Phew (Score:4, Funny)

    by mastershake_phd (1050150) on Thursday March 15, 2007 @10:00AM (#18362035) Homepage
    Well good thing this didnt happen with a huge crop like corn. Why if that happened and it mixed with our natural corn we could be in a lot of trouble. Thank god no one eats maize anymore.
  • Greenpeace? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Reality Master 101 (179095) <RealityMaster101 ... m ['il.' in gap]> on Thursday March 15, 2007 @10:02AM (#18362065) Homepage Journal

    This may or may not be true (I'm skeptical when it's just one single study that had some ambiguous questions), but Greenpeace is not the one that ought to report it. Yes, the messenger does matter. If this is really true, give it to a mainstream organization and let them figure it out.

    Of course, we know Greenpeace won't do that, since they're all about the publicity.

    • Re:Greenpeace? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by hxnwix (652290) on Thursday March 15, 2007 @11:03AM (#18363189) Journal

      Yes, the messenger does matter. If this is really true, give it to a mainstream organization and let them figure it out.
      You must be joking. Newsertainment reporting important facts essential to the average citizen's political and economic decision making? Only a fucking idiot would entrust the ass-clowns running at least the American media with that responsibility.

      Hypothetical timeline of inconvenient fact dissemination:
      +0 days: greenpeace reports it
      +5 days: fox news denies it
      +6 days: daily show lambasts fox for denial
      +10 days: CNN reports that inconvenient fact may or may not probably be verifiable, "scientists say," but "detractors detract"
      +35 days: Science includes an article detailing the overwhelming, peer reviewed obvious correctness of evidence supporting the inconvenient fact
      +37 days: WSJ publishes cleverly rehashed but thouroughly debunked fox news talking points; states but does not state that inconvenient fact is a convenient scam promelgated by liberals, homosexuals and communists
      +38 days: my boss makes fun of me for supporting communist conspiracies & continues drinking only pure grain alcohol
  • by RyanFenton (230700) on Thursday March 15, 2007 @10:05AM (#18362117)
    This just in: Virtually all food is toxic.

    It has been discovered recently that virtually all food products known to mankind contain either fat-soluble vitamins or other compounds shown to build up and eventually damage the organs that process them when consumed to extreme excess. Even water-soluble vitamins and yet other compounds have been shown to dilute blood, deplete salts, and otherwise wear down the various organs they come in contact with in extreme amounts.

    Moreover, it has been shown that virtually all physical objects are toxic in these same regards. Air in too high or low concentrations is extremely toxic. Even completely filtered air has been shown to be linked to negative effects on the immune system, and thus even the cleanest living ideals can be considered toxic!

    Furthermore, even non-physical things can be considered toxic - most ideas taken to extreme have been shown to have negative physical consequences for the holders of these ideas. From peace extremists, to defense extremists, to health extremists, to even low-stress extremists, virtually all philosophies and ideas can be shown to be completely toxic in large doses.

    Ryan Fenton
  • by HiChris! (999553) on Thursday March 15, 2007 @10:10AM (#18362187)
    Digging though the links I found the article that actually discusses the data.

    Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology: http://www.springerlink.com/content/02648wu132m078 04/fulltext.html [springerlink.com]

    So the "Independent Scientists" for Greenpeace got the Monsanto data and reanalyzed it and say there are significant biological differences (which is different from statistically significant). The only definite conclusion though I can find is that rats should not subsist entirely on this genetically modified corn.
  • by jimijon (608416) on Thursday March 15, 2007 @10:13AM (#18362263) Homepage
    I have been reading all over the net that the bees have been just disappearing and creating a real crisis. Bees are absolutely essential in polinating corn and many, many other crops. Could it be that tese GM foods are also toxic to the bees?

    I don't want to be sounding like a luddite but I have some really bad feeling about GM foods now. These bees just disappear. Empty hives and no clues?! WTF? And, so far none of the usual suspects are to blame.

    That 2012 date is sure looming more real to me.

    cheers
  • by Nonsanity (531204) on Thursday March 15, 2007 @11:04AM (#18363215)
    From agBios Database on MON 863 maize [agbios.com]:

    The Cry3Bb1 protein was found in oral gavage studies to have a No Observed Adverse Effect Level (NOAEL) over 3200 mg/kg which exceeds the expected dietary exposure for humans by approximately 58000X. This level exceeded the livestock dietary exposure by 1000X.
    From the Wikipedia on Water Intoxication [wikipedia.org]:

    Consuming as little as 1.8 litres of water (0.48 gal) in a single sitting may prove fatal for a person adhering to a low-sodium diet, or 3 litres (0.79 gallons) for a person on a normal diet.
    Why is Greenpeace going after this damn corn when dihydrogen monoxide [dhmo.org] is tens of thousands of times more lethal? They really need to get their priorities straight...

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