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Biotech Politics Science

Fraud Detected In Science Research That Suggested GMO Crops Were Harmful (nature.com) 357

An anonymous reader writes: Three science papers that had suggested that genetically modified crops were harmful to animals and have been used by activist groups to argue for their ban have been found to contain manipulated and possibly falsified data. Nature reports: "Papers that describe harmful effects to animals fed genetically modified (GM) crops are under scrutiny for alleged data manipulation. The leaked findings of an ongoing investigation at the University of Naples in Italy suggest that images in the papers may have been intentionally altered. The leader of the lab that carried out the work there says that there is no substance to this claim. The papers' findings run counter to those of numerous safety tests carried out by food and drug agencies around the world, which indicate that there are no dangers associated with eating GM food. But the work has been widely cited on anti-GM websites — and results of the experiments that the papers describe were referenced in an Italian Senate hearing last July on whether the country should allow cultivation of safety-approved GM crops. 'The case is very important also because these papers have been used politically in the debate on GM crops,' says Italian senator Elena Cattaneo, a neuroscientist at the University of Milan whose concerns about the work triggered the investigation.
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Fraud Detected In Science Research That Suggested GMO Crops Were Harmful

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  • This article is going to further cloud the issue and I fear its going to give Monsanto and its ilk free reign to continue their abuse of the local seed supply. The issue has never been about GMO itself, its been about how GMO is used. Genetically modifying crops to produce more, be resistant to fungus, or have a longer shelf life is a net positive and is nothing more than a more advanced form of selective breeding. Its when you use it to introduce resistance to toxic chemicals that you start to have a real problem. That resistance not only allows to overuse of toxic chemicals (to the point of saturating the local environment), you also introduce a form of addiction where the farmer becomes dependent on the chemical. This addiction dooms the farmer to a form of indentured servitude and will eventually result in their exiting the market due to unsustainability.

    • by Strider- ( 39683 ) on Monday January 18, 2016 @07:45PM (#51325905)

      The bigger issue is the Intellectual Property issues associated with the GMO crops. As part of the license agreements that come with the GMO seeds, Farmers are no longer permitted to keep behind a portion of their crop to plant the following year, should they wish, and are thus forced to buy new seed every year. Yeah, it may be profitable in the good times, but it dramatically reduces their self-sufficiency.

      • by Pharmboy ( 216950 ) on Monday January 18, 2016 @07:47PM (#51325917) Journal

        That is the real problem, and why some 3rd world countries won't use them. You become a slave to Monsanto. If you are willing, and you can make good money, then fine: you are a well compensated slave, but a slave nonetheless.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Crashmarik ( 635988 )

          Unless you live off the grid, grow your own food, and somehow don't pay taxes on your dwelling, you are most definitely a slave to someone.

        • by ArmoredDragon ( 3450605 ) on Monday January 18, 2016 @08:15PM (#51326095)

          That is the real problem, and why some 3rd world countries won't use them. You become a slave to Monsanto. If you are willing, and you can make good money, then fine: you are a well compensated slave, but a slave nonetheless.

          This is about as dumb as saying that if you use personal computers, you're a slave to Microsoft. And no, this isn't why third world countries don't use GMO technology; they don't use it because their politicians have been influenced by anti-science organizations like Greenpeace (which by the way, India has just revoked Greenpeace's ability to operate as a nonprofit in that country because of their anti-development agenda.)

          • The point is valid, if you use a computer to for you livelyhood, aka you die if you don't use it and Microsoft is the only supplier you can use, then yes you are a slave to Microsoft.

            And although Greenpeace have influence, I am sure that they are dwarfed by the marketing budget of monsanto.

            Quick research greepeace total spending 2014: 80 million in 2014
            http://www.greenpeace.org/inte... [greenpeace.org] and currency conversion
            Monsanto selling and administrative expenses 2.5 billion
            http://www.monsanto.com/invest... [monsanto.com]

            Greenpeace

            • The point is valid, if you use a computer to for you livelyhood, aka you die if you don't use it and Microsoft is the only supplier you can use, then yes you are a slave to Microsoft.

              So what are you saying? We should throw out all of the benefits of personal computers, and go back to manually written spreadsheets and typewriters, because of Microsoft? Because that's effectively what you're arguing should be done about GMO technology, and for the same bad reasoning.

              Oh and by the way, did I mention that Monsanto's patents have expired?

              http://www.technologyreview.co... [technologyreview.com]

        • by Cyberax ( 705495 ) on Monday January 18, 2016 @08:19PM (#51326107)
          Monsanto patents on RoundUp resistance have expired. There are now several over competing companies providing these seeds.
      • Then why the push to prevent GMO from being served to consumers who are unaffected by any patent issue?

      • I believe that the chemical dependence is a far bigger issue than IP. While patented seeds do force the farmer to buy from them, they are in a far worse position when they depend not only on a toxic chemical, but also a seed whose only benefit is resistance to said toxic chemical.

        Regardless, I respect your position and cannot disagree with it.

        • I'm guessing you're referring to glyphosate (aka roundup)?

          First of all, GMO already has numerous uses (take for example, GMO is used to produce humulin, which has completely replaced the "natural" cow insulin diabetics were using before.) Another example is Bt crops which are highly toxic to invertebrates but are harmless to humans (in fact, organic farmers spray Bt on their crops) therefore making them highly insect resistant, the only difference is with GMO it's grown into the plant, so you effectively us

      • by PPH ( 736903 )

        As part of the license agreements that come with the GMO seeds,

        Unless I'm the farmer across the road and Monsanto's crap pollinates my crops. They have no licensing agreement with me.

      • by Copid ( 137416 ) on Monday January 18, 2016 @07:57PM (#51326005)
        That's nothing new, though. Seed license agreements long predate modern transgenics and farmers go along with them for a lot of reasons. Keeping seeds is not as common as most people think. Very often, the traits that they want don't breed true anyway, so your next generation is a total mess. Just buying seeds every year gives you a consistent product with consistent yields without a lot of headache. Obviously, whether you can save seeds depends on the type of crop you're growing, but if seed saving was really a big thing across the board, seed companies would have been out of business a long time ago.
      • So it's OK to do fraudulent science as long as it furthers your agenda ?

        Why not skip the science and leave it safe. Just go straight to rent a mobs shouting down anyone that disagrees.

      • by CayceeDee ( 1883844 ) on Monday January 18, 2016 @08:11PM (#51326071) Homepage

        As part of the license agreements that come with the GMO seeds, Farmers are no longer permitted to keep behind a portion of their crop to plant the following year, should they wish, and are thus forced to buy new seed every year.

        Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Another myth spread by the organic foods industry. Top Five Myths Of Genetically Modified Seeds, Busted [npr.org]
        Myth 1: Seeds from GMOs are sterile.
        Myth 2: Monsanto will sue you for growing their patented GMOs if traces of those GMOs entered your fields through wind-blown pollen.
        Myth 3: Any contamination with GMOs makes organic food non-organic.
        Myth 4: Before Monsanto got in the way, farmers typically saved their seeds and re-used them. By the time Monsanto got into the seed business, most farmers in the U.S. and Europe were already relying on seed that they bought every year from older seed companies. This is especially true of corn farmers, who've been growing almost exclusively commercial hybrids for more than half a century. (If you re-plant seeds from hybrids, you get a mixture of inferior varieties.) But even soybean and cotton farmers who don't grow hybrids were moving in that direction. This shift started with the rise of commercial seed companies, not the advent of genetic engineering. But Monsanto and GMOs certainly accelerated the trend drastically.
        Myth 5: Most seeds these days are genetically modified.

        • by Strider- ( 39683 )

          I guess I wasn't all that clear in my comment. First, in my opinion, the whole "Organic" craze is a load of hokum. The fact of the matter is that we've been genetically modifying our crops for thousands of years. I have no problems with genetically modified organisms, and will happily eat them.

          What I have an issue with is IP side of that world. If Monsanto et al patented the techniques for producing the genetically modified seed, that's one thing. To patent the gene itself is another entirely. As much

    • Oh really? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by tomhath ( 637240 )
      Then why are people opposed to GMO crops? If you disagree with some corporation's tactics then oppose that, don't oppose GMO crops.
      • Is not whether there are currently proven harms in any existing GM Organism.

        The real problem is the following:
        0. Every GMO case (and ecological context it is introduced into) is unique.
        1. Therefore unanticipated issues may be novel with each case.
        2. Problems could include direct toxicity or reduction in nutrient value or what have you.
        3. Or problems could be ecological, in that the newly introduced artifical variety may outcompete a native organism, and or may change the balance of an ecosystem.
        4. AND HERE'

      • by Strider- ( 39683 )

        They're opposed because they're idiots. I've got no issue with the GMO crops themselves, rather with the business practices involved with it, and in some cases what has been added via the genetic modification. We've been genetically modifying our crops for thousands of years, today is no different.

    • by Cyberax ( 705495 )

      The issue has never been about GMO itself, its been about how GMO is used.

      Oh no, it's always been about GMOs themselves. Greeny idiots don't care about specific GMO use, it's like witchcraft for them. So now we have classic witch hunts ("GMO labeling").

    • "The issue has never been about GMO itself, its been about how GMO is used."

      Then why does the flat-earth lobby rip up GMO crops that have nothing to do with Monsanto?
      http://naturalsociety.com/farm... [naturalsociety.com]

    • by tnk1 ( 899206 )

      Then they need to attack the problem head-on, as an IP abuse or an overuse of toxic chemicals issue, and not try and use the weasel method of trying to turn everyone against GMO crops by making it seem like it is going to hurt or kill people or animals by itself.

      I think the arguments made against Monsanto and others on how they abuse or are allowed to abuse their IP are spot on. What I have not been able to stomach is this idea that GMO crops are themselves evil.

      I am deeply unhappy with the tactics used by

    • by ArmoredDragon ( 3450605 ) on Monday January 18, 2016 @08:11PM (#51326073)

      The issue has never been about GMO itself

      That's not what Greenpeace says:

      http://www.greenpeace.org/inte... [greenpeace.org]

      Which by the way, greenpeace is completely wrong about this issue. In fact, you ought to read the history about their opposition of Bt spliced plants. First their argument was that GMO plants contain too much Bt, but then when it was found that conventional plants are sprayed with an even higher quantity of Bt, their argument suddenly turned into GMO plants don't have enough Bt, even though the amount they have has been proven to be equally effective.

      If Greenpeace was truly an environmentalist organization instead of the anti-science one they've become over the last few decades (and similarly why Patrick Moore, a co-founder, left them) they'd be in favor of GMO as it is already solving some environmental problems (namely, higher crop yield for the same landmass and needing less water) and has the potential to solve many more.

      Anyways there are a lot of other organization opposed to GMO technology (and for similar nonsensical reasons.)

      I don't care one way or another about Monsanto, by the way. When I speak about GMO, I'm referring entirely to the technology itself, which has great potential.

    • by Galactic Dominator ( 944134 ) on Monday January 18, 2016 @08:13PM (#51326081)

      The issue has never been about GMO itself

      Of course it has insomuch as any other thing which is beyond their immediate comprehension. There are oodles of people who will not consume food cooked on a non-stick skillet, yet go to a quack chiropractor believing the chiropractor cured them of MS using a foot bath. Others will spend their life savings investing in things like oil extracts believing it will prevent/cure things like nearsightedness and pretty much any other malady or the fake African currency years before the Internet became widespread. Still others have their sickly elderly parents drink silver water "for good health" and this on the heels of sending them to ER because they took St. John's wort(from the same child) in conjunction with HBP. Some claim to know people who were assassinated by the government because they knew the secret to make gasoline engines 100x more efficient. Others think the moon landing was a hoax. These are only examples from within my own extended family and I haven't even gotten to the crazy shit yet. Anyone else heard the "Obama is hoarding .22 rounds"? GMO is just another one these things.

      People who are susceptible to conspiracy theories need no reason other than they don't understand it so it must be bad. And there is no need for them to understand it, as they see it -- poison in, poison out. Period. These people have already condemned themselves to perpetual indentured servitude and I have long ago given up on any hope of trying to use logic with them.

      • My wife doesn't let me use Teflon-ware because she has two degrees in chemistry and knows exactly what happens when you scratch or scorch it.

    • I dont share that view. But Europe, Africa and Asia believe you have to prove a GMO safe before it can be used. I personally dont share that belief.
      • by sl149q ( 1537343 )

        And then there is the Lenape potato. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

        Perfect example of why at least some testing needs to be done before releasing new varieties on to the market....

        BTW the Lenape was a hybrid bred with old school techniques. No GMO.... So I guess we need a label saying Warning Hybridized Bred Product on anything that contains something that is a hybrid. Of course that means effectively 100% of all food (other than wild fish.)

    • This article is going to further cloud the issue and I fear its going to give Monsanto and its ilk free reign to continue their abuse of the local seed supply.

      And how, exactly, are they doing that? What your are implying is not true at all. Farmers are free to buy whatever seed they liked, or save their own.

      The issue has never been about GMO itself,

      The opposition to genetic engineering started with the first one on the market, the Flavr Savr tomato, which had better shelf life due to a silenced polygalacturonase gene. This continued onto Bt corn, which is insect resistant and the Rainbow papaya, which was disease resistant, and now on to things like the low acrylamide Innate potato and non-browning Ar

  • I am so sick of big-conspiracytheorists paying for this crap. You are all sheeple!

    In all honesty though, the article just seems to mention some minor inconsistencies in the work, not that it was all completely wrong. Clickbaiting much, slashdot?

  • by ooloorie ( 4394035 ) on Monday January 18, 2016 @07:59PM (#51326017)

    Its when you use it to introduce resistance to toxic chemicals that you start to have a real problem. That resistance not only allows to overuse of toxic chemicals (to the point of saturating the local environment),

    Presumably, you are referring to glyphosate resistant crops. If you think glyphosate (or some other GMO-related chemical) is "toxic", why are you arguing against GMOs and not what is actually toxic? Oh, yes... because both the US and the EU regulatory agencies have determined that it is, in fact, not toxic as used in agriculture and permit its continued use. Now, this issue may be revisited by the courts, but until then, the science is settled, at least from a legal point of view.

    you also introduce a form of addiction where the farmer becomes dependent on the chemical. This addiction dooms the farmer to a form of indentured servitude and will eventually result in their exiting the market due to unsustainability

    Saying that farmers become "addicted" to glyphosate is disingenuous and manipulative. What happens is that GMOs actually result in lower costs and higher yields, so farmers that don't use it can't compete (unless they manage to sell into the "organic" market). In different words, what you are actually saying is that GMOs and glyphosate work as advertised.

    Face it, you have lost the scientific and economic arguments. GMOs and glyphosates are generally considered safe and they are (by your own reasoning) effective at what they promise to do, namely increase productivity.

    Now, having said that, I am perfectly sympathetic to wanting to eat "natural" vegetables without any GMO or herbicides involved in their production. But unlike you, I don't fool myself into believing that that is a rational preference; it's the same kind of preference I have for natural fiber over synthetics, and wood over plastic. And when I indulge in that preference, I'm willing to pay the higher price for the vegetables myself, instead of trying to bamboozle others with fake scientific arguments about "toxicity" and "addiction".

  • Science is not exempt from Dogmatism and Groupthink, as is the case with all human institutions. The Italian researchers may not even know how often their thinking is pre-empted (what water? says the fish). Alice Dreger wrote a book on runaway bias in soft sciences:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/19/books/review/galileos-middle-finger-by-alice-dreger.html [nytimes.com]

  • by hey! ( 33014 ) on Monday January 18, 2016 @08:47PM (#51326227) Homepage Journal

    Does it make sense to ask "are electrical circuits safe?" Circuits are designed, and some designs are safe and others are dangerous.

    Likewise there is no such category of things "genetically modified crops" that you can treat as one thing from the point of safety, because each genetically modified organism is an unique artificial construct. You could genetically engineer potatoes to contain ricin for example, and that thing would be unsafe by design. Heretofore nobody has found harmful GMO foods because they are the product of safe design process which protects the investment needed to bring a GMO product to market.

    Some day in the future it may be possible to do something like desktop genetic engineering. If the cost of creating a genetically modified crop drops enough, and enough people try their hand at it, then eventually someone's going to make something dangerous. This might even be intentional. But at present when you look for GMOs you're looking for screwups.

    • by sims 2 ( 994794 )

      Yeah I agree.
      This is about like when they were trying to get what we today call processed cheese called embalmed cheese.

      Otherwise there are a few things I think they ought not do
      http://www.popsci.com/scitech/... [popsci.com]

      I hope they are not still trying to make drugs with open air outdoor farms.

      I doubt they are.

      But I really don't know the current state of things my subscription to popsci lapsed many years ago. And most of the talk ive heard on gmos has been this stupid labeling discussion.

      Just make sure gmos don't qu

  • by Daniel Matthews ( 4112743 ) on Monday January 18, 2016 @08:58PM (#51326279)
    The problem with the entire GMO issue is that it is not just the introduced metabolites that need to be assessed because the secondary effects of them being in the organism are just as important. For example, what if I change my plants to allow me to use more of a chemical that makes them more productive, but then that chemical causes people in the region to have higher exposure levels and it is found to be a possible carcinogen?

    Possible but not probable? Well actually it has already happened, even if Monsanto el al and the W.H.O. disagree on the matter. What can you do in that case, other than note the disagreement and err on the side of caution by subscribing to the opinion of the entity that you feel you can trust most? That isn't paranoia, or even politics, it is pragmatic risk management.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    If we weren't tricked into buying it because it's not labeled, that might help a bit. The deception alone is enough to ruin trust, and then how do we know this study refuting the other studies aren't again, manipulated by the pro-GMO side?

    Whether someone chooses GMO or not based on health reasons, philosophical ones, or simply just to save the small farmers from the big Farm Corporations, we ought to have that choice. Having that choice removed through deception and treachery won't win any confidence.

    • If we weren't tricked into buying it because it's not labeled, that might help a bit. The deception alone is enough to ruin trust, and then how do we know this study refuting the other studies aren't again, manipulated by the pro-GMO side?

      Whether someone chooses GMO or not based on health reasons, philosophical ones, or simply just to save the small farmers from the big Farm Corporations, we ought to have that choice. Having that choice removed through deception and treachery won't win any confidence.

      When the majority of products on supermarkets shelves contain GMO's why in the world does it make sense to label those as GMO, when you can simply label the few that don't as GMO Free

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