On Monsanto's "Scientific" Death Squads and the "Seralini Affair"

The following is a very detailed, well-researched comment reply on "Did the Anti-GMO Movement Really Lose in Washington? | Common Dreams":


Rats on Monsanto's GMO's

[Fair use:]

Despite the fact that a thorough, lengthy and costly evaluation of genetically engineered (GE) crop plants (including compositional analysis and toxicological tests) is imposed before marketing some European citizens remain sceptical of the safety of GE food and feed. In this context, are additional tests necessary? If so, what can we learn from them? To address these questions, we examined data from 60 recent high-throughput '-omics' comparisons between GE and non-GE crop lines and 17 recent long-term animal feeding studies (longer than the classical 90-day subchronic toxicological tests), as well as 16 multigenerational studies on animals. The '-omics' comparisons revealed that the genetic modification has less impact on plant gene expression and composition than that of conventional plant breeding. Moreover, environmental factors (such as field location, sampling time, or agricultural practices) have a greater impact than transgenesis. None of these '-omics' profiling studies has raised new safety concerns about GE varieties; neither did the long-term and multigenerational studies on animals. Therefore, there is no need to perform such long-term studies in a case-by-case approach, unless reasonable doubt still exists after conducting a 90-day feeding test. In addition, plant compositional analysis and '-omics' profiling do not indicate that toxicological tests should be mandatory. We discuss what complementary fundamental studies should be performed and how to choose the most efficient experimental design to assess risks associated with new GE traits. The possible need to update the current regulatory framework is discussed. [Source: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1871678412008801%5D

"...17 recent long-term animal feeding studies (longer than the classical 90-day subchronic toxicological tests)...." How long? We have to wait. Also, that paragraph above reads as propaganda, not impartial science. It's advocating for less scrutiny, not more. Who was behind it? Follow the money.

I'm not an investigative journalist. I have a day and night job(s) already. I don't have the time to do what needs to be done.

On the other papers cited in the Wiki's opening paragraphs and concerning "long-term," I have to give them money. Such transparency.

The Wiki article is so biased that before accepting it much at all, I would have to look at the edits and editors and their connection to the GMO industry. The opening paragraphs read like a propaganda piece.

The article complains about Professor Séralini requiring a confidentiality agreement before public release but also states the following:

Greenpeace sued for release of the rat feeding studies that Monsanto had provided. Monsanto fought against the suit in order to protect its trade secrets.[12] In June 2005 a German court ordered the release of the original study.[12][13]

Rather slanted to say the least. Not only that, but that article hammers on it when according to Seralini's team, such confidentiality agreements aren't that unusual.

As for my statement that generally the control group didn't come down with tumors, it was way too assumptive and lacked enough qualifying/modifying. I simply meant by comparison. That's why I said generally. But I'll give it to you that "generally" was not a good choice. The controls did not come down with tumors as quickly, as large, or in the same numbers. I don't know where you got the 50%. Read on.

Nevertheless, without actually counting the words, it looks like the vast, vast majority of that article is dedicated to piling on. Even after reading all of that piling on first, as it comes first in the article, I find I agree with the following:


Seralini has defended the study design, the interpretation of the results, and manner and content of the publication.[59]

Support for the study came from ENSSER (European Network of Scientists for Social and Environmental Responsibility), of which CRRIGEN, the institute that Seralini founded and that funded the study, is a member.[60][61] An open letter in support of Seralini's article, signed by about 130 scientists, scholars, and activists, was published in Independent Science News, a project of the Bioscience Resource Project, both of which oppose GM crops.[62]

The German research group Testbiotech, which opposes GMOs and which believes that regulators have been captured by the biotech industry, posted a report critical of the EFSA's reaction to the study as not applying the same standards to studies submitted by industry as it did to Seralini's study.[63][64]

A statement opposing the controversy, and especially the attacks on Seralini, was published in the newspaper Le Monde and was signed by 140 French scientists; the letter said: "We are deeply shocked by the image of our community that this controversy gives citizens. Many of the threats to our planet have been revealed by scientists isolated and confirmed by many studies coming from the scientific community. In this case, it would be more efficient to implement research on the health and environmental risks of GMOs and pesticides, improve toxicological protocols used for placing on the market and finance a variety of researchers in this domain...."[65]

That said, I haven't said that the Professor's work was enough. Neither has he. I'm saying that the rats fed the GMO's came down with the huge tumors.

Now, if the Professor was deliberately deceptive, that would be different. I haven't seen anything to indicate that. I did say that there are people who are prone to tumors. I asked whether labeling GMO's would be right in that case (and yes, that's assuming that GMO's are significantly carcinogenic). I'm open to being shown that they aren't; but what I've read in the Wiki piece and it's links, I haven't been shown enough to come to that conclusion. I'm not satisfied with the limited population size in Seralini's work, but I'm not satisfied that the scientists who conducted the supposedly pristine studies defending GMO's aren't beholden to the corporations funding their work and didn't make mistakes. The whole thing is way too opaque especially on Monsanto's side.

Then there was this: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0278691511006399 It costs $36. No thanks.

What the Abstract doesn't say, even though the Wiki article points to a Forbes article that leans on the Abstract, is how many "up to 2 years in duration" there were. Long-term to me is not simply "more than 90 days." Multigenerational certainly sounds more intriguing; but without being able to see them without forking over a month's rent, they certainly aren't conducive to the democratic process, the informed consent of the people.

It's all rather elitist and cozy and profit/rent seeking, isn't it. It's all bent on getting everyone to accept 90 days. I don't. We're talking about people eating that stuff for generations, not 90 days. It's very short-sighted. It's been pushed through because there's money to be made pushing it through.

How many Monsanto executives eat GMO's and feed them to their children? I wonder.

Séralini, et al.: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0278691512008149

... only a 90-day test for commercial release was previously conducted using the same rat strain (Hammond et al., 2004).


...controls do not present tumors in majority during the experiment....


We thus biochemically measured 10 rats per sex per group as performed by Monsanto.


The purpose of the addition of R treated groups was not to assess R long term carcinogenesis, which needs to follow OECD 453 guideline with at least 50 rats per sex per group (even if 10 rats are then still measured at a biochemical level). The aim of our study was to test R under similar conditions to the GM maize in order to try and understand if residues of R in the feed could explain the possible pathologies that may arise. There were two main potential sources of harm tested in our study: (i) effects from the GM maize itself, treated or not with R, and (ii) herbicide residues alone in drinking water, using 3 doses for each treatment. We recall that the initial investigation published by Hammond and colleagues (Hammond et al., 2004) used 2 doses for each treatment group despite that fact that 3 doses are recommended by OECD guideline 408, which they reported to have followed.


However, of the 24 studies they evaluated, only 2 are long-term on rodents,....


We would like to explain the choice of the strain of rat. This is another redundant remark made by critics of our study design. We recall that OECD norms (408, 452 and 453) are not prescriptive for the strain of rat to be used. Sprague Dawley (SD) rats are subject to spontaneous neoplasms and this property is supposed to invalidate them being used as a model for carcinogenesis. However, on the contrary, the fact that the SD strain develops tumors, hence has led to it is preferentially used by some agencies such as for the National Toxicology Program using it for 2-year carcinogenicity and other long-term studies (King-Herbert et al., 2010).


... males presented up to 4 times (2 times of the mean) more large palpable tumors than controls, similarly to that observed in female animals. As these observations may represent a potential risk for the human population, this cannot simply be disregarded so rapidly with non-potent statistics.

It's so interesting to me that when I dig in, I find that the criticized study used the same type of rats used by Monsanto and in the same numbers as studies supported by the critics. It also actually followed guidelines better than studies used by the critics to support the critic's pro-GMO findings.

Be careful what you ask for.

Now I know even better that I've been right.

Did the Anti-GMO Movement Really Lose in Washington? | Common Dreams

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  • Tom Usher

    About Tom Usher

    Employment: 2008 - present, website developer and writer. 2015 - present, insurance broker. Education: Arizona State University, Bachelor of Science in Political Science. City University of Seattle, graduate studies in Public Administration. Volunteerism: 2007 - present, president of the Real Liberal Christian Church and Christian Commons Project.
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