Tasmanian Times

Economy

Scientists speak out against GM foods

In late October, as Tasmania began reviewing its ban on genetically modified (GM) food crops, a group of 97 scientists signed a joint statement that warned: “The claimed consensus on GM organism safety does not exist.”

Within a fortnight the number of signatures had risen to 231. Elsewhere, 828 scientists had jointly called “for the immediate suspension of all environmental release of GM crops and products.”

Their concern is in part a response to the ritual shamings that scientists are subjected to when their controversial findings challenge official GM doctrine.

These shamings are rife in Australia. Earlier this year, a team led by Flinders University epidemiologist and biochemist Adjunct Associate Professor Judy Carman published a peer-reviewed toxicology study that found pigs fed GM maize and GM soy suffered organ damage compared with the control group of pigs.

These findings aligned with a 2005 CSIRO GM field-pea study that suggested the GM process may create novel proteins and sugar-chains that can be allergenic or toxic.

But the study went largely unreported, and Dr Carman — like CSIRO’s Maarten Stapper, WA’s Department of Agriculture’s Patrick Fels, and others before them — endured the public smearing scientists face when their findings challenge official GM doctrine. Even before release, her team’s findings were branded “junk science”. “pseudoscience” and “bad science” by agritech spokespeople and scientists. (Carman answers her detractors here.)

Science sociologists Professor Brian Martin and Dr Sandrine Thérèse call these shamings “degradation rituals”. In these rituals, methodology once considered the gold standard is routinely recast by opposing scientists as ‘flawed’ or ‘junk science’ in the case of controversial findings.

Still, Dr Carman appeared on ABC Radio, where she told listeners that such feeding studies are not required by FSANZ (Food Standards Australia and New Zealand), which relies on industry data for its safety assessment of GM foods. In turn, Carman’s study was immediately dismissed by FSANZ and the GM industry it regulates.

As Tasmania reviews its bans on GM crops this month, GM advocates have been appearing in force in news media and opinion sites. In The Conversation, scientists David Tribe and Rick Roush portray those who criticise GM foods as “anti-science” and “anti-GM extremists” who are “rejecting science”.

Similarly, CSIRO’s corporate communications advisor Craig Cormick claims that those who support GM foods tend to be “pro-science” while those who reject GM “have tendencies towards conspiracy theories”.

These claims are not evidence-based.

First, as the new joint statements make explicit, there is no scientific consensus on the safety of GM products.

Secondly, scholarly studies including Swinburne University’s National Technology and Society Monitor consistently find that although Australians have “high levels of trust in science”, most remain sceptical of the benefits claimed for GM products and are concerned about the multinational industries and regulations surrounding these.

Many support GM technologies in medicine but not in our food chain.

Yet GM advocates frame their position as scientific consensus against public ignorance: “Scientists internationally are outraged,” write Roush and Tribe, at “unethical anti-scientific” opposition to GM products. In Fairfax newspapers, Nicolle Flint asserts: “Extensive research exists proving the safety and environmental benefits of GM crops based on scientific fact, not emotion.” In The Tasmanian Times, Jan Davis writes: “The science is settled.”

Many geneticists, toxicologists, agronomists, epidemiologists, biochemists and public health scientists disagree, but most, reports Scientific American “have chosen to remain anonymous for fear of reprisals.”

Most scientists who have conducted independent studies that suggest risks from consuming or growing GM products have their findings routinely ridiculed by biotech industry scientists and spin doctors, and dismissed by the public bodies that regulate them.

The problem is deep-rooted. “Agritech companies have given themselves veto power over the work of independent researchers” by denying access to GM seeds, reports Scientific American. It continues:

    …only studies that the seed companies have approved ever see the light of a peer-reviewed journal. In a number of cases, experiments that had the implicit go-ahead from the seed company were later blocked from publication because the results were not flattering.

“It is not always simply a matter of blanket denial of all research requests,” said Cornell University’s entomologist Elson J. Shields, “but selective denials and permissions based on industry perceptions of how ‘friendly’ or ‘hostile’ a particular scientist may be” toward GM technology. In her introduction to the Australian edition of Genetic Roulette, with contributions from thirty scientists, Rosemary Stanton OAM reports the same problem.

Those few studies that against the odds are permitted, funded and peer-reviewed but have negative results are routinely dismissed as “inconclusive” by GM industry scientists and government regulators. To be conclusive, studies must be repeated, which takes political will and funding, as the GM industry doesn’t repeat studies that show evidence of adverse effects. (An ostensible exception is CSIRO’s GM field-pea, which has undergone millions of Euros worth of repeat studies, the findings of which are mixed.)

So when regulators take a weight-of-evidence approach to declare safety or benefit, the scales tend to favour studies that take political will or industry funding.

Consequently, negative studies tend to be sidelined in media because of a putative ‘consensus’ on safety and benefit. For instance, recent research published in the peer-reviewed International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability finds that GM crops have lower long-term yields than non-GM crops. The study concurs with a handful of previous findings that GM crops have led to an increase in overall pesticide and herbicide use. These results remain under-reported and dismissed, while studies with positive results continue to dominate rural media.

The famously flawed peer review process (like democracy, the ‘least-worst’ system we have) cannot address these systemic problems. Asymmetry in scientific debate is a vexing issue for those of us troubled by the way the climate change debate played out, in which a small number of scientists and lobbyists, some with fossil-fuel funding, achieved disproportionate coverage for their claims. The number of pro-GM scientists and lobbyists are far greater, but they also tend to work with organisations or research projects that lean on industry partners.

This is not to suggest conspiracy or wilful dishonesty among industry-supported scientists, but to acknowledge the well-documented evidence that industry-backed research is far more likely to produce findings and doctrines favourable to industry.

Science does not exist in an apolitical and unproblematic realm. By ignoring inconvenient evidence and claiming scientific consensus, the lobbyists and regulators alike are promoting ideology over a more scientific approach to truth.

• An earlier version of this article was first published in New Matilda.

Katherine Wilson is former co-editor of Overland and a PhD candidate at The Swinburne Institute for Social Research. Her thesis is in the field of material cultural studies. She has a special interest in the politics of contested biosciences.

Author Credits: [show_post_categories parent="no" parentcategory="writers" show = "category" hyperlink="yes"]
72 Comments

72 Comments

  1. Editor

    November 28, 2013 at 10:26 am

    This thread is now closed; the debate has become too off-topic and personal.

  2. PB

    November 27, 2013 at 8:53 pm

    From newmatilda:

    The push for GM food is a stitch-up by government and agribusiness. Where are the massive crop yields we were promised? Tasmania should continue its moratorium, writes Katherine Wilson.

    Read more:
    https://newmatilda.com/2013/11/28/tasmania-should-stand-firm-biotech

  3. Martin S

    November 27, 2013 at 8:49 pm

    Entirely untrue, Mark Hawkes. Many commenters have answered this, for example #17 #21 #61 … if you don’t look at the evidence Mark,… well, you won’t find any, will you?

    Golden Rice has been thoroughly debunked as an ill-conceived, expensive and impractical answer to a political problem, for example:

    http://www.grain.org/article/entries/10-grains-of-delusion-golden-rice-seen-from-the-ground

  4. mark hawkes

    November 27, 2013 at 7:12 pm

    Too many posts are off topic and personal – and I have blown the whistle. We’ll see to what effect…

    Back to GMO. In comment #35 I had this to say;

    ‘..after the consumption of trillions of snacks and meals containing GM crops since 1994 with zero health concerns..’

    It has gone un-challenged – if it is true then, shouldn’t we think the ‘precautionary principal’ has been dealt with. If anti-GM is due to the ‘fear of the un-known’ then maybe this needs dealing with.

    ‘Golden Rice’ who could think that not a good thing? Oh yeah…the ones who don’t need it!

  5. russell

    November 27, 2013 at 5:57 pm

    re #64 ‘This thread has deteriorated into…’

    Same as what happened on the other gmo thread? Not the subtlest of propaganda techniques. ie ‘flaming’?

    Points 2,3,5,7,11,12 and 14 could part explain.

    http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/1964:fourteen-propaganda-techniques-fox-news-uses-to-brainwash-americans
    Thanks BM and Martin S et al for assisting in keeping it on track and focused on the substance of the article. Precautionary principles rule – ok?

  6. abs

    November 27, 2013 at 4:44 pm

    Comment challenged and deleted

  7. Jon Sumby

    November 27, 2013 at 4:27 pm

    Well, Sarah called the signatories to the letter about there being no consensus on the safety of GMOs ‘flat earthers’ etc.

    So I took a look at some and I started with the first name on the list that Martin provided (#13) and I didn’t have to look far to find an example of a loopy, ignorant, ‘flat earth’ researcher questioning the safety of GMOs:

    Michael Antoniou PhD, is reader in molecular genetics and head, Gene Expression and Therapy Group, King’s College London School of Medicine, London, UK.

    He has 28 years’ experience in the use of genetic engineering technology investigating gene organisation and control, with over 40 peer reviewed publications of original work, and holds inventor status on a number of gene expression biotechnology patents.

    Dr Antoniou has a large network of collaborators in industry and academia who are making use of his discoveries in gene control mechanisms for the production of research, diagnostic and therapeutic products and safe and efficacious human somatic gene therapy for inherited and acquired genetic disorders.

    I didn’t look further because with ignorant, non-specialist, anti-GMO crazy people like him signing a letter saying that the safety of GMOs is not settled, I now know that GMOs are safe.

  8. Mick Kenny

    November 27, 2013 at 3:17 pm

    We are now in an era where WTO rules will effectively mean nation states will need to show cause why they wish to refuse multinational demands.

  9. Barbara Mitchell

    November 27, 2013 at 2:29 pm

    This thread has deteriorated into a repetitive slanging match, the point of which is not immediately apparent – it seems to be more about people’s qualifications, or lack thereof, than it is about the purported topic, genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

    Some observations:

    • The use of GMOs in all its manifestations – food, medicines etc – is not simply a scientific issue. Given the aggressive market dominance of companies like Monsanto in the GMO game, and their relentless quest for dominion over those who dare to grow food from non-GM seed, the issue is clearly part of the social, philosophical and economic realms, and the opinions of persons qualified in those areas are entirely relevant.

    • Genetic modification of plant and animal organisms has been undertaken on a commercial scale for only 20 years, since the mid-1990s. I’m no scientist, but I wouldn’t be declaring a process as invasive as manipulation of genetic material in living organisms produced for food to be completely safe after such a short time. Circumspection is probably wiser than blind acceptance. How many times have ‘scientists’ got it wrong in the past?

    • The first large scale GM crops were engineered by Monsanto to be resistant to their ubiquitous herbicide, Roundup. That means farmers could douse the crops in weed killer, and the crops would survive. Perhaps I should repeat that – Roundup resistant crops are DOUSED IN WEEDKILLER. The weedkiller is supposedly safe for humans, but I refer again to the short-term nature of any results of any studies on its effects.

    • Nature being the adaptable creature she is, after a relatively brief period of acquiescence to the might of Roundup, she is now retaliating with a range of Roundup resistant weeds, requiring new assassins and further genetic modification of the crops. If it looks like a slippery slope, it usually is.

    • Ms Taylor has cast aspersions on the qualifications of numerous academics who oppose GMOs, and denounced their opinions as misguided, uninformed and just plain wrong. Such judgment from a person of modest academic achievement says more about her inflated sense of her own credibility than it does about her victims’ credentials. Presumably she considers the European governments that have banned GMOs to be similarly out of touch with her own advanced understanding of the issues.

    • As Ms Taylor suggests, this whole thing might be just a matter of ‘science’ and ‘the numbers’. There is some suggestion of training in statistics, but how familiar is she with the vagaries of statistical methodology? I had a statistics teacher once who warned at his first lecture that ‘if you’ve come here looking for the truth, you’ve come to the wrong place’. So-called scientific studies and statistics deserve a healthy dose of skepticism, particularly when they’re put forward by vested interests and more particularly when they relate to the safety of the food we eat.

    Do you worst, Sarah. I have degrees in accounting, law and psychology so I’m used to my academic qualifications being treated as junk!

  10. Martin S

    November 27, 2013 at 2:10 pm

    And Sarah, you haven’t provided a shred of non-industry-partnered, peer-reviewed evidence to back your claims of “proof of safety” of GM foods.

  11. Mick Kenny

    November 27, 2013 at 1:03 pm

    GMO- A solution in search of a problem.

  12. Martin S

    November 27, 2013 at 12:16 pm

    Sarah, plenty of examples of peer-reviewed scientific evidence were offered by Bob Phelps and other posters in this: you are simply ignoring the evidence, and will not even consider it.

    Here, again, is but one pub med peer-reviewed paper on the Showa Denko l-tryptophan case offered by Bob Phelps:
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8895184

    There are plenty more. After reviewing all the peer-reviewed evidence a medical panel found:

    “that genetic engineering evidently generated at least two unexpected poisonous substances very difficult to detect… it is established beyond reasonable doubt that some product from disturbed metabolism due to genetic engineering was the ultimate cause of the deadly disease.” Showa Denko agreed, and paid out millions in compensation to people who had taken the supplement and suffered ill-effects.

    This finding came from a level of analysis that was far more rigorous than industry analyses accepted by FSANZ. Here is the court ruling based on an expert review of all the scientific literature:

    http://law.justia.com/cases/federal/appellate-courts/F2/953/162/223384/

    It is clear KW, Phelps and others are saying this issue is not settled. You, on the other hand, have a religious pro-GM dogma. As for your claims for being personally attacked: you have viciously smeared people and their work: “ridiculous”. “rubbish”, “flat-earthers”. No-one has been that vicious towards you. You can dish it out but you can’t take it.

  13. John Wade

    November 27, 2013 at 11:30 am

    This is disaster that I never really explored until I came upon this website:

    http://www.kiddofspeed.com/chapter1.html

    Chernobyl! I imagine the whole place is a long-term looking glass into alteration, mutation …?

  14. Sarah Taylor

    November 27, 2013 at 10:03 am

    # 55 The Copping C cell’s number one fan. Where is the post where I accuse you of being CB, Brennen or anything to do with SWS. It doesn’t exist does it? Your posts don’t resemble anything Brennan would write. No mate – you will always be Bretto to me.

    Martin – calm down, the example was picked from memory from your own list. I think the reason I picked it can be attributed to the ‘recency effect’ since the ethnobotanist was discussed in a post above. And even if I was racist it won’t make your list any more expert. It is a red herring.

    Kathy – you still don’t say which pile you would pick and you still don’t offer any actual literature. None at all has been offered since post number 17 so it is time for me to move on. You have to ask yourself – if you need to add philosophers to a list about genetics then it is obviously scraping the bottom of the barrel. We don’t need any more studies proving GMs are safe – there are thousands in circulation already. The onus is now on you to prove your claims with peer reviewed, replicated studies. The above posters have spent the last two days trying to do to me the exact same thing you claim happens to anti-gm advocates. There is no difference; Ben – whose real name is Brett – has tried ridicule, Sue has tried to misquote me, Martin has tried character assassination (with his racist accusation), ABS has attacked my credibility (even though it is irrelevant). None of this is any different than what you are writing about. Karl says I work for Monsanto and then continually brings up red herrings like the debt crisis whilst conveniently forgetting that Europe banned GMs and had a debt crisis too.

    ABS – you still can’t see the difference between the readers comments and the public list that includes people who aren’t qualified to add their names to that list. You keep wasting your time looking for my other article if you like but it won’t change anything, GMOs will still be safe for consumption: red herrings, conspiracy theories, arguments ad hominem etc don’t make any difference to me – they just make me more certain that no other proof exists or it would have been offered already. Definitely time to move on. Why don’t you try working through Martin’s list and see how qualified those signatories are because, in this discussion, they were the only qualifications that matters.

  15. Karl Stevens

    November 27, 2013 at 12:49 am

    Why would the biotech cartels care about a little island like Tasmania when they have all of Asia, all of North and South American and probably all of Africa as well?
    Even ‘Big Biotech’ would recognise the importance of at least one quarantine island left on the entire planet that they can use for DNA mining in the future?
    Syngenta and Monsanto know that even if they owned Tasmania outright it would not help the $17 trillion US debt crisis.
    http://www.usdebtclock.org/
    If GMO’s are so productive then why did they send the US broke?

  16. Martin S

    November 26, 2013 at 11:48 pm

    Not at all, Mark Hawks #56.

    This is what Sarah said: “I could call myself an expert too and none of you would know the difference. It might even add more weight if I studied at some obscure university like the University of Mexico.”

    Now, how could this statement be interpreted any other way? Mexico has an outstanding history and contribution to scientific endeavour, dating back to the 1500s. Its current-day universities including Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México have esteemed regard internationally in medicine and science. So what, exactly, is Sarah suggesting by this comment? Here are the signatories whom she smears:

    • Alejandro Espinosa, PhD, Professor of Genetics, Instituto Nacional de Investigaciones Forestales, Agrícolas y Pecuarias (INIFAP), Mexico

    • Enrique Leff, PhD, Professor of Environmental Sociology and Economics, Universidad Nacional Aut ónoma de México (UNAM), Mexico

    • José – Antonio Serratos – Hernández, PhD, Expertise: Biotechnology/ Biosafety/ Community Health, Universidad Autónoma de la Ciudad de México (UACM), Mexico

    • Elena Avarez Buylla, PhD,Professor of Molecular Genetics, Development and Evolution of Plants, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM), Mexico
    • Carlos H. AvilaBello, PhD, Professor of Ethnobotany and Agrcultural Sciences, University of Veracruz, Mexico.

    These are all real, esteemed professionals. She has said these signatories “can hoot all they want” and called their views “rubbish” and branded them “flat-earthers”. And then she gets upset when people quite reasonably debunk her own (lay) claims.

    Here is a person who, by her own admission, has gone from one extreme of certitude to the other extreme of certitude. “I used to be anti-gm… It was really difficult for me to accept the truth as my arrogance is testament to.” Has that self-confessed arrogance simply swung in the other direction? Is it really fair-minded to attack those mindful and diligent senior scientists who have considered the evidence, but who have come to views that are not your own?

  17. mark hawkes

    November 26, 2013 at 6:58 pm

    (comment relating to deleted comment at 46 deleted
    mark hawkes

  18. Ben

    November 26, 2013 at 5:44 pm

    (Comment challenged as being off-topic and deleted)

  19. Martin S

    November 26, 2013 at 5:44 pm

    Hey Sarah, could we hear less about who you are, who your partner is, what you believe now, what you believed then, why you believed it, where you’re coming from and less spray about “rubbish” studies, and less smearing of those who dissent as “seriously ridiculous. You will go down in history – being ridiculed for the flat-Earthers you are. And just like flat-Earthers you still won’t change your mind.”

    Instead, will you offer a credible, rational argument against this article’s assertions?

  20. Sue DeNim

    November 26, 2013 at 5:24 pm

    Far from being a ‘personal’ attack, I was merely calling your reasoning and comprehension abilities and bias into question as are many others here.
    It does make my blood boil when people ignore the science but as previously stated using the word ‘science’ itself is fraught with difficulties of interpretation and semantics.
    Rejecting a petition of 800 odd signatories from various academic backgrounds that have reviewed various literature and reject the notion that there is consensus on the safety of GMO products in ALL areas of contention, seems pretty significant.
    Where, after-all are the 1000 odd signatures from scientists who claim the consensus is indeed there? Again we are not just talking about safety in general health terms but safe to release into the environment, the market and widespread use.
    You are still arguing a very narrow interpretation of safety that neither the original author nor many commenters here are discussing. As repeatedly stated, resistance to GMOs encompasses many issues aside from health safety.
    My accusations of naivety do not refer to just ‘believing the science’ but ignoring the potential for bias when vested interests are involved.
    Those who are pro-GMO have vested interests in organism copyright and the associated profit to be made. They often claim the benefits of ‘feeding the starving’ and other such abundance arguments (which few would argue with) but these are spurious as we do not have food shortage issues but food distribution and food wastage issues.
    Those who have anti-GMO leanings also have vested interests but these are largely with regard to environmental protection, long term health effects and food security for community farmers. I know whose vested interests I want to align with.
    I was not trashing you, just your arguments. Facts are facts until they are discovered not to be fact. Yes you could apply the same to climate change arguments, but at the moment consensus still leans towards anthropogenically accelerated climate change. My knowledge of how much carbon we release, the carbon cycle and the Greenhouse Effect leads me to conclude they are correct and attempts to deny are merely fossil fuel industry vested interest funded retaliations.

    My understanding of corporate greed and the lengths industry will go to turn a profit, regardless of human outcomes leads me in this case to reject industry claims of consensus.
    Until such time as I see similar scientific consensus with regard to ALL issues surrounding GMO’s being safe and indicated over the long term, I will continue to defer to scepticism.

  21. Kath W

    November 26, 2013 at 5:03 pm

    Hi again Sarah,

    I would be more cautious than to use the word “proof” which you’ve used many, many times throughout this thread. You’ve said “science is proof”: does this mean the science that found no link b/w heavy EMR exposure and cancers was “proof”, until the weight-of-evidence overwhelmingly suggested otherwise? It’s more prudent to discuss evidence, as very little in science is settled outside of gravity 🙂

    At the moment we have a situation where the overwhelming body of studies have leaned on industry partners for their funding AND experimental design AND authorship. It is very difficult to have confidence in a process where a product-developer is responsible for that product’s health & safety testing. Those minority of studies that haven’t leaned on industry funding and have independent experimental design have come up with divergent findings.

    So the aim of the article is not to show “proof” either way — I would not be that reckless or speak outside my field. Instead, the aim is to show the ways in which the science is contested and skewed towards agro-industrial interests: even in seemingly public bodies like CSIRO and university PPPs.

    Emphatically, the testing of GMOs in medicine is very different than the testing of GMOs in our food, in my understanding. The two simply cannot be conflated.

    I agree with one commenter that science is not a numbers game. Another commenter in here links to an article which says:

    “Dr. Tom O’Bryan, internationally recognized expert on gluten sensitivity and Celiac Disease, says, “The introduction of GMOs is highly suspect as a candidate to explain the rapid rise in gluten-related disorders over the last 17 years.” Internist, Emily Linder MD, says, “Based on my clinical experience, when I remove genetically modified foods as part of the treatment for gluten sensitivity, recovery is faster and more complete. I believe that GMOs in our diet contribute to the rise in gluten sensitivity in the U.S. population.”

    Now, this is just opinion and speculation: there are no studies (to my knowledge) that support this with empirical evidence, unless we extrapolate from the starch indigestibility CSIRO studies. So in numbers: 0. Doesn’t mean this is “proof” that it’s safe. The studies simply haven’t been done, and until they are, we cannot say either way.

    You write that the studies suggesting risk are “rubbish” and “paranoid conspiracies”. I would be more circumspect. It takes a lot of conviction for a professor of toxicology, biochemistry or genetics to sign such politically-risky statements as those reported here. You would not put your career on the line in this way without very carefully reviewing the evidence base and the contexts in which those evidences bases occurred.

  22. mark hawkes

    November 26, 2013 at 4:51 pm

    #26. I’m looking forward to; “No celebrity consensus on GMO safety”

  23. Sarah Taylor

    November 26, 2013 at 3:54 pm

    ABS – it isn’t publications that make people qualified to do a literature review (that would be elitist)it is knowledge of research methods. The research scholarship was published in “The Mercury’ if you need to check that too – but it won’t help and attacking my credibility won’t change the facts. I studied advanced statistics, quantitative methods (for economics) and qualitative methods. This is more than enough to review methodology. I am not publicly putting my name to anything like the above list of people. I can’t believe how badly you have all missed the point.

    BTW – I also consumed copious amounts of drugs and alcohol when I was younger too. And I could even be the bloody CEO of Monsanto. Will that change the outcome of GM foods any more than my qualifications do? Grow up! This is a goddamn online newspaper with reader’s comments – not ISIS or any of the other crappy public claims made by the above so-called ‘experts’. If I wish to add my name to that list then it is open slather. You don’t have an issue with Kathy and we have PRECISELY the same qualifications. I have studied some other statistical method that Kathy hasn’t but in terms of actual completed qualifications – we are the same. But you aren’t attacking her credibility or checking her qualifications because she is telling you what you want to hear. Grow up! I am going to work.

  24. abs

    November 26, 2013 at 3:08 pm

    Comment challenged and deleted

  25. Sarah Taylor

    November 26, 2013 at 2:58 pm

    Sue – personal attacks always arise when you have no evidence so I am not going to bother any further. Under articles about climate change you argue that it ‘makes your blood boil’ when people ignore science and then you proceed to do the same. Please cut and paste the bit where I claim to be a scientist because I am not the only one who doesn’t read properly.

    Kathy – I understand where you are coming from (mixed results are worth pursuing) but the numbers are overwhelmingly on the side of GMOs and science is about numbers. There are genetically modified medicines so these have been rigorously tested – have they not? GM foods are THE most researched foodstuff in history. When there is 2000 published articles proving GMOs are unsafe for consumption I will change my mind. Since there are many different types of GMOs in many different contexts (food and medicine) finding 2000 studies proving they are unsafe shouldn’t be that difficult, but it has proven very difficult, which speaks volumes.

    I used to be anti-gm – partly because of intuition – and partly because of my background in environmentalism (it fit with my image). It was really difficult for me to accept the truth as my arrogance is testament to. I recall sticking to my guns – certain in the knowledge – that since the proof couldn’t be found in this generation, it would be bound to turn up in the next in the form of deformed babies. But it didn’t and I am not a scientist – the best I can do is read the studies the experts have done and accept those results. Scanning the literature to find the result which suits my self-image is the wrong approach – rejecting the null hypothesis is the only way – otherwise it is just cherry-picking.

    I even subscribed to the ‘precautionary principle’ for a while ( a bit of a cop-out I realise now) but how many studies is it going to take to convince people? One or two mixed results vs thousands? It just doesn’t make any sense to spend the last 200-300 years developing scientific method and then ignoring everything we have learnt because we didn’t get the result we hoped for. Without science and the results they produce, we may as well go back to the dark ages. And it is not really fair of me to ridicule people for believing the same as I used to believe but it was ridicule which brought me to my senses.

    For the practical people, maybe it would be useful to print all the studies and put them in their respective piles. Then, as a useful exercise we could pretend each respective pile (pro-gm pile, mixed pile and pro-gm pile) is a symbol of the successes of different surgeons with respect to deaths (2000 vs a few vs 1). I know which pile I would pick. And when it comes to life and death decisions (such as surgery) I think I know which pile you would pick too. It wouldn’t be rational to pick a pile with very few surgical successes if you want to live to read another article.

    However, I still am interested in reading any articles you have proving GMs are unsafe for consumption. I have read quite a lot proving GMs are ok and one should always have balance. Also, when you go against the crowd it is always a good idea to know what you are talking about because you get many personal criticisms, attacks on your credibility, accusations you work for Monsanto and one person went as far as posting my bio on-line as if somehow that would prove GMs are unsafe to eat. Trashing me won’t change the facts. Even if I don’t exist, the facts are the facts.

  26. Martin S

    November 26, 2013 at 2:47 pm

    And finally, ST, you write: “Martin: your 828 scientists – aren’t they just people like me?”

    Then you write the opposite: “Are you saying I am calling myself a scientist? My post says the opposite.”

    You can’t argue both ways. And no, “Emeritus Professor of Genetics” etc etc are not people like you. Most are senior scientists who have risked putting their necks on the line to sign such a statement. As the linked article in Scientific American reports, most scientists are not willing to risk their careers in this way. This is one reason there’s this perceived majority who support GMOs in food production.

  27. Martin S

    November 26, 2013 at 2:39 pm

    One more thing Sarah Taylor: to have the elitist argument that some of these scientists are from “obscure” universities (as if Mexico were ‘obscure’) is outlandish. As one commenter just pointed out, the overturning of the EMR debate came from a research team in a very obscure university: The University of Tasmania.

  28. Martin S

    November 26, 2013 at 2:33 pm

    And Sarah Taylor, science is not “a numbers game” as you claim. It is a quest for credible evidence so we can make reasoned decisions. If it were a numbers game, Big Tobacco would have won out all those years back.

  29. Martin S

    November 26, 2013 at 2:30 pm

    This is getting absurd … Sarah Taylor. You write: “K. Wilson is doing her doctorate in Social Research which is a perfectly respectable profession but she is far from being an expert in genetics.”

    She never claimed as such, and read the article carefully: she makes no claims for or against the science. You yourself are not qualified in genetics, but feel you have the authority to comment with such certitude.

    Does a political journalist need to be an expert in genetics to analyse the politics behind the production of science? Did the journalists who covered Big Tobacco need to be have the relevant qualifications in plant physiology and public health?

  30. Sarah Taylor

    November 26, 2013 at 1:55 pm

    ABS – I don’t understand. Are you saying I am calling myself a scientist? My post says the opposite. A PhD in itself wouldn’t make a scientist either – it depends if you have studied science or not. And being an ‘expert’ in GMOs would require a more narrow field of study again. There is a great deal of difference between having an opinion (as I am sure you do) and publishing an article calling groups such as ISIS experts in gene technology (since ISIS is part of the Sociology department). K. Wilson is doing her doctorate in Social Research which is a perfectly respectable profession but she is far from being an expert in genetics – a bit like asking a physicist to make climate predictions. They can make educated guesses and review literature and that is about the sum of it. Don’t forget the point of the discussion was a challenge to Martin S for publishing a list of people – which may as well have included my name for all the credibility it has. My ears will prick up if an educated person makes a comment on a subject out of their field of study – but only a fool would take that opinion as gospel. In the Aussie vernacular – stick to what you know. Anything else is just a rumour. Science is a numbers game and advocates of GMOs have the numbers – by a long shot.

  31. Kath W

    November 26, 2013 at 1:46 pm

    Hello Sarah Taylor.

    You’re mistaken in your claim that: “I had a read and the methodology sounded fine but unfortunately nobody has ever been able to reproduce these results.” The GM field-pea study has undergone millions of euros worth of repeat studies with mixed results: some suggesting significant risk, others suggesting minimal risk. See https://newmatilda.com/2013/05/01/curious-case-csiros-gm-field-pea

    Even the authors of those that suggest minimal risk (including CSIRO) wrote in an August 2008 grant application to the European Commission that they sought to identify biomarkers “for the detection of harmful effects of GM foods”. The grant application rationale was to help “predict harmful GMO effects after product authorisation”. It allowed that “risk assessment cannot predict all the possible untoward effects of GM consumption.”

    In my understanding, GMOs produced for medicine are far more rigorously tested that GMOs for industrial food products, which are accepted by regulators on the (unproven) theory/assumption of substantial equivalence between the composition of GM and non-GM varieties. The peer-reviewed GM field-pea study is among a few studies that have challenged that unproven theory. The jury is still out about whether the novel proteins and associated sugar chains produced by the GM process itself were responsible.

    FSANZ does not require of GM products the feeding studies that Professor Carman et al undertook. It has rejected this study by benchmarks it doesn’t apply to the studies it accepts. This seems to me at best inconsistent.

    Only a decade ago, weight-of-evidence held that there was no relationship between children’s exposure to high-voltage EMRs and cancers. Any scientist who challenged this assumption was (like Carman et al) consigned to the lunatic fringe. Then, thanks to some epidemiology coming out of the University of Tasmania, things changed, and now it is widely accepted that there is a causal relationship.

    In the case of GM, we know there are many recently-developed public health issues, like an increase in protein allergies. We just don’t know whether or not there is a relationship between these and the novel proteins in GM foods, because the epidemiological studies have not been done. Industry will certainly not fund these.

  32. Sue DeNim

    November 26, 2013 at 1:31 pm

    I must say Sarah, for a respected scientist your reasoning is sounding very muddled and your one-eyed passion is becoming more and more obvious.
    Did you even read the article properly? If you did then your basic comprehension skills are lacking.

    1. The exact point of the article is referring to the bias in publication of articles that reject GMO safety because of the finance for studies arriving from vested interests
    that do not wish to see unfavourable studies published, continued or replicated. The most important statement in this article is this:
    “This is not to suggest conspiracy or wilful dishonesty among industry-supported scientists, but to acknowledge the well-documented evidence that industry-backed research is far more likely to produce findings and doctrines favourable to industry.Science does not exist in an apolitical and unproblematic realm.”

    2. Science or scientific studies is in itself confusing terminology. All of the studies (for or against) would use the ‘scientific method’ to some degree, but as the article explains
    further intervention by those providing the funding can bias which ‘scientific studies’ are published, continued or replicated.

    3. As others have pointed out, GMO’s cross many borders of study, and health effects are not the only issue. Food security, ecology, poor community impacts, labelling, etc are all issues aside from pure genetics.
    You say yourself that your qualifications allow you the skills to review the science used in studies not necessarily in your field of expertise.
    “Publications on Environmentalism and Aboriginal Identity and a scholarship (for research) give me the skills to read the literature and make an informed opinion (although I have had to teach myself a little more mathematics to get by).”
    How is this any different from the philosophers or sociologists you denigrate for commenting?

    4. “It might even add more weight if I studied at some obscure university like the University of Mexico or something”, “Just because something is on-line it doesn’t make it true and doesn’t make it science.”,
    “….we must accept the evidence, because evidence is proof.” Statements like these reveal bias or naivety as well. Mexico being one of the largest cities in the world, how is it in any way obscure? If the science within an online article
    was sound, would it make it any less scientific just because it was online? You seem to be under the illusion that ‘evidence’ can’t be manufactured? This assumes that all people in prison are guilty and all those set free are innocent?
    Can gathering of data or ‘evidence’ or how it is interpreted not be swayed by values or vested interests?

    5. “GMOs should not be treated any differently than any other food stuff or medicine.”? Considering we are dealing with un-natural techniques, (playing god so to speak), do you not feel we should proceed with
    extra caution when it comes to these things? Are we really sure its ok to mess with the natural order of things just because we can? As another poster said, its hard to put the genie back in the bottle if we are wrong.

    Max makes a very good point that alot of the resistance in Tasmania relates to differentiation in the market and being the last stronghold of GMO free in case it turns out we were wrong.
    This in itself is a very strong argument that has nothing to do with safety or bias in studies.

    Also your view on what constitutes a health risk is quite disturbing. Do we have to present tumours to raise the alarm? Much evidence points to the slow and incremental taxing and destruction of our immune system (via allergens and toxins)
    that leads to larger complications later in life. Allergies should not be dismissed as the slight inconvenience they often are.
    Lastly this last statement from you demonstrates severe naivety and goes to the heart of alot of peoples concerns. “Also, inserting genes from peanuts or any other common allergen is just a really stupid thing to do and hopefully nobody would be stupid enough to do that. “. With the drive for profit and vested interests being the main focus of the original article, is ‘hope’ really enough? Once the flood gates are opened who, besides industry, will regulate what experiments are performed and organisms are produced?

  33. abs

    November 26, 2013 at 1:14 pm

    Comment challenged and deleted

  34. Karl Stevens

    November 26, 2013 at 1:05 pm

    Why would the biotech cartels care about a little island like Tasmania when they have all of Asia, all of North and South American and probably all of Africa as well?
    Even ‘Big Biotech’ would recognise the importance of at least one quarantine island on the entire planet that they can use for DNA mining into the future?
    I would say the pro-GM comments here are not coming from head office. Syngenta and Monsanto know that even if they owned Tasmania outright it would not help the $17 trillion US debt crisis.
    http://www.usdebtclock.org/

  35. abs

    November 26, 2013 at 12:11 pm

    Comment challenged and deleted

  36. Sarah Taylor

    November 26, 2013 at 10:49 am

    #10 Buck and Joan – Do I understand you correctly? Don’t these comments make you believists? Perhaps an inability to recognise it is one of the symptoms after all. We are all believists really – Hawkes’ lists above are a good lesson for us all. They show that we can be rational in virtually all aspects of life, but we all have a stumbling block – that part of ourselves which ignores science because it doesn’t fit with our self-image. By day we are scientists where proof rules, but by night we adhere to religion, homeopathy, witchcraft, spirituality, anti-GMOs and climate change deniers. It is just a matter of identifying what that stumbling block is. Still I am surprised you submit an article like that and then proceed to ignore the science underpinning GMOs.

  37. Sarah Taylor

    November 26, 2013 at 9:33 am

    Karl – there is a difference between an opinion in the reader’s comments and a public ‘signing’ under the title ‘scientist’ or ‘expert’. I am not qualified to do that. Like you, I am only qualified to comment in arenas like this. Unlike you though, my opinion is evidence based (since you are probably still looking for my name in the Monsanto employee list).

    ABS – you have succeeded where Karl failed. Publications on Environmentalism and Aboriginal Identity and a scholarship (for research) give me the skills to read the literature and make an informed opinion (although I have had to teach myself a little more mathematics to get by).

    Martin: your 828 scientists – aren’t they just people like me? So why would you take their word for it over mine – since you know even less about them than you do me now? Scholarships are exceedingly difficult to win so that should make me an expert in anything shouldn’t it? And Bob and Tiny – I studied some philosophy and quite a bit of sociology too so that is a multi-disciplinary approach isn’t it? Hey maybe I should design a blogspot or write a ‘report’ (like the one PB recommended); I could call myself an expert too and none of you would know the difference. It might even add more weight if I studied at some obscure university like the University of Mexico or something (UTAS is way too boring since we have all heard of that one). It is all about context isn’t it? Just because something is on-line it doesn’t make it true and doesn’t make it science. Google has done more harm than it has good IMO.

    Fear of the unknown and the creepy sounding nature of GMs is a natural – fight or flight – response and science is counter-intuitive but we must accept the evidence, because evidence is proof.

    You might get lucky one day and find one scientific article that appears to cast doubt on GMOs although I would be surprised if it ever ends up on the market. But it would be no different than medicines that don’t end up on the market and we don’t give up on medicine do we? Why should different rules apply to GMOs? Still you might find one – but it would be meaningless next to the thousands of publications that have proven that GMOs were safe. Your time would be better spent finding flaws in those studies than it would in providing links to reports written by people like me.

  38. mark hawkes

    November 26, 2013 at 12:39 am

    Robert Boyd (physicist)

    Richard Smalley (Nobel Prize in Chemistry)

    Mariano Artigas (Ph.D.’s in physics, philosophy)

    Arthur Robert Peacocke MBE (University Lecturer in Biochemistry)

    Dr. John Billings, AM, FRCP, FRACP

    Ernan McMullin (philosopher of science)

    Do these scientists believe GM food to be unsafe?
    Even after the consumption of trillions of snacks and meals containing GM crops since 1994 with zero health concerns, their still not convinced?

    Who knows and who cares? This lot all believe in God.
    The point I try to make is that by producing a list of anti-GMO scientists as proof of GMO to be unsafe is as much use as my list for the proof of a God.

  39. abs

    November 25, 2013 at 11:07 pm

    Comment challenged and deleted

  40. Got Me a Gene Mod

    November 25, 2013 at 10:27 pm

    “Made in Australia from Local and Imported Ingredients”

    The fact that the above statement can legally appear on our food labels shows just how much the government cares for the Aussie consumer.

    Will regulation of GM food be any better? It will be suck it and see, literally.

  41. Sarah Taylor

    November 25, 2013 at 10:05 pm

    Personal attacks and nitpicking won’t make GMOs unsafe for consumption. I simply don’t agree that I should listen to a Philosopher’s or Sociologist’s opinion about gene technology any more than I should listen to my own. Both parties are merely reviewing literature. If you are suggesting that I shouldn’t be discriminating (you call it elitist) about what I read then I do not agree. If anyone has any proof, I am happy to read it. The GMO pea study and the one attempting to replicate it were interesting reads. Without proof, I remain unconvinced. I can take the personal attacks too or I wouldn’t be here. I agree I sound arrogant, but maybe that is because I feel very confident about my position. It was a long road here and I have read a great deal on the way. But none of this compares to my partner’s knowledge on the subject.

  42. Karl Stevens

    November 25, 2013 at 9:13 pm

    Sarah Taylor 20. So what are the ‘correct qualifications’ to be able to comment on GMOs? You mention ‘entomology, pesticides, zoology’ as not the right qualifications. (The GM) industry has spent Billion$ on making plants insect-resistant and yet entomologists are not supposed to have an opinion on it? This is really a dangerous, tunnel-vision approach in my view.

  43. Sarah Taylor

    November 25, 2013 at 9:13 pm

    Bob: I had a read and the methodology sounded fine but unfortunately nobody has ever been able to reproduce these results. This usually means it is because another factor has produced the allergenic response, not the fact that the peas were genetically modified. The following study is a good example because non-genetically modified beans and chickpeas produced an allergenic response in mice as well as genetically modified ones. This must mean that it isn’t the gene technology that is the problem.

    Genetically Modified α-Amylase Inhibitor Peas Are Not Specifically Allergenic in Mice
    Rui-Yun Lee equal contributor,Daniela Reiner equal contributor,Gerhard Dekan, Andrew E. Moore, T. J. V. Higgins, Michelle M. Epstein mail.

    Weevils can devastate food legumes in developing countries, but genetically modified peas (Pisum sativum), chickpeas and cowpeas expressing the gene for alpha-amylase inhibitor-1 (αAI) from the common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris) are completely protected from weevil destruction. αAI is seed-specific, accumulated at high levels and undergoes post-translational modification as it traverses the seed endomembrane system. This modification was thought to be responsible for the reported allergenicity in mice of the transgenic pea but not the bean. Here, we observed that transgenic αAI peas, chickpeas and cowpeas as well as non-transgenic beans were all allergenic in BALB/c mice. Even consuming non-transgenic peas lacking αAI led to an anti-αAI response due to a cross-reactive response to pea lectin. Our data demonstrate that αAI transgenic peas are not more allergenic than beans or non-transgenic peas in mice. This study illustrates the importance of repeat experiments in independent laboratories and the potential for unexpected cross-reactive allergic responses upon consumption of plant products in mice.

    Thanks anyway – the thing about replication is that if the issue is real (ie GM foods are allergenic) it shouldn’t be too hard to replicate it – especially under the same conditions. If we can’t, then there is something else happening and it is just a matter of finding out what that is. There was no evidence that it would produce an allergenic response in humans. I simply don’t agree that that gives us confidence of anything and I think thousands of published studies for GMOs is a great deal of caution indeed.

  44. Sarah Taylor

    November 25, 2013 at 7:47 pm

    Thanks Bob – I will read it today if I am not too tired after work. At least you aren’t offering the pig or rat study so I am keen to see something new and the CSIRO certainly does seem like a credible source. Something new, how exciting…. Having said that, all experiments produce results that are not ideal, from time to time. GMOs should not be treated any differently than any other food stuff or medicine. This is why we have trials. We wouldn’t market a medicine that had negative side effects either. They must be rigorously tested. On the other hand, if GMO peas produce an allergenic response and then are released onto the market – then we have a problem. Also, inserting genes from peanuts or any other common allergen is just a really stupid thing to do and hopefully nobody would be stupid enough to do that.

  45. Bob Phelps

    November 25, 2013 at 7:41 pm

    Hang on Sarah: many of the ‘scientific’ backers of genetic manipulation also have qualifications quite unrelated to the technology but this doesn’t stop them shrilly vilifying experts who want precaution. Your pals (including regulators) deny and denounce the published and peer-reviewed evidence of negative impacts, costs and harm caused by GMOs, relying on corporate data that has little merit. Where is your critique of these charlatans and poseurs? To dismiss philosophers of science who contributed much to the rigour and rules of science and still have a lot of useful ideas is ill-judged.

  46. Martin S

    November 25, 2013 at 7:06 pm

    And also, did you see the link above to Professor Carman’s refuttal? She thoroughly refutes critics like Sarah Taylor there.

  47. hugoagogo

    November 25, 2013 at 7:02 pm

    #18, point not lost at all, in post 13 I immediately spotted the professor of ethnobotany, not that he’s a quack, it’s just pretty clear where his allegiances would be.

  48. A.K.

    November 25, 2013 at 7:00 pm

    Another powerful reason why we should have referendum style governance, it’s the only way we can take control over our lives, away from the corporate world.

    No current political party or politician would advocate and take that necessary and progressive step.

  49. Martin S

    November 25, 2013 at 6:52 pm

    Peer-reviewed studies documented in Genetic Roulette Sarah Taylor. You’re simply turning a blind eye to the evidence. And you’re ignoring the very structural barriers that this article points out. Also, as KW commented elsewhere, the purported “shortcomingd” in Carman et al’s studies are not what these same scientists demand of existing studies that declare safety with certitude!

    Double-standards, and not consistent, nor honest. Carman’s and “her team’s peer-reviewed study is far more rigorous and extensive than the non-feeding industry studies FSANZ routinely rubber-stamps.”

    And Sarah Talor, among your other erroneous claims, you wrongly attribute a quote taken from Scientific American to be a statement by the author of this article.

    Further, you obviously see your own qualification to comment as superior, for example, with Emeritus Professors of Genetics, Toxicology, Biomedicine, etc. Re a philosopher: there are plenty of people who work in the field who are not geneticists: for example, sociologists who object to the social impact of having GM afflicted on to unwitting third world farmers who find them bound in Big Agritech contracts. They are perfectly qualified to comment on public health and safety.

    Regarding insulin, the article above quotes a survey in which many Australians support GM for medicine (where its effects are more rigorously tested) but not for our food chain. So to wheel out insulin is disingenuous, especially as it is made with such a simple organism whose genes jump easily, and not from a complex organism like BT corn.

    None of your claims measure up to critical scrutiny. But you are so ready to smear others who have thought this issue through from many perspectives (not only scientific! But the political and ethical context of these products!), not just your narrow reductionist one.

  50. max

    November 25, 2013 at 5:28 pm

    20 # Sarah. Regardless of your beliefs and whether GMO food are good bad or indifferent the fact is a large percentage of the world has doubts, and Tasmania can capitalise on this. What difference will it make if we wait 10 or 20 years, we will never be a world leader in GM foods and in 10 years if GM foods are proven beyond doubt then Monsanto or who else will supply us. If the GMO believers are right so what, we have had a niche market for years but if GMO’s are proven to have dangerous faults then we have won It is very hard to put the genie back in the bottle but we would be stupid to take a needless risk.

  51. Tiny Pianist

    November 25, 2013 at 5:24 pm

    Sarah you state you are published yourself so your dismissive, rude and elitist attitude to other published research-from various disciplines- is of concern -and in my eyes totally discredits your argument. It also reinforces the theme of the article in question-no dissent will be tolerated, or more importantly respected- in the GM debate. Why shouldnt all areas of scientific research repect multi-disciplinary input? Why couldnt a well respected physicist be able to comment on genetics or mathematics in experiments? I think you are “holding on too tight” and you “doth protest to much”-this type of behaviour is most often exhibited by those with vested interests in a debate (which maybe a sociologist could explain better to you).

  52. PB

    November 25, 2013 at 4:04 pm

    New report links genetically modified foods to gluten-related disorders:

    http://www.sacbee.com/2013/11/25/5944006/genetically-modified-foods-proposed.html#storylink=cpy

  53. Sarah Taylor

    November 25, 2013 at 2:25 pm

    Just because a few people have signed something akin to a petition – it is meaningless. Most of them don’t have the correct qualifications. I have articles published in journals and a few letters after my name too but if I signed a piece of paper without the studies to back it up it would mean nothing. Most of the names you mention do not have the right qualifications (entomology? pesticides? zoology? physics? GPs? Ecology? Social Sciences? Agriculture? Economics? Plant biology? Science and technology? Environmentalism? PHILOSOPHY?). An example I have used before is it is a bit like asking my vet why my grandmother has dementia. The philosopher is hilarious since they are not scientists and do not do ANY scientific study/mathematics/methodology at all. They aren’t even qualified to review studies let alone conduct them. Being a scientist is not enough. Genetic Roulette is a load of rubbish. It isn’t a journal.

    I reread my comment and I cannot find anything that says I claimed ‘one study’. Read the comment properly. Nothing less than a scientific, peer reviewed, replicated study, preferably published in pubmed (because those journals are well respected) will convince me. I have never seen one. People continually ignore the part of my comment which says I used to agree with people like you. I know first hand it is not easy to change your mind, but proof is proof and a bunch of names is not proof of anything other than you know how to cut and paste.

    Asking for a study which is peer reviewed is perfectly reasonable because if the study is sound it will stand up to criticism. The rat study doesn’t because if you keep rats alive long enough (and the oft-quoted study did) they will get tumours whether they have had GMOs or not. The maths in the pig study is flawed because the pigs were already in bad health and the groups were not ALL properly compared and reported on – simply cherry picked. The bovine growth hormone study was an argument for not overdosing your cows with hormones (whether they are genetically modified or not) and insulin (hooray for Karl) is genetically modified with no infections at injection sites like the cows so it wasn’t the fact it was GM growth hormone that caused the infections, it was because they SHOULDN”T BE OVERDOSED WITH HORMONES. The list of crappy studies goes on and on. Another one refers to apparently sick sheep from eating genetically modified crops, except everyone conveniently forgot the sheep got sick from eating them before they were genetically modified. The more articles appear on this site, the more crap studies I get referred to. I read them all and I learn a lot. Meanwhile people like you recycle the same old studies and names and learn nothing. When the proof is put forward – you ignore it – and recycle the same old studies that aren’t even acknowledged by respectable scientists. Karl puts in comments about splicing – Hugo corrects him but next week he will revert back to the same flawed thinking and conspiracy theories (such as I work for Monsanto) or personal attacks. But none of you can change the facts.

    A study needs to be replicated because if it is correct, under the same conditions we get the same result. If we can’t get them, they probably occurred by chance, had bad sampling, methodology or similar.

    They need to be published in a respectable journal, because if they aren’t, it is probably because there is something wrong with it. Anyone can start a journal. It is earning the experts respect that is the hard part. The roulette book was self-published.

    So how many peer reviewed, replicated studies is it going to take (by people who actually know about GMOs, not physicists and sociologists) to convince you? Name your number because there comes a time when you have to admit (like I did) that you are just plain wrong and I have proof and you don’t. All you have is a list of names.

    And I am sorry Karl, but I will bring up insulin over and over. It was the best experiment I have ever conducted into the human condition. How many times can I raise the issue of insulin and sit back and watch GPs like Bleaney ignore the facts over and over – refusing to acknowledge what is written here for everyone to see? Thousands it seems – because she (like you) cannot explain why it is ok to inject genetically modified insulin (dipped in MOULD) but post rubbish about Monsantos ‘aggressive expansionist agenda’.

  54. Bob Phelps

    November 25, 2013 at 2:15 pm

    Hey David: the evidence of absence (and presence) of GM canola in Tas is here: http://www.dpiw.tas.gov.au/inter,nsf/WebPages/CART-6795X9?open Aventis (now Bayer) GM canola field trials went AWOL in the late ’90s.
    Some processed GM soy and corn as animal feed may also be imported from mainland Australia.

  55. mark hawkes

    November 25, 2013 at 2:02 pm

    Dr Julie Geraghty MBChB DCH FFHom

    Dr. Helen Beaumont MB ChB, MRCGP, DRCOG, FFHom

    Dr Willa Muir MBBS DRCOG MRCGP MFHom DFFP MIMP

    Dr Lee Burton MB BS BSc (Hons) DCH DRCOG DK(Bologna) MRCGP MFHom

    Dr Claire Stanford MBChB DRCOG MFHom MA(Oxon)

    WOW JEEPERS WTF is this another list of educated people against GMO’s ?

    No no no – this is a list of cranks or charlatans who support and peddle Homeopathy.

    Who gets my point?

  56. Bob Phelps

    November 25, 2013 at 1:46 pm

    Perhaps Ms Taylor would consider the following a credible study of CSIRO’s weevil resistant GM field peas, which found them to be allergenic: Abstract: The development of modern gene technologies allows for the expression of recombinant proteins in non-native hosts. Diversity in translational and post-translational modification pathways between species could potentially lead to discrete changes in the molecular architecture of the expressed protein and subsequent cellular function and antigenicity. Here, we show that transgenic expression of a plant protein (R-amylase inhibitor-1 from the common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L. cv. Tendergreen)) in a non-native host (transgenic pea (Pisum sativum L.)) led to the synthesis of a structurally modified form of this inhibitor. Employing models of inflammation, we demonstrated in mice that consumption of the modified RAI and not the native form predisposed to antigen-specific
    CD4+ Th2-type inflammation. Furthermore, consumption of the modified RAI concurrently with other heterogeneous proteins promoted immunological cross priming, which then elicited specific immunoreactivity of these proteins. Thus, transgenic expression of non-native proteins in plants may lead tothe synthesis of structural variants possessing altered immunogenicity. Transgenic Expression of Bean r-Amylase Inhibitor in Peas Results in Altered Structure and Immunogenicity VANESSA E. PRESCOTT,† et. al. Journal of Agricultural & Food Chemistry 2005, 53, 9023-9030
    L-tryptophan produced by recombinant microbes that induced esophinilia-myalgia syndrome in many users, killed ~37 and maimed ~5,000 people, in 1988-89. Showa Denko paid out over $1 billion to compensate the victims.
    A Brazil nut gene experimentally cut and pasted into soy induced allergic reactions in those susceptible to Brazil nut allergy.
    There’s much more to say but, in summary, we can assert with confidence that some varieties of genetically manipulated plants harm experimental animals and maybe us. Our regulators exercise insufficient precaution.

  57. Martin S

    November 25, 2013 at 12:34 pm

    And finally:

    Leda Raptis, PhD in Molecular Cell Biology, Professor, Cancer Researcher, Queen’s University, Canada

    Irina Rodriguez de la Flor, JD, Health Defense Organization, Spain

    Suman Sahai, PhD in Genetics from the Indian Agricultural Research Institute, Delhi / Gene Campaign, India

    Peter Saunders, PhD, Professor E meritus in Applied Mathematics, King’s College London / Co- Director Institute of Science in Society, UK

    David Schubert, PhD, Professor and Director of Cellular Neurobiology, The Salk Institute for Biological Studies, USA

    Gilles – Eric Seralini, PhD, President of the Scientific Council of the Comité de Recherche et d’Information Indépendantes sur le génie GENétique (CRIIGEN), France

    José – Antonio Serratos – Hernández, PhD, Expertise: Biotechnology/ Biosafety/ Community Health, Universidad Autónoma de la Ciudad de México (UACM), Mexico

    Vandana Shiva, Ph.D. in Foundations of Quantum Theory, Navdanya /Research Foundation for Science Technology and Ecology, India

    Av Singh, PhD PAgriculture, Just Us! Centre for Small Farms, Canada

    Eva Sirinathsinghji, PhD, Molecular Biologist, Institute of Science in Society, UK

    Gerald Smith, PhD, Professor Emeritus, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Michigan, USA

    Ricarda A. Steinbrecher, PhD, biologist and molecular geneticist, Director EcoNexus, UK

    Mark Stemen, PhD in Environmental History, Associate Professor, USA

    Andy Stirling, PhD, Professor of Science and Technology Policy, University of Sussex, UK

    Peter Stonehouse, PhD, Department of Food, Agricultural and Resource Economics, University of Guelph, retired, Canada

    Beatrix Tappeser, PhD, Expertise: Ecology/Molecular Biology/Plant Physiology, Board Member Federation of German Scientists, Germany

    Antonio Turrent, PhD, Professor in Agricultural Science, Instituto Nacional de Investigaciones Forestales, Agrícolas y Pecuarias (INIFAP), Mexico

    John Vandermeer, PhD, Professor, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Michigan, USA

    Christian Vélot, PhD, France

    Henk Verhoog, PhD, The Netherlands

    Hermann Waibel, PhD, Professor, Germany

    Tom Wakeford, PhD, Senior Research Fellow, Interdisciplinary Social Sciences in Health, University of Edinburgh, UK

    Ernst Ulrich von Weizsäcker, Professor of Biology, Co- Chair International Resource Panel of the UN Environmental Programme / Co -President The Club of Rome, Germany

    David S. Williams, PhD in Neurobiology, Cellular and Molecular Biologist, Professor, University of California, Los Angeles, USA

    Peter R. Wills, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Physics, University of Auckland, New Zealand

    Allison Wilson, PhD, Biologist and Molecular Geneticist, Science Director, The Bioscience Resource Project, USA

    Madeleen Winkler, MD, GP, The Netherlands

    Brian Wynne, PhD, Professor of Science Studies, Lancaster University, UK

    José Luis Yela, PhD, Entomologist, Professor of Zoology and Conservation Biology, University of Castilla- La Mancha, Spain

  58. Martin S

    November 25, 2013 at 12:33 pm

    And also:

    James M. Diamond, MD, American Academy of Pediatrics, USA

    Richard Doherty, MD, Professor Emeritus, University of Rochester, USA

    Paul Dorfman, PhD, Senior Research Associate, Energy Institute, University College London UK

    Steven M. Druker, JD, Executive Director, Alliance for Bio-Integrity, USA

    Alejandro Espinosa, PhD, Professor of Genetics, Instituto Nacional de Investigaciones Forestales, Agrícolas y Pecuarias (INIFAP), Mexico

    John Fagan, PhD, Earth Open Source, UK

    Eric A. Goewie, D.Eng, Professor, Entomologist, The Netherlands

    Doug Gurian – Sherman, PhD in Plant Pathology, USA

    Andrew Paul Gutierrez, PhD, Crop System Analysist, Professor in the Graduate School, University of California, Berkeley, USA

    Michael Hansen, PhD, USA

    Jack Heinemann, PhD, Professor of Genetics and Molecular Biology, Centre for Integrated Research in Biosafety, University of Canterbury,New Zealand

    Hans Rudo lf Herren, PhD, Founder and President Biovision Foundation / Right Livelihood Award 2013 / World Food Prize 1995, Switzerland

    Angelika Hilbeck, PhD, Chair of ENSSER, Switzerland

    Mae- Wan Ho, PhD, Geneticist, Biosafety Expert, Quantum Biologist, Institute of Science in Society, UK

    Frieder Hofmann, Biologist, Ecology Office (Ökologie Büro), Germany

    C. Vyvyan Howard, PhD, Professor, Nano Systems Biology, Centre for Molecular Bioscience, University of Ulster / Medically qualified Toxicopathologist, Ireland

    Don M. Huber, PhD, Professor Emeritus, Purdue University, USA

    Ketil Hylland, PhD, Professor of Toxicology and Integrative Biology, Department of Biosciences, University of Oslo, Norway

    Marcia Ishii – Eiteman, PhD in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Senior Scientist, Pesticide Action Network North America, USA

    Jonathan Latham, PhD, Virologist/ Molecular Biologist, Executive Director, The Bioscience Resource Project, USA

    Enrique Leff, PhD, Professor of Environmental Sociology and Economics, Universidad Nacional Aut ónoma de México (UNAM), Mexico

    Carlo Leifert, PhD, Dean of Business Development and Professor for Ecological Agriculture, University of Newcastle, UK

    Deborah Letourneau, PhD, Professor of Environmental Studies, USA

    Les Levidow, PhD, Senior Research Fellow, Center for Technology, Open University, UK

    Robert Mann, PhD, Senior Lecturer in Biochemistry and in Environmental Studies, University of Auckland, retired, NZ

    Jan Diek van Mansvelt, DSc, retired, The Netherlands

    Terry Marsden, PhD, Professor of Environmental Policy and Planning, Director of the Sustainable Places Research Institute, Cardiff University.

    Lyla Mehta, PhD, Fellow in Development Studies, UK

    Leonardo Melgarejo, PhD in Production Engineering, Agronomist, Brasil

    Martha Mertens, PhD, Expertise: Risk Assessment of Genetically Modified Plants/ Genetic E ngineering,Institute for Biodiversity Network, Germany

    Hartmut Meyer, PhD, Member of ENSSER, Germany

    Erik Millstone, PhD, Professor of Science and Technology Policy, University of Sussex, UK

    Rubens Onofre Nodari, PhD, Professor, Brazil

    Eva Novotny, PhD, University of Cambridge, retired, UK

    Leon Olive, PhD, Professor of Philosophy, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM), Mexico

    Mathias Otto, PhD, Biologist, Member of ENSSER, Germany

    Thibaud d’ Oultremont, PhD, Modeling and Simulation of Water and Land Ecosystems, Belgium

    Jean – Michel Panoff, PhD,France

    Bas Pedroli, PhD, Associate Professor, Land Use Planning Group, Wageningen University, The Netherlands

    Iv ette Perfecto, PhD, Professor of Natural Resources and Environment, University of Michigan, USA

    Michel Pimbert, PhD, Centre for Agroecology and Food Security, Coventry University, UK

    Alma Piñeyro – Nelson , PhD, Postdoctoral Researcher in Plant Sciences, University of California, Berkeley, USA

    Luigi Ponti, PhD, Research Scientist, Agenzia nazionale per le nuove tecnologie, l’energia e losviluppo economico sostenibile (ENEA), Italy

    Arpad Pusztai, PhD on biochemistry, protein chemistry, Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, formerly at the Rowett Institute Aberdeen,UK

    Paulo Cezar Mendes Ramos, PhD, Environmental Analysist, Chico Mendes BiodIversity Conversation Institute/ Member of the National Biosafety Technical Commission, Brasil

  59. Martin S

    November 25, 2013 at 12:32 pm

    and also:

    Fiorella Belpoggi, PhD, Director, Cesare Maltoni Cancer Research Center Ramazzini Institute Italy

    Charles Benbrook, PhD, Research Professor, Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources, Washington State University Pullmann, USA

    Philip Bereano, JD, Professor Emeritus, Technology and Public Policy, University of Washington / Vice President Washington Biotechnology Action Council, USA

    Pushpa Bhargava, PhD, Founding Director Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biolo gy, Hyderabad / Padma Bhushan Award 1986, India

    Rosa Binimelis, PhD in Environmental Sciences , Board Member ENSSER, Norway

    Eckart Boege, PhD, Professor Emeritus,National Institute of Anthropology and History, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM), Mexico

    Tom Børsen, PhD, Associate Professor, Aalborg University Denmark

    Gianluca Brunori, PhD, Professor, Italy

    Marcello Buiatti, PhD, Professor Emeritus, Italy

    Andres Carrasco, MD, Professor, Molecular Embryology Laboratory, University of Buenos Aires, Argentina

    Bert Christie, PhD PAg, Research Scientist in Agriculture and AgriFood, retired, Canada

    E. Ann Clark, PhD in Crop Production and Physiology, Associate Professor, University of Guelph, retired, Canada

    Joe Cummins, PhD, Professor Emeritus of Genetics, University of Western Ontario, Canada

    Silwan Daouk, PhD, Environmental Geochemistry, Laboratoire Côntrole Qualité, Hôpitaux Universitaires de Genève, Switzerland

    Béla Darvas, PhD in comparative Physiology and Toxicology, Professor, Chairman of Hungarian Society of Ecotoxicology, Hungary

    John Day, MD, Physician, USA

    Luigi de Andrea, PhD, Expert in Biosafety Issues, Switzerland

  60. Martin S

    November 25, 2013 at 12:29 pm

    Sarah Taylor, it is not true that there is only one study that finds harm from GM: Many are listed in Genetic Roulette, which has contributions from 30 senior scientists. The article above discusses why these haven’t been followed up. And here are some the scientists who have signed, so you needn’t be angry and spray irrational name-calling about”anti-GMO advocates” and “flat earthers” – these are senior scientists, such as

    Michael Antoniou, PhD, Gene Expression and Therapy Group, School of Medicine, King’s College London, UK

    Arnaud Apoteker, PhD; in Applied Biology and physicochemistry, Belgium

    Elena Avarez Buylla, PhD,Professor of Molecular Genetics, Development and Evolution of Plants, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM), Mexico

    Carlos H. AvilaBello, PhD, Professor of Ethnobotany and Agrcultural Sciences, University of Veracruz, Mexico.

    Susan Bardócz PhD DSc on biochemistry, pharmacologyProfessor of human nutrition, formerly at the Rowett Institute AberdeenUK

  61. David Obendorf

    November 25, 2013 at 12:20 pm

    Thanx Sarah Taylor for your spontaneous reactive rebuttals.

    I [b]do[/b] understand the predicament.

    “Please show [b]me[/b] the money!”

    The GM-caravan rolls on. 😉

  62. Karl Stevens

    November 25, 2013 at 12:12 pm

    Ms Taylor 9. You normally bring-up GM insulin around about now don’t you? Somehow you always fail to mention that type 2 diabetes and obesity are caused by the same corporate monsters you present as Tasmania’s saviors.

  63. Buck and Joan Emberg

    November 25, 2013 at 12:02 pm

    PREDICTION! MAJOR party politicians will agree, nod and smile that something MUST be done and something WILL be done. And then they will do NOTHING! Nothing, at least, until the situation is past critical.

    This is the growing story of cartels becoming the rulling elite!

  64. Sarah Taylor

    November 25, 2013 at 11:27 am

    BTW _ I fail to see how the author can claim that there is no evidence of anti-GM advocates being conspiracy theorists when this very comments section in TT as well as other GM articles on this site are littered with conspiracy theory-type comments and similar innacuracies. Wilson’ article in itself alleges conspiracies such as ‘only studies that the seed company have approved ever…journal’. Indeed the final half of her article alleges one giant conspiracy preventing anti-gm advocates from producing the proof that they are just so certain is out there if only they were allowed to publish it. So according to you all, anyone who has had the occasional coke or mars bar (amongst other foods) should be rolling around on the ground now with bulbous tumours and inflamed organs (and not from the sugar and fat content). It has got to the point where you need to be ridiculed because proof is not enough for you and that in itself is worthy of ridicule.

  65. Sarah Taylor

    November 25, 2013 at 11:05 am

    Anti-GMO advocates can hoot all they want. There is not one new piece of evidence here. The science backs GMOs. Science equals proof. The pro-gm studies are in the thousands but all the anti-GMO crowd can site is the pig study, followed by the rat study, followed by the pig study, followed by the rat study…both of which are rubbish. Very occasionally, some very unscientific anecdotal evidence is offered which can never be replicated. And in between there are various paranoid conspiracies alleged. Anyone with elementary knowledge of science methodology can see the clear flaws in the studies. Science is a numbers game and pro GM studies far outweigh anti-gm ones. Sign away your credibility if you like, scientists, it won’t change the facts no matter how hard you hope it will.

    Similarly, the same names Heidemann and Carman, followed by Heidemann and Carman…boring. You have to ask yourself – if the evidence is not overwhelming and the opponents are not proper geneticists (the author is doing a PhD in Social Research) then you are little different to climate change deniers and flat-earthers. There will always be dissenters but the evidence points overwhelmingly (thanks Hugo) to GMOs being safe. I have never seen a credible study that demonstrates GMs are unsafe despite offering to be the finders slave for life if they could come up with one credible, peer-reviewed, replicated study preferably being published in pubmed. There was a time I believed this rubbish so I searched high and low to back my claims. But they just didn’t exist and as a rational person – I eventually had to accept the evidence. If they were unsafe, toxic, allergenic or had any of the alleged properties claimed by anti-gm advocates, entire populations of people would now be sick (since GMOs are widespread and largely unlabelled). It is simply irrational to believe anything else. It is more irrational to repeatedly ignore the fact that some medications are genetically modified (with no infections at injection sites btw) because they are life saving yet shout from the roof-tops about conspiracies where food and Monsanto are concerned. Science doesn’t rule here – hysteria and mob-rule do. And yes David – there is evidence of absence – everywhere you look and a clever play on words won’t change the facts – that is not scientific either.

    So is 2000 studies to nil and forty years of studies in the lab and in the field not enough for you? What about the trillions of GM meals consumed without result? Well how many studies is it going to take to convince you? 3000? 4000? It is time to put a number on this because it is getting seriously ridiculous. You will go down in history – being ridiculed for the flat-Earthers you are. And just like flat-Earthers you still won’t change your mind.

  66. hugoagogo

    November 25, 2013 at 1:30 am

    #3 they’re not splicing, it’s literally a shotgun approach.

  67. David Obendorf

    November 25, 2013 at 12:33 am

    Is the ‘absence of evidence of GM organisms in Tasmania, sufficient to claim there is evidence of absence?

    I think not…. any thoughts?

  68. Bob Phelps

    November 24, 2013 at 11:19 pm

    Monopoly profits at farmer and community expense are usual. For example, CSIRO and Cotton Foundation genetic engineers create GM cotton varieties at public and grower expense, containing genes for Roundup weedkiller tolerance and Bt insect toxin traits that Monsanto patented. Monsanto uses its monopoly to be the big winner: http://www.cottonchoices.com.au/cotton_choices_calculator_web.html as it charges up to $370/hectare licence fee for GM seed.

    Corporate gouging is aided and abetted by regulators that make science-based (not scientific) decisions with inadequate precaution. For instance, Food Standards Australia NZ dismisses peer-reviewed and published scientific studies showing harm to experimental animals from some varieties of GM crops without providing any references or data to back their opinions. http://www.foodstandards.gov.au/consumer/gmfood/adverse/Pages/default.aspx

    This is unacceptable from public servants, charged with safeguarding public health and safety, and the environment. Their approvals of GM foods rely on chemical analyses submitted by the companies and, sometimes, commercial animal performance studies which do not test the animals’ health status.

    And the Office of Gene Technology Regulator (OGTR) does not meet its responsibilities when issuing commercial GM licences. Under Section 58 of the Gene Technology Act 2000, licence-holders are required to be ‘suitable to hold a licence’. The OGTR often forgives relevant convictions, revocation or suspension of a licence or permit under a law of the Commonwealth, a State or a foreign country, relating to the health and safety of people or the environment. Pretending that the Australian branch of a transnational corporation is unrelated to and independent of the global entity that owns it is just a fiction.

  69. Bob Phelps

    November 24, 2013 at 11:18 pm

    To understand the full import of this story, consider who benefits and who suffers, where the power resides and how it is used. A corporate cartel owns and controls the global commercial GM and non-GM seed and agrochemical supplies. They collaborate through cross-licensing agreements for GM traits. https://www.msu.edu/~howardp/seedindustry.html

  70. Karl Stevens

    November 24, 2013 at 7:59 pm

    The boffins busily splicing genes are not interested in rational scientific arguments. They are only interested in their careers and how much money they will make. This has always been about ’empire building’ rather than ‘science’.

  71. David Abbott

    November 24, 2013 at 7:19 pm

    Back in 2000 the Tasmanian Branch of the Public Health Association of Australia and New Zealand reviewed the evidence and came out publicly against GM foods. I was Branch President at the time. Little if anything has changed since then except that the evidence is more disturbing about the effect of GM technology. Otherwise, the same spineless submission of FSANZ towards the industry giants, the same reversal of the all-important precautionary principle, the same dirty tactics, prevail.

  72. hugoagogo

    November 24, 2013 at 7:13 pm

    Not complaining, just pointing out that in usual (or at least, recent) public discoursi a consensus held by a group of scientists holds little weight until the word is prefaced by ‘overwhelming’.

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