Guest post: Farmer Haley’s Take on GMO Labeling

Earlier this summer, I wrote a post for farmer Mike Haley on what GMO labeling looked like from a consumer’s point of view — well, mine, specifically. He agreed to return the favor and talk about how labeling would affect his farming practices. It’s a perspective I haven’t seen elsewhere and that I think adds to the conversation on this complex and emotional issue.

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Farmer Haley’s corn fields

Before I get into the post itself, I would like to thank Jennifer Mo for getting me thinking more about the topic of labeling foods that are derived from genetically engineered (GE) crops and the effects that proposition 37 in California will have on farmers like myself.

As a farmer who grows both GE corn and GE free corn, I often am asked how I feel about this labeling question.  I must admit while I lean towards no labeling, I also have mixed feelings as to whether or not this is the correct stance to take on the issue.  Rather than give my opinions, I want to share how this proposition would affect my farm.

There are several reasons why we plant genetically engineered crops on our farm.  In corn, we choose to plant a variety that was developed to resist insects naturally rather than having to use insecticides that are not as effective and can be very harmful to the handler (me) if a mistake is made when applying it.  Depending on the type of soil, history and current weather trends, we often decide that insects will not be a major issue in a field and plant a non GE variety allowing us to save money, if the trend holds true and we don’t have any issues with insects in that field.

Currently, when it is time to harvest, no measures are taken to completely segregate corn varieties that are GE as there is no premium to do so; we get paid the same price for both GE corn and non GE corn.  It’s hard to tell what would happen if Proposition 37 passed, but I am assuming that my mill would want me to find a way to separate my corn into batches of non GE as well as that that contains GE corn. In other words I would be expected to follow procedures of identity preservation (IP) of all the seed on my farm.

Sounds simple right?

Not really, as I would have to start this process early in the spring.  While planting my fields, I would have to completely clean my planter out when switching from GE varieties as just one seed could completely contaminate the rest of the field.  Then in the fall I would have to do a thorough cleaning of my combine, trucks and wagons when switching between the same fields. Furthermore, it would also be necessary to shut the combine down for about 24 hours while the corn dryer had a chance to catch up so I could clean it out and switch it to the proper grain bin to maintain the identity of the seed.  All of this is possible, but requires valuable time to accomplish and could mean the difference between getting our crop harvested before it snows or not.

It doesn’t stop there, as the real tasks occur after my grain leaves the farm.  Each truckload will have to be tested to determine if the genetic makeup of the grain has been engineered before the farmer would be allowed to dump it into its specified bin, making the lines and time spent at grain terminals longer, as testing delays the process. For the grain terminals, it would also mean having to build more infrastructures that can handle both types of grain without contamination of the non GE varieties.  From this point on, the grain would have to remain segregated.  From railcars to processors and packers and finally the grocery store where it can be labeled as containing GMOs, each step is important and a level of quality control will need to be added.

All of this adds up in cost that will get passed on to the consumer.  On my farm it would be an added cost of about $.50 per bushel on a normal year, or 10 percent, and I could only imagine the increased costs would be similar through each step, adding a huge cost to the amount of food individuals spend on food each year.

All that said, I truly believe that if individuals want labeling, it should be provided, and it is in several ways already on a voluntary basis.  If one wishes to avoid GE foods, it’s simple to purchase organic foods or even look for non organic foods that have the Non-GMO Projects label on them.  These choices may cost more, but that is because it costs more to raise food and preserve the identity of foods by those standards.  This is where I have mixed feelings. Is it right to force everyone to pay more for food just so those who are concerned can have more choices?

The USDA, EPA , FDA and hundreds of other experts say it is as safe as other plants found in nature as other food and from my experience on my farm, I know it has a favorable environmental profile. I’m completely comfortable with it. But I understand others may not be and I’m glad to know the market provides clear choices for them.

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About Mike Haley

Farming’s n my blood! Love raising crops & Simmental Cows! N my spare time I enjoy writing, find me on Twitter @justfarmers & @farmerhaley email: farmerhaley(at)gmail.com

52 responses to this post.

  1. […] Guest post: Farmer Haley’s Take on GMO Labeling « Its Not Easy To Be Green. Be Sociable, Share! Tweet […]

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  2. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and perspective on GMO labeling. You make an excellent point that some non-gmo products are already labeled and available in the stores. Perhaps the more common-sense solution is for consumers to assume that products are genetically modified or may contain GMO ingredients unless otherwise stated. It’s a lot like “organic” products … if they aren’t labeled as such, they probably aren’t organic and we can choose to pay a bit more to get what we want. As more consumers vote with their dollars, more choices will become available.

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    • Hi Small Footprints,

      I think expecting to get some GMOs if you buy processed food is a fairly safe assumption, since main GM crops include corn (and thus its many derivatives), soy, and sugar beets. In the produce aisle, there’s papaya, one type of sweetcorn, and some summer squash. Eating GMOs doesn’t alarm me, but because I eat relatively little processed food, I don’t actually end up eating very much that is transgenic. If the labeling initiative passes, as I expect it will, I think a huge majority of processed and packaged foods will be labeled. What I would want to see before voting for this initiative is a couple of well-designed studies that convince me that labeling will not translate to higher food costs for everyone.

      Reply

  3. Thanks to you both for entering the discussion. All too often people do not realize the extra costs associated with labeling. As far as I’m concerned those who raise certified organic produce do not get paid enough for all the extra work they do. I’d expect no less from a certified GM free label. If you want organic or GM free, you have to pay for it. The rest of us will be content taking our chances, and paying less.

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    • Hi Michael,

      I appreciate your thoughts as a farmer, and agree that if you don’t see GMOs as a public health issue (and I don’t), then it doesn’t make sense to have mandatory labeling that everyone ends up paying for. It will be interesting to see what additional arguments come out for and against in the months to come.

      Reply

  4. However, if you are not GM free, wouldn’t it be a simple matter of not switching and you selling your product to a company that is not labeled as GM free? How is that costing you more?
    You are not going to be tested to prove that you do have a GM product, why would you do that?
    That does not mean extra work for you; in fact, wouldn’t it mean extra work for the GM free farmer, the same way that it does for the organic farmer?
    I think all of the reasons given are nonsense. Label the products and let the consumer choose. All this greenwashing or GMwashing is simply trying to muddy the water.
    Michael, you have a very persuasive story if you were trying to grow GM free corn and sell it as such. Since you do a mix of both, then why not sell it all as GM corn, and just keep going on as you are?

    Amy J

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    • Posted by Mike Haley on 08/27/2012 at 18:45

      Hi Amy,

      I suppose it all depends on how the proposed law gets interpreted.  I suppose it could be interpreted that foods could just be labeled as “GMO free” or “may contain GMO’s”.  

      However, if this is the case we all all arguing over nothing as to label a product GMO free it would still have to be tested or certified as such and all other foods would bear a generic “may contain” statement.  This is basically what we have available now as the products that are guaranteed to be GMO free are labeled as such and anything that may contain GMO’s simply are not labeled.

      Good perspective, thanks for the feedback!

      Reply

    • Hi Amy,

      I’m rereading the text of the proposition now, and it’s not clear to me how it would be implemented or how it would apply to farmers like Mike who grow both GE and non-GE crops. My best guest is that all of his corn would go into products labeled, ‘may be partially produced with genetic engineering.’ In that case, is it really a meaningful label? With our current food processing sytems that do not segregate GE from non-GE, it seems like this ‘may’ label would include a lot of our non-organic food without a meaningful way to distinguish between GE and non-GE (but not organic). In order to avoid GE, we’d still have to buy organic only. On the other hand, if the law is interpreted to distinguish between GE and non-GE non-organic, we run into the issues that Mike is describing. Here’s the full text, if you’d like to take a look! http://vig.cdn.sos.ca.gov/2012/general/pdf/37-title-summ-analysis.pdf

      The legislative analyst’s official estimate is that the cost to the state for regulating would be up to $1 million dollars per year, which isn’t too unreasonable, and there might be additional costs due to litigation over violations (the party suing doesn’t have to prove damages in order to sue). I’m interested in seeing an estimate on what impact labeling would have, if any, on food prices for consumers.

      Reply

      • Posted by Karri H - small farmer of peahces, plums & kids & educator on 08/28/2012 at 09:17

        As Prop 37 is written, and affirmed by the State Attorney General, the Superior Court and the Leg Analysts Office, farmers will be liable for record keeping and can be sued without evidence (think Prop 65). Farmers who don’t grow GMOs will also be subject to the same record keeping. And, for those of us that grow non GMOs, but grow have fruits or veggies that are processed, in California, they will not be able to be labeled as “Natural” even if nothing is added. For example, I grow cling peaches which get juiced, canned, jarred or frozen…in CA, my peach can no longer be labeled as “natural”…in neighboring states they can still be labeled “Natural”. Same goes for plums and grapes that are sent to the dehydrator to become prunes or raisins; or grapes that are juiced (wine exempt); nuts into butter and so on. Also, Prop 37 would exempt all dairy, all meats, and all alcohol…and all organic…even if they contain GE ingredients. If you want GMO free, Whole Foods and Trader Joes carry their private labeled GE-free foods, plus there are a myriad of other certified organic and GE free product lines with voluntarily labeling and marketing. As far as processed foods go, up to 70% contain some sort of GE ingredient…and those ingredients (crops) have undergone 7-15 years of safety testing (other foods, including organics do not go through testing) and are equivalent or better than their counter-parts. GMO food help contribute to not only our food security, but to third world countries’ food security where civil unrest erupts when people go hungry. The also contribute to less pesticide use, lower CO2 emissions (because of low till and no till which mean less tractor passes through the fields and less fuel consumption), better utilization of limited resources such as water and increased yield on less land. Genetic engineering has also contributed to numerous health benefits such as insulin for diabetics and vaccines. Bottom line, Prop 37 was written by rain-maker attorneys and was poorly written to negatively impact all of agriculture.

        Reply

        • “and those ingredients (crops) have undergone 7-15 years of safety testing (other foods, including organics do not go through testing) and are equivalent or better than their counter-parts.”
          Really…can you tell me who “tested” them and who says they are better, the scientist that are funded and required to ask permission from the corporations making the products before publishing their results?

          Reply

          • “GMO food help contribute to not only our food security, but to third world countries’ food security where civil unrest erupts when people go hungry.”
            This is simply a false statement period.
            http://www.soilassociation.org/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=stG942kAT_w%3D&tabid=1807

            http://earthopensource.org/files/pdfs/GMO_Myths_and_Truths/GMO_Myths_and_Truths_1.3.pdf

          • Posted by Karri H - small farmer of peahces, plums & kids & educator on 09/24/2012 at 16:26

            In addition to replicatable and peer-reviewed studies, the federal agencies responsible for regulatory oversight of the products of agricultural biotechnology are the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA-APHIS) , the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Their responsibilities are complementary, and in some cases overlapping. USDA-APHIS has jurisdiction over the planting of genetically engineered plants. EPA has jurisdiction over planting and food and feed uses of pesticides engineered into plants. FDA has jurisdiction over food and feed uses of all foods from plants.

  5. […] Click here to finish reading […]

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  6. Posted by Andrea on 08/27/2012 at 22:02

    Excellent Post Mike! I am also a Farmer that plants both GE and non GE crops. Your post could have easily been describing my farm and my concrns about GE labeling. I am also worried about how Mandatory labeling of products containg GE will affect food prices.

    Reply

  7. […] the other hand, farmers believe that consumers have a right to know too. In a recent blog post, farmer Mike Haley carefully explained a side of the story that labeling loonies would prefer to […]

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  8. Posted by Robert Bright on 08/28/2012 at 09:09

    Seems to me that if you harvested the non-GMO crops first, you wouldn’t have to thoroughly clean out your equipment. (Who would care if some non-GMO product got mixed up with the GMO stuff?)

    As far as the expense on re-labelling, I’ve never heard of a company complaining or balking at the idea of re-labelling whenver they want to add a “New and Improved” sticker to their product.

    Frankly, this smacks of ‘GMO-washing’ as another commenter has said. All foods should be labelled so consumers can make an informed decision about the foods they consume.

    Reply

    • Hi Robert,

      Mike will correct me if I’m mistaken, but the issue is not so much with the actual label itself as with the crop segregation necessary to make the label meaningful. Even if he practices seed identity preservation, it doesn’t sound like the mills where all the grain goes to be processed currently have the infrastructure to handle GE separately from non-GE — and the same is true at other steps in the process. I can’t think of how adding that extra infrastructure could fail to translate into higher end costs for consumers. (On the other hand, if Mike’s corn went into a mill that labeled everything as ‘may contain GE ingredients,’ there would be no significant cost to the consumer, but would the label really mean anything?) If you have thoughts on how Prop 37 would be interpreted, I’m interested in hearing them.

      Reply

      • Posted by Robert Bright on 08/28/2012 at 14:48

        Hi Jennifer,

        I see your point, re: crop segregation.But it seems to me these crops should be segregated anyway. (For example, all the kerfuffle over neighbouring fields and cross-contamination, where Monsanto has successfully sued farmers for theft of their patented GM crops because the crops cross-pollinated with non-GM crops — or, in the more rare examples where farmers have sued Monsanto for contaminating their non-GM crops.) Either way, it seems imperative that GM crops should be safely segregated from non-GM crops. This SHOULD have been addressed by GM producers and the FDA before they were ever allowed to go ahead. Unfortunately, the problem now has to be dealt with retrospectively.
        There are still too many concerns regarding GM crops. (I admit, the amount of disinformation and misinformation on them is staggering and difficult to wade through.) But, from what I’ve gleaned from the information out there, the only safety research and testing done on them has been by the GM producers themselves, and is highly suspect. Even the FDA’s own scientists have said they are highly skeptical of Monsanto’s research and wanted more safety testing done before allowing GM products on the market. Some of the independent research on GM safety is quite frightening, and the fact that Canada and the US are the only two countries that do not label GM foods should make us nervous.

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        • Posted by Mike Haley on 08/28/2012 at 21:00

          Hi Robert – I have heard claims about Monsanto suing for cross contamination over cross pollination before but could never find a case of it ever happening. The real issue of any lawsuits is when a farmer saves seed that has patented traits and replants it for the following year. The only case that I have found that was even close to what you mention was Percy Schmeiser who knowingly cultivated a crop that had cross pollinated and was selling the seeds as having patented traits to neighbors.

          As far as segregation as you mention the only time it really happens is when crops are being grown for seed to sell to other farmers or in situations where organic farmers are farming close to conventional farmers (as I have to be aware of in certain feilds that are next to neighbors who farm organic).

          On your point about independent testing, is there such a thing? Somebody will always have to test them, the closest we can get is to have the government test them and then we would have to assume they are not paid off by lobbyists…

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          • Mike, there have been something like 30-some lawsuits, most settled out of court (because defendant was guilty or didn’t want to fight the 800 lb gorilla). Nine went to trial and all were found in favor of the patent holder. Schmeiser planted (on accident of course) 1100 acres of patent-protected seed and used roundup as directed. It was an airtight case, but still he’s viewed as a victim. These are numbers off the top of my head from someone close to the situation.

          • Only 30? That is refreshing as that’s a very small if almost nonexesitant percentage of farmers, especially considering farmers have been planting GMO crops for around 30 year.

            As far as Percy Schmeiser I am very confused as to why anyone would spray roundup on any crop unless they knew it was carrying the RR gene. In this case he went further than that though, he was harvesting and selling his seed as roundup resistant and profiting off of the gmo technology in the seeds he was selling to other farmers to plant. I encourage you to read the Canadian court documents, I found it very interested as to what played out then vs. The story he gets paid to tell others today.

    • Posted by Brian on 08/29/2012 at 06:14

      Harvesting the non-GMO crops first is one way to save some labor, but it wouldn’t always work that way. On our farm right now we have soybeans and soybeans that are sold for seed. We also have popcorn. With seed beans and popcorn we already have to take many of the precautions Mr. Haley wrote about. Planters, combines, grain carts, trucks, and so on must be thoroughly cleaned out before we deal with the seed at planting and harvest. This situation would not change if we grew all non-GMO crops (our popcorn in not GMO). Purity is the name of the game. If I could harvest my popcorn before all my field corn I would. Same for soybeans and soybeans intended for seed production. But Mother Nature plays a part as well. I could adjust planting dates, crop maturity, etc but at the end of the day the weather is going to play a huge role in when a particular field is seeded or harvested.

      We already end up switching between crops both spring and fall on regular basis depending on conditions. As I read Mike’s post, one thing came to mind. Those who are totally opposed to transgenic crops no matter what would likely say all that extra labor could be avoided by not having them at all in the first place. Food for thought.

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      • Posted by Mike Haley on 08/29/2012 at 11:03

        Hi Brian,

        Good thoughts. There are some benifits to our farm and the environment tht we operate in by using transgenic crops when appropriate. Therefore if I had to make a choice between one or the other unfortunately I would have to move to all GMO crops.

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        • Posted by Brian on 08/29/2012 at 13:00

          I wouldn’t disagree, Mike. If not for the drought bringing on some severe cases of spider mites in soybeans we would have gone this entire season with an over the top application of insecticide thanks to GMO and seed treatments. That means less equipment, less fuel, less compaction, less water to mix spray with, and so on.

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  9. I appreciate hearing from farmers themselves how they see the GMO vs. non-GMO debate. I think the bottom line is that people should have a right to choose what they eat. Without labeling that is not possible.

    Suggesting that a family buy all organic foods should they wish to avoid GMOs is unreasonable. Did you know that 75 years ago all food was organic? Yep, that means it was grown without a myriad of chemicals and genetically modified seeds and foreign dna. Organic foods cost a LOT more than conventionally-grown foods because the organic farmers do not receive subsidies.

    I’ll leave you with this link showing that non-GMO food sales (not certified organic) have increased by 21% recently. That is big. Farmers might want to check the pulse of consumers before deciding to continue to grow GMO crops.

    http://www.mnn.com/food/healthy-eating/blogs/sales-of-non-gmo-project-verified-foods-on-the-rise

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  10. My organic crops cost more because 40% of every dollar I take in from them in gross sales goes to labor. My GMO crops use less that 8% of every gross dollar in income. My organic operation will be subsidized double that of my conventional crops this year (our farm will receive 5600.00 for organic hoop house production and less than 2500.00 in subsidies for corn/bean production).

    It is completely reasonable to expect people that want non-GMO food to purchase organic. Just like its reasonable to expect people to purchase lettuce mix over Fritos if they want a healthier diet. You need to eat to live. One would argue that food and quality water are the two most important things in our lives and yet we expect them to be inexpensive.

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  11. Posted by Diane Jarecki on 08/29/2012 at 07:50

    What doesn’t this farmer get about the contamination issue being exactly why consumers are demanding GMO labeling? I don’t eat corn, nor anything made with it, because of my diet…but my kids and many of my friends do. Those who do should be able to ensure that they’re NOT eating contaminated corn if they wish. There are many studies showing just how harmful those genetic modifications are to us all, and to ecosystems. Farmers shouldn’t be allowed to grow both, and if you do then it should be more difficult for you to poison the rest of us.

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    • Hi Diane,

      I don’t consider genetically engineered foods to be contaminants any more than I do the ones produced by mutagenesis (exposure to chemicals that permanently alters the DNA of a plant in unpredictable ways), hybridization (many more genetic changes induced), polyploidy, or any of a large number of ways humans have been altering their food. Also, genetic engineering is staggeringly diverse, ranging from introducing aphid pheromones into wheat to warn aphids away (current trial ongoing in England) to using part of the coat protein of a virus to immunize a papaya tree. Each has different levels and types of risks and benefits, and I don’t agree that putting them all into the same category makes sense.

      There are a number of ways to avoid eating GM corn: don’t eat processed food, buy organic only, and avoid non-organic sweetcorn. But you should be aware that organic and non-GM corn are usually sprayed with Bt to control pests.

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      • I would also like to add that most NON-GMO corn (not certified organic) is sprayed with 2,4-D. This is falling back into popular use as demand for non-GMO corn increases. It has been used since the 1940s and is pretty mean stuff. Off label use does a whole lot of harm to the environment and impacts human health in ways that glyohosates, used on most current GMO crops does not. The demand for non-GMO without the willingness to pay for the cost of organic is actually leading us down a path of yet more uniformed consumerism.

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  12. I just want to say I feel deeply for all farmers and I respect the position they are in. Although, there are studies that are coming out that are proving GM’s to be unhealthy and dangerous for us, and if it is inconvenient for a farmer then maybe they should not plant the stuff then they wouldn’t have to worry about it, I’m not trying to sound mean…but I do believe we have a right to know what we are eating. Would you buy a house or a car without knowing anything about it (I realize this is a odd comparison) but seriously why does anyone expect us to buy things that are potentially dangerous. The DNA has been altered in these plants when you mess with DNA you really have know idea what the effect will be. The only studies that had been done until resent were done by the companies themselves and it has been shown that major parts were left out and they were only 90 day studies, no where near the length needed for studies. also would like to add to those who think we shouldn’t have to pay more…we pay less for food than any other nation in the world, I do not think it is unreasonable to pay extra to know what I am getting is actually good and not going to cause long term effects to myself or my children.

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    • Hi JustBeingMomma,

      If you’re referring to the latest study about tumors in rats as a result of GMOs, you might be interested to know that scientific reception to that study has been highly critical, both of the tiny control population, some very peculiar statistical analysis, and the choice of a breed of rat that is well known to develop tumors at the end of its lifetime. I have yet to come across a rigorous, well-received study that shows strong evidence of harm from eating any GMO. GMOs are also not a homogenous category but rather a technique that is used in various ways for various outcomes. Their safety is determined on an individual basis.

      As for the changes to DNA, please check out my newest post on other ways we seriously mess with plant DNA. Mutagensis, for example, involves exposing plants to chemicals or radiation to damage their DNA. We’ve been eating the products of mutagenesis for a long time with no observable health effects. The results of traditional cross-breeding plants is also highly unpredictable. You’ll remember the hybrid grass that produced cyanide that was wrongly reported as a GMO. It was the product of traditional hybridization. If anything, the transgenic process of inserting one trait is far more controlled than any other method we have of changing plants. We have no long term safety tests for hybrids, mutation-bred crops, polyploids, or organic produce either. In my opinion, eating highly processed food has a lot more evidence of risk than eating genetically modified produce. Yet sodas and hot dogs don’t seem to provoke the fear that biotech does.

      You already have the option of paying more for food that does not have GMOs. That’s what the organic label provides.

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      • Hello there Jennifer. You do realize the rats they used are the most common rats used in test studies they are the very same breed that is used by Monsanto themselves for their test studies. Do you know of any test where the outcome is 100% unquestionable? Do you know of any tests that went beyond 90 days for the other side? Or a well-received study that shows strong evidence of no harm from eating any GMO? If so I’d love to see it and I’ll bet you just about anything the rats they used were the very same breed of rat from this study.
        Here is a good interview that may answer any questions or things you don’t know about with that study.
        http://www.gmwatch.org/latest-listing/51-2012/14218-seralinis-team-answer-questions-about-their-gm-maize-study
        Just because we have been eating something for a very long time…does not mean it is safe…have you noticed the increase in diabetes, cancer, obesity and more?
        I’m well aware of organic, since that is what I buy mostly. I shouldn’t have to look for certified organic though, I should just know my food is safe. I think things are backwards here, the altered foods need to be labeled and tested instead of the real food.

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        • Hi JustBeingMomma,

          MIT’s recent summary of media and scientific responses to the study is a good one: http://ksj.mit.edu/tracker/2012/09/rancid-corrupt-way-report-about-science (the URL is a quote, not the author — a Pulitzer Prize winning science writer — Deborah Blum’s opinion). The embargo on journalists from discussing the study with outside experts looks especially bad for the integrity of the study’s results. From a statistics point of view, the study uses highly irregular statistical analysis, excludes results that would allow outside scientists to check their data, and shows no dose response (some of the groups fed more GM corn did better than groups fed less) or difference in effects between exposure to glyphosate and GM corn. Also, since basically all lab animals have been fed a diet with GM products for the past few decades in America, it’s very very odd that we haven’t noticed this dramatic result in any other studies. There’s a petition from the scientific community to ask Seralini to release his complete results. He hasn’t done so thus far.

          There are many GM feeding tests in which no statistically significant differences between groups was reported. Twitter expert @geneticmaize has a full spreadsheet of GM studies performed and their results. I don’t have it ready at the moment, you can ask her to see it. They are not long term tests, but we also have no long term tests for new hybrids (traditional breeding), the products of mutation breeding, polyploid produce, etc. There is nothing in GM, which again is simply a technology, that makes it inherently more dangerous than food grown by any other method. It is, of course, your choice to avoid it by buying organic.

          I don’t see that ‘altered’ food and ‘real’ food are meaningful labels. All of our food has been extensively genetically modified. I do see a difference between heavily processed and relatively unprocessed food. Our nutritional knowledge is incomplete, but everything points to the idea that more produce, less processed food, and more exercise will help prevent obesity, diabetes, cancer, and lots of other developed world ailments.

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        • Here’s the list of GM feed tests, plus links when the articles are available online. https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/lv?key=0AoiID3EuxBOYdExZSF9VQk1iR0pBXzlzaTFQYWp3SVE

          And a link to the study that looked at spontaneous endocrine tumor development in Sprague-Dawley rats who survived over 2 years: 81 out of a 100 rats developed tumors. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/521452 .

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          • If this study is going to be discredited for the type of rat used then all the studies saying they are “safe” need to be also…”.hundreds of carcinogenicity and chronic toxicity studies done on pesticides, chemicals, and GM foods by industry for regulatory purposes use the S-D rat. So if Seralini’s critics want to argue that the S-D rat is “the wrong rat”, they will have to chuck out all the pesticides, chemicals, and GM foods that were approved on the basis of S-D rat tests. That means, goodbye, glyphosate, as well as to many GM foods.” Yes, this strain of rat as they get older the rats used in this study were young, before the age where they are prone to more tumors. This is the first long term study, and they say they wish they could do more…but independent studies like this cost quite a bit and it is a step in the right direction. It would be nice if a company like Monsanto that has the money could produce one…but that will never happen.

          • So you are showing me
            one..there is conflict of interest in pretty much all these studies, http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0306919210001302
            two..Scientists must ask corporations for permission before publishing independent research on genetically modified crops. “”For a decade their user agreements have explicitly forbidden the use of the seeds for any independent research. Under the threat of litigation, scientists cannot test a seed to explore the different conditions under which it thrives or fails.”
            “For a decade their user agreements have explicitly forbidden the use of the seeds for any independent research. Under the threat of litigation, scientists
            cannot test a seed to explore the different conditions under which it thrives or fails.
            http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=do-seed-companies-control-gm-crop-research
            Maybe this? “it should be noted that most of these studies have been conducted by biotechnology companies responsible for commercializing these
            GM plants.”
            it should be noted that most of these studies have been conducted by biotechnology companies responsible for commercializing these GM plants.”
            Yeah, these studies hold a much better potential then the recent true study does…not.

          • You had mentioned the “small control group” In this study the very first sentence says…””Sixteen multiparous Holstein cows averaging 74 d in milk were used in a replicated 4 x 4 Latin square to compare the effects on animal performance of feeding whole plant silage and grain from a glyphosate-tolerant
            corn hybrid (event NK603), a nontransgenic control hybrid, and two commercial nontransgenic hybrids (DK647 and RX740).” Would you not consider that a small group? Yet this one is accepted by you right?
            http://www.researchgate.net/publication/10731966_Performance_of_lactating_dairy_cows_fed_corn_as_whole_plant_silage_and_grain_produced_from_a_glyphosate-tolerant_hybrid_%28event_NK603%29

          • Posted by Ben E on 09/24/2012 at 21:19

            The point is that for this type of rat, known to have a high rate of tumor formation, many more rats should have been used as controls to account for the expected number of tumors due to chance, rather than the treatment effects. And any scientific paper worthy of publishing should show statistics, otherwise, saying there were “more” tumors is meaningless. The link you gave to the dairy cattle feeding trial did not let me see the whole paper. Cattle are much more expensive/valuable than rats. But, the number of cattle is more appropriate for that trial because there were 3 times the number of “controls” than there were treatment experimental units. This reduces the likelihood that you will find differences where they do not exist (false positives). Seralini’s experiment appears as if it were “rigged” to give as many positives as possible, yet higher rates of GM feed did not result in equal or higher rates of tumors (even without statistics to verify the differences) and in some cases were the same as the controls. So in summary, it was unworthy of being published, and it adds nothing to the scientific debate (other than that some people have learned how to game the system to get junk science in the public eye before it can be seriously critiqued).

        • I find humor in the fact you was to talk about the rats used in the study when the fact is…The strain of rat used is the same strain Monsanto used in their regulatory study for the same corn variety as well as for other varieties of GE
          crops and other biotech companies use Sprague Dawley rats as well. If the argument is the strain of rat then the argument is biased unless you want to complain about the regulatory studies as well.

          Reply

          • Hello Just Being Momma,

            The point was that that particular strain of rat develops tumors at a high rate with age. The other studies were shorter in duration, which is why this was not an issue. However, if you are conducting a long term study, the fact that these rats spontaneously develop tumors towards the ends of their lives is extremely relevant. The Seralini team has thus far refused to release data that would enable independent scientists to assess their statistics, which is…peculiar.

            Also, the limitations on research you mention were greatly eased in 2010 (text of the article, which is behind a paywall, is located here: http://www.agbioworld.org/newsletter_wm/index.php?caseid=archive&newsid=3021 ), and evidenced in part by the publication of Seralini’s study. There are also tests on GMOs not developed through corporations, such as on the University of Hawaii’s transgenic papaya, that have passed peer review. In order to meet Japan’s extremely strict GM standards for import, the papaya went through extensive nutrition, allergenicity, and gene flow studies.

            I am not seeing any close connection between the Science Media Centre and Monsanto. They draw their funding from a wide variety of sources to avoid conflict of interest. Monsanto is not a current sponsor. http://www.sciencemediacentre.org/pages/about/funding.htm . Would you also accuse them of shilling for Cambridge or L’oreal, which are among their 2012 sponsors?

            I have no financial interest in GMOs and am open to rigorously conducted studies that meet general scientific consensus. If large numbers of biologists and scientists started finding tumors in animals fed GMOs, I would pay attention. However, I haven’t found a single non-activist site, biologist, or statistician willing to get behind this new study, and that speaks volumes to me. I’m happy to continue eating Mike Haley’s corn, GE or otherwise.

  13. Sorry left a link off for the last one…that was conducted by bio companies that make them…it should be noted that most of these studies have been conducted by biotechnology companies responsible for commercializing these GM plants.”

    Reply

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