My position is that I'm not aware of any reliable scientific studies showing that GM foods are dangerous to your health and, furthermore, in a free and open democracy with a free press it seems highly unlikely that such evidence is being suppressed. It seems even more unlikely that scientists would be part of this conspiracy.
Long term toxicity of a Roundup herbicide and a Roundup-tolerant genetically modified maize. I was also aware of the controversy surrounding this paper and I did not consider it "reliable." I tried to explain to my opponent that not everything that appears in the scientific literature is correct. In order to determine the scientific consensus on a subject like GM food, you have to read a lot of papers or ask the experts. You can't just cherry-pick the one or two papers that support your position.
A few weeks ago, I posted an article about the attempt to get GM food out of Girl Guide Cookies [19,853 People Can't Be Wrong ... Can They?]. This was a misguided campaign organized by a couple of women in
At that time, I posted an update from an article I found: With 2000+ global studies confirming safety, GM foods among most analyzed subjects in science.
A popular weapon used by those critical of agricultural biotechnology is to claim that there has been little to no evaluation of the safety of GM crops and there is no scientific consensus on this issue.There's plenty more where that came from [Good Food, Bad Food] [The Scientific Debate About GM Foods Is Over: They're Safe] [GMOs aren't the problem. Our industrial food system is] [A founder of the anti-GM food movement on how he got it wrong].
Those claims are simply not true. Every major international science body in the world has reviewed multiple independent studies—in some cases numbering in the hundreds—in coming to the consensus conclusion that GMO crops are as safe or safer than conventional or organic foods, but the magnitude of the research has never been catalogued.
Still the claim that GMOs are “understudied”—the meme represented in the quotes highlighted at the beginning of this article—have become a staple of anti-GMO critics, especially activist journalists. In response to what they believed was an information gap, a team of Italian scientists catalogued and summarized 1783 studies about the safety and environmental impacts of GMO foods—a staggering number.
The researchers couldn’t find a single credible example demonstrating that GM foods pose any harm to humans or animals. “The scientific research conducted so far has not detected any significant hazards directly connected with the use of genetically engineered crops,” the scientists concluded.
The research review, published in Critical Reviews in Biotechnology in September, spanned only the last decade—from 2002 to 2012—which represents only about a third of the lifetime of GM technology.
Now let's get back to that paper I referred to above. The journal is going to retract the paper because the data is unreliable [Controversial Seralini GMO-rats paper to be retracted]. You might think this will be a major blow to the anti-GM community but if that's what you think then you haven't been following the vaccine/autism controversy. In that case, retraction of the only paper supporting a connection between vaccines and autism just hardened the opposition.
You think that won't happen with the anti-GM community? Read: Ratted out: Scientific journal bows to Monsanto over anti-GMO study by William Engdahl. Here's what he says ....
The Journal of Food and Chemical Toxicology has apparently decided to violate those procedures, announcing it is retracting a long-term study on the toxic effects of Monsanto Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs)—GMO Maize it published a year ago.This is a good lesson for my students. Remember that in today's world you have to have science on your side. You can pretend that science supports your position by cherry-picking the scientific literature or quoting scientists out of context. Or, you can claim that the topic is controversial and hasn't been resolved one way or the other. This is a way of negating uncomfortable scientific evidence that goes against your position. When all else fails, and the science is overwhelming against you, you have to fall back on conspiracies—scientists know the truth but they are hiding it from the general public.
The bizarre reports come only six months after Elsevier created a special new position, Associate Editor for Biotechnology (i.e. GMO), and filled it with a former Monsanto employee who worked for the giant Monsanto front-organization, the International Life Sciences Institute, which develops industry-friendly risk assessment methods for GM foods and chemical food contaminants and inserts them into government regulations. Sound like something wrong with this picture?
It's the last resort and it generally means that you are about to lose the public debate.