Home > Uncategorized > French Study finds cancer risk associated with GM corn

French Study finds cancer risk associated with GM corn

As Monsanto and DuPont pour money into the campaign against Prop 37, which would require labelling of GMO foods, a French study finds a cancer risk associated with consumption of Roundup-Ready GM corn.

Reuter’s covers the story, beginning by citing “criticism from other experts.”  To pretend to be a news agency, however, the organization includes this:

France’s Jose Bove, vice-chairman of the European Parliament’s commission for agriculture and known as an opponent of GM, called for an immediate suspension of all EU cultivation and import authorizations of GM crops.

“This study finally shows we are right and that it is urgent to quickly review all GMO evaluation processes,” he said in a statement. “National and European food security agencies must carry out new studies financed by public funding to guarantee healthy food for European consumers.”


An English press release on the study is here: http://www.criigen.org/SiteEn/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=366&Itemid=130

Another article on the study, here — http://www.heraldonline.com/2012/09/19/4274523/first-peer-reviewed-lifetime-feeding.html — points out that the “medium” dosage in the experiment corresponded to the United States “safe” limit.  Great.

Three groups were given Roundup in their drinking water, at three different levels consistent with exposure through the food chain from crops sprayed with the weedkiller: the mid level corresponded to the maximum level permitted in the US in some GM feed; the lowest corresponded to contamination found in some tap waters. Three groups were fed diets which contained different proportions of NK603 – 11%, 22% and 33%. Three groups were given both Roundup and NK603 at the same three dosages. The final control group was fed an equivalent diet with no Roundup or NK603 but containing 33% of equivalent non-GM maize.

Researchers found that NK603 and Roundup both caused similar damage to the rats’ health whether they were consumed on their own or together. Females developed fatal mammary tumours and pituitary disorders. Males suffered liver damage, developed kidney and skin tumors and experienced problems with their digestive system. The team also identified a “threshold effect” where even the lowest doses were associated with severe health problems.

  1. Anonymous
    September 19, 2012 at 10:54 am

    If true, this news is truly troubling. It’s the “if” that bothers me. Check out this tidbit from SF Gate about the study:

    “…backed by CRIIGEN, the Committee for Research and Independent Information on Genetic Engineering, a scientific group that is hostile to GMO’s

    Sorry, I need additional studies not backed by such groups before I’ll believe it.

  2. Anonymous
    September 19, 2012 at 10:58 am

    Wait, I just read the ‘experts skeptical’ section of the Reuters article. Now I’m certain we need more studies that come up with similar findings before I’m the least bit concerned.

  3. Woo club
    September 19, 2012 at 11:15 am

    Shocking that a self-published study would make headlines. Usually media outlets are only interested in thoroughly-researched science, not scare stories. /sarcasm

  4. Mitch
    September 19, 2012 at 11:19 am

    The study is in Food and Chemical Toxicology, published by Elsevier. The full paper appears online — against copyright — here:


  5. Woo club
    September 19, 2012 at 11:22 am

    Nvm, is in a real journal.

    I may have to pause on feeding corn meal to the rats in the alley until replicates can shed some light on this.

  6. Woo club
    September 19, 2012 at 11:28 am

    “David Spiegelhalter of the University of Cambridge said the methods, statistics and reporting of results were all below standard. He added that the study’s untreated control arm comprised only 10 rats of each sex, most of which also got tumors.”

    They could have asked any number of Eurekans if they needed more rats for the trial.

  7. Mitch
    September 19, 2012 at 11:42 am

    I’m sure Dr. Spiegelhalter is a fine statistician — he’s not a biologist. Here, however, is an excerpt from the actual peer-reviewed paper:

    Control male animals survived on average 624 ± 21 days, whilst
    females lived for 701 ± 20, during the experiment, plus in each case
    5 weeks of age at the beginning and 3 weeks of stabilization period.
    After mean survival time had elapsed, any deaths that occurred
    were considered to be largely due to aging. Before this period,
    30% control males (three in total) and 20% females (only two) died
    spontaneously, while up to 50% males and 70% females died in
    some groups on diets containing the GM maize (Fig. 1). However,
    the rate of mortality was not proportional to the treatment dose,
    reaching a threshold at the lowest (11%) or intermediate (22%)
    amounts of GM maize in the equilibrated diet, with or without
    the R application on the plant. It is noteworthy that the first two
    male rats that died in both GM treated groups had to be euthanized
    due to kidney Wilm’s tumors that were over 25% of body weight.
    This was at approximately a year before the first control animal
    (Emphasis added.)

  8. Plain Jane
    September 19, 2012 at 11:45 am

    Does anyone know how much GMO food there is in dog food? It seems like the number of dogs with cancer has increased. Since they generally eat the same highly processed food day after day, most of which have corn or rice base, it seems like (in my very inexpert opinion) that this could at least be contributing to an increase in cancer.

  9. Woo club
    September 19, 2012 at 12:02 pm

    Not sure about dogs. The human cancer inidence rate rate in this country has been trending downward during the previous 15 years. All varibales considered, my inexpert option is that people must be eating less of their own dog food.

  10. What Now
    September 19, 2012 at 12:28 pm

    PJ, it has been a number of years now,but a late family member of mine was a veterenarian and as I recall, cancer was the #1 cause of canine fatalities as far back as the early 1970’s.At that time (according to this person), many veternearians considered the food sources suspect as most dog food was composed primarily from the rejected meats, floor and vat scrapings form slaughter houses, and cereal fillers.

  11. Jack Sherman
    September 19, 2012 at 12:29 pm

    Please cite your source on the “downward trend” of cancer rates in the U.S..

    “The U.S. leads every other industrialized nation in the incidents of every major disease, including suicide, shorter life-expectancy, and infant mortality”. (JAMA, May, 2005).

    The European Union employes “Precautionary Principles” that require corporations to prove products are safe before importation/distribution; the U.S. relies on cost/benefit analysis.

    This is why the identical brand-name products China exports to the EU lack toxic ingredients, while those exported to the U.S. contain them. (“Exposed”. by Mark Shapiro).

    It is astounding that a life-long republican like Rex Bohn would vote against labeling GMO foods. A “conservative” voting to diminish citizen’s freedoms to chose?

  12. Woo club
    September 19, 2012 at 12:41 pm

    Jack Sherman: http://apps.nccd.cdc.gov/uscs

    Maybe this trend has more to do with some more serious risk factor than dog food. Fluoride? Vaccinations?

  13. Mitch
    September 19, 2012 at 12:43 pm

    The excerpt I quoted from the study mentions kidneys, so I figured I’d check on the trend of kidney cancer in the last fifteen years. Incidence is up by about three to five times the amount that incidence is down over all cancers, Woo Club.

    All cancers:

    Kidney and renal pelvis:

    Don’t the kidneys have something to do with getting problematic chemicals out of the body?

    Anyway, I suspect any relevant signal in the trend of “incidence of cancers at all sites” is completely swamped by the noise from reduced tobacco smoking rates. Maybe there should be “incidence of cancers at all sites except lung and throat?” Hey, looky looky: lung cancer incidence is down a lot among men, and up a bit among women. Why, oh why would that be? Hard to tell, goldarnit, isn’t it? You’ve come a long way baby.

  14. September 19, 2012 at 12:45 pm

    He’s not diminishing anybody’s freedom to choose. Many “natural’ food companies already label their foods as non- GMO. Why not let those companies expand on that technique since, as this L.A. Times article points out, 70% of the foods on our grocery shelves contain at least some GMO ingredients.

    It makes more sense to allow the health food companies to use that to try and boost their sales than to add additional labeling to 70% of our foods. You should assume foods contain GMO unless you’re told otherwise.

  15. Woo club
    September 19, 2012 at 12:55 pm

    Mitch, the kidney cancer rate was increasing in the 70s and 80s also… was this due to some other factor? Maybe people were getting a low dose of GMO from scientists thinking about creating them. Obesity is apparently a major risk factor for kidney diseases. People may have been becoming more obese over the years due to eating too much dog food.

  16. Mitch
    September 19, 2012 at 1:10 pm

    Woo club,

    Why not? GMO-related thoughtwaves must have been having their impact, just as smart meter radiation causes devastating effects even before the smart meters are turned on to begin radiating.

    However, I do find the study at hand troubling, regardless of who it is from or how many control animals were involved. Have you read it? If I understand correctly, it’s the first time rats were followed for more than three months. And it’s presenting results that appear relevant at low doses. I don’t believe the study’s authors are asserting it is the Roundup Ready corn which is causing the deaths — but having Roundup Ready corn means farmers use Roundup, and it’s the pesticide that’s implicated. [Nope, correction: it appears it can be the GMO on its own. Read the study, linked up thread. –Mitch] Will that make us feel better when we get kidney tumors from our food? I know, it’s just to feed the world, right? And we’re doing a swell job of it.

    Kidney cancer going up even before GMOs? Can you think of any other pollutants that the body might be working overtime to get rid of? Or do kidney cancer rates just rise naturally thanks to democracy?

  17. Anonymous
    September 19, 2012 at 1:16 pm

    Fred said: “You should assume foods contain GMO unless you’re told otherwise.”

    Indeed. But not everyone knows that. Hence the desire for labeling. Get it now?

  18. Luther Burbank
    September 19, 2012 at 2:29 pm

    GMOs: you eat them, they eat you.

  19. September 19, 2012 at 3:38 pm

    Anonymous :
    Indeed. But not everyone knows that. Hence the desire for labeling. Get it now?

    Yep, that’s why the 30% of foods that don’t have GMOs in them might want to be labeled as such. Most people probably don’t care. I don’t know anyone personally that does. The commentators I’ve read elsewhere that support the initiative don’t seem to care that much, either. They just say why not? They don’t feel it’s going to cost them anything.

  20. Jack Sherman
    September 19, 2012 at 4:04 pm

    “Can you think of any other pollutants that the body might be working overtime to get rid of?”

    Pthalates in plastics.

    It takes about 100 years for plastic to break down in landfills and in the ocean. Plastic proliferation began in earnest a little over 100 years ago.

    I’ve read that scientists suspect that the hormone-mimicking ability of pthalates is causing amphibians and fish to change sex, as well as, suppress the immune system, possibly causing the sudden, worldwide collapse of amphibians and other species. (Making all animals more susceptible to the cancer cells we all carry?).

  21. Woo club
    September 19, 2012 at 4:14 pm

    When some progressives discuss topics like climate change, rigor and validity are important things. When discussing other subjects, some progressives eagerly hop on the ascientific short bus. What’s up with that? There is some statistical significance.

  22. Anonymous
    September 19, 2012 at 4:16 pm

    When the 70% of foods that do contain GMOs are labeled as such, we’ll find out whether or not “most people don’t care.”

  23. Poncho Villa
    September 19, 2012 at 5:48 pm

    Que los ojos no ven, el corazon no siente.

  24. Plain Jane
    September 19, 2012 at 6:27 pm

    It’s possible that progressives would rather err on the side of caution and not use foods and products (or heat up the earth) until they are proven to be safe. When hiking do you eat strange berries and roots because you don’t know for sure they will kill you? Why should people eat foods we don’t know aren’t harmful, especially when there is a growing body of evidence that they are.

  25. Felix
    September 19, 2012 at 7:09 pm

    It’s so much happier to think we’re not killing ourselves and the planet too, isn’t it? Ostriches!
    Here’s just one: http://www.ourstolenfuture.org/NEWSCIENCE/human/cancer/cancerincidence.htm

  26. Woo club
    September 19, 2012 at 7:32 pm

    Plain Jane, help me understand the other side of the issue. Do you knowingly ingest foods that have some evidence of harm? How about foods with bunk evidence of harm? There would not be much left to eat.

  27. Plain Jane
    September 19, 2012 at 7:56 pm

    Just about everything is harmful if eaten to excess. Foods that we’ve been eating for thousands of years which are modified with chemicals and DNA from other species may have unforeseen consequences and people have a right to know what’s in their food. We require labeling of ingredients so people can make informed choices. If you agree that people have a right to know how much sugar, salt or MSG there is in food, why would you object to them knowing their tomato has pig DNA or that every cell in their potato contains pesticides that they can’t wash off? They know we don’t want to eat their Frankenfood so they don’t want us to know that’s what they’re feeding us. It’s about being allowed to make those decisions for ourselves.

  28. September 19, 2012 at 8:23 pm

    Joseph Mercola was one of the guys who got Prop 37 started, despite him living in Michigan(?). He’s one of those counter- conventional medicine guys against such things as vaccination and such. That’s how he made his fortune.

    He used to preach against drinking coffee. Now he’s changed his mind.

    I recently read of a study that came to the conclusion that fish oil has no beneficial effect on people’s cardiovascular systems. Not sure how significant that study is, but up until now it was generally accepted that fish oil was beneficial.

    So much for the longevity of scientific studies.

  29. September 19, 2012 at 8:26 pm

    ….If you agree that people have a right to know how much sugar, salt or MSG there is in food, why would you object to them knowing their tomato has pig DNA.

    I don’t, as you might imagine, despite being one that does read food labels. If you don’t like the lack of information that comes with certain foods, buy foods that have the info on the label you want. As I wrote here earlier, health food manufacturers are already labeling food as GMO free. Buy that stuff.

  30. jr
    September 19, 2012 at 8:27 pm

    A good rule of thumb to use when buying food products: Look at the label and if you cannot pronounce (or know) any of the ingredients, don’t buy the product. Another rule, perhaps tongue in cheek, is for seafood. Prepare all fish in a dark room. If it glows, don’t eat it.

  31. Plain Jane
    September 19, 2012 at 8:33 pm

    Who would buy potatoes if they were labeled as containing Bacillus thuringiensis, Jr?

  32. Plain Jane
    September 19, 2012 at 8:36 pm

    Even people willing to eat McFood don’t want to eat New Leaf potatoes so McDonalds stopped using them.

  33. jr
    September 19, 2012 at 8:44 pm

    Not sure what that is, Plain Jane, but probably not until I learned what that is. You bring up a good point in that produce is not labeled except for the country where it was grown and if organic. How is one to know about the produces’ history?

  34. Woo club
    September 19, 2012 at 8:46 pm

    People buy insecticides containing Bacillus thuringiensis. There are millions of applications on conventional and organic produce. A label stating “sprayed with bacteria” might cause false alarm.

  35. jr
    September 19, 2012 at 8:49 pm

    How can a company claim organic status if their product is sprayed with this chemical?

  36. Plain Jane
    September 19, 2012 at 9:01 pm

    The difference, Woo, is that you can wash it off if applied to the surface of produce. You can’t wash it off when applied genetically.

    It isn’t a chemical, per se, Jr. It is a bacteria.

  37. Woo club
    September 19, 2012 at 9:23 pm

    I agree. The difference is woo.

  38. Ponder z
    September 19, 2012 at 10:28 pm

    “Roundup kills weeds because glyphosate (a salt compound) inhibits enzyme pathways, preventing plants from synthesizing amino acids necessary for growth. It basically stops plants from eating, so they die. When used according to label directions there is no carryover into the soil or groundwater. You may seed an area sprayed with Roundup seven days later, and your dogs and children can walk in any area sprayed with Roundup after waiting just 24 hours. Yes, glyphosate typically has a half-life in the soil of around 30 days. Well, everything has a half-life in soil. A 30-day half-life is amazing, to be so brief. ”

    The above is factually true. But Monsanto forces farmers to buy roundup ready seed to use in no-till, the farmer is forced to use this product exclusively. Multiplied by millions of acres. How can the environment flush this much roundup out of the soil? The ground water has to be tainted. Vote yes!
    If you dont know about no-till, you may want to get educated. When monsanto gets into the MJ biz, they will have a GMO hemp. Then ooops, some pollin got out, too bad.
    Or, how bout a nice forsty glass of soy milk, emmm.http://www.monsanto.com/products/Pages/soybean-facts.aspx

  39. firesidechet
    September 20, 2012 at 7:37 am

    Sure, and every one who ever ate french fries has eventually died.

  40. Mitch
    September 20, 2012 at 8:16 am

    It’s now been something like a century since humans have learned to synthesize a wide range of compounds not found in nature. The rate at which such compounds are released into nature is growing exponentially. And we keep discovering that compounds designed to disrupt the metabolic process of “enemy” life forms also disrupt various metabolic processes of our own species. Is this really so shocking, so hard to understand, that the Fox people comfortably trivialize it?

    The difference between chemistry and biology is simple: autonomous reproduction. You synthesize a kilogram of a chemical, you’re stuck with a kilogram of that chemical. You alter a life form to produce something, you get that something, and then more of that something, and then more of that something, until such time as you’ve completely eliminated the life form you’ve created. Of course, we are assured of the fail-safes in place. The problem is that the assurances come from the same people who have brought us Bhopal, the Gulf, the Valdez, Chernobyl, and Fukushima.

  41. September 20, 2012 at 2:23 pm

    Mitch, just to keep the information not mis- with consistency here, as that’s the strongest.

    GMO is dangerous enough, in principle. It does not endlessly increase the amount of any substance ‘X’ (or genetic modifier Ý’or gene expression regulator ‘Z’,) present, in the way you said in this moment of enthusiasm.

    It can flood a given plant or animal population, however, and there is enough smirking already going on about the ‘oops, some pollen will get away’ spread as mentioned above.

    One of the truly difficult decisionings of our time, how far to let the GMO programme go, for its benefits, in absence of the science to really understand its potentials. See for instance last week’s enthusiastic public release of the new knowledge that 80% of formerly-known-as-junk DNA isn’t junk whatsoever, but is a huge source of what controls DNA expression in every cell.

    In America, as far as I know, _all_ buy-in-supermarket corn essentially is genetically modified. Roundup-ready and BT-effective modifications only, as far as memory serves, which are possibly as harmless as any of this can be — if not really known.

    In Europe, no corn or anything else has this, because the precautionary premise is followed.

    Labeling is the only possibility of making the system here the least bit fair — and putting the brakes on the other things scientists in all good enthusiasm would like to try.

    I once did quite a bit of business (on communicating their sustainable agriculture policy) with a very much better behaved leader in the field than Monsanto. It is possible to be better behaved. Regulation in the formal sense, via disclosure laws and local permission laws, as well as cultural morality, does work.

  42. Ponder z
    September 20, 2012 at 6:31 pm

    September 19, 2012 at 8:49 pm | #35

    How can a company claim organic status if their product is sprayed with this chemical?

    Because the GOVERNMENT is paid to let them. Milk from a cow is NOT milk. The shit in the box is “legally” milk.
    Just look at the lies form the current administration. Total bending of reality. Fabrication. Lies. And these assholes wonder why we have the 99%. (whom I do not support because of their anti capitalism stance)

  43. September 20, 2012 at 7:03 pm

    Ponder z, I think what you are referring to is the spraying of organic produce, during its growth, with the actual Bacillus thuringiensis and/or some of its products.

    There’s a link below giving some information as to why this is considered harmless. Milk, well, there are a lot of things that can grow in raw milk which can be pretty bad for you, on a direct basis, which is why for general consumption it’s regulated. Look into public health and how much it’s improved by such measures. For one example, how we don’t have cholera any more to worry about where there is that aspect and appropriate degree of regulation in parts of the world.

    Now, introducing the insecticide-producing genes of B. T. into plants is quite another matter. You have all kinds of things to consider that science is not up to much speed on, to give the example again of the very recent realization that epigenetic content in DNA has been there all the time as control. It’s a pretty good ‘wow’, placed against the decades of talk about understanding nature’s coding, and ‘junk DNA’.

    Thus my personal feeling that the ‘precautionary principle’ which much of Europe politically votes for and subscribes to, is not such a bad idea. And that for its needs, spraying of naturally discovered, and naturally produced BT is a quite sensible alternative.

    ‘Natural’, of course, just means we used science to realize something useful was there, and usable. Dedicated people are doing the same using all the new tools, to be sure we understand and stockpile all the strains of rice, for example, that have occurred and thrived in different conditions, so that we have those to hybridize when changes in habitat or climate require it.

    Anyway, some things I looked into, among others about this, that’s all. Here’s the link that turned up looking useful in a quick Google, which goes along with other defensible things I seem to have read on the subject. As can happen, when you are doing something with a scientific agriculture company. You get curious, and want to understand somewhat stable ground, as well as the voices which tend to discuss over it.


  44. September 20, 2012 at 7:37 pm

    Ok, since I have been on the air a moment here anyway, I want to balance a little more my thoughts after Mitch’s statement.

    There’s a sense in it that I do subscribe to, and in fact is in what I said also. You can indeed have a modified variety take over from a native species. It’s one of the big dangers, and where you don’t want the mentality of financial exploitation over-riding the good sense of caution any responsible knowledge worker, i.e. scientist, should have, but also can be tempted from.

    Thus the interest in the framework of sensible regulation, which every biological system, and in some sense even every physical system has. It’s only we humans who can mistake that this is necessity for any ecology to live forward..

    What I intended to reply to was the ‘get more of that something’ story. It kind of mixed the organism and the product, which doesn’t work that way. That’s probably enough to say about it, but again, I respect the intent as well as the moral sense which wants to be in the story, and both definitely belong there, from my sight anyway.

    Thanks for both, Mitch.

  45. Jack Sherman
    September 20, 2012 at 9:32 pm

    Fred Mangels
    September 19, 2012 at 8:26 pm | #29

    “…if you don’t like the lack of information that comes with certain foods…health food manufacturers are already labeling food as GMO free. Buy that stuff.”

    “If you don’t have the money to (shop healthy) or start your own business….ask your parents for it”.
    (Mitt Romney).

  46. What Now
    September 20, 2012 at 11:23 pm

    “If you don’t have the money to (shop healthy) or start your own business….ask your parents for it”.
    (Mitt Romney).

    Thankd for that, Jack.I hadn’t heard THAT one.
    Classic bullshit from Willard the anchor baby.

  47. Plain Jane
    September 21, 2012 at 6:55 am

    That was Mitt’s advise to kids who can’t afford college, WN. “Borrow it from your parents.” Presumably he was speaking to that tiny minority of kids who haven’t achieved financial success by age 18. Unspoken is that those who lacked the good sense to choose their parents more wisely shouldn’t be wasting borrowed govt. money they won’t be able to pay back on the low wages they will earn (all they are worth) in Mitt’s America.

  48. Just Watchin
    September 21, 2012 at 7:24 am

    Jack S…….How can you expect to be taken seriously when you quote someone and insert your own bias?…….the “(shop healthy)” shot. It’s really quite sad.

  49. September 21, 2012 at 7:26 am

    Most people probably don’t care. I don’t know anyone personally that does.

    Why does it not surprise me that Fred doesn’t know anyone who cares about what they eat?

  50. Woo club
    September 21, 2012 at 7:47 am

    Narration, “junk” DNA–introns, pseudogenes, intergenic DNA–has been a debate for decades. The recent publication regarding “junk” DNA functionality is not a new revelation to anyone who has been following the issue. The new publication is only meaningful to laypeople and the lay press in formally dispelling the black/white myth about DNA functionality.

    Many people base what they think they know about scientific discovery on the number and frequency of articles in popular press. Through black/white depictions and sensationalistic publication, popular press has been the source of people like Séralini’s credibility, not their thoroughly discredited work.

    Narration, you are engaging in critical thinking about these issues. I would challenge you to consider evidence beyond basic information as part of your analysis.

  51. Thorstein Veblen
    September 21, 2012 at 7:58 am

    GMO’s don’t kill people. People kill people. And maybe corporations do too, especially if liability and consequences for causing bad things is shifted to society as a whole while profit is exclusive to the shareholders.

  52. Mitch
    September 21, 2012 at 8:08 am

    “popular press has been the source of people like Séralini’s credibility, not their thoroughly discredited work.”

    Your argument would appear to be with the editorial board of Food and Chemical Toxicology, and its peer-review process. http://www.journals.elsevier.com/food-and-chemical-toxicology/ They found the paper acceptable for publication. Would you suggest that the popular press simply dismiss their peer-review process, because you disagree with it?

    Here’s the paper: http://research.sustainablefoodtrust.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Final-Paper.pdf

  53. Server Droid
    September 21, 2012 at 8:11 am

    “Eat recycled food– it is good for the environment and OK for you”

  54. Woo club
    September 21, 2012 at 10:01 am

    Mitch, the research will undergo scrutiny. This is the fourth time that I have read Séralini’s work published in a peer-reviewed journal.

    This study has easy to identify flaws. The rats are Sprague-Dawley. 11% > 33%. Corn = Roundup. I would like to be able to draw conclusions from this research. The only conclusions I’ve made are old rats die and Séralini has not improved his methods.

  55. Mitch
    September 21, 2012 at 10:15 am

    11% > 33%

    I’m guessing you’re referring to what the paper calls a “threshold” effect, where low doses show as much of an effect as high doses. Why would that discredit the results? Aren’t there plenty of scenarios where you needn’t expect a linear relationship between dose and response?

    Corn = Roundup


  56. Woo club
    September 21, 2012 at 11:10 am

    Mitch, the “jury is still out” on whether threshold carcinogens exist and if environmental regulatory bodies should consider carcinogenic thresholds. Threshold carcinogens are postulated to be non-carcinogenic up to the level where cells can no longer resist the carcinogenic effect and follow the same dose-dependent relationship of non-threshold carcinogens after the threshold level is breached. Threshold carcinogens–if they exist–are considered exceedingly rare. Formaldehyde and inorganic arsenic are frequently studied as possible threshold carcinogens.

    The multiple leaps of faith in Séralini’s conclusions are that both glyphosphate and glyphosphate-resistant corn are rare threshold carcinogens, the threshold for both is so miniscule that large experimental populations are needed to establish the threshold, and the small population in this study is large enough to determine that a threshold exists but not large enough to establish the effect of doses beyond the threshold.

    Another explanation is the study is more bullshit catering to politics over genuine safety concerns.

  57. Woo club
    September 21, 2012 at 11:25 am

    glyphosate rather.

    I have respect for concern over food safety. There is not enough being done to ensure a safe food supply. My concern is government resources being used to regulate non-safety issues that would better be used to rectify existing defects.

  58. Mitch
    September 21, 2012 at 11:27 am

    Here’s their suggested mode of action. Obviously, I cannot judge it, but the peer reviewers didn’t rule it out of bounds.

    Interestingly, in the groups of animals fed with the NK603 without R application, similar effects with respect to enhanced tumor incidence and mortality rates were observed. A possible explanation for this finding is the production of specific compound(s) in
    the GM feed that are either directly toxic and/or cause the inhibition of pathways that in turn generate chronic toxic effects. This is despite the fact that the variety of GM maize used is this study was judged by industry and regulators as being substantially equivalent
    to the corresponding non-GM closest isogenic line. As the total chemical composition of the GM maize cannot be measured in details, the use of substantial equivalence is insufficient to highlight potential unknown toxins and therefore cannot replace long-term
    animal feeding trials for GMOs. A cause of the effects could be that the NK603 GM maize used in this study is engineered to overexpress a modified version of the Agrobacterium tumefaciens 5-enolpyruvylshikimate-3-phosphate synthase (EPSPS) (Hammond et al., 2004) allowing the R tolerance. The modified EPSPS is not inhibited by glyphosate by contrast to the wild enzyme. This enzyme is known to drive the first step of aromatic amino acid biosynthesis in the plant shikimate pathway; in addition estrogenic isoflavones and their glycosides are also products of this pathway (Duke et al., 2003). They were not disturbed in our study. By contrast, the levels of caffeic and ferulic acids in the GM diets, which are also secondary metabolites from this pathway, but not always measured in regulatory tests, are significantly reduced. This may lower their protective effects against carcinogenesis and even mammalian tumors (Kuenzig et al., 1984; Baskaran et al., 2010).

    Moreover, these phenolic acids and in particular ferulic acid may modulate estrogen receptors or the estrogenic pathway in mammalian cells (Chang et al., 2006). This does not exclude the action of other unknown metabolites. This explanation also corresponds
    to the fact that the observed effects of NK603 and R are not additive and reached a threshold. This implies that both the NK603 maize and R may cause hormonal disturbances in the same biochemical and physiological pathway

  59. Plain Jane
    September 21, 2012 at 1:19 pm

    A hybrid grass (not GM), after growing in the same field for 15 years, mutated (possibly due to drought – other fields in the area also tested positive for cyanide), suddenly started producing cyanide gas and quickly killed the cows grazing on it. If the unforeseen consequence of manipulating food (and food of food) within the same species can come as a deadly surprise, the risks of manipulating and combining the DNA of multiple species must be many times greater.

  60. September 21, 2012 at 2:49 pm

    Woo club, thanks for your commentary. As far as critical thinking, I suspect I was well engaged in that long before American academia signed on with the second wave of that out of the Frankfurt School. A kind of family matter, yes, around Eureka.

    My engagement with genetic science probably began across a Sunday afternoon pub table in Oxford, where seating had me with a passle who felt they were one of the leading initial groups in the genome mapping. They were as haughty and donnish as you might suspect at first, yet at the end of more than an hour’s talk they were still leaning forward and eagerly discussing with me. Reason: my intuition had felt the information level they talked about wasn’t sufficient to define what cells accomplish in organisms, and so after querying this I had begun by asking what they knew about codes and coding in a wider world. Not much, as it turns out, but then I give them that they became fascinated. I am no expert there but could suggest a few things.

    If we understand how science operates, then the recent concurrence on epigenetic engagement of introns etc. as recently published by Nature where I read it is important. It means practitioners in the field agree on something which they’ll use as a foundational block to discover more. I.e. t’s not significant any more to argue about who calls it ‘junk’, though I appreciate the politics.

    I am not at all sure that the epigenetic part of the insight is more than recently established, as it seems rather recently admitted that genes aren’t a patch on what regulates them, in a tale that truly begins to accommodate what complexity science has been all about. That such an intricate arrangement of accomplishment and control is also partially based on trapped remains of ancient viruses begets a fascinating understanding, and I think that’s the sort of emotion behind a journal with the stature of Nature getting excited about it. And yes, that’s part of the ‘popular press’ of scientists themselves, while rather necessary, adept, and well placed in this, wouldn’t you agree?

    As Herr Veblen suggests above, it’s very important just what scientists agree to understand, as in that highly tendentious book ‘Mendel in the Kitchen’, by Nina Fedoroff, which i still have on my laptop. She was a quite highly placed plant geneticist before something bad apparently occurred to her on the way to the office, something about people not possibly appreciating all this good science to modify their foods, before she went off to become Condi Rice’s science advisor.

    She finesses the practices and dangers of genetic manipulation, trying to make out that it’s just Luther Burbank smearing pollens among pots of plants again (apologies to local Luther), and never mind the monsters they throw in a shed some place after shooting golden BBs coated with DNA into cells, hoping to save the one result where surface appearances seem to show it got to and stuck where they intended or hoped. And what happens when that DNA without historical stability decides it would rather move around, jump to another location per Barbara McClintock’s Nobel Prize insight — what will be the result of that move, in unexpected proteins produced, or overall morphogenesis?

    Hence my regard as someone trained enough in fields to appreciate the precautionary principle. And no, it doesn’t have any easy answer to its proper bounds, nor will, except as I believe that we humans have to come to accept both our influence and our lack of sole control in an entirely interdependent world. Which means some of the politics in these Humboldt weblogs have structural grounds and purposes.

    Not sure why I am getting wound up on these things today, but it each time ends on a smile. Which has to do with my appreciations of the wends and ways that persons each have their say, and their flavors of attention and speech here.

  61. September 21, 2012 at 3:08 pm

    The picture reminded me of this one:

  62. September 21, 2012 at 5:06 pm

    Bolithio: aack, but yes ;)

    I’m not going to ask how you managed to find that one…cheers.

  63. Toohey
    September 23, 2012 at 7:26 pm

    GMOs make me post stupid shit on blogs. What is your excuse?

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