On Cancer from Monsanto’s Roundup

Republished article follows – Source – http://www.gmoseralini.org/ten-things-you-need-to-know-about-the-seralini-study/


Ten things you need to know about the Séralini study

1. Most criticisms of Séralini’s study wrongly assume it was a badly designed cancer study. It wasn’t. It was a chronic toxicity study – and a well-designed and well-conducted one.

2. Séralini’s study is the only long-term study on the commercialized GM maize NK603 and the pesticide (Roundup) it is designed to be grown with. See here: Why is this study important?

3. Séralini used the same strain of rat (Sprague-Dawley, SD) that Monsanto used in its 90-day studies on GM foods and its long-term studies on glyphosate, the chemical ingredient of Roundup, conducted for regulatory approval.

4. The SD rat is about as prone to tumours as humans are. As with humans, the SD rat’s tendency to cancer increases with age.

5.Compared with industry tests on GM foods, Séralini’s study analyzed the same number of rats but over a longer period (two years instead of 90 days), measured more effects more often, and was uniquely able to distinguish the effects of the GM food from the pesticide it is grown with.

6. If we argue that Séralini’s study does not prove that the GM food tested is dangerous, then we must also accept that industry studies on GM foods cannot prove they are safe.

7. Séralini’s study showed that 90-day tests commonly done on GM foods are not long enough to see long-term effects like cancer, organ damage, and premature death. The first tumours only appeared 4-7 months into the study.

8. Séralini’s study showed that industry and regulators are wrong to dismiss toxic effects seen in 90-day studies on GM foods as “not biologically meaningful”. Signs of toxicity found in Monsanto’s 90-day studies were found to develop into organ damage, cancer, and premature death in Séralini’s two-year study.

9. Long-term tests on GM foods are not required by regulators anywhere in the world.

10. GM foods have been found to have toxic effects on laboratory and farm animals in a number of studies.


Republished article follows – Source – http://mailchi.mp/9bee9cb4816e/uncovered-monsanto-campaign-to-get-sralini-study-retracted?e=353ceafdde

Uncovered: Monsanto campaign to get Séralini study retracted


Documents released in US cancer litigation show Monsanto’s desperate attempts to suppress a study that showed adverse effects of Roundup herbicide – and that the editor of the journal that retracted the study had a contractual relationship with the company. Claire Robinson reports

Internal Monsanto documents released by attorneys leading US cancer litigation show that the company launched a concerted campaign to force the retraction of a study that revealed toxic effects of Roundup. The documents also show that the editor of the journal that first published the study entered into a contract with Monsanto in the period shortly before the retraction campaign began.

The study, led by Prof GE Séralini, showed that very low doses of Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide had toxic effects on rats over a long-term period, including serious liver and kidney damage. Additional observations of increased tumour rates in treated rats would need to be confirmed in a larger-scale carcinogenicity study.

The newly released documents show that throughout the retraction campaign, Monsanto tried to cover its tracks to hide its involvement. Instead Monsanto scientist David Saltmiras admitted to orchestrating a “third party expert” campaign in which scientists who were apparently independent of Monsanto would bombard the editor-in-chief of the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology (FCT), A. Wallace Hayes, with letters demanding that he retract the study.

Use of “third party experts” is a classic public relations tactic perfected by the tobacco industry. It consists of putting industry-friendly messages into the mouths of supposedly “independent” experts, since no one would believe industry attempts to defend its own products. Back in 2012, GMWatch founder Jonathan Matthews exposed the industry links of the supposedly independent scientists who lobbied the journal editor to retract the Séralini paper. Now we have first-hand proof of Monsanto’s direct involvement.

In one document, Saltmiras reviews his own achievements within the company, boasting that he “Successfully facilitated numerous third party expert letters to the editor which were subsequently published, reflecting the numerous significant deficiencies, poor study design, biased reporting and selective statistics employed by Séralini. In addition, coauthored the Monsanto letter to the editor with [Monsanto employees] Dan Goldstein and Bruce Hammond.”

Saltmiras further writes of how “Throughout the late 2012 Séralini rat cancer publication and media campaign, I leveraged my relationship [with] the Editor i[n] Chief of the publishing journal… and was the single point of contact between Monsanto and the Journal.”

Another Monsanto employee, Eric Sachs, writes in an email about his efforts to galvanize scientists in the letter-writing campaign. Sachs refers to Bruce Chassy, a scientist who runs the pro-GMO Academics Review website. Sachs writes: “I talked to Bruce Chassy and he will send his letter to Wally Hayes directly and notify other scientists that have sent letters to do the same. He understands the urgency… I remain adamant that Monsanto must not be put in the position of providing the critical analysis that leads the editors to retract the paper.”

In response to Monsanto’s request, Chassy urged Hayes to retract the Séralini paper: “My intent was to urge you to roll back the clock, retract the paper, and restart the review process.”

Chassy was also the first signatory of a petition demanding the retraction of the Séralini study and the co-author of a Forbes article accusing Séralini of fraud. In neither document does Chassy declare any link with Monsanto. But in 2016 he was exposed as having taken over $57,000 over less than two years from Monsanto to travel, write and speak about GMOs.

Sachs is keen to ensure that Monsanto is not publicly seen as attempting to get the paper retracted, even though that is precisely what it is doing. Sachs writes to Monsanto scientist William Heydens: “There is a difference between defending science and participating in a formal process to retract a publication that challenges the safety of our products. We should not provide ammunition for Séralini, GM critics and the media to charge that Monsanto used its might to get this paper retracted. The information that we provided clearly establishes the deficiencies in the study as reported and makes a strong case that the paper should not have passed peer review.”

Another example of Monsanto trying to cover up its involvement in the retraction campaign emerges from email correspondence between Monsanto employees Daniel Goldstein and Eric Sachs. Goldstein states: “I was uncomfortable even letting shareholders know we are aware of this LTE [GMW: probably “Letter to the Editor”]…. It implies we had something to do with it – otherwise how do we have knowledge of it? I could add ‘Aware of multiple letters to editor including one signed by 25 scientists from 14 countries’ if you both think this is OK.” Sachs responds: “We are ‘connected’ but did not write the letter or encourage anyone to sign it.”

A. Wallace Hayes was paid by Monsanto

The most shocking revelation of the disclosed documents is that the editor of Food and Chemical Toxicology, A. Wallace Hayes, entered into a consulting agreement with Monsanto in the period just before Hayes’s involvement in the retraction of the Séralini study. Clearly Hayes had a conflict of interest between his role as a consultant for Monsanto and his role as editor for a journal that retracted a study determining that glyphosate has toxic effects. The study was published on 19 September 2012; the consulting agreement between Hayes and Monsanto was dated 21 August 2012 and Hayes is contracted to provide his services beginning 7 September 2012.

The documents also reveal that Monsanto paid Hayes $400 per hour for his services and that in return Hayes was expected to “Assist in establishment of an expert network of toxicologists, epidemiologists, and other scientists in South America and participate on the initial meeting held within the region. Preparation and delivery of a seminar addressing relevant regional issues pertaining to glyphosate toxicology is a key deliverable for the inaugural meeting in 2013.”

Hayes should have recused himself from any involvement with the Séralini study from the time he signed this agreement. But he kept quiet. He went on to oversee a second “review” of the study by unnamed persons whose conflicts of interest, if any, were not declared – resulting in his decision to retract the study for the unprecedented reason that some of the results were “inconclusive”.

Hayes told the New York Times’s Danny Hakim in an interview that he had not been under contract with Monsanto at the time of the retraction and was paid only after he left the journal. He added that “Monsanto played no role whatsoever in the decision that was made to retract.” But since it took the journal over a year to retract the study after the months-long second review, which Hayes oversaw, it’s clear that he had an undisclosed conflict of interest from the time he entered into the contract with Monsanto and during the review process. He appears to be misleading the New York Times.

The timing of the contract also begs the question as to whether Monsanto knew the publication of the study was coming. If so, they may have been happy to initiate such a relationship with Hayes at just that time.

A Monsanto internal email confirms the company’s intimate relationship with Hayes. Saltmiras writes about the recently published Séralini study: “Wally Hayes, now FCT Editor in Chief for Vision and Strategy, sent me a courtesy email early this morning. Hopefully the two of us will have a follow up discussion soon to touch on whether FCT Vision and Strategy were front and center for this one passing through the peer review process.”

In other email correspondence between various Monsanto personnel, Daniel Goldstein writes the following with respect to the Séralini study: “Retraction – Both Dan Jenkins (US Government affairs) and Harvey Glick made a strong case for withdrawal of the paper if at all possible, both on the same basis – that publication will elevate the status of the paper, bring other papers in the journal into question, and allow Séralini much more freedom to operate. All of us are aware that the ultimate decision is up to the editor and the journal management, and that we may not have an opportunity for withdrawal in any event, but I felt it was worth reinforcing this request.”

Monsanto got its way, though the paper was subsequently republished by another journal with higher principles – and, presumably, with an editorial board that wasn’t under contract with Monsanto.

Why Monsanto had to kill the Séralini study

It’s obvious that it was in Monsanto’s interests to kill the Séralini study. The immediate reason was that it reported harmful effects from low doses of Roundup and a GM maize engineered to tolerate it. But the wider reason that emerges from the documents is that to admit that the study had any validity whatsoever would be to open the doors for regulators and others to demand other long-term studies on GM crops and their associated pesticides.

A related danger for Monsanto, pointed out by Goldstein, is that “a third party may procure funding to verify Séralini’s claims, either through a government agency or the anti-GMO/antl-pesticide financiers”.

The documents show that Monsanto held a number of international teleconferences to discuss how to pre-empt such hugely threatening developments.

Summing up the points from the teleconferences, Daniel Goldstein writes that “unfortunately”, three “potential issues regarding long term studies have now come up and will need some consideration and probably a white paper of some type (either internal or external)”. These are potential demands for
•    2 year rat/long-term cancer (and possibly reproductive toxicity) on GM crops
•    2 year/chronic studies on pesticide formulations, in addition to the studies on the active ingredient alone that are currently demanded by regulators, and
•    2 year rat/chronic studies of pesticide formulations on the GM crop.

In reply to the first point, Goldstein writes that the Séralini study “found nothing other than the usual variation in SD [Sprague-Dawley] rats, and as such there is no reason to question the recent EFSA guidance that such studies were not needed for substantially equivalent crops”. GMWatch readers will not be surprised to see Monsanto gaining support from EFSA in its opposition to carrying out long-term studies on GMOs.

In answer to the second point, Goldstein reiterates that the Séralini study “actually finds nothing – so there is no need to draw any conclusions from it – but the theoretical issue has been placed on the table. We need to be prepared with a well considered response.”

In answer to the third point, Goldstein ignores the radical nature of genetic engineering and argues pragmatically, if not scientifically, “This approach would suggest that the same issue arises for conventional crops and that every individual formulation would need a chronic study over every crop (at a minimum) and probably every variety of crop (since we know they have more genetic variation than GM vs conventional congener) and raises the possibility of an almost limitless number of tests.” But he adds, “We also need a coherent argument for this issue.”

EU regulators side with Monsanto

To the public’s detriment, some regulatory bodies have backed Monsanto rather than the public interest and have backed off the notion that long-term studies should be required for GM crops. In fact, the EU is considering doing away with even the short 90-day animal feeding studies currently required under European GMO legislation. This will be based in part on the results of the EU-funded GRACE animal feeding project, which has come under fire for the industry links of some of the scientists involved and for its alleged manipulation of findings of adverse effects on rats fed Monsanto’s GM MON810 maize.

Apology required

A. Wallace Hayes is no longer the editor-in-chief of FCT but is named as an “emeritus editor”. Likewise, Richard E. Goodman, a former Monsanto employee who was parachuted onto the journal’s editorial board shortly after the publication of the Séralini study, is no longer at the journal.

But although they are gone, their legacy lives on in the form of a gap in the history of the journal where Séralini’s paper belongs.

Now that Monsanto’s involvement in the retraction of the Séralini paper is out in the open, FCT and Hayes should do the decent thing and issue a formal apology to Prof Séralini and his team. FCT cannot and should not reinstate the paper, because it is now published by another journal. But it needs to draw a line under this shameful episode, admit that it handled it badly, and declare its support for scientific independence and objectivity.

Read this article on the GMWatch website and access sources here:
http://gmwatch.org/en/news/latest-news/17764

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Guess who funded those studies!

If you guessed it was Monsanto, you are correct and yes, it is no surprise to be certain.

monsanto-corn-organ-damage


Republished article follows /images  added / source http://gmwatch.org/news/latest-news/17253


Glyphosate Spraying and Monsanto money

Surprise! Monsanto-funded papers conclude glyphosate not carcinogenic or genotoxic

Co-Formulants in Glyphosate-Based Herbicides Disrupt Aromatase Activity in Human Cells below Toxic Levels

Image added


Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2016, 13(3), 264; doi:10.3390/ijerph13030264

Co-Formulants in Glyphosate-Based Herbicides Disrupt Aromatase Activity in Human Cells below Toxic Levels

1
Institute of Biology, University of Caen Normandy, EA2608 and Network on Risks, Quality and Sustainable Environment MRSH, Esplanade de la Paix, CS 14032, Caen Cedex 5, France
2
Agro-Environmental Research Institute, National Agricultural Research and Innovation Centre, H-1022, Herman Ottó u. 15, Budapest, Hungary
3
CRIIGEN, 81 rue Monceau, 75008 Paris, France
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Huixiao Hong
Received: 2 November 2015 / Revised: 19 January 2016 / Accepted: 15 February 2016 / Published: 26 February 2016
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Endocrine Disruptors and Public Health)
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [5195 KB, uploaded 26 February 2016]   |

Abstract

Pesticide formulations contain declared active ingredients and co-formulants presented as inert and confidential compounds. We tested the endocrine disruption of co-formulants in six glyphosate-based herbicides (GBH), the most used pesticides worldwide. All co-formulants and formulations were comparably cytotoxic well below the agricultural dilution of 1% (18–2000 times for co-formulants, 8–141 times for formulations), and not the declared active ingredient glyphosate (G) alone. The endocrine-disrupting effects of all these compounds were measured on aromatase activity, a key enzyme in the balance of sex hormones, below the toxicity threshold. Aromatase activity was decreased both by the co-formulants alone (polyethoxylated tallow amine—POEA and alkyl polyglucoside—APG) and by the formulations, from concentrations 800 times lower than the agricultural dilutions; while G exerted an effect only at 1/3 of the agricultural dilution. It was demonstrated for the first time that endocrine disruption by GBH could not only be due to the declared active ingredient but also to co-formulants. These results could explain numerous in vivo results with GBHs not seen with G alone; moreover, they challenge the relevance of the acceptable daily intake (ADI) value for GBHs exposures, currently calculated from toxicity tests of the declared active ingredient alone.

This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 4.0).
MDPI and ACS Style

Defarge, N.; Takács, E.; Lozano, V.L.; Mesnage, R.; Spiroux de Vendômois, J.; Séralini, G.-E.; Székács, A. Co-Formulants in Glyphosate-Based Herbicides Disrupt Aromatase Activity in Human Cells below Toxic Levels. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2016, 13, 264.

Show more citation formats


Abstract republished http://www.mdpi.com/1660-4601/13/3/264 // Images added

Seralini ruled Defamed


Séralini wins defamation case against French news magazine Marianne

Original author of the defamation was American ex-tobacco lobbyist Henry I. Miller

The French news magazine Marianne and its reporter Jean-Claude Jaillette have lost their case in the Court of Appeals in Paris on 7 September 2016, according to a report from CRIIGEN, the research organisation where Prof Gilles-Eric Séralini is chairman of the scientific council.

Marianne and Jaillette were sentenced for defamation for denigrating Prof Séralini and his 2012 research study showing that Roundup and GMO maize caused ill health effects in rats, including liver and kidney damage and hormonal disturbances.

The study was retracted by the first journal that published it after a sustained campaign of defamation by lobbyists. It was subsequently republished in another peer-reviewed journal.

Jaillette’s defamatory article appeared in Marianne in September 2012, in the same month that Séralini’s study was first published. The article said that “researchers around the world” had voiced “harsh words” about the research, which it called a “scientific fraud in which the methodology served to reinforce pre-determined results”.

Séralini, his research team, and CRIIGEN challenged this allegation. They were assisted by lawyers Bernard Dartevelle and Cindy Gay.

On 6 November 2015, after a criminal investigation lasting three years, the High Court of Paris passed sentence. Marianne and its journalist were fined for public defamation of a public official and public defamation of the researchers and of CRIIGEN.

Marianne and Jaillette appealed against the judgement but the 7 September ruling at the Court of Appeals marks the final defeat for their case.

Details of the sentence have not yet been publicly announced but Prof Séralini told GMWatch via email that the defendants will have to pay a 24,000 Euro fine.

Original author of fraud accusation was lobbyist Henry I. Miller

The initial case presented at the High Court demonstrated that the original author of the fraud accusation, before Marianne ill-advisedly took it up, was the American lobbyist Henry I. Miller in Forbes magazine.

Miller had previously lobbied to discredit research linking tobacco to cancer and heart disease on behalf of the tobacco industry. Since then he has tried to do the same in support of GMOs and pesticides.

For more details of the case, contact Maître Bernard Dartevelle’s law firm on 01 43 12 55 80.

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Article Republished in full / Source – GMWatch / Images added


EFSA allows previously banned carcinogens

 



Republished – Full article – Source GMWatch

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) chose the summer holiday ‘dead zone’ period to publish a protocol for the implementation of a major derogation (exemption) from Europe’s pesticide law.

The derogation[1] will allow dangerous pesticides that cause cancer, birth defects, and endocrine disruption to continue to be used in spite of the fact that they are about to be banned under the EU pesticides regulation 1107/2009.

The derogation will be used for pesticides that are still on the EU market but fall into the 2009 pesticide regulation’s “cut-off” provisions for pesticides that are classified as carcinogens, reproductive toxins, or endocrine disruptors.[2]

Examples are glufosinate (a pesticide used on glufosinate-tolerant GM crops that causes birth defects), epoxiconazole (which causes birth defects and liver cancer), flumioxazin (a reproductive and endocrine toxin), pymetrozin (which causes cancers, reduction in fertility and effects on endocrine organs).

The derogation will allow such pesticides to be used on specific crops in case of a “serious danger for plant health”.

In EFSA’s view, herbicides can qualify for this derogation even though the agency admits in its published opinion that “weeds in a strict sense do not directly pose a threat to plant health”.

This appears to be at the very least illogical and at worst possibly in contempt of the European legislation.

EFSA promotes chemical treadmill for control of herbicide-resistant weeds

EFSA states in its opinion that due to the growing resistance of weeds against herbicides, for every crop in the EU, a range of herbicides needs to be available with different mechanisms of action – in some cases as many as four different classes of herbicides.

This means that if three classes of herbicides are available for a given crop, the derogation can still be applied to the classified-dangerous herbicide as the fourth herbicide.

EFSA mentions that priority has to be given to non-chemical methods.[3] But under the agency’s protocol, such methods can be easily dismissed as being less reliable and effective.

EFSA recommendations “a scandal”

Pesticide Action Network (PAN) Europe calls EFSA’s recommendations for controlling resistant weeds “a scandal”. PAN says, “Weeds will in the worst case cause a reduction of the yield of a crop and not be a serious danger to plant health.” The group adds that including herbicides in the new derogation is “a grave misuse of the rules”.

PAN says that instead of recommending reducing the use of pesticides by sustainable practices like crop rotation and mechanical weeding, “EFSA promotes the all-out use of synthetic pesticides to fight weeds. Resistance caused by overuse of pesticides needs to be countered by use of more pesticides, according to the Authority. This is the chemical treadmill – a dead-end street.”

PAN adds that EFSA completely ignores the Sustainable Use of Pesticides Directive[3], which states that pesticides can only be used as a last resort: “The ‘plant health’ panel at EFSA[5] seems to have no knowledge of sustainable crop growing and dismisses available and widely used non-chemical methods.”

Hans Muilerman of PAN Europe said: “The EU member states should not accept this EFSA protocol since it is undermining sustainable agriculture and decades of environmental and health policy.”

Notes

1. The derogation grants an exemption from Article 4.7 of the pesticides regulation 1107/2009.
2. Regulation 1107/2009, article 4.1.
3. Directive 128/2009
4. http://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/plant-health/working-groups

Source: Pesticide Action Network Europe
http://www.pan-europe.info/press-releases/2016/09/food-authority-efsa-gives-extra-swing-pesticide-treadmill

Read this article on the GMWatch website and access sources at:
http://www.gmwatch.org/news/latest-news/17199

Genetically Modified Organisms in Agriculture

 

 

 

 

“Is gene manipulation really harmful in agriculture?”

“With the huge world population organic farming is not sustainable to feed everybody where drought, diseases can kill entire crops or herds. True or false?”

You have a couple of questions here, let me start with “Is gene manipulation really harmful in agriculture?”

It could be either but Gene Manipulation has never been proven to be safe.

Let’s start there, where we are today.

Excerpted from an article by Dr. Thierry Vrain

I know well that Canada does not perform long term feeding studies as they do in Europe. The only study I am aware of from Canada is from the Sherbrooke Hospital in 2011, when doctors found that 93% of pregnant women and 82% of the fetuses tested had the protein pesticide in their blood. This is a protein recognized in its many forms as mildly to severely allergenic. There is no information on the role played by rogue proteins created by the process of inserting transgenes in the middle of a genome. But there is a lot of long term feeding studies reporting serious health problems in mice and rats. The results of the first long term feeding studies of lab rats reported last year in Food and Chemical Toxicology show that they developed breast cancer in mid life and showed kidney and liver damage. The current statistic I read is that North Americans are eating 193 lbs of GMO food on average annually. That includes the children I assume, not that I would use that as a scare tactic. But obviously I wrote at length because I think there is cause for alarm and it is my duty to educate the public.

Dr. Thierry Vrain, Former Pro-GMO Scientist, Speaks Up Against Glyphosate

Monsanto Investigation 5

GMO’S ARE NOT SAFE!!

http://www.gmoseralini.org/faq-items/ten-things-you-need-to-know-about-the-seralini-study/

Evidence of GMO harm in pig study – GMO Judy Carman

Animal Evidence | GMO EVIDENCE

Human Evidence | GMO EVIDENCE

Lab Evidence | GMO EVIDENCE

Genetically Modified Food, panacea or poison? Full documentary

Next you claim – “organic farming is not sustainable” Organic farming is sustainable AND, it might be able to feed the planet, though I acknowledge that some conventional farming practices may require the use of some petrochemicals, that’s not what GMO has brought us, chemical use has sky rocketed as have our autism and cancer rates.

NAS Report Shows GM Crops ‘Clearly Not the Answer to World Hunger’ – Sustainable Pulse – excerpt – The report also found there was no evidence that GMO crops have improved yields. The report found “no significant change in the rate at which crop yields increase could be discerned from the data.”

Even if it’s true that 100% organic cannot, at this time, sustain the planet, even though we use chemicals in conventional farming, they are not causing the health problems that Genetically Modified Organisms are, so that would still be no valid reason to continue to produce foods known to be toxic, never proven safe by the corporations who now control almost all the seeds.

Our current practices are unsustainable and Genetically Modified Organisms are a complete failure.

Losing Ground Uploaded on 6 Apr 2011

GM Crops Farmer to Farmer – Uploaded on 14 Jun 2011

Uploaded on 3 Mar 2009 Willie Smits: How to restore a rainforest

Farmers using Genetically Modified Organisms, which have never been proven to be safe, are allowed to STEAL LAND AND CROPS from organic and conventional farmers!!

Genetically Modified Organism are not sustainable!

The Future of Food – Introduction Uploaded on 12 Nov 2007

 

Can we feed 10 billion people on organic farming alone?

EXCERPT: Scaling up organic agriculture with appropriate public policies and private investment is an important step for global food and ecosystem security. The challenge facing policymakers is to develop government policies that support conventional farmers converting to organic systems.

Can we feed 10 billion people on organic farming alone?

John Reganold
The Guardian, 14 Aug 2016
https://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2016/aug/14/organic-farming-agriculture-world-hunger
[links to sources are at the URL above]

* Organic farming creates more profit and yields healthier produce. It’s time it played the role it deserves in feeding a rapidly growing world population

In 1971, then US Secretary of Agriculture Earl Butz uttered these unsympathetic words: “Before we go back to organic agriculture in this country, somebody must decide which 50 million Americans we are going to let starve or go hungry.” Since then, critics have continued to argue that organic agriculture is inefficient, requiring more land than conventional agriculture to yield the same amount of food. Proponents have countered that increasing research could reduce the yield gap, and organic agriculture generates environmental, health and socioeconomic benefits that can’t be found with conventional farming.

Organic agriculture occupies only 1% of global agricultural land, making it a relatively untapped resource for one of the greatest challenges facing humanity: producing enough food for a population that could reach 10 billion by 2050, without the extensive deforestation and harm to the wider environment.

That’s the conclusion my doctoral student Jonathan Wachter and I reached in reviewing 40 years of science and hundreds of scientific studies comparing the long term prospects of organic and conventional farming. The study, Organic Agriculture in the 21st Century, published in Nature Plants, is the first to compare organic and conventional agriculture across the four main metrics of sustainability identified by the US National Academy of Sciences: be productive, economically profitable, environmentally sound and socially just. Like a chair, for a farm to be sustainable, it needs to be stable, with all four legs being managed so they are in balance.

We found that although organic farming systems produce yields that average 10-20% less than conventional agriculture, they are more profitable and environmentally friendly. Historically, conventional agriculture has focused on increasing yields at the expense of the other three sustainability metrics.

In addition, organic farming delivers equally or more nutritious foods that contain less or no pesticide residues, and provide greater social benefits than their conventional counterparts.

With organic agriculture, environmental costs tend to be lower and the benefits greater. Biodiversity loss, environmental degradation and severe impacts on ecosystem services – which refer to nature’s support of wildlife habitat, crop pollination, soil health and other benefits – have not only accompanied conventional farming systems, but have often extended well beyond the boundaries of their fields, such as fertilizer runoff into rivers.

Overall, organic farms tend to have better soil quality and reduce soil erosion compared to their conventional counterparts. Organic agriculture generally creates less soil and water pollution and lower greenhouse gas emissions, and is more energy efficient. Organic agriculture is also associated with greater biodiversity of plants, animals, insects and microbes as well as genetic diversity.

Despite lower yields, organic agriculture is more profitable (by 22–35%) for farmers because consumers are willing to pay more. These higher prices essentially compensate farmers for preserving the quality of their land.

Studies that evaluate social equity and quality of life for farm communities are few. Still, organic farming has been shown to create more jobs and reduce farm workers’ exposure to pesticides and other chemicals.

Organic farming can help to both feed the world and preserve wildland. In a study published this year, researchers modeled 500 food production scenarios to see if we can feed an estimated world population of 9.6 billion people in 2050 without expanding the area of farmland we already use. They found that enough food could be produced with lower-yielding organic farming, if people become vegetarians or eat a more plant-based diet with lower meat consumption. The existing farmland can feed that many people if they are all vegan, a 94% success rate if they are vegetarian, 39% with a completely organic diet, and 15% with the Western-style diet based on meat.

Realistically, we can’t expect everyone to forgo meat. Organic isn’t the only sustainable option to conventional farming either. Other viable types of farming exist, such as integrated farming where you blend organic with conventional practices or grass-fed livestock systems.

More than 40 years after Earl Butz’s comment, we are in a new era of agriculture. During this period, the number of organic farms, the extent of organically farmed land, the amount of research funding devoted to organic farming and the market size for organic foods have steadily increased. Sales of organic foods and beverages are rapidly growing in the world, increasing almost fivefold between 1999 and 2013 to $72bn. This 2013 figure is projected to double by 2018. Closer to home, organic food and beverage sales in 2015 represented almost 5% of US food and beverage sales, up from 0.8% in 1997.

Scaling up organic agriculture with appropriate public policies and private investment is an important step for global food and ecosystem security. The challenge facing policymakers is to develop government policies that support conventional farmers converting to organic systems. For the private business sector, investing in organics offers a lot of entrepreneurial opportunities and is an area of budding growth that will likely continue for years to come.

In a time of increasing population growth, climate change and environmental degradation, we need agricultural systems that come with a more balanced portfolio of sustainability benefits. Organic farming is one of the healthiest and strongest sectors in agriculture today and will continue to grow and play a larger part in feeding the world. It produces adequate yields and better unites human health, environment and socioeconomic objectives than conventional farming.

John Reganold is a Regents Professor of Soil Science & Agroecology at the Washington State University.

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Continue reading “Can we feed 10 billion people on organic farming alone?”

Monsanto and the Seralini retraction

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In September 2012 the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology (FCT) published the research of a team led by the French biologist Professor Gilles-Eric Séralini, which found liver and kidney toxicity and hormonal disturbances in rats fed Monsanto’s GM maize NK603 and very small doses of the Roundup herbicide it is grown with, over a long-term period. An additional observation was a trend of increased tumours in most treatment groups.

In November 2013 the study was retracted by the journal’s editor, A. Wallace Hayes, after the appointment of a former Monsanto scientist, Richard E. Goodman, to the editorial board and a non-transparent review process by nameless people that took several months.

Did Monsanto pressure the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology (FCT) to retract the study? French journalist Stéphane Foucart addresses this question in an article for Le Monde.

The article shows the total subordination of Goodman to Monsanto. It also reveals how Hayes played a double role in the retraction of the study, acting behind the scenes to encourage Monsanto scientists to join the reviewing panel that would feed their views into the decision to retract.

Influence of chemical companies on academics

Foucart examined emails disclosed as a result of a freedom of information request submitted by the food transparency organisation US Right to Know (USRTK). Foucart writes that the emails “reveal the influence of the chemical companies on some academics”.

Foucart points out that scientific papers are normally retracted only due to fraud, plagiarism, or honest error. Séralini’s study did not fall into any of these categories and was the first to be retracted on grounds of “inconclusiveness”. Supporters of Séralini challenged a newcomer to the editorial board of FCT, in charge of biotechnology. Richard E. Goodman is a Professor at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln (USA) and specialist food allergens. He is also a former employee of Monsanto, which he left in 2004.

FCT biotechnology editor had “remarkable closeness” to Monsanto

Foucart writes that emails obtained by USRTK show “a remarkable closeness” between Goodman and his old employer. In reality, however, as Foucart points out, the relationship between Goodman and Monsanto is not so old. Goodman himself wrote in a message of 2012 that “50% of [his] salary” actually comes from a project funded by Monsanto, Bayer, BASF, Dow, DuPont and Syngenta, and consists of establishing a database of food allergens.

This fact, Foucart notes, creates “links, or even a subordinate relationship” between Goodman and Monsanto. Foucart goes on to explain how that subordinate relationship manifested in an incident that happened in May 2012, before the publication of the Séralini paper in September of that year:

“After the publication of a newspaper article in which he is quoted, Goodman, not yet an editor at FCT, is sharply brought to order by a Monsanto employee. The latter tells the professor that his opinion seems to have been interpreted by the journalist as ‘suggesting that we do not know enough about biotechnologies to say that they are safe’. In return, Goodman wrote a collective message to all his correspondents in the six biotechnology companies that fund his work. ‘I apologize to you and your companies,’ he wrote, adding that he was misunderstood by the journalist.”

Industry financing of science imposes control over researcher

Foucart comments that the financing of scientific work by industry means for university researchers a commitment that goes far beyond the simple production of knowledge: “It imposes a form of control over the public discourse of the researcher.” In August 2012, Goodman took the lead and warned his sponsors that he would be interviewed by National Public Radio on the safety of GMOs. “Would you participate in a media training session before the interview?”, asked one of his correspondents. It is not known whether Goodman accepted this proposal, as he did not respond to Le Monde’s inquiries.

A month later, in September 2012, the study by Gilles-Eric Séralini was published. Goodman was not at the time a member of the editorial board of FCT. On 19 September, Foucart writes, Goodman informed his Monsanto correspondent about the publication of the Séralini’s article and that he “would appreciate” it if the firm could provide him with criticisms. “We’re reviewing the paper,” the Monsanto correspondent replies. “I will send you the arguments that we have developed.” A few days later, Foucart writes, Goodman was named “associate editor” of FCT, on the decision of the toxicologist Wallace Hayes, then editor of the journal.

This appointment was not publicly announced until February 2013. Foucart notes that the addition of Goodman on the editorial board of the magazine was actually a direct and immediate consequence of the publication of Seralini. On November 2, 2012, when the “Séralini affair” was in full flow, Hayes announced in an email to Monsanto employees that Goodman would from now on be in charge of biotechnology at the journal. Hayes added: “My request, as editor, and from Professor Goodman, is that those of you who are highly critical of the recent paper by Séralini and his co-authors volunteer as potential reviewers.”

Foucart comments that Hayes was formally inviting Monsanto toxicologists to appraise for acceptance or rejection studies on GMOs that are submitted to the journal for review. The documents consulted by Le Monde did not say if Hayes – who has not responded to Le Monde’s inquiries – limited this request to Monsanto scientists.

This confirms that we at GMWatch were right to question the arrival of Goodman on the editorial board. It also shows that we were right to criticise the non-transparency of the second round of review (the first review being the one that led to the study being published). Some observers told us they thought it was acceptable that the reviewers remained anonymous, since peer-review is generally an anonymous process. But this particular ‘review’ – of a paper that had already passed peer-review, had been published for a year, and had nothing wrong with it beyond the fact that, in common with countless other scientific papers, it was “inconclusive” on some endpoints – was a highly irregular process of dubious legitimacy from the start. Therefore we believe that the identity and interests of the reviewers should have been published.

Another GMO-critical study rejected by FCT

Foucart notes that there is no way of knowing for sure if all this had an impact on articles accepted by the journal. But in 2013, according to information received by him, FCT rejected the first academic study of chronic toxicity of a Monsanto GM maize – MON810 – in Daphnia magna, a type of waterflea. The study suggested harmful effects on this small freshwater crustacean, which is used as a model organism by ecotoxicologists.

It was Goodman who informed the authors of the rejection, highlighting the negative reports of the peer reviewers. The study was eventually published in 2015 in another journal. Unlike the Séralini study, it was not challenged (probably because, unlike a rat feeding study, such a study would not be deemed by regulators to be relevant to humans).

Goodman asks Monsanto for scientific arguments to counter critics

In some cases, Foucart reports, Goodman seems to defer to the judgement of Monsanto’s toxicologists which he has to evaluate an article containing aspects that are beyond his knowledge. “I’m looking at an ‘anti’ [presumably ‘anti-GMOs or pesticides’] paper,” he wrote in October 2014 to one of his Monsanto correspondents. “They cite a Sri Lankan study of 2014 on a possible link between glyphosate exposure and kidney disease, as well as a mechanism [to explain this toxicity].” Goodman added: “I’m not enough of a chemist or toxicologist to understand the strengths and the weaknesses of their logic: can you give me some solid scientific arguments about whether it is, or is not, plausible.”

Glyphosate, the active ingredient of Roundup herbicide, is a key product of Monsanto, as it is sold with the company’s GM glyphosate-tolerant crops.

According to Foucart, nothing in the documents consulted by Le Monde supports the idea that Goodman played a role in the retraction of the Séralini study – that decision was taken by Hayes. In January 2015, Goodman resigned his position at the journal, due to time constraints.

Hayes’s conflicts of interest

However, Hayes clearly did play a key role in the retraction. And he has plenty of conflicts of interest that might have influenced his decision.

Hayes has had a long career as an industry toxicologist. He is senior science advisor at Spherix Consulting, “a global team of experienced advisors who provide their clients in the food, dietary supplement, consumer product, and pharmaceutical industries with scientific solutions that result in regulatory success.”

Hayes’s previous appointments include:

* Vice President and Corporate Toxicologist for food giant RJR Nabisco, with responsibility for all regulatory and toxicology issues related to the safety of ingredients and food contact substances for food and drink products worldwide.

* Corporate Vice-President of Product Integrity at the Gillette Company, with responsibility for “the safety evaluation and regulatory compliance of a variety of consumer products, plant safety, environmental stewardship, and quality control. While at Gillette, Dr Hayes was responsible for managing regulatory and toxicology issues worldwide. All contact substances used in Gillette products (including personal care products) were cleared within his division.”

Industry interests prioritised over science

Hayes’s interests and Goodman’s current Monsanto connections should have precluded them from having any authority over the fate of the Séralini study and other studies submitted to FCT. In addition, the names of the reviewers who fed their views into Hayes’s decision to retract the study should have been declared and made public and any conflicts of interest should have led to exclusion from the panel.

Instead we have a situation in which a lack of transparency at the journal FCT allowed industry interests to take precedence over scientific considerations. In the process, the reputation of honest scientists has been unjustly maligned and public trust in science has been damaged, perhaps irretrievably.

Report: Claire Robinson

Read this article on the GMWatch website and access sources here:
http://gmwatch.org/news/latest-news/17121

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