In his column “Planted myths about GMOs” published earlier in the month, Vaishak Kumar accuses anti-GMO “propaganda machinery” activists of spreading “myths” and misinformation, but he conveniently ignores the vast and much more insidious propaganda machine of Monsanto, which has a very long reach into the political and scientific communities. It’s at the very least disingenuous to discuss GMO agricultural crops without discussing the activities of Monsanto.
Furthermore, Kumar’s “prime example” is the retraction — apparently a result of pressure from pro-GMO interests — of a study by Gilles-Éric Séralini and others: “Long-term toxicity of a Roundup herbicide and a Roundup-tolerant genetically modified maize.” The retraction has been used to great propaganda advantage by GMO cheerleaders.
Séralini’s study period was two years; the research was undertaken in response to a 90-day study by Monsanto, which was used to obtain commercial approval for the GMO crop. (It’s important to know that the maize in question was genetically engineered to be used with the herbicide glyphosate, or Roundup, so any study needs to include both.)
Under normal circumstances we might assume that a retraction likely closes at least one chapter of a scientific controversy, but this case is quite unusual. The article in question, which reports very serious liver and kidney damage, was actually republished on June 24 in scientific journal Environmental Sciences Europe with the same conclusions as the original. The republished article — easily accessed online — underwent a third peer review and now includes the raw data.
Yes, let’s be educated about the issue. That includes who the players — and the shills — are, where the money flows and all of the other ecological, human health and political dimensions.
Ellen Slack is a bibliographic assistant at Van Pelt Library.