You will often hear people ask for proof in the form of peer reviewed papers from scientific journals, acting as if that is the holy grail of evidence and nothing else counts. The problem with this is, scientific studies can be conducted in ways to get an outcome that is favorable to whoever is paying for the studies. This makes scientific studies only as reliable as the ethics of the scientist that conduct them. The same is true for the Peer Reviewed System as a whole; it is only reliable if the people who own and edit the journals are ethical and don’t use their journals to push their agenda for personal gains. Unfortunately, this is not the case when the science involves anything to do with Big Business interest like GMO’s.
In 1969, The National Environmental Policy Act , with the stated purpose of “To declare national policy which will encourage productive and enjoyable harmony between man and his environment; to promote efforts which will prevent or eliminate damage to the environment and biosphere and stimulate the health and welfare of man; to enrich the understanding of the ecological systems and natural resources important to the Nation; and to establish a Council on Environmental Quality.”, was passed. This Act imposes certain responsibilities on the federal government, which includes having its regulatory agencies conduct an environmental impact analysis of the product that could be harmful to the planet and all life forms on it, This analysis is to be conducted before the product is able to be deregulated and allowed on the market. In fact, the whole idea of “Big Government” (like we see in the U.S.) is that all these agencies are needed to provide safety to the American people, something that could not happen with out said agencies.
However, as I showed in part 2 of this series, Monsanto has worked its way inside the U.S Government and installed its people in key positions within the agencies that are supposed to regulate them to ensure the safety of their products. Now these “regulatory agencies” allow Monsanto and the rest of the big Biotech companies to conduct their own environmental impact analysis studies and simply submit their results to them for approval– making agencies like the USDA, FDA and EPA worthless. This new policy of allowing biotech to be their own safety regulators is incredibly asinine, considering their track record of knowingly producing products that cause harm to both the planet and all forms of life. (see part 1 for examples)
Biotech is not the only industry that is allowed to be its own safety monitors, Big Pharma is also given this privilege by the regulator agencies. I bring this seemingly unrelated fact up because Big Pharma has been doing it for much longer and more researchers have looked into the outcome of this. The biggest thing you see is around 90% of all published studies having to do with Pharma drugs are conducted by scientist paid by Big Pharma companies and has been shown to be 4x’s more likely to produce a positive result for the industry than its independent study counterparts. Make no mistake, Biotech produces a similar percentage of published studies on their products as Big Pharma does and their studies are also in conflict with independent studies.
Independent Scientific research should be the cornerstone to anyone that uses the term “evidence-based” medicine or science because the researchers have no financial conflict of interest to conduct a faulty study to produce a desired result– like you see in “corporate studies”. Yet, what you will find are people who say they are pro “evidence-based” (whether it is in a debate about things like Vaccines or GMO’s) will normally disregard anything coming from truly independent studies because they are counter to what the much more produced “corporate studies” show. I have experanced this many times with people online (many of which are paid shills for biotech) that will act like there is no science showing that GMO’s are dangerous to the health of animals and humans. Then when shown that virtually all independent studies prove otherwise, they disregard them and claim they are flawed because they have not made it past the peer review system. No study illustrates this better than the study conducted by Gilles Seralini et al.
Seralini, a professor at University of Caen, Institute of Biology, lead a team of researchers that were not satisfied with Monsanto’s “long term” studies that are continuously used as proof that GMO’s are safe for long term human consumption. The problem these scientist had with these so called “long term” studies, was they were only 90 days long, yet the standard duration for long term toxicological or carcinogenic studies conducted on Sprague-Dawley rats was 2 years! Another thing the team of researchers found worrisome was, Monsanto used 20 rats per group (Round-up and GMO’s) per sex but only recorded data from 10. In other words, they conducted a study that was 8x’s too short to be considered a long term chronic study and picked the best 10 rats to show the safety of the BT corn variation and the Round-up was safe, then discarded the rest.
Seralini used the same study parameters, expect used only 10 rats per group per sex (which is approved by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) standards for long term toxicological studies) and tested serum levels on all 10, as opposed to Monsanto’s approach of doing 20 rats per group per sex and picking the best 10 in each group to test; the other thing they changed was the length from 3 months to 2 years– making it the first actual long term study conducted on the toxicological effects of round-up and GMO’s.
What Seralini et al found just after the 90 day Monsanto cut off date was startling. The rats (particularly the males) outside the control groups started growing tumors! Now, this is a toxicological study and not a carcinogenetic study (which needs 5x’s more rats), so, Seralini was very careful to claim the tumors were caused by either the Round-up the rats were drinking,, or the GMO corn they were eating. In fact, you will not find the word cancer or cancerous in the entire paper. They did exactly what you have to do– ethically and legally– when tumors show up in a toxicological study. They collected the data and reported it. They did not just ignore it and omit it from the study.
Alarmingly, tumors were not the only things they found. They found multiple toxicological problems in the treatment groups compared to the control groups. Without getting into the specifics of what they found (which you can do in the link above), here is a brief overview of what was found:
- Both treatment groups (Round-up and GMO corn groups) in both sexes, but particularly female rats, showed varying levels of hormone disruption.
- Both treatment groups in both sexes, but particularly males, had massive organ failure.
- Both treatment groups in both sexes, but particularly the females, had a much higher mortality rat than the control group, as well as dying more quickly.
They wrote in the conclusion that many more long term studies were needed to show the health effects of both Round-up and GMO’s. I think any reasonable person without a conflict of interest would also come to this conclusion after reading their paper in full.
The team’s study was named Long term toxicity of a Roundup herbicide and a Roundup-tolerant genetically modified maize and made it past the peer-reviewed process and was published in Food and Chemical Toxicology (FCT), Volume 50, Issue 11, November 2012, Pages 4221-4231. As you might imagine, this ruffled the feathers of Monsanto, who had tried very hard to get the world believe that their products have been safe by producing flawed unethical studies that are designed to come ta conclusion that is in their favor.
Enter Paul Christou..
Shortly after the publication, there was a failed attempt to get FCT to withdraw the paper by a group of 12 people (9 with conflicts of interest) who wrote the editor to get him to remove it. After that failed, Paul Christou became lead author to a paper, Arjo et al, that can only be called a hit piece against the study and Seralini personally. Arjo et al was quickly published in Transgenic Research and many of the outright lies found in this study are still regurgitated to this day as proof that GMO’s are harmless.
Before we get into details of that, here is a bit about who Paul is.
Paul Christou had no problem getting his hit piece into Transgenic Research because he is the editor and chief of the magazine. He also had a pretty big conflict of interest with what Seralini claimed– Paul is the inventor of 2 different patents on GMO’s that Monsanto now owns(here and here). It is normal practice to inform people of any conflicts of interest when writing a scientific paper. Paul did not disclose either. This is not the first time he came to the aid of Monsanto to discredit a paper with false claims that he published in Transgenic Research, without disclosing his conflict of interest.
Now that we know who he is, lets look at his claims.
He called FCT approval to publish the study “a clear and egregious breach of the standards of scientific publishing”. He goes on to call for a retraction because “based on its clearly flawed data, its breaches of ethical standards, and the strong evidence for scientific misconduct and abuse of the peer-review process”. All these broad talking points are regurgitated ad nauseam by Biotech Shills which have actually gotten a lot of people with good intentions repeating it also. In doing so, it dragged Seralini’s name through the mud. What better way to discredit the study that puts your product in a bad light than a propaganda campaign? One which calls the author an unethical scientist who committed scientific fraud?
I have found that a lot of people will just read statements like above and say “Oh its not bad, the guys a fraud” and not look into it further. However, those that look deeper into why he is claimed to be a fraud and how exactly the science was flawed, as Christou claims, run into some very big problems. That is because Paul lied about every point that he made.
The biggest lie that comes from this paper is the fact that Seralini claims the conclusion of his study was that Round-up and GMO’s cause cancer. Which is easy to verify as a blatant lie just by reading the conclusion alone. As I mentioned previously, nowhere inside the paper are the words cancer or cancerous even found. Did they really think people would not read the paper?!
The 2 biggest things from Arjo et al that are used to “debunk” Seralini et al, are that the rats he used spontaneously get tumors after the 3 month period and that he didn’t use enough rats per group per sex. Christou is pretending this is a carcinogenic study and not a toxicological study to make this claim, which, again, would need 5x’s more rats if it were done to study carcinogenetic effects. As for the rats, the statement is laughable for 2 reasons. The first being that the control group had far less tumor rates than all the treatment groups. If they spontaneously grew tumors, you would see it in high numbers in the control group as well. The second is Sprague-Dawley rats are commonly used for long term toxicological and carcinogenetic studies because they have similar cancer rates and toxicological effects of humans in industrialized countries. If they spontaneously grow tumors like Christou claims, they would not be used in this study.
Then there is the fact that Monsanto used the same kind of rats in their study to prove it was safe to consume. If this rat is unsuitable to show it is unsafe, it can hardly be used to show it is safe.
These bold faced lies could be used to trick laymen that don’t have time to research, but it can hardly foul the editors of FCT that looked at the type and number of rats before publishing it and did not find a problem. So, Monsanto needed to do something else to get it removed after Christou’s little propaganda fooled the layman.
Enter former employee, Richard E. Goodman. They installed him as the editor of Biotech papers in FCT’s parent company, Elsevier, who removed the paper shortly after. The interesting thing is, they did not remove it for any of the reasons Christou claimed; including Fraud, or misrepresentation of data. Both met Committee of Publications Ethics(COPE) (which FCT is a member) guidelines for acceptable reasons to retract a study. Instead, they stated inconclusiveness of the study as a reason for retraction, while making it clear no fraud or misrepresentation of data occurred. The only problem is that almost all science is not conclusive and is unable to be checked until people start trying to reproduce the finding after it is published. For these reasons COPE does not allow inconclusiveness as an acceptable reason for retraction.
Seralini did not remain quiet, as Monsanto most likely expected him to. He spoke up about all the corruption that lead to the retraction. He brought up the fact that 2 years after his retraction, Zhang et al, a study claiming GMO rice was safe to consume, was published even though the results where just as inconclusive as his paper (given the criteria that was used to determine his paper was inconclusive).
The retraction of the paper caused a pretty big uproar in the scientific community because of the blatant scientific censorship to protect big business. Many scientist even vowed to boycott Elsevier because of it.
However, Seralini may be able to get some retribution– a revised version of his paper was published in Environmental sciences Europe. Only time will tell if more people will look at the data and cause more studies to be done. One thing is for sure, after knowing doing the research on this subject, it’s hard to not think that the peer reviewed system is broken, at least when big money is involved.
Next time someone tries to tell you there is no proof of something unless it is in a peer review journal, inform them what happened to Seralini and encourage them to do some research to see for themselves how bought and paid for the system is.