Agricultural biotechnology is under attack ... again

decrease font size  Resize text   increase font size       Printer-friendly version of this article Printer-friendly version of this article


Colleen Scherer Attacks against agricultural biotechnology have increased noticeably this fall within the United States and around the world. It appears that activists who oppose genetically modified crops are advancing their causes more aggressively than ever before.

The tactics being used recently are more sophisticated than previously seen, although some of the same tactics are still being used. For example, protestors blocked the truck entrance of Monsanto’s Seminis Vegetable Seeds Inc. plant in Oxnard, Calif., in September. The nine protestors were arrested and claimed to be part of the group Occupy Monsanto, which aims to force Monsanto to stop distributing GM crop seed. The group claimed the protest was not in response to Monsanto opposing Proposition 37 in California, which seeks to require labeling of genetically modified food ingredients in all packaged items. The group has been supportive of Prop 37.

Outside of the United States, challenges to agricultural biotechnology seem to be escalating. Anti-GM activists typically employ the use of fear tactics to sway unknowing consumers away from food purchases. This tactic has been successful in the past. But what’s different this time is the activists are trying to use a more scientific approach to discount biotechnology’s benefits. Biotechnology has long held up under scientific scrutiny, and the research has consistently shown the technology is safe to use. But scaring people works more effectively if you claim to have research behind the findings.

In Australia, anti-GM researchers released a study claiming that a GM wheat variety could cause liver damage. However, the methodology of the study was questioned by many in the scientific community.

Professor Rick Roush, the Dean of the Melbourne School of Land and Environment at the University of Melbourne, said, “Not only are these claims of potential health risks from the CSIRO starch-modified wheat highly speculative, they have been advanced by three anti-GM campaigners who have deliberately bypassed independent scientific assessment of their claims. Instead, this has been launched such that it will become another scientific-sounding scare story in cyberspace, a well-worn path of anti-GM so-called ‘science’ by press release.”

In another attempt to use science to disprove the use of biotechnology, French scientists released a report saying Monsanto’s GM corn fed to rats caused them to have tumors and multiple organ damage. The researchers claimed that 50 percent of the male and 70 percent of the female rats died prematurely compared with only 30 percent and 20 percent in the control group.

Once again the scientific community criticized the research by explaining that the rats used in the study were known to be prone to mammary tumors. Another sticking point was that the researchers did not share how much they fed the rats or their growth rates.

An Australian researcher brought up the question that if these results were true and adequately applied to humans, why have we not seen such dramatic results in humans, especially in North America where citizens have been consuming foods with GM ingredients since 1996 when the first GM product went on the market? Based on the new research, Americans should be dropping like flies. The data does not add up.

One theory behind the French study is that France is pulling out all the stops to prevent the cultivation of GM crops in its country. A European court a week prior to the release of the French data ruled that individual member states could not ban GM crops once the EU had agreed not to ban them. France appears to be trying this new approach to keep GMOs from being grown.

These are not the last attacks on biotechnology. More will come. Different tactics may be tried, but in the end, the weight of the evidence of the world’s scientific community should continue to win out.


Prev 1 2 Next All



Buyers Guide

Doyle Equipment Manufacturing Co.
Doyle Equipment Manufacturing prides themselves as being “The King of the Rotary’s” with their Direct Drive Rotary Blend Systems. With numerous setup possibilities and sizes, ranging from a  more...
A.J. Sackett Sons & Company
Sackett Blend Towers feature the H.I.M, High Intensity Mixer, the next generation of blending and coating technology which supports Precision Fertilizer Blending®. Its unique design allows  more...
R&R Manufacturing Inc.
The R&R Minuteman Blend System is the original proven performer. Fast, precise blending with a compact foot print. Significantly lower horsepower requirement. Low inload height with large  more...
Junge Control Inc.
Junge Control Inc. creates state-of-the-art product blending and measuring solutions that allow you to totally maximize operating efficiency with amazing accuracy and repeatability, superior  more...
Yargus Manufacturing
The flagship blending system for the Layco product line is the fully automated Layco DW System™. The advanced technology of the Layco DW (Declining Weight) system results in a blending  more...
Yargus Manufacturing
The LAYCOTE™ Automated Coating System provides a new level of coating accuracy for a stand-alone coating system or for coating (impregnating) in an automated blending system. The unique  more...
John Deere
The DN345 Drawn Dry Spreader can carry more than 12 tons of fertilizer and 17.5 tons of lime. Designed to operate at field speeds up to 20 MPH with full loads and the G4 spreader uniformly  more...
Force Unlimited
The Pro-Force is a multi-purpose spreader with a wider apron and steeper sides. Our Pro-Force has the most aggressive 30” spinner on the market, and is capable of spreading higher rates of  more...
BBI Spreaders
MagnaSpread 2 & MagnaSpread 3 — With BBI’s patented multi-bin technology, these spreaders operate multiple hoppers guided by independent, variable-rate technology. These models are built on  more...


Comments (7) Leave a comment 

Name
e-Mail (required)
Location

Comment:

characters left

Lauren Mintwood    
DC  |  October, 16, 2012 at 12:28 PM

If biotechnology is such a boon to environmental and global health, why don't the chemical companies that produce GMO seeds want credit for their inventions? Monsanto, DuPont et al. claim GMOs are distinct enough from their organic predecessors to warrant protection by the U.S. patent office as unique intellectual property, but these same companies don't want Americans (or the rest of the world!) to be aware they're eating these patented GMOs? Hypocrisy! Regardless of ostensible disagreement within the 'scientific community' on the long-term effects and safety GE seeds and genetically manipulated living organisms, every person has the fundamental right to knowledge of what they are eating.

michael    
kansas  |  October, 17, 2012 at 09:34 AM

Mintwood - Why, if eco-luddites and eliminationists in the anti-ag movement have scientific proof of gm harm, do the avoid peer review and spend time ginning up their research results in eco-extremist, panic-mongering publicity campaigns? As to why inventors avoid publicity, perhaps it is because of all the Death Threats, Fire bombings, Hate Speech, and various other Terrorist threats against them by organizations that claim to have "scientific" proofs. Gutless cowards and psychotic zealots that they are... Hypocrisy, thy name is eco-freak. Of course, in your soft, well-fed, mentally-insulated urban cocoon of DC, you don't have any direct contact with the reality of feeding billions of people and can rave freely about the horrors of which you exercise your RIGHT to know nothing.

michael    
kansas  |  October, 17, 2012 at 09:34 AM

Mintwood - Why, if eco-luddites and eliminationists in the anti-ag movement have scientific proof of gm harm, do the avoid peer review and spend time ginning up their research results in eco-extremist, panic-mongering publicity campaigns? As to why inventors avoid publicity, perhaps it is because of all the Death Threats, Fire bombings, Hate Speech, and various other Terrorist threats against them by organizations that claim to have "scientific" proofs. Gutless cowards and psychotic zealots that they are... Hypocrisy, thy name is eco-freak. Of course, in your soft, well-fed, mentally-insulated urban cocoon of DC, you don't have any direct contact with the reality of feeding billions of people and can rave freely about the horrors of which you exercise your RIGHT to know nothing.

will    
usa  |  October, 17, 2012 at 03:32 PM

In 1999 the Pro-GMO Rockefeller Foundation stated emphatically that GMO technology would not be accepted unless foods containing GMO ingredients were labeled as such. They further stated that the consumer should have the right to choose. They were right. Resistance to Genetic Engineering will escalate until the USA mandates labeling for GMO foods. Whether mandatory GMO labeling is consistent with good plant science is a matter for debate, but labeling is definitely good social science.

R Andrew Ohge    
Belmond, IA  |  October, 18, 2012 at 12:43 PM

Let’s make a list of Links. You probably won’t read them, or if you do, you’ll decry the Science involved, but the point is, there’s a LOT more than “Press Releases” out there, AND much from Independent sources: 1. http://www.responsibletechnology.org/health-risks 2. http://www.ucsusa.org/food_and_agriculture/our-failing-food-system/genetic- engineering/environmental-effects-of.html 3. http://www.biolsci.org/v05p0706.htm 4. http://www.biotech-info.net/allergens.pdf 5. http://aaemonline.org/gmopost.html 6. http://www.soilassociation.org/LinkClick.aspx? fileticket=SqDvBO1pyEU%3D&tabid=390 7. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3078015/ 8. http://www.biosafety-info.net/file_dir/315324885a5d6ca2f5.pdf These Links should be enough for a good start-but do your OWN Research. Regurgitating a “Party Line” will never win “converts”. Bio-Engineering IS a viable science, but one in it’s infancy. New research indicates that cellular processes are at work on a sub-nuclear scale, that magnetic fields are involved, that there is NO junk DNA/RNA (shouldn’t we know what the rest does? Current technology was founded on the premise that most of it was “left-over” junk from Evolution…), that even nano-particles can have their function altered by changing their shape, and that the lattice-like formations will “freeze” ions into their shape even after the DNA lattice is removed. There are no answers yet on how traits are “jumping” species, nor has even the Government weighed in on the effects of the much higher than normal Cesium levels in our soil. These are ALL things that “invite” the industry to step back, work on soil repair, and to do the exhaustive research needed to create a new generation of Biotech which fulfills our dreams.

Thom Katt    
Midwest  |  October, 30, 2012 at 10:32 AM

Will, do you really think it will help to put yet another point of information on food lables? People don't even read the nutrion information on the label. So what makes you think they will pay attention to this label?

Neil    
June, 26, 2013 at 10:21 AM

You can already buy GM-free food, just look for the USDA Organic label. Yes, you have to pay more but that’s the way it should be since there are no safety risks with GM food. Why should I have to pay more for my food because of your beliefs?


NORAC UC4.5™ & UC5™ Precision Spray Height Control

NORAC offers two Spray Height Control systems that can be installed on most sprayer models. UC5™ is an ISOBUS system ... Read More

View all Products in this segment

View All Buyers Guides

Feedback Form
Feedback Form