Source shows half of GMO research is independent

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Those who follow the issue of genetically engineered crops have heard claims that there is little independent research on their safety for consumption or the environment. A new public database of research tells a different story. The resource is the GENetic Engineering Risk Atlas (GENERA), and it goes public on 25 August 2014. The results show that independent peer-reviewed research on GMOs is common, conducted worldwide, and makes up half of the total of all research on risks associated with genetic engineering.

GENERA is a searchable database of peer-reviewed scientific studies on the relative risks of genetically engineered crops. The database includes important details at-a-glance to help people find and learn about the science of GMOs. GENERA has now entered its beta-testing phase with the first 400 out of over 1,200 studies that have been curated.

GENERA is a project of Biology Fortified, Inc. (BFI), an independent tax-exempt non-profit. The mission of BFI is to strengthen the public discussion of issues in biology, with particular emphasis on genetics and genetic engineering in agriculture. Founded in 2008 as a scientist-run information resource and public forum, Biology Fortified does not accept funding from industry sources, and is instead funded by the contributions of readers and grants.

Dr. Karl Haro von Mogel, Chair and co-Director of BFI, said that people are looking for independent information about GMOs. “People are looking for sources that they can trust that can help them find unbiased information about genetic engineering, but in a politically-charged debate, unbiased sources are difficult to find. We’ve been recognized for our independent expertise on this subject, so it was only natural that we should take a project like this on.”

GENERA started as a list of studies to show people how much research has been conducted on GMOs, however the members of BFI quickly recognized that something better was needed. To begin work on GENERA, BFI was awarded a peer-reviewed grant from the American Society of Plant Biologists (ASPB) Educational Foundation in 2012. The Atlas was developed during 2013 and 2014. BFI enlisted the help of a team of awesome volunteers who tracked down and entered the details of hundreds of studies into the Atlas.

Journalists, scientists, public officials, and anyone else can use GENERA to search for research on the effectiveness of using genetic engineering to modify the genetics of plants, and can find studies that compare GMOs to non-GMOs to see if they are equivalent. Studies conducted on the safety of consuming genetically engineered foods and their impacts on the environment are also included in the Atlas.

“We’ve made it really easy for people to find the information they are looking for in the Atlas,” said Dr. Anastasia Bodnar, co-Director of BFI. “Every study has a page that tells you all about who did the research and in what countries, what crops and traits were studied, and who funded it.” Each study page also posts the results of the research, said Dr. Bodnar. “We read the studies so you don’t have to – and we have links to the studies so you can read them if you want to!”

GENERA also offers users a unique opportunity to look at the results of hundreds of studies at once with a built-in chart feature. After doing a search, users can turn that search into a chart of the selected studies to look at their results, funding sources, or almost any other attribute they want.

“We are really proud of the chart feature,” said Dr. Haro von Mogel. “If you want to know anything what animals GMOs were fed to, or what kinds of traits are being studied in different countries, you can do that instantly. This lets you look at the big picture and answer your own questions about what research is out there like never before.” The site currently includes two tutorials and a glossary of terms to help visitors learn how to use these features.

The team at BFI is already seeing patterns in the research. Out of the first 400 randomly-selected studies available in the GENERA beta test, half of them are funded entirely by government agencies and independent nonprofit organizations. Before the project began, rough estimates placed them at just a third of the research. And the government-funded research is worldwide in scope – concentrated in Europe and Asia, followed by North America and Australia. These findings should turn the heads of people who thought it was skewed to private, U.S.-based laboratories.

“Not all of our results are surprising,” said Dr. Bodnar. “Systematic reviews have concluded that genetically engineered crops are safe to eat, and when you look at the results collected in GENERA, it agrees with that conclusion.”

The Atlas is a work-in-progress, and BFI needs help to complete the project. Anyone can volunteer to help the project – you do not have to be a scientist to make a valuable contribution.Tax-deductible donations will help fund the maintenance and development of the Atlas. Even just trying out the resource and answering a brief survey will be a big help to the project.

Visit the GENERA website at genera.biofortified.org for updates about this exciting project.


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Mark Donner    
Salt Lake City  |  September, 08, 2014 at 02:50 AM

GMO is a poison. Eating genetically modified corn (GM corn) and consuming trace levels of Monsanto's Roundup chemical fertilizer caused rats to develop horrifying tumors, widespread organ damage, and premature death. rats exposed to even the smallest amounts, "developed mammary tumors and severe liver and kidney damage as early as four months in males, and seven months for females." The animals on the GM diet suffered mammary tumors, as well as severe liver and kidney damage. Everywhere GMO is being grown, food allergies, disorders such as autism, reproductive disorders, digestive problems, and others have been skyrocketing in the human populations. There has been a drastic decline of crop-pollinating insects all over the world, and what this means for the future of the world's food supply. Wild pollinators like bumblebees, butterflies, and beetles are basically disappearing. GMO industrial agricultural practices are causing this insect genocide. Pollinating insects in general, which include a wide range of insects and other animals, are simply vanishing from their normal habitats and foraging areas. That lower diversity and lower abundance of wild insects means less fruits and destruction of the diversity of plants and their fruits worldwide.

Craig A. Moore    
Billings, MT  |  September, 26, 2014 at 01:40 PM

Mark, apparently you are adapt at cut and paste without really backing yourself up. And the French guys study was rejecting by all when, not only he couldn't back up his studies, they found out he was also adding roundup to their drinking water. Just more scare tactics for idiots like you.

Mark Donner    
Salt Lake City  |  September, 08, 2014 at 02:51 AM

GMOs cross pollinate and their seeds can travel. It is impossible to fully clean up our contaminated gene pool. Self-propagating GMO pollution will outlast the effects of global warming and nuclear waste. The potential impact is huge, threatening the health of future generations. GMO contamination has also caused economic losses for organic and non-GMO farmers who often struggle to keep their crops pure. GMOs increase herbicide use. Most GM crops are engineered to be "herbicide tolerant"―surviving deadly weed killers. Monsanto, for example, sells Roundup Ready crops, designed to survive applications of their Roundup herbicide. Between 1996 and 2008, US farmers sprayed an extra 383 million pounds of herbicide on GMOs. Overuse of Roundup results in "superweeds," resistant to the herbicide. This is causing farmers to use even more toxic herbicides every year. Not only does this create environmental harm, GM foods contain higher residues of toxic herbicides. Roundup, for example, is linked with sterility, hormone disruption, birth defects, and cancer.

Mark Donner    
Salt Lake City  |  September, 08, 2014 at 02:52 AM

GM crops and their associated herbicides can harm birds, insects, amphibians, marine ecosystems, and soil organisms. They reduce bio-diversity, pollute water resources, and are unsustainable. For example, GM crops are eliminating habitat for monarch butterflies, whose populations are down 50% in the US. Roundup herbicide has been shown to cause birth defects in amphibians, embryonic deaths and endocrine disruptions, and organ damage in animals even at very low doses. GM canola has been found growing wild in North Dakota and California, threatening to pass on its herbicide tolerant genes on to weeds.

Mark Donner    
Salt Lake City  |  September, 08, 2014 at 02:52 AM

GMOs do not increase yields, and work against feeding a hungry world. Whereas sustainable non-GMO agricultural methods used in developing countries have conclusively resulted in yield increases of 79% and higher, GMOs do not, on average, increase yields at all. This was evident in the Union of Concerned Scientists' 2009 report Failure to Yield―the definitive study to date on GM crops and yield. By mixing genes from totally unrelated species, genetic engineering unleashes a host of unpredictable side effects. Moreover, irrespective of the type of genes that are inserted, the very process of creating a GM plant can result in massive collateral damage that produces new toxins, allergens, carcinogens, and nutritional deficiencies.

Mark Donner    
Salt Lake City  |  September, 08, 2014 at 02:53 AM

The toxins associated with GMO should never be tolerated. NEONICOTINOID PESTICIDE neurotoxins are absolutely the main factor causing the collapse of bee and pollinator populations along with other lethal chemicals, glysophate, etc. When these poisons are banned as they were in Europe the bee populations start to recover. GMO neonicotinoids, roundup etc. MUST BE BANNED OUTRIGHT and all the farmers along with Biotech and chemical companies told to cease and desist from what they are doing.

Mark Donner    
Salt Lake City  |  September, 08, 2014 at 02:54 AM

An even scarier prospect: the "BT" version of GMO soybeans and corn, (basically pesticides engineered directly into the plant ) The “BT toxin” gene is put into the DNA of the corn in order for it to manufacture its own toxins that kill pests. The BT gene originated from a soil bacteria that also infiltrates the microflora (friendly digestive bacteria) in your gut. The Bt gene converts the microflora in your intestine into toxin-manufacturing machines. So, to be clear, eating GMO corn products can cause your gut (which is primarily responsible for keeping you healthy) to turn into a breeding ground for tiny little pesticide factories inside your body, actively creating toxins which are designed to kill living things. These toxins are found in the blood and are readily transferred across the placenta to developing babies in the womb.


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