New GMO study with pigs is “hogwash”

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A study published last week that aimed to expose the dangers of livestock eating genetically modified grain has failed to gain support from critics. Although the study claimed to be peer-reviewed, Mark Lynas, a British author, journalist and former anti-GM activist, exposed the many fallacies and errors in the study.

The new study focused on feeding pigs a diet of genetically modified grain. According to the study, these pigs had markedly higher stomach inflammation than pigs fed conventional grains. The study was conducted by Judy Carman and colleagues and published in a minor Australian journal called “Journal of Organic Systems.” Sponsors of the journal include the Organic Federation of Australia.

Lynas points out that Carman is an anti-biotech campaigner and even has a website called GMOJudyCarman, which is supported by Gilles-Eric Séralini, the French scientist that published a study in the fall that was heavily criticized by the scientific community for the conclusion that GMO corn caused high levels of death in rats. 

Lynas is also skeptical about the other co-author of the study, Howard Vlieger. On his blog, Lynas says, he “seems to have made some wild allegations about GMOs in the past” if his source is to be believed. Vlieger is president and co-founder of Verity Farms, a U.S. ‘natural foods’ outfit, which markets non-GMO grain. Despite this, the paper declares that the authors have no conflicts of interest, although it seems to me that he would have a very clear commercial interest in scaring people about GMOs in order to drum up business of his GMO-free offerings.”

He also points out that the funding for the study came from Verity Farms and the Institute of Health and Environmental Research, an Australian not-for-profit, which seems to be dedicated to anti-GMO activism, according to Lynas.

Problems with the study include what the authors choose to say about the results and what the results actually show.

As with the Seralini study that showed pictures of rats with grotesque tumors, the Carman study shows photos of inflamed pigs stomachs. Photos of non-GM pigs stomachs were not shown when 38 of the non-GM pigs, more than half of the total of 73, were suffering moderate or severe inflammation. Lynas asks why those photos are not shown.

Lynas’ conclusion is that “this study subjected animals to inhumanely poor conditions resulting in health impacts which can then be data-mined to present ‘evidence’ against GMO feeds. Most damning of all, close to 60% of both sets of pigs were suffering from pneumonia at the time of slaughter—another classic indicator of bad husbandry. Had they not been slaughtered, all these pigs might well have died quickly anyway. No conclusions can be drawn from this study, except for one—that there should be tighter controls on experiments performed on animals by anti-biotech campaigners, for the sake of animal welfare.”

To read Lynas’ blog, click here.

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June, 13, 2013 at 07:51 AM

I'm reading alot of character attacks on the researchers and not alot of commentary on the actual study itself - seems to be the norm whenever research is done that does not shine a favorable light on the Bio-tech industry. Let's settle it once and for all - long term feeding studies of animals. Lets see it!

Illinois  |  June, 13, 2013 at 11:04 AM

The problem with Luddites is they do not bother to read any scientific study themselves to draw their own conclusions.

Illinois  |  June, 13, 2013 at 11:04 AM

The problem with Luddites is they do not bother to read any scientific study themselves to draw their own conclusions.

Henry Oscar    
UK  |  June, 13, 2013 at 11:52 AM

Please read the full replies to Mark Lynas, Monsanto and other critics here regarding this study: Please always have a two-sided story - otherwise your journalism credentials will be questioned.

London  |  June, 13, 2013 at 12:27 PM

I find it really odd that Mark Lynas, a writer with no scientific qualifications, is taken as some sort of authority on a toxicological pig feeding study that passed peer review. Lynas makes allegations about bad husbandry when the GM-fed and non-GM fed were kept in the same conditions and the death rates seem to have been the commercial average. Where's the logic of science in Lynas's arguments? The increase in severe stomach inflammation in the GM-fed pigs was statistically significant, quite independently of the photographs. I'd like to see Lynas argue the statistical facts with the authors of this paper, who have experts in statistics in their team. I would only add that it's a sad day for the GM industry if the best spokesperson they can come up with is an environmental writer who claims to have had some sort of religious conversion to 'science' when he appears to know nothing about the science around GMOs.

Cin An    
Texas  |  June, 14, 2013 at 09:16 AM

Mark Lynas is just one of many who have criticized this report. The science and academic community, and you don't have to look very hard - a couple of minutes on Google - has weighed in on the flaws of this study design and the authors interpretations of their findings. Veterinary and human health experts, toxicologists and plant scientists have published rebukes. Mark Lynas gets more headlines of course, but he's not standing alone here in claiming this was nothing more than junk science from an interested advocacy group funded by the organic industry with the intent of creating false fears over GMOs.

June, 14, 2013 at 01:11 PM

Silly luddites, why won't you believe us when we tell you this patented, commercialized laboratory product, with it's required petro-chemical herbicides and fertilizers, is exactly the same as the original species they were created from? Oh yeah, we also want to file for patent rights on this product, and we'd prefer that consumers remain unaware of the existence in this product in the food supply.

June, 14, 2013 at 05:38 PM

Ha,Ha, Awesome comment! Sums up their smug attitude perfectly!

North Dakota  |  June, 15, 2013 at 10:28 AM

The First Law of Nutrition: You are what you eat.

June, 15, 2013 at 02:46 PM

I must be broccoli, carrots, spinach and squash because I stopped considering meat a food ten years ago when I realized animals were capable of every human emotion. Today, at age 67, my doctor says my heart is perfect in structure and function. Works for me. I know how to avoid gmos and try to help others do the same.

IL  |  June, 17, 2013 at 09:46 PM

Ok, I've been feeding GMO & Non GMO grain for several years to pigs. 1st with Non GMO - our death & cull rate has been 5.4% 2nd GMO Our death & cull rate has dropped to 2.1% So the pigs are healthier with Non GMO ? Is that why I have higher death & cull animals ? I don't think so. GMO produces better quality grain. Animals are HEALTHIER ! I am the expert ! Been raising hogs for 42 years. Today we only feed GMO grain. Our feed conversion is 2.48 pounds of feed per pound of gain for GMO. Conversion is 2.89 pounds of feed per pound of gain for Non GMO. I need to publish my feed trials

IL  |  June, 18, 2013 at 06:35 AM

Brother-in-law's dad raised hogs to the age of 98. ate bacon & eggs every morning, Drove a pickup truck. Died the age of 98 by drunk driver. My grandma is living, she 's 97, she eats sausage & eggs every morning. My wife's mom is 96, She eats sausage & hash browns. still drives a car. A friend in town is 98. He said you got to have bacon & eggs for breakfast every morning. I can not name a single vegan that is that old. My mother-in-law was told she had a heart of a healthy 50 year old. Not bad for being 96.

Physics Police    
July, 01, 2013 at 07:41 PM

The responses don't include the only significant criticism: bad statistics. The data is overtly cherry picked. By the same statistical practice, one can demonstrate that the GMO-fed pigs were protected from liver/heart abnormalities and pericarditis by a factor of 2. See Table 3

July, 01, 2013 at 07:43 PM

Actually, the statistics were done wrong. More inflammation was found in the control group than in the GMO-fed group!

July, 09, 2013 at 06:41 PM

Oh yeah. Well, I am also a PIG FARMER and my results are very different from yours ma'am. GMO grain made my pigs heads explode while the non-GMO grain made them more awesome. So, believe me because I am an expert that would never lie commenting on an article on the internet.

New Mexico  |  July, 15, 2013 at 11:17 AM

Thanks for the link. The responses clearly rebutted Lynas' comments. The "journalism" credentials of Colleen Scherer are already questioned by me. The lack of specific comments by Lynas made it clear this was an attempt to discredit the scientist that performed the study and not a factual critique of the study itself. I never would have repeated them without looking into the validity of Lynas' comments. But then again I don't suspect the author is a scientist or engineer, just someone trying to support GMO

August, 15, 2013 at 06:30 PM

what caused the death of the pigs? heart, lungs, what? then fix the corresponding mineral or nutritional deficiency in the feed. It is a known point that GMO foods rob the body of manganese. This is how Glyphosate kills weeds. Not to mention the Glyphosate and Bt-toxin genes found in intestinal flora continuing to produce these toxins. I heard a few years ago that the sausage industry quite buying pig intestine from GMO feed pigs because it would tear on the equipment during stuffing.

August, 15, 2013 at 06:48 PM

If you want to know the reality of vegetarianism find someone that started in their early twenties and see if they made it past 47. 27 years after converting is the average life expectancy of a true vegetarian. Oh a low salt and low good fat diet speeds this along. And of course vitamin D2 to replace D3 puts the icing on the cake.

home  |  November, 14, 2013 at 12:12 PM

Hi Mark. Can you please let me know where your end products are sold so I can be sure to steer clear of them?

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