GMO Backlash Causes Cheerios Facebook Campaign Fail

by Ann Marie Michaels on December 1, 2012

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Cheerios Slammed for GMOs on Facebook Campaign

Cheerios is getting slammed for GMOs on their Facebook page. Consumers used Cheerios’ Facebook marketing campaign to give the brand an earful about GMOs, also known as genetically modified foods.

Facebook Fail

Cheerios had posted an “app” on their Facebook that allowed fans to post a word or two about how they felt about Cheerios. Due to all the consumer backlash against GMOs, Cheerios pulled their app off the web.

Cheerios Slammed for GMOs on Facebook Campaign

Cheerios Slammed for GMOs on New Facebook Campaign

When the app was still running, GMO pictures were going up on the Cheerios Facebook wall fast and furious. Admins of the Cheerios Facebook page were scrambling to take down the GMO pictures as fast as they could.

Cheerios Slammed for GMOs on Facebook Page

General Mills and Prop 37

General Mills, makers of Cheerios, donated over one million dollars to defeat California Proposition 37 last month. Prop 37 was a ballot initiative asking brands to label their products, giving consumers the right to know what is in their food.

Unfortunately, due to the massive amount of money spent on advertising by chemical and pesticide companies and industrial food corporations, Prop 37 was defeated in California.

Lots of Comments from Unhappy Customers

Although the app has been removed, consumers are still vociferously complaining on Cheerios’ Facebook wall, telling the cereal maker that they will no longer buy their product because they don’t want GMOs.

Cheerios Slammed for GMOs on Facebook Campaign

Cheerios Slammed for GMOs on New Facebook Campaign

Cheerios Slammed for GMOs on Facebook Campaign

General Mills, please listen to your customers. Label the GMOs. Better yet, stop using genetically modified food in your products.

Make Your Voice Heard

Are you mad about the fact that GMOs are not labeled in this country? Go tell General Mills what you think. Visit their Cheerios Facebook page and leave comments.

It’s only when we consumers rise up that things will change. Remember, there are a lot more of us than there are of them. And if we don’t buy their food, they can’t keep selling it.

Thanks to the Occupy Food Facebook page for some of the pictures.

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{ 54 comments… read them below or add one }

Beth December 1, 2012 at 3:09 PM

It’s bad enough that people eat that food-like substance called cereal — what with its mineral depleting phytic acid, its damaged proteins obliterated by high heat extrusion machines, its high content of pesticides, herbicides and fluoride. It’s addictive, creating a response in the body similar to opiates. Not so good for families, after all.

There are MANY reasons not to eat Cheerios, and its many close cousins on the supermarket shelves.

Please, people, do not feed this to your babies. Or anyone.

Maybe the GMO issue will bring down the house of cards that is boxed cereal.

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Jesse December 1, 2012 at 7:58 PM

My words exactly!! It goes far beyond GM foods.

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Allison December 1, 2012 at 4:00 PM

I posted on the Cheerios page!

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Liz J December 1, 2012 at 5:06 PM

I love it! Power to the people after all. I just contributed to the conversation, talking about how shameful it is that they use pictures of babies to sell their product, when in reality GMO’s result in fertility problems, not to mention tumors. I didn’t go into my extruded cereal speach, or my feeding babies grains is a mistake speach. I didn’t want my “vote” to be disregarded since I am not, nor ever will be a customer either way. But it was tempting. I urge others reading this to go do it. It’s actually cathartic. :)

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Jesse December 1, 2012 at 7:59 PM

Smart!

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Jeanmarie December 1, 2012 at 8:11 PM

Not that I would eat Cheerios under any circumstances (starvation?), but I added my 2 cents to the Cheerios Facebook page. Thanks!

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Ellen December 1, 2012 at 8:16 PM

I was hoping some news agency would cover this event in at least an online article or something. I think it’s significant. From what I can find, you’re the only one who’s written about it. btw- the “pr nightmare” image was mine. HA!

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Skye December 3, 2012 at 11:41 AM

Haha! Yours was my favorite, Ellen!

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cheeseslave December 3, 2012 at 9:43 PM

Yes, I loved PR Nightmare!

Media Bistro just wrote about it: http://www.mediabistro.com/prnewser/pr-fail-cheerios-gmo-backlash-goes-social_b51596

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Joyce December 9, 2012 at 2:39 PM
chris kahn December 1, 2012 at 9:17 PM

I used to buy Cheerios and think… great…oats… its worst than just being let down that the product isnt healthy… it causes harm. Doctors have an oath, do no harm. Wouldnt it be a great goal, to hold those in control of our food supply to at least that standard.

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Leo M. Schwaiger December 2, 2012 at 3:38 AM

Cheerios and other cereals are not the only foods(?) to worry about. See Dr. Veith’s five lectures to learn more about how food is produced and the effects they might have on your health.
http://amazingdiscoveries.tv/c/7/Life%20at%20its%20Best%20-%20English/

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Lisa G December 2, 2012 at 6:12 AM

This is how we need to handle GMOs and anything else that is bad for us. Have the consumer regulate the food, not the government. Great job everyone. I added my two cents.
I also went to Dr Ozs Facebook and wrote about how unhappy I am about him selling out to big pharma. As big as they are, they are powerless without our money. Vote with your dollar.

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Mary December 2, 2012 at 7:43 AM

GMO Inside created a brilliant campaign to prompt people to sound off on Cheerios. Photo here: http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=490602520979563&set=a.482231601816655.113449.478981558808326&type=1&theater

Occupy Monsanto shared that image with their 105,000 followers, and the response was awesome!

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cheeseslave December 2, 2012 at 9:08 AM

THat’s great!

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therobynnest December 2, 2012 at 10:04 AM

FYI, the app pics they have up on fb date back to May 25th, not the other day.

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Mary December 2, 2012 at 10:13 AM

Cheerios removed the images created over the weekend. There were hundreds of them. The screenshot above shows just a portion of the images that were removed.

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cheeseslave December 3, 2012 at 9:44 PM

@therobynnest

Thanks, I fixed that!

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therobynnest December 2, 2012 at 10:16 AM

Yes, I totally get where you’re saying and assumed that’s what you meant. I just thought you might want to be accurate about the “new app” part, that’s all. Didn’t know if you knew it was 6 months old.

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Anna December 2, 2012 at 12:10 PM

Since proposition 37 was mentioned, I want to mention a bit about it: and I live there and voted for it. But the last I heard, millions of votes were not even counted. I believe that the voting and vote counting was done fraudulently. So our voting for it did not even count. So to say that proposition 37 lost may not be accurate.

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cheeseslave December 2, 2012 at 9:17 PM

I think they were at like 48% a few days ago.

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Skye December 3, 2012 at 11:45 AM

Thanks so much for sharing this, Ann-Marie. It is so pleasurable to go on to Cheerios Facebook page and see all of these glorious humans speaking their truth! Woohoooo! We need to do this with EVERY company that donated money to NO on 37! Who’s next???

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Beth December 3, 2012 at 9:15 PM

Yes, who’s next? Maybe we should target one company a week.

Organic Consumers Assn has a handy cheat sheet listing all the companies to boycott and send messages to, including many “natural” ones bought up by Big Food, that paid to defeat Prop 37.
Go to organicconsumers dot org.

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Essie Little December 4, 2012 at 7:12 AM

i for one will lose lots of weight for I will only buy organic food are as much as possible. Thank God the world is saying no to this poison theat to our food and water.

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Ryan December 4, 2012 at 12:08 PM

Not that I’m a supporter of General Mills, but I find all the hate concerning “GMOs!!!11!!11!shiftONE!” pretty hilarious. My degree is in genetics. Yes, I eat a lot of food we grow, or naturally grown, but anyone having a panic attack about GMOs should probably first understand that we have been practicing genetic modification of foodstuffs for approximately 4000 years on an intentional basis, and several tens of thousands of years (basically, when the agrarian shift occurred) before that unintentionally.

The concern shouldn’t be about genetically-modified organisms being used as food – all the organisms we use as food have been artificially selected, at a minimum, and most have been intentionally cross-bred and speciated – but rather the types of genetic modification in use. I’d be much more concerned about

Also – certified organic means pesticide has not been applied within a certain number of days prior to harvest. It does not imply the crop or foodstuff is not produced from a genetically-modified variant for all the reasons above.

Cheers.

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Mike December 4, 2012 at 8:00 PM

Oh sure Ryan, ‘we have been practicing genetic modification of foodstuffs for approximately 4000 years on an intentional basis, and several tens of thousands of years”.

We have been taking genes from one organism and inserting them into completely unrelated species, have we?
We have been modifying crops to be resistant to (artificial) chemical pesticides?
We have been modifying genes to deliberately cause internal damage to (insect) pests (and others) that eat crops?
And we have been using deception, scare tactics, bribery (the Americans call it lobbying) and brain washing to make people believe that the crops are 100% safe?

I will trouble you to eat your GMOs yourself, sir.

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Ryan December 4, 2012 at 9:20 PM

Hyperbole much?

Let’s clarify something. When we talk about genetic modification, there are two types: molecular, and selection/cross-breeding/isolation. We’ll call the second one Mendelian for brevity’s sake.

We’ve been running Mendelian genetic modification of food organisms intentionally for roughly 4000 years. This is also the largest portion of current genetic modification in food industries. It’s based on the principle of natural selection (Darwinism), but done artificially at an accelerated rate. You take a crop, for example, isolated the individual plants that bear characteristics you want, and breed only those for the following season. You can cross-breed these strains together to mix and match desirable traits and eliminate undesirable traits. You can even expose these to pathogens, harvest and breed the survivors to produce disease-resistant strains. All human-consumed crops have undergone this process – it is literally impossible to find a cultivated plant that we have not done this with (it’s also what produced the domesticated modern dog, cow, pig, goat, sheep, etc). Interestingly, the process I’ve just described (and cross-polination) allows for gene transfer between related species and hybridization – modern corn is a derivative of this. So this process accomplishes gene transfer between species, and also can (and has) been used to induce natural insecticide production in plants – two of your apparent objections to GMOs. If you object to that, I suggest you start subsisting on water, wildberries, fish, and game, because those are your only options to escape artificial selection through Mendelian genetics.

Now, modifying crops for resistance to artificial pesticides. First, no pesticide is truly artificial – they all work by exploiting natural biochemical processes and hijacking them. They’re based on biology, though they may be produced chemically. That doesn’t make them objectively “bad.” Lots of artificially-synthesized chemicals are objectively good (vitamins say hello). But accepting for the moment that some chemicals have undesirable effects on humans, let’s remember that it’s the chemical we shouldn’t be consuming, not the organism. In the case of crops, any molecular genetic insertion is actually a naturally-occuring gene from the same or a similar species in which resistance has been identified. We humans don’t have the knowledge to artificially code gene sequences to convey chemical resistance (would that we could, cancer would be cured). So the genes you’re objecting to evolved naturally and we’re exploiting a technique to insert them in another plant. Now, this might be a problem if this made the plant toxic, but resistance-genes do not induce toxicity, and they in fact usually reduce a chemical harmful to the plant to a less harmful or inert form. The other objection could be that insertion of these genes makes the plant toxic, but that isn’t realistic either. Worst case, the gene insertion is random and causes cancer (uncontrolled growth of certain cells) in the plant by disrupting an existing sequence. This may kill the plant; it may not. Either way, plant growths have no effect on species belonging to different kingdoms when consumed, so the point is moot.

As to your last point, there is an astounding amount of misinformation out there concerning genetically-modified organisms, and I largely blame the Internet. Corporations should be more forthcoming – there’s nothing wrong with labelling foods as containing genetically modified organisms, it just means you’ll have to label pretty much everything depending on how strict your regulatory scheme – but the anti-GMO group need to do some serious self-education. I see posts like yours all the time with blanket statements that tend to distort the facts. People who know very little tend to believe they know a lot and that the evil corporations are out to get them. The fact of the matter is that Mendelian genetics has been an enormous boon to feeding humanity, and molecular genetics holds even greater promise provided their products are safely tested – and in North America, the US FDA and Agriculture Canada are both heavily involved in that testing, among other agencies.

As I said, my degree is in Genetics – I can talk about this stuff for literally hours. I don’t have the time to do that here, and no one has the time to read it, but I hope I’ve encouraged some more of the open-minded readers to do a little objective research instead of relying on Internet conspiracy theories.

I will say that I’m firmly in favour of corporate disclosure of how all foodstuffs are produced, not just GMO content. People should have a choice, even if the information basically means that choice is eat grown food or return to hunter-gathered lifestyle =)

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IC December 4, 2012 at 11:21 PM

I will admit, my eyes glazed over after the vitamin bit. I would guess most readers here do not use synthesized vitamins – science is continually finding cofactors that contribute to effective absorption so I go to whole food sources myself and skip the pills.

I do thank you for agreeing the choice lies with the consumer.

There is one aspect of safety that you do not address and that is of seed ownership. Each year my local produce farmer must buy new organically certified corn seed because if she saves her seed and replants it, it is likely to have been contaminated by other GMO corn in the area. If it is discovered she has unintentionally planted contaminated seed containing a patented gene, she could be sued at worst or have to destroy her crop at best.

The corporate ownership of seed and anything it contaminates is a huge food safety issue for me. I would not support GMOs for this reason alone, even if long term studies ever prove them to be completely safe for human consumption.

We live in vastly different climates – and microclimates – in this country, even in my own state, and farmers have cultivated crops best suited for their microclimate for generations. There are hundreds of varieties of crops, such as tomatoes or apples, grown in my state. I love the variety of apples available from Transitions for applesauce to Opals as a specialty or Fujis for their storability. Monsanto would like to see a future of just one kind of tomato or apple grown – theirs.

When it comes to growing, an experienced farmer who has grown many things holds far more weight with me than any food scientist. These farmers have been out in the field, figured out ways to effectively deal with pests and diseases and their product goes toward producing a fantastic meal, to be relished and savored and appreciated.

If I wanted scientists to provide food, I would expect freeze dried portions of the proper amounts of calories, vitamins, minerals and fats. Food as science has no aesthetic appeal, nothing for the senses, it is just fabricated fuel.

Food is not just a science, it is also an art. It belongs to everyone.

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Ryan December 5, 2012 at 8:08 AM

Very thoughtful post.

The interesting thing is that when we hear GMO, most people who know at least what the acronym stands for immediately think of companies like Monsanto. But as you (quite rightly) point out, farmers have basically been running their own GMO production for, well, millenia.

You won’t find many research-oriented (or humanist) geneticists out there in favour of corporate patents on genes or genetically-modified organisms, and it’s an area where I quite frankly think patent law and the courts need to seriously educate themselves. Some of the lawsuits that have come about because of these issues are asinine. So I agree with you that this is an area where the legal framework requires serious work. That is not a reason to scientifically oppose GMOs, though.

As for variety – if anything, GMOs in principle should increase consumer choices, not restrict them. Again, I agree that some of the prominent supplier’s business practices may not make it look that way, but they respond to demand as much as anyone. In the case of crops, just because a GMO contains a pathogen-resistance gene doesn’t mean you can’t have different varieties and strains of a crop – it just means that if you want them to have pathogen resistance (thereby avoiding the application of pesticides, which are generally considered “bad”, hence the organic crowd) then they all share a single gene. We can go about giving them that gene the long way (Mendelian process) and then re-breeding variety into them – this happened in irish potatoes following the famine in the 1800s – or we can do it the short way. The short way means naturally-breeeding a stock of disease-resistance plants, then using molecular techniques to identify, isolate, and amplify the gene(s) responsible for disease resistance. Those genes can then be inserted, using molecular techniques, into all our regular varieties of the crop.

Take a hypothetical tomato example. Say we have really large, delicious tomatoes that grow well in southern California, and farmers want to start growing them in Wisconsin but there’s a local tomato-destroying disease that makes it impossible to get a decent crop. The farmers can continue growing their smaller tomatoes, try growing the new tomatoes while applying pesticides (and hoping they work), or we can isolate the disease-resistance gene in the local tomato population and transfer it* (*this is not easy, infallible, or quick, but it can be done) to a strain of the large californian tomatoes which can then be safely grown in Wisconsin. This is the promise of genetics when applied to foods. It doesn’t have to be a scary unknown. It’s things as simple as letting you grow a favorite plant in new places. It doesn’t have to replace the existing stock either – our hypothetical farmers could grow both the big Californians and the local strain side by side. They can even cross-pollinate and create new strains.

The main reason I suspect many people are scared of food science (and foods have been science-driven for centuries, whether you like to admit it or not; this fear is a recent phenomenon) is because it is now done at a level that the typical person does not actually understand. And Monsanto, Viterra, and company are not helping matters by obfuscating.

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Wrong Wrong Wrong December 8, 2012 at 7:18 PM

NO, Your entire apologetic analysis is wrong!

The PROBLEM with what we are colloquially calling “GMO foods” is that, in order to genetically /modify/ them (selective breeding is NOT genetic modification) in order to modify them, various virus-like processes are being employed, and residues of those reagents and delivery mechanisms, protein coats, and retroviral strands, persist in the food.

This means that as you eat GMO’s, they have a chance of actually modifying /your/ DNA!

And for that, mankind will pay the ultimate price.

To anyone who finds themselves lulled by Ryan’s show of “knowledge”:

Go back an reread what he said carefully. Notice how many words he spends discussing selective breeding, and compare that to how many words he says regarding GMOs.

AHA! Not very much there, huh? He’s presenting his knowledge of selective breeding (which we all freaking know about) as FUD to cover for his lack of treatment of GMOs.

He does not correctly describe the method of modification. He says that we wait for nature to produce a resistant plant, and then “isolate” that gene.

Tell me Ryan sir, how does a plant spontaneously create pig genes for us to “isolate and amplify?”

Whatever your motives, you are simply factually wrong. That is NOT how GM is performed.

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Ryan December 8, 2012 at 11:25 PM

I have a degree in Genetics. Tell me, what’s your level of education?

Selective breeding is artificial selection, a technique used to produce genetic modification (selective breeding modifies the genetic code of a strain of plants by selecting for certain phenotypes determined by a specific genotype. This is high-school level biology). Selective breeding absolutely produces GMOs, and is in fact the technique used to produce the majority of what lay people term ‘GMOs’ included in food today.

Molecular genetic modification can invoke plant viruses – viruses which are neither harmful to the plant, nor to mammals – as a delivery mechanism. All viruses have a protein coat surrounding genetic material core (typically DNA, sometimes RNA), some with a lipid membrane around the protein coat. When a virus successfully inserts into a germ cell (it is germ cells that have their DNA manipulated), the protein/lipid coat is digested by the internal processes of the germ cell. The genetic material is taken up into the nucleus and integrated into host DNA (if RNA, it is first reverse-transcripted to make DNA. Same end process). The viral “leftovers” are quickly re-used and destroyed by the plant cell – they are, after all, the same amino acids, proteins, and lipids which the plant is built from as well (think of biology like lego; all living things are built from the same basic blocks, just arranged in new combinations).

As plant viruses are biologically incapable of infecting humans, virus by-products are broken down and reused by the plant, and plant DNA does not contain the same insertion primers to enable ribozymes to splice plant DNA into mammalian DNA, there is a factual 0% chance that a genetically-modified plant would be capable of modifying human DNA as a result. If you knew biology, as opposed to ranting about GMO conspiracy, you would already know this. Of course, then you would also know that most DNA injection is done through electrical pulses administered to the target cell, not targeted viral insertion.

Now, if you’d like an explanation of how molecular genetic modification is done, I’m happy to provide one. To understand it, readers require some knowledge of biology.

In order to create a genetically-modified organism, we must first understand what sort of gene modification you want to do. Most genetic modification, as I’ve said numerous times, involves giving an ability from one plant to another related type of plant (same Genus, Family, or Order). For our example, let’s say you have a cauliflower strain that is resistant to a certain fungus, and you want to give brussel sprouts (a closely-related species) that same resistance.

Your first step is to figure out what gene gives the cauliflower strain its resistance. You therefore interbreed individual plants from that cauliflower through multiple generations, over and over, until [virtually; its never 100%] all of your cauliflower plants grown from the seeds several generations down the road have that resistance. This is selection/isolation – weed out the plants that don’t have what you want until all you are producing are the ones that do. If all we wanted as an end product is cauliflower with fungus resistance, we’re done at this point – this is artificial selection. Just grow all your cauliflower from this seed strain and you’re set. However, since what we want is actually to figure out what gives the cauliflower that resistance, we need to keep going.

With modern technology, we can now sequence genomes fairly easily, and compare them against each other. This step is extremely involved and can take months or years, with selection/isolation procedures throughout, but the gene(s) that convey this resistance are ultimately identified essentially by comparing the DNA of a resistant cauliflower to one that isn’t. It will literally take pages to explain this in sufficient detail and most people still won’t understand it, so suffice it to say that figuring out which gene does this is very hard work and very complicated.

Then, we sequence the gene, identify where it is in the cauliflower DNA and what DNA lies on either side of it.

Now that we have that information, we take some resistant cauliflower cells, break them up in a vortexer (basically a blender without sharp blades), and add DNA base pairs (think tiny lego blocks), enzymes, and raise the temperature. This process is called polymerase chain reaction (PCR), and it lets you make a copy of a specific chunk of DNA (in this case, just our resistance gene) thousands of times.

Now that we have a whole bunch of copies of the gene we want, we need to get just those copies and not all the other stuff in the PCR mix into the target plant, so first we run the sample out on a gel which allows us to isolate just the genes we’re looking for and nothing else by size (bigger the gene, slower it travels on the gel).

OK, now we have a tiny spot of DNA that contains millions of copies of our target gene. Now we have to get it into the brussel sprouts.

Two (main) ways to insert this – either put it in a nutrient bath with plant cells, shock them with electricity, and allow the DNA to enter the cell and be integrated into the plant DNA, or use a vector to insert the DNA for us. Advantages and disadvantages to both – first method leads most often to random insertion (there are ways to make it non-random, involves more work after isolation but before running the PCR by adding insertion splice DNA coding to the ends of the gene first), second method means more work because you have to build a vector.

The best insertion vector is a plant virus. You take a natural plant virus, and strip out all it’s genes except those which allow it to infect and insert DNA/RNA into the plant. We can do this because viruses are pretty simple and we’ve done the selection/isolation/amplification/sequencing steps enough that we know which of their genes do what. Then you attach your fungus-resistance gene to the viral DNA/RNA (I just described literally days of work in half a sentence), and let the virus replicate in a culture. Trick is, you are using a virus that infects not cauliflower, but brussel sprouts.

Now, with our new virus that doesn’t actually do anything but transport our gene into the brussel sprouts, we infect the strain of brussel spouts. The virus inserts the DNA/RNA, and then is broken down. The DNA/RNA has specific splicing sequences stuck to the ends of it, which cause the plant to non-randomly incorporate it into the brussel sprout’s DNA. Now we have at least some brussel sprouts with a resistance gene in them. Cool. A little over halfway to our goal.

Now you take the infected brussel sprouts and grow up their germ cells into full-sized plants. Then you run selection for several generations, weeding out the brussels sprouts that get infected by the fungus and breeding only those that don’t. After many generations, you’ll have a pure stock of brussel sprouts that are resistant to the fungus. You can then perpetuate that line and keep using the seeds it produces to ensure that you keep as pure a stock as possible.

That’s molecular genetics at work. Useful gene from one plant, into another species, grown up over many generations. No trace of the virus, no extra genetic material, no nasty side-effects. Same end result we can achieve through selective breeding and artificial selection, but much faster because you aren’t waiting for the spontaneous mutation to happen in brussel sprouts, you’re using the one that already existed in cauliflower. It’s pretty freakin’ cool. Can be done with all sorts of genes and gene types – disease resistance (most common), chemical resistance (works by giving the plant the ability to neutralize the chemical), insect resistance (plant produces a natural insecticide, talked about this before), weather resistance (survives in colder climates, etc).

Less common is the conspiracy BS of putting crazy animal genes in plants, and vice versa. While it’s possible, it’s a heck of a lot harder because most genes work in concert, not isolation – that is, multiple genes are responsible for a certain visible effect. The resistances I talked about earlier usually only involve one to a dozen genes at most; when you start talking about moving some sort of animal characteristic to plants (and the only example I can think of it fish cold-resistance input to tomatoes, which has been talked about but not to my knowledge actually done beyond research) you’re talking multiple genes from multiple chromosomes that all work in concert. This is neither practical nor economical to do, but researchers do attempt it to learn more about genetics in general.

In the vast majority of cases, molecular genetic modification takes one gene from one species and inserts it into a related species.

In ALL cases, any genes being inserted into any organism, food or not, are naturally-produced. Human beings have not yet managed to artificially synthesize genes to produce specific functions in high-level organisms like plants and animals – we can only work with what evolution has already given us.

Now, in my opinion (and this is where opinion enters into this, the previous explanation is factual), molecular techniques are preferable to selective breeding and cross-breeding as we carefully identify and insert only the genes whose functions we know and want to replicate in the new plant. Cross-breeding and selective breeding are an evolutionary crapshoot – keep inter-breeding specimens with characteristics you want and hope it doesn’t also produce any nasty ones you don’t want. This has already backfired on humanity in the opast – africanized “killer” bees in the Americas are the result of a cross-breeding attempt to introduce productivity of African bees into more docile bees on these continents. Unfortunately, the cross-breed also got the extreme aggression. Had this been done carefully using selection/siolation/extraction/sequencing/insertion/selection, we would never have the frightening cross-breed that resulted. Artificial selection and cross-breeding can be useful, but they also have significant downsides. Operating without any selection also has a serious downside – you cannot produce enough food to reliably feed a population without domestication of animal and plant species.

Your example of a pig gene into a plant is interesting. Are you able to actually cite a case where this has been used, or are you making things up? If this has actually been done I’m curious what genes were involved and what the function was.

Regardless, your post amounts to a lot of excitable nonsense with no factualy basis behind it, and I find it curious that you say I’m wrong when you provide neither a counter-argument nor do you show a clear understanding of the subject material.

Panicky hand-waving counts neither as debatable points, nor for style. Some content would be appreciated.

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Chris December 10, 2012 at 4:13 PM

I think that most people know very well what cross breeding is and that it has been done for a very long time. I think most people are not concerned with cross breeding. Most people are concerned with the safety or lack thereof and the lack of long term testing of what I think you called molecular genetic manipulation. The second type of genetic manipulation is what the average person thinks about when they use the term GMO’s, but I am sure you knew that since you are an “expert” with a degree in genetics.

You quoting that the FDA is testing GMO’s for safety did not help you point. I am sure that most people reading these posts probably consider the FDA a bought and paid for revolving door joke with absolutely no credibility.

By the way, I do not have a degree in genetics, but I am an intelligent person with training in other disciplines like most people and I have common sense like most people.

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Ryan December 11, 2012 at 12:03 AM

I see lots of wild claims flying around here, but not one person has yet rebutted any of the actual science I’ve posted.

As for the FDA, if people are buying into the premise that government regulators are bought and paid for by industry and therefore don’t have the public’s best interests in mind, I think we’re done here. I can’t fix conspiracy craziness, no matter how many pages I fill with facts.

FYI – Health/Agriculture Canada, the European Food Safety Authority seem to be independently arriving at the same conclusions as the FDA. The UK, which used to ban some GMOs, is now lifting a number of their restrictions. These aren’t departments controlled by industry; all of them use science-based methodologies for evaluation and all of them are arriving at the same conclusion: when done properly and properly regulated, the use of molecular genetics to manipulate crops (in particular) is entirely appropriate and beneficial as compared to tradition selection/isolation/cross-breeding mechanisms.

Anyway, this seems as good a time as any to say adieu; I’m not a reader of this site and I’ve taken up enough of its comment space as of late. Anyone cares to discuss it further or has questions, kindly check this forum post (as I am a regular on those forums): http://www.hard-light.net/forums/index.php?topic=83042.0

Thanks!

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Quinn May 1, 2013 at 2:51 PM

Ryan, Thank your arrogant pedantic display for demonstrating the safety problems. You even said yourself that understanding and testing the effects of molecular genetic manipulation is incredibly difficult if not impossible without extensive long term studies. The fact is, the changes being engineered have NOT undergone long term real world interactions and therefore their long term ramifications cannot be truly known. THAT is the obvious danger. So take your snarky attitude and shove it, because it doesnt take a Ph.D to understand that you are behaving as little more than a deceptive apologist.

Quinn May 1, 2013 at 3:36 PM

I would also note that the “molecular genetic modification” is happening in ways that generally would not occur in nature. Thousands of years of cross breeding compatible species was only ultimately allowed by eventual natural selection. Things created in a lab dont need to rely on natural selection for proliferation. That is a huge difference. Finally, I find it comical that Ryan finds the masses of credible allegations of FDA corruption to be “conspiracy theory.” One has to be a real koolaid drinker to not recognize how fascistic the US govt has become, along with many other “western” countries.

Quinn May 1, 2013 at 3:45 PM

Oh, one last thing for those doubting how corrupt our benevolent govts have become. Search “Monsanto Protection Act” as it is euphemistically known, the federal legislative amendment just signed into law by Barry Sotoro Obama, indemnifying Monsanto from any legal liability for their shady business. Get a clue Ryan. PhD work does not make you omniscient or infallible.

Ryan December 8, 2012 at 11:53 PM

I have a degree in Genetics. Tell me, what’s your level of education?

Selective breeding is artificial selection, a technique used to produce genetic modification (selective breeding modifies the genetic code of a strain of plants by selecting for certain phenotypes determined by a specific genotype. This is high-school level biology). Selective breeding absolutely produces GMOs, and is in fact the technique used to produce the majority of what lay people term ‘GMOs’ included in food today.

Molecular genetic modification can invoke plant viruses – viruses which are neither harmful to the plant, nor to mammals – as a delivery mechanism. All viruses have a protein coat surrounding genetic material core (typically DNA, sometimes RNA), some with a lipid membrane around the protein coat. When a virus successfully inserts into a germ cell (it is germ cells that have their DNA manipulated), the protein/lipid coat is digested by the internal processes of the germ cell. The genetic material is taken up into the nucleus and integrated into host DNA (if RNA, it is first reverse-transcripted to make DNA. Same end process). The viral “leftovers” are quickly re-used and destroyed by the plant cell – they are, after all, the same amino acids, proteins, and lipids which the plant is built from as well (think of biology like lego; all living things are built from the same basic blocks, just arranged in new combinations).

As plant viruses are biologically incapable of infecting humans, virus by-products are broken down and reused by the plant, and plant DNA does not contain the same insertion primers to enable ribozymes to splice plant DNA into mammalian DNA, there is a factual 0% chance that a genetically-modified plant would be capable of modifying human DNA as a result. If you knew biology, as opposed to ranting about GMO conspiracy, you would already know this. Of course, then you would also know that most DNA injection is done through electrical pulses administered to the target cell, not targeted viral insertion.

Now, if you’d like an explanation of how molecular genetic modification is done, I’m happy to provide one. To understand it, readers require some knowledge of biology.

In order to create a genetically-modified organism, we must first understand what sort of gene modification you want to do. Most genetic modification, as I’ve said numerous times, involves giving an ability from one plant to another related type of plant (same Genus, Family, or Order). For our example, let’s say you have a cauliflower strain that is resistant to a certain fungus, and you want to give brussel sprouts (a closely-related species) that same resistance.

Your first step is to figure out what gene gives the cauliflower strain its resistance. You therefore interbreed individual plants from that cauliflower through multiple generations, over and over, until [virtually; its never 100%] all of your cauliflower plants grown from the seeds several generations down the road have that resistance. This is selection/isolation – weed out the plants that don’t have what you want until all you are producing are the ones that do. If all we wanted as an end product is cauliflower with fungus resistance, we’re done at this point – this is artificial selection. Just grow all your cauliflower from this seed strain and you’re set. However, since what we want is actually to figure out what gives the cauliflower that resistance, we need to keep going.

With modern technology, we can now sequence genomes fairly easily, and compare them against each other. This step is extremely involved and can take months or years, with selection/isolation procedures throughout, but the gene(s) that convey this resistance are ultimately identified essentially by comparing the DNA of a resistant cauliflower to one that isn’t. It will literally take pages to explain this in sufficient detail and most people still won’t understand it, so suffice it to say that figuring out which gene does this is very hard work and very complicated.

Then, we sequence the gene, identify where it is in the cauliflower DNA and what DNA lies on either side of it.

Now that we have that information, we take some resistant cauliflower cells, break them up in a vortexer (basically a blender without sharp blades), and add DNA base pairs (think tiny lego blocks), enzymes, and raise the temperature. This process is called polymerase chain reaction (PCR), and it lets you make a copy of a specific chunk of DNA (in this case, just our resistance gene) thousands of times.

Now that we have a whole bunch of copies of the gene we want, we need to get just those copies and not all the other stuff in the PCR mix into the target plant, so first we run the sample out on a gel which allows us to isolate just the genes we’re looking for and nothing else by size (bigger the gene, slower it travels on the gel).

OK, now we have a tiny spot of DNA that contains millions of copies of our target gene. Now we have to get it into the brussel sprouts.

Two (main) ways to insert this – either put it in a nutrient bath with plant cells, shock them with electricity, and allow the DNA to enter the cell and be integrated into the plant DNA, or use a vector to insert the DNA for us. Advantages and disadvantages to both – first method leads most often to random insertion (there are ways to make it non-random, involves more work after isolation but before running the PCR by adding insertion splice DNA coding to the ends of the gene first), second method means more work because you have to build a vector.

The best insertion vector is a plant virus. You take a natural plant virus, and strip out all it’s genes except those which allow it to infect and insert DNA/RNA into the plant. We can do this because viruses are pretty simple and we’ve done the selection/isolation/amplification/sequencing steps enough that we know which of their genes do what. Then you attach your fungus-resistance gene to the viral DNA/RNA (I just described literally days of work in half a sentence), and let the virus replicate in a culture. Trick is, you are using a virus that infects not cauliflower, but brussel sprouts.

Now, with our new virus that doesn’t actually do anything but transport our gene into the brussel sprouts, we infect the strain of brussel spouts. The virus inserts the DNA/RNA, and then is broken down. The DNA/RNA has specific splicing sequences stuck to the ends of it, which cause the plant to non-randomly incorporate it into the brussel sprout’s DNA. Now we have at least some brussel sprouts with a resistance gene in them. Cool. A little over halfway to our goal.

Now you take the infected brussel sprouts and grow up their germ cells into full-sized plants. Then you run selection for several generations, weeding out the brussels sprouts that get infected by the fungus and breeding only those that don’t. After many generations, you’ll have a pure stock of brussel sprouts that are resistant to the fungus. You can then perpetuate that line and keep using the seeds it produces to ensure that you keep as pure a stock as possible.

That’s molecular genetics at work. Useful gene from one plant, into another species, grown up over many generations. No trace of the virus, no extra genetic material, no nasty side-effects. Same end result we can achieve through selective breeding and artificial selection, but much faster because you aren’t waiting for the spontaneous mutation to happen in brussel sprouts, you’re using the one that already existed in cauliflower. It’s pretty freakin’ cool. Can be done with all sorts of genes and gene types – disease resistance (most common), chemical resistance (works by giving the plant the ability to neutralize the chemical), insect resistance (plant produces a natural insecticide, talked about this before), weather resistance (survives in colder climates, etc).

Less common is the conspiracy BS of putting crazy animal genes in plants, and vice versa. While it’s possible, it’s a heck of a lot harder because most genes work in concert, not isolation – that is, multiple genes are responsible for a certain visible effect. The resistances I talked about earlier usually only involve one to a dozen genes at most; when you start talking about moving some sort of animal characteristic to plants (and the only example I can think of it fish cold-resistance input to tomatoes, which has been talked about but not to my knowledge actually done beyond research) you’re talking multiple genes from multiple chromosomes that all work in concert. This is neither practical nor economical to do, but researchers do attempt it to learn more about genetics in general.

In the vast majority of cases, molecular genetic modification takes one gene from one species and inserts it into a related species.

In ALL cases, any genes being inserted into any organism, food or not, are naturally-produced. Human beings have not yet managed to artificially synthesize genes to produce specific functions in high-level organisms like plants and animals – we can only work with what evolution has already given us.

Now, in my opinion (and this is where opinion enters into this, the previous explanation is factual), molecular techniques are preferable to selective breeding and cross-breeding as we carefully identify and insert only the genes whose functions we know and want to replicate in the new plant. Cross-breeding and selective breeding are an evolutionary crapshoot – keep inter-breeding specimens with characteristics you want and hope it doesn’t also produce any nasty ones you don’t want. This has already backfired on humanity in the opast – africanized “killer” bees in the Americas are the result of a cross-breeding attempt to introduce productivity of African bees into more docile bees on these continents. Unfortunately, the cross-breed also got the extreme aggression. Had this been done carefully using selection/siolation/extraction/sequencing/insertion/selection, we would never have the frightening cross-breed that resulted. Artificial selection and cross-breeding can be useful, but they also have significant downsides. Operating without any selection also has a serious downside – you cannot produce enough food to reliably feed a population without domestication of animal and plant species.

Your example of a pig gene into a plant is interesting. Are you able to actually cite a case where this has been used, or are you making things up? If this has actually been done I’m curious what genes were involved and what the function was.

Regardless, your post amounts to a lot of excitable nonsense with no factualy basis behind it, and I find it curious that you say I’m wrong when you provide neither a counter-argument nor do you show a clear understanding of the subject material.

Panicky hand-waving counts neither as debatable points, nor for style. Some content would be appreciated.

It’s worth reiterating my response to this bit of incorrect hyperbole: “various virus-like processes are being employed, and residues of those reagents and delivery mechanisms, protein coats, and retroviral strands, persist in the food.” – The residues do not persist, because you are not eating a plant that was subjected to modification (even if you were, no reagents are introduced to the plant, and the virus that does infect it is quickly broken down after the DNA is released. That’s how viruses work. Look it up.). What we eat is an offspring of a plant whose great-grandparent several generations removed was once infected by a virus (or not, the DNA was probably inserted electrically) to introduce DNA from another organism, most likely an edible plant. Again, this is how biology works. I would encourage you do some actual learning about the science before accusing people who actually know what they’re talking about of being wrong.

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Craig December 6, 2012 at 12:33 AM

So, your extensive study of genetics tells you that absolutely no health risks to humans when designing food crops to make their own pesticides (BT). This only destroys the digestive system of the targeted insects. The increased problems seen in humans since the introduction of GMO’s is purely coincidental.

By the way, what is your profession? Who do you work for?

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Ryan December 6, 2012 at 9:13 AM

I didn’t say there are no health risks. I said the plant is producing natural insecticides. Plants produces all kinds of fungicides, insecticides, and even herbicides to ward off disease, predators, and competition by other plants. It’s quite remarkable how many chemicals plants naturally produce to defend themselves; the chemicals they produce vary from species to species. If a plant is being genetically-modified to produce an insecticide, that genetic code is coming from another plant that already does that (and the insecticide will be non-toxic to humans or it would not be approved for consumption in the US or Canada).

As for “increased problems in humans since introduction of GMOs” – as I said, we’ve been using true GMOs for thousands of years. If you’re trying to say there are increased problems since the itnroduction of molecular techniques, that tells me you’re saying we’ve had increased problems in the last 15-20 years. However, there are two major problems with this assertion: you’re not defining problems, and you’re talking about correlation, not causation. Basically, I see wild claims without any supporting data. My knowledge comes from 7 years in a formal University studying genetics, peer-reviewed journals, and other sources of legitimate, scientifically-based research. I suspect yours originates on conspiracy-oriented websites. I challenge you to find a single perr-reviewed article which causatively or even strongly-correlatively links foods modified with molecular genetic techniques to human health “problems.” PubMed (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed) indexes perr-reviewed abstracts from an insane amount of journals for free, so you can consider starting there unless you have another source you’d like to try first. Wikipedia, anecdotes, and unsourced websites don’t count unless you can find methodologies for their source information.

As for my job, I work in the Canadian federal public service. I am not, never have ever been, employed by companies conducting GMO R&D or sales. In point of fact, I occasionally inspect/investigate them.

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Ryan December 4, 2012 at 9:27 PM

I should also say that anyone who has an unsubstantiated objection to GMOs based on hearsay and half-truths (as opposed to a nuanced understanding of genetics) should probably also familiarize themselves with Norman Borlaug before passing judgement:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tIvNopv9Pa8

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buellahgirl December 6, 2012 at 4:36 AM

Thanks to Ryan for a reasoned and educated explanation of GMO science as it pertains to our food supply. Mendelian techniques have certainly been practiced for thousands of years. As a “civilian”, my concerns about the manipulation of our food supply are based, I think, more in the implementation of some of these techniques by profit driven entities that seemingly operate without thought or concern for the long-term well-being of consumers. General Mills is a case in point as you reasonably acknowledge. Their blatant efforts to avoid full disclosure certainly suggest that there is something in or about their products that will not bear scrutiny in the light of day,which fuels the on-going debate. Other practices, such as hormone enhancement to animals to promote growth in the meat industry, are another source for great concern. Infertility, obesity, early onset of puberty and diabetes are unarguably on the rise, especially in developed countries where the food supply is continually manipulated, enhanced and modified for greater productivity. My granddaughter is going through puberty at the age of 8. Her pediatrician informed us that the age of onset of puberty has been on the rise for years. I’m concerned about this information and cannot help but wonder if this trend is not attributable, at least in part, to the quality of the food consumed in this country. Does anyone really believe that we are NOT what we eat? Diabetes is rampant in this country. Can anyone that has eyes/ears disagree with the assertion that it is occurring at epidemic levels/ Not perhaps because of gmo, but very possibly due to other efforts within the industry to preserve food beyond a reasonable shelf life for profit? There are excessive amounts of salt, sugar, food coloring, hormones and preservatives (a short list) in everything we eat which are not necessarily gmo manipulated but unhealthy. Unfortunately, due to an unwillingness to fully divulge ingredients and methods, companies like GM contribute to the general confusion. The public outcry about the GMO issue is a symptom of what a large number of people feel is a legitimate concern about the direction that we are heading. Continuing corporate refusal to disavow that there is a basis for legitimate concern is not working. Maybe GMO science is not the huge danger to our food supply that is currently perceived, but there do appear to be dangers. Consumers would feel a lot better if they could believe that corporations are conscience driven allies interested in making a legitimate profit by providing the best quality product possible rather than the one most cheaply and easily produced. Such a partnership would, I believe, result in a quality, healthy food supply for consumers and a sustainable profit for suppliers.

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Ryan December 6, 2012 at 9:23 AM

There’s nothing you’ve said that I disagree with; we eat a lot of things that we probably shouldn’t, and we should have information about what is going into our foods. Hormone analogues (chemicals that act like hormones but aren’t; BPA is an example) are a huge concern.

My point is that blaming “GMOs!” as the source of all evil is really a red-herring. I am far less concerned by GMOs than I am by a lot of other food issues, but that’s because I know how GMO production works and what sorts of things we can do with these techniques.

On the other hand, there are a large number of chemical additives in foods from other sources that I would suggest people should be far more concerned about and don’t tend to be. There is also a bit of a strange anti-science tone developing in some members of the general public that breeds conspiracy nonsense (Craig above is a good example of the sorts of claims we see) which I find highly concerning as it spreads misinformation and creates greater problems.

The Internet has done a lot of great things for us, but it also allows a lot of people to spread false, misleading, or partially incorrect information based solely on opinion, hearsay, and anecdotes. There’s a reason we have the scientific method, and it’s because it gives credible, reproducible results. Veering away from it is a matter of enormous concern to anyone who wants credible information.

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Wrong Wrong Wrong December 8, 2012 at 7:28 PM

AFAIK, nobody blames GMO’s as “the source of all evil.”

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John Savage December 8, 2012 at 1:06 PM

What say you about this report of GMOs damaging the health of rats?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C3%81rp%C3%A1d_Pusztai

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Ryan December 9, 2012 at 12:01 AM

See my more detailed reply below. Short version: There’s nothing in this example that would satisfy my challenge to Craig, above. Longer reply below.

UPDATE: It appears the European Food Safety Authority GMO Panel Working Group on Animal Feeding Trials has pretty thoroughly debunked this fellow’s claims. Citation: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0278691508000884

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John Savage December 8, 2012 at 1:10 PM

Here is an interview with Arpad Pusztai who discovered the detrimental health effects on rats fed with GMO potatoes.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KNjMJIvI3RY

I’d be interested to hear Ryan’s opinion on the above.

Regards

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Wrong Wrong Wrong December 8, 2012 at 7:29 PM

Go take a look at what Ryan has said (and not said), and I believe you will conclude that he has very little to say in response to your evidence…

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Ryan December 8, 2012 at 11:45 PM

Since you have two posts on this guy, I’ll respond to the most recent.

First off, Pusztai appears to have never actually published his results and methodology in a peer-reviewed journal. Closest he got is a letter to the Lancet in which it seems the majority of reviewers found fault with. That said, as I can’t actually access the original letter or the rebuttals (paywalls), I can’t really comment beyond that on the quality of his work. However, the Lancet is a highly-respected medical journal reviewed by some of the most qualified scientists on the planet on a regular basis; if it’s reviewers found this work to be problematic or non-credible, I am inclined to believe them. They have a great deal more knowledge on this subject than I or anyone else frequenting this discussion thread.

Furthermore, rats are a model research organism and are similar to humans in many ways, but they are not human. Even in the slight chance that this researcher’s work did show a link, such a link does not imply a negative health effect in humans. There are a great many substances toxic and cancerous to rats and not to humans, and vice versa.

I wouldn’t discount him entirely – at least, not without reading the Lancet rebuttals, which I can’t at present – but I would certainly take all of his findings with a large helping of salt until someone corroborates his research. The value of all science lies is reproducing the results – if no one else can show what he says he shows, then there is a flaw in his method or reasoning. And from what I can tell in a quick 10-minute perusal of the links you provided and a search through PubMed and Google, no one can corroborate this guy’s work.

I know that cases like this add fuel to the conspiracy fire since it looks (to a conspiracy theorist’s eyes) like one scientist is being crucified for speaking out, but the fact of the matter is that this is usually how science works – someone makes a scientific claim, which is roundly criticized and ultimately disproven based on the totality of the evidence and reproducibility of the results.

I know I’m probably going to regret using this example, since GMO conspiracy types tend to be close friends of vaccine conspiracy types, but this is exactly what happened to Andrew Wakefield, the fellow who originally published a Lancet article in 1998 linking vaccination to autism. He was recently stripped of that publication and his medical license because of flawed and falsified methodology and results, and that study has been retracted by the Lancet entirely. Subsequent reviews of the issue have show in over a thousand other studies that no such link exists. Pusztai’s work appears to fall in the same vein; he just doesn’t have a medical license to strip.

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Gemma January 30, 2013 at 10:29 PM

Ryan,
1) If these mega companies are so sure their products are SAFE – then simply LABEL them as being GMO’s — and let consumers decide if they wish to consume them or not.
2) Re: Your info on Dr Wakefield’s history — in 2012 evidence has surfaced that shows how he’s been victim of a smear campaign.
In a stunning reversal, world renowned pediatric gastroenterologist Prof. John Walker-Smith won his appeal against the United Kingdom’s General Medical Council regulatory board that had ruled against both him and Andrew Wakefield for their roles in the 1998 Lancet MMR paper, which raised questions about a link to autism. Professor Walker-Smith’s 1996 presentation at the Royal Free Hospital Medical School was entitled, “Entero-colitis and Disintegrative Disorder Following MMR – A Review of the First Seven Cases.”
Thus, Dr Wakefield could not have “fabricated” these findings as alleged by the British Medical Journal, which now finds itself in the position of needing to issue a retraction, or it must now expand its accusations of fraud to include Professor Walker-Smith and Dr Dhillon… essentially, the BMJ must now insist that a “conspiracy of fraud” existed among at least these three researchers, and possibly more, in order to back up its allegation that Dr Wakefield’s study results were fabricated.

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Ryan March 28, 2013 at 11:58 AM

Hey, I stumbled by again today and saw this post, and just couldn’t NOT respond. You appear to have experienced a comprehension failure:

http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/health-news/mmr-doctor-john-walkersmith-wins-high-court-appeal-7543114.html

The ruling simply said that JWS didn’t violate his terms of practice by unlawfully engaging in research – concluding that he did indeed do his work as a form of treatment. It was silent on the credibility of Wakefield’s conclusions. Wakefield isn’t getting his medical license restored, and the Lancet’s retraction stands.

For a detailed analysis of the ruling and what it means to the original flawed work on MMR and autism, here’s a snarkily-written but factually-accurate explanation:

http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2012/03/08/andy-wakefield-exonerated-because-john-w/

But as to your point 1, I agree – I see no problem with labeling requirements. The label just can’t read “GMO” or “No GMO” because, as I outlined in lengthy fashion through multiple posts earlier, that’s a false dichotomy. Only non-domesticated foodstuffs qualify as truly non-GMO – basically, wild plants that are not grow commercially, some fish, some shellfish, wild game (which cannot be legally sold in stores).

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Marika December 9, 2012 at 2:09 PM

I want to thank the author of this post as well as everyone who contributed to the comments section. It really got me thinking about my point of view on what is clearly a very controversial and for many (myself included) upsetting issue.

I especially want to extend my thanks to Ryan and Buellahgirl, your comments in particular inspired me to write a blog post on my attitudes towards this whole debate. Perhaps you’ll find it interesting: http://marikaesque.wordpress.com/2012/12/09/gmo-omg/

Let’s keep moving towards a greater understanding by all of where our food comes from, and the attitudes surrounding this.

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Sanjeev December 12, 2012 at 2:21 PM

Ryan one of the ways we are harmed everyday by institutions we trust is because people quickly dismiss unpopular notions as conspiracy theories. Plz try not to do that until u have investigated the accusation for yourself just as you are urging us to do with the GMO debate. The FDA has been bought and paid for a long time ago and there is an overwhelming amount of evidence to back this up. All it takes is for you to open your mind and do some independent research. . Once u start down this path I’m sure you will find that other countries fall prey to the same corruptions .. Maybe then you might start following the money and eventually find the truth about why this and other ” conspiracies ” like it takes place globally…

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PamY April 2, 2013 at 11:18 AM

I am surprised that no one confronted Ryan on this comment:

Also – certified organic means pesticide has not been applied within a certain number of days prior to harvest. It does not imply the crop or foodstuff is not produced from a genetically-modified variant for all the reasons above.

Everything I have read and researched states that organic food must be free on GMO’s.

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