Worth A Second Look: Monsanto’s GMO Corn Linked To Organ Failure

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve noticed the resurgence of a 2010 Huffington Post blog reviewing a study on GMO consumption and mammalian health. Conducted by the International Journal of Biological Sciences, the study shows major flaws in Monsanto’s interpretation of its own data from a 90-day feeding trial.

After seeing the post over and over on Facebook and Twitter, I got curious about it. Should we share it on the Non-GMO Project Facebook page again, even though it’s two years old? Just how important was this study? To find out, I emailed Dr. John Fagan, Ph.D, a molecular biologist and GMO expert. I asked him how valid the study was, and if it was worth another round of attention. His answer was a definitive “Yes.” Here’s what he had to say…

From: John Fagan
Date: Sun, 8 Jan 2012 23:46:27 +0100
To: Megan Westgate
Subject: Re: Monsanto’s GMO Corn Linked To Organ Failure, Study Reveals

Hi Megan,

This is an excellent study that was done by one of the best biosafety researchers on the planet.

The paper was a landmark study. Monsanto was forced by court to release raw data and Gilles-Eric Seralini and his team applied careful statistical methods that revealed the Monsanto had glossed over many important effects of the GMOs. In particular, Monsanto had used inappropriate criteria for judging whether results were biologically significant or not. A common case was that they rejected as biologically unimportant any effect that showed up in male animals or in female animals but was not observed in both. The fact is that sex related differences are common in physiological responses particularly in liver and kidney responses. Also, Monsanto rejected as biologically unimportant effects that were not proportional to dose. That is, if the effect was strong at low doses but weaker at high doses, they would reject the effect as biologically insignificant. Yet it is well known that many effects, especially endocrine effects, are stronger at low doses than at high.

The above are technical details; the key thing to understand is that Monsanto used very weak and scientifically invalid arguments to conclude that certain very important effects were not of biological significance and as a result could make the claim to regulators that there was no evidence that the GMOs under consideration were potentially harmful to people. Gilles-Eric reanalyzed Monsanto’s data and demonstrated very clearly that Monsanto had glossed over clear evidence of harm. The fact that Monsanto’s conclusions were accepted by EU and US regulators is strong evidence that the regulators are way too cooperative with Monsanto. Any scientist who reviewed the data would have seen the problems with these GMOs and should have raised questions regarding their approval. The fact that they didn’t indicates that they either had not done their job (they hadn’t carefully reviewed Monsanto’s data) or they knew there were problems and ignored them, preferring to please Monsanto rather than protect the public.

So it is GREAT that this paper is getting more play on the internet, Megan, and please do what you can do to amplify that effect. And feel free to use some or all of what I wrote above.



So there you have it—let’s keep that post going! So many people still don’t realize what a massive experiment Americans are subjected to every day when we sit down to eat. We’re one of the only developed nations without mandatory GMO labeling; most people around the world are wary of GMOs and don’t eat them. But here in the U.S., GMOs are now present in as much as 80% of our groceries. That’s pretty alarming when you look at studies like this and realize that there’s a good chance that GMOs are damaging our health in ways we still don’t fully understand.

In addition to helping spread the word about this study, here are two more ways you can take positive action:

  1. Tell the FDA to label GMOs
  2. Help maintain the non-GMO food supply; choose products that are Non-GMO Project Verified

We all have the right to know what we’re eating, and we deserve safe, healthy food!

–Megan Westgate
Non-GMO Project Executive Director