No long term effects of GMO consumption: a review article by Snell et al…

UPDATE: December 16, 2011

This just posted in Applied Mythology – response to the review article:


December 15, 2011

Here is a new and excellent review article by Snell et al (2011) entitled “Assessment of the health impact of GM plant diets in long-term and multigenerational animal feeding trials” recently published in Food and Chemical Toxicology. Contrary to popular beliefs, long term studies HAVE been conducted on GMO consumption and they show NO LONG TERM effects.  The Snell et al article reviews outline several studies examining effects GM lines of maize, potato, soybean, rice and triticale.  The studies in question are of two types:

– 12 long term toxicological studies, where feeding time exceeds well over (up to 2 years) that of the 90 day studies classically used in toxicological studies applied to GMOs

 – 12 studies whose duration extended over several generations of animals.

KEY TAKEAWAY: “These studies by public research laboratories do not reveal any safety problem linked to long term consumption of GMO-derived food.” M. Kuntz  (For more interesting insights, I invite you to check out Marcel Kuntz’s website  Kuntz is a co-author on the Food and Chemical Toxicology article.) 

Article reference:

C. Snell, A. Bernheim, J.B. Bergé, M. Kuntz, G. Pascal, A. Paris, & A.E. Ricroch (2011) Assessment of the health impact of GM plant diets in long-term and multigenerational animal feeding trials: A literature review. Food and Chemical Toxicology

Other good sources related to this topic:

Flachowsky, G., Halle, I., & Aulrich, K. (2005)
    Long term feeding of Bt-corn – a ten-generation study with quails. Archives of Animal Nutrition, 59, 6, pp  449-451
    <Go to ISI>://000233641600008 AND

Flachowsky, G. & Wenk, C. (2010)
    The role of animal feeding trials for the nutritional and safety assessment of feeds from genetically modified plants – Present stage and future challenges. Journal of Animal and Feed Sciences, 19, 2, pp  149-170
    <Go to ISI>://WOS:000278973200001 AND

Castaldini, M., Turrini, A., Sbrana, C., Benedetti, A., Marchionni, M., Mocali, S., Fabiani, A., Landi, S., Santomassimo, F., Pietrangeli, B., Nuti, M.P., Miclaus, N., & Giovannetti, M. (2005)
    Impact of Bt corn on rhizospheric and on beneficial mycorrhizal symbiosis and soil eubacterial communities iosis in experimental microcosms. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 71, 11, pp  6719-6729
    <Go to ISI>://000233225000033 AND

Crawley, M.J. (1995)
    Long term ecological impacts of the release of genetically modified organisms,  Strasbourg  Council of Europe Press,   Pan-European conference on the potential long-term ecological impact of genetically modified organisms, Ed.   pp 43-69

Hommel, B. & Pallutt, B. (2002)
    Evaluation of herbicide resistance against glufosinate in oilseed rape and maize in view of integrated plant protection – results of a long-term field experiment started in 1996 with a special view on field flora. Zeitschrift Fur Pflanzenkrankheiten Und Pflanzenschutz-Journal of Plant Diseases and Protection,  pp  985-994
    <Go to ISI>://000202836900128 AND

Leigh, R.A. & Johnston, A.E. (1994)
    Long Term Experiments in Agricultural and Ecological Sciences,  Rothamstead, 14-17 July 1993  CAB International,   Conference to celebrate the 150th Anniversary of Rothamstead Experimental Station, Ed.   pp 428

Mattingly, G.E.G. & Johnston, A.E. (1976)
    Long-Term Rotation Experiments at Rothamsted and Saxmundham-Experimental-Stations – Effects of Treatments on Crop Yields and Soil Analyses and Recent Modifications in Purpose and Design. Annales Agronomiques, 27, 5-6, pp  743-769
    <Go to ISI>://A1976DN70300014 AND NEBIS 20111201

Rothamsted Research (2006)    
Guide to the classical and other long term experiments, dataset and sample archive Printed by Premier Printers Ltd, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk. © Lawes Agricultural Trust Co. Ltd, Harpenden, Herts, AL5 2JQ, UK,  IS: ISBN 0 9514456 9 3, pp 56

Zueghart, W., Benzler, A., Berhorn, F., Sukopp, U., & Graef, F. (2008)
    Determining indicators, methods and sites for monitoring potential adverse effects of genetically modified plants to the environment: the legal and conceptional framework for implementation. Euphytica, 164, 3, pp  845-852 AND

McHughen and Wager address misconceptions around ag biotech

December 9, 2010

Here is a great article to follow up from what transpired on the Dr. Oz  show this week.  Alan McHughen and Robert Wager co-author an article in the December 2010 issue of New Biotechnology entitled “Popular misconceptions: agricultural biotechnology”.  I have attached the article here and I think that the Open Source Gods will shine favourably down on me for that (even if the journal doesn’t).  Without going into detail, the article explains and refutes some of the most popular misconceptions around agricultural biotechnology.

Dr. Pam Ronald was a guest on the Oz episode which covered the issue of GE tech and food earlier this week.  Dr. Ronald did a fantastic job of representing the science of biotechnology but unfortunately she had difficulty competing with the sexy soundbytes of anti-GE sentiments parlayed by “Seeds of Deception” author J. Smith.  If that wasn’t enough, I was frustrated by Dr. Oz’s apparent bias against GE technology and GMO food – and I quote:

“…and this organic cereal contains no genetically modified seeds or products so that is an advantage…”


Back to the McHughen/Wager article…. the authors state:

“Popular misconceptions might be considered amusing if they are held only by a small ‘fringe’ group. But sometimes the misinformation and fear can become infectious and pathogenic, instigating bad public policy, with substantial negative consequences to everyone.”

I think that Dr. Oz should have a read, don’t you? (see article attached below)

I refer to some other online sources relating to the Dr. Oz show and Dr. Ronald’s appearance on it:

Dr.Ronald’s follow up to her appearance on the show:

Want some GOOD, BALANCED information? Here are some sources: bioforitifed,org, and

Download this file

Organic and pro-GM arguments reconciled thro “organogenics”

Bridge the organic–GM divide to feed the world

Ian  Ashbridge
Monday 08 November 2010
Farmers Weekly Interactive

Supporters and opponents of transgenic biotechnology must begin a constructive dialogue at once if world food output is to keep pace with a growing population, a leading academic has urged.

Sir David Baulcombe, regius professor of botany and Royal Society research professor at Cambridge University, said he believed organic and pro-GM arguments could be reconciled, advocating a new approach he called “organogenics”.

“This combines the best principles of organic production with the most useful outcomes of biotechnology too, to create useful applications for the environment, farmers and consumers,” said Prof Baulcombe, delivering the Royal Agricultural College’s annual Bledisloe lecture last week.



“This house believes…” The Economist facilitates debate on biotech & sustainability

GM and organics have, for the most part, been viewed as being at opposing ends of the farming production & practice debate. 

To that end, I was pleased to see that The Economist is hosting a debate on this very important matter.  The Economist puts forward the notion that biotechnology and sustainable agriculture are symbiotic and complementary, not at all contradictory.  Moderator, Tom Standage*, looks beyond the ‘crude stereotypes’ and observes that these opposing sides have something in common”

“Both camps are looking for new techniques to produce food sustainably: in other words, methods that minimise environmental impact, maximise farmers’ welfare, can cope with climate change and can be scaled across the developing world. The two camps agree on the ends, if not the means…the idea of a rapprochement between these two approaches is not totally out of the question.”

Professor Pamela Robert (UC Davis) defends the notion of symbiosis between GE and sustainability: “The number of people on Earth is expected to increase from the current 6.7 billion to 9 billion by 2050. How will we feed them? Genetically engineered crops will play an important role.”

Opposing the motion is Charles Benrock of the Organic Center: “Biotechnology is not a system of farming. It reflects no specific philosophy nor is it guided by a set of principles or performance criteria. It is a bag of tools than can be used for good or evil, and lots in between.”

The online forum (scheduled from November 2 to November 12) allows users to vote or provide input into the debate.  Here are a few of the viewpoints that have been put forward – some are the same ol’, same ol’ while others are thought-provoking and intriguing…

“‘…If we continue with current farming practices, [quoting P. Robert]..’, why does it have to be that we have to choose between one bad over the other? The type of farming that would be sustainable not only for the environment but also for the people would be traditional farming.”

“…when I hear about national research institutions that provide the government with information, allow me to have the benefit of the doubt regarding the truth of the scientists’ statements. When scientists are not independent and get paid from the government, (whose decision is lobbied by multinational companies,) how much trustworthy can the research institutions be?”

“…to increase agricultural output on the scale needed, not only must we rely on biotechnology for crop re-engineering and pest control, but we also need it for optimal fertilising…agricultural biotech therefore represents a key tool for smart feed and fertilising which by helping us to close the phosphate loop, will make an important contribution to sustainable agriculture.”

“The thing to be constantly vigilant about in this debate is stewardship. Modifying plants genetically is old hat, when level heads prevail we agree it’s something that requires a regulated environment. Creators of GM crops must act as good stewards of their products and ensure safety for people as well as the environmental.”

“What about the loss of bio-diversity in planted crops or that GM crops cross-pollinate with non GM crops then making them produce GM crops? Natural selection has worked for millions of years so why tamper with it. It is all about making corporations money not feeding the worlds hungry.”

“It is important to remember that GE seeds developed through biotechnology by itself won’t increase productivity. Its part of a technological package that includes the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides and heavy machinery and the more vital of all, water. But is an expensive and brutal system that requires education and experience to be sustainable.”

“There is one simple fact about GMO that many politicians and some irresponsible scientists do not seem to be willing to accept: “GM crops cannot coexist with conventional crops.””

“If you ask what the value of the industrial food is, you must deduct the taxpayer money supporting it. We lose something whenever we artificially prop one company up with taxpayer dollars that destroys competition.”

“If the scientific knowledge required for the manipulation of plant genetics is available, then it would be foolish for us not to seek to employ that knowledge for the betterment of mankind simply because of slippery slope concerns.”

“The question is wrong. All sustainable farming is not ecological farming.Considering the limitations of organic farming, it could even be asked if organic farming is sustainable. A wholesale shift to organic farming would lower the world’s food output dramatically, causing famine on a large scale. I am not convinced that GM can make up for pesticide and especially fertilizers. Organic farming may be sustainable for the soil, but it is not sustainable for us.”

“Back in the 70’s, when the world’s population was 2 billion, we developed GM agriculture to prevent a growing problem of starvation. We suceeded so well that now we have more than 6 billion people. Now, faced with the threat of 9 billion people, we need to again step up the technology. When does it end? The term sustainability needs to incorporate population stablity to make any sense at all.

As of today (November 3rd) there were 60+ comments posted to The Economist’s online debate.  This is a very important dialogue – engage in it!

– – – –

*Tom Standage is a journalist and author from England. A graduate of Oxford University, he has worked as a science and technology writer for The Guardian, as the business editor at The Economist, has been published in WiredThe New York Times, and The Daily Telegraph, and has published five books, including The Victorian Internet.

“Market Prospects”: Sefton and Weber on the current flax situation

Dave Sefton (SaskFlax) and Larry Weber (Weber Commodities) on the Triffid Flax situation

Market Prospects – March 20, 2010


Genetically modified flax target of bill

“The proposed legislation focuses on the potential harm that occurs when genetically engineered seeds — which are permitted domestically —contaminate a shipment meant for the international market. If Bill C-474 is passed, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency would be required to analyse the potential harm to export markets “before the sale of any new genetically engineered seed is permitted,” the bill reads.”

Read more:…

more GMO linseed/flax in the Czech Republic and Poland

Agritec, Research, Breeding & Services, Ltd also submitted a notification / report in 2007 for transformed flax in the CR.

The U of Wroclaw, Poland also did some work on flax in U owned plots. Notification dated 2004 with release period listed as 2006 to 2010:


GMO linseed developed in the EU

Here is the Summary Notification (#B/SE/04/8254) made by Plant Science Sweden designating the delliberate release of a modified linseed line (modified for oil composition) for planting in regions in Sweden 2005-2009. Consent was given by EC for this event in 2005. As far as I can tell, project went as planned. How come this has never come to light given the recent Triffid issue? Unfortunately, the final report on this is in Swedish.


One hectare of GMO maize = 15 tonnes of seed (5 x conventional)

Zimbabwe Farmers Calls for Planting of GMOs
– Sarah Ncube, The Zimbabwe Telegraph, Nov. 19, 2009

Zimbabwe – Harare – The Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union (ZCFU) has called on the Government to allow farmers to plant Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) maize seed so as to increase harvest and counter imports. In a telephone interview yesterday, the organisation’s vice president for administration Robert Marapira said GMO maize could be the short term solution to the country food shortages. “It is known that the country has over the past decade failed to harvest adequate maize to cater for the needs of the citizens hence we believe that the growing of genetically modified maize could be the counter measure especially taking into consideration that the Government has been spending millions of dollars in sourcing grain from outside the country,” he said.

Marapira said research had shown that a hectare of land planted with GMO seed could harvest 15 tonnes compared to natural seed, which rakes in only three tonnes. “GMO seeds mature faster than the natural seed and they need less water looking at a possibility of the country receiving less rainfall meaning that if such a thing was to occur the country would be guaranteed of a good harvest,” said Marapira.

He added that GMO maize could also be used as a way of countering imports that have flooded the local market. “The majority of food stuffs coming into the country are GMOs and paying particular attention to maize you would notice that South African maize is cheaper than local because production costs lesser meaning that most businesses and millers would prefer to buy from neighbouring countries a situation which would negatively affect farmers,” said Marapira.

Meanwhile various farmer organisations met to discuss challenges faced by farmers and strategies on how to effectively market their produce.

NY Times Article of Interest – Can GM Food Cure the World’s Hunger Problem?

Interesting article in today’s issue of the New York Times: “Can Biotech Food Cure World Hunger?”… includes commentaries from six experts (academics, activists, authors) on the subject.

I am particularly fond of Paul Collier’s (economist with Oxford U) encouragement for us to put aside our prejudices: “Genetic modification is analogous to nuclear power: nobody loves it, but climate change has made its adoption imperative.” Particularly, Collier says, for countries like Africa. He says, “African governments are now recognizing that by imitating the European ban on genetic modification they have not reduced the risks facing their societies but increased them. Thirteen years, during which there could have been research on African crops, have been wasted. Africa has been in thrall to Europe, and Europe has been in thrall to populism.”

Johnathon Foley, director of the new Institute on the Environment at the University of Minnesota, expounds upon “The Third Way”… “Currently, there are two paradigms of agriculture being widely promoted: local and organic systems versus globalized and industrialized agriculture. Each has fervent followers and critics. Genuine discourse has broken down: You’re either with Michael Pollan or you’re with Monsanto. But neither of these paradigms, standing alone, can fully meet our needs.” Foley suggest a “hybrid” of the two: “…take ideas from both sides, [create] new, hybrid solutions that boost production, conserve resources and build a more sustainable and scalable agriculture.”…