It's Time to Stop Worrying and Learn to Love GMOs

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Somewhere in St. Louis, teams of scientists and corporate executives are hard at work devising the next generation of food. The crops they create will be more resistant to drought, sweeter, longer-lived, larger, hardier, and more nutritionally dense than their antecedents, and they'll cost the average supermarket shopper less of their take-home pay than the smaller and frailer fruits and vegetables our parents once picked up out of a market bin. They grow in vast fields that have been scientifically optimized to make possible the feeding of 7 billion people each year. Yet much of the developed world hates these crops and what they represent.

Elsewhere, in places ranging from Rock Hill, S.C., to Parma, Italy, teams of scientists and corporate executives are also hard at work devising the next generation of food. From their labs will emerge a range of complex machines, ready to squirt uniquely formulated, -colored, and, -textured pastes out of precision-engineered tubes into shapes that might be more suited for a Lego set than a dinner table. While perfectly edible, these extruded delicacies may look nothing like what you've eaten before -- and that's the point. This food of the future is still a curiosity, and its creation will necessitate the use of additives and chemicals to make its component pastes and goops taste and form up just so for your gastronomic delight. Yet it's already widely heralded as a breakthrough that will soon help feed the world.

Behind the food curtain
(NYSE: MON  ) has been developing and refining genetically modified (GM or GMO) crops at its St. Louis headquarters for more than two decades. While it's not the only GM crop science company, it's the largest and by far the most publicly prominent. It recently has begun to apply its high-tech crop science to a decidedly low-tech process -- Monsanto-developed crossbred fruits and vegetables (no genetic tweaking necessary) now sit on grocery shelves around the world. A Wired feature published earlier this week highlights that effort, which has already drawn significant backlash despite no evidence that eating Monsanto crossbreeds will cause ill health effects. However, Monsanto's bread and butter are still in GM crops. In 2012, the world grew 170 million hectares of GM crops, using anywhere from a tenth to roughly a fifth of all global cropland, depending on whose statistics you prefer.

Last year, two events perfectly captured the divergence between public and scientific attitudes toward Monsanto. Last May, an estimated 2 million protesters took to streets around the world in opposition to GMOs in general and to Monsanto in particular. A month later, the World Food Prize was shared among three GMO pioneers, including both Monsanto chief technology officer Robert Fraley and Mary Dell-Chilton, founder of rival GM seed producer Syngenta's (NYSE: SYT  ) biotechnology division. While more scientists have begun to speak out in support of GMOs, popular opinion remains vehemently anti-Monsanto despite limited evidence on the purported danger of its creations.

Source: 3D Systems.

On the other end of the "future food" spectrum, 3-D printing makers such as 3D Systems (NYSE: DDD  ) and major food producers -- including Hershey (NYSE: HSY  ) and Italian pasta giant Barilla -- have begun to roll out all manner of specialized 3-D food printers. These machines are still curiosities, aimed at creative confectioners who might want to offer consumers a new twist on the staid old sugar cube. At present, the number of people actually fed by these machines is precisely zero, but that hasn't stopped some boosters from claiming that they could someday feed the whole world.

The developer of one "universal food synthesizer" (read: generalist food 3-D printer) has claimed that we will "eventually have to change our perception of what we see as food." The proponents of most 3-D-printed food are somewhat more modest in their expectations, but the reaction to the notion that we'll all be one day gathered 'round the printer nozzle while it squirts out a tasty protein blend for our pizza-like dough base has been overwhelmingly positive. Virtually no one is asking "is 3-D-printed food safe?" Instead, they ask, "is 3-D-printed food going to taste good?"

Why do we fear what already feeds the world while embracing the promise of a true Frankenfood with far less certain provenance?

As a matter of fact, why should we fear either option?

The first science
Despite the difference in public perception, both the GM crop and the 3-D food printer represent two sides of the same quest: to feed people better and more efficiently than was previously possible. That's been the goal of agriculture since the first Neolithic nomad looked at a field of wild wheat and thought, "That could feed my tribe better than this hunk of mastodon." We've been tinkering with plant and animal genetics ever since for precisely that reason -- and the difference between prehistoric plants and their modern, domestic descendants is telling. Corn, for example, looks nothing like what it came from, a wild seedy grass called teosinte that still grows in Central America.

In fact, the difference between GM corn and "organic" corn is negligible compared with the difference between modern corn and teosinte. See if you can tell which is which:

Sources: Quinn Dombrowski (Flickr), Matt Lavin (Flickr), and Monsanto (Seminis).

The middle picture is teosinte, which has perhaps a dozen tough kernels at most. The corn on the left is one of four varieties in Monsanto subsidiary Seminis' "Performance Series" line of sweet corn for human consumption, tweaked for better pest-control traits and for resistance to the company's signature line of Roundup herbicides. The corn on the right is organic. Even a trained eye would be hard-pressed to tell the difference between the left and right ears of corn, and that's one of the major reasons so many people are terrified of GM food. But they shouldn't be.

Technologist and author Ramez Naam (his latest book, The Infinite Resource, covers the GMO controversy as part of a larger set of future challenges) has highlighted on more than one occasion just how broad scientific support for GM crops actually is. On his blog, he lists some of the major scientific (and political) bodies that have found genetically modified food to be safe.

  • The U.S. National Academy of Sciences
  • The American Association for the Advancement of Science
  • The American Medical Association
  • The European Commission
  • The Royal Society of Medicine
  • The French Supreme Court
  • The World Health Organization (mentioned by Dr. Marc Van Montagu)

Naam points out hundreds of studies that have found no evidence that GM crops have caused any harm to hundreds of millions of consumers around the world. Van Montagu, a GMO pioneer who shared last year's World Food Prize with Monsanto and Sygenta executives, notes that roughly two-thirds of all processed food contains GM ingredients.

Both Naam and Montagu take issue with the same flawed study so stridently championed by GMO opponents, the so-called "Monsanto corn causes cancer in rats" study that used a breed of highly tumor-prone rats, and which was found to be so flawed in its research methodology that it was withdrawn by the scientific journal in which it first appeared. Claims that GMOs are more toxic and can cause cancer in humans appear unfounded when we consider that most Americans have been eating at least some GMOs for well over a decade, amounting to billions of cumulative meals, and public health statistics for the United States show a decline in cancer incidence, particularly in the digestive tract, since the introduction of GM crops in the 1990s.

Source: Luigi Guarino via Wikimedia Commons.

It's possible, if not inevitable, that modern crop science will eventually develop GMOs that look as different from today's crops as today's corn does from teosinte. But without a change in public attitude, tomorrow's crops will only perpetuate the problem many GMO opponents fear most, the problem for which GMOs themselves often serve as a proxy: corporate control of the food chain. These advocates typically fail to understand that by opposing GM crops in such a monolithic way they make it harder to develop newer and safer varieties, because, as Van Montagu points out: "extreme opposition to genetic modification has led to hyper-regulation of GM crops, which has raised the cost of bringing them to market. Now only multinational companies and large research entities can afford to comply with the rules." This isn't a case of corporations willfully poisoning their customers for fun and profit, either -- Monsanto's business would be effectively destroyed if readily replicable studies could be performed that showed an incontrovertible link between GMOs and human health problems.

GM crops could be more than they are today, if not for the widespread, generally poorly informed backlash against them. We can already see one area of food science in which relative regulatory freedom leads to an explosion of small-scale tests, one that offers a more radical reimagining of "food" than any Monsanto geneticist could imagine: 3-D-printed delicacies. Yet none of these tests has reached widespread commercial use, because 3-D-printed food still operates under similar constraints as all other food, including GMOs. No one's going to eat it if it doesn't taste good and if it isn't safe.

How to feed the world
GM crops and 3-D-printed food both purport to solve the pressing issue of how to feed a world where each mouth is demanding more resource-intensive calories. The world's population is now expected to grow a third larger by 2050, from about 7.2 billion people to roughly 9.6 billion, but thanks to rising global standards of living -- which tends to increase demand for meat -- we'll need to grow more than two-thirds more food than we do today to meet everyone's needs. But while GM crops aim to solve this problem by tweaking or inserting desirable genetic traits into staple crops (most GMOs now planted are used to feed livestock) to better pack more calories into each acre of farmland, 3-D-printed food wants to skip the middleman and simply make a better meat.

3D Systems' new food printers, which Hershey has already picked up as a sweet marketing gimmick, are simply another example of the gimmickry of 3-D printing obscuring its promise. The world isn't going to be fed with custom-designed chocolate or rainbow-colored sugar shapes. What it will be fed with, what it demands to be fed with, is meat -- or at least something sensorially indistinguishable from meat. We may have to change our perception of what "food" is in the future, but that doesn't mean our mouths will.

Source: TEDMED and Gabor Forgacs via YouTube.

The most prominent example of this effort is the Peter Thiel-funded start-up Modern Meadow, a company founded by bioprinting pioneers and Organovo (NYSEMKT: ONVO  ) co-founders Gabor and Andras Forgacs. The company made waves in the press two years ago with Thiel's investment, which arrived several months after Gabor Forgacs, during a TED talk, ate a lump of 3-D-printed "meat" loosely resembling a flattened slug. Technology being what it is, it's certainly conceivable that we'll wind up eating 3-D-printed meat-like constructs that look and taste like our favorite steaks and hamburgers. Costs must decline drastically as well, if the $330,000 lab-grown hamburger (Modern Meadow uses a similar but less comprehensive process) cooked up in a lab and eaten as a publicity stunt in London last year is any indication. That's also distinctly probable, as the scientific and engineering techniques for creating 3-D-printed meat continue to improve.

There is nothing natural at all about the notion of 3-D printed meat. Culturing cells in vats and then squirting them out of precision-engineered tubes until they form up into a facsimile of filet mignon is as far removed from the farm as Monsanto's high-tech seed engineering work is from the earliest fumbling Neolithic efforts at crop hybridization. There's still time for activists to somehow whip themselves into a lather over the artificiality of 3-D-printed meat, but since this technology ticks off many of the "sustainable agriculture" check boxes that they leave blank when discussing Monsanto, the fury may never form up at all. This is a strange incongruity, as GM crops are first and foremost tailored to be better users of farming resources than their unmodified relatives.

It's true that meat is the least efficient form of food by total resource input, but it's also true that GMOs have already shown themselves to be better than conventional crops in terms of resource use, and handily trounce organic crops on resource use as well. In the United States, where the most advanced farming techniques are widely available, organic corn and soybeans (the two most common GM crops) yield only 70% and 65% as much as their conventionally grown relatives, respectively. Other staple crops yield even less under organic farming techniques than under conventional ones. It's a testament to the insulating effect of the Western world's wealth that many of its citizens can so wholeheartedly support a clearly inferior farming technique and call it "sustainable" when a billion people in poor countries are chronically underfed.

The taste of tomorrow
If fire was the first technology, then farming was the first applied science. For thousands of years, farmers and inventors have struggled to make each acre produce more calories with every planting. Thanks to biotechnology, the farming tool set is now far more precise than our Neolithic ancestors could have imagined, but the goal today is the same as it ever was: to feed the world better, safely. It does no farmer any good to grow deadly crops.

Society plays a valuable oversight role in the adoption of any new technology, but it must do so responsibly, without succumbing to uninformed hysteria. The public's easy embrace of 3-D-printed food is just as troubling as its unnecessary outrage over GMOs -- in each case, rigorous studies must be undertaken to verify that what we're about to eat is safe. GMOs already have that track record, but many ignore or distort it beyond recognition. Meanwhile, 3-D-printed food has no such track record, but it seems to not matter so long as what's printed can be made to taste like the real thing.

In time, both the GMO and the 3-D-printed meal can play a vital role in feeding the world. We should neither hate them nor embrace them, but accept the fact that both of these technologies represent just another step forward in the 10,000-year human quest to optimize our environment to support ever more of us at the same time. If either GMOs or 3-D-printed food is proved to be irredeemably dangerous to human health, then we should certainly abandon them -- but if the scientific consensus deems them safe, we shouldn't turn away before examining the evidence for ourselves. Science questions everything, but it always looks for proof.

3-D printing isn't just for food
For the first time since the early days of this country, we're in a position to dominate the global manufacturing landscape thanks to a single, revolutionary technology: 3-D printing. Although this sounds like something out of a science fiction novel, the success of 3-D printing is already a foregone conclusion to many manufacturers around the world. The trick now is to identify the companies -- and thereby the stocks -- that will prevail in the battle for market share. To see the three companies that are currently positioned to do so, simply download our invaluable free report on the topic by clicking here now.

Read/Post Comments (72) | Recommend This Article (23)

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  • Report this Comment On January 27, 2014, at 11:58 AM, Athens1215 wrote:

    With all respect, are insane? GMO in corn allow farmers to water their crops with Round Up. The Round Up is absorbed in the roots of the corn, becoming part of the corn. Every time you ingest high fructose corn syrup, corn meal and other corn products, you are ingesting a small measure of Round Up. You don't learn to love that poison, you resist the fascist machine that would do that to its own people.

  • Report this Comment On January 27, 2014, at 12:48 PM, Essa wrote:

    NO WAY! I will never love GMO's! I have gallbladder disease and kidney failure, and I am 26 and have never drank! I was healthy until I turned 21 and became allergic to EVERYTHING. And when I eat ANYTHING that is genetically motified it ruins my digestive system and bothers my kidneys. I KNOW they are dangerous for you. No way will I learn to like this cr@p.

  • Report this Comment On January 27, 2014, at 12:59 PM, dinydeek wrote:

    Round-Up- Is a Neurotoxin. Our Government accepts that it causes cell death. (Mitochondrial Disease, Parkinsons' etc) As they allowed for GMO's they have also allowed for higher and higher levels of round up in our food chain.

    It doesn't take some research signed off by the creator of GMO's to see something is wrong. Also, when the majority of the World(even 3rd world countries) are going as far as banning GMO's, doesn't it make you wonder why the US keeps saying this "gold" is safe when other Countries ban it? Heck even the Countries they claim GMO's were meant to help offset food shortages are banning the stuff.. They would rather go hungry.

    Then again, we live in a Country that allows more chemicals in our food,soap,homes and bodies then any other Country for the sake of Corporate American and the power base of American Politicians-

    Don't touch the stuff. They are hiding it in everything! Google Search "hidden corn". You will be shocked. It is in the wax on your fruit, it is in your medicine, it is in your water, it is in your carpets and soaps. No wonder our children are so sick.

  • Report this Comment On January 27, 2014, at 1:11 PM, rwilliam03839 wrote:

    Ok Motley, how much did Monsanto pay you to write this propaganda?

  • Report this Comment On January 27, 2014, at 1:24 PM, Truthseeker1968 wrote:

    I find this article extremely irresponsible. Obviously if you have a plant you spray too much chemicals on it, it will die. These plants are made to absorb huge amounts of pesticides. When ever you eat GMO you are eating a much greater amount of pesticides. These chemicals have been found in our drinking water and are becoming a real environmental issue as well. And while Cancer as a whole has decreased slightly liver cancer has tripled since 1975-2005. (It's the livers job to get rid of toxins) that is about when these foods hit the market. Until we have an objective group of scientists testing the is stuff longer than 30 days I will not eat more chemicals, if you think chemicals don't cause cancer you are a fool. And only a fool would tell you not to worry. Very disappointing Motley!

  • Report this Comment On January 27, 2014, at 1:29 PM, Karla wrote:

    You said it very well, the intent of this industry is "to dominate the global manufacturing landscape". It is solely greed that moves this machine. there is no regard for illnesses. When you find a problem, it is small so you can say that it is collateral damage. we are dispensable to this machine. If in fact these GMO's and" foods" pushed out of a printer are safe then why is it such a difficult thing to have a label that says what it is? It is your opinion and you are entitled to it, but I and the rest of us have a right to know what we are eating and a right to decide if we want to or not. Cigarettes were touted as safe by Doctors years ago and we know how right they were don't we. Their all dead now, made their money helped destroy a lot of people on the way, but hey it's not their fault is it?

  • Report this Comment On January 27, 2014, at 1:32 PM, TMFBiggles wrote:

    @ Truthseeker1968 -

    Increased incidence of liver cancer over that time frame has been primarily caused by chronic Hepatitis B and C. Other primary causes are alcoholism and genetics:

    - Alex

  • Report this Comment On January 27, 2014, at 1:32 PM, kitdes wrote:

    We are subjected to higher levels of toxins in GMO foods. Any idiot knows that plants absorb nutrients from the ground thru their roots. When you spray with weed killer some of it goes in the ground, some is absorbed by the leaves, much of it ends up in our food chain. Why do you think there are so many young people with learning difficulties, asthma, cancer, immune disorders?

  • Report this Comment On January 27, 2014, at 1:59 PM, getthefacts4 wrote:

    This is why this argument is not resolvable. Its idiots versus the informed.

    1. They don't underatnd that before GM crops crops were sprayed even more with herbicides that are more toxic than RoundUp.

    2. They think that RoundUp is the most toxic herbicides to hmans - it is not - it is less toxic than table salt.

    3. They don't realize that roundUp gets inactivated by the soil. You can plant a sesnitive plant a day after spraying.

    4. They don't real;ize that the Chinese make about half the RoundUp herbicide now.

    5. They blame everything on Monsanto - I mean everything.

    6. They blame Monsanto for non-existent harm but prazise organic food that kills people.

    7. They think GM is allergen - it is not. This is not made up tests are done. Riska ssessments are made.

    8. They think organic is safe but it isn't.

    9. They think Monsanto control food when it sells seed - it has about 35% market share in US for corn seed - about teh same as Dupont == but somehow Dupont is not satan and Monsanto labels all its GM seed as GM.

    10. They tink Monsanto uses terminator genes - it does not.

    11. They think Monsanto seed causes Indian farmes to committ suicide it doesn't - so say the indians !

    12. They think Monsanto is suing new Kawaii spray laws - it isn't Syngenta, Dupont and Dow asre but who cares about them.

  • Report this Comment On January 27, 2014, at 2:00 PM, getthefacts4 wrote:

    They think eberyone else is banning GM seed. Argentian, Brazil, S. Africa, China, Australia - the power house food producers are not babnning them and even the countries banning them are eating them - that makes a lot of sense ...NOT

  • Report this Comment On January 27, 2014, at 2:17 PM, CMO32 wrote:

    The big question here is how much Alex got paid under the table to write this article? Similar to all the other scientists who are bought by industry whether it be Monsanto or another company tied to the BIG food industry.

  • Report this Comment On January 27, 2014, at 2:17 PM, AlanSmithRex wrote:

    Genetic Roulette - the most watched documentary about GMOs.

  • Report this Comment On January 27, 2014, at 2:35 PM, immoveable wrote:

    Absolutely not. This article is very, very irresponsible. There is , in fact, very disturbing evidence that GMOs are toxic to the individual and contribute to undermining the nourishing quality of the environment. I will never embrace GMOs...never. This article reflects the demise of respect for the intelligence of nature versus human manipulation of organisms at a level which the human intellect has no business fooling around with...except perhaps in some isolated cases. Genetic modification creates unanticipated changes that, in many cases go undetected, or are assumed to be benign. Monsanto's stockholders can go make money some other way as far as i'm concerned.

  • Report this Comment On January 27, 2014, at 2:39 PM, Howdie wrote:

    Don't read science stuff from a financial source. They look only what makes $$$ for themselves. Big companies make $$$ on GMO therefore GMO is good, not bad. End of sentence.

  • Report this Comment On January 27, 2014, at 2:56 PM, Jason1 wrote:

    @ Truthseeker -

    You need to look a bit harder for the truth. GMOs first hit the market in large volume in 1996 with the introduction of Roundup Ready soybeans. Not 1975.

    @dinydeek. Roundup is not a neurotoxin,. That is a total farce. And the countries that are banning GMOs are outnumbered by the countries actively growing or importing them by about 10-1.

    @kitdes - It's also NOT absorbed by the roots of the plants. Roundup is broken down and inactivated almost immediately upon contact with soil.

  • Report this Comment On January 27, 2014, at 3:52 PM, larry888 wrote:

    How much did MonSATANo pay you to SELL out humanity???? i will never eat this crap and I go to great lengths to AVOID all GMO's foods. You should be called the MotleyTOOLS

  • Report this Comment On January 27, 2014, at 4:05 PM, NMG wrote:

    1. @Jason1---sorry to burst your Round Up-filled bubble, but: Glysophosphate does not break down “immediately” in soil and IS absorbed into plant structures. See Wikipedia: “A 2009 study found that absorption into plants delays subsequent soil-degradation and can increase glyphosate persistence in soil from two to six times” (Doublet J, Mamy L, Barriuso E (October 2009). "Delayed degradation in soil of foliar herbicides glyphosate and sulcotrione previously absorbed by plants: consequences on herbicide fate and risk assessment". Chemosphere 77 (4): 582–9. doi:10.1016/j.chemosphere.2009.06.044. PMID 19625069.)

    2. Glysophosphate in fact has a soil half life ranging from 2-174 days...that info is straight from the MSDS for Round Up. I don’t know anyone who uses the term “immediately” to describe anything that occurs in a time frame that spans up to half a year (and in some cases, Round Up has been confirmed to persist over 2 years in soil).

    3. Fun Fact: Glysophosphate was found to be present in human urine samples from 18 countries; source was food consumption.

    4. On Fri Jan 20, 2007, Monsanto was convicted in France of false advertising of Roundup for presenting it as biodegradable, and claiming it left the soil clean after use. Environmental and consumer rights campaigners brought the case in 2001 on the basis that glyphosate, Roundup's main ingredient, is classed as "dangerous for the environment" and "toxic for aquatic organisms" by the European Union.[140] Monsanto appealed and the court upheld the verdict; Monsanto appealed again to the French Supreme Court, and in 2009 it also upheld the verdict.[141] (from Wikipedia)

    5. @getthefacts4: it appears it is YOU that needs to get the facts straight...your ludicrous statement “it is less toxic than table salt!” is what got Monsanto into hot water in 1996 and they were ordered by the NY Attorney General to stop using it as an advertising claim. The NY AG also sued Monsanto for claiming that RoundUp was "safe" and "environmentally friendly." The suit ended in a settlement with Monsanto in which Monsanto agreed to cease and desist from using those terms when advertising RoundUp in the state of New York. Monsanto paid the state of New York $250,000 in settlement.

  • Report this Comment On January 27, 2014, at 4:09 PM, u4iadestiny wrote:

    getthefacts4: You're the one seriously in need of the getting the facts - or at least getting them straight.

  • Report this Comment On January 27, 2014, at 4:22 PM, mitcheze wrote:

    i hope that whoever wrote this article gets some form of cancer from the GMOs they want us to love..

  • Report this Comment On January 27, 2014, at 4:23 PM, u4iadestiny wrote:

    More GMO propaganda. The only reliable and responsible information here is in the comments section. Dear GMO investors: each day more information comes out that reveals the horrific science behind chem ag, the sociopathic tendencies of Monsanto, Dupont, Sygenta and the others, the millions upon millions of dollars being spent to thwart labeling efforts and to sue communities that do not want them and their poisons. Sooner or later the names and stocks of these companies will become just as toxic as their products. It's only a matter of time - the people will not give up their fight, and the more Monsanto fights back the worse they look. Drop them all - protect your investments and protect world health.

  • Report this Comment On January 27, 2014, at 4:57 PM, Nancyo2 wrote:

    I own a small amount of onvo and seriously hate it was brought into this despicable article. Also, my faith in Motley Fool just went down several notches. I was just telling my son today that I trust The Fools. Not anymore. You care more about money than humanity. I guess you Motley Fool brothers will always have enough resources so your family will never have to eat this crap. Get a conscious.

  • Report this Comment On January 27, 2014, at 5:19 PM, Aveneljp wrote:

    Fancy wading into this maelstrom of paranoia, Alex - you must be a masochist! I have this vision of Biggles complete with goggles flying bravely into enemy fire, his guns blazing with solid science.

    It's a fascinating topic,combining elements which are elemental for many of us - our health, food safety, world hunger, the environment and for some, a conviction that corporate greed is driving the GMO game and couldn't give a toss about consequences.

    And to be fair, we don't have to look back far to find plenty of examples where that was exactly what happened.

    For me though, it's all about the science. Show me sound solid scientific study which supports the case against genetic modification which can deliver crop resistance to drought, increase yields and reduce the use of chemicals

  • Report this Comment On January 27, 2014, at 6:02 PM, eevie wrote:

    We all know the truth and this is the lamest try i've seen yet at trying to persuade the public in favor of GMOs.

    GMOs are death to those that ingest them. Why haven't you mentioned the livestock dropping dead from eating frankenfood? Why don't you mention people like myself who can't handle GMOs and slowly starving to death? Cowardly liars backstabbing humanity for gain.......

  • Report this Comment On January 27, 2014, at 6:46 PM, Giermo wrote:

    Hey eevie? Is it possible that you could point to the articles about livestock dropping dead from eating GMOs? I personally haven't heard that and would like to read up on it. I'd prefer a primary source, not someone reporting on an article. I like to read what was actually said. Thanks!

  • Report this Comment On January 27, 2014, at 7:03 PM, sschef111 wrote:

    I agree with others in the comments, there must be some sort of payoff going on here. I personally don't ever want to eat foods that are grown from seeds that include pesticides. The following is a lengthy article, but if you're interested in knowing the REAL truth about GMOs, you should definitely read:

  • Report this Comment On January 27, 2014, at 7:31 PM, Leroy wrote:

    More bought & paid for deceiving propaganda by Monsanto to convince the masses to willfully succumb to Monsatan's HUMAN SCIENCE EXPERIMENT. Do you think we really enjoy being your life-long lab-rats you pathetic SOCIOPATHS?

  • Report this Comment On January 28, 2014, at 1:05 AM, Dori61 wrote:

    Motley Fool just lost a reader. They didn't educate, amuse or enrich me with this article - they disgusted me. Nut jobs of a feather certainly flock together, don't they? Have a great play date with Monsanto, Alex.

  • Report this Comment On January 28, 2014, at 7:08 AM, entheogenius wrote:

    A chemical that occurs in nature can't be patented but an organism genetically modified to make that compound can be.

    I've been reading the laws to start my own Bio-tech company, an ethical one and boy these laws are f u ck ed. If my patented pollen destroys/cross pollinates your heirloom strain I own all the seeds you grew. Screw that man I think If if my gene spliced pollen messed up your crop I should be held liable for damages, and not own your crop from my negligence. That is the attitude that will probably make it almost impossible for my company to succeed.

  • Report this Comment On January 28, 2014, at 9:59 AM, TruthSeeker66 wrote:

    Dr. Don Huber, award-winning , internationally recognized scientist, and professor of plant pathology at Purdue University for the past 35 years. According to an article in October 6th issue of (Toxicology Expert Speaks Out About Roundup and GMOs) his research over the past few decades has led him to become very outspoken against GMOs and GE foods. I urge anyone interested to read his comments. Perhaps more of us should be going into the streets in protest against GMOs.

  • Report this Comment On January 28, 2014, at 10:02 AM, Jason1 wrote:

    @NMG - Glyphosate is broken down biologically in the soil. If you were to spray when biological activity is not present (winter) yes.. it can persist unchanged. In reality, that doesn't happen. It's sprayed during the growing season on actively growing weeds. It breaks down very quickly. And I never said it wasn't absorbed by the plants. I said it's not absorbed by the roots. It's taken in through leaf absorption.

  • Report this Comment On January 28, 2014, at 11:34 AM, frellmedead wrote:

    There is a big difference between inserting genes from completely incompatible species and cross-pollenating two different species. One happens naturally. The other doesn't. Second, the amount of toxic RoundUp that is now sprayed on GMO corn and other crops (so much so that it is in the air in cities hundreds of miles away) because RoundUp has been losing its effectiveness due to resistance.

    entheogenius hit the nail on the head. The government is in Monsanto's pocket.

  • Report this Comment On January 28, 2014, at 11:35 AM, phatandfoolish wrote:

    how incredibly stupid this idea is. just try thinking instead of buying the BS. if you simply compare this to software development it is clear. in the early days msft really tried hard to release software that was bug free - i know i worked there. they had huge teams of testers and threw lots of money at testing. still they could not get all the bugs. now, if you think that software is as complex as life, then you truly are an idiot. life is many, many, many times more complex. and these arrogant fools at montsano haven't a clue what the unintended consequences of their work is.

    do not believe the lies. GMO is wrong and bad for humans.

  • Report this Comment On January 28, 2014, at 11:43 AM, MightyThor wrote:

    This fluff piece brought to you by Monsanto!

    I can't believe what I just read! Human's have been eating, more or less, the same food for millennia. We have only been eating GMO food for a few decades. During that time the incidents of "unexplained" illness has increased significantly. I constantly hear about kids with asthma (my son included), ADD, ADHD, etc. Instead of one kid in the school with some issue, it's multiple kids per class. You can't play pretend to know the food is safe when no sufficiently long term studies have been conducted.

    The article also states no one is objecting to 3D printed food. Well, no one has heard of 3D printed food! The same people who are against GMO's (us) will be skeptical about that "food" source too.

  • Report this Comment On January 28, 2014, at 11:54 AM, akyra wrote:

    From the article:

    On his blog, he lists some of the major scientific (and political) bodies that have found genetically modified food to be safe.


    You do realize that Monsanto makes tremendous lobbying efforts and many the decision makers in these political bodies have close ties to Monsanto.

    Jeffrey Smith, an expert in GMOs, makes some excellent points on this and other issues related to GMOs in his HuffPost article.

    Here are two excerpts:

    If GMOs are indeed responsible for massive sickness and death, then the individual who oversaw the FDA policy that facilitated their introduction holds a uniquely infamous role in human history. That person is Michael Taylor. He had been Monsanto's attorney before becoming policy chief at the FDA. Soon after, he became Monsanto's vice president and chief lobbyist.

    In January of this year, Dr. P. M. Bhargava, one of the world's top biologists, told me that after reviewing 600 scientific journals, he concluded that the GM foods in the US are largely responsible for the increase in many serious diseases.

  • Report this Comment On January 28, 2014, at 12:07 PM, pkguitarman wrote:

    It is very disappointing to see this story from the Motley Fool. My respect for you has just been lowered. It is time to start worrying!

  • Report this Comment On January 28, 2014, at 12:33 PM, TMFBlacknGold wrote:


    It is also important to note that not all genetically modified food includes Roundup, or any pesticide for that matter. Roundup Ready crop varieties make up just a tiny sliver of GMO crop offerings, while those including pesticides make up a larger but minority fraction still.

    Additionally, studies have shown that precise genetic manipulation (biotech seeds) results in less genetic variation (protein shuffling) than traditional breeding techniques:

    Whereas 5% variation could be expected from traditional breeding/random chance, only 3.1% was observed with GM techniques.


  • Report this Comment On January 28, 2014, at 12:36 PM, ishasta wrote:

    You really need to check your facts, however it is no surprise that a financial website is putting greed and money over the welfare of the human race! Your "opinion" is badly flawed and worse deadly. Autoimmune disorders such as Celiac and IBS are clearly linked to genetically modified grains- illnesses that have not impacted European nations that have banned GMO's!

    The wheat we have grown in the US since 1965 is all GMO- and here we are facing the huge effect of an epidemic of illness' linked to gluten, which is 65% higher than that of our great grandparents wheat. ADHD has been clearly linked to gluten sensitivity/intolerance and we have schools full of children with learning disorders- NO YOUR FACTS ARE CLEARLY DISTORTED AND BENEFIT ONLY GMO COMPANY'S. Now if you want to say "invest in Monsanto" because they have bought the world food production- sure have at it- it is financially proven to be financially beneficial to it's share holders, but don't tell them their children and grand children are going to be fine. In fact by the age of 50 they are likely to be ill with autoimmune disorders, alzheimers, heart disease, ALL WHICH HAVE BEEN LINKED TO GMO FOODS. GOOD LUCK TO YOUR HEALTH! YOU ARE GOING TO NEED IT.

  • Report this Comment On January 28, 2014, at 1:03 PM, DrKND wrote:

    If you want to feed GMOs to your family, go right ahead. But the arrogance and greed of wanting to impose this open air experiment on our food supply, done with no controls and without human consent, so that one industry can profit regardless of the consequences to the rest of us, is simply insane!

    Let's label GMOs in food so we can see if they're safe. Let's apply good science to determine if these crops are in any way better than organically grown or small farm grown crops. Let's stop being idiots for the sake of the idiots that promote this madness, and draw a line, demand accountability and responsibility. GMOs may turn out to be great for us all, and I'd be thrilled.

    But innocent until proven guilty has been the track record of Monsanto from the beginning, and the track record consistently shows that their products are NOT as innocent as they claim. IF they're for it, I'm for holding off until we know specifically what fresh hell they are foisting on the human race.

  • Report this Comment On January 28, 2014, at 1:44 PM, Jason1 wrote:

    @ishasta - That is an absolute lie. There is no commercially produced GMO wheat in the United States what so ever. Not one single variety has ever been approved for production. WHEAT IS NON-GMO!

    The gluten content in our wheat varies greatly by the variety planted, but that has been the case since wheat was first bred into existence centuries ago.

  • Report this Comment On January 28, 2014, at 3:18 PM, reality123456789 wrote:

    This is a lie. Educate yourself before writing. We older people grew up before GM foods were in our diets. We MUST do everything we can to protect our children and grandchildren from the horrific dangers found in animal tests of cancers, skin disorders and infertility associated with GM foods. Avoid processed foods (anything in a box bottle or can). Eat plenty of organic raw vegetables and fruits. Lots and lots of vegetables in all forms. Grass fed meat and wild caught salmon. Good luck and God bless all who are trying to keep their family safe and healthy.

  • Report this Comment On January 28, 2014, at 3:26 PM, katthief wrote:

    Well Alex-- I'm feeling soooooo much better now about GMO's.

    By the way, are you eating GMO foods yourself? Are you,Monsanto CEOs and the biotech industry captains all sitting down to daily meals containing Round Up saturated products? Just curious?

    This is the most insulting article I've read to date.

  • Report this Comment On January 28, 2014, at 3:30 PM, katthief wrote:

    One other thing... if GMOs are so good for us, why is the biotech industry spending hundreds of millions of dollars to prevent legislation from being passed requiring proper GMO labeling of foods?

    This article is so obviously bought and paid for it makes me laugh!

  • Report this Comment On January 28, 2014, at 3:37 PM, DickHamilton wrote:

    if we go this way, every farmer on the planet will wind up unable to grow food unless he first buys his seed from a GMO company like Monsanto.

    A Very Very bad idea

  • Report this Comment On January 28, 2014, at 3:54 PM, SnekeAtak33 wrote:

    Obviously GMO's have given people enough concern to start labeling initiatives nationwide. Seriously though, if these companies have nothing to hide & really feel that GM crops are safe for human consumption, why not just label?!

    Even Thierry Vrain, PhD, a retired soil biologist & genetic engineer who spent 30yrs working for Agriculture Canada & initially supported GMO's, no longer supports it!! There's something to be said that someone who worked in the biotechnology field for so long has changed his mind about GMO safety.

    Don't trust these media sources to tell us the truth, we must find it out for ourselves.

  • Report this Comment On January 28, 2014, at 4:08 PM, pandrpeele wrote:

    To be honest, we are retired, on a fixed income, and due to amassed medical bills over the past four years, we do not have any money to invest in stocks through Motley Fool or any other financial firm. Until we read this article, we had signed on to your free news service because we are recent converts to support GMO-labeling of all foods, and Motley Fool seemed, for the most part, to provide unbiased information for both sides of the issue. Until now.

    We have been involved with horticulture and agriculture all of our lives, and yes, we both have degrees in science, and in our own right, should be considered more qualified as earth and food scientists than someone like Alex who has chosen to live and work in the high-tech world totally out of contact and touch with how nature works, thrives and sustains itself. We dare to challenge Alex that he has ever planted a seed, rooted a cutting, and certainly has never actually taken the time to see what affects of spraying any pesticide has on our own well-being and that of the environment.

    As we have gotten older, we have taken more notice of how our bodies have reacted to more and more processed foods with all sorts of chemical additives, colors, antibiotics, hormones, etc.—all quite manufactured and never found in nature. We both grew up on small farms, in the 1950's and 60's, when there was very little pesticide use, and we were quite healthy eating fresh vegetables from our large gardens. Since then, I have certainly sprayed my share of pesticides in my various jobs through the years, some of them quite potent, and thinking back to what I've seen and what has happened with my health, I am certain that this unnatural chemical world is at the heart of a corresponding out-of-control rise in medical costs.

    We, now in our mid-60's, have changed our lifestyle entirely, and would urge others to consider what they might do to improve a sustainable approach to living. We have become food activists, support GMO-labeling and promote our local sustainable farmers and communities, where we become self-sufficient, out of control of the corporate greed and power that drives our government, our so-called "economy" and even all the world markets as well. The way we tear them down in spite of their money and power is to NOT BUY THEIR PRODUCTS. If you feel you can't afford organic, then figure out how to grow as much as you can in your own garden. If you live in a high-rise apartment, get old containers and grow on your balcony. Where there's a will; there's a way.

    We would also suggest that Alex do his homework like any truly professional journalist (Yes, a good portion of my career was at a journalist, especially in the areas of agricultural and garden writing and editing). Many of Alex's statements are made with no references to support them, and he comes across more like a desperate car salesman trying to get rid of a "junker" rather than someone confident about what he is selling.

    In closing, we will tell Motley Fool that these fabricated rantings by Alex have convinced us That we no longer need any of their information, free or not, so we have unsubscribed from all their offerings. We would hope that in the future they might take a little longer to make the decision to associate their name with misinformation such as this, and we certainly hope that they don't handle investors' monies this way.

    Have a good and long life, avoid GMOs and eat Healthy.


  • Report this Comment On January 28, 2014, at 4:09 PM, MariliiMarilii wrote:

    I can't believe that the writer of this article, Alex Planes, actually believes GMO products are good for us.

    Has he not read any reports put out by anyone other than Monsanto??????

    How can he be so unaware of the fact that even animals, if allowed a choice, will steer clear of GMO grains and choose the natural stuff over it.

    How did he miss the myriad of reports from veterinarians all across our country for more than a decade, showing the abrupt rise in birth defects, spontaneous abortions and stillborn births, etc., in show dogs and show cats as well as in farm animals; all of which has been definitely linked with a diet high in GMO products?

    He sounds like a shill for Monsanto.

  • Report this Comment On January 28, 2014, at 5:00 PM, RodrianRoadeye wrote:

    I think that unike all your other stock tips you have stepped over the line morally and ethically by promoting something that may have disastrous consequences to nature and all human life. Especially as far as sterility and cancer growth is concerned. Or is this a way for the top 1% who fill your pocket to weed out the global poor through extermination? Like Agent Orange... which our government didn't acknowledge as a problem until over half our vets were dead? Oops we didn't know?

  • Report this Comment On January 28, 2014, at 5:25 PM, RodrianRoadeye wrote:

    Ever wonder about the explosion of kids with ADD?

  • Report this Comment On January 28, 2014, at 5:59 PM, TMFBiggles wrote:

    Hey, guys.

    Did you ever wonder why we never see any extraterrestrials?

    It's because they all ate GMOs made by Monsanto in Area 51 and died.

    It's science, man. You can't make that up!

  • Report this Comment On January 28, 2014, at 6:36 PM, NOTvuffett wrote:

    I feel like buying GMO stocks now. When people are starving would you deny them GMO crops? When every serious study has not linked GMO crops to any deleterious effects, would you deny people food?! Maybe it would be better to have a pile of emaciated corpses than having your child afflicted with some imaginary disease. Or maybe we should prefer that we that totally anectdotal info like "it shut down my kidneys and liver!", lol.

  • Report this Comment On January 28, 2014, at 7:14 PM, sylvan80005 wrote:

    Don't fixate on just the Round up poison. (if it can and will kill insects (including honeybees), which are amongst the strongest critter in this world, it can and will kill humans, birds, and animals! Genetically modified crops have been modified for good and for greedy reasons, but modifying plants to be less vulnerable to toxins like Round-up so that farmers will buy 10 x's as much and spray 10 x's as much on our food crops, means we will ingest 10 x's as many toxins.

    Any wonder cancer is becoming a common affliction with all these petrochemicals poisoning our systems?

  • Report this Comment On January 28, 2014, at 8:19 PM, NOTvuffett wrote:

    Hey genius, Roundup is a herbicide, not an insecticide. Your math seems a bit fuzzy. Crops were engineered so that a farmer would have to buy 10X as much seed and then spray 10X times more herbicide on them? I want to meet the marketing genius that thought of this, lol.

  • Report this Comment On January 28, 2014, at 9:26 PM, Surya108 wrote:

    Sorry, but I saw first hand the 'science' that Monsanto conducts. I was in a developing country and met some researchers on food. GMO's from Monsanto were being 'tested'. In fact, the scientists confided that the studies were a scam. The Monsanto people were paying big money to the heads of the 'research universities'--'consulting' fees.

    There are reasons why people distrust huge food corporations. They think of making money--any way they can. All the rest is PR and payments. The science you quote is all conducted by Monsanto and other GMO advocates. Only a fool would believe it!

  • Report this Comment On January 28, 2014, at 10:39 PM, TMFBlacknGold wrote:


    Can anyone provide non-fabricated scientific or economic facts to back up their claims that Alex, or the information provided above, is false or unrealistic? It's not as if Alex made up all of the facts above or used unreliable sources in writing this article.

    A recent study demonstrated that people who protest GMOs are more likely to protest vaccinations and believe in conspiracy theories. This is demonstrated by the rush to dismiss evidence and scientific consensus and the hasty labeling of articles discussing the benefits of biotech seeds as paid for by Monsanto, which many of you have done above. Here's the study:

    Refusing to even consider scientific evidence and clinging to misinformed and non-realistic beliefs is called denialism -- and it doesn't help advance society. You can eat all the organic food you want -- that is your right. But don't stomp out biotech crops without sound scientific and economic reasons.


  • Report this Comment On January 28, 2014, at 11:45 PM, devoish wrote:

    "Both Naam and Montagu take issue with the same flawed study so stridently championed by GMO opponents, the so-called "Monsanto corn causes cancer in rats" study that used a breed of highly tumor-prone rats, and which was found to be so flawed in its research methodology that it was withdrawn by the scientific journal in which it first appeared." - Alex Planes

    Hi Alex.

    You sure stepped on a hornets nest with this article. Most of these replies sound like people think they are fighting for their lives.

    I would just like to take a moment to address this rat study issue by offering some information and seeing if we agree that the information I offer is correct.

    This is a link to the copy of the letter sent to Professor Seralini by the editor of Food and Chemical Toxicology notifying Professor Seralini of the retraction of his paper. The most relevant portion of the letter, the part concerning the reasons why the paper was retracted ire in these paragraphs;

    "The corresponding author agreed and supplied all material that was requested by the Editor-in-Chief. The Editor-in-Chief wishes to acknowledge the co-operation of the corresponding author in this matter, and commends him for his commitment to the scientific process.

    Unequivocally, the Editor-in-Chief found no evidence of fraud or intentional misrepresentation of the data. However, there is a legitimate cause for concern regarding both the number of animals in each study group and the particular strain selected. The low number of animals had been identified as a cause for concern during the initial review process, but the peer-review decision ultimately weighed that the work still had merit despite this limitation. A more in-depth look at the raw data revealed that no definitive conclusions can be reached with this small sample size regarding the role of either NK603 or glyphosate in regards to overall mortality or tumor incidence. Given the known high incidence of tumors in the Sprague-Dawley rat, normal variability cannot be excluded as the cause of the higher mortality and incidence observed in the treated groups.

    Ultimately, the results presented (while not incorrect) are inconclusive, and therefore do not reach the threshold of publication for Food and Chemical Toxicology. The peer-review process is not perfect, but it does work. The journal is committed to getting the peer-review process right, and at times, expediency might be sacrificed for being as thorough as possible. The time-consuming nature is, at times, required in fairness to both the authors and readers. Likewise, the Letters to the Editor, both pro and con, serve as a post-publication peer-review. The back and forth between the readers and the author has a useful and valuable place in our scientific dialog." - Elsevier

    It is pretty clear from those paragraphs that that the specific reasons given for the retraction were, 1) the type of rat (sprague-dawley) chosen is tumor prone

    2) the raw data showed an increase incidence of tumors in the rats fed GMO's.

    3) Elsevier felt the small number of rats in the study did not allow ruling out normal variability and therefor the study is inconclusive and was retracted.

    4) no other problems with methodolgy were considered mentionable in the letter.

    I presume we are still in agreement to this point so I will continue.

    Professor Seralini, in his reply to Elsevier makes these two points.

    1) "The same strain is used by the US national toxicology program to study the carcinogenicity and the chronic toxicity of chemicals (King-Herbert et al., 2010). Sprague Dawley rats are used routinely in such studies for toxicological and tumour-inducing effects, including those 90-day studies by Monsanto as basis for the approval of NK603 maize and other GM crops (Sprague Dawley rats did not came from Harlan but from Charles-River) (Hammond et al., 2004; Hammond et al., 2006a; Hammond et al., 2006b)."

    2) "Any sign should be regarded as important for a real risk study. Monsanto itself measured only 10 rats of the same strain per group on 20 to conclude that the same GM maize was safe after 3 months (Hammond et al., 2004)"

    Here is the link: .

    To me, Seralini's two year study finding that GMO corn was unsafe and is more valid than Monsanto's 90 day studies using the same number and breed of rats.

    I think Monsanto has misled you, and/or your sources of information.

    Additionally, Professor Seralini created this web page to share his views concerning the issue.

    on it he posts his "top ten" things you need to know -

    1. Most criticisms of Séralini’s study wrongly assume it was a badly designed cancer study. It wasn’t. It was a chronic toxicity study – and a well-designed and well-conducted one.

    2. Séralini’s study is the only long-term study on the commercialized GM maize NK603 and the pesticide (Roundup) it is designed to be grown with. See here: Why is this study important?

    3. Séralini used the same strain of rat (Sprague-Dawley, SD) that Monsanto used in its 90-day studies on GM foods and its long-term studies on glyphosate, the chemical ingredient of Roundup, conducted for regulatory approval.

    4. The SD rat is about as prone to tumours as humans are. As with humans, the SD rat’s tendency to cancer increases with age.

    5.Compared with industry tests on GM foods, Séralini’s study analyzed the same number of rats but over a longer period (two years instead of 90 days), measured more effects more often, and was uniquely able to distinguish the effects of the GM food from the pesticide it is grown with.

    6. If we argue that Séralini’s study does not prove that the GM food tested is dangerous, then we must also accept that industry studies on GM foods cannot prove they are safe.

    7. Séralini’s study showed that 90-day tests commonly done on GM foods are not long enough to see long-term effects like cancer, organ damage, and premature death. The first tumours only appeared 4-7 months into the study.

    8. Séralini’s study showed that industry and regulators are wrong to dismiss toxic effects seen in 90-day studies on GM foods as “not biologically meaningful”. Signs of toxicity found in Monsanto’s 90-day studies were found to develop into organ damage, cancer, and premature death in Séralini’s two-year study.

    9. Long-term tests on GM foods are not required by regulators anywhere in the world.

    10. GM foods have been found to have toxic effects on laboratory and farm animals in a number of studies.

    One of the replies asked for a link to Seralini's study. Here it is if you want to wade through it. If you wish to search out Monsanto's data, feel free to compare

    Seralini 2012: NK603 maize and roundup study.

    I think the overwhelming negative response you received to your article was a well informed response to the facts on the safety of genetically engineering food.

    Your thoughts?


    PS. If you would like me to address any other issues your raised in your article, feel free to ask.

  • Report this Comment On January 28, 2014, at 11:49 PM, Kiffit wrote:

    This discussion seems at first glance to have an eerie similarity to the one going on about climate change, only with the roles of proponents and skeptics reversed, i.e., The environmentalists and the coporates changing places in relation to 'the science'.

    But that would be a gross over-simplification because climate scientists have no commercial interest in their conclusions, but that is not necessarily the case in the biotech industry.

    What we have seen in the climate 'debate' is the capacity of large corporate money, free market lobbies and a very small group of scientific dissenters (most of whom are either marginally skilled in climate science, &/or retired/outdated in their knowledge base &/or lack published research credentials) to obfuscate and disrupt public discourse.

    What we are seeing in the GMO debate is a much more complex picture where massive, extremely aggressive and overwhelmingly politically powerful corporations are able both directly and indirectly, to pervasively influence/pressure research, regulatory and public bodies.

    It has long been recognized that the rise of corporate science would eventually become compromising. It isn't just a matter of corporate 'in house' research, but funding for increasingly cash strapped university research institutions and increasing control of the private data in joint public/private collaborations.

    The proposition is that these corportions have become so powerful they can bend and manipulate scientific discourse, whether they are opponents of scientific projects, like climate science, or proposer/collaboraters, as in GMOs. And their people have infiltrated every niche in the political, regulatory and funding environment to the point that they can choke off discourse they don't want to have

    This is not to say that the anti GMO lobby has not been from time to time hysterical, irrational and gullible. Some of their 'evidence' against GMOs has not withstood peer reviewed science. The GMO side of the argument does have some pretty solid scientific backing, notwithstanding any of the above.

    On the other hand, the opponents of GMOs are really up against the most formidable forces on the planet that are extremely difficult to take on, even when they are transparently support the deliberate falsifying of evidence and misrepresenting scientific discourse on a systematic basis, and flooding the public arena with propaganda based on it, as they have done with climate change science.

    You get to the point where you wouldn't trust the bastards with your children's pocket money, let alone something as civilization changing as they way we make food for the indefinite future.

  • Report this Comment On January 28, 2014, at 11:51 PM, devoish wrote:


    I guessed you asked for the above post while I was writing it! I will make you the same offer I made Alex. Pick any specific point made in the original post and I will spend some time and search out whatever evidence I can find concerning the issue.

    But please understand, I am not paid for my time doing this.

    Best wishes,


  • Report this Comment On January 28, 2014, at 11:53 PM, RodrianRoadeye wrote:

    Label the g dam food and let us make up our own minds butthead.

  • Report this Comment On January 29, 2014, at 12:02 AM, devoish wrote:

    "In fact, the difference between GM corn and "organic" corn is negligible compared with the difference between modern corn and teosinte. See if you can tell which is which:" - Alex Planes

    Does that mean if they look the same, they must be the same? Is that good science or a junk slogan? When you write that kind of fluff it looks like selling. I could just as well ask you to see the difference between a sugar cube and one laced with rat poison. I know the rats can't tell, but they die just the same.

    Best wishes,


  • Report this Comment On January 29, 2014, at 1:05 AM, devoish wrote:

    "Claims that GMOs are more toxic and can cause cancer in humans appear unfounded when we consider that most Americans have been eating at least some GMOs for well over a decade, amounting to billions of cumulative meals, and public health statistics for the United States show a decline in cancer incidence, particularly in the digestive tract, since the introduction of GM crops in the 1990s" - Alex Planes

    I am not sure where the claims of carcinogenic GMO's come from, but the idea that the combination of declining cancer rates and increasing GMO consumption is a pretty loose connection when there are so many carcinogens in the environment today and many fewer smokers.

    However, now that we have violated the correlation is not causation concept in support of GMO's lets cause and correlate in connection with the Seralini rat study, which is still the only long term GMO study published. Among their findings is this one:

    "In treated males, the most commonly affected organs were the liver and kidneys, and deaths were mostly due to liver and kidney disease." -Seratini Rat study

    "we consider that most Americans have been eating at least some GMOs for well over a decade," - Alex Planes

    "The incidence of recognized CKD (Chronic Kidney Disease) in people ages 65 and older more than doubled between 2000 and 2008." - National Kidney and Urologic Diseases

    Information Clearinghouse

    So lets see,

    1) Rats fed GMO's for two years died of kidney disease.

    2) people have been eating increasing amounts of GMO's for ten years

    3) Incidences of kidney disease in humans has more than doubled since we began eating GMO's.

    And for the record, until today I had never read the seratini rat study, but rather accepted the reporting of people I have come to trust.

    Until I read the study, I had never known that the worst thing the GMO's did to the rats was actually kidney problems. And it was only when I read about the kidneys did I bother to check to see if there might be some correlating increase in kidney problems in people.

    It seems to me that there is a more likely correlation between the increase in GMO consumption and increased incidences of kidney problems in people than a correlation between the increase in GMO consumption and the decrease in cancer incidences.

    There is also this little tidbit from the Seratini website which says that Monsanto knew about the liver and kidney toxicity but did not choose to do a longer study.

    "Escalation of signs of liver and kidney toxicity found in Monsanto 90-day feeding trial (Hammond, B., et al. (2004)."

    If I had to guess, I'd bet they did do a longer study and found a reason not to publish it. But it is just guessing based on the character of people chasing profit.

    Best wishes,


  • Report this Comment On January 29, 2014, at 1:11 AM, momklok wrote:

    Motley Fool repeatedly backs corporations who are engaged in environmental pollution and hazardous food manipulation. They promote companies who irresponsibly "frack" to get gas from the ground, polluting the surrounding water table. Now they are blowing their horn for GMO's. Much of the world has banned GMO's. Monsanto also produces sterile seeds so that farmers in developing countries have to buy seeds every year instead of harvesting them from their crops, effectively keeping them enslaved to Monsanto. Monsanto also sues farmers for "stealing" when their seeds are carried by animals or wind into the farmers fields. Monsanto has employees who went to work for the FDA, worked to get what they wanted out of Congress, and then went back to work for Monsanto as lobbyists. This company is corrupt, greedy and dangerous to our health. I am disgusted with Motley Fool and their lack of conscience and morality.

  • Report this Comment On January 29, 2014, at 1:13 AM, Clint35 wrote:

    It's too soon to know what the harmful effects of GMOs are. For a long time in this country asbestos was thought to be perfectly safe. We now know better. Also, you make it sound like Monsanto and the other companies involved are only trying to feed the whole world. A very noble cause. But they don't care about any of those people they might be feeding. They're only in it for the money. If they really cared about consumers they wouldn't be against GMO labeling. This is one of the most biased articles I've ever read here at the Fool.

  • Report this Comment On January 29, 2014, at 2:13 AM, Jeholo wrote:

    Mr. Planes, this is the first time in my years of reading fool that I am appalled by an article. This is one of the sectors of that should not suffer for economic gain, another being healthcare, but we already sank that ship. Endorsing these corrupt companies such as Monsanto harms everyone, even if you make money you are damning your children to unnatural mutations made in a lab, and farmers have zero choice in the matter. Big business should not be in farming outside of tools and machinery. I hope you change your tune soon, as a public voice is a terrible thing to waste.

  • Report this Comment On January 29, 2014, at 7:48 AM, cmalek wrote:


    "But that would be a gross over-simplification because climate scientists have no commercial interest in their conclusions"

    Of course they do. If they adhere to the Politically Correct view of Global Warming, they will get grants for their projects. If they question GW, let alone oppose it, no grant money will be available for the. I would say that makes for quite a commercial (self-serving) interest.

    "a very small group of scientific dissenters (most of whom are either marginally skilled in climate science, &/or retired/outdated in their knowledge base &/or lack published research credentials) to obfuscate and disrupt public discourse."

    I suppose only the proponents of GW have the proper skills, are current in their knowledge and have published research credentials? The easiest way to win an argument is to declare the opposition senile, uneducated and stupid. The you win by default.

  • Report this Comment On January 29, 2014, at 7:53 AM, cmalek wrote:


    That video is as truthful about GMOs as "Reefer Madness" is about marijuana.

  • Report this Comment On January 29, 2014, at 8:16 AM, cmalek wrote:

    All you anti-GMO posters are a bunch of hypocrites.

    You see Monsanto as Satan Incarnate but then you eagerly and gladly invest in oil and coal companies that contribute to atmospheric pollution, natural gas companies that pollute the ground and the water with fracking, car companies whose products spew pollutants into the air we breathe, trucking companies whose thousands of trucks contribute to global pollution, soft drink companies that pollute our bodies with sugar, fast food companies that pollute our bodies with fats and salt, mining companies that pollute the environment.

  • Report this Comment On January 29, 2014, at 10:33 AM, devoish wrote:

    Some replies seem to be getting off topic.

    I would really like to read some response to the information I provided.

    For example,

    discuss whether or not the 90 day Monsanto study using the same type and number of rats as the 2 year Seratini study is more or less valid.

    Whether the FCT should have retracted the Seratini study for the types and number of rats involved but not the Monsanto study for the same reasons.

    Whether or not the FDA should be expected to require multi-generational animal studies because the Seratini study demostrates the inadequacy of 90 day tests.

    Whether or not a 90 day test has any value whatsoever, regardless of Seratini.

    Whether or not it is time to remove safety testing from the private industry.

    In my experience if you want to know the condition of a car, the salesman is usually not trustworthy.

    Best wishes,


  • Report this Comment On January 29, 2014, at 12:15 PM, scienceguy wrote:

    My goodness - where do you folks get your heavily flawed information. "Watering crops with Roundup", etc.

    Farm acres are diminishing. In order to feed the growing world population we are going to have to grow more food on less ground. GMO technology will be a part of this.

    The American Medical Association, Department of Agriculture and numerous peer reviewed studies show absolutley no health concerns with GMO foods.

    Unfortunately there is a huge mythology of how bad this products are - and it is, indeed, mythology.

  • Report this Comment On January 29, 2014, at 2:18 PM, devoish wrote:


    Are you interpreting Monsanto's 90 day study that showed escalations of liver and kidney toxicity, combined with Seratini's 2 year study that showed early mortality due to kidney failure, as evidence of the safety of GMO corn?

    For whatever it is worth to you, I interpret those studies as being evidence that GMO corn is not fit for consumption.

    Best wishes,


  • Report this Comment On January 29, 2014, at 2:29 PM, TMFBlacknGold wrote:


    "discuss whether or not the 90 day Monsanto study using the same type and number of rats as the 2 year Seratini study is more or less valid."

    The >Seralini< study kept rats alive for 24 months, not 90 days, even though the species used (Sprague-Dawley) is widely known to develop cancerous tumors over long periods of time. It also didn't apply consistent analysis to its data. Just two simple reasons to retract it. Here are others:

    Additionally, private industry may conduct some of the safety studies, but the EPA, USDA, and FDA are responsible for employing scientists to interpret the data and come to independent conclusions (should the GM crop under review fall under the regulatory umbrella of the respective agencies).


  • Report this Comment On January 29, 2014, at 9:31 PM, Kiffit wrote:


    Look, if you believe that collectively, climate scientists are in some kind of irrational group think loop or are a bunch of fraudulent opportunists/hoaxers in search of gullible and/or cynical liberal state funders conspiring to overthrow capitalism and civilization as we know it, you would believe anything. Try creationism and Jewish banker communist plots for size. They'll fit.

    The point I am making is that powerful corporate interests have a long and very well documented track record of manipulating science whether it is to defend their existing interests against scientific criticism or further new ones, where they are pushing 'the science'.

    Now because I am a deeply conservative man, I instinctively regard major interventions into the way food is produced as fraught with long term risk that requires very high barriers to change. It might take a hundred years before we really find out what the true risk profile of GMOs are. And if it turns out that they are not benign as was first thought, after we have already committed ourselves to the GMO system, we are going to be up you-know-what creek, big time; a bit like with climate change, if that bunch of climatological frauds turn out to be right.

    There are real problems with privatized science and proprietary data in terms of transparency and the subtle ways it can be 'shaped' to limit adverse information and promote the positive. When there are billions of dollars at stake, the pressure for positive is almost overwhelming.

    And when corporates have billions to invest, they have an awful lot of clout, not just in the research sector, but regulatory administration and political agenda setting.

    The ability to interfere in the business of science and public health is not a good sign if you are interested in long term sustainability and a healthy balance between the private and public domains.

    And unfortunately what I am seeing is the emergence of a privatized version of totalitarian governance that was once only the prerogative of the state.

  • Report this Comment On January 30, 2014, at 9:22 AM, devoish wrote:

    "By the beginning of the 24th month, 50–80% of female animals had

    developed tumors in all treated groups, with up to 3 tumors per

    animal, whereas only 30% of controls were affected" - Seralini

    Hi Maxwell,

    Fair enough answer. The rats are known to get tumors. In some places the Sprague-Dawley are rats are described as getting tumors in a rate similar to people.

    However the results of the study say that in every treated group, corn only, roundup only, or corn treated with roundup, after 24 months 70% of untreated rats were tumor free, and the next best group only 50% were tumor free and the worst only 20% were without tumors.

    To me, that is a statistically significant result especially among the female rats. Enough so the type of rat doesn't really matter.

    Perhaps Monsanto should remove the product from sales until a long term study on an appropriate species of rat is performed.

    "Before this period, 30% control males (three in total) and 20% females (only two) died

    spontaneously, while up to 50% males and 70% females died in

    some groups on diets containing the GM maize" - Seralini

    To me, tripling the death rate for treated females vs control females is also statistically significant.

    So we agree that Sprague-Dawley rats are more tumor prone than some other breeds and that makes them likely to get tumors.

    Do we agree that not feeding them GMO corn seems to have kept the Sprague Dawley rats in the Seralini study healthier? Especially the female ones?

    There are also many different breeds of humans. Black, white, eskimo, indian, chinese, etc. Perhaps some of them are more tumor prone than others and should be given special warnings to avoid GMO corn.

    At this point you have to expect I am not going to just accept the blanket statement you made that Seralini "didn't apply consistent analysis to its data" with out support for it and especially because the letter explaining the reason for the retraction did not say anything at all about consistent analysis.

    "Unequivocally, the Editor-in-Chief found no evidence of fraud or intentional misrepresentation of the data. However, there is a legitimate cause for concern regarding both the number of animals in each study group and the particular strain selected. The low number of animals had been identified as a cause for concern during the initial review process, but the peer-review decision ultimately weighed that the work still had merit despite this limitation. A more in-depth look at the raw data revealed that no definitive conclusions can be reached with this small sample size regarding the role of either NK603 or glyphosate in regards to overall mortality or tumor incidence. Given the known high incidence of tumors in the Sprague-Dawley rat, normal variability cannot be excluded as the cause of the higher mortality and incidence observed in the treated groups." - Elsevier

    From your post and the link you provided I read the letters asking for retraction of the study, and there seem to be some valid issues raised concerning rat type and number but those issues were also raised when the study was peer reviewed and approved for publication. Other letters were concerned with animal welfare. One could not get past the test results. He insisted that increasing dosages should increase sickness incidences and that the results in the males did not reflect his expectation.

    I think you had eight letters asking for a retraction?

    Here is an open letter asking for a reinstatement of the study and an apology to Seralini. It has 3100 signatures. Disregarding the 2233 non scientist signatures leaves 869 scientists signing on and condemning and boycotting FCT for its retraction of the Seralini study.

    When I view the study results I see two control groups, one male and one female, that were significantly healthier than any other group as they aged.

    I see the outer extremes of species normal variability between the healthiest test groups and the control groups but less so in females.

    I see the outer extremes of species normal variability between the healthiest test groups and the least healthy test groups.

    I see nothing close to species normal variability between the least healthiest groups and the controls and ultimately if GMO corn was safe and roundup was safe the odds are very much against at least one of the test groups not being healthier than one of the controls.

    At the edge of credulity you could legitimately argue these results are unlikely but could have happened. I could argue that it is too far out to be chance. And that is what we are arguing.

    We could probably agree that without a 1000 rat study, using 50 per group we do not really have a good answer.

    We might even agree that the 1000 rat test should have been repeated 5 or even 10 times with consistent results to be considered conclusive.

    We might even agree the 5 tests should have been performed before the first GMO seed was sold.

    But i do not see that any such testing was done. I see one 90 day study.

    In fact, some conservative, cautious people, "first do no harm" type of people might suggest starting with 1000 Sprague-Pawley rats to achieve a diversified gene pool, feeding them organically to separate their offspring from GMO corn and then doing that for 5 generations of rats so you can start with a rat that has not been damaged by conventional GMO corn in the womb.

    Keep in mind the rats in the Seratini test spent their first five weeks of life eating and suckling from conventionally fed mothers, outside of the test parameters. As far as I know we really do not have a clean control group in any of these tests.

    If you do a test today maybe you have to start by removing the impacts of conventionally fed generations of rats unless you can find some organically raised generations of animals..

    Selecting 1000 rats feeding them organically for one year and then repeating that for five generations might give you clean rats for your study.

    If you tell me it is too expensive, I'll tell you capitalism failed.

    I do not think the concerns are enough to retract the paper and remove all that it contained from the scientific record.

    I do not think that the EPA, USDA and FDA are doing anywhere near a good enough job of promoting the general welfare and providing for the common defense.

    I think politics that promote creating jobs and growing the economy have gotten significantly poorer results than politics that promote being thorough and getting it right.

    Thank you for a very legitimate reply and the links to the letters to make your argument. With the lack of any other published data I will continue to have organic dominate my diet.

    Best wishes,


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Alex Planes

Alex Planes specializes in the deep analysis of tech, energy, and retail companies, with a particular focus on the ways new or proposed technologies can (and will) shape the future. He is also a dedicated student of financial and business history, often drawing on major events from the past to help readers better understand what's happening today and what might happen tomorrow.

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