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June 18, 2013

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This also includes using pictures of those poor tumored rats. I've seen those rat pictures in antiGMO propaganda so many times now.

It really irritates me when bad science like this gets cited and the obvious criticisms are ignored. Touching on the comparison with climate change denialism, I'm reminded of one graph of global temperature over time. They chopped off the rapid climb of recent years on the far right, tweaked the time axis, and sent it around to be waved like it was a magic totem to ward off critical thinkers.

This particular issue isn't quite as transparent as that, but I imagine I'll be seeing anti-GMO trolls waving around those pictures of tumor-covered mice in much the same fashion years from now. Seems to me that this is largely the result of people blindly trusting their gut about pictures combined with a bit of The Big Lie fallacy. Add in the naturalistic fallacy, with a dash of black-and-white thinking, and a pinch of conspiracy theory.

The shocking thing to me is how entwined with Liberal/Progressive politics this GMO thing has become. So many of my friends, who would scoff at Global Warming Denial, the Anti-vax movement, and 911 Troofers, accept the GMO Evil nonsense as almost self-evident. It really resonates with intelligent, well educated liberal arts types without a really strong science background.

The Séralini study is never named by them but I know it is always one of the important "facts" they base their conclusions on. And it is really hard to discuss this topic with friends when you also want to avoid alienating them - takes a lot of diplomacy.

Thanks for citing my blog post. If there is ONE thing about this study that shows its true politics and intent it is the BLATANT OMISSION of a control from Figure 3. The three famous rats, each lumpy as generic oatmeal, show the effects of "GMO" (not a scientific term, and not the specific gene modified) **strike one**, they claim that "roundup" treated rats get the same tumors as a rat with an added benign protein (that's like sun and asbestos causing teh same pathophysiology) **strike two** and WORST OF ALL... that the CONTROL RATS in table 2 ALSO GET CANCERS! Somehow forgot to show that!

To me, that is a lazy editor, lazy reviewers and sloppy science, at the least. At the most, it is looking the other way to accept for publication a paper with agenda-driven omissions. Either way, mainstream science has rejected this report.

You will not see it expanded upon or repeated by other labs, but it remains a credible meme for activist rants.

Note by Skeptico:

Comment by "Skippy Morrow" who also posted as "Daeran Gall" has been deleted for inter alia sockpuppeting - read the comments guidelines, it’s one of the few things that will get you instantly banned.

But I had already banned you Daeran for Gish Galloping - ignoring rebuttals to your arguments and instead just posting more items you had found without actually being interested in any debate.

Just like the comment you just posted here. 10 seconds Googling would have alerted you to the fact that the pigs study you just referred to does not show what you claim it does. You are not interested in learning any facts. That’s why you are banned. Once more - go away.

Great post, could you do something similar about the pigs study?

Minor point:
Releasing the data allows for different analysis of that data, not for "replication" of the experiment. Of course, if they have not provided a sufficient report of their methods, then the experiment cannot be replicated. Either way, that 'study' is a stinking mess.

Genuine sceptics don't censor comment threads.

Mike:

I don't censor threads. But when on one person keeps repeating the same nonsense that has already been debunked, there comes a point when it has to stop.

Also, I ban anyone who uses sock puppets. Such people aren't interested in genuine debate.

There are lines that can be crossed. Trolls who engage in disruptive behavior like flooding, Gish Gallops, sock puppetry and such can be more destructive to useful conversation than the application of a banhammer.

Flooding drowns out other conversations. Gish Gallops are evasive and can be drawn out into pointless cycles. Sock puppetry allows a person to feign ignorance of previous criticisms, leading to redundant efforts.

They tend to draw people into posting criticism of a person who's already decided not to listen. It can get wearying to see an attention hog filling up the "recent comments," pushing off more productive conversations, leading to reduced participation by regular readers. Skeptico may not be as active as he used to be, but it's still best to cut off trollish behavior early to enforce commonly accepted and useful rules of internet etiquette for the sake of improved conversation.

One hundred percent correct, both Skeptico and BD.

Mike, a smart blogger (skeptic or not) does not open the door to spam. Someone reiterating utterly false information that has already been corrected (usually more than once, frequently on countless threads on the same site by the same people) and/or deliberately ignoring any responses (I've seen some state this intention outright while continuing to pollute a thread) contributes no more to a comment thread than a bogus series of links to questionable products claimed to increase the size of one's genitalia.

Deleting such comments or banning such "commenters" isn't censorship. It's dutiful housekeeping.

What's the harm of little idi*ts?

youtube.com/user/AmazingMeeting2013?feature=watch

Blog Anti-NOM:

Your links and comment above are a great example of cherry picking a small amount of information that you think supports your argument, while ignoring the larger data which does not.

Your first link - the blog post - is to an opinion piece that distorts the EFSA guidelines to claim that they support Seralini. Your second link - Considerations on the applicability of OECD TG 453 to whole food/feed testing - to the actual FSA report, does not support the Seralini study. In fact, it does not mention Seralini at all. Here is the full report that you did not link. In particular:

  1. No support is given to the idea that only 20 controls in a study of 200 rats, would be enough. Nor does it support the idea that there should be no blinding.  In fact the full report specifically states: “The study should be appropriately randomised and (where practical) blinded to ensure that the experiment is unbiased.” (Page 17.) You ignored that bit. With only 20 controls and no blinding, Seralini is dead in the water.
  2. The report does not mention Sprague-Dawley rats, and therefore the GM Watch article’s claim “…thus vindicating Seralini's use of the Sprague-Dawley rat” is simply not true.
  3. I agree that a study can be “exploratory” and doesn’t have to test a specific hypothesis. But if a study is exploratory (and you seem to be suggesting now that Seralini was exploratory) then you can’t draw conclusions from it. The purpose of an exploratory study is to develop a specific hypothesis that can then be tested in a follow up study. Make your mind up - if Seralini is exploratory then you can’t draw conclusions from it.
  4. The report does not condone the practice of cherry picking - ignoring negative results.
  5. The report does not agree with Seralini’s statistical methods - they are not mentioned at all.

I also note that you ignore the EFSA’s actual specific comments on Seralini, namely: Séralini et al. study conclusions not supported by data. So you report that the EFSA’s new guidelines “validate” Seralini (although it does not discuss Seralini) and you ignore the specific EFSA report where they specifically states “Serious defects in the design and methodology of a paper by Séralini et al. mean it does not meet acceptable scientific standards. And yet you conclude the EFSA validates Seralini. 

The blog article you linked is a perfect example of what I was talking about in my post - people like you aren’t interested in facts, but are only interested in pushing your anti-GMO conclusion that must be true no matter what. People who do this are not interested in science and there is no point in trying to engage them in any more debate. You are still desperately trying to agree with Seralini which means that you lost the debate and you’re done.

In theory, GMO could absolutely be used for the betterment of society. I don't have a problem with the science, which is only as good, or as bad, as those utilizing it.

In practice, however, I have profound problems with the fact that we are granting such a high level of control over our agriculture and food supply to a limited number of corporations who have one goal and one goal only: Profit. That's what corporations are specifically designed for, after all. And for companies like Monsanto, there is a circular logic in which you develop and patent seeds which are resistant to the chemicals which you yourself sell, so that the entire sales cycle from seed to spray, season after season, is in your control.

And when, as is happening already, the weeds develop resistance and your Roundup no longer rounds up much of anything (and this, unlike the Seralini study, is well-documented), guess who you turn to for your new chemical cocktail, and new patented seeds? Yep, the same company that got you in the mess.

GMO could benefit humanity profoundly. Monsanto, Dow, et al, on the other hand, are going to screw farmers for their last dime, because they are, in the end, just what they've always been, chemical companies, and they do what they do best, which is sell chemicals.

Thanks for posting this and linking. To me the biggest "tell" is Figure 3, the lumpy rats.

1. It adds no scientific content to the paper. There is no data there.

2. There is no non-GM, non-roundup control, which according to Table 2 also got cancer.

3. The labels are "GMO" and "R". For one, no scientist uses "GMO" in a scientific paper. It it "transgenic" and cites the gene or construct, not the way the plant was made.

This figure alone shows the intent. It is for shock value only. It is deceptive. However, it is now the darling evidence for the anti-GM movement.

I want to say that not enough research has been done on GMOs and if bugs wont eat them then we sure the fuck shouldn't. Plus this whole we are out to feed the world bull shit that they state is a crock of shit. The GMO-corn they are feeding the cattle in the US in one year could feed the world twice over for a year. Diet soda fake sweeteners were banned for producing brain tumors and Canola oil for leaving fatty deposits around organs and then scare tissue. Once the government smells money they change reports to say "inconclusive" when it is a clear public hazard. Your are an idiot if you think one tampered test means genetically mortified food is it. I thought you were a skeptic not a sellout

Victoria, care to get specific?

Meanwhile:

1. Double standard likely born from the naturalistic fallacy. Why would GMOs need special testing far beyond that of regular crops that get novel mutations through regular breeding? What's the meaningful difference? Frankly, I think it's arguably safer because bad GMO crops can probably be tracked down and recalled more easily if a problem is found.

2. We've been field testing them for years and I have yet to see credible evidence for a problem. It's always altie health scares born from the same tired old tropes and fallacies involved in all the other health scares.

3. Bugs aren't humans. Some things are poisonous to them that aren't poisonous to us. There's also the issue of dose since humans are much larger. Cooking is also a factor. Get specific about what you're complaining about instead of using propaganda-friendly vague generalities. Back to the double standard, everything you're saying also applies just as equally to naturally produced resistances.

4. The point about cattle is politics and economics, not about the science. The fact that the technology is misused doesn't affect the technology's potential to prevent famine if used properly. It strikes me as crying sour grapes to blame the technology and the scientists for the actions of politicians and CEOs.

5. Citation needed for the artificial sweeteners. There's no shortage of textbook health scares on that issue. I seem to recall the scare versus Splenda was shown to be manufactured by Big Sugar.

6. Poisoning the well. Yes, science can be corrupted, but you can't use that as an excuse to preemptively dismiss studies that disagree with you. Fraud like the kind you're talking about tends to be exposed by peer review and independent replication. Just how do you think science works?

7. You're erecting a blatant straw man on your last point. The point of the article is that anyone who cites the Seralini study doesn't deserve to be taken seriously because doing so shows how poor their critical thinking and research ability is. Our views are not based on this one thing, so stop lying to yourself.

From your performance here, I'd question your implicit claim to being a skeptic, Victoria. You read like a cookie-cutter woo scaremonger.

Oh, yeah. One very important rule I have that you should know about, Victoria:

"If someone tells me about the toxic properties of a chemical without telling me anything about the dose, they are likely trying to deceive me."

In my experience, most people who do that are actually just mindlessly parroting their gurus and dogma, essentially lying by proxy. It's a painfully common trope in health scares to take the toxic effects of ridiculously high doses of the chemical and pretend that those occur at much lower, more realistic levels of exposure.

Victoria:

I hope you don’t mind, but I removed your full email address from your screen name. Generally you don’t want your email address published.

Anyway, to your points:

I want to say that not enough research has been done on GMOs

OK, then how much research should be done? As you’ll know from reading my post, there are already 600 studies (and counting) in the GENERA database, that show the safety of GM foods. Or if you prefer, 126 with independent funding. Is that not enough? If not then how many do you think we need? Please let us know. And please justify the number.

I’m hearing this ‘there aren’t enough studies’ a lot from anti-GMO people. They never say how many they think are needed or what they would accept. I get the feeling that for many anti-GMO people there just is no amount that would convince them, they are anti-GMO no matter what the studies show. Which of course is why they never say want they would need to change their minds, because they never would. Also, they usually have an impossible standard – to demonstrate with certainty that no GMOs could ever cause any harm. This is impossible to do since it’s never possible to prove a universal negative. Their impossible standard combined with no specifics for how many studies would convince them, demonstrates they are not interested in studies (unless those studies show some harm in GMOs, in which case they are al for those studies). This shows they are not interested in facts or science, but are only interested in being anti-GMO no matter what. Perhaps you are not like that, Victoria, in which case please tell us what you think is needed.

and if bugs wont eat them then we sure the fuck shouldn't.

I have no idea what you are talking about here. Perhaps you could enlighten us, with some references. However, humans are not insects: what can harm a bug won’t necessarily harm us so the conclusion you draw is false..

Plus this whole we are out to feed the world bull shit that they state is a crock of shit.

Well, I have never said we need GMOs to ‘feed the world’ and very few people do. My position is that we face many challenges with a growing world population (forecast to hit around 9B by 2040), and that we need all the tools in our toolbox to face that challenge. It makes no sense to shut out a whole category of food for unscientific reasons.

Want a specific? Read how the Florida orange crop may be doomed without genetic engineering to protect it against a bacterium. That’s not ‘feeding the world’ but Florida farmers might think genetic engineering could be a benefit.

The GMO-corn they are feeding the cattle in the US in one year could feed the world twice over for a year.

If everyone in the world stopped eating meat then we would need much less land set aside for agriculture, it’s true. Not going to happen anytime soon though, so your point is moot.

Diet soda fake sweeteners were banned for producing brain tumors

They were? You can support that with a citation? Surely you can't be talking about these artificial sweeteners that are not banned and that are not associated with cancer risk in humans? So what are you talking about?

And what does this have to do with GMOs?

and Canola oil for leaving fatty deposits around organs and then scare tissue.

Again, you can support that with a citation?

And what does it have to do with GMOs?

Once the government smells money they change reports to say "inconclusive" when it is a clear public hazard.

The government changes the results of tests to protect its financial interests? You can support that with a citation?

That’s a growing list of citations you need to provide.

Your are an idiot if you think one tampered test means genetically mortified food is it.

I never said this fraudulent test proves GMOs are safe, did I? The purpose of this post was to show that people who still quote this study, are not interested in the truth. But props to you for at least agreeing that the Seralini study is fraudulent.

I thought you were a skeptic not a sellout

So many things wrong with those nine words.

First, read what a skeptic is: I apply critical thinking to truth claims. If there is no evidence that GMOs are dangerous, the skeptic doesn’t continue to say they are.

Second, you are implying I have to be anti-GMO or a sellout. That’s a false dilemma – I can accept the safety of GMOs without being a sell out.

Third – cheap sleazy low blow, Victoria. Please show that I am making money by having ‘sold out’ or withdraw that comment.

It is like pinning on the head. But do you think the anti GMO are out there to give us evidence?

Thanks Sceptico, good posting and letters

here my two favourite scientific rebuttals to Séralini:


Arjó, G., M. Portero, C. Piñol, J. Viñas, X. Matias-Guiu, T. Capell, A. Bartholomaeus, W. Parrott and P. Christou (2013), Plurality of opinion, scientific discourse and pseudoscience: an in depth analysis of the Séralini et al. study claiming that Roundup™ Ready corn or the herbicide Roundup™ cause cancer in rats, Transgenic Research, pp. 1-13, http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11248-013-9692-9 AND http://www.ask-force.org/web/Seralini/Arjo-Plurality-Opinion-Scientific-Discourse-Seralini-2013.pdf AND http://www.ask-force.org/web/Facultyof1000/Arjo-Plurality-Opinion-Seralini-F1000-Ammann-20130311.pdf

Jany Klaus (2013), Critical remarks on the long-term feeding study by Séralini et al. (2012). Does the study provide proof of health threats posed by genetically modified foods?, EFFL - European Food and Feed Law Review, 3, pp. 176-187, http://www.ask-force.org/web/Seralini/Jany-Critical-Remarks-Seralini-Study-EFFL-201303.pdf

Séralini is treated by the press according to the proverb:

evil always fascinates, goodness rarely entertains

which implies that the culprits are the publishers AND the readers...

cheers, Klaus Ammann, klaus.ammann@ips.unibe.ch

The Seralini study has been proven correct.
The science behind the study has been proven correct.
The EU has agreed and many scientists(200+) have signed on and endorsed the study as correct.
The name of your blog say's it all skeptico.
if there was not so much pushback from big agro/media and the supposedly scientific/conflict of interest from the pundits of the seralini study it would probably be shocking to the general public to know the truth, the mainstream media was quick to say flawed yet i have yet to see any retractions let alone news articles including this site that show seralini has been vindicated,so do your homework and try to be intelligent, and you will not come across as the national enquirer of science.

The Seralini study has been proven correct.
The science behind the study has been proven correct.

These are just arguments by assertion, not backed by facts. I listed the flaws in the study, you haven’t demonstrated that any of these are not flaws.


The EU has agreed and many scientists(200+) have signed on and endorsed the study as correct.

Again, just arguments by assertion. And listing numbers of “scientists” who support something does not mean that it is true. That is what is known as an argument from authority – a logical fallacy.

The name of your blog say's it all skeptico.

This appears to be some sort of attempt to discredit my arguments by ridiculing the screen name. This is what is known as an ad hominem which is another logical fallacy.

if there was not so much pushback from big agro/media and the supposedly scientific/conflict of interest from the pundits of the seralini study it would probably be shocking to the general public to know the truth, the mainstream media was quick to say flawed yet i have yet to see any retractions let alone news articles including this site that show seralini has been vindicated,

Not sure what you are trying to say here, it was so muddled. But Seralini has not been “vindicated” so you are wrong again.

so do your homework and try to be intelligent, and you will not come across as the national enquirer of science.

You haven’t demonstrated one thing that was wrong in my post, or in the detailed rebuttals from the many scientists I cited, so clearly you are the one who needs to do his homework. For example, you need to explain how in a study of 200 rats, only 20 is an acceptable control group. Explain how no blinding is acceptable. Do your homework if you want to comment here again.

As JustinM noted above, the Seralini study is being withdrawn by the journal that published it. I have just written a new post to cover this: Seralini Study Withdrawn – Should Never Have Been Published.

I am closing comments to this post. To comment on the Seralini study please click the link above to the new post.

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