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2013 articles

Nathanael Johnson misleading the readers of Grist - scientist

on .

Molecular biologist and genetic engineer Dr Michael Antoniou has responded to Grist food writer Nathanael Johnson's misleading claims about GM food safety.

For other deconstructions of Johnson's spin-laden articles on GM, see:
http://www.gmwatch.org/index.php/news/archive/2013/15027
http://www.gmwatch.org/index.php/news/archive/2013/15019
http://www.gmwatch.org/index.php/news/archive/2013/15012
http://gmojudycarman.org/how-easy-is-it-for-researchers-to-access-the-materials-for-gm-biosafety-research/
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Comment on Nathanael Johnson's article, "Food for bots: Distinguishing the novel from the knee-jerk in the GMO debate"
Dr Michael Antoniou
Grist, posted 22 Sept 2013
http://grist.org/food/dodging-argument-bot-crossfire-to-revisit-some-gm-research-controversies/
[you have to repeatedly hit "load more comments" to read this and other recent comments on the article]

As a molecular biologist who routinely uses genetic engineering in my work in the field of gene therapy, I am concerned that Nathanael Johnson is misleading the readers of Grist when he suggests that there is a scientific consensus that genetically modified (GM) crops are safe to eat and that they do not pose special risks (http://grist.org/food/dodging-argument-bot-crossfire-to-revisit-some-gm-research-controversies/).

The fact of the matter is that there is no scientific consensus that GM crops are safe for human and animal consumption or for the environment. Many peer-reviewed published studies show that GM crops can have unexpected toxic or allergenic effects on laboratory and farm animals. Some of these studies are summarised in our report:
http://www.earthopensource.org/index.php/3-health-hazards-of-gm-foods/3-1-myth-gm-foods-are-safe-to-eat

Since this report was published, two further studies, one led by Prof GE Seralini and the other by Dr Judy Carman, have also found toxic effects from feeding GM crops to animals.

For Johnson to dismiss these effects as "hypothetical" shows a fundamental misunderstanding of the scientific method. The effects found in these experiments were statistically significant and proven. The source of these documented negative health outcomes is unknown but could be due to the GM (transgene) product, increased exposure to the herbicides (specifically Roundup) used in conjunction with 80% of global GM cropping and novel toxin production from the mutagenic effects of the GM transformation process. Only more extensive follow up studies can pinpoint exactly what is happening, including epidemiological surveys of populations such as those in the USA that are consuming most GMO derived products.

I write this in the hope that it moves towards redressing the imbalance of information given by Johnson's articles.

Sincerely
Dr Michael Antoniou
London, UK