COWDUNG

October 2015
 
Professor Gilles-Éric Séralini
Photo Creative Commons
COWDUNG is an acronym for 'conventional wisdom of the dominant group'. It was coined by the geneticist who introduced the idea of 'epigenetic' effects (events connected to genes which change their expression) to a dominant group whose wisdom was entrenched in a mechanistic one-gene-one-protein dogma.

Scientists who dare to think outside the prevailing consensus of their colleagues have traditionally been condemned or ignored and suffered years of opposition. But, scientists who have cast doubt on the integrity of GM crops have been vilified beyond any possible scientific justification.

When Professor Séralini and his team published results of a life-long rat feeding-study reporting that Roundup herbicide and Roundup Resistant GM maize each contributed to chronic disease and early formation of tumours, there was immediate and widespread criticism and press coverage [1,2,3]. Indeed, the speed of the response itself was such as to raise doubts about whether they could possibility represent a disinterested scientific exchange.

Roundup's conceptual gaps

October 2015

Commentary


As one of its very limited number of GM success stories, the biotech industry has moved whole-sale into herbicide-tolerant crops. Most successful of these has been 'Roundup Ready' staple crops with a novel gene allowing them to survive and accumulate glyphosate, active ingredient of Roundup.

However, it's becoming clear that underpinning Roundup Ready crops, is a number of conceptual aberrations.

Glyphosate plus a wealth of contaminants

October 2015

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Glyphosate herbicide is sprayed on, and accumulated by, most GM crops.  Despite the fact that it's always used in formulations such as 'Roundup', "There is an unexpressed, widely believed assumption that the active principle against plant metabolism (glyphosate) is the most toxic compound of glyphosate-based herbicide formulations on non-target species." (Mesnage et al.)

These 'non-target species' include wildlife, livestock, pets and humans.

How valid is this 'widely believed' assumption?

Noise about cancer

October 2015


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The manufacturer of glyphosate-based herbicides and glyphosate-tolerant GM crops was quick to 'disagree' with the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) reclassification of its prize agrichemical as a 'probable carcinogen' [1].

Besides the usual disparaging remarks about the IARC, the gist of Monsanto's disagreement was one we've heard repeatedly. Since the industries' own (unpublished) studies have successfully persuaded regulators (who didn't have anything much else to go on) that glyphosate is safe, it is therefore proven safe.

Monsanto also made a good attempt to fudge the issue. It suggested that no link had been established between glyphosate and cancer incidence in humans. This needs to be put in perspective.

Roundup damage at the molecular level

October 2015

When Professor Gilles-Eric Séralini published his controversial life-long study on rats fed a GM maize and Roundup herbicide (active ingredient 'glyphosate'), he promised there was a lot more data to come [1].

Suspicions that the promised data might be even more damning than the observations of accelerated tumour-development in the first paper have been confirmed.

Roundup impairs adrenal function

October 2015

Several studies have identified glyphosate herbicide, used as 'Roundup' formula on most GM crops, as an endocrine disruptor. Experiments have indicated, for example, health-damaging changes of testosterone (male sex hormone) in rats and of oestrogen (female sex hormone) in human cells. A new study has examined the effects of Roundup on adrenal gland function (see note below). 

Rats were administered Roundup for 14 days at a dose found to produce no overt signs of toxicity, weight-change, nor altered food consumption. At this level of exposure, routine tests would declare Roundup 'safe'.