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February 2, 2014

The Seralini Suppression, Science, EU Regulation, and the TTIP

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This piece from GMOSeralini.org puts the recent suppression by Food and Chemical Toxicology of the 2012 Seralini study in a broader political context.
 
To recap the facts: In September 2012 FCT published the study by a team led by Gilles-Eric Seralini, analyzing the toxicology of the Monsanto Roundup Ready maize variety NK603. The study followed several years of advocacy on the part of Seralini and other scientists, calling for such a study after Monsanto’s own industry-geared feeding trial had found evidence of toxicity. The study contained three kinds of experimental groups: Groups fed NK603 which had been sprayed with Roundup, groups which were fed NK603 without Roundup, and groups fed the non-GM isogenic equivalent of NK603, with Roundup added to their drinking water. Thus the study was unique in isolating the GMO and herbicide effects, as well as testing their combined effect.
 
The study was unique in being a full-length two year study, which comprises the full life cycle of the rat. Industry tests use an intentionally short period, usually 90 days, in order to prevent chronic effects from manifesting. Nevertheless evidence of toxicity had emerged in Monsanto’s own tests. The purpose of the Seralini study was to find out how far these toxic effects would go if played out through the entire life cycle of the animal. As per standard scientific procedure, the study used the same kind of rat Monsanto used, similar sample sizes, and was otherwise similar to the studies it was replicating. The only things it changed were extending the fraudulent 90-day study length to the valid two year length, and that it focused on health parameters, unlike the usual parameters in industry tests, like quick weight gain and feed conversion, which are irrelevant to safety studies.
 
The study found strong evidence of organ toxicity for all three groups, especially liver and kidney toxicity. It also found evidence that GMOs and Roundup cause cancer. But since it was designed as a toxicity study and not as a carcinogenicity study, Seralini and his team never claimed to have proven carcinogenicity. They noted this finding and called for cancer studies to be designed and performed. The study also found increased mortality among the experimental subjects, another finding calling for more study.
 
The GMO cartel and its media flacks never contemplated these results for a second. Before the study even appeared the cartel launched a media campaign to slander it. This campaign was never anything but a pack of flimsy, easily shot down lies. But in Britain it was sufficient to get the corporate media to purge the study from its pages. The attempt at preemptive suppression didn’t work in Europe, where controversy raged. (Meanwhile no such effort was needed in the US, where the corporate media largely suppressed the study of its own accord.) Governments and regulators joined the smear campaign, which as usual in these cases extended to personal attacks and threats against Seralini and his colleagues.
 
FCT came under heavy pressure from cartel flacks to retract the study. At first it refused. The cartel then switched to a more subtle, longer-term pressure campaign. This led to FCT creating in spring 2013 a new editorial position, especially created for a Monsanto cadre. Soon a secret review procedure, under cartel control, was convoked within FCT. In November FCT announced the retraction of the study. As is typical of GMO hacks, the reasons given by the journal’s editor-in-chief were absurd, self-contradictory, and violated Committee on Publication Ethics guidelines for retraction.
 
Meanwhile the original Monsanto studies, also published in FCT, which would also have to be retracted according to the same rationale (since they’re all inferior to the Seralini study by the editor’s own standards), remain on the books in good standing. What’s more, since the retraction FCT has published another bogus 90-day study with highly sloppy methodology which seems have been done as a rush job to “answer” Seralini. When the editor-in-chief was called upon to retract this study as well, he refused, thus openly proclaiming the prostitution of Food and Chemical Toxicology and its parent media company Elsevier (which has a long history of publication fraud and other offenses against science).  
 
We can group the goals of the suppression into defensive and offensive aspects.
 
1. Defensively, the retraction is meant to “disappear” the only long-term safety study which has yet been done upon a GMO (or upon Roundup). This means it’s the only fully legitimate safety study which has ever been done. The goal is to slander this particular study and give the corporate media a pretext to do so as well (which it has seized with glee). The goal is also to put a chill into researchers and potential funders for such studies, to put them on notice that the “scientific” establishment will not tolerate actual scientific studies on GMOs, only rigged ones.
 
We now have proof, an implicit concession from the cartel and from regulators, that if more studies like that of the Seralini team were performed, GMOs would be proven beyond any doubt to be toxic and carcinogenic. They’d no longer be politically tenable.
 
In the piece EU Parliament member and former French environmental minister Corinne Lepage stresses how the repression is meant to “close the door” on the scientific future. Seralini is cited giving his opinion that GMOs would not be financially viable if corporations had to submit their products to scientifically legitimate testing.
 
The piece adds a legalistic reason for disappearing the study. With the study retracted, it “can no longer be taken as a reference for risk assessment when considering applications for authorization of GMOs for food and especially for cultivation in the EU.”
 
I’m not sure how relevant this specific study would have been anyway. Standard regulatory dogma, first proposed by the (private) Monsanto front group the International Life Sciences Institute but taken up and parroted by the WHO and UN FAO as their recommendation to government regulators, is that each GMO application should be taken hermetically in itself. Regulators should never conceive classes, infer patterns, make deductions. (So much for science.) So EU regulators would’ve felt fine dismissing the Seralini study as at most applying to NK603 only.
 
(Of course, this refusal to deduce goes only one way. By contrast, once the individual “events” which comprise a stacked GMO have been approved, the regulator is supposed to feel free to approve the stacked product without further ado, since its individual components have been cleared. This too is anti-scientific. In addition to the original approvals being little more than rubber stamps with no evidence, this see-no-bad procedure ignores the known scientific fact that compound drugs or chemicals often have interactive, compounded, intensified, and otherwise synergistic effects. A stacked GMO also stacks the danger.)
 
Here too the main effect is meant to be the prior restraint of further scientific study, preventing it from ever happening in the first place through intimidation. The message to scientists is that their work, if they’re able to conduct it at all will be under unprecedented assault. The message to journals is that they’ll be put in the vise like FCT was. The message to funders is that it’s not worth getting involved.
 
“Seralini’s study is a pioneering experiment and needs to be confirmed”, said Paul Deheuvals of the Academy of Sciences. Monsanto agrees, which is why the study must not be confirmed. As I said, we can take the retraction which Monsanto forced as its own kind of confirmation. If Monsanto thought the Seralini study could legitimately be discredited through the normal scientific process of replicating it, they would’ve done so. The same goes for the 1999 Pusztai study and many others. The fact that the cartel and its hacks attack the science so viciously in the political realm but systematically demur from repeating these allegedly flawed studies is the biggest dog that didn’t bark in scientific history. It’s a complete concession on Monsanto’s part that all these studies are valid and give true results. It’s proof in itself.
 
Meanwhile, the reason why the EFSA was so fast and flippant in its initial dismissal of the Seralini study is that the study exposed it before the world for its corruption, sycophancy before the cartel, and the stupid, unscientific character of its review and approval procedures. It had no choice but to dig itself in deeper, in self-defense.
 
But the EFSA’s own defense only highlighted its corruption and how most of its leading personnel go back and forth through the revolving door with the cartel. Exposed before the world, the EFSA came under such intense pressure that it was forced to concede that the study was well-done and announce that it would commission a two-year safety study of its own. The French government announced that it would commission such a study of its own. If these studies are actually performed according to scientific standards, they will be the first real safety studies EVER commissioned by government regulators.
 
Therefore, one major effect of the Seralini study was that it put regulators in such a political position that they felt forced to make this concession, which is common sense from humanity’s point of view, extreme from theirs. Now that the study has been retracted, we’ll see if the regulators use this as a pretext to backpedal from their concessions to its methodology, or even to weasel out of conducting the promised studies at all.
 
2. Offensively, we can put the controversy over the study and its suppression in the context of the negotiations between US and EU elites over the “Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership”, AKA TAFTA. Amid the welter of proposals to escalate corporate tyranny via anti-democratic, anti-constitutional globalization cadres, the main goal of the US is destroy EU regulation of GMO cultivation, which is relatively strong, and its far weaker regulation on imports of GMOs in food and feed, which is still far stronger than the US would like. The EU’s GMO labeling policies are also targeted by the US.
 
The GMO cartel and US government especially feel this need as the politico-regulatory scene has not recently been friendly. The European Parliament recently voted to reject EU cultivation of Pioneer’s 1507 maize variety. This followed upon the European Court of Justice’s invalidation of the EFSA’s approval of BASF’s Amflora potato. While Amflora was already defunct (and BASF’s GMO division already quitting Europe for the warmer climate of North Carolina), the court’s criticism of EFSA’s procedures could apply to many of its other approvals.
 
This is also the climate in which, to much fanfare, Monsanto last summer announced it was “withdrawing from Europe”. While this “withdrawal” was never quite what it was cracked up to be (for example it involved only new applications for the time being, not the dozens of outstanding ones), it highlights how frustrated the cartel has become with Europe. TAFTA is now Monsanto’s great hope to break through in a way it has not hitherto been able. Since it’s made only modest progress against the regular pseudo-democracy of the EC, the cartel hopes to do better through direct globalization autocracy.
 
I don’t know if there’s a legalistic way in which, the study’s having been retracted, it cannot formally be introduced as evidence in the negotiations (assuming anyone would want to do so in the first place). At any rate the political pretext the retraction gives is important to EU elites who want to sell out the people of Europe. They’ve already come under such democratic pressure that they’ve had to slow down the negotiations. GMO regulation is a major rallying point for the people just as it is for the US government. EU elites probably hoped that the so-called “discrediting” of the Seralini study will help alleviate some of the bottom-up political pressure.
 
If this was their hope it seems to have backfired. The redoubled controversy over the censorship of science is driving more and more naturally reformist types to openly admit that science is being held hostage, and that the “scientific” and regulatory establishments can no longer be considered to have any credibility.
 
 
Lepage concluded her press conference with a set of four demands, highlighting many of the problems discussed in this post.
 
First, I call to action all scientists worthy of the name, just as professor [Paul] Deheuvels did earlier. He simply wants the progress of knowledge. [Scientists should] mobilise against the current consolidation in scientific publishing and for an end to the control exercised by the lobbies – and Mr [Richard E.] Goodman is an excellent example – on what can or cannot be published. Global knowledge and the advancement of science are at stake.
 
Meanwhile we must be prepared to go further and recognize that the existing “scientific” establishment, including the institution of “peer review”, has been largely corporatized and no longer has any scientific or political legitimacy.
 
But then, we should have learned by now that one of humanity’s tragic mistakes has been to put “science” on such a political pedestal in the first place. Scientists and technicians always should have been viewed as rather dubious hired help, and never seen as policy gurus. Even such a bourgeois stalwart as Winston Churchill put it, “science should be on tap, not on top.” Or to paraphrase the famous saying, science is too important to be left to the scientists.
 
Second, I appeal to all consumer organizations and European citizens to mobilize to show their opposition to the takeover of their health and diet by lobbies.[Third] I call for an end to what in reality are no longer merely conflicts of interest – but are the occupation of posts of responsibility by persons from lobbies in defence of their interests… And I am thinking first and in particular of Ms. [EU chief “scientist” Anne] Glover and a number of people at EFSA.

 
Exactly. The term “conflict of interest” is usually fanciful. This hack cadre is typical in being 100% focused on the corporate interest, and she knows no conflict whatsoever.
 
Finally, I appeal to the Council to finally reach a position on the vote of the first reading, which was adopted by the European Parliament in 2011 and which would at least allow European states to not legally cultivate GMOs on their territory if they so wish, and to require comprehensive studies to be carried out. It is vital that this text appears before the free trade agreements are concluded (not that I want them to be). Thank you.
 
Yes. But if the “agreement” goes through and does not protect this right, then what will you be willing to do? 
 
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2 Comments

  1. Great job Russ! I’ve posted all over Facebook here in Oregon.

    Comment by Dana Allen — February 3, 2014 @ 2:15 am

    • Thanks Dana!

      Comment by Russ — February 3, 2014 @ 4:58 am


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