RUSSIAN NK630 BAN: French researchers used cancer-prone rats…

….but Russia suspects Monsanto’s monopolist motives

Just as with the global warming debate, neither side on GM is entirely good, bad or indifferent

Even if we lack solid research to suggest serious health dangers in the growing use of GM crops, the long-term monopolistic and controlling aims of Monsanto remain a very real and present danger. Sources suggest this may be uppermost in the mind of Russian officials who yesterday halted the use of the Monsanto NK630 wheat strain in their country. If we have good reason to question the anti-NK630 research conducted by Gilles-Eric Seralini, we have even more obvious reasons to suspect the long-term motives of Monsanto.

Further to The Slog’s earlier post about Russia putting a stop on further use of the genetically modified ‘Roundup Ready’ wheat  strain NK630, more skullduggery is coming to light by the hour. It seems that in 2012, there are liars, damned liars, and advocates.

1. Monsanto seems to be implicated in spreading disinformation about the sample size of the French labrat research. Although there were doubts suggesting that ‘the control sample’ of non-NK630 fed rats was only ten strong, in fact (a) the study looked at 200 rats, and (b) the duration of the study – two years – was far longer than any previous research.

2. However, the French director of the study Gilles-Eric Seralini’s team used a strain of rat that is known to be highly prone to developing mammary tumors. That factor, plus the small sub-sample sizes of 20 per cell, mean that the prevalence of mammary tumors found among the treated female rats could be pure happenstance.

3. Nevertheless, between 1992 and 2002—the timescale during which GM crops moved rapidly from test plants to dinner tables, the USDA spent about $1.8 billion on ag-biotechnology research—of which a minute 1% went to safety testing. At the same time, the sheer power of ag-biotech industry influence maintains a dubiously tight control over who researches what—and dominates the research agenda at America’s main ag-research universities.

4. One of The Slog’s two Russian sources has come forward by email to offer this view: ‘I’m told the [Russian] government has access to intelligence suggesting that Monsanto is using the aperture of a year in which there are chronic grain shortages to frighten everyone into going completely over to GM in general, and pressing ahead with NK630. Let me say that there are suspicions here about their motives, and also among our farmers about Monsanto’s repressive trickery on patents and repurchasing’. Neither of those two observations are unique to this source, by the way. Former seed-trade executive and Slog threader Edward Spalton notes, “I think it’s a fair idea to give the plant breeder some income from his long-term research and efforts, but the modern practice seems far too restrictive, and weighted in favour of Monsanto and their like.”

An interesting take comes from Slog Scandinavian source Dietrich von Ausland: “I am all in favour of crop improvements and we stand little chance of feeding the future world without GM development to facilitate this. However, I absolutely agree that big business in general and Monsanto in particular is just not to be trusted with it. I am all against the English tree-hugging fluffies who are just scared of GM on principle. But that does not mean we should rush into the arms of commercial crooks.”

Others further  support that essentially neutral, commonsense view. “Many of the noisiest [anti GM] protagonists – the prime example being the CRU at UEA (an academic disgrace) – are statistical numpties. But Monsanto’s commercial model depends upon patents, and growers having to return annually to obtain Monsanto seeds. Good reasons not to take anything Monsanto says on trust.”

Exactly. And an equally good reason not to take Gilles-Eric Seralini’s data on trust either: the bloke has a long anti-Monsanto track-record. That doesn’t make him a bad guy, but it does make him innately biased. Others, however, are not at all biased – merely long-time observers of the Men from Monsanto. Kit Green writes, ‘Most GM crops only produce higher yields because they are resistant to high doses of herbicides and insecticides. The funders of GM research are the chemical companies who all want to sell more chemicals. There is far less money in just making seeds stronger and self resistant to disease and pests. It is iniquitous that peasant farmers in many countries are being hoodwinked into buying seed that produces sterile crops, so ensuring the purchase of new seed every year.”

I have to say that the evidence to support that last contention from Kit is irrefutable: it’s the Monsanto business model, for crying out loud. However, as ever when there are potential consequences to be assessed, the motherlovers on Wall Street are keen as mustard to dismiss any and all tentative frontal-lobe thinking – in favour of Goforit: Goldman Sachs’ response to the evidence of rat-organ damage was to upgrade Monsanto shares, a move that saw the company’s stock price power ahead by 2.8% on the day (September 19th). “Monsanto’s doing a lot of things right,” OptionMonster’s Jon Najarian told CNBC  the same afternoon. Perhaps not if you’re a rat, Jonny baby.

Monsanto’s unremittingly aggressive approach to litigation, its seed commercialisation practices, and its history as a chemical company, have made it widely hated. This isn’t entirely Greenpeace nuttery: lest we forget, these are the beautiful people who gave us DDT, Agent Orange, and of course Roundup. I became concerned when I noted at the weekend that the collateral marketing materials from Monsanto were branding NK603 as ‘Roundup Ready’: that’s to say, mutated to ensure complete resistance to the weedkiller. You can kind of discern a double sales-bonus for Monsanto in all this; you can also be assured that NK603 will itself be pounded with Roundup throughout its growing season. Let’s hope those washing products employed by cereal manufacturers are effective. (For all I know, they’re made by Monsanto too).

The two key elements in the GM debate that cause me anxiety are first, the statistics on whether we actually need to use GM in the first place; and second, the track record of the Men from Monsanto. They may be using this drought-ridden year to scare the crap out of everyone, but it seems unlikely NK630 survives dry weather better than any other maize type – maize per se being easily the most thirsty grain crop there is. At the end of the day, Monsanto shows all the signs of being just another sociopathic multinational pharmco masquerading as good capitalists solving the global food problem: in reality, they are as monopolist in their actions as Murdoch.

Related: Shell & the EU – an object lesson in hypocrisy.

68 thoughts on “RUSSIAN NK630 BAN: French researchers used cancer-prone rats…

  1. When all the seed produced by GM means becomes sterile also, the World will be at the mercy of Monsanto and similar companies. Hence seed becoming the New Reserve Currency.

    • All the more reason for saving your own seed from what grows in ‘your neck of the woods’.
      I have finally had flowers on my lemon tree, which I grew from a pip at least 15 years ago. It’s quite a beast…….but there is no pollen from the stamens, so all the immature fruit drop. I had to go to plan b, and buy a tiny (cheapest I could find) fertile lemon tree, which I now source the pollen from. 3 months on, and I have at least 6 lemons slowly maturing on my own tree. A happy ending, but a complete nightmare if your whole crop is in the same boat.
      The original Mr Kelloggs removed all goodness from grains in order to feed a ‘cereal’ to boys that removed their wicked tendancies at night under the sheets as it were. Once this proved so unpalatable (and failed in its intent), he then had to start adding stuff again until we get to where we are today, with cereal foods full of sugars, salt, chocolate, vitamins etc- and Kelloggs still being quite a popular brand. He did not stop to think what would be the long term response to his actions, religious nut that he was, (apols to any of his followers), but then spent years and money improving what was little more than poor chicken food.
      Cynic that I am, I just can’t see the providers of GM seed in quite the same naive light….for all the conspiracy theorists, I would say mass production of sterile seed an (anti kellogg) wet dream!!

      • So you grew your lemon from the pip? And it didn’t produce? Practically all citrus is grafted so frowing from a pip will get you nowhere.

  2. If you don’t like Monsanto products then don’t buy them or anything grown with them.

    Those who don’t use Roundup must have a lot time on their hands, own a small place or be very steadfast in their belief that it harms the environment.

    • Bill

      careful planning will allow you to use a hoe, which is a pretty quick method of getting rid of most of your weeds. Winter digging will help with the perennial pests like bindweed.

    • ‘Those who don’t use Roundup must have a lot time on their hands, own a small place or be very steadfast in their belief that it harms the environment.’
      ie. Bored, poor or nutters? Shame on you….whatever happened to cautiousness, and doubt that we are told the full truth.

      According to some research Glyphosate lasts for up to 2 years in certain soils (Torstensson NT, et al Influence of climatic and edaphic factors on persistence of glyphosate and 2,4-D in forest soils. Ecotoxicol Environ Saf. 1989 Oct;18(2):230-9)

      Taking big business at face value is now akin to russian roulette, in most instances, so knocking a cautious man is bluff and bravado. IMO

    • That’s a fairly idiotic statement in these days of highly processed food – it is impossible to know the provenance of all the ingredients in a particular foodstuff.
      In the old days, Roundup was spot applied to weeds to minimise crop damage, thus reducing the amount released into the environment and to which ag workers were exposed. With Roundup-ready crops, mass aerial spraying takes place. Great for sales, for everyone else and the environment, not so good.
      In addition, and with predictable inevitability, Roundup resistant weeds are beginning to emerge in response to the selective pressure resulting from such heavy Roundup use.
      This comes on top of seedfall from Roundup resistant crops causing contamination of the following years rotation e.g. corn growing amongst soya that cannot be eradicated – ironically yesterday’s RR crop becomes today’s problem weed.

    • Bill, Monsanto, through its agents, makes it as difficult as possible for food labeling to honestly describe the nature of the food or the source of its contents.
      Given the choice, a great many people would not buy anything that Monsanto has had anything to do with – and informed people would certainly never ingest anything that contains any trace of glyphosphate.

  3. Monsanto shows all the signs of being just another sociopathic multinational pharmco masquerading as good capitalists solving the global food problem: in reality, they are as monopolist in their actions as Murdoch.

    There is another side to this, and it is that Monsanto are driving themselves into a corner with their thinking. They cannot escape the route they have taken, so need somehow to keep their profits rolling.

    That they could keep their profits going without recourse to such methods would not occur to them, since their abilities to imagine alternatives are limited by their thinking.

    • @gemma “their abilities to imagine alternatives are limited by their thinking”.

      Alternatives limited by the vast amounts of $ invested in NK630 and Roundup R & D to date.

      • Aflatoxin

        it is usually the lack of money that gets these guys to think. Money only allows them to sit back and imagine what they can do with it! It allows them to sit inside their little “thinking box” and forget the real alternatives that do exist.

        Multinationals like Monsanto have lots of money, which is why when they get into a fix (which they have) they try all sorts of nonsense – and in the meantime drive their business into the ground nose first.

  4. “Let’s hope those washing products employed by cereal manufacturers are effective. ”

    Ha ha ha ha ha, dontcha know RoundUp targets the roots “so the weeds never come back”. The chemicals are held in the soil, taken up by the roots and will be somewhere in the plant…..

    @Bill Casso – I am already convinced that overuse of fertilisers, pesticides and herbicides harm the environment and RoundUp ready seeds merely encourage overuse. If I could avoid products made with Monsanto crops I would, but there is no labelling on any packaging to say what seeds were used to grow the food – so I can’t.

  5. The only rats used are rattus rattus or ships rat as they were known once. Albino rats are not a separate or sub species of rat but because of their albino condition they are more “sensitive” to experiments making them the perfect host for trying out foodstuffs on because of their sensitivity. If you used a tough, robust creature that can eat anything without faltering you would not get the same results in fact you would get probably a near negative response. Human beings are pretty sensitive creatures and we cannot shove anything we like in our bodies so using the albino rattus rattus you have a fairer more balanced result. I am not a scientist and I dont profess any great expertise in the area of science.

    • “Human beings are pretty sensitive creatures and we cannot shove anything we like in our bodies so using the albino rattus rattus you have a fairer more balanced result.”

      Shouldn’t that read that “Human beings are NOW pretty sensitive creatures”

      I grew up in the time before everyone disinfected everything twice in specialist (expensive) cleaning solutions and took rather less care of their kitchens at home and as a result, I can eat many things, in many regions of the world and have never had a tummy ache or food poisoning because 2000 years of human resistance evolution was wiped out in little over one generation.

      Anyone else see a link? We’re told we must scrub everything and keep everything “operating theatre clean” using mainly expensive and harsh chemicals or Else, we’ll get ill, when in fact, by using those chemicals, we are weakening our own resistance to germs and bugs and more likely to get ill and thereby building a dependency on expensive cleaning chemicals…

      Anyone want to buy a really dirty windmill? I promise it will never generate a single KW or electricity, but will really piss of your neighbours!!!!

      • @D T

        “Shouldn’t that read that “Human beings are NOW pretty sensitive creatures”

        I reckon you are probably spot on there. When I think back to the general crap, muck and literally bullets my mates and I used to play in and I don’t remember ever being unwell, unless it suited of course.

      • Dis. T

        a very interesting comment. Did it ever make you wonder at people who clean their kitchen countertops to the very corners with bleach – but wander around their homes wearing outdoor shoes, spreading everything they step in across their carpets?

      • @Full Stop

        DT did not close his italics caption with an &lt/i&gt sign. (I hope that comes out on WordPress … there is no way to edit these things! These are the character encodings in HTML).

    • @bodge

      they used Sprague Dawleys which is a semi-outbred strain (albinos). Spontaneous age-related mammary and pituitary tumours common in this strain makes it harder to get clear results, they would have needed much larger groups to obtain statistical significance of any test- or dose- related effect. The changes in other organs in some treatment groups also remains debatable due to the small numbers of rats per group.

      http://research.sustainablefoodtrust.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Final-Paper.pdf

      The inbred albino Fischer rat (F344) is more ‘sensitive’ in that has a lower incidence of spontaneous tumours enabling true treatment-related effects to be more readily assessed.

  6. Sure they never corrupted their findings for money,in Capitalism science proves what you want to hear and have paid for,Truth does not matter,i wonder what court injunctions are in place, CORRUPT money corrupts everything

  7. “It is iniquitous that peasant farmers in many countries are being hoodwinked into buying seed that produces sterile crops, so ensuring the purchase of new seed every year.”

    If you go back to the founding of GM crops you will discover that the licensing/regulation regimes demanded that the crops be sterile so as to inhibit potential contamination of other crops.

    Nor is it honest to declare that the major modifications only make GM crops pesticide resistant, resistance to drought and innate insect damage and the ability to flourish in poorer soils always have been and still are the main GM goals.

    There is more disinformation about GM crops than in probably any other area. Greenpeace and the other eco-nuts can spout any rubbish, exaggerate wildly and create public hysteria to their hearts’ content with absolutely no penalty, however, if Monsanto did produce a Triffid that started to kill off mankind it would soon be out of business and the entire industry destroyed. This is not to say they can’t make mistakes or even that they might not be tempted to ignore marginal effects, that is after all why there is so much regulation in this area, but quite honestly, I would take their word over Greenpeace any time because they do face real and expensive penalties should they get it wrong and I am quite certain their researchers are honestly trying to produce better crops in order to improve life for millions of people, not as Greenpeace and Co would have it, deliberately trying to kill off half the world in the pursuit of profit.

    I know it is difficult, but sensible folk should at least try to keep a sense of proportion.

    • “If you go back to the founding of GM crops you will discover that the licensing/regulation regimes demanded that the crops be sterile so as to inhibit potential contamination of other crops.”

      Being a little sensible I ‘ll ask only, is it possible the licensing was introduced without resistance *because*, it actually benefited the creators?

      “Nor is it honest to declare that the major modifications only make GM crops pesticide resistant, resistance to drought and innate insect damage and the ability to flourish in poorer soils always have been and still are the main GM goals”

      Yes perhaps, but that isn’t the main complaint is it? If the unintended consequences far outway the actual benefits I would say it is reasonable to question the wisdom, wouldn’t you?

      “… if Monsanto did produce a Triffid that started to kill off mankind it would soon be out of business and the entire industry destroyed. This is not to say they can’t make mistakes or even that they might not be tempted to ignore marginal effects, that is after all why there is so much regulation in this area…”

      The world’s population is increasing at such a rate that it would be decades before Monsanto profits even noticed a drop brought about by anything they can do to kill off humans. As to the regulations. Perhaps you haven’t been paying attention lately, regulations are irrelevant providing only you are big enough to buy off the regulators.

      Anywhere there you think I’m losing my sense of proportion feel free to say Peter C. ( For the sake of argument I should say it matters not a jot for or to me, I’m too old already, but it does matter for those that come after me and they do matter.)

    • If you go back to the founding of GM crops you will discover that the licensing/regulation regimes demanded that the crops be sterile so as to inhibit potential contamination of other crops.

      Which certainly did not stop cross-contamination – as mentioned above, we now have roundup ready weeds of the crucifer family.

      As a side issue, I would like some evidence of large multinationals being fined “real and expensive penalties” when things go wrong. Usually these penalties are modest given the size of the operation and the infringements concerned. There is plenty of evidence of such things right here at the Slog.

      A last point: genetic modification takes no interest in the needs of the plant. It sees the plant as a commodity, and not as a living being with needs of its own. I have studied botany at university, and dropped it because of the way the academics dealt with the subject. My interest in plants has not waned however. The needs of a plant go far further than working out an optimum NPK fertilizer.

  8. Is there a shortage of food in this world, or just a shortage of money to buy the food?
    Food and water, everything else is a choice. I don’t think we can afford in any shape or form to mess with our food, in regards of messing with the DNA of which we don’t fully understand the long term consequences.
    R&D for sure, but don’t use the human race as a test.
    Seed sprouts are easy to grow(don’t need a garden) and very energy rich.
    https://www.livingfood.co.uk/ for example(no connection to me) .

  9. I’ve felt for a number of years now that the drive for GM crops was in fact a drive to control the means of food production through out the world. Nothing more nothing less. The EU controls what varieties of potatoes and certain fruits can be grown and sold commercially, probably for very good reasons. Imagine if, as a result of WTO legislation it becamce illegal to grown food crops that weren’t licenced and patented. I think actually, that’s likely to happen if GM foods are allowed to be come universal.

  10. Questions to all ? What will be the consequence of eating a food with insecticides included in its genetic code over 20 30 40 or 50 years ? Nobody knows. And what if the insecticide genetic code contaminates let say our intestinal flora ? What then ? Question. How would you like to have as a living organism (which you are by the way) an insecticide a pesticide or a fongicide in it ? Monsanto doesnt know and they dont care. Obama that scum neither. Neither Romney that othe scum. Bet you both eat only organic.

  11. Totally off topic but, anybody know anything of this guy?
    ‘Gerald Celente-The First Great War of the 21st Century has Begun’
    Top trends forecaster Gerald Celente says, “The first great war of the 21st century has begun, and people are afraid to call it what it is.” Celente says the extreme violence in in the Middle East and North Africa is Not because of a movie that pokes fun at Islam. It’s because of decades of bad U.S. foreign policy.
    Not too dissimilar to JW’s post a while ago regarding the ‘Arab Spring’

    http://usawatchdog.com/gerald-celente-the-first-great-war-of-the-21st-century-has-begun/

    • The very real war, KFC, has been financial. Look carefully and you will see the American banks fighting for their lives. Using platoons of ratings agencies, hordes of derivative actions and backed up by hedge funds.

      There was a documentary about Neville Chamberlain and his fear of a war with America. His appeasement of Hitler takes on quite new shades when you realize that we might have been fighting in Canada, not Europe.

    • Celente is big in the alternative media as critics of the neocon takeover of the US, alongside such people as Paul Craig Roberts. I always get a laugh listening to that Bronx accent but I happen to agree with much he says.

    • @kfc.

      Celente’s been banging on about the end of the world as we know it for a while now. very much the kinds of things we allude to on this blog from time to time.

    • yes I am a subscriber to Mr Celente and agree with most of what he says. He is a no nonsense type researcher, does not suffer fools gladly and is excellent at unspinning all the bolloxs! His mottos include the three Gs gold guns and a getaway plan.

  12. I want to add something from my own experience.

    As a family we grew a lot of our own food. This was hard work, the kids did like getting muddy though (I did not like them getting muddy, but hey! Being a kid is having fun, right?). Whilst ostensibly to save money it had other – and quite unexpected – results. My kids ate their greens without demur. They actually ate their greens first!

    Why?

    Because they tasted good.

    Really good.

    Only now that I am growing again do I realize the difference between a properly grown vegetable and the sort of thing that is available in the supermarket. Remember: a chemical fertilizer needs to be soluble. The upshot of this is that crops grown with chemical fertilizers taste of … water.

    Carrots that taste orange, cabbages that taste green and tomatoes that taste of nothing. Not until you taste one of my tomatoes do you realize what a tomato actually tastes like!

    Or a bean, carrot, parsnip or potato.

    I want to ask a question – and this again was a surprise: have you ever had a “high” from a cabbage? I once made a coleslaw with a freshly picked cabbage, and believe me, we had to sit down afterwards for the effect of it was so great*.

    This is the first thing that is forgotten when dealing with commodities: it is all about weight, size and colour. Arbitrary, fluffy things like taste, smell and keeping qualities are forgotten. I need not tell you that the kind of thinking that only thinks in terms of a financial return will not help improve the flavour of your carrots.

    *Only mustard, mayonnaise and a few sesame seeds (and the like) were added, no cannabis or the like!

  13. Funny but, I noted that one comment threader stated that ‘Those that considered that the human race to be nothing more than a cancer on the Earth’ were ‘deep ecologists’ Well, I’m not as shallow as people thought……

  14. The GM argument is specious. Southwest native Americans developed drought tolerant seed centuries ago. The truth is, that we have become willing lab rats and in our sloth like being feed from the test tube, more than labouring patiently and working with nature to breed sustainable crops.

  15. Pingback: John Ward – Russian NK630 Ban : French Researchers Used Cancer-Prone Rats… But Russia Suspects Monsanto’s Monopolists Motives – 27 September 2012 | Lucas 2012 Infos

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