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@Transparency – Thank you for your continued engagement on this site. We are reviewing your similar question on this topic here. In the meantime, here are a few links related to glyphosate and statements made by Dr. Don Huber.
Please see the following excerpt from the Purdue article on glyphosate:
Overall, the claims that glyphosate is having a widespread effect on plant health are largely unsubstantiated. To date, there is limited scientific research data that suggest that plant diseases have increased in GM crops due to the use of glyphosate. Most importantly, the impact of these interactions on yield has not been demonstrated. Therefore, we maintain our recommendations of judicious glyphosate use for weed control. We encourage crop producers, agribusiness personnel, and the general public to speak with University Extension personnel before making changes in crop production practices that are based on sensationalist claims instead of facts.
If you feel that your question has not been answered in this response, or if you have additional questions, please ask here: http://gmoanswers.com/ask-your-question
The article by Dr. Van Eenennaam provides an intelligent and solid cost-benefit analysis; I don’t doubt that long-term studies may seem unwarranted and cost-prohibitive, especially if questions are sufficiently answered using in silico and in vitro methods, or 90-d rodent feeding studies.
Having said that, it seems that scientists are more focused on testing for acute toxicity, rather than chronic toxicity. I wonder if there is a subtle “Catch-22” here – GMOs and glyphosate appear to be safe when testing for acute toxicity short-term, and thus long-term testing seems completely unnecessary. But if we don’t support long-term testing, how will we fully understand the long-term effects GMOs and glyphosate have on bacteria and microorganisms?
I ask this question because much of the controversy surrounding GMOs and glyphosate involves microorganisms and the theory that GMOs and glyphosate kill them, or alter them in some way. Doctors and health experts are recommending probiotics in droves to their patients, as it has been suggested our soil has been depleted of the necessary “good” bacteria that our bodies need to thrive. We are learning more and more how critically important microbes are to the health of our soil and biologic processes. Moreover, there are even some experts who suggest that most of the critical diseases today stem from gut disorders and microbe imbalances…intestinal disorders are at an all-time high.
Just yesterday, I read that glyphosate was originally patented as an antibiotic. This seems like a HUGE and fundamental concept to me, one with enormous implications -- so why is our mainstream scientific community overlooking this fact? Red flag maybe?
I also read glyphosate was first patented as a chelator in 1964 by Stauffer Chemical Co. It was patented by Monsanto and introduced as an herbicide in 1974. According to Dr. Huber, professor emeritus of plant pathology at Purdue University for the past 35 years, “It’s important to realize that glyphosate is not ‘just’ an herbicide. It was first patented as a mineral chelator. It immobilizes nutrients, so they’re not physiologically available for your body.”
Why are the chelative and antibiotic properties of glyphosate not being addressed? Have any significant long-term studies analyzed GMOs and microorganisms? Is anyone in mainstream science asking these questions? Deleterious effects may not manifest right away in plants, animals, humans, and soil, which is why l believe long-term studies are needed.
@Transparency – Your comment about 90 day feeding studies is timely. The Journal of Animal Science recently published a great review article from Dr. Alison Van Eenennaam regarding “the rationale and results of peer-reviewed animal feeding studies using GE crops”, in which she addresses the adequacy of the length of feeding studies. A link to the full article, GMO’s in animal agriculture: time to consider both costs and regulatory evaluation, is here: http://www.jasbsci.com/content/pdf/2049-1891-4-37.pdf
One of the issues I see with GMOs is there is an underlying assumption that science (GMOs, biotech, and chemicals) will lead to greater food security around the world, greater yields, and more environmentally friendly farming practices. This idea sounds pretty great in theory, sure. Speaking in general terms, it’s tempting to think science is “cutting-edge” and to complacently sit back and “trust” all is unfolding as it should be. I wish I could just “trust” our regulators and corporate leaders, and relax. However, doing so ignores the fundamental issue that no matter how “advanced” we think we are as a society with our cutting-edge biotech, food security and safety will continue to be an issue if financial and political corruption prevail, both in corporate and governmental arenas, world-wide. All one has to do is look at our current government shut-down to know that our corporate and government leaders don’t always know how to…well…lead. This is a complicated, broad-based issue that cannot easily be addressed in a few paragraphs, but it’s an issue that is integral to this discussion.
For starters, the fact that Monsanto has to answer to shareholders is a concern for me, because profit therefore becomes the bottom line. I wonder if that is why 90-days became the norm for lab testing, establishing a short duration to ensure all experiments come out “looking good”, to put it in simple terms – I would think it would take longer than 90 days for significant disease and pathology to manifest in at least some of the lab experiments. This is just one example of how I believe money and the drive to profit may possibly dictate policy and ignore safety...hence the need for labeling.
Rickinreallife said: "My motivation is about preserving some marketing advantage for conventional crops or imposing some marketing disadvantage." That should read "My motivation is ABSOLUTELY NOT about preserving some marketing advantage for conventional crops or imposing some marketing disadvantage."
Peterbob said "Or, you could just grow your own & avoid the unknown . .. "
If you're ever in Lincoln Nebraska, look me up and we can open up a couple jars of my home-canned stewed tomatoes (all of the tomatos and peppers are from my own garden and the onions are from my mothers) and I'll make some skillet tomato sauce over spaghetti. I have zero means and even less desire to convince anyone not to produce their own food if they can, in fact I do to some extent myself and would recommend it to anyone. I still want biotech to be available to agriculture and still think there are many worthwhile, environmentally and socially beneficial benefits that can arise from improvements in crop genetics possible through biotechnology. My motivation is about preserving some marketing advantage for conventional crops or imposing some marketing disadvantage. Ingredient labeling for information for reassurance of its safety, ok. Warning labeling for the purpose of stigmatizing and conveying inaccurate information, and to provide a new platform for anti-biotech groups to continually haul food companies into court, no.
Or, you could just grow your own & avoid the unknown, which is what an increasing number of my neighbors are doing.
I usually hate slippery slope arguments, but cudspan's comments below are begging for a "where does it stop?" response.
It would appear that one of the things that bothers people like cudspan about GMO is that you have a situation where a bunch of scientists in a lab tinkered with a crop genome and made the crop resistant to a herbicide like Roundup. So they want those products labeled so that they might avoid them. But my question is, what about mutagenesis? This is a process where a bunch of scientists in lab tinker with a crop genome and make the crop resistant to herbicides. The specific example is imidazolinone tolerant corn. This was developed in the late '80s when scientists bombarded plant genes with radioactive and chemical mutagens to trigger mutations that made the corn resistant to a class of herbicides. This process is not considered GMO, is completely unregulated (as compared to the highly regulated GMO processes), and results in the same outcome as GMO - a herbicide tolerant crop. But a GMO label won't tell you anything about this.
So, maybe people will also want mutagenesis processes labeled. But what about natural tolerance to herbicides? Corn is tolerant to a wide range of herbicides naturally because it is a grass and we've been able to specially engineer herbicides that only kill broadleaf weeds (think Weed-b-Gone on your lawn). Maybe people might want to know if any of those herbicides were used on the crops that make their food?
And if you're labeling herbicides, wouldn't you also want to know about fungicides and insecticides? What about synthetic fertilizers? What about tillage techniques that might alter the carbon footprint of the crop? What about post-harvest handling of the crop that might expose it to dangerous pathogens? And on, and on, and on......
Or you could sit back, relax, and let American farmers continue to provide you with the safest, most abundant, most cost effective, most diversified offering of food of anytime in human history.
Do you want to know what kills people? Stress!
One last example, one of the low gluten wheat varieties being developed by CSIRO Austrailia does not even add any new genes. The biotech intervention only suppress the activity of one of the wheat's genes that encodes for the formation of gluten proteins in the seed. This product (not roundup ready by the way) would be required to be labeled as a GMO ingredient even though such labeling would convey no actual information about the husbandry practices utilized to raise it.
Here is an article I intended to link to in the earlier comment, for what its worth.
Cudspan said: "At issue here is whether I approve of the farming techniques, the infrastructure, or the promotion of other chemicals such as Roundup. . . . I don't only buy food based on the nutritional value. I also buy it based on the process. I want the process to be labeled... Is it GMO or not? "
It is probably evident from various comments that I defend applications of biotechnology as an additional tool in man's continuing quest to enhance food security by useful genetic improvements of food crops. But, please understand that that I am not per se opposed to some manner of ingredient labeling (as opposed to warning labeling). My interest in the food labeling debate is mostly with respect to its potential impact for impairing biotech's availability to agriculture. That does not mean that I consider that all challenges that face agriculture require high tech solutions. By the same token, I do not believe it is wise for government to dictate to farmers that they can only utilize techniques permitted by organic rules either. I do believe there are many appropriate and benefitical applications of crops genetics made possible through biotechnology. To me, the technology itself is not the issue, it's a matter of how it is deployed.
I would ask you to consider that biotech is not some monolithic philosophy that in each case dictates farming practices that you object to. Golden Rice is an example. It is an application of biotechnology to fortify a staple crop to improve diets for rural and urban poor around the world. However, there is nothing about the fact that the genetic blueprint of the rice was altered by biotechnology to add encoding instructing the plant to produce beta carotene in its seeds that requires any different husbandry practices than farmers currently employ. In fact, the gene coding for beta carotene is intentionally being added to local rice varieties that farmers are already utilize. The rice could be grown under organic management, or in high synthetic input systems, or some manner in between. Labeling the rice as GMO would not provide any useful information as to production methods.
What if it had been possible to fortify rice through crossbreeding with some weedy relative? That would not require labeling, and even though the biotech version and the version achieved through crossbreeding would be identical genetically and grown with identical husbandry practices, your comment suggests that consumers would interpret the labeling disclosure of the biotech as indicating unacceptable farming practices.
Papaya is another example. Through genetic information made possible through biotech, a papaya variety that give papaya immunity to the ringspot virus. Again, (if I am wrong, I would welcome being corrected) knowlege of the fact that the resiliency was added through biotech intervention rather than some other means, does not in any way provide any informatio about the husbandry practices employed by the farmer to grow it. I have read sources suggesting that prior to the biotech papaya, because of the ringspot virus, the Hawaiian papaya growers had been pushing production into more and more remote and pristine areas, displacing native habitat, to escape the rignspot plague temporarily. It might also be the case that without the disease resistance made possible through biotech, producers of some crops may be foreced to resort to applying copious amounts of herbides and fungicides to deal with the problem. Labeling the biotech papaya as GMO would in some ways convey the exact opposite information about which genetics were raised under responsible or objectionable conditions.
Even labeling a product as a GMO that happened to be a roundup ready variety does not necessarily convey any useful information to consumers about whether that crop's husbandry was less objectionable than crops that are not genetically altered with biotech to have herbicide tolerance. It is possible in some cases to breed herbicide tolerance through crossbreeding. You would have the same husbandry ocurring, but it would not have to be labeled. Additionally, if producers abandon herbicide tolerance and were to go back to conventional varieties without herbicide tolerance, that would be unfortunate if it cause farmers to abandon some of the expanded crop rotation options and beneficial conservation and soil improvement practices that herbicide tolerant traits have made more practical. Going back to non-ge conventional varieties would likely entail a return to producers using a variety of chemicals many if not most more environmentally unfriendly than roundup, and require a return to tillage and much greater fuel use. Again, relying on labeling as a means to indicate whether the farming practices were objectional would convey inaccurate information.
There are any number of examples of differences in how biotech crop improvements have little to do with whether farming practices you object to are used. We are on the verge of genetics that would greatly increase nitrogen use efficiency of crops. Conceivably, biotech varieties could achieve the same yields with far less synthetic fertilizers. That would greatly reduce the carbon footprint of agriculture since synthetic fertilizer production accounts for a large part of the energy ustilized in Agricutlure. Less synthetic fertilizer applications would lessen impacts on soil microbial communities allowing restoration of soil health. It would help producers lessen nitrogen runoff into water, and perhaps even make it practical for conventional farming to obtain at least part of their fertilizer needs through decomposition of cover crops. I would tend to view that as a good thing, but if a GMO label is to be utilized to help a consumer decide which foods are from beneficial farming practices, then in this case labeling would convey inaccurate information.
I would agree with you to a degree that biotech applications to agriculture have been a mixed blessing to this point. But labelling foods derived from biotech enhanced plants has as much potential to misinform. That is why voluntary labeling of presence or absence of the use of farming various practices is a much better guide than hijacking a labeling system designed to neutrally inform regarding nutritional content to achiev that end.
I have leaned recently toward some manner of ingredient disclosure of the biotech genetics of sources of food products, but only because lack of labelling today is being utilized as a proxy indicator of safety, i.e. people interpret lack of labeling as confirmation that it is unsafe because it is being hidden. Labeling disclosure is not an imperitive of nutritional, health or even agronomic science, but purely political science.
cudspan - nutritional information is basically what is included on a "nutritional label". Can you point to any food products on the shelf today which have the type of process information you are requesting on them today? No, it doesn't exist, as they are not requirements of FDA labels. I would love to see that type of information on ALL food products, as I believe you would have a much better perspective of what types of chemicals are on all produce and crops. Regardless, this issue should be directed to the FDA, not seed producers.
Thanks @peterbob The GMO Answers team has posted a few responses on labeling which you may find interesting, to view the responses, click here: http://gmoanswers.com/ask/regardless-whether-or-not-you-believe-gmos-are-good-or-bad-what-harm-labeling-them-so-consumers and herehttp://gmoanswers.com/ask/if-you-are-truly-interested-opening-discussion-agree-full-disclosure-any-genetically-modified
jtrav21 -- Yes, there is something to label. Nutritional value is not the only issue here. There's no nutritional difference between lemon juice and citric acid either, but these ingredients must be labeled. At issue here is whether I approve of the farming techniques, the infrastructure, or the promotion of other chemicals such as Roundup. I'm a consumer, and I want to know what I'm consuming. It's as simple as that. I don't only buy food based on the nutritional value. I also buy it based on the process. I want the process to be labeled... Is it GMO or not? Sticking to the Nutrition argument is not an answer.
peterbob - the nutritional ingredients of food made with GMO-based crops are no different than conventional crops, so there is nothing different to "label". This is the basis of the FDA labeling program: http://www.fda.gov/Food/FoodScienceResearch/Biotechnology/ucm346858.htm