Fraud detected in science research that suggested genetically modified crops were harmful

Please consider donating to Behind the Black, by giving either a one-time contribution or a regular subscription, as outlined in the tip jar to the right. Your support will allow me to continue covering science and culture as I have for the past twenty years, independent and free from any outside influence.

The uncertainty of peer review: Three science papers that had suggested that genetically modified crops were harmful to animals and have been used by activist groups to argue for their ban have been found to contain manipulated and possibly falsified data

Papers that describe harmful effects to animals fed genetically modified (GM) crops are under scrutiny for alleged data manipulation. The leaked findings of an ongoing investigation at the University of Naples in Italy suggest that images in the papers may have been intentionally altered. The leader of the lab that carried out the work there says that there is no substance to this claim.

The papers’ findings run counter to those of numerous safety tests carried out by food and drug agencies around the world, which indicate that there are no dangers associated with eating GM food. But the work has been widely cited on anti-GM websites — and results of the experiments that the papers describe were referenced in an Italian Senate hearing last July on whether the country should allow cultivation of safety-approved GM crops. “The case is very important also because these papers have been used politically in the debate on GM crops,” says Italian senator Elena Cattaneo, a neuroscientist at the University of Milan whose concerns about the work triggered the investigation.

I know I am generalizing here and have not actually researched this, but I would bet that many of those same anti-GM websites and the people who support them are also firm believers in human-caused global warming. Similarly, I would guess that if you asked these scientists above who wrote the anti-GM papers they also would be firm believers in human-caused global warming. I know this is a guess, but based on years of watching these political battles I think a very safe guess.


  • Cotour

    I would tend to agree with you about the general political beliefs of these activists, but the question still remains, is GM food safe for human or any other living thing to consume? Being considered a knee jerk activist does not automatically indicate that they would be necessarily incorrect in their caution.

    Information or disinformation, what is the likely hood that either the government or the companies that have billions of dollars invested in the technology are presenting valid information to answer the question? Lets think about that for a moment. Also, blurring the lines can serve both sides to “winning” their arguments.

    What say you? If given the choice would you feed your child a “normally” grown vegetable or meat product or a GM marked / produced product?

    I think this entire issue will come down to exactly that, people having the right to being informed about what they consume and having items labeled related to what something is or where it comes from as opposed to it all being blended, unmarked and considered one.

    There will probably be a third world population that will serve as the long term genetic test subjects without their consent if the big producers that use GM can not have it legally all blended and seen as one.

  • You realize that practically everything you eat now has been genetically engineered in some manner by humans at some time in the past. They might not have precisely manipulated the DNA, but they cross-bred, spliced, diced, and twisted that DNA in many crude manners to produce the plants and animals we eat. While modern genetic engineering carries risks, it also carries great benefits. I do not fear it greatly and would be very comfortable trying out such food.

  • Cotour

    Like the multiple variations of dogs that exist, even with all of the cross breeding and twisting of DNA, they are essentially all still are dogs (Canis lupus). Your point about the crossing of the DNA of a tomato with a jellyfish or specific chemicals however may have other unknown and unknowable implications. Two very different things I would have to say.

    Whether DNA manipulation will or will not exist is a question already answered, do you think it reasonable that there be set a line of DNA manipulation that needs to be indicated on a product? Lets say if a vegetable or animal has been bred with another life form outside of their specific genus or bred to take advantage of some particular chemical.

    Also there is a great difference between being willing to “try out” a particular food item and being sentenced to eating something that has been manipulated and not having the right to being informed about what that manipulation is.

  • Cotour

    Lets talk about academia and falsified data and what they are teaching:

    This is one of the things that Obama will be remembered for far in the future when he is determined to be one of the really great presidents as some are proposing.

    To deny that racism does not exist in the hearts of some people, maybe most people, would be to deny the truth. But to now institutionally identify one
    race, and as their own data implies, that race that has dominated and has brought the world the level of individual freedom, the wealth, justice, the technology, the building and of course the associated chaos (there is always chaos, slavery and treachery no matter which race or culture you study at any time in human history, but none until now have the ability to escape it) while seemingly implying that those other races have just been their “victims” is to me a bit over simplistic and self serving, every human being is at their core racist to some degree. Its the nature of the beast.

    To say that there have not been abuses of power and bigotry related to our American society and our history’s evolution would be to again deny reality, but this kind of formal institutionalized agenda against this one group who has dominated and brought all of the good (and the bad) and has by all evidence evolved to include as many of the “different” as has been included is again to deny reality. These kinds of institutional agendas are by design divisive and manipulative and promote racism themselves under the cover of “progressive” thinking. I reject it and say that it promotes a dumbed down and entitled kind of American who believes in some kind of divisive, institutionalized racist retribution. Two wrongs seldom make a right.

    There can be no retribution if you intend to move with positive purpose into the future, there can only be America and Americans moving into the future as one people. These agendas are intentionally either ignorantly or manipulatively designed to destroy and divide. Is this to be Obamas legacy?

  • pzatchok

    I am not worried about GNA foods.

    Mainly because any GMA plant that can reproduce and pass on the new gene has just as much chance of mutating and producing something toxic as any non GMA plant does.

    If it doesn’t produce toxins today it will not produce them next year.

  • Steve

    This reminds me of a video I just watched about the AGW “debate” and how the poorer countries when asked if they want solar panels, windmills, and carbon credits will invariably answer: “We need food, medicines and fuel”

    If GMO’s have the capability to feed more people and prevent starvation then they should be pursued vigorously.

    I sincerely doubt that a starving family cares about the GMO debate any more than they care about supposed Global Warming…..

  • Edward

    1) Is this the same Italy that incarcerated some geologists for being wrong about the likelihood of an earthquake? If so, what will they do to the scientists who have blatantly falsified and (self)plagiarized data (if the data came from a different experiment, then it does not apply to the one for which it is being reported)?

    2) If you are concerned about the DNA of plants and animals that have been carefully manipulated, with great aforethought and scientific analysis and testing, then what about the foods whose crossbreeding depends upon random genetic manipulation? Farmers have been doing this kind of genetic engineering for eons, long before genes were known. Or how about the random mutations that occur in nature? Random mutation is what has been responsible for all evolutionary advancement up until man first tried to crossbreed his first animal. Are you not afraid of those random mutations? There is no careful thought or scientific analysis in natural mutations — they just occur without warning, notice, or testing for safety.

    3) That these (incompetent/malicious) “researchers” can only make their point by fudging their data tells us volumes about how well knowledgeable and competent scientist are able to successfully manipulate genes without unintended consequences to the safety of the foods they create.

  • Phill O

    Once again I will argue that the whole GMO thing is a agro-chemical war between America (Monsanto) and Europe (BASF). The definition of GMO fall exactly for the Monsanto process. BASF does exactly the same thing (with their Persuit tolerant canola as Monsanto with its Roundup Ready canola. The BASF process is not labeled GMO. It is not surprising that Wikipedia only targets Roundup Ready Canola.

    Germany (and Europe) are big supporters of Green Peace and other environmental advocacy groups.

    Other products and processes seem to be targets of this kind of environmental (company) warfare.

  • Cotour

    Phill O:

    You are on target, you get it, if its manipulated beyond the “normal” ways that animals and vegetables are changed through their DNA IMO it should be marked. This is about the Benjamins $$$$$$ and Monsanto and others want to own what humanity is allowed to eat through law.

    Let us not be naive, being sentenced to eat foods for ones entire life is a great deal different than “trying them out”.

  • Edward

    Cotour wrote: “if its manipulated beyond the “normal” ways that animals and vegetables are changed through their DNA IMO it should be marked.”

    So, dogs, cats, mules, etc., and virtually all the foods that we eat should be marked? Nature did not breed these. Man bypassed the “normal” way of change by mixing their DNA, even if they didn’t know about DNA.

    Do you consider these haphazard methods and random mutations less hazardous than conscious, careful, thoughtful methods?

    How unsafe can the “modern” methods be if data has to be fudged in order to suggest a lack of safety?

  • Cotour

    I would make a distinction between the “normal” ways that DNA can be “naturally” combined, like the introduction of DNA from one kind of dog to another in the normal way or through invetro fertilization in the interest of bringing about desirable traits, and the diss-assembly of or insertion of DNA through techniques utilized in laboratories where DNA from one life form would never be naturally combined with the DNA of another life form and then I get to eat that.

    I would like those products to at least be marked and have the right to choose.

    You seem to be over simplifying and mashing every potential DNA combination into one group, I do not agree with that. Would you be good with eating an apple that has been modified with a DNA sequence of a cockroach with the intention of creating an apple that could stay fresh for months but over time consuming this modified apple caused, lets say a rare brain cancer?

    Would an apple ever “naturally” combine its DNA with a cockroach?

    Lets not confuse things that Mendel did in his garden and something that Dr. Craige Ventnor or Monsanto might be able to do in a billion dollar gene sequencing laboratory. With the best of intentions of course, and we all know where the best of intentions can get us.

    I would prefer to be informed as to what I was ingesting, no?

  • Cotour

    And PS:

    Then those foods can be patented, I will let Edward take it from there where those implications will bring us.

  • Edward


    Do you think that it is likely that someone would intentionally create an apple that causes any disease in humans? Dissuading insects and worms from eating the apple, yes, but cancer in humans? Not likely.

    On the other hand, how do you know that crossing, for example, an apple tree with a pear tree would not cause a rare brain cancer? That pairing (pardon the pun) depends upon random genetic mixing, and you don’t really know what you are going to get. Yet, you seem to be telling us that such a random result needs no warning label that it may cause cancer in a few decades. Wouldn’t you prefer to be informed as to what you were ingesting? Or have I misunderstood your position?

    What about the wide variety of apples that are available at your local grocer? Didn’t they come about because of changes in apple genes? Should only the original apple be label-free and all the others contain warnings? What makes you certain that a new variety of apple cannot be carcinogenic but an “appleroach” just might be?

    You also seem to be confusing apples with cockroaches. The intention would not be to grow cockroaches on trees but to make a more robust or a more nutritious apple. The patent would be for a better apple, not a carcinogenic apple. Few people would want the carcinogenic apple, unless their magic mirror gave them a grudge against Snow White, so the poison apple is not the one that would be developed. The scientists would choose the genes or gene sections that improve the apple, not corrupt it. Why would you think otherwise?

  • Cotour

    Why would I think otherwise?

    You seem unwilling to make the distinction between two similar things, like an apple and a pear and there combination and someone in a laboratory removing a DNA sequence from the DNA of an entirely different form of life and having the ability to combine them. With the best intentions of course.

    So why would I think that they would not have the best intentions? I would assume that they would have the best intentions, but the result of intentions related to such UNNATURAL activities are entirely UNKNOWABLE.

    So given a choice in such matters, I would like to have a choice instead of it being forced upon me through my ignorance of the difference because it is not properly labeled so I am informed.

    For someone who espouses “freedom” and logic your position on this puzzles me.

    This just in: It has been established during the five year test introduction of the “appleroach” (um, yum) that people who have regularly consumed it have experienced very painful, undissolvable star shaped kidney stones which initial tests indicate are partly composed of a material similar to an insects exoskeleton and calcium. The report about the “cucumberlobster” however was not found to be true, the woman who was thought to be growing a lobster claw from her forehead was actually just growing a horn.

  • Edward

    Cotour wrote: “You seem unwilling to make the distinction between two similar things …”

    When crossbreeding those two similar things, you are randomly mixing far more genetic material than when carefully selecting DNA sequences to produce a specific and predicted result. I understand the distinction quite well, and I thought that I emphasized it with the discussion that crossbreeding gives random results and sequence selection produces improved, not corrupted, food sources.

    Cotour wrote: “but the result of intentions related to such UNNATURAL activities are entirely UNKNOWABLE”

    Not sure what you mean, here. A mule is not exactly natural (it is sterile because it is a cross between two different species), and crossing an apple with a pear is not natural, either.

    How unknowable do you think would be the results of carefully considered experiments that are based upon the results of previously performed experimentation? You seem to think that carefully researched traits are actually only random events — more random than crossbreeding.

    In the course of breeding two creatures and hoping to get the desired trait, there is a far greater amount of randomness, and the breeding continues until the desired trait eventually appears or until the breeders give up trying. Yet that does not worry you at all? You prefer arbitrary and random results over carefully planned results? And you consider the carefully planned results to be unknowable rather than the haphazard crossbreeding with its arbitrarily obtained results?

    Cotour wrote: “I would like to have a choice instead of it being forced upon me through my ignorance of the difference”

    So, you *do* want the various varieties of apples labelled, too? You weren’t being clear on that point.

    Cotour wrote: “For someone who espouses “freedom” and logic your position on this puzzles me.”

    Not sure what you mean by “freedom.” Is not the labeling of edibles intended to frighten people away from them, like labeling cigarettes? Does that not reduce the freedom of the inventors of better crops and food sources? The whole reason that we are able to feed 7 billion people on this planet (remember when someone told us that there is a population bomb?) is because various scientists had the freedom to make better and more efficient food sources, especially crops. If we eliminate their freedom to do so, then where will we be when the population wants to be 10 billion?

    Since the only evidence is fraudulent, that modifying DNA sequences results in undesirable effects, your concern seems less than rational, especially when combined with your willingness to blindly accept other forms of DNA modifications, forms that are far more random with even less-predictable results.

    But I guess it is OK to cross a Chinese woman with a goat. Or did she acquire her horn by eating a “naturally” bred goat, whose random gene mutations allowed “horn growth” genes to splice themselves into her forehead’s cells? (Did the others who ate the same goat also grow horns?)

  • Cotour

    A horse and a donkey are SIMILAR and a mule is the result of the NATURAL interaction between a horse and a donkey. This end result, the mule, demonstrates their natural similarities. Much like the existence of the different varieties of apples, pears, tomatoes, and most all other varieties of vegetables that we find on our tables.

    Enjoy the new cucumberlobster, it really does taste as good as they say.

  • Edward


    You keep not answering my questions, requiring me to guess at your potential answers and your position on the topic.

    I seem to be missing your point. You are advocating the mixing of entire genomes from different species as being totally harmless, yet you demand warning labels when a mere, small, short sequence of DNA is added/subtracted from a single gene of one genome.

    You must also consider mutation as natural and harmless, as you are not concerned about labeling them, either.

    Just because something is natural does not make it safe. There are plenty of naturally occurring poisons in otherwise edible plants and animals. Be careful of red-capped mushrooms (and several that are not red). Don’t eat too many apple seeds, as they will give you cyanide poisoning. Are you certain that crossing similar species, such as apples and pears, will *not* cause a recessive poison-gene to express itself? Perhaps the cyanide will escape the apple seed and end up in the apple’s flesh.

    Really, would you bet your life on an unlabeled “natural” interaction, modifying the entire organism?

    And if so, why not when a single sequence is modified?

  • Cotour

    I am just asking for one thing, allow me to know what I am eating. Do you find that offensive or unreasonable at some level? How do you form an opinion about something that you really have no basis or expertise in having as strong of an opinion as you do?

    “In the USA in 1989 a total of 5000 individuals became ill after consuming
    an amino acid tryptophan health food supplement derived from GE bacteria.
    Out of these, 37 died and 1500 became permanently disabled with sickness.
    It is still debated as to whether the presence of the toxin was a direct
    result of the genetic engineering or due to sloppy manufacturing

    “Most press reports of genetic engineering stress its incredible potential for good, mostly in terms of “conquering” disease. If we look at what is actually happening, the biotechnology companies that do the bulk of the research are primarily concerned with profit, not with helping humankind.”

  • Cotour

    The more I look into this the more I understand that what I thought (and what you and others believe they understand) I understood about how cells / genomes change is simplistic and crude. I think it more prudent and reasonable to be more cautious in this field rather than less.

    “The precision and complexity of natural genetic engineering/ modification makes clear that genetically modified organisms (GMOs) created by the crude methods generally used until very recently can only be highly unsafe [2]. Artificial genetic modification invariably interferes with natural genetic modification. In fact, it depends on disrupting and overriding the cell’s own precisely regulated natural genetic modification, which explains its total lack of precision, with many uncontrollable and unpredictable effects. Furthermore, in order to override the natural system, the synthetic genetically modified DNA molecules are forced into the cell in large numbers with stressful methods such as gene guns or electric shocks, carried by vectors designed to invade genomes, and transgenes are equipped with aggressive promoters often from viruses in order to force gene expression in the cells [17]. These stresses (as Shapiro points out) are well-known to mobilize endogenous mobile genetic elements that scramble and destabilize genomes; and account for the instability of transgenic lines, both in silencing transgenes and loss of transgenes that may have undergone unintended horizontal transfer into the genomes of organisms interacting with the GMOs.”

  • Edward

    Cotour wrote: “allow me to know what I am eating”

    However, you only desire to know on certain things. Why not on everything? It isn’t offensive, but it adds to the cost of everyone’s meals, especially when it discourages additional research.

    Your inconsistency is what is being questioned here. You want to be warned that you are eating something that has been meticulously manufactured (should there be labels on all products, so that you know their safety margins?), but those that are willy nilly put together seem to be OK with you.

    Cotour wrote: “In the USA in 1989”

    You couldn’t find anything more recent? And how do you know that it was the genetically engineered organism? How many of those people also ate carrots; is the source certain or …?

    Your sources are *at least* as biased as the scientists who wrote the fraudulent papers that this post presents. No wonder you tend to think they are unsafe; you read only articles that tell you so, but fail to verify their impartiality.

  • Cotour


    Read it, its most reasonable and informing.

    Look who is the new fascist now, your like the man who walks into a restaurant, sits down and decides that everyone else in the room should share in your cigarette smoke. Now this IS one thing that I agreed with Mr. Bloomberg on.

    If you are going to manipulate something without the knowledge about what the end or long term results are and then you are willing to not label what you have manipulated and defacto call it “natural and wholesome”.

    No thank you.

  • Edward

    Cotourt wrote: “If you are going to manipulate something without the knowledge about what the end or long term results are…”

    Ah, now I know what you are thinking. It is emotion, not reason, that drives your conclusions. You assume that scientists are all mad (MAD, I tell you! But they will all have to listen now, after I destroy the Earth! Mwahahah!) and know nothing about their sciences, trying out expensive manipulations as though they were farmers inexpensively and randomly crossbreeding until they get a desirable long term result. Or perhaps you think that they are trying to give apples some cockroach brains.

    Your Institute of Science reference is *still* as biased as the scientists who wrote the fraudulent papers that this post presents. Once again, you read only articles that affirm what you want to be true, but you fail to verify their impartiality while assuming that since they reaffirm your belief then they must be right and good.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *