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Monsanto desperately tried to repress a study in the journal FCT (Food and Chemical Toxicology) showing that even low doses of their Roundup herbicide had toxic effects on rats over a long-term study. These effects include serious liver and kidney damage. Apparently Monsanto entered into a contract with the editor of the journal that first published and later retracted the study. In a tradition perfected by the tobacco industry, Monsanto used a team of “third party experts” to lobby hard to have the research retracted and after more than a year of continuing effort they were successful. It has since been re-published in a different journal – without connections to Monsanto, and with a higher conscience.

This ploy was so important to them because they worry research like this will spark more enthusiasm for the anti-GMO caucus and they need to close the door on more research in that arena. Unfortunately for them the world of GM organisms is under attack in a different study detailed in Nature Methods, May 30, 2017. This new research has to do with one of the gene editing techniques called CRISPR-Cas9. Companies involved in making GMOs have been under the impression that they understand and can predict what happens when genes are edited, but apparently their claims have been greatly off target. There are insertions and deletions (types of mutations their computers can supposedly predict) in the genome of gene-edited mice after they undergo CRISPR-Cas9. Over 100. But the top 50 sequences their computers identified as most likely to be changed were not changed at all. They also found other changes to the genome that they call point mutations. Over 1,000. These are replacements of single nucleotides in the DNA. So small – yet capable of creating huge changes in the organism, including the introduction of disease.

These should both be seen as serious set-backs in the move towards relying on genetically modified organisms. These manufacturers can’t be trusted to allow truthfully accurate research, and they don’t quite understand what happens when they splice and dice these things together. A wonderful quote from an article about the CRISPR problems in the Huffington Post by Jeffrey Smith: “There is a joke that says molecular biologists don’t understand just two things: molecules and biology.” Too bad he didn’t cite his source, but it is still quite amusing. More research please before you start sending off: GM mosquitos, even if they are all the way in the Cayman Islands, GM salmon in Canada, or GM moths in upstate New York. SB

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