GM Free Cymru

Memo to EU Chief Scientist: Your GMO lies must be retracted

Date Added to website 3 March 2014

GM-Free Cymru (Wales)


Anne Glover, the Chief Scientific Adviser to the President of the European Commission (otherwise known as the EU's "Chief Scientist") is tasked with providing independent scientific advice on a wide range of different matters (1). She has chosen to take quite a high profile on matters relating to GMOs, perhaps because her background is in the field of microbiology. On many occasions, in writing and verbally, she has repeated the lie that there is no substantiated evidence of harm arising from the growing and use of GMO crops (2). For this, she has been heavily criticised by Corinne Lepage (3) and other MEPs; but she has refused to withdraw or adapt her statements, and indeed she recently stated that, with respect to the wide range of material relating to GMO harm in the published and peer-reviewed literature, "I do not see the evidence"........... (4)

While she does not see it, others do (5). Reviewing the evidence before him, in 2005, Dr Arpad Pusztai said: "A consistent feature of all the studies done, published or unpublished, including MON863, indicates major problems with changes in the immune status of animals fed on various GM crops/foods, the latest example of this coming from the GM pea research in Australia." Dr Michael Antoniou said: "If the kind of detrimental effects seen in animals fed GM food were observed in a clinical setting, the use of the product would have been halted....." Professor Vyvyan Howard said: "A substantial number of studies suggest that GM crops and foods can be toxic or allergenic, and that they can have adverse impacts on beneficial and non-target organisms." Dr Joachim H. Spangenberg said: "Researchers in ecology and relevant environmental sciences have predicted negative environmental impacts from GM crops for around 25 years. Over the years, many of these impacts have been empirically documented." There are scores of similar statements in the literature, from practising scientists.


"Evidence, broadly construed, is anything presented in support of an assertion. This support may be strong or weak." Wikipedia "Evidence: A thing or things helpful in forming a conclusion or judgment." Free Online Dictionary "Evidence: that which tends to prove or disprove something." Dictionarydotcom "Scientific evidence is evidence which serves to either support or counter a scientific theory or hypothesis. Such evidence is expected to be empirical evidence and in accordance with scientific method. Standards for scientific evidence vary according to the field of inquiry, but the strength of scientific evidence is generally based on the results of statistical analysis and the strength of scientific controls." Wikipedia "A lie is a false statement to a person or group made by another person or group who knows it is not the whole truth, intentionally." Wikipedia "Lie: an intentionally false statement." Oxford Dictionary

Some Evidence

There are literally hundreds of papers published in the peer-reviewed literature which purport to demonstrate either direct or indirect harm associated with the growing and use of GMOs (6). Many of these articles are contested, as is the way with science; and indeed articles purporting to demonstrate that GMOs are safe are equally hotly contested. Science progresses through accumulated scientific observation and experimentation, with disputed laboratory science normally resolved through experimental repetition and improvement. Working hypotheses are almost always adapted or improved over time. Some are actually disproved and rejected.

As Popper pointed out many years ago, it is intellectually dishonest for any scientist to claim that his/her hypothesis is "true" -- because nobody can predict what exceptions to a "natural law" might be discovered in the future. The greatest danger in science is the ruling hypothesis, assumed to be true and forming the foundation of a scientific orthodoxy. A key principle of science is that on all sides of a scientific dispute scientists should respect the good intentions of those with whom they disagree, and should seek to demonstrate that their evidence is inconclusive or unconvincing by "trumping" it with better evidence of their own. To claim that your opponent "has no evidence" is patently absurd -- and disrespectful and even dangerous -- in a scientific context. It is also reprehensible to mount personal attacks on scientists (including Seralini, Carman, Huber, Carrasco, Malatesta, Pusztai, and Ermakova) whose work leads to "uncomfortable" discoveries.

Twenty Papers

1. Citation: Mañas, F., Peralta, L., Ugnia, L., Weyers, A., García Ovando, H., & Gorla, N. (2013). "Oxidative stress and comet assay in tissues of mice administered glyphosate and ampa in drinking water for 14 days". BAG. Journal of basic and applied genetics, 24(2), 67-75. Link: Author's conclusion: "........mice administered glyphosate or AMPA in drinking water for 14 days induced a significant increase in DNA damage in liver and blood but minor effects on oxidative stress parameters." Significance: Evidence of indirect harm to mammals from the use of glyphosate administered to GMO herbicide-resistant crops

2. Citation: Stanley W B Ewen, Arpad Pusztai (1999) "Effect of diets containing genetically modified potatoes expressing Galanthus nivalis lectin on rat small intestine". The Lancet, Volume 354, Issue 9187, Pages 1353 – 1354
Author's conclusion: "Other parts of the GM construct, or the transformation, could have contributed to the overall effects.........The possibility that a plant vector in common use in some GM plants can affect the mucosa of the gastrointestinal tract and exert powerful biological effects may also apply to GM plants containing similar constructs......" Significance: Evidence demonstrating a direct negative health consequence from the consumption of a GMO

3. Citation: Gilles-Eric Séralini, Emilie Clair, Robin Mesnage, Steeve Gress, Nicolas Defarge, Manuela Malatesta, Didier Hennequin, Joël Spiroux de Vendômois (2012) "Long term toxicity of a Roundup herbicide and a Roundup-tolerant genetically modified maize". Food and Chemical Toxicology Volume 50, Issue 11, November, Pages 4221–4231
Author's conclusion: "The results of the study presented here clearly demonstrate that lower levels of complete agricultural glyphosate herbicide formulations, at concentrations well below officially set safety limits, induce severe hormone-dependent mammary, hepatic and kidney disturbances." Significance: Evidence demonstrating both direct and indirect (Roundup-related) harm arising from the use of a GMO as feed. Note: This paper was retracted by the Journal Editor, after huge pressure from the GM industry and its supporters, on the spurious grounds that some of its findings were "inconclusive". However, it is in the public domain and its evidence stands unless it can be shown by repeat experimentation to be defective

4. Citation: Mezzomo, B. P., et al. (2013). "Hematotoxicity of Bacillus thuringiensis as spore-crystal strains Cry1Aa, Cry1Ab, Cry1Ac, or Cry2Aa in Swiss albino mice". J Hematol Thromb Dis 1(104)
Author's conclusion: "Spore-crystal administrations provoked selective hematotoxicity for the 3 exposure times, particularly for erythroid lineage. A significant reduction in bone marrow cell proliferation demonstrated cytotoxic but not genotoxic effects. These effects persisted for all exposure times, becoming more evident at 7 days." Significance: Evidence demonstrating a direct negative health consequence from the consumption of a GMO

5. Citation: Judy A. Carman, Howard R. Vlieger, Larry J. Ver Steeg, Verlyn E. Sneller, Garth W. Robinson, Catherine A. Clinch-Jones, Julie I. Haynes, John W. Edwards (2013) "A long-term toxicology study on pigs fed a combined genetically modified (GM) soy and GM maize diet" . Journal of Organic Systems 8(1), pp 38-54
Author's conclusion: "Pigs fed a GMO diet exhibited heavier uteri and a higher rate of severe stomach inflammation than pigs fed a comparable non-GMO diet." Significance: Evidence demonstrating harm to mammals fed on a diet containing GMO components. The harm may be GM-related or herbicide-related, or a combination of the two.

6. Citation: Poulsen M, Kroghsbo S, Schroder M, et al. "A 90-day safety study in Wistar rats fed genetically modified rice expressing snowdrop lectin Galanthus nivalis (GNA)." Food Chem Toxicol. Mar 2007; 45(3): 350-363.
Author's conclusion: "The chemical analyses showed a number of statistically significant differences, with the majority being within the ranges reported in the literature. In the animal study a range of clinical, biological, immunological, microbiological and pathological parameters were examined. A number of significant differences were seen between groups fed the two diets, but none of them were considered to be adverse. In conclusion, the design of the present animal study did not enable us to conclude on the safety of the GM food......" Significance: Evidence demonstrating a direct negative health consequence from the consumption of a GMO

7. Citation: Gab-Alla, A. A., El-Shamei, Z. S., Shatta, A. A., Moussa, E. A., and Rayan, A. M. (2012) "Morphological and Biochemical Changes in Male Rats Fed on Genetically Modified Corn (Ajeeb YG)". J Am Sci 2012;8(9):1117- 1123

Author's conclusion: "The data showed several statistically significant differences in organs/body weight and serum biochemistry between the rats fed on GM and/or Non-GM corn and the rats fed on AIN93G diets." Significance: Evidence demonstrating a direct negative health consequence from the consumption of a GMO

8. Citation: Benedetti, D., et al. (2013). "Genetic damage in soybean workers exposed to pesticides: evaluation with the comet and buccal micronucleus cytome assays." Mutat Res 752(1-2): 28-33.
Author's conclusion: "Comet assay and BMCyt (micronuclei and nuclear buds) data revealed DNA damage in soybean workers. Cell death was also observed (condensed chromatin, karyorhectic, and karyolitic cells)." Significance: Evidence of indirect effects -- ie health damage to humans from chemicals used in association with the cultivation of GMOs.

9. Citation: Alejandra Paganelli , Victoria Gnazzo , Helena Acosta , Silvia L. López , and Andrés E. Carrasco (2010) "Glyphosate-Based Herbicides Produce Teratogenic Effects on Vertebrates by Impairing Retinoic Acid Signaling." Chem. Res. Toxicol., 23 (10), pp 1586–1595.
Author's conclusion: "The direct effect of glyphosate on early mechanisms of morphogenesis in vertebrate embryos opens concerns about the clinical findings from human offspring in populations exposed to GBH in agricultural fields." Significance: Evidence of an indirect (glyphosate based) effect arising from the growing of herbicide-tolerant GMO crops

10. Citation: Joël Spiroux de Vendômois, François Roullier, Dominique Cellier and Gilles-Eric Séralini. "A Comparison of the Effects of Three GM Corn Varieties on Mammalian Health." (2009). International Journal of Biological Sciences 2009; 5(7):706-726
Author's conclusion: "Our analysis clearly reveals for the 3 GMOs new side effects linked with GM maize consumption, which were sex- and often dose- dependent. Effects were mostly associated with the kidney and liver, the dietary detoxifying organs, although different between the 3 GMOs." Significance: Evidence demonstrating harm to mammals fed on a diet containing GMO components. The harm may be GM-related or herbicide-related, or a combination of the two.

11. Citation: Nagui H. Fares, Adel K. El-Sayed, "Fine Structural Changes in the Ileum of Mice Fed on Endotoxin Treated Potatoes and Transgenic Potatoes," Natural Toxins 6, no. 6 (1998): 219–233.
Author's conclusion: "...........the Paneth cells were highly activated and contained a large number of secretory granules. These changes may suggest that δ-endotoxin-treated potatoes resulted in the development of hyperplastic cells in the mice ileum." Significance: Evidence demonstrating a direct negative health consequence from the consumption of a GMO

12. Citation: Malatesta, M., et al. (2003). "Fine structural analyses of pancreatic acinar cell nuclei from mice fed on genetically modified soybean" . European Journal of Histochemistry 47: pp 385-388
Author's conclusion: "We found a significant lowering of nucleoplasmic and nucleolar splicing factors as well as a perichromatin granule accumulation in GM-fed mice, suggestive of reduced post-transcriptional hnRNA processing and/or nuclear export." Significance: Evidence demonstrating a direct negative health consequence from the consumption of a GMO

13. Citation: Hawes C, Haughton AJ, Osborne JL, et al. "Responses of plants and invertebrate trophic groups to contrasting herbicide regimes in the Farm Scale Evaluations of genetically modified herbicide-tolerant crops". Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. Nov 29 2003; 358(1439): 1899-1913.
Author's conclusion: "GMHT management superimposed relatively small (less than twofold), but consistent, shifts in plant and insect abundance, the extent and direction of these effects being dependent on the relative efficacies of comparable conventional herbicide regimes. In general, the biomass of weeds was reduced under GMHT management in beet and spring oilseed rape and increased in maize compared with conventional treatments..........." Significance: Evidence of environmental harm associated with the use and management of GMO herbicide-tolerant crops

14. Citation: Kremer RJ, Means, N.E., Kim, S. Glyphosate affects soybean root exudation and rhizosphere microorganisms. Int J of Analytical Environmental Chemistry. 2005; 85(15): 1165–1174
Author's conclusion: "Microbial respiration and enzymatic activity in soybean rhizospheres were affected by Roundup; glyphosate (active ingredient) was detected in root exudates and stimulated growth of certain rhizosphere microorganisms." Significance: Evidence of an indirect (glyphosate based) effect arising from the growing of herbicide-tolerant GMO crops

15. Citation: Thomas Bøhn, Terje Traavik, and Raul Primicerio (2010) "Demographic responses of Daphnia magna fed transgenic Bt-maize." Ecotoxicology. February; 19(2): 419–430.
Author's conclusion: "Survival, fecundity and population growth rate (PGR) data generally disfavoured transgenic Bt-maize as feed for D. magna compared to animals fed the unmodified (UM) near isogenic line of maize." Significance: Evidence of environmental harm associated with the use of GMO crops

16. Citation: Charles M Benbrook (2012) "Impacts of genetically engineered crops on pesticide use in theU.S. the first sixteen years". Environmental Sciences Europe 2012,24:24
Author's conclusion: "Contrary to often-repeated claims that today's genetically-engineered crops have, and are reducing pesticide use, the spread of glyphosate-resistant weeds in herbicide-resistant weed management systems has brought about substantial increases in the number and volume of herbicides applied." Significance: Evidence of indirect damage to plant and animal life related to the use of herbicide resistant GMO crops

17. Citation: A. J. Gassmann, J. L. Petzold-Maxwell, R. S. Keweshan and M. W. Dunbar, (2011) "Field-evolved resistance to Bt maize by western corn rootworm", PLoS ONE, vol. 6 (7), pp. e22629
Author's conclusion: "This is the first report of field-evolved resistance to a Bt toxin by the western corn rootworm and by any species of Coleoptera. Insufficient planting of refuges and non-recessive inheritance of resistance may have contributed to resistance." Significance: Evidence of direct harm to animal life in areas planted with GMO (Bt) crops

18. Citation: Lu Y, Wu K, Jiang Y, et al. (2010) Mirid bug outbreaks in multiple crops correlated with wide-scale adoption of Bt cotton in China". Science, May 28 2010; 328(5982): 1151-1154.
Author's conclusion: "...........mirid bugs (Heteroptera: Miridae) have progressively increased population sizes and acquired pest status in cotton and multiple other crops, in association with a regional increase in Bt cotton adoption. More specifically, our analyses show that Bt cotton has become a source of mirid bugs and that their population increases are related to drops in insecticide use in this crop." Significance: Evidence of direct harm to animal life in areas planted with GMO (Bt) crops

19. Citation: Anthony Samsel and Stephanie Seneff (2013) "Glyphosate's Suppression of Cytochrome P450 Enzymes and Amino Acid Biosynthesis by the Gut Microbiome: Pathways to Modern Diseases."Entropy 2013, 15(4), 1416-1463
Author's conclusion: ".......... we show how interference with CYP enzymes acts synergistically with disruption of the biosynthesis of aromatic amino acids by gut bacteria, as well as impairment in serum sulfate transport. Consequences are most of the diseases and conditions associated with a Western diet, which include gastrointestinal disorders, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, depression, autism, infertility, cancer and Alzheimer's disease." Significance: Evidence of harm to human health as an indirect consequence of the use of GMO crops

20. Citation: JM Pleasants and KS Oberhauser (2013) "Milkweed loss in agricultural fields because of herbicide use: effect on the monarch butterfly population." Insect Conservation and Diversity Volume 6, Issue 2, pages 135–144, March
Author's conclusion: "There has been a large decline in milkweed in agricultural fields in the Midwest over the last decade. This loss is coincident with the increased use of glyphosate herbicide in conjunction with increased planting of genetically modified (GM) glyphosate-tolerant corn (maize) and soybeans (soya).......these results strongly suggest that a loss of agricultural milkweeds is a major contributor to the decline in the monarch population." Significance: Evidence of indirect harm to animal life in areas planted with GMO (Bt) crops


These are just twenty articles giving rise to concern about the safety of GMO crops for health and the environment. How many should we cite? A hundred? A thousand? It should not be necessary to bring these to the attention of the Chief Scientist in any case, since the default position of the EU is that GMOs are different in quite significant ways from "conventional" plants, that they therefore require special scrutiny prior to any releases into the environment, and that the very process of genetic modification brings with it the possibility of unintended consequences. European law underpins these assumptions, insists that both direct and indirect effects are examined by the regulators, and that the Precautionary Principle must be applied at all times (7). The Codex Alimentarius, to which all the EU states are signatories, is based upon the same assumptions, designed to protect public health (8).

Thus the default position must be that harmful effects arising from the growing and consumption of GMOs are to be expected -- and that these harmful effects should be minimised or eliminated through strict controls and even straight refusals of consent. It should not be necessary to "defend" either the articles or the hundreds of others in the GMO literature, since they support the default position. MUCH greater scrutiny should be given to studies that purport to show "no harm" -- especially if those studies have been conducted under the auspices of those corporations which stand to gain commercial benefit from their introduction into the farming system.

Time for a Retraction

If Anne Glover, the EC's Chief Scientist, is convinced that the balance of evidence in the literature shows that GMOs are safe, then that's her privilege. Others can argue with her -- that's their privilege. But for her to claim -- as she has done repeatedly -- that there is "not a single piece of scientific evidence" to support the thesis that GMOs are unsafe demonstrates a profound disrespect for hundreds of honest independent scientists working in the GMO field. It also shows a failure to understand what the word "evidence" actually means. And finally it brings science itself into disrepute, because it seems to indicate a belief, on Prof Glover's part, in a scientific orthodoxy in which no debate or dispute is deemed acceptable, and in which "inconvenient scientists" and their discoveries are simply brushed aside rather than being taken seriously.

So we ask Anne Glover -- yet again -- to retract her lies relating the the evidence of GMO harm, and simply to admit that there is no consensus in the scientific literature on the thorny issue of GMO safety. Is that too much to ask?







(6) (A sample of the scientific references including over 1300 studies, surveys, and analyses that suggest various adverse impacts and potential adverse impacts of genetically engineered (GE/GMO) crops, foods and related pesticides. This list contains references regarding health impacts, environmental impacts, including impact of non-target organisms (NTOs), resistance of target organisms, genetic drift and drift of pesticides, horizontal gene transfer, unintended effects, as well as references regarding yields, social impact, ethics, economics and regulations. Not all of the listed publications here, or in lists of articles purporting to show that GMOs are safe, are from peer-reviewed journals. As we know, publication in such journals is not a guarantee of either reliability or impartiality!)