back to article Russia blocks Monsanto corn in GM study fallout

Monsanto’s GM corn, the centre of a storm inspired by the now-notorious French “rat tumours” study, has been banned from Russia following a decision by consumer rights regulator Rospotrebnadzor. The ban is more symbolic than anything else: Russia doesn’t allow its farmers to plant GM corn, and is a net exporter of grains. …

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Silver badge
FAIL

sigh

Can't blame the Russians too much though this is obviously a PR stunt to slam a competitor. Cheap GM big corporate grown government subsidized corn sugar is over half the reason obesity is such an epidemic in the US. Obesity contributes to virtually every health problem imaginable including cancer. People think of Phillip Morris and Exxon of being evil but ConAgra may be the evilest corporation of all.

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Re: sigh

And yes I am not saying GM is the culprit but really is only a symptom of a corporate machine meant to get the greatest profit feeding Americans the worst food they can get away with.

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Anonymous Coward

A PR stunt to slam a competitor?

"Can't blame the Russians too much though this is obviously a PR stunt to slam a competitor. .. ConAgra may be the evilest corporation of all".

I don't follow, what evidence is there that the decision by Rospotrebnadzor was influenced by some competitor.

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Holmes

Re: sigh

Considered you need to sell your soul to Monsanto to grow it, I suspect that is more likely a reason to ban it than a dodgy study done by a french quack.

Personally I'd blame the roundup more than the GM corn for any increase in cancer

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Anonymous Coward

Monsanto is a nasty company

Their IP litigiousness makes the the RIAA look like saints in comparison. (The other reason for their legal notoriety is the dubious distinction of apparently being the most heavily sued Fortune 500 company.)

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Anonymous Coward

The biggest....

The biggest consumers (eaters) of GM are the USA, is there a correlation between this and the number of fat people that live there?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Thorne

But it IS round up that is causing the cancer. The corn is ROUNDUP ASSISTED CORN. IE, you don't buy the corn unless your going to spray it with massive doses of roundup. If you buy other corn, it is not resistent to roundup, so you cannot spray as much, so it's not as deadly.

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Russia: even a broken watch is right twice a day.

Even if you disagree with the French study, it makes lots of sense from a economic standpoint. Why should the Russians let Monsanto take a big slice from their cereal production?

On a side note, where did the 'Rate this article' bar go?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Russia: even a broken watch is right twice a day.

@Mephistro "On a side note, where did the 'Rate this article' bar go?"

I suspect *0r1owsk1 had it removed from the site to prevent his articles from being continually downvoted.

*The el reg reporter equivalent of the Monsanto corporation.

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Pint

@ AC 15:38 GMT

Yes, our dear «executive editor» is a bit thin-skinned, innit ? Get in his bad graces, and one's comments on his postings are blocked. Serves us «freetards» right, I suppose....

Henri

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Stop

Conflation

It's become fashionable to conflate GM, Monsanto, and Roundup. In fact, the three have become inextricably linked. That's unfortunate. Monsanto is the proverbial evil corporation that has done a lot of unethical things and is responsible for billions in environmental damage. It's paid quite a bit to settle those cases. That said, I don't think it paid nearly enough.

Roundup is their main product line of GM crops that are resistant to Roundup herbicide (not pesticide as most people say). It's a clever product that they spent billions researching and developing. However, the herbicide patent has expired and so one can buy it from any number of third parties. Genetic patents on various crops are also expiring (first one in 2014). At any rate, natural resistance is going to make the whole thing moot soon enough anyway. It was good while it lasted and really increased yields. Farmers wouldn't use it otherwise. There was also that bullshit case greenies like to bring up so much, forgetting that the judge dismissed farmer's claims of accidental contamination, seeing how 60% of his plants were Roundup-ready.

Now GM in general is just a technology which can be utilized for the benefit of mankind or create havoc without reasonable constraints. The concerns about GM causing cancer are completely unfounded with zero evidence to back them up. In fact, greenies are useful idiots at the hands of competing corporate interests. Note that gene transfer between different species happens in nature all the time. Rather than running around waving their hands hysterically, people should realize that GM is here to stay because in the coming years it will be necessary to feed the growing population. In fact, GM has already saves millions of lives in poor countries due to increased yields.

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Conflation part II: GM =/= mutation/evolution in the wild

You are right to separate out the different issues in the whole GM Pandora's box but you do so selectively, are guilty of your own conflation and ignore the interaction of these issues..

The first poster, asdf points out that there are proven links between obesity and cancer (and many other serious health epidemics in wealthy countries), not the simplistic assertion that "GM causes cancer." And you suggest that creating GMOs is no different from random genetic mutation in the wild which is frankly utter bollocks. On the one hand random genetic mutation leads to small incremental changes over time in the context of an ecosystem in which all organisms are evolving. On the other hand lab-created GMOs are specifically designed to out-compete organisms in the wider ecosystem and thus have a far greater potential for unpredictable consequences when released in the wild.

Finally it is precisely amoral profit-driven semi-monopolies like Monsanto that are creating these GMOs and lobbying to have them released into the wild. Do you trust them to do due diligence with regard to large parts of the planet's ecosystem with their track record so far? I certainly don't.

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Re: Conflation

There are concerns about GM crops for a reason. To stimulate the expression of the added genetic material, you use promoter genes. And the big question is what these promoter genes will do to the crop or to the person or animal (GM soybeans) eating it. So some reservation is appropriate.

It's unfortunate that an extremely evil company (Monsanto) has made it nearly impossible to get some decent research and discussion possible about what we're doing here. Also the whole agricultural-political complex in general doesn't have a good reputation for a reason.

In the case of Roundup ready crops the solution is, IMHO, not dousing your crops with a herbicide, but to use other techniques (less monoculture!) or improved crops. We see the problems pop up already in the US, where resistance to Roundup has become a serious problem.

It's a bit reminiscent of the use of anti-biotics; overusing them creates selective pressure for the bacteria, which stimulates the development of resistance. So long-term this is not the way to go.

And as to the saving millions of people part; as far as I'm concerned the bigger problem to tackle is population growth, but that's a completely different discussion.

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Boffin

Re: Conflation (@ solidsoup)

"There was also that bullshit case greenies like to bring up so much, forgetting that the judge dismissed farmer's claims of accidental contamination, seeing how 60% of his plants were Roundup-ready."

It could be the case that the farmers lacked the money to hire some prestigious geneticist to explain the judge how cross pollination + natural selection would work together in this scenario to make 60% of said farmer's crops Roundup-ready after a few years. Or a mathematician to explain why the % of 'Roundup-ready unauthorized crops' seems to be related to the inverse of the distance to GM authorized crops, with a bias due to predominant wind direction and whether said unauthorized crops were being treated with Roundup - the most common herbicide nowadays- or not.

To be consistent, GM should also be suing %DEITY%, as this cross pollination also happens to Teosinte, a wild relative of maize that sometimes grows as a weed in the maize fields and their surroundings.

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Re: Conflation part III: mutation/evolution in the wild =/= gene transfer

@Ian McNee

It's pretty clear from my post that I wouldn't trust Monsanto. I think you'll find that all corporations are profit driven and it is up to the government to limit them in their actions. One of the big arguments against GM is that it uses genetic material from different species and there is widespread belief among the general public that this is unprecedented in nature. That's not the case and I was talking about horizontal gene transfer, not evolution.

I don't know if you realize, but your beef with GMO can also be taken up with agriculture in general. The very goal of agriculture is to "out-compete organisms in the wider ecosystem". Agriculture also has "potential for unpredictable consequences". There's also nothing random about evolution in agriculture, traits were selected for artificially. I'm not saying there aren't any serious concerns about GM, but none of them can be found in your post.

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Re: Conflation (@ solidsoup)

Cross-pollination was not an issue in the case. Please, read the case summary. Also, since it got to the Canadian supreme court, it's reasonable to assume that the farmer's legal representation was somewhat more substantial than you make it out to be.

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Anonymous Coward

@solidsoup - Re: Conflation (@ solidsoup)

Sorry, mate, but here in Canada you can have your case going up to the Supreme court without having to be filthy rich and big corporations have less influence than south of the border.

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FAIL

Re: that bullshit case greenies like to bring up so much

You must be referring to Percy Schmeiser. Read up on the case. You're parroting bullshit. Percy was a seed-saver, no way was he using GM seed. There's enough evidence on this website of how court decisions go sideways in tech cases. Relying on a court decision to back your claims reveals how weak they are.

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"In fact, GM has already saves millions of lives in poor countries due to increased yields."

Tell that to the millions of Indian farmers that are now desitute with a substantial number committing suicide..... why..... because the claims are pure unadulterated Bull sh one T

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Knife to a gunfight

If you're going to argue, facts and logic are more effective than passive aggressive deflection. Farmer suicides in India have little to do with Monsanto and have absolutely nothing to do with GM nature of their crops. Moreover, even if what you say was true, it would not contradict my claim that GM crops saved millions of lives. According to WHO, chronic food deficits affect 792 million people worldwide. Malnutrition affects 1 in 3 people and dwarfs all major diseases in its effects.

I'm not sure why you danced around the word bullshit, seeing as Register doesn't filter profanity, but this pious self-righteous attitude of anti-GM/anti-Nuclear/Global Warming/Greenpeace/PETA brigade (these things are fruits from the same tree) is getting fucking annoying. This well-intentioned willful ignorance has cost more lives and caused more damage to the environment than any of the "evil" corporations could ever aspire to.

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Devil

Re: Knife to a gunfight

If only GMO was able to bring better crops than regular plants... but they are not.

http://archivo.greenpeace.org/toursoja/informes/Multinacionales/monsanto_eng.pdf

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Knife to a gunfight

Your source is Greenpeace, and is therefore bollocks.

One can quite easily find at least a myriad of studies showing that the commercial GMOs have increased yields when used in the way intended. (Planting a drought-tolerant GMO in a paddy field is not sane.)

Finally, if you thought about it for even a microsecond you'd know that the use of GMOs must result in improved yields (and/or reduced costs) because nobody would even consider using them if they didn't.

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Boffin

Nice to hear, solidsoup,

that you are so much more knowledgeable with regard to the relationship between the use of such genetically modified crops as Monsanto's BT cotton and the remarkable increase in suicides among Indian farmers planting that crop than such unreliable sources as the country's Ministry of Agriculture. We Reg readers are indeed fortunate that you have chosen to avail us of your broad erudtion and insight !...

Henri

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Thumb Up

Russia not the only one ...

as several countries in SE Asia have questioned the efficacy of RoundUp, including it's use on rice, which is very popular with humans and rats.

In fact, rats like it so much that they are caught and barbecued in the MeKong Delta, after the crop is collected, as they are so fat.

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Anonymous Coward

2 points -

-Seralini has form for this kind of thing before

-Population of N. America are not dropping like flies, as you would expect from these results

Plus-

"It is evident that some treated groups have lower death rates / tumour rates than the comparable controls. This is not reported in the abstract."

http://www.smc.org.au/2012/09/rapid-reaction-long-term-toxicity-of-gm-maize-food-and-chemical-toxicology-experts-respond/

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Anonymous Coward

Monsanto

There are some German (and French) documentaries that don't exactly depict Monsanto as benefactor of humanity. For example: http://youtu.be/1810e-9HSDQ

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Anonymous Coward

Monsanto

English version of above French documentary: http://youtu.be/Rml_k005tsU

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Bronze badge

The really fun thing

About the Seralini paper is that it was (part) funded by Auchan and Carrefour.

Who both launched "GMO Free" campaigns just after the paper came out.

Incredible coincidence that, isn't it?

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Devil

Re: The really fun thing

Auchan and Carrefour have much more at stake than Monsanto.

They cannot hide behind others in fine print hardly read by anybody (hope it will change). They have every right and interest to know what they are potentially going to be selling because they are the ones who will be sued instantly for putting the toxic stuff on the market.

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Some clarification

Its not the GM crop that is causing the alleged tumours, it is the Roundup, which is a chemical. All the genetic modification does is make the crop resistant to this herbicide, which assists in effective monoculture. Of course, as the DDT and numerous other past experiences tell us, using more Roundup is not necessarily a good thing but is not the genetic modification that is at fault.

Sorry to disagree with you drexciya, but promoter genes, or genetic material in general, will have absolutely no effect on an organism that consumes it. Potentially the promoter could promote the wrong gene, but that is unlikely as resistance markers are used to ensure it is correct.

As with all tech, its not the technology but how it is used. GMOs are used to produce insulin for diabetics as much as for GM crops. We need oversight of its use, not of the tech itself. The ignorance of vocal pressure groups, such as Greenpeace, does nothing but cloud the issue with misinformation.

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Devil

Re: Some clarification

(1) The French study finds GMO corn itself is toxic to the organism, too.

(2) If changing genes in crops does not affect the body eating them, why the hell do researchers all over the world work on gene therapies, some administered by means of edible substances?

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Stop

Re: Some clarification

Gene therapy doesn't work by an oral route of administration, Rota Virus, at least not in an unencapsulated form. The plasmid requires a carrier of some sort. A number have been tried, for instance gold particles (fired into the skin), electroporation, or liposomal delivery methods. Liposomally can work intra-nasally, but will not survive the GI tract.

For the GMO crop to be toxic in itself, the molecule produced that confers herbicide protection would have to be shown to be toxic. To my knowledge this has not been done by any reputable source, at least not yet.

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Re: Some clarification (@ Bunglebear)

"but promoter genes, or genetic material in general, will have absolutely no effect on an organism that consumes it"

I think that drexciya's point was that these promoter genes also are at risk of being transferred to other varieties of the same crop (through cross pollination) and even to different species, through 'horizontal gene transfer'. IMHO GM crops are like a Russian roulette, though the number of empty chambers and bullets is a controversial matter.

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Devil

Get the facts straight

The full paper for the study is here:

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

Key findings:

(1) The Monsanto's corn IS TOXIC WITHOUT ANY ROUNDUP, due to the single gene alteration itself

(2) The corn treated with Round Up is obviously more toxic

(3) The Round Up is very toxic even in minimal doses (i.e. 1 part per billion)

For those who try to portray the study as a joke - happy life!

http://ars.els-cdn.com/content/image/1-s2.0-S0278691512005637-gr3.jpg

I know Brits will bash Russians any time and for any reason but they seem to have the balls to do what's right and do not knee before the Monsanto. As does India. As does Hungary. As do an increasingly long list of countries seeing Monsanto for what it is: a corp that has gone rogue and has taken the US gov's with it to fight for its interest.

How sad.

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Devil

One more thing

Contrary to some comments here:

GMO crops are not better than regular crops. Hardly.

http://archivo.greenpeace.org/toursoja/informes/Multinacionales/monsanto_eng.pdf

GMO plants do not hold to the promise of using less herbicides

http://www.organicconsumers.org/clothes/failing021204.cfm

Cross-polination is rampant

http://www.organicconsumers.org/ge/hazards101503.cfm

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Re: One more thing

Spare as your copy-pasta. Or at least make sure your links work. Also, Greenpeace!? LOL!

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Anonymous Coward

@solidsoup - Re: One more thing

Sorry, my friend, but in choosing between Greenpeace and Agent Orange Monsanto I'll have to side with Greenpeace for now since they killed less people so far. As far as I'm concerned, you're free to ingest any GM, pesticide/herbicide treated, irradiated, engineered/enhanced food in any quantities might please you. I'll try to avoid them as much as possible, thank you very much. Don't need any academic studies, just look at average North-Americans in the street and you'll notice there's something wrong with their food. French people are eating way much more fat compared to the Americans and they don't show as much overweight.

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Re: @solidsoup - One more thing

It's somewhat unfortunate you see the debate as having sides of Monsanto and Greenpeace and what I was in essence railing against. Those aren't the sides. It's beneficial for greens to make that out to be the debate, but Monsanto is but a small part of a large field of companies (many small startups) that work in GM field. Being keenly aware of Monsanto transgressions, I find myself in weird position of almost defending them because their actions are often represented to be worse than they are due to their reputation (a form of argument ad hominem). Dismissing the entire GM field because of Monsanto is similar to dismissing computer technology in 1950s and 60s because IBM actively helped Nazis during the Holocaust. Where would we be now if that was the case?

As to Americans and their disgusting eating habits, there is one thing and one thing only to blame for their miserable health and massive waistlines - sugar. Or more specifically monosaccharides. Of course, it's completely natural, so there's no culprit to blame besides ones own gluttony. As such, its not a popular pinata as pesticides, GM, and hormones. After all, if you eat too much unhealthy sugary foods, there's some self-reflection required, but blaming the food producers offers an easy out.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: @solidsoup - One more thing

WTF?

Both Greenpeace and Monsanto have rather important reasons to lie, so you can't rely on either.

That said, Monsanto are more likely to be truthful than Greenpeace, because Greenpeace suffer no consequences whatsoever if they are wrong while Monsanto do.

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