Getting to the grist about GM (part 6)

My fellow blogger applpy at Thought + Food draws attention to a series of articles about genetic modification. That’s GM, also called genetic engineering or GE. It’s a kind of biotechnology.

These articles (see my ‘biotechnology’ tag) are by Nathanael Johnson at Grist. I’ve been unable to keep writing about this since a month ago (a fail-prone internet connection) but now I want to continue. Before I review the next article in Mr Johnson’s series, I’ll show you what GM Watch has said about him this week.

‘Molecular biologist and genetic engineer Dr Michael Antoniou [lead author of GMO Myths and Truths] has responded to Grist food writer Nathanael Johnson’s misleading claims about GM food safety.

‘For other deconstructions of Johnson’s spin-laden articles on GM, see:

‘Comment on Nathanael Johnson’s article, “Food for bots: Distinguishing the novel from the knee-jerk in the GMO debate”
‘Dr Michael Antoniou
‘Grist, posted 22 Sept 2013
‘[you have to repeatedly hit “load more comments” to read this and other recent comments on the article]

‘As a molecular biologist who routinely uses genetic engineering in my work in the field of gene therapy, I
am concerned that Nathanael Johnson is misleading the readers of Grist when he suggests that there is a scientific consensus that genetically modified (GM) crops are safe to eat and that they do not pose special risks (

‘The fact of the matter is that there is no scientific consensus that GM crops are safe for human and animal consumption or for the environment. Many peer-reviewed published studies show that GM crops can have unexpected toxic or allergenic effects on laboratory and farm animals. Some of these studies are summarised in our report:

‘Since this report was published, two further studies, one led by Prof GE Seralini and the other by Dr Judy Carman, have also found toxic effects from feeding GM crops to

‘For Johnson to dismiss these effects as “hypothetical” shows a fundamental misunderstanding of the scientific method. The effects found in these experiments were statistically significant and proven. The source of these documented negative health outcomes is unknown but could be due to the GM (transgene) product, increased exposure to the herbicides (specifically Roundup) used in conjunction with 80% of global GM cropping and novel toxin production from the mutagenic effects of the GM transformation process. Only more extensive follow up studies can pinpoint exactly what is happening, including epidemiological surveys of populations such as those in the USA that are consuming most GMO derived products.

‘I write this in the hope that it moves towards redressing the imbalance of information given by Johnson’s articles.

‘Dr Michael Antoniou
‘London, UK’


About argylesock

I wrote a PhD about veterinary parasitology so that's the starting point for this blog. But I'm now branching out into other areas of biology and into popular science writing. I'll write here about science that happens in landscapes, particularly farmland, and about science involving interspecific interactions. Datasets and statistics get my attention. Exactly where this blog will lead? That's a journey that I'm on and I hope you'll come with me.
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One Response to Getting to the grist about GM (part 6)

  1. Pingback: Seeds on seeds on seeds: Why more biodiversity means more food security | Science on the Land

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