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Monsanto: The World's Poster Child for Corporate Manipulation and Deceit - Part 4

07/28/2010 01:33 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

When Forbes magazine declared Monsanto as the Company of the Year for 2009, millions of surprised people were forced to reevaluate their opinions about a major corporation. Now they no longer trust Forbes.

Monsanto is one of the most despised corporations on earth. This is the forth in a series of articles that expose their not-so-hidden dark side and how, if unrestrained, Monsanto could unleash a cataclysm. Indeed, it has already started...

Part 4 of 10

Monsanto's Studies Are Secret, Inadequate, and Flawed

The unpublished industry studies submitted to regulators are typically kept secret based on the claim that it is "confidential business information." The Royal Society of Canada is one of many organizations that condemn this practice. Their Expert Panel called for "completely transparent" submissions, "open to full review by scientific peers". They wrote, "Peer review and independent corroboration of research findings are axioms of the scientific method, and part of the very meaning of the objectivity and neutrality of science." Whenever Monsanto's private submissions are made public through lawsuits or Freedom of Information Act Requests, it becomes clear why they benefit from secrecy. The quality of their research is often miserable, and would never stand up to peer-review. In December 2009, for example, a team of independent researchers published a study analyzing the raw data from three Monsanto rat studies. When they used proper statistical methods, they found that the three varieties of GM corn caused toxicity in the liver and kidneys, as well as significant changes in other organs. Monsanto's studies, of course, had claimed that the research showed no problems. The regulators had believed Monsanto, and the corn is already in our food supply.

Monsanto Rigs Research to Miss Dangers

Monsanto has plenty of experience cooking the books of their research, hiding the hazards. They manufactured the infamous Agent Orange, for example, the cancer and birth-defect causing defoliant sprayed over Vietnam. It contaminated more than 3 million civilians and servicemen. But according to William Sanjour, who led the Toxic Waste Division of the Environmental Protection Agency, "thousands of veterans were disallowed benefits" because "Monsanto studies showed that dioxin [the main ingredient in Agent Orange] was not a human carcinogen." But his EPA colleague discovered that Monsanto had allegedly falsified the data in their studies. Sanjour says, "If they were done correctly, [the studies] would have reached just the opposite result."

Here are examples of tinkering with the truth about Monsanto's GM products:

  • When dairy farmers inject cows with genetically modified bovine growth hormone (rbGH), more bovine growth hormone ends up in the milk. To allay fears, the FDA claimed that pasteurization destroys 90% of the hormone. In reality, the researchers of this drug (then owned by Monsanto) pasteurized the milk 120 times longer than normal. But they only destroyed 19%. So they spiked the milk with a huge amount of extra growth hormone and then repeated the long pasteurization. Only under these artificial conditions were they able to destroy 90%.
  • To demonstrate that rbGH injections didn't interfere with cows' fertility, Monsanto appears to have secretly added cows to their study that were pregnant BEFORE injection.
  • FDA Veterinarian Richard Burroughs said that Monsanto researchers dropped sick cows from studies, to make the drug appear safer.
  • Richard Burroughs ordered more tests on rbGH than the industry wanted and was told by superiors he was slowing down the approval. He was fired and his tests canceled. The remaining whistle-blowers in the FDA had to write an anonymous letter to Congress, complaining of fraud and conflict of interest in the agency. They complained of one FDA scientist who arbitrarily increased the allowable levels of antibiotics in milk 100-fold, in order to facilitate the approval of rbGH. She had just become the head of an FDA department that was evaluating the research that she had recently done while an employee of Monsanto.
  • Another former Monsanto scientist said that after company scientists conducted safety studies on bovine growth hormone, all three refused to drink any more milk, unless it was organic and therefore not treated with the drug. They feared the substantial increased of insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) in the drugged milk. IGF-1 is a significant risk factor for cancer.
  • When independent researchers published a study in July 1999 showing that Monsanto's GM soy contains 12%-14% less cancer-fighting phytoestrogens, Monsanto responded with its own study, concluding that soy's phytoestrogen levels vary too much to even carry out a statistical analysis. Researchers failed to disclose, however, that they had instructed the laboratory to use an obsolete method of detection--one that had been prone to highly variable results.
  • To prove that GM protein breaks down quickly during simulated digestion, Monsanto uses thousands of times the amount of digestive enzymes and a much stronger acid than what the World Health Organization recommends.
  • Monsanto told government regulators that the GM protein produced in their high-lysine GM corn was safe for humans, because it is also found in soil. They claimed that since people consume small residues of soil on fruits and vegetables, the protein has a safe history as part of the human diet. The actual amount of the GM corn protein an average US citizen would consume, however, if all their corn were Monsanto's variety, would be "about 30 billion-4 trillion times" the amount normally consumed in soil residues. For equivalent exposure, people would have to eat as much as 22,000 pounds of soil every second of everyday.
  • Monsanto's high-lysine corn also had unusual levels of several nutritional components, such as protein and fiber. Instead of comparing it to normal corn, which would have revealed this significant disparity, Monsanto compared their GM corn to obscure corn varieties that were also far outside the normal range on precisely these values. On this basis, Monsanto could claim that there were no statistically significant differences in their GM corn content.

International bestselling author and filmmaker Jeffrey M. Smith is the executive director of the Institute for Responsible Technology. His first book, Seeds of Deception: Exposing Industry and Government Lies About the Safety of the Genetically Engineered Foods You're Eating, is the world's bestselling and #1 rated book on GMOs. His second, Genetic Roulette: The Documented Health Risks of Genetically Engineered Foods, documents 65 health risks of the GM foods Americans eat everyday. Both are distributed by Chelsea Green Publishing. To help you choose healthier, non-GMO brands, use the Non-GMO Shopping Guide.