In an effort to shift the attention away from the concerns of millions on the lack of independent safety data surrounding genetically modified organisms, industry groups have begun touting a database of GMO studies titled GENERA.
But according to a new article posted on the website of the advocacy group Food & Water Watch, the most common funder of GENERA’s GMO studies is actually the one company that stands to gain the most from the highly controversial crops.
In the article Tim Schwab notes that the database only contains only a small percentage of the GMO research available (402 of about 1200 studies, according to the pro-Biotech group Biofortified), but even within that sample size of studies “affirming the safety of GMOs,” both important omissions and serious conflicts of interest have been called into question.
Many Sources of GMO Study Funding Not Disclosed
As Schwab adds in the article, 83 of just over 400 studies in the GENERA database do not disclose where their funding comes from, and yet the Biofortified group continues to tout the database as an example of why GMOs should be considered safe.
This database should “turn the heads of people who thought it was skewed to private, U.S.-based laboratories,” the group adds, but in actuality many of the sources of funding for the studies are not listed.
Among those studies with funding sources listed, the GMO giant Monsanto is actually the top funder, according to Schwab’s article, which utilized the database’s analysis tool (the USDA may be the actual top funder, but the organization is also historically pro-GMO; and it’s hard to tell by the coding how many studies are funded by the government organization).
A total of 46 journal articles were funded by Monsanto to be exact, more than 10 percent of all articles in the database (a number that doesn’t take into effect all of the Monsanto subsidiaries involved with the studies).
Industry Tricks Cloud the Science on GMOs
In addition to Biofortified’s trumped-up claims of GMO safety, several tricks have also been used in order to skew the results by pro-Biotech organizations recently.
For example, one group, the Monsanto-funded American Society of Nutrition, is actually listed as an “independent” group in the GENERA database. A pro-GMO Gates Foundation study authored by a Monsanto scientist is also considered “independent” in the database as well.
Critique of GMO Studies Not New
An earlier review of the GENERA database also found a surprising conflict of interest: 47% of the studies had at least one author with a professional or financial affiliation to the GMO industry, or an organization tied to it.
The rest of the studies’ authors either had no such conflict of interest (39%) or gave insufficient information about funding sources to judge (14%).
But the BFI doesn’t acknowledge this, instead touting their new database as an example of how “independently researched” GMOs supposedly have been.
And in yet another recent example of how GMO companies stack the deck in favor of their own “safety” studies, a study on GMO canola from DuPont was published in Food and Chemical Toxicology, a journal of which Bryan Delaney, the first author of the study, also happens to be the Managing Editor of the journal it was published in (that’s to say nothing of the study’s other flaws; read here for more).
It’s just one of many ways that pro-GMO companies bend the data and employ PR tricks that harken back to the heyday of the tobacco industry in order to skew that the true science that is available.
And in truth, with all of the disastrous environmental consequences of GMOs playing out in front of our eyes on a daily basis (see here and here), we may not know the true story of how GMOs are affecting us until we change the way science, and scientific reviews, are done in general.