A Tale of Two Studies

Ken Roseboro
The Non-GMO Report


Two recent published studies on the benefits of organic foods and the dangers of genetically modified foods have made headlines worldwide. Besides the controversial findings, the studies are noteworthy in the way the media and scientists reacted to them.

Stanford organic study missed the big picture

The first study published by researchers at Stanford University found little difference in the health benefits of organic versus conventional foods. Major media outlets pounced on the study with some articles questioning whether organic food was worth the price and if its benefits were overblown. But the Stanford study focused only one aspect of organic food while ignoring the full spectrum of its benefits: that organic agriculture improves soil quality, preserves water resources because no toxic pesticides are used, and enhances biodiversity.

It’s better for farmers. Two farmers I know—Blaine Schmaltz from North Dakota and Klaas Martens from New York—switched from conventional to organic farming after suffering serious health problems due to exposure to ag chemicals. Today they are healthy and thriving as organic farmers.

Try telling them there is no difference between conventional and organic farming.

There was also a media bias in covering the study, according to the Columbia Journalism Review, which said that the press has shown a preference for covering research that rejects the benefits of organic food. As evidence the article cited extensive media coverage of the Stanford study, while the media ignored a 2011 UK study showing that organic foods are more nutritious than conventional.

GMO study raises huge red flag

non_gmo_verifiedThe second study found that GM corn and Roundup herbicide caused tumors, organic damage, and premature death in rats. The study was the first long-term feeding study involving GMOs, and the results are pretty ugly.

Like the organic food study, this study received extensive press coverage. But unlike with the organic food study, criticism of this study was widely reported by the press.

As they always do with studies finding negative impacts of GMOs, pro-GMO scientists ripped it apart, criticizing everything from the type of rats used to the way a press release of the study was distributed.

Seemingly lost in all the rabid criticism by the pro-GMO mob was the fact that the study was published in a peer-reviewed journal, Food and Chemical Toxicology.

Instead of reacting with venom, biotech scientists should be concerned about the giant red flag this study raises about the safety of GM foods.

This attack on the study’s author, Gilles-Eric Seralini, as well as earlier attacks on independent scientists who have published studies raising concerns about the GMO risks, are a threat to the scientific paradigm subscribed to by many scientists, biotechnology companies, and even the media—that genetically engineered food is safe. The vehemence of their attacks on research that indicates otherwise demonstrates their anger and fear that this paradigm—or ideological belief—is false and that, on the contrary, GMOs threaten human health and the environment.

More independent research such as that conducted by Professor Seralini should be conducted to determine the truth.