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Purdue Scientists Dispute Anti-GMO Claims

Purdue University scientists are questioning recent statements by groups opposed to the use of genetically modified (GM) crops, specifically that glyphosate use and Roundup Ready technology are impacting the health of plants, animals and possibly humans.

In an article published Thursday, the scientists wrote, “… evidence to support these claims has neither been presented to nor evaluated by the scientific community.”

The article is authored by Purdue’s Jim Camberato, Extension Service Soil Fertility Specialist; Shaun Casteel, Extension Soybean Agronomist; Peter Goldsbrough, head of the Botany and Plant Pathology Department; Bill Johnson, Extension Weed Scientist; Kiersten Wise, Extension Field Crop Pathologist; and Charles Woloshuk, Extension Corn/Mycotoxin Pathologist.

Not mentioned in the scientists’ critique is retired Purdue professor Don Huber, who allowed GMO opponents to release a letter he sent to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, warning of what he claimed was a newly discovered pathogen linked to glyphosate, the active ingredient in the herbicide Roundup. Huber called for an emergency investigation, and for USDA to stop deregulating Roundup Ready crops.

But the Purdue article challenges some of the claims that Huber, a longtime critic of biotech crops, made in his letter, particularly his assertions about plant disease and decreased crop yields. Some of the same scientists have disagreed with Huber before. Last year, following an article based on an interview with Huber, they wrote, “In our opinion the doomsday scenario painted by this article is greatly exaggerated.”

Some of the Purdue scientists’ latest key points:

Although herbicides, such as glyphosate, have the potential to increase disease in certain plants, plant pathologists have not observed a widespread increase in susceptibility to plant diseases in glyphosate-resistant corn and soybean.

The claim that plant disease has “skyrocketed’ due to glyphosate use is unfounded.

Very few pathogens infect both plants and animals, and while fungi in the genus Fusarium can produce mycotoxins that can be harmful to animals and humans, the majority of Fusarium fungi are pathogens of corn and wheat. Wheat and food-grade corn are non-GMO crops, meaning that mycotoxin development in these crops would not be directly linked to glyphosate use or interactions.

Overall, claims that glyphosate is having a widespread effect on plant health are largely unsubstantiated.

The authors conclude by reaffirming their recommendation of judicious glyphosate use for weed control, adding,  ”We encourage crop producers, agribusiness personal, and the general public to speak with University Extension personnel before making changes in crop production practices that are based on sensationalist claims instead of facts.”

© Food Safety News
  • Doc Mudd

    Thank you for balancing the coverage of this event.
    Always a good idea to consult the broader scientific community whenever a lone scientist’s claims are being hurled like stinkbombs by alarmist scaremongers.

  • njohnson

    Considering that Purdue’s “Glyphosate Stewardship Working Group” is sponsored by BASF, Bayer, Dow AgroSciences, DuPont, Illinois Soybean Association, Indiana Soybean Board, Monsanto, Sygenta, USDA-CSREES NCIPM Competitive Grants Program, and Valent USA (http://www.glyphosateweedscrops.org/), can anyone be surprised that these scientists would dismiss out of hand any claims made by Dr. Huber?
    It’s also not surprising that this group of scientists can get away with challenging Dr. Huber’s assertions about increased plant disease and decreased crop yields, given the fact that USDA has refused to publicize such studies published in Europe, so that American farmers wouldn’t know about the bad news concerning this technology. See “Scientists Reveal Glyphosate Poisons Crops and Soil GM Meltdown Continues: Scientists go public on devastating ecological impacts of Roundup Ready cropping systems while USDA keeps mum” http://www.i-sis.org.uk/glyphosatePoisonsCrops.php
    At least they stopped trying to pass off Huber’s letter as a fraud.

  • Marco Hoffman

    When science contradicts a belief system, no evidence will ever convince True Believers that they are incorrect. Whether it’s a flat earth, evolution, climate change, pasteurization, genetic modification, vaccinations or allergies, fantasy unfortunately will always trump fact.

  • Doc Mudd

    Ah yes, rampant cognitive bias and the inevitable conspiracy theories. Like we didn’t see any of that coming our way. So predictable.
    Heh. This silly ‘Huber Letter’ scare is right out of the textbook of junk science. Scores 6 out of a possible 7 points on the quiz:
    http://www.webexhibits.org/bogus/
    FARFA & obedient minions shoulda hired a more capable propagandist-in-chief to fling this load against the wall.
    Yeah, recklessly launching skanky crap is loads-o-fun, right up until someone gets hurt…
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nWc_lYoK7r0&feature=related

  • Mary

    Wow, I went looking for more assessments from Huber. Here’s another claim I found:
    “Alzheimer’s, for example, is linked with reduced copper and magnesium. Don Huber points out that this disease has jumped 9000% since 1990.”
    Er, 9000% dude? Srsly?
    http://www.gmwatch.org/latest-listing/1-news-items/12806-monsanto-s-roundup-triggers-over-40-plant-diseases-and-endangers-human-and-animal-health

  • http://hyperlocavore.com Liz McLellan

    As a lay person I would like to be able to defer to scientific experts but it is tough. It became clear that many scientists were willing to work on retainer attacking other scientists in the aftermath of the BP spill. That’s the world we live in.
    There is very VERY big money at stake and the money on the side of those scientists focused on systemic problems doesn’t compare to the money available to labs contesting safety claims of biotech.
    We’ve been assured by industries before that things were safe and they understood the risks…only to find out that our environment is full of less than traceable endochrine disruptors.
    Scientists on all sides need to not make arguments from authority and be MUCH more transparent about funding resources.

  • Nicole Johnson

    Considering that Purdue’s “Glyphosate Stewardship Working Group” is sponsored by BASF, Bayer, Dow AgroSciences, DuPont, Illinois Soybean Association, Indiana Soybean Board, Monsanto, Sygenta, USDA-CSREES NCIPM Competitive Grants Program, and Valent USA (http://www.glyphosateweedscrops.org/), can anyone be surprised that these scientists would dismiss out of hand any claims made by Dr. Huber?
    It’s also not surprising that this group of scientists can get away with challenging Dr. Huber’s assertions about increased plant disease and decreased crop yields, given the fact that USDA has refused to publicize such studies published in Europe, so that American farmers wouldn’t know about the bad news concerning this technology. See “Scientists Reveal Glyphosate Poisons Crops and Soil GM Meltdown Continues: Scientists go public on devastating ecological impacts of Roundup Ready cropping systems while USDA keeps mum” http://www.i-sis.org.uk/glyphosatePoisonsCrops.php
    At least they stopped trying to pass off Huber’s letter as a fraud.

  • http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/20/opinion/20budiansky.html Doc Mudd

    “…our environment is full of less than traceable endochrine [sic] disruptors.”
    Yeah, maybe not, but it’s apparent that there must be some major league ‘intelligence disruptors’ in some folks’ water, or something.
    That’s why I never accept unsolicited medical advice from “a lay person”, and especially never from saleswomen who run loopy internet penny arcades (“suggested donation $10″).

  • Haji Warf

    Skepticism is healthy — on both sides. So, why don’t you GMO lovers just go fill your gut with the stuff and allow those of us who do not want to be guinea pigs eat what we like? Your hubris and belittling of those wanting to choose for ourselves is a serious character flaw. What’s it to you that I want to eat organic? I don’t see a problem with you consuming all of the junk food you want — in fact, I encourage you to do so.
    Now, why don’t you industry trolls stop pestering us choosy consumers and get on with the experiments on yourselves?

  • http://home.roadrunner.com/~kuska/ Henry Kuska

    In the “Purdue Scientists” February 24 2011 paper (not published in a reviewed scientific journal) there are at least 3 references to 2011 articles.
    http://www.btny.purdue.edu/weedscience/2011/GlyphosatesImpact11.pdf
    However, for some reason they did not include the following 2010 publication that appeared in a respectable ( Published on behalf of the Society for Applied Microbiology) reviewed scientific journal that had a UDSA scientist as the second author (United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Cropping Systems & Water Quality Research Unit, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO, USA).
    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1365-2672.2010.04864.x/pdf
    Fig 6, page 125 shows the decrease in shoot weight as a function of applied glyphosate. Fig 5, page 124 shows the root weight for the same conditions.
    In the conclusion section the following is stated: “Overall, our study demonstrates that glyphosate applied to GR soybean,
    regardless of tolerance level for glyphosate, impacts the
    complex interactions of microbial groups, biochemical
    activity and root growth leading to subsequent effects on
    plant growth, health and productivity.” That statement had to be approved by the editor after reviewing the comments of the scientific peer reviewers.
    Why wasn’t this paper discussed?

  • http://www.monsanto.no/ Tore B. Krudtaa

    I find it incredible that the GMOs are allowed on the market at all. It is a fact that the GMO-industry and the GMO-farmer are unable to control the spread of the patented genes. Coexistence between GM-crops and conventional crops are not possible. Okay, the GMO-industry and the GM-farmer see no problems at all. No surprice there, but ask an organic farmer. GMO is hell for organic farmers, period.
    What does this mean:
    GMO=Contamination
    GMO=End of organic farming.
    Now if you add the fact that the patented cocktail of genes never intended to exist in a plant are proven unstable, then GMO becomes a recipy for disaster.
    It is totally irresponsible of the GMO-industry and the Pro GMO scientist to release this unsafe technology into the environment and our food chain. Put it simply:
    WE CONSUMERS DO NOT WANT IT!
    IT IS NOT GOOD FOR THE ENVIRONMENT!
    The use of GMO result in more use of monocultures, and the result is low quality food with more poison in it.
    The use of GMO result in a few multinational giants controlling our food supply.
    The use of GMO equals loss of biodiversity.
    Here is how it all started, as a big lie:
    How GMO was approved at US FDA – Biodeception:
    http://www.monsanto.no/index.php/en/environment/gmo/gmo-news/76-how-gmo-was-approved-at-us-fda-biodeception
    Here is the result:
    GMO Bt cotton linked to livestock deaths in India
    http://www.monsanto.no/index.php/en/environment/gmo/gmo-news/117-gmo-bt-cotton-linked-to-livestock-deaths-in-india
    Monsanto’s herbicide Roundup linked to birth defects in Argentina’s agricultural areas:
    http://www.monsanto.no/index.php/en/environment/gmo/gmo-news/92-monsantos-herbicide-roundup-linked-to-birth-defects-in-argentinas-agricultural-areas
    Roundup and other toxic chemicals detected in alarming levels in danish groundwater:
    http://www.monsanto.no/index.php/en/environment/gmo/gmo-news/119-roundup-and-other-toxic-chemicals-detected-in-alarming-quantities-in-danish-groundwater

  • http://scienceblogs.com/denialism/about.php Doc Mudd

    “Why wasn’t this paper discussed?”
    Because, Henry, it effectively was; the observation was acknowledged and placed in perspective by the article:
    “The claim that herbicides, such as glycophosphates, can make plants more susceptible to disease is not entirely without merit…Based on observations from our research, we speculate this happens when weeds are exposed to ACCase inhibitors as well…Despite the potential for herbicides to increase disease levels in certain plants, plant pathologists have not observed a widespread increase in susceptibility to plant diseases in glyphosate-resistant corn and soybean.”
    Why is Henry wanting to ‘discuss’ a single paper by a Brazillian researcher (a paper that explores why new soybean varieties have improved yields)?
    Oh, our good ‘friends’, the GMO alarmists, in addition to crying “Wolf, wolf!” can always be counted upon to cherrypick the literature and argue their ignorant misinterpretations ad nauseum.
    http://scienceblogs.com/denialism/2007/05/selectivity_cherry_picking_1.php
    Oh, well. Keep on cranking, campers. Kumbaya, eh?
    http://scienceblogs.com/denialism/2007/05/crank_howto.php
    There’s the crank’s playbook. Have y’all missed anything?

  • foolme once shame on me

    No doubt the Doc in your name doc Mudd is unverified. If you were a doctor of medicine you would be quoting the Carasco study which elucidated the mechanism of teratogenicity on embryos via retinoic acid. Teratogenicity = birthdefects.
    So I raise a glass to you Doc Mudd, Shill extraordinaire.
    Now, be a good boy and give your pregnant wife a nice glass of glyphosate (Roud Up)
    Cheers!

  • http://home.roadrunner.com/~kuska/ Henry Kuska

    The question was asked:
    “Why is Henry wanting to ‘discuss’ a single paper by a Brazillian researcher (a paper that explores why new soybean varieties have improved yields)?”
    H.Kuska reply.
    First, the paper clearly states that the research was done in the U.S.
    ————————————
    Second, the USDA scientist, Dr. Kremer, is one of the top people in the field. The paper is considered important by scientists in that field. The editor approved the following statement:
    “Significance and Impact of the Study: The information presented here will be crucial in developing strategies to overcome the potential detrimental effects of glyphosate in GR cropping systems.”
    Please note the use of the strong words “will” and “crucial”. This is unusual in scientific publication as normally the reviewers and editors insist on words like “may” and “possibly useful”
    ——————————–
    Third, the statement: “explores why new soybean varieties have improved yields” is not accurate. The actual statement is:
    “The objective of this research was to evaluate the microbiological interactions in the rhizospheres of GR2 and GR1 soybean and the performance of the cultivars with different rates of glyphosate applied at different growth stages.”
    Please compare the above objective to the objective of the Purdue report:
    “This article is intended to clarify the relationship between glyphosate and plant disease development.”
    ————————————–
    Fourth, why did I select only this single paper, this “single paper” is very recent 2011, and was written by a USDA scientist of considerable renown., The introduction section of a reviewed scientific paper cites and discusses the earlier literature. If something of importance was missed in the original manuscript, the reviewers (selected scientific peers) will point that out to the editor who will decide if the missed paper(s) should be included before acceptance. When I trained graduate students for thesis research, using the recently published papers for assistance in doing the historical parts of their thesis was one of the “tricks”/skills that I taught.

  • Doc Mudd

    “If something of importance was missed in the original manuscript, the reviewers (selected scientific peers) will point that out to the editor who will decide if the missed paper(s) should be included before acceptance.”
    Not the peer reviewers’ job, nor the publication editor’s job to rewrite a submitted paper. Sure would be nice, though, wouldn’t it Henry?
    If you’re teaching that, your grad students are in for a real-world come-uppance. I’m sure they will be fondly reminded of you, prof, each time it happens.
    You also spin the “significance and impact of the study” statement, but that’s to be expected…confirmation bias, and all. With your tedious parsing of “will” and “crucial”, sounds like you have some experience squeaking slanted rhetoric past the reviewers.
    @ ‘fool…’: Good crank add-on, the name-calling.
    We’ll have to add that to the ‘crank’s how-to manual’; when whipped and desperate holler “shill” and/or “troll” at your opponent as a final pathetic appeal for pity as a martyr to the cause.
    Oh, well. Kumbaya and keep on crankin’, campers.

  • Henry Kuska

    Peer reviewing, just one exampling of chemistry – biology guidelines.
    “balanced referencing of the pre-existing literature. In particular, when previously published work has undercut the novelty of the present findings, it is extremely helpful to include in the body of the review detailed citation of the relevant articles and data.”
    https://www.cell.com/chemistry-biology/Reviewers

  • Henry Kuska
  • http://www.criticalthinking.org/aboutct/define_critical_thinking.cfm Doc Mudd

    So, is any of this random cherrypicked stuff Huber’s missing data? Is this Huber’s own research justifying his most recent hystrionics?
    Wasn’t that the topic of the article, Huber’s unfounded over-the-top claims?
    Go ahead and heap your stray ‘Brand-X reports’ with Huber’s malodorous output – they will all swirl down the basin together, leaving skid marks as they go.

  • Henry Kuska

    Another “to be published paper” that may be of interest.
    http://www.enveurope.com/content/23/1/10/abstract

  • Henry Kuska

    For background information, Huber’s 2010 report.
    http://u-trough.com/docs/Articles/Fluid%20Fert%20%202-10.pdf

  • Henry Kuska
  • http://www.experiment-resources.com/junk-science.html Doc Mudd

    Please remember to jiggle the handle when you’re done, Henry.

  • Henry Kuska

    The following was stated “Alzheimer’s, for example, is linked with reduced copper and magnesium. Don Huber points out that this disease has jumped 9000% since 1990.”
    H. Kuska comment. The reference given is not to something Huber himself wrote but to an article that states he said that (2nd hand information).
    There is a number that 9000% is the figure from 1970 to now, but some/much? of the increase may be due to under reporting in rural areas in the 70s. The increase since 1990 is 250%. Still a number to be concerned about.
    http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2004-07/aa-mcf070704.php

  • Marty Thompson

    Mr. Mudd, I think the time has come for you to self identify, given the passion of your comments. Real name, and who you work for. If you are the primary force behind, EXPERIMENT-RESOURCES.COM, then don’t you think it might be time to reveal your identity?
    Marty Thompson

  • elvis

    there is one sentince that is completely ficticious and unsubstantiated, ironically it is the one that says
    “Overall, claims that glyphosate is having a widespread effect on plant health are largely unsubstantiated.”
    This statement is unsubstantiated, there is no proof whatsoever that these claims are unsubstantiated! and i have personally seen the scientific evidence suggesting the claims and far worse ones!

  • Jason

    It’s non-sense to give these Purdue “scientists” any credence. Their research is completely funded by the GMO industry!!! Why not listen to the real scientists? It’s crazy how people try to paint those who favor labeling genetically-modified food as the “extremists”–when much of the world does so–I think it’s rather extreme to want your food to be produced by an unregulated factory system and to turn a blind eye and be ignorant of what’s going on.

  • Ron Lazo

    @Doc Mudd. If were wrong nothing happens except maybe some lost revenue to Big Ag, but if youre wrong people die of rare diseases and the the worlds environment collapses. What the hell do you care if we fight for a right to choose our products?
    Keep spinnin the crank – cherrypicker!