Letter: Readers respond to Ward Deglers column on GMO’s

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Editor,

It has come to our attention that in the recently published opinion piece, “The bad news about GMOs,” there are several scientific inaccuracies.  As AP Biology students at Zionsville Community High School, we feel the need to address some of the issues in the article so that the public is capable of making informed decisions about their food choices, rather than fear-based ones.

Some of the most egregious errors in the piece are, in fact, disguised as scientific data.  Mr. Degler cites a British study done on rats that claims GM potatoes caused precancerous growths, atrophied livers, and damaged immune systems.  He fails to mention, however, that after the study was subjected to the routine scientific review, it was rejected by the scientific community and retracted.  The very structure of the experiment was compromised, since Pusztai neglected to follow the basic experimental procedures taught in most high school or undergraduate level classes.  The number of rats used was far too low to allow for statistical significance, and the control group and the experimental group of rats were fed different diets altogether, eliminating the control necessary to obtain accurate scientific results.  In addition, some of the rats were fed raw potatoes, which, according to www.academicsreview.org, “are toxic to rats and might cause disturbances to gastrointestinal cells.”  Ultimately his results should be considered inconclusive (at best) as both the control group (the rats not fed GMOs) and the experimental group (the rats that were fed GMOs) exhibited the same cellular abnormalities that Pusztai attributes to the GM potatoes.

In addition to the misinformation concerning these GMO studies, Mr. Degler cites a website which claims that the FDA has no GMO safety testing requirements. Had more research been done on this subject, it would have been discovered that the truth is quite the opposite. According to www.gmoanswers.com, “If a study were ever to yield a result that raised any food safety concern, it is required by law that the information to be presented to the FDA. GM crops are also tested for their safety as feed and in the environment and regulated by authorities, such as USDA and EPA.” The FDA also answers any and all questions concerning their regulation of GM products on www.fda.gov/food/foodscienceresearch and provides a link to http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/fdcc/index.cfm?set=Biocon, a site which lists all biotechnology consultations on GM foods along with the dated FDA consultation letter for each product.

We want to make it very clear that we respect every individual’s dietary decisions; living a GMO-free lifestyle is a perfectly legitimate choice, and well within one’s own right.  We as a community, however, need to make sure that the public has access to the accurate information to aid them in making their decisions.  Misinformation fuels fear which, in turn, creates more misinformation and even hysteria.

Anna Slaughter and Anna Baker-Olson

AP Biology, ZCHS, 46077   

 

Editor,

In yesterday’s issue of The Current, there was an article written titled: The bad news about GMOs. This article contained incorrect information about genetically modified organisms. The following letter that we wrote contains corrected information that should be shared with Zionsville so they don’t base their ideas about GMOs on incorrect information. While it is longer than 200 words, all of it contains information needed to bring factual evidence to the ongoing GMO debate.

The Good News About GMOs

There was recently an article published about the bad news about GMOs. Many people are misinformed about GMOs and there are many biased websites that provide false information. We wish to inform you with the correct information about Genetically Modified Organisms.

Genetically modified crops do not produce their own herbicide or pesticide compounds. They produce proteins that provide resistance to pests. GMOs provide the crops with a way to eliminate pests without the use of expensive pesticides.

Degler stated that seeds from GMO plants won’t germinate but this is incorrect. The seeds will germinate and can be used for several seasons. Those who save soybeans seeds do get crops the next year. The issue with soybean seeds is that if someone buys GMO seeds from a company and then sells those seeds to other farmers, that is an patent issue for the company. For further information about this please check out the following website: http://www.nature.com/news/seed-patent-case-in-supreme-court-1.12445.

In the same passage, Degler used an example about a farmer planting organic soybeans in one field and another farmer planting GM soybeans in another field, it was noted that the GM soybeans would pollinate the organic. This is incorrect because soybeans self pollinate and their pollen doesn’t drift.

It was noted that one of the websites Degler used was NaturalRevolution.org. This is one of those websites that is biased. The editor of the website, Steven Peters, directly states that he has “anti-GMO activism”. The information given could be skewed to fit the viewpoint of Peters. It is important to use scientific websites that are unbiased, explain experiments, or are from the government.

Another point Degler stated was that “the FDA has no GMO safety testing requirements”. The government regulated FDA website provides clearly stated information about their requirements for safety. “Food and food ingredients derived from GE plants must adhere to the same safety requirements under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic (FD&C) Act that apply to food and food ingredients derived from traditionally bred plants.” We encourage you to check out the rest of this page and look at the FDA’s unbiased stance, yet hard facts. We would also encourage you to read this article about how the FDA realized a GMO brazilian nut had a slight potential for an allergen, so the FDA and the company that manufactured the nut retracted the project and none were distributed. See website for more details: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8594427 The government also has a process before the GMO can be manufactured, planted, grown, and distributed. This process is mandated and monitored by the FDA, USDA, EPA, and APHIS. Please check out the websites for each of these government websites to receive non biased information.

While many people debate the subject of GMOs, it is the media’s job to help inform the public of the hard facts and let them decide for themselves. See website for more details

http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm352067.htm

“Foods from genetically engineered plants must meet the same requirements, including safety requirements, as foods from traditionally bred plants.- US Food and Drug Administration

Kimberly Coussens and Lucy Bays

AP Biology students at Zionsville Community High School

 

Editor,

While reading The Current, we stumbled upon a particular commentary by Mr. Ward Degler, titled “The bad news about GMOs.” Had we known any better, we would have thought that we were reading The Onion and not The Current. Seeing that Mr. Degler is an esteemed author and more importantly a dog owner, we would like to give him the benefit of the doubt that the misconceptions within his article were simply mistakes due to lack of research and biased resources.

We understand that everyone is entitled to their own opinion; however, that opinion deserves to be formed from an impartial variety sources. While reading NaturalRevolution.org, we easily discovered the flaws with this source. Among the plethora of pro-marijuana articles and the school-blocked t-shirt cite, an article titled “The Good, Bad, and Ugly about GMOs” mentions the Pusztai study, which Mr. Degler references. Had Mr. Degler looked at other websites regarding the Pusztai study, for example the National Institute of Health, Mr. Degler would have learned that Pusztai’s  experiment was simply in the preliminary stages, so much so that he had been “barred from continuing his experiments,” (Rhodes). The experiment is riddled with inconsistencies. For example, when consumed raw, potatoes are toxic to rats. Genetically modified or not, we think it is safe to say that rats were not the best test subjects for potatoes.  Also, had Mr. Degler verified his statement about the FDA GMO safety testing, he would have seen that information provided from the FDA website states that “Using a science-based approach, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates foods and ingredients made from genetically engineered plants to help ensure that they are safe to eat.”

Well, we think it is clear that Mr. Degler was not properly informed to write on this subject, especially one that has infinite inconsistencies on the internet. As AP Biology students at Zionsville Community High School, we understand that we don’t have all the answers, but we are better informed on this subject than the general public. After spending quite a bit of time in class learning about the whole field of genetically modified organisms, we know that the reliability of the sources is of the utmost importance when formulating an opinion. We thank you for your time, and our contact information is listed below.

Connor J. Drake 46077

John R. Janak 46077

Rhodes, Jonathan M. “Genetically Modified Foods and the Pusztai Affair.” BMJ : British Medical Journal. British Medical Journal, 8 May 1999. Web. 25 Feb. 2015.

“U.S. Food and Drug Administration.” FDA’s Role in Regulating Safety of GE Foods. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 14 May 2013. Web. 11 Feb. 2015.

 

Editor,

I found article over GMOs rather disconcerting with misleading inaccuracies. The study that you cited about rats has been attacked by many scientists. The Royal Society, a fellowship of the world’s leading scientists, reviewed the study and found “no convincing evidence of adverse effects from GM potatoes.” Multiple scientists on gmoanswers.com and on thelancet.com labeled the experiment as poorly designed, conducted, and interpreted.

The research done for the article is alarming because a website that sells T-shirts saying “Hell No GMO” was cited for the information instead of statements by scientists or the actual report of the scientific study. Additionally the article claims that most prepared foods on grocery shelves contain genetically modified ingredients, however nytimes.com‘s writer Kopicki claims that only a handful of fruits and vegetables in the market are GMOs. Kopicki further states that “scientific studies continue to show that there is no added risk” for cancer or allergens.

This misinformation supplied is especially concerning in that the unnecessary organic movement is impractical. Norman Borlaug, leading scientist of the Green Revolution and Nobel Peace Prize Winner, found it “ridiculous” and stated the well known fact that the organic farming cannot support the world’s population. The movement also attacks vulnerable producers in Africa that could greatly benefit from the genetically modified virus resistant strains of crops. The nations cannot use these beneficial strains due to the risk of losing exports to the European nations that are unduly concerned about GMOS(Villanueva-Gutiérrez). The scare from the unfounded health concern is harming economies around the world. One such one being the honey producers in the Yucatan Peninsula who cannot market their products as organic if their bees happen to pick up pollen or nectar from GMOs.

Please consider more scientific research when forming opinions on GMOs.

Cooper Weingartner

AP Biology Student

 

Editor,

I know you have been receiving plentiful response to the commentary on GMOs published in the Current yesterday, February 24th. I would like to provide yet another perspective regarding this article and concerns that I and many others have about it. This is my commentary in response to the article:

The real news about GMOs

The commentary on GMOs in the February 24th issue of the Current raised some major concerns in my AP Biology class at Zionsville High School.  Foremost among these was the scant number of sources cited in the article.  Only one website, NaturalRevolution.org, was cited as an actual source for the information presented.  This website represents a for-profit anti-GMO organization.  As we have learned in my AP Biology class, any site put forth by a for-profit group – no matter which side it may take on a certain issue – is prone to bias and serves as a poor source for accurate information about a topic.  I invite readers to visit the NationalRevolution.org website to formulate their own opinions about its partiality.  Furthermore, the “scientific” study cited in the Current article, the one by Arpad Pusztai involving rats and GM potatoes, has been disproved by multiple backup studies.  According to the Academics Review, a website dedicated to evaluating the validity of scientific claims through peer review and further experimentation, the “design and conduct” of the Pusztai study “were fatally flawed, and no scientific conclusion should be drawn from the work.”  Nor was the experiment peer reviewed before publication.  We have learned in class that peer review and ability to replicate an experiment and obtain the same results are absolutely critical in validating the results.  If other researchers are not able to perform the same experiment and get results that support the original ones, the experiment cannot be used as a valid source of information.

Although the lack of reliable sources cited in this Current article concerns me very much, I am glad this issue came up because it serves as an opportunity to educate readers about how to evaluate information they find online or in the news and therefore make their own, educated conclusions.  We do a lot of searching for valid scientific articles in AP Biology to use as background information for our labs; therefore, we know how to evaluate a source for accuracy and credibility.  Firstly, a web address ending in “.gov”, indicating a government agency, is often an indicator of reliability, though there are other credible sources.  Readers should investigate the purpose of the website: sites representing for-profit groups often contain bias.  Arguments intended to arouse emotional reactions in readers, rather than ones based on objective information, are also questionable in terms of reliability.  Finally, when reading scientific articles to formulate opinions about any topic, including GMOs, the reader must make sure that 1) he or she understands the content of the article and 2) the article is supported by other studies and has not been refuted by the scientific community.  By using these techniques, readers will be able to make truly informed decisions about controversial topics such as GMOs.  Whether GMOs are “good” or “bad” is a matter of personal opinion; the important thing is that people know the real facts about them.

Thank you for addressing this concern. I hope this widespread response will allow Current authors, editors, and readers to be better informed about the true nature of GMOs.

Alicia Bostwick 46077

AP Biology Student

Zionsville Community High School

 

Editor,

After reading the article “The bad news about GMOs” in the Current, I wanted to address some of the topics you discussed. The majority of the information included in your article is not only incorrect, but is also misleading about the health of GMOs. While many aspects of the article were incorrect and unsupported with data, the most impactful fabrication is your statement that the FDA does not have safety regulations on GMOs.  According to fda.gov, GMOs are regulated in conjunction with the USDA and EPA to ensure consumer safety. The FDA has developed processes for regulating crop and animal GMO health. GMO crops are also required to meet the same health requirements that are set on organic crops to ensure consumer safety. The sources that you cited to support your information were predominantly biased against GMOs, siding mainly with the controversial misconceptions about GMOs.

The article also makes frightful allegations about disease that are not supported or proven. The article states that “GMO foods may cause cancer and other serious health problems” when in fact GMOs have shown no evidence of causing cancer or other illnesses. A study discussed on scientificamerican.com states that a study linking GMOs to cancer in mice was retracted due to the lack of useful evidence.  GMOs are an essential part of feeding our growing population, especially when our population is expected to increase by 2.3 billion by the year 2050.

Please consider more research on the topic of GMOs.

Nick Booze 46077

Current AP Biology student at Zionsville Community High School

 

Editor, 

I hope you are doing well, for I feel concerned after reading an article by Ward Degler regarding GMOs. While his position and reason to write are fully acceptable, his research appears exceedingly bias. His sources, if several, all speak the same anti-GMO language and ignore a quick check on the government’s FDA website, under foodscience, that show remarkable amounts of regulation on GMOs. Consumers have little to fear in their grocery purchases, unless they’re willing to renounce the FDA’s regulation of medicine as well and life-saving medical progress. Degler’s understanding of Pusztai’s rat and GMO potato experiment was accurate for when the information was released into the public in 1998. However, the following year, the royal society put his work through the trials of peer editing and resulted in discrediting the conclusions from Pusztai’s experiment. For reasons ranging from improper diet for survival to a data pool too small for proper statistical analysis, the work lost it’s validity. The fact Degler used research that science readily disapproved of worries me. Commentary has the right to be opinionated, but when it trails off into the realm of half-lies and misunderstanding, it encourages false ideas that impede fair and true thought.

Joshua Kruger

AP Biology Student

Zionsville Community High School

46077

 

Editor, 

I came across a copy of this article in “Current in Zionsville” and (as kindly as possible) would like to comment on what was written to possibly correct some misconceptions. I believe that everybody is entitled to their own opinion and I respect this view on GMOs, but I am deeply concerned with lack of scientific evidence present in the article. There are also many stereotypes and false studies in the article that are written as truth. An example would be the claim that “GMO foods may cause cancer”. This study, as stated in the article, was conducted by Arpad Pusztai. What may have not been seen in the research before writing this article was that Pusztai’s study was disregarded by the Royal Society (A panel of the world’s most eminent scientists) due to several errors that invalidated the study as a whole. A site that you might want to look at would be gmoanswers.com, which gives more information about Pusztai’s study and addresses many of the points presented in this article. As a good writer, I would imagine that you would like to find the truth. Thank you for your time and I hope this was helpful for you.

Michael Parker

A.P. Biology Student

Zionsville Community High School

46077

 

Editor, 

While I agree with your position on GMOs, your research methods are unquestionably flawed. Citing research that has been proven false, and a very unscientific “NaturalRevolution.org” does not add to your credibility in any way. There is nothing worse we can do for the anti-GMO/pro-organic movement than to spread incorrect information about the opposing view. Rather, taking the time and effort to produce a well-informed article stating the facts about GMOs and what some concerns are would be much better received by the community. Taking a side on an already controversial issue, with an audience that is largely educated on the subject, is already risky. Doing so with less-than reputable evidence is irresponsible.

Emilie Harvey

AP Biology Student

Zionsville Comm. H.S.

46077

 

Editor, 

As a journalist, one has the responsibility to print the truth supported by credible evidence and facts.The study of GMOs has been shrouded by falsified research and scientific ignorance. Not only has the author made false claims about FDA regulations, but he has also used research that is outdated and has been proven incorrect.

The criticism that the FDA “has no GMO safety testing requirements” is false. The FDA regulates the safety of foods, including foods derived from GE plants, under the FD&C Act. Under the FD&C Act, FDA is also responsible for enforcement of laws against the unlawful pesticide chemical residues on foods. Foods, such as fruits, vegetables, grains, and their byproducts, derived from plant varieties developed through genetic engineering, are subject to the same safety and labeling requirements as foods derived from non-GE plants. The Agency has broad authority to initiate regulatory action if a product fails to meet the requirements of the FD&C Act. The FDA would not allow the mass commercialization of products that are not safe for consumers.

Secondly, the Pusztai rat research was proven incorrect and is outdated being published in 1998. The Royal Society, the oldest scientific academy in continuous existence, and other regulatory organizations around the world have echoed this. According to the Royal Society there were several flaws in the experimental process including ”that the experiments were not well designed… there is very little information about how the GM and control diets differed in their detailed composition.” An important part of the scientific process is that the experiment be controlled and easily repeatable. The Pusztai study did not meet either of these requirements. The study also made it seem that all GMOs were harmful, when in reality, if the study had been true, it would only apply to those potatoes.

Amanda K. Ilaria, James D. Rausch, Brooks W. Gill, and Rebecca B. Wiebke

AP Biology Students

Zionsville Community High School

Links used:

http://www.fda.gov/newsevents/testimony/ucm426541.htm

https://royalsociety.org/~/media/Royal_Society_Content/policy/publications/1999/10092.pdf

http://academicsreview.org/reviewed-content/genetic-roulette/section-1/1-1-pusztais-flawed-claims/

 

Editor, 

I had the pleasure to read your article in the Current about the problems of using GMOs. Unfortunately through reading your article I found many flaws. A major flaw that I noticed was the reference of Scientist Arpad Pusztai. Dr. Puszati falsified his research and data. None of the rats that were tested had any precancerous cell growth (Royal Society 1999; Fedoroff and Brown 2004).This is a major issue because he was studying if GMOs are cancerous. During testing there wasn’t any clear difference between Dr. Puszati’s control and experimental group.  Both groups (fed GMO or not) had no clear cellular difference, this would show that the GMO potatoes weren’t cancerous; there also wasn’t enough rats to have a statistical significance. Another major flaw that Dr. Puszati conducted was the use of genetically modified potatoes. Dr. Puszati fed his rats protein deficient meals. Some of the diets were changed for different groups of rats. One type of diet fed was raw potatoes. In the past there have been studies that raw potatoes are toxic to rats and can cause harm to their gastrointestinal cells. This usage of toxic foods can slur data or give false information (Royal Society 1999).

Alexander Ebenroth

AP Biology Student

Zionsville Comm. H.S.

46077

Sources:

http://academicsreview.org/reviewed-content/genetic-roulette/section-1/1-1-pusztais-flawed-claims/

http://gmoanswers.com/ask/why-was-research-%C3%A1rp%C3%A1d-j%C3%A1nos-pusztai-disregarded-his-results-raised-important-questions-health

https://royalsociety.org/~/media/Royal_Society_Content/policy/publications/1999/10092.pdf

 

Editor, 

My name is Carolyn Woodruff, and I am an AP biology student at Zionsville Community High School. I am writing in regards to an article published in the Zionsville Current. I was startled to find several inaccuracies in the article titled “The bad news about GMOs.” While the opinion of Mr. Degler regarding genetically modified organism is his to hold, the article is littered with scientific inaccuracies. Mr. Degler uses the study by British scientist Arpad Pusztai, which has been discredited and is outdated. According  to academicsreview.org, The diets fed to rats was lacking in protein, filled with variables as  different types of potatoes were used, and raw potatoes are toxic to rats, which likely caused the abnormalities in the gastrointestinal cells that were studied. Mr. Degler also states that the FDA has no safety test for GMOs, which is also false.  According to www.fda.gov GMOs are tested for safety, and  “The consultation is complete only when FDA’s team of scientists are satisfied with the developer’s safety assessment and have no further questions regarding safety or other regulatory issues.” I hope that in the future, the Current will look for more scientifically sound sources.

Carolyn Woodruff,

AP biology student at Zionsville Community High School

46077

 

Editor, 

Your opinions regarding GMOs are entirely yours, and no one will dispute your right to hold them. However, one would think a published author would understand the importance of words – and the importance of researching beyond a simple Google search. We read your recent article in The Current and were immensely displeased with the numerous fallacies contained within. During a month-long genetics study in AP Biology, we researched in-depth both the benefits and negatives of GMO food, and after our research, we strongly feel that your reporting is highly subjective. In researching beyond the first hit on Google, one can find the following sources that do not also sell marijuana t-shirts, as yours, NaturalRevolution.org, did: http://www.fda.gov/food/foodscienceresearch, http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm352067htm, http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(99)00341-4/abstract. These sources not only discredit your original statements in regards to the danger of GMOs, they also demonstrate the fallibility of your sources and studies. The last source we provided addresses the errors in the rat study you cited: unmodified potatoes are toxic to rats anyway, and in the same issue that the study was published in, the journal released an analysis of the findings that shed serious doubt on the validity of the experiment.

As concerned members of the public, we demand that the news media report accurate and reliable information to the community. As a journalist, surely you can comprehend our concerns.

Maddie Proctor 

Sian Zhang 

Hannah Bryan

AP Biology Students

Zionsville Community High School

46077

 

Editor, 

We read your article on GMOs, “The Bad News about GMOs” published February 25th, 2015 in the Zionsville Current. You stated that “since the mainstream media hasn’t covered GMOs very much, most of us know very little about what they are.” However, it is apparent that you are one of these people. Allow us to inform you about the truth of GMOs.

  1. The ‘complicated scientific process’ that you referenced is called “vertical gene transfer.” This is an extremely safe process with zero proven health risks.
  2. We noticed that you failed to mention several important benefits of GMOs. Allow us to list some for you.
    1. Insect resistance
    2. Increased profit for farmers
    3. Adaption to climate/ local factors
    4. Increasing the food supply to aid in the fight against world hunger
  3. Believe it or not, the FDA actually has GMO safety requirements. Here is a quote directly from the site, which is credible unlike your sources.

“Foods from genetically engineered plants must meet the same requirements (…) as foods from traditionally bred plants. FDA has a consultation process that encourages developers of genetically engineered plants to consult with FDA before marketing their products.”

  1. Here is a list of health risks associated with GMOs that are actually proven by credible studies:

1.

2.

3.

4.

(There are none)

Thank you for time.

Chris Bryan, Yuelin Deng and Billy Chien

A.P. Biology Students

Zionsville Community High School

46077

 

Editor, 

In AP Biology we have been trained to research completely, get the full picture, and eliminate bias. Your article “The bad new about GMOs” does not follow this and includes biased and blatantly wrong “facts”.

For starters GMOs are not only seeds but all genetically modified organisms, everything from animals to bacteria. Secondly GMO plants will germinate. Degler was likely referring to the Terminator gene which was never released (1). Farmers are fully aware of the legality of GMOs. This is because most crops are patented. However, the most problematic part is the discussion of Pusztai’s experiment. His study was completed in 1996 and as science is constantly changing, it is completely outdated. Moreover, it has been discredited and Pusztai lost his job. (2)   Finally the article mentions that the FDA has no GMO safety regulations when in reality there are a plethora of precautions in place. (3)

We believe that this article has given the public a  negative view on GMOs when they offer great benefits for humanity. GMOs already been used to solve the crisis of insulin production for diabetics, to create a clotting factor for hemophiliacs, to disperse cheaper vaccines, and the list goes on and one. (4)

Websites:

http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2012/10/18/163034053/top-five-myths-of-genetically-modified-seeds-busted

http://academicsreview.org/reviewed-content/genetic-roulette/section-1/1-1-pusztais-flawed-claims/

http://www.fda.gov/forconsumers/consumerupdates/ucm352067.htm

http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/897705/genetically-modified-organism-GMO/279978/GMOs-in-medicine-and-research

Additional – http://gmoanswers.com/

Mariel Carozza and Nikki Keller

AP Biology Students

Zionsville Community High School

46077

 

Editor, 

My name is Robert Shrote and I am an AP Biology student at Zionsville Community High School. After reading your article “The bad news about GMOs,” I am inclined to offer my rebuttal to you. I am sure you have already received numerous responses from my fellow classmates on how your information is incorrect, including the some of the statements you made in favor of GMOs.

One cannot believe everything on the omniscient Internet. I believe you, yourself, fell into one of the Internet’s most common and unfortunate pitfalls: misinformation. I cannot blame you, however. A common search on Google’s search engine for “gmo” results in a page almost entirely filled with anti-GMO websites; anti-GMO websites which may, and often do, contain bias, fallacies, and discredited sources. I implore you, if you decide to write about controversial topics such as GMOs in the future, to explore both sides of the argument, so that you may gain a broader view of the topic as a whole and be capable of determining the facts on the Internet, from the fiction.

Robert Shrote

46077

Editor,

The scientific community understands that GMOs have positives and negatives. However, this article contains an abundance of misleading/false information.

In response to paragraph 3, GMO plants do not require more tillage. The same physical input of energy is required to grow GMO plants successfully, as well as the overall quality of soil.

In response to paragraph 4, GMO plants do not create sterile seeds, nor do they create sterile plants out of Organic (Non-GMO) plants. This study was developed by Delta and Pine Land (For more info click Here). To summarize the study, a “Terminator Gene” was created to make sure consumers don’t violate legal Patents by “saving seeds”. The gene created sterile plants as to prevent that generation from carrying on into future generations. However, this gene modification was never endorsed or allowed by GMO producing companies (Monsanto). Regarding the “Farmer A/Farmer B” reference, it seems that you may be referencing Soybean. In that case, it would be nice to know that Soybeans self pollinate, and don’t pollinate through airborne means, making the statement misleading and false.

In response to paragraph 5,  Arpad Pusztai’s research was conducted in 1998, making it very outdated in comparison with modern studies. Also, his results were rejected considering that rats develop a protein deficiency when fed only potatoes.

In response to paragraph 6, the reason the EU has banned GMO foods is due to their production. They are produced by the companies Monsanto, Syngenta, and DuPont, all companies in USA or Switzerland. The fear of foreign products being contaminated before/during transportation was their reason for banning GMO foods, not Arpad Pusztai. In fact, his works are banned from being replicated due to their ethics revolving around the harm of rats.

In response to paragraph 7, you stated “The FDA has no GMO safety testing requirements.” This statement is from a non credible source, and is also false. If any parents, reading your article, went to that site, they would immediately discredit any of your information, just because of the excess of Cannabis related topics plastered on the home page. Obviously not an educated or reliable source. Regarding the statement and its validity: There are specific individuals that are required to fly to Maryland and Washington D.C. to report out findings and research to the FDA, two of which live here in Zionsville.

Mr. Degler, I respect your position as a writer for the Current in Zionsville, and can say I have found a lot of your other editorials to be quite funny. I don’t mean to come across as aggressive and offended, because I’m not. I’m a student at the high school who has a love for science and Biology in particular. We’ve been conducting research and studies all year relating to GMO and the science behind it. Yes, there are negatives in the use of GMO, but the majority of those listed in this editorial are false, outdated, or opinionated. Again, I respect everything you do, and realize that topics like this are far more tedious than America’s obsession with ice. All I ask, as a student of this subject, is that more research is conducted in the future before taking on a topic like this.

Bryan Bevelhimer

 

Editor, 

Today we read the article “The bad news about GMOs” written by Ward Degler. It has come to our attention that many of the arguments that are presented in the article were false. Before writing an article about a controversial topic, one must research both sides of the argument from various reliable sources. However, in this article, the author used only one source of which was extremely inaccurate.

The first point we would like to address is the explanation of GMOs. In the article, GMOs are said to be “seeds.” The correct definition is that GMOs are organisms that have undergone a process that alters their genetic makeup that will in fact germinate. The second point that we would like to address is the statement that said, “GMO foods may cause cancer and other serious health problems.” This idea has never been proven and the safety of GMO foods has never been jeopardized by any scientific experiment. The last point that we would like to address is the statement that said, “the FDA has no safety testing requirements.” The FDA does in fact have many precautions that are required to be taken before the GMO food is consumed by others.

Throughout this article, the author has targeted what has said to be the negative impacts of GMOs, but there are many pros to GMOs that outweigh the cons. GMOs have helped eradicate a large population of poverty-stricken individuals. Since GMOs require less labor-intensive processes the cost of labor is minimal. This also lowers the price of foods greatly. Overall, GMOs have proven to be beneficial to many aspect of today’s society.

Hannah Kummer and Aelia Hassan  

 

Editor,   

In response to the commentary written by Ward Degler about GMOs, I felt that the article had misleading and false information about the positives and negatives of GMOs.

In paragraph 3, the article states that GMO plants produce their own herbicide and pesticide compounds but they actually produce a protein known as Bt that is inactive and produced in a crystalline form that does not harm anything other than the herbivorous insects. Also, GMOs do not affect the amount of tillage needed; it is strictly based on the quality of the soil before the plants are even planted.

In the final informational paragraph, Degler states that the FDA has absolutely NO regulations for GMO safety which is absolutely ridiculous because on the FDA website it states that it has a process in which producers must meet with the FDA before marketing its products to make sure they are safe and lawful.

I enjoyed the idea of the article as I believe both arguments are very strong but I believe you should use better sources and make sure you look at both sides of the argument before picking a side. Thank you for reading and for consideration of my letter.

Jimmy Sullivan

AP Biology Student

Zionsville Community High School

46077

 

Editor, 

I am an AP Biology student at Zionsville Community High School, and after one read of the article titled, “The bad news about GMOs,” I identified major flaws in its content, concerning Arpad Pusztai’s research with rats which has been proven faulty (Shantharam, Sullia, and Swamy), the FDA’s GMO safety testing requirements, and simply GMO facts. The flaws mostly stemmed from the author’s use of NaturalRevolution.org as a major researching site. One must only look as far as the URL of this site to understand its research credibility, rather the absence of credibility. As AP Bio students, we learned the proper way to write a paper and find unbiased sources to gather information from. Additionally, this site that Ward Degler took information from sells t-shirts with profane graphics and text on them, chastising industries that use GMOs, not to mention the endorsement of legalization of marijuana, a whole other topic which apparently pertains to “Empowering Natural Living,” the website’s motto. To me, this does not sound like a sound place to gather information.

Josh Jordan

AP Biology Student

Zionsville Community H.S.

46077

 

Editor, 

As we read Ward Degler’s commentary on genetically modified organisms, we found ourselves concerned by errors in his argument.

In his commentary, Degler described Arpad Pusztai’s infamous study concerning GMOs’ potential carcinogenic effects. Pusztai fed genetically modified potatoes to mice in the experiment and noticed horrific results. According to AcademicsReview.org, the experimental design was seriously flawed. For instance, experimental groups were only fed GMO potatoes, which is a protein-deficient diet. Some rats were even fed raw potatoes, which are toxic to rats. The results were also insignificantly different between the too-small experimental and control groups.

Degler also cited NaturalRevolution.org to claim that the FDA has no GMO safety testing requirements. However, according to the FDA website, GM plants are subject to the same safety requirements as normal foods. The FDA also encourages developers of GM plants to consult with the FDA prior to marketing. In these consultations, the FDA reviews the plant’s submitted safety assessment until there are no safety or regulatory questions found with the GM plant. As of May 2013, 96 consultations have occurred.

We encourage readers to become more well-versed on GMOs further through non-biased sites such as those of the FDA and the WHO.

Gelis Galarcé Lugo

Teresa Ortyl

AP Biology Students

46077

 

Editor, 

My name is Claire and I am from Zionsville Community High School. Your article published in the Current in Zionsville titled “The bad news about GMOs” has many facts that have been disproved.

Unlike what was stated in the article, seeds from GMO plants do germinate. There was a terminator gene introduced into seeds, but it was never released for consumer use. Poverty-stricken farmers cannot afford to purchase new seeds every year. Due to these concerns, Monsanto never released sterile seeds. Monsanto also made a commitment to never release Terminator seeds in 1999.

The research with rats getting cancer through genetically modified potatoes has also been falsified. Academicsreview.org reported that this experiment was flawed. Too few of mice were being tested to prove statistical significance and potatoes are poisonous to rats, disturbing them regardless of whether or not the potatoes were genetically modified. Mr. Arpad Pusztai’s results have never been repeated by any other scientist. Experts have concluded that this study does not reveal a danger in genetically modified potatoes.

For these few reasons, I believe your article should be revised with correct information. Thank you for your consideration.

Claire Berman

AP Biology student

Zionsville Community High School

46077

 

Editor, 

I read the article you published in the February 24th issue of the Zionsville Current, written by Ward Degler and entitled “The bad news about GMOs.”  I was absolutely dismayed that you all would publish an article that completely lacked any real research and was subsequently filled with gross inaccuracies.  For example, some quick research on the internet would have told you that the one study Mr. Degler managed to find to support his claim that GMOs cause cancer – the Pusztai study – has been roundly denounced.  In fact, the Royal Society (the UK’s national science academy) has stated that the study “is flawed in many aspects of design, execution and analysis” and that “no conclusions should be drawn from it.”

I have attached a “response” article that I have drafted and would like to be published in the Zionsville Current.  You can see other corrections to Mr. Degler’s inaccurate conclusions in there.  And, unlike Mr. Degler’s article, I provide sources for my conclusions.

I’m not sure if you have a word limit on articles, so I’ve kept my piece to one typed page, as Mr. Degler’s was.  Please let me know what additional information you need from me.

Megan Provost

46077

 

 

 

 

 

 


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