Biotechnology, Commentaries, Health October 8, 2018

Hidden Health Dangers: A Former Agbiotech Insider Wants His GMO Crops Pulled

by Jonathan Latham

By Caius Rommens

Genetic engineering isn’t everyone’s childhood dream. Even I didn’t care for it when I started studying biology at the University of Amsterdam, but my professor explained it was an acquired taste and the best option for a good job. So, I suppressed my doubts and learned to extract DNA from plants, recombine the DNA in test tubes, reinsert the fusions into plant cells, and use hormones to regenerate new plants.

People say that love is blind, but I started loving what I did blindly. Or, perhaps, what started as an acquired taste soon became a dangerous addiction. Genetic engineering became part of me.

After I received my PhD, I went to the University of California in Berkeley to help develop a new branch of genetic engineering. I isolated several disease resistance genes from wild plants, and demonstrated, for the first time, that these genes could confer resistance to domesticated plants. Monsanto liked my work and invited me to lead its new disease control program in St. Louis in 1995.

I should not have accepted the invitation. I knew, even then, that pathogens cannot be controlled by single genes. They evolve too quickly around any barrier to infection. It takes about two to three decades for insects and plants to overcome a resistance gene, but it takes only a few years, at most, for pathogens to do the same.

GMO White Russet Potato
GMO White Russet Potato

I did accept the invitation, though, and the next six years became a true boot camp in genetic engineering. I learned to apply many tricks about how to change the character of plants and I learned to stop worrying about the consequences of such changes.

In 2000, I left Monsanto and started an independent biotech program at J.R. Simplot Company in Boise, Idaho. Simplot is one of the largest potato processors in the world. It was my goal to develop GMO potatoes that would be admired by farmers, processors, and consumers. Genetic engineering had become an obsession by then, and I created at least 5,000 different GMO versions each year—more than any other genetic engineer. All these potential varieties were propagated, grown in greenhouses or the field, and evaluated for agronomic, biochemical, and molecular characteristics.

The almost daily experience I suppressed was that none of my modifications improved potato’s vigor or yield potential. In contrast, most GMO varieties were stunted, chlorotic, mutated, or sterile, and many of them died quickly, like prematurely-born babies.

Despite all my quiet disappointments, I eventually combined three new traits into potatoes: disease resistance (for farmers), no tuber discoloration (for processors), and reduced food-carcinogenicity (for consumers).

It was as hard for me to consider that my GMO varieties might be corrupted as it is for parents to doubt the perfection of their children. Our assumption was that GMOs are safe. But my pro-biotech filter eventually wore thin and finally shattered entirely.

I identified some minor mistakes and had my first doubts about the products of my work. I wanted to re-evaluate our program and slow it down, but it was too little too late. Business leaders were involved now. They saw dollar signs. They wanted to expand and speed-up the program, not slow it down.

I decided to quit in 2013. It was painful to leave behind the major part of my adult life.

The true scope of my errors became obvious to me only after I had relocated to a small farm in the mountains of the Pacific Northwest. By this time Simplot had announced the regulatory approval of my GMO varieties. As the company began to plan for quiet introductions in American and Asian markets, I was breeding plants and animals independently, using conventional methods. And since I still felt uncomfortable about my corporate past, I also re-evaluated the about two hundred patents and articles that I had published in the past, as well as the various petitions for deregulation.

Not so much biased anymore, I easily identified major mistakes.

With the mistake your life goes in reverse.
Now you can see exactly what you did
Wrong yesterday and wrong the day before
And each mistake leads back to something worse.
(James Fenton)

For instance, we had silenced three of potato’s most conserved genes, assuming that the three genetic changes would each have one effect only. It was a ludicrous assumption because all gene functions are interconnected. Each change had indeed caused a ripple effect. It should have been clear to me that silencing the ‘melanin gene’ PPO would have numerous effects, including an impairment of potatoes’ natural stress-tolerance response. Similarly, asparagine and glucose are among the most basic compounds of a plant, so why did I believe I could silence the ASN and INV genes involved in the formation of these compounds? And why did nobody question me?

Another strange assumption was that I had felt able to predict the absence of unintentional long-term effects on the basis of short-term experiments. It was the same assumption that chemists had used when they commercialized DDT, Agent Orange, PCBs, rGBH, and so on.

The GMO varieties I created are currently released under innocuous names, such as Innate, Hibernate, and White Russet. They are described as better and easier-to-use than normal potatoes and to contain fewer bruises, but the reality is different. The GMO potatoes are likely to accumulate at least two toxins that are absent in normal potatoes, and newer versions (Innate 2.0) additionally lost their sensory qualities when fried. Furthermore, the GMO potatoes contain at least as many bruises as normal potatoes, but these undesirable bruises are now concealed.

There are many more issues, and some of them could have been identified earlier if they had not been covered-up by misleading statistics in the petitions for deregulation. How could I have missed the issues? How could I have trusted the statisticians? How could the USDA have trusted them? My re-evaluation of the data clearly shows that the GMO varieties are seriously compromised in their yield potential and in their ability to produce normal tubers.

Unfortunately, most GMO potatoes end-up as unlabeled foods that are indistinguishable from normal foods. Consumer groups would have to carry out PCR tests to determine if certain products, including fries and chips, contain or lack the GMO material.

Given the nature of the potato industry, the most common potato varieties, such as Russet Burbank and Ranger Russet, will soon be contaminated with GMO stock.

I have now summarized the new conclusions of this past work (without disclosing company secrets—I am bound by confidentiality agreements) in a book, entitled ‘Pandora’s Potatoes.’ This book, which is now available on Amazon, explains why I renounce my work at Simplot and why the GMO varieties should be withdrawn from the market. It is a warning and a call for action: a hope that others will step forward with additional evidence, so that the public, with its limited financial means, has a chance to counter the narrow-mindedness of the biotech industry.

Pandora's potatoes Book Cover
Pandora’s potatoes Book Cover

My book describes the many hidden issues of GMO potatoes, but GMO potatoes are not the exception. They are the rule. I could just as well have written (and may write) about the experimental GMO varieties we developed at Monsanto, which contains an antifungal protein that I now recognize as allergenic, about the disease resistance that caused insect sensitivity, or about anything else in genetic engineering.

On May 3rd 2018 the columnist Michael Gerson wrote in the Washington Post: “Anti-GMO is anti-science.” His statement was echoed by Mitch Daniels, his colleague, who added, “[It] isn’t just anti-science. It’s immoral.” But these two columnists are not scientists. They don’t understand the level of bias and self-deception that exists among genetic engineers. Indeed, anyone who is pro-science should understand that science is meant to study nature, not to modify it—and certainly not to predict, in the face of strong evidence, the absence of unintended effects.

The real anti-science movement is not on the streets. It is, as I discovered, in the laboratories of corporate America.

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Comments 46
  • Thank you for your integrity and courage in speaking out. Every scientist I know has been put through the grinder when they have the courage to right what they believe they did. Know that there are more of us that respect you for it than the minions that will attack you in unimaginable ways. You are one brave person.

    • I met two Simplot scientists, including the new head of their biotechnology division, at the ISBGMO biosafety conference in Guadalajara, Mexico, in 2017. I tried to engage them both, separately, with some questions I had about RNA interference (RNAi), which is what Simplot is using to make the traits discussed above. The conversation was deeply disturbing in that neither one had any interest in what I had to say and both seemed profoundly ignorant about the basic issues of RNAi biosafety (for more see: Their uncomprehending looks when I raised the various issues made me want to contact the Simplot CEO. I wanted to ask if he/she knew that their top scientists are incompetent, which was my frank conclusion. I wanted to share this story because the article above makes me wish I had reached out, but also because it is my experience that quite a substantial part of the biotech enterprise is run by people who are underqualified, overpromoted, or simply too narrowminded to perform the functions required of them.

  • Thanks for you honesty.

    • I hope other players in the Biotech Industry and academia will have the courage to be honest about the dangers inherent in genetic engineering. The GMO industry has always promoted genetic engineering as precise and predictable – yet Dr. Rommens’ revelations and the scientific literature do not support either claim (e.g. and An older commercialized potato, the Atlantic NewLeaf (no longer grown) exemplifies this lack of precision. In this case a non-GMO golden nematode-resistant potato cultivar (Atlantic), was genetically engineered to produce a Bt toxin. For years GMO Atlantic NewLeaf was grown commercially in NY as a “resistant” cultivar in the golden nematode regulatory program. Eventually, however, a researcher at Cornell discovered that the commercial Atlantic NewLeaf Potato was not – and never had been – nematode resistant. Atlantic NewLeaf had actually lost Atlantic’s resistance to golden nematode as a result of the genetic engineering process (see:
      Of course this is also a failure of GMO regulation too.

  • Excellent article. Thanks for sharing and for having the courage to stand up and speak up.

  • Thank you for speaking out! I hope you are the crack in the dam that blows this whole GMO venture wide apart.

  • When I first learned about the CaMV genomes being used, it was beyond my comprehension how anyone could rubber stamp this technology without further studies. The potential for biological chaos did not seem to be of concern in the biotech fan clubs. Your story is inspiring and I hope it will set a new precedence for gallantry and restraint. Thank you.

  • This is fantastic and horrifying. Thank you for your courage to speak out. You have a lot of good people behind you.

  • I hope this unintentionally evil genius is sleeping better. He deserves it. Any clown who cannot admit to doing wrong is not worth spitting on. This guy has guts, principle, and other moral factors not usually present in genius biomolecular imbeciles. My message to him: don’t stop. You are finding a way to sleep soundly. Priceless. Be a warrior, Dude, you have the opportunity, the position, the timing. Remember what Patton said: Better to die for somethin’ than to live for nothin’.

  • Thank you! It takes immense integrity and courage to admit, publicly, to past mistakes and to seek, publicly, to right them.

  • Thank you Caius Rommens. Never too late to see the light. You’ve done the right thing

  • Dr. Rommens: I also wish to add my name to the growing list of your admirers for your courage and integrity to do what is right and to stand up against The Machine of big Agro-biotech. I am inspired! Keep up the good work!

    For over twenty years I have stood up against GMO foods as having questionable, if not deleterious effects on humans, animals and the planet. I’m not against traditional plant breeding, but against artificial gene splicing tampering in a way that cannot occur in nature. What I am FOR is natural, regenerative, organic systems that have helped restore the soil, similar to traditional systems that have maintained soil fertility (on the same soil)for over forty centuries. I would draw attention to the landmark publication by the famed soil scientist, Sir Albert Howard in His An Agricultural Testament. We’re not here to wage war against nature with toxic chemical pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers and GMOs, but to love and nurture the land that feeds us. “Nature is beautiful except when tormented by the hand of man.”

    Arran Stephens, founder, Nature’s Path Foods.

  • Bravo to you sir for quitting the industry it must have take guts to do that, what with all the cash they were paying you and the status, but you did the right thing.

    To Arran Stephens, founder of Nature’s Path Foods, I’m in WA State just down the road from you. Am wondering if we could start a campaign to combat this. I do marketing and video, and know we could shake things up!! Send me an email at [email protected] and we can chat!

  • Thank you, Sir! The honesty and integrity you demonstrate in this article are truly admirable. It must have taken great courage to publish such an admission of hubris. I wish there were more geneticists out there with your courage and sense of responsibility to come down from their ivory towers and admit to their folly.

  • Thanks for this article. The general public needs to be aware of this.

  • What a revelation! It may explain some observation seen here on the farm thank you

  • A giant thank you indeed, Dr. Rommens. As a biologist, I too have abhorred the open release of GE technology for animal and human food, in particular. To think we could know even some of the unintended consequences of engineered DNA is folly; to not care about knowing is evil. Thanks for stepping away and documenting your journey. Bravo.

  • Thank you Sir for standing up and speaking up against GMO’s! You are a very brave man and I as a parent thank you! I hope your speaking out will save future generations from suffering the ill effects of GMO’s!

  • While I hate to rain on this parade of back patting for Caius Rommens, I fail to understand why he suddenly is “seeing the light” after nearly 20 years in the industry. Frankly, I find this maddening and self-serving. If you had this morality in you, why didn’t you stop and urge caution while at Monsanto, or Simplot? The damage is done, you walk away with patents and lots of cash. I don’t see this as bravery at all.

    • If you were at all familiar with the pernicious nature of biotech marketeers, pundits, etc – you would applaud this man for what he’s doing, regardless of when he does it.

  • Thank you for your courage. You have given credence to the “gut feelings” of so many.

  • I don’t know this man well enough to dwell on his morals, but working for Monsanto, I doubt he owns any patents. Also, many people “wake up” one day and decide something is wrong in their lives, just consider divorce. It is a brave step, to leave your comfort zone, in any case.

  • Caius, Hi! We overlapped at Monsanto. As a scientist, you must know that this paragraph is rather vague: The GMO potatoes are likely to accumulate at least two toxins that are absent in normal potatoes, and newer versions (Innate 2.0) additionally lost their sensory qualities when fried. Furthermore, the GMO potatoes contain at least as many bruises as normal potatoes, but these undesirable bruises are now concealed. Your first point on toxins. Dose makes the toxin. Most plants have substances that are toxins if at a high enough level. Vitamin A is a toxin if you have too much of it. So for your example, how likely is it that the new GMO variety would accumulate enough of the un-named substances in order to be toxic? Can you name the substances? Sensory qualities when fried? Seems like those wanting a certain sensory quality would quickly evaluate and either accept of reject the variety based on their needs. Could you please explain what a concealed bruise is? If chip or fry color is an important factor, and a “bruised gmo potato is still light in color, has it not passed the quality it was created for? We typically do not eat potato chips for nutrition per se. More as a snack and caloric intake. I am not doubting that mistakes were made. Marketing was the biggest mistake for RR crops. These should have only been used within a IPM system. Not as a crutch. I am proud of the Bt crops we made. Those growing organic corn today can thank GMO corn for greatly reducing the population of ECB in the Midwest. In the late 80s, I have witnessed ECB moths so thick, it looked like it was snowing. Organic corn yields would be crushed if not for the Bt crops that helped reduce ECB populations.

    • Standard agrochemical/ biotech industry propaganda. Any half wit knows it isn’t accute toxicity we should bve concerned about (re: you’re redundant and immaterial comment about the ‘dose makes the poison.’) It’s the chronic toxicity we should worry about. And the novel proteins that are never tested for. You’re comment amounts only to more tobacco science and obfuscation from another agrochemical industry zombie, I’m afraid.

    • Dose may make the toxin, but you should know many toxins bioaccumulate so that over time small doses in each potato add up to a large effect in the food chain. You should also know of recent research that found small doses of toxins can have effects not found in intermediate doses and large doses.

      As for bruising, you should also know that the physical bruise releases certain compounds other than the melamine that causes the discoloration, which, especially in potatoes, can be toxic and the lack of discoloration doesn’t prevent this, but consumers won’t have a visual clue to avoid these damaged potatoes.

  • Thank you

  • It is just good that you told what you know, dear Mr. Caius Rommens! I wasn’t aware and even advocated against fake GMO-phobia in past. But with more I understand the order and genes and programs that are there, the extend of role and functions of genes, the more I get worried about GMO.

  • Dr. Rommens,

    Your revelations about GM scientists exactly match my considered opinion about them. I refer to industry based GM scientists who gloat about their creations and make fanciful claims about global benefits and totally ignore or are totally ignorant and unaware of unintended and unexpected aberrations.

    They should be humble in their quest of knowledge and creations. They must realize that they cannot even play at God’s left hand. Their knowledge is less than even an electron compared to planet Earth. In spite of space travel, orbited telescopes, gene sequencing, microbiology and other new developments, our science is still primitive compared to what has to be still learned.

    We still do not know much about our own metabolic processes. That would be a far more productive research path – to learn how they work, how diseases start and progress, how internal and external factors influence them. Thereafter we can look at genetic engineering because then we can truly study the effects of GE products on us and clear the field to avoid making pompous promotional statements of doubtful benefits only, while knowingly covering up observed disadvantages and hazards.

    Clearly nature also carries out genetic engineering – but that is on more logical and compatible paths; besides such variations occur spread over centuries – permitting life forms to adapt to such changes gradually and appropriately. On the other hand, misguided science is forcing genetic engineering down our throats in less than a decade and our protesting bodies break out in diseases of all sorts.

    This experimentation must stop or be properly controlled. We are not lab rats and guinea pigs of self-seeking scientists or those who worship at the altars of money and power.


  • I agree (with Bill Peterson) that toxins are dangerous only when at toxic LEVELS. There is sufficient evidence to conclude that the level of acrylamide in normal fries is not dangerous and that the level of tyramine in blue cheese may be dangerous. But I don’t believe it is acceptable that the ignored side-effects of genetic engineering cause an increase in the level of any (suspected) toxins, especially not if these increases have the slightest chance of triggering health problems. Scientists have shown that PPO-silencing upregulates the levels of both amino-adipate and the glycoalkaloid-like, poorly-characterized compound chaconine-melanyl. And PPO-silencing prevents the trimming of tuber tissues that may contain elevated amounts of tyramine and pathogen-produced toxins. So, it seems appropriate for an independent party to study this issue comprehensively and inform the public on the results. This is just one of the many hidden issues of GMO potatoes.

    • Hi Caius Rommens. I don’t agree when you state that you don’t believe that genetic engineering doesn’t cause an increase of toxins. You develop gmo potatos. I hope you have read about Pusztai’s work of a GMO potato he was studying, early 90’s. He inserted the gene encoding snowdrop lectin (known as GNA) The rats fed with this gmo had all sort of health problems and pre-cancerous cells in their stomach lining. Pusztai, who was considered the greatest expert of that period in lectin, stated that these gmo potatoes were not equivalent to conventionals potatoes and not even equivalent among themselves– because from one line to the next, the quantity of lectin expressed could vary up to 20%.

      One of his thesis that caused this spike in lectin was the location of this gene which may explain the variability in the expression of the protein– in this case, lectin. He attributes it to the imprecision of genetic engeenering through using a gene gun.

      2) The version of gmo maize MON810 for the Egyptian market, called MON810 Ajeeb YG, showed significant differences, in relation to its non-transgenic comparator – some values outside the range registered in the scientific literature. Some fatty acids and amino acids present in non-GM maize were absent in Bt maize. The researchers concluded that the genetic modification process had caused changes in corn that could result in toxicity to humans and animals.
      Abdo EM, Barbary OM, Shaltout OE. Chemical analysis of Bt corn “Mon-810: Ajeeb-YG®” and its counterpart non-Bt corn “Ajeeb.” IOSR J Appl Chem. 2013;4(1):55–60.

      3) According to studies given to regulators by the notifier for GMO corn G21, it presented twice the anti-nutrient inositol (mean of 2582 μg / g) than that established by the reference values (1374 μg / g).

      4) the GM transformation process results in profound compositional differences in NK603, demonstrating that this GMO corn is not substantially equivalent to its non-GMO counterpart. The marked increase in putrescine and especially cadaverine is a concern since these substances are potentially toxic, being reported as enhancers of the effects of histamine, thus heightening allergic reactions, and both have been implicated in the formation of carcinogenic nitrosamines with nitrite in meat products.

      5) Another case with lectin involves the gmo soy 44406 of Dow. It has a 30% increase of lectin when compared to its non-gmo counterpart. This even EFSA admitted, but they ignored the health risks. Are you going to tell me that this was not caused by genetic engineering? Rats fed with this gmo had health problems. France said to EFSA that they don’t discard that the health problems might have been caused by the high lectin content in it, as Dow only did one dose test with it– not two as required by EFSA, WHO rules.

      6) If you read dozens of comments from EU Member States to EFSA for all gmos approved by that agency, lots of them like the Ministry of Health of Austria, states categorically that the compositional differences between the gmo and its non-gmo equivalent, especially when there are spikes of anti-nutrients, is the result of genetic engineering. It is hard to believe that when you insert by force genes, using a gene gun, won’t disrupt the molecular level of a plant. It’s frankly wishful thinking, blindness.

      7) Zolla et al. (2008), in a proteomic analysis of two subsequent generations (called T05 and T06) of MON 810, using as a control their respective isogenic lines (WT05 and WT06), identified alterations in 43 proteins. They interpreted this condition as related to the transgene inserted by biobalistic. Of these 43 proteins, 14 had their expression reduced, 13 showed their increased expression, 7 corresponded to new products and 9 stopped expressing their products. The authors further verified that one of the novel proteins (SSP 6711) corresponds to 50 kDa zein range, whose allergenic properties are well known. In addition, several proteins important to the storage of seeds (such as globulins and others similar to the vicillins expressed in the embryo) presented truncated forms, revealing molecular masses significantly smaller than those of native proteins. In addition to the zein protein highlighted by Zolla et al. (2008) for MON 810, Kroghsbo et al. (2008) also present new information regarding possible allergenic risks.

    • Actually Dr. Rommens, recent toxicology research has led to the conclusion that toxins can have effects at levels far below those now accepted as safe. These effects may not be of the form that large doses precipitate, but the effects are beginning to become measurable and effect the homeostasis and regulation of biological systems, which over time leads to decreased health, viability and reproductive capacity of the individual.

      • Reply From Bill Peterson: Just because we are now understanding something does not mean that it is a new danger. As we understand the world we live in more, we need to keep in mind, that for an estimated 2 million years or so, Homo sapiens has been living within this hostile environment, ignorant of subacute toxins, unknown to science microbes, prions, viruses, radiation, etc. While there are harmful substances and microbes, there are also substances and microbes that appear to enhance and benefit our health. The question therefore is not if a transgenic produces a substance that at some dose is acutely or sub acutely toxic, it is if this is a new danger that far exceeds our current levels of exposure in the natural world.

  • I have grown Innate potatoes in blind research trials for many years as a contracted third-party research scientist. As these potatoes are grown in a field setting, they are difficult, if not impossible, to differentiate from their conventional counterpart. They were not “stunted, chlorotic, mutated, or sterile” as claimed by Mr.Rommens. It is possible that some early lines may have been that way, but the lines which are commercialized now are not. It is just not true.

    I have seen the benefits of these products in combating late blight first-hand. The use of this technology could allow growers to reduce the number of late blight fungicide applications due to the blight resistance.

    The bulk of credible, scientific evidence shows that genetically engineered crops are similar to the non-engineered counterparts when it comes to allergenicity and food safety. Traditional breeding has led to the creation of potato varieties which were too toxic for human consumption (Lenape).

    Much of the anger against genetically engineered crops is misplaced. There are great success stories such as Hawaiian papaya and brinjal (eggplant) in Bangladesh. Many others are available to help struggling farmers in need. The misplaced and unscientific attacks aimed against the technology is preventing this technology from getting to the places where it will really help.

    • It’s easier to believe that Elvis Presley is still alive than that GM food are safe and equivalent to non-gmo food. There are dozens, if not hundreds of peer reviewed studies showing already problems with the safety of gmos in several respects, such as molecular problems, not as being nutritionally equivalent to non-gm, problems with rats fed with gmos and toxicological and environmental problems with the Bt toxins produced by these gmos. It would be also good to note that most studies done, stating that gmos are safe, were done by industry people. This is well known in academia.

      2) It is well known that studies given to regulators of gmos by biotech companies are of very poor quality. Most of them don’t even follow GLP guidelines. Lots of regulators also find toxicological problems when they see the studies done by industry with rats fed with gmos given to them. For example, this happened with MON89034. Monsanto’s own toxicological studies given to regulators showed that rats fed with this gmo developed several health problems, as well as stone bladders. The French Food Safety regulator stated that they couldn’t give an opinion on the safety of this gmo for human consumption nor any stacked event which contained it. See link for MON89034 X 88017

      On that particular report from AFSSA, they state on the conclusion that they can’t guarantee the safety of that gmo for human consumption. On page 6, they mention rats fed with it had blatter stones and that Monsanto didn’t prove its non-toxicity. Other countries, such as Austria and Germany, also had issues with the safety of this gmo and went further to state that this gmo was not substantially equivalent to its non-gmo counterpart. This is just one of dozens with problems that regulators from around the world saw that they have analyzed. In fact, there are a dozen of gmos banned by different European countries. Austria, for instance, banned gmo corn MON863 in 1998 for safety reasons. It can’t be used in food.

      3) No regulator can state that the Bt toxin produced by the gmo plant is safe as the safety tests are not done with the Bt toxin produced by the gm plant.As regards to the supposed total degradation of Bt proteins during the mammalian digestion process, several studies have shown that a significant portion of the protein survive digestion in animals fed GM maize (Chowdury et al., 2003; Lutz et al. al., 2005; Paul et al., 2010). In laboratory, a recent study that sought to reproduce the actual conditions of gastric acidity observed a high resistance in breaking the recombinant Cry1Ab protein (Guimaraes et al., 2010). Even after the digestion simulation, part of the protein was able to induce an immune response. This cry toxin was even found in fetuses of pregnant women in Canada (Aris & Leblanc, 2011).

      4) It is also known that nowadays most gmos are tolerant to several carcinogenic herbicides like glyphosate, 2,4D, Dicamba, Isoxaflutole and produce several Bt toxins. There’s no test done by any regulator in the world to test the health risk of the synergies of all these herbicides and Bt toxinns in the gmo plant. This was once admitted by the European Commission in writing a few years ago to European non-governmental health organizations.

      It is also known gmos leave large quantities of herbicide residues and its metabolites (Bøhn et al 2013)– some of its metabolites are not even produced by non-gm crops, but only by gm crops like AMPA. Degradation of glyphosate leaves residues, such as AMPA (aminomethylphosphonic acid), in plants that are suspected to be carcinogenic (IARC 2015). AMPA causes DNA damage in cells.

      Mañas, F., Peralta, L., Raviolo, J., Garcia Ovando, H., Weyers, A., Ugnia, L., Gonzalez Cid, M., Larripa, I., Gorla, N. 2009. Genotoxicity of AMPA, the environmental metabolite of glyphosate, assessed by the Comet assay and cytogenetic tests. Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety 72, 834–837.

      Another is the metabolite of 2,4D,2,4- Dichlorophenol, which is also just produced in gm crops and not non-gm.

      Belgium’s opinion to EFSA for 2,4D metabolite:

      A number of experts have voiced concerns about the possible presence of 2,4-D and its breakdown products on imported DAS68416-4 gmo soybean. In particular, they have raised concerns about the possible presence of the breakdown product 2,4- Dichlorophenol on imported soybeans. 2,4-Dichlorophenol is known to be an endocrine disruptor with reproductive toxicity (Aoyama et al.; 2005). It also induces lipid peroxidation and insufficient natural antioxidant intake has been described in Central Europe, especially during the winter period (Clerhata et al.; 1996). Due to its high lipophilicity (Clerhata et al.; 1996), 2,4-Dichlorophenol is expected to be accumulated during soy processing in the oil. The major soy product used by humans is soy oil and soy oil is incorporated in some infant formulas (Ponders et al.; 1992).

      5) You mention gm potatoes fighting blight resistance. It’s funny you mention that as there are already developed non-gm potatoes in Ireland and the UK with naturally blight resistance. It would be good you do some more research on non-gm potatoes which have been developed for that disease using non-gm techniques in Europe.

      You might not know, but if there’s a toxic substance in any conventional seed, non-gm, the breeder automatically discards these seeds. It is funny that this doesn’t happen with gmos. There were cases where the non-gm seed had toxic levels of some substance, but yet, the gmo company still used it to genetically engineer that seed. They were so negligent that they didn’t even bother to first do a chemical analyse of the seed before using it to genetically alter them. This for instance has happened with the gmo corn 3272 of Syngenta. Both their non-gmo seed and their gm seed contain high quantities of selenium. The scientific literature is vast in regard to the toxic effects, acute and chronic of selenium for human health. Studies performed with selenium, performed on laboratory animals, but also on exposed people, point to severe neurotoxic effects and interference with hormonal functions – including exposure to selenium in food (Vinceti et al, 2014; Aldosary et al, 2012; MacFarquhar et al, 2010). The relevance of these findings was not presented in the Company Report where it was marketed. In Europe, EFSA refused to approve this gmo as Syngenta didn’t want to provide more safety tests.

      6) You mention that eggplant has been a success in Bangladesh. The was a funny comment. They are more in life support.

      7) The gm papaya you talk about, ruined Hawaii’s export market. Almost no country in the world wants to touch it. Since gmo papaya was introduced in the 1990’s, their production fell by half of what was produced in 1980. It was really an economic failure. No toxicological nor nutritional studies were also ever done for this gm.It must really be delicious and healthy to eat inserted genes coding for resistance to the antibiotics tetracycline and gentamycin. Good luck with that. lol

    • Jeff Miller, I would be intrigued if you can support the claim of success of Bt Eggplant (Brinjal) in Bangladesh. Do you have a reference for anyone EXCEPT the developers and the Cornell Alliance for Science credibly calling it a success?
      Other people disagree with you:

      • Jonathan Latham. You post a negative puff piece as evidence? The article was an appeal to negative emotions. Not facts. Bt never controlled 100% of insect pests and so of course the farmers used other insecticides. Even for the target organism, the farmers should never rely on only Bt toxin for control. Using multiple strategies and chemistries if needed, is integrated pest management 101. The article makes it sound like this is a negative. Bt is not a cure all. It is just one tool developed to help farmers. It is not a negative that it does not solve all problems.

        • Bill Petersen, if you read the piece linked to by Dr. Latham you will see it is a straightforward report of the failure of Bt eggplant in certain regions and its non-failure in others – as stated by the Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute’s (BARI) biotechnology director, Al Amin himself. Can you supply a credible scientific reference with data that the Bt eggplant is a success ?

          • Allison. I did read the article. The Bt trait protected the eggplant from the target lepidopteran insect. It does not protect it from all the other biotic and abiotic stresses that the plants encounter in the area. GMO traits are just one of many tools that are used to help grow a crop. The gmo traits are not cure alls and should never be marketed as such. Farmers that do not follow IPM and basic agronomic knowledge, do so at risk of failure.

  • Hi Jeff, I remember the work you performed for Simplot, and I appreciate your company’s expertise in evaluating pesticides and crop damage. Thank you for the feedback. It appears that you don’t deny that GM lines are often stunted, chlorotic, mutated, or sterile, as I don’t deny that the very few GM lines considered for commercialization are difficult to differentiate from their conventional counterparts. The differences are obvious, though, when you determine yield or size profiles (see published data). I also suggest aerial crop analysis with drones.
    I agree with you that Simplot’s late blight resistance might help farmers reduce the number of late blight fungicide applications for some time (see my book). And I assume you agree that: (1) late blight is known to rapidly evolve around barriers to resistance, i.e., resistance can never be guaranteed, and (2) late blight never comes alone in the humid regions where it is most aggressive. Take Bangladesh, one of the countries where Simplot tests its GM crops. The GM crops may be temporarily resistant to late blight, but there are dozens of other aggressive pathogens and pests. So, any attempt to expand the potato production in humid regions such as Bangladesh (or the Northeastern US) with GM potatoes, at the expense of more suitable crops, may lead to an overall increase rather than a decrease in disease and pest pressures (also because late blight resistance is linked to suppressed PPO-mediated stress tolerance).

  • Thank You for this article. I was told by a family member who lived in the Boise area for a few short years that the potato farmers refused to eat what they were growing for others. I hope there will be big changes coming to the good soon.

  • I’m not a scientist and, frankly, all the gobbledygook GMO terminology makes my head spin. But when calls for caution are labelled “anti-science” my BS alarm starts clanging. Just assuming that numerous random genetic alterations aren’t going to have unknown ancillary effects is asinine. Haven’t these people ever heard of unintended consequences? Or are they so crazed playing their gene-Legos that they think their little brains can conceive of all possible resulting variations? “Frankenfood” is an apt term indeed.

  • Rory Cloud. Have you ever heard of the importance of genetic diversity? So where do you think that genetic diversity comes from? Living organisms and even nonliving things like viruses, are subject to mutations in their genes. There are many different mechanisms by which these mutations are caused. So nature is cranking out “random genetic alterations” at a much greater rate than a few scientists can do in a lab with gene transfer. Consumers of other organisms tend to select positive traits arising from these random natural mutations, but mutations can have negative consequences such as increased toxin production, or more potent toxins produced. Because of natural mutations, you are never completely safe from anything you eat. You may have just chosen a random mutated form that could kill you. It is entirely possible. It is highly improbable. It is the same with the planned, executed and verified changes being made with genetic engineering. It is possible that a negative effect might be seen. It is also highly unlikely. GMOs are not tested to be 100% safe. No natural food is. GMOs are tested to be as safe as “natural” foods. The “Generally regarded as safe” Standard. So no we are not crazed. Nature has us beat by a long shot.

  • I was very interested in reading your book.

    Why has it been withdrawn from sale on It seems very odd for a book that was printed and published in October 2018 to be withdrawn from sale because it has served its purpose. Books dont get withdrawn from sale because they have served their purpose. Could you make it available on Kindle so it can be read.

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