Greenpeace Says Genetically Modified Corn is a Contraceptive…

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…for the 4th generation of mice, anyway. Greenpeace is trumpeting a new "study" that finds that mice fed a variety of pest-protected corn have fewer pups in the fourth generation. According to the organization's press release:

A study published today by the Austrian government identified serious health threats of genetically engineered (GE) crops. In one of the very few long-term feeding studies ever conducted with GE crops, the fertility of mice fed with GE maize was found to be severely impaired, with fewer offspring being produced than by mice fed on natural crops. Considering the severity of the potential threat to human health and reproduction, Greenpeace is demanding a recall of all GE food and crops from the market, worldwide.

With typical understatement, the Greenpeace spokesperson said:

"GE food appears to be acting as a birth control agent, potentially leading to infertility—if this is not reason enough to close down the whole biotech industry once and for all, I am not sure what kind of disaster we are waiting for," said Dr. Jan van Aken, GE expert at Greenpeace International. "Playing genetic roulette with our food crops is like playing Russian roulette with consumers and public health". 

Just a couple of quick observations: (1) This is classic case of "science by press release." The "study" may be valid, but it has not been "published" nor has it been peer-reviewed; and (2) Greenpeace backed similar controversial claims by other researchers that genetically modified soybeans harmed the fertility of mice that were later debunked. (For more details see also here.) 

When other researchers get a look at the study, I'll let H&R readers know what they find.

This just in: the study is now available here.

NEXT: New Jersey Politician Takes His Job Description a Bit Too Literally

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  1. A lot of roulette going on. I’d like to take this opportunity to point out that The Deer Hunter really, really sucks.

  2. Shouldn’t Greenpeace love this since they’re also worried about overpopulation?

  3. Throw it in the wait-and-see hopper, and in the meantime double-down on tortillas.

  4. OK, let’s say that this is a legitimate correlation.

    What’s the mechanism supposed to be? Just what is the molecular/biological basis for GE corn impairing fertility?

    Until they can explain that, they got nothin’.

  5. Shouldn’t Greenpeace love this since they’re also worried about overpopulation?

    Also a good point, though so far as I know they aren’t for human extinction, so they’re allowed to be worried nonetheless.

  6. What BDB and El said; I thought there was a lot of overlap between Greenpeace and ZPG people.

    (El: fewer offspring != zero offspring.)

    (Otoh, this was the plot of a stargate episode: ‘2010’)

  7. I thought it was people?

  8. if this is not reason enough to close down the whole biotech industry once and for all, I am not sure what kind of disaster we are waiting for

    If that statement is not reason enough to ignore Greenpeace once and for all, I am not sure what kind of stupidity we are waiting for.

  9. the fertility of mice fed with GE maize was found to be severely impaired, with fewer offspring being produced than by mice fed on natural crops

    Or maybe they just realized the futility of allowing another generation to be born into abject slavery and eventual vivisection. A brave choice, I say. Give no more children to the oppressors!

  10. Greenpeace is demanding a recall of all GE food and crops from the market, worldwide.

    That’s nice. You go right ahead and keep demanding. We’ll keep laughing at you.

    Anyone catch Whale Wars on (I think) Animal Planet? It’s reality show where the Greenpeace asshat parade harasses whaling ships. I’ve never rooted more in my life for whalers to “accidentally” harpoon a boat.

  11. Two quick questions Ronald. What proportion of the studies that you quote are peer-reviewed and published in respected journals? And of those, how many can be reasonably considered free of any funding-induced bias? Just wondering, in the name of good science.

  12. I’d like to take this opportunity to point out that The Deer Hunter really, really sucks.

    What is a good movie, in your opinion?

  13. That’s nice. You go right ahead and keep demanding. We’ll keep laughing at you.

    Anyone catch Whale Wars on (I think) Animal Planet? It’s reality show where the Greenpeace asshat parade harasses whaling ships. I’ve never rooted more in my life for whalers to “accidentally” harpoon a boat.

    My thoughts exactly. I watch that show just to cheer for those friendly Japanese men.

  14. This study make sense. Whenever I gorge on corn chips like a rodent, no one wants to have sex with me either.

  15. Honestly, even if this study did turn out to be correct, I think I’d prefer population control via infertility to population control via mass starvation. Just sayin’…

  16. This is not a proble, it’s a golden opportunity that the fundie environmentalists are too stupid to recognize. Let’s send GM grain to countries with the highest birth rates. Poor people get to eat, less babies, less deforestation, less greenhouse gas emissions, less pressure on fisheries, less pollution … Everybody wins.

  17. Yeah but JsubD its scary unnatural frankenfood that will destroy all of nature! Because even though mutations and hybridism occurs naturally all the time its awful when humans do it, we’re playing God (or Gaia)!

    I wish these idiots would just admit they don’t like new technology.

  18. God, this is totally f—ing ridiculous.
    Is there even a plausible biological mechanism for fourth-generation descendents’ fertility to affected by what you eat?

    You might as well claim that eating GMO corn will turn you into a mutant with superhuman spidey powers.

  19. With great corn flavor comes great responsibility.

  20. Mike Laursen –

    Unforgiven is my favorite, I think. The Deer Hunter might have been OK if I hadn’t seen the 3-hour director’s cut. Zzzzzzzzzz.

  21. You might as well claim that eating GMO corn will turn you into a mutant with superhuman spidey powers.

    Spiderman is not a mutant.
    Sheesh, where did you go to school?

  22. plus, if you’ve got 5% significance level, shouldn’t you eventually get a statistically significant difference one way or another? Like, in an average of 20 generations? If they were measuring multiple variables, such as lifespan, fertility, offspring survival rate, maybe something like testosterone or estrogen levels, then we’re talking 5 variables 4 times, for a total of 20 potential variables. Odds are one of those will be statistically significant at the 5% level.

  23. “Greenpeace Says Genetically Modified Corn is a Contraceptive…”

    Well then, the thing to do is force feed it to all Greenpeace members and all of their offspring for the rest of their lives.

    That will eventually breed Greenpeace out of existence and we won’t have to listen to their crap anymore.

  24. “Anyone catch Whale Wars on (I think) Animal Planet? It’s reality show where the Greenpeace asshat parade harasses whaling ships. I’ve never rooted more in my life for whalers to “accidentally” harpoon a boat.”

    If I were one of those Japanese whalers, I’d have two guns mounted on the ship: a harpoon gun for the whales and a Browning M-2 .50 cal machine gun for Greenpeace.

  25. The Deer Hunter is a truly awful movie. At least it’s not as pretentious as Apocalypse Now, or as steeped in platitudes as Platoon.

    My pic as best Vietnam movie, or best war movie ever for that matter, is Full Metal Jacket

    Who said that? Who the fuck said that? Who’s the slimy little communist shit twinkle-toed cocksucker down here, who just signed his own death warrant? Nobody, huh?! The fairy fucking godmother said it! Out-fucking-standing! I will P.T. you all until you fucking die! I’ll P.T. you until your assholes are sucking buttermilk.

    D.S. Hartman

  26. This is fantastic news for mice, who now have the option to gorge themselves on corn and have consequence-free sex. Predictably, Greenpeace once again shows their anti-mouse bias.

  27. Spiderman is not a mutant.
    Sheesh, where did you go to school?

    Canada. I’m sure that explains a lot.
    But didn’t Peter Parker get bitten by a mutant genetically engineered spider? At least in the movie version? So the super-spider DNA got mixed in with his own?

    I mean, seriously, it’s about as plausible as some of the theories about eating GMO food.

    Heck, I want my GMO corn engineered with spider genes so I can get superpowers. Where can I get my hands on this stuff!!

  28. My pic as best Vietnam movie, or best war movie ever for that matter, is Full Metal Jacket

    No contest.

    I saw Full Metal Jacket in the theater when it came out. I realized after the DI was shot and Nancy Sinatra started singing that I had been holding my breath for the previous 30 minutes.

    And I will state with absolute conviction that that scene segue is the single best segue in cinematic history.

    My fav from R. Lee:

    Today… is Christmas! There will be a magic show at zero-nine-thirty! Chaplain Charlie will tell you about how the free world will conquer Communism with the aid of God and a few Marines! God has a hard-on for Marines because we kill everything we see! He plays His games, we play ours! To show our appreciation for so much power, we keep heaven packed with fresh souls! God was here before the Marine Corps! So you can give your heart to Jesus, but your ass belongs to the Corps! Do you ladies understand?

  29. I’d like to take this opportunity to point out that The Deer Hunter really, really sucks.

    What is a good movie, in your opinion?

    One that does not involve a 2 hour wedding at the beginning.

    Jesus Christ that sucker was long and absolutely nothing happened.

  30. Epigenetic effects are weird, I understand that, but fourth generation?

  31. But didn’t Peter Parker get bitten by a mutant genetically engineered spider? At least in the movie version? So the super-spider DNA got mixed in with his own?

    In the Marvel universe, that makes him a “mutate”, since he acquired his powers through a mutation, but mutants are those born with the X-gene, making them the next stage of evolution, Homo sapiens superior.

  32. Corn is a contraceptive? True, if used as an IUD.

  33. classic reason thread. Spider Man and War Movies, from GMO corn.

    Warren | November 12, 2008, 5:28pm | #

    My pic as best Vietnam movie, or best war movie ever for that matter, is Full Metal Jacket

    I wont debate you, but best “war movie” overall is possibly a little excessive. There’s a lot of em, and a lot of good ones. But FMJ is pretty awesome indeed.

    As a side note: my dad was a smokey (Marine DI) during the mid-late 60s, and sent a bunch of kids off to nam from Paris island, and we saw that film together the first weekend it came out.

    After things like the “steers and queers” scenes and the beatings with soap, he’d lean over and go,” ahh this shit is so watered down

    he was like, “we were much more racist and cursed more and beat them daily” He had no sense of humor at all about it. He seemed to think it was supposed to be a documentary. I recall thinking it was too bad he couldnt just enjoy the movie.

    Like, the beatings with the soap? He was like, “no no no, that would be done in the shower. It was called a ‘shower party’. And they’d just kick his ass outright without trying to hide it. That was apparently part of the point. the humiliation that no one would be punished even though it was done in plain view of everyone and the DI knew about it/endorsed it.

    neither here nor there

  34. I read through a bit of the paper (no time to read all 100 pages at the moment). At first blush the thing that sticks out is that they chose to use an outbred mouse strain. This means that the genetic background of each mouse is different. While this may allow one to determine interplay between one genotype and a given phenotype, it also means your results will be more variable than if you used an inbred strain.

    They have to breeding studies, one which shows lowered fertility over time for GM fed mice, the other which shows increased mortality among ISO mice.

    I would have liked to see genotyping of each mouse and some treatment swapping. For example, does mating a GM fed female to and ISO fed male restore ISO female fertility levels?

    The gene expression study is interesting but is basically a fishing expedition. Some things are differently expressed between the groups but with large panels and genetic heterogeneity this is to be expected.

    If this is legit, then they need to do a lot more careful work to tease out a mechanism. This paper doesn’t present one, so I’m relegating it to the realm of interesting and get back to me when you have more data.

  35. What magnehelic said.

  36. # BDB | November 12, 2008, 2:52pm | #
    # Shouldn’t Greenpeace love this since they’re
    # also worried about overpopulation?

    No kidding. In almost every conversation or correspondence I have had on environmental topics, the subject ultimately turns to overpopulation: How we humans — not a part of nature ourselves, clearly — are stinking up the place with our industrial activities, and dooming ourselves with overbreeding that will decimate the food supply and accelerate our rape of the planet.

    So, along comes GMO food that is pest resistant, can be farmed in vast quantities, and as a side-effect, may have a mild but significant contraceptive effect. So there can be more food, and eventually fewer people to eat it. Sounds like a win-win from the envrionmentalist/ZPG point of view. But they want to shut it down.

    There is clearly no pleasing some people. This suggests that the complainers will only be happy if everybody continues to suffer at an increasing rate, ultimately to throw up their hands in despair and thenceforth embrace the wise and good environmentalists as their absolute rulers. I mean, it sounds as if solutions to problems aren’t what these people want; rather, they want to see THEIR solutions to problems implemented by THEM being empowered. Does it seem like that to anyone else?

  37. James Anderson Merritt:
    In my opinion it is pretty obvious that, for Greenpeace at least, the goal is not to resolve specific environmental problems, but to pursue an agenda of radical social restructuring, along vaguely agrarian socialist lines.

    That’s why they are against nuclear power and genetic engineering. They don’t want the problems solved, per se, they have a vision of the “good society”, and it don’t involve a lot of high technology. It is more liek a big organic commune where everyone lives minimal-impact ascetic lifestyles.

  38. Greenpeace drones are idiots. Corn doesn’t exist in nature, it is an entirely man-made artificial invention.

    Warren: Full Metal Jacket was as accurate portrayal of life in Uncle Sam’s Misguided Children’s day care (boot camp) as you’ll find. Except, there is no way anybody could have smuggled a round off the firing line.

    Whoever the screen writer was, he obviously knew someone who’d been there and done that.

  39. After things like the “steers and queers” scenes and the beatings with soap, he’d lean over and go,” ahh this shit is so watered down”

    LOL

    Jesus Chrysler, I’m not sure anybody can really appreciate how it was unless you were there.

  40. So you can give your heart to Jesus, but your ass belongs to the Corps! Do you ladies understand?

    Day Two.

  41. even though it was done in plain view of everyone and the DI knew about it/endorsed it.

    DI!

    DI!

    Jack Webb’s a fucking DI.

    I’m a Drill Instructor!

  42. “Whoever the screen writer was, he obviously knew someone who’d been there and done that.”

    He spent two years as a drill instructor at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego, California, and Parris Island, South Carolina from 1965 to 1967. In 1968, Ermey arrived in Vietnam where he served for 14 months with the Marine Wing Support Group 17.
    […]
    …Ermey played a series of minor film roles until 1987, when he was cast as tough drill instructor Gunnery Sergeant Hartmann in Stanley Kubrick’s
    Full Metal Jacket; Ermey also served as the technical advisor on the film. Initially, he was only intended to be the technical advisor, but Kubrick changed his mind after Ermey put together an instructional tape to convince Kubrick he was the right person for the role, in which Ermey went on an extended hair-raising drill instructor tirade towards several Royal Marines cast as extras, all the while being pelted by oranges and tennis balls, and managing to do so without repeating himself, stopping, or even flinching. Kubrick allowed him to write his own dialogue and improvise on set, a noted rarity in a Kubrick film.
    R. Lee Ermey

  43. I just caught the first part of FMJ (HD on the 52″ Sony! Awesome!), and I am not surprised at all that the guy playing the DI was a real DI playing himself.

    Mad props to Kubrick for recognizing real talent and letting it off the leash.

  44. I must be old..Im still digging “Green berets” the john wayne flick..

    Gmos are not about turning us into infertile mutants…or feeding a starving planet…no one gives a krap about that…we pay farmers to not farm now..its all lip service..

    Its about control of our food source…and in a rush to the end of the rainbow idiots will do anything.

    nice blog

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