I'm not a huge fan of deGrasse Tyson, but it's not my opinion that he would play fast and loose with scientific facts for political or monetary reasons (I doubt we will find him on the Monsanto payroll)
I am suspect of any fanatical movement and the anti-GMO movement is certainly that. When scientists start manipulating data to prove what they have reason to believe rather than letting the data prove what it will, I lose all or a lot of faith in the science behind a certain position. It is why I have been suspect of the Climate-Change movement. (But I have no intention of diverting this thread into a discussion of Climate Change.)
No one, whether they be scientist, teacher, minister, CEO or shoemaker is beyond bias, corruption or just plain being wrong. Our good friend farmerman is obviously a learned fellow and writes with authority on matters scientific, but because he knows more about science than you or I doesn't mean that what he writes about it is always accurate or free of bias. I doubt that he would suggest (unless in smartass jest) that we accept everything he writes as fact.
Web searches for information on GMOs bring up a plethora of sites dedicated to some form of anti-GMO expressions which range from simply arguing there is not enough science on the subject to calling for their immediate worldwide banning to urging the masses to rise up and hang the Board of Directors of Monsanto. Fortunately they can also bring up a number of rationale discussions of the subject from generally reliable sources. My reading up until now has led me to believe that not only are GMOs largely safe, they offer solutions to nutrition problems around the world (such as the Golden Rice, Setanta commented upon)
In conducting a search this evening to provide information for those interested, I haven't seen anything that alters my opinion of either GMOs or the anti-GMO movement.
In 2012 the results of a study by French researchers was published in the scientific journal Food and Chemical Toxicology which concluded that a Monsanto GMO caused cancer in rats. Rats were fed Monsanto’s NK603 corn and Monsanto’s week-killer RoundUp for two years and the researcher found "“severe adverse health effects, including mammary tumors and kidney and liver damage, leading to premature death”
These photos were included in the report:
As one might expect the anti-GMO movement picked up the story and ran with it.
Mother Earth News
Within days of its publication hundreds of scientists around the world questioned the study, a fact that Mother Earth News acknowledged (after devoting the rest of the article to detailing the findings) in this manner:
Predictably, industry-aligned scientists are questioning the study, but even longtime critics of GMOs, including Hansen, have concerns. Hansen says that while the new study was longer and better designed than any of the industry GMO safety studies, the sample size — 10 males and 10 females per group — was too small to draw conclusions from.
[it's] suggestive that there’s something going on and that there should be further research,” Hansen says, adding that a possible reason the researchers didn’t use a greater number of rats to get more robust results is because multiyear rat studies are extremely expensive.
"Hansen" is Michael Hansen, senior scientist at Consumers Union, the political advocacy arm of Consumer Reports Magazine.
Among the scientists criticizing the report were
Prof Tom Sanders, head of the nutritional sciences research division, King’s College London, warned the type of rat used was very prone to mammary tumours, particularly when food intake was not restricted. And Dr Wendy Harwood, senior scientist, John Innes Centre, said: “The full data set has not been made available, but the findings do not contradict previous findings that genetic modification itself is a neutral technology, with no inherent health or environmental risks.
“This strain of rat is very prone to mammary tumors particularly when food intake is not restricted,” he said. “The statistical methods are unconventional … and it would appear the authors have gone on a statistical fishing trip.” Tom Sanders, head of the nutritional sciences research division at King’s College London,
“The most evocative part of the paper is those pictures of tumorigenesis. They give the impression that this never happens in controls. I’d be surprised if it didn’t, but that ought to be explicitly demonstrated, and if there was a control that ended up showing similar kinds of tumorigenesis then a picture of that rat should be shown as well, just so we can see if there are any qualitative differences between them.” Prof Maurice Moloney from Rothamsted Research
"There are features of this paper that hint at a motive, an intent. I do not believe this was a hypothesis tested. I believe that this was an experiment designed to frighten. I believe that this is blatant misuse of science to forward an agenda." Dr. Kevin Folta - Horticultural Sciences University of Florida
"I am grateful for the authors for publishing this paper, as it provides a fine case study for teaching a statistics class about poor design, analysis and reporting. I shall start using it immediately." Sir David John Spiegelhalter, Winton Professor of the Public Understanding of Risk in the Statistical Laboratory, University of Cambridge
Eventually Food and Chemical Toxicology retracted the paper amidst claims by the anti-GMO movement that the scientists criticizing the study were the paid stooges of Monsanto, and that a member of the journal's Board of Directors, who had once worked for Monsanto, exerted undue influence.
The following article details the links between this study and proposed political activities concerning GMOs
The following are articles addressing this study as well as the topic of GMO in general, and the largely left-wing campaign against them:
Slate-GMO Opponents Are the Climate Skeptics of the Left
Discover-Under Controlled: Why the New GMO Panic Is More Sensational Than Sense
The bottom line for people worried about GMO ingredients in their food is that there is no credible scientific evidence that GMOs pose a health risk.
Scientific American-The Truth About Genetically Modified Food
Mark Tester, research professor at the Australian Centre for Plant Functional Genomics at the University of Adelaide, expressed this concern to the Science Media Centre: “The first thing that leaps to my mind is why has nothing emerged from epidemiological studies in the countries where so much GM has been in the food chain for so long? If the effects are as big as purported, and if the work really is relevant to humans, why aren’t the North Americans dropping like flies?!” A very good question.
Discover-Liberals Turn A Blind Eye To Crazy Talk On GMOS
The bulk of the science on GM safety points in one direction. Take it from David Zilberman, a U.C. Berkeley agricultural and environmental economist and one of the few researchers considered credible by both agricultural chemical companies and their critics. He argues that the benefits of GM crops greatly outweigh the health risks, which so far remain theoretical. The use of GM crops “has lowered the price of food,” Zilberman says. “It has increased farmer safety by allowing them to use less pesticide. It has raised the output of corn, cotton and soy by 20 to 30 percent, allowing some people to survive who would not have without it. If it were more widely adopted around the world, the price [of food] would go lower, and fewer people would die of hunger.”
In the future, Zilberman says, those advantages will become all the more significant. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that the world will have to grow 70 percent more food by 2050 just to keep up with population growth. Climate change will make much of the world's arable land more difficult to farm. GM crops, Zilberman says, could produce higher yields, grow in dry and salty land, withstand high and low temperatures, and tolerate insects, disease and herbicides.
Discover-From Darwinius To GMOS Journalists Should Not Let Themselves Be Played
Like I said, liberals are attentive watchdogs when it comes to flawed coverage of climate change. But with crazy talk on GMOs, they are MIA.
As for Monsanto, here is an interesting article from Modern Farmer
Why Does Everyone Hate Monsanto?