Acton Institute Powerblog

No GMO for Fido?

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As noted in the past posts, the tentacles of progressive environmentalism and fear-mongering against genetically modified organisms reach deep into the universe of religious shareholder activism. In fact, the connection between Green America and shareholder groups As You Sow and the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility reads like a tin-eared version of “Dem Bones” wherein the connective tissue is mutual involvement with US SIF: The Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment and Ceres.

Knowledge of the complicated interrelationships of these investment groups prompted your writer to open an email from Green America’s Anna Meyer this past week. Ms. Meyer fears the world might actually feed GMO-derived nourishment to its pets:

Last week we celebrated a victory for consumers when Mars, maker of M&Ms and Skittles, announced it would remove artificial colors from all of its human foods. This shows that Mars is a company that listens to what its customers want.

Now we must tell Mars to deepen its commitment to sustainability by offering non-GMO human and pet food products.

Mars is the largest candy manufacturer in the US and the second largest in pet food sales. Popular Mars products that may contain GMOs include M&Ms, Snickers, and its pet food lines, including Iams, Eukanuba, and Whiskas.

In the US, 92% of our corn and 94% of our soybeans are genetically modified. As most candies and pet foods contain these ingredients, it’s highly likely we are eating GMOs and feeding them to our pets GMOs [sic] as well.

Let Mars know that our furry friends deserve non-GMO foods too. Ask Mars to offer non-GMO options for our pets! …
Join us in encouraging Mars to deepen its commitment to sustainability this Valentine’s Day by offering non-GMO candies and pet foods!

You really can’t make this stuff up, dear readers. Following a link from the email to the Green America website, GMO Inside, the anti-GMO rant continues with seriously misleading rhetoric:

GMOs have never been proven safe for consumption. GMOs are designed to go hand-in-hand with harmful pesticides, such as glyphosate (Roundup), 2,4-D, and dicamba. This has created superbugs and superweeds, immune to these chemicals, that in turn need heavier and more toxic herbicide application, polluting vital soil and water resources. Additionally, the World Health Organization recently designated glyphosate and 2,4-D as probable carcinogens.

Sounds scary, doesn’t it? But much like the creepy dancing skeletons in “Dem Bones” it simply can’t withstand scientific scrutiny. Let’s examine the WHO claims against glyphosate, shall we? The WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer did indeed warn of glyphosate’s potential carcinogenic properties in a March 2015 report. The IARC classified glyphosates in Group 2A:

Group 2A means that the agent is probably carcinogenic to humans. This category is used when there is limited evidence of carcinogenicity in humans and sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity in experimental animals. Limited evidence means that a positive association has been observed between exposure to the agent and cancer but that other explanations for the observations (called chance, bias, or confounding) could not be ruled out. This category is also used when there is limited evidence of carcinogenicity in humans and strong data on how the agent causes cancer.

Not entirely compelling verification, is it? Remember, IARC is the same agency that declared red meat another probable carcinogen. Nor does “limited evidence” withstand scrutiny when compared to data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and The European Food Safety Administration. The EFSA reported in 2013:

EFSA and the EU Member States have finalised the re-assessment of glyphosate, a chemical that is used widely in pesticides. The report concludes that glyphosate is unlikely to pose a carcinogenic hazard to humans and proposes a new safety measure that will tighten the control of glyphosate residues in food. The conclusion will be used by the European Commission in deciding whether or not to keep glyphosate on the EU list of approved active substances, and by EU Member States to re-assess the safety of pesticide products containing glyphosate that are used in their territories.

And the EPA assessed in 2013:

5. Aggregate cancer risk for U.S. population. Based on the lack of evidence of carcinogenicity in two adequate rodent carcinogenicity studies, glyphosate is not expected to pose a cancer risk to humans. 6. Determination of safety. Based on these risk assessments, EPA concludes that there is a reasonable certainty that no harm will result to the general population or to infants and children from aggregate exposure to glyphosate residues.

If the EPA and EFSA determine glyphosates safe for your writer and his immediate family, it follows such pesticides also pose insignificant harm to his two beloved shelter dogs.

Bruce Edward Walker has more than 30 years’ writing and editing experience in a variety of publishing areas, including reference books, newspapers, magazines, media relations and corporate speeches. Much of this material involved research on water rights, land use, alternative-technology vehicles and other environmental issues, but Walker has also written extensively on nonscientific subjects, having produced six titles in Wiley Publishing’s CliffsNotes series, including study guides for "Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland" and "One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest." He has also authored more than 100 critical biographies of authors and musicians for Gale Research's Contemporary Literary Criticism and Contemporary Musicians reference-book series. Most recently, he was managing editor of The Heartland Institute's InfoTech & Telecom News. Prior to that, he was manager of communications for the Mackinac Center's Property Rights Network. He also served from 2006-2007 as editor of Michigan Science, a quarterly Mackinac Center publication. Walker has served as an adjunct professor of literature and academic writing at University of Detroit Mercy. For the past three years, he has authored a weekly column for the mid-Michigan Morning Sun newspaper. Walker holds a bachelor’s degree in English from Michigan State University. He is the father of two daughters and currently lives in Midland, Mich., with his wife Katherine.


  • Debbie Owen

    Glyphosate being declared a probable carcinogen means that it is more likely than not to cause cancer. I choose to believe the IARC because they didn’t base their decision on the non-peer reviewed industry funded “studies” like the EFSA did. As far as red meat being declared a probable carcinogen, that’s no surprise, but people have a choice whether or not to consume red meat and they know how much is being ingested. Most people don’t even know they are consuming glyphosate in their food products so it’s really an unfair comparison. Why would anyone knowingly want to consume glyphosate, even in small amounts, in so many different food products? We don’t know what the long term health effects of ingesting that poison day after day after day might be, but it sure can’t be healthy for anyone or their pets. I would choose non-GMO for my family and Fido as well.

    • Thomas Baldwin

      It’s not just small amounts, it’s astonishingly small amounts and on few produce.

      “Pesticide Data Program report for 2014 is that pesticide residue levels were at or below tolerance levels set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in all but 0.36 percent of the samples”

      That includes a 100 fold safety factor from NOEL.

    • hyperzombie

      “Glyphosate being declared a probable carcinogen means that it is more likely than not to cause cancer”
      Funny, Sunshine is a definate carcinogen, but I never hear you complain about that.

      • Debbie Owen

        People can limit their sunlight, you know that.

    • RobertWager

      I wonder what you think about Seralini being cited in that IARC report? Sure the global condemnation of his publications should set off alarm bells? You cannot claim ignorance as I gave you the reports that demonstrated the junk science put out by Seralini et al.

      • StopGMO

        You claim “Seralini being cited in that IARC report” which is completely untrue. They didn’t use the Seralini study in their evaluation. The IARC report specifically says “The Working Group concluded this was an inadequate study for the evaluation of glyphosate carcinogenicity” Read page 37: http//monographsiarcfr/ENG/Monographs/vol112/mono11209pdf

      • Debbie Owen

        No, you never proved Seralini put out junk science, but that has nothing to do with this, you have already been told before that the Seralini study wasn’t for cancer. The point is that the EFSA considered studies that were not only non-peer reviewed and industry funded, they are kept secret from the public and independent scientists. Doesn’t the EFSA also want to raise the allowable limit of glyphosate? I choose to believe the IARC who only considered peer reviewed science, they aren’t trying to hide anything in their report.

      • StopGMO

        They didn’t use the Seralini study in their evaluation. The IARC report specifically says “The Working Group concluded this was an inadequate study for the evaluation of glyphosate carcinogenicity”

  • Thomas Baldwin

    Haha. Homopath toxicology.

  • Ken Gallaher

    The FDA is finally going to start testing for glyphosate.
    Those LIES about a few hour half lives will be put to rest.
    Neither dogs no people should be exposed.
    And 3 known “Monsanto spokesmen” already.

  • I am deleting the “you’re a liar” stuff posted here from anonymous commenters. If it continues, I’ll shut down the thread. Let’s stick to the issue at hand please.

  • razorjack

    Monsanto’s own scientists told them Roundup/glyphosate caused cancer over 35 years ago. Instead of disclosing that fact, they called the science “inconvenient” and hid the science away from other scientists, the courts, and the people as a trade secret while at the same time telling us it was safe.

    “Dr Brian John says: “In 1981 both Monsanto and the EPA were already aware of malignant tumours and pre-cancerous conditions in the test animals which were fed small doses of glyphosate in the secret feeding experiments (4). Although concerns were expressed at the time by EPA committees, these concerns were later suppressed while Monsanto was allowed to bring forward a range of cynically manipulated and fraudulent studies purporting to show that glyphosate was harmless (2). None of these studies has been made available for independent examination. That is a scandal in itself. There has been a protracted and cynical cover-up in this matter. Monsanto and the EPA have been fully aware of the carcinogenic potential of glyphosate for at least 35 years. If they had acted in a precautionary fashion back then, instead of turning a blind eye to scientific malpractice, glyphosate would never have been licensed, and hundreds of thousands of lives might have been saved.”

    You can read the study here:

    Glyphosate, pathways to modern diseases IV: cancer and related pathologies
    Anthony Samsel and Stephanie Seneff.
    Journal of Biological Physics and Chemistry 15 (2015), 121–159.