A Catalog of Information on GMOs, Monsanto, and Related Topics

By on January 2, 2016 in Science and Medicine with 4 Comments

There seems to be a prevalent myth that, when it comes to GMOs, Monsanto, and related topics, there is an “information gap,” that is, that these issues simply haven’t been studied enough, or that they haven’t been studied in any truly comprehensive or long-term manner. The Internet has become a sort of “Wild West” when it comes to information: Anyone can publish anything they like. Sensational headlines trend. Dense scientific papers don’t. Conflicts of interest can be hard to identify. Charlatans, snake oil peddlers, quacks, and people who don’t realize that anecdotes don’t qualify as evidence, have free reign to produce articles that prey upon some of your deepest fears and appeal to the less-than-logical elements of the human brain, leading you to make potentially fatal decisions.

When it comes to GMOs, misinformation runs deep. A quick Google search yields results that make claims implicating GMOs in everything from autism to cancer to the neocolonial exploitation of the global south by Shinra-esque biotechnology corporations. These articles appeal to your emotions and strike a chord with your innate biological desire for survival. We want what’s best for our health and the health of our loved ones. We want to be responsible citizens of Planet Earth and take care of the environment. We want to make the right choices. Planting a seed of doubt in someone’s mind is among the easiest things to do. Emotionally-driven decision making, however, can have very adverse consequences. That is why it is imperative that we make our decisions based on reliable sources and methodologically-sound, peer-reviewed data with results that can be replicated across space and time.

Let me be clear: There is no shortage of information on the safety and environmental sustainability of GMOs. (Don’t take my word for it – keep reading and you’ll see what I mean.) While some “anti-GMO activists” may continue to assert otherwise, the facts are not on their side. The reality of the situation is that extensive research has been done and countless major, international bodies of science and medicine have reviewed that data in coming to the consensus conclusion that GMOs are as safe as, or safer than, “conventional” and “organic” foods. In this catalog, I will be documenting both scientific research and articles from reliable sources that tackle some of the many myths surrounding GMOs, as well as Monsanto.

If you would like to recommend additions to this catalog, or if you have any questions regarding the information contained herein, you are more than welcome to contact me.

Original Post Date: January 2nd 2016
Last Updated: February 19th 2016 (Edit notes will appear in the footer of this article.)

Table of Contents
Is there a scientific consensus regarding the safety of GMOs?
Debunking General Myths Regarding GMOs
Studies on GMOs
Labeling GMOs: What’s the harm?
Breaking Down Junk Science on GMOs
Are GMOs responsible for the “bee crisis?”
Are GMOs Unnatural?
Do GMOs cause autism?
Do GMOs cause cancer?
But, didn’t the World Health Organization declare glyphosate to be carcinogenic?
Have GMOs helped to create herbicide-resistant superweeds?
Do genetically engineered crops really increase pesticide use?
Glyphosate and other Pesticides or Herbicides
Is organic necessarily healthier or better for the environment?
Does Monsanto aggressively attack small farmers?
The Mythical Monsanto Protection Act
Is Monsanto going on trial for crimes against humanity?
Are farmers forced to buy GM seeds?
Does a patent allow a private company to own the seeds they create?
Did GMOs cause farmers in India to commit suicide?
Why do people oppose GMOs?
What’s the harm in opposing GMOs?
Why we need GMOs
Monsanto and the Zika Virus
Edit Notes

Is there a scientific consensus regarding the safety of GMOs?

Scientific consensus on GMO safety stronger than for global warming
Solid GMO Scientific Consensus – Based on Real Science
Statement by the AAAS Board of Directors On Labeling of Genetically Modified Foods
AAAS Scientists: Consensus on GMO Safety Firmer Than For Human-Induced Climate Change
Frequently asked questions on genetically modified foods
Scientists defend safety of genetically modified foods
H-480.958 Bioengineered (Genetically Engineered) Crops and Foods
240 global science organizations affirm consensus for GMO food and crop safety
Are GMOs Safe? Global Independent Science Organizations Weigh In
The International Scientific Consensus on Genetically Engineered Food Safety

GMOs and Human Health

Click on the image for a larger version. To learn more, click here.

Debunking General Myths Regarding GMOs

20 points of broad scientific consensus on GE crops
The GMO Controversy
Safety of Genetically Engineered Foods
Modern food biotechnology, human health and development: an evidence-based study
No Health Concerns for GMO
Top five myths about genetic modification
Everything You Need To Know About GMOs
The Truth about Genetically Modified Food
10 Common GMO Claims Debunked
Weigh GMO Food with Facts Not Fear
The war against genetically modified organisms is full of fearmongering, errors, and fraud.
Top Five Myths Of Genetically Modified Seeds, Busted
Food for Thought
Busting GMO Myths
Persistent Anti-GMO Myths

Scientific Consensus on GMOs

Click on the image for a larger version.

Studies on GMOs

It would be a daunting endeavor to list 2,000+ studies on GMOs in this post. Therefore, what I have chosen to do is share the work of a team of Italian scientists who reviewed 1,783 studies about the safety and environmental impacts of GMO foods. You can see their work here: An overview of the last 10 years of genetically engineered crop safety research. If you’re interested in seeing the studies they reviewed, a 105 page .PDF document is available that catalogs all of them. You can find that document right here. The researchers who reviewed this overwhelming library of data concluded, “The scientific research conducted so far has not detected any significant hazards directly connected with the use of genetically engineered crops.”

I would also like to share an additional source regarding animal feeding studies:
19 Years of Feeding Animals GMO Shows No Harm (which references Prevalence and impacts of genetically engineered feedstuffs on livestock populations)

As Dr. Novella summarizes, “We now have a large set of data, both experimental and observational, showing that genetically modified feed is safe and nutritionally equivalent to non-GMO feed. There does not appear to be any health risk to the animals, and it is even less likely that there could be any health effect on humans who eat those animals. In order to maintain the position that GMOs are not adequately tested, or that they are harmful or risky, you have to either highly selectively cherry pick a few outliers of low scientific quality, or you have to simply deny the science.” Here is a comprehensive list of animal feeding studies.

I also recommend “A decade of EU-funded GMO research” (published by the European Commission), which evaluates both food safety and environmental impacts. Another database of relevant studies is maintained here.

If you browse some of the “alternative” health blogs that are infamous for their anti-GMO rhetoric, you may see references to outliers (in other words, a small handful of poorly-conducted studies whose results contradict all of the other data on the subject), discredited or retracted articles, logical fallacies, conspiratorial ideation, and other such “arguments.” One of the best articles that breaks down these responses is “The Bad Science Checklist of GMO Opponents.” It is not uncommon to see individuals “cherry picking” extraneous material and attempting to construct a field of validity via logical fallacies. Finding a single study that says “GMOs are dangerous” doesn’t discredit the overwhelming consensus that GMOs are safe. It’s far more likely that the outlying study suffered from poor methodology, fell through cracks in the peer review process, etc.

Confirmation bias “is a cognitive bias that causes us to search out evidence that supports our point of view, while ignoring anything that doesn’t. It is a basic human behavior.” If we are truly interested in the truth, we must not allow ourselves to fall victim to it.

Labeling GMOs: What’s the harm?

Anti-GMO “activists” are pushing for mandatory GMO-labeling requirements. Even some individuals who don’t take issue with GMOs are asking, “Well, what’s the harm? Why not just label them?” Slapping a label on foods containing GMOs may sound like an innocuous proposition – but that couldn’t be further from the truth — for several reasons.

Labels for GMO Foods Are a Bad Idea
It’s practically impossible to define “GMOs”
Say ‘no’ to GMO labeling
The Problem with GMO Labels
Backers of GMO labeling unthinkingly buy conspiracy-based arguments
Genetically Modified Ignorance
Whole Foods’ Anti-GMO Swindle
No One Is Denying a ‘Right to Know What’s in My Food’
Science, not fear, should guide food labeling laws

The ultimate irony is that opponents of GMOs are often concerned about corporate influence and special interest groups – the very things that fuel the “non-GMO” movement and efforts to have GMOs labeled. Take a look at “The Roots Of The Anti-Genetic Engineering Movement? Follow The Money!” by Henry I. Miller (quoted below).

There exists in this country a vast, well-established, highly professional, protest industry fueled by special interest groups seeking to line their own pockets while harming the public interest. How vast? A review of tax returns of the “non-profit” activist organizations opposing agricultural biotechnology and other modern production methods reveals more than $2.5 billion is being spent annually in the United States by these professional advocacy groups to shape our beliefs and influence our purchasing habits. Like Prop. 37 in California, the majority of this money comes not from “grassroots” donations, but from big-money special interests that benefit from these foods scares.

The leading corporate contributors and the biggest donors behind the Prop. 37 campaign in California are organic food, natural product and alternative (read: quack) health product companies. These “fear profiteers” prosper from scare campaigns about food and how it’s produced. Their support enables activists to foment bogus health and safety fears about the agricultural products and production techniques used to grow conventionally produced (i.e., non-organic) foods, thereby helping to drive customers to higher-priced organic offerings. Boosting costs through labeling initiatives and other tactics allows the less efficient organic alternatives to become more cost-competitive. Misled, bamboozled consumers are the losers.

You can read more about non-GMO profiteering in the articles “Non GMO salt? Water? Food companies exploit GMO free labels, misleading customers, promoting misinformation” and “Why ‘GMO-free’ is a marketing ploy you shouldn’t fall for.”

Breaking Down Junk Science on GMOs

How Scare Tactics on GMO Foods Hurt Everybody
GMO pigs study – more junk science
More bad science in the service of anti-GMO activism
Detailed comment on Carman et al (2013): study design and conduct
Pollan and Bittman, the Morano and Milloy of GMO anti-science
Environmentalists Must Face Down the Anti-Science in Their Own House
Metastisizing Misinformation About GMOs And RNA
10 studies proving GMOs are harmful? Not if science matters
The Top 5 Lies About Biotech Crops
Scientific Journal Retracts Anti-GMO Junk Science Study

Are GMOs responsible for the “bee crisis?”

Study Finds Glyphosate and Acetamiprid to Have Relatively Low Toxicity for Honey Bees
Call off the bee-pocalypse: U.S. honeybee colonies hit a 20-year high
The Story of the Birds and the Bees: The Neonic Catastrophe That Never Was
Science Collapse Disorder — The Real Story Behind Neonics And Mass Bee Deaths
Sick Bees – Part 18E: Colony Collapse Revisited – Genetically Modified Plants

Are GMOs Unnatural?

If you don’t want your food genetically modified, tell nature to stop it.
GMOs are “unnatural,” but so is everything else that you eat

Do GMOs cause autism?

Glyphosate – The New Bogeyman
Oh, no! GMOs are going to make everyone autistic!
Autism increase mystery solved: No, it’s not vaccines, GMOs glyphosate–or organic foods
Will my child be born autistic if I eat GMOs? A scientist’s view
Glyphosatan: Will one in two children will be autistic by 2025 due to use of glyphosate on food crops?

Do GMOs cause cancer?

GMOs cause leukemia!? Think again.
Bt and Leukemia – Another Anti-GMO Myth

But, didn’t the World Health Organization declare glyphosate to be carcinogenic?

I want to place special emphasis on this one. I have seen this claim used in countless debates: “The World Health Organization lists glyphosate as carcinogenic to humans.” Not exactly. This is another example of scientific information being taken out-of-context and transformed into a sensational headline. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (an arm of the World Health Organization) evaluates hazards — not risks — (there’s a huge difference) of all sorts of common products and activities. IARC listed glyphosate as a “Class 2A Hazard” indicating that it is “probably carcinogenic” to humans. I understand how that can be disconcerting.

Here is an infographic with examples of what falls in IARC’s different categories:

IARC WHO Glyphosate

Click on the image for a larger version.

As Henry Miller writes, “As with common chemicals like sugar, salt and water, and foods like nutmeg and licorice, glyphosate at very high doses is capable of causing harm to humans. That’s what the IARC “2A” designation—“probably carcinogenic to humans”–essentially means. But one of the seminal tenets of toxicology is that “the dose makes the poison,” and the reality is that glyphosate is not a human health risk even at levels of exposure that are more than 100 times higher than the human exposures that occur under conditions consistent with the product’s labeling.”

The most important thing to remember is that the dose makes the poison. Paracelsus, a 16th century Swiss German physician, said, “All things are poisons, for there is nothing without poisonous qualities. It is only the dose which makes a thing poison” – and he was right. That’s why people who spray herbicides and pesticides onto plants wear protective equipment but those same chemicals do not affect consumers who eat the food that was once sprayed. You can read more about the IARC’s classification of glyphosate – and why it can be misleading when taken out of context – here.

Finally, let’s take a look at a published review of epidemiological studies of glyphosate and cancer (the pinnacle of good science). As you might now expect, “Seven cohort studies and fourteen case-control studies examined the association between glyphosate and one or more cancer outcomes. Our review found no consistent pattern of positive associations indicating a causal relationship between total cancer (in adults or children) or any site-specific cancer and exposure to glyphosate.”

Have GMOs helped to create herbicide-resistant superweeds?

Case studies: A hard look at GM crops
Superweeds and Evidence-Based Agriculture
Superweeds: A Mutating Problem

Do genetically engineered crops really increase pesticide use?

A Meta-Analysis of the Impacts of Genetically Modified Crops
The Muddled Debate About Pesticides and GM Crops

Glyphosate and other Pesticides or Herbicides

Epidemiologic studies of glyphosate and cancer: a review.
Conclusion on the peer review of the pesticide risk assessment of the active substance glyphosate
Safety evaluation and risk assessment of the herbicide Roundup and its active ingredient, glyphosate, for humans.
Glyphosate – The New Bogeyman
Is glyphosate toxic to humans?
Glyphosate Toxicity: Looking Past the Hyperbole, and Sorting Through the Facts
Myth of the Week: Glyphosate is the Agent Orange of our time
Pesticides and ADHD
Are lower pesticide residues a good reason to buy organic? Probably not.
Dueling Narratives on Organic Farming
GMOs May Feed the World Using Fewer Pesticides
The Biggest Myth About Organic Farming
Spending More For Organic Does Not Buy You Pesticide-Free

Is organic necessarily healthier or better for the environment?

The Biggest Myth About Organic Farming
Mythbusting 101: Organic Farming > Conventional Agriculture
Organic food isn’t cleaner and isn’t toxin-free
Systematic review finds no difference in nutritional value of organic vs. conventional foods
Nutritional quality of organic foods: a systematic review
Systematic review of differences in nutrient content of organically and conventionally produced food
Stanford Scientists Cast Doubt on Advantages of Organic Meat and Produce
Genetic engineering vs. natural breeding: What’s the difference?
Are lower pesticide residues a good reason to buy organic? Probably not.
Dueling Narratives on Organic Farming
Yet another Leafy Green E. coli Outbreak and No Traceback to the Farm
Local and organic food has extra safety risks. Just ask Chipotle.
The Ecological Debate Against Organic Farming
Organic Food Quality
Approved Chemicals for Use in Organic Postharvest Systems
Organic Shmorganic
12 highly toxic pesticides approved for use in organic farming
Organic Food, Pesticides, and Cancer
The organic hepatitis outbreak: We need organic field testing
GM crops are safer than conventional crops, says Environment Secretary Owen Paterson
No Health Benefits from Organic Food
Organic and UHT milk could put unborn babies at risk, says study
USDA declines to investigate alleged violations at major organic farms


For some reason, many anti-GMO arguments center on the conduct of Monsanto and there is this misconception that GMOs = Monsanto and Monsanto = GMOs. The information I’ve shared above cannot be refuted by references to corporate practices of Monsanto that you may find to be unsavory. However, I have decided that I will dedicate space in this catalog to debunking many of the myths surrounding Monsanto to help shut down bogus arguments put forth by those who make the fallacious equivalence I mentioned earlier.

A Rebuttal To the Monsanto Protestors
The Cartoonish March Against Monsanto
How to Really March Against Monsanto
Argumentum ad Monsantium
Let’s Blame Monsanto’s Glyphosate For Everything! (or not)
Can We Trust Monsanto with Our Food?
Argumentum Ad Monsantum: Bill Maher and The Lure of a Logical Fallacy
Why Does Everyone Hate Monsanto?
GMO Foods and the Tooth Fairy
The GMO Controversy
6 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Monsanto
Monsanto’s Plan to Help the Honeybee
I Occupy Our Food Supply Everyday

Does Monsanto aggressively attack small farmers?

Supremes Unsympathetic to Farmer’s Deception at Center of Monsanto GMO Soybean SCOTUS Patent Challenge
Top Five Myths Of Genetically Modified Seeds, Busted
Hero of Neil Young’s anti-GMO doc ‘Seeding Fear’ is confessed thief (not an ad hominem)

“Since 1997, we have only filed suit against farmers 147 times in the United States. This may sound like a lot, but when you consider that we sell seed to more than 325,000 American farmers a year, it’s really a small number. Of these, we’ve proceeded through trial with only eleven farmers. All eleven cases were found in Monsanto’s favor.” Source: Saved Seed and Farmer Lawsuits

The Mythical Monsanto Protection Act

Monsanto Protection Act
Monsanto Protection Act: Anti-GMO Conspiracy Theorists Lose it Over Minor Deregulation
Conservatives Laugh As Liberals Attack President Over Non-Existent ‘Monsanto Protection Act’
Monsanto Protection Act? Separating the facts from the fury
Five “Monsanto Protection Act” Myths

Is Monsanto going on trial for crimes against humanity?

No, Monsanto Is Not Going On Trial For Crimes Against Humanity

Are farmers forced to buy GM seeds?

Unraveling Five Popular Anti-GMO Claims
GMOs – From a Farmer’s Perspective
Myth Busted: Farmers are Forced to Buy Seeds from Big Ag Companies
The Myth About Seed Choice

Does a patent allow a private company to own the seeds they create?

Does a “patent” allow a private company to own the seeds created?
Yes, seeds that grow organic food are often patented
Why activists, but few farmers, complain they can’t save patented seeds

Did GMOs cause farmers in India to commit suicide?

The myth of India’s ‘GM genocide': Genetically modified cotton blamed for wave of farmer suicides
GM crops, Indian farmers and suicide

Why do people oppose GMOs?

The Psychology Of Why So Many People Are Anti-GMO
Why GMO Myths Are So Appealing and Powerful
GMO Opponents Are the Climate Skeptics of the Left
Antivaccine versus anti-GMO: Different goals, same methods
Is opposition to genetically modified food irrational?
Gimmicky Marketing Obfuscations
Politics vs Science
The Psychology of Distrusting GMOs
When Journalists Say Really Stupid Stuff About GMOs

What’s the harm in opposing GMOs?
(Also see “why we need GMOs” below.)

Anti-GMO group destroys trial vineyard in France
Anti-GMO activist ‘ecologists’ destroy GM eucalyptus seedlings in Brazil
Anti-GMO activists destroy rapeseed trial crops in France to protest mutagenesis, not realizing plants were not mutagenic
Anti-GMO Protestors Destroy Rice Field
Activists Destroy ‘Golden Rice’ Field Trial
GM scaremongering in Africa is disarming the fight against poverty
Anti-Biotech Opposition to Golden Rice Has Cost 1.4 Million ‘Life Years’ in India Alone.
The Italian job: Farmers facing pests pay dearly for Europe’s anti-GM stance
Antiscience Beliefs Jeopardize U.S. Democracy

There are also the obvious dangers of rejecting evidence, rejecting logic and rational thinking, abstaining from critical thought, and buying into baseless claims despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. These mindsets lead to everything from the rejection of beneficial technologies to death from preventable causes.

Why we need GMOs

10 Reasons we Need Crop Biotechnology
Why We Will Need Genetically Modified Foods
Crop Yield Trends Insufficient to Feed the World in 2050
World’s poorest will feel brunt of climate change, warns World Bank
A Race to Save the Orange by Altering Its DNA
Golden Rice: The GMO could save millions of lives.
Why GMOs matter — especially for the developing world
Genetically engineered mosquitoes could be vital weapon against malaria
GMOs May Feed the World Using Fewer Pesticides
We need GMOs to feed a growing population
GMOs with health benefits have a large market potential
Fortified against blindness
U.S.D.A. Approves Modified Potato
Food Fight: The Case for Genetically Modified Food

Monsanto and the Zika Virus

Is there a connection between Monsanto and the Zika virus outbreak? No. In February 2016, rumors began circulating that microcephaly is being caused by the use of pyriproxyfen, a larvicide — and numerous less-than-reputable sources quickly indicted Monsanto. What these sources failed to realize, however, is that Monsanto does not produce larvicides. Pyriproxyfen is produced by Tokyo-based Sumitomo Chemical (which is not owned by Monsanto Company).

As for the rumor itself – that is, that microcephaly is being caused by pyriproxyfen, rather than the Zika virus (or some other cause), is wholly unsubstantiated. Scientists, doctors, and public health professionals are working diligently to reach evidence-based conclusions. There is nothing to be gained from creating and circulating rumors that are predicated upon a lack of evidence (including no laboratory tests or epidemiological studies), fear mongering around an information gap, and the overall misrepresentation of a situation by a small group of heavily biased individuals. This is a serious situation and we owe it to affected and at-risk individuals to disseminate information responsibly.

A Viral Story Links The Zika Crisis To Monsanto. Don’t Believe It.
Scientists debunk theory linking pesticide, not Zika, to birth defects
How Monsanto Got Stung By a Zika Virus Conspiracy Theory
Zika virus: Brazil dismisses link between larvicide and microcephaly
No, GM Mosquitoes Didn’t Start The Zika Outbreak.
Zika Virus Associated with Microcephaly
Pyriproxyfen in Drinking-Water (World Health Organization Report)

Edit Notes
February 19th 2016: Added information regarding Monsanto and the Zika Virus.


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There Are 4 Brilliant Comments

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  1. Eric Bjerregaard says:


  2. Michael, thanks for linking to one of my blog posts in this really extensive list of links! And kudos on working in a FFVII reference!

  3. SB says:

    I would like to add a comment and a reference to the section “Do genetically engineered crops really increase pesticide use?”. I hope that it could be of interest to your readers.
    When one considers the impact of GMOs on pesticide use, one must differentiate between insect-resistant crops and herbicide-tolerant (HT) crops. Indeed Bt crops usually can reduce insecticide use provided that insects other than the targeted ones don’t attack the Bt crops after a certain time period. However, for GM herbicide-tolerant crops, where generally glyphosate has replaced the previously used weedkillers, when one looks at the impact of GM herbicide-tolerant crops on herbicide use, one must do it NOT for one or two years, but for a much LONGER PERIOD of time. Indeed, during their very first years of adoption, HT crops often led to some decrease in herbicide use. However, the repetition of glyphosate-tolerant crops and of glyphosate only applications in the same fields without sufficient alternation and herbicide diversity has contributed to the appearance of glyphosate-resistant weeds. These weeds have resulted in a rise in the use of glyphosate and other herbicides.
    A 2016 article exploring this situation and the impacts of herbicide-resistant weeds has just been published in Environmental Management, a scientific peer-reviewed journal. The paper looks into GM herbicide-tolerant crops and their effects on herbicide use, particularly glyphosate. It then analyzes the spread of glyphosate-resistant weeds worldwide and their consequences, particularly for HT soybean in the USA. This article is the result of a research work carried out by a scientist working in public research with no conflict of interest.
    Reference. Bonny S. 2016. Genetically Modified Herbicide-Tolerant Crops, Weeds, and Herbicides: Overview and impact. Environmental Management 57(1), p. 31-48. http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00267-015-0589-7 http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00267-015-0589-7

  4. Verna Lang says:

    Thank you for this extensive anti-woo list. Already book marked.

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