Welcome to my blog

I like to know if anyone is looking at my blog so please comment, if you can think of something, to say or e-mail me at madsmckeever@eircom.net

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

independently funded articles on GM potatoes

http://www.biofortified.org/genera/studies-for-genera/independent-funding/ is a list of 126 articles on GM foods, apparently independently funded. 10 contain potato in the title.

Only two involved feeding potatoes to animals:

Ewen SWB, Pusztai A (1999) concluded that it made the rats sick. 

Rhee, G.S., Cho, D.H., Won, Y.H., Seok, J.H., Kim, S.S., Kwack, S.J., Lee, R.D., Chae, S.Y., Kim, J.W., Lee, B.M., Park, K.L., Choi, K.S., 2005.  concluded that the rats were fine.   I could not find the complete article

Kuiper HA, Hub P J M Noteborn, and ACM Peijnenburg. 1999 Adequacy of methods for testing the safety of genetically modified foods. Lancet 354:1315-6. This paper suggests  Arpad Pusztai's research was flawed.

I can't find this on the internet but would be interested to read it. 

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/sites/pubmed/18320254  assesses the bioavailability of carotenoids in GM potatoes, and involves subjects eating 1100g of potatoes on two occasions a week apart. This may have been enough to assess its bioavailability but it does nothing to assess its safety as a food.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1242293/?tool=pubmed  describes mass spectrophotometer fingerprinting of GM and non GM potatoes but does not include any feeding trials.

Defernez M, Gunning YM, Parr AJ, Shepherd LV, Davies HV, Colquhoun IJ. (2004) J Agric Food Chem. 2004 Oct 6;52(20):6075-85. NMR and HPLC-UV profiling of potatoes with genetic modifications to metabolic pathways. describes differences in metabolites in various GM and non GM cultivars. It finds differences but said they did not appear important, again no testing on animals.

Enot DP Manfred Beckmann, David Overy, and John Draper (2006) Predicting interpretability of metabolome models based on behavior, putative identity, and biological relevance of explanatory signals PNAS October 3, 2006 vol. 103(40): 14865–14870 How to work out whether plants have substantially equivalent metabolite content, including an analysis of transgenic potatoes. another metabolite fingerprinting exercise, without actually testing any of the potatoes on animals or humans.

Next is: Lehesranta,Satu J., Howard V. Davies, Louise V.T. Shepherd, Naoise Nunan, Jim W. McNicol, Seppo Auriola, Kaisa M. Koistinen, Soile Suomalainen, Harri I. Kokko and Sirpa O. Kärenlampi. 2005. Comparison of Tuber Proteomes of Potato Varieties, Landraces, and Geneticallyn Modified Lines. Plant Physiology 138:1690-1699.

it has a lot of information about proteomes and the differences between varieties both GM and other wise but no conclusions about how safe they are to eat. 

The eighth is Rhee, G.S., Cho, D.H., Won, Y.H., Seok, J.H., Kim, S.S., Kwack, S.J., Lee, R.D., Chae, S.Y., Kim, J.W., Lee, B.M., Park, K.L., Choi, K.S., 2005. Multigeneration reproductive and developmental toxicity study of bar gene inserted into genetically modified potato on rats. J. Toxicol. Environ. Health A 68, 2263–2276. 

This paper concluded that the GM potatoes didn't do the rats any harm, but I cannot find the complete paper only the abstract.

Shepherd LV, McNicol JW, Razzo R, Taylor MA, Davies HV (2006). Assessing the potential for unintended effects in genetically modified potatoes perturbed in metabolic and developmental processes. Targeted analysis of key nutrients and anti-nutrients. Transgenic Res. 15(4):409-25. Again I could only find the abstract and it did not refer to the safety or otherwise of eating GM potatoes.



  1. Would you support GE toxicology feeding trials in Ireland Madeleine?

  2. hmmm... good question. If GM potatoes were to be released, I would support it. If not, there would be no point.

  3. ? Surely that would depend upon the results of the trials? That's the whole point of trials, no? and why then are you opposed to the current Teagasc trials? Hard to understand your position: if toxicology studies show they are safe, the only reason not to release them is because of public opposition from activists like yourself; and as far as I can understand, your main objection to the current trials is, that they are not doing toxicology trials!

  4. If you had read my previous blog you would know that I am against the introduction of GM potatoes as it will be impossible to contain the genes once they are released. Contamination of normal potatoes would be likely either by pollen flow or physical mixing of potatoes. I believe that Ireland should have a participatory potato breeding program, using traditional methods, to introduce blight resistance into varieties suitable to irish conditions and palates. I believe that Teagasc are in contact with the Sarvari trust which has recently had its funding cut, I believe working with them would be a much better use of tax payers money than trialing potatoes with genes patented and owned by foreign interests, that the majority of people don't want to eat. However, as they have already grown a crop of GM potatoes at Oakpark, the best thing they can do with them is feed them to rats.

  5. Preparing a student debate about GM crops. I have chosen to be the protagonist despite my personal misgivings because I want to inform myself, get past the rhetoric from both sides and get the students to have an opinion. As I see it, there are two main issues.

    1. the pandonas box effect on the environment and containing the altered genes in the food chain. There may be advantages of course but its a huge risk to biodiversity and contamination of other non GM crops. Its the uncontrollable nature of the change which is worrying and quite different to plant breeding trials of the past. With diversity comes protection.Can you convince me otherwise skepteco?

    2. Fast tracking the breeding process with nanotechnology to create food which might be nutritionally more advantageous and not need the vast quantities of herbicides i.e. the feed the world approach, or stronger structual and/or energy crops. While the latter is tempting, it has been shown in the past that reliance on monocultures can be dangerous to the environment or to people. Exotic trees, for instance, which out compete native species. Eucalyptus in Spain was thought to be a wonder tree for the industry, but actively accelerates fire of which there are about 3000 a year and there are always deaths involved. The blue lupin in Iceland is running riot, as is Robinia in Poland, Rhododendron in Ireland. With GM alterations, there is not only less of a chance of retributive action because of the more hidden nature of the manipulation, the speed to which it could have disastrous effects may be impossible to contain.

    While I am more open to suggestion about GM energy or structural crops,I have yet to be convinced that food stuffs that I eat - wheat, apples, potatoes etc etc, and what the animals I eat have been fed on, should be have any GM involvement and I would be interested in your opinions. Trials need strict controls, and, if they are not to contaminate everything around them, should be done in an isolated environment. Might I remind you Skepteco, that plants, although slower than insects, do move and their pollen certainly does.

    With better food labelling we can choose our primary food but we do not know about the seconday sources as this is not available to the consumer. I am interested to know of any other indepentent food trials testing this technology that is not run by the major food companies and any other comments you all feel you would like to share and which I can communicate to my students. GH

  6. I don't think many independent trials have taken place because the biotechnology companies do not allow it. Getting access to the seed is difficult for scientists. I think that if the same kind of money was put into traditional plant breeding as is put into GM amazing results could be achieved. Plant breeding used to be publicly funded and the benefits were free to all. Most crop breeding is now done by profit motivated companies who, naturally want control of the varieties they spend time and money developing. GM crops do not increase the inherent productive ability of crops they are just a quick fix to some specific problem. Monocultures always produce disease problems, new cultural techniques such as intercropping to slow down the spread of disease and techniques like the 'System for the Intensification of Rice" and the planting of more genetically diverse crops, could increase yields significantly. There is plenty of food in the world to feed everyone, people are hungry because they have no money to buy it with, or no land to grow it on. Feeding vast amounts of soya and maize from the Americas, to livestock here, is crazy, especially when one in four children in Argentina is hungry. We need strong democratic governments to take control of food systems and not allow multinational companies dictate to them.

  7. The track record for "industrial" toxicology studies seems mixed at best. Who'd of thought, in the 1960's to check the reproductive effects of chemicals at concentrations barely detectable by equipment of the day? Now we know that an unitended side effect of the plastics industry is the production of oestrogen mimicking chemicals that, even in minute quantities, alter the embryonic development of fish. Studying chronic exposure to industrial chemicals - or to the the novel mix of protiens in a GMO - is expensive so industry has done a good job of making sure it mostly doesn't have to undertake that sort of thing.