Scientists warn of link between dangerous new pathogen and Monsanto’s Roundup

Urges USDA to rescind approval of genetically engineered alfalfa: “In layman’s terms, it should be treated as an emergency.”

Late term spontaneous abortion

By Rady Ananda
Food Freedom

A plant pathologist experienced in protecting against biological warfare recently warned the USDA of a new, self-replicating, micro-fungal virus-sized organism which may be causing spontaneous abortions in livestock, sudden death syndrome in Monsanto’s Roundup Ready soy, and wilt in Monsanto’s RR corn.

Dr. Don M. Huber, who coordinates the Emergent Diseases and Pathogens committee of the American Phytopathological Society, as part of the USDA National Plant Disease Recovery System, warned Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack that this pathogen threatens the US food and feed supply and can lead to the collapse of the US corn and soy export markets.  Likewise, deregulation of GE alfalfa “could be a calamity,” he noted in his letter (reproduced in full below).

On January 27, Vilsack gave blanket approval to all genetically modified alfalfa. Following orders from President Obama, he also removed buffer zone requirements. This is seen as a deliberate move to contaminate natural crops and destroy the organic meat and dairy industry which relies on GM-free alfalfa. Such genetic contamination will give the biotech industry complete control over the nation’s fourth largest crop. It will also ease the transition to using GE-alfalfa as a biofuel.

“My letter to Secretary Vilsack was a request to allocate necessary resources to understand potential nutrient-disease interactions before making (in my opinion) an essentially irreversible decision on deregulation of RR alfalfa,” Huber told Food Freedom in an email.

But, he cautions:

“Although the organism has been associated with infertility and spontaneous abortions in animals, associations are not always evidence of cause in all cases and do not indicate what the predisposing conditions might be. These need to be established through thorough investigation which requires a commitment of resources.

“I hope that the Secretary will make such a commitment because many growers/producers are experiencing severe increases in disease of both crops and animals that are threatening their economic viability.”

On Feb. 16, Paul Tukey of SafeLawn telephoned Dr. Huber who told him, “I believe we’ve reached the tipping point toward a potential disaster with the safety of our food supply. The abuse, or call it over use if you will, of Roundup, is having profoundly bad consequences in the soil. We’ve seen that for years. The appearance of this new pathogen may be a signal that we’ve gone too far.”

Tukey also conveyed that while Huber admits that much further study is needed to definitively confirm the link between Round-Up and the pathogen, “In the meantime, he said, it’s grossly irresponsible of the government to allow Roundup Ready alfalfa, which would bring the widespread spraying of Roundup to millions of more acres and introduce far more Roundup into the food supply.”

Huber, who has been studying plant pathogens for over 50 years and glyphosate for over 20 years, has noticed an increase in pathogens associated with the herbicide. In an interview with the Organic and Non-GMO Report last May, he discussed his team’s conclusions that glyphosate can, “significantly increase the severity of various plant diseases, impair plant defense to pathogens and diseases, and immobilize soil and plant nutrients rendering them unavailable for plant use.”

Sudden Death Syndrome in soy where the right field was sprayed the previous year with glyphosate (Iowa, 2010. Photo by Don Huber)

This is because “glyphosate stimulates the growth of fungi and enhances the virulence of pathogens.” [Image] In the last 15-18 years, the number of plant pathogens has increased, he told the Non-GMO Report. “There are more than 40 diseases reported with use of glyphosate, and that number keeps growing as people recognize the association (between glyphosate and disease).”

In his undated letter to the USDA, Huber highlighted “the escalating frequency of infertility and spontaneous abortions over the past few years in US cattle, dairy, swine, and horse operations.”  He reported that spontaneous abortions occurred in nearly half the cattle where high concentrations of the pathogen were found in their feed.  Huber notes that the wheat “likely had been under weed management using glyphosate.”

Other Research Supports Huber’s Warning

Last year, Argentine scientists found that Roundup causes birth defects in frogs and chickens. Publishing their paper, “Glyphosate-Based Herbicides Produce Teratogenic Effects on Vertebrates by Impairing Retinoic Acid Signaling,” in Chemical Research in Toxicology, Alejandra Paganelli, et al. also produced a large set of reports for the public at GMWatch:

“In Argentina and Paraguay, doctors and residents living in GM soy producing areas have reported serious health effects from glyphosate spraying, including high rates of birth defects as well as infertility, stillbirths, miscarriages, and cancers. Scientific studies collected in the new report confirm links between exposure to glyphosate and premature births, miscarriages, cancer, and damage to DNA and reproductive organ cells.”

One of the researchers, Andrés Carrasco, told GM Watch, “The findings in the lab are compatible with malformations observed in humans exposed to glyphosate during pregnancy.”

When trying to present these findings to the public in August of last year, Dr. Carrasco and the audience were attacked by 100 thugs who beat them and their cars with clubs, leaving one person paralyzed, Amnesty International reported. Local police and a wealthy GM rice grower were implicated in that attack.

In a 2009 study, researchers linked organ damage with consumption of Monsanto’s GM maize, based on Monsanto’s trial data. As we reported last year, Gilles-Eric Séralini, et al., concluded that the raw data from all three GMO studies reveal that novel pesticide residues will be present in food and feed and may pose grave health risks to those consuming them.

In a 2005 paper published in Environmental Health Perspectives, Sophie Richard, et al. compared the toxicity of Roundup with that of just glyphosate, its active ingredient. They found Roundup to be more toxic, owing to its adjuvants. They also found that endocrine disruption increased over time so that one-tenth the amount prescribed for agriculture caused cell deformation. Citing other research, they also reported that Roundup adjuvants bond with DNA.

Such negative findings probably explain why Monsanto and other biotech firms so vociferously block independent research.

Tom Laskawy at Grist estimated that in 2008, nearly 200 million pounds of glyphosate were poured onto US soils. But, he notes that “exact figures are a closely guarded secret thanks to the USDA’s refusal to update its pesticide use database after 2007.”  This figure more than doubles what the EPA estimates was used in 2000.

Below is Dr. Huber’s full letter, graciously provided to me by Paul Tukey:

Dear Secretary Vilsack:

A team of senior plant and animal scientists have recently brought to my attention the discovery of an electron microscopic pathogen that appears to significantly impact the health of plants, animals, and probably human beings. Based on a review of the data, it is widespread, very serious, and is in much higher concentrations in Roundup Ready (RR) soybeans and corn—suggesting a link with the RR gene or more likely the presence of Roundup.  This organism appears NEW to science!

This is highly sensitive information that could result in a collapse of US soy and corn export markets and significant disruption of domestic food and feed supplies. On the other hand, this new organism may already be responsible for significant harm (see below). My colleagues and I are therefore moving our investigation forward with speed and discretion, and seek assistance from the USDA and other entities to identify the pathogen’s source, prevalence, implications, and remedies.

We are informing the USDA of our findings at this early stage, specifically due to your pending decision regarding approval of RR alfalfa. Naturally, if either the RR gene or Roundup itself is a promoter or co-factor of this pathogen, then such approval could be a calamity. Based on the current evidence, the only reasonable action at this time would be to delay deregulation at least until sufficient data has exonerated the RR system, if it does.

For the past 40 years, I have been a scientist in the professional and military agencies that evaluate and prepare for natural and manmade biological threats, including germ warfare and disease outbreaks. Based on this experience, I believe the threat we are facing from this pathogen is unique and of a high risk status. In layman’s terms, it should be treated as an emergency.

A diverse set of researchers working on this problem have contributed various pieces of the puzzle, which together presents the following disturbing scenario:

Unique Physical Properties
This previously unknown organism is only visible under an electron microscope (36,000X), with an approximate size range equal to a medium size virus. It is able to reproduce and appears to be a micro-fungal-like organism. If so, it would be the first such micro-fungus ever identified. There is strong evidence that this infectious agent promotes diseases of both plants and mammals, which is very rare.

Pathogen Location and Concentration
It is found in high concentrations in Roundup Ready soybean meal and corn, distillers meal, fermentation feed products, pig stomach contents, and pig and cattle placentas.

Linked with Outbreaks of Plant Disease
The organism is prolific in plants infected with two pervasive diseases that are driving down yields and farmer income—sudden death syndrome (SDS) in soy, and Goss’ wilt in corn. The pathogen is also found in the fungal causative agent of SDS (Fusarium solani fsp glycines).

Implicated in Animal Reproductive Failure
Laboratory tests have confirmed the presence of this organism in a wide variety of livestock that have experienced spontaneous abortions and infertility. Preliminary results from ongoing research have also been able to reproduce abortions in a clinical setting.

The pathogen may explain the escalating frequency of infertility and spontaneous abortions over the past few years in US cattle, dairy, swine, and horse operations. These include recent reports of infertility rates in dairy heifers of over 20%, and spontaneous abortions in cattle as high as 45%.

For example, 450 of 1,000 pregnant heifers fed wheatlage experienced spontaneous abortions. Over the same period, another 1,000 heifers from the same herd that were raised on hay had no abortions. High concentrations of the pathogen were confirmed on the wheatlage, which likely had been under weed management using glyphosate.

Recommendations
In summary, because of the high titer of this new animal pathogen in Round Ready crops,[sic] and its association with plant and animal diseases that are reaching epidemic proportions, we request USDA’s participation in a multi-agency investigation, and an immediate moratorium on the deregulation of RR crops until the causal/predisposing relationship with glyphosate and/or RR plants can be ruled out as a threat to crop and animal production and human health.

It is urgent to examine whether the side-effects of glyphosate use may have facilitated the growth of this pathogen, or allowed it to cause greater harm to weakened plant and animal hosts. It is well-documented that glyphosate promotes soil pathogens and is already implicated with the increase of more than 40 plant diseases; it dismantles plant defenses by chelating vital nutrients; and it reduces the bioavailability of nutrients in feed, which in turn can cause animal disorders. To properly evaluate these factors, we request access to the relevant USDA data.

I have studied plant pathogens for more than 50 years. We are now seeing an unprecedented trend of increasing plant and animal diseases and disorders. This pathogen may be instrumental to understanding and solving this problem. It deserves immediate attention with significant resources to avoid a general collapse of our critical agricultural infrastructure.

Sincerely,

COL (Ret.) Don M. Huber
Emeritus Professor, Purdue University
APS Coordinator, USDA National Plant Disease Recovery System (NPDRS)

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120 responses to “Scientists warn of link between dangerous new pathogen and Monsanto’s Roundup

  1. Pingback: Scientists warn of link between dangerous new pathogen and Monsanto’s Roundup | COTO Report

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  4. Does anyone seriously believe this is happening by accident? How much faith do we have in the ‘misguided greed’ theory? What then is an appropriate action or reaction to what seems to be a considered and concentrated attack on our capacity to grow and eat safe food on planet earth?…

  5. Pingback: Scientist urges USDA to rescind approval of Monsanto’s GMO alfalfa – Red, Green, and Blue

  6. Thanks so much for sharing this information, Rady Ananda. As much as I thought I was aware of how dangerous deregulating GE alfalfa can be, I was amazed that the USDA has such little regard to the science behind the research. I thank Mr. Huber for his research and his persuasive letter to Secretary Vilsack, I just hope it works. It scares me to think what little control we as consumers have in the food we eat.

  7. THANK YOu Mr. Huber, here’s one for ole’ Purdue!!! I am also thinking that perhaps this micr0fungus0like organism could be one of many culprits in WNS in bats, and the CCD in honeybees (in addition to the Bayer boogee man)…ie: the animals/bees are already weakened from other GM nasties, then this…oh brave new world….

    • yeah, Morgana ~ I suspect the near extinction of three species of North American bats, along with bee colony collapse disorder, are linked to the use of herbicides and pesticides, if not the actual GM plants.

  8. Pingback: Scientists warn of link between dangerous new pathogen and Monsanto’s Roundup : Infowars Ireland

  9. The Bible says that this will happen. There will be food shortages everywhere as the direct result of this. Monsanto is one of the most evil forces on this planet. They are linked to the Bill and Melissa Gates Foundation, big Pharma and a host of others who plan to depopulate this planet. Our government knows very well what is going on and is doing nothing to stop the madness. Get ready for a rough ride.

  10. So what would Sun Tzu do? ( I refer to a comment you made in your previous post about why and how this evil is being perpetrated – “Monsanto, Blackwater and GM crop saboteurs”)…

    I can’t find my copy of the art of war, but I found two other less well know books and want to share a couple of quotes. The question that needs to be answered is what is an appropriate action or re-action to this violence that is being waged against us and our earth? For we must act or re-act, inaction is little more than complicity:

    1. “We all want to live. And in large part we make our logic according to what we like. But not having attained our aim and continuing to live is cowardice. This is a thin dangerous line. To die without gaining one’s aim is a dog’s death and fanaticism. But there is no shame in this. This is the substance of the Way of the Samurai. If by setting one’s heart right every morning and evening, one is able to live as though his body were already dead, he gains freedom in the Way. His whole life will be without blame, and he will succeed in his calling.” Yamamoto Tsunetomo.

    2. “… keep him on the defensive. Chase the enemy with your body and your spirit. This is excellent strategy. You can easily open targets for yourself with a little effort, but then you must have the courage to go in and kill the enemy without delay. You must be totally resolved when you are fighting; otherwise you will easily lose. By constantly creating difficulties for the enemy, you will force him to deal with more than one thing, giving you the advantage in killing him swiftly.

    When you have the enemy in an awkward position, do not let him regain his composure and possibly defeat you. When the enemy is confused, you must go in for the kill. This strategy must be constantly studied.” Miyamoto Musashi.

    • the philosophy is sound… it applies to everything, not just killing. the point is focus and unwavering commitment to the goal.

      I see my place as “creating difficulties” in that I post articles that speak truth to that abomination.

      Another aspect… what makes this revolution different (among many other factors) is that we are not organized; we’re not part of a small tight-knit community plotting the destruction of an enemy. We are part of a global movement plotting its destruction.

      It’s not millions against Monsanto; it’s billions. And it ain’t just Monsanto we’re fighting. It’s the entire system. That which is waging war on our planet must be stopped, as you suggest, A.F.

      The more who recognize that government is no longer legitimate, the more free people there are in the world. To delegitimize the system, I like Zeitgeist’s 6 suggestions:

      1. stop paying taxes
      2. withdraw your money from the Big Banks
      3. do not join the military (or police, I would add)
      4. boycott corporate mainstream media
      5. reduce your energy use; convert to renewable energy as much as possible
      6. encourage others to do the same

      I would also add:

      1. provide for your own defense
      2. provide your own food and/or buy local
      3. consume way less

  11. Pingback: Recipe for disaster: New GMO threat emerges | eats shoots 'n leaves

  12. someone created a video of this article:

  13. Pingback: Scientists warn of link between dangerous new pathogen and Monsanto’s Roundup (via Food Freedom) « Jimmieanna's Blog

  14. Is is really disappointing to read the posting on the “microfungus”. I am a professor of plant pathology also, and I’ve been privy to some of this “microfungus” research. The data are interesting but certainly not conclusive. An extraordinary claim like this–an organism new to science, causing epidemics of animals and plants–needs to be able to stand the scrutiny of the scientific community, and it hasn’t yet, to my knowledge. Until these claims have been published in a refereed journal, or at least presented in a scientific conference, they don’t have scientific merit.

    • Paul, the article specifically and carefully does not draw scientific conclusions but instead discusses an association which may not be causative. However, a growing body of scientific evidence tends to show a causative relationship, and three of those studies are cited which appeared in refereed journals.

    • Unfortunately the implications of waiting for your vaunted “scientific merit” while mere politicians proceed apace according to the exigencies of their funding and sponsors, in this case, have potential consequences for the world at large that impel at least SOME scientists to speak their mind, properly conditioned, I might add, to all the factors of YOUR exception.

  15. Pingback: eatkamloops.org » Seedy Saturday Gardening Event

  16. This move by Harper & Obama(in the last few weeks) to allow GMO’s to be freely grown in North America, while we, the Organic Community have been protesting this for years, shows that they don’t give a %@*! about the citizens, environment or the future of our children’s, children !

    Tories team with Liberals to kill genetically modified food legislation, Vancover Sun 02/10/11 http://www.vancouversun.com/technology/Tories+team+with+Liberals+kill+genetically+modified+food+legislation/4253997/story.html?id=4253997

    Obama Administration Allows Unrestricted Planting of GMO Alfalfa. Bye-Bye Organic Milk and Beef. http://politicsoftheplate.com/?p=753

    This is an assault on the FOOD SOVEREIGNTY of NORTH AMERICA !

    This is a Global crises, in every country Organic Associations are fighting this. In most European countries, GMO’s are banned. So whats wrong with our Government ? Big $$$ is what this is all about, and MONSANTO is in Harper’s & Obama’s pocket.

    In Organic terms this means only one thing “WAR”

    And the only way we can defeat them is to boycott the food manufactures who use GMO ingredients. In that way, we consumers can force food manufactures to change, or we don’t by their foods.

    Harper & Obama can allow this s%@t, but they can’t force us to consume it.

    And rather than lose profits, food manufactures will conform to our wishes.

    This new Greenpeace GMO list is our weapon, our sword !http://gmoguide.greenpeace.ca/shoppers_guide.pdf
    True Food Shoppers Guide mobile application for iPhone and Android! http://itunes.apple.com/app/true-food/id379459607?mt=8

    Complete List U.S Non-GMO http://truefoodnow.files.wordpress.com/2009/06/web_new-ge-booklet.pdf, Update: http://www.nongmoshoppingguide.com/Non-GMO-Shopping-Guide.pdf

    ShopNoGMO, http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/shopnogmo/id393454798?mt=8

    Also: Bulgaria ? How is it that their leaders, understand what ours can’t begin to fathom ? Bulgaria Opposes GMO Invasion in EU, February 2, 2011 http://www.novinite.com/view_news.php?id=124815

    Please See: 10 reasons why we don’t need GM foods. http://www.gmwatch.org/10-reasons-why-we-dont-need-gm-foods

    Monsanto’s Roundup triggers over 40 plant diseases and endangers human and animal health, January 14, 2011 http://www.gmwatch.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=12806:monsanto-s-roundup-triggers-over-40-plant-diseases-and-endangers-human-and-animal-health

    To learn more about Monsanto’s Kellogg’s foods, genetically engineered alfalfa and sugar beets and Monsanto’s crimes (Monsanto Sues More Small Family Farmers), Please go to : http://www.organicconsumers.org/monlink.cfm

    I would normally say have a good day, but maybe have a “Good Food Day” is more appropriate !

  17. Rady, I am not raising objections about your article, but rather, challenging the wisdom of a scientist discussing very preliminary data on the “microfungus” in a public forum. Your comment above refers to refereed studies, but I am not sure what you are referring to. If you are referring to the glyphosate/disease issue, you are correct–there is a significant body of scientific literature support the possibility that glyphosate may sometimes enhance plant susceptibility to certain diseases. (This is not to say that current epidemics of crop diseases in the Corn Belt are related to glyphosate, but it is a question worth raising.) However, if your mention of three refereed papers refers to the “microfungus”, please share those citations with me. To my knowledge, the scientists who talk about this “microfungus” in public fora are doing so in advance of *any* scientific peer review. This is a totally unsound practice in the world of science. As a journalist, you couldn’t know that, but I communicated with these scientists on this very question in October, and as of then that was the status. To my knowledge, this “microfungus” issue is still well ahead of any meaningful scientific peer review.

    • “To my knowledge, this ‘microfungus’ issue is still well ahead of any meaningful scientific peer review.”

      yes, that’s exactly my understanding, Paul.

      But, the release of GM alfalfa is potentially catastrophic, ergo the public’s need to know this potential risk. Best to have all concerns on the table in full public view, imo.

    • I think the main question is, should this GM alfalfa have been released into the public food supply? With the knowledge you have from reviewing the studies, what is your professional opinion on this matter?

  18. If food prices are going up ? Why do Governments make it so hard for farmers to grow the food we eat !

    Monsanto Brings Small Family Dairy to Court Oakhurst Dairy has been owned and operated by the same Maine family since 1921, and Monsanto recently attempted to put them out of business…

    Percy Schmeiser is a Canadian farmer, whose Canola fields were contaminated with Monsanto’s genetically engineered Round-Up Ready Canola by pollen from a nearby farm. Monsanto says it doesn’t matter how the contamination took place, and is therefore demanding Schmeiser pay their Technology Fee…

    Rodney Nelson’s family farm is being forced into a similar lawsuit by Monsanto.

    Schmeiser, Nelson and hundreds of other farmers are being forced to pay Monsanto ! http://organicconsumers.org/monsanto/crime.cfm

    Watch this short video !, What’s “Wrong With Our Food System” Learning this from an 11 year old may shock you ! http://www.aliveraw.com/Articles/Whats-Wrong-With-Our-Food-System.aspx

    The Future of Food Documentary Film: http://www.thefutureoffood.com/

    Canadians Take Action ! Bill C-474 Voted Down. The Canadian Biotechnology Action Network http://www.cban.ca/

    Demand President Obama Stop Monsanto’s Takeover at the USDA! The USDA approved Monsanto’s genetically engineered sugar beets just a week after it approved GE alfalfa. http://action.foodandwaterwatch.org/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=5810

    Tell President Obama not to cave to Monsanto!

    http://thefutureoffoodfilm.wordpress.com/

  19. Rady, I’m 100% in favor of informing the public of risks. I guess I’ll be blunt any say that I have serious questions about some of the claims in the article because of your source’s failure to first allow for rigorous scientific review of speculative claims. Believe, I know the importance of rigorous peer review. The most significant error I’ve made in 23 years as a professor was when I did the same thing: starting to talk publicly about something controversial that still needed to be researched. That’s what scientific peer-review does–it helps separate valid claims from speculation. A systematic failure to follow this basic practice raises red flags among good scientists.

    Grandpappy Mike, as far as GM alfalfa, up until now, I haven’t been aware of a serious problem on that particular issue but I haven’t studied it well enough to offer an informed opinion. I’ll do so, and if I have anything to add, I’ll post it.

    With respect,
    Paul

  20. So I submitted my latest article to Natural News, among several other editors, and I see that Mike Adams has used my research to write his own article without crediting me.

    that’s plagiarism, and I’m extremely disappointed at the lack of ethics.

    Shame on Natural News.

    • That rat bastard. Not one to stir up a hornets nest, let me show you a little of a blog post your friend Mike Adams made in 2009.

      “I’m truly astonished that some people do not know the definition of stealing, and it really makes me concerned about the future of America, where theft has become such an intrinsic part of American society that the lawmakers do it, the Federal Reserve does it, the banks do it, the majority of students cheat on exams these days, and now people online don’t even recognize cheating or theft when they see it right in front of their eyes!”

      You should read the paragraph right above this one, it’s rich. The full post can be found here.

      http://bestconsumerreviews.blogspot.com/2009/01/cured-meats-linked-to-leukemia-update.html

      • funny… thanks for the link, Mike. After I got his newsletter and read the article, I searched for “Natural News Plagiarism” and found many bloggers commenting on the incident Adams writes about in that link. He didn’t help his cause by the mean-spirited attack, altho I can understand his anger. Most bloggers thought it was a horrendous way to deal with the matter.

        After I complained to them about it, Lacy Moore from GnatNews told me Mike Adams wanted ME to apologize to HIM for accusing him of plagiarism. I have a statement prepared in case I need to go more public with his egregious actions.

  21. Just when we thought that the news about Monsanto GM frankenfoods could not possibly get any worse – now we can add mutated self-replicating, micro-fungal disease to the growing nightmare. Thank you for alerting us. Just say NO to GMO!

  22. This just came out from Purdue University. It relates to some of the issues being raised here and in other sources.

    http://www.btny.purdue.edu/weedscience/2011/GlyphosatesImpact11.pdf

    • wow that was quick. I appreciate the link, Paul.

      Purdue discusses the question of whether yield is affected by the increase of pathogens associated with the use of glyphosate.

      That should be studied, I agree, and hopefully by independent researchers not on the payroll of biotech firms.

      Of more concern to me is the risk of spontaneous abortions in mammals, and the increase in human birth defects where roundup is sprayed.

  23. Reuters came out with a response to my article (which has been posted on over 100 sites now):

    http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/02/24/us-monsanto-roundup-idUSTRE71N4XN20110224

    USDA officials declined to comment about the letter’s contents.

    “We’re reviewing it, and will respond directly to Dr. Huber, rather than responding through the media,” said USDA spokesman Andre Bell.

  24. Pingback: Scientists Warn Of Dangerous New Pathogen From Roundup Ready Treated Monsanto GM Crops Causing Infertility And Spontaneous Abortions

  25. I understand and agree with media promulgating your story, Rady–that’s one of the great strengths of our democracy–the power of public information and the media. I’m all for it. My most important point is that the claims about the “microfungus” (the “new organism”) and its relation to plant and animal diseases (like spontaneous abortion) are highly speculative and have not been validated through scientific peer review. I’m not faulting you, Rady, or the media for reporting on the warnings of highly credentialed scientists. I am faulting the scientists. I know my comments will create hard feelings among certain highly published colleagues, but I stand by them.

    The late Carl Sagan once wrote, “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof.” As far as the “microfungus” is concerned, until the work is presented in a scientific forum, it is not even close to that standard.

    • I appreciate your input and point of view, Paul.

      I still firmly believe it is the duty of those more informed to convey potential risks to the general public. And, given the potential devastation that can occur, I have to agree with Huber that approval of GE alfalfa is inappropriate until such risks can be ruled out.

      The precautionary principle applies. Prove it’s safe before approving it — not the other way around.

      Also, I’m extremely disappointed in the USDA’s response to this issue — refusing to discuss it with the public. That elitist attitude only weakens its credibility in the public’s eyes — the USDA’s lack of trust in the public promotes lack of trust in the USDA, especially given its financial ties to the biotech industry.

      Just seems like more “suppress bad info” tactics.

      • Great discussion! It does seem inevitable to me that the “peer review process” combined with the heavy involvement of Monsanto with academic agriculture and limitations on outside research will produce catastrophe. Prudence does not appear to have any place in their vocabulary.

    • I thought you hinted at the “Sagan Standard” in one of your earlier posts. Did you take his course in critical thinking while you were at Cornell?

      Anyway hasn’t Huber been studying the effects of glyphosate on plants for over 20 years? I would say he either has a serious grudge or some serious concerns. I think Dr. Sagan would consider it worth a look either way and maybe even suggest we stop feeding it to any living creature until we have a better understanding of it. That’s just my opinion and I really know nothing of it.

  26. The Precautionary Principle (from Science & Environmental Health Network):

    “When an activity raises threats of harm to human health or the environment, precautionary measures should be taken even if some cause and effect relationships are not fully established scientifically. In this context the proponent of an activity, rather than the public, should bear the burden of proof. The process of applying the precautionary principle must be open, informed and democratic and must include potentially affected parties. It must also involve an examination of the full range of alternatives, including no action.” – Wingspread Statement on the Precautionary Principle, Jan. 1998 [emphasis added]

  27. That’s a good point, Rady. But I am waving a cautionary flag myself. Should decisions, even precautionary ones, be based on poor science? Because that’s what it looks like to me.

    I have no financial, professional, or emotional interest in glyphosate. I am just alarmed to see undocumented, highly speculative claims being used to drive a public debate.

  28. Rady, moments ago I spoke with another colleague–a internationally known fungal molecular biologist–who has also seen the electron micrographs of the “microfungus” and spoken with the lead investigator of that work. He concluded the structures being called a “microfungus” were artifacts, and that much, much more convincing and detailed molecular data were needed before concluding that the structures observed were actually organismal. He said, bluntly, “There is no evidence that this is an organism.” He also thought I was being overly generous to call the work “poor science”.

    • That’s an interesting take, and contradicts what an entire team working on it called it.

      honestly, it’s at this point that the experts should hash it out. That it is being done somewhat publicly (we don’t have your expert’s name) is fantastic, and provides the public with much needed information.

      this is beginning to develop into another article… I’ve written a world-renowned scientist for comments, particularly in light of your contributions.

      thanks again.

  29. I am thrilled to hear you are looking deeper into this. That’s the mark of a thoughtful mind. Yes, experts have to hash out these claims. This is exactly the reason that controversial claims must first be presented and evaluated by scientific audiences, which hasn’t been done in this case.

    I didn’t want to share my colleagues name on the blog, though I did have his permission to share his comments. In any case, contact me directly and I’ll provide you his name and contact info.

  30. By the way, scientific meetings are public. I’m not suggesting that we work behind closed doors. I’m only suggesting that scientists making controversial claims should first forge one’s work in the fire of a scientific conference.

    • But you can’t have it both ways. Being all for public disclosure on the topic but condemning warnings from unassailable experts before the science is fully in are mutually exclusive.

      Either the public is informed of dire warnings (“emergency”) from experts, or the scientists get to debate it for the next several years and the USDA approves a highly risky product that can have irreversible effects.

      That’s not very science based, imho. Err on the side of caution. At the very minimum, our food supply is at stake.

      • Why is it okay to warn us a meteor might strike the Earth in 30 years, but continued use of a toxic chemical in our soils that could wipe out our food and feed supply in the next few is not okay?

        both are dire warnings by experts… both may not happen.

  31. I wanted to respond to Paul’s thrust… And I found someone with better credentials than I to do, introducing Dr Philip Bourne:

    “We need to accelerate the process of discovery and comprehension”.

    “The scientific process is in general is just too slow to react to crisis, either global or personal!”

    “It can take months to publish a paper, we could all be dead by the time that happens”.

    Here’s an interesting article on the subject:

    http://blogs.nature.com/fourthparadigm/2010/11/phil_bourne_on_accelerating_the_rate_of_scientific_discovery.html

    And here is Dr Bourne speaking on this topic along with his slides:

    http://research.microsoft.com/en-us/um/redmond/events/escience2010/presentations/21445/player.htm

    I’d suggest this illustrates well what is happening here and now. We can do a better job, and if science and scientists are to do the best job they can – they need to adapt and fully use all resources available to them. There is no room any more for guarded glory and personal ambition and conservative journal peer review. The ‘interweb thingy’ is here, opensource is here. Adapt, or become irrelevant.

    • This goes to the heart of the debate, really. Policy questions cannot be decided by scientists. Politicians are supposed to weigh these risks (that, thanks to the internet, the public gets to hear about) in light of the least harm (not the most profit for Monsanto).

      Unfortunately, our politicians are owned by major corporations, so decisions are based on profit rather than public safety.

      What an absolutely poor decision for the USDA to make regarding GE alfalfa in light of such risks (and this doesn’t even touch on genetic contamination of natural crops). Of course, it’s a great decision for Monsanto.

  32. Rady, my passion in this debate is simply that we base policies on sound, evidenced-based information. The claims of a pathogenic “microfungus” are, at best, extremely speculative and incomplete. To my knowledge, the data haven’t been presented at a single scientific conference. If none of this concerns you, we’ve reached a point where all we can do is agree to disagree.

    Best wishes,
    Paul

  33. HEY! That dude Huber appears to be a scientist! This whole business is a fraud.

    Everyone except scientists knows that genetic engineering is good for you and your family. It’s the way of the future, when all of us will be genetically engineered to be just like Ronald Reagan.

    I’m looking forward to visiting the Reagan museum in my biofueled flying car.

    Meanwhile the lying sacks of sh9t scientists are standing in the way of progress. Outrageous.

    Now, back to TV watching!

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  41. I’m late to this discussion, but I’d like to point out that Paul Vincelli would burn to death in a house that was on fire while he waits for scientific proof and peer reviews to determine whether or not that hot yellow stuff is really fire. Only in this case it is all of us that will suffer if we don’t consider the precautionary principle to be the best option. Dr. Huber has 50 years of experience behind him, and if he issues a warning, I am listening, and scientific protocol be damned. This is a time for decisive action.

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  46. Found these youtubes briefly summarizing the article

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  74. My husband and I have been trying for about 18 months now and we still have no baby. I don’t want to do IVF or anything like that. I’d like to stay natural if I can.

    Does anyone one know how you can increase your fertility or chances of conceiving?

  75. Healthy diet, hormones (if deficient), treating BOTH spouse’s fertility. For example, did you know that laptops can cause issues with men because of the heat near their testes? Sperm HATE being stored near heat – there’s a reason for the cooling (high surface-area) structure! It uses evaporation to deliberately lose heat faster than the rest of the body. It is essentially a biological heat sink.

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  86. I was wondering if there has been any follow up to this study? A significant time has gone by since 2011 and I’m sure by now there has to be some results.

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