1.14—Ermakova’s findings defy logic
Feeding Roundup Ready soy doesn’t result in infant mortality
Analysis of Peer-Reviewed Research:
The Ermakova claims defy logic and credibility. They also defy more than a half-dozen other carefully controlled studies that produced no such results. It defies logic that soybeans that are used all over the world as animal feed would produce results like those claimed by Ermakova without someone else noticing a problem. Since the study is poorly designed, the composition and even source of the materials used are not clear, the soy consumption by animals was not measured, and the results indicate bad animal stewardship the whole study should simply be ignored. It has never been published in a scientific journal like the other studies it contradicts.
One must also question Jeffrey Smith’s motives in highlighting one of the poorest animal studies ever described while ignoring some excellent published studies. This falls into a consistent pattern of only telling the reader about studies that might cast doubt on GM products.
1. Several other high quality, published studies do not find adverse effects on pup survival and development. Ermakova’s results ignore and contradict the finding of prior GM soy feeding studies done in rodents, and several other animal species, and published in peer reviewed scientific journals. These studies have confirmed that GM soy is equivalent to conventional soy and not a single study observed any biologically significant difference. Ermakova uses fewer animals than these studies, and fewer than are recommended for feeding studies (Marshall, 2007; Brake and Evanson, 2004; Teshima et al., 2000; Zhu et al., 2004; Hammond et al., 1996; Cromwell et al. 2002)
2. Soybeans are used for animal feed and farmers haven’t reported high death rates. Ermakova’s study defies credulity. More than 50 percent of soybeans are used for animal feed and greater than 70 percent of the worlds’ soybeans are GM. After more than a decade of feeding GM soybeans to pigs, cattle, poultry and fish, no changes in reproduction, survival or growth have been observed.
3. The materials used for the study are not clearly described and may not be comparable. Ermakova claims to have purchased her GM soybeans from a vendor who testifies that they have never sold such a product. She does not stipulate what varieties of soybeans were used. She confuses soybeans, soybean meal, soybean flour and soybean isolate and may have fed non-equivalent soybean preparations to the animals (Marshall, 2007).
4. Composition and isoflavone content were not determined. Some animals may not have eaten soy. Ermakova does not report diet composition—and in particular does not measure isoflavone content–which is essential since isoflavones have hormone-like activity and can effect reproduction (Brown et al. 2001; Thigpen et al. 2004). Her experimental design offered soybean fractions to the animals in separate containers from the basic chow and with multiple animals in a cage, and it is impossible to know how much soy each animal ate or if all of them even ate soy.
5. The results –especially control group mortality—suggest poor animal stewardship. Ermakova’s mortality claims are simply unbelievable. The pup death of approximately 10 percent she claims for controls and non-GM soy fed groups is 10 times higher mortality than is normally observed. One investigator who performed a larger study reported not a single mortality in any group (Brake and Evanson, 2004).
6. Misleading photographic evidence is presented. The photos she shows of an animal whose growth is stunted compared to a control animal may constitute scientific fraud—this possibility should be investigated. The two mice being compared appear to be of significantly different ages. The development of ears and noses, and the head to body ratio is what would be observed when animals of differing ages are compared. With animal producers all over the globe feeding their animals diets containing substantial amounts of soybeans one would think that they might have reported such stunted growth. One might also have thought that such effects would have been noticed in the other studies performed with GM soybeans and animals (Marshall, 2007; Brake and Evanson, 2004; Teshima et al., 2000; Zhu et al., 2004; Hammond et al., 1996; Cromwell et al. 2002)
7. The design of the study is fatally flawed. Ermakova has never previously published animal studies of this kind and did not follow internationally accepted protocols (Marshall, 2007). No scientific conclusion can be drawn from her studies. More worrisome is that she is a publicly outspoken critic of GM crops as evidenced by papers on her website and her active participation in an anti-GM advocacy group. It is for the reader to decide if this constitutes a conflict of interest. Smith’s honestly must be questioned as well since he fails to cite papers that expose the fatal flaws in the Ermakova studies.
Marshall, A. 2007. GM soybeans and health safety—a controversy reexamined Nature Biotech. 25:981-987.
van Haver, E., G. Alink, S. Barlow, A. Cockburn, G. Flachowsky, I. Knudsen, H. Kuiper, D.P. Massin, G. Pascal, A. Peijnenburg, R. Phipps, A. Poting, M. Poulsen, W. Seinen, H. Spielmann, H. van Loveren, J.M. Wal, and A. Williams. 2008. Safety and nutritional assessment of GM plants and derived food and feed: The role of animal feeding trials. Food and Chemical Toxicology 46:S2-S70.
Brake, D. G. & Evenson, D. P. 2004. “A generational study of glyphosate-tolerant soybeans on mouse fetal, postnatal, pubertal and adult testicular development.” Food Chem. Tox, 42: 29-36.
Teshima, R., et al., 2000. Effect of GM and non-GM soybeans on the immune system of BN rats and B10A mice. J. Food Hyg. Soc. Japan. 41: 188-193.
Zhu, Y., Li, D., Wang, F., Yin, J. & Jin, H. 2004. Nutritional assessment and fate of DNA of soybean meal from Roundup Ready or conventional soybeans using rats. Arch. An. Nutr. 58: 295-310.
Hammond, B., et al. 1996. The Feeding Value of Soybeans Fed to Rats, Chickens, Catfish and Dairy Cattle is Not Altered by Genetic Incorporation of Glyphosate Tolerance. J.Nutr. 126: 717-727.
Cromwell, G.L., Lindemann, M.D., Randolph, H.H., Stanisiewski, E.P. & Hartnell. G.F. 2002. Soybean meal from Roundup Ready or conventional soybeans in diets for growing-finishing swine. J An. Sci. 80: 708-715.
Brown, N.M. & Setchell, K.D.R. 2001. Animal models impacted by phytoestrogens in commercial chow: implications for pathways influenced by hormones. Lab. Invest. 81:735–747.
Thigpen, JE, KDR Setchell, HE Saunders, JK Haseman. 2004. Selecting the Appropriate Rodent Diet for Endocrine Disruptor Research and Testing Studies. ILAR J. 45:401-416
Most offspring of rats fed Roundup Ready soy died within three weeks
- Female rats were fed Roundup Ready soy starting before conception and continuing through pregnancy and weaning
- Of the offspring, 55.5 percent died within three weeks compared to 9 percent from non-GM soy controls
- Some pups from the G-fed mothers were significantly smaller and both mothers and pups were more aggressive
- In a separate study, after a lab began feeding rats a commercial diet containing GM soy, offspring mortality reached 55.3 percent
- When offspring from GM fed rats were mated together, they were unable to conceive.
High mortality was observed in litters of pups born to mothers who were fed GM soy and the surviving pups from GM-soy fed mothers were stunted in growth.