1.9—A classic logical fallacy about Bt corn


Bt Corn is an excellent feed for German dairy cows

See Genetic Roulette’s False Claims at Bottom of Page

Analysis of Peer-Reviewed Research:

There is no real evidence that Bt corn had anything to do with the unfortunate loss of cows.  The fact that Syngenta reimbursed the farmer was not an admission of guilt but an attempt at good customer relations.  Syngenta obviously didn’t feel like telling the farmer that he was committing a logical fallacy by thinking that because his cows died after eating Bt 176 corn, that Bt 176 corn must have killed them.  Thousands and thousands of cows eat this corn with no ill effects.  This should come as no surprise since it was extensively tested in animals before it was approved by EU regulators.    The real issue here is why Smith cites an unsubstantiated claim that is not only logically fallacious but also contrary to the published scientific literature.  Perhaps Smith believes that if you make enough false claims people will believe that there must be a problem.

1.  Bt corn has been dismissed as a possible cause of death.

Investigators from the Robert Koch Institute concluded that Bt 176 corn was not the cause of death; they suggested a common cause of animal death, chronic botulism, could be to blame.

2.  The reports are sketchy and unpublished.

Little evidence or information is available about this case but none of it provides any evidence of a link between Bt 176 and cow deaths.  No follow-up scientific analysis has been published.

3.  Normally veterinarians can establish cause of death during a post mortem examination.

Veterinarians routinely are able to attribute death in cows to a wide variety of possible causes such as bacterial and viral pathogens, and exposure to toxic weeds or chemicals.

4.  Bt 176 and other Bt corn types are known to be safe for animals.

Extensive feeding studies with a variety of animals published in the peer-reviewed literature have failed to produce any adverse effect.  Bt 176 corn was planted for years without any other claims of adverse effect (Flachowsky and others 2005, Flachowsky and others 2007).

5.  The kinds of changes in DNA described for Bt 176 have never been implicated in adverse effects.

It is important to note also that no adverse effect has ever been demonstrated to have resulted from changes in DNA sequence in GM crops (or any other for that matter), the use of products containing multiple gene copies, or with the use of synthetic genes.  Most of the fear-mongering about changes in the DNA reflects a lack of awareness of the extensive changes in DNA that occur in the conventional plant breeding techniques that we have used for many years.  DNA change isn’t bad, it’s the objective of all breeding (Beever and Kemp, 2000; Goldstein and others 2005).

References:

Beever D and Kemp C  (2000). Safety issues associated with the DNA in animal feed derived from genetically modified crops. A review of scientific and regulatory procedures.  Nutritional Abstract Reviews Series B: Livestock Feeds and Feeding 70:175–182.

Flachowsky G, Chesson A, and Aulrich K (2005). Animal nutritional with feeds from genetically modified plants.   Archives of Animal Nutrition 59, 1–40.

Flachowsky G, Aulrich K, Bohme H, and Halle I (2007). Studies on feeds from genetically modified plants (GMP) – Contributions to nutritional and safety assessment. Animal Feed Science and Technology. 133: 2-30.

Goldstein DA, Tinland B, Gilbertson LA, Staub JM, Bannon GA, Goodman, RE, McCoy, RL, Silvanovich A (2005). Human safety and genetically modified plants: a review of antibiotic resistance markers and future transformation selection technologies. Journal of Applied Microbiology 99:7–23.

Genetic Roulette Falsely Claims:

Twelve cows in Germany died mysteriously when fed Bt corn

  1. The Dairy cows died on a farm in Hesse Germany, after being fed a diet with significant amounts of a single GM corn variety, Bt 176.
  2. Other cows in the herd had to be killed due to a mysterious illness
  3. Syngenta, the producers of Bt 176, compensated the farmer for part of his loses but did not admit responsibility for the cow deaths
  4. In spite of public demands by the farmer and even public protests, no detailed autopsy reports were made available. Genetic Roulette claims that cows in Germany that were fed Syngenta’s Bt 176 corn feed became ill, and some died.

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