In 2012, researchers at Caen University in France studied the effects of eating genetically modified food treated with Monsanto’s Roundup. The animal subjects in the study suffered severe liver damage, kidney malfunction, tumors and hormonal disturbances. These mice had been exposed to Roundup at levels far below the European standard levels.
When the scientists published the study, however, there was significant backlash from both academia and government sources. The study’s author writes:
Paul Christou demanded that our paper be retracted and insulted us personally. Christou is not only the editor-in-chief of Transgenic Research, the journal in which he published his article, but is also linked to Monsanto.
He is named as the inventor on several patents on GM crop technology, for most of which Monsanto owns the property rights. These include patents on the plant transformation process used to make glyphosate [Roundup]-tolerant transgenic corn plants.
A number of other critics of the study were plant biologists who, like Christou, hold patents on genetically-modified organisms. Some of these were employees of Monsanto. Other critics focused on the economic disruption that might ensue if the study were to be taken seriously. Richard E. Goodman, assistant editor of the journal in which the study appeared, Food and Chemical Toxicity, spoke out against the research, but seemingly without concern for human health. He said:
The implications and the impacts of this uncontrolled study is having HUGE impacts, in international trade, in consumer confidence in all aspects of food safety and certainly in US state referendums on labeling.
The researchers say a number of members of parliament attempted to block the study. Monsanto exercises influence at the government level in a number of countries. In the United States, former executives of Monsanto are employed in the Department of Justice, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Food and Drug Administration.
Americans have expressed concern about the GMO controversy, and there has been an outcry for labeling of genetically-modified food. However, President Obama signed a bill this summer that exempts most GMO food from labeling, and provides for somewhat cryptic labels on the foods that do have a warning. Consumer advocates are encouraging people to buy locally-grown food from farmers who are raising healthy, non-GMO produce.