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I have relied upon injections of genetically modified insulin hormone to keep me alive for many years. The benefits of biotechnology for mankind are supported by decades of hard experience and volumes of careful research, and there is no evidence of harm. But that can’t dissuade neo-Luddites in their efforts to foment panicked opposition to genetic modification of crops.

Another GMO horror story has been circulating about an experiment said to have been conducted at a Chinese university in which students were fed Bt rice. The claim is that an outbreak of acute leukemia ensued. This report bears all the all the earmarks of a fraud, right down to the fact that no one on campus seems to have heard about it!

Anti-GMO activists disparage critics for calling attention to the “fringe” character of the outlets promoting their views, or by diminishing opposing claims as “corporate,” when in fact the real problems are that those activists rely on badly designed and executed research and superstitions about technology. Articles about the alleged Chinese GMO experiment make false claims about prior research findings of a link between GMOs and leukemia. In fact, while the authors of that earlier research don’t admit it, their work casts more doubt on the safety of organic Bt pesticides than on GM crops expressing the Bt toxin. In other words, it’s lousy research. See here for further confirmation. This is reminiscent of other flimsy research promoted by the anti-GMO lobby, such as the notoriously bad Serelini study that used, as subjects, rats that had been bred to develop tumors.

Oddly, hysteria over GM crops does not extend to the genetically modified antibodies created to cure diseases like ebola. Synthetic human insulin is made via genetic modification too! Why no opposition? Perhaps because the activists recognize the impressive benefits of the biotechnology in this  context. The potential benefits of GM crops are no less impressive. And despite the best efforts of the anti-GMO lobby, there is no persuasive evidence that GM foods are harmful.