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Part XXIII: The Bt Corn Case (4449 查看)

April 21, 2013 05:29PM
【Note: The PDF file is more reader-friendly. Click the title to open it.】

Shamelessness Shouldn’t Be Anyone’s Nature
──An Open Letter to Nature (Part XXIII)

Xin Ge, Ph. D.

Columbia, SC, USA

Since 2001, simultaneously with his secretive employment with a U. S. bio company, Fang has been China’s top GMO salesman and hatchet man, and the weapon he has been using is scifooling. By examining a plagiarism case committed by Fang in 2010 while he was promoting GMO in China, I reveal more Fang’s dirty secrets.

Fang’s Plagiarism History: The GM Corn Case

China’s Top GMO-promoter: The Background Story
The Allegation
The Evidence of Stealing
1. The Mysterious “Six Times”
2. Corn vs. NTD
3. Fusarium Infection
4. Fumonisin vs. Folic Acid
5. Fumonisin vs. NTD
6. UK Organic Corn Products
7. Bt Corn
The Evidence of Ignorance
1. Fumonisin Is a Carcinogen
2. Bt Corn Secrets Bt Protein
3. No Natural Crops in the World
The Evidence of Cheating
1. GM Plants Reduces Pesticide Usage
2. GM Crops Increase Yields
It’s Not about NTD: Concluding Remarks
A Complete Comparison

Fang’s Plagiarism History: The Bt Corn Case

On March 24, 2010, Fang published an article, GM Corn Is Healthier, in China Youth Daily[1]. In the article, Fang lauded GM food, saying that corn contaminated with fumonisin, a mycotoxin, was the cause of the outbreak of neural tube defect babies in early 1990s in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas, and the solution to the problem is GM corn, because it has less insect damage, thus less mold growth and less fumonisin.

On the very next day of the article’s publication, someone found out the article, in addition to being scifooling, was plagiarism, stealing from an article, Bt corn reduces serious birth defects, published by Western Farm Press in 2004[2]. The article was authored by Dr. Bruce Chassy, a professor of Food Microbiology and Nutritional Sciences at University of Illinois, and Dr. Drew Kershen, a professor of law at University of Oklahoma. Till this day, Fang has never refuted the charge, but kept republishing his article anywhere it could be republished. In April 2010, Fang published it in Adviser of Peasant Families; in August, Fang published it in Dazhong Jiankang (Public Health)[3].

Major characters
From left: Drs. Bruce Chassy and Drew Kershen, the victims; Fang: the thief.

The publishers of Fang’s fraudulent article
Mr. Xu Wenxin (徐文新), the president of China Youth Daily; Mr. Chen Xiaochuan (陈小川), the editor-in-chief of China Youth Daily; Mr. Li Jianzhong (李建中), chairman and the CPC chief of Association for Science and Technology of Henan province, which owns Adviser of Peasant Families (《种业大观》); Ms. Wang Shuo (王硕), the president and editor-in-chief of Health News, the owner of Dazhong Jiankang (《大众健康》).

China’s Top GMO-promoter: The Background Story

As mentioned previously (Parts VI and XVII), Fang has claimed that he was a consulting scientist to a U. S. bioinformatics or “biological information” or biotech firm since 2001. And almost simultaneous with the mysterious employment, Fang became China’s No. 1 GM food salesman, or, more accurately, hatchet man. Yes, in the past dozen years, whoever opposes GMO, or just had some doubts about GMO’s safety for environment or human health, he would for sure be attacked by Fang, ferociously and viciously, no exceptions: examples include the powerful international NGO Greenpeace and the beloved Chinese agronomist Mr. Yuan Longping[4]. As a matter of fact, Fang has repeatedly using “CPC Central Committee Document No. 1” or “Premier Wen Jiabao” as his sticks to suppress any voices from GMO’s opponents[5]. On the other hand, whoever promotes GMO, no matter how corrupted, fraudulent, or even criminal he is, he could count on Fang’s protection[6].

The Attacked and Protected
From left: Dr. Chen Zhangliang, ex-president of China Agricultural University and current vice-governor of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region; Dr. Zhang Qifa, academician of Chinese Academy of Sciences and professor of Huazhong Agricultural University; Mr. Yuan Longping, academician of Chinese Academy of Engineering and “the Father of Hybrid Rice.” Drs. Chen and Zhang are the most active proponents of GMO in China’s academic communities. Even though Chen was involved in many scandals, including plagiarism and dinosaur egg fiasco, he has been defended by Fang numerous times. Zhang broke China’s law by deliberately releasing his GM rice seeds to farmers, causing international disturbance, but Fang has never criticized him, rather, he praised Zhang several times in recent years. Yuan expressed his concern about the safety of GM food in a few occasions, and he has been attacked by Fang repeatedly.

The most outrageous thing is, Fang takes every opportunity to fool Chinese people on the GMO issues, in the name of science, and that’s the exact reason how he got his nick name “scifool writer.” For example, Fang claimed in 2002 that American had eaten GM food for more than ten years, even though he knew that the first commercial GM food wasn’t available for sale until the end of 1995[7]. Also, Fang has been claiming, since 2002, that genetic engineering technology reduces pesticide usage, so GM food is environmentally friendly and healthier to consumers[8]. Of course he knew all along that this claim was a gigantic lie. In fact, his lies about GMO were so obvious that some of his ardent supporters, such as Ms. Xiong Lei, the Science contributor and Xinhua News Agency’s senior reporter who introduced Fang into Science magazine in 2001, Mr. He Zuoxiu, the “biggest pseudoscientist in the world” who has claimed “I always support Fang”, and Mr. Sima Nan, who has been one of Fang’s closest comrades and has been fighting together with Fang in so many fronts, would not believe him[9].

Even the believers have their doubts
From left: Ms. Xiong Lei, a senior editor of Xinhua News Agency and a contributor to Science; Mr. He Zuoxiu, academician of CAS; Mr. Sima Nan, a TV host (please note his Kim Jong-un-style haircut). All three people supported Fang strongly, but none of them believe Fang’s scifooling on GMO.

Fang’s secretive connection to the U. S. biotech company or companies and his fraudulent scifool activities on GMO were suspected and questioned as early as in 2004[10]. And since 2007, I have been analyzing, documenting, and exposing Fang’s tie to the commercial and governmental forces, and his cheating and lying[11]. Therefore, when Fang published his GM Corn Is Healthier on March 24, 2010, it was only a matter of time that his cheating would be revealed some time later. The surprise was that the revelation was not only about his cheating, but also about his stealing. Furthermore, the revelation happened just one day after the publication of the article. The matter was even more amusing if you know that just one day before the publication of that article, on March 23, 2010, Fang fought off a plagiarism allegation by saying:

“It is commonly accepted that translating an English article directly and use it as his own is an act of plagiarism. I’m regarded as an ‘academic fraud buster,’ exposing other people’s plagiarism all the time, if I do the dirty deed myself, I should be classified as one of the most despicable people. Such an allegation is much more severe than ‘literary ruffian’ the Squirrel Club had called me before, so, they have to explain explicitly…”[12]

So, exactly how despicable Fang is?

Fang and his clique eating GM rice
On May 24, 2011, Fang posted several photos showing that he and members of his inner circle were eating GM rice he received from Zhang Qifa’s team (left), obviously trying to demonstrate that GM rice was safe to eat.
People in the picture from left are Fang Zhouzi; Peng Jian (彭剑), Fang’s personal lawyer and money laundering aid; Zhao Nanyuan (赵南元), a retired professor of Tsinghua University and Fang’s follower; Qiao Weihua (乔卫华), a researcher of Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences and one of the most secretive accomplices of Fang’s; and Ji Xiaolong (纪小龙), a pathologist of the General Hospital of Armed Police and Fang’s chief medical advisor.
Three weeks before the event, Fang revealed that he had tested the GM rice on his own preschool daughter[13].

The Allegation

Here is the article which exposed Fang’s fraudulence in his GM Corn Is Healthier one day after its publication, by an internet user under the name of “Six-fingered”[2], translated by me:

“GMO is a hot topic on the internet, therefore among the people who debate the issue there must be Teacher Fang, who had eaten GM food even before it was available on the market. After reading his article ‘GM Corn Is Healthier,’ I wanted to read more, and an English article ‘Bt corn reduces serious birth defects’ was found with a little help from internet search engine. Teacher Fang’s article is the same in basic viewpoint, data, and content arrangement as the English article, many sentences are direct translation, which further proves the rumor which is known to everyone: ‘There are quotations by paragraphs or direct translations from English articles in Teacher Fang’s articles.’ Teacher Fang denies rumors when he opens his door, and manufactures rumors once the door is closed, such fearless courage and personality power really deserve our admiration.

“It is no longer news that Teacher Fang is a suspect of plagiarism, so let’s talk about GMO. The two authors of the English article were actually doing ‘secondary science communication,’ mainly introducing a review published in that year’s Journal of Nutrition. Epidemiological survey indicated that neural tube defects might be associated with excessive intake of fumonisin during pregnancy; it was already known that folic acid deficiency is an important risk factor for NTD, and experiments on animals demonstrated that fumonisin interferes with folic acid’s transportation. Based on these facts, the review authors proposed that exposure to fumonisin [during pregnancy] is a potential risk factor for NTD. In the review, the authors used terms like ‘hypothesis’ and ‘potential’ many times, even said in the last sentence ‘It would be prudent to monitor this possibility.’ However, after the reiteration by the two authors, these viewpoints became proven scientific principle, and Teacher Fang went on to do his tertiary communication, beginning by answering the profound question of ‘how did fumonisin cause NTD?’ The absurdity is that the review states clearly that folic acid supplementation could reduce NTD caused by fumonisin, which was misunderstood by the two authors, and after copying by Teacher Fang, it became ‘therefore, if pregnant women eat corn staple contaminated with fumonisin, even if they had a diet rich in folic acid, it still wouldn’t help.’

“In fact, among the references cited by the review, none of them mentioned GM corn. Sure, there are studies which have demonstrated that GM corn contains less fumonisin than conventional corn, however, the conclusion of ‘GM corn reduces birth defects,’ which was derived from a logical inference based on a hypothesis, was developed by Joker Fang into ‘healthier,’ such stupid scientific thinking is really not worth the prominent banner of science. Numerous studies have demonstrated that GM food and conventional food have no differences in nutrition and safety, so far there has been neither direct evidence to show that GM corn does reduce neural tube defects, nor clinical evidence to show that GMO corn is more beneficial to the health of consumers than conventional corn. On the contrary, in recent years, discordant voices have appeared, for example, a French research group fed mice with 3 different GM corns for 5-14 weeks, and monitored their biochemical indicators, they found hepatorenal toxicity and other abnormity in the mice. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17356802, [www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov]).

“The proponents and the opponents of GMO could not convince each other with conspiracy theory or motivation theory, the key is that argument should be based on evidence.”

The Evidence of Stealing

“Six-fingered” also provided evidence showing that Fang plagiarized the article Bt corn reduces serious birth defects, by Drs. Chassy and Kershen[14]. Fang’s entire article was translated into English by me, and compared against its source in the table below.

Although the comparison by itself is convincing enough, Fang and his followers would still deny the plagiarism allegation, using excuses such as that similarity is unavoidable if two people state the same fact. Generally speaking, such an argument is valid if, and only if, “the fact” is a fact indeed, and, the similarity is occasional. In other words, if two statements by two individuals contain the same factual error, or the similarities in two articles are systemic or more than expected, then an allegation of plagiarism is reasonable, and the accused has the responsibility to clean his own name. That’s why I have been trying to look for the so called “ironclad evidences”─the technical mistakes present in both the allegedly plagiarized and the source articles, to force Fang and his followers to admit guilt. And that’s exactly why Fang has been remaining silent when the allegations, charges, and challenges are mounting. And in Fang’s GM Corn Is Healthier, the technical mistakes are everywhere.

1. The Mysterious “Six Times”

Drs. Chassy and Kershen started their article with this sentence:

“In the early 1990s, Hispanic women in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas gave birth to babies with neural tube defects (NTDs) at a rate of 33 per 10,000 live births, approximately six times the U.S. national average for non-Hispanic women.”

And Fang started his third paragraph with the following:

“In the early 1990s, a survey conducted on the Mexican American women in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas revealed an unexpected discovery: the babies they gave birth to had very high [percentage] of neural tube defects, 6 times the rest American.” (Sentence III-1 in the comparison table below.)

The fact is, the so called “early 1990s” was 1990-1991, and according to numerous report, the NTD rate was 27 per 10,000[15] or 29 per 10,000[16]. I couldn’t find Drs. Chassy and Kershen’s number, 33 per 10,000, anywhere in professional journals. Also, in early 1990s, before the fortification of folic acid, the NTD rate in the U. S. was around 8 per 10,000[17] or even 9.5 per 10,000[18]. Perhaps for this reason, an AP article in 2001 wrote:

“During the worst times, in 1991, babies in Cameron County were born with neural tube defects at a rate three times higher than the national average.”[19]

So, it is curious to know how Drs. Chassy and Kershen, as well as Fang, got their number, “six times.”

On the other hand, since both Fang and Drs. Chassy and Kershen wanted to link the sudden increase of NTD in southern Texas to the outbreak of fumonisin in corn in 1989, they should have, scientifically, made their comparisons vertically, or historically, with the equivalent numbers in the previous years; or horizontally, with those in the surrounding regions or Hispanic women. Why both of them decided to compare against national average?

Furthermore, there were at least four possible causes of the NTD spike in the early 1990s, “the consumption of contaminated corn, folic-acid vitamin deficiency, exposure to toxic chemicals, and intake of medication”[20], why did neither Fang nor Drs. Chassy and Kershen mention the other three, which were more plausible?[21-23] As a matter of fact, a survey of the NTD mothers in the US-Mexico border region between 1993 and 2000 indicates that their median folate concentrations were 36% lower than the controls[21]. Such information was conveniently ignored by both Fang and Drs. Chassy and Kershen. Why?

Neural tube defect rates per 10,000 population in the United States
(The figure is adopted from CDC of the U. S.[22])

2. Corn vs. NTD

According to Drs. Chassy and Kershen, the mystery of Rio Grande Valley in the early 1990s was solved by “recent research”:

“The precise cause for the increased rate of NTDs in Texas remained a mystery until recent research shed light on a surprising cause. Studies from China, Guatemala, South Africa, and the United States show that a clear link exists between diets containing unprocessed corn (known as maize in most of the world) and NTDs.…Research (Acevedo, 2004) in Guatemala showed that in four rural departments the children of women who ate unprocessed corn as a significant part of their diet had a rate of NTDs (34.29 per 10,0000 live births) at least six times the world rate.”

And Fang’s translation:

“The mystery wasn’t solved until 10 years later. Studies from China, Guatemala, and South Africa show that in the area where corn is staple food, the incidence of NTD is relatively high, about 6 times the world average.”

Again, we don’t know how the “six times” was calculated, and it is doubtful whether there was a “world rate,” or what it was. According to Flour Fortification Initiative[23], NTD incidences in the post-fortification era was more than 10 per 10,000 in Argentina, more than 21 per 10,000 in Brazil, and more than 8 per 10,000 in Chile.

It seems that Drs. Chassy and Kershen based their statement mainly on the review article by Marasas et al. (2004)[24], because it was one of the only two references cited in their article, and the other one, “Acevedo, 2004,” couldn’t be found anywhere. According to Dr. Kershen’s PPT presentation made in 2005, it is an “Abstract in possession of Professor Kershen.”[25]

The thing is, according to Marasas et al., except for the references about Guatemala, which were published around 1999/2000, all the other references were published before 1997 (see references 78-86 wherein). Therefore, neither “recent” by Drs. Chassy and Kershen nor “10 years later” by Fang reflected the truth accurately. The question is, why did they make the similar mistakes?

On the other hand, the data which linked corn consumption with NTD in China were misinterpreted: the review cited 3 papers to establish the relationship, the first two were used to prove “[h]igh incidence rates (57 to 73/10,000) are also reported in rural areas in the northern provinces of China (83,84);” the other was used to prove “[t]he inhabitants of …northern provinces of China are likely to be exposed periodically to high fumonisins levels as a result of the consumption of fungal contaminated maize (86).”

The fact is, the first two papers reported high incidence rates of NTD in Beijing-Tianjin area[26] and Hebei and Shanxi provinces[27], respectively, while the third paper reported the contamination of corn by fumonisin in Henan province, geographically a central China area[28]. Furthermore, one of the findings of the latter paper was:

“The incidence and mean levels of fumonisin in Linxian corns were close to those reported in corn-based human food products in the United States (18, 20) and Switzerland (13).”[28]

The above finding was essentially confirmed later[29], and the high prevalence of NTD in Shanxi province was linked to folic acid deficiency, rather than fumonisin poisoning[30].

3. Fusarium Infection

According to Drs. Chassy and Kershen, fumonisin is produced this way:

“When corn is attacked by insects a mold called Fusarium can grow at the site of insect damage and produce fumonisin.”

Fang translated the sentence faithfully:

“After being damaged by insect, a mold called Fusarium can grow at the site of insect damage.……Fusarium secrets a fatal toxin called fumonisin.” (V-2)

Obviously, the sentences are the cores in each article: insect damage leads to Fusarium infection, Fusarium infection leads to fumonisin production, fumonisin production leads to NTD, and only solution is Bt corn.

The fact is, although insect damage could enhance the infection of corn by Fusarium, the infection does not require insect damage: as both articles admit, poor storage conditions could promote the growth of the fungus in the post-harvest corn. As a matter of fact, even during growth season, Fusarium could infect corn without the help of insects[31]. On the other hand, besides controlling the insects, there are many other ways to manage the disease[32], or remove the toxin from the grains by food processing[33]. In other words, Bt corn is not the only solution to the moldy corn problem.

Isn’t it bizarre that both Fang and Drs. Chassy and Kershen forgot to mention these facts in their articles?

4. Fumonisin vs. Folic Acid

According to Drs. Chassy and Kershen, fumonisin “blocks folic acid”:

“Because fumonisin prevents the folic acid from being absorbed by cells, women eating a diet of unprocessed corn contaminated with fumonisin are at higher risk of giving birth to babies with NTDs even when their diet contains the adequate amount of folic acid.”

And Fang went one step further, translated the above as below:

“Unfortunately, fumonisin can precisely interfere with the absorption of folic acid by human cells, therefore, if pregnant women eat corn staple contaminated with fumonisin, even if they had a diet rich in folic acid, it still wouldn’t help.” (VI-4)

The fact is, experiments have showed just contrary to what they said. The review article by Marasas et al.[24], which Drs. Chassy and Kershen cited, showed that even at 1 μmol/L, folinic acid could block the teratogenic effect of fumonisin B1 at the concentration of 50 μmol/L, on the development of mouse embryos.

So, based on what did Fang and Drs. Chassy and Kershen make their assertions? More importantly, why both of them made the similar wrong assertions?

Effects of fumonisin B1 (FB1) in mouse embryonic development
A: Embryos after 24 h in culture medium containing none (right) or 50 μmol/L FB1 (left); B: Embryos after 24 h in medium containing 50 μmol/L FB1 (top) or 50 μmol/L FB1 plus 1 μmol/L folinic acid (bottom) (panel B is reproduced from Fig. 3 of Ref. 62). C: Fetus from pregnant LMBc dam injected i.p. with 20 mg/kg body weight FB1 on gestational d 7.5 and 8.5 and killed on d 17.5 (top) versus normal fetus at this gestational age (bottom).
(The figure and the legend are adopted from Marasas et al.[24]).

5. Fumonisin vs. NTD

The basic viewpoint in both articles by Fang and Drs. Chassy and Kershen is that fumonisin causes NTD, although Fang implied that was the viewpoint of “mainstream medical community,” Drs. Chassy and Kershen stated it a little more subtly:

“What connection could exist between unprocessed corn in the diet and children being born with NTDs? Fumonisin, a deadly mycotoxin found in unprocessed corn is the likely culprit according to research published in the Journal of Nutrition (Marasas, April 2004).”

The thing is, there is no direct evidence showing that fumonisin causes NTD in human. Even in mice, it needs extraordinary amount of the toxin to produce the embryonic defects: as the figure above shows, the researchers had to get their results by use FB1 at the concentration of 50 μmol/L (36 mg/L, the molar mass of fumonisin B1 is 721.83 g mol−1) or 20 mg/kg, 18,000 to 10,000 folds higher, respectively, than the “Tolerable Daily Intake” standard for human recommended by WHO’s International Programme on Chemical Safety (IPCS) and the Scientific Committee on Food (SCF) of the of European Union[34]. As a matter of fact, at 1 μmol/L, which is about 360 folds higher than TDI for human, none of the mice embryos developed NTD. And for an average adult woman (50 kg body weight) to have that much fumonisin in her body, she has to eat 18 kg corn with fumonisin contamination at 2 ppm, the limit set by FDA for corn used as human food[35]. Even with corn of poultry feed grade which has the highest allowable fumonisin (100 ppm), she has to eat 360 g per day, every day, because the excretion rate of the toxin seems relatively high[36].

In fact, even at 50 μmol/L, only a fraction (27%) of mice embryos developed NTD[37]. Similar results were obtained from rat embryos in whole embryo culture[38].

Therefore, a convincing relationship between fumonisin and NTD in human has not been established yet, to say the least. Had it been established, according to Fang, “a correlation could be meaningless without understanding the underlying mechanism” (see Part XIX of this letter). So, why did he use this worse-than-meaningless “fact” to promote GM corn, like Drs. Chassy and Kershen did?

6. UK Organic Corn Products

To establish the logic that GM/Bt corn is the only solution to the NTD problem, Drs. Chassy and Kershen presented another “fact”─organic corn is more toxic:

“The UK Food Safety Agency tested six organic cornmeal products and 20 conventional cornmeal products for fumonisin contamination in September 2003. The six organic cornmeals had fumonisin levels nine to 40 times the recommended levels for human health. All six organic cornmeal products were voluntarily withdrawn from grocery stores.”

Except for changing “voluntarily withdrawn” to “forced to withdraw,” Fang’s translation was, again, faithful. However, according to one of Dr. Kershen’s power point file in 2005, the UK test results were actually “Organic products ranged from 7.6 to 32.96 times the proposed standard.”[25] So, where did Fang get his “9 to 40 times the recommended levels”?

The strange thing is, both Fang and Drs. Chassy and Kershen conveniently forgot to mention that “the recommended levels for human health” in UK were four times more stricter than that in EU, therefore, the “9-40 times” should have been “2-10 times” or less, depending on which numbers they presented you believe. Ironically, the UK government seemed less concerned about the contamination than their colonial brothers and future John Maddox Prize winner did. The Committee on Toxicity made such a conclusion:

“The levels of fumonisins found were not a concern for the health of those consuming the affected products already sold, given the low levels of consumption of maize meal.”[39]

Also, both Fang and Drs. Chassy and Kershen conveniently forgot, again, to mention that “Twenty UK non-organic corn meals averaged well under both fumonisin safety limits at only 130 parts per billion.”[40] Obviously, had they done so, the GM corn won’t look like the only choice for the NTD problem anymore!

7. Bt Corn

After all these misinformation and mis-presentations, the two articles finally reached the point to reveal their true intention. Drs. Chassy and Kershen:

“Researchers in Argentina, France, Italy, Spain, Turkey, and the United States have clearly established that planting corn seeds genetically engineered to be resistant to corn borers and similar insect pests results in the harvesting of corn with much lower levels of fumonisin.……This genetically improved corn, dubbed Bt corn, usually has drastically lower levels of fumonisin. It is not unusual for Bt corn to have one-tenth to one-twentieth the amount of fumonisin that is found on organic and conventional corn varieties.”

Fang, habitually exaggerating the benefit of GMO, changed the “It is not unusual” to “usually”:

“Researchers in the United States, France, Spain, Italy, Argentina, and Turkey have shown that Bt corn contains much lower levels of fumonisin, usually about one-tenth to one-twentieth the level found in organic and conventional corn varieties.” (X-3)

According to a study conducted by Monsanto Company, among the 210 pairs of comparison between Bt and conventional corns in 2000-2002, only in 126 occasions (60%) that the levels of fumonisin were higher than 2 ppm, and among the 126 pairs, Bt corn was only better than its control 58 times (46%)[41]. In other words, the usefulness of Bt corn’s anti-NTD function is only about 28%. As a matter of fact, among the 210 comparisons, there were at least 52 pairs (25%) showed that Bt corn behaved similarly to, or worse than, its control.

The fact is, Bt corn’s effect of fumonisin reduction could only obtained under certain circumstances, such as heavy insect infestation. If the condition is not suitable, it might generate the opposite effect. The following figure illustrates the point.

Fumonisin B1 concentrations in kernels of transgenic Bt maize hybrids (Mon802 and Mon810) and a near-isogenic standard hybrid (B73×Mo17) in 1995. Manually infested plants were infested with 50 neonatal European corn borer (Ostrinia nubilalis) larvae at growth stages V8 to V10 and R1. * indicates a significant difference (P 0.05) between standard and transgenic hybrid.
(The figure and the legend are adopted from Munkvold et al.[42])

On the other hand, besides fumonisin, corn could have other mycotoxins such as aflatoxin, deoxynivalenol (DON), zearalenone, etc. Therefore, even if Bt corn could solve the fumonisin problem, the other problems would still be present. As a matter of fact, Bt corn has limited success, if any, to control deoxynivalenol and aflatoxin, let alone control all of them altogether[43]. Also, as mentioned above, food processing, such as nixtamalization and commercial preparation of tortilla chips, could remove most fumonisin[33].

Why such facts were not presented by either Fang or Drs. Chassy and Kershen?

The Evidence of Ignorance

Admittedly, Fang did make his own contributions to his article besides stealing from Drs. Chassy and Kershen, and these contributions are characteristic of Fang’s scifool writing, ignorance and cheating, therefore they deserve special mentioning.

1. Fumonisin Is a Carcinogen

One of Fang’s tactics for promoting GMO is to scare his readers: without GMO, the consequence will be fatal. For this reason, Fang keeps exaggerating the “facts” he finds useful – many examples have been presented above, and before.

To exaggerate the danger of fumonisin, Fang purposefully refrained himself from revealing the FDA standards of the toxin in human foods and animal feeds, or SCF’s TDI. Instead, he spent a whole paragraph (VII) to talk about its danger and ubiquity, sending the signal that the only way to avoid being killed by fumonisin is to plant and eat Bt corn. Although the ubiquitous presence of fumonisin is questionable, the examples Fang provided were real, nonetheless. However, Fang’s exaggeration of fumonisin’s danger exposed his ignorance or evil mindedness.

According to Fang, “fumonisin has long been identified as a carcinogen.” (VII-2). The fact is, The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) states explicitly: “There is inadequate evidence in humans for the carcinogenicity of fumonisins,” therefore, fumonisin B1 is classified as “possibly carcinogenic to humans (Group 2cool smiley.”[44]

2. Bt Corn Secrets Bt Protein

Fang has no experience in, or knowledge of, GM technology in general, and GM food in particular, so during his GMO salesman career, he has made numerous jokes. One of these jokes is that since the very beginning of his career, Fang has said repeatedly that Bacillus thuringiensis “secrets” (分泌) δ-endotoxins, and Bt plants also “secret” the toxin[45]. And in GM Corn is healthier, he said it again: “Insect-resistant transgenic corn is ……able to secrete the Bt protein.” (IX-2).

Obviously, either the “biochemist” Fang doesn’t know the meaning of “secret,” or the Bt plant salesman Fang doesn’t know the fact that Bt toxin protein in Bacillus thuringiensis forms crystals inside the spores. In Bt plants, even though the toxin protein is mostly soluble, due to low concentration or other reasons, but unless specifically engineered to “secret,” Bt toxin protein is expressed and localized inside plant cells, instead of being “secreted” outside.

Transmission electron micrographs of Bt proteins in tobacco cells
Operon-derived Cry2Aa2 leaf sections in young (A), mature (B, D), and old, bleached leaf (C). (E) Single gene-derived Cry2Aa2 mature leaf; (F) mature untransformed leaf.
(Images and legend are adopted from De Cosa et al.[46])

3. No Natural Crops in the World

The most stupid argument Fang has used to promote GMO is to confuse transgenes with genes from the same species: If GM crops are unsafe, then the hybrid crops are even more unsafe, because, in GMO, people know what genes have been used to transform the crops, while in hybrids, people mix tens of thousands of genes, which we know nothing about, together, therefore, hybrids contain more uncertainties[47]. And in GM Corn is healthier, Fang reiterated the idea:

“In fact, none of the corn varieties we plant today, whether they are organic or genetically modified, are ‘natural,’ they are all man-made varieties selected carefully by mankind during the past thousands of years.” (XI-4)

The fact is, when Fang “secreted” his stupidity in China Youth Daily in 2004, he was utterly humiliated by a rebuttal written by the page editor of Fang’s column in that newspaper, Mr. Liu Xianshu (刘县书) under his penname, Shen Shu, who, Fang found out later, had only undergraduate biology background. Mr. Liu ridiculed Fang:

“Someone has to have a little bit professional knowledge to differentiate GM rice from the traditional hybrid rice.”[48]

To cover his ignorance, or to convince his boss that he was not as stupid as Mr. Liu’s article suggested, Fang responded by giving three more reasons: 1. No one had refuted his opinion before, therefore, it must be correct; 2. Although the organisms from which the transgenes were obtained and plants to which the transgenes were inserted are from different kingdoms, but the chemical nature and the regulations of these genes are the same; 3. The horizontal gene transfer in plants, mediated by viruses, could occur under natural condition, so GM technology and traditional hybridization technology are essentially the same, both are “imitation of nature.”[49]

I don’t know how much “professional knowledge” my readers have, but I do know that you don’t need much to tell Fang’s extreme ignorance and stupidity. First, Fang is known all over the world as a fighter, thanks to Science magazine and journal Nature, therefore, if not looking for trouble, no one in China dares or wants to challenge Fang, because had he done so, he knew he would be destined to be chased down, to be beaten up, and to be framed as a “faker.” Second, it needs a complete ignorant in biochemistry or molecular biology to say that the mechanisms of gene regulations in prokaryotes and eukaryotes are the same. As matter of fact, even the genes, as well as genomes, from these two kind of organisms are different structurally[50]; third, there is no direct and confirmed evidence showing that virus-mediated HGT has ever happened in contemporary time, or even in the evolutionary history, in plants[51].

However, the unthinkable thing happened after the debate: China Youth Daily stopped the debate by letting Fang shot his last shot, and then removing Mr. Liu from his post. The ignorant Fang continued his column in China Youth Daily for nearly 7 more years, posing as the official representative of the mainstream international scientific community[52]. Anybody wonders why?

The Evidence of Cheating

1. GM Plants Reduces Pesticide Usage

One of the biggest lies about GM plants is that they reduce the amount of pesticides used. Of course Fang has been repeating the lie in China for more than ten years[8]. And in GM Corn is healthier, he lied again:

“Planting Bt transgenic corn can significantly reduce the use of pesticides……At present, more than 80% corn grown in the United States is transgenic varieties, among them most are Bt corns.” (IX-3 and IX-5).

As a matter of fact, many people, including me, had pointed out the claim was a lie[53]. However, Fang, while refusing to respond and taking full advantage of his “prominent position in Chinese society,” kept lying. In March 2010, a few days before publishing his GM Corn Is Healthier, Fang engaged in a TV debate on GMO. Fang claimed that insect-resistant GM crops had reduced the usage of pesticides by 80%, and Ms. Xiong Lei showed audience a set of data, demonstrating that GM crops used more pesticides than conventional crops in the U. S. in 2008. Fang was completely knocked down. To save his face, Fang published an article on his New Threads before the debate show was broadcasted on TV, saying: what he (as well as officials of the Ministry of Agriculture and Academician Zhang Qifa) said was Bt crops reduced the usage of insecticides, and what Xiong Lei said was herbicide-tolerant crops increased the usage of herbicides, they are totally irrelevant[54]. In other words, Fang doesn’t think herbicides belong to pesticides, or herbicide-tolerant crops are GMOs.

Lying and laying bare
In a TV debate on GMO, held in March 2010, Fang claimed that Bt crops reduced the pesticide usage by 80%. Xiong Lei cited the data from Dr. Charles M. Benbrook’s report[55], demonstrating Fang was lying.

As matter of fact, even if we are completely deceived by Fang’s sophistry, the data speaks louder: in 2010, most GM crops in the United States contained herbicide-tolerance trait, Bt-only crops were diminishing[56]. Therefore, Fang was lying again when he wrote “At present, more than 80% corn grown in the United States is transgenic varieties, among them most are Bt corns.”

USDA data show that most GM crops in the United States have herbicide-tolerate trait and the percentages of Bt only crops are less important and declining.
(The figures are adopted from USDA ERS[56])

Last year, Dr. Charles M. Benbrook published another report, in which he concluded:

“Contrary to often-repeated claims that today’s genetically-engineered crops have, and are reducing pesticide use, the spread of glyphosate-resistant weeds in herbicide-resistant weed management systems has brought about substantial increases in the number and volume of herbicides applied. If new genetically engineered forms of corn and soybeans tolerant of 2,4-D are approved, the volume of 2,4-D sprayed could drive herbicide usage upward by another approximate 50%. The magnitude of increases in herbicide use on herbicide-resistant hectares has dwarfed the reduction in insecticide use on Bt crops over the past 16 years, and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.”[57]

In other words, the foundation of Fang’s cheating is shrinking, diminishing, and disappearing.

2. GM Crops Increase Yields

Fang’s another lie is that GM crops increase yields. In their article, Drs. Chassy and Kershen only said ambiguously that “Farmers have found that Bt corn improves yields,” but Fang was much bolder, said explicitly:

“Planting Bt transgenic corn can significantly …… increase yields by 5-15%.” (IX-3)

Where did he get his numbers?

In 2008, Nature Biotechnology published a report which showed that during 2002-2004, in three locations in Spain, Bt corn showed no yield advantage over conventional corn in two locations, consecutively for three years[58].

In 2009, at least two reports on GMO were published, one of them concluded:

“While crop GE has been hailed by some as critically important for ensuring adequate food supply in the future, it has so far produced only small increases in yields in the United States. Our review of available data on transgenic Bt corn, as well as on transgenic HT corn and soybeans, arrives at an estimated total yield benefit of about 3–4 percent for corn.”[59]

The other report made the similar conclusion:

“After a dozen years of commercial planting of GM crops, including maize, cotton, soybean and oilseed rape, there is no evidence of sustained, reliable or consistent increases in yield. In fact, there have been strong indications that the adoption of GM crops has resulted in yield declines.”[60]

Maybe the GM crop farmers around the world should ask Fang to compensate the difference between what he promised and what they really obtained.

It’s Not about NTD: Concluding Remarks

In his article, Fang based his entire case of promoting Bt corn on the hypothetical link between fumonisin and NTD, and he didn’t hesitate to put pressure on Chinese government: “It is unfortunate that Chinese government has not approved the plantation of Bt corn yet.” (IX-4). If you think Fang was concerned about Chinese people’s wellbeing, you are completely scifooled by him.

The fact is, the most obvious and effective solution for NTD prevention so far is folic acid supplementation, and to do so, mandatory fortification seems an intelligent choice[61]. However, Chinese government has not adopted the policy yet. Fang, who has showed his strong support for China’s mandatory salt iodization[62] and iron fortification of soy sauce[63], and supported the folic acid fortification policy of the United States[64], has never asked for, or suggested to, the Chinese government to implement folic acid fortification, despite of his “prominent position in Chinese society.” Therefore, Fang’s eagerness to take the opportunity of NTD incident to promote GM crops, which have almost no relevance whatsoever to NTD, smells fishy, sounds absurd, and looks suspicious.

The fact is, NTD is world-wide problem, and moldy corn, at the most, is a local cause of NTD. Why would anyone advocate a global strategy to solve a local problem?

The fact is, the percentage of GM corn with insect-resistant trait in the United States increased from 19% in 2000 to 67% in 2012[56]. If Bt corn could really solve the NTD problem, shouldn’t we have seen a dramatic decline in its prevalence? However, the data shows, the NTD rates remained essentially unchanged[22].

The fact is, Dr. Xiao Chuanguo invented a surgery which could greatly alleviate the suffering of the patients with spina bifida, a major type of NTD[65]. Hasn’t Fang desperately tried to destroy the technology, as well as Dr. Xiao’s career?[66]

Therefore, it can be said without a tiny bit of doubt that NTD patients, as well as their parents and their families, meant nothing to Fang, they were just being used by Fang as a ransom or leverage to force Chinese government to commercialize GM crops. That’s how important GMO is to Fang, that’s how evil Fang is.

According to Sense About Science, the organizer of John Maddox Prize,

“The John Maddox Prize for standing up for science rewards an individual who has promoted sound science and evidence on a matter of public interest.”

While, evidence is long overdue from the organizer and the sponsors of the Prize to show the world that your hero has really “promoted sound science and evidence on a matter of public interest.” And you do have a unique opportunity to accomplish that. On Feb. 26, 2012, under tremendous pressure from Chinese public, Fang promised that he would show his contract with that mysterious U. S. Bio Company to a “neutral medium,” if it is interested[68] It seems that Fang hasn’t been able to find that neutral medium in the past 13 months yet. So, why doesn’t Nature take a glimpse of this treacherous contract and report to the world what you find? Whether Nature is a neutral medium or not is not for me to say, but it doesn’t matter, because in Fang’s eyes, you must be, you have to be.

【Please read the PDF file for the complete comparison and the references with hyperlinks.】

被编辑2次。最后被亦明编辑于08/04/2013 02:59PM。
打开 | 下载 - Shamelessness shouldn\'t be anyone\'s Nature XXIII.pdf (1.5 MB)
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Shamelessness Shouldn’t Be Anyone’s Nature ──An Open Letter to Nature (Part XXII) (5001 查看) 附件

亦明 April 14, 2013 03:16PM

Part XXIII: The Bt Corn Case (4449 查看) 附件

亦明 April 21, 2013 05:29PM

Part XXIV: The U. S. President Case (5409 查看) 附件

亦明 April 28, 2013 03:16PM

Part XXV: The Michigan State University Case (2291 查看) 附件

亦明 May 19, 2013 10:47AM

Part XXVI: David Cyranoski’s “Brawl in Beijing” Is a Fraudulent and Malicious News Report (3938 查看)

亦明 July 28, 2013 03:36PM

Part XXVII: Albert Yuan’s Nomination Is Filled with Lies and Malice (3788 查看)

亦明 July 28, 2013 04:55PM

Part XXVIII: Who Is Albert Yuan the Nominator? (4403 查看) 附件

亦明 August 04, 2013 02:49PM

Part XXIX: Why Did Albert Yuan Nominate Fang by Lying? (3254 查看) 附件

亦明 August 12, 2013 12:36PM

Part XXX: Why Was Albert Yuan Invited to Nominate Fang? (9046 查看) 附件

亦明 August 20, 2013 04:28PM

Part XXXI: Fangangsters (I): Yu Guangyuan, the God Father (7237 查看) 附件

亦明 September 25, 2013 08:01PM



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