Questions Surround Controversial Study on GMO Soy

Dr. V.A. Shiva Ayyadurai, who publicly offered $10 million to Monsanto if it could disprove his work, might have some explaining to do. 

by Sam Blum
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For all of his bellicose provocation, Dr. V.A. Shiva Ayyadurai might be wise to offer something of an explanation regarding his recent claim that genetically modified soy contains deadly traces of formaldehyde.

According to James Cooper, a scientist and author of several books on food science, Ayyadurai’s research is specious, and his paper on GMO soy wasn’t even accepted by an accredited scientific journal.

Apparently, Ayyadurai may have even paid to have his study published.

Cooper notes that while the scientific community hasn’t reached complete consensus regarding whether or not formaldehyde exists in GMO soy, Ayyadurai hasn’t brought any new insight to the debate.

“Ayyadurai has not bothered to do the relatively simple measurements to find out” if formaldehyde exists in GMO soy, Cooper tells Inverse.

“Since [genetically modified] and non-GM soy must have identical nutritional profiles for the GM version to be approved, it seems pretty unlikely. Ayyadurai has actually turned down offers to come to a lab and measure the concentration of formaldehyde in GM and non GM soy.”

Cooper initially addressed the issue on on his personal blog, where he discusses the simple research it takes to refute Ayyadurai’s assertion, in which the provocateur wagered a staggering $10 million against biotech giant Monsanto if it could disprove his claims.

Cooper strikes an investigative tone, numbering off the reasons Ayyadurai’s paper is not to be trusted. His misgivings include the stature of the journal itself, Agricultural Sciences, which on its website makes a precarious note about some scientist having to “pay for themselves” for publication.

The journal’s publisher, Scientific Research also has a business address in Hunan province, China, which is roughly 7,769 miles away from the state of Delaware, where it’s registered domestically :

If true, Ayyadurai’s research would posit some agricultural news that stems international borders and global economies: 94 percent of soybeans produced in the United States are genetically modified, and last year, 65 percent of the United States’ bounty of 3.969 billion bushels were exported to China.

When first published, Ayyadurai’s study was met with all of the squealing praise that sometimes comes with progressive science. Dr. Ray Seidler, a former senior scientist at the EPA noted that formaldehyde is a “class one carcinogen,” and beckoned the Obama administration to confront a widespread agricultural problem, presumably discovered by Ayyadurai:

“Its elevated presence in soybeans caused by a common genetic engineering event is alarming and deserves immediate attention and action from the FDA and the Obama administration,” he said.

Ayyadurai is no stranger to provocation. He’s garnered something of a divisive spotlight through some pretty boorish behavior over the years, including being abruptly fired from a position at the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research while trying to root out corruption at the organization. Ayyadurai, who is married to actress Fran Drescher, also holds a patent claim to the “inventor of email.”

Cooper claims though, that Ayyadurai is just another link in a very dense clog of anti-GMO crusaders who champion overt, scary claims over hard scientific fact.

“A number of people have criticized this study, which is in such an obscure journal I would never have found it if one or more anti-GMO organizations hadn’t trumpeted these shoddy results.”

“However, the point of my article was to illustrate how to recognize a “bogus” scientific paper,” he says.

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