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Judy Carman is an Australian medical researcher who became (in)famous in 2013 after publishing a study in the little-known open access Journal of Organic Systems purporting to show evidence of a link between genetically-modified (GM) maize and inflammation of the stomach in pigs. She is a prominent anti-GMO activist and the director of the self-aggrandizing Institute for Health and Environmental Research, an anti-GMO group composed of three people whose claim to existence is supported solely by their website and a South Australian PO box.
The pig study
Titled "A long-term toxicology study on pigs fed a combined genetically modified (GM) soy and GM maize diet", the study has been described by David Gorski as "a massive fishing expedition", as the study did not present a hypothesis to be tested, and it picked a wide variety of variables to compare without providing a reason as to why those particular variables were chosen. The researchers fed one group of pigs a diet of "widely-used varieties of GM soy and GM corn", and another group of pigs were fed non-modified maize and soy as a control. They let the pigs mature as usual, and autopsied them after slaughter in an attempt to find any difference between the two. Unsurprisingly, they found differences.
The observation Carman seems to believe is most damning is the amount of inflammation of the stomach in the pigs fed the GM diet, as she prominently displays photos of four of the autopsied stomachs on her website. The amount of inflammation was determined by gross visual examination; in layman's terms, by simply looking at the stomachs and declaring the reddest stomach to have the most inflammation. Unfortunately for the researchers, the redness of stomach tissue is a poor measure of inflammation.
In fact, there were more pigs with stomach abnormalities in the non-GM group than in the GM group. Even so, when using proper statistical analysis, there is no statistically significant difference between the amount of inflammation in the non-GM group and the GM group.
- Genetic modification
- Gilles-Eric Séralini, another researcher popular among GM opponents due to a flawed feeding study
- Judy Carman's website
- The original feeding study
- A YouTube video explaining what's wrong with the Carman study
- According to Gorski, the soy had the RoundUp-Ready trait, while "The corn used in this study contained 90% DK 42-88 RR YG PL (a triple stack of NK603, MON863 and MON810 genes) with the remainder being equal quantities of Pannar 5E-900RR (containing NK603), Pannar 4E-705RR/Bt (a double stack of NK603 and MON810) and Producers 5152 RR (containing NK603)." Basically, the corn contained two Bt traits and one RoundUp-Ready trait.
- Table 3 shows the total amount of stomach inflammation in the non-GM group to be greater than the amount of inflammation in the GM group.