The misuse of FOIA

Bullying a mother, scientist, nutrition and lactation expert

By Kavin Senapathy. Excerpted from the Genetic Literacy Project.

Dr. Michelle McGuire

The best way to get away with bullying is to blame the victim after punching her in the gut: “Principal, she did it first.”

Anti-GMO groups’ tactics are just a big-kid version of these playground antics. Led by organic industry-funded U.S. Right to Know (USRTK), these groups are now wielding Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests like hammers, demanding that public scientists turn over tens of thousands of innocent emails linked to their research efforts.

One of the latest targets of USRTK’s playground escapades is Washington State University nutritionist and mother of three Michelle (Shelley) McGuire, an expert on human milk and lactation. In July, Dr. McGuire publicly presented preliminary research findings that challenged a widely-touted anti-GMO activist assertion that the herbicide glyphosate, which they denounce as dangerously toxic, is present in mother’s milk, presumably posing harm to infants and children. The US Environmental Protection Agency, the World Health Organization and the European Commission, among dozens of global science oversight groups, have determined that glyphosate is mildly toxic to humans, not carcinogenic and safe when used as directed by home gardeners and farmers alike.

McGuire detailed her findings at the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) Science Research Conference in Big Sky, Montana, in conjunction with a university-distributed press release. She found that glyphosate does not show up in mother’s milk, or is below the detection limit of a very sensitive, newly-developed assay. In addition, as McGuire explained to Genetic Literacy Project, although glyphosate and its metabolite AMPA were present in the urine of some of the mothers, their concentrations were extremely low, at harmless levels. Both the analytical methods and clinical study are being prepared for submission to peer-reviewed journals as soon as next week.

Protecting mothers’ milk

McGuire first became interested in the controversy over glyphosate in breast milk after the anti-GMO group Moms Across America published a “pilot study” in conjunction with the European anti-biotech website Sustainable Pulse, which is run by organic entrepreneur Henry Rowlands. The “study”, which claimed that Roundup is “now in mothers’ breast milk”, was based on ten self-collected breastmilk samples analyzed by a small lab–one that does not do university quality evaluations. MAA–that well recognized independent science research organization–concluded and publicized their “finding” that three mothers had high, “detectable levels of glyphosate in their breast milk.”

Read the rest of this article at the Genetic Literacy Project.

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