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Busted: Biotech Leader ‘Syngenta’ Charged Over Covering Up Animal Deaths from GM Corn

Anthony Gucciardi
Natural Society / News Analysis
Published: Friday 15 June 2012
“It was around this time that the mysterious illnesses began to emerge among the cattle population. Syngenta paid Gloeckner 40,000 euros in an effort to silence the farmer, however a civil lawsuit was brought upon the company.”
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In a riveting victory against genetically modified creations, a major biotech company known as Syngenta has been criminally charged for denying knowledge that its GM Bt corn actually kills livestock. What’s more is not only did the company deny this fact, but they did so in a civil court case that ended back in 2007. The charges were finally issued after a long legal struggle against the mega corp initiated by a German farmer named Gottfried Gloeckner whose dairy cattle died after eating the Bt toxin and coming down with a ‘mysterious’ illness.

Grown on his own farm from 1997 to 2002, the cows on the farm were all being fed exclusively on Syngenta’s Bt 176 corn by the year 2000. It was around this time that the mysterious illnesses began to emerge among the cattle population. Syngenta paid Gloeckner 40,000 euros in an effort to silence the farmer, however a civil lawsuit was brought upon the company. Amazingly, 2 cows ate genetically modified maize (now banned in Poland over serious concerns) and died. During the civil lawsuit, however, Syngenta refused to admit that its GM corn was responsible. In fact, they went as far as to claim having no knowledge whatsoever of harm.

The case was dismissed and Gloeckner, the farmer who launched the suit, was left thousands of euros in debt. And that’s not all; Gloeckner continued to lose many cows as a result of Syngenta’s modified Bt corn. After halting the use of GM feed in 2002, Gloeckner attempted a full investigation with the Robert Koch Institute and Syngenta involved. The data of this investigation is still unavailable to the public, and only examined one cow. In 2009, however, the Gloeckner teamed up with a German action group known as Bündnis Aktion Gen-Klage and to ultimately bring Syngenta to the criminal court.

Using the testimony of another farmer whose cows died after eating Syngenta product, Gloeckner and the team have charged the biotech giant for the death of over 65 cows, withholding knowledge of the death-link, and holding the corporation liable for not registering the cattle deaths. The team is even charging Hans-Theo Jahmann, the German head of Syngenta , personally over the withholding of knowledge.

The charges bring to light just how far large biotechnology companies will go to conceal evidence linking their genetically modified products to serious harm. Monsanto, for example, has even threatened to sue the entire state of Vermont if they attempt to label its genetically modified ingredients. Why are they so afraid of the consumer knowing what they are putting in their mouths?

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ABOUT Anthony Gucciardi

Anthony is an accomplished investigative journalist whose articles have appeared on top news sites and have been read by millions worldwide. A health activist and researcher, Anthony’s goal is informing the public as to how they can use natural methods to revolutionize their health, as well as exploring the behind the scenes activity of the pharmaceutical industry and the FDA.

I was so happy to read that a

I was so happy to read that a company head finally been held liable for the destructive nature of their GMO products.

That is until I looked into the story and discovered that there has as of yet been no court ruling. The 'charges' the above story refers to are actually only claims made against the company. The case has yet to reach a court. Big deal! This is not news. Anybody can bring charges against another - its up to the court to decide the validity of the claims. This article jumps the gun big-time. This kind of false advertising does little to boost the anti-GMO movement. I hope future stories will more accurately describe the actual set of events.

Let's hope for a ruling against Syngenta but lets not stretch the truth for dramatic effect!

It's 65 cows and however many

It's 65 cows and however many dead cows were not reported and thus not examined as to cause of death. Our food chain has become too constrained by a narrower and narrower choices, and anything that is wrong with a major singular food source, the worse it is if that choice has problems. The Big Agribusinesses have no choice but to try to cover up the problem, but at some point, when most of the cows are dead, the corrupt scientists will have to own up to the problems. But they will have spent all their riches, and the Monsanto lawyers will not be able to get their incomes, either. Is that a fractal?

GM crops are an inevitable

GM crops are an inevitable part of the future. Many may not believe it, but society needs them. It is in the interests of everyone that the answer to the questions raised here be investigated vigorously and scientifically. Neither a witch-hunt nor cover up serves anyone in the long run. If you goal is to slow down the progress, and reduce the risk of a scientific misstep, push for legislation for criminal and financial responsibility for the escape of patented genetic material to fields where it was not invited.

I do believe that many

I do believe that many believe that society needs GM crops, but from the perspective of my life, I could only conclude that society needs them in order to bolster its ability to continue along the lines it has evolved along to date, and I just happen to see those trends as risking collapse.

In other words, GM crops are only an "inevitable" part of a future that is heavily influenced by megalomaniacs and manifested by populaces emotionally manipulated by them.

In my opinion, the claims that the motivation for genetically engineering plants is for benefitting all mankind are only true for some of the foot-soldiers in its development and use. The real drivers of it are motivated simply by the financial and power spoils.

But others seem to have accumulated different perspectives on the world than have I. It is a world-view that sees all evolution as "progress".

Let me rephrase Rich Nau: "If your goal is to encourage genetic engineering to be sane and safe, enact a moratorium on all genetic engineering and use of its existing creations until legislation and effective enforcement is in place for criminal and financial responsibility for any and all damages from its use."

Further considering the notion that without GM crops we will all starve, and thus how great is our "need" for them, there are numerous prestigious analyses concluding otherwise. Here are two links to such:

I think the point that is

I think the point that is being missed here is that it is not just 2 cows! The data is being hidden...If you can't see the studies then it looks like it's only 2 cows. If you are truly interested in knowing what's going on here, there are already many published studies about the effects on lab animals: sterility after several years, lesions in stomachs and intestines, etc.

Studies. Why do you believe

Studies. Why do you believe low-quality, never reproduced research from 1997 but never any research that does not support your GMO=bad assertion? The work by Pusztai and Seralini are all small studies, often with poor design, tiny numbers, and nobody ever reports the same thing from other labs. The lab that shows definitively that GMOs are harmful (including my own) will get a Nobel Prize and incredible recognition. You need to have a higher evidence threshold and understand those studies scientifically. I'm glad to help you and show you why they are not such great evidence. Thanks.

First if two cows die that is

First if two cows die that is not a national disaster, if one child dies that it. The Monsanto GMO story tacks this one very carefully, it is very true that BT in small quantities is a good bug killer and zyklon B in small quantities was acokroach killer. It's when you up the dosage to intolerable levels that it becomes a problem and it seems that GMOs are doing that. Time to pull the plug on that crap and look for safe alternatives.

And nobody thinks it is

And nobody thinks it is strange that out of the estimated 3 trillion livestock that have consumed Bt, two have died, and this guy's farm is the only one affected? I'd say that's a pretty stellar track record.

Could it be that this guy is looking for a settlement and can harass big ag? Why is he the only one affected? Who is "charging" Syngenta? It was not clear by the article.

What is the evidence that it is Bt and not something else? Bt has a really solid safety record. The only negative peer-reviewed data come from Seralini's lab where they can use Bt protein to kill cells in a Petri dish at non-physiological concentrations.

As usual, Nation of Change buys it. I am in agreement with so many articles here, but the the persistent negative portrayal of biotech is sad.

True, the facts are pretty

True, the facts are pretty thin here. But let's say only two cows died eating GMO corn, and that those deaths were "caused" in the scientific sense of the cows deaths. That in it self is pretty alarming. My point is that cows don't die from a causal agent called corn.

We don't need GMOs. We need population decreases. Problem solved. The logic behind GMOs is insanity: that the population will continue to increase into infinitude, therefore we need more food and GMOs provide that food. That in itself is an invalid argument.

So,KevonFolta-are you

So,KevonFolta-are you employed with Sygenta or are you just another corporate supporter?

TYEANN, there's a high ratio

TYEANN, there's a high ratio of fallacies to words in your post.

1) loaded question

2) false dichotomy

3) circumstantial ad hominem

Wikipedia can tell you more about all of them.

Hi Tyeann, your response is

Hi Tyeann, your response is the same response that I always get when I ask a relevant question that cannot be answered using the anti-GMO talking points.

Do you know who I work for? YOU!!! I'm a public scientist that critically evaluates the literature in this area (and others). I know the research and how the science is portrayed in the popular press.

Being against biotech is exactly the same as being anti-climate change. It denies facts and the current knowledge state of the peer-reviewed literature.

And no, I'm not a corporate supporter. If I was, I'd sell out, work for them and triple my salary. I'd rather work 100 h weeks teaching and training the next generation of scientists. I'm always glad to help with any questions you might have in this area. Thanks.

@kevinfolta~ As a former


As a former ivory-tower synthetic organic biochemist who left the field due to unwillingness to be subject to the funding politics of the fraternities of death-dealers, my hat is off to you if you have found a way to persevere in public science service without prostituting yourself.

I especially appreciate your purported focus on conducting objective science and analyses of the science of others, and its vital corollary, the training of other scientists to do the same.

From that perspective, I find it surprising to “hear” in your words a possible interpretation that you believe yourself to have a complete enough data set of the science regarding GMOs (let alone only Bt-corn) to be able to conclude that “the persistent negative portrayal of biotech is sad.”

From a public scientist on whom we rely to be vigilant and informative regarding our welfare, we ought to hear not only your criticisms of the critics and criticisms of biotech, but also your criticisms of biotech. We ought not only to hear of your support of biotech, but of your support of caution concerning biotech.

Perhaps you have presented such criticisms/supports before/elsewhere in comments on NationOfChange posts -- I would not know of them because I am new to this forum.

Would you indulge me now here with your analysis of the implications of the detections of the in vivo concentrations of gysophates in Canadian mothers and fetuses that have been trumpeted in the press of late, and of the efficacy of the evidence presented by Dr. Don Huber, Professor Emeritus of Plant Pathology, Purdue University, regarding effects of the use of “Round-up Ready” seed-lines for animal forage production and consumption? Would you comment on the records of certain notorious modern biotech companies with a half-century of amassing great wealth by obtaining government assistance to proliferate the use of novel substances whose likely or certain dangerous consequences they knew full well and yet initially concealed that knowledge, later denied the evidence, and then, when finally undeniable, “settled” for a song and then lo-and-behold rolled out the “alternative” substance they had been planning all along to replace it with when the jig was up – an alternative substance just as or more dangerous and with just as or more hidden evidence of that and with just as or more fanfare about its safety and assured miracle rescue status? (Oh, but don’t mention any names, or you’ll be buried in lawsuits until you are bankrupted by legal costs.)

And, please, don’t forget to use these examples of negative portrayals of biotech to tell us why their persistence is sad.

Mycophile, You are correct.

Mycophile, You are correct. I do read all of the literature and certainly recognize the thin number of reports that show negative implications of biotech. There are a few I find compelling. Directly to your point, let me answer your questions.

Canadian mothers and fetuses. Critical review shows that the paper suffers from poor methods and overstepping data. If a reviewer I would have rejected. Why? The method they use to quantify Bt was insufficient. They used ELISAs on human serum and used a standard curve using a kit buffer. There is no control for cross reactivity. Furthermore, the figure that reports detection detects it BELOW the standard curve!!! If you cannot demonstrate detection with the control, how can you rely on experimental data? The whole paper is predicated on this curve and if the standard is bad, no experiment can be trusted.

I just found a beautiful breakdown of this paper on Biofortified. Well done.

Dr. Huber. He has not actually published any report that demonstrated deleterious effects of RR crops. At least that I am aware of. He has published some papers on RR, just not with real data showing harm. His assertions on finding new organisms popping up in RR are not published. Therefore, we can't count them as polished evidence.

Biotech companies. I do not agree with some of the policies of these companies. This problem is political and in policy- beyond my training and ability to comment on too much with authority. What I do know is that they keep the regulatory bar high and it squeezes out public scientists like me that would love to pursue GM solutions.

You'll need to give me a hint on "novel substances" etc. I'm not sure what you are referring to.

I am completely happy to discuss negative effects. However, they need to be good studies from peer-reviewed journals. I'll do a blog on them sometime. There are a few that I find interesting, mostly glyphosate effects in the environment, but that's not biotech per se. Thanks for your note and I hope to continue a useful conversation with you here. I think it benefits the whole thread. Thanks.

Thank you, kevinfolta It

Thank you, kevinfolta

It sounds as if you still have the same dream that I did as a lad 47 years ago-- to stir the powers of plant genetics to produce clever and useful growth and robustness.

However, unlike me, you seem to still support the game that is designed to keep you from pursuing that dream. To loosely paraphrase and wave a definition: To continue to repeat behaviors that hurt oneself and do not work is a symptom of mental illness.

Not that I suggest mental illness in this case -- just that there might be something to be learned from looking at it that way for a few seconds. Perhaps without influencing the political/policy realm of biotech one has no chance of ones dreams regarding GM solutions becoming manifest.

I suspect you very well may have the training and ability to comment on many parts of the track records of biotech companies with the most egregious records of behaviors. I am referring, of course, to their repeated gross mis-and-ab-use of science under the color of informing policy makers and the public, and their insistence that the public is too stupid to be allowed to know when GM ingredients are present in their foods.

It seems to me that taking the biotech industry (as it is) to task for scientific dis-integrity, lack of faith in the power of sunshine, and non-support of public scientists to objectively educate the public would be right up your alley. To borrow your construct, if the standard of advocacy is disingenuity, no advocacy can be trusted. How can any legitimate supporters of any kind of GM solutions be "heard" when the loudest voices of support are clearly of selfish pigs in whom not only lying appears to be a function of the autonomic nervous system, but who also demonstrate callous disregard for public health and environmental sustainability?

Because, in this stage of my life, I can not take on the task without significant funding I do not possess, I once suggested to the "organic" food advocacy realm a campaign to properly inform the GMO dialogue. It would have relied on scientists like you, of which I have good reason to believe exist in the hundreds. It was designed to lead to internally-consistent and durable policy and funding decisions, instead of funding for political pork and lobbyist-rewarding, and ephemeral policy guidelines that follow political winds. They ignored it. Probably because of something you must know full well -- emotion fleeces more pockets, obtains more signatures, and sways more votes than do facts.

It may be arguable that biotech, per se, is "bad", but is inarguable that its public dialogue is poisoned.

Oh, "novel substances" : Not known to exist without being created via human ingenuity. Things like polychlrophenoxyacetic acids, polychlorinated biphenyls, and benzoic sulfilimine. But you knew that, so I suppose what you were after is too long an explanation for now.

@Kevinfolta "....It denies

"....It denies facts "
I think you'll find that in the climate change issue, there is more speculation than hard facts. The mantra of AGW was recently converted to climate change, since the latter cannot easily be disputed. It is a given. The climate is always changing and always has done, so this claim is not controversial or even deniable. What has not been proven yet is the cause, of which there are a number of theories from your fellow scientists..............

@nightandday This is not a

@nightandday This is not a forum to engage such discussions. Clearly there is massive evidence for human-induced contributions to climate change. If you choose to ignore them, then I'm not likely to convince you either.

I will give you direction on one point. You, and opponents of science and AGW evidence, resort to the "is always changing and always has". There is no evidence you can provide to me that shows a comparable change in temperature over a 50 year period. Yes it changes historically-- but does so over thousands, tens of thousands, millions of years.

Denial of climate change evidence is parallel to denial of GMO efficacy. Both must refute sound science and resort to fringe claims, conspiracy allegations, and minor evidence. Let's embrace science and let that be our guide, independent of corporate, political, or special interest influence.

The one thing in this article

The one thing in this article that fills me with joy more than anything else in the article does is that the little pissant, Jahmann, is also being personally charged. These corporate dickheads need to go to jail as well as paying out paltry sums (for them) from their corporate profits.

I wonder if the corporation will give him a million dollar bonus for each month he spends in jail as some skinhead's bitch.

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