GMOs and pediatric cancer rates #GMOFAQ

There’s a post being highlighted by anti-GMO activists on Twitter that claims that cancer is now the leading cause of death among children in the US, that the rates of pediatric cancer are increasing and that this is because of GMOs. This is another egregious example of the willingness of anti-GMO campaigners to lie to the public in order to scare them and promote their agenda.

A simple look at data exposes the absurdity of their claims:

1) Cancer is not the leading cause of death among children in the United States

The Centers for Disease Control publishes annual statistics on the leading causes of death in the US broken down by age. These data show that malignant neoplasms are a serious problem – killing over 1,000 children under the age of 14 every year – making it the leading cause of disease-related death in children. But accidents remain the major cause of death by far.

One other thing to note from this table is the top 5 in any age group. This was not always the case, and is almost entirely the result of vaccination, another evil of modern science often highlighted by the same people who oppose GMOs.

2) Childhood cancer rates are not increasing

Another claim cited by the anti-GMO crowd is that childhood cancer rates are increasing at an “alarming rate”. Again, data says otherwise. Here is a report from the National Cancer looking at rates of childhood cancer from 1988 to 2008 that shows that they are virtually unchanged.

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3) There is no evidence that GMOs cause childhood cancer

If GMOs caused childhood cancer, you would expect there to be some difference in the rate of childhood cancer in the US after the introduction of GMOs into the US food supply in 1995. However the rate of childhood cancer has remained unchanged from its pre-1995 levels.

Childhood cancer is a horrible, horrible thing. We should do everything in our power to prevent and better treat it so that cancer, like infectious disease, disappears from statistics on childhood mortality. But it doesn’t do anyone any good to misrepresent the statistics in the name of a political agenda. So please anti-GMO campaigners, stop making stuff up, and stop using false statistics to try to scare people.

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4 Comments

  1. Posted October 15, 2013 at 3:13 am | Permalink

    I read the original article you linked and am in the process of trying to research if it’s true or not. Do you have a more updated link from the CDC? The one you linked is from 2010, which doesn’t disprove the claim that this year cancer surpassed accidents as the leading cause of childhood death. BTW-I’m not trying to be snarky here, I am just genuinely interested in finding the truth.

    • Posted October 15, 2013 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

      That’s the most recent data that the CDC has released. It usually takes them a while to process and validate the data. They issued a preliminary report on 2011 data here – http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr61/nvsr61_06.pdf – that doesn’t show any major changes relative to 2010.

      Note that the ABC news story that triggered this doesn’t offer a source for their statement that cancer is the leading cause of death in children. There have been no new studies showing this – they just made an error in their reporting. The correct statement is that cancer is the leading cause of death BY DISEASE in children. This is, of course, terrible. But accidents are still the leading cause of death.

      More importantly, there has been no significant change in the rates of childhood cancer since the 1970s, so all of the people who are citing an “epidemic” of childhood cancer – or believe there has been some spike in the rate of childhood cancer – are simply incorrect.

  2. Travers
    Posted March 18, 2014 at 1:49 pm | Permalink