Everything You Think You Know About GMOs Is Probably Wrong

 

Prof Woobury

 

Northcoast Co-op’s GMO policy is already stained by superstition – will it fall to foolish food fashion and commit its business to a scientifically indefensible, legally laughable and ultimately unenforceable crop ban?

Everyone in Arcata seems to have an opinion about genetically modified organisms (GMOs), also known as genetically engineered (GE) food or biotech. If there was ever consensus on anything in Arcata, it’s that GMOs are evil, rotten, mean and nasty, and that their proponents are shills for the dreaded Monsanto Corp. On a good day.

Now, GMO Free Humboldt (GMOFH) has drafted an ordinance which would outlaw cultivation of biotech crops in the county. The Northcoast Co-op is about to decide whether or not it supports the crop ban.

No problem, non-solution

The crop ban is an ineffectual solution for a nonexistent problem. It’s a symbolic gesture at best.  A farmer can enter into any private contractual agreement he or she may wish to with a biotech supplier, with no requirement to tell anyone. County ag officials have said they have no authority or resources to enforce any ban.

And anyway, the Supremacy Clause invalidates this ordinance before it’s even enacted. Under that long-established principle, federal law trumps all local law. We learned this the hard way with local cannabis ordinances. Anything deemed legal or illegal under federal law can’t be overridden by local legislation, period. If challenged, the GMO crop ban will be thrown out of court.

Still, props to GMOFH for stimulating discussion about agricultural sustainability, and to Co-op for thinking about what it’s doing. Hopefully, Co-op will base any decision it makes on science and evidence, and not unfounded folklore and emotion.

Techno-fear factor

Popular concern with genetically modified food is perfectly understandable. Technology doesn’t always work as expected, and unintended consequences can be catastrophic.

In Kurt Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle, a molecularly-rearranged form of water called “Ice Nine” is a solid at room temperature. Any water it comes in contact with “freezes” solid as well. Of course it gets loose, congealing the oceans and destroying life on Earth.

Now that we can meddle with the basic fabric of life itself, what thoughtful person wouldn’t consider whether our lab conjurings might also infect and mangle the biosphere with Frankenfood like Ice Nine did with water?

Fortunately, the answers are found in basic, well-established science. And that science delivers conclusions far different than the peculiar mix of fact, fiction and lots of emotion which tends to dominate social networks and online fora.

Risky business

Co-op’s Board of Directors is set to announce a decision regarding support for the biotech crop ban at its meeting of Thursday, Feb. 27. The store’s administration has urged the board to adopt a defensible policy.

Unfortunately, Co-op’s current GMO policy already seems confused about biotech. It uses the term “high risk” nine times in reference to GMO food, suggesting that biotech poses some peril as yet unidentified by science. Less charged language would be a good first step in crafting a rational GMO policy.

Associating biotech food, which has been widely available for decades with no ill effects to consumers, with “high risk,” is no more supportable than branding the other groceries, including organic food and herbal preparations that the store sells, as risky.

Recent food recall notices we've received at the newspaper include Woodstock Frozen Organic Pomegranate Kernels, linked to a multi-state Hepatitis A outbreak last July. Then in October, Kirkland rotisserie chicken was recalled because of salmonella contamination. In November, four cases of E. coli were reported in Humboldt, their source never determined. There has never been any comparable disease-based recall of GMO food.

Further, you may have heard about the recent analysis of herbal products which purport to offer so many health benefits. It turns out that many, if not most of these unregulated, untested substances are impure, with lots of unlabeled fillers, and vary wildly in concentration of the alleged ingredients.

Biotech BrouhahaStated the study, published in the journal BMC Medicine, “Most (59 percent) of the products tested contained DNA barcodes from plant species not listed on the labels. Although we were able to authenticate almost half (48 percent) of the products, one-third of these also contained contaminants and or fillers not listed on the label. Product substitution occurred in 30 of 44 of the products tested and only two of 12 companies had products without any substitution, contamination or fillers. Some of the contaminants we found pose serious health risks to consumers.”

As noted by leading skeptic Dr. Steven Novella, “St. John’s Wort product contained senna, which can cause diarrhea if used regularly. Some products contained wheat, and so look gluten-free on the label but aren’t.”

Hey, gluten-free fans – where’s the hue and cry about this?

The point is, Co-op doesn’t call organic food, chicken or herbs “high risk” as it does with GMOs, which have never been linked to any comparable maladies.

It’s downright bizarre that a retail business would describe a broad range of its own merchandise as risky to consumers when there is no known need to do so.  That doesn’t seem fair or helpful to shoppers in making informed choices.

Naturally erroneous

There’s another problem with Co-op’s policy, and that is the myth of naturalism. That’s the assumption that things which are “natural” – a term of art at best – are intrinsically superior. Asbestos is natural. So are cleft palates, volcanoes and falling and breaking your hip.

So are polio and smallpox. Those natural phenomena have been all but eliminated, and not by word-of-mouth pseudo-science, protest signs, Facebook memes, rituals, chanting or misguided laws, but by science and technology.

Perhaps you enjoy the popular Facebook page, I Fucking Love Science. But do you only love science when it shows you stunning photos of the cosmos, or reports that another disease has been expunged? Science is never more lovable than when it shakes up our mythologies and challenges our mistaken assumptions – the sort of thing that biotech discussion is plagued with.

Further, science isn’t a set of fixed beliefs, but a self-renewing process for ascertaining what is. And best of all, it doesn’t care what we want to be true or think should be true.

So many GMO truisms simply aren’t.

A recent letter to the editor in these pages asserted that “contamination by GMO crops on adjoining lands is now of widespread proportions and putting many small organic farmers out of business.”

On the Humboldt Skeptics Facebook page, a biotech doubter – an educated, well-informed person – claimed that it’s “a common practice” for Monsanto to sue farmers whose crops have been contaminated by their biotech pollen.

Did you know that that has never happened, ever? Not once. Fact: Monsanto has never sued a farmer for pollen drift.

We’ve tried to find any farmers who were driven out of business in this manner, especially local. There aren’t any.

Other fictional claims about GMOs/biotech include mass suicides of farmers in India, links to autism, bee colony collapse and increased exposure to pesticides.

No one would want to rush into biotech or any other technology without caution, especially not based on glossy promises by interested corporations. But there are rational, reality-based reasons that every major global science and health organization have given their stamps of approval to genetically engineered crops. The yields can be higher, the crops hardier and the resulting food more nutritious.

We’ve been genetically modifying food for centuries via hybridization – a “natural” process – for centuries. Virtually everything we eat is the result of thousands of years of cross-breeding and modification. Do the genes somehow “know” or care that their components have been altered via traditional or more direct and efficient modern processes? Obviously not.

We’ve been told that biotech was not the way food is “intended” to be made. Exactly what conscious agency actually holds this intention?

You know what’s really risky? Non-biotech mutation breeding. ''We have a right to know what is in our food – what are they hiding?” This is a very strong, emotionally-charged argument that should be fairly applied to other breeding methods.

Plant breeding mixes large sets of genes of unknown function, while genetic engineering generally introduces only one to a few well-characterized genes at a time. Crop breeders are increasingly using radiation and gene-altering chemicals to mutate seeds, creating new plant varieties with better yields – all without regulation and studies, and on the organic shelf.

GMOs on the market are more studied and regulated than any other food. The U.S. National Academies of Science warned in 1989 and again in 2004 that regulating genetically modified crops while giving a pass to products of mutation breeding isn’t scientifically justified.  Mutagenesis deletes and rearranges hundreds or thousands of genes randomly spawning mutations that sometimes are beneficial or hazardous to the organism. These can be labeled and certified organic, and no one is worried.

But why not? “The randomness makes mutagenesis less precise than genetically engineered crops,” the National Academy of Science said in a 2004 report. ‘’It’s the breeding technique most likely to cause unintended genetic changes, some of which could harm human health,” the NAS said.

Mutation breeding is absolutely the least predictable. Any GMO on the market today is safer than anything that hasn’t gone through that safety regulatory step.

No breeding method is inherently bad, and the breeding method type does not attest to the safety of any particular produce.

Opposing biotechnology is the same as opposing typewriters for producing a bad book and demanding we go back to writing them by hand. Labeling all breeding methods that pose more risk than GMOs would be rational if that informed us of the safety, but it doesn’t.

Fearful fallacies

The arbitrary inconsistency of the anti-biotech side is matched by its reliance on easily identifiable logical fallacies.

Appeals to popularity are frequent. “Do you think two million people marched against GMOs for nothing?” asked one activist. “And what about all the countries that have banned GMOs?” As though food risk is linked to the size of a protest march or the decisions of politicians.

If it rains and just 10 people march, or just one country banned GMOs, would that make them less dangerous? What if it’s a sunny day and 10 million people march, then 100 countries ban them – will that make them more dangerous?

Millions upon millions of people ardently oppose same-sex marriage. Many countries have banned it. As should be clear by now, they’re all wrong and on the wrong side of history.

Obviously, the ephemeral popularity or panic about an issue doesn’t necessarily relate to its actual menace.

As is commonly observed, arguing with GMO opponents is sometimes like colloquy with those who deny climate change. Evidence is all but powerless against fixed, faith- or politics-based beliefs. Satellite photos of receding glaciers don’t do any good, nor do the impossible-to-find Monsanto prosecutions against organic farmers.

(Climate change deniers like to talk about irrelevancies like Al Gore’s Learjet. What if Al had never had a jet, or never been born – would the global temperature be any different?)

Another logically fallacious argument is the newly-named argumentum ad Monsantium, in which any criticism of the anti-GMO movement means one must be a corporate shill. Or that Monsanto is behind all biotech. But it’s not even the biggest biotech company.

Confronted with these facts, GMOpponents relocate the goalposts behind some other outrageous assertion. You can’t argue against religion with mere facts, and GMOphobia sometimes seems like the closest thing we have to a secular religion.

As we know from the climate change denialists, it’s never a good idea to commingle politics and science – science winds up distorted and  denied because it doesn’t fit into a political narrative. In this case, that crops up as the Appeal to Consequences logical fallacy: corporations suck, so the food technology they market is unacceptable.

You might not trust corporations, and you won’t find blind allegiance to any corporation among biotech supporters. Everyone uses lots of corporate-generated products and technologies, from cars to computers to medicine. Distrust of corporations doesn’t mean a useful technology shouldn’t be taken advantage of, and that includes biotech.

The anti-GMO movement has its own seamy, exploitative  side. While much, if not most of the anti-GMO movement is composed of well-intentioned individuals who hold the kind of sustainable values we can all embrace, those people have also been identified as a market for some of the more cynical purveyors of fear and anti-science.

One shiny, sleazy GMOphobic website is loaded with pandering naturalistic mythology, and even offers $197 “Empowerment Packages.” Send them a couple of Benjamins and get back a ton of fluffed-up scare-info about biotech. These folks are no different from snake oil salespersons throughout history, and use the same old tactics of fear and misdirection. Think Professor Harold Hill or Dr. Marvel, whipping up a false problem and then selling dubious solutions.

Once GMOphobia plays out, the noxious noisemakers will go back to frightening the credulous with anti-scientific superstition about things like fluoride, vaccines and SmartMeters (remember that grave menace?).

The science of it

You don’t need to send any smiling, new age media quacks your cash in order to understand biotech and do a risk assessment. Spend that money at the Farmers’ Market instead. If you aren’t a scientist, you could listen to the conclusions of scientists from around the world. They’re much more credible than the snake oilers, fearmongers and even Facebook Science Academy.

There are mountains of research spanning decades which exonerate biotech. That is why it has been found benign by the World Health Organization, the European Union, American Association for the Advancement of Science, the National Academy of Sciences and the American Medical Association. Those endorsements aren’t an argument from popularity, they’re an argument from studying the hell out of something and drawing a logical, evidence-based and defensible conclusion.

In September of last year, an editorial titled “Standing Up for GMOs,” signed by some of the most distinguished scientists in the world, appeared in Science magazine (Science vol. 341, p. 1320), one of the most prestigious scientific journals in the world.

They discussed the importance of a genetically modified form of Golden Rice that produces a compound that is critical for the production of Vitamin A. About 500,000 children who eat rice that is not genetically modified each year are blinded because such rice does not allow their bodies to generate vitamin A that is a component of a light-absorbing compound in our eyes. Half of those children die within a year.

It has taken the scientists who developed Golden Rice decades to obtain permission to distribute the seeds, and they still cannot do so, so children continue to die – from simple Vitamin A deficiency, so easily fixable.

Recently, a group of anti-GMO vandals destroyed a field trial of Golden Rice in the Philippines. Does the Co-op and Arcata want to support the deaths of so many children who have no other choice and in the process support those who take the law into their own hands? Anti-GMO ideology is an intolerant religion that harms many, many people.

In the long run, biotech may or may not not be the magic bullet claimed by some proponents, and it certainly isn’t the menace asserted by its critics. It’s simply another timely technological advance, like hybridization or crop rotation, which can be used to benefit agriculture.

Quoth Scientific American magazine: “We have been tinkering with our food’s DNA since the dawn of agriculture. By selectively breeding plants and animals with the most desirable traits, our predecessors transformed organisms’ genomes, turning a scraggly grass into plump-kerneled corn, for example. For the past 20 years Americans have been eating plants in which scientists have used modern tools to insert a gene here or tweak a gene there, helping the crops tolerate drought and resist herbicides. Around 70 percent of processed foods in the U.S. contain genetically modified ingredients.”

Maybe Co-op’s Board of Directors has uncovered some game-changing information that counters the findings of the global scientific, medical and humanitarian communities. In that case, it can credibly endorse the symbolic crop ban and count on its employees to defend and explain it.

Without the evidence, though, an endorsement of a superstition-based ordinance is not the best position for a business in a university town – whose economy is largely based on a fact-finding, knowledge-imparting enterprise – to be in.

Co-op has an opportunity to demonstrate genuine leadership, stand up to a folklore-based food fad, ally itself with reality and science and not jump on the anti-GMO fearwagon. It comes down to being honest with patrons.

This piece was written by Kevin L. Hoover, with additions by geneticist Rollin Richmond and science fan/skeptic Chad White. For more reality checks on matters controversial, plus good-natured humor and celebration of science, visit the Humboldt Skeptics Facebook page.

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158 Comments

  1. dude said:

    another journalist purporting to be a scientist. good job at nothing, mr. hoover. all we need is a 90 day study to determine it’s safe for indefinite human consumption.

  2. Erik Burman said:

    What? Unenforcible? How so? Just look how effectively Arcata has enforced it’s nuclear weapons ban. Last time I checked there were almost no nuclear war heads in Arcata to be found. And the plastic bag ban has been a raging success. Encouraging people not to shop in Arcata has done wonders to reduce plastic bag usage. Best of luck Arcata! I just hope all those GMO engineered ultra-high THC marijuana crops don’t throw a monkey wrench in the works.

  3. Commentor12345 said:

    Yeah, and the National Academy of Sciences, World Health Organization, AAAS, etc, those are probably just a bunch of journalists too, like that Dr. Richmond who’s a geneticist and the president of HSU. Dude, get a clue.

  4. Fred Mangels said:

    Pretty good job. You covered pretty much most of it but you got this backwards:

    “As is commonly observed, arguing with GMO opponents is sometimes like
    colloquy with those who deny climate change. Evidence is all but
    powerless against fixed, faith- or politics-based beliefs.

    I’d suggest you have that backwards, as it’s the Believers in man caused climate change that have the fixed, faith and politics based beliefs- with the exception of those that view the issue as one of Left vs. Right.

    Other than that, well done. What’s interesting is the Believers in human caused climate change are probably more likely to be the ones opposing GMOs. Hey, you’re saying AGW Believers believe in the “right” science, but they’re wrong on GMOs. Interesting conflict of beliefs, huh?

  5. Ian Ray said:

    No, it is not backwards. People who spout absurd nonsense to defend their particular irrational belief sound similar to others with the same issue but different belief.

    For example:

    The conventional scientific data about (GMO, climate change, vaccination, EMF) is not agreed upon, just look at this press release about what Professor Woobury and Dr. Crankman published in the American Journal of Analytic Junk Science last week.

    It all sounds the same. No offense, but when you start talking about “AGW,” you sound the same.

  6. Ian Ray said:

    And, it is not just a right/left politics thing, but those political allegiances can be the root of some of the cognitive dissonance associated with these issues. Specifically, herd instinct and group justification can play a role in anti-scientific belief systems.

    Examples are easy… radical conservatism doesn’t want any government scheme to be involved in climate change; this is understandable. Yet, many folks who disagree with the government angle want more justification, so they accuse science of being wrong and/or bribed by the government.

    In the same vein, radical liberalism doesn’t want corporate greed to infringe on other people; this is also understandable. Those who disagree with the corportaism want more justification, so they accuse science of being wrong and/or bribed by Monsanto.

  7. JackDDurham said:

    Fred,
    You’re confusing faith with science. They’re two different things. The cause of global warming remains the same whether one believes it or not.

  8. Fred Mangels said:

    I don’t think so. The crux of the global warming debate- often overlooked- is if, or how much, man contributes to it.

    Even those who Believers quote as experts disagree on to what extent man is believed responsible.

    Some, but by no means all, non- believers might even agree the plan is getting warmer. They just think man has little, if any, effect on the climate.

    But you can pretty much make any argument against global warming or man’s effect on it, the Believers will simply call you a shill for the oil industry or come back with the old “…any credible scientist believes in….” argument.

    You could no more convince a Believer that man isn’t causing global warming than you could convince a Christian there is no God.

  9. JackDDurham said:

    If you go with the science, you’ll have your answers based on reality, rather than belief. You don’t need to “believe” in thermometers and CO2 gas.

  10. Fred Mangels said:

    And their models of CO2 action are wrong time and time again. Then they scurry around for excuses rather than examine whether their original premise is wrong.

  11. Ian Ray said:

    Quote from skepdic.com section on global climate change deniers:

    “True skeptics raise specific doubts about specific claims and do not try to debunk a whole area of science by an occasional error or by the general lack of absolute certainty, which is unattainable in any area of science.”

  12. JanetS said:

    I actually clicked through to one of the studies the article finally got around to naming to try to prove its point and it said this (from Amer. Med. Assoc. in 2000, I have [added] and highlighted some pertinent comments:

    Results. More than 40 transgenic crop varieties have been cleared through the federal review process [from all I’ve read that “federal review process” is nothing more than accepting the 90-study of the patent holder] with enhanced agronomic and/or nutritional characteristics or one or more features of pest protection (insect and viruses) and tolerance to herbicides. The most widely used transgenic pest-protected plants express insecticidal proteins derived from the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt). Crops and foods produced using recombinant DNA techniques have been available for fewer than 10 years and no long-term effects have been detected to date. These foods are substantially equivalent [but they’re so different that they are patented as unique!] to their conventional counterparts. Genetic engineering is capable of introducing allergens into recipient plants, but the overall risks of introducing an allergen into the food supply are believed [“believed” is not proof. Any long term studies?] to be similar to or less than that associated with conventional breeding methods. The risk of horizontal gene transfer from plants to environmental bacteria or from plant products consumed as food to gut microorganisms or human cells is generally acknowledged [Any proof? Any long term repeated studies?] to be negligible, but one that cannot be completely discounted [finally a true statement as we’ve seen gut flora concerns in some of the other literature]. Pest- resistance due to exposure to Bt-containing plants has not occurred to date [it has by 2014!] and harmful effects on nontarget organisms, which have been detected in the laboratory, have not been observed in the field [they released it anyway even after seeing strange things in the lab? Doesn’t exactly increase their trustworthiness to me]. Nevertheless, these and other possible environmental effects remain areas of concern.[!]

    The next Conclusion paragraph of the AMA report states that GMOs are “safe”. You really have to read the study, not just the conclusion. I still remain firmly in the cautious camp for now, awaiting non-biased long-term studies.

  13. Kevpod said:

    There have been hundreds of studies dating back to the 1980s. The climate change denial folks always want more studies too.

    It’s easy for us here in the west to demand something science can never provide, which is 100 percent certainty of the safety of anything.

    As we sit around on our computers snarking at each other over these issues, the oceans rise and if it matters, people die needlessly because of our scientific illiteracy.

    http://www.geneticliteracyproject.org/2014/02/25/cambridge-study-golden-rice-opposition-has-cost-almost-2b-and-1-4-million-lives-over-10-years-in-india-alone/

  14. Ian Ray said:

    Please reference your “gut flora concerns” statement. If you are referencing “Genetic Roulette,” that would be something the AMA would rightfully ignore.

  15. Chad White said:

    ”Led by Alessandro Nicolia, an applied biologist at the University of Perugia in Italy,
    the team collected and evaluated 1,783 research papers, reviews,
    relevant opinions, and reports published between 2002 and 2012, a
    comprehensive process that took 12 months to complete. The records
    covered all aspects of GM crop safety, from how the crops interact with
    the environment, to how they could potentially affect the humans and
    animals who consume them.”

    http://gmopundit.blogspot.com/p/450-published-safety-assessments.html

    http://www.realclearscience.com/blog/2013/10/massive-review-reveals-consensus-on-gmo-safety.html

  16. Chad White said:

    What about the ‘cautious camp’ ? Take into consideration Mutation breeding compared to biotechnology.

  17. Kevpod said:

    We have to be realistic about the threshold for safety assurance.

    Science will never be able to expunge all question of danger about anything, including sitting in one’s living room using a computer.

  18. dude said:

    paralleling the concern about gmos to the climate change debate only further undermines your argument. i do believe in climate change, but that’s beside the point. thanks for bringing up an unrelated topic, though.

    the fact of the matter is that there have been ZERO long-term studies done on potential health risks associated with gmos. a 90 day study is not an adequate assessment of whether or not gmos are harmful or benign in the long-term. this hastily written editorial doesn’t even mention what studies the aforementioned organizations used to inform their pro-gmo stance. does kevin hoover know? it appears not, yet he “authoritatively” speaks about something that he does not fully grasp. this is wreckless journalism at its finest.

  19. Fred Mangels said:

    It’s not a good idea when making an argument on issue to bring in another. You’ll likely lose the person you’re trying to convince if he takes exception to your position on the unrelated issue.

    Sure, in this case he was hoping to win over Believers by trying to make a link to climate change, but he can alienate non- believers by doing so.

  20. JanetS said:

    I looked up one of the studies mentioned in this biofortified article as conclusive proof, on the safety of ingesting, breathing, etc., B.t. in the 80s. The acute and chronic test times were 3 days up to 7 months (some animals, some humans). The 7-month study watched a whopping number of 8 men and asked if they had any complaints. This is considered a long-term scientific study for human safety…

  21. Ian Ray said:

    This PDF makes lots of claims, mixing in some processions of so and so, low-impact journals, and epidemiological studies.

    The references are all weak for the points they are trying to make. For example, the non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma claim is based on an inconclusive epidemiological study which itself merely suggested that more epidemiological studies be done. The jump is going from something that says X may be something interesting to research to saying “research shows X.” There is nothing inherently wrong with the research itself, it is all in the presentation.

    I also note that earthopensource.org references itself in this PDF. That would be like if Kevin Hoover and Jack Durham referenced last week’s edition when making an unreferenced point.

    It is time consuming to go through literature like this to find all of the issues with it, but it can be an even bigger time drain to trust what the same literature says only to find out later that it was misleading.

    My own personal bias… a red flag for me is that it is called “Earth Open Source.” I have no issue with the Earth or open source. Put together, I would almost immediately figure anyone who uses Earth and open source as a marketing term is trying to pull a fast one. It is not as obvious as Professor Woobury, but that is essentially what it is: marketing fiction.

  22. Sylvia De Rooy said:

    One error in this article is that farmers in India committed suicide because of GMO crops. No. The suicides were because of Monsanto forcing farmers to use their seeds that produce crops that have no viable seeds so farmers are forced to buy their seeds year after year and the farmers were going broke. I do not believe that your statement that Monsanto has never sued a farmer whose crops were contaminated by Monsanto is true. I will do some research into that. All in all this sounds like it was written by Monsanto.

  23. Sylvia De Rooy said:

    I did some research and it is true that Monsanto does not sue because of pollen drift but they do sue and do so mercilessly, if any farmer saves seeds from one year to the next. The farmer must buy new seeds every year, saving is not allowed. This keeps farmers who start using Monsanto seeds in continual servitude if they continue planting. As for pollen drift, organic farmers have been harmed by that and they should sue Monsanto but they know they can’t win.

  24. Sylvia De Rooy said:

    Eight European countries have banned GMO crops. Why? If they are so harmless why did they ban them?

  25. Sylvia De Rooy said:

    OK, I’ve read the article yet again and the bottom line is that it’s filled with specious arguments and is as slanted as hell. It talks down and twists everything. Countries banning GMO are dismissed out of hand but with no logical response just a dismissive wave of the wand. Bad article, poorly written.

  26. Ian Ray said:

    Farmers buy hybrid seeds every year as well. Plant intellectual property laws in the US were lobbied for by people such as Luther Burank in the 1920s, decades before genetic modification… Rosalind Franklin was a child when plant intellectual property laws were being codified into law.

    I personally doubt the effectiveness of IP laws relating to plants having a positive effect on new plant varieties. Public domain IP is a good thing and it seems that plant breeding would carry along just fine in a “what if” scenario without legal restrictions. But, that is not the issue.

  27. Ian Ray said:

    Ding ding ding. Now someone has to mention a certain German political party for the double.

  28. JackDDurham said:

    Indian farmers were killing themselves in droves long before biotech crops entered the picture. Farming is a risky businesses. There are issues with irrigation, finance and the ag methods being used. When it comes to cotton, the farmers have been switching over to biotech because they can get higher yields. The problem is that they still have this risky business model backed up with loans. If it doesn’t rain and their crops fail, they can go belly up. It’s a complicated situation that goes well beyond seeds.

  29. Ian Ray said:

    Precisely. To say Indian farmers committed suicide because of Bt cotton when Indian farmers were already committing suicide at approximately the same rate before Bt cotton makes the statement obviously false. It is sort of like saying Foxconn employees jump off buildings because of iPhones.

    The fact that the original Indian farmer suicide story appeared in a tabloid (Daily Mail) in 2008 doesn’t seem to have any impact on those repeating the same story. It is about as valid as the Sun’s cover story that Benji the dog died of AIDS-related illness.

  30. JackDDurham said:

    There is also the removal of cotton subsidies in 1997. And there are droughts.

  31. Kevpod said:

    Well actually… I specifically addressed that issue in the piece. Here it is:

    “Appeals to popularity are frequent. “Do you think two million people marched against GMOs for nothing?” asked one activist. “And what about all the countries that have banned GMOs?” As though food risk is linked to the size of a protest march or the decisions of politicians.

    If it rains and just 10 people march, or just one country banned GMOs, would that make them less dangerous? What if it’s a sunny day and 10 million people march, then 100 countries ban them – will that make them more dangerous?

    Millions upon millions of people ardently oppose same-sex marriage. Many countries have banned it. As should be clear by now, they’re all wrong and on the wrong side of history.

    Obviously, the ephemeral popularity or panic about an issue doesn’t necessarily relate to its actual menace.”

  32. Sylvia De Rooy said:

    The sense in which you addressed it was exactly as I already said: in a slanted and dismissive manner replete with specious arguments. Sorry-that doesn’t cut it as something that should/could be taken seriously.

  33. Kevin Hoover said:

    Ah, well then it’s good that we’re having this dialogue. Maybe I’ll learn something.

    If eight countries banning biotech validates GMO danger, does that also apply with the 80 countries that have banned same-sex marriage?

    Can we really put science and human rights up to a popular vote? Or just science?

    Also, do you consider the Appeal to Popularity a logical fallacy, or valid logic?

    I’m hoping you can provide an example of a non-slanted, non-dismissive reply and explain these questions to me.

  34. Kevin Hoover said:

    My guess is that they are basing their actions on the counterfactual information the biotech opponents like to pump out.

  35. JanetS said:

    I would really be interested if you can find me some long-term unbiased studies of GMOs where the conclusions don’t just say they’re safe, but the actual results also prove that they are safe (unlike the AMA study I quoted from in yesterday’s comment). So far, my search has come up empty. I find questionable material in all studies as you find in the Earth Open Source one. We need to hear from original sources.

  36. Ian Ray said:

    It may also be protectionism. It is no secret that European countries tend to make rules which favor domestic producers by penalizing imports. This was the norm prior to WW2 and has been increasing in frequency again in the previous 20 years.

    Basically, if these same European countries lifted their GE bans, it would not likely spur them to grow GE seeds, but rather allow the US to flood their markets with cheap product.

    The US does the same thing in the form of direct crop subsidies and tariffs on imports. If all of the US protectionist agricultural policy disappeared tomorrow, we’d probably see produce isles stocked with Argentinian everything the following Monday.

  37. JanetS said:

    My understanding is that Monsanto’s terms are that they cannot be sued for their seeds. There is currently an organic farmer in Australia who lost his organic certificate because his neighbor decided to grow GM Canola seed. The pollen drifted and corrupted 70% of the organic farmer’s crop. He cannot sue the maker of the seed, so he is forced to sue his neighbor to try to regain some of the losses he incurred.

    The GMO-free ordinance is all about protecting the rights of organic farmers and those who want to sell and eat organic food. Whatever each person believes about GM food is up to them.

    I plan to support organic agriculture (because once it’s lost there is NO going back) and the ordinance includes language that makes changes if/when GM food has been completely exonerated of any health and environmental issues.

  38. Kevin Hoover said:

    What sort of questionable material do you find in the studies that support use of biotech?

  39. Kevin Hoover said:

    Climate change is related only in the sense that the science is denied by those whose politics can’t accommodate it, exactly as with biotech.
    The same illogical and antiscientific responses are used to support the counterfactual position.
    These include appeals to popularity, anecdotal horror stories with no provenance and perpetual calls for more studies. Both topics have been studied exhaustively, and continue to be.

  40. Kevin Hoover said:

    Actually, you have no way of knowing what I hope, do you?

  41. Kevpod said:

    I don’t think anyone would support bad practices such as you describe with the Australian canola farmer. Can you tell me who that is, maybe provide a link?

  42. JanetS said:

    Lack of long-term studies regarding health and environment and contamination of organic crops.

  43. Kevpod said:

    If I read that story correctly, nothing has been proven insofar as pollen drift goes. So far it is just a lawsuit. Do I have that right?
    Anyone can file a lawsuit against anyone else for anything.
    Further, the story mashes up two different phenomena – the alleged pollen drift and the Monsanto lawsuits for using patented seeds. Those are two different things.
    Perhaps you don’t believe biotechnology should be patentable. That’s reasonable. But under the law, biotech qualifies for patent protection, and it is legal to protect one’s patented technology.
    Perhaps a more constructive approach would be to lobby for altering patent law, rather than attempt to put out fires one at a time with symbolic ordinances.

  44. JanetS said:

    On my reread I understand that the issue was the drift of the neighbor’s GM rapeseed onto the organic farmer’s crops so when he was harvesting, his oats and wheat now contained GM seed, not pollen drift. Either way, his organic certificate was canceled and he lost significant income with no way to protect his choice to farm organically than to sue his neighbor. Australian allows for zero GM contamination in organic crops.

    The local ordinance is all about protecting organic farmers, sellers and eaters to retain their right to do so. Pollen drift/corruption is a whole bigger story. I’ll be learning more about it next month.

  45. Kevpod said:

    It seems pretty unfair that the farmer lost organic certification over an unproven allegation.
    It sounds to me like whomever did that is the one who should be sued.

  46. JanetS said:

    How can you possibly read that and come up with “unproven”. The guy has to have his harvest tested for being “organic” in order to sell it as such. In his grain they find GM rapeseeds from the neighbor’s crop and so farmer Marsh has his organic certification pulled because his crop and his fields are no longer GM free. Do you understand anything about farming, farming organically and/or the regulations they have to follow?

  47. Kevpod said:

    I don’t see any details about proof of contamination. Just that he has filed a lawsuit. Is there more to it that I’ve overlooked?

  48. Ian Ray said:

    Steve Marsh lost his court case. He was trying to get an injunction against his neighbor even after his neighbor agreed to change his harvesting methods and did so for three years.

    To recap: First, Monsanto is supposed to be suing everybody; it turns out they don’t. Then, GM is supposed to be “contaminating” organic crops, but there is only minor, isolated, anecdotal incidents of this happening despite the vast existing plantings. Now, the example used is of a frivolous, loser injunction filed by an organic farmer in a different country… this is really reaching.

    Imho, the difference between taking a defensible stance and not is being able to cite supporting evidence without having to resort to false or irrelevant data.

  49. Ian Ray said:

    This is not a study, it is a speculative paper written by an activist and a computing science person/activist. Of any of the things typically cited by other activists, this would be the least credible. The authors don’t even try. At least Seralini pretended to have a real study.

  50. Ian Ray said:

    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0278691507005443

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3167318/

    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0044848609004499

    http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/17450390500353549

    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0278691511006399

    http://www.springerlink.com/content/q1ur221r71r47335/

    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1439-0396.2010.01003.x/abstract

    More?

    With that out of the way, can you reciprocate by finding me any data that Mendocino, Trinity, and Marin’s crop bans have yielded anything: marketing, dollars, a relative agricultural increase over other countries. Or, anything that would suggest these measures are any more worthwhile now than ten tears ago? I can’t find anything. So far, I have found the opposite.

  51. JanetS said:

    You just answered my earlier question since it’s obvious that one doesn’t lose their organic certification without proof of contamination. I am sorry that I’ve wasted so much time trying to get pertinent information from this article and those attempting to defend it. I understand the frustrations in trying to discuss all sides of this issue from both sides, but I am supporting organic agriculture by supporting the GMO ban.

  52. JanetS said:

    First, if you read the Motley Fool article, Monsanto IS suing someone every few minutes for the past 16 some years because of seed patents. That is unrelated, but it IS true that they DO quite a bit of suing. I suppose if you were the organic farmer who lost $86K because he could no longer be certified to sell organic produce for three years you might consider that more relevant evidence. “Loser injunction” is the type of emotional garbage thrown out when discussing pertinent information. Eat whatever you want, but I’ll go elsewhere for intelligent dialog, Thank you.

  53. JanetS said:

    Mendo ag commissioner had to investigate one complaint. Humboldt probably won’t even have to do that. What it’s about is protecting the organic farmer’s right to farm as he chooses and not lose his organic certification and from there, the ability to market the tri-county area as GMO free produce.

  54. Ian Ray said:

    I thought our discussion was going well. I was going to comment on how happy I was that people were looking things up.

    I am sorry if I phrased that in an emotive way. I don’t mean that the farmer is a loser, just that filing an injunction against your neighbor’s farm is a guaranteed loser lawsuit.

  55. JanetS said:

    Thanks for the restatement. I’m looking at one of the studies you forwarded and thank you for those. I’ve been looking for things like that for a long time and will now spend a long time reading and understanding them.

  56. Ian Ray said:

    The concept of marketing the crop ban has been thrown around since 2004. When are they going to start making money off of that?

    I looked at the Mendocino crop reports. In the type of crops you would think could be marketed as being from a region with a crop ban (livestock, grain, hay, etc.), Mendocino has been at roughly the same yearly dollar amount for ten years. This is not good as the value of USD is much less than it was ten years ago, perhaps 25%.

    It would be good if there was a measure we could pass, market, and profit off of. Unfortunately, that entire concept is fairly vaporous.

    “Right To Farm” is a legally binding thing in Humboldt County. I signed it. I definitely agree with that. I don’t agree with crop bans.

  57. JanetS said:

    I agree that the economic angle may be a stretch for now and I don’t know how long Mendo has had the “crop ban” as you so like to call it rather than the “GMO-free” so don’t know when any economic impact would have been seen. With the frenzy of GMO introductions to come, I would think being a GMO-free zone will only become more important, and I believe the ordinance includes parameters for allowing GMOs if some new great discovery is found.

  58. Rosa Rashall said:

    Mr Hoover, for an opinion-shaper claiming to be well informed about GMOs, all this piece demonstrates is a well honed ability to soak up biotech propaganda and call it truth (trust us, we’re chemical companies and we’ve tested our own products and found them safe?!) while ridiculing those with valid concerns.

    The use of industry talking points disguised as science to dismiss independent research, farmer reports and doctors’ observations runs throughout the piece–with nary a supporting document referenced.

    Attempts are made to belittle the concerns that the GMO-Free Humboldt ban is an expression of by acting like those who support it are anti-science babes in the wood when in fact we are asking for real science–you know, the kind of safety study that isn’t designed and carried out by the companies making the product.

    Then the waters are (deliberately) muddied by bringing up the dangers of other forms of breeding like radiation-induced mutagenesis, and contamination in supplements, and food safety recalls, and asking why we aren’t focussing on these issues instead (because, according to those studies you never reference, the case is closed and GMOs are safe).

    And how can we forget Golden Rice, the supposed godsend that no country wants to plant and eat, and that only provides a negligible amount of beta-carotene. Maybe you don’t know this, but beta-carotene is efficiently converted to Vitamin A only when an individual is well-nourished. So much for the health benefits of golden rice.

    You point out logical fallacies in the anti-GMO arguments while committing several of your own including the straw man attack, burden of proof and appealing to authority. You also employ the potent whip of ridicule to chivvy your readers into agreeing with you and the supposedly united scientific front that you are representing.

    The cartoon used to illustrate the piece is an excellent example of “the bandwagon technique” wherein you shame people for believing (or not believing) a certain way, and for the vulnerable ones this can be enough to get them back in line. It is based on the human tendency to want to be in the winning (safe, socially acceptable) group, not the group that fell for the snake oil saleman. If your facts are so irrefutable, why do you feel compelled to shame those who disagree with you while you attempt to win them over?

    Mr Hoover, I invite you to look behind the curtain. GMOs would be universally rejected if not for the inadequate, flawed or even fraudulent studies being lent the aura of truth by the constant disinformation campaigns run by these companies.

    There is a wealth of research on the negative health effects of not only GMOs but also RoundUp. The Co-Op would be wise to ignore your uninformed rant in favor of actually listening to the 76% of the respondents to their survey who voted in FAVOR of the Co-Op’s support.

    Oh, and here are 1200 supporting documents showing that a GMOs are more poison than panacea. http://gmofreeusa.org/gmos-are-top/gmo-science/ and a statement from the EU’s chief science advisor that the claim that there is no evidence of adverse impacts from GMOs is a lie http://gmwatch.org/index.php/news/archive/2014/15308-eu-chief-science-adviser-s-gmo-safety-claims-are-a-lie

    Given the promiscuity of pollen, a GMO cultivation ban in Humboldt County is the only way to protect our organic agriculture and the prosperity that comes with it.

  59. Kevpod said:

    What we haven’t seen is any proof. We only have this person decertified – by whom or what, and based on what?
    I assume you have some minimum standard of evidence?

    Let me just add something here.

    We’ve covered any number of environmental stories, and have forced corporations to remediate problems because of our news stories.

    If ANYONE in our community is being bullied by come corporation, but particularly farmers, I won’t stand for that.
    If ANY farm is suffering from biotech pollen drift. I won’t stand for that and will cover it to death.
    If ANY environmental disruption or degradation of ANY kind os occurring in our community, I’ll be all over that, too.

    The trouble is, these things actually have to happen. As best I can tell, they haven’t. If you have any better information, turn me loose on it.

  60. Ian Ray said:

    Mendocino’s Measure H was in 2004, so they have had a GE/GMO crop ban in place for a decade. It is slightly different than Humboldt’s proposed ban as it excludes microorganisms (to avoid making enemies of wineries). If the measure has been successfully marketed so far, I would expect some money to have been made. Perhaps other confounding factors are involved, but it seems like Measure H is something that has not made a difference and possibly never will.

    All I can say for certain is Mendocino’s Measure H is a source of pride for some prople and an embarassment for others. This measure would likely have a similar total effect.

  61. Kevpod said:

    The fatal flaw is that it is unenforceable. If a farmer is in compliance with federal law using a federally approved product, end of story.

  62. Kevpod said:

    Here’s the thing. I just need some evidence of some harm having been caused by biotech. The hysterical “poison” propaganda by opponents is all but useless. It’s loaded with falsehoods, as documented in the piece, and offers nothing to work with.

    The examples I offer, with hard facts, of unregulated herbal products and recalls of non-biotech food handily exemplify the double standard that GMO opponents indulge in. If food safety is the issue, where is the outrage over those instances?

    The cartoon is accurate. It illustrates an actual situation. What I don’t get is why one would oppose corporate exploitation, but be A-OK with this kind of profiteering:

    http://www.foodrevolution.org/empowermentpackage.php

  63. JanetS said:

    That’s good to know. Here’s an angle to look at since I do know some Bt corn is grown in HumCo for silage and am wondering what the long term harm to the soil would be. I’m pretty sure to be organically certified the soil/farm has to adhere to those regulations for three years. I don’t know about the rebound rates of nematodes. http://stopogm.net/sites/stopogm.net/files/caenorhabditishoess.pdf

  64. JanetS said:

    Local jurisdiction my may establish laws stricter than State or Federal government unless State or Federal government has specifically reserved an area of law to itself. Several counties in California have either banned or are regulating GM plantings and about 20 states are considering such regulation. These local laws are in full force and can be enforced. In Mendocino County there has been one complaint in about ten years which proved unfounded.
    John

  65. Kevpod said:

    Local jurisdictions can pass all the feel good laws they want, but they won’t override the U.S. Constitution, will they?

    Article VI, Section 2, of the U.S. Constitution states:

    “…all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the Constitution or laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding.”

    In other words:

    “The federal government, in exercising any of the powers enumerated in the Constitution, must prevail over any conflicting or inconsistent state exercise of power.”

    http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/Supremacy+Clause

  66. Ian Ray said:

    The only local juristiction which could do so much as pass a regulation to overrule the state—much less the feds—is Eureka as Eureka is a chartered city. Humboldt County is not chartered, Arcata is not chartered… it is one reason Arcata’s regulations are largely feel good symbols: they can’t really make their own decisions as they don’t have “Home Rule.”

    http://users.sisqtel.net/armstrng/ca_charter_counties_and_home_rul.htm

  67. JanetS said:

    So I followed links in your link to this study which abstract concludes the exact opposite on nematodes (even referring to the same Kansas study). Can’t both be right http://www.researchgate.net/publication/233726450_Effect_of_Bt_corn_for_corn_rootworm_control_on_nontarget_soil_microarthropods_and_nematodes

    Here’s another one regarding nutritional values in soybeans, showing that they are NOT substantially equavilent, as the FDA has told us: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0308814613019201

  68. Ian Ray said:

    “In general, numbers of soil mites (Prostigmata, Mesostigmata, and Oribatei), Collembola, and nematodes were similar in soil planted with Bt corn and soil planted with its isoline.”

    Doesn’t seem opposite. It would suggest that there was no difference between Bt corn and the exact same corn variety – Bt.

  69. Rosa Rashall said:

    Mr Hoover you are missing the point. The proposed ban is focussed on _preventing_ contamination of our local organic crops with transgenes. Contamination of neighboring farms with transgenic pollen is a reality. See the cases of Steve Marsh and Percy Schmeiser as examples of this _physical fact_. Or perhaps you might want to consider the multiple crops that were rejected for export last year due to the unexpected presence of transgenes.

    http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/05/31/us-wheat-control-idUSBRE94U06H20130531

    http://www.upi.com/Business_News/2013/11/29/China-rejects-60000-tons-of-genetically-modified-US-corn/UPI-62341385749613/

    The focus here is not on whether or not Monsanto sued the farmer (though yes they do sue farmers for a variety of “patent infringements”), but on the actual hard cold facts of the matter: transgenic pollen contaminates neighboring crops.

    Once the gene is in the plant there is no getting it out. For the conventional or organic farmer, this is a disaster. The value of their crop plummets if transgenes are detected.

    This happened multiple times in 2013.

    Most recently in 2014, Mexico’s honey was rejected for export due to the presence of transgenes. http://newsdesk.si.edu/releases/smithsonian-reports-gmo-soybean-pollen-threatens-mexican-honey-sales

    This is what the ban on planting GMOs in Humboldt County seeks to prevent. Without ever saying anything about poison or food safety. This ban is about protecting our prosperity by limiting the opportunity for transgene contamination. It is more than a feel-good measure. According word on the street from actual farmers, there are already a few plots of GMO maize and alfalfa being grown in Humboldt. This ban would prohibit that.

    The organic and Non-GMO sector is growing by leaps and bounds. This ban will allow our farmers to continue securing the high price point that organic products offer. Here is where my comment addressing the proposed ban ends.

    ***The following is my own contribution to the discussion. As a nutritionist, my concerns about GMO crops are focussed on the documented potential for increased allergenicity and toxicity.***

    As far as the poison aspect goes, perhaps you are referring to the documented health effects of RoundUp on soil, plant and animal health? The work of Dr. Stephanie Seneff and Dr. Don Huber and others is helpful in unraveling the multiple pathways of toxicity, from carcinogenic potential, to biocidal activity, to nutrient depletion. http://people.csail.mit.edu/seneff/

    http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/10/06/dr-huber-gmo-foods.aspx

    It is obvious that we are operating across a cultural divide so it is probable you won’t actually look into the work being done by exemplary independent scientists on the question of GMO safety. However, just in case you feel like coming up out of the foxhole, here is a statement from over 90 scientists that there is _no_ consensus that GMOs are safe. http://phys.org/news/2013-10-scientific-consensus-safety-genetically.html

    As for the cartoon, I followed the link and fail to see the accuracy. The only way it could accurately reflect reality is if the information being offered (on real food, not just on GMOs) were all just bunkum, hooey, nonsense– aka bulls@*t. But it isn’t.

    The doctors and authors and inspirational speakers are all well-known and respected in their fields. People buy their books and pay to hear them speak, out of their own free will. How is this a snake oil swindle? Or are you willing to consign Bill McKibben, Dr Vandana Shiva, Dr Esselstyn, Dr Joel Fuhrman et al to the human trash heap of swindlers and liars?

    If your answer is yes, who made you the arbiter of what constitutes “legitimate science” and what is bunk? That so-called “scientific consensus” you are striving to represent as the only reasonable reality is an excellent example of the fallacy of appealing to authority, and is refuted by a growing number of respected scientists and doctors.

    I note that you say in another post that you would be all over any pollen drift or environmental contamination, and all over any corporation attempting to bully farmers or citizens.

    I invite you to take this on in earnest as the campaign progresses. One way to start would be to get out and talk to the farmers who are neighbors to the GMO growers. Ask them if their neighbor’s use of GMO seeds and RoundUp has affected their operation.

    Also, keep a close eye on the flood of corporate PR money that will be dumped into Humboldt over the next 9 months. We have seen it time and again, with the GMA even violating Washington State’s campaign disclosure laws “when it collected and contributed more than $7 million to the No on 522 campaign while shielding the identities of the companies donating that money.” http://www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_28663.cfm

    I look forward to your diligent reporting.

  70. Kevpod said:

    “See the cases of Steve Marsh and Percy Schmeiser”

    I did. They both lost their cases.

  71. Rosa Rashall said:

    Thanks. This is the link I actually intended to use http://phys.org/news/2013-10-scientific-consensus-safety-genetically.html and have corrected the original post.

    Here is an excerpt:

    “There is no scientific consensus on the safety of genetically modified foods and crops, according to a statement released today by an international group of more than 90 scientists, academics and physicians.The statement comes in response to recent claims from the GM industry and some scientists, journalists, and commentators that there is a “scientific consensus” that GM foods and crops were generally found safe for human and animal health and the environment. The statement calls these claims “misleading”, adding, “This claimed consensus on GMO safety does not exist.”

    “Such claims may place human and environmental health at undue risk and create an atmosphere of complacency,” states Dr. Angelika Hilbeck, chairperson of the European Network of Scientists for Social and Environmental Responsibility (ENSSER) and one of the signatories. “The statement draws attention to the diversity of opinion over GMOs in the scientific community and the often contradictory or inconclusive findings of studies on GMO safety. These include toxic effects on laboratory animals fed GM foods, increased pesticide use from GM crop cultivation, and the unexpected impacts of Bt insecticidal crops on beneficial and non-target organisms,” Dr Hilbeck continues.

    In spite of this nuanced and complex picture, a group of like-minded people makes sweeping claims that GM crops and foods are safe. In reality, many unanswered questions remain and in some cases there is serious cause for concern.

    Prof C. Vyvyan Howard, a medically qualified toxicopathologist based at the University of Ulster and a signatory to the statement, said: “A substantial number of studies suggest that GM crops and foods can be toxic or allergenic. It is often claimed that millions of Americans eat GM foods with no ill effects. But as the US has no GMO labeling and no epidemiological studies have been carried out, there is no way of knowing whether the rising rates of chronic diseases seen in that country have anything to do with GM food consumption or not. Therefore this claim has no scientific basis.”

    The signatories to the statement call for the compliance to the precautionary approach to GM crops and foods internationally agreed upon in the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety and UN’s Codex Alimentarius.”

  72. Kevpod said:

    Further, with regard to the “Empowerment Package,” I would note that you, as a thoughtful person, aren’t obliged to defend every skeezy exploitation the anti-GMO side conjures.
    Seriously, Joseph Mercola? Immediate and catastrophic cred plummet.

  73. Rosa Rashall said:

    The contamination happened. The fact that they lost their cases is immaterial. The ban is designed to prevent contamination. Full stop.

  74. Kevpod said:

    “One way to start would be to get out and talk to the farmers who are neighbors to the GMO growers. ”

    I’ve talked to farmers, the ag office, the UC ag extension office and local ag advocacy groups. If they know of any local farmers who have suffered at the hands of any biotech or biotech firm, they are keeping it to themselves.

  75. Kevpod said:

    Proof please?
    Please don’t bother with links that don’t actually prove any pollen drift contamination.
    We’ve had an issue with anti-GMO advocates posting links that don’t support their points.

  76. Rosa Rashall said:

    Ah, the straw man fallacy. Really? Because your world view makes you think Dr Mercola is a quack, anyone who appears with him is one as well? Tut tut. Note I didn’t say that I wanted to buy an empowerment package, just that I don’t consider the speakers quacks, or the idea of selling their presentation a swindle.

  77. Rosa Rashall said:

    Have you tried the farmer’s market? During the Prop 37 campaign I spoke to one farmer whose neighbor was growing GMO corn. At the minimum he had to adjust his planting rhythm to avoid cross-pollination. He was in Blue Lake. You might want ask around about his experience. The other farmer with negative experiences around GMOs had confirmed the presence of transgene contamination in several crops on his Fruitland Ridge property. UC Davis did the testing.

  78. JanetS said:

    After reading the abstract and part of the study you give above, I finally just did a word search for nematode and got zero matches. This study is about arthropods, which I think may be related, but are not the same as nematodes…

  79. Rosa Rashall said:

    It’s magical thinking to assert that pollen drift contamination doesn’t happen. How was last year’s rejected wheat crop contaminated if not by pollen from a GMO wheat test crop? Do you know of some other way that pollen-producing plants breed in the wild, besides pollen being spread by wind and bees?

  80. Kevin Hoover said:

    That’s advice on how to prevent the apparently imaginary pollen drift. It’s not documentation of the phenomena, is it?

    Why do the anti-GMO forces continually post links that don’t support their points? I’m assuming you know, since you just did that.

  81. Kevin Hoover said:

    Yes, I have asked the NCGA repeatedly for information on GMOs, and heard nothing back.

    Is there a link to the documentation for the UC Davis testing that confirms transgene contamination? Or is that just another Internet story?

  82. Kevin Hoover said:

    Then let’s agree to lose the magical thinking and anecdotes and find common ground in data.
    We both oppose GMO pollen drift. We need to locate documentation and work together to abate this menace, if only we can find an instance of it happening.

  83. Norman polston said:

    kevin,
    nice.may I add that ingested dna, altered by our gi tract, is totally useless as a conveyor of genetic information – good for nothing more than a source of energy.

  84. Rosa Rashall said:

    Your slip is showing here Mr. Hoover. Some could interpret your inability to consider facts outside of your already set beliefs to be a sign of bias instead of journalistic integrity.

    If a farmer’s guide to avoiding contamination doesn’t get you thinking it’s an issue, how about this?

    “For example, a genetically modified corn variety named “StarLink”was planted in approximately one percent of cornfields in Iowa in 1998. By the year 2000, more than half of the fields in that state showed some signs of genetic contamination.”

    http://digitalcommons.law.uga.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1018&context=advocate&sei-redir=1&referer=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.com%2Furl%3Fsa%3Dt%26rct%3Dj%26q%3Dpollen%2520drift%2520gmo%2520contamination%26source%3Dweb%26cd%3D9%26ved%3D0CF0QFjAI%26url%3Dhttp%253A%252F%252Fdigitalcommons.law.uga.edu%252Fcgi%252Fviewcontent.cgi%253Farticle%253D1018%2526context%253Dadvocate%26ei%3Dl7APU_vmHYWJogTkxICwAg%26usg%3DAFQjCNFjkgfXPkDcBO6M1sT8nEcVyLEUFA%26bvm%3Dbv.61965928%2Cd.cGU#search=%22pollen%20drift%20gmo%20contamination%22

  85. Rosa Rashall said:

    Actually, this study begs to differ:

    Complete Genes May Pass from Food to Human Blood

    http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0069805

    “DNA from consumed food is usually not considered as a possible source of cfDNA since during food digestion all macromolecules are thought to be degraded to elementary constituents such as amino acids and nucleotides, which are then transferred to the circulatory system through several complex active processes [3]. Though, there are animal studies, mainly focusing on the GMO issue [4], supporting the idea that small fragments of nucleic acids may pass to the bloodstream and even get into various tissues. For example foreign DNA fragments were detected by PCR based techniques in the digestive tract and leukocytes of rainbow trouts fed by genetically modified soybean [37], and other studies report similar results in goats [38], pigs [39], [40] and mice [5].

  86. Kevin Hoover said:

    Sigh.

    We have emerging guidelines for detecting catastrophic meteor impacts. Those don’t actually document catastrophic meteor impacts, do they?

    That article was written not by scientists, but by three lawyers, who I’m totally, TOTALLy sure have no interest in attracting clients with fluffed-up claims.

    It contains exactly one paragraph that anecdotally alludes, vaguely, to pollen drift contamination. There is no documentation, is there?

    That’s what this whole movement is based on?

  87. Rosa Rashall said:

    Maybe don’t ask the NCGA–go to the farmer’s market and find the guy in Blue Lake. He was hesitant to talk to press because of concerns about neighborhood discord. His neighbor who was planting GMO corn had a corn maze. As for the testing, that was a personal conversation with a rancher whose family has owned the land for generations. I don’t know if he will talk to press.

  88. JanetS said:

    In addition to this study being about arthropods and not about nematodes, the now semi-retired author works in collaboration with the pesticide industry. Perhaps a little biased???

  89. Norman polston said:

    But the reference you cite does not address our issue of whether or not these fragments or residues are genetically active. I reaffirm that they cannot be.

  90. Rosa Rashall said:

    The only way to positively affirm that would be to do a wide-scale fecal sampling on human subjects and confirm that there are no intact, biologically active transgenes living and reproducing in our gut flora.

  91. Norman polston said:

    ok. let’s do that. But shouldn’t we also take a look at whether those biologically active fragments have made it across the absorption barrier? that’s where the crux of your argument lies, isn’t it? That if they make it across, they could alter the host’s genetics?

  92. Rosa Rashall said:

    Great! you secure the funding and we’ll finally have the answer to the question of whether horizontal gene transfer into the human gut and other tissues is something we need to be concerned about. Don’t you think this should have been done PRIOR to deregulation?

  93. Rosa Rashall said:

    For some reason my first reply was lost in cyberspace. Ok here goes again. This first article details the results of a cross-pollination study using Bt and non Bt corn over several years. (This is probably how the on-farm mixing of Starlink, mentioned in the doc below, happened)
    Note that the frequency of contamination varied depending on weather conditions (how windy it was) and that it only measured the spread within a densely planted field, not between a field of GMO corn and a field of non GM corn with open space between them. http://www.isb.vt.edu/articles/feb0502.htm

    “Seasonal weather conditions affected the level of cross-fertilization. The observed maximum out-crossing was over
    82%, indicating that, in corn, cross-fertilization between genotypes is more favored than that within the population (>50% kernels are yellow in the white kernel corn). The average level of out-crossing in the first adjacent row was greater in 2000 (18.2%) than in 2001 (12.3%) or 2002 (13.3%). A consistent pattern was also observed in subsequent rows.”

    So there’s your proof: GMO pollen disperses and contaminates non-GMO crops. The rate of contamination is determined by proximity and wind.

    That is why the ban is so important. It is about protecting organic and non-GMO seeds from contamination via wind and insect pollinators.

    This second document details the economic impacts of the Starlink debacle, which states that the contamination happened by a variety of mechanisms including on-farm and in the bulk handling and milling systems. http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:vAeYtIpMzzIJ:agecon.ucdavis.edu/people/faculty/colin-carter/docs/Carter-Smith-May16.pdf+starlink+contamination&cd=7&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us&client=safari

  94. Norman polston said:

    right. But suppose we restate the objective slightly to include the search for foreign dna absorbed from the gut that has inserted itself into the host dna. viruses can do that, scientists with little bitty needles can do that, but I don’t think my colon is designed to do that – in fact its job is to do exactly the opposite and that is to break complex molecules down into soluble components. I’ll guess the studies haven’t been done because the findings are obvious to just about everyone who knows something about this subject except you and me.

  95. Rosa Rashall said:

    I think that it is a good idea to broaden the search as you suggest, but to then say the research is not needed because the results must be obvious is… well… assuming a lot. The truth is we have no idea how well the average digestive tract does at breaking down transgenes and keeping them out of the rest of the body. Why? Because the research has never been done on a broad scale. The burden of proof has been place on those calling for the precautionary principle rather than where it belongs: on the creators and purveyors of these novel crop technologies.

  96. Norman polston said:

    Well, I think we actually do have a very good idea of how well our digestive tracts break down such complex molecules as transgenes,
    as the attached textbook excerpt testifies (cursor down to the last
    paragraph titled “What happens to DNA in food?”. Thus, I don’t think
    we need to invoke the “burden of proof” principle in this case, since it
    is common knowledge (it must be common knowledge, right? are the
    textbooks wrong?) that complex molecules are disassembled by the gut
    into nothing more than simple oligomers incapable of transmitting any
    genetic information whatsoever. No, I don’t think we have a leg to
    stand on here. But I do think there are plenty of other reasons to
    object to GMOs.

    http://csls-text2.c.u-tokyo.ac.jp/inactive/08_02.html

    HOME

    Part2 Human
    Physiology

    Chapter 8
    Food and Health

    8.2 Digestion and
    Absorption

    8.1 Eating

    8.2 Digestion
    and Absorption

    8.3 Symbiotic
    Microorganisms in the Gastrointestinal Tract

    8.4 Human
    Metabolism and Health

    8.5 Summary

    8.2Digestion and Absorption

    Sugar, protein, and fat have long been viewed as the three
    main nutrients, for they are deemed important as bioenergy sources and biogenic
    materials. Sugar is also called carbohydrate, including monosaccharides,
    oligosaccharides, and polysaccharides, as well as glycoconjugates. Starch
    consists of several thousand units of glucose (grape sugar)
    linked together. Amylases produced in and secreted from the
    salivary glands and the pancreas eventually hydrolyze starch into
    oligosaccharides such as maltose. These oligosaccharides are decomposed further
    into glucose by small intestinal enzymes and absorbed from microvilli in the
    small intestine. The glucose then enters the blood vessels via epithelial cells
    (Fig. 8-2). Hydrolyzation of starch involves
    various types of enzymes, such as ones that break the middle of glucose chains,
    ones that snip off branches, and ones that cut the chains from their termini.
    These enzymes act in a synergistic manner to enhance digestion.

    Fig. 8-2. Small Intestine

    The inner side of the small intestine is corrugated,
    bristled with innumerable villi protruding toward the lumen. The surface of the
    villi is covered with single-layer epithelial cells, and peripheral lymphatic
    vessels called capillaries and lacteal vessels run inside the villi. The
    surface area of the epithelial cells is enormous on account of their brush-like
    structure referred to as microvillus. Nutrients absorbed from here pass through
    the epithelial cells and are transported to the portal vein via the capillaries
    or to the lymphatic vessels via the lacteal vessels.

    Although enzymes that hydrolyze proteins are named generically
    as proteases, the structures of substrates to be most easily
    severed and their optimum conditions differ depending on each enzyme. Pepsin—a
    protease contained in gastric juice—functions well in the acidic environment of
    gastric acid. Pancreatic juice, which is produced in the pancreas and secreted
    from duodenum, is weak alkaline and neutralizes gastric acid, thus keeping the
    inside of the small intestine neutral. Pancreatic juice contains various
    digestive enzymes functioning under neutral conditions, for example, amylases
    and proteases including trypsin and chymotrypsin, lipases that hydrolyze
    lipids, and nucleolytic enzymes. The duodenum also receives the bile, which is
    secreted in the liver and temporarily stored in the
    gallbladder before being released. Bile contains surfactants that assist
    digestion through emulsification and dispersion of lipids in food.

    Fig. 8-3. Blood Flow in the Intestine and Liver

    Arteries branching from the aorta supply blood to the organs
    and digestive tracts. The portal veins are blood vessels located in the region between
    2 capillary systems and transport nutrients and toxins absorbed from the
    intestines and stomach to the liver. The blood, after being treated in the
    liver, returns to the heart via the hepatic veins and is pumped into the whole
    body from there.

    After being decomposed by proteases into amino acids
    or peptides consisting of several amino acids linked together,
    proteins enter the blood vessels via the epithelial cells of the microvilli
    protruding from the small intestine. Their decomposition into amino acids
    progresses in the cellular membranes or epithelial cells as well.
    Neutral lipids (see Column
    Fig. 8-1), meanwhile, are absorbed into the epithelial cells along
    with other fatty acids after partial hydrolyzation by lipases. In the
    epithelial cells, they are resynthesized into neutral lipids, which form
    complexes with proteins there (referred to as chylomicrons) and then enter the
    lymphatic vessels. They are transported to the whole body, and eventually, to
    the liver.

    Blood that contains nutrients absorbed from the stomach and intestine converges
    at the portal vein and is conveyed to the liver. Hepatic cells
    in the liver decompose harmful substances in the blood. For instance, ethanol
    is detoxified in the hepatic cells by oxidation to acetaldehyde and further to
    acetic acid, which is ultimately reduced to carbon dioxide and water after
    being circulated and decomposed in tissues throughout the body. In addition to
    the portal vein, the hepatic artery branching from the aorta also flows into
    the liver. After being filtrated in the liver, the blood exits the liver via
    the hepatic vein and is pumped into the whole body from the heart (Fig.
    8-3).

    Why Are the Digestive Organs Not Digested?

    Despite the presence of many strong proteases such as
    pepsin produced in the stomach and trypsin/chymotrypsin produced in the
    pancreas, how are the cells of these organs not digested? These proteases are
    first biosynthesized in the cells and secreted into the lumen of the digestive
    tracts as inactive precursor proteins called pepsinogen, trypsinogen,
    and chymotrypsinogen, which include superfluous parts of proteases. It is not
    before these parts are cut off by already-active proteases in the lumen that
    these enzymes form active steric structures. The cells therefore can synthesize
    and secrete a copious amount of proteases without being digested until then.
    Besides, mucus is secreted profusely from the surface of the gastric wall,
    serving as a barrier to protect the wall from gastric acid and pepsin.

    What Happens to DNA in Food

    We consume genes of various animals, plants, and
    microorganisms in huge quantity in the form of food every day. Do our bodies
    take in the genes of other organisms then? Since the pancreas secretes nuclease
    (enzymes to hydrolyze RNA) and deoxyribonuclease (enzymes to hydrolyze DNA),
    and the small intestine secretes other nucleolytic enzymes, almost all nucleic
    acids present in the food are decomposed into bases or sugar phosphates before
    being absorbed into the blood vessels via epithelial cells. Although some base
    moieties are reutilized, other bases are discharged as uric acid in the case of
    humans, which sometimes causes gout due to crystallization owing to its low
    solubility. In any event, food-derived DNA is digested and never gets
    incorporated into our cells. Besides, in order for genes to function, DNA
    macromolecules with genetic information need to be absorbed intact into cells
    and integrate into their chromosomes. Moreover, such a phenomenon must occur in
    reproductive cells if the offspring are to inherit the genetic information.
    Considering this, it is unlikely that food-derived DNA is passed down to future
    generations among humans; factually, no trace for such a phenomenon has been
    discovered

  97. Rosa Rashall said:

    This refers to an idealized situation, and is not necessarily entirely applicable to today’s digestively challenged population.

    What happens, for example, when someone with celiac disease consumes transgenes? Or really someone with any defect along the whole digestive tract?
    If there is an acid mouth there will be insufficient amlyase to start breaking down starches. If stomach acid is weak (vegetarians and people with low thyroid function often have low stomach acid) protein digestion will be impaired. If there is a gallbladder disorder, fat digestion is impaired. If a pancreatic disorder, then there are insufficient enzymes to finish breaking down the food into glucose, peptides, amino acids. Any of these can lead to impaired nutrient absorption and leaky gut –which means that large proteins pass intact into the bloodstream via the inflamed intestinal wall.
    These are the situations I wonder about, and want to see studied.

  98. Kevin Hoover said:

    This is a joke, right?

    1. The link goes to a study that shows pollen contamination is theoretically possible. It doesn’t document any pollen drift or harm to an organic farmer.

    2. The Starlink incident doesn’t say anything about pollen drift at all. It says that corn not intended for human consumption was found in corn intended for human consumption.

    Are you just assuming that this was because of pollen drift? There are lots of other ways that could have happened.

    According to the Wikipedia entry on this, it happened in a grain elevator:

    “Kraft had bought the shells from a Sabritas plant in Mexicali which used flour supplied from an Azteca mill plant in Plainview, Texas. The Texas mill used flour from six states supplied by elevators that did not segregate their genetically modified and conventionally-grown corn at the time.”

    Next!

    Again, I am eager to learn of any recorded incident of pollen drift contamination, especially any harm to small organic farmers.

    I’m not eager to waste my time reading articles that don’t support the apparently mythological points.

    I can’t help but wonder why the GMO opponents cling to this thing they can’t find or provide any proof for,

  99. Rosa Rashall said:

    Did you not read the first link? The actual study that analyzed 3 years of data from an actual test plot? I clicked through to it just now to check. It’s working. The second document was used to illustrate the economic harm of contamination events however they took place. It mentions on-farm mixing as well as bulk processing and milling as contamination points.

  100. Rosa Rashall said:

    Oh I see, I read your comment more carefully. You think that even though it has been demonstrated to occur, that until a victim of pollen contamination can get a court to rule in their favor, that no contamination has actually occurred? There have been plenty of recorded incidents, but the courts have thus far ruled in favor of Agrichemical companies over the rights of the farmers.

  101. Kevin Hoover said:

    Yes, I read it. Perhaps unlike you, I’m not a scientist so I won’t pretend to evaluate the experiment’s design.

    But even I can see that they are experiments. Not real-world biotech pollen drift that harmed anyone.

    Surely there must be more to support the allegation. Or maybe not.

    Please, send only something that documents the allegation. I’ve spent a large part of my day on extraneous links searching for the ever-elusive holy grail of a biotech pollen drift that harmed an organic farmer.

  102. JanetS said:

    What is opposite are the conclusions of the papers regarding the same study. To one “in general” no difference, and to another there was a questionable difference. From there you can’t rely on the abstract and conclusions, but have to read the whole study and then have to look at authorship and figure out who is supporting the study. My GMO post-doc friend when in Hawaii, said that typically only the large corps are funding research so the professors have to do studies with outcomes which put the funder in a good light. Sad in many ways, but true.

  103. Rosa Rashall said:

    An instance of transgene escape into wild populations via pollen. There is nothing to prevent this happening with corn or alfalfa, the two GMO crops being grown in Humboldt at this time.

    “Spatial distribution and parentage of transgenic plants (as confirmed by analyses of nuclear ITS and chloroplast matK gene trees) suggest that establishment resulted from both pollen-mediated intraspecific hybridizations and from crop seed dispersal.
    These results demonstrate that transgene flow from short-term production can result in establishment of transgenic plants at multi-kilometre distances from GM source fields or plants. ” http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1365-294X.2006.03072.x/abstract;jsessionid=B4B6175C453F27A3C1BDA1DD1A6F636C.f02t01

  104. Ian Ray said:

    I think you are lying.

    Alfalfa doesn’t grow here. The pH is all wrong and the climate stinks for it even in eastern Humboldt. Humboldt’s supply of alfalfa comes from the Central Valley and intermountainous regions of eastern Shasta, eastern Siskiyou, and Modoc counties.

    In my opinon, you probably don’t know anybody growing RR alfalfa because you wouldn’t know anyone growing alfafa considering nobody does. I think you are making this up as you go.

  105. Rosa Rashall said:

    Lying? That’s ridiculous. I am sharing information from conversations with organic farmers a few years ago. I hope it’s not true. The corn is (or was) for certain as per a neighboring farmer.

  106. Ian Ray said:

    RR alfalfa just came on the market. There is no way you could be relating a conversation a from a few years ago about something that just barely started.

    Just straight up: do you or do you not know if anyone is growing RR alfalfa. If not, don’t say it, otherwise it is a lie.

  107. Rosa Rashall said:

    The current GMO crops are corn, soy, canola, cotton, sugar beet, papaya. Lettuce, apples, oranges, trees, salmon and more are in the pipeline. This ban is to protect farmers from current and future crops, both plant AND animal. Look at the big picture.

  108. Rosa Rashall said:

    RR alfalfa was deregulated in January of 2011. The conversation was in 2012, a full year after it came on the market. I never claimed to know anyone firsthand.The information was through talking to farmers at farmers markets. The context is to be found in other posts in the ongoing conversation I’ve been having with Mr Hoover. And I don’t appreciate your tone. Be done with unfounded accusations and insults or I will be done responding to your comments. The big picture here is the economic and agricultural benefits of a ban on GMO cultivation for our organic producers, now and in the future.

  109. Ian Ray said:

    You said:
    (Nothing preventing pollen drift from)
    “corn or alfalfa, the two GMO crops being grown in Humboldt at this time.”

    If you are not lying, your farmers’ market contacts are.

    Reasons for no GMO alfalfa pollen in Humboldt
    1. Alfalfa producers don’t produce seed
    2. Nobody grows alfalfa for seed anywhere near anyone else doing the same because pollen drift is something avoided by seed producers, GMO or not.
    3. Humboldt doesn’t produce alfalfa.

    If you agree with any of that, please concede that your farmers’ market contacts are lying to you and you are now passing this lie onto us. Otherwise, I still think you are lying to us.

  110. Ian Ray said:

    I’ll take it that you agree since you have edited your original statement. Thanks.

  111. Rosa Rashall said:

    Pollen drift in a perennial plant is a real issue, and alfalfa is a perennial. If no alfalfa is or has ever been grown in Humboldt, I stand corrected. But lying, trying to deliberately deceive? Why? I may have been misinformed, but lying, no. I am done with you Ian Ray

  112. Commentor12345 said:

    Mercola isn’t a quack. He’s a con artist. Schmeiser too.

  113. Ian Ray said:

    Are you saying that your friend’s opinion is that there is some sort of bribery occurring or just that privately-funded research is far bigger than public?

  114. Ian Ray said:

    Ah, Dr. Hayes. There are two sides to this story. Syngenta has already been publishing all of the weird emails sent to them:
    http://www.atrazine.com/Amphibians/tyrone-hayes.aspx

    Nobody can say for certain who is telling the truth here, but reading those emails does make Hayes seem like he wanted there to be people after him in order to justify his own paranoia.

    Even if the New Yorker piece has merit (which I have doubts about), it doesn’t make it the norm. It certainly doesn’t mean all research is tainted.

  115. JanetS said:

    Ian, I hope you bothered to read the article. It takes quite awhile to get through and by the timing of your reply I’m guessing that you dismissed it without a read.

    There is no “need to justify his paranoia” since the article is based on the court evidence of how Sygenta hounded this man, tried to influence the EPA and used some of the very same methods we see today used by Monsanto: discrediting independent scientists, having published negative studies recalled, calling for such detailed studies that only the patent holder can afford to do them, creating lists of 3rd party friendly scientists to “write” pre-written op-ed articles, etc..

    You asked if science was being bribed. The article quoted from at least three different scientists that point in that direction. If you are so biased that you cannot consider the obvious then so be it. I certainly wish it wasn’t true as well, but I am willing to consider that there is good and bad on both sides of this issue.

    My PhD friend also wrote of personal knowledge of his neighbor’s dairy in Wisconsin where people were poisoned with Altrazine in their water and the water of their dairy herd. They thought they had rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis. Eat whatever you want. For me, I am rereading the article and will end with this quote near the end “the single best predictor of whether or not the herbicide atrazine had a significant effect in a study was the funding source.” Ha!

  116. Rosa Rashall said:

    Hi Janet, I have read the article in its entirety and it is really quite an amazing piece of investigative reporting. You are right to point out that the same methods are being used by Monsanto and Company to attempt to discredit independent researchers.
    These aggressive distract -and- confuse tactics are in my opinion the only reason we don’t have a scientific consensus that GMOs and their associated herbicides are NOT safe. Because it appears that, like with atrazine, the single best predictor of whether or not GMOs are found harmful in a study is the funding source.
    You may also find this article “How Covert Agents Infiltrate the Internet to Manipulate, Deceive, and Destroy Reputations” by Glenn Greenwald useful: https://firstlook.org/theintercept/2014/02/24/jtrig-manipulation/

    Best, Rosa

  117. JanetS said:

    I’m glad you read it Rosa, and I’m glad you have entered the conversations here. In my research I have found errors on both sides of these issues (not so sure about the increases in Indian farmer suicides anymore) and I really just want to know the truth. Why is that so hard for people? I know it takes some maturity to suspend one’s beliefs in order to consider the alternative outcome. I don’t doubt that both sides use covert agents, unfortunately…

    First person experience, like that of my PhD friend working in a GMO papaya lab in Hawaii decades ago, or his dairy neighbors in Wisconsin are what speak loudest to me. I’m so glad you challenged Kevin to actually talk to individual Arcata farmers. I think without that clear line communication these types of published pieces are completely biased and untrustworthy, not to mention smug in their attempts to belittle those who ask thoughtful questions regarding health and the environment. In the end I have been glad to hang in here for a few days to get some other materials to look into.

    Best regards, Janet

  118. Ian Ray said:

    I didn’t see the court evidence of how Syngenta hounded him. I read the article again and stil don’t see that. Where is that part?

  119. JanetS said:

    Please stop trying to discredit the article. If you read it (not even that carefully) there are numerous references to the court documents taken from Sygenta in regards to TH.

  120. Ian Ray said:

    My bad, I was too hasty trying to read this in ten minutes. I see where the lawsuits are mentioned. Syngenta seems to a bad actor regarding atrazine, or at least was trying to be.

    I still see Hayes’ actions as bringing problems on himself, but humans do that from time to time.

    The quote I like most from the article:
    “A good scientist spends his whole career questioning his own facts. One of the most dangerous things you can do is believe.”

  121. JanetS said:

    That was one of my favorite takeaway lines as well and I sure wish I saw more of that perspective in the literature and discussion on GMOs.

  122. Hunter said:

    Yes, there was a lawsuit related to pollen drift:

    Ten years ago, Monsanto won a lawsuit against Percy Schmeiser, a Canadian canola farmer. His crop was contaminated by Monsanto’s Round-Up ready patented plant cells. He intentionally planted the seeds from his surviving canola the next year. When he refused to sign the their licensing agreement and pay their fee, Monsanto sued.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monsanto_Canada_Inc._v._Schmeiser

  123. Kevin Hoover said:

    There is no documented pollen drift in that case, unless you have access to hitherto undisclosed data.

    His was a patent-infrigement case based on using stored seed without a contract. Based on those facts, the judgment against him was upheld by the Canadian Supreme Court.

  124. GMO ban supporter said:

    Right. Because locals have no say in local laws?! That is a silly and untrue statement. Why do we even have city or county gov’t anyway? LOL

  125. allmixed said:

    This is a very hot button topic and the lengthy and seemingly well researched article are worth consideration however is does sound like you got a boatload of Monsanto money moving key strokes…just kidding but it is the way of corporations that have pull and power the move their agendas forward before all science and facts are in. I believe we do need more science study in all things that affect life. I understand farming 101 and it was always that farmers saved their best seeds from harvest to plant in the following season. Mono-cropping and hybridization has changed that basic “right” of a farmer to be self sufficient in regard to seed saving. There is quite a difference in my mind of selective breeding that has been the practice for ions and splicing the DNA of a bacteria with the DNA of a tomato. This gives me rise and I have to err on the side of ‘we just do not know all there is to know about the long term effect on our food chain and biodiversity’. Point well taken about the mutant nija turtles but those mutations are more prevailant now that ever before in history. We need to think…maybe pollutants and over zealous use of chemicals are contributors in our otherwise perfect world. I am just sayin’.

  126. humboldtrick said:

    GMO pot crops? Really? I haven’t seen any. Where do you get your info? Just making up shit?

  127. humboldtrick said:

    There is a huge qualitative difference between cross-pollinating plants in the field and inserting genes from another Kingdom’s species in the lab. My problem with GMOs is that they are made so that even more nasty chemicals can be poured on the planet. Oh yeah, that’s right, RoundUp is completely safe!

    Of course, you ignore the fact that you find very few nuclear physicists who will say that nuclear power is unsafe, or drilling engineers who will admit to the dangers of fracking, or genetic crop engineers who will find GMOs unsafe. These people enter their fields because they have already made their minds up, whether they’re wrong or right, that these are somehow beneficial to humanity and completely safe. They approach the problem with their minds already decided, so, of course, their research is tainted.

    Like most on the Humboldt Skeptics FB page, there’s a lot of wannabe scientists out there who are not real savvy about the real world.

  128. humboldtrick said:

    “Children will Die!!!!” Wow, not using sensationalist, emotional arguments to make your point either, I see.

  129. JohnL said:

    It is a joke. But it could happen. There are some very smart people involved in that business and the technology is well known. And it would probably be done in secret.

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