Ask Surly Amy: Genetically Modified Food

Ask Surly Amy

Hello,

I would like to ask advice on conflict I’m having with my songwriting partner on the subject of genetically altered food. I recently posted a segment from P&T B.S. with the interview with Norman Borlaug explaining the enormous benefits of his innovations. She responded by saying she could not agree because she believes that only unaltered seeds straight from “mother earth” are safe and because she is closer to nature because she is an “earth” sign. I was then told that “politacal” discussions have no place on our page and proceeded to delete the entire conversation. Please forgive this lengthy note, it’s just that I am very frustrated because I feel very isolated at the moment and I am needing more enlightened conversation. Thanks for your time.

Sincerely, J. Perreira

Click below for my response!

Dear J,

It seems that there are a few major misconceptions involving genetically modified food or organisms, commonly referred to as GMO. One big misconception with GMO is that evil scientists are lurking about in labs creating some sort of franken-food that is not made of natural components and that it is going to take over the world and destroy life and all other food as we know it. Quite the opposite is the actual goal. The main goal of GMO is to create food that will save life as we know it and grow better food. We need to feed more people on this planet and we need to feed more people everyday. At this moment we are not doing an effective job of that at all. People are dying all over the world of hunger and suffering the effects of malnutrition. It is a bit of a difficult concept to wrap your brain around if you live in a cushy part of the United States or some other other well-off nation. Hunger is not something that touches us in communities where we get to pick and choose what we will munch on for a snack as we watch the latest blockbuster film but hunger and starvation does effect literally millions upon millions of people on this earth. For example as stated by the World Health Organization in 2001 54% of all childhood mortality was attributable, directly or indirectly, to malnutrition. In a global community we need to be aware of these types of things and understand that while it may be a luxury in say, California to go to your local health food store and demand organically grown, farm fresh vegetables that only touch your lips after the plant itself has deemed it appropriate to drop its nuggets to the ground. In many countries people (and yes children) are not even receiving basic nutrition and do not have such luxury or even any options at all. A main goal of GMO engineering is to create organisms that have extra nutrients in them and that can grow in harsher conditions and produce larger crops thereby feeding more people and providing a better nutritional content that will save lives.

The other main misconception about GMO is that it is some type of new and reckless game being played. Again, quite the opposite is true. Humans have been modifying food for centuries. The broccoli and cauliflower you love to eat now has been selectively propagated by man from the cabbage plant. evil broccoliThat means that cabbage with larger leaves and delicious tiny cabbage flowers were selected and regrown and over time the common broccoli and cauliflower you see at the grocery store was created, from cabbage. What about bananas? They don’t ‘naturally’ grow. They are sexless clones that are man made, only slightly similar to the small seedy banana that once was. If your friend is really serious about only eating unaltered seed-grown-food straight from mother earth, she better steer way clear of those creepy, seedless, cloned bananas.

Modern genetically modified food has the benefit of being more precise and faster than the the modifications we have made with our food in the past. Specific genes can be altered to remove negative aspects of plants and the same precise altering can be used to encourage positive, heartier and nutritionally rich attributes.
comfort food

Your friend hasn’t provided an actual argument. She has only presented a belief system based on astrology and personal preference from a privileged viewpoint. Yeah, I guess if you are rich and ignorant you can eat whatever you want and say what you like about it but if you are actually concerned with our global community and the nutritional intake of the world then you will realize that we need to find alternative means to providing better food to more people.

If your friend is interested in learning more there is a great podcast on this topic by Brian Dunning of Skeptoid that I recommend.. Dunning’s podcast goes into more detail about kill switch genes, gene jumping, allergy fears and some other misconceptions associated with genetically modified food sources.

Amy Davis Roth (aka Surly Amy) is a multimedia artist who resides in Los Angeles, California. She makes Surly-Ramics and kicks ass on a daily basis. Follow her on twitter: @SurlyAmy or on Google+.

34 Comments

  1. I’m no anti-GMOer, but I think there’s a small perspective problem here. The main use of GMO is not usually any of the noble things you list, but simply to let the plant survive the use of pesticides and insecticides which would normally be toxic to the plants (ie things like “RoundUp-Ready” seeds). While I’m sure the Monsanto executives (for example) would like to see people fed, the main goal of GMO crops is to sell patented seeds and farming products to people who can pay.

    Another misconception is that GMO food would help eliminate the malnutrition present in Africa etc. There are a few such places of course, but mainly people are starving in Africa because the local politics/wars/economic situation prevents the buying, growing, or shipping in of food. It wouldn’t matter which designer crops were in the ground if the field is continually burned off (or the workers killed) by the local warlord.

    That’s not to say GMO crops are bad or unhealthy, or don’t have the potential to help feed people in drought or pest-ridden areas, but I don’t really see that that is happening very much (yet).

  2. right, the real “dangers” or GM foods isn’t that you will grow an extra eye if you eat one. Which is sad as often people have a fear or prejudice which is misplaced. More energy should be spent on funds for having a viable variety of food and seeds banked and diversity is a wonderful protection against disease, pests and drought. Too much of one thing isn’t good…no matter how “good” science has made that one thing. It’s a for profit world and long term thought process does not fit into that short term profit world. Diversity, more use of local crops native to an area, better farming practices, less fear of investing in areas where warfare is common (in other words, less warfare), education.. those are important keys to ending world hunger. Dont forget population control! Better birth control and in Africa, better education about AIDS and treatment of other diseases (adult parents usualy make better farmers than orphan children) are all part of what is a very complex problem. Science can help a LOT< but it can't cure all the ills of the world without including the human element.

  3. @Quaap:

    I could not possibly agree more.

    While Amy makes some valid points the overall thrust of her response that GMO foods are being produced for altruistic reasons doesn’t square with my understanding. The concept of GMO, as Amy points out, has been around as long as agriculture and there is nothing inherently wrong with it. The way we are applying it now is rather frightening. Safe, effective pest controls like BT which probably could have been used for centuries are rapidly becoming useless because thanks to GMO most corn plants now produce it. This is rather like dumping antibiotics into the water supply.

    There are many wonderful things that could be done with GMO and a few are such as more nutritious, drought tolerant crops. The bulk of it, however, is used to change a vast unsustainable monocultures into a vaster and less sustainable monocultures in the name of short-term profits. In short it sucks. It sucks lots. The fact that some people oppose GMO crops for wooey reasons doesn’t mean there are not more rational reasons to oppose Monsanto and ADM’s approach to our food.

  4. I’ve got some perfectly natural seeds of datura and hemlock your songwriting friend is welcome to try.

  5. Dead on @quaap. The scientific assault on GMO isn’t a real argument. The valid argument against GMO is that it exists now to create patents for companies like Monsanto. These patented crops then get coated with herbicide. Ask India how they are doing with the Monsanto GMO cotton crop. The creepiest byproduct of this GMO action is that the truly natural occurrence of pollination (even across distance) can create a lawsuit. Still, Amy’s main point here is valid. There aren’t great scientific or direct health reasons to detest GMO, but there are issues of agricultural diversity and social issues to hate it.

  6. Let’s not forget that these plants are designed so that you have to buy new seeds every year, which many farmers cannot afford.

  7. @Compostings: I don’t think that that is a valid argument at all. Its a combination of the ad hominem and guilt-by association logical fallacies to use Monsanto to criticize all GM crops.
    There are good GM crops being developed out there. Steven Novella gives several examples in this post.

    Brian Dunning gives even more in the GMO episode Amy linked to.

    No amount of misuse would ever make me hate or even dislike GM food. Sure if it were misused to a harmful extent I’d call for harsher regulation, but as things stand the benefits clearly outweigh the risks. The opponents of GM insinuate a lot but there seem to be few if any concrete examples of lasting harm caused by these products. However, the links above provide real evidence that scientists, Norman Borlaug in particular, have used GM and hybridization to save as many as a billion lives.

  8. @ mrthumbtack,

    You’re missing the thrust of (or ignoring) Quaap’s point – the vast majority of GMO plants are engineered to withstand heavier and heavier doses of pesticides and herbicides. Regardless of the safety of GMO plants, every pro-GMO statement on this page has completely ignored this fact.

    I’ll try to listen to the GMO episode and see if it addresses this point. If you know it does, please let me know.

  9. @Eryops: Yes, I understand, that in and of itself does not constitute a point against GM crops, however. Weeds and insects can and do develop resistance to herbicides and pesticides even in the absence of herbicide resistant crops. The first reported case of an insect developing resistance to an insecticide was in 1908, according to this article. Pesticide and herbicide resistance is guaranteed to develop as long as we use pesticides and herbicides (and there’s no chance we’re going to stop using those anytime soon).

    But after a lot of research, I really do see your point. Pesticides overuse is a problem and Ht products encourage it.

    Where I disagree is that I don’t feel like the solution is to oppose the creation of Ht resistant crops, or to oppose large corporations, or to oppose anything really. The issue you raise is always going to be an issue, whatever kind of farming we do. Whenever, wherever, we farm we’re going to be putting selective pressure of one kind or another on the plants and animals we consider nuisances, and some of them will be able to adapt.

    We can slow down and vary the selective pressure we exert for sure, but only by educating farmers, much like we try to educate doctors not to over prescribe anti-biotics.

  10. NPR recently had a segment about evil genetic Canola (“rapeseed” apparently doesn’t market well) plants that had been found to have escaped from the Stalag, as it were, and had taken root alongside other forms of the plant. There may have been some filthy gene swapping too, but I forget. But the point that the scientists made about the possibility that unfettered canola plants would smash their way across the land was very interesting:

    “[Canola is] pretty spoiled — it’s used to growing in well-fertilized, clean seedbeds without competition, so it does not do well if it is having to compete with other plants,” she says. This is a severe limiter, she suggests, about the potential of global death by canola, which, by the way, I have just decided to name my band.

    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=129010499

    HJ

  11. @davew “Safe, effective pest controls like BT which probably could have been used for centuries are rapidly becoming useless because thanks to GMO most corn plants now produce it.”

    What is your source of this information?

  12. Realize, of course, folks, that all the arguments about the $Greedy$ Monsantos of the world are all out to make a buck on GMO – they are also doing the same with non-GMO veggies, too. The difference is that with GMO, the changes are conducted with a deep knowledge of genetics and the other are just scientific observation of outcomes. Either way, everything on your plate, even the “organic” and “natural” foods are all human modified to very large extents. I’m not sure there is much left that reaches a human palate that can rightfully be called natural.

    Regarding all the concern over corporations making money. That’s what they are in business for. If you want your science entirely free of the strings of making money for someone, you need to find a different planet.

  13. @compostings. What is wrong with Bt cotton in India? The fact that they used 700,000 tons less conventional pesticide in 2006?

    Lawsuits? This is a falsehood perpetuated by the anit-GMO folks. Can you direct me please to the information on any lawsuit based purely on a farmer being sued for inadvertent pollination?

  14. Sorry for all the posts, but this is my area. If you are so anti Monsanto, Dow, Syngenta etc, then DE-regulate the process. Right now they are the only ones that can afford to make and deploy GMO. The folks with great inventions in universities can ‘t even begin to commercialize their products because of cost. The best hope is to get the eye of a big ag company and maybe get them to take an interest.

    @the other Amanda- ‘terminator” technologies are no big deal. Farmers do not HAVE to buy them (actually, they never were sold- it was just an idea). Agribusiness has protected their seed interests for decades with hybrids that upon selfing produce offspring with lower yields etc. Are you opposed to that?

    GE poses no more threats than elite hybrids or other germplasm. We use TONS of pesticides, herbicides etc in conventional farming. The hope of GE is to provide more higher quality food with lower environmental impact. That’s the idea. Productivity AND sustainability. Theoretically it is possible, but the bogus arguments against the technology curb public enthusiasm.

  15. There is plenty of evidence that GMO’s are harmful to human health. For example, Soy allergies jumped 50% in the U.K. just after GM soy was introduced. Another study verified that GM soybeans contain an IgE-binding allergenic protein not found in nonGM soy controls, and that one of eight subjects who showed a skin-prick allergic reaction to GM soy had no reaction to nonGM soy.

    These are just a couple examples of the evidence…. much more can be found here

    http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=7277

  16. @crocoduck: While I’m sure there is a lot more to GMO than I touched on while responding to the claim that earth signs are more in touch with nature and therefor GMO is bad, I am not too keen on trusting a website that starts off its article by stating: “Genetically modified (GM) foods are inherently unsafe” and then goes on to say, “Studies suggest that the GM transformation process may have increased natural allergens in soybeans.”

    Genetically modified food is not inherently unsafe. That is simply a false statement and backing it up with studies that suggest that maybe something might be bad cuz you know, some people have allergies is not demonstrating harm outweighing benefit.

  17. @kevinf:

    If you are so anti Monsanto, Dow, Syngenta etc, then DE-regulate the process. Right now they are the only ones that can afford to make and deploy GMO. The folks with great inventions in universities can ‘t even begin to commercialize their products because of cost. The best hope is to get the eye of a big ag company and maybe get them to take an interest.

    This is an often overlooked point. As a rule, the compliance costs of regulation increase less than proportionally with scale. What this means is that the more burdensome regulation is, the more large firms are favoured over small ones. A case could be made that Big Pharma would not exist if it wasn’t for the FDA, the primary function of those big companies is to take an idea researched by Little Pharma and then jump through the FDA’s hoops so they can sell it.

    Now, the correct balance of regulation is too complicated a topic to get into in a blog comment, but it is worth remembering that even if you consider a particular regulation to be appropriate, that it will have the side effect of empowering large corporations while pushing smaller operators out of business.

  18. @crocoduck:

    lol, Yeah “evidence”.
    I have to say that site seems very trustworthy. I just learned the truth behind 9/11,
    That I should not take any vaccines ever,
    That global warming is a government conspiracy,

    And I just love this quote
    “We’ve all heard some MD (medical doctor) interviewed on the radio gratuitously make the bold proposal that life expectancy has increased thanks to modern medicine. Nothing could be further from the truth.”

    The page is completely ridiculous.

  19. @kevinf: What is your source of this information?

    Just google “bt resistance”. You’ll find much like:

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/02/080207140803.htm

    Plus it just stands to reason. If you are combating an organism to you do not create a environment that is universally hostile to that organism. (See my very apt antibiotics in the water supply analogy.) This almost always has the effect of breeding for organisms that are resistant to whatever you are flooding the environment with. For example it only took a few years to create DDT resistant flies once we started coating buildings with it. (Let me know if you need any help with google on this one.)

  20. @kevinf:

    Not a lawsuit in India, but Canada: Monsanto versus Percy Schmeiser. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Percy_Schmeiser

    I’m not convinced by the claims that GM crops are dangerous to human health, but I’m not a supporter of them. My opposition is based more my general opposition and distrust of Monsanto and their ilk. Perhaps deregulating the process, as kevinf suggests, would help. The fact that 6 companies control 98%* of the world’s seed sales troubles me.

    *crap–my book doesn’t footnote this number. This came from Kingsolver’s _Animal, Vegetable, Miracle_, and though she’s got a load of sources in the references section, she doesn’t footnote.

  21. First they mixed octopus dna with chickens so families that liked drumsticks could have more. That wasn’t good enough so they next used centipedes. Now they are working on millipedes. When will this all end?
    One of the unforetold side effects from eating the octochicken was kids ran around squirting ink out their butts. People should stop playing god!

  22. I’m going to have to say that comparing Genetic Engineering to Selective Breeding isn’t correct.

    GE specifically targets a small portion of an organism’s genes to potentially modify an organism

    Selective Breeding targets some already observable trait of an organism (how big the ears of corn are, the size of the endosperm, parasite resistance, mold resistance, color, speed to maturity, drought tolerance). I don’t need a gene gun to save the seeds from the largest tomatoes on the vine to plant for next year.

    This may be a terrible analogy but the difference between GE and SB rolling one twenty sided dice once or rolling ten twenty sided die repeatedly and keeping the top two numbers that appear.

    On another note:
    I am scared that GE crops can contaminate non-GE crops so easily (corn, rapeseed) both for the possibility of lawsuits and how it can be very detrimental to seed savers would like to be able to save their own seeds for next year’s planting.

    I’m still unsure whether I feel comfortable eating GE foods. For now I haven’t seen any specific evidence that it would be unhealthy but I could say the same thing about DDT. It was used for decades before enough evidence could be found that DDT caused all sorts of nastiness. Not that great a comparison I admit but my point is that innovations don’t always come prepackaged with a list of all of the nasty side effects they can cause.

    On the other hand, should people not be allowed to decide what they eat? If I don’t feel comfortable consuming GE foods (first hand or second hand) do I have no right to non-GE sources of food?

    Maybe some of the “hysteria” regarding GE foods is not about scientific ignorance or hating a multinational corporation. For some it may be more about people having the opinion that they not only have the right to know what they are eating but the ability to opt out of eating it.

  23. The Percy Schmeiser case is not a case of wind-borne pollination. The round-up ready crops he was growing were 90%+ homozygous for resistance. That cannot happen via wind-borne pollination. He got some round-up ready seeds illegally and planted them illegally and then saved them illegally and then lied about it in court.

    It has been a while since I looked at that case, but the year he says the wind-borne pollination happened, the nearest round-up ready field was a few miles away. A skeptical look at the facts tells me that Schemeiser lied in court.

  24. Well, and hello, diversity? If something does break through the GM crops…without really good well supported seed banks (which hey private companies making money don’t have to support) we’re in doo doo. Or rather third world nations are. Plus, there is a moral question. If something is legal does it make it “ok”? Water is more expensive in many third world nations because it’s “owned ” by a French water company. Sure, they all have clean water. That they can’t afford. So they use bad dirty water. It solved nothing but a private company makes a good profit.

  25. If there is a real threat from GM it comes from the “bathtub” gene hackers with no oversight and suspect motivation. The most racist redneck I met in the last decade was also fiddling with genetics in Florida. He had a couple of strains of GM ferns he developed for the floral trade.

  26. @kittynh:

    If you want diversity, maybe you should quit farming. Vanishingly few modern crop plants are natives to the USA. Farms are monocultures that destroy natural diversity. This is not a GE issue. GE crops are no more dangerous than normal crop plants with respect to threats to diversity.

  27. @davew …

    Thanks for the link. This all came back to me when I saw the Arizona source. There was confirmed resistance to Bt in insects eating Bt cotton. Is this a GE issue? Not really. Insects have been evolving resistance to Bt sprays for ages.

    The other important issue is how many other insects (beneficials and non-targets) that didn’t die because of use of broad-spectrum insecticides. Maybe target insects would evolve resistance to those too.

    The bottom line is that as we farm it will be an arms race. The only way to win is to develop better technology that outpaces selection. Bt cotton worked well (and continues to work well). Even with resistance, it is a major score for the environment for farmers in the developing world (and here too, just look at the acreage).

  28. @crocoduck:

    Hey Crocoduck… Let’ s start with the Kleter & Peijnenburg study that you cite (the one where GE contains IgE binding proteins associated with allergy). This was a computer modeling study published in BMC Structural Biology. They PREDICTED that there may be epitopes that could potentially be allergenic. They state very clearly in the conclusion of the abstract the positive outcomes of this approach warrant further clinical testing for potential allergenicity”. To my investigation such studies were not done or they produced results that did not indicate allergenicity.

    You neglected to cite the 2003 paper from the same authors (Plant Biotechnol J. 2003 Sep;1(5):371-80) where they identified the same phenomenon in conventional crops. That’s okay, the website you referenced left it off too. They were mostly tearing up GE and you can’t do that if you indict conventional or organic farming too.

    Your note that soy allergies “jumped 50%” after GM soy was introduced was not a scientific study. It was a note by Townsend in an un-reviewed article entitled “Why soya is a hidden destroyer” in a newspaper called Daily Express (Mar 12, 1999). Today’s Daily Express was concerned with the demolition of Ringo Starr’s boyhood home, so maybe not a high-hitting source for science.

    Plus in 11 years GE soy is 95% of US acreage and it cannot be directly linked to any specific problem in humans or animals that consume it.

    That website you cite has Pusztai’s long-discredited work and a laundry list of articles that have either been shown to have no credibility or are misinterpreted (as the first one I mentioned). The website is just like the anti-vax ones that show the great evidence of Wakefield and all the rest.

    It is amazingly parallel.

  29. Kevin’s apparently too modest to pimp his appearance on Skeptically Speaking on this topic. So I will do it for him. :)

    http://skepticallyspeaking.com/episodes/71-genetically-modified-foods

  30. @kevinf: The bottom line is that as we farm it will be an arms race. The only way to win is to develop better technology that outpaces selection.

    I disagree with this approach and this may be the fundamental disagreement between us — a disagreement with plenty of good points to be made on both sides. I think the need for the arms race is brought about by our intensive approach to farming just as our need for a new antibiotics is brought about by irresponsible use of the old ones. The only way to win the game is to not play or, at the very least, play smarter.

    Rather than a to and fro that is almost certain to end in a draw, instead I’ll just just describe my utopian view as fodder for any further discussion:

    We need to end all agriculture subsidies. They skew the demand curve in a way that hurts almost everyone especially farmers. Who benefits? ADM, Monstanto, etc.

    Growing corn for fuel is ridiculous given the current state of technology and only exists because of the above incentives.

    We need to stop eating meat. It is yummy, I’ll grant you, but we need to figure out a way to feed 9 billion people and it is not feasible with Big Macs.

    Couple these changes with the inevitable rise of the price of energy and the rest will follow rather organically. With more people getting calories from vegetables more will be grown and if getting them locally is cheaper than shipping them from California or Argentina then there will be pressure away from the current monoculture farming. If a farmer is growing 30 species rather than 2 then pest problems will diminish. This also has the side-effect of putting a nice dent in the climate change problem: less animal emissions and calories getting from ground to human in a much more efficient fashion.

    This is a bit blue-sky to be sure, but it is what I believe we should be working towards. I don’t view anything GE has to offer as beneficial towards this goal.

  31. @davew,

    I agree with you 100% in principle. In a perfect world sustainability should be job #1. You are right, the idea of using food for fuel is insane and the idea of subsidies being what they are is not right.

    The problem comes from the fact that it is impossible to have the sustainability you mention with the need to enhance productivity with fewer environmental inputs. The amount of crap we dump into the earth is amazing- just so we can feed ourselves. I think GE can (and does) address this.

    I’m not convinced at the view that small farms with rotating crops are going to help. Sure, for those that can afford $10 for a head of lettuce. But the world needs more output and more output means clever use of technology. Organic farming is no different. They use Bt, rotenone (great for aquatic environments) and other compounds that breed resistant pests and pathogens. There’s no way around it. Even the most Utopian balanced system is hypothetical- the plants we grow are not supposed to be here in the presence of our pests and pathogens. Just their presence creates an artificial environment.

    So how do we feed more people, higher quality food with less impact on the environment? GE is absolutely part of this vision. There are scientists all over the globe with solutions to food problems- pests, postharvest life, nutritional quality, etc. The problem is that it costs soooooooo much to get great ideas through regulation that only big agribusiness can do it. Ideas that could help people die in the lab.

    This is a multi-faceted problem, but we can’t stop the science. It needs to be done as fast as it can be done, and then we’ll sort out the business and societal problems later. Thanks a lot for your thoughts and good discussion.

  32. I’ll admit it’s been a while (like, 7 years) since I researched this, but I think you might be a little to quick to defend scientific progress in this case. I’m not saying all GMOs are bad, and I certainly don’t care what the motivation was, like most people here. All I’m endorsing is the lesser known scientific maxim: “It depends”. To act like GMOs are no good on some principle of mother earth is just flat out ridiculous. However, to act like there’s no evidence of risk or danger in gmo crops isnt completely accurate. I’m not going to list them as I have a study to write up that I’m putting off, but I’ll at least do the philosophical angle. Your comparison to the slow breeding of cabbage I think differs in at least one important aspect: speed. I recall a story of ethanol corn (designed for quick ferment-ability) pulling an abnormal about of nutrients out of the soil. If that isn’t a one off thing, then it seems to me the trouble with GMO is unlike selective breeding, it doesn’t give nature (as in exogenous evolutionary factors… can’t think of a better definition) the chance to weed out a “greedy” ethanol corn as unsustainable. Anyhow, that’s just my thought on the issue, my knowledge of plant biology is pedestrian at best.

  33. I rarely post, but I knew when I saw this topic that I would feel the need.

    Kevin has pointed out exactly how many of the claims that have been made here are completely wrong. We are supposed to be skeptics and follow the scientific evidence…..so how many here who have been shown to be wrong have changed their minds? Bueller?…….Bueller?……

    Percy Schmeiser? The man’s claims outside of court, don’t match his claims inside of court and neither come close to matching the evidence. You can find the Supreme Court decision online where they do an excellent job discussing the baloney that has been spread by Percy (inside and outside the court) and his followers and why it is completely at odds with the evidence. No one who has read the evidence should have any sympathy for him.

    Crocoduck promoted globalresearch.ca which is by far the nuttiest website that Canada has ever produced. It is on par with whale.to, David Icke and Alex Jones.

    Furthermore the GR story was written by Jeff Smith (you can find him on the Huffpo too). Author of the least accurate GMO books and videos ever to be imagined…and he thinks he can fly (not joking)….and was one of the founders of the Natural Law Party (not joking).

  34. @Wayward Son,

    I’ll conclude here. We are supposed to be skeptics. If there are data that show the danger (not what MIGHT happen) then bring it. There are no data to show that GMO foods, crops etc are exhibit any harm over conventional farming.

    The data do show substantial tendencies toward fewer environmental inputs to achieve a similar yield. Take that to the bank.

    It is easy to oppose technology when you can pay $6 for a bag of carrots at the corner organic market. In most of the world calories are few and nutrients are scarce. Why not use science to the hilt of its potential to take care of these people? It is immoral for granola-culture, creature comforted types to block access to technology because they don’t understand it and they can afford to fight it.

    The same people trust science with climate change, vaccines, bigfoot, UFOs, AIDS, evolution, stem cells…. why fight the same hypothesis driven science when it relates to food? I don’t get it!

    My job is more food and better food with fewer environmental insults. GE can be part of that equation. To fight it without data and evidence is exactly what we don’t usually tolerate here.

    That said, if evidence of GMO harm comes out of my lab I’ll be the first to publish it. Seriously. The millions of acres of GM crops that have been grown without incident for 15 years will be replaced with conventional high-input farming and I’ll wait for my Nobel Prize.

    Don’t hold your breath.

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