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Bad Chart Thursday: Organic Cherry Picking

I don’t know about you, but when I’m looking for scientific health information I can trust, I turn to supermarket chains and ad agencies.*

Haven’t you heard? They conduct real science experiments now. Using a lab and everything. Still not impressed? Wait until you hear about their UNDENIABLE results.

Coop, a Swedish organic grocery chain, partnered with ad agency Forsman & Bodenfors to experiment on a Swedish family of five for three weeks. The first week, the family ate non-organic, then switched to organic for the next two weeks. Throughout the study period, the family gave daily urine samples, which were analyzed by the Swedish Environmental Research Institute IVL for a selected 12 pesticides, those used in conventional agriculture.

That’s right. They didn’t test for residues from the pesticides used in organic agriculture, such as (in Sweden) lime sulfur, pyrethrins, iron (III) phosphate, and oh so much more.

The brain-achingly obvious results of this adverstudy? Pesticides not used in organic agriculture do not show up in the body (or show up in much lower amounts) when eating organic compared with eating foods on which those pesticides were used.

In other words, a substance that doesn’t go in your body probably won’t show up in your urine.

I, for one, cannot wait for their next experiment, in which they PROVE that not drinking alcohol will lead to little or no alcohol in your system compared with drinking alcohol.

Groundbreaking work. Truly.

Here is one of the charts showing their results for four pesticide metabolites (left to right): chlormequat chloride, mepiquat, 3-PBA, and TCP. (Click image for a larger version.)

Before and after organic chart

The left chart shows nanograms per milliliter of each substance “Before the family eats organic, median,” and the right shows the same “During the weeks with organic food, median.”

The chart is laden with emotional manipulation. The scale is set so that the lefthand bar, for chlormequat chloride, goes OFF THE CHARTS. Traces of eight pesticides were found, but they deliberately chose to show only the four with the highest levels. And the background image shows the innocent little white blond boy who was supposedly being poisoned with pesticides. What kind of monster parents would knowingly do this to their child? The intent to shame parents into funding a new Coop branch buying organic is clear in that the video advertisement shows charts only of the children, not the parents.

Jeff Beer, author of the Fast Company advertisement article about this, chose to screencap this chart instead of the other two shown in the video no doubt because this one shows nothing in the “After” chart, whereas the charts for the two girls show some pesticide levels in the “After” chart.

Of course, this experiment could easily be conducted by testing only for organic pesticide levels and we would see an empty or near-empty “Before Organic” chart followed by an “After Organic” chart showing pesticide levels. Could we then conclude that organic is poisoning our children?

Probably not any more than this advertisement can make the opposite claim. That we have chemicals in our body tells us nothing about whether those chemicals in those amounts are harmful. The dose makes the poison. Any substance can be toxic if we ingest enough of it.

So this adverstudy is nothing more than an exercise in organic cherry picking–it yields next to nothing and is rooted in shit.

* Tip of the hand-sewn-from-organic-cat-hair-fibers hat to Anne Sauer for sharing this story with me.

Melanie Mallon

Melanie Mallon

Melanie is a freelance editor and writer who just moved to a small town outside Minneapolis with her husband and two young kids. When not counting how often the words "pride," "liberty," and "freedom" are used in local business, road, and pet names, she spends her time wrangling commas, making colon jokes, and raising her two kids to be critical thinkers. She is the managing editor of Skepchick Events, a Grounded Parents admin, and a Skepchick contributor. You can find her on Twitter as @MelMall, on Facebook, and on Google+

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62 Comments

  1. May 7, 2015 at 6:52 pm —

    Not really the most heinous of offenses. It’s a pretty standard advertising trick. Like pointing out that your particular brand of something universally low in fat is low in fat.
    And it’s not like the ad is misleading anyone down a dark path. It’s a heavy-handed visual representation of the obvious which is what some people need. What are you angry about?

    • May 7, 2015 at 7:42 pm —

      It’s a pretty standard advertising trick. Like pointing out that your particular brand of something universally low in fat is low in fat.

      It would totally be comparable if that particular brand were not actually low in fat except in comparison to butter.

      What Coop has done is omit organic pesticides from the study to imply that organic food doesn’t have pesticide residue.

      What are you angry about?

      Why do you hate kittens?

      • March 15, 2016 at 2:13 pm —

        I think the author of this article is missing the point. Even if they did take only the four pesticides, the point is that after eating only organic food, the levels of everything went down and/or is non-existent. Doesn’t matter which chart you use. She states that this “proves nothing and is rooted in shit…” – I would think that anyone would be happy to promote the use of organic produce and products??? It’s a good thing, not a bad one. And it’s not emotional manipulation, it’s a fact. Just like people who drink diet soda – asparatame is toxic. It’s proven. Just because someone thinks its all a farce doesn’t make practicing an organic lifestyle any less healthy.

        • March 18, 2016 at 7:02 pm —

          They didn’t show that “everything went down and/or is non-existent” because they chose to show only selected pesticides to make their point. Had they shown everything, the second chart would have shown organic pesticide residue. Organic does not mean no pesticides are used.

          I see no reason to promote organic products. They are no healthier yet they are more expensive, which is particularly an issue for families who can’t afford to spend more money for the same food (or, actually, less of the same food). Promoting organic based on myths about it being better is healthy only for the organic industry’s bottom line. When it is promoted to parents as something they *should* spend extra money on, it’s crosses the line from false claims about health to flat out unethical classism.

          Aspartame has not been proved to be toxic. I agree that diet soda isn’t healthy, but for other reasons, including the effect of carbonation on teeth. Also, it’s gross. :-)

    • May 8, 2015 at 3:37 am —

      Have you stopped beating your partner? What are you angry about, it’s just a question!

  2. May 7, 2015 at 7:14 pm —

    All I see is that if I start eating all-organic I will end up with a dangerous deficiency of Mepiquat.

  3. May 8, 2015 at 5:15 am —

    Coop is actually a pretty standard supermaket chain, with evrything from tiny stores to hypermarkets, with different subdivisions.

    It is named Coop because it is a consumer Cooporative society, or rather started as an umbrella organisation for the different co-ops in Sweden.

    It tries to project a wholosome image, and it pushes its organic products, but in fact it has a blend of organic and “traditional” products. There is no doubt that the co-ops in Scandinavia have had a large part in the spread of organic products. in Denmark up to a third of all milk sold is organic.

  4. May 10, 2015 at 9:15 am —

    Funny. All I can see in the graphics is all the cars. You know–which actually pose a high risk to kids, for which we have lots of data.

    Shakin’ my head.

  5. May 11, 2015 at 4:27 pm —

    But really, are there any non misleading ads out there? Or articles? It’s just the question how to show your point in 30 seconds.

    It’s the same when you write your title or headline. You mislead the reader to dig deeper.

    Of course it hurts the brain. But so does about 100 new ads each day on white teeth and big red healthy tomato in your ketchup.

    Well. But wait. The organic should do it differently. They are not in the market. They must survive by being completly honest and shooting long, 30 minutes scientific videos in which they invest millions of Euros.

    • May 12, 2015 at 1:01 pm —

      It’s the same when you write your title or headline. You mislead the reader to dig deeper.

      That’s a stretch. A title may not give the complete information that’s in the article, but that isn’t the same as being misleading. When you “dig deeper” by reading the article, you get more information that expands on the title. With this ad, when you dig deeper by watching the entire video, it’s dishonest from start to finish. It doesn’t just mislead you to get your attention and then give you honest information.

      Well. But wait. The organic should do it differently. They are not in the market.

      I don’t think any company’s ads should be blatantly dishonest. I’ve called out other advertising campaigns in this column before, whenever they use misleading visuals. Coop didn’t just magnify or exaggerate a truth about their product. There’s no kernel of truth to magnify in this ad.

      They must survive by being completly honest and shooting long, 30 minutes scientific videos in which they invest millions of Euros.

      Or, you know, any of a thousand other possibilities for an ad campaign instead of misrepresenting science when the science doesn’t support their claim.

      • May 13, 2015 at 12:33 am —

        I’ve called out other advertising campaigns in this column before, whenever they use misleading visuals.

        So there are campaigns that are not using misleading visuals? Name one.
        Or do you have a scale of misleading? What’s the criteria? Bar graph?

        Or, you know, any of a thousand other possibilities for an ad campaign instead of misrepresenting science when the science doesn’t support their claim.

        Well, bar graph is not science anyway. And they never say that they did a scientific research. Just an experiment.

        Anyway, I know what got you pissed off, I do have the same feelings on most advertising.

        But within time I have learned that in today’s world one cannot change thinking or behavior by saying:

        If you eat pesticides you will piss pesticides.

        Of course such statement would be true and even interesting to some young people. But old people would turn away and say “What a poor language. Bad advertising.”.

        And again, there would be posts on the internet saying “Can’t you do something better?”.

        Advertising is about gaining attention. It’s the title of communications. Later you explain the details. As in your article.

        • May 13, 2015 at 6:19 pm —

          So there are campaigns that are not using misleading visuals? Name one.

          I didn’t say or imply that. You implied that my criticism of bad charts applies only to organic advertising, that “organic should do it differently.” That isn’t true. Any bad chart is up for criticism, including those used in advertising for other products.

          Or do you have a scale of misleading? What’s the criteria? Bar graph?

          For the purposes of using something for Bad Chart Thursday? Yes, I choose those charts that are so poorly done or dishonest that they serve as a clear example of how charts are used to mislead, misinform, and/or spread fear. This column is about media literacy, looking critically at how information is presented to us in ads, politics, news, etc. I understand that you think this is a bad thing. The fact that you are spending your time speaking out against criticism of dishonest media shows this. I don’t agree that we shouldn’t criticize dishonesty in advertising because “everyone’s doing it.” That doesn’t seem like an attitude you gain with time so much as one you outgrow before reaching adulthood.

          Do you feel this way about politics too? That since lying and misleading is so common among politicians that we shouldn’t criticize or scrutinize what they say or learn how to separate fact from fiction?

          And do you not see degrees at all in dishonesty? You think an ad that misleads–such as exaggerating the truth–is equivalent to an ad that is flat-out dishonest, with no truth in it to even exaggerate, as is the case with this ad?

          Anyway, I know what got you pissed off, I do have the same feelings on most advertising.

          I’m sorry it pisses you off. I’m not pissed off by it. I don’t understand why, if most advertising makes you angry, this is the exception. And if most advertising makes you angry, why are you going out of your way to denounce the very act of criticizing advertising?

          But within time I have learned that in today’s world one cannot change thinking or behavior by saying:

          If you eat pesticides you will piss pesticides.

          Good thing that’s not what I’m doing, then.

          Advertising is about gaining attention. It’s the title of communications. Later you explain the details. As in your article.

          Except Coop never explained the details. They gained attention with dishonesty backed by dishonesty. They went beyond gaining attention by being misleading. They gained attention by being completely dishonest.

          • May 14, 2015 at 1:01 am

            I didn’t say or imply that. You implied that my criticism of bad charts applies only to organic advertising, that “organic should do it differently.” That isn’t true. Any bad chart is up for criticism, including those used in advertising for other products.

            Well isn’t every advertisment up for criticism then? I have not seen a non-misleading ad. Ever.

            This column is about media literacy, looking critically at how information is presented to us in ads, politics, news, etc.

            Oh, didn’t know that. Then you have a lot of work. :)

            I don’t agree that we shouldn’t criticize dishonesty in advertising because “everyone’s doing it.” That doesn’t seem like an attitude you gain with time so much as one you outgrow before reaching adulthood.

            Of course, we can and should criticize. But when I do criticism, I try to present a better way. With scientific data. Which advertisment would be better then this? How and why?

            Advertising looks simple when we try to criticise it. Now try doing it and see what happens. What’s the budget, what are the goals, what are the methods, obstacles?

            Or else, if you meant only presenting the negative being criticism. But that’s not criticism in my standards book.

            Do you feel this way about politics too? That since lying and misleading is so common among politicians that we shouldn’t criticize or scrutinize what they say or learn how to separate fact from fiction?

            Not at all. But when we criticise political decision, let’s go and make a better decision then they do? Get into their shoes. Present the people a better version.

            It’s simple to find mistakes. It’s much harder to find and present a better solution.

            And do you not see degrees at all in dishonesty?

            Nope. Try reading any serious book on lying or honesty and you will see there are no degrees. It may hurt but the truth is that either you are honest or not. In the end, degrees are just your way of justifying what seems appropriate lying to you.

            And if most advertising makes you angry, why are you going out of your way to denounce the very act of criticizing advertising?

            Because criticising any case won’t make a difference in how it’s been done. Burning one witch will not bring them all down from the sky.

            And I do criticise. But I try to find several cases with same issue. because I’m not in favor of burning one witch.

            Advertising is about gaining attention. It’s the title of communications.
            Except Coop never explained the details. They gained attention with dishonesty backed by dishonesty. They went beyond gaining attention by being misleading. They gained attention by being completely dishonest.

            You’ve missed my point. Advertising is first step just like title. Explaining (rest of the article) in marketing communications are other channels (website, flyers, instore materials…). I assume you did not check other materials yet and read all the details to really know if Coop explained the details or not?

            Summary

            Just to sum up. I do agree that misleading charts are bad. But exposing one misleading chart in world of misleading communications is misleading act by itself.

            You are stretching the y axis of misleading communications to show that one particular. Show them all and tell us what’s the actual size of this one? How much damage did this one do comparing to others? What kind of damage?

            And when you do that, do not throw in amazing title or text that reads well. Be factual, statistically boring. Be scientific. Exact.

            Of course, do not count on much sharing and caring then. I will share, I promise. But as you are most certainly aware of, nobody reads facts. You will get 100 times less shares and comments.

            That’s why NASA shows pretty photos to public. To keep public interested in the big black, silent, empty, vast space of rocks, radiation, flames and weird stuff named space. Because if they were not so misleadingly showing only the good stuff, they would already be out of money.

      • May 13, 2015 at 12:49 am —

        In case you’re interested, we have additional perspectives on the subject at G+. :)

        https://plus.google.com/u/0/+DusanVrban/posts/UAG5rzbGJni

  6. May 12, 2015 at 11:39 am —

    Heh.
    Before accusing someone of false advertising, you should at least get your own facts straight.

    >pesticides used in organic agriculture, such as (in Sweden) lime sulfur
    Nope. That’s not even allowed in conventional farming in the EU, its also not mentioned in your link. Did you mix that up with lime, which is allowed for cleaning?

    >pyrethrins
    Nope. See section 4.4.6: It is prohibited to use the following plant protectants even though they are permitted according to Appendix II regulation (EC) 889/2008:
    • Pyrethrum (K)

    >iron (III) phosphate,
    Yes, indeed. But this stuff is pretty harmless.

    >and oh so much more.
    What else so much more?

    • May 12, 2015 at 12:42 pm —

      Lime sulfur: See section 4.4.5 Permitted Plant Protectants, the part of the table on p. 92, listed third under the subhead “Other substances”: Svavelkalk (kalcuimpolysulfid) [Translation: Lime sulfur (calcium polysulfides]

      Pyrethrins: same section, same table, second from the bottom on p. 91.

      >iron (III) phosphate,
      Yes, indeed. But this stuff is pretty harmless.

      I am not at all claiming that any of these pesticides are harmful–organic or conventional–to consumers in the amounts used in agriculture. The point here is that not testing for organic pesticides as well as conventional pesticides to imply that only conventional farming uses pesticides or that only inorganic pesticides leave a residue is blatantly dishonest.

      >and oh so much more.
      What else so much more?

      The table I mention above lists them all. It appears immediately before section 4.4.6, which you cite in your comment.

  7. May 13, 2015 at 5:55 am —

    But, but… KEMNIKALS R EVILLLL!

    Some time ago I actually thought organic/bio meant “no pesticides whatsoever”. This sounded great/positive: no pesticide use would force farmers to cultivate smaller separated crops as well as multiple varieties (for greater resistance to one particular pest). Such farmers would lose some crops each year but the resulting variety and quality of crops (without pesticides) would allow for more interesting veggies.

    Ah, no, it doesn’t work that way.

    • May 13, 2015 at 6:33 am —

      It works. Permaculture way. And it’s much cheaper comparing to chemical way. Here you can see a video on Austrian national TV about his paradise.

      But the educational system is now pretty much designed the chemical way. That’s why few generations will pass before farming turns to a better production.

      That’s why I support such videos. Because biological farming needs customers. Anyway they become customer.

  8. May 13, 2015 at 2:15 pm —

    Not to mention that overwhelming majority (99.99% by weight) of pesticides that we ingest are *naturally-occurring* in the plants themselves, regardless of whether they are conventionally or organically grown.

    http://www.pnas.org/content/87/19/7777.full.pdf

    Abstract:
    The toxicological significance of exposures to synthetic chemicals is examined in the context of exposures to naturally occurring chemicals. We calculate that 99.99% (by weight) of the pesticides in the American diet are chemicals that plants produce to defend themselves. Only 52 natural pesticides have been tested in high-dose animal cancer tests, and about half (27) are rodent carcinogens; these 27 are shown to be present in many common foods. We conclude that natural and synthetic chemicals are equally likely to be positive in animal cancer tests. We also conclude that, at the low doses of most human exposures, the comparative hazards of synthetic pesticide residues are insignificant.

  9. May 18, 2015 at 6:11 am —

    Ok. Did you look at the actual report?
    https://www.coop.se/PageFiles/429812/Coop%20Ekoeffekten_Report%20ENG.pdf
    It wasn’t “conducted by Coop,” though the study was paid for by them, it was done by the Swedish Environmental Institute. Plus it is labeled a “pilot study” as they need a larger base group and more info on the realities of combinatorial effects. Coop, as somebody else pointed out, isn’t an organic food store—they’re just one of the 3 or 4 bigger grocery chain stores, like, say Safeway in the states—but as I understand it (only lived here in Sweden for three years) they are some form of co-operative and part of their charter is health assessments of the things that they sell. For example, in their newsletters they provide research on the origins of food that comes into Sweden (meat, fish, vegetables, that sort of thing).

    Regardless, all this study says is that you have more chance of having these water-soluable chemicals in your body with non-organic grain and vegetables, and that they are especially present in children. In a relatively wealthy society like Sweden, where people for the most part have the economic choice to avoid them, I don’t see any harm in doing so. It can only end up better for all involved, from the food production end to the consumer end.

    • May 18, 2015 at 11:02 am —

      You have completely missed Melanie’s point.

      She was not disputing that those chemicals that are used in traditional agriculture are present in traditional produce but are less present in organic produce.

      She was pointing out that they failed to test for chemicals used in organic agriculture that would be more present in organic produce while being all but absent from traditional produce.

      That fact points to a conclusion that was expected, the fact that the study is listed as a pilot study yet was still used in the advertisement only strengthens the case that Coop was intentionally cherry-picking to suggest that organic produce contains less chemicals than traditional produce even though this study does not prove any such thing as it is incomplete.

      Organic produce contains chemicals, only different ones then traditional produce. Failing to include that information is misleading, and doing so in chart form made it a perfect example to use in the blog post.

    • May 18, 2015 at 11:05 am —

      None of the points you’re making change any of the problems I pointed out. It doesn’t matter whether it’s just a pilot study when the study design is so flawed as to make it useless. If they had a larger base to do this study, they would just have a larger base for a useless study with misleading results.

      The problem is that they did not include organic pesticides in the experiment. Had they done so, we would have seen those pesticide metabolites in the bodies of these children after eating organic.

      So Coop paid for a study that gives people false information about organic foods to get them to needlessly spend more money on the foods they buy. This is not better for consumers. It is only better–and profitable–for Coop and the organic industry.

  10. May 18, 2015 at 11:33 am —

    Yeah, I see your point, you think it’s a marketing tactic for organic food. I sort of saw this as more a direct way to not ingest these 12 pesticides that they did in fact test for, which certainly can’t be bad, so my initial response to your taking it apart for just testing for those 12 is, well, so what? We didn’t want mepiquat to begin with did we? I mean, certainly we can ask Coop to do further tests for other chemicals.
    As far as I can tell, the idea behind this as a pilot study is that little is known about combinatorial effects, so just testing metabolites present doesn’t give a potentially accurate picture of the health risks present, which I think is where they’re heading.
    The other part of the organic food labeling in Sweden is “Krav” which is a set of standards that most-but-not-all organic products meet. The Krav standards are stricter than EU for health, safety and environmental concerns, so when you say “organic pesticides” that could be present as well, they may be restricted by Krav standards anyway.
    See http://www.krav.se/sites/www.krav.se/files/krav-standards2015webb.pdf

  11. May 18, 2015 at 4:34 pm —

    I do agree that the advert is biased and the data is “cherry-picked” to support their arguments and this is a real real shame…

    because I believe that organic farming is SO SO much better for the environment, for insects – the base of the food chain for small mammals and birds etc. & pollinators, for soils – soil friendly farming that means we won’t lose our top soils in 50 – 100 years, for sustainable long-term farming and I really wish they hadn’t done it like that (the bad science – bad graphs “cherry-picked” data bit) ~ but if it encourages more people to buy organic then that would be a good end result by me!!?

  12. May 18, 2015 at 11:03 pm —

    Not sure if anyone has said this or not.
    Not ALL organic food has pesticides.
    Would be nice if they tested for organic pesticides, if they ate food that had organic pesticides in them.
    There’s a lot of organic food that does not have pesticides.
    If they consumed food that didn’t have pesticides, the video would be accurate, right?

  13. May 29, 2015 at 2:59 pm —

    Just a reminder that the scale is nanograms per milliliter which we better know as parts per TRILLION. If you put one grain of sugar in an Olympic sized swimming pool, the concentration of sugar would be about one part per trillion. I agree with the comment about the poison is in the dose.

  14. June 6, 2015 at 11:39 am —

    Yes, now you should criticize Monsanto for their commercials too, especially since WHO analyzed 30 studies to find that glyphosate is a carcinogen, even though Monsanto has moved onto something even more dangerous- Enlist Duo- but what else can we expect from the mother of Agent Orange? Looks like after a series of complaints were filed, those commercials are now off the air :)

    And while you’re at it, also go after the oil industry, as it tries to lull the populace to sleep with its “fracking is safe” ads while secretly shuddering about the resulting earthquakes. Thank goodness fracking is illegal here in New York State.

    • June 6, 2015 at 4:48 pm —

      What charts are you referring to from these sources? I’ll gladly review bad charts from any source in this column. Just send me links. Thanks!

  15. June 16, 2015 at 11:42 am —

    Hahahahahaha……do you know the difference between conventional pesticides and ones that organic farmers use.

  16. September 1, 2015 at 3:45 pm —

    I dont like the ones that organic farmers use either. I grow my own produce, pesticide free. Reading up on the latest science, within the next few decades we’ll have much better solutions than either pesticides or antibiotics

  17. October 28, 2015 at 8:16 pm —

    i think u are cherry picking your rational conclusions as well

    I know going against organic is a safe “scientifical” attitude, so scientifical and safe that it is no scientifical at all, but just driven by the attempt to persuade the masses that every food is equally good.

    Something is for certain… industrial pesticides ( and organic as well ) remain in the food we eat and are absorbed by our organism, and you really think this is nothing ?
    Of course the more and more dangerous the pesticides used and more the higer the levels in our body and the statistical effects associated.

    So following logic, gmo will be worst, non-gmo industrial will be a little better, organic will be even better, and the safer will be some home made almost zero pesticide agricolture. But of course we need a study, but there are yet things that suggest this behaviour.

    Do u think it really makes no scientific evidence , or are we just influenced by the economical question ( that is reasonably huge ) and the industry influence ( that are economically powerful even inside the same scientific community )?

  18. October 29, 2015 at 5:08 pm —

    This may need to be revisited now that a huge 500 study meta-analysis by WHO indicates an elevated cancer risk by processed meat. Of course, as someone who does not eat red meat at all, this doesn’t affect me in a negative way.

    • October 29, 2015 at 5:26 pm —

      What does that have to do with pesticide levels in organic produce?

      BTW – There is already pushback against WHO’s conclusions, and not just from industry people, saying that their conclusions were at the very least exaggerated. It may be a bit early to draw conclusions from that study, unless of course it confirms your bias, then by all means…

      • October 29, 2015 at 5:43 pm —

        It just represents a widespread problem in how industry operates and a necessary reformation of the food industry. Red meat isn’t anywhere near as unsafe as cigarettes are, that was a ridiculous oversimplification by the media. I know about the pushback, but there are other health reasons not to consume red meat. I have a long family history of high blood pressure and removing all red meat from my diet has lowered my BP from 190/115 to 135/90. Still high, but not what it was before. Health professionals have long advocated a low consumption of red meat to lower the risks of cardiac problems.

        http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evolibrary/news/130501_superbugs

        Pesticides are a huge problem, worse in organic produce, but present in the vast majority of produce of course. I grow my own, without the need for any pesticides, and I dont consume any red meat for family health reasons (which I described already.)

        • October 29, 2015 at 6:58 pm —

          i think u have an organic fobia problem, maybe u should see a doctor or just read a paper before stating that organics are worse than conventional foods for pesticide contamination. Papers such as this
          http://media.dssimon.com/taperequest/acp75_study.pdf

          As for Gmo, the problem of the herbicide exponential use growth in herbicide resistant plants is just what really makes me think, that also here some conclusions are more economic driven than scientifically driven, meanwhile the enviroment contamination can just go even worse than before ( and i am not even an organic user or pretend it could be for now the main model to seek but i do recognize there’s some good in its efforts )

          • October 29, 2015 at 7:03 pm

            No, I dislike both industries. Trust me I dont support Monsanto and their illegal dumpings of poisons in the environment either. Like I said, I grow my own food.

            The fact is though that many of the pesticides used on organic produce is actually more toxic. That doesn’t mean glyphosate or 2,4-D are safe either (they are not.)

            I just came across this study. Just so you know I dont support either industry. I do support GMO that do NOT require ANY pesticides, including “Round Up.” That is what is now on the horizon.

            GE Soybeans Give Altered Milk and Stunted Offspring, Researchers Find
            by JONATHAN LATHAM
            ·
            § http://uziiw38pmyg1ai60732c4011.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/dropzone/2015/07/print-sp.png
            Pregnant goats fed with genetically engineered (GE) soybeans have offspring who grow more slowly and are shorter, according to a new Italian study (Tudisco et al., 2015). Publishing in the journal of Small Ruminant Research, the researchers were testing the results of supplementing the feed of female goats with Roundup Ready GE soybeans. Roundup Ready soybeans are engineered to resist the herbicide Roundup and are sold by agribusiness giant Monsanto. They are some of the most widely grown soybeans in the world.
            The reduced growth of the goat kids was attributed by the researchers to their observation that the milk of the GE-fed mothers was significantly less nutritious and contained less of the IgG antibodies important for early growth.

            Cilentana-goats-300×208

            Cilentana Goats, Italy.
            “This was a carefully conducted study” commented Dr Judy Carman,Director of the Institute of Health and Environmental Research, Australia. She was not involved in the research, but told Independent Science News that:
            “The differences in the composition of the colostrum between the mothers fed the GE soy and the non-GE soy were particularly striking. The colostrum from the GE-fed mothers contained only 2/3 of the fat, 1/3 of the protein and close to half of the IgG of the mothers fed the non-GM soy.”

            To carry out these experiments the researchers divided pregnant female Cilentana goats into four groups, sixty days before kidding. Two of the groups were fed goat food containing GE Roundup Ready soybeans (at two different concentrations). The other two groups were fed conventional (non-GE) soybeans, also at two different concentrations.

            After the mothers gave birth all offspring were fed only with their mother’s milk for sixty days. The growth of these kids was measured twice. After both thirty days and sixty days the kids of GE-fed mothers were approximately 20% lower in weight and shorter in stature. Both these differences were statistically significant.

            Lower offspring weights were not the only unexpected findings. The researchers also found that the milk of GE-fed goats was lower in protein and fat. This difference in milk quality was large (6% protein in both GE-fed groups versus 18% in both non-GE fed groups) for the first few weeks after birth but gradually disappeared—even though the mothers continued to be fed the GE soybeans. Additionally, the researchers also found that the colostrum produced by GE-fed mothers had low amounts of IgG antibodies. These antibodies are important for growth and for healthy immune development.

            A third difference noted by the researchers was that transgenic DNA could be detected in the colostrum of most (10/16) of the GE-fed goats. No transgene DNA was detected in the milk of goats fed non-GE soybeans. This is not the first time that transgene DNA (or non-transgenic DNA) has been found in the milk of ruminants, however.

            Interestingly, the researchers found that all of the kids were of similar size at birth, regardless of whether their mothers ate Roundup Ready GE soybeans or not. The researchers therefore proposed that the stunting of the offspring of GE-fed mothers reflected a milk deficiency. Presumably either the lower nutritional value of the colostrum and milk of GE-fed mothers or the colostrum antibody differences that were observed. The authors noted that low IgG antibody levels in colostrum are correlated in other ruminants with slower growth and also that IgG antibodies are known to have a role in nutrient absorption because they promote gut development in newborns.

            The researchers did not discuss whether the transgene DNA fragments found in the milk played a role in altering kid development.

            This result is the strongest demonstration so far of altered growth and development in offspring of GE-fed mothers. The same researchers in 2010 showed altered activity of the lactic dehydrogenase enzyme in kids fed milk from mothers that ate GE Roundup Ready soybeans. In that previous study however, no additional effects on goat offspring were detected (Tudisco et al., 2010).

            “It is already known that Roundup Ready soybeans have various defects including a Manganese deficiency. Yet regulators and GMO developers have continuously dismissed credible reports of GMO crops causing apparent harm to animals, from many different research groups,” said Dr Allison Wilson of The Bioscience Resource Project. “Hopefully they will not ignore yet another study.”
            References
            Tudisco R., V. Mastellone, M. I. Cutrignelli, P. Lombardi, F. Bovera, N. Mirabella, G. Piccolo, S. Calabrò, L. Avallone and F. Infascelli (2010)Fate of transgenic DNA and evaluation of metabolic effects in goats fed genetically modified soybean and in their offsprings. Animal 4: 1662-1671.
            Tudisco R., S. Calabrò, M.I. Cutrignelli, G. Moniello, M. Grossi, V. Mastellone, P. Lombardi, M.E. Peroa, F. Infascelli (2015) Genetically modified soybean in a goat diet: Influence on kid performance. Small Ruminant Research 126: 67–74.

          • October 29, 2015 at 8:31 pm

            i knew the researches, but u know, till u cant buy them at a local store, and till the most used ones are the herbicide resistant, the legislations and the considerations must be done with an eye to the actual market, and i don’t think is good to give the keys of earth ecosystems to pure business.

            Research and scientific community seem sometimes totally blind to this topic, at least the majority of scientific informative sites are so. That’s really not a good sign. Also regarding keeping a good sensibility for the future.

            As for the future itself who knows: time will tell, i really hope to see changes too. even better than the one you listed and i will carefuly re read one by one. But the main actual ways of doing gmo and also non-gmo industrial farming should be carefully reexamined far from economical and political influences, to see if we’re far from a future proof safety zone, in terms of human and enviroment contamination.
            And transparency, labeling, of course if u gain a bad reputation, hiding it is the only way to go on… are there sanctions for these behaviours ? No… are there sanctions for the mafia-like system they build to reasonably protect their interests ? that’s not 2000 capitalism abc, more 1900 capitalism in his savage times. Do u think that the same companies that extabilshed this system have some reason to allow the possibility to change it? If not forced by external elements? who are the external elements if not informed consumers too ?

            Yes organic had some fixed problem with the banning of some pesticide tought good. But that’s normal. I am not even defending it, it costs a lot and the idea behind it is not really really sound ( it would be better to call organic, the food produced with the less harmful chemical ingredients disregarding the economical losses )

            But u see why it is bad not distinguishing between what you find on the market and mixing things up… also papers tell that as for pesticide contamination gmo>non-gmo>organic>your safe house food
            for now
            let’s stick to this and push the change where is needed and everywhere as well ( that would be a non economical influenced scientific way of seeing things )

  19. October 29, 2015 at 8:38 pm —

    btw rereading the papers summary the situation is quite scary…silence is even more now… i hope europe care changes that, and the effects of every gmo gets fully tested before approval… but i see bad propaganda everywhere… lets hope

  20. October 29, 2015 at 11:12 pm —

    We just had a new report in SciAm about antidepressant research being doctored for adolescents. Therefore, all must be screened carefully before anyone accepts the “findings.” I find two extremes here 1) organics industry and 2) large biotech firms paying guys like Kevin Folta to spread propaganda. In real science, there are no absolutes. So when you see guys like this making absolute statements about “this is completely safe” you know they aren’t practicing science. They are filling their purses/pockets. I had to laugh when I saw some idiots saying Diet Coke is completely “safe.” Yes, this is how America became obese. Honestly, why not just drink water? Not only are the alternatives safer, they are also free. No need to worry about organics- you can grow your own produce, even in a big city. Anyone trying to dissuade people from these free alternatives has an agenda. Both those sides are equally corrupt. And just because they think they’re “scientists” doesn’t mean they practice good science.

  21. October 29, 2015 at 11:16 pm —

    Just like the fossil fuel industry covered up climate change research and continues to cover up the environmental impact of fracking, these other industries (pharmaceuticals, food industry, tobacco, etc.) have covered up side effects of their products. It’s commonplace…..corporations are synonomous with corruption. We even have regulatory agencies bending over backwards to help them (though there is a bill in Congress that may change all that.) The words corporation and corruptuon even start and end the same way.

  22. October 29, 2015 at 11:16 pm —

    Just like the fossil fuel industry covered up climate change research and continues to cover up the environmental impact of fracking, these other industries (pharmaceuticals, food industry, tobacco, etc.) have covered up side effects of their products. It’s commonplace…..corporations are synonomous with corruption. We even have regulatory agencies bending over backwards to help them (though there is a bill in Congress that may change all that.) The words corporation and corruption even start and end the same way.

  23. October 30, 2015 at 5:28 am —

    well u know
    organic is less than 1% ( of course it is just a similarity ) of the food chain, but it represents a serious threat, even if it fails to properly expose its own pesticide in its ads

    the rest 99 % of all gmo and most of all herbicide resistant with higher levels of pesticides ( papers ) at least equally dangerous one ( again papers ) is perfectly safe because we do have to believe in sicience

    this is not science
    this is just hearing the money flow, catching some
    and ignoring the rest

    • October 30, 2015 at 6:20 am —

      I am hoping for the next generation GMO which is not “Round Up Ready” as a matter of fact Round Up is not required at all. As soon as we get that blight of a pesticide out of our environment, the better. Because the only “safe” pesticide, is NO pesticide.

      • October 30, 2015 at 7:25 am —

        alex

        u have to deal with the present, not with a probable future until it is not real ( and even when it is real u have to deal with a transition time in wich still u have to deal with the past part of the present )

        no pesticide and no industry is an utopia, just as fixing the whole world overpopulation food’s problem with billion times more food, just like perfect safe gmo ( every alien specie has some degree of umpredictable impact on the ecosystem: that’s what tests are for ) it is just propaganda.

        in the meanwhile a whole industry has been allowed to change the world in even worse than before ( and it was a really really difficult task: bravo ).

        i was hoping in some M M answer ( same initials here )
        because i see no scientifity in her behaviour, and also ecology is part of the human science, as well as political sciences , social sciences, and so on…
        every partial representation of the whole situation is very very guilty, and also a bit suspect

        • October 30, 2015 at 8:46 am —

          GMO to “feed the world” is, at best, only a stop gap measure. Eventually (in about 200 years per UN estimates) the Earth will not be able to support the increasing number of humans on it. Colonization of space MUST happen by then. And we’d better be completely off all fossil fuels and truly in the nuclear age well before then.

          • October 30, 2015 at 9:03 am

            large Colonization of space is not possible with this economical system, and really really improbable. and living on other solar planets is a claustrophobic hell, really not better than here, and require even more resources than here to transfer people. So it is not living space problem but a resource and energy one and things have to be fixed here before any attempt can be made.

            Gmo is incapable of solving any food problem, because energy resources are limited ( and should be so ), materials are limited. It can help heal the contamination situation and improve things by some percentage, but it must be done with science and research in mind not economic interest in mind. Now it has worsened all the problems it should fix in the future. Even, and this is really silly the health problem, in what really could be important and has been somewhat yet as a drug production.

            In the future a new paradigma is required to survive.

            Large population life risks cant be allowed.

            Full recycle of materials and energy is required.
            The cannibalistic progress must be replaced by a moderated resource based one, oriented mostly on main topics ( health, research, food and how much consumes we can afford to improve more our life style). Also the population increase must be moderated by the total possibility of survival.

            We basically have yet met and overcome earth limit with our current technology: u cant trust future technology, science involves fixing things with the tech u have now. Gmo included.

            the rest is propaganda, good for some people to keep making money while they make the boat sinks

            the future can’t be a fairy tale but it is a right to conquer for our kids and nephews

          • October 30, 2015 at 9:23 am

            The problem is that it isn’t just the birth rate of developing countries that needs to be slowed down, but modern medical advances are also contributing to the overpopulation problem. But what can you really do about that? Artificially increasing the death rate is not an option- so it is something Nature will take care of.

            About space colonization, I had read that it would take another 200 years beyond 2200 to make space colonies self sufficient and completely independent from Earth. They were talking about colonies orbitting Earth or even high up in the Venusian atmosphere or on Mars. Floating cities above Venus would have a much more friendly climate than the runaway Greenhouse effect that is going on at the surface. Seems like a pipe dream, but one day, when we finally solve how the universe works, we will hopefully be able to sail for the stars and not be constrained by current speed limits. That would be much farther in the future.

          • October 30, 2015 at 9:58 am

            Ok in the not so worst possibility, we will surely dye out in some generations:
            or at least our style of life will dye out for the masses and then also for the richest till the point lately that we ll dye out also as a specie probably, or will be just condemned to be few and live in constant danger to be not ourselves anymore.

            every specie that lacks to adapt goes extinct when it reaches some life treathening limit, adapting requires caring about survival. But since money can make people live better now, but they don’t solve the survival problem, our whole society is so ruled by short term money accumulation that doesnt really care about long term or even short term survival.

            It is not just about improving life and health of the single human being…this is a thing we can afford now… it’s about a community and generational problem we rarely even think about it. the things we leave bad done remains bad done in the future. So if nothing changes we ll go extinct.

            Tech will never do miracles ( time-space modification included, beside some now really irrealistic one way trip for probes or single persons or groups at a so high energy cost, in planet-like big spaceships, therefore even at more resources cost ). I fully believe in tech, but let’s face it, u can’t count on things before they exist.

            It’s not that overpopulation can’t be fixed by hunger or desolation or under-civilization, it’s that apart from being an inhuman way of dealing with the problem, it will also imply social instability and style of life even more compromised. But resources are few anyway and without that a good life cant be preserved.

            Probably an elite ( it wont be us or our always poor nephews ) will survive in some place orbiting around some planet. this is the only compatible choice for our economical system: the survival of a relatively slow progresings ( cause science is made by many people now) society of an elite. But they will still have to deal with so much social instability and risk of terrorism that will have to build fortified cities on earth just to build machines to go in space. If they will make it. And science, will have just merely served the long term purpose of their survival. A little miserable.

            U see. this is really bad sci-fi… elite survival or extinction.
            I guess nothing of these possible plots is good. therefore changes cant be postponed so much. New way of dealing with resources , economy, food, objects and so on must be implemented to avoid bad sci-fi solutions.

            what do you think about it? am i overthinking as i usually do ? i know it’s not my problem, but i am a long term solution kind of person. and i love peace and the earth as much as progress and health.

          • October 30, 2015 at 10:07 am

            I have written sci fi (the-possible-could happen-kind), so I see exactly where you are coming from. I feel that for a species to survive there must be upheaval and revolutions and a re-setting of the clock. Otherwise society becomes so stratified and stagnant that it just withers and dies. You cannot have a small minority of people with most of the wealth, the people will revolt- and it is healthy for humanity for them to do so. There needs to be turnover, new ideas, new people in charge, the rich need to become the poor and the poor become the rich- and thus the cycle continue. Like with an overgrown forest, you sometimes need a big forest fire to clean out the underbrush and start again with new growth. Otherwise they suffocate under their own weight.

          • October 30, 2015 at 10:41 am

            honestly i am a rational pessimistic
            when i see how much influence money can buy, using everything to fortify its privileges ( from religion to yes, science too ) when i see that opposers suffer other unrealistic delusions for the depression and shitty life or just he bad ideas, well, i think we’re just doomed ( political signals go wrong from 30 years or so, and i am not into socialism either ! )

            happy if i am wrong… if love for fixing the things prevails…

            but u see no much care everywhere, even in food chain, what’s the purpose of making more money to live better if your kids wont live for the same money you do today ? probably it require some kind of faith to go on this way…. but i don’t dig blind faith, especially when concrete things have opposite evolutions… what is the purpose of using tech before they are even stabilized in terms of effects and really accepted in terms of utility? is just money or what ? also these signals make me sad….

            by the way, tell me your books, i like a lot sci-fi, altough i dont want to live into one :)

          • October 31, 2015 at 1:51 am

            Oh I agree with you Jack, it will take a long, long time. Let’s consider the fact that we’ve only been to the Moon so far, and that was back in the 60s, and we haven’t even gotten that far since! I think it’ll take a huge motivation on our part, possibly spurred on by some monumental discovery, perhaps by the Kepler satellite or its successor of habitable exoplanets, or perhaps even more? I’m talking about something that we might do a couple of hundred years into the future, so not even in our lifetime. Though I do believe we will land people on Mars in the next few decades or so. There’s a lot yet to solve first, like how to help humans deal with lower gravitational fields and our nutritional needs in these environments and shielding ourselves against toxic radiation (an orbitting colony could generate an artificial g field of course).

            Mau, I dont believe in religion either. I consider myself an agnostic atheist. Religion has its uses in giving people hope, but I’ve also seen the other side of it and how it can divide people, with irrationality on both sides. I’m not sure if I have hope or not for the future, I dont think any human being is wise enough to know how we’ll turn out- but I will say this. Back during the 80s, there was far more despair than there is right now, as we had the infamous “clock” that was counting down how close we were to nuclear annihilation. If it was possible to stop that clock, I think we are capable of doing anything we put our minds (and hearts to) we just need the proper motivation and incentive. The series I am writing is actually called the Origin series, it’s based on a theoretical physics concept about the unification of all fundamental forces inside black holes. I dont want to bore you so I’ll just give a brief synopsis here.

            Basically, in my book I conjecture on a new theory of everything; in my theory each dimension can be analoged to a primary color….. in our universe each spatial dimension would be equivalent to an additive primary color (RGB) with time as the background (Black) with a complementary spacetime which consisted of dimensions that analoged to the subtractive primary colors (CMY) with complementary time as the background (White) as one space expanded the other contracts and vice versa (because the arrow of time flows opposite to each other but forward within each), It’s been peer reviewed and it seems there’s some excitement over this as this would solve the dark matter / dark energy problem by unifying the strong nuclear force and gravity (the strong nuclear force is carried by gluons and color charge and analoging dimensions to primary colors is gravity’s version of color charge) so now we have a strong force-gravity unification and an electroweak unification and we just need to combine those dualities. There are four layers to the omniverse, with universes of different dimensions in each layer (the number of dimensions in each layer bear a pythagorean relationship to the other layers and each universe has a parent superverse from whose parent black hole it was created. If you loop through the entire hierarchy of universes you end up back where you started, so the omniverse is not only cyclical time, but also in space. I guess I’ll leave that for a sequel lol.

            BTW if there are multiple timelines they would be created right after the big bang, by the force of inflation and be emergent diverging timelines along two dimensions of time (think cartesian coordinates) and if the cyclic model is correct and dark flow does reverse the expansion of space, the time lines would converge once again with a Big Bounce as the universe deflated (rinse and repeat.) The antiverse would have opposing cycles (because the arrow of time was opposite compared to ours) and if there was someway to construct some sort of device (a la star gate) to tap into the barrier which separates the two (consisting of light, which does not experience the passage of time) than both time and long distance space travel would become possible through the second temporal dimension (which keeps each timeline intact)…… according to Einstein the past, present and future all coexist and it is we who move through them, so theoretically this should be possible. He also stated that the universe (or omniverse on a larger scale) created us in order to understand itself better, forming the framework for a cosmic collective mind which encompasses not only humans, but animals, plants, alien life, even whole planets and even stars and galaxies, the only difference is the density of the level of consciousness, although planets (for example) are much larger than any single life form, their density of consciousness is much less, with their “memories” (fossil record) spread out over a much larger area, so any one spot (on our scale) is seemingly lifeless. But it’s not. The planet consists of a complicated series of checks and balances and delicate interplay between different parts that can and should be considered alive.

            One of my favorite authors was Isaac Asimov, I must have read over a 100 books he wrote, and I know I borrow heavily from concepts he developed in his Foundation series about how all societies rise, reach a peak and must necessarily fall and be replaced by something else- and he himself developed his ideas from the history of the Roman Empire. So when you see me philosophisizing here, know that I was heavily influenced by those concepts. Asimov also developed a novel concept called “psychohistory”- that human behavior collectively over large time scales could be predicted, and thus history itself could charted out hundreds of years in advance. I dont know if we will ever achieve anything close to the precision he developed in the Foundation series, but quite a few of his other predictions have come true (from way back in the 40s and 50s no less!) so it’s an intriguing possibility.

  24. October 30, 2015 at 9:26 am —

    It was also mentioned that asteroids and minor planets could be mined and colonized over that 200 year period and by the end of that they would become self sufficient. This is also a stop gap, as eventually, we’d have to develop technology to travel to the stars. It’s unavoidable. Maybe any sentient species that is doomed to forever exist on its home planet eventually dies out, just like every other species on that planet. Space might be the eventual and final answer for survival.

    • October 30, 2015 at 4:54 pm —

      Alex, I’m sorry, but when people talk about “colonising” in space, I can’t help laughing, much like you laugh at Diet Coke. I’m not saying it’s impossible, but it will take like at least 100 times more effort than anything currently planned.

      I have made the comparison with the Antarctic program before, because my son was down there over last winter and I followed it all quite carefully.

      Australia has 4 bases with about 20 people each over winter and it takes an 8000 ton icebreaker to do the basic resupply – 4 voyages a year, one to each base. Something like 200 tons of supplies each, including 50 tons of diesel fuel. That’s with 2 big wind generators on site at Mawson. Then there is a regular service with Airbuses as well. I think the annual budget is something in the order of 100 million dollars.

      These are bases not colonies and are nowhere near self sufficient after 100 years of human presence on the continent.

      Antarctica is paradise compared to the Moon , Mars or the Asteroids. Air and water do not need to be shipped in. A mere minus 25 C on a good day.

      The latest booster if funding continues may be able to put 70 tons into deep space. Do you begin to see the shortfall? People seem to have little concept of how much energy it takes to put a few tons into space and how many tons it takes to provide reliable life support for a small base over one year.

      Maybe try a small permanent base on the Moon first before we start talking about self sustaining colonies. Then perhaps we may be able to develop and prove the necessary technology.

      If we devoted resources on the scale we all put into the war in Iraq, we could perhaps achieve something worthwhile in space after all.

      • October 31, 2015 at 1:53 am —

        Oh I agree with you Jack, it will take a long, long time. Let’s consider the fact that we’ve only been to the Moon so far, and that was back in the 60s, and we haven’t even gotten that far since! I think it’ll take a huge motivation on our part, possibly spurred on by some monumental discovery, perhaps by the Kepler satellite or its successor of habitable exoplanets, or perhaps even more? I’m talking about something that we might do a couple of hundred years into the future, so not even in our lifetime. Though I do believe we will land people on Mars in the next few decades or so. There’s a lot yet to solve first, like how to help humans deal with lower gravitational fields and our nutritional needs in these environments and shielding ourselves against toxic radiation (an orbitting colony could generate an artificial g field of course).

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