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March Against Monsanto is wrong. Let’s counter-protest. Here are the details

May 23rd is fast approaching, bringing with it an international day of misinformation with the annual March Against Monsanto. The MAM movement began in 2013 as a grassroots response to the failure of California proposition 37, a ballot initiative that would have required labeling of foods made with genetically engineered ingredients. MAM has since evolved into a full-blown promoter of conspiracy theories ranging from chemtrails to anti-vax, to “big pharma is withholding cancer treatments” varieties. Backed by the organic industry, and with visions of syringe-laden tomatoes and cackling corporate bigwigs dancing menacingly in their heads, hundreds of thousands of concerned protesters gather around the world to march.

Issues surrounding food incite passion. Food traverses all of our lives, across culture, science, politics, land use, nutrition, genetics, health and history. But because food is so important to prosperity, the claims made about it must be carefully scrutinized. March Against Monsanto doesn’t carefully scrutinize claims. The organization’s mission statement is a collection of false claims and conspiratorial leanings, and the group actively encourages extremist dialogue. Instead of saving people from poison, it is poisoning the debate about our food. We’ve allowed MAM to spout out such misinformation for long enough. Unchecked, this denialism threatens the advancement of technologies with the potential to provide real solutions to help feed an ever-growing population while preserving our resources.

Issues surrounding food can be divisive, but can also bring people together. What do a scientist and genetic engineer, a vegan animal-rights activist, and a science-popularizer mom have in common? Among other things, we all oppose the misinformation MAM promotes. This is why Karl Haro von Mogel, David Sutherland and I joined forces to start #MAMyths: March Against Myths About Modification.

3 founders

David proved that he will literally give you the shirt (or jacket) off his back. It was a chilly spring day in Chicago and I was cold! And Karl is tough, he withstands myths and windy city temps. (Left to right, David, Kavin, Karl)

Here is how you can join our first annual event:

Who: Everyone who wants to help promote evidence-based information about food, genetics, biotechnology, and science.

What: March Against Myths About Modification!

When: Saturday May 23rd, 2015

Where:

Why: Here and here are a couple extensive posts on why we march.

How you can help:

  • If you know any media contacts or reporters, please inform them about #MAMyths
  • Share this post
  • Join one of the local events on the list above, make your voice heard on social media on May 23rd and every day
  • Tweet and post on Facebook with hashtag #MAMyths about why March Against Monsanto promotes misinformation
  • Talk to your family and friends about the benefits of biotechnology
  • Like our Facebook page
  • If you’re a scientist, farmer, or an expert in this area and you want to help our cause, please email Sara at [email protected]

 

Remember, we will certainly be the underdogs at our first annual local marches, but we’re excited and we’re not intimidated. Please feel free to contact us with any additional questions. See MAMyths.org for details

 

 

 

Kavin Senapathy

Kavin Senapathy

Kavin Senapathy is a mom of two, co-Executive Director of March Against Myths, public speaker, Forbes contributor and author in Madison, WI. She is also co-author of "The Fear Babe: Shattering Vani Hari's Glass House". Follow her on Facebook and twitter @ksenapathy

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24 Comments

  1. May 4, 2015 at 11:30 am —

    Onward skeptical soldiers, marching as to war! You’re fighting the good fight for reason. I’ll be marching with you in spirit, even though I’m not quite up to marching yet after my 2013 strokes and coma. (Rehab walks are more my thing for now.)

    March on!

  2. May 4, 2015 at 11:23 pm —

    Kavin Senapathy,

    I’m glad someone is doing this. People need to stand against pseudoscience in all its forms. Most, if not all of the fears of genetically engineered foods, are either based on outright nonsense, or way overblown.

    Its not like climate change, where practically all the scientists who say we have nothing to fear, are working for big oil, and thus have a conflict of interests, and are simultaneously promoting views way outside of the scientific consensus.

  3. May 5, 2015 at 5:57 pm —

    Thank you, and givem’ hell Skepchick and friends! As a modern American Farmer, from a long line of Modern Farmers, I’ve advocated this approach for some time now, to no avail. Fire with Fire is how the battle will be won, not by being nice and pursuing “education”. They are Sophists and as Socrates said of their ways, “When the debate is lost, slander becomes the tool of the loser.” Time to Call Them Out loudly in public for what they truly are.

  4. May 5, 2015 at 11:24 pm —

    Yeah, the attacks against GMO, with which Monsanto is strongly associated with, is like blaming the people that make drills for boat sinkings, because one group of idiots is going around drilling holes in things, while scuba diving. Monsanto does have some questionable practices – but not one single bloody thing being attacked, with their name attached to it, is about their business practices, its about *everything but those*.

    • May 6, 2015 at 12:55 pm —

      Indeed. GMOs could honestly be used to cure a number of diseases (with the patients’ informed consent, of course).

      My favorite moment was a few months back when reading in ICTMN about genetically engineered tobacco. Proteins are being made to treat infectious diseases. These proteins are being made by genetically-engineered tobacco from an Israeli company.

      I feel…a disturbance in the Force. As if a million naïfs on Facebook cried out in terror, and then…were silenced. As if…their heads all exploded.

      • May 7, 2015 at 2:58 pm —

        Huh.. I suppose that is sort of like hemp.. Only.. Well, turns out that “hemp” in the smokable form isn’t quite as bad as tobacco either. lol Yeah, somehow I can’t see tobacco as being the “only” thing they could have picked to make those proteins. A convenient one, for certain interests, perhaps, but the only one?

        Still, yep. Its like the GMO potato – doesn’t bruise when bumped, and has had a nasty cancer promoting gene removed, but its just **unnatural** and stuff… :p

    • May 6, 2015 at 2:17 pm —

      “Monsanto does have some questionable practices…”

      Some? All of their business practices are questionable. Or immoral, if you’d rather.

      I’m not a fan of the knee-jerk anti-GMO crowd, proud of the fact that they don’t have “wheat belly” (whatever that is when its at home) but I won’t be marching in support of Monsanto any time soon.

      I’ll just another simile to explain it: It’s like 2 people are fighting. One of them is dumb and causes damage through their ignorance and the other is a massive bully who causes damage through, well, bullying. I’m not cheering for either side, thanks. I’ll sit this march (against or for) out.

      • May 6, 2015 at 2:42 pm —

        You do realize that the counter-protest is to counter the aggressively wrong info from the anti-GMO crowd and not a march is support of Monsanto right?

        You can sit it out if you want but don’t mischaracterize the counter-march as pro-Monsanto please, it looks rather knee-jerk.

        • May 7, 2015 at 2:57 pm —

          Indeed. There’s a joke about Indians and conspiracy theorists, the basic gist is that the evil conspiracy wouldn’t commit genocide with contrails when they could just tell you you need an appendectomy. Okay, I can’t remember the exact joke right now, but the point is that the myths about Monsanto if anything discredit Monsanto’s critics.

          • June 6, 2015 at 10:00 am

            You only have to see the disastrous effects Monsanto’s pesticides have had on Hawaii’s flora and fauna to know why it’s banned on Maui, and now in San Diego.

  5. May 6, 2015 at 10:20 pm —

    If you are marching against a march against “x”, it’s not a “knee-jerk” reaction to suppose that you’re therefore marching for “x”, is it?
    I have reservations about Monsanto for scientific reasons:
    http://www.academia.edu/3405345/Histopathological_Changes_in_Some_Organs_of_Male_Rats_Fed_on_Genetically_Modified_Corn_Ajeeb_YG_

    and for ethical reasons – seeking patents for existing DNA tags in pigs, for example.
    I agree with Sam Barge on this one.

    • May 7, 2015 at 3:26 pm —

      Hmm. I am always a bit iffy on studies now. The problem is several fold-

      1. They often get published before they were reproducible.
      2. They can, in some cases, reference past studies which have been shown to be questionable, because those studies implied a reason to do the study.
      3. They are often conducted by people who are looking for a particular result (especially if its someone in the GMO is bad, or similar category).
      4. Negative studies ***do not get published***, at least not in any sense that he public is aware of them, or even many of the people who are not closely tied to the institutions that did the negative studies can.
      5. Access to data from studies in general, never mind the negative ones, are buries either within obscure sources, which are hard to find them in, or behind paywalls, since the people who do publish them seem far more concerned with the money they make off of the publications, than dissemination of necessary scientific knowledge, which would allow us to assess the accuracy of the studies.

      In short – such a study may be right. Or, it might, in the long run, turn out to be like a lot of other studies – a preliminary result, which was intentionally, or unintentionally, skewed in favor of an anti-GMO outcome. We just don’t know, because their may be a dozen other studies out there, which we have no access to, which say the opposite, and where *not* payed for by either side in the argument. This has happened, previously **with** GMO, and certain studies, of a very similar nature to the one you link to. There are multiple studies refuting it. Most people are either not aware of them, or discount them, or claim they are part of some conspiracy to discredit the original study (never mind that a few of the articles on the subject discredit those studies with its own methods, data, collection practices, and or cherry picked analysis).

      So.. like I said.. I no longer *ever* take studies seriously, unless they are actually replicated, by people not invested in the result. To do otherwise, is to fail to understand both the flaws in the system of scientific publishing, the ease by which those with vested interests in a result can skew public opinion, and the lack of real safeguards, other than waiting decades for the truth to finally win out, by which to police such things, if someone “did” do an invalid study, then get the, “interesting, and therefor, publication wise, profitable results into the next issue.” Studies which say, “We didn’t find anything.”, are not the sort of things people *want* to read. Professional science mags, and sadly, this means also many of the supposed “go to” sources for work in the field, are more tabloid – “Bat baby” will sell, “Not actually a bat baby”, doesn’t. Just as, “GMO X causes changes in rats”, does, while, “GMO x didn’t seem to do anything to the rats.”, doesn’t.

      • May 7, 2015 at 10:37 pm —

        So, you’re on a scepticism site but “no longer *ever* take studies seriously”? Really?

        Or are you simply saying (to paraphrase):
        “I don’t like that scientific research because it doesn’t agree with my beliefs”?

        It’s clear that on both sides of every issue, there are people that will not change their stance regardless of evidence, and your reply is a good example of the language that is usually employed to do so. Three paragraphs on why you rely on gut instinct, and choose to discredit a study rather than read it.

        • May 8, 2015 at 8:01 am —

          So, you’re on a scepticism site but “no longer *ever* take studies seriously”? Really?

          Yes, followed up by…

          unless they are actually replicated, by people not invested in the result.

          Which you conveniently ignored.

          You are right that there are people that will not change their stance regardless of evidence, but I don’t think it is who you are implying it is in this situation.

          • May 8, 2015 at 9:58 am

            Even as I posted I thought, “I wonder what the odds are that I will get back, ‘What? You don’t trust any of them?”, reply. Mind you, this may even be, to some extent, a true statement. I wouldn’t trust Cato, or some of the other corporate shills if they claimed the sky was blue. They would always have some sort of agenda for telling part of the truth. By the same token, I am…. shall we say, suspicious of studies done “by” the people who are selling health food, altie-meds, or whose biggest fans tend to be TV shows, and/or magazines that cater to the latest fad cure/diet/trend. There is a lot of uncertainty in much of what is being studied in this area, and every positive result seems to get amplified out of proportion to the facts, when, in reality, further study is required to figure out just what *is* happening, why, what effect it really has, and whether or not it even has any long term effects. What we get instead is, “We think we found something! Be scared!!!” Err.. right… How about some specifics? You don’t have any? Hmm…

    • May 8, 2015 at 3:41 am —

      The enemy of my enemy is my enemy’s enemy, no more, no less. Maxim 29.

  6. May 11, 2015 at 5:45 pm —

    @ kagehi:
    As I expected, the same sort of casuistry used by climate deniers. Vaguely associating some evidence that you find uncomfortable with fads & “altie-meds” without outright accusation. Nicely done.
    The study I linked to not only supports, but finds in more detail the mechanisms behind, the Austrian study in 2008 that showed infertility in rats caused by eating Monsanto’s GM modified maize. I note that you’ve already covered your lack of contradictory studies. They apparently don’t get news because they’re not exciting – although I would have thought a company with a PR department as big as Monstanto’s might have made news of something like that. So, I’ve given the specifics. I take it that you have none.

    • May 11, 2015 at 6:27 pm —

      The study you linked to talked about rat’s livers. What in the name of Occam does that have to do with infertility?

      Oh wait, there it is. Mentioned in the introduction then never brought up again, clearly supporting the other study. Do you even science?

      Please try harder.

    • May 12, 2015 at 12:43 pm —

      How about this, twit:

      http://www.gmo-compass.org/eng/news/499.austria_withdraws_study_long_term_consequences_gm_maize.html

      Gosh… you mean the people that did the original study actually recanted it, on the basis that it didn’t actually say what was original claimed!!! Wow!

      Negative studies do get published. The problem is, they are not “published” in a way that the general public can compare them to the positive ones. I find your comparison of me to a climate denier ironic – its precisely the decision to cherry pick only those studies that support their positions, and ignore the existence of ones that do not, or even intentionally misrepresent the ones that don’t, which defines a climate denier. Well, that, and what you did here, which is conflate details of completely unconnected studies, on entirely different studies, as the same thing. And, worse, as I already said, since they are **not** even on the same subject, and haven’t been replicated, at all, they are “preliminary” – as in, “not yet at the threshold where we can claim they where done properly, actually showed the results claimed, or indicate anything other than experimental bias or bad data collection/analysis.”

      Its almost as absurd to present this as confirmation of the study, which you apparently had no clue was already thrown out, as the jokers that go around claiming they studied themselves, entirely subjectively, for six months, and concluded that fad diet/whatsit X us good for problem Y (which is known to show temporary remissions, and/or might even be a temporary, or misdiagnosed condition), among other absurdities that “large scale studies” are intended, but don’t always manage, to filter out.)

      • May 14, 2015 at 2:51 am —

        There’s no need to call me a twit. I’m aware of the withdrawal of that study. When I mentioned it, I should have written …”the Austrian study in 2008 that *suggested* infertility in rats”… My apologies, but that probably put things in context better in the conversation.

        IOW, I guess I was trying to say that the 2008 Austrian study suggested a possibility that there was an issue, and further studies were required. Sadly, the media jumped on it at the time. I think we can agree that today’s media generally does a very poor job of reporting scientific issues. That said, the study I linked to, I believe, is a good example of that further study, and not a “preliminary result…skewed in favour of an anti-GMO outcome”. YMMV.

        @mrmisconception: From my link:

        “3. Results and Discussion

        Organs such as liver, kidney, testes, spleen and small intestine were examined by histological approach and the photomicrographs of hematoxalin and eosinstained, specimens were illustrated in Figures (1- 10).”

        You may note that testes are included in the study, and the results laid out in section 3.3 cover that part of the study, whilst fig. 5 shows the testes images from their microscope. Also, testes are mentioned in the conclusion. I’ll make an assumption that you either
        a) Know what “testes” means and their role in fertility, or
        b) have access to a dictionary that can help.
        In any case, I’m fairly sure that the word “science” is not a verb.

        • May 15, 2015 at 10:30 pm —

          The study you linked to talked of changes in organs not infertility, the fact that one of those organs was the testes is tangential at best since infertility is not a foregone conclusion.

          Plus the other study, you know the one that you already knew was retracted, proves nothing by virtue of having been retracted.

          Are you in the habit of using discredited studies to make your point or is this a special case?

          Perhaps while you have your dictionary out you could look up the word spurious.

  7. May 15, 2015 at 9:25 pm —

    MAM might be dying out. I’m just not seeing the twitter traffic that there was over this like there was last year and the year before. I could be wrong but i’m not seeing that much this time around.

  8. June 6, 2015 at 9:56 am —

    Monsanto has been discredited on every level. Nothing is wrong with GMOs, the science is ironclad, however a lot is wrong with Monsanto and their pesticide usage. Glyphosate and now Enlist Duo ring a bell? The fact is a monopoly in any business is prone to corruption and that is what Monsanto is fast becoming- especially with their buyout of Synerga. Monsanto also has an extremely poor environmental record, dumping PCBs, and trying to strongarm scientists at the USDA and being regulated by people who formerly worked for them is no formula for safety, no wonder they are allowed to regulate themselves. This is why EU has divested themselves of Monsanto and why Herr Bush had to try and threaten countries like France to open themselves up to this corporate cancer- speaking of which, the World Health Organization used a total of 30 studies to pronounce glyphosate a carcinogen, but Monsanto has already moved on to something even more dangerous- Enlist Duo. Does Agent Orange ring a bell? Fortunately, Monsanto cant hide behind its “science” anymore- Fraley himself admitted they were wrong about glyphosate and that they neglected to take into account weed evolution, must like the idiots who overuse antibiotics and feed them to animals. A Monsanto insider told me awhile back that their old leadership was far more corrupt than the new people there, but it’s a wait and see attitude for now.

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