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John Roulac: Anti GMO leader, Big Organic businessman, master manipulator

John Roulac exudes a weather-beaten, albeit well-polished, flower child image. The founder, CEO and face of Nutiva, named one of Inc. Magazine’s fastest-growing food companies in America for five consecutive years, reportedly forgoes designer watches and high-end shoes, instead opting for a more modest lifestyle of hiking, traveling, and soaking in natural hot springs. Yet he heads up the largest organic superfoods company in the world, with growth supposedly projected at $1 billion by 2025.

Roulac seems composed of equal parts tree-hugger, nutrition buff, and business mogul, capable of charming money out of pockets, and coaxing Nutiva’s pricey organic coconut oil into smoothies, with a pinch of Nutiva’s organic chia seeds on top.

And it’s easy to see why. A corporation whose revenue hit just under $70 million in 2013 and boasted a massive and steady 482% three-year growth, Nutiva knows how to tap into its demographic with buzz words like “revolutionize”, “sustainability”, “community”, “superfoods” and phrases like “we can change the world” and “food doesn’t have to be a choice between the lesser of evils” in its “Mini-festo.”

These very marketable phrases reflect the values of none other than Roulac himself, known as “The Rou” among biotechnology proponents. A self-styled advocate for healthy people and ecosystems, his company goes as far as calling itself “champions of the greater good.” But do these lofty words translate to real-life action? Is there another side to Roulac, and Nutiva, that the public is not yet aware of?

GMO Inside

John Roulac appears to walk the philanthropic talk as co-chair and founder of another organization called GMO Inside. Brandishing its powerful slogan, “Getting GMOs and toxins out of our food,” GMO Inside purports to help Americans “know which foods have GMO inside,” presumably to enable them to fear avoid genetically engineered products. GMO Inside also lobbies aggressively for mandatory GMO labeling initiatives throughout the U.S., and mobilizes its throng of social media followers to intimidate companies from Starbucks to General Mills to drop products containing genetically engineered ingredients, or even to stop using products like milk, which isn’t itself genetically modified but comes from cows fed GM crops. Roulac himself helps fund GMO Inside’s initiatives. And remember, GMO Inside was founded by its co-chair John Roulac himself, hand in hand with members of its “steering committee” including Nutiva, Food Babe, and other organic and natural food proponents and companies who charge their customers a premium for nothing more than a marketing-manufactured good feeling.

Social media maven, or can’t stand the heat?

While the savvy business man loathes genetic engineering technology, he embraces the lightning-fast communication the internet enables. The Rou himself, CEO and founder of a company projected to grow to a mind-boggling billion dollar behemoth by 2025 (incidentally also the year the earth’s populated is slated to grow to 9 billion mouths to feed) isn’t above hitting the social media trenches.

“Today, every corporation is translucent,” John Roulac told Smart Business Magazine. “How you handle a Twitter exchange with a dissatisfied customer or what people say about your company on Glassdoor matters. Companies need to be aware of what people are saying and respond appropriately.”

Apparently, the Rou thinks spreading unfounded accusations and bad science straight from a company’s founder and CEO is “appropriate.” Just last week, he stepped into the ring with me and other science advocates on GMO Inside’s Facebook page in a conversation about organic milk, and the ongoing, unsuccessful campaign pressuring Starbucks to switch to organic milk. GMO Inside deleted the thread when Roulac could no longer handle the heat, but fortunately the internet is forever. See the majority of the now-deleted thread here; it reveals a telling story. Some highlights are below:

Facebook screen shotOpinions matter when an issue is subjective, but this isn’t such an instance. Roulac’s claim that Roundup is “now in mothers’ breast milk” is based in bad science, if we can even call it science. Presumably, he is referring to this “pilot study” from Sustainable Pulse and Moms Across America. The data from a paltry ten self-collected breastmilk samples, from which they concluded that three mothers had “detectable levels of glyphosate in their breast milk,” is misleading. As Academics Review explains, “[H]igh in this case means measurable above the lower limit of detection rather than high meaning a cause for alarm.  The highest of these 3 samples, if real, contained glyphosate at levels that represent a worst-case infant exposure (33 ug/kg/day) more than 50-fold below the ADI (Acceptable Daily Intake) set by US EPA regulatory toxicologists (1750 ug/kg).  The ADI is set to provide a wide margin of safety of exposure.”

After gish galloping a little more, Roulac pulled the shill card at the end of the comment above, so I posed the following question, among others. (A “gish gallop” is a debate technique in which a large number of small arguments are made with the intention to confuse and distract from the main argument):

Facebook screen cap

After a few other participants made interesting and relevant points (again, the full thread is archived here), John Roulac wrote a long, and unbelievably inflammatory comment (the person in pink is one of the other commenters in the thread):

Facebook screen capFacebook screen capFacebook screen cap

First in his massive gish gallop, Roulac brings up one of my regular co-authors and mentor, Dr. Henry Miller. As I’ve written, I would certainly balk at Dr. Miller’s motives if he truly were a tobacco industry ally, but I know better. Dr. Henry Miller, the Robert Wesson Fellow in Scientific Philosophy and Public Policy at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, has already responded to these accusations. “As a physician, I detest cigarettes and the carnage wrought by smoking,” he wrote in 2012. “In fact, I have written about the urgent need for government policies to reduce the risk from cigarettes.” Those who have claimed that Miller is a tobacco industry ally haven’t produced evidence. Still, Roulac’s claim is beside the point.

Next, he asks whether I “even science climate” followed by spouting misinformation about organic agriculture being better for the climate. He condemns various modern agricultural practices, trying to blame anything and everything but organic farming for global warming. The truth is, genetic engineering enables practices like low and no-till farming, which helps fight climate change by reducing fertilizer use, better carbon sequestration, and reduced fuel-consumption among others. It also reduces runoff of agricultural chemicals into our waterways.

But the pièce de résistance of Roulac’s lengthy comment is his accusation that science advocates like me are “science shilling” for a “toxic system,” with a you’re-depriving-your-children-of-oxygen cherry on top. The Rou himself, an organic superfood mogul who presumably shells out from his own pocket to fund GMO Inside to demonize non-organic food calling little old me a “science shill”? Color me flabbergasted. (Admittedly, we can’t be sure about funding because Roulac failed to answer questions about finances, and GMO Inside’s financial statements aren’t readily-available).

Screen cap Facebook

Taking a moment to pay homage to this commenter. He really did take Roulac’s claims one-by-one, as you can see in the archived thread.

Next, the Rou literally copies and pastes text from the abstract of a study from Charles Benbrook et al., known for his pro-organic bias:

Screen shot Facebook

While we know that organic milk is really no healthier than conventionally-produced milk though it comes at a hefty price difference, I assumed for the sake of argument that organic is healthier in the comment pictured below. After all, the original discussion thread happened on GMO Inside’s post imploring followers to ask Starbucks to serve only organic milk. Here is the million dollar question:

Screen cap facebook

If Roulac truly cared about nutrition and health as he asserted in his previous comment, Starbucks wouldn’t be the company to hound. He and his fellow activists should go after the entire dairy industry, and after grocery chains. I wish he’d answered the question, but instead of answering or letting John Roulac respond, GMO Inside deleted the entire thread, and banned all of the participants from commenting on their page. So much for transparency. For now, I’ll presume that my assumption was correct, that GMO Inside, Roulac, Food Babe, and the like target Starbucks because of the attention to be gained.

Benevolent appearances

It takes barely a scratch below the surface to realize that Roulac and Nutiva demonize corporations in the name of health and environmentalism to fuel their own colossal growth in the name of, well, health and environmentalism. But this earthy altruism is a subterfuge. Its circular trajectory is based in hypocrisy and hype, not fact. Just last week, the Rou himself shared Nutiva’s “Real Food Manifesto,” on his Facebook page. Number three on that manifesto is “GMOs begone, label our food because we have a right to know.”

But this “right to know” trope is a ploy, originating from organic industry leaders who stand to gain handsomely by demonizing foods genetically engineered using molecular techniques. Through Nutiva, Roulac and organic and natural food companies like Ben & Jerry’s and Whole Foods (which is a major carrier of Nutiva products) wave this flag in the name of “rights.” The proclamation begins on high from Big Organic, and trickles down to frightened anti-GMO activists demanding the right to know what’s in their food. With strategically-planted visions of syringe-laden produce dancing menacingly in their heads consumers wonder, “why not just label it?”

But the labeling call is mired in ideology and like other biotechnology opponents, the real motivation behind the “right to know” rallying cry is to ultimately eliminate GE foods, not just to label them to enable consumer choice. After all, when armed with fear disguised as information, those with the most purchasing power (read: privilege) will avoid foods with the labels that GMO Inside advocates. And Nutiva puts its money where its mouth is, making hefty donations to push GMO labeling propositions like Prop 37, as well as producing anti-GMO videos.

When asked about Nutiva’s end goal in a 2013 SFGate feature, John Roulac answered, “To see Monsanto bankrupt. We would like to create an organic, non-GMO world, even if customers go elsewhere to buy it. If they want to buy it from us, that’s great, too. But we have plenty of business. The important thing is to change the supply chain and make it more organic and more healthful.” How nice of you, dear Rou! You really care about the earth and our health. Not only do you want to eliminate genetic engineering technology to protect us, you don’t even mind if customers buy organics from other companies.

It truly seems heartwarming and altruistic, but it’s not. The hefty weight of scientific evidence shows that an organic, GE-free world cannot nourish its growing population nor preserve the environment. Is it heartwarming to fear monger and strive to eliminate beneficial technologies in the name of profit, at the expense of human health, hunger, and the Earth’s resources? A 2014 PLOS One study showed that genetic engineering has increased crop yields by 22 percent, reduced pesticide use by 37 percent, and increased farmer profits by 68 percent. And this isn’t just number-dressing, but the result of the gold standard of study types, the meta-analysis. Meta-analyses combine results from multiple studies to glean patterns and meaningful information. This one aggregated data from no less than 147 original studies. In addition, we know that usage of several herbicides has dropped since the adoption of modern agricultural methods, as this article from the Credible Hulk shows. Further, unless we believe in conspiracy theories, we know that GE varieties and the agricultural chemicals that Roulac and Nutiva demonize are safe and beneficial for both humans and the earth when used properly.

Every single scientific oversight body in the entire world agrees, and to deny that is no better than paranoia. We also know that as a set of tools in a larger agricultural toolbox, genetic engineering can mitigate problems of water shortages during drought, micronutrient deficiencies that have already claimed over 1.4 million life years, food wastage, allergenicity, and more.

But anti-biotech bigwigs couldn’t possibly openly agree with overwhelming scientific evidence, because it would hurt their bottom line. Instead, they fear monger and promote conspiracy theories in the name of health and the environment, call science advocates shills, and accuse us of causing death and destruction.

Though John Roulac seemingly could not hold his own this time around, I’ll extend the same courtesy I offer all biotech and mainstream science opponents: Please engage with me and other genetic engineering advocates. We’re all happy to dialogue, in public, and in any forum of your choosing.

 

Featured image via Nutiva

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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13 Comments

  1. July 15, 2015 at 10:16 am —

    The problem with extremists is that they win from controversy and debate. Particularly when they’re wrong and good at rhetoric.

    They aren’t looking to win an honest debate, or even sway a majority of people. They’re looking to make themselves known to those who might buy into their brand of extremism.

    Not that I think taking the debate to them is wrong. It certainly helps to get facts out into the believersphere. But it’s clear he wasn’t arguing with you to make a point here. He was talking to those who are already inclined to agree with him.

  2. July 15, 2015 at 12:04 pm —

    Doesn’t milk also contain more saturated fat and calories than seafood? Also, most people can’t have milk without adding lactase or fermenting it.

    Of course, the tl;dr of the organic movement is “Corporations are poisoning the planet and trying to screw you out of money. That will be $50.”

  3. July 15, 2015 at 8:08 pm —

    Awesome post and a nice compliment to the piece in Slate today. Its not like I was all nice with these hucksters before but I really just hate them now. They are disgusting they ignore science and economics (well I guess here this asshole is making bank) and think they are making the world a better place when no they are making the world worse. The GMO Inside hurt they are so stupid and misinformed.

    I trust BP at this point to be better with the environment then I do people like him.

  4. July 15, 2015 at 9:23 pm —

    Thank you. I am so tired of his tactics, the attacks on DairyPure, then the Simplot potato and now they are off to Land of Lakes are those of a bully and someone trying to intimidate companies to do their bidding. Some are starting to push back I applaud them.

    They scream about Greed from the companies like Monsanto and yet it is GREED that drives their lies and hoaxes.

    BTW, I cut my teeth on debunking the oil spill and BP is no more a devil than Monsanto. (side rant—When a company tries to do the right thing when there is an accident and they get scr**** for doing it. One understands the stand of companies like Exxon-Mobil -some of the Valdez claims were still in court in 2010).

    The attacks on businesses end up hurting many more than it does the company.

    • October 17, 2015 at 4:10 am —

      Funny that you say that. Both BP and Monsanto are bad, VERY bad. But so is the organics industry. Fracking wastewater injections have led to a 500 fold increase in earthquakes (which is why fracking is now illegal in NYS) and methane leaks make nat gas worse for the environment than coal. The solution is nuclear of course.

      About Monsanto, their long history of chemical warfare agents like agent orange, ddt and dioxins which have affected the planet to this day says plenty about them. Bayer and Dow go in the same camp. I support GMO but mostly the new ones that do NOT use glyphosate and 2-4,D, especially since the WHO meta-analysis of over 30 studies they did shows an increased risk of nonhodgkin’s lymphoma. YES GMO’s are a great innovation but only when they come from companies with a much less corrupt background.

      As for Henry Miller, read about his support for DDT before you make up his mind about him. He’s a conservative nut.

    • October 17, 2015 at 4:48 am —

      I saw something you posted about fracking elsewhere, so I’m going to post this here for you

      http://www.desmogblog.com/2014/02/14/new-study-shows-total-north-american-methane-leaks-far-worse-epa-estimatesJust how bad is natural gas for the climate?A lot worse than previously thought, new research on methane leaks concludes.Far more natural gas is leaking into the atmosphere nationwide than the Environmental Protection Agency currently estimates, researchers concluded after reviewing more than 200 different studies of natural gas leaks across North America.The ground-breaking study, published today in the prestigious journal Science, reports that the Environmental Protection Agency has understated how much methane leaks into the atmosphere nationwide by between 25 and 75 percent — meaning that the fuel is far more dangerous for the climate than the Obama administration asserts.The study, titled “Methane Leakage from North American Natural Gas Systems,” was conducted by a team of 16 researchers from institutions including Stanford University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and is making headlines because it finally and definitively shows that natural gas production and development can make natural gas worse than other fossil fuels for the climate.Just how bad is natural gas for the climate?A lot worse than previously thought, new research on methane leaks concludes.Far more natural gas is leaking into the atmosphere nationwide than the Environmental Protection Agency currently estimates, researchers concluded after reviewing more than 200 different studies of natural gas leaks across North America.The ground-breaking study, published today in the prestigious journal Science, reports that the Environmental Protection Agency has understated how much methane leaks into the atmosphere nationwide by between 25 and 75 percent — meaning that the fuel is far more dangerous for the climate than the Obama administration asserts.The study, titled “Methane Leakage from North American Natural Gas Systems,” was conducted by a team of 16 researchers from institutions including Stanford University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and is making headlines because it finally and definitively shows that natural gas production and development can make natural gas worse than other fossil fuels for the climate.The research, which was reported in The Washington Post, Bloomberg and The New York Times, was funded by a foundation created by the late George P. Mitchell, the wildcatter who first successfully drilled shale gas, so it would be hard to dismiss it as the work of environmentalists hell-bent on discrediting the oil and gas industry.The debate over the natural gas industry’s climate change effects has raged for several years, ever since researchers from Cornell University stunned policy-makers and environmentalists by warning that if enough methane seeps out between the gas well and the burner, relying on natural gas could be even more dangerous for the climate than burning coal.Natural gas is mostly comprised of methane, an extraordinarily powerful greenhouse gas, which traps heat 86 times more effectively than carbon dioxide during the two decades after it enters the atmosphere, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, so even small leaks can have major climate impacts.The team of researchers echoed many of the findings of the Cornell researchers and described how the federal government’s official estimate proved far too low.“Atmospheric tests covering the entire country indicate emissions around 50 percent more than EPAestimates,” said Adam Brandt, the lead author of the new report and an assistant professor of energy resources engineering at Stanford University. “And that’s a moderate estimate.”The new paper drew some praise from Dr. Robert Howarth, one of the Cornell scientists.“This study is one of many that confirms that EPA has been underestimating the extent of methane leakage from the natural gas industry, and substantially so,” Dr. Howarth wrote, adding that the estimates for methane leaks in his 2011 paper and the new report are “in excellent agreement.”In November, research led by Harvard University found that the leaks from the natural gas industry have been especially under-estimated. That study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, reported that methane emissions from fossil fuel extraction and oil refineries in some regions are nearly five times higher than previous estimates, and was one of the 200 included in Thursday’s Science study.EPA Estimes Far Off-TargetSo how did the EPA miss the mark by such a high margin?The EPA’s estimate depends in large part on calculations — take the amount of methane released by an average cow, and multiply it by the number of cattle nationwide. Make a similar guess for how much methane leaks from an average gas well. But this leaves out a broad variety of sources — leaking abandoned natural gas wells, broken valves and the like.Their numbers never jibed with findings from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the U.S. Department of Energy, which approached the problem by taking measurements of methane and other gas levels from research flights and the tops of telecommunications towers.But while these types of measurements show how much methane is in the atmosphere, they don’t explain where that methane came from. So it was still difficult to figure out how much of that methane originated from the oil and gas industry.

    • October 17, 2015 at 4:48 am —

      cont’d

      At times, EPA researchers went to oil and gas drilling sites to take measurements. But they relied on driller’s voluntary participation. For instance, one EPA study requested cooperation from 30 gas companies so they could measure emissions, but only six companies allowed the EPA on site.“It’s impossible to take direct measurements of emissions from sources without site access,” said Garvin Heath, a senior scientist with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and a co-author of the new analysis in a press release. “Self-selection bias may be contributing to why inventories suggest emission levels that are systematically lower than what we sense in the atmosphere.” (DeSmog has previously reported on the problem of industry-selected well sites in similar research funded by the Environmental Defense Fund.)Worse than Coal?There was, however, one important point that the news coverage so far missed and that deserves attention — a crucial point that could undermine entirely the notion that natural gas can serve as a“bridge fuel” to help the nation transition away from other, dirtier fossil fuels.In their press release, the team of researchers compared the climate effects of different fuels, like diesel and coal, against those of natural gas.They found that powering trucks or busses with natural gas made things worse.“Switching from diesel to natural gas, that’s not a good policy from a climate perspective” explained the study’s lead author, Adam R. Brandt, an assistant professor in the Department of Energy Resources at Stanford, calling into question a policy backed by President Obama in his recent State of the Union address.The researchers also described the effects of switching from coal to natural gas for electricity — concluding that coal is worse for the climate in some cases. “Even though the gas system is almost certainly leakier than previously thought, generating electricity by burning gas rather than coal still reduces the total greenhouse effect over 100 years, the new analysis shows,” the team wrote in a press release.But they failed to address the climate impacts of natural gas over a shorter period — the decades when the effects of methane are at their most potent.“What is strange about this paper is how they interpret methane emissions: they only look at electricity, and they only consider the global warming potential of methane at the 100-year time frame,” said Dr. Howarth. Howarth’s 2011 Cornell study reviewed all uses of gas, noting that electricity is only roughly 30% of use in the US, and describing both a 20- and a 100-year time frame.The choice of time-frame is vital because methane does not last as long in the atmosphere as carbon dioxide, so impact shifts over time. “The new Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report from last fall – their first update on the global situation since 2007 – clearly states that looking only at the 100 year time frame is arbitrary, and one should also consider shorter time frames, including a 10-year time frame,” Dr. Howarth pointed out.Another paper,published in Science in 2012, explains why it’s so important to look at the shorter time frames.Unless methane is controlled, the planet will warm by 1.5 to 2 degrees Celsius over the next 17 to 35 years, and that’s even if carbon dioxide emissions are controlled. That kind of a temperature rise could potentially shift the climate of our planet into runaway feedback of further global warming.“[B]y only looking at the 100 year time frame and only looking at electricity production, this new paper is biasing the analysis of greenhouse gas emissions between natural gas and coal in favor of natural gas being low,” said Dr. Howarth, “and by a huge amount, three to four to perhaps five fold.”Dr. Howarth’s colleague, Prof. Anthony Ingraffea, raised a similar complaint.“Once again, there is a stubborn use of the 100-year impact of methane on global warming, a factor about 30 times that of CO2,” Dr. Ingraffea told Climate Central, adding that there is no scientific justification to use the 100-year time window.“That is a policy decision, perhaps based on faulty understanding of the climate change situation in which we find ourselves, perhaps based on wishful thinking,” he said.For its part, the oil and gas industry seems very aware of the policy implications of this major new research and is already pushing back against any increased oversight of its operations.“Given that producers are voluntarily reducing methane emissions,” Carlton Carroll, a spokesman for the American Petroleum Institute, told The New York Times in an interview about the new study, “additional regulations are not necessary.”https://www.sciencemag.org/content/343/6172/733.summaryhttp://www.cgmf.org/blog-entry/92/Study-America’s-natural-gas-system-is-leaky-and-in-need-of-a-fix.htmlhttp://www.ernstversusencana.ca/high-us-methane-emissions-blamed-on-leaks-harvard-fracking-study-show-fossil-fuel-industry-methane-leaks-far-higher-than-official-estimates-rings-methane-alarm-bells-in-australiahttp://thehill.com/blogs/e2-wire/e2-wire/198392-study-natural-gas-may-not-be-bridge-fuel-to-combat-climatehttp://www.desmogblog.com/2013/10/14/flaws-university-texas-methane-study-draw-criticism-scientistshttp://thehill.com/blogs/e2-wire/e2-wire/198392-study-natural-gas-may-not-be-bridge-fuel-to-combat-climatehttp://www.sciencemag.org/content/335/6065/183.abstracthttp://insideclimatenews.org/news/20150128/methane-leaks-gas-pipelines-far-exceed-official-estimates-harvard-study-findsMethane is leaking from natural gas infrastructure in Boston and the surrounding region at rates two to three times higher than government estimates, scientists at Harvard University and other institutions found.Published in the journalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences last week, the researchers’ paper is the first peer-reviewed study that quantifies emissions of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, from natural gas installations in urban areas—including pipelines, storage terminals and power plants. The amount of methane lost over a year in the study area is worth $90 million, the authors wrote.The research, which was supported by federal and private funding, is part of an ongoing effort to assess methane emissions during natural gas production, transportation and consumption. The answers are crucial to understanding how the current shale gas boom contributes to climate change. Earlier this month, the White House issued the first national regulations to curb methane emissions from the oil and gas industry.”I think it’s fair to get some solutions in place now,” said Rob Jackson, a Stanford University professor of environmental earth system science who was involved in the Boston study. Even if scientists don’t yet know where all the emissions are coming from, he said, it’s “perfectly reasonable” to start tackling known emission sources.http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2015/01/21/1416261112.full.pdf+html?sid=3818ddcf-7d73-46af-8d4e-e8d718ff679chttp://thinkprogress.org/climate/2014/10/22/3582904/methane-leaks-climate-benefit-fracking/Share5,852Tweet695Satellite observations of huge oil and gas basins in East Texas and North Dakota confirm staggering 9 and 10 percent leakage rates of heat-trapping methane. “In conclusion,” researchers write, “at the current methane loss rates, a net climate benefit on all time frames owing to tapping unconventional resources in the analyzed tight formations is unlikely.”In short, fracking speeds up human-caused climate change, thanks to methane leaks alone. Remember, natural gas is mostly methane, (CH4), a super-potent greenhouse gas, which traps 86 times as much heat as CO2 over a 20-year period. So even small leaks in the natural gas production and delivery system can have a large climate impact — enough to gut the entire benefit of switching from coal-fired power to gas.Back in February, we reported that the climate will likely be ruined already well past most of our lifespans by the time natural gas has a net climate benefit. That was based on a study in Science called “Methane Leaks from North American Natural Gas Systems” reviewing more than 200 earlier studies. It concluded that natural gas leakage rates were about 5.4 percent.The new study used satellites to look at actual “methane emissions for two of the fastest growing production regions in the United States, the Bakken and Eagle Ford formations,” between the periods 2006–2008 and 2009–2011. They found leakages rates of 10.1 percent and 9.1 percent respectively!http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/2014EF000265/full?

    • October 17, 2015 at 5:51 am —

      http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2015/10/ag-v-nutrition/409390/

      Also, this is quite interesting

      https://www.newscientist.com/article/dn28285-is-food-really-better-from-the-farm-gate-than-supermarket-shelf/

      VEGAN, low carb, Palaeo, 5:2. The quest for the healthiest diet shows no sign of abating. We now know more than ever about what food does to the body and the importance of antioxidants, healthy fats and a low glycaemic index.

      But what if, all the while, our food has been getting less nutritious? What if modern intensive farming methods – many of which solved malnutrition problems when they were first introduced – have affected the mineral and vitamin content of what we eat? Could having a constant supply of varied produce be compromising its goodness?

      Some of the most eye-catching work in this area has come from Donald Davis, a now-retired biochemist at the University of Texas. In 2011, he compared the nutrients in US crops from 1950 and 2009, and found notable declines in five nutrients in various fruits, including tomatoes, eggplants and squash. For example, there …
      http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/9780470959350.ch6/summary

      Perhaps it’s connected to our obsession with “fast food” and how it’s formulated

      http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/24/magazine/the-extraordinary-science-of-junk-food.html

      http://www.cbsnews.com/news/food-industry-accused-of-manipulating-products-to-make-people-buy-eat-more/

      Moss, a New York Times investigative reporter, called parallels between the food industry and the tobacco industry “interesting.”

      Here’s another example of the FDA/USDA/EPA in bed with the corporate interests (and didn’t 20 FDA employees recently get caught taking paid vacations courtesy of the drug industry?) and look who runs it- Michael Taylor!

      http://www.theweek.co.uk/us/46535/when-half-million-americans-died-and-nobody-noticed

      I do see all the advantages of GMO to feed a growing world, but at some point we will also have to realize that the population MUST stop growing, based on UN figures, the world will be at full capacity by the year 2200, so either we colonize space or we stop the population growth problem. Also, I much prefer the next gen GMO that do not use any pesticides over the ones that require glyphosate or 2-4,D for a variety of environmental and health reasons. It’s also interesting that the studies from Stanford and Columbia I posted earlier seem to indicate that airborne pollutants are a trigger for such conditions as ADHD and autism (which Stanford put as 65% environmental, 35% genetic.)

      You might also like to read this from Sci Am- although it’s about cancer I still think it’s useful.

      http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/plugged-in/california-sees-a-76-percent-decline-in-cancer-risks-thanks-to-cleaner-air/

      If any of the prior links I provided were broken I apologize and will try to post them in full here.

      http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/24/autism-toxic-chemicals-children-environment-risk-factors_n_1543316.html

      http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=autism-rise-driven-by-environment

      http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/opinion/53862628-82/autism-utah-autistic-environmental.html.csp

      http://healthland.time.com/2012/11/27/autism-and-air-pollution-the-link-grows-stronger/

      http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/12/autism-pollution-study-_n_2853542.html

      http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/to-your-health/wp/2014/11/06/link-found-between-mothers-exposure-to-air-pollution-and-adhd/

      Thanks! From what I read in the Stanford study and from the scientist quoted from the CDC, they seem to think an added component is exposure by pregnant women to certain toxins.

      You might also like to read this from Sci Am- although it’s about cancer I still think it’s useful.

      http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/plugged-in/california-sees-a-76-percent-decline-in-cancer-risks-thanks-to-cleaner-air/

      If any of the prior links I provided were broken I apologize and will try to post them in full here.

      http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/24/autism-toxic-chemicals-children-environment-risk-factors_n_1543316.html

      http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=autism-rise-driven-by-environment

      http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/opinion/53862628-82/autism-utah-autistic-environmental.html.csp

      http://healthland.time.com/2012/11/27/autism-and-air-pollution-the-link-grows-stronger/

      http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/12/autism-pollution-study-_n_2853542.html

      http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/to-your-health/wp/2014/11/06/link-found-between-mothers-exposure-to-air-pollution-and-adhd/

      An interesting study from Columbia University.

      http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/to-your-health/wp/2014/11/06/link-found-between-mothers-exposure-to-air-pollution-and-adhd/

      More than 11 percent of school-age children in the United States have been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, a rate markedly higher than a decade ago. Could air pollution be a cause?

      A study, published in PLoS One this week and conducted by researchers at Columbia University’s Center for Children’s Environmental Health, of 233 non-smoking pregnant women in New York City found that children exposed to high levels of air pollution during pregnancy were five times more likely to have ADHD by age 9.

      The researchers measured levels of a common pollutant called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons or PAHs in maternal and cord blood shortly after delivery and in the children’s urine at age 3 or 5. The team followed the children until 9 years of age and administered two tests which are the standard for diagnosing ADHD. Of the 33 who had high levels of exposure as measured by maternal blood, 13 were diagnosed as having the ADHD hyperactive-implusive subtype, seven the inattentive subtype and 13 both.

      Scientists have previously linked high exposure to PAHs in the womb with a number of other childhood problems, including developmental delays, reduced IQ and symptoms of anxiety and depression. It has also been linked to cancer.

      If the Columbia study is confirmed, it could help solve the mystery of what causes ADHD — whether it’s more genetic or more environmental — which could eventually lead to ways to prevent it.

      “Fortunately,” the authors noted, “it is possible to reduce airborne PAH concentrations using currently available pollution controls, greater energy efficiency, the use of alternative energy sources, and regulatory intervention to control polluting sources.”

      I do see the corruption from different sides, people trying to pull their own agenda, getting large sums of money from corporations that are on each side of the equation, and some that are on BOTH sides. It just goes back to what I’ve originally said, science and capitalism do not belong together.

  5. July 24, 2015 at 4:17 am —

    I have a simple question. Why are there not independent researchers involved on the true effect of gmos? Scientists who work for the company who produces them do not count. I have an exercise physiology and strong biology background. I have also been a longtime gardener. It appears from the many long hours that I have spent researching this topic that the US government approves these products despite any evidence of true science and public safety. There is no doubt in my mind that profit and politics go hand in hand over the truth.
    I find this article interesting:
    http://www.centerforfoodsafety.org/blog/3809/gmo-science-deniers-monsanto-and-the-usda

    • July 24, 2015 at 1:41 pm —

      The reason why corporations pay for the research into the safety of their products (an obvious conflict of interest that sometimes, but very rarely, comes back to bite them) is that the small government, low taxes crowd has made it impossible for the government to do the studies (or to pay universities or independent labs to do it.) This applies across the board, to industrial chemicals and processes, manufacturing processes and products, agricultural practices, pharmaceuticals, consumer product safety, and so on, not just food and GMOs.

      This situation says nothing about the safety of any particular GMO or any other product or procedure.

      Independent and government labs aren’t a panacea either. Look at the case of Annie Dookhan formerly of the Massachusetts state crime lab. I think there needs to be checks and balances. The bulk of product safety research should be paid for by the businesses that hope to profit from the products, but the research should not be exclusively under their control.

      Relying on the marketplace to regulate (which is exactly what anti-GMO groups funded by business competitors are doing) is inherently corrupt. Their method is not to promote science, reason, research and validated information, but to spread pseudo science, logical fallacies, propaganda and data mining to promote their own products.

      The link you provide is no sort of general proof that GMOs are evil, but a single, specific instance of bad science being argued by a pro-GMO business in furtherance of one specific product. It is a classic tu quoque argument.

    • July 24, 2015 at 5:36 pm —

      There are plenty of independent researchers looking at GMOs. There is in the thousands of peer reviewed independently financed studies out there. Here are a couple of meta studies http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0111629 This looked at almost two thousand and A decade of EU-funded GMO research (sorry I only have a link to the PDF but just type that into Bing or Google and it will take you right to it). There are more studies than that too but these again are independently financed and huge meta studies.

      This is going to sound really dick but your research just sucks. I say this because of the link you provided. Its all junk crap that can only get published on the internet or in vanity no impact journals that are pay for play.

      We are still at its infancy but GMOs are going to be far and away the most important invention of the last 50 years by the end of this century not the IC or internet.

      • October 17, 2015 at 4:11 am —

        Both BP and Monsanto are bad, VERY bad. But so is the organics industry. Fracking wastewater injections have led to a 500 fold increase in earthquakes (which is why fracking is now illegal in NYS) and methane leaks make nat gas worse for the environment than coal. The solution is nuclear of course.

        About Monsanto, their long history of chemical warfare agents like agent orange, ddt and dioxins which have affected the planet to this day says plenty about them. Bayer and Dow go in the same camp. I support GMO but mostly the new ones that do NOT use glyphosate and 2-4,D, especially since the WHO meta-analysis of over 30 studies they did shows an increased risk of nonhodgkin’s lymphoma. YES GMO’s are a great innovation but only when they come from companies with a much less corrupt background.

        As for Henry Miller, read about his support for DDT before you make up his mind about him. He’s a conservative nut.

    • July 25, 2015 at 10:56 am —

      We could also start putting non-GMO under some real scrutiny, like environmental impact study or make it as hard to bring them to market as it is for GMO. It would prevent people getting poisoned by organic zucchini, like in New Zealand in 2002/2003, where only the organically grown had that problem.

      If we level the playing field first, I might feel safe to eat non-GMO again. I do eat it but I avoid the free-pass-to-market organic food.
      Otherwise I might be eating another Lenape potato. So far no GMO food has resulted in people going to hospital or dangerous food ending up in shops.

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