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Kil
Evil Skeptic

USA
13462 Posts

Posted - 08/18/2016 :  18:22:29  Show Profile  Visit Kil's Homepage  Send Kil an AOL message  Send Kil a Yahoo! Message Send Kil a Private Message  Reply with Quote
So... We have been discussing GMOs a bit in chat. I have decided to start a thread here on the forum to address concerns that some people might have about them. It seemed to me that a good place to start might be with what I wrote about GMOs and my concerns about the attacks on them for our Skeptic Summary #389, which happened to be our last "Summer Spectacular" back in 2014. Actually, this was a repeat post from 2013 with some additional links and comments. A few things have changed since then, the main thing being that the skeptical community is fully engaged now and pushing back against the claims made by the anti-gmo crowd. The science itself has also advanced. Anyhow, let's start with my last "Evilest Pick" and see where this goes. Oh. And I stuck this here in the Health folder because health safety seems to be the main concern, though it would have been a good fit in a few other folders.

Kil’s Evilest Pick:
This one was easy. Seeing misinformation about GMOs is a daily occurrence for me on Facebook. It hasn’t let up and if anything, the voices against genetically modified foods have only gotten louder and even more irrational. In this recent story, Militant Filipino farmers destroy Golden Rice GM crop, dated August 9th, 2013, a Greenpeace activist argues that Golden Rice is the “poster boy” of the industry. “This is playing with the lives of people when you are using Golden Rice to promote more GMOs in our food.” In other words, there is nothing wrong with the rice but they oppose it anyway, because they see it as giving legitimacy to other GMOs. How’s that for logic? Greenpeace misinformation was the motivation for the farmers to destroy the crop. And that was just last week! So I’m going to add a few more pertinent links at the end of this pick. Thanks for reading.

It’s time for the skeptical community to take on the issues surrounding GMOs. What I mean by that is there is so much baloney flying around the Internet of a decidedly anti-scientific nature, including outlandish conspiracy theories (Be sure to watch the Alex Jones videos), bogus studies, fear mongering and conclusions based more in ideology than good science, it boggles the mind. And Because it’s the skeptics who challenge that sort of thing, I believe that the time has come for a vigorous science-based response like that seen in reply to climate change denial and anti-vaccination pseudoscience. Of course, there has been some push back already, but it’s been rather tepid, all things considered. As a force with a cause, we are arriving late to the party. Much of the damage is already done.


What I’m going to do is provide some links to what I believe to be the best sites where people have laid out the case for why I think we should step up our activities in the area of GMOs, with good information on the subject and that sort of thing. I could rant about the anti-GMO “truthers” but there are people who are much more knowledgeable on the subject than I am, and have done more research than I have and are more qualified to present the case. So I’ve gathered a few of them up, hopefully making this pick a one stop shopping entry for those who need access to the lowdown on GMO nonsense.
I think this might be a great place to start. The link includes an interview with Mark Lynas and the full presentation he made before The Oxford Farming Conference back in January:
Former Anti-GMO Activist Says Science Changed His Mind

For years, British environmental activist Mark Lynas destroyed genetically modified food (GMO) crops in what he calls a successful campaign to force the business of agriculture to be more holistic and ecological in its practices.

His targets were companies like Monsanto and Syngenta — leaders in developing genetically modified crops.

Earlier this month he went in front of the world to reverse his position on GMOs.

At the Oxford Farming Conference in Britain, Lynas apologized for helping “to start the anti-GMO movement” and told his former allies to “get out of the way, and let the rest of us get on with feeding the world sustainably.”

He spoke to Jacki Lyden, host of weekends on All Things Considered, about his change of heart.
There is also this one by Lynas from a speech hosted by the International Programs &mdsah; College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (50th Anniversary Celebration), and the Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future, Cornell University:
Time to call out the anti-GMO conspiracy theory

I think the controversy over GMOs represents one of the greatest science communications failures of the past half-century. Millions, possibly billions, of people have come to believe what is essentially a conspiracy theory, generating fear and misunderstanding about a whole class of technologies on an unprecedentedly global scale.



This is what has happened with the GMOs food scare in Europe, Africa and many other parts of the world. Allowing anti-GMO activists to dictate policymaking on biotechnology is like putting homeopaths in charge of the health service, or asking anti-vaccine campaigners to take the lead in eradicating polio.

I believe the time has now come for everyone with a commitment to the primacy of the scientific method and evidence-based policy-making to decisively reject the anti-GMO conspiracy theory and to work together to begin to undo the damage that it has caused over the last decade and a half.


And then there is this:
“Monsanto Protection Act” is a bullshit, made-up term. There is no such thing.
And this:
Five “Monsanto Protection Act” Myths
It’s amazing how successful that bit of baloney has been. Even people who are not against GMOs have fallen for the twisted propaganda version of a provision that is essentially there to give farmers protection, once they have planted approved crops, from red tape and regulatory mistakes. The provision was not written to protect Monsanto. It was written to protect farmers. But the baloney doesn’t stop there:
Top Five Myths Of Genetically Modified Seeds, Busted

Having just stepped into the shouting match over patents on genetically engineered crops, there are a few small things that I, too, would like to get off my chest.

I say small things. I’m not talking about today’s big hot issues: Whether genetically modified organisms — GMOs — should be labeled, or cause cancer in rats, or might improve the lives of poor farmers in Africa; none of that.

This is about something simple: Seeds of GMOs. Various myths have grown up around these seeds. Like most myths, they are inspired by reality. But they’ve wandered off into the world of fiction…


This one is by my favorite video blogger, C0nc0rdance:
GMO: Are we playing God?
From David Gorski at Science-Based Medicine:
Antivaccine versus anti-GMO: Different goals, same methods

Countering ideologically motivated bad science, pseudoscience, misinformation, and lies is one of the main purposes of this blog. Specifically, we try to combat such misinformation in medicine; elsewhere Steve and I, as well as some of our other “partners in crime” combat other forms of pseudoscience. During the nearly five year existence of this blog, we’ve covered a lot of topics in medicine that tend to be prone to pseudoscience and quackery. Oddly enough, there’s one topic that we haven’t really written much about at all, and that’s genetically modified organisms (GMOs). GMOs, as you know, are proliferating, and it’s quite worth discussing the potential and risks of this new technology, just as it is worthwhile to discuss the potential benefits versus the risks of any new technology that can impact our health, not to mention the health of the planet. Unfortunately, GMOs have become a huge political issue, and, I would argue, they have become just as prone to pseudoscience, misinformation, and bad science as vaccines, with a radical group of anti-GMO activists who are as anti-science as any antivaccinationist or quack…
Here’s a very good article, also on the subject of the left once again throwing in with anti-science, with a title that tickles me. It comes from The Daily Kos, which is a decidedly left-of-center news source. And that makes me happy.
GMO Truthers need to be kicked out of the Progressive movement

I consider myself to be part of the “far left.” I also have multiple scientific degrees and work in the health care field. I strongly believe that my science background has resulted in my Progressive ideology. The reason being is Progressivism is a fact and science based ideology, whereas Conservatism is a faith based ideology. Conservatives offer religious, faith based solutions to social problems. Moreover, they rely on faith in the “invisible hand” for solutions to the economy, and any free market outcome — whether good or bad — is a moral outcome regardless of its practicality. Hence, wanting to let the economy hit rock bottom after the financial crisis, because that was the “moral”/free market thing to do.

Why do I bring this up? Because a biologist recently wrote a diary criticizing the far left for being a home for GMO truthers. And, unfortunately, Meteor Blades recently promoted GMO nonsense on the front page.

I would probably say that most progressives don’t know much about GMO at all because this topic — especially the science behind it — is not discussed nearly as much as something like climate change or evolution. And this is perfectly all right! It is impossible to know everything about everything. You know GMO has something to do with big corrupt corporations (i.e. Monsanto) and there are a lot of people and groups you inherently trust who say GMO is bad, so you are naturally inclined to think of GMO as a negative thing.

However, the great thing about this issue is that is is very science based. And you can look at independent research to come to a firm, fact-based conclusion on where to stand. Now there are people with a severe case of cognitive dissonance who, no matter how much science you shove in front of their face, will refuse to accept reality. I have very little patience — or respect — for these people, whom I call GMO truthers. For the rest of you hopefully this diary will educate you about this issue and encourage Progressives to distant ourselves from this anti-science crowd. Being associated with GMO truthers and people of their ilk is making Progressives look bad…


A site of enormous value is The Genetic Literacy Project. I have also used them as a guide to relevant blogs and stories. They would have been my pick for this Summary, but I chose to cover more territory by highlighting several articles and videos. Maybe I’ll single them out for my next pick.

So okay. I could just going on like this. But let me leave you with this 250-page meta-analysis that should put many questions about GMO safety to rest. It won’t, but it should. As an introduction to this meta-study:
Commission publishes compendium of results of EU-funded research on genetically modified crops

In order to help inform debate on genetically modified organisms, the European Commission is publishing today a compendium entitled “A decade of EU-funded GMO research”. The book summarizes the results of 50 research projects addressing primarily the safety of GMOs for the environment and for animal and human health. Launched between 2001 and 2010, these projects received funding of €200 million from the EU and form part of a 25-year long research effort on GMOs.

European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science Máire Geoghegan-Quinn said “The aim of this book is to contribute to a fully transparent debate on GMOs, based on balanced, science–based information. According to the findings of these projects GMOs potentially provide opportunities to reduce malnutrition, especially in lesser developed countries, as well as to increase yields and assist towards the adaptation of agriculture to climate change. But we clearly need strong safeguards to control any potential risks.”

A publication for scientists, policy-makers and other stakeholders

This new publication aims to contribute to the debate on GMOs by disseminating the outcomes of research projects to scientists, regulatory bodies and to the public. It follows up previous publications on EU-funded research on GMO safety. Over the last 25 years, more than 500 independent research groups have been involved in such research.

According to the projects’ results, there is, as of today, no scientific evidence associating GMOs with higher risks for the environment or for food and feed safety than conventional plants and organisms…
The study:



A decade of EU-funded GMO research (2001-20100)

This was not the only study done. Not by a long shot. GMOs are becoming one of the most studied biotechnologies out there. But I see no reason to list them, and the EU meta study is very impressive if for no other reason than to counter the often-heard claim that there isn’t enough research being done, and that it’s too soon to draw any conclusions from the research and study results that have been done. The sad thing is in Europe, governments aren’t really listening to the scientists. Anti-GMO activists have had an enormous influence on the decision-making process in many European countries. And it’s now getting worse over here on that score.

Additional links, added for this Summary:I’ll stop here. And believe me, I could go on. As I said, along with fighting against climate change denial and the anti-vaccination movement, it’s time for Skeptics to become informed and active in fighting against yet another area of scientific denial. Feeding the world is literally at stake.

Uncertainty may make you uncomfortable. Certainty makes you ridiculous.

Why not question something for a change?

Genetic Literacy Project

ThorGoLucky
Snuggle Wolf

USA
1457 Posts

Posted - 08/18/2016 :  19:09:00   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit ThorGoLucky's Homepage Send ThorGoLucky a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Thanks Kil!

Like evolution, I think GMO hits a religious nerve. Life is a human-made/fictional category; there are simply varying degrees of chemistry. Humans are apes...mammals...animals...chemical machines that require the consumption of chemicals to grow and survive.

Such stark facts don't sit will with folks that think of themselves as magical energy beings, sacred vessels, and any of a variety of fabrications that detach themselves from their well-established long evolutionary history.

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sailingsoul
SFN Addict

2830 Posts

Posted - 08/19/2016 :  20:07:03   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send sailingsoul a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Kil

[Edited to remove the quote of the entire OP - Dave W.]


Wow! Seriously Kil! Wow.

There are only two types of religious people, the deceivers and the deceived. SS
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Kil
Evil Skeptic

USA
13462 Posts

Posted - 08/19/2016 :  23:09:35   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Kil's Homepage  Send Kil an AOL message  Send Kil a Yahoo! Message Send Kil a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by sailingsoul

Wow! Seriously Kil! Wow.


Hmm... I'm not sure what that means. I did say that I've been on this for a while. And I already had the summary post available to me to use. So why not use it?



By the way. I've noticed that a few of the links are not working anymore. I can probably retrieve most of them if needed. This is probably the most important one. Here is a working link:

A decade of EU-funded GMO research (2001-20100)

Uncertainty may make you uncomfortable. Certainty makes you ridiculous.

Why not question something for a change?

Genetic Literacy Project
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sailingsoul
SFN Addict

2830 Posts

Posted - 08/20/2016 :  19:43:14   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send sailingsoul a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I'd like to ask you a fairly straightforward question Kil. Do you understand that the consuming public and monsanto can and DO HAVE conflicting bests interests?

There are only two types of religious people, the deceivers and the deceived. SS
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Kil
Evil Skeptic

USA
13462 Posts

Posted - 08/20/2016 :  22:05:00   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Kil's Homepage  Send Kil an AOL message  Send Kil a Yahoo! Message Send Kil a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by sailingsoul

I'd like to ask you a fairly straightforward question Kil. Do you understand that the consuming public and monsanto can and DO HAVE conflicting bests interests?
All large companies, or at least most of them are amoral. In that respect, Monsanto is really no different than most large companies. What I think is that for the most part Monsanto has been a benefit to consumer interests by improving crop yields (by way of GMOs) which helps to keep costs down at the market. Lower cost for end users is usually considered a good thing for consumers. Perhaps you could be more specific about what you think the conflicting interests are because I guess I'm not aware of any.

Well... Come to think of it, I can think of one problem. The enormous cost of bringing a GMO to market does limit some competition which can affect end user cost. Due to the fear of GMOs which is promoted by NGOs (like Greenpeace) and the organic industry, there isn't a more tested crop and a more difficult crop to get through the regulatory process than GMOs are. So the irony is that the fear of GMOs and Monsanto is a reason why Monsanto has more market share than it probably should have. There are a lot of companies working in the area of genetic engineering, but it takes deep pockets to get the products to market. Even so, Monsanto isn't the only game in town.

Uncertainty may make you uncomfortable. Certainty makes you ridiculous.

Why not question something for a change?

Genetic Literacy Project
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sailingsoul
SFN Addict

2830 Posts

Posted - 08/21/2016 :  12:38:39   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send sailingsoul a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Kil

Perhaps you could be more specific about what you think the conflicting interests are because I guess I'm not aware of any.


I'm dumb struct reading you're not aware of any conflict of interests. I'm sorry.

There are only two types of religious people, the deceivers and the deceived. SS
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Kil
Evil Skeptic

USA
13462 Posts

Posted - 08/21/2016 :  13:13:37   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Kil's Homepage  Send Kil an AOL message  Send Kil a Yahoo! Message Send Kil a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by sailingsoul

Originally posted by Kil

Perhaps you could be more specific about what you think the conflicting interests are because I guess I'm not aware of any.


I'm dumb struct reading you're not aware of any conflict of interests. I'm sorry.
So that's it? I've heard a lot of things. Go through my links. I'm aware of many accusations that have been made. My answer is that I feel that most of them are unwarranted. Some of them are outright myths. But I really can't respond unless you get specific about those alleged conflicts that concern you. I'm not a mind reader.

SS: ...Do you understand that the consuming public and monsanto can and DO HAVE conflicting bests interests?

I caught in your phrasing and the caps. You think the conflicts (whatever they are) are a done deal and a fact that we should all be aware of. So much so that now you are dumb struct by my reply. Did you really expect me to say, "Oh yeah... Definite conflict. Consumers are screwed," when you left out why I should feel that way?

Let me ask you something. Are you open to the possibility that the conflicts (whatever they are) were manufactured by people with motives that have less to do with science and more to do with both pseudoscience and market share? Are you at all open to the idea that there has been a targeted campaign of misinformation against Monsanto in a fairly successful effort to link any discussion of GMOs to (evil) Monsanto?

Uncertainty may make you uncomfortable. Certainty makes you ridiculous.

Why not question something for a change?

Genetic Literacy Project
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sailingsoul
SFN Addict

2830 Posts

Posted - 08/22/2016 :  07:39:54   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send sailingsoul a Private Message  Reply with Quote

I fully intend to reply Kil but I can't do so in a way I would like to right now because of time. When I can I will, you can be certain. I'm only taking the minute to post this only because it would be wrong to jump to conclusions and assume I not going to. cheers.

There are only two types of religious people, the deceivers and the deceived. SS
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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
26001 Posts

Posted - 08/22/2016 :  11:31:51   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message  Reply with Quote
The only necessary conflict-of-interest I can see is that Monsanto's primary motivation is to fatten the bank accounts of its shareholders, while consumer's motivation is to not drain their own wallets. But that's true of every public corporation, and not unique to either food companies or Monsanto in particular. And of course, it's only a conflict if more than 50% of the shareholders are extraordinarily short sighted. And if that were true, Monsanto would have no R&D department, because that's just overhead that cuts into dividend pay-outs.

The truth is that making a decent profit over the long term isn't at all in conflict with consumers' real motivation, which is to pay a fair amount to have decent food which doesn't kill them through poisoning and/or malnutrition.

Which is why Monsanto does have an R&D department. Smaller profits today but better products for consumers tomorrow help increase market share, which means larger profits later. And dead customers can't be repeat customers. It is in the stockholder's interest to not sicken Monsanto's customers, who are also Monsanto employees, executive staff, directors and stockholders.

- Dave W. (Private Msg, EMail)
Evidently, I rock!
Why not question something for a change?
Visit Dave's Psoriasis Info, too.
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Kil
Evil Skeptic

USA
13462 Posts

Posted - 08/22/2016 :  11:50:28   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Kil's Homepage  Send Kil an AOL message  Send Kil a Yahoo! Message Send Kil a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Indeed, Dave. And the R&D going on at Monsanto in the area of transgenics is some of the best in the world.

Uncertainty may make you uncomfortable. Certainty makes you ridiculous.

Why not question something for a change?

Genetic Literacy Project
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On fire for Christ
SFN Regular

Saudi Arabia
1265 Posts

Posted - 08/23/2016 :  07:43:27   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send On fire for Christ a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Kil

[Edited to remove the quote of the entire OP - Dave W.]


I am also dumb struct! by this. are you saying Monsanto isn't evil? Because my Yoga instructor says they are.

Edited by - On fire for Christ on 08/23/2016 07:55:14
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Kil
Evil Skeptic

USA
13462 Posts

Posted - 09/02/2016 :  15:51:21   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Kil's Homepage  Send Kil an AOL message  Send Kil a Yahoo! Message Send Kil a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Bt Brinjal – Destroying the Anti-GMO Narrative

Dr. Steven Novella:

Bt Brinjal seems to be an incredible success, improving yield and reducing pesticide use. This is good for both the health and the profits of poor farmers in the developing world.
Rigid anti-GMO ideology (and in some cases, ironically, corporate interests of the organic lobby) makes this an inconvenient reality. Once GM technology starts to show its true potential, anti-GMO propaganda is in trouble. The public will also learn that GMOs are not toxic.


What happens when the whole anti-gmo narrative breaks down?

Uncertainty may make you uncomfortable. Certainty makes you ridiculous.

Why not question something for a change?

Genetic Literacy Project
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On fire for Christ
SFN Regular

Saudi Arabia
1265 Posts

Posted - 09/09/2016 :  09:47:04   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send On fire for Christ a Private Message  Reply with Quote
How much Monsanto pay you to write that?

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Kil
Evil Skeptic

USA
13462 Posts

Posted - 09/09/2016 :  11:48:09   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Kil's Homepage  Send Kil an AOL message  Send Kil a Yahoo! Message Send Kil a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by On fire for Christ

How much Monsanto pay you to write that?
You have no idea how many times I've been called a shill for Monsanto. I've also been called a shill for Big Pharma because of my pro vaccination posts. People really believe that there is an army of shills being paid to attack their cherished beliefs. But really, that idea fits with the conspiracy mentality. We are a part of the evil scheme of both Pharma and Ag's goal for world domination.

And it's not as though I couldn't use the money.

Uncertainty may make you uncomfortable. Certainty makes you ridiculous.

Why not question something for a change?

Genetic Literacy Project
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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
26001 Posts

Posted - 09/10/2016 :  16:02:19   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message  Reply with Quote
And the complete lack of evidence of the payments the drug companies make to you is itself evidence of how well the conspiracy is being covered up!

- Dave W. (Private Msg, EMail)
Evidently, I rock!
Why not question something for a change?
Visit Dave's Psoriasis Info, too.
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