Why Organic Advocates Should Love GMOs

By Keith Kloor | April 12, 2013 4:38 pm

Adapted from the new book The Infinite Resource: The Power of Ideas on a Finite Planet by Ramez Naam

What if there was a way to farm that spared the rainforests, cut down on toxins in our soil and waters, and provided healthier, more nutritious food?

Sounds like organic farming, right?  But actually, it’s GMOs.

A picture of golden rice

Golden Rice, biologically enriched with Vitamin A, will boost nutrition for millions of children. Photo/ International Rice Research Institute

 

The goals of organics – farms that cause less damage to the environment and grow food that’s better for you – are great. But organic isn’t living up to that potential.

In terms of nutrition, the consensus of multiple analysis of all the data (like this one from Stanford and this one from the UK) is that it’s more or less a wash. Organic foods, in general, are neither more nor less nutritious than their conventional counterparts.

In terms of environmental impact, one might think that organic farms are the clear winners.  And if you look at what happens on an acre of organic farm land vs. an acre of conventional farm land, that’s correct.  But an Oxford University  meta-analysis of 71 peer-reviewed studies showed that, because organic farms use more land to grow the same amount of food, they erase their environmental benefit and are in some ways worse than conventional farming.

Save the Forests

But even this is under-estimating the impact of organic farming, because the study above didn’t look at the biggest issue of agriculture – the conversion of land from forest to farm.  We use nearly 1/3 of the land area of the planet to grow food.  That, in turn, has led to the destruction of half the original forest on the planet.  Around the world, agriculture drives a whopping 80% of deforestation today. That destruction of forest is by far the worst environmental impact of agriculture, many times worse than the impact of pesticide or fertilizer over-use.

Meanwhile, projections are that by 2050, we’re going to need to grow 70% more food around the world than we do today.  If we did that by maintaining yields exactly as they are and spreading farms, we’d chop down 70% of the world’s remaining forests.  Trying to feed the world starting from organic yields would be far worse, because their yields are lower.

How much lower?  In 2008, the USDA surveyed every organic farm in the US, asking about their yields.  Plant pathologist Steve Savage compared those yield numbers to yield from conventional farms in the same years.  Here’s an excerpt from his summary:

In the vast majority of cases national organic average yields are moderately to substantially below those of the overall, national average.

Examples for row crops include Winter Wheat 60% of overall average, Corn 71%, Soybeans 66%, Spring Wheat 47% and Rice 59%.

A totally separate analysis, from researchers at the University of Minnesota, published in Nature, found that organic farms grow only around two thirds of the same amount of food, per acre, as conventional farms, meaning that they need one and a half times the land of conventional crops.

The goals of organic are noble, but there’s simply no way to feed the world with yields so low, unless we’re willing to chop down all the forest that remains. Sparing forest means growing more food per acre, not less.

More Foods, More Forest

How do we grow yield?  We could do it by lifting worldwide yields up to US levels.  That would mean giving farmers in the developing world better access to fertilizer, pesticides, and irrigation that drive yields up in the US.  Of course, organic advocates would prefer not to use more fertilizer and more pesticides.

Is there another way?  Perhaps – and GMOs may be key to that.  So far GMOs have contributed only modestly to yield increases, but on the horizon are approaches that could make a big difference.

Consider the yields of corn (the most grown crop in the US) vs. those of rice and wheat (the two most important crops for food supplies globally).  Corn grows about 70% more calories per acre than rice or what.  Why?  Because it has a newer form of photosynthesis called C4.  Now, funded in part by the Gates Foundation, the C4 Rice Project is looking to port the genes for C4 photosynthesis to rice.  Other projects are looking at doing the same for wheat.  Those would essentially be rice and wheat varieties with a tiny bit of the corn genome in them (about 0.1%).  And they could lift yields by more than 50% on their own, and more in combination with other advances. They would also reduce water and fertilizer needs of rice and wheat.

So – more food, less deforestation, less water need, and less need for synthetic fertilizer.  Doesn’t that align with the goals of organic advocates?  And is it really profoundly unnatural to create strains of rice and wheat that borrow just a little bit of corn’s genome?

Better for the Planet

Organic advocates also want less pesticide use, in part to reduce toxicity to the environment.  Ironically, GMOs are already doing this.

The National Academies of Science report Impact of Genetically Engineered Crops on Farm Sustainability in the US says this in the summary:

When adopting GE herbicide-resistant (HR) crops, farmers mainly substituted the herbicide glyphosate for more toxic herbicides.

Glyphosate (roundup) has a nasty reputation, but in reality, it’s dramatically less toxic than older pesticides like atrazine.  And Roundup Ready crops have allowed glyphosate to almost completely replace atrazine on those fields.  How much less toxic is Roundup than atrazine? About 200 times less toxic.

Other GMO work on the horizon could address another complaint organic farmers have about conventional farming – the heavy use of nitrogen fertilizer that runs off and creates dead zones.  GMO farming has already reduced runoff by encouraging no-till farming. But a more radical project is underway.  Legumes like peas and soy don’t rely on nitrogen in the soil for fertilizer.  Instead, with the help of friendly microbes, they extract nitrogen from the atmosphere, where it makes up 78% of the air we breathe.  Another Gates-foundation funded project is looking at ways to give cereal crops – wheat, corn, and rice, for instance – that same ability to fertilize themselves from the air.

Aren’t all of those things improvements?

Better for the People

Finally, there’s the health impact.  Organic advocates want food that’s more nutritious. And they’re skeptical of the safety of GMOs.  Yet the scientific consensus is that the GMOs we’ve approved for human consumption are entirely safe.  Indeed, that consensus is at least as strong as the scientific consensus on climate change.  Almost all GMO safety hysteria comes from a single media-manipulating lab, in France, which has had its work torn to shreds.  Against that, hundreds of scientific papers have found GMOs safe.  Looking at all that data, the American Association for the Advancement of Science concludes that GMOs are safe.  So does the American Medical Association.  So does the European Commission.  Even the French Supreme Court threw out France’s ban on a GMO because the French government couldn’t produce any credible evidence that GMOs were a threat to the environment or human health.

More importantly, GMOs aren’t just safe, they could boost nutrition.  The Golden Rice project, which engineers rice to produce vitamin A in the edible grain (not just the leaf) could help 250 million children who have Vitamin A deficiency.  (And for those fearful of corporate control over crops – Golden Rice will be free to virtually all farmers in the developing world, and freely replantable. Every biotech company involved, including Monsanto, has waved their patent rights in the developing world.)   Beyond Golden Rice there are many more enhanced nutrition projects in the works.

Inspired by golden rice, a team of Australian researchers in 2011 created an experimental rice breed that boosts vitamin A and also quadruples the amount of iron and doubles the amount of zinc in rice grains.  An international team has taken the same ideas and applied them to Africa’s most common staple crop, cassava, which feeds 700 million people, and created BioCassava, a variant that has increased levels of vitamin A, iron, and dietary protein.

So the next generation of GMOs could boost nutrition, reduce nitrogen fertilizer use, and boost yield, letting us feed the world without chopping down its remaining forest.  Indeed, it’s easy to imagine ‘bio-organic’ farms that don’t use synthetic pesticides or fertilizer, but that do use these genetically enhanced seeds.

Environmentally cleaner, better for the forest, more nutritious, and able to feed the planet.  Aren’t those traits every organic advocate, every environmentalist, and, heck, every person in the world should welcome?

—-

Ramez Naam is a computer scientist who spent 13 years at Microsoft.  He’s also the award-winning author of three books.  His latest, The Infinite Resource: The Power of Ideas on a Finite Planet charts a course to overcome the  real challenges of climate change, feeding the planet, and a host of other natural resource and environmental threats.

  • http://twitter.com/PythaCrank PythagoreanCrank

    C’mon man, leave Organic alone already. Let em have at it. Meanwhile we can go on with our newfangled science, synthetic chemicals, & GMOs and relegate them obsolete . ;)

  • DJ

    I think you’re lumping in organics with other food movements. The only “goal” of organics is to eat toxin-free food. Organic produce itself has nothing to do with the environment or nutrition. Yes, many organic-eaters are also environmentally conscious, but one does not depend on the other. And no organic advocate would claim organic food is more nutritious, only that it’s healthier, than chemically-treated food.

    • dogctor

      I will claim that organic dairy is more nutritious. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22430502

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Robert-Wager/1523554676 Robert Wager

        But organic certification is based on a production method and has nothing to do with adventitious presence of GM in organic alfalfa. No organic farm has ever lost certification for adventitious presence of GM. You are repeating a myth. Organic ag is not threatened by GM crops.

        • dogctor

          And you are forgetting to mention that RR alfalfa is arguably a completely unnecessary “innovation”, which will increase glyphosate use, and which is cross-polinated by bees, per APHIS; as well as the fact that the only way to have RR alfalfa coexist with organic alfalfa is to separate those two very far apart to prevent cross contamination.

    • http://www.thealders.net/blogs Doug Alder

      So few pro GMO people get that fine distinction

      • Farmer Guy

        probably because its an imaginary distinction.

      • http://twitter.com/BioWonk David Ashlin

        Because that distinction is a myth propagated by an argument from , sometimes deliberate, ignorance.

    • http://twitter.com/mem_somerville mem_somerville

      Plants make toxins. It’s part of their job. http://www.pnas.org/content/87/19/7777.abstract

      And ironically, organic produce probably makes more of its own toxins because it’s stressed by natural assaults. And there’s increasing evidence that these antioxidants cause DNA damage.

      http://www.genome.gov/27547858

      • http://twitter.com/BioWonk David Ashlin

        Quite right. All organisms produce toxins as a means of defense. Including the bacteria in our guts that accentuate our immune response.
        The majority of people using the word “toxins”, don’t even know what it means. Nor, how an organism must have the proper receptor on it cell surface for the toxin protein to latch on and activate to do damage. Every Easter and Halloween children in the U.S. gorge themselves on a substance that is a “toxin” to canines.
        When they scream “toxins!!!!”,anti-vaxxers and GMO opponents are doing nothing but engaging in the same fear-mongering misuse and redefinition of terms to suit them that we see from anti-science Republicans and TEAbaggers .

      • dogctor

        Sorry, not buying the Ames paper. It isn’t that simple.

        Antiproliferative and apoptotic effects of selective phenolic acids on T47D human breast cancer cells: potential mechanisms of action
        http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC400651/

        Chemopreventive potential of ferulic acid in 7,12-dimethylbenz[a]anthracene-induced mammary carcinogenesis in Sprague–Dawley rats
        http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20385116

        http://www.unboundmedicine.com/medline/citation/21504213/Lipophilic_caffeic_and_ferulic_acid_derivatives_presenting_cytotoxicity_against_human_breast_cancer_cells_

        Allyl isothiocyanate-rich mustard seed powder inhibits bladder cancer growth and muscle invasion.
        http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20889681

        ·The principal urinary metabolite of allyl isothiocyanate,
        N-acetyl-S-(N-allylthiocarbamoyl)cysteine, inhibits the growth and muscle invasion of bladder cancer.
        http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22131350

        • http://twitter.com/gedankenabfall Martin B.

          I can’t follow, what’s the logic behind your statement? ‘There are phytochemicals beneficial for human health, hence there are no phytochemicals detrimental to human health?’ There are plenty of toxins in ordinary plants, (just consider solanin in potatoes) and even carcinogens (eugenol in fennel).

          • dogctor

            The post is to balance out the half truth “plants have toxins”. I obviously didn’t have the time to look up all the “toxins” Ames mentioned, but I was already familiar with a couple ( caffeic and ferulic acids, which are BTW to my knowledge not reported for GMO corn to bolster its possible nutritive medicinal value) The fact that Ames overemphasizes the safety of synthetic pesticides and toxicity of natural plant toxins, which sure made me want to take him to task for “forgetting” to mention or being “unaware”, whatever the case might be, that the substances he calls toxins are described by other researchers in biochemistry as being protective of cancer in at least two different models: a model of breast cancer and bladder cancer. We’ve already had the solanine conversation–while very interesting it is a red herring in a context of chronic disease. Potatoes with a high solanine content would simply be too bitter to eat and the adverse effects associated with acetyl cholinesterase inhibition are easy to recognize. ( and are once again, of acute presentation)–the type would see more in an emergency hospital setting; but not necessarily as much when working in general practice emphasizing preventive/ internal medicine and chronic disease, unless we anesthetized the patient with muscle paralytics as the solanine effects would be additive to those. I am trying to weave in the difference between acute and chronic disease into these conversations, as not every one seems to get the difference.

    • Farmer Guy

      Please explain how youre eating toxin-free food when it is doused in copper sulfate and pyrethrins? Do you realize that the application rate for “natural” pesticides are often 6-7 times the rate that I use on my conventional farm? So, in reality its actually the organics which are “doused in pesticides” as your side likes to parrot.

      • DJ

        I should have clarified, but what I meant by toxin-free food was actually the definition of organic food, as synthetic chemical-free food.

        I did not realize that organic food is treated with copper sulfate and pyrethrins, no, so thank you for informing me.

        I looked into those substances, and in Canada, where I live, no direct contact of pyrethrins with organic food is allowed. And while copper sulfate is indeed a toxin, it is only moderately toxic when ingested orally, and it is an irritant. Compared to pesticides commonly used in non-organic farming, like organophosphates and organochlorines, which disrupt nerve function to cause convulsion or paralysis, the negative effect of copper sulfate seems less severe.

        Anyway, my original point was not to take any one side over the other, only to point out that the author is lumping multiple food movements into “organic.”

        • JonFrum

          So you can cite an example of someone suffering convulsions or paralysis from eating supermarket vegetables? No, you can’t. You’re making it up.

          • DJ

            I do not appreciate the accusation that I’m lying.

            I do not think that a person can suffer convulsions or paralysis from eating supermarket vegetables. The physiological effect that the chemicals I mentioned have on the body is a disruption of nerve function that can lead to paralysis and convulsion.

            Although, upon further reading, it seems that the use of organochlorines as an insecticide has been phased out, so that’s no longer an issue.

            I don’t think there are enough organophosphate and carbamate molecules present on produce to cause paralytic symptoms in a person. But in comparison, the toxicological effect of copper sulfate is irritation, which to me seems less severe. But this severity may be a matter of opinion.

            Personally, based on the information I have gathered*, I would prefer to accumulate copper sulfate, a naturally-occurring inorganic salt, over organophosphates. However, I am more than willing to listen to, and in fact eagerly welcome further information on pesticides, specifically the ones I might be encountering in the grocery stores in Toronto, so I could make an even more informed decision.

            *Where I gathered my information:
            “Many pesticides can be grouped into chemical families. Prominent insecticide families includeorganochlorines, organophosphates, and carbamates. Organochlorine hydrocarbons (e.g. DDT) could be separated into dichlorodiphenylethanes, cyclodiene compounds, and other related compounds. They operate by disrupting the sodium/potassium balance of the nerve fiber, forcing the nerve to transmit continuously. Their toxicities vary greatly, but they have been phased out because of their persistence and potential to bioaccumulate.[8]:239-240 Organophosphate and carbamates largely replaced organochlorines. Both operate through inhibiting the enzyme acetylcholinesterase, allowing acetylcholine to transfer nerve impulses indefinitely and causing a variety of symptoms such as weakness or paralysis.”
            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pesticide

            On copper sulfate: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copper(II)_sulfate

          • http://twitter.com/gedankenabfall Martin B.

            Hi, AFAIR (and I might be wrong) organophosphates do not accumulate in the soil or in tissues, but copper does accumulate in the soil and destroys the edaphon. For the consumer pesticides usually are not a problem, the farmers ar the ones exposed to large quantities. Also, at least here in Europe it were pathogens (e.g. EHEC E. coli on soy sprouts), mold toxins (e.g. aflatoxins in animal feed from Serbia) or contaminants (dioxins, PCBs in animal feed) that caused real dangers in the last years. There are even people that died from the EHEC syndrome (ironically these have been circulated by an organic produce, but that could have happened with conventional soy sprouts as well I guess).

            I don’t think pesticide residues are a real health issue as long as they are at safe and approved levels. The more serious problems with e.g. sprayed pesticides are the ecological ones.

    • http://twitter.com/BioWonk David Ashlin

      Tell the people who became sick, and the families of those few who died, from Salmonella after eating organic spinach contaminated with E. Coli, just how toxin-free is organic produce. 3 separate incidents: 2006, 2009 & 2011. Last I recall, arsenic is a toxin. Yet, organic rice, the syrup of which is used as a sweetener for so any products sold as ‘organic” ,has been found to have high levels of arsenic.

      Where are the demands for warning labels on these food items?

      • DJ

        What I meant when I said toxins is synthetic pesticides and chemical fertilizers, as the disuse of these substances is what defines a food as organic. And that, as its definition, is the only “goal” of organic food. My bad for not clarifying.

  • Scott

    DJ, what is “healthier” than chemically-treated food? A simple algorithm for healthy food might be (positive effect of nutrition – negative effect of toxins). As there there are no negative health effects shown from chemicals currently in non-organic food, the effort of eating organic food for the purpose you mention amounts to “playing it safe” and an assumption that current scientific consensus is not sufficient. I find that a perfectly honest decision to make if you’re aware of your reasons and are fine spending the extra money for the minute chance you’re avoiding some negative health effect. But a person who consistently lives their lives this cautiously doesn’t exist. The vast majority of us over eat on sugar and saturated fat, don’t exercise as often as we should, smoke cigarettes, or have some other vice that has a clear scientifically proven negative effect. The minor effect of those nonorganic foods comes out in the wash next to the rest of your diet and your inconsistent approach to healthy living shows you’re really just doing it to feel good about yourself. Which is a perfectly honest reason too if you admit it.

    • DJ

      The nutritional content of organic food is no different from non-organic food. The way in which organic is healthier than non-organic food is that it does not contain synthetic chemical compounds. Some chemical pesticides are carcinogenic, and some interfere with nerve function. For those reasons, they do not promote good health.

      The rest of your argument about poor lifestyle choices such as smoking cigarettes, lack of exercise and a balanced diet, may be absolutely true, and I don’t disagree, but it is irrelevant to the difference in the health of organic vs non-organic food products.

      • JonFrum

        So you know people suffering from pesticide poisoning? People who have died from eating food with trace pesticide levels? No – I didn’t think so. You’re making it up.

        • Pierre

          Another
          crock of BS, trying to berate Organics again, from a guy that
          worked for Microsoft, who’s boss Bill Gates Foundation is promoting
          GMO’s as a way to feed the starving in this world, who (Bill Gates Foundation) has founded the
          Unit at Stanford that made a Meta study putting down Organic growing,
          which this guy base is article on, full circle of BS….

          • Lia Parisyan

            It’s sad that the media supports the interests of Industry than that of its citizens. This debate over GMOs has only recently entered the mainstream, and is barely a trickle. Most people still have no clue about GMOs.

          • jen

            Well said. Scary that people have no clue. When I bring up this topic.. most ppl label me as negative. People just dont want to face tough issues

      • Scott

        The point I’m making is that the chemicals in non-organic food are not noticeably unhealthy. Anything is toxic to you in large enough quantities and the chemicals in non-organic food fall below limits set by government. If they were to have an impact on health, which has never been shown, it would be minimal, something like 3 extra cancers per 100,000 people.

        My point is that the other lifestyle choices you make are not irrelevant. Almost everyone is making choices in their life that puts them at a many folds greater risk of death than eating non-organic food. In the presence of these lifestyle choices, eating non-organic foods becomes a non-significant digit and not worth your extra money.

  • dogctor

    Once again ( starting with your article on Slate) and repeating myself a dozen times, I reject your statement that there is a scientific consensus on safety of GMOs. There is no scientific consensus in the medical and public health community. The AMA represents about 30-40% of practicing physicians.

    Sorry, I am not going to be buying a book on this subject written by a computer scientist. I might buy the book when the author writes on the subject of computers.

    My understanding is, that agricultural deforestation is largely driven by farming GMOs soybeans in order to feed livestock, palm oil and timber–so once again you are painting an incomplete picture.

    • http://twitter.com/gedankenabfall Martin B.

      My guess would be that toxicologists and the ones actually conducting safety research on GMOs should be asked about the safety of GMOs. Why should I ask a physician? That would be like buying a book about agriculture by a computer engineer … oh wait

      • dogctor

        Toxicologists do not practice on live patients, and would not be capable of seeing trends in chronic diseases on the ground. I am not claiming that the medical profession should have a go at this issue alone, but I resent the hell out of having computer people and plant specialists engage in, what I consider, practicing medicine ( the core of preventive medicine is …..nutrition).

        • http://twitter.com/gedankenabfall Martin B.

          I doubt that practicing physicians could see that trend at all. Medicine is not science, and at least here in Germany physicians are not regarded or trained as scientists.

          Of course you can’t test high-risk substances on people, and it’s obvious that we’d also have to ask epidemiologists, but risk assessment of foods / the substances they are made of is based on what they are doing in the body – i.e. boils down to toxicological issues. But after all, there still isn’t a convincing argument why GMOs per se should be less secure than their conventional counterparts.

          • dogctor

            Having been in practice for 23years, 10 in emergency medicine and 13 in general practice, I have to disagree with you.

          • http://profiles.google.com/edgeben Benjamin Edge

            I’d wager that the average agriculture student gets more nutrition education in an animal science class than most doctors get.

            I’ll have to remember that Carrasco study the next time I decide to bath in pure glyphosate.

            As for toxicity of glyphosate vs atrazine, it is not quite 200 times less toxic if you go only by LD50s, but it is considerably less toxic, and the normal usage rate per acre is much less for glyphosate.

            Atrazine:

            http://pmep.cce.cornell.edu/profiles/extoxnet/24d-captan/atrazine-ext.html

            The amount of atrazine that is lethal to one-half (50%) of experimental animals fed the material is referred to as its acute oral lethal dose fifty, or LD50. The oral LD50 for atrazine in rats is 672 to 3,000 mg/kg, in mice is 850 to 1,750 mg/kg, in rabbits is 750 mg/kg, and in hamsters is 1,000 mg/kg. The dermal LD50 in rabbits is 7,500 mg/kg, and in rats is greater than 3,000 mg/kg.

            Glyphosate:

            http://pmep.cce.cornell.edu/profiles/extoxnet/dienochlor-glyphosate/glyphosate-ext.html

            Glyphosate is a moderately toxic herbicide and carries the signal word WARNING on the label. Even though the LD50 values show the compound to be relatively non-toxic it can cause significant eye irritation. The toxicity of the technical product (glyphosate) and the formulated product (Roundup) is nearly the same. The acute oral LD50 in the rat is 5,600 mg/kg. Other oral LD50 values for glyphosate are 1,538 to greater than 10,000 mg/kg for mice, rabbits mg/kg, and goats (1, 5).

          • dogctor

            I have to agree with you that medical schools do not devote enough time to nutritional education. I don’t know that agriculture students get a better education as the goals of animal production ( meat/ milk yield) are entirely different than the goals we have for actual patients.
            The LD 50 of atrazine is lower than the LD 50 of glyphosate. I was hoing you noticed the word “chronic”, as I was trying to make a distinction betwee acute diseases ( for which I, myself contact toxicologists on a fairly regular basis) and chronic disease. Re. chronic disease associated with glyphosate — I don’t see any references to the LOAEL for teratogenicity in animals and people.
            Do you have that information?

          • http://twitter.com/gedankenabfall Martin B.

            I don’t think two decades of practical experience in medicine make you a better scientist. Or did you meet so many medical scientists, that you must disagree? Of course there are physicians that received scientific training and do genuine research and write papers and so on, but the majority doesn’t. Again, this is how I experienced the situation in Germany. You can infer this already from the quality of german MD theses.

            But you referred to practicing physicians that would see all the potential problems: without a controlled environment and with all the well-known biases everyone holds that seems a bit ambitious. Toxicologists are in charge here, as long it is about differences in substantial composition.

            And no, a single study does not defeat the consensus. Neither on glyphosate, nor on GMOs (actually two independent problems, I’ll not follow that herring).

          • dogctor

            Do you have a study that demonstrates that glyphosate does not produce teratogenic effects by impairing retinoic acid signaling? Can you please post a link or do you do all your science rhetorically? sorry for my rhetorical question.

          • http://twitter.com/gedankenabfall Martin B.

            Hi Ena.

            How can there ever be a study that shows the absence of an effect beyond *any* doubt? You certainly know about the broad cosensus, summarized e.g. in the 2002 EU report, or the 2004 report of the JMPR (WHO/FAO) coming to the conclusion there are no teratogenic effects. I won’t provide links, you surely have these documents already, as you are so deep into the topic. Regarding the Carrasco study, I don’t how realistic injections or direct exposition, i.e. bathing in glyphosate of the embryo is. Until this is reproduced or reached a certain level of consensus, I’ll take that with a “pile of salt”.

            That said, RoundUp can still be more toxic than glyphosate due to additives, that’s well-known. So after all, you may have a point.

            After following your red herring to herbicides, I’d like to make the point that herbicide tolerance and GMO are independent topics, as not all GMO are herbicide tolerant and this trait can be achieved via conventional means (see e.g. Clearfield).

            I find it actually quite dishonest to imply have experience in human health issues: you said you practiced 23 years in “emergency medicine and […] in general practice” after discussing “consensus in the medical and public health community”. That’s misleading, to say the least.

          • dogctor

            Hi Martin.

            I am not asking for a study that shows absence of all effects. I asked for an LOAEL for teratogenicity. This is how it is usually derived. The concentration at which teratogenicity is described is embryological approach to explore the effects of low doses of glyphosate in development.Xenopus laevis embryos were incubated with 1/5000 dilutions of a commercial GBH
            http://www.researchgate.net/post/How_could_I_derive_NOAEL_and_LOAEL_from_dose-response_data

            I am sorry, I haven’t read the EU report or the JNPR ( WHO/FAO) report. Please post links, especially if they are not behind pay walls. Off the top of your head, what do they say about teratogenicity and the retinoic pathway?

            I would love to disentangle the GMOs from GMOs& herbicide, and one day we might be able to do just that. It could be a bit premature at this juncture, because the majority of commercialized GMO corn, soy, canola, sugar beets, and moving on to alfalfa, today IS a packaged deal with a herbicide. If they weren’t, I might not be as concerned about what others have termed the herbicide treadmill ( 2,4-D, the “fops”, dicamba, etc). If we could get off this treadmill, we could move on to discussing GMOs unrelated to herbicides such as the vitamin A or flood tolerant rice ( Pamela Ronald’s baby).

          • http://twitter.com/gedankenabfall Martin B.

            Hi Ena,

            sorry for the delay. I’m a little busy these days.

            When citing the WHO and EU statements I reffered to this article (no paywall, see section 1.6):

            In summary, numerous comprehensive toxicological studies in animals conducted over many years clearly demonstrate that there are no significant hazards associated with glyphosate exposure. Glyphosate does not cause cancer, birth defects, mutagenic effects, nervous system effects, or reproductive problems

            Vijay K. Nandula (Editor): Glyphosate Resistance in Crops and Weeds: History, Development, and Management

            EU Review report for the active substance glyphosate: http://ec.europa.eu/food/plant/protection/evaluation/existactive/list1_glyphosate_en.pdf

            JMPR reports (there are reports almost for every year, I didn’t know that):

            Link. Here is the 2004 report.

            Regarding Carrascos approach of direct application of large amounts of substance: AFAIR from my toxicology classes, at least around here teratogenicity is being evaluated via administration of the substance to the mother animals (per oral, skin or by inhalation). This is necessary to account for the toxicocinetics and metabolism of the mother animal. Also (not) passing of the substance through the placenta has to be taken into account. Carrasco injected directly into frog and chicken embryos or bathed them in hideous amounts of glyphosate. There are of in-vivo data from mammals (rabbits and rats), so I don’t know why in-vitro data on frog and chicken embryos should matter more? These results have also not been replicated independently, so again: take it with a pile of salt. To my (fairly limited) knowledge, there are also no epidemiological data that would support reproductive toxicity of glyphosate – do you now otherwise?

            So, even if I am strongly in favor of NOT using herbicides and reducing the spraying of potentially hazardous substances onto fields, and I am in support of modern agricultural techniques which also include techniques usually regarded as “organic”, one cannot deny there is a pretty firm cosensus regarding the absence of significant developmental toxicity of glyphosate.

            Regarding disentangling herbicides and GMO: what you are practicing is simply guilt by association. It does not make any sense to judge a technology to generate plant varieties by just one of the possible results. If you are against use of herbicides (like me), fine: fight use of herbicides. As I said, there are plenty of other traits (see Golden Rice, BioCassava Plus, fungus resistant banana, submergence tolerant rice, etc) that are worth considering and do not deserve to thrown into the garbage bin just because there is another trait (herbicice tolerance). And again, as I said, you can generate herbicide tolerance with classical breeding techniques, as BASF demonstrated with their Clearfield plants.

          • dogctor

            Hi Martin. No worries. Like yourself, I too have a non-virtual life. In fact, in spite of how interesting this conversation has been, I have to bow out to take care of non-virtual pressing needs.

            I am sorry to say that your links have not given me much assurances re. teratogenicity.

            NOAEL is derived experimentally–I didn’t see anything in your sources documenting any such experiment–and these sorts of statements don’t make much sense.

            The ADI for glyphosate for adults is 0-0.3mg/kg. The EPA established a level of 2mg/kg– not sure based on what. I don’t buy that the teratogenic level is 300mg/kg and I can’t judge for myself based on these sorts of “science” statements. I also do not believe that you have to see maternal toxicity to affect the fetus in adverse ways. So we will have to agree to disagree, I guess.

            Reproductive toxicity
            Glyphosate Glyphosate Trimesium
            Target / critical effect -
            Reproduction:
            Reduced pup weight at parentally
            toxic doses.
            Litter size and pup body weight
            gain↓ at parentally toxic doses.
            Lowest relevant
            reproductive NOAEL /
            NOEL:
            10000 ppm (equal to 700 mg/kg
            bw/d) 150 ppm (approx. 7.5 mg/kg bw/d)
            Target / critical effect -
            Developmental toxicity:
            Lower number of viable fetuses
            and reduced fetal weight; retarded
            ossification, higher incidence of
            skeletal and/or visceral anomalies;
            effects confined to maternally
            toxic doses.
            Post-implantation losses↑, fetal
            weight↓, slightly higher incidence
            of rib variations; effects confined
            to maternally toxic doses
            Lowest relevant
            developmental NOAEL /
            NOEL:
            Rat: 300 mg/kg bw/d
            Rabbit: 40 mg/kg bw/d

            Unfortunately in that giant heap of science citations –most are either industrial, non-peer reviewed studies or have not been published at all.

            I don’t believe that any technology is evil. Technology is neutral…it all depends on how humans elect to use it. Currently the majority of biotechnology in food production ( in contrast to biomedical research and medical therapeutics), in my not-so-humble opinion, is being deployed for the wrong reasons. The right reasons would be to improve nutrition and health of animals and people, and such can’t be done while spraying food with increasingly more toxic herbicides, and creating crops for processed junk food and junk drinks, contributing to a bunch of chronic disease. One of these days, hopefully, there will be push-back in the biotech community( from within), from those whose innovations have genuine merit.

            Thanks for the conversation, Martin. See ya!

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Robert-Wager/1523554676 Robert Wager

            —“Our review found no evidence of a consistent
            pattern of
            positive associations indicating a causal relationship between any disease and
            exposure to glyphosate.”

            Epidemiologic studies
            of glyphosate and non-cancer health outcomes: A review.
            Regulatory
            Toxicology
            and Pharmacology 63 (2012) 440–452

          • dogctor

            Thank you for that Robert. For a paper paid for by Monsanto, it was a great read. I especially appreciate that it isn’t behind a pay wall Yay!

            The reason I appreciate that, is that my concern was teratogenicity, and the issue isn’t addressed in this review. The second reason is, that if you read the review you will find interesting scientific material on herbicides, which raises my concern ( statistics, notwithstanding) about NHL and multiple myeloma risks associated with the use of glyphosate. I appreciated that the advice given Monsato was for biomonitoring.

            http://www.ulbruxelles.be/facs/sciences/biol/biol/2012-2013/Minketal2012.pdf

            (all excerpted for Keith, cause he tends to call this cut-n-paste-junk)

            Cancer incidence among glyphosate-exposed pesticide applicators in the Agricultural Health Study.

            De Roos AJ, Blair A, Rusiecki JA, Hoppin JA, Svec M, Dosemeci M, Sandler DP, Alavanja MC.

            Glyphosate is a broad-spectrum herbicide that is one of the most frequently applied pesticides
            in the world. Although there has been little consistent evidence of genotoxicity or carcinogenicity from in vitro and animal studies, a few epidemiologic reports have indicated potential health effects of glyphosate. We
            evaluated associations between glyphosate exposure and cancer incidence in the Agricultural Health Study (AHS), a prospective cohort study of 57,311 licensed
            pesticide applicators in Iowa and North Carolina.
            There was a suggested association with multiple
            myeloma incidence that should be followed up as more cases occur in the AHS. Given the widespread use of glyphosate, future analyses of the AHS will allow
            further examination of long-term health effects, including less common cancers. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15626647

            Pesticide exposure as risk
            factor for non-Hodgkin lymphoma including histopathological subgroup analysis.

            Eriksson M, Hardell L, Carlberg M, Akerman M.

            We report a population
            based case-control study of exposure to pesticides as risk factor for non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL). Male and female subjects aged 18-74 years living in
            Sweden were included during December 1, 1999, to April 30, 2002. Exposure to herbicides gave odds ratio (OR) 1.72, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.18-2.51. Regarding phenoxyacetic acids highest risk
            was calculated for MCPA; OR 2.81, 95% CI 1.27-6.22, all these cases had a latency period >10 years . Exposure to glyphosate gave OR 2.02, 95% CI
            1.10-3.71 and with >10 years latency period OR 2.26, 95% CI 1.16-4.40. Insecticides
            overall gave OR 1.28, 95% CI 0.96-1.72 and impregnating agents OR 1.57, 95% CI
            1.07-2.30. Results are also presented for different entities of NHL. In conclusion our study confirmed an association between exposure to phenoxyacetic
            acids and NHL and the association with glyphosate was considerably strengthened.
            http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18623080

            Exposure to pesticides as
            risk factor for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and hairy cell leukemia: pooled analysis of two Swedish case-control studies.
            Increased risk for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL) following exposure to certain pesticides has
            previously been reported. To further elucidate the importance of phenoxyacetic acids and other pesticides in the etiology of NHL a pooled analysis was
            performed on two case-control studies, one on NHL and another on hairy cell leukemia (HCL), a rare subtype of NHL. The studies were population based with
            cases identified from cancer registry and controls from population registry. Increased risks in univariate
            analysis were found for subjects exposed to herbicides (OR 1.75, CI 95%1.26-2.42), insecticides (OR 1.43, CI 95% 1.08-1.87), fungicides (OR 3.11, CI
            95% 1.56-6.27) and impregnating agents (OR 1.48, CI 95% 1.11-1.96). Among herbicides, significant associations were found for glyphosate (OR 3.04, CI 95%1.08-8.52) and 4-chloro-2-methyl phenoxyacetic acid (MCPA) (OR 2.62, CI 95% 1.40-4.88). For several categories of pesticides the highest risk was found forexposure during the latest decades before diagnosis. However, in multivariate
            analyses the only significantly increased risk was for a heterogeneous category of other herbicides than above.
            http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12148884

          • http://twitter.com/mem_somerville mem_somerville

            Dog doctor–you make a lot of claims based on your experience. Do you have any publications on your pet patients over the years? How do you control for different diets?

            And I’d think animals would have even more exposure to feed contents that are likely GMOs. I’d think you’d be more comfortable with evidence from the veterinary literature. Why don’t you show us those data?

            In fact, a point I make all the time–every lab mouse and rat in the US has been on GMO diets for longer than humans, at much higher doses–and consistently. Many generations, of the best studied animals on the planet. If there were issues arising we’d know. And there aren’t.

          • dogctor

            How would I publish literature on my patient when my

            profession isn’t even aware that GMOs are in pet foods, and the pet food containing GMOs are unlabeled?

            every lab mouse and rat in the US has been on GMO diets for longer than humans, at much higher doses–and consistently. Many generations, of the best studied animals on the planet. If there were issues arising we’d know. And there aren’t. that sounds like a guess, rather than science to me. Do you have any clinical empirical data?

          • Karl Haro von Mogel

            Point of clarification – “Dogctor” is a vetrinarian, not a human doctor.

          • dogctor

            Hi Karl. Have you heard of the concept “One Health”?

            Comparative medicine

            Animals suffer from many of the same chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, asthma, and arthritis as humans. Sometimes a disease entity is recognized in animals long before it is recognized in humans. For example, fear-induced heart failure was described in wildlife about thirty years before it was recognized in humans.[26] Comparative medicine is the study of disease processes across species and is based on the study of naturally occurring diseases of animals that also afflict humans. The concept of comparative medicine is very old. The ancient Greeks understood that dissecting and studying animals could yield important clues to understanding human diseases.[27] From Galen to William Harvey, comparative anatomical and physiological studies have been responsible for significant advances in medicine; Frederick Banting and Charles Best discovered insulin through such work.[28]

            The musculoskeletal system is particularly well-suited to comparative medicine studies since acute and chronic disorders of bones and joints have the same counterparts in humans and animals. Information gained from one species can be directly translated to another, thereby advancing the diagnosis and treatment of musculoskeletal disorders. Since the early 1930s, comparative orthopaedic research has incorporated the One Health concept. Otto Stader, a small animal veterinarian, used a comparative medicine approach and developed the first form of external skeletal fixation, the Stader splint, as a way to stabilize fractures in dogs. During World War II, Navy surgeons improved the treatment of fractures in sailors by incorporating Stader’s advances. During the 1940s and 50′s, Jacques Jenny, a veterinary surgeon, performed one of the first intra-medullary pinning procedures in animals and significantly advanced fracture repair strategies in horses and humans. In 1966, Sten-Erik Olsson VMD, MD and John L. Marshall DVM, MD, both of whom had medical and veterinary medical degrees, founded the first laboratory dedicated to comparative orthopaedic research at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York. In the 21st century, comparative orthopaedic laboratories are located throughout the world and use both a comparative and translational research approach in an effort to improve diagnostic capabilities, enhance preventive and therapeutic strategies, and advance the understanding of disease mechanisms. Advances in fracture fixation, total joint replacement, and cartilage repair are a few examples of how knowledge flows in both directions, to benefit both human and animal health.[29]

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/One_Health

            http://www.onehealthinitiative.com/

            http://www.cdc.gov/onehealth/

          • Karl Haro von Mogel

            I’ll remember this response the next time you or someone else says “I want human feeding studies, not animals!”

          • dogctor

            I want rodent studies using proper experimental design, followed by cat studies, dog studies and horse studies, and ending with human studies- if the animal studies show no harm. Unfortunately, we are stuck with crappy statistically under-powered 90 day rodent studies, in which half the rats are missing, as is crucial data. Thus you are experimenting on people, but doing so without collecting any data or studying any effects- a most bizarre form of experimentation. How does collection of data make this a worse experiment than it already is? Really makes me scratch my head, Karl.

          • Farmer Guy

            She told me she “worked in Emergency Medicine before seeing regular patients” in our first conversation, rather conveniently leaving out the fact that this ER was in a veterinarian office.

            LOL

          • dogctor

            I would think that a handle doGctor would have given it away. I did work in emergency medicine for 10yrs Farmer dealing with hemorrhage, shock, trauma, acute abdomens, taking bleeding spleens out and such. It was so easy, even you, Farmer, could do it- but the hours are hell.

          • Farmer Guy

            This is when you were posting under your real name on pamela’s blog. Isnt your name erna or something?

            I actually do much more than just farm, dear, and my businesses are very complex agricultural manufacturing. I’ve also published in several journals. Have you published anything?

          • dogctor

            My name is Ena, you are correct. No, I haven’t posted on pamela’s blog, cause I don’t know who pamela is.
            I’ll offer you a deal Farmer– you stop insulting me, and I wont start to insult you.

          • http://twitter.com/gedankenabfall Martin B.

            Thank you for pointing that out.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Robert-Wager/1523554676 Robert Wager

            I thought you were a vet? Am I wrong?

          • dogctor

            Robert. I am a doctor of veterinary medicine, and I am pretty proud of it :) My undergraduate classmates became MDs. One was actually accepted to veterinary school, and showed up on our roster the first year,…but last minute decided to become a human anesthesiologist–a very very good one. The other became a radiation oncologist, and a third a pediatric neurologist ( a job I could never do because they tend to give out a lot of bad news). We went through the same undergrad program. The only difference was, that they spent four years in medical school and I spent four in veterinary medical school. They do one thing very well, I do what they do on several different species who can’t tell me what is wrong with them.

        • Farmer Guy

          Are you seeing those trends on the ground, doctor? I bet you get a LOT of patient feedback, thought it all sounds the same…..woof! woof! and then, of course, meow!

          • dogctor

            We are seeing at least one disease that was present in <1% of our patients before introduction of GMOs in 67% of them today (pancreatitis). We are seeing higher rates of renal failure. Now, if I found convincing controlled feeding trials, it would not be a concern, but as you must surely know, such do not exist.

          • Farmer Guy

            Wow, youve been keeping pretty precise records. Did you go back through decades of records and find this yourself?

          • dogctor

            Pancreatitis is described in the literature http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17197622

            Have no literature on prevalence rates of renal disease in small animals, but the impression of specialists in kidney disease working at tertiary referral institutions is that they have risen ( personal communication).

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000980613760 Kevin Folta

            Ena, but there’s no mechanistic tie to transgenic proteins. If it was real it would take no time to figure it out. With what we know about proteomics, protein-protein interaction and gene expression this would be hammered out in no time.

            I believe, don’t quote me, that there was some good evidence of a tie between certain flame retardants and pancreatitis in cats. I seem to remember reading something on flat-screen TVs and cats too.

            The point is that transgenic crops are just one of many pervasive differences in our lives in the last 20 years. Wifi, cell phones, etc. You get my point. None of these can plausibly cause a problem. Same with transgenic plants.

          • dogctor

            Hi Kevin.

            I understand what you are saying, I do.

            I am concerned about immuno-reactivity of cry proteins, sensitization of the gut with cross-reactivity to other antigens, as pancreatitis is often associated with inflammatory bowel disorders and responds to immunosuppressive therapy in cats.

            http://www.idexx.com/pubwebresources/pdf/en_ca/smallanimal/reference-laboratories/feline-pancreatitis-roundtable-article.pdf

            http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10354369
            please see the main article and the ones in the side bar.

            Its very different in dogs, who often develop it after high fat/ spicy meals. ( Don’t feed your JRT’s spicy/greasy leftovers, OK?)

            I am also concerned about effects of glyphosate +/- its adjuvants on the pancreas, ( Malatesta)

            I understand that our lives have changed and that it could be dozens of things, and yet, the pancreas and the liver will be the organs most intimately affected by diet. I think the scientific way to rule out these possible adverse effects, in the end, is by doing controlled feeding trials on 100 cats on a balanced diet with a GMO and 100 on the same diet with its isogenic line.
            If we didn’t see statistically significant differences in bloodwork, UAs, and dimensions of organs imaged ultrasonographically over a period of time, I would feel much more confident than I do today. The last word on flame retardants is that they contribute to hyperthyroidism, known in people as toxic nodular goiter.

          • Righto

            Grow up.

    • Farmer Guy

      ” There is no scientific consensus in the medical and public health community. The AMA represents about 30-40% of practicing physicians. The medical community is barely represented in the AAAS.”

      Dont forget about the NAS, the WHO, European Commission, FSANZ, the AAP, and the Royal Society. Remind us again who agrees with your side? Oh yes- the American Association of Environmental Medicine, which is a fake organization organization created by jeffrey smith (a yoga instructor from Iowa).

      • dogctor

        The California Medical Association and Physicians specializing in internal medicine Both support labeling of GMOs. http://www.acponline.org/patients_families/about_internal_medicine/

        • Farmer Guy

          Sorry, what? I was responding to:

          ” I reject your statement that there is a scientific consensus on safety of GMOs.
          There is no scientific consensus in the medical and public health community.”

          How did we just go from scientific consensus to food labeling?

          • dogctor

            Generally, those who believe there is a consensus on safety are against labeling the food. Those who are not nearly as certain, advocate for labeling in order to trace possible adverse effects.

            Do you ever answer questions with answers Farmer? I asked you several.

            1. I asked you to post links to specific statements by the organizations you cited and to address the fact that GMOs are labeled in the EU where the European Commission, according to you, has reached a consensus on their safety.

            2. Re. the Malatesta work, you claimed that estrogen is responsible for all the changes described. I asked for a link that demonstrated how estrogen affects hepatic and pancreatic metabolism described by Malatesta. Do you have the citation?

          • Farmer Guy

            “Generally, those who believe there is a consensus on safety are against labeling the food.”

            Do you have empirical evidence of this?

            http://www.euractiv.com/innovation-enterprise/commission-science-supremo-endor-news-514072

            No, I dont have the citation. I dont need one because the premise that the study shows danger is flawed from the outset due to the methodology being deeply flawed. Do you disagree?

          • dogctor

            1. That isn’t going to work Farmer. Anne Glover= Pamela Ronald=Nina Federoff. I asked for citations for all of your sources.
            2. I see….. figured as much, cause there is no connection between estrogen and hepatic or pancreatic metabolism as you previously claimed.
            No, I don’t think the work is deeply flawed at all. I think the biggest flaw is she didn’t have access to the isogenic line, which she would have had to have gotten from the manufacturer and couldn’t. I would have liked to have seen more experimental subjects than were used. I haven’t seen her experiment proven false scientifically…. you know…. by replicating it and demonstrating different results. Do you have a link to such as study?

          • Karl Haro von Mogel

            All this time, my fellow blogger Pam Ronald has been Nina Fedoroff AND Anne Glover all at once? What a trick.

          • dogctor

            Hi Karl. The point is, all three basically say the same thing ” GMO’s are safe. Trust me.” One day I hope to meet you and explain what the definition of “trust me” is in Yiddish.
            My stock answer is : “citations,please”

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Robert-Wager/1523554676 Robert Wager

            none of them say “trust me” they say the world food safety authorities aftg]er reviewing decades of data say the food is as safe or safer than food from conventional breeding.

          • dogctor

            Have you looked at Pamela Ronald’s citations for the article in Scientific American in which she categorically states they are safe?
            http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/guest-blog/2011/08/11/genetically-engineered-crops/
            4/83 are related to public health, and none says they are safe. Keep in mind that the context of the European citations is that in Europe GMOs are labeled.

            Committee on Identifying and Assessing Unintended Effects of Genetically Engineered Foods on Human Health, and National Research Council (Editors), 2004 Safety of Genetically Engineered Foods: Approaches to Assessing Unintended Health Effects. National Academies Press, Washington, DC.
            http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?isbn=0309092094

            European Commission Directorate-General for Research, 2010 EUR 24473 – A Decade of EU-Funded GMO Research 2001–2010. European Commission, Communication Unit, Brussels, Belgium.
            (my understanding is that this work cites a grand total of 3 feeding trials, all of which are under-powered)

            European Commission Joint Research Centre, 2008 Scientific and Technical Contribution to the Development of an Overall Health Strategy in the Area of GMOs. European Commission, EU Publications, Luxembourg.

            European Food Safety Authority, 2004 Opinion of the Scientific Panel on Genetically Modified Organisms. EFSA Journal, 1–25.

          • Farmer Guy

            You know that wasan official interview, youre just being obtuse. Here ya go anyway: page 16, first full paragraph https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B7hhP5QasNtsX1AwV2YzNnlrZTA/edit?pli=1

            2. Blah blah blah blah……show how the rats difference in renal organs were caused by (some mechanism youve yet to describe) in the GM feed or STFU

          • dogctor
          • Farmer Guy

            Oh, what a sight to witness. Dont tell me this is what its come to, Ena…..

            You were once our Angela Lansbury of evil biotech conspiracies.

            You were once our Ace Ventura!

            Lo, how the mighty hath fallen.

            Im afraid I cannot speak to you again, Ena. Once you have posted an earth blog, you are immediately thrown into the Twit Pit. You know how this works. Now get to walkin ——->

          • dogctor

            Short cuts are very handy when presented with cumbersome documents without links. Sorry to disappoint. While acknowledging the deficiencies of the source, do you have specific substantive comments about the content itself?

          • Farmer Guy

            Youve exposed yourself as a blog-reading ideologue.

            That propaganda piece is written by Seralini’s bff from CRIIGEN and and the dean of the “graduate school” at this fine institution: http://www.nytimes.com/1992/04/29/news/university-s-degree-comes-with-a-heavy-dose-of-meditation-and-skepticism.html?pagewanted=all&src=pm
            Thats right, he’s a yogic flyer just like Jeffrey Smith! LOL

            I expected more from you, Ena. How far youve fallen.

          • dogctor

            You know the rules as well as I do, Farmer.

            Ad hominem is an ad hominen is an ad hominem and is not =/= science.

            Please refute the claims mad by providing links to safety studies. hidden within the report you cited.

            Thanks very much

            A Decade of EU-Funded GMO Research. Of the fifty research projects discussed in the report, just ten are listed as relating to safety aspects of GM foods.45

            However, within those ten projects, there is astonishingly little data of the type that could be used as credible evidence regarding the safety or harmfulness of GM foods. Such evidence would normally consist of long-term animal feeding studies comparing one group of animals fed a diet containing one or more GM ingredients with a control group fed a diet containing the same ingredients in non-GM form. Instead, the studies examine such topics as risk assessment of GM foods, methods of testing for the presence and quantity of GMOs in food and feed, and consumer attitudes to GM foods.

            This data is not relevant to assessing the safety of any GM food. In fact, the report makes clear that the food safety research studies were not designed to do so – though taxpayers would be entitled to ask why the Commission spent 200 million Euros of public money45 on a research project that failed to address this most pressing of questions about GM foods. Instead, the research studies were designed to develop “safety assessment approaches for GM foods”.45 One of the published studies carried out under the project confirms that the aim was “to develop scientific methodologies for assessing the safety” of GM crops.23

            Nonetheless, a few animal feeding studies with GM foods were carried out as part of the EU project. It is difficult to work out how many studies were completed, what the findings were, and how many studies passed peer review and were published, because the authors of the EU Commission report fail to reference specific studies to back up their claims. Instead, they randomly list references to a few published studies in each chapter of the report and leave the reader to guess which statements refer to which studies.

            In some cases it is unclear whether there is any published data to back up the report’s claims. For example, a 90-day feeding study on hamsters is said to show that “the GM potato was as safe as the non-GM potato”, but no reference is given to any published study or other source of data, so there is no way of verifying the claim.45

            Our own search of the literature uncovered three published studies on GM food safety that were carried out as part of SAFOTEST, one of the ten food safety-related projects. Our examination of these studies below reveals that, contrary to the claims of GM proponents and Commissioner Geoghegan-Quinn, they do not show the safety of GM food but rather give cause for concern.

            3.2.1. Poulsen (2007)22

            A feeding trial on rats fed GM rice found significant differences in the GM-fed group as compared with the control group fed the non-GM parent line of rice. These included a markedly higher water intake by the GM-fed group, as well as differences in blood biochemistry, immune response, and gut bacteria. Organ weights of female rats fed GM rice were different from those fed non-GM rice. Commenting on the differences, the authors said, “None of them were considered to be adverse”. But they added that this 90-day study “did not enable us to conclude on the safety of the GM food.”22

            In reality, a 90-day study is too short to show whether any changes found are “adverse” (giving rise to identifiable illness). Yet no regulatory body requires GM foods to be tested for longer than this subchronic (medium-term) period of 90 days.

            The study found that the composition of the GM rice was different from that of the non-GM parent, in spite of the fact that the two rice lines were grown side-by-side in identical conditions. This is clear evidence that the GM transformation process had disrupted gene structure and/or function in the GM variety, making it non-substantially equivalent to the non-GM line.

            3.2.2. Schrøder (2007)23

            A study on rats fed GM Bt rice found significant differences in the GM-fed group of rats as compared with the group fed the non-GM isogenic line of rice. These included differences in the distribution of gut bacterial species – the GM-fed group had 23% higher levels of coliform bacteria. There were also differences in organ weights between the two groups, namely in the adrenals, testis and uterus. The authors concluded that the “possible toxicological findings” in their study “most likely will derive from unintended changes introduced in the GM rice and not from toxicity of Bt toxin” in its natural, non-GM form.23

            The study found that the composition of the GM rice was different from that of the non-GM isogenic (with the same genetic background but without the genetic modification) variety in levels of certain minerals, amino acids, and total fat and protein content.23 These differences were dismissed on the basis that they were within the range reported for all varieties of rice in the literature. However, comparing the GM rice to genetically distinct, unrelated rice varieties is scientifically flawed and irrelevant. It serves only to mask the effects of the GM process (see 2.1.5, 2.1.6, 2.1.7).

            Despite this flawed approach, the level of one amino acid, histidine, was markedly higher in the GM rice compared with the non-GM isogenic variety and outside the variability range for any rice.23 Does this matter? No one knows, as the required investigations have not been carried out. What is known is that in other studies on rats, an excess of histidine caused rapid zinc excretion51 and severe zinc deficiency.52

            In addition, the level of the fatty acid, stearic acid, was below the value reported in the literature for any rice.23

            3.2.3. Kroghsbo (2008)24

            A study on rats fed GM Bt rice found a Bt-specific immune response in the non-GM-fed control group as well as the GM-fed groups. This unexpected finding led the researchers to conclude that the immune response in the control animals must have been due to their inhaling particles of the powdered Bt toxin-containing feed consumed by the GM-fed group. The researchers recommended that for future tests on Bt crops, GM-fed and control groups should be kept in separate rooms or with separate air handling systems.24

            3.2.4. Conclusion on the SAFOTEST studies

            The three SAFOTEST studies examined above provide no evidence of safety for GM foods and crops. On the other hand, they provide evidence that:

            Over a decade after GM foods were released into the food and feed supplies, regulators still have not agreed on methods of assessing them for safety

            The GM foods tested were markedly different in composition from their non-GM counterparts – probably due to the mutagenic or epigenetic (producing changes in gene function) effects of the GM process

            The GM foods tested caused unexpected, potentially adverse effects in GM-fed animals that should be investigated further in long-term tests

            The authors were not able to conclude that the GM foods tested were safe.

          • Farmer Guy

            Unsurprisingly, none of the studies mentioned reach any of the same conclusions that these 3 scholars (whose livelihoods depend on the anti-GMO movement) came to.

            Im sorry if I cannot so easily accept the analysis of Seralini’s employee and a flying yogi. Though I expect that you dont really believe this BS either, youre just trapped in a corner at this point.

          • dogctor

            Dear Watson Farmer Dude: Please post links to the evidence=actual studies.
            Thanks in advance
            Sherlock ;)

    • Karl Haro von Mogel

      You are talking about Brazil, etc. Your information is incorrect. Deforestation is driven by cattle production, and when those lands are not suitable for cattle anymore, then soybeans take over. And whether it is GMO soybeans or not, you can’t point to genetic engineering as the cause of deforestation.

      • dogctor

        Karl. I didn’t point to GMO soybeans as the cause of deforestation, just as I don’t believe they are a solution to deforestation. If deforestation in Brazil was driven by cattle production, how is replacing cattle grazing with soy bean fields for livestock feed (GMO or not) going to reverse deforestation?

  • Buddy199

    Very interesting and convincing. Thanks for the info, you can’t find this much detail in the MSM / what are the Kardashians doing today press. The main thought that comes to mind is, if GMO’s are as dangerous as their critics claim wouldn’t their effects be blatantly obvious in every day experience at this point? I can understand the hatred of crony bankster capitalism, the Vampire Squid and all that, and I completely sympathize. But capitalism has also brought forth many things that have made life just damn more comfortable and better – a week without power in the cold with food running out during Sandy drove that home. GMO’s could be fruit from the less poisonous branch of the capitalist tree, something to take a deep breath and consider.

    • http://www.facebook.com/jennifer.c.krog Jennifer Krog

      Add a little arsenic to your cereal each morning. Just a little. Is it blatantly obvious that you are being poisoned? No. But give it a little bit and you will surely die. How about add 42 different pesticides to your apple every day and see how long it takes for you to feel like crap….Oh wait you don’t have to that’s the way it already is….These pesticides have been tested, sure in moderation, alone, no big, but they haven’t been tested all together and seen the effect of the interaction. During peak apple season (say Aug-Oct) children pee out higher volumes of toxins. How much is getting stuck in your organs and distributed throughout your body? Which brings me to internal effects….So cancer is on the rise, Outdoor/Indoor allergies, Food Allergies…..And those pesticides they inject into the corn that make bugs’ stomachs explode when they take a bite? Scientists have found that the corn causes micro-tears in your stomach lining! So no not blatantly obvious over time, because by the time you are sick, it can attributed and blamed on anything else. Because big business or not it’s about control.

      • http://twitter.com/farmdaughterusa Farmers Daughter

        Jennifer, what on Earth are you talking about? A bunch of lies, misconceptions, and distortions. You need to educate yourself a little bit about GM food, pesticides, probably the EPA too. Probably should start with finding out that the “dirty dozen” is just a dirty lie too (then you can go back to eating your fruits and veggies without being afraid): http://www.thefarmersdaughterusa.com/2012/06/dirty-dozen-just-dirty-lie.html

  • Righto

    I am open to this argument (I don’t eat organic), but skeptical whenever someone tries to make it so black and white and does not take a systems approach to looking at the issue, as Ramez does here.

    My concerns are:

    (a) Yes, every different product or form of production has an environmental impact. But some are better then others. Traditional agriculture literally destroys fundamental natural qualities of the land because it is too intensive, whereas organic can create impacts (ie some land clearing) but at least does not undermine the regenerative capacity of the land (ie desertification).

    (b) Accepting for arguments sake that we may have enough information now to claim that existing GMO products are safe for human consumption, but legitimate concerns of people are:

    (i) thinking forward and wondering what happens when everyone is producing GMO left, right and centre – they will all try to use science of the safety of existing crops to claim so their’s are too, and wont do proper tests.

    (ii) nobody with any scientific expertise in natural systems / biology etc, can seriously claim we really know what the impact of widespread GMO products will be on these systems, this is a big and legitimate concern as natural systems are so complex.This is EXACTLY how we ended up with climate change.

    (c) GMO in a way is trying to use the exact failed argument of the Green Revolution, that we can produce more product for less land and therefore be better for the environment. But that just totally ignores that SUPPLY drives more DEMAND, and demand is NOT capped. If you can produce more cheaply, people will consume more, just like energy we we discovered cheap oil and gas. Hence, the green revolution just lead to expanding agriculture more and more, including onto more marginal land. This is a particular concern with GMO, which one objective of is to allow crops to be grown on more and more marginal or previous unsuitable land (ie drought tolerant crops) – which just places more strain on areas which were never suitable for crops in the first place.

    (d) Many organic advocates I know cause far less waste of food and less consumption of other things, because their support for organic is part of a systems approach to the environment which targets production and demand side. If I eat organic, which take up 1.5 more are of land then GMO for 20 units of food, but I waste far less food and therefore only eat 10 units – then I am not causing the impacts you are complaining of.

    • http://profiles.google.com/edgeben Benjamin Edge

      You lost me at: The Green Revolution was a failure.

      • Righto

        Where did I say that?

  • http://www.facebook.com/kenn.amdahl Kenn Amdahl

    Rats can eat a lot of Roundup without dying. However, a tiny amount will kill them if they inhale it. Several herbicides are considered so benign they’re permitted in organic farming, like rotenone. Yet we know they can cause Parkinson’s in large enough doses. The fungicide maneb (also approved on organic produce) seems to increase the dangerous effects of some of these herbicides in humans when they’re used together. Those are chemicals we consider harmless, yet we know they aren’t really. Because so much of the science is still developing, it’s reasonable to be cautious. GMO’s that improve the vitamin content or yield of a plant is one argument. GMO’s that promote the spraying of known poisons into our fields, gardens, and playgrounds is a whole different conversation. I don’t think it’s good logic to lump the two conversations together.

    • http://profiles.google.com/edgeben Benjamin Edge

      Inhaling a relatively small amount of dihydrogen monoxide will also kill you. But drinking 8 glasses of it a day is considered beneficial to our health.

      • Bob

        hydrogen hydroxide

        • richie rich

          add the monoxide and you’ll have a refreshingly great beverage.

    • Alex Huszagh

      GMOs have actually reduced the amount of pesticide spraying (albeit temporarily).

  • http://www.facebook.com/geri.daleenlow Geri Dale-Enlow

    I would challenge anyone who does not believe that GMO’s are bad for you and your health to eat organic and only organic for a month. It has changed my life in ways that are noticeable not only to me but to the people who know me. My allergies are greatly reduced, my asthma is more controlled with much less medicine, my migraines are almost gone, my blood pressure is now back to normal without an ounce of medicine, and the biggest difference is that I am no longer lethargic but I have so much energy. I have not cut my caloric intake at all but I have dropped 15lbs in less than 2 months and I have spent more time active in those 2 months than I have in 10 years combined.

    • http://twitter.com/mem_somerville mem_somerville

      There’s nothing like an anecdote to convince me! No, really. Nothing.

      • Amitabha Palmer

        mem_somerville. that is seriously the best comment I’ve EVER read on the intertubes. You win the intertubes. And I apologize but I’m going to plagiarize your comment in the future.

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000980613760 Kevin Folta

          I always plagiarize Mark Crislip, “The plural of ‘anecdote’ is not ‘data’ “

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Robert-Wager/1523554676 Robert Wager

            me too just used it this past weekend

          • http://www.facebook.com/ami.palmer Ami Palmer

            Mark Crislip is Jesus.

    • Farmer Guy

      Placebo is a hell of a drug.

      -Rick James

    • http://twitter.com/BioWonk David Ashlin

      http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/money/industries/food/2007-09-20-spinach-main_N.htm
      Yeah. Changed these 5 lives too; by ending them.

      http://www.science20.com/challenging_nature/organic_farming_practices_cause_200_instances_serious_food_poisoning-626
      I’m sure the distress of their digestive systems allowed them to lose a lot of weight as well.

    • Raven

      Thank you!! My thoughts exactly. I have an extremely hard time believe GMO’s and conventionally grown foods are safe because I’ve seen for myself the dramatically positive effect I’ve experienced in my own body after switching from these foods to organic. And now when I eat something that’s not organic, wow! I feel nasty within 20 minutes.

    • jen

      Your body is amazing and is able to heal itself if given the right fuel. I question western medicine just for the fact they have missed the biggest part of good health and that is good food! Seeing the hospital food it makes me wonder whether they want us to get better or more sick…

    • http://twitter.com/farmdaughterusa Farmers Daughter

      I’m so glad you were able to buck science and find a resolution! Too bad there is absolutely no scientific evidence to back up anything you just said.

  • johnwerneken

    What we ought to do, is round up ALL political activists and confine them to cages, permanently. The wackos of the Left and the Right are roughly equal in being illogical, selfish, nasty, and almost impossible to tolerate.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000980613760 Kevin Folta

    Nice job Keith. The additional facet is the thousands of potential remedies stuck on laboratory shelves because of the hurdles to commercialization. Healthier potatoes that don’t produce acrylamide (which organic ones do too), plants that survive environmental stress, plants with lower water usage, salt tolerance, less reliance on toxic soil fumigants, better postharvest quality to save 40% of food to waste, mechanical harvesting to cut labor costs, better nutrition, better flavors… these are the TIP of the iceberg, and all of these items could be brought to the fore TODAY.

    The only problem is the arduous and expensive de-regulation process and endless activist fear mongering. These ensure that the only products on the market are huge-acreage agronomic crops (corn, soy, canola, cotton) made by Big Ag.

    In 10 years we’ll see that transgenic technology will spare environmental impacts and will meet ideals of organic farming– fewer inputs and toxic pesticides, only with higher performance crops that bring more to the farmer and consumer.

    • Lia Parisyan

      What about genetic mutations? What are the consequences of playing mad scientist with plant/animal DNA? Nature is constantly evolving, you cannot predict how certain combinations will react; the less intervention, the better.

    • Melissa Peterson

      Something I’d like answered is why aren’t farmers allowed to save seeds like they could before and is it true that seeds are being altered so that even if they were saved, they wouldn’t produce anything forcing the farmers to buy new seeds every time they want to replant a crop?

  • http://twitter.com/MyObjTruth Ron Sonntag

    This is such an industry sponsored crock! Define “yield”‘ for example. Is that simply pounds of apparently green, healthy looking vegetables with virtually NO essential trace minerals because of depleted soils? Is that Monsanto soy that actually CONTAINS herbicides? Is that promoting seeds who’s next generation CANNOT produce viable seeds so that farmers in developing countries find themselves locked into seed contracts they cannot afford? Is that allowing use of GMO that inevitably cross-pollinates with local native seeds and ends up destroying a natural ecosystem that was in place for thousands of years? You F’ing arrogant bastards!

    • Righto

      I hear ya Ron, these fools don’t think of any of the real reprecussions of GMO, particularly that it essentially allows private companies to own what used to be natures gift to us all. We have already destroyed the diversity of foods and grains that are available enough.

  • jen

    So based on the way the world works , you are okay with a big corporation being in charge of our food supply? Considering how the economy works, you actually believe we’re going to feed all the hungry children? I imagine you go to a university that monsanto is paying to feed all you young folks into believing that gmos is something good. You also have not done your research into what we can already see in what gmos are doing to people’s insides and how its effecting children. Since when is non natural better over natural food? Since when is changing our environment and our dna OK? Since when is bullying farmers ok because they harvest their seeds the year after? Have you not noticed how SHADY gmo companies are? The animals are dying that get near these crops and ppl are getting sick but they cover that up. You think things are going to be fixed and this is a good thing but in reality – its simply not going to be that way and its a shame you put out a article like this that brainwash ppl into not questioning the chemical warfare that is upon us. Wake the hell up.

    • Lia Parisyan

      Jen, I couldn’t agree more. Why is it that in the White House and Monsanto operated buildings that no GMOs are allowed on premises?

      If GMOs are so terrible? Then why doesn’t the President and the Big Execs at Monsanto eat them? And, it’s clear the FDA is being manipulated by Big-Agra. Look at the Food Pyramid, which had remained unchanged for nearly 2 decades; now, that’s been replaced by the USDA Food Plate. According to the plate fruits and vegetables are supposed to make up 50% of our dinner plates, but receive less than 1% of government funding.

      • jen

        Thank you! my faith is restored in humanity when i run into people like you! Monsanto needs to be stopped before we cant stop it. They will replace the natural world with man made stuff that makes us sick, We dont need monsanto , we need to change the mindset. Instead of replacing things we are destroying we need to learn how to be gentle with the world and how to stop destroying it. Never put faith in multi corporations whos priorities are only money. They arent fooling me thats for sure. A multi corporation in charge of the food supply should be a huge red flag. Its common sense. But people dont have that anymore because they are eating poisoned food that makes them not think straight!! Arggg!!

        • Lia Parisyan

          I went to two local supermarkets in search of Organic, Non-GMO foods. Nothing was labeled and what I knew to be “honest food” was due to the efforts of OSA. The first carried organic apples, pears and yams, and was in an affluent neighborhood. The second, was a regular supermarket, but actually had more options. However, when I went to speak to the Produce Manager regarding non-GMO foods, she had no clue what GMOs were. I was very unnerved and I will only shop at the Queens Health Emporium, who has a knowledgeable staff and stores vegetables and fruits in brown bags instead of damaging plastics, but that’s a whole other issue.

          I think a lot of the issue is that most people see certain misleading labels on boxes like “Natural” and “Healthy” and assume they’re making the best possible nutritional choices. People in the United States need a reliable educational resource so they can at least make the choice.

    • http://www.facebook.com/jennifer.c.krog Jennifer Krog

      Couldn’t have said it better myself.

    • http://twitter.com/farmdaughterusa Farmers Daughter

      Jen, there has never been a single credible scientific study showing that GM food is bad for humans or the environment. Nor has one person EVER become ill from eating a GM product. I am also concerned that you have such irrational fears about a business (probably because you’ve bought into a lot of the lies regarding that business). I suggest you stop reading your anti-science sources and start talking to some actual farmers. http://www.thefarmersdaughterusa.com/2013/05/defense-of-gmos-is-personal.html

  • jen

    There are better ways than our usual harsh solutions. Dont think gmos are the only way.

    • Lia Parisyan

      I think people should grow their own food. Neighborhoods and communities should come together to teach youth and people of all ages about nutrition, farming, etc. Urban agriculture is growing in NYC. Kids these days, spend too much time indoors, inactive, and have no relationship with the Earth. What better way to teach respect for the environment that to actually come in contact with one’s environment? Perhaps, if people are exposed to basic farming, they’ll realize the damages of GMO foods. Also, gardening is relaxing and is a great way to build communities.

      • http://www.facebook.com/jennifer.c.krog Jennifer Krog

        This is exactly what we should be doing and should have evolved to in the first place. We are destroying this world and the people as a whole are purposefully turning a blind eye to it because they’re too busy to care, or it’s not their job, etc. It breaks my heart.

  • jen

    There is not one thing that you can say that can convince me that gmos is a step forward. Its common sense that everything about it is wrong! And its clear a lot of ppl dont have that these days. Shame on you for supporting gmos!!!!

  • Pierre

    Another
    crock of BS, trying to berate Organics again, from a guy that
    worked for Microsoft, who’s boss Bill Gates Foundation is promoting
    GMO’s as a way to feed the starving in this world, who (Bill Gates Foundation) has founded the
    Unit at Stanford that made a Meta study putting down Organic growing,
    which this guy base is article on, full circle of BS….

  • http://www.facebook.com/gerald.anderson.5686 Gerald Anderson

    Why can’t we do anything to avoid the population increase that drives food consumption, resource consumption, and climate change???? Then we would not have these debates.

  • kjmclark

    “What if there was a way to farm that spared the rainforests, cut down
    on toxins in our soil and waters, and provided healthier, more
    nutritious food?

    Sounds like organic farming, right? But actually, it’s GMOs.”

    No, actually it’s better seed. You can get better seed through breeding, which humans have done for thousands of years, no organic farmer has anything against, can give you the same benefits of genetic modification (it *is* a form of genetic modification after all, just using natural methods), and can be accelerated using genetic information – or you can use genetic engineering.

    You write as though the only choices are genetic engineering or seed from the middle ages.

  • Lia Parisyan

    It’s not surprising that Ramez Naam would support GMOs (after all he worked for Microsoft) and it’s common knowledge that the Bill and Miranda Gates foundation supports GMOs.

    At the very least, people should have the choice and know what they’re buying and GMO advocates are looking at the short-term picture, what are the long term consequences of GMOs?

    Big Agra-Foods are in support of this for obvious reasons: profit and decreased crop risks, but some nations in Europe are altogether banning GMOs. These products have been on supermarket shelves since the 90′s, there’s simply not enough research to support these genetically modified foods. It’s time we got back to the Garden. Aren’t there enough chemicals in our systems?

  • Mbaziira Dean

    ‘It’s only those who don’t know much bout the science but not those who know say this and that problem can never be solved by science’, It’s those who know about GMOs through news papers who say “say no to GMOs”
    For me, I say; “Say yes to more research to GMOs”.
    Good day guys.

  • http://www.facebook.com/caryn.connolly Caryn Connolly

    Why not look at ALL the angles? Check out this page. https://www.facebook.com/GmoInformationClearinghouse

  • John

    No long term studies have been done on crop yields, you can not test since it violates Monsanto license. Go figure they get to claim and not science can be used to test that claim.

  • Samantha Amin

    Whoever wrote this was so paid by the Bio-Tech Industry, I’m sure they got a fat check in the post from Monsanto . The only scientific research that has concluded Gmo’s as safe are the ones directly or indirectly funded by the likes of Monsanto and Dupont. The independant studies have however proved them to be absolutely disease rendering to all animal subjects. Sterility in second generations as well as cancerous tumours within six months of consuming GM’s. So if you guys want to eat it then Bon appetit ! I will avoid it for my children like the next avian flu.

    • Voice of tReason

      Care to provide a source proving your assertions?
      no?

  • Will Workforf Ood

    The UN says GMOs are not really going to feed the worlds poor and thus advise small farmers maintain locally appropriate crops.

    The real struggle is preserving what little heirloom public domain biodiversity that we have. I grow corn with a many antioxidants as blueberries. Courtesy of nature it comes packaged with an improved protein content. If anybody wanted demonstrably improve nutrient content in main-stay crops the answers are right there.

    The corporate interest dilutes the promising science behind GMOs. Public funding is more likely to yield results beneficial to the general public than the corporate scheme. Not to mention the numerous crop improvements that could be made through traditional plant breeding.

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Collide-a-Scape

Collide-a-Scape is a wide-ranging blog forum that explores issues at the nexus of science, culture and society.

About Keith Kloor

Keith Kloor is a NYC-based journalist, and an adjunct professor of journalism at New York University. His work has appeared in Slate, Science, Discover, and the Washington Post magazine, among other outlets. From 2000 to 2008, he was a senior editor at Audubon Magazine. In 2008-2009, he was a Fellow at the University of Colorado’s Center for Environmental Journalism, in Boulder, where he studied how a changing environment (including climate change) influenced prehistoric societies in the U.S. Southwest. He covers a wide range of topics, from conservation biology and biotechnology to urban planning and archaeology.

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