GMO Opponents Use Fear and Deception to Advance Their Cause

By Keith Kloor | March 28, 2014 1:53 pm

The anti-GMO troops in the United States received some unwelcome news this week from Margaret Hamburg, commissioner of the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA). At a congressional hearing on Thursday, Hamburg reiterated the FDA’s support for voluntary GMO labeling initiatives, but nothing beyond that:

The way FDA has for many years interpreted the law and it has been supported by the courts is that mandatory labeling is appropriate and required when there is a fault claim or misbranding. The fact that a food contains GE ingredients does not constitute a material change in the product.

She also mentioned the large body of science that points to the safety of genetically modified foods, (a consensus opinion of all the major scientific bodies, including the AAAS and the Royal Society of Medicine).

In my email inbox this morning, I received a press release from the Organic Consumers Association (OCA), which stated:

“It is an insult to anyone who buys food in this country to go on record stating that the FDA has ‘not found evidence of safety risks’ associated with GMOs,” said Ronnie Cummins, national director of the OCA. “The American Medical Association has called for pre-market safety testing of GMOs, and almost 300 scientists and doctors last year signed a statement saying that there is “no scientific consensus on GMO safety.”

Really? Because such a statement might be considered an insult to the American Medical Association (AMA), which says that “there is no scientific justification for special labeling of bioengineered foods.”  I guess Cummins must have read right past that part in the 2012 AMA statement on genetically engineered crops and foods.

Oh, and as for those “300 scientists and doctors” asserting “no scientific consensus on GMO safety,” perhaps they have something in common with this group of scientists who reject the scientific consensus on global warming.

Further down in its press release, the Organic Consumers Association asserts:

Recent studies have linked GMOs to human health issues, including kidney and liver failure, allergies and cancer.

Silly me, here I thought the movement to label GMOs was based on a consumer’s “right to know“ ethos. I guess a clever gimmick can only take you so far.

For those who want to learn more about “recent studies” that have linked GMOs to an assortment of diseases, I got that covered for you right here, since the Organic Consumers Association neglected to provide any references or links.

  • David Skurnick

    …up of scientists who reject the scientific consensus on global warming…
    Mr. Kloor, what do you think the supposed “scientific consensus” actually says? The IPCC version is that man’s activity causes over half of the warming. Various studies of supposed consensus are inadequate IMHO. However, even if they’re correct, the consensus they claim to show is no stronger than the IPCC position. In fact, a recent study by Cook, et. al., claimed to show a consensus merely the man’s activity contributes some non-zero amount to global warming.
    The Global Warming Petition Project statement does not reject the possibility that man contributes to global warming nor that man’s activity is responsible for more than half of the warming. It doesn’t address these points, one way or the other. The GWPP statement asserts that there’s no convincing scientific evidence that greenhouse gases will cause catastrophic heating of the earth and it argues against the Kyoto accord.

    • Buddy199

      There was a pretty large consensus that Iraq had WMD’s. Not always the most reliable weathervane of truth.

      • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com Keith Kloor

        Really? Would that be the same “pretty large consensus” that also believed Saddam Hussein was in cahoots with Al-Queda?

        • Buddy199

          Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Howard Dean, Joe Biden, Madeline Albright, Sandy Berger, etc.

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cwqh4wQPoQk&sns=em

          As well as the intelligence services of the U.S., Britain, France, Germany, Jordan, Israel and Saudi Arabia.

          I’d say that constitutes a general consensus of our best and brightest. Consensus in and of itself does not automatically equate to being correct, which was my point.

          • RobertWager

            Yes the word consensus has been used to argue almost everything these days. Perhaps this from Health Canada is a better statement:

            The overwhelming body of scientific evidence continues to support the safety of genetically modified food and feed products in general…However, whenever new information concerning the safety of an authorized product arises, this new data is carefully reviewed. HC 2012

            http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/gmf-agm/seralini-eng.php

          • Buddy199

            Yes, all depends on the underlying quality of the data. The data for GMO’s seems pretty solid and credible.

          • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com Keith Kloor

            No, it doesn’t. You presented a GOP commercial with cherry-picked soundbites. That said, there certainly were, post 9/11, many politicians jockeying for who could look and sound tougher. And yes, I have no doubt that you could go out and find similar soundbites with Democrats sounding the alarm about Iraq right after 9/11. But you have to remember what the country was like back then. Emotions were raw, fears were high (compounded by the Anthrax episode).

            What’s most unfortunate from my perspective is how credulous the U.S. media was on the whole. It’s a black mark in the history of journalism, as far as I’m concerned.

            For a more accurate look at how Hussein’s long-term threat was conflated with the stated (and much less legitimate) immediate threat he supposedly posed–and which the Bush Administration based its argument, see the summary findings of this: http://carnegieendowment.org/files/Iraq3FullText.pdf Yes, you could say there was a consensus that Hussein presented a long-term threat. After 9/11, that threat suddenly became immediate, when there was no such consensus on that.

            Bottom line, the country was manipulated by Bush Administration hawks, who were enabled by a feeble press and chicken-shit Democrats. And the twisted distorted case for a war with Iraq wouldn’t have happened without 9/11.

          • JH

            Well, you can dress the Democrats in sheepskins in retrospect if you want, but what counts is their voting record. They voted for the Iraq war almost across the board. I call that “consensus”.

            The media as a whole is horribly credulous.

          • Buddy199

            Exactly my point in a response above that was not permitted to be posted.

    • Graham Strouts

      Exactly what I thought. Keith can you explain why you think the Global Warming Petition Project “reject the scientific consensus on Global Warming? Because it does indeed say they see *catastrophic* warming as having no good evidence to support it- are you saying you think the scientific consensus is for catastrophic warming?

  • RobertWager
  • Buddy199

    I am fascinated by this ongoing story as a case study in mass psychology. How far will otherwise rational people go with their fanatically held belief system? As they sail into the outer limits of reason… immune to the forces of counter-argument, deftly dodging any uncomfortable facts crossing their path… becoming increasingly untethered from the gravitational pull of sanity itself…

  • mem_somerville

    Well, we know Cummins assessments of medical data is not so good.

    It’s the same position [I have] as on human vaccines. They are dangerous, and that’s why I didn’t vaccinate my kid.”

    http://inthesetimes.com/article/6330/the_cruel_irony_of_organic_standards

    Doug Gurian-Sherman today also tried dismiss the consensus and to bury the fear card in a longer useless tirade.

    It’s also worth noting that there’s no real consensus on GMO crop safety. Although many of the crops may well be benign, some could be harmful, prompting unresolved questions about the adequacy of current regulations.

    http://www.technologyreview.com/view/525931/are-gmos-worth-the-trouble/

    BOO!

    • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com Keith Kloor

      I read that letter to editor weeks ago, shook my head a few times, then forgot about it.

      • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com Longmire

        That is the prevailing way to deal with different points of view, bravo for not even trying to discredit the authors.

  • Skeptico

    Why should the Organic Consumers Association care about GMOs? Organic consumers are already consuming food free of GMOs so they’re already GMO free. How are they helping organic consumers by railing against GMOs?

    Unless the Organic Consumers Association has another agenda? Nah, couldn’t be that.

    • First Officer

      A religion ain’t no fun unless you force conversions along the way.

      • Your1Friend

        And you are a faithful missionary of the GMO religion which “forcibly converts” corrupt politicians, vulnerable farmers, and grant-starved scientists and academics.

  • JohnG

    If a GMO ingredient creates no “material change in the product” – then why are GMOs awarded patents?

    • RobertWager

      The same reason PVP’s exist for other plant varieties, to protect the intellectual property rights of those who develop them. Certified seeds including certified organic seeds are protected in the same way.

    • mem_somerville

      You do realize that patents are issued for non-GMOs, right? And that GMOness isn’t required for patenting, right?

      Are you trying to spread misinformation, or do you really just not understand?

      • JohnG

        I hold a number of patents, unlike paid bloggers for the military industrial food complex. Get a real job. One of the criteria for achieving a patent is that the invention is unique or materially different from other “art” in the domain. If the invention (GMO) is unique/different then label. If not materially different, then nullify the patents. Which is it?

        • mem_somerville

          No, you are deliberately missing the point (as well as fictionalizing in a more free-range but hilarious manner).

          GMOs are not unique in getting patents. Non-GMO plants also get patents, right? What’s the difference for you?

          So what is your problem with patents exactly, you patent-holding tool of corporatism?

        • hyperzombie

          military industrial food complex

          Hey if you are going to disparage a whole industry filled with mostly family farms and small businesses you should add more to that statement. I suggest
          Koch Funded,Fossil Fuel Powered, Monsanto Controlled, Military, Wage Slaved Industrial Complex!
          Go big or go home

          • First Officer

            First it was the military complex,
            then the military industrial complex,
            now the military industrial food complex.

            Soon it’ll be the military industrial food clothing complex,
            then the military industrial food clothing shelter complex,
            and then the military industrial food clothing shelter water complex.

            But, i’m holding out for the military industrial food clothing shelter water comedy and vodka on the rocks complex !

          • hyperzombie

            I like the last one,,,, He he

          • Viva La Evolucion

            how about….monsanto safety study believing, corn/soy growing, herbicide loving, organic haters.

          • hyperzombie

            monsanto safety study believing, corn/soy growing, herbicide loving, organic haters.

            i like it

            organic haters

            Who hates Organic?

        • Bernie Mooney

          “… paid bloggers for the military industrial food complex.” That’s rich. You screw the pooch on any credible argument you with that line.

        • Tom

          As mem_somerville is trying to point out, ANY novel plant variety no matter how it was generated can be patented. Feel free to browse the > 20,000 awarded plant patents in the US here: http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?TERM1=PP&Sect1=PTO1&Sect2=HITOFF&d=PALL&p=1&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsrchnum.htm&r=0&f=S&l=50

    • First Officer

      Except for Golden Rice and other pending nutritionally enhanced GMO’s, the material difference here is of no practical difference to its use or consumption. It’s akin to a car manufacturer switching some of the screws used from slotted to phillips or star. No practical difference to the driver but they make a good difference in assembly time and waste reduction. Hence, we don’t require car manufacturers to label what screws they use.

      Even with the nutritionally enhanced GMO’s, the end result would be exactly like taking the none GMO version and supplementing it after the fact. Therefore, there may be a case for labeling here to denote the fact of enhanced nutrition or, “hypo-allergenic”, wheat or peanuts. But, there is no case to be made to label that they were GM’ed to be that way.

  • JohnG

    GMOs could cause “an irreversible termination of life at some scale, which could be the planet.” Nassim Taleb – Author of The Black Swan

    • RobertWager

      Please tell us how John. According to scientific organizations around the world there are no unique risks from GE breeding. if you know different we would love to hear about it.

      • JohnG

        web search “Teleb GMO” and read the paper

        • mem_somerville

          No, in your words, please explain. Those of us in biology have no idea how he can conclude this based on what we know about these plants.

          Here’s a specific case I need you to explain: we can create a sunflower that’s herbicide-tolerant by selecting for that with herbicide (in fact, these exist, and most sunflower oil comes from this). Or we could insert a gene for herbicide tolerance.

          Please explain to us the difference in risk between those two scenarios–one is conventional, one is GMO. Why is one of these able to irreversibly terminate life but the other isn’t. In your own words.

          • Michael Phillips

            Well, I guess he’s still working on his reply. Pity, since I was curious how inserting a single gene via transformation was going to end all life on the planet.

  • Viva La Evolucion

    Of course there are examples of GMO Opponents using fear and deception to advance their cause, just as there are examples of junk food manufacturers using fear and deception to advance their cause (for instance perpetuating the lie that labeling of GMOs will cause huge price increase in food). Whenever there is an issue that has a lot of attention, there will always be examples of people using fear and deception in attempts to advance their side of the issue. That being said, while I believe that GMOs are safe for consumption and have a lot of potential for good, I don’t believe that they are being put to their best use in current GMO crops like herbicide resistant GMO’s, which I find surprisingly similar to “clean coal” technology, in that they are better for the environment than some previous methods of weed control/producing energy, but there better forms of weed control/producing energy currently available. Also, Roundup ready and other herbicide tolerant crops require the use of millions of tons of herbicide being sprayed per year, just as “clean coal” requires millions of tons of coal to be burned each year. I prefer scientific research for development of cleaner and more sustainable methods of weed control like hydroponics/aquaponics, soil steaming, mechanical weeding, and cover crops instead of methods that require continued use of herbicide. Also, it just so happens that the biggest GMO crops (corn and soy) happen to be crops that are primarily grown for livestock feed and biofuels. There are a lot more efficient and sustainable methods of food production than growing corn and soy to feed to livestock, and there are lot more efficient/sustainable methods of creating biofuels than growing corn and soy to make them. If one is concerned about feeding the world, as so many GMO supporters seed to be, then it would seem that they would support a more efficient/sustainable less water intensive method of food production than growing corn and soy to feed to livestock.

    • Jason

      When those methods prove out to be more efficient in the scale that they would need to be, you’ll see farmers switching. Currently, I don’t think they are. But consider, changing your production system requires an enormous investment from the farmers perspective. It’s not easy.

  • First Officer

    Is Bruce Banner (The original green physicist) still one of those 300 scientists?

  • First Officer

    Don’t forget that anti-gmo groups have also used vandalism and arson.

    • mem_somerville

      They also drive around in cars with fish-beets that would embarrass creationists.

      • First Officer

        LOL. Some of them are creationists, believing in the intelligent design of our foods, that our foods have been deliberately designed by God or nature for us.

        I’ve seen pictures of those. I do hope they are holding down to the speed limit. Considering the lack of understanding of physical principles by the anti-gmo crowd, i can only wonder if or when one or more of those fish-beets are going to break off in the wind, flip end over end and crash through the windshield of a following car, skewering an innocent child.

        • mem_somerville

          Well, wouldn’t that just PROVE teh GMOz are evil????

    • JohnG

      And pro GMO farmers are destroying the environment with glyphosate – which is perhaps worse.

      • First Officer

        It can’t be worse because the use of glyphosate does nothing of the kind.

  • hyperzombie

    I still dont understand why the Organic industry doesn’t embrace GMOs, more than any other segment of the farming industry “organics” would benefit the most from GM tech.

    • RobertWager

      Yes indeed. perhaps not HT crops but definitely for Bt, viral resistant and fungal resistant crops where huge reductions in pesticides (yes organic uses pesticides)

      • hyperzombie

        I agree, the existing HT crops would not be suitable for Organic, but GE could create new HT crops to work with organic herbicides.

        • Viva La Evolucion

          I consider myself an organic consumer and I tend to lean more towards supporting the non-GMO movement than pro-GMO movement. That being said I still think that GMOs have a lot of potential for good in things like disease/pest resistance, drought tolerance, producing bigger tastier more nutritious food more efficiently with less time and resources. But, I don’t think that Roundup Ready type herbicide tolerant GMO crops are a very good use of GMO technology, and unfortunately they are the majority of GMOs currently in use. While Roundup may be less toxic than some previous herbicides, the GMO Roundup ready crops still result in millions of tons of herbicide to be sprayed on farmland every year. I don’t think that will be sustainable in the long term without the need of creating new herbicide and herbicide tolerant GMO crops every few years, which I think has big potential for problems. Contrary to popular belief it is possible to grow crops in cost effective manner without use of herbicide. For instance, hydroponics and aquaponics do not require any herbicide. Also, I like some herbicide alternatives such as cover crops, soil steaming, and mechanical weeding.

          • theLaplaceDemon

            “Contrary to popular belief it is possible to grow crops in cost effective manner without use of herbicide.”

            Do you have a cite for that?

          • Viva La Evolucion

            No, we are avocado farmers, not corn or soy farmers. Nevertheless, both corn and soy can be grown quite well hydroponically, which uses a lot less water and does not require herbicide or tillage. The bad thing about herbicide tolerant crops are that they result in spraying millions of tons of farmland in herbicide per year, which has potential to create super weeds, kill frogs/amphibans, and cause other environmental problems. Not to mention a big percentage of Roundup Ready crops are grown in developing countries that receive a lot of rainfall and have little regulations, so big potential for Roundup runoff. And, the majority of corn and soy are grown for animal feed and bio-fuels. There are much more efficient methods of producing food and biofuel available, which use less water, resources, and cost less. If one is concerned about feeding the world then I would imagine they would choose a more efficient method of producing food than growing corn/soy to feed to livestock.

          • Viva La Evolucion

            When I go to the grocery store I notice there are a lot affordable fruits and veggies that are advertised as “hydroponically grown”. Crops grown hydroponically do not use herbicide and are many times advertised as ” pesticides-free”.

          • theLaplaceDemon

            This is a thing that I have not noticed. I have lived in both urban and rural areas of the United States.

          • Your1Friend

            Such has been done for thousands of years.
            No citations are needed.

            !!!

          • hyperzombie

            But, I don’t think that Roundup Ready type herbicide tolerant GMO crops are a very good use of GMO technology

            I am guessing that you are not a grain farmer, Ht crops are great for farmers and the environment. Less tillage, less fuel use, and less overall herbicide, what’s not to like.

          • VESENG

            Lower yields.

          • hyperzombie

            Sorry untrue, you get the same yield, if not more,

    • jytdog

      Most folks choose organic, because they partake in the chemical-phobia religion that has swept much of the middle class. That same religion preaches that GMOs are dangerous too. It is understandable emotionally, not rationally.

      • Your1Friend

        Nice try, but what a lie.

        The GMO religion is a cult based on fear — fear of full disclosure, fear of rigorous science, fear of labeling, fear of declining profits.

        There are no “prophets” in the GMO religion – only false “profits” stolen from the America People.

        • jytdog

          That is just a bunch of words. Nobody who is aware of the science underlying GMOs can give a reason why eating GMOs would be harmful. Fear of GMOs is not science-based.

          • Your1Friend

            “That is just a bunch of words. Nobody who is aware of the [lack of] science [and systemic lack of full disclosure] underlying GMO [technology] can give a reason why eating GMOs [is intelligent and safe - for the environment, for animals, and for human beings]. [Skepticism and all due caution] of GMOs is [very much in accord with responsible] science.”

            Sadly, the integrity of the scientific community in the United States and throughout the world has been severely compromised on many levels.

            This is hardly a secret, jytdog. Is this news to you?

          • jytdog

            Would you please provide just one plausible mechanism by which eating an actual (not theoretical) GM food could be harmful to your health? Thanks

    • Shredder

      That is 100% nonsense. Here’s some good news. http://althealthworks.com/2194/new-report-says-global-gmo-crop-cultivation-is-declining-worldwide-most-production-comes-from-just-six-countries/ …Excerpt: “The report also noted the rising problems of superweeds and super pests resistant to farming chemicals, and warned that such problems are only rising in GM-producing countries.”

      Organic farming will embrace GMOs when hell freezes over.

      • hyperzombie

        Hey Shredder, haven’t seen you commenting in a while, I hope everything is OK.
        Hey, if weeds that are resistant to glyphosate are called superweeds, shouldn’t we call the crops that do the same thing “Supercrops”?

      • hyperzombie

        Organic has its own super weeds and pests, this is a farming problem, nothing to do with GMOs.

  • Judy Cross

    Dr. Thierry Vrain, a retired Agriculture Canada soil biologist and genetic scientist was an vocal advocate for GMO foodstuffs. Only when he was no longer employed by government did he examine the evidence refuting safety.

    He is now speaking out

    See: http;//commonground.ca/2013/10/dr-thierry-vrain-whistleblower/

    • mem_somerville

      Yes, his wife flogs “wellness” BS and they now pitch organic foods and retreats. It’s so charming and obvious.

      http://innisfreefarm.org/

    • hyperzombie

      I can’t believe that I watched 15 min ot that.. BRain hUrTs nOw.

    • Jason

      Rats and mice won’t eat it?? I can assure you that rodent control is still as necessary in grain storage as it ever was. The claim that animals avoid these grains is total BS. Deer, squirrels, cattle, etc, etc…all eat the stuff up!

      • mem_somerville

        This is particularly funny, because every research animal in the US has been eating GMOs for generations–with no consequences. Technicians are always looking at them.

        • First Officer

          Not to mention billions of farme animals.

  • Quan Le Anh

    300 scientists and doctors” asserting “no scientific consensus on GMO safety,” perhaps they have something in common with this group of scientists who reject the scientific consensus on global warming.
    http://kexinh.vn/ke-treo-tuong

    • Rod Herman

      So 300 of 5.8 million scientists is all that would sign on. I am sure that I could get more scientists to deny evolution and an “old earth”:)

  • Never Ending Food

    Apart from the safety and environmental concerns, what many don’t seem to understand about GMOs is that they are simply not needed. The majority of traits that are currently being genetically engineered into crops (i.e. pesticide expression, herbicide resistance, drought tolerance, alteration of nutritional makeup, etc) are all in response to the problems that have arisen from current systems of monocropped and industrialized agriculture. These systems create imbalances within natural ecosystems. Genetically engineering plants to adapt to unhealthy systems doesn’t seem to be the most promising of solutions. Diversified ‘polycultural’ agricultural systems on the other hand, which mimic the patterns of nature, are inherently organic and eliminate many of the problems we are currently seeing with pests, diseases, the use of chemicals, climate change and the malnutrition arising from over-reliance on only a handful of crops. The world already possesses everything it needs to address food and nutrition security for many generations to come. In order to do this, however, we need to quit glorifying a handful of genetically engineered laboratory experiments and start learning how to appreciate and integrate the multitude of natural resources that we already have at our disposal.

    • Jason

      The problem is that there are viable markets for relatively few crops. Whether they are needed is an opinion that many do not share. But regardless, what gets produced is what will sell. There was a viable market for products that eliminate the need for insecticides or that make weed control easier. So that’s what we have.

      Your solution, to me, sounds very aspiration all but not very practical.

      • Never Ending Food

        Thanks Jason, you raise some good points. This is another downfall of GMOs in that they serve to further limit an already limited approach. The monopolization of the world’s seed and food production is a recipe for disaster which often serves to put profits above the health of individuals and the planet. However, when systems are devised which care for the earth, care for people, and strive to share resources equitably then profit can still be attained in harmony with sustainability. While it’s true that what is produced is what is sold, if alternatives are not requested by the consumer then the production system remains unchanged (a valid pro-labeling argument by giving the information needed for consumers to make informed decisions). As for the practicality of healthy and sustainable systems, our family has been putting them into practice for over 17 years in Malawi, Africa and teaching others to do the same. Elements of these approaches (permaculture, organics, agroforestry, polyculture, food forests, edible landscaping, etc) are now having a positive impact on people’s food and nutrition security, their economic status, and market availability throughout the world.

        • Jason

          I guess we have a difference of opinion. You see GMOs as further limiting a limited approach where as I see them as furthering the best approach we currently have available. You see the current system as not caring for the earth where as I see the current system as putting the care for the land in the hands of those who have the most stake in the care of it…the farmer who depends on it’s production. I’m glad your approach is working in your part of the world and I think it goes to show that different systems may best fit differing situations. In the States, where so much of the population is concentrated in urban areas, a centralized Ag approach is necessary to feed all that don’t have the means to feed themselves.

          • Never Ending Food

            Once again, I appreciate your input. I do, however, disagree that the current approach–which is being used not only in the U.S. but also promoted throughout the world (even in Malawi) by GMO manufacturers such as Monsanto–is the ‘best’ approach. This chemically-dependent, monocropped, and monopolized system has served to lock many farmers into a detrimental cycle of dependency upon unhealthy and unsustainable practices.

            Many of the long-term effects are only just becoming clear. This week the Center for Disease Control (CDC) came out with new statistics stating that 1 in 68 U.S. children is now born with autism, a 30% increase from 1 in 88 just two years ago; the World Health Organization now states that cancer has become the leading cause of death worldwide, with 19% of cases being attributed to environmental factors; the number of oceanic ‘dead zones’ created in large part by agricultural runoff increased from 146 in 2004 to over 400 in 2008; and the list goes on (drastic increases in: allergies, antibiotic-resistance, herbicide-resistance, malnutrition, etc). These statistics should not be construed as ‘fear mongering’ as the article suggests, but rather as serious warning bells from credible sources that need to be addressed.

            In July of last year, Forbes magazine reported that: “One of the main arguments behind creating these engineered crops is that farmers then need to use less herbicide and pesticide. This makes farms more eco-friendly, say proponents of genetically modified (GM) crops, and GM seeds also allow farmers to spend less on “inputs” (chemicals), thereby making a greater profit. But a new study released by Food & Water Watch yesterday finds the goal of reduced chemical use has not panned out as planned. In fact, according to the USDA and EPA data used in the report, the quick adoption of genetically engineered crops by farmers has increased herbicide use over the past 9 years in the U.S.”

            When these problems are taken together as a whole, we begin to see a pattern emerging that should serve to make us question whether pushing the current system to its upper limits through genetic engineering is the wisest approach, or perhaps an entire overhaul of the system is needed. When we find that we’ve taken a wrong turn, running faster in the same direction doesn’t generally fix the problem.

          • Rod Herman

            Yes – A new report now shows that the brains of autistic children can be seen to be abnormal before birth. They must know that the GMO boogie man is out there waiting for them.

          • Never Ending Food

            Either that, Rod, or in utero exposure from agricultural contaminants are affecting fetal development. As GMOs have increased the use of chemicals and the very food that we are eating is now being genetically engineered to contain pesticidal properties, the World Health Organization reports that in utero exposure to contaminants such as pesticides have increased the risk of growth retardation and significantly increased the risk of congenital deficiencies.

          • Rod Herman

            The national debt has increased along with autism too, as has organic food consumption. Connecting things with no reasonable hypothesis for causation is irresponsible. If a population has been identified with a lower autism rate, that might be a good place to start an investigation. The World Health Organization has also attested to the safety of GMOs, so perhaps some may think you are cherry picking information out of context.

          • Never Ending Food

            Ok Rod.

          • Viva La Evolucion

            Let’s assume that eating GMO’s along with minuscule amounts of pesticide & herbicide residue is safe, which most studies show as being true. Now, to a different point. A big percentage of GMO crops are corn and soy. Most of the GMO corn and soy grown is used for livestock feed and bio-fuels. There are far more efficient, less water/resource intensive, and sustainable methods of producing food and energy that don’t involve growing corn/soy for livestock feed or bio fuel production. If one is looking for sustainable, efficient method of producing food and energy, then they would not choose the method of growing corn/soy for livestock feed or biofuels.

          • Jason

            Viva – I don’t buy that there are farm more efficient crops. When you consider the energy per dollar spent and the volume of feed needed, corn is by far the most efficient. That’s not to say others couldn’t surpass it in the future. But right now, corn is king.

          • Never Ending Food

            Hello again Jason, you raise a point that is in fact part of the problem. As researchers have shifted their emphasis away from nutritional diversity towards ‘calories per acre’, corn (maize) has become a crop of choice for many countries. As countries like the US and Malawi have sacrificed agricultural diversity in favor of monocropping corn, many problems have arisen. In Malawi, where the entire diet has become maize-based and the entire agricultural system is now maize-focused we find that even in bumper crop seasons the nation continues to face immensely unacceptable levels of malnutrition (47% of children under 5 in Malawi are now so malnourished that they are labeled as nutritionally ‘stunted’). The country has seen surplus yields of maize since about 2005 (with some years producing in excess of one million metric tonnes of surplus), yet our malnutrition rates remain unchanged. Why? Lack of nutritional diversity. We can’t have diverse and nutritious diets if we don’t have agricultural systems that reflect this necessity. Another great problem is that many countries have now also sacrificed seasonal production systems in favor of one-time annual harvest. In Malawi this has meant that all the maize for the entire year is harvested about this time (April) and then the land remains idle for 11 months of the year until the following April’s harvest. When our rains begin in December, the previous year’s maize reserves often run short and people have nothing to harvest until the newly planted crop of maize matures. This has now become a chronic event that is labeled as the ‘hungry season’ which, ironically, coincides with Malawi’s most agriculturally productive time of the year–the rainy season. During this same period of time, however, our diversified, polycultural, and seasonal farm here at Never Ending Food enters its most productive and abundant time of the year. By following nature’s seasonal patterns, and through the use of integrated design systems, there should never be a time of the year that is without diverse and nutritious food production, in any country.

          • Jason

            I’m speaking about animal feeds. You are speaking about human foods. Corn in the US is not a major direct human consumption crop.

          • Never Ending Food

            That’s another whole side to the argument. Manufacturers of GMOs would like us to believe that the whole world is going to starve to death unless we genetically engineer the earth’s natural resources to grow ‘more food’, and yet we see in the US over 70 million acres under cultivation to one crop of which billions of bushels are fed to cattle (which are not meant to be corn-fed, but rather grass-fed) and billions more bushels being put into fuel production. This is productive arable agricultural land that has essentially been removed from the cultivation of nutritious and diverse foods for the nation. You might also be surprised to discover just how much corn the American consumer is actually eating via industrialized processing of food products. Michael Pollan followed a bushel of corn for a year through the current food production system and found that the nutrition kept linking back to corn. He writes…”If you are what you eat, and especially if you eat industrial food, as 99 percent of Americans do, what you are is ‘corn’…Take a typical fast food meal. Corn is the sweetener in the soda. It’s in the corn-fed beef Big Mac patty, and in the high-fructose syrup in the bun, and in the secret sauce. Slim Jims are full of corn syrup, dextrose, cornstarch, and a great many additives. The “four different fuels” in a Lunchables meal, are all essentially corn-based. The chicken nugget—including feed for the chicken, fillers, binders, coating, and dipping sauce—is all corn. The french fries are made from potatoes, but odds are they’re fried in corn oil, the source of 50 percent of their calories. Even the salads at McDonald’s are full of high-fructose corn syrup and thickeners made from corn.”

          • Jason

            You’re making my point. Corn is used in many things but is not a primary ingredient in any at all. It’s all oils, starches & sugar. It’s a better animal feed than grass as grass takes way to many acres up that could be used for better things.

          • Jason

            Amen

          • Viva La Evolucion

            I wouldn’t say that corn is better cow food than grass, as beef and milk from grass fed cows are nutritionally superior to that from corn-fed cows (grass-fed beef and milk have more omega 3 and vitamin k2). That’s probably why Neil deGrasse Tyson drinks grass-fed organic. https://twitter.com/neiltyson/status/270191112109568000 – I don’t believe anyone is recommending planting a forest instead of corn. Only suggesting that it may be risky to gamble entire food system on one giant monoculutre crop, as it become vulnerable to being wiped out by emergence of new disease.

          • Jason

            The health benefits don’t matter one bit unless people are willing/ able to buy it. Using that much land for grazing cattle simply isn’t the best use of those resources.

          • Jason

            No argument with those disease statistics, but in our country, cancer rates have been declining since the early 90s. Generally speaking, the population of farmers (who are most often exposed to agrochemicals) are in better health than the general populace.

            No system is perfect, but in my opinion, it’s the best we currently have.

          • Never Ending Food

            That’s not quite accurate Jason. According to the WHO, death from cancer or ‘cancer mortality’ has declined “in North America, Western Europe and Australia, mainly due to improvements in early detection and treatment programs such as chemotherapy and tamoxifen” but the same document claims that “cancer rates could further increase by 50% to 15 million new cases in the year 2020, according to the World Cancer Report, the most comprehensive global examination of the disease to date” and that “as developing countries succeed in achieving lifestyles similar to Europe, North America, Australia, New Zealand and Japan, they will also encounter much higher cancer rates, particularly cancers of the breast, colon, prostate and uterus (endometrial carcinoma).” (http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/releases/2003/pr27/en/)

          • Jason

            Cancer rates “could” do anything. What I’m commenting on is what they actually have done. It’s just a comment directed to those who would believe that GMOs cause cancer. Clearly the rates in the us have been declining the entire time it’s been in our food supply.

    • Rod Herman

      Spoken like a well fed suburbanite!

      • Your1Friend

        Correction. A much-needed correction: Spoken like someone who is not a corporate shill. Spoken like someone with common sense — something all too often missing in the revolving door that is Washington.

        • Rod Herman

          You may have been on that revolving door too long. Its sounding pretty dizzy.

          • Your1Friend

            Right. That revolving door is making this whole country dizzy.

          • Rod Herman

            May be the door is stationary and you are spinning.

          • Your1Friend

            The political culture of Washington would absolutely agrees with you.

    • booksaremyfriends

      Please tell me more of this “diversified ‘polycultural’ agricultural system.

      • booksaremyfriends

        Its sounds like you’re advocating planting a forest instead of a harvest. Unfortunately, while it seems like a really great idea, it is just not feasible at a large scale. I know I sound like a negative nancy, but feeding the world will take far more than just people planting their own gardens (I have one myself).

        From an economical standpoint, it’s not a very good idea. Having one farmer who understands and is an expert at growing, say corn, means that the next farmer can become an expert at growing peaches. They both can have their own land, grow their own crop and have their own expertise (this is true with most career fields). In order for Farmer A and Farmer B to create a forest, they would need shared land to both grow what they’re experts in, as well as many other experts all growing on one land which would either be owned by a large corporation or a community (government).

        Another thing that you must consider is that
        using one piece of land to grow one type of plant at a time in the most efficient way of planting food. (I do it in my garden.)
        With edible forests an things like that, you needs lots and lots of specialized equipment that would have to be made for many different types of terrain. You can’t just have a combine harvester in a forest. You’d have to have small specialized equipment made to counteract the problems associated with growing in a small area. Which wastes money and fuel. You could hire people to do the all the specialized watering, planting and harvesting, of course, but the costs would be far too much. Farms, like assembly lines are extremely efficient.

        Another thing to consider is even in these said forests, draught will still be a huge problem, as it has since the beginning of the agricultural age. We may be able to greatly reduce this problem by ensuring every farm has access to some kind of large water source, but then you have run the risk of the opposite problem, which is flooding. Also having large crops next to our fresh water supply would increase pollution in those areas. It takes a lot of machinery to harvest crops.

        Planting bug repellent plants next to edible crops is something that I do in my garden. I believe that that is right in with foodscaping and such. But the problem with this is it takes up a lot of space and bugs evolve just like animals. Just because an insect doesn’t eat a cabbage one year, doesn’t mean it won’t evolve to do so. And you still have the problem with viruses, fungus and bacteria, which if you know you’re Irish history, was the case of the great potato famine.

        You also seem to forget that many people don’t want to, or don’t really care about gardening. The ideas you advocate will take a lot of community (government) involvement. Many people will have to become farmers and get involved, and unless these people will want to work for free, food prices will skyrocket with all the extra people it will take to maintain these systems, you’re looking at an unsustainable food supply.

        I’m not saying that our way of farming is perfect, but you’re statement: “The majority of traits that are currently being genetically engineered into crops are all in response to the problems that have arisen from current systems of monocropped and industrialized agriculture” is the exact opposite of true. Our current scientific developments in agriculture had been developed as a way to counteract nature. I’m having a little trouble at not laughing at that statement to be honest. Farming has been around for thousands of years and we’re trying to combat problems that are just as old.

  • Judy Cross

    Funny what people will defend for pay, as in…. “GMO’s are good” and “CO2 is bad”
    May you all grow hair inside your mouths, as the third generation of hamsters fed gm soy did. and as Russian researchers have found,
    http://naturalsociety.com/genetically-modified-soy-linked-to-sterility-and-infant-mortality/

    The real deniers are those who push establishment meme for fun and profit.

    • Tom

      If you actually read the paper (http://www.truefoodfoundation.org/ectopia-from-gmo.pdf ) you will see that the authors say (third page, second paragraph): “It remains unclear why these hair structures appear in the oral cavity of mammals. We may only speculate on the origin of this phenomenon.” They show zero data indicating that GMOs have caused this. And GM corn and soy has been fed to millions of cows and pigs in the US since the mid-nineties. You’d think a farmer would have noticed something by now…

      • Judy Cross

        The controls didn’t have the same problems. About the only thing you can take comfort from is the researchers said they didn’t know whether the problems were created by the GMO itself or the Roundup residues.

        Farmers have noticed animals refusing GMO food, but you shills keep pretending it doesn’t happen.
        The animals fed GMO are slaughtered before problems show up. You pretend a multi-generational study means nothing by comparing its results to 1 lifetime or less.

        • Tom

          Shill shmill. There was no control group because they didn’t conduct an experiment. They just reported frequencies in their animal collection. As they state in paragraph three on the first page: “All examined rodents received the standard diet developed in the Severtsov Institute of Ecology
          and Evolution; the food contained oats and compound food for rodents.” Show me a peer-reviewed scientific study of animals choosing isogenic non-GM over GM feed.

    • Cairenn Day

      Really, you prefer trusting a non peer reviewed, unpublished paper from Russia (now what technology came from there? Oh yes a gun), instead of the work of hundreds of researchers in the US and EU?

      • Judy Cross

        So, where are the long term feeding studies?
        Nothing else matters if multi-generational studies show damage.

        • http://wildernessvagabonds.com/ Mike Lewinski

          Do you mean multi-generational studies like the one published in the November 2013 issue of the Journal of Food and Chemical Toxicology titled “Two-generation Reproduction Study to Assess the Effects of Transgenic Bt Rice TT51 on Reproductive Function in Rats”?

          Here’s a summary:

          Throughout the study, no significant statistical or meaningful biological differences were observed for behavior or clinical effects in F0, F1, and F2 generation animals. There were no differences found among groups for copulation index, fertility index, gestation length, live-birth rate and litter number, body weight at birth or postnatal survival of the offspring, and offspring sex ratio. No serious adverse effects were found in F0 or F1 males after mating, in F0 or F1 females after weaning, or in the F2 generation after 10 weeks since birth day at necropsy. No significant statistical differences were observed in serum level of hormones, sperm parameters, including sperm head count, epididymis sperm motility, and morphology, and relative organ weights between the transgenic and non-transgenic rice diets or the control. Differences were found in some hematological parameters and serum chemistry parameters in rats consuming the genetically engineered rice diet compared with its parental or the control rice diet; however, these differences were not considered biologically meaningful and were not indicators of harmful effects. No noteworthy abnormal macroscopic or histological changes were observed.

          http://www.isb.vt.edu/news/2014/FebMar/WangYuXu.pdf

          This study was funded by the National Institute for Nutrition and Food Safety, Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention; National Center for Food Safety Risk Assessment, Beijing, China; Key Laboratory of Food Safety Risk Assessment, Ministry of Health, Beijing, China.

          I suppose you think China’s got shills too…

          • Judy Cross

            That link just won’t load. What does isb.vt.edu/ stand for?

          • Rod Herman

            Do you really not know how to find a scientific paper from its title and the journal where it was published? No wonder you are confused. Try pasting the title into Google Scholar.

          • http://wildernessvagabonds.com/ Mike Lewinski

            ISB stands for Information Systems for Biotechnology.

            The site is not loading for me either now, but worked yesterday so I suspect there’s a temporary outage somewhere in the campus network or servers.

          • NoToGMOs

            From that study:

            “TT51 is a new line of transgenic Bt rice currently under development in China.”

            You want us to be satisfied regarding the safety of ALL OTHER CURRENTLY CULTIVATED and CONSUMED GMOs (RR and Bt corn, soy, canola, cotton, sugar beets etc.) based on this one study on a ‘hypothetical’, not-yet commercially cultivated or approved GMO? I hope you are not serious.

          • http://wildernessvagabonds.com/ Mike Lewinski

            Your suggested conclusions are not mine (straw man). I gave one example only, the most recently published multi-generation study that was in the news this week. There are many more:

            http://www.skepticink.com/smilodonsretreat/2012/10/24/a-survey-of-long-term-gm-food-studies/

            I do understand that there will never be sufficient data to satisfy the most strident anti-GMO activists. The harm of GMOs is a starting point and article of faith. All evidence to the contrary is dismissed as industry bias. But there are hundreds of independently funded studies showing the same lack of harm. See An overview of the last 10 years of genetically engineered crop safety research in Critical Review of Biotechnology doi:10.3109/07388551.2013.823595.

            Beyond the consensus of safety found in the literature, there’s no plausible mechanism of harm from transgenic foods that isn’t found in foods from conventionally bred sources. That is, any breeding method could produce foods with toxins or allergens. Biotechnology offers a more precise method of breeding that modifies fewer genes in more predictable ways. The products of agricultural biotechnology are subject to review by three agencies in the United States (EPA, FDA, USDA) and extensive testing during the average 10-12 year process it takes to bring a new product to market. While conventionally bred crops occasionally produce foods with toxins, they are not subject to the same level of regulatory review and testing. A rational risk analysis based on the scientific literature and knowledge of biology would have to conclude that transgenic food sources present a lower risk profile than conventionally bred food sources.

        • Cairenn Day

          Here are some

          A Survery of Long Term GM Food Studies

          http://www.skepticink.com/smilodonsretreat/2012/10/24/a-survey-of-long-term-gm-food-studies/

          Not only that, but lab animals in the US and Canada have been fed chow that was mostly GMOs for almost 20 years. NO lab has seen a problem, then there are all the stock that have also been fed mostly GMO feed with no problems.

          Plenty of long term studies out there.

          • Judy Cross

            My experience with an Access to Information Act request to both Agriculture Canada and the Health Protection Branch in Canada trying to get information about food irradiation prevents me from taking anybody’s word about what is written up. I often found that the Summary differed from the body of the experiment and the real kicker was that knowing that harmful radiolytic compounds were generated by exposure to radioactive cobalt or cesium, on the second wave of testing in Hungary and Poland, an artificial antioxidant, Ethoxiquin, was fed to the test animals, preventing much of the damage seen when the testing was originally done in the US, Canada and the UK.

            China is producing its own genetically modified rice, and therefore is not disinterested in the outcome.. Given the world wide corruption of science, I don’t trust them either.

          • Matt B

            I have to say I was not too familiar with “radiolytic compounds” & food irradiation, sounded dangerous! Found this from the Idaho State physics department:

            6. Does irradiation cause chemical changes in food, producing substances not known to be present in non-irradiated
            food?

            Yes, irradiation does produce chemical changes in foods. These substances, called “radio-lytic products”, may sound mysterious, but they are not. They have been scrutinized by scientists
            in making safety assessments of irradiated foods. Any kind of treatment causes chemical changes in food. For instance, heat
            treatment, or cooking, produces chemicals that could be called “thermolytic products.” Scientists find the changes in food created by irradiation minor to those created by cooking. The products created by cooking are so significant that consumers can smell and taste them, whereas only a chemist with extremely sensitive lab equipment may be able to detect radiolytic products.

            http://www.physics.isu.edu/radinf/food.htm

          • Judy Cross

            “Don’t worry, be happy.”
            What did you expect physicists to say?

            The biggest problems with food irradiation were that it made food rot faster, caused chicken to taste like a wet dog smells and stored irradiated grains lost vitamins much faster than the non-irradiated grain did.

            Not a great choice for food preservation at all,

            since it was supposed to prolong shelf-life.
            It did prolong the shelf life of physicists at Atomic Energy Canada for a while though.

          • Matt B

            OK since all physicists have been corrupted by Big Cobalt, how about the view of non-physicists, like this guy Sam Beattie at Ames:

            http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/food-irradiation-salmonella-ecoli/

  • Jim Nelson

    GMO Opponents Use Fear and Deception to Advance Their Cause Isn’t that called fighting fire WITH fire.

    • Rod Herman

      I think it is what comes out of a fire hose if it is hooked up to a honey wagon.

  • Vierotchka

    I would call it using warnings and facts.

  • Shredder

    UN Report favors “a rapid and significant shift from conventional, monoculture-based and high external-input-dependent industrial production towards mosaics of sustainable, regenerative production systems that also considerably improve the productivity of small-scale farmers.” So how will GMOs help this effort? Answer: They won’t. http://unctad.org/en/pages/PublicationWebflyer.aspx?publicationid=666

    • JH

      ” mosaics of sustainable, regenerative production systems”
      :) I’ve seen this paragraph quoted before. “Mosaics of sustainable regenerative production systems” sounds beautiful. Who could argue with that? The only problem is that no one has any idea what “sustainable regenerative production systems” are, nor is it clear why we would want “mosaics” of them.

      The words are as beautiful as they are meaningless.

      • Shredder

        It’s like Justice Potter said: “I know it when I see it.” One thing they are NOT: GMOs.

        • Dominick Dickerson

          But why not? Thats the important question. Why couldn’t crops developed using genetic engineering be integrated into small holder agriculture and into regenerative agricultural practices?

          For instance, Bt crops require less pesticide application but does need to be incorporated into effect integrated pest management strategy to maximize their benefit and slow the inevitable rise of resistance.

          Everyone arguing for genetic engineering isnt by virtue also arguing for monoculture or industrial farming, although im sure there are some. The abuse and overuse of pesticides and herbicides does have devastating ecological and human health consequences and the over use of fertilizers does contribute to eutrophication of aquatic ecosystems and a whole host of other issues. But through genetic engineering were able to use less by trying to develop plant strains that produce their own chemical defenses (Bt) or have more efficient photosynthesis ( look up research attempting to create rice and wheat that utilizes alternative metabolic pathways for photosynthesis) or use water more efficiently (drought tolerant corn for example) or even biofortification of staple crops like Golden Rice or BioCassava.

          Even the one GM tech that has increased the use of inputs, glyphosate resistance, is arguably a boon as it allows farmers to use a less toxic alternative to previous pesticides. Should it have been used to the extent that it has? thats arguable. But whats not is the exclusivity of using any single pest management. It will always lead to the development of resistance. We need alternatives to glyphosate. So a more refined iteration of herbicide tolerance as a genetic modification should (will) probably include multiple traits stacked to confer tolerance to as many low toxicity herbicides as possible so that farmers can vary their pest management to prevent resistance from developing in pests.

    • Rod Herman

      Then why are there more small farmers using GMOs than large farmers? How is built-in insect resistance different in a GMO compared with insect-resistance in traditionally bred crops? Host-plant resistance has been a mainstay of plant breeders for more than a century.

  • Rod Herman

    This article title just states the obvious. But, then again, common sense is not as common as it used to be.

    http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/guest-blog/2014/03/15/golden-rice-opponents-should-be-held-accountable-for-health-problems-linked-to-vitamain-a-deficiency/

  • Shredder

    “The best chance of success in fighting vitamin A deficiency and malnutrition is to better use the inexpensive and nutritious foods already available, and in diversifying food production systems in the fields and in the household. The euphoria created by the Green Revolution greatly stifled research to develop and promote these efforts, and the introduction of golden rice will further compromise them. Golden rice is merely a marketing event.” As anyone with a lick of common sense realizes. http://www.grain.org/article/entries/10-grains-of-delusion-golden-rice-seen-from-the-ground

    • Rod Herman

      Yes – You should let the team that has been working on this for 15 years know of your great find. There is probably a Nobel prize in it for you!

    • Loren Eaton

      ….from the UN Standing Committee:

      Vitamin A deficiency affects some
      160 million preschool children in low-income countries,
      with prevalence estimated at about 30%. This
      prevalence – measured as low serum retinol – is improving
      at somewhat less than 0.5 percentage points per year. At
      that rate, it will take low-income countries more than 50
      years to get to levels typical of industrialized countries.’

      “Common sense” tells me that your “diversifying food production systems” is going to leave a lot of people behind.

  • alykatma

    GMO may be fine for the rest of you, but I would prefer my food without a side order of Roundup herbicide, which the FDA quietly increased the allowable limits in food by 15 to 20 times. Science is easily bought these days, with FDA and USDA run by industry insiders. Up to 185 million pounds of Roundup is sold each year, and this alone is wreaking havoc on ecosystems. Why are GMO’s banned in so many other countries? My take on it is the only reason for GMO’s is to sell patented seeds and chemicals.

    • Tom

      Then stick to Bt crops and you’ll be fine.

      • Judy Cross

        Roundup is for weeds, Bt is for insects and neither is acceptable in food.

        • Tom

          Then stick to virus-resistant papaya and you’ll be fine.

        • Neil

          Better not eat organic food then. Bt bacteria is a common organic-rated pesticide.

          • NoToGMOs

            Big difference between the Bt bacteria/toxin used in organic practices and that engineered into EVERY cell of a GM plant:

            http://www.gmwatch.org/latest-listing/40-2001/1058-bt-in-organic-farming-and-gm-crops-the-difference-

          • Neil

            So you think it is safe to spray crops with Bt bacteria then? OK, please show me the multigenerational studies that have been done to prove that this is safe. Please show me the results of the epidemiological analyses of the ingestion of the Bt bacteria by the human population over the last 20 years. This is, after all, the safety standard required by websites like gmwatch, natural news and ISIS for GM crops so of course they have this data for the Bt bacteria sprays, yeah? Oh, and while you are at it please show me the full characterization of all the proteins expressed in the Bt bacteria and their toxicity analysis – after all in eating organic food you will be exposed to ALL the proteins from the Bt bacteria not just the one or two that are expressed in the GM crop.

            You need to realize that websites like gmwatch, natural news and ISIS are not credible sources for information on GM issues. Here, for example, is a far more balanced analysis from the University of California on the safety of Bt: http://ucbiotech.org/answer.php?question=31

    • Paul Shipley

      Really? The FDA and USDA is run by industry insiders. Good government is good government, there are too many checks and balances to support you conspiracy theory. When you prove this I suggest you contact the media. Oh hang on, they are in on it too? No wonder we haven’t heard anything about it in the real news media. I see it your theory is alive and well in the Blogosphere but the real media sees it for the BS it is. In fact the only reputable source I found was on Yahoo Finance and on further investigation their reporter was debunking the conspiracy theory.
      I believe the government is there to protect us and would not dare losing its role by misleading the public and being voted out.
      As for improved seeds and chemicals, we are now producing more food on less land than ever before in the history of farming. I suggest you look it up, that is truly a fact and not something that somebody, somewhere put on a blog. http://www.csrees.usda.gov/qlinks/extension.html

  • Elias

    The anti-GMO’s fear tactics is bad. So to is the selling of untested and potentially dangerous false hope. People won’t be able to safely live around Chernobyl or drink the ground water near Fukushima Daichi for longer than writing. We should be careful if not fearful about a potential genetic meltdown before widely distributing it into nature.

    • Loren Eaton

      Please describe for me a genetic ‘meltdown’ and more importantly how GMO’s would contribute to this any more than any other plant or technology.

      • Elias

        Selective breeding and hybridization is natural. The ecological impact of producing producing a new variety of plant or animal that’s drought or disease resistant through simple selective breeding or cross pollination has no more impact upon nature than farming has had in the past.

        Introducing genes into nature which is not there by natural means is basically wishing and hoping that the rest of nature will ignore it. It must be proven that these new plants and animals will not have a long term negative effect upon the current ecology. The potential negative risks are as bad over the long term as a nuclear meltdown.

        We know what introducing species into areas in which they did not naturally occur can do. What is currently seen as potentially beneficial may quite harmful. We need to make certain with something so potentially disruptive to nature.

        Everything we humans do both naturally and technologically has risks and benefits. Blindly touting the benefits of nuclear energy without fully appreciating that unforeseeable events and accidents will happen was and is irresponsible. So too is blindly promoting GMO plants and animals.

        • Michael Phillips

          How can selective breeding and hybridization be natural if genetic transformation is not? This is how Agrobacterium transforms plants in the field, a perfectly natural process wouldn’t you agree? How do you define natural anyway? Do you mean that which happens in nature or are you excluding the purposeful actions of humans? If the latter, does that make humans unnatural? You say introducing genes must be tested or it could be worse than a nuclear meltdown. How do you know this specifically? And what kind of ‘testing’ would satisfy someone ideologically opposed to GMOs beyond the extensive testing that is already done? Would any evidence ever satisfy them? And how about all the accidents and problems caused by ‘natural’ methods of modifying organisms like hybridization and selective breeding? I am thinking specifically about food allergies and conventional agriculture in general…the unintended consequences of selective breeding in crops has been the loss of natural resistance genes, necesitating pesticides. Do you consider this more or less dangerous than the risks posed by modifying a single known gene with known properties? Why is the insertion of a gene into another organism by the hands of a human different than the same process happening in nature by Agrobacterium? It seems the objections of many anti-GMOers requires magic to be valid. It is the safety or danger of a trait that determines its safety or danger in the host organism, not the technique used to put it there. To suppose transformation magically creates a toxic protein requires magic. Do you agree?

        • Loren Eaton

          I sense a lot of ‘might, maybe, potentially and unforseeables’ in your argument. Long on imagination and short on proof. Selective breeding is NOT natural. Teosinte NEVER would have become maize without the heavy hand of humans. And do you seriously believe that farming has no impact on nature??

  • http://www.isitorganic.ca/ Mischa Popoff

    Too bad President Bill Clinton didn’t get his way back in 1997 and INCLUDE GMOs in organic production. Then this whole debate would have been avoided. But the anti-GMO organic activists just couldn’t let that happen because they needed a phantom menace. Now they’ve got one and they’re milking it for all it’s worth.

    • Shredder

      Yeah, too bad for the GMO/pesticide corporations. Fortunately, there are strong organic standards preventing GMOs from being considered organic, a proposition as laughable as it is offensive. It will never happen.

      • http://www.isitorganic.ca/ Mischa Popoff

        Pesticides… hmmm… you mean like Bacillus thuriengensis? Ah yes, Bt is used on organic farms, and it’s the same Bt that is spliced into the genome of GMO Bt crops.
        So, you see, organic farmers are already using this pesticide. In fact, they spend more when they have to buy it separately rather than simply having it incorporated into the plant.

        • Shredder

          So you turn a plant into a pesticide and then try to call it “organic?” Good luck selling that lemon.

          • http://www.isitorganic.ca/ Mischa Popoff

            I’m not selling anything. But the overwhelming majority of farmers across America have chosen to buy such crops and grow them on their farms. So please tell us Shredder, why don’t you trust the judgment of American farmers?

          • Shredder

            The majority of farmers are corporate farmers; no wonder they choose what pads corporate profits. Family farmers do not benefit from GMOs. Here’s a recent survey: “Organic Farmers Pay the Price for Contamination”. This is really the exact intent of the GMO industry, isn’t it? Contaminate organic farming out of existence. Admit it, Mischa. That’s what you want. http://www.foodandwaterwatch.org/briefs/organic-farmers-pay-the-price-for-contamination/

          • http://www.isitorganic.ca/ Mischa Popoff

            Okay… so what’s wrong with being incorporated? And what’s wrong with being profitable? Didn’t you know even organic farmers are profitable?
            Plenty of family farmers choose to grow GMOs. And there’s no such thing as contamination of an organic crop by GMOs. So organic farmers have nothing to worry about.

  • Shredder

    Fear and deception? No. Legitimate science-based concerns? Yes.

    “Contrary to often-repeated claims that today’s genetically-engineered crops have, and are reducing pesticide use, the spread of glyphosate-resistant weeds in herbicide-resistant weed management systems has brought about substantial increases in the number and volume of herbicides applied.” http://www.enveurope.com/content/24/1/24

    “The world’s top selling herbicide [glyphosate] is now implicated in a series of epidemics of fatal chronic kidney disease that’s affecting poor farming regions across the world, according to research published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.” http://www.sustainablebusiness.com/index.cfm/go/news.display/id/25614

    • Tom

      Hint: if a paper is published in a predatory pay-to-publish MDPI journal (http://scholarlyoa.com/2014/02/18/chinese-publishner-mdpi-added-to-list-of-questionable-publishers/ ) and contains no actual results – only speculation (http://www.mdpi.com/1660-4601/11/2/2125 ), it’s most likely bogus. I have yet to see these elusive science-based concerns of which you speak…

      • Shredder

        Nice dodge! But unconvincing. You guys always ask for citations and then when provided you say “bad citation.” This is a formula. Whatever. Enjoy your glass of glyphosate for lunch today.

        • Tom

          It’s because “you guys” always cite papers that you haven’t read or even tried to understand. Yet you’re always quick to dismiss papers that show the opposite of what you would like reality to be and call them “industry-funded studies” (again without reading them or trying to understand them). Show me data or go home.

          • Shredder

            I showed you the data and you dismissed it, because you don’t like the implications which contradict your religious worship of technology in the face of manifest, objective failure and documented harms from the poisoning of people and the environment. I guess we agree to disagree. One thing is certain; my concerns are reasonable and science-based, not based on “fear and deception” as the quasi-defamatory article suggests. Now go read Benbrook and talk to the farmers of Sri Lanka and the Phillipines and India and China and Russia and Argentina and Brazil and Mexico and … the, what is it now, at least 64 countries that have either banned or restricted the scam known as GMOs. You’re welcome.

          • Tom

            No – you have not shown me data. You directed me to a study that speculates on causes of chronic diseases but contain no actual data. Again, I ask you to show me the data.

          • Shredder

            Nonsense. There’s plenty of data in that study I cited to Showing evidence of a synergy between glyphosate and metals) and in the studies IT cites to. There is so much data out there on the hazards of glyphosate you have to be willfully blind to miss it. Here’s another: http://omicsonline.org/open-access/detection-of-glyphosate-residues-in-animals-and-humans-2161-0525.1000210.php?aid=23853 Now go do your homework.

          • http://pdiff.weebly.com/ Pdiff

            Omicsonline? Seriously? You do know April fools is over right? Still, you did give me a chuckle. Thanks :)

          • Shredder

            Ha! There’s a convincing argument. You’re right, glyphosate is perfectly safe for human consumption. Never mind.

          • Jason

            The USDA reports differently stating that while the adoption of GMO tolerant crops has led to a slight reduction in overall pesticide use, the main impact has been a great reduction in the overall toxicity of pesticides released into the environment.

            Anti-GMO groups will often cite the overall volume of pesticides is higher now then in earlier years but also fail to mention that crop acreage is also higher. When looked at on a per acre basis, pesticide use is lower and toxicity is far lower due to the replacement of soil insecticides with Bt genes and the replacement of higher toxicity herbicides with glyphosate (which the EPA give the lowest possible toxicity level).

          • Shredder

            None of that is convincing, and you have the facts exactly wrong. First, the per acre use of herbicides has increased: “Herbicide use on GMO corn increased from around 1.5 pounds per planted acre in 2001 to more than 2.0 pounds per planted acre in 2010.” Second, “over reliance on glyphosate has translated to an increase in weed resistance, which makes crop production much harder.” (Source: Reuters)

            Further, the USDA report failed to account for the fact that even if it were true that the use of soil insecticides has decreased, the Bt corn plant itself is now an insecticide. Moreover, since the industry is now seeking approval for 2,4-D tolerant crops, it’s obvious that the trend is in the opposite direction: increased toxicity of herbicides. In fact, the western corn rootworm has rapidly developed resistance to Bt corn, so stronger chemicals will be used there as well. Quite a treadmill happening there.

            The report also found that often the yields from GMO crops are no better or even less than from conventional. For all these reasons, farmers are moving away from GMOs. I think the experiment should be declared a failure and Monsanto and Dow and the rest of the GMO/pesticide industry should be sent packing, but that’s just my opinion. But it is an opinion based on facts, not on “fear and deception” as the silly article that generated all this discussion wrongly asserts.

            In any event, glyphosate is really nasty stuff, regardless of any comparisons with other chemicals, and people understandably do not want it in their food, or their streams, or their bodies.

          • Jason

            You provided herbicide statistics, not overall pesticide use. The usda is the best authority in this as they’re the only ones that have a reliable system In place to monitor & report. I trust their data.
            As for switching from GMOs… You’re living in a dream world. Worldwide use is growing. Monsanto literally just reported having met shipping targets which tells you their business is growing. I have no idea what gave you the idea that farmers are switching away. No can assure you, they are not.
            I’d be interested in what “facts” you’re basing this on.

          • Shredder

            How do you know Monsanto met their “shipping targets?” Do you work for Monsanto? But it doesnt matter. The clear trend in the US, particularly the midwest, is away fromo GMOs. Go google it – there are abundant reports of farmers abandoning GMOs for more profitable conventional crops. Here is just one example of many more: http://modernfarmer.com/2013/12/post-gmo-economy/ Think about it. Consumer demand for non-GMO is understandably skyrocketing, and farmers are acting to meet this demand. Add that to the other reasons for mandatory labeling (legitimate, science-based health safety concerns and environmental risks): the need to protect agricultural resources and promote a robust agricultural economy. Which brings us back to the original point in the silly article above: I say the AMA has likely been unduly influenced, and is not the last word on the matter; that there are obviously plenty of scientists calling for mandatory labeling; and that the scientific justification for mandatory labeling of GMOs is not merely substantial; it is overwhelming.

          • Jason

            If you get financial news, you couldn’t miss it. Monsanto is an investors darling right now.

            I sell seed in the Midwest.. Indiana to be specific. I can assure you that there is no migration away from gmo seed. One farmer does not a movement make.

          • jytdog

            The paper on kidney disease that you cite — did you read it? It is here: http://www.mdpi.com/1660-4601/11/2/2125 It is all theoretical – there is no actual data in it, showing that glyphosate forms “Compound X”, that “Compound X” is actually found in the environment, nor that “Compound X” is harmful in vitro, in vivo, or in humans. It is a bunch of speculation. There is no proof of anything there. How can you cite that paper as though it proves something? This is so confusing.

          • Shredder

            It’s not confusing at all to those who understand the basic difference between proof and evidence. I have shown evidence a-plenty – which, by the way, is more than enough to justify mandatory labeling, which is obviously something the industry desperately wants to avoid – I wonder why.

            You people are like a big balloon – poke it here, it comes up there – kinda fun.

        • Your1Friend

          As you know, GMO shills saturate the internet.

          It’s the same song and dance: “GMOs are (all but) infallible. How dare you question our science?”

          It is our right and duty to question the “science” and the “scientists” promoting this massively failing technology.

          We must never leave “science” to the “scientists.”

          • jytdog

            This is what I mean about religion. Putting science in quotes, like the discipline and data are meaningless? There is no rational discussion here.

      • Your1Friend

        You are wearing corporate blinders.

        Take off your rose-colored, genetically-modified sunglasses.

        • Tom

          You know nothing about me. If you don’t call me a corporate shill, I won’t call you scientifically illiterate. I have fourteen years of research experience, have read thousands upon thousands of scientific articles and published a dozen myself. Either debate the science or keep your trap shut.

  • AaronKuperman

    IF GMO means it has been altered from its wild natural state, then all foods are GMOs.

    • NoToGMOs

      No, that’s not what is meant by GMO in the context that is being talked about today. A better and less confusing term, in my opinion would have been ‘Genetically engineered’ or ‘Transgenic’ organisms.

      Although proponents of GMOs try to confuse and cloud these terms by saying all food, since the beginning of time, is GMO, the fact is that GMOs, as we use the term today, refers to an organism (plant, animal, microorganism) whose genetic makeup has been altered ARTIFICIALLY (as in a lab….by humans) transferring DNA of a DIFFERENT species into them. Organisms that have a next to nil chance of existing if nature were left to itself. When was the last time spider genes spliced themselves ‘naturally’ into the genes of a goat to produce goat milk that contains spider silk?? Or fish genes jump into a tomato all by themselves?

      The kind of genetic modification that has resulted in the food we eat today has been brought about by natural methods like hybridization and cross-pollination….like crossing a drought-resistant variety of rice with anther variety of rice in hopes of transferring the drought-resistant trait. However, this kind of genetic modification is not what we mean when we talk of ‘GMOs’.

      • Michael Phillips

        You said: “When was the last time spider genes spliced themselves ‘naturally’ into
        the genes of a goat to produce goat milk that contains spider silk?? Or
        fish genes jump into a tomato all by themselves?”

        Naturalistic fallacy. Plenty of natural things are harmful and plenty of synthetic things are not. As for “gene splicing”, you are talking about horizontal gene transfer. This actually happens in nature all the time. Read this article:

        Science, 30 April 2010: Vol. 328, no. 5978, pp. 624-627, DOI:10.1126/science.1187113
        Lateral Transfer of Genes from Fungi Underlies Carotenoid Production in Aphids
        Nancy A. Moran and Tyler Jarvik

        And why exactly is it automatically bad if humans do it intentionally? Our domesticated crops also have “next to nil chance of existing if nature were left to itself”. So I don’t see the relevance of your statement.

  • http://janiceperson.com/ Janice Person

    Interesting the way he words things because I feel certain the FDA has never implied every GMO that could be thought of is safe. They are stringent on pre-market testing that is absolutely mandatory. As I understand it, the FDA is basically saying they will required labeling if there was a safety issue but they see none at this time. But then that sounds a lot like fact rather than scare tactics and I am sure OCA knows what drives the dollars to come in.

  • http://www.le.com.my/ LE Laboratory Equipments SDH B

    Its a awesoem blog. Very informative. Thanks for sharing.

  • A’ole Gmo

    Thank “Never Ending Food” for your patient articulate replies to these individuals who want to eat GMO foods. I say to them go for it, eat to your content, your life choice. The problem is there should be a choice and labeling gives a choice. Also people need to be protected from the tons of pesticides and their overspray on gmo crops. On Kauai the poisoning run off destruction is showing up on the land, streams and beaches. When these chemical companies, Pioneer Seed, BASF, and Syngenta to mention a few were asked by the Kauai City Council to disclose what chemicals were in their pesticides, they remained silent. If it is so safe why not disclose the information to put the public at ease? Now these companies who said they want to be a “good neighbor” are now suing Kauai county. This kind of arrogant business bullying practice where they use their money and highly paid corporate lawyers to hide data is wrong. You do not have to be a scientist to know when science is producing dead results. Those who have lived in Hawaii for generations and have seen with their own eyes that the streams flowed clean with vibrant life to the ocean without killing our reefs BEFORE these chemicals companies began their chemical bombardments. Schools near these chemical sprayed fields have been evacuated with kids having nosebleeds, nausea, eyes burning, burning throats. Just this past weekend a Walmart store located next to Pioneer fields were evacuated and people sent to emergency for toxic reactions. The Kauai Airport employees were evacuated from noxious odors. This goes on frequently. The funny thing is non of the management staff of these chemicals live anywhere near the fields being sprayed. In fact one of them lives in a rented beachfront cottage at thousands per day rented…must be nice. We also have followed them into organic stores to buy their food and confronted them while they scurry away from us. I think next time we shall video tape the evidence to go viral. Until you have to live in this kind of environment and witness the ill effects, one should hold their tongue or come to Kauai and see for yourself period as we are ground zero. Hawaii’s fragile eco system cannot continue to be poisoned. Monsanto and it’s chemical offsprings are not wanted in Hawaii. We have wonderful fertile soil where organics grow naturally year round. The problem is now Monsanto has decided to use Oahu as a year round crop for their tainted BT corn and then export it. I went to the export docks and these boxes are stamped NOT FOR HUMAN CONSUMPTION…interesting huh for something that is supposed to be safe? Give me a break…no more hiding behind lies that say science is safe until proven wrong…I say prove it safe first before it continues to do “WRONG” even to the point of appointing former MONSANTO exec to head the FDA AND EPA…we the people are not stupid we see and know what is going on… Aloha also mean goodbye to these chemical companies destroying paradise.

  • Your1Friend

    This “article” is nothing more than preposterous and uncritical pro-GMO propaganda. Discover Magazine is diminished by “journalism” such as this.

    • Ravi32

      I guess you fret about pro vaccine propaganda as well

  • Schratboy

    GMO Advocates Use Professional Scientist-marketer Consumer (no labeling) Deception to Advance Their Cause

NEW ON DISCOVER
OPEN
CITIZEN SCIENCE
ADVERTISEMENT

Discover's Newsletter

Sign up to get the latest science news delivered weekly right to your inbox!

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.

ADVERTISEMENT

See More

ADVERTISEMENT
Collapse bottom bar
+

Login to your Account

X
E-mail address:
Password:
Remember me
Forgot your password?
No problem. Click here to have it e-mailed to you.

Not Registered Yet?

Register now for FREE. Registration only takes a few minutes to complete. Register now »