Anti GMO

Responses to Popular Anti-GMO Arguments & Rhetoric

Responses to Popular Anti-GMO Arguments & Rhetoric

 

 

Anti GMO march

The typical rhetoric from the anti-GMO crowd can range anywhere from harmless, benign questions to malignant, ignorant claims based on complete scientific illiteracy.

There are hundreds of questions, concerns, and claims from the anti-GMO movement, some more legitimate than others, but I will only be addressing a few of their main talking points.   

I am also going to make a quick disclaimer right now that even though Monsanto is going to be mentioned a lot, the main point of this article is not to defend Monsanto whatsoever. The main point is to debunk and refute the actual claims about GMOs and other issues or concerns that surround them. But unfortunately, it is very difficult to address these claims without also talking about Monsanto because the anti-GMO activists tend to falsely equate GMOs and Monsanto in their arguments. What we need to establish is that there are many, many other agricultural biotech companies that use GM technology as well. It’s not just Monsanto. But regardless, I don’t think it’s any secret that these anti-GMO activists absolutely loathe Monsatan Monsanto and single them out. These activists hate Monsanto so much, in fact, that any type of association with the company can put a target on your back. Simply mentioning Monsanto can suck the air out of a room, and it gets much worse if you’re actually trying to defend them. So I’m going to try really hard to keep the focus on debunking the actual claims of the GMO arguments rather than simply defending Monsanto.

  1.  Monsanto is a massive, multi-billion dollar corporation that looms over the agriculture industry with its GMO seed patents and monopoly on food production.

I would rate this claim misleading at best. Otherwise, I would consider it just flat-out false.

Firstly, Monsanto is not a massive company. They net about $15 billion annually. Sure, they’re by far the biggest biotech seed company, but as far as corporations go they’re only about the same size as Whole Foods. So it is absolutely ridiculous to posit the notion that 2% of a $900 billion agriculture industry should be considered a monopoly.

Second, almost every seed that farmers use is patented, including organic seeds. Almost all seeds used in large-scale farming production today are known as hybrids. Hybrid seeds are simply seeds that have been produced through cross-pollination, and the first generation seeds produce very high quality crops. However, when hybrid seeds are replanted (second and third generation) the crops produced are considerably inferior to the first generation. So even if farmers wanted to collect and replant the seeds, the end payout would still make it an ill-advised business move. Because of all this, farmers instead buy new seeds each season for whichever crops they grow. This ensures that they are getting a batch of seeds that will produce the true high quality crops they are trying to grow.

Lastly, corporations all produce their own hybrid seed cultivars. Of course a corporation is going to patent the seeds they produce in order to protect their intellectual property, just as an artist trademarks their artwork in order to protect their intellectual property. Either way, patenting seeds has been happening long before Monsanto or the organic movement came onto the scene.

So while this statement is correct in saying Monsanto is a multi-billion dollar corporation that patents seeds, it’s grossly misleading in the way that it leaves out a lot of very important information that effectively renders the entire premise of the argument false.

  1.  Monsanto produces an extremely toxic herbicide, Glyphosate [Round-Up], and they genetically modify crops to be resistant to it so they can sell more Round-Up.

Again, this statement is extremely misleading and false, yet it tends to be a very common claim – or one of the variations of it – from the anti side. There are multiple layers to this one, so my response here will be a bit lengthy.

To get the easiest part to debunk out of the way, while Monsanto does produce glyphosate, it is not a huge manufacturer of it anymore. Their patent for glyphosate expired in 2002. Once the patent expired, companies in China became the main manufacturers. So the line of logic that asserts Monsanto genetically modifies their crops in order to sell more Round-Up is demonstrably fallacious. Monsanto genetically modifies their crops to be resistant to glyphosate because glyphosate is one of the safest and most effective broad-spectrum herbicides on the market.

Now we can focus on the misleading claim that glyphosate is extremely toxic. Okay yes, glyphosate is extremely toxic… to plants. It’s toxic to the weeds that compete with the crops we cultivate, hence why it’s called an herbicide. But the massive amount of evidence that has been collected after publishing and reviewing thousands of studies overwhelmingly suggests that glyphosate is relatively harmless to humans and animals. So not only is Monsanto a very small manufacturer of RoundUp, glyphosate has become one of the most researched substances in the world.

All glyphosate-based herbicides on the market today must meet rigorous standards of approval set by regulatory and health authorities to protect the public, including infants and children. They must pass EPA, USDA, and FDA safety standards, including the safety standards of all the other countries that produce or import glyphosate-based herbicides, or herbicides in general. Comprehensive long-term toxicological studies repeated over the last 30 years have time and again demonstrated that glyphosate is unlikely to pose a cancer risk in humans. The U.S. EPA groups glyphosate in the lowest and most favorable category, E, indicating evidence of non-carcinogenicity for humans. Most recently, the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment released its decision on behalf of the European Union, concluding, after a four-year review, that there is no cause-and-effect link between glyphosate exposure and cancer.

Here is a comprehensive list of glyphosate studies that have been published in peer-reviewed scientific journals.

The mountain of evidence from thousands of studies points in the direction that glyphosate is non-carcinogenic and that the safety standards for exposure to humans and animals, which are set by international regulatory bodies, are indeed safe.

But okay, let’s pretend that all those studies are wrong or biased and that glyphosate really is toxic to humans and animals. Well like I said, glyphosate still has federal safety limits set on how much can be sprayed. And even then, even with the safety limits, Round-Up is still usually sprayed at levels below that recommended amount. About 22oz of Round-Up are sprayed per acre. Or in other words, about as much as 2 soda cans per acre. And only a fraction of the rate applied is actually herbicide. This is something the anti crowd will never tell you, but if you go to a Home Depot or any place that sells RoundUp, take a look at the ingredients label. Only 41% of it is actually glyphosate. And on top of that, farmers dilute Round-Up further by mixing it with a lot of water. What is sprayed over a field of crops is a highly diluted mist.

And this is where we have to talk about dosage, because the toxicological illiteracy really starts to show in the anti-GMO crowd when they start talking about chemical toxicity. Even with all the information I have talked about, they will still claim that glyphosate is not safe at any dosage. Horse shit. Toxicology 101: the dosage makes the poison. This is very important knowledge to have in life because this rule applies to literally every single chemical, substance, molecule, anything that you will ever interact or come in contact with. If somebody ever tells you that something is toxic, your next question should be: “at what dosage are toxic effects produced?” If they cannot give you that information, or refuse to do so, then they are either deliberately lying to you or are mislead or misinformed themselves. You simply cannot tell someone that something is toxic without also providing them with the associated dosages.

So going back to the fact that the dosage makes the poison, I have a few simple examples for why that is true. Water, aka the dreaded dihydrogen monoxide, in a high enough dose will kill you. Formaldehyde is another example. People mostly tend to think of this substance to be inherently deadly. It’s used in embalming fluid, and it’s just like ew, gross, and icky, right? I mean, how could formaldehyde ever possibly be considered safe? Well, it’s the dosage. Our bodies naturally produce formaldehyde during our metabolic processes. That’s practically just high school level biology. But the levels of formaldehyde that our bodies produce are so low that they don’t cause any toxic effects. Again, this is why basic knowledge in biology, chemistry, and toxicology is so important.

So we’ve covered the importance of dosage, but to understand this next part we also need to delve just a little bit into what’s known as LD50. LD50 refers to the dosage of a chemical at which 50% of test animals die. High LD50 = good, low LD50 = bad. The higher the LD50, the less toxic it is; the higher dosage you need in order to produce toxic effects.

Here is a chart that ranks substances, from water to cyanide and beyond, according to the EPA’s categorization of their toxicity levels:

Anti GMO

As we can see, glyphosate is ranked as one of the least toxic things on the list, with a very high LD50 (5600 mg/kg of body wt). It’s so high in fact, that dose for dose it is less toxic than sodium chloride, aka table salt (LD50 3000mg/kg wt). It’s less toxic than vitamin D even (LD50 10). So it looks like anti-GMO activists who try to warn us about the dangers of glyphosate are forgetting to mention all these other substances that make glyphosate seem absolutely benign. They sure don’t want vitamin D banned. And how ridiculous would it be to try and ban salt?

Further, just as a quick thought experiment: If glyphosate really did produce toxic effects at levels that are not unlikely for someone to be exposed to, then we should expect an epidemic of sick farmers across the nation because those are the people who are in more contact with it than anybody else. But that clearly is not happening. And even if glyphosate really was a carcinogen, that still means nothing without the associated levels of exposure. According to the EPA, estimates based on long-term studies on rats and mice, a 165-pound human would need to eat 150 milligrams of glyphosate per day before he or she would need to start to worry about chronic adverse effects. Considering the miniscule amounts of pesticide residues permitted in our food, our 165-pound person would need to eat somewhere around 65 pounds of produce every single day. And that would still be contingent on that person never washing their fruits and vegetables.

But perhaps the most interest things on this list, and what comes to a surprise to a lot of people, are that organic pesticides, like rotenone and copper sulfate, are orders of magnitude more toxic than glyphosate. But of course you never hear about those. And there are many more organic pesticides that are currently approved for use in organic farming that are also far more toxic than glyphosate. This point is important because anti-GMO activists tend to be highly supportive of organic farming. While I think organic farming is great, misleading people through misinformed rhetoric is absolutely condemnable. The organic industry has made billions selling products that people fully believe are cultivated using zero pesticides. Then these activists use those false assumptions to attack the GMO side. And the hypocrisy is astonishing. How dare organic companies call for transparency with GMOs while they sit on a throne shrouded by deceit. And I will go further into how shady Big Organic is.

  1.  The World Health Organization lists glyphosate as carcinogenic to humans.

I know I already went over the fact that glyphosate has not been shown to be “extremely toxic to humans and animals,” but this specific claim does need a bit of a deeper dive because I hear it brought up quite frequently, independent from the glyphosate-toxicity argument. So what they are referring to here is the fact that the IARC found that glyphosate “may be carcinogenic to humans.” For those who may not know, the IARC (International Association of Research on Cancer) is a branch of the WHO, but they are just one group that has looked at a link between glyphosate and cancer. To speak further about the actual claim though, the IARC never said glyphosate was for sure carcinogenic to humans, but of course that’s what all the anti-GMO headlines say. There were actually two other groups part of the WHO that looked at this same issue but came to a different conclusion: that there is no link between glyphosate and cancer. It’s 2 to 1 with the consensus that glyphosate is not linked to cancer. The IARC disregarded dozens of scientific studies and relied heavily on papers that created false associations.

Further, the IARC drew conclusions based on a limited data review debated during just a one-week meeting. This process is in stark contrast to periodic regulatory reviews. For example, the regulators in the United States and Canada began reviews of glyphosate in 2009 and concluded their research more than five years later, in 2015.

  1.  Monsanto created Agent Orange and therefore cannot be trusted with our food supply.

This argument, while very popular, is based on complete historical ignorance. A lot of people, especially anti-GMO activists, don’t realize that there are actually two Monsantos. Agent Orange was in fact made by Monsanto, along with DOW Chemical, but the Monsanto that made Agent Orange during the Vietnam war was a chemical company. In 1996 the chemical Monsanto company also happened to buy an agricultural company, long after the use and production of Agent Orange. The chemical Monsanto company developed the drug Celebrex and the company was then purchased by Pfizer in 2002. (Additional link: http://www.pfizer.com/about/history/pfizer_pharmacia). Pfizer had no interest in the agribusiness so they spun the agricultural company off, but they kept that company’s name Monsanto. (Additional links: http://www.newyorker.com/tech/elements/why-the-climate-corporation-sold-itself-to-monsanto, http://www.wikinvest.com/stock/Pfizer_(PFE)/Monsanto-related_Matters). And so the Monsanto seed company that we know today is a completely separate entity from that original Monsanto chemical company.

Monsanto (the seed company) was distinct from Monsanto (the chemical company) and Pfizer, with its own bylaws, a different board of directors, and completely different management from Monsanto (the chemical company) or Pfizer. Monsanto (the seed company) kept the name “Monsanto” because they felt it would be too expensive to change. Changing the name, they estimated, would cost about $40 million.

  1.  Biotech companies oppose GMO labeling because they’re trying to keep us uninformed about their products, which have not been proven to be safe for human consumption.

Nothing about this is even remotely true. Biotech companies oppose current legislation on GMO labeling not only because it is unnecessary, but because it makes no sense. After decades of research, millions of dollars spent, and thousands of papers published in scientific journals, there has never been a documented adverse effect from consuming GMOs. Many argue the debate about GMO safety is over and the pro-side won. Now, the anti side flaunts their studies that say otherwise, but when you actually read the full text of their studies, and you read the reporting on those popular studies, you quickly find out that a large amount of them have either been retracted, highly criticized, not even peer-reviewed, or some other reason that makes their claims dubious at best.

A meta-study published in 2014 was designed to analyze the health effects of consuming GMOs. The sample size, which is truly staggering, consisted of 100 billion animals that were fed 90%-100% GMO feed spanning over a period of 18 years. The results were then compared to animals that ate 100% non-GMO feed. So what were the results? The researchers found literally zero adverse health effects in the animals given GMO feed compared to those who did not. If this isn’t the clearest and most compelling evidence that GMOs are absolutely safe to consume then I don’t know what is.

A popular study that is brought up by anti-GMO activists quite often was one conducted by Gilles-Eric Séralini. His paper was highly criticized and actually ended up getting retracted due to many factors such as horrific controls and bad test subjects, inconclusive results, and other flaws. The paper was unfortunately republished with a new abstract and conclusion in SpringerOpen, but as Retraction Watch reports, ESE, part of SpringerOpen, is too young to have an official Impact Factor (IF). The journal is calculated to have an IF of .55. That would place it about 190th out of the 210 journals in the “environmental sciences” category at Thomson Scientific. And the study is still highly criticized by hundreds of independent scientists who say the rewritten study still contains all the flaws of the original one. In fact, the editor of the republished paper has said that the new version was not peer-reviewed.

An anti-GMO study was actually recently retracted due to plagiarism. This is what scientific fraud looks like, and it’s on the anti-GMO side. This is serious stuff; he’s at the center of an ethics inquiry and may lose his license.

The studies that really hold up to scrutiny, the ones with replicated results, the ones with the most robust testing, are the ones that have come to the conclusions that GMOs are safe.

In fact, the scientific consensus on GMO safety is as robust, if not more, than the scientific consensus that anthropogenic climate change is real. Now, many anti-GMO activists will claim that Monsanto simply pays off scientists to forge data and publish results which favor GMOs, or that Monsanto pays off organizations to make false statements in support of GMOs. Never mind the fact that the anti-GMO side literally has shills such as the guy who plagiarized data in his study, but using just a little bit of critical thinking should bring you to the conclusion that this claim makes absolutely no sense. Going back to a chart I cited at the beginning of this article, Exxon Mobil makes about $400 billion annually. This is important for a simple reason: If a $400 billion company cannot pay off even a tiny sliver of the world’s scientists and organizations to say that climate change isn’t real, how in the world could a small $15 billion company like Monsanto be able to successfully pay off so many scientists and world health organizations? The claim is absolutely ridiculous. And yet this is still one of those areas where the lay-public loves to just cherry-pick the science. I’m sorry, but you can’t just pick and choose what science you want to follow and then reject what you don’t like. That’s not how science works. Science is objective. It’s truth. It’s not opinion. We go where the evidence points us to, not our feelings.

But to expand on the point that labeling is unnecessary, I think the term “GMO” has become a bit of a false dichotomy because it more refers to a [breeding] process than an actual thing. Kind of like how the USDA organic label doesn’t refer to the actual quality of the food, but rather just the process in which it was cultivated. Genetic modification is a process, demonstrably. And okay, so what if people want to label that process? Well then we would also have to put a GMO label on literally every single thing that we eat.

Anti GMO

All traditional farming since the beginning of time has been genetically modified through selective breeding and crossbreeding, we’re just better at it now. Traditional breeding methods can change anywhere from 10,000-300,000 genes in a single crop. With crossbreeding, desired genes are inserted with other genetic material, aka genetic modification. There are no safety testing requirements for this method, and almost all crops are made this way. For example, broccoli does not exist in nature. You could search for a thousand years and you will almost certainly never find broccoli growing in the wild. In reality, it was derived from wild mustard;  we chose favorable genes that we manipulated and expressed through selective breeding until we came to the end result of broccoli. Broccolini sure doesn’t exist in nature. That’s a crossbreeding of broccoli and kale. And I’m sorry, hipsters, but your kale “superfood” is a GMO in and of itself. But besides that, we are mixing foreign DNA from two plants to create an entirely new crop. The bananas we eat are completely different than wild bananas, which are practically inedible. Wild bananas are tiny and circular, they taste bitter, and they’re filled with seeds. These are all foods that have been contrived by humans through the manipulations of genes, and yet no one is scared to eat them.

Anti GMO

Many people don’t know this, but there’s a form of genetic modification that is common in organic farming called Mutagenesis. In Mutagenesis, seeds are subjected to high levels of chemicals and radiation in order to speed up the mutations of favorable genes. There is no way of assessing how many genes are altered because it’s completely random, and there is absolutely no safety testing required for this method. But guess who spends millions of dollars fighting labeling laws for this method while pointing the finger at the other side? This is where I wanted to expand on the shockingly shady, scummy, and hypocritical marketing structure that the organic industry operates under. How do they have the gall to call for transparency when they are one of the most deceptive and misleading industries out there? They rely on the gullibility and scientific illiteracy of the public. It’s truly mind-blowing. Seriously, get in contact with some major organic companies and ask them about mutagenesis labeling. You’ll get some interesting responses.

Now, the form of genetic modification that is so controversial, when we talk about GMOs like corn and soybeans, uses a process known as Transgenics. This method changes about 1-4 genes in total. We insert the desired genes only at known locations where testing has shown that it’s safe. It is extremely precise. It’s also highly tested. In order for any GMO product to come to market using this method, it has to undergo 10+ years of safety testing and pass EPA, USDA, and FDA standards. Then on top of that, they need to pass the safety standards of every single country that we export to as well, and those countries conduct their own independent research.

So biotech companies are opposed to GM labeling for good reason: GMOs have not been demonstrated to pose any inherent risks, and a label would imply that they were somehow inferior to other products. If there truly were a reason to be worried about GMOs, then labeling would not be an issue. But even then, labeling a breeding method still doesn’t really tell you anything anyways because you would get absolutely no nutritional information from that label. Like I said before, genetic modification is a process, not a thing. If you want to label a process, then why don’t we label every other form of cultivation? Radiation mutagenesis that I was just talking about should have to be labeled too, but again, guess who is fighting to keep that in the dark. Artificial selection from traditional farming, fecal fertilization, and a myriad of other irrelevant details should all have to be labeled as well. It’s our “right to know,” right? Or is it?

Here are a few quotes from some of the leaders of the GMO labeling movement:

“We are going to force them to label this food. If we have it labeled, then we can organize people not to buy it.” – Andrew Kimbrell, Executive Director, Center for Food Safety

“Personally, I believe GM foods must be banned entirely, but labeling is the most efficient way to achieve this. Since 85% of the public will refuse to buy foods they know to be genetically modified, this will effectively eliminate them from the market just the way it was done in Europe.” – Dr. Joseph Mercola, Mercola.com (By the way, this is completely false. Europe is actually one of the largest importers of GMOs.)

“The burning question for us all then becomes how-and how quickly-can we move healthy, organic products from a 4.2% market niche, to the dominant force in American food and farming? The first step is to change our labeling laws.” –Ronnie Cummins, Director, Organic Consumers Association (Is this an admission of a marketing ploy?

So is labeling really about our “right to know?” No. For them, it has never been about “knowing what’s in your food,” and many people are just blindly following them.

Further, there are already non-GMO labels. Why do we need more labels? That would just force biotech companies to spend even more on unnecessary labels and that would hinder their research for even better products to come to market.

And not only would putting labels directly cost them more money, they would also lose revenue because Dr. Joseph Mercola is right. The vast majority of the public assumes that GMOs are bad and evil, and they would absolutely avoid GMO products purely based on these unfounded fears and their gullibility from lack of scientific literacy. Not to mention that it’s basically impossible to avoid GMOs even in organic farming. The anti side claims they’re all about “transparency and the right to know,” but that’s actually not true at all as I demonstrated above. Their work is not going to be finished if labeling gets passed. The label issue is just a wedge in the door for them. Once labeling legislation gets passed, their arguments will then become “If GMOs are so safe, then why do we have to label them?” And there are multiple historical examples of that exact situation happening where groups fight for something just to get a wedge in the door and then change their narrative after the fact. Chiropractors and the USDA organic label are perfect examples of that.

The chiropractic industry lobbied legislatures for years to allow them to become licensed, but their motions were always rejected. Chiropractors argued that licensing them would allow them to regulate themselves better and they would be able to weed out the really bad quacks and cranks. Eventually, they got through to the legislatures and they got their licenses. But now that they are licensed, they instead use them as validation of legitimacy even though those licenses were never intended to be taken that way. But the lay-public doesn’t understand that so they fall prey to chiropractors who convince them they’re legitimate simply because they have a license.

A similar thing happened with organic industry. The USDA eventually gave the organic industry their label, but the USDA specifically said in their press release that these organic labels say absolutely nothing about the actual quality of the food; rather, the label simply refers to the process in which it was cultivated. But the second the organic industry got that label, organic products exploded. Like seriously exploded, because the lay-public didn’t understand that the labels didn’t say anything about the actual quality of the food. They just see the label and assume it means “healthy.” And the organic industry absolutely spun it that way and continues to spin it that way.

These historical examples are why so many proponents of GMOs oppose labeling; because we know that the labeling issue is just a wedge in the door for the anti side. Do you really think they will stop if they get GMOs labeled? Of course they won’t. If GMOs become labeled, their arguments will shift to “if GMOs aren’t dangerous, then why do they need to be labeled?”

Biotech companies can already spend billions of dollars for about 10 years of research on products that must pass EPA, FDA, and USDA standards before they come to market. Organic genetic modification through mutagenesis requires zero safety testing. If people really want the right to know, the organic industry has all their non-GMO labels that they can afford from not having to spend billions of dollars on research.

120 thoughts on “Responses to Popular Anti-GMO Arguments & Rhetoric”

  1. Hi! I don’t mind GMOs, but I do have one problem. I’ve heard that it’s a problem if GMOs “escape” into the wild and mess up natural systems. I don’t know if this is as big a problem with plants, but definitely GMO salmon can mess up wild salmon populations if they escape and breed. Just wondering if you know anything about that? 🙂

    1. Well they do, most produce are in fact GMO’s, it’s not uncommon to see “wild” corn or sunflowers growing in open fields. The key is to keep agricultural plants from becoming invasive, which happens all the time. Funny thing is people tend to complain about invasive “food plants” than they do invasive “pest plants”.

    2. Hi there, Linda! I really appreciate your question as I’m always eager to further elaborate on anything I might not have been clear about. Now this particular claim (GMOs escaping into the wild) has a few different layers to it, so I’ll try to unpack it a bit.

      For starters, if GMOs escaping into the wild really was an issue then we should have been seeing ecological effects a long time ago and been able to determine whether those effects are beneficial, neutral, or disruptive. Besides the fact that traditional farming is in no way natural, and yet no one seems to be worried about our traditionally cultivated crops “escaping into the wild,” we have been breeding GMO plants for about two decades. I would suspect that we would have seen at least some kind of ecological effects by now. We also would need to define what we consider ‘natural systems.’ And are these natural systems not capable of adaptation?

      But the point about the GMO salmon, I think, is a bit moot. The AquAdvantage salmon are sterile so I’m not sure how they would be able to breed. And further, we would still need to understand what the actual effects of a hypothetical situation like that happening are before drawing any conclusions.

      I hope this effectively addressed your concerns! If you have a further response or any other questions, please don’t hesitate to ask or rebut. Have a great day!

    3. Yes i do. It depends on the crop and the pollen flow. Soybeans dont cross pollinate with any other plants, and rarely cross pollinate even with other soybean plants so pollen flow from soybean is very unlikely. Corn does cross pollinate, but only other corn. Corn really doesnt grow outside of cultivated fields, so even if pollen flow from gmo corn spreads to other non gmo corn its unlikely to pose any threat. There are dozens of grass herbicides that will still kill corn wether it is glyphosate tolerant or not. There really has never been a documented case of pollen flowing from a gmo crop and creating an adverse environmental situation. There are some crops, that if modified could spread pollen to similar species that are weeds, but our regulatory process considers this and will not approve transgenics that have a risk of gene flow into the environment with related species.

  2. Nice article but there is an obvious calculation error, 18 is 2% of 900 and not 0.02%. 900 devided by 18 is 0.02 but that doesn’t give you a percentage.

    1. Hi there, Remco! You are absolutely right in that error percentage and I did not account for that. I corrected the value to 2%. I am extremely sorry, the team at AAPN strives for accuracy and quality more than anything. But I do think the point still remains that 2% out of a $900 billion agricultural industry is not a monopoly, demonstrably. I would love any and all rebuttles to my claims.

  3. $15 billion annually. As far as corporations go they’re about the same size as Whole Foods. So it is absolutely ridiculous to posit the notion that 0.02% of a $900 billion agriculture industry

    Your math is bad. its not 0.02%
    Its 2% or 0.02 total.
    Its actually 1,6666% or 0.0166666

    1. Luki, I take 100% responsibility for my careless mathematics. I honestly cannot believe I let myself to be carried away with such carelessness! The error should be 2% and my math was incorrect because I did not multiply by 100. That is absolutely my fault and I did not mean to mislead anybody by that in any way, shape, or form. We at AAPN strive for nothing less than complete accuracy and truthfulness. I have since corrected the value to 2%. But I think the point still remains that 2% out of a $900 billion agricultural industry is not a monopoly, demonstrably.

  4. You were doing well until you said broccoli I is a cross of broccoli and zucchini… Such a glaring mistake cast doubt in the validity of the article. I would have repost it on my page because it make good points on the uninformed base of the anti GMO movement, but I can’t because of that.

    1. Fixed and updated! Although I’m not sure why you would question the entire validity of an article simply because of such a small, benign mistake. Especially since it sources so many verified articles and published studies throughout the rest of it.

  5. Great article! Yes, people do indeed sell fear. A god fearing pious individual will part with his Sunday morning and 10% of his wage, because to not do so will see him going to hell. And of course hell is a well documented and peer reviewed place… not!

    In the same vein, organics (this word was hijacked from real chemistry) at 3 times the price wouldn’t sell a single lettuce leaf if people understood biology.

  6. Hi, Such a great article and a real help when coming into contact with the anti-GMO debate. I actually found many of my friends who are not really strongly for or opposed to GMO’s have the fear of glyphosate running into the natural habitat causing damage to natural plants and animals. This they then link to the GMO companies and debate. Do you have any knowledge and results of tests for this claim? Thanks

  7. Thank you for this article. Though I wish I’d seen it last night while in a discussion with an anti GMO person on FB. I was able to give a lot of links to resources. She gave me a YouTube video, but this article hit on almost all her statements.
    Thanks again!

  8. P.Chengal Reddy, [email protected]…My compliments for the analysis of G M Os. Only few well do and having comforts understand the importance of G M as technology to humanity. I am from India working as activist for 30 years on farmers distress. India like China a old civilization sustained for 3000 years on agriculture. With modernization of industrialization growth of service sector the farm sector has got into real trouble. Some how farmers across the world specially in devolving countries are not only neglected but are highly exploited. An example is India. India is considered as global power

  9. P.Chengal Reddy, [email protected]…My compliments for the analysis of G M Os. Only few well do and having comforts understand the importance of G M as technology to humanity. I am from India working as activist for 30 years on farmers distress. India like China a old civilization sustained for 3000 years on agriculture. With modernization of industrialization growth of service sector the farm sector has got into real trouble. Some how farmers across the world specially in devolving countries are not only neglected but are highly exploited. An example is India. As of 2016 India is considered as global power in terms of industrialization, service sector, cities , International Airports, Highways, Military etc, e.It produces 250 million tonnes of food sufficient to feed its 1250 million population. It has 400 million middle class who have equal economic power on par with any developed nation. But the condition of 600 million farmers(129 million families) is totally distressing. The average income is Rs. 6500/ per month.( (110 Dollars). The malnutrition among farmers is 90% among women. Illiteracy is over 80%. #0% migrate every year. 3,00,000 suicides have happened in farmers families in the past 15 years. The main reason is 60% farming is under rain fed condition, where in low production, losses duo drought , pests is very high. Under irrigation pests,diseases , weeds, heat , cold climate, salinity are serious problems. G M Os are the solutions . But to our misfortune N G O and leftist politicians have stalled the entire process of G M research depriving million of these helpless and illiterate farmers of profitability. I feel sad and help less because our privileged Indians living in America

  10. I think your logic falls short on several fronts. The first and biggest problem is the assumption that we could possibly know enough about GMO’s and genetics in general to draw any conclusions that this technology is safe. Pointing to studies that were done or funded by the very corporations who benefit from a “safe” rating is putting the fox in charge of the hen house.
    Monsanto routinely runs small farmers out of business, they literally seek out people to destroy.
    1) you dismiss the idea that GMO seed companies are big, yet they own over 50% of all seeds in the world. So even if by a pure profit comparison they are relatively small (Billions are not small potatoes!), they trap farmers in terrible situations, taking a lifestyle that was once independent and autonomous, and making them entirely dependent, financially beholden to corporate America, and at the mercy of these companies.
    2) Glyphosate was touted as benign, harmless, and even safe to consume. Well, that’s how thousands of other chemicals began their lives as well! Time revealed that many other synthetic “miracle” ag chemicals were far more harmful than originally thought. DDT is the poster child for this phenomenon. Glyphosate is following the same trajectory, the longer we study it, the more we learn of the harm it causes. The final nail in this coffin is that farmers are instructed to wear what amounts to hazmat suits when working with the stuff. If ag chemicals were truly harmless, why all the protection? And how come there is a clear incidence of increased health problems for farmers and far workers exposed to the stuff?
    3) Once again, this is how it goes with synthetic chemicals that are not required to be tested before unleashing them upon the world. They are said to be safe. Initial studies show no immediate harm, and everyone conveniently forgets that 40 years from now we may learn something we didn’t know as we have with so many other substances once touted as safe.
    4) People aren’t saying Monsanto is bad because they created agent orange, it is because the surplus chemicals left after our wars, including agent orange, became the basis for the chemicals we spray on our food now. It is because they turned a deadly chemical into something we put on our food that worries people.
    5) There is no reason in the world not to label GMO’s. To purposely withhold information so I can’t make an informed decision is another. It shouldn’t matter whether I am basing my decision on speculation or hard facts, as a consumer, I would like not to be part of this experiment. It should be my right to abstain from the consumption of GMO foods, to err on the side of caution. I can only do this if the information is available.
    Arguments that claim labelling costs too much fall flat once you pay attention to the fact that products undergo label changes all the time, but we don’t see prices rising as a result. I think this pitiful attempt not to label shows how duplicitous these companies are, they require secrecy to maintain their place in the market.
    You argue that because direct gene manipulation changes fewer genes than selective breeding, it translates to safer technology. What a weak argument! My concerns are not based on the number of genes being changed, it is that those we can now change cross the species barrier, accomplish what no amount of traditional breeding methods would never achieve in a million years, because the process is grounded in the rules of the natural world, whereas this new technology ignores those barriers as if they don’t exist for a reason.

    And we haven’t even gotten into the promotion of monocultures, the emergence of super bugs and super weeds related to chemical agriculture, and the externalization and down streaming of costs onto society. It doesn’t get into that traditional methods are more resilient in less-than-perfect conditions, and that in those conditions, GMO crops often underperform compared to the claims of their champions.
    If you want to trust these companies and the foods they produce, that is your choice, but they should not eliminate my choice simply because they don’t agree with my reasons.

    1. Literally nothing you said is true. Please give citations on how Monsanto routinely and intentionally runs small farmers out of business.

      1. I think you need to define your terms. What do you mean by GMO seed companies? Do you mean seed companies who sell only GMO seeds or seed companies who sell GMO seeds as well as organic and hybrids? There are over 1,000 separate seed companies that supply the global commercial seed market. It is irresponsible and absolutely untrue to claim that 50% of the entire world’s seed market is controlled by “GMO seed companies,” whatever that means. You didn’t even provide a citation.

      It is true, however, that Monsanto is one of the largest commercial seed companies, but its global market share is still less than 5% of the world’s seeds. It’s also very clear that you’ve never actually stepped foot onto a farm because absolutely nothing is true about the statement, “[…]they trap farmers in terrible situations, taking a lifestyle that was once independent and autonomous, and making them entirely dependent, financially beholden to corporate America, and at the mercy of these companies.” That claim is pure unfounded garbage and it really has nothing to do with farming, but rather just shows your own personal disdain for corporations.

      2. You obviously didn’t even read the article because I explain in detail how important dosage is when talking about any chemical. I also explained in great detail about how toxicological studies over the past 30 years have shown that glyphosate does not demonstrate any inherent risks to humans or animals. You’re also committing an Argument From Ignorance fallacy.

      3. Whether a chemical is synthetic or not says absolutely nothing about its toxicity or how safe it is. Arsenic is a natural chemical. Teflon is a synthetic chemical. Which of those would you rather have the pan you cook your food on coated with? These last two arguments you gave were purely based on hypothetical, unfounded fears.

      4. Citation needed that there was a surplus of Agent Orange and it became the basis for the chemicals we spray on food now.

      5. Please actually read my article because I go over why that still doesn’t hold up. I am a little embarrassed for you, to be honest. GMO labelling does not make logical sense and if you had read my article before commenting, you wouldn’t have made this point. You’re also committing an Appeal to Nature fallacy.

      And that last paragraph, you’re literally just making shit up.

    2. Did you even read the article? You argued almost every point he made in the headlines, but ignored the evidence presented in the body of the article and didn’t offer any cited sources. Your argument is essentially “Nuh-uh.”

  11. Nothing I said is true? Everything I said is true!
    I’ve been representing farmers for years now, and researching this topic every step of the way.
    What do I mean by GMO seed companies? I mean companies who ignore the species barrier and insert genes in a lab, which includes many, not just Monsanto- Syngenta, DuPont, Bayer, etc. The mere suggestion that cross pollination and selective breeding are the same as direct gene manipulation is disingenuous! Direct gene manipulation is a new process that yields unique results.
    The top 10 of these companies own s 67% of the world’s seeds, whereas less than 100 years earlier, farmers controlled the vast majority of seeds. They have people who fight for their interests placed throughout our government, from the regulatory agencies up to the Supreme Court! It is a sea change in the industry and the way farming works, and it is not good or necessary to feed humanity . Our inability to feed the world is not about current levels of production, which creates ample food, it is about distribution and waste. They’ve had laws changed to flip the burden of responsibility onto others to keep GMO pollen out, they continue to work the system in ways that undermine democracy.
    Most of the farmers Monsanto has sued did nothing wrong. Monsanto had their agents testing fields for the infiltration of GM pollen, and where they found it, even if the farmer wanted it to go far, far away, they sued. These weren’t criminal farmers trying to infringe on anyone’s patents.
    https://www.rt.com/usa/monsanto-patents-sue-farmers-547/
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/10/monsanto-wins-lawsuit_n_3417081.html?utm_hp_ref=green
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monsanto_Canada_Inc_v_Schmeiser
    If you are unaware of these actions by seed companies that is a bane to farmers across the world! You feel bad for me? How did you get this far into your research without seeing these actions? Sounds like someone who is looking to love GMO’s, and so you’ve limited your vision to what bolsters your intended outcome!

    2) I did read your article. Yes, you talk dosage, which is to say you believe poisoning the world is ok if those who do it for profit adhere to rigid measures. You ignore that due to weeds and insects gaining immunity to the original quantities of Roundup prescribed for use in a field, people are spraying more Roundup, or worse, switching to even more toxic sprays to keep the upper hand. This all points to one thing… we can’t one-up nature, and most of our attempts to have been abject failures with lasting negative consequences. The human track record for predicting the consequences of our technologies and behaviors has always been dismal, yet here you in full faith an optimism, ignoring our mountain of failures and the negative impacts on human health and the world, touting the imaginary benefits of a technology we don’t need.

    3) Nature works without waste, everything is up cycled back into the environment in a closed loop. When humans create synthetic chemicals, we tend to create a waste stream, we can offer no mechanism to incorporate our creations into a functioning, waste-free ecosystem, and instead we create burdens for the system. We create product that do not function in an integrated way with the natural world.
    True, nature also has some serious toxins, which is entirely irrelevant to determining the wisdom (or lack thereof) of creating synthetic chemicals to spray on our food and poison ourselves with.

    4) Here is an article about how chemical companies became dominant in the ag world, and about the relationship between agricultural chemicals and the chemicals of war. http://pubs.acs.org/supplements/chemchronicles2/pdf/023.pdf
    http://www.rodalesorganiclife.com/food/when-did-we-start-using-pesticides
    “After a decade and a half of heavy use of these Roundup-promoting crops, many farmers began to see that Roundup was becoming less effective. It stopped killing the weeds. The weeds had adapted, and Roundup-resistant weeds were growing at an alarming rate.”
    “growers realized that they needed an alternative to Roundup. That’s what Dow Chemical was waiting for. The company had genetically engineered new generations of GE corn and soybean varieties that are able to withstand spraying of 2,4-D.”
    “Vietnam War veterans will recognize 2,4-D as half of the highly toxic mix that made up Agent Orange.”
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/andrew-kimbrell/dow-chemical-agent-orange-crops_b_4810311.html

    5) Save some embarrassment for yourself! You claim to be thorough, you claim scientific literacy and yet somehow you’ve missed key information in the story behind modern ag and the negative impacts it has on the world. These are not speculative impacts, they are well-documented, and every year the evidence against these technologies gets more damning. You would be the guy who would have been arguing that smoking cigarettes is totally safe, because for decades the science couldn’t show what the world was already beginning to understand. Same with asbestos and DDT, which you would have advocated for and defended as well.
    Tell you what, I sure am glad you are not in a position of power, your blindness to what is going on would endanger even more people and negatively impact even more lives.
    The UN has realized that only small scale non-industrial ag can feed the world, while you are bathing in industry rhetoric and arguing for the strength of the house of cards they’ve built.
    We haven’t even discussed the intentional devaluing of food, dangers of monocultures, the dead zones in waters from ag chemicals, the diseases linked to exposure to said chemicals, and the slow depletion of national density from crops over time. We haven’t gotten into how industrial ag has subjugated small farmers the world over and forced them to grow commodity crops for the world market while they can’t feed their families.
    I’ve been researching these topics for a long time. You’re view is too narrow, and you seem predisposed to find innocent the chemical giants that are changing the very fundamentals of food and farming to our detriment. For the record, I don’t make shit up, I don’t need to. I don’t say a word unless it can be backed up. I think you’ve shown that you are out to defend GMO’s, period.
    I notice you didn’t even attempt to address the way other dangerous activities were harming people decades before science could prove it, instead you just repeat the same mistakes over again.

    1. Alan – “Many of the studies that show GM crops and the chemicals associated with them are safe, have been bought and paid for by the industry itself.”

      Billions, yes billions of kilograms of GM food has been consumed over decades all around the world. No ill affect has yet to be attributed to GM and the chemicals. Without even reading any of these ‘paid for studies’ I’d say that’s a pretty good endorsment of GRAS (generally recognized as safe), wouldn’t you?

  12. The US is experiencing a surge in a number of diseases, and we have no idea why or what caused them. You can’t say with any certainty that GM foods are not involved, just as I can’t day they are. Still, we are talking about a totally unnecessary technology whose long term effects are entirely unknown! If you want to be a guinea pig and support their giant experiment on the human race, that is your prerogative. I would prefer not to be experimented on.
    Perhaps you missed the part where time and again, technologies and chemicals touted to be safe and even miracles, turned out to be very harmful and some very persistent in the environment, which is why even thought DDT was banned in the US 44 years ago, every person in the US, including the unborn and the amniotic fluid of pregnant women, still test positive for this toxic ‘miracle’ chemical. It took over 30 years of common use before DDT was considered proven toxic. Genetics are even more complex and we know less about how genes work, but you expect me to trust that people driven entirely by profit have my best interest at heart? You expect me to trust people who at best know the tiniest bit about how genes work to muck around with them safely?
    The world simply does not need this technology, but if you are enamored of it, you can have it! But don’t give me this crap that it is proven safe, that is a leap of faith at best! The most we can say about the safety of GMO’s is that its too soon to tell. It is thoroughly dishonest to speak definitively on technology that has anything to do with direct gene manipulation.

  13. Think about this, we have a group of corporations who claim that this technology is unique enough to patent GMO seeds, yet argue simultaneously that it is “substantially equivalent” to other seeds and therefore immune from regulation. That’s a total contradiction! Either it’s the same or its different, but it can’t be both.

    1. Most seed is patented and that includes ‘organic’ seed. Monsanto does indeed sell organic seed too, did you know that? GM breeding does require 10 years of testing minimum and must pass a lot of safety regulations. Organic breeding techniques require little to no regulation or testing… did you even read the article Alan?

      Actually DDT has saved the lives of millions of people, especially in the third world from mosquito borne diseases.

      Why is seed patented by corportations? Well, take another hugh corporation such as Sony. What if the artists, managers, production, etc. spend a lot of time producing an LP? Should they not be paid for their work? What if I buy one copy of a CD and then rip 1,000’s of copies and then sell them to profit myself off the back of someone elses work? Is that fair to the artist? No, it is not Alan!

      If I work for an hour I expect to get paid for an hour. Understand?… If you understand farming you would also understand that seed is one of the cheaper aspects of farming and that seed collection (even if allowed) is simply not viable as it is too labour intensive.

      If you can refute my claims without just throwing another nonsense word salad at me I’m all ears.

  14. If I understand farming? Give me a break! I have been working for farms and farmers for over a decade. Three plus years ago I started and still run a food hub, last year I sold food for 65 farms and it will be more this year. I routinely read up on farming tech and have researched GMO’s thoroughly, so I know this topic well.
    My life before I entered the the farm world was as a professional musician with a degree in Professional Music (music business) from one the best music schools in the world. I’ve made two CD’s of original material, and yet somehow you think you can “school” me on the two topics I know better than 99% of the world? That’s rich!

    First, you can’t compare the patenting of life with copyrighting music. Bad music just toils in obscurity, but a bad technology can kill and maim people (and often has), and often leads to outcomes we couldn’t even fathom. But my argument isn’t about intellectual property, this is about the consequences of mucking around with DNA, one of the most complex topics out there, and one we have woefully little understanding of.

    Until very recently, science thought “junk” DNA served no purpose whatsoever (thus the label junk), only to find out it serves an important purpose, but we just didn’t get it. We frequently turn genes on and off in experiments only to discover the gene whose purpose we thought we fully understood, actually changed things we couldn’t have predicted. It is extremely arrogant to presume we understand enough about the building blocks of life to alter them with a predictable outcome. Our track record, as I said before, is abysmal.

    You are free to advocate for GMO’s, and you are free to participate in this great experiment. I think you are risking your long-term health, but I can’t say for sure, because no one can say anything about the long-term safety of GMO’s, the technology is still too young, and that is the point. What you are not free to do is take away my right to decide for myself whether I am part of this genetic experiment. To make an informed decision, I need labels.

    DDT is banned for a reason, it damages everything it touches. Yes, it killed mosquitos and saved lives in the short term, but at the same time, we now know that in the long term it causes cancer, birth defects, infertility, liver damage, and more. We were too short-sighted to see that we were hurting ourselves with DDT, as we did with asbestos, with tobacco, and with dozens of other products, and I believe we may be following the same path with GMO’s. DDT was (is) an environmental disaster, and despite its ban in the US 40 years ago, this damaging chemical is still showing up in the umbilical cord of every newborn in America. This is our pattern of behavior. We allow those seeking short term profits to release untested technologies upon the world, and later we find we’ve been harming ourselves, the environment, or both. We need to learn from our mistakes, not repeat them ad infinitum!

    1. 1. “[…]this is about the consequences of mucking around with DNA, one of the most complex topics out there, and one we have woefully little understanding of.”

      We have been mucking around with DNA for thousands of years – since the beginning of farming. We’re more precise now with the sequence of genes we change. That’s all that’s different. Getting to a point where we can change just 3 or 4 genes through transgenesis compared to changing a couple hundred thousand through artificial selection and cross-breeding is a big step forward. The fact that you would even make the statement that we have little understanding about our genome just further shows you need to brush up on your biology. I mean, we now sequence DNA from many different species almost every single day.

      2. “Until very recently, science thought “junk” DNA served no purpose whatsoever (thus the label junk), only to find out it serves an important purpose, but we just didn’t get it.”

      Almost every comment I’ve read from you, you commit some logical fallacy. This time it’s an Appeal to “Science Was Wrong Before.” You are obviously not well-steeped in professional science. http://www.skepticalraptor.com/skepticalraptorblog.php/regarding-science-mistakes-tropes-debunked/

      3. “We frequently turn genes on and off in experiments only to discover the gene whose purpose we thought we fully understood, actually changed things we couldn’t have predicted.”

      Yea, that’s why GMO products require 10+ years of safety testing as well as EPA, FDA, and USDA approval before they can come to market.

      4. For that last paragraph, I’m going to link to the same article from skepticalraptor because the author addresses DDT directly: http://www.skepticalraptor.com/skepticalraptorblog.php/regarding-science-mistakes-tropes-debunked/

    2. Alan, over 1,700 scientific peer reviewed studies, 3 trillion servings of GMO food world wide, a general consencus by governing bodies worldwide, and a few decades have proven thing – eating GMO’s has zero impact on health. Yes about 70% of what I eat contains GMO of some kind. I don’t have the time, money or interest in avoiding it.

      Alan, you be like. “Well people once believed that earth was flat and now we think it’s round, we were wrong before we may be wrong about it being round now. Better wait and see what is the real shape before I get on a cruise ship and sail right off the edge off the earth”.

  15. If you can’t see or refuse to admit the difference between what happens today and what happened for thousands of years before, you are either dishonest or you are ideologically biased towards this technology. We have never been able to what we do now, especially the crossing the species barrier part. And if in fact it were the same as before, then it wouldn’t eligible for a patent!
    As I have pointed out, ten years is entirely inadequate to reach any conclusions about the safety of this new technology having to do with genetic manipulations. I gave you several examples of how taking the same short term view as yours has led to millions of people suffering or dying early, but you shrug it off like I’m making things up. So I say again, if you want to risk your health and that of your family on this food, that is your right, but stop arguing to keep me and others who don’t want this food from the information required to make a different decision. That lack of transparency and the concerted effort to keep Americans from knowing whether their food has been altered with this new technology is a giant red flag! If there’s nothing wrong, then why hide it?
    Nothing you have posted or argued has done a thing to change the basic fact that no one can say whether these foods are safe. Brad points to “3 trillion servings of GMO’s worldwide”, and says they have “zero impact on health”. Yet this technology has coincided with the largest increase in diseases like cancer, autism, neurological disorders, etc. How do you know that some of this increase isn’t because of this food and the chemicals we spray on it? You don’t because you can’t! You are making assumptions and demanding I make them along with you.

    I’m done trying to talk sense to you people, it reminds me of trying to talk to Trump supporters, you have dedicated yourself to making the same stupid mistakes humans have been making throughout the industrial revolution. I prefer we learn from mistakes, not repeat them.

    1. Agree Alan. Cancer rates are up. Why? Generally speaking the probability of cancer increases with age. As the average life expectancy has increased so has the rates of cancer.

      …”You are making assumptions and demanding I make them along with you”… No Alan, I am quoting decades of peer reviewed science and pointing out you many fallacies.

      In any case please continue with your arts degree left wing pinko pseudoscientific mentality while you sell your non-chemical grub eaten wilted kale down at the 65 local organic foodies markets, safe in the knowledge that our hippy food share system is ‘gonna feed the world man!’.

  16. If there were any reason to do these modifications, I would be with you. There is zero reason to do this. All of the reasons offered by the industry- feed the world, increase yields, use less chemicals- totally marketing with not an ounce of necessity. Instead it locks farmers in a dependent and indebted state of being.

    1. No reason for GM…? Here is one reason and indeed a success story. The Hawaii Pappaya industry. On the brink of being decimated by ring spot virus the scientists developed a GM variety with 100% success.

  17. If GMOs are so safe, why do the corporations fear including that on the label? Why don’t they proudly endorse their use of GMOS? (“GMO Fortified” “GMO Enhanced” Extra GMOdificated”). Nothing wrong with consumers having a choice and knowing whats in their food. Pro-GMO or not, either way, require it on the label…please!

    1. If indeed every food that contained GMO of some kind was labelled we are talking about 70% of food in the US. It would actually be hard to avoid without having a seriously high grocery bill. So what, we would see an explosion of backyard vegetable patches?… that would get tired quickly too when people realise what work that goes into farming.

      The package/can already has the ingredients and nutritional value labelled and that’s good enough for me.

  18. You are simply putting too much faith in science, as well as scientists who tell you they know enough to offer guidance and wisdom, or who are getting paid to achieve a specific result favorable to the big businesses who fund them. Science is only useful if the process and people both have integrity and seek above all else the facts without bias. This article explains in detail how monied interests achieve the “science” results they need to increase profit marketshare, and to give people like you, who, because their manipulated studies make it to a peer reviewed journal, consider it gospel and beyond reproach.

    http://www.publicintegrity.org/2016/02/08/19223/meet-rented-white-coats-who-defend-toxic-chemicals

  19. This Article explains how the scientists who test GMO’s are at the mercy of the industry, can only conduct tests or release results when the GMO seed companies give them permission. This process which is so-controlled by industry, taints the entire process of scientific inquiry and renders the results you and I can see biased and unreliable. Add in the deceptive marketing practices, the intentionally obscured presence of GMO’s in the foods we eat, and the infiltration of the industry into government and our regulatory bodies, and you have a perfect storm of untrustworthy results. If transparency is the hallmark of an honest process, what are we to conclude about an industry who makes such an effort to carefully control information about their products? How can they be trusted?
    And all of that is still secondary to the fact that our understanding of genetics is laughingly basic, and that some impacts may not be measurable or reveal themselves for many more decades. You all base your assessments of this technology on the idea that we know enough to draw conclusions, when clearly we don’t, as new discoveries continue to surprise even the most honest and independent scientists, who once spoke with certainty about the very topics they eventually admit require far more study to speak with authority on. You seem to have very selective skepticism.

    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/do-seed-companies-control-gm-crop-research/

  20. And this study shows how the National Academy of Sciences misled the public about cancer risk assessments. This shows how an orthodoxy of thought, as currently exists concerning GMO’s, can bias research and mislead public understanding and opinion on a topic. You say you are basing your conclusions on evidence, well this shows how the “evidence” is not always what it appears to be. I would trust the results of GMO studies more if those who served to gain from the results they publish weren’t controlling the process and supplying the funding.

    http://www.science20.com/news_articles/national_academy_sciences_misled_world_when_adopting_radiation_exposure_guidelines-118411

  21. Scientists Surprised At DNA Change In Hatchery Fish

    Here is an example of how scientists who thought they knew enough about genetics to speak with authority, discover later that they knew very little about how DNA works. This happens ALL THE TIME when it comes to genetics! We simply aren’t advanced enough to fully grasp such a complex topic, yet you ignore this reality and place full faith in human beings, even when the evidence shows we should remain very skeptical of our conclusions in certain areas of study, genetics being one of them.

    http://www.johnjayandrich.com/articles/portland-local-news-123543/scientists-surprised-at-dna-change-in-14389693/

  22. Alan, generally speaking you talk in circles with big word salads that don’t offer any real information, contradict yourself with your own cited articles and repeat ad neuseum ‘we just don’t know’, ‘how can we know?’, ‘we thought we knew but we don’t know’, ‘science thought it knew but realised it just didn’t know’, ‘we just don’t know’… Okay, no need to labour the point further.

    The best way to become an athiest is to actually read the bible. Clearly the best way to become pro GMO is to listen to the ramblings of a pro organic advocate and apply grade school logic and science.

  23. Like everyone who is married to an ideological narrative, you’ve managed to find a way not to address a single issue I have raised. Your arrogance is epic, not to mention the precursor of poor decision making. Typical!

    My argument is very simple, and you have done nothing to address it, much less to disprove it, but you’ve ridiculed it, which is the sign of a weak position.
    What the kind of information do you want?
    I posted numerous examples of products that started off with praise, thought of miraculous and heralded as symbolic of human mastery of nature, and ended up causing death, pain, and suffering. I showed that the human ability to predict the safety of new technology is very often wrong, and in a big way. I showed that our understanding of genetics is entirely inadequate to conclude we understand it, and we therefore have no business mucking around with it.
    I showed you that the science, especially in defense of industrial systems, is not without bias, and often isn’t really even science, but rather a contrived plan to undermine those who disagree or would stand in the way of corporate profits. I showed that the industry is engaged in market manipulation, in hiding their product by refusing to label, in influencing the outcomes of research, and by setting out to run small farmers out of business. You’ve offered no reason why these behaviors are necessary if you make a great product that can stand up to scrutiny and transparency.
    You ignore the studies that show that when exposed to other than ideal conditions, GMO’s perform poorly, or the fact that organic yields are now competing with GMO yields (even when in ideal conditions). You haven’t dealt with the impacts of monocultures and the lack of biodiversity on ecosystems. You haven’t addressed the externalization of costs onto society, the agricultural chemicals ruining our waterways, the dead zone in the gulf, or the depletion of soil microbes and topsoil. All things that lead to a continued diminishing of nutrient density, which completely renders any improved yields useless because it takes four times the amount of food to get the same nutrition that is in properly grown food. You fail to address the negative impacts of industrial farming on the farmer. You failed to address the increasing resistance of both weeds and insects as a result of this technology, which has resulted in having to spray more, and to spray with even more dangerous chemicals.
    I reiterate, we do not need this technology for anything. The only purpose it serves is corporate control of our food system and the seed market. You call yourselves atheists while you treat science like a religion, you are all dogma. Both science and religion are easily corrupted and can be used to manipulate people. You have bought the industry propaganda hook, line, and sinker.

  24. Thanks for another circular word salad Alan. Just like religious folk and pro organic luddites, you sell fear. You don’t actually have anything of your own to advance society, so you sell your organics by selling fear of GMO. This does not work with me, I am neither god or pseudoscience fearing.

    I did address one of your issues. You said that GMO technology has no use. I addressed that by saying that this technology has saved the Hawaii pappaya industry. Please pay attention Alan.

    People eat GMOs – people develop cancer – therefore GMOs cause cancer.

    Brad is not like Alan – Brad is a man – therefore Alan is not a man.

    Please keep writing Alan. Everytime you do and apply your logic you make GMO’s more credable! What fear based pseudoscience will you write about next?

  25. Wow, you’re devolving into a putz! I’m not selling fear, I’m selling caution and good sense based on past examples of human inadequacies and a desire not to repeat those mistakes. I am acknowledging human shortcomings, while you are ignoring a very long track record of failures. I never said GMO’s cause cancer, and I don’t believe that because people get cancer, it must be GMO’s, now you are just being dishonest and an ass. If anything causes cancer, it would be the chemical sprays- Roundup, 2,4D, etc- that we spray on GMO crops. There’s a long list of chemicals that people defended much as you defend GMO’s and the chemical toxins we spray on them. Most of the chemicals on that list are now banned because decades later, we found they were not the miracles industry or their defenders touted them to be. I guess you deem none of that relevant and will continue to deny the parallels.

    The banana and the papaya are victims of industrial agriculture. Had we not adopted such problematic agricultural systems, there would be no issues with either fruit to deal with. You are using a problem created by people who think like you, to support a newer, more dangerous idea whose future is likely to be just as problematic or worse, since we are playing with the very building blocks of life with a sophomoric understanding of how genetics works. You don’t even realize that you are advocating for repeating all our mistakes!

    The one thing that we may agree on is that this conversation is going nowhere. So how bout we just let it go. You can go on eating what you want, and I will go on eating what I want. Time will reveal the truth, and I hope for your sake, that of your children, and anyone else who trusts your dubious judgement, that you are right, that GMO’s are safe. Until such time, I will play it safe, and stick to my bottom line, which is that neither you or I can say with any certainty that this technology is safe!

  26. Yep, use fear disguised as caution. You won’t eat GM because there is a chance in decades to come that there may be negative health effects. However, you drive a car with known death statistics. Year after year thousands do die on the road… but you still drive. Year after year no one dies eating GM food… you won’t eat it.

    Enough said!

  27. “Year after year no one dies eating GM food”? Death is not the only potential danger, but you know this how? Oh, I see, because you have definitive knowledge on the causes and mechanisms of all the diseases we suffer from chronically now.

    To apply your logic elsewhere, I guess no one got cancer from smoking before the science could show causality. And no one got sick from asbestos until the science proved the link to lung damage. Because that’s how the world works, if the science isn’t there yet, there is no impact! It’s like magic!
    Your car comparison is problematic. Pesticides are persistent, they are stored in our fats and act within our bodies over time. The physical danger from car accidents goes away once you are away from roads, and are not altering the chemical makeup of breast milk or umbilical blood.
    Since you brought up cars, lets talk about lead in gasoline. Despite plenty of anecdotal evidence and warnings that lead in gas was quite dangerous back in 1923, the industry barreled forward with it. Why? The pursuit of profit often obscures keen vision and wise choices. Those with large investments to protect (like chemical companies who sell seeds), often rationalize the risks of their products and actively work to prolong the release of data that would result in financial losses. Sometimes they are well aware but still intentionally ignore the danger. Hundreds of examples exist to show this, one of the most well-known is the Ford Pinto, where it was shown that the execs chose to ignore the dangers they knew about to protect profits. Leaded gas remained in use until 1974, when they began to phase it out. The actual ban of lead in gas didn’t happen until 1996! 73 years, that’s how long it took the science to satisfy your ilk’s demand for definitive causal proof of harm and result in a ban. Genetics is infinitely more complex, and IF there are serious dangers, it could take over a century to show causation. But again, using your logic, no one is actually harmed until science establishes causality, right?
    Your logical fallacy is that if science hasn’t shown something negative about GMO’s or the associated chemicals by now, it never will. As if no new discoveries are taking place in the field. As if no assumptions about genetics are proven wrong as we study more about them. Hallelujah! We know all there is to know about genetics! All research can stop, there is no more progress to be made!

    Understanding the Unintended Effects of Genetic Manipulation
    “Genetic engineering experiments are conducted with a specific objective in mind.” “nontarget effects are not always reported in research reports. As Dougherty and Parks (1995) write, “Organisms that do not perform as expected are discounted as defective or atypical in some way, are not the subject of study, and frequently are not reported in the literature. It is important, therefore, to recognize that most published works represent a selected subset of transgenic organisms that have been produced. These built-in biases have hindered our understanding of how transgene expression impacts the endogenous [host] gene” and, I would add, how the organism as a whole can be affected by the genetic manipulation.”
    http://natureinstitute.org/txt/ch/nontarget.php

    Yeah, just keep telling yourself you are assessing the situation accurately!

    1. John E. Franz… a hero in my books. Winner of the Carothers award, Perkin medal and
      National medal of technology. It is time now for him to win the Nobel prize. He would be a very fitting laureate indeed.

  28. Alan, in an earlier comment you mentioned that ‘junk’ DNA has been debunked. If you refer to the ENCODE project, you might want to bother reading actual scientific literature. ENCODE has been heavily criticized for rewriting the definition of “functional” in science (http://www.pnas.org/content/110/14/5294.abstract; http://www.cell.com/current-biology/pdf/S0960-9822(13)00289-3.pdf; http://gbe.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2013/02/20/gbe.evt028.short). Furthermore, evolution has taught us that ‘junk’ DNA is the only logical explanation that hold up with the current knowledge. Of course, you are welcome to use the onion test to make your argument against ‘junk’ DNA.

    “We frequently turn genes on and off in experiments only to discover the gene whose purpose we thought we fully understood, actually changed things we couldn’t have predicted. It is extremely arrogant to presume we understand enough about the building blocks of life to alter them with a predictable outcome. Our track record, as I said before, is abysmal.”

    Let’s start with your last claim. I would appreciate if you would provide a plethora of evidence to support your claim of our track record.

    As to the first part of your quote. A rather simplistic approach to what science tries to do every day. If we understood everything we would be able to predict in advance what results we should get, yet this doesn’t happen. To then attribute arrogance to this when we try to use our knowledge to improve humanity is a rather arrogant claim by itself. We only predominantly interested in making changes to organisms that we can predict/understand. Not so much changes that are unpredictable. To argue that we, scientists, have no clue what we are doing? I can only take this as a personal insult. We have a good to descent grasps of various genetic mechanisms. All. No. Which is a good thing for us. That will keep us busy for decades to come. Do we just release what ever we find in a lab to the outside world? Of course not. We are not stupid.

  29. Alan, in an earlier comment you mentioned that ‘junk’ DNA has been debunked. If you refer to the ENCODE project, you might want to bother reading actual scientific literature. ENCODE has been heavily criticized for rewriting the definition of “functional” in science (http://www.pnas.org/content/110/14/5294.abstract; http://www.cell.com/current-biology/pdf/S0960-9822(13)00289-3.pdf; http://gbe.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2013/02/20/gbe.evt028.short). Furthermore, evolution has taught us that ‘junk’ DNA is the only logical explanation that hold up with the current knowledge. Of course, you are welcome to use the onion test to make your argument against ‘junk’ DNA.

    “We frequently turn genes on and off in experiments only to discover the gene whose purpose we thought we fully understood, actually changed things we couldn’t have predicted. It is extremely arrogant to presume we understand enough about the building blocks of life to alter them with a predictable outcome. Our track record, as I said before, is abysmal.”

    Let’s start with your last claim. I would appreciate if you would provide a plethora of evidence to support your claim of our track record.

    As to the first part of your quote. A rather simplistic approach to what science tries to do every day. If we understood everything we would be able to predict in advance what results we should get, yet this doesn’t happen. To then attribute arrogance to this when we try to use our knowledge to improve humanity is a rather arrogant claim by itself. We only predominantly interested in making changes to organisms that we can predict/understand. Not so much changes that are unpredictable. To argue that we, scientists, have no clue what we are doing? I can only take this as a personal insult. We have a good to descent grasps of various genetic mechanisms. All. No. Which is a good thing for us. That will keep us busy for decades to come. Do we just release what ever we find in a lab to the outside world? Of course not. We are not stupid.

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