Roseanne Barr Effect: Should crop biotechnology supporters engage science rejectionists?

| July 8, 2013 |
March Against Monsanto, New Orleans (CREDIT: Flickr/Infrogmation). March Against Monsanto, New Orleans (CREDIT: Flickr/Infrogmation).

Exaggerating the meaning of Independence Day, on July 4th Roseanne Barr formally joined the ranks of anti-biotechnology cranks by tweeting that the deadly virus that almost wiped out the Hawaiian papaya until a genetically modified version was introduced to save the fruit was actually caused by GMOs.

It’s the kind of crackpot nonsense that anti-biotech crusaders circulate as a matter of course. What’s disheartening is how this obvious canard was approvingly passed along by major anti-GMO websites and activists. To those of us who believe that science and reason rather than fear should drive the debate over the future of food and the farm, it raises a provocative question: How can the ‘science side’ of the debate discourse with ideologues? Is there enough in common to hope for constructive public dialogue?

This question has been on my mind for weeks, in the wake of the Biotechnology: Feeding the World, or a Brave New World of Agriculture? forum held in early June in Washington, D.C. Intriguingly over the past few days, a healthy debate has erupted over whether public forums are the best way to engage the issue.

Mainstream scientists and science-minded journalists like myself are always hopeful that we can refocus public attention on the “weight of evidence” of peer reviewed science and constructively influence the political decisions that determine the regulation of crop biotech innovations. Are we too optimistic?

As is now well known, the forum held at the CATO Institute was originally scheduled to be a debate between a journalist and a scientist in favor of using the agricultural biotechnology (including genetic modification) facing off against those who were against it, but at the last minute the anti-GM debaters—Jeffrey Smith and Gilles-Eric Séralini—pulled out. I reconstituted the program to instead address the history and challenges of crop biotechnology, with Kevin Folta of the University of Florida challenging the myths of agricultural biotech critics, and Karl Haro von Mogel of Biofortified talking about the coming generation of genetically engineered plants with unique traits that are not now widely known.

Based on the feedback that we’ve heard, the forum was informative and helpful. It was broadcast on the web, and is still viewable at both Biofortied and at the Genetic Literacy Project, as well as at CATO. But did it change anyone’s mind? Was this the right venue? Do public discussions even work? That’s now the subject of an interesting dialogue that’s developed on the Biofortified site.

Even before the CATO event turned from a debate into a forum, Nina Fedoroff, a Penn State University faculty member whose scientific bonafides include being past President of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and a member of the National Academy of Sciences, urged me in an email to drop the idea.

“The scam artist always wins such a debate,” Fedoroff wrote me.  She was sure Seralini and Smith wouldn’t offer to back their polemics with science, but she didn’t think they would need science to “win” in the eyes of observers; all they would have to do, she said, is show the Seralini’s lurid photographs of cancer-riddled rats.

“Once you rouse the fear response, not much of anything gets through and these folks are very good at doing that. You’ll remember just a glimpse of Seralini’s rats with tumors much, much longer than you’ll remember a mountain of words discrediting his study.”

Is there any scientist in the world, I asked, who might serve as an effective counterpoint? No, she said. “Don’t set up another well-meaning scientist to be a victim” of their anti-science crusade, she warned me.

That was the position taken by Mark Hoofnagle, a medical doctor and physiologist who writes the respected Denialism blog at National Geographic, in a Biofortified discussion that recently erupted over the holidays.  Here is his post:

MarkH comment

Click to view full size

As Hoofnagle has previously argued, people come to events such as this because they have strong opinions not because they are open to considering new ideas. They are cheerleaders for one side or the other. In fact, data suggests the more informed someone becomes on a subject, the more dug-in they are likely to be. Facing ideological conflicts, people simply do not respond to information and change their mind.

Hoofnagle’s views coincide with those of many leading science educators like National Center for Science Education’s Eugenie Scott, Richard Dawkins and the late Stephen J. Gould. Hoofnagle refers readers to research by Don Kahan. His bottom line: It’s not worth the effort to engage ideological cranks.

Anders and Hoofnagle also raised a corollary issue: Even if we believe debates of this kind are worth the effort, should we have agreed to a debate at the CATO Institute, which is well known for its skepticism—many would call it denialism—of climate change.

“At issue is if whatever small gain there might be from this appearance that was, let’s be honest, mostly preaching to the converted, offsets the credibility afforded to Cato which is, by and large, an anti-scientific organisation [sic],” wrote Anders.

Hoofnagle was even more adamant. “Do you see how working with global warming-denying conservative think tanks is undermining your credibility on environmental issues even with your allies? Because I tell you, I’m unquestionably a defender of the technology, and I am frankly disturbed….”

Bodnar jumped into the fray. “I think ‘working with’ is a huge exaggeration,” she responded. “There’s no ongoing activities, no partnerships, nothing like that. The original goal was a debate and CATO was simply providing a podium and microphone.

Although we all acknowledge the uphill battle we faced in confronting close-minded ideologues, Bodnar Kevin Folta, Karl Haro von Mogel, and I all agreed that we are not categorically against public debates with the Antis or participating in forums held at organizations with a strong ideological bent.

“I’m willing to get behind podiums wherever they are to discuss the science of biotech and other ag topics, no matter whose podium it is (within reason),” Bodnar added. “I’ll happily speak to groups who are anti science on some things, whether they are on the right or left. It doesn’t mean I endorse their anti science positions.”

“Points taken on this,” added von Mogel. “If I were to plan and propose a similar such event in the future, I wouldn’t propose to do it hosted by an organization disliked by the target audience, politically or socially (or scientifically). But I think you come down too hard on agreeing to participate when asked. Would you turn down a chance to go on Fox News to talk a little plant science?”

“I’ll go to any forum to extend this message,” Folta responded. “I’ll talk to witches, neo-Nazis, cub scouts or those in vegetative states. It is about education and educating anyone that will listen. In some cases, like in my personal feelings for CATO, many groups need exposure to science and the scientific method. They need to know how science works. … That is EXACTLY why scientists need to jump at the opportunity to get in front of [organizations that liberals believe are anti-science]. We need to shake their hands, look them in the eyeballs and let them know that we are out there advocating hypothesis-driven science.”

As one reader wrote in response to Folta’s post: “You remind me of Winston Churchill’s statement: “If Hitler invaded hell I would make at least a favourable [sic] reference to the devil in the House of Commons.”

I was equally as adamant. “Everyone at CATO handled themselves professionally.” I noted. “As a consequence, this issue was discussed in a variety of forums across the ideological spectrum. I wonder how people would have felt if this forum had been sponsored by, say, Mother Jones magazine or the Center for Food Safety? Those are self-proclaimed ‘progressive’ organizations that are icons of Ludditism on this issue. Although their science standards on genetic issues is extremely low, I for one would welcome a debate even though their overall stance on this issue (and frankly some other ‘disruptive technology’ issues) is bereft of science. Maybe I’m naive, but I believe it’s healthy for this issue to be debated/discussed from a science perspective in as many forums as possible—right, center, left, libertarian, etc.”

Hoofnagle eventually suggested a counterpoint perspective to his (and Federoff’s) ‘never debate the nabobs’ belief—an analysis by D.J. Grothe, president of the James Randi Educational Foundation:

I disagree that directly engaging the fringe is not useful. This is because, as a veteran of a few debates and a lot of direct engagement with creationists over the last 15+ years (and dozens of other debates and direct engagement on other interesting topics, like the proper role of religion in public schools, the existence of God, gay marriage, etc.), I have a pretty firm faith in public debate, in directly engaging my cultural competitors. I have to believe that the best ideas, argued well, will rise to the top. And shouldn’t science educators and science communicators and other professional truth-tellers be willing to engage their cultural competitors publicly, knowing that the best ideas will win if effectively communicated? Or should the destructive ideas of conspiracy theorists and others be ignored, ridiculed, or only addressed in the academy, unavailable to the wider, interested, low-information public.

It appears that Grothe—like me, Folta and the good scientists at Biofortified—would have endorsed our decision to engage the Antis even at a think tank that some view as anathema to climate science. Call us, as Matt Ridley might say, rational optimists.

Grothe writes: “[F]atalism, such rejection of any attempt to directly challenge conspiracy theorists of all stripes in public debate or argument, seems to foreclose any meaningful opportunity for mutual understanding, and seems far too acquiescent to the view that those who have fringe and unsupportable views will never be able to change their minds. Instead, I say Let The Best Ideas Win.”

What do you think?

Jon Entine, executive director of the Genetic Literacy Project, is a senior fellow at the Center for Health & Risk Communication and STATS (Statistical Assessment Service) at George Mason University.

  • Sleuth 4 Health

    I am the poster child for a citizen Jane who changed her mind about GMOs. I don’t think scientists should back off from public discussions, panels, symposiums, or any similar format. Even if you only reach one in hundreds. Minds are changed one at a time.

  • Andrew Apel

    It is said that the only thing required for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing. If this is true, then refusing to debate the antis, or worse yet, remaining silent, gives them everything they need.

    • Icono

      I just keep trying to teach them good science. I hope it sticks when they read some paper and realize it wasn’t even single blind and they didn’t even test for anything and was more of a witch hunt for negative effects showcasing only certain examples while not showing a significant factor.

      • GaelanClark

        You just keep tryimg to teach them good science…..”good science”……you teach….

        And yet your hen pecked words are so devoid of any real meaning one cannot even cypher what point you are actually trying to make….is it the lacking climate science or are you talking about the closed doors of monsanto research labs?

        • Icono

          Good science… unlike taking the healthiest rats of a study and saying they are the organic fed mice, without them actually being organically fed mice, and taking the unhealthy mice and saying they are the GMO mice, without them actually being the GMO mice is bad science.

  • mem_somerville

    I admit that when I first saw the venue, the hair on the back of my neck stood up. It was uncomfortable for me. But you know what–comfort is over-rated. Getting out of the comfort zone is very informative and worthwhile, even if it’s just for the learning experience.

    And I would also say that one of the biggest sins in these hot topics is only talking to each other. It’s astonishing to me to see the anti-GMO folks repeat the same terrible information that they recycle around from each other. And because they only talk to each other, they don’t know how bad their information is.

    But actually, the more I thought about the CATO thing specifically: for years I tried to make inroads with progressives on this issue at DailyKos. I was as welcomed in plant science/ag discussions there as an ant at a picnic. What’s the difference?

  • Judith Lautner

    I think there is a sheep-like tendency among persons of generally similar belief systems. That is, if you tend toward liberalism you tend to support single-payer healthcare and organic food and to oppose war and GMOs. Many of my intelligent friends jumped on the anti-GMO wagon because their friends did. Must be right, then? I started out questioning GMOs but have come to the other “side”. I am disappointed in my friends, who think they are open-minded and science-friendly.

    • Icono

      As a guy that is basically just plain science friendly, I’ve come to be very demoralized by people who think I’m some super neo-con because I’m not inherently against all GMOs. Which has led to some great knee slapping insults thrown at me.

  • Chris

    Does Monsanto pay you to write these articles…they seem a bit tainted . Not sure I believe much in your newsletters now…this makes me question credibility of the genetic literacy project. I don’t like how you distort things at all. GMOs are a huge problem…I don’t care how much the public is mis-informed….isn’t that Monsanto’s game?? Dis-credit the facts so bio-tech looks better. Fat chance! GMOs are ruining our environment…there is plenty of research to support this. Open your eyes before you write an article!

    • http://www.geneticliteracyproject.org/ Jon Entine

      What exactly do you find “tainted”? Please cite “plenty of evidence” that “GMOs are ruining the environment.” Every study from reputable international oversight agencies has concluded that GMO foods are safe and that the environmental footprint of GMO crops is less than that of conventional agriculture, and even less than organic agriculture in certain areas. Who’s information is tainted? And why the ridiculous claim that Monsanto paid me to write articles? That kind of intellectually bankrupt innuendo is a poor substitute for critical thinking. If your have legitimate independent sources (not Mother Jones or Grist or NaturalNews.com, or a link to the discredited works of Benbrook or Carman or Seralini), then engage in discourse. Otherwise you are no more constructive than Roseanne Barr–and that’s pretty low on the ‘constructive discourse’ totem poll.

      • Mark Stuber

        Is it fair debate to put parameter on which sources one can use? If you don’t like a source, discredit it. Who determines what is “peer reviewed”, anyway? Publications that you approve of that, will not publish an article a “denier” would submit? Galio was a denier. He denied the conventional wisdom of the day. I am not anti-GMO. I thing GMOs keep my grocery bill down, however , I deplore the arrogance of peaple who label skeptics as “anti-science.”

        • Kevin Folta

          Here’s what I use. Peer reviewed journal, impact factor of journals (for clear evidence of harm in 70% of the food supply over 15 years I want an impact factor of 10), and multiple labs expanding on a common line of evidence.

          This is what we use to evaluate almost all (if not all) transformative findings.

          No anti-GM evidence reaches the second or third criteria. Peer review does fail occasionally, but it is important to let suspect/fringe work find publication. It starts a scientific dialog on a point. However, you find that the anti-GMO stuff dies after the first paper.

          That’s a clear sign of junk science. The only people who care are the authors that publish it as nobody seeks to expand it. The person that finds solid evidence of harm in 70% of the food supply gets a Nobel Prize. However, you never see expansion of the foundational work except in the minds of activists.

          • Icono

            You forgot the massive high paycheck for the class action lawsuit for faking the results of papers about GMO safety before selling them to the public. You’d think the anti-GMO people wouldn’t scoff at a few million a piece, but they just can’t seem to get their shit together enough to form a simple class action lawsuit.

          • Loren E

            Hi Kevin,
            On another forum, a few of us discussed the idea that those like Seralini and Carman purposely publish incomplete studies indicating ‘catastrophic reuslts’ rather than completing the study and risk invalidating the premise that ‘this stuff is dangerous’. What better way to keep the argument alive than to never complete the study? What do you think?

        • Hominid

          How about ‘science ignorant’? That term describes about 99.99% of the general population. But, science ignorance doesn’t lead such folks to exercise restraint in the expression of their opinions. That makes them stupid fools as well as ignorant! They are the equivalent of car mechanics who see nothing untoward in instructing their cardiac surgeon on how best to proceed in the OR.

          • GaelanClark

            Not quite that dramatic….I am certain that even a non scientist arguing with your best climate scientologist would not come close to amounting to the tragedy of an auto mechanic advising a cardiac surgeon.

            The analogy just doesn’t fit the circumstances.

          • Mark Stuber

            No one addressed my question. Who defines what a peer reviewed journal is? What if the journals refuse to publish what is submitted to them? Remember where the following quote came from? “I think we have to stop considering Climate Research as a legitimate peer-reviewed journal. Perhaps we should encourage our colleagues in the climate research community to no longer submit to, or cite papers in, this journal”

          • GaelanClark

            That quote was fron the first rwlease of CRU emails. Climategate 1 as it were. I believe that a CRU scientist made the statement in regard to a paper that was not along “concensus” lines and they did not want it published.

            First in peer review. There comes pal review or non pal review. Pals get pushed through with none of their calculati9ns checked or their methodolgy questioned…think upside down Tijander. Non pals are subject to questions and reviews that do not allow the paper to pass.

            Second. You have journals cow to pressure from “leading scientists” and those journals dont accept papers that are not warmist or those “leading” scientists will never submit any papers to them anymore.

            Third. You have journals like GRL and others which have been around forever.

            The writer of the paper chooses which journal to submit their work though. And it goes from there.

            And a journal has a right to refuse a submission.

  • Alex Huszagh

    Don’t lay off. Even if the Jenny McCarthy’s stay with their delusional beliefs, the minds change slowly and the movement has been paralyzed by unscientific beliefs.

  • Bernie Mooney

    It is a double edged sword. On the one hand, you don’t want to give these folks credibility by taking the time to debate them. On the other, they hold great sway with the antis and get the publicity.

    I think engaging is the way to go. I see where Hoofnagle is coming from, but I say take it to them if they have the balls to engage. Publicly challenge them to debate and keep score every single time they refuse or bail.

    Put it out there in op-eds in local and national press/media. Do a press release campaign sent to every media outlet available and publicly challenge these miscreants to engage publicly. Basically, put the heat on.

    Also, demand, yes, demand equal time to testify in front of legislatures who are considering labeling laws. When they rebuff you, write to the local papers and contact the local TV news and let their readers/viewers know how they don’t want to hear a balanced view.

    The way I see it (and this is not derisive in any way) is that scientists have allowed the cranks to control the ball by playing defense. In essence, they control the ball because you wind up playing defense when your strong suit is offense. If you want to combat that you have to go on the offensive. Stop playing defense. You have to stop being so nice and assuming the facts will win out. They won’t win unless you have a great offense.

    Sorry for the twisted football analogy. ;-)

    • palmvos

      the best defense is a good offense is true in almost any conflict.

    • mem_somerville

      I think you are right that in many ways we let them run the table (ok, different game). Not just on this science topic, but on others too (vaccines for example).

      Part of that is historical. Scientists didn’t want to get into policy and outreach, and they didn’t want to make waves that would affect funding. So they stayed out. We had no models really. But that didn’t serve us very well. We ended up getting our funding cut anyway.

      But still it is not valued for scientists to do outreach. Blogging is not well tolerated in some departments. It’s certainly not helping you get grants. And can still even backfire, depending on location. Some people don’t get permission to do it.

      Who pays for the offensive drive?

      • Bernie Mooney

        Not so much “outreach” per se as putting themselves out there as experts to local and national media. Try and get on the digital rolodexes of reporters. If a local TV or paper has some article drop them a line after and say “Hey for future reference, I’m available as an expert if you have any questions.”

        And again,letters to the editor Or if you know that Smith et al will be on one of the local shows, give the producer a jingle and ask if they might want you as well. Op-ed pieces. Stuff like that costs nothing except a few minutes of their time.

  • Christopher Fisher

    Do Corporate Frankenfoodies Need Copy Editors? Try ‘formally’ in the first sentence.

    • Bernie Mooney

      That’s all you got? “Corporate Frankenfoodies?” What are you, 16 years-old?

      • Christopher Fisher

        Yes, 16, how’d you guess?
        Why, are you looking for a date? I’m not the one in need of a copy editor

  • GaelanClark

    So what of reality? For instance, climate change, sure it is happening, always happens. In fact, being in an inter-glacial period we are thankfully warming over the past 10 thousand or so years or we woupd have a mile or more of ice over NYC! Anyway, climate change denizens claim that we must act now or we will have (insert hysteria) in less than 100 years.
    The problem is REALITY. The models that are used to support the climate change meme of catastrophy do not conform to REALITY.
    SO THEN I AM THE DENIER?!?!
    WOW, NOW THAT IS SCIENCE (?)!

    • Kevin Folta

      Scale. It has been warming for 10,000 years. It is the RATE that it has been changing since industrialization and particularly in the last 50 years. Your baseline of change over 10,000 years proves the point. The temp has increased several degrees (net) over that time, most of it between 9-10K years ago, so convenient to choose the 10K point. Since 9K years ago the change has been small, and most of it over the last 50 years.

      • GaelanClark

        You have zero proof other than temperature records spliced onto tree ring records where the scientists denied that they actually did this.

        WOW….

        • Icono

          There’s like five different methods we use to track temperature and CO2 emissions.

          • GaelanClark

            It is really hard to convey an accent over written text so please add the pichiest valley girl you can do……

            “There’s LIKE totally FIVE different methods we use…..”

            Wow a whole 5?

            Who are the “we”?

          • Icono

            We are humans. You might have noticed some of us around, maybe even in your own hometown.

          • GaelanClark

            You talk of the science of climate change in the first person you stupid fucking twit.

            Understand what you write and then try to write from your perspectice of “outside” the box.

            You said you were not a scientist.

      • GaelanClark

        Btw, it is called cycles…increase in temp in 30′s followed by decrease through 70′s, followed by increase through early 90′s to no increase for over 16 years.

        Wait for this though……in the face of continuously rising CO2 we have flatlined temperatures!!!

        Name one model…1…O…N….E….that predicted that.

        • cofassio

          It is not true that there has been no increase in temps over the past 16 years. This has become an often-repeated claim of deniers, but never with any data to back this up.

          • GaelanClark

            Who said this…..

            ‘If things continue as they have been, in five years, at the latest, we will need to acknowledge that something is fundamentally wrong with our climate models. ‘
            That would be hans von storch of your vaunted IPCC and he was talking about the lack of warming over the past 16 years. Look it up in der spiegel. Oh, and then stop writting speciously stupid comments.

            When you do find that warming…in the tropical troposphere….in the deep oceans…..out of algores head….you be a dove, and let me know

          • GaelanClark

            AND THE MODELS ARE ALL YOU HAVE.

            YOU DONT HAVE REALITY BECAUSE IT ISNT FOLLOWING YOUR MODELS.

            YOU HAVE A PIE IN THE SKY

          • GaelanClark

            HadCRUT4. There is your data “cofassio”. There is your graph. There, with all of the squiggly lines, rests “an oft-repeated claim of deniers” where as a person such as your self actually denies the existence of. WOW WOW WOW

            Here is the proof. Now, show me something….1…O..N..E……JUST ONE MODEL THAT HAS PREDICTED WHAT IS HAPPENING……..NO WARMING IS HAPPENING

      • GaelanClark

        When is Science “settled”?

        Dogma

        • Hominid

          Science can be considered ‘settled’ when a theory is attained that unifies a wide array of independent data and leads to reliable prediction.

          • GaelanClark

            Unfortunately that has not happened in climate science.

          • GaelanClark

            Prediction….sea level rises by 20 feet in 100 yrs.
            Reality……sea level IS rising at less than 1 foot per year.

            Prediction….temps would skyrocket with CO2 under business as usual (hansen at hearings in 88 and his published record).
            Reality….CO2 has steadily risen as have emmissions and the heat….uhhhh duyuhhhhhh…FLATLINED.

            GIVE ME ONE PREDICTION THAT HAS NOT FAILED THAT CLIMATE SCIENTISTS HAVE MADE WITH REGARD TO CO2 AND TEMPERATURE.

          • cofassio

            When one doesn’t even get facts correct, one should be careful about disparaging predictions that are off

          • GaelanClark

            Ohhhh oooopppppsssssie. Maybe I made the assertion that the prediction was 20 feet in 100 years….you are right…it was 20 feet by 2100.

            Oh errrr uuuhhhh,aybe its the 12 inches per century actual that you have a problem with….maybe it is actually 17 inches per century. Or something ridiculously lower than 20 feet.

            But you dont care. Its me that is off by a few inches.

          • Icono

            Oh look, someone doesn’t understand error margins.

          • GaelanClark

            Boo!!

          • Icono

            http://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg1/en/figure-ts-7.html
            From the paper cited:
            “2005 and 1998 were the warmest two years in the instrumental global surface air temperature record since 1850.” Oh wait, I forgot, the conspiracy wrote them, man! Fight the power! Trust no one! infowarz was right! Black helicopters incoming!

          • GaelanClark

            So you cite propaganda?

            The ipcc is invested in climate change to the point that if global warming did not exist (and it doesnt to the point of needing to do anything about it) neither would the ipcc.

      • GaelanClark

        Your science tells us the rate of temp rise is “unprecedented” because of tree rings! The scientists dont even record their evidence properly. They take rings from trees that have known growth patterns affected by wet, warm, cold, dry, and a number of other conditions and yet those scientists extract only temp from them…WOW.
        Those scientists pick and choose which trees they use from a selected region and exclude any that dont support their preconceived concensus.

        Your science on climate is less than sloppy.

        • Hominid

          You are lumping pseudoscience with rigorous science. Climatology is a very immature ‘science’ and, as such, attractive to mediocre researchers, creating a double-whammy effect on the quality of its ‘findings.’

          • GaelanClark

            It has attracted more than just mediocre scientists…it has attracted big govts to exact a toll or else.
            Through climate science that you admit is immature we are being forced to buy windmills, pay for subsidies for rich people to buy electric cars and what’s more EVERYTHING WE BUY IS MORE EXPENSIVE AS A RESULT OF GREENING THE WORLD BECAUSE OF THE IMMATURE SCIENCE BEHIND EARTH’S SUPPOSED IMBALANCE.

          • Icono

            Everything we buy is more expensive mostly because of gas prices. My god, where did you get all these silly correlations? We’re really only starting to contend with green technology against technology that has been developing for the past 100 years. We are doing so because it produces a cleaner environment overall, will eventually become cheaper, and to make our lives more healthy. Such a big bad thing, isn’t it? Oh, you thought we only did it to cool down the Earth? No, we’re going to have to resort to “chemtrails” (geoengineering) for that. Which is going to be fucking hilarious when we start it due to batshit insane conspiracy theorists. Funny, we’ve developed methods to change the global climates on purpose, yet you think we couldn’t do it accidentally, with you know, 2 billion cars. Did you know China had a traffic jam that lasted nine days?

          • 013090

            I share your anticipation of the conspiratorial hilarity which will ensue when geoengineering begins.
            …well, at least for now, but I’m sure when it is actually happening, the conspiracies will annoy the hell out of me.

          • GaelanClark

            You are blind. Ethanol from corn makes corn more expensive…it also makes chicken and pigs more expensive bc they eat corn too. Using waste vegetable oil for fuel makes pigs and chickens more expensive too, oh wow bc the pigs and chickens eat that too. WOW! WHO WOULD HAVE THOUGHT?
            Biofuel does not make the Earth cleaner. Neither do electric cars–think please–batteries are made from rare earths….think….mining with machines that have tires measured by stories.

            Think buddy.

          • GaelanClark

            Your supposed “findings” rest in models paid for by you and me.
            Those models, er uhhhh big expensive toys, have not been able to hindcast OR forecast ANYTHING CLOSE TO REALITY.
            The double whammy my friend is the tax we are paying now amd that we will soon be paying because of the sky is falling crap that, again, has no basis in REALITY.

          • Icono

            Actually the changes in CO2 and temperature have a solid directly proportionate relationship, which you would know if you actually bothered to understand that we use ice cores, not trees. The data from the trees only goes back so far, but it does tend to show the same patterns and trends as various other methods, such as measuring certain chemicals and elements within rocks too.

          • GaelanClark

            I know that temperature and CO2 have a proportionate relationship…it is just that you and algore have it backwards. You see the lag in CO2 following temperature by about 800 years. You climate hypers think that CO2 precedes climate.

            The ice cores show just what I stated…that CO2 follows temp.

          • GaelanClark

            “We”….I saw that you stated you are not a scientist and that you dont know any….so you go out and measure ice cores and you are not a scientist AND you dont know any.

            Typical climate scientist.

          • GaelanClark

            “If” I “actually bothered to understand that we use ice cores, not trees.”

            If YOU bothered to become informed you would realize how idiotically stupid that statement is.

            Briffa et al ’13….look it up. Polar urals anyone!?!?

            Ever heard of Shiyatov? Apparently neither had CRU or Briffa et al ’13 because they failed to use his extensive and massive collection of his own tree ring date….why did they do this one might wonder……

            To hide evidence that contradicts their preconceptions.

          • GaelanClark

            And soooo with Shiyatov, who has cored and archived 1500 seperate trees in the polar urals….1000 of which were sub fossil (dead) and 500 were still alive….did Briffa 13 use this?…….nooooooooooo way.

            Briffa stuck to a small sampling of just a few trees. WOW

            Where are those ice cores here?

          • GaelanClark

            I would never lump climate science with anuthing other than the pile the dog left in the yard.

            Science IS

        • Icono

          Actually they tend to use ice cores, as trees don’t give us much data past the 4000 year old trees which you might find alive today, but ice cores give us data for 400 million years.

          • GaelanClark

            Ice cores….right….the ones like lonnie thompson gets but never EVER archives?

            Oh yeah, there are ZERO problems with how a scientists selects date starts and ends on oce cores…..not.

          • GaelanClark

            What a damned stooge you are…the trees that they are coring….for instance in the polar urals….think briffa ’13…..are all dead!!!

            You just do not know enough to be debating this subject.

      • GaelanClark

        Oh by the way….you do know how they get the curve at the end of the temperature record….the one where you say it shows most of the warming over the past 50 years?…….

        Yep, they took their tree ring record and right around “the divergence”(which was roughly 1960) the climate scientists did what they said they would never do amd was only exposed through the release of CRU emails…..and they spliced the thermometer record onto it……..

        So, what do you get?….low resolution added to high resolution and of course you will have a rise at the end of the record. Add to that the “step wise” “adjustments”to the thermometer record and add to it a still disputed reality-the urban heat island and of course you will see a rise against the past. The damned scientists who think they are responsible to show us rising heat actually created the heat by adjustments andthen they deny that more heat comes from asphault than from grass!!!

        WOW WOW WOW…..AND THAT IS THE STATE OF YOUR CLIMATE SCARE MONGERING

  • GaelanClark

    One funny thing that GMO supporters love to extoll…”genetically modified foods have been around forever!! Farmers have been changing genes in order to grow better for centuries.”
    Really!?!
    Changing the atomic make-up….???….simple farmers…hmmmm.

    And yet the “science” of GMO’s has only been around for 30 or so years…yes?

    So we hear that all of these genetic splicings will have zero affect or effect on future crops or on the systems of the organisms eating them.

    WOW WOW WOW….I believe just a few years ago (relatively speaking–maybe 30 or so ago) scientists were urging that spraying chemicals on plants to kill bugs or diseases had absolutely zero affect or effect on the organisms eating them.

    Then, in the watersheds of the fields sprayed heaviest we find three eyed fish, not your frankenfish salmon mind you, these fishs’ DNA was changed by external absorption of chemicals.

    Now after 30 years of tampering with nature, scientists give the green light on all GMO foods?!?!

    That is not Science, that is big business.

    • Icono

      No one gave the green light on all GMOs. They are each tested individually. Most of the tests are not open to the public without paying, and the tests are all done by the company wishing to sell the product because no one else really wants to put the money where their mouth is because they might be wrong, and it would kill their advantage in the sales pitch.

  • GaelanClark

    Wow….already moderated out huh?!?! Silence dissent much?

    Here is a link to what I was describing earlier….
    http://www.fws.gov/contaminants/issues/Amphibians.cfm

    • Mauro Z.

      Where does it say in this document that GMO’s are responsibles or these deformities? Does any of the quoted articles refers specifically to GMO’s?

      What I see is:

      and the cause, or causes, have not been determined.

      • GaelanClark

        Sorry for the confusion. I was referring to another comment I made a few minutes before posting this link.

        I am implying the current state of knowledge on the efficacy of changing the genetic makeup of our food to, say……, produce chemicals that mimic pesticides, is extremely limited on timescales that can reflect those changes on the human body or the bodies of the animaps we feed those food stuffs to.

        I am using the example of fish and amphibians because their lifecycle allows us to see how malaffected organisms become due to exposure to these chemicals.

  • GaelanClark

    “Genetic Literacy Project….where dogma trumps science trumps ideology”

  • GaelanClark

    Genetic literacy project….where if you are too literate for our views we will moderate your comments off of our site.

    Certainly your prerogative however not very good to your point of trumping anything other than trumping your own trump.

  • http://www.guardiancommunications.com/ Mark McNeil

    It is true, that once you believe a conspiracy, it’s very hard get it out of your way of thinking, i.e. JFK assassination. It would not hurt scientists to be a bit more humble with their hypotheses. Many scientists speak in terms of 100% certitude (and usually using ad-hominem attacks on their detractors, i.e. Rosanne Barr a crank) until their hypotheses is superseded by a new discovery. You never hear a scientist say, I was wrong. I would enjoy a scientific ‘level of confidence’ rating with whatever particular scientific theory. Don’t be afraid to debate, the truth will be revealed but it may take a long time. Lee Harvey Oswald did kill JFK without help from the grassy knoll.

    • cofassio

      Actually, the nitrate tests done on Oswald showed that he did not fire a gun that fateful day as his hands tested positive ( from painting) but his cheeks tested negative. Yet the Warren Commission included the positive results from his palms as proof that he fired a gun, while ignoring the negative cheek tests, which is buried in the volumes of the hearings. History is filled with examples of real conspiracies.

    • Tom

      “Scientists should do this. Scientists should do that.” Walk a mile in my shoes, buddy.

  • deegeejay

    I believe strongly in climate change and CO2 forcing to a degree but this isn’t important as it is varying within normal limits. My concern is that 1st world ideologues are using it to make sure that countries that need fresh water and medicine can’t burn coal to solve poverty. It is an insidious and covert form of imperialism disguised as “progressive”.

    • Icono

      It’s about 10% higher than ever before.

      • GaelanClark

        There is a real sciency thingymajigabop to say…..”it’s about”…..WOW.

        I LOVE IT!

        And yet it continues……”10% higher than ever before”

        What is? CO2? REALLY?! WOW

      • GaelanClark

        2 point something billion years ago CO2 was 20, 000 parts per million.

        So where are the measured 22, 000 ppm CO2 levels?

        • Icono

          Oh yeah, I wasn’t going all the way back to the Cambrian period. I only went back 500,000 years, not before there was Eukaryotas (probably). You win this time. We are only around 400 ppmv now.

          • GaelanClark

            You wrote “ever before”, I didnt realize you didnt mean what you wrote. Typical.

            You are not worth any time. Your comments are
            useless and uninformed,

    • GaelanClark

      You state you “believe strongly” about co2 forcing climate change. And then add the caveat “to a degree”.

      H9w and why? The record clearly shows that temp preceeds rising co2. In other words temp forces co2. Not the other way around as the toys, errrruhhhh super computer models, that climate scientists use say.

      It is important bc that is what we are being f9rce fed in order to exact trillions in new taxes in the name of climate change.

      Believing that co2 forces temp is drinking the kool aid.

  • FreedomFan

    Yes why ever have debates or share news or views because people will not ever recognize the truth when they hear it.

    Absurd. These people call themselves “scientists”? They narcissistic elitists and cowards — far worse than the decent common folks they demonize.

    • Icono

      I don’t know many scientists, but most of them are “decent common folk” and in no way seek to segregate their existence from other humans.

      • GaelanClark

        “I dont know many scientists. But most are “”decent common folk”"…
        So then……..what percentage = most ?
        And, the rest are not “decent common folk”?
        You mentioned not knowing many so you must know all of their names…yes? Not that I am asking, just trying to deconstruct your thought.
        So, if you know them and can say conclusively that “most” of them are “”decent common folk”", how many are not?
        Divide that number by your total and WHAMO we have a true sciency thingamojigabop number on your feelings.

    • Tom

      I’m a government-funded scientist with low pay and basically zero job security who do my job because I want to develop biotechnology solutions to environmental and societal problems. Decent common folks with real-life problems (malnutrition, crop failure, poverty) tend be supportive. It’s the scientific illiterate “organic latte mafia” that gives me grief but they are a well-off, insignificant minority on the wrong side of history.

  • devnullzzz

    It amazes me that these pinheads call folks who believe that man cannot alter the course of naturally occurring climate change in any significant way “science deniers”.
    I notice that the intellectually dishonest and politically motivated stooges who push this blather claim that those who do not agree are “deniers” that climate change exists, which is a total lie. It is the “man made” contribution portion of it that is in question.

    It reminds me of when the “peer reviewed” science of the time told us the earth was flat, and the folks who believed it to be round were “science deniers”.

    Another good example is when the “settled science” and “consensus” was that Newtonian physics worked throughout the entire known universe…..

    Then came along “science denier” Albert Einstein to prove that all that “consensus” and “peer reviewed science” was completely wrong when he then asserted his theory of relativity and showed the “consensus” and “peer reviewed science” did not work everywhere at all.

    There is no “consensus” OR “peer reviewed science” that shows man can change the climate in any significant way, no matter WHAT we do.

    And certainly the climate models used to show this supposed “consensus” has already been shown to be flawed, inaccurate, and a complete failure in predictive analysis…..

    • BobbyPFalcon

      Poorly reasoned post. And the name-calling doesn’t help, either. Pinhead is better applied to someone who would think that scientists have some agenda besides the truth – while believing every thing they see on Fox news or hear on Limbaugh’s show…

      • devnullzzz

        poorly reasoned rebuttal. You fail to address a single point made in my post. Real scientists do not have an agenda besides the truth.
        Real scientists do not reject opposing theories calling them “settled science” or claiming “consensus” forms the basis for proving a scientific fact (see my post).
        Real scientists do not alter their data nor make false claims about the accuracy of their underlying data and models in order to obtain a desired result or political outcome.
        This has nothing to do with Fox news, or Rush Limbaugh either falcon, while you supply no evidence whatsoever that any lies at all are produced by these sources, neither of them qualify as “scientists”.
        Thanks much for proving my point(s).

        • Icono

          So… you should probably look up the Climatic Research Unit email controversy and actually read the whole story, because I think you’ve missed up update or two about the situation.

          • devnullzzz

            “story” is right. I am very much aware of the models used to make these so called “settled science” predictions you are touting as REAL, and that model is complete BS.

            I actually read quite a few of those emails, and have indeed heard the excuses for them Icono. I also am a degreed engineer with 30+ years in computer simulation modeling, and know just how sparse and predictively inaccurate the current models are….. according to them, it is already “too late” to do anything, and algore’s “science” movie predicts NYC underwater in 4 years.
            If you were actually a scientist, I think you might have a slightly different view on the subject.
            And if there are any “scientists” that say man can somehow alter naturally occurring climate change in any significant way, and claim to have proven it, I have a bridge for sale in Brooklyn you may be interested in.

          • Icono

            On the internet, no one knows you’re not a dog.

            So, you don’t think humans could do anything to affect the global climate? Not even say… detonating 50 or 60 larger than Hiroshima size nukes over a short time period? Don’t believe in the possibility we could do anything to have a global effect scale? Nuclear winter, just an example, plausible? Although you and I are both engineers, not scientists, we should be able to understand how science is conducted and how that is relevant to us and the guy that’s going to pay us a tiny fraction of the money he’s going to make selling our work. I found nothing terrible in the emails except two dudes discussing data they collected and if it represents significance.

            And I don’t really subscribe to Al Gore as a peer reviewed source. There’s about 12k papers published in a peer reviewed manor that 97% agree say climate change is related to human activity. The science is heavily supporting it.

          • GaelanClark

            Wow there goes the 97 percent again. When you cherry pick amd selct out all opposing views and possible outliers the. You get a selecction of less than 100 respondents of the overall thousands.
            Then you divide by 100 and get 96.something. not even 97.

            Open your eyes and read

          • Hominid

            Wrong! Look into those 12k papers; look into that 97% statistic! The ‘science’ is NOT ‘heavily supporting it.’

          • GaelanClark

            Yeah, read the whole story from whom?

            Bc the climategate dealio was a tranch or three of emails.

            Emails which by the way show a consistent and unremittant pursuit to silence anyone who did not push the scare meme.

            I really cannot understand how someone can read some of the bilge in those emails and comeaway with anything other than….” the scientists and the science itself are and is corrupted at every level.

    • Icono

      There is no consensus or peer reviewed science that shows man can change the climate expect for about 23k papers on the subject vs the roughly 1k that suggest otherwise. We’re actually putting to work people known as Geoengineers and having conventions about how to control the global climate on purpose, just so you know.

      • devnullzzz

        just so you know, “suggesting” something is not the same as proving it. If you are trying to tell me there is legitimate proof that man can control naturally occurring climate change in any significant way, let’s see it.
        The “consensus” and “peer reviewed” science of the time also claimed that newton’s laws of physics worked universally, which was shown to be false by Einstein.
        “Consensus” and “peer reviews” are not how scientific THEORIES are proven icono. Not surprisingly, you are applying the “laws” of politics, not the scientific method, to jump to your egregiously wrong conclusions.

        • Icono

          Wikipedia has a nice article about geoengineering which is relevant to our conversation, I suggest reading it, but with the other link I don’t want to link bomb you, so I’ll just say that we actually do implore method to control the climate and have large meetings to figure out other methods to use for other plausible events. Should be right up your alley as they are, as of now, mostly computer generated models.

          Also, the way you highlighted THEORIES in all caps suggests to me that you might not understand science as well as you claim, as a theory in science is just a collection of facts that explain some greater phenomena.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geoengineering

          • GaelanClark

            Oh wow a wiki link. You are really stepping outside of the box to inform us

      • GaelanClark

        Send some links. You must be reaming with them. In fact just send me your best one or two.

        I am willing to bet you have not even scratched into ANY of the papers you are talking about.

    • First Officer

      I wouldn’t use Newtonian vs Einsteinian physics if i were you as your example. Einstein never denied Newton. Newtonian physics didn’t suddenly stop working when relativity was published either. Einstein also knew that whatever form relativity would take, it would have to agree with Newton’s where Newton’s had been shown to work, like predicting tides, heat engines, the orbits of most planets, etc.

      • devnullzzz

        I never said Einstein “denied” Newton. Actually, it was the other way around. Many thought Einstein was nuts for proposing such a theory.
        My point is, even those who insisted Newtonian physics was “universal”, they did NOT call Einstein a “science denier” or claim that he did not believe in “physics” in general.
        The so called “scientists” that are pushing a false claim based on ultra sparse, inaccurate, and “fudged” models are now claiming significant AGW is “settled science” and that a “consensus” of scientists somehow make their poor models and predictions “facts”.
        Clearly, these are not real scientists. They have a political reason for pushing their hardly proven theories, and I suspect much of it is government funding, which is money in their pockets.
        True science does not work in this way. “consensus” does not prove scientific theory or predictions.
        If that were true, Einstein WOULD have been treated just like the so called “climate change deniers” are now.
        And even that is a lie, nobody is denying “climate change” is real, that it has not been going on for billions of years, that they are “denying” is that the mushy unsupported “theories” that MAN is having a significant affect on naturally occurring climate change, or somehow possesses the ability to alter naturally occurring climate change, are simply not proven, and the underlying models that show this bogus result are not even close to being robust climate models.
        Hope that clears it up.

  • cromwell

    It is hard to take seriously so called ” Scientists” who insist Man is the main cause of Global Warming.
    Poke fun at the clowns who think the earth is 6,000 years old, that is fine. But being reluctant to spend trillions on an unproven theory that is backed by fools like Mr Gore and Mr Hansen, that is just common sense.
    When Mr Hansen has solved the Three Body problem he can talk to me about his certainty on an issue FAR more complex. Until then AGW is and remains, a religion, not a science.
    Shouting loudly does not change that, it just make these folks seem even less like the scientists they claim to be.

    • Icono

      Yeah! Keep sucking in gas from other nations because that’s better than developing locally produced energy independent of any nation that tries to hold high gas prices over our… wait a fucking minute. No. No, that’s wrong. We want cheap energy that doesn’t pollute the environment and raise cancer rates, don’t we? What exactly are you promoting?

      • devnullzzz

        What you are talking about is what our current government is promoting. The truth is, if allowed, we can have plenty of locally produced energy if allowed.

        And as far as your pollution goes, here is an interesting tidbit from the EPA:

        “Emission estimates are based on many factors, including levels of industrial activity, …. from 1990 to 2005, emissions of air toxics declined by approximately 42 percent.”
        One major volcano eruption will put more CO2 in the air than the entire history of mankind, pre and post technical revolution.
        You are caught up in a political scam, not any real effort to “save the planet”. Fortunately, most folks are not this gullible to the flat earther science deniers who pretend your theories are all “settled science” and “facts”.
        If this were the way real science evolved, Einstein would have been rejected as a crackpot for refuting the “settled science” and “consensus belief” that Newtonian physics works universally.

        • Icono
          • devnullzzz

            “Human activity is overloading our atmosphere with carbon dioxide and other global warming emissions, which trap heat, steadily drive up the planet’s temperature, and create significant and harmful impacts on our health, our environment, and our climate.”
            interesting how the very first paragraph is unproven. They make an unproven statement sound like fact. ha ha

          • Icono

            By the way, I’m searching for information about how much CO2 volcanoes emit, which is ranging from .2-.33 billion metric tons per year and comparing that to humans, which was more than 30 billion if I’m reading correctly. Would you care to point out where you read what that said otherwise?

          • GaelanClark

            Start working on forest fires meathead….

          • Icono

            Says the guy that can’t read two paragraphs.

          • GaelanClark

            Your first comment started with….”By the way, I am searching for information about how much CO2 volcanoes emit…”

            So I provided you a very good link to give you some answers.

            And you respond with basically a “fuck you”?

            What a baffoon and a clown you are.

          • GaelanClark
          • Icono

            Second. Fucking. Paragraph.

            “Gases emitted by volcanoes continue to influence the atmosphere but not to the extent of man-made sources.”

      • GaelanClark

        Watch your mouth meathead.

        Independent of any other nation…..hmmmmmm sounds like what the wildcatters are doing in WY, ND, CO, AND OK.

        Cheap energy……well its not ethanol. And its not wind. And its not solar.
        So what do you suggest…..ahhhhh yes…nuclear, coal and oil.

        Ever try to make you own energy riding a bike? You can get about 1kw in 10 hours riding real hard.

        I buy that for 12 cents.

        Turn that f-word at yourself

        • Icono

          Who the fuck said shit about riding bikes? Hahah, you destroyed that straw man! Nuclear is fairly clean energy, and I support it. However,
          solar power costs have dropped lower than that of Nuclear power, but I guess you missed that note, huh?

          The marginal cost of wind energy once a plant is constructed is usually less than 1-cent per kW·h. [ "Wind and Solar Power Systems — Design, analysis and Operation" (2nd ed., 2006), Mukund R. Patel, p. 303] Even when accounting for the rest of the cost of building and maintaining it costs 5-6 cents less per kilowatt hour.

          But do keep on telling me about how well that coal and oil are going to save the world.

          • GaelanClark

            And this from your much loved wiki links…

            http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cost_of_electricity_by_source

            Try reading down under the “estimates” tab.
            Now, you will get real giddy over the first two charts until the fact washes across your puny brain that those are estimates of future costs. Now read down the page…read France, oh yeah read California’s costs on electric.

            And before you go apeshit with joy…rwad the only caveat you need to know and the caveat you will ALWAYS leave out of your own research into this….
            Note that the above figures incorporate tax breaks for the various forms of power plants. Subsidies range from 0% (for Coal) to 14% (for nuclear) to over 100% (for solar).

            FUCKING WOW WOW WOW WOW WOW

            100% SUBSIDY FOR WIND IS ADDED INTO YOUR NUMBERS TO MAKE THEM COMPARABLE TO ALL OTHER FORMS OF ENERGY!!!!!!!!

            AND GUESS WHAT?!?!…..THE WIND DOESNT BLOW ALL THE TIME LIKE THE AIR OUT OF YOUR FAT FUCKING HEAD

  • BobbyPFalcon

    Thank goodness science-deniers are always on the wrong side of history. Always.

  • 013090

    “I wonder how people would have felt if this forum had been sponsored by, say, Mother Jones magazine or the Center for Food Safety? Those are self-proclaimed ‘progressive’ organizations that are icons of Ludditism on this issue.”

    That brings up an excellent point. Many people look down on you for talking at the CATO Institute because it is a politically right-wing libertarian think-tank; but wouldn’t look down on you for going to an anti-GMO left-wing progressive think-tank. Among many, there is this idea that anti-science views are monopolized by the political right, but there is just as much if not more ‘anti-science’ propaganda from the political left. Yes, on issues like creationism and climate change denial, it is more on the right. But on issues like GMOs, nuclear power, vaccines, water fluoridation, hydraulic fracturing, etc… the main opposition is heavily on the left.

    What is the lesson to be learned? Many people will believe something if it doesn’t go against their ideology; but if it does go against their ideology, they refuse to believe it no matter what.

  • urban coyote

    It is genuinely scientific to criticize the METHOLDOGY of IPCC 2007. See
    http://coyotequiddity.blogspot.com/2010/12/liberals-faith-in-global-warming-104.html

    As for GMOs. Isn’t it true that the fossil groundwater in the Mississippi River valley is being poisoned by petrochemicals? And isn’t it true that there is no provable way of removing those chemicals? If so, is there a rational alternative to GMOs modified to protect themselves and therefore develop an agriculture that doesn’t need petrochemical fertilizers and pesticides?

    • Tom

      Soil microbes can degrade pretty much anything, petrochemicals are not a problem for them.

      Let’s not forget that “organic” fertilizers can have detrimental effects on the environment as well (improperly aerated composts lead to methane emissions, manure run-off causes eutrophication and also contains pathogenic bacteria). “Organic” pesticides are often more toxic than synthetic ones (copper sulfate, rotenone, pyrethrin).

  • http://myshambhalavillage.wordpress.com Paul Frank

    I am a long-standing critic of the Monsanto and GMOs BECAUSE they haven’t done their environmental safety testing nor their food safety testing.

    At least that has been my understanding, and what I have been telling people for years. This article implicitly says otherwise. Please disabuse me of my misunderstanding if it is such.

    I would be interested in references to the research substantiating that Monsanto & Friends have performed the environmental safety studies normally associated with the introduction of new crops and plants. I would also appreciate references to the studies documenting that Monsanto & Friends have performed the studies normally associated with the introduction of new food on the market. In neither case will I find it satisfying that they have met modified standards as a result of their political clout in Congress and/or the relevant regulatory agencies. Critiques of the studies associating GMOs with assorted environmental and food safety problems are interesting, but secondary.

    I understand that the creation of GMOs embraces a manipulation-of-nature paradigm popular among scientists, but that, of course, is not science. T.S. Kuhn suggests that a generation of scientists may need to die off if there is an embraced paradigm at stake. It would really be better if someone just did the science.

    I thank you in advance for kind assistance with this matter.

    • http://www.geneticliteracyproject.org/ Jon Entine

      HI Paul. I don’t know what you base your criticism of Monsanto on but if it’s on the information presented in your note here, it’s misguided. Before any new biotech crop is approved, the USDA has to be convinced that a crop has been thoroughly evaluated and is safe. That requires multiple tests. If the USDA is not convinced that the data addresses its concerns, it will require more tests. That’s why it has taken 7-15 years to get individual crops approved. Monsanto has done hundreds of tests–the government specifically designed the approval system so that the burden/cost of getting a new crop approved would fall on the shoulders of the company and not on the public–which is why a majority (but far from all) tests on new crops are done by corporations rather than independently. It just so happens that yesterday, Grist.org, which has been relentlessly anti-GMO, carried an article (as part of a series) addressing the food testing issue, and outlines the process quite succinctly, explaining the extensive testing system: http://grist.org/food/the-gm-safety-dance-whats-rule-and-whats-real/

      If you’d like to review the thousand+ individual tests, you could start with the GENERA data base, which includes hundreds of independent tests along with those done by corporations to fulfill their mandate: http://www.biofortified.org/genera/

      I believe your “paradigm” is wrongly stated. Almost all food and crops, including most things that you consider “natural” are manipulated. All modern grains were “created”–they were not that way in nature. Ancient wheat and corn would be inedible. Moreover, we have created thousands of crops through radiation and chemical immersion, which generate random mutations, to create many modern fruits and vegetables–yet this random process is considered “organic.” GM technology, rather, targets individual proteins found in nature (there is no such thing as a “fish gene” or some such blather…nature knows only from proteins which are not species specific, so any one who says its unnnatural to move genes/proteins from one species to another knows nothing about basic biology—you contain bacteria and fish and marigold “genes” whether you know it or not).

      In sum, GM technology is extremely risk averse and cautious. It targets individual proteins, which are extensively tested for allergens and other possible reactions before a crop is approved. Conventional and organic breeding, both of which embrace mutagenesis, are far more random and likely to create unknown health and environmental impacts. Hope this helps.

    • Tom

      Hi Paul,
      Here are two authoritative sources to get you started:

      “Impact of Genetically Engineered Crops on Farm Sustainability in the United States”, The National Research Council (https://download.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=12804 )

      “Safety of Genetically Engineered Foods: Approaches to Assessing Unintended Health Effects”, The National Research Council (http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=10977 )

      They contain plenty of primary source material if you wish to dig further.

      • http://myshambhalavillage.wordpress.com Paul Frank

        Thank you very much. I greatly appreciate it.

  • http://farmers4choice.wordress.com/ Farmers4Choice

    I stated years ago remaining silent would not help educate the community about agrioculture and disagreed years ago when the ag industry in Hawaii said to not engage the anti’s…Frankly remaining silent and being respectful has not gained us any thing.

    Will we educate or alienate the majority of the community who really have no position if we enage via social media; we could upset some but most certainly were going to continue getting clobbered even if we remain silent…I think we must speak out, let people make choices for themselves but if we dont stand up and speak as loud as the activist then that is the only voice our communties will hear…

  • Mark Stuber

    afasdfad No one addressed my question. Who defines what a peer reviewed journal is? What if the journals refuse to publish what is submitted to them? Remember where the following quote came from? “I think we have to stop considering Climate Research as a legitimate peer-reviewed journal. Perhaps we should encourage our colleagues in the climate research community to no longer submit to, or cite papers in, this journal” . . ..

    • GaelanClark

      That quote was fron the first rwlease of CRU emails. Climategate 1 as it were. I believe that a CRU scientist made the statement in regard to a paper that was not along “concensus” lines and they did not want it published.

      First in peer review. There comes pal review or non pal review. Pals get pushed through with none of their calculati9ns checked or their methodolgy questioned…think upside down Tijander. Non pals are subject to questions and reviews that do not allow the paper to pass.

      Second. You have journals cow to pressure from “leading scientists” and those journals dont accept papers that are not warmist or those “leading” scientists will never submit any papers to them anymore.

      Third. You have journals like GRL and others which have been around forever.

      The writer of the paper chooses which journal to submit their work though. And it goes from there.

      And a journal has a right to refuse a submission.And journal editors find it easier most times to ask the submitter of the paper whom they think might be a good reviewer for the submitters paper thusly insuring pal review.

  • Cindy Trautmeyer

    There shouldn’t be a debate!

    Publicly pitting scientists against activists is not going to solve anything but feeding the media frenzy (who are selling more ad space as a result).

    Who profits? Who loses? Who doesn’t participate in the debates and for what reason?

    Increasingly the organic movement enables a periphery of activists to make a living as such. The money is there where it previously wasn’t. It comes from consumers pockets.

    The monetary influence of corporations on universities is showing its influences increasingly as well. Government funded academic freedom is not what it was anymore. There’s no corporate conspiracy to blame but the interests of a shareholder and profit driven company are different. Their money comes from consumers as well.

    So the consumer is at the center of the issue. Some profit as shareholders of organic or biotech stock. Some try to inform themselves by doing a google search. But the vast majority is uninformed or not interested. They driven by simple instincts, price, availability, and advertising/packaging in their purchase decisions of foods. They buy organic or salt-free or previously frozen beef or what has smiling kids on the box or whatever is on sale: All on the label.

    In terms of biotech foods the industry has to realize that their success in the market place is built on clay feet. The prevention of informing the consumer via labeling will cause ever more resentment out of fear. It’s not a debate of it’s needed or not, legal or not, raising costs of production, or whatever the standard arguments are. “What are they hiding?’ is a dangerous thought no food manufacturer wants to face with a shopping soccer mom.

    That in numerous indisputable studies approx 90% of customers want labeling should be enough. Half of those wouldn’t buy them for now, but I am sure this number will go down over time with every GMO food being sold as such and nobody getting sick. Allowing a positive perception of biotech to grow with the customers will happen over time. There will be an initial drop in sales. MAybe even painful. But then the chance for growth will be unhindered and the activists will out of steam.

    Yet under the artificial prevention of labeling from a political side any weird and quirky arguments goes rampant. The prevention of labeling allows consumer irritation to grow, protests to fester, and a valuable science be demonized.

    Don’t just take it from me–here’s one of your peers saying the same thing:

    http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/collideascape/2013/04/29/why-gmo-supporters-should-embrace-labels/#.UeRgma6YUX1

    • First Officer

      Ther is no prevention of labeling GMO’s or non-gmo’s as such. There just isn’t the requirement. Two very different things.

      • Cindy Trautmeyer

        You tell the consumer or you don’t. The longer you won’t tell her, the more resentment and nut cases you’ll have to deal with. As a farmer or investor, I will bail out before that as the profit margins are way sweeter on the other side of the fence.

  • GaelanClark

    So you moderated out all of my replies back to the jerk off “Icono”….why? Is he the only person that can use the f word?

    He started the abusive tactic and I finished it. You as a moderater need to have some parity or you arw just as bad as icono

  • KowalaMama

    Not engaging only concedes to ignorant hyper-reactionism. For a ‘well-meaning’ scientist to back away from a debate simply because they fear looking bad (being made a ‘vicitm’ in Fedoroff’s words) is a dereliction of the duty one assumes when they take public funds to do their research. Tumor-ridden rats get more support in a debate than a ‘mountain’ of words because there is a the gap in knowledge/vocabulary between scientists and non-scientists regarding experimental methods. Shrinking away from the podium will do nothing to bridge this gap, which is increasingly important.

    • http://www.geneticliteracyproject.org/ Jon Entine

      Thanks for your input…that’s where I come down as well.

    • First Officer

      Funny that that’s exactly how Seralini and Jeffrey Smith reacted to the change of one debator. They shrunk away.

  • FreedomFan