Madagascar student prank shows March Against Monsanto has heartless agenda

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“Sir, I am afraid for my life and future, afraid because March Against Monsanto has threatened me and my community,” Navid Rakotofala told me amidst a fury of reactions to his unconventional expose prank to explore just how outrageously far “mainstream” anti-GMO activists would go to to spread their message.

Navid is my protege at the University of Toliara in the southwest of Madagascar. He doesn’t attend the university but he has assisted me as a volunteer to translate my courses for over a year now. In exchange, I’ve helped him improve his English by teaching him about the growing field of psychology of science (POS); that is, how our brains create and relate to this thing we call science. There’s no better way to teach POS than to contrast unhealthy and healthy scientific discourse. In my personal opinion, there are few examples of unhealthy science discourse more clear than the extreme vocalists of the anti-biotechnology movement.

Well, Navid took my message to heart, and despite my concerns, he created quite the prank to coincide with the May 30 March Against Monsanto to challenge the way the group’s supporters engage this issue. They often seem more interested in promoting their views regardless of whether the science is behind them or whether people will actually be helped by what they are advocating. He set up an intriguing hoax to evaluate their sincerity. The fall out from this teen’s hijinx are extremely telling, and should serve as a clarion call to those open to reconsidering their scientific and ethical positions on genetic engineering. Navid’s project speaks for itself, let me just share some highlights from how this extremist group responded.

Madagascar is not much involved in this debate. We don’t have any approved genetically modified crops but our impoverished country might benefit greatly if Golden Rice or other enhanced GMO products were approved. For the most part, we are observers to what seems like a loud and often silly debate about GM safety. In the days before the global event, Navid set up a fake blogspot, a fictitious Madagascar branch of the March Against Monsanto.

Navid begins his prank

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Over the following days, he started posting anti-GMO and anti-Monsanto manifestoes. Here are his outrageous posts that he put up in the days before the March. Click on a tile to view full-size.

 

Navid then started posting pictures of his friends whom he had given anti-GMO signs, each more outrageous then the next. “I made the signs and gave them to my friends to see what your group would say,” he would later write to the March Against Monsanto leaders. Click on each tile to view full-size.

 

Finally, the big day arrived and Navid detailed the fictitious Madagascar March Against Monsanto in lurid detail, making sure to hit all the inflammatory notes that anti-GMO activists strike on their websites.

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Navid would later write: “My teacher (who does not agree with this project because of the trickery) told me that your group will accept almost anything regardless of the scientific process, this was my experiment to see if he is correct.” Was Navid’s cynicism warranted?

Anti-GMO protestors’ reactions

Judge for yourself. The reaction to the evolving hoax was fascinating—and disturbing. Anti-GMO protestors around the world had picked up on Navid’s pseudo-campaign, reposting his pictures and putting up posts of their own stating that it was better that people go blind than to support the growing of genetically modified vitamin A enhanced Golden Rice—developed not by Monsanto but by a devoted team of independent scientists and foundations donating their time and expertise—that health experts say could save millions from blindness and death.

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The anti-GMOers parroted the words of Trierry Vrain, a former Canadian biotech researcher who has gone rogue, and is now committed to gutting the development of Golden Rice and other independent, life-saving independent GMO innovations.

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Navid reveals his prank

By this time, Navid had had enough. It was time for him to end the deception. This is what he wrote on his blog :

To my new friends from March Against Monsanto:

I apologize, I have tricked you for many days now, and I must now stop because I am getting scared of your community, and even though I do not respect your ways, you are humans and I feel bad tricking you into thinking I am one of your group. You mean well, but you are not using science in a good way to help Madagascar.

There was no March Against Monsanto (MAM) in Madagascar. I made the signs and gave them to my friends to see what your group would say. My teacher (who does not agree with this project because of the trickery) told me that your group will accept almost anything regardless of the scientific process, this was my experiment to see if he is correct. In my opinion, he is correct, and your group should not have the same respect as people who are careful about their science. When we talk about science, we must be very careful how we use peoples emotions, otherwise it is manipulation.

Below I will put the pictures from our fake protest and write my real thoughts. During this experiment I was encouraged and instructed by MAM organizers to destroy or damage golden rice experiments. I was encouraged to allow locusts to eat all our food crops instead of allowing the emergency use of insecticides (this is a very difficult problem for the Malagasy people!). The signs and “memes” below were made to have no factual truth and are very offensive to many Malagasy people, and yet you shared them, you say you will use them in your marketing, and you encouraged me to take more pictures of “people with diseases” to spread your message. You encouraged me to mistrust a man from the USA who starts organic school gardens here, just because he also thinks that agriculture is complicated and biotechnologies might be able to help us. You encouraged me to stop working with this man and focus instead on vandalizing my imaginary gold rice experiments. This was offensive and unpleasant for me to experience.

My experiment was also a failure in another way. I made my signs in a way that I thought was so extreme and offensive that they would be rejected by your community. Instead, all of the signs received compliments, and I could not think of anything more extreme until I searched your own website! My signs were untrue, offensive, and even incoherent or contradictory – but after my experiment, when I look at your websites I ask myself “What is the difference?”.

For Madagascar, I think we will be better off if we have nothing to do with March Against Monsanto. I think Monsanto is probably not a good company. I do not know if biotechnology will be good for Madagascar. One thing that I do know is that March Against Monsanto is not an organization that is able to help the Malagasy people learn about the risks and benefits of biotechnology in any meaningful way. Thank you for keeping your signs and “memes” out of our country, we welcome you back when you learn about what science is.

Thank you,
Navid Rakotofala

What follows is Navid’s photo expose—his key postings and his commentaries about each of them. Click on each tile to view full-size.

 

Navid had had enough of the protestors’ callousness and willingness to exploit the vulnerabilities of the poor and helpless. “There are many more things I could tell you about my experiment to see what it is like in the extremist anti-science group #MarchAgainstMonsanto,” Navid wrote, “but I think the examples above give an example of how this group is willing to spread bad information at any cost.”

Anti-GMO protestors’ fallout and backlash

What happened when Navid revealed the hoax–confessing who he was, what he had done and why? The fallout from his trickery has intense. After Navid asked March Against Monsanto activists to stop their anti-science propaganda approach, the very first response was a diatribe from a prominent activist in Amsterdam who threatened the young Malagasy boy, writing he was now “forced” to launch an investigation into the funding of Navid’s school system. Navid, he wrote, had served a dis-justice [to himself] but also [to his] community. I for one take this personally as I am sure others will. He said was going to try to get Navid’s and the school’s funding revoked.

Perhaps this European MAM activist was unaware of the school-funding crisis in Madagascar and how callous his threat was. Perhaps he is unaware of the complex socio-dynamics of a white man threatening a young Malagasy student. Regardless, Navid is now safely with his family in the remote and impoverished southwestern bush. I need only hint at the blinding irony of a MAM organizer claiming that someone else’s activism is too personal! Look in the mirror much?

Other activists claimed that Monsanto must have been behind this trickery. Then they pointed a finger at me, that I must be the “biotechnology fat cat” who put this little bird in Navid’s ear. I’ve had a least one MAM organizer troll through seemingly every post I’ve ever made, leaving nasty messages all over my Facebook account, accusing me of trying to destroy the national parks of Madagascar.

Justice for Navid

Let me conclude by outlining why MAM’s thinking here is so funny, sad and dangerous. Navid needs your help to get some justice!

My paltry educational lab in Toliara, the Positive Education Action-Research (PEAR) Laboratory, is a fully volunteer effort to date. Okay, full disclosure, I received a paltry ~$200 USD in honorarium from the University of Toliara twice over two years, but that was certainly not from Monsanto. My efforts have focused on civic education and science education, most recently partnering with the university’s new agricultural research farm to chart a path towards organic school and community-based gardens, along with applied research in organic or non-GMO seed saving trials. I am formerly a certified organic vegetable gardener and grass-fed beef producer in Maine and Pennsylvania. I am a supporter of organic farming who holds a very moderate position on “GMOs in Madagascar”. I approach the issue from the psychology of science field, assuming all humans are fail-able to the evolved emotional reasoning systems of our minds, myself most stringently included.

My moderate position combined with Navid’s appeal to reason have lead to a smattering of personal insults I find deplorable (and this despite my original disapproval of Navid’s trickery, and despite MAM organizers issuing a surprising call for silence among their ranks – embarrassed that their leadership has seemingly threatened Navid’s non-existent school funding!).

With all this noisy drama it is easy to forget the real point of Navid’s guerilla activism; he had one simple and clear request that MAM and the Anti-GMO crowd have yet to address:

“Please stop using the non-scientific and inflammatory approach of spreading false information about genetically modified crops and attacking people personally.”

It’s fine to be against Monsanto if that’s what you believe; it’s fine to believe that biotechnology doesn’t have all the answers we need. In fact it doesn’t. What isn’t fine is to create a political machine with an organizational culture designed around the antithesis of what we know about the healthy role of science. What isn’t fine is to idelogically engage with impressionable youth in the most impoverished regions in the world, and allow junk science or non-science to flow free while authentic education remains scarce.

The keyword here is capacity. We can either build capacity or squander it, the MAM approach offers nothing but a divisive waste of energy. The March Against Monsanto leadership directed Navid to destroy imaginary Golden Rice fields while denigrating my efforts in teaching my students about organic agriculturre because I was a falsely cast as a biotech fat cat.

Madagascar deserves far better, the Atsimo Andrefana region doesn’t have time to make signs and spout nonsense; we need everyone at the table using real science to find real solutions. Everyone should be able to agree to that.

Navid’s project has been a true wake-up call to me regarding how extremist and anti-science the anti-biotechnology movement leadership has become. It may be impossible to change minds, but perhaps Navid’s simple plea, “please, stop using this approach”, is something we can ask, and ask, and ask of the anti-GMO activists until they do?

Dustin Eirdosh, research director, The Positive Education Action-Research (PEAR) Laboratory, Faculty of Life Science

  • Giovanni Tagliabue

    Dear Dustin, pls provide a web page where I and friends can make a little donation to your organization. And pls tell Navid he is a HERO! :-)))
    Best regards from Northern Italy! Giovanni Tagliabue

  • Eric Bjerregaard

    I just got a new job. By my 3rd or 4th paycheck should be caught up enough to send a little as well. Let us know through the GLP please. As for the criminals[activists] I am not surprised at all.

  • The Greatest freedom

    This is an ad paid for by the GMO industry..

    • Bernie

      Please either provide your evidence for this claim or withdraw it.

      • The Greatest freedom

        You know it is.. Patent on food is wrong, and your yellow rice is a threat to all rice production.

        • doubting_rich

          So in other words you are lying. You simply made that up, with no justification at all except that you “know” in your bigotry that it must be so. That is the most destructive force the environmental and left-wing movements (so often overlapping) bring to bear: disgusting arrogance combined with blatant stupidity.

          • The Greatest freedom

            You bastard greedy 1% lakeys.. GMOs are unhealthy.
            The American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) urges doctors to prescribe non-GMO diets for all patients.

          • DevAd

            So your source is an organization that is has been flagged as illegitimate by quackwatch? Quick tip: just because it says ‘Medicine’ or has the name of a country in its name does not mean it is a useful source of knowledge or authority.

          • The Greatest freedom

            Try to eat your green toilet paper

          • Toto Tototo

            you have o long list of lies ready to be use…
            you just don’t care about the truth…

          • Toto Tototo

            used

          • The Greatest freedom

            You can’t smell the truth even if it takes a crap on you head

          • TeaPartyGeezer

            Ignorant
            Incoherent
            Ideologue

            Really, that’s no way to go through life.

            Thankfully, those conditions are all curable … usually with maturity and education. All it takes is an open mind and the desire to improve yourself.

          • The Greatest freedom

            So GMO is so good for you that you even don’t want to label it.. See u when u get there

          • TeaPartyGeezer

            Drunk is also no way to go through life.

          • djbethell

            Ostrich.

          • TeaPartyGeezer

            Parakeet.

          • djbethell

            OK, my mistake, Parakeet.

          • TeaPartyGeezer

            Apology accepted, Budgie.

          • djbethell

            No apology given, Dildo.

          • PhilJourdan

            From the content of your comments, I agree. No apology was given as you are incapable of higher thought.

          • djbethell

            Move away from the mirror.

          • PhilJourdan

            Thank you for validating my comment. Do you need TInactin for your tongue?

          • djbethell

            Mooove awaaaay frommmm thhhhe mirroooor (with ever-lasting reverb)

          • PhilJourdan

            Sorry, I think your case is chronic.

          • PhilJourdan

            Your problem is you have no clue of the difference between a fact and your opinion.

            So here’s a clue. Your opinion is not fact. no matter how hard you click your heels and repeat it.

          • PhilJourdan

            You got the mindless sheep bleat down pat!

          • The Greatest freedom

            I’m sure that you’re jump ready to frack around too, glad to see that is start to be banned in EU.. As the “not harmful” pesticides that has killed off US bee population..

          • David Smith

            Ah yes, the old ‘we’re killing all the bees’ idiocy. This link will hopefully explain to you why the alarmist paper written by Lu decrying a pesticidal armageddon for bees was based on really shoddy science:
            http://turbidplaque.com/2014/05/colony-collapse-disorder-more-dead-bees-more-sloppy-science/

            Also:
            http://cdn0.vx-cdn.com/assets/4497103/pesticide.jpg
            If you look at the graph you’ll see that by way of example the US californian bee populations started declining BEFORE insecticides were being used extensively.

            Give up the alarmism. You’re not very good at it.

            BTW I hope you’re not writing your comments using a computer made of petroleum based plastic, because that would be hypocritical. Or maybe your computer is made solely of bamboo?

          • David smith
          • The Greatest freedom

            I use telepathy, an effect from the harmless DDT..

          • David smith

            Not the DDT twaddle again!
            Although I did find your telepathy comment mildly amusing…

          • The Greatest freedom

            10000s of kids were born without limbs.. They’re were not amused..

          • Do you realize that DDT is not thalidomide? No children have ever been born without limbs because their mothers were exposed to DDT. And despite some medical risks to human beings, DDT has never been as remotely devastating to any population — other than mosquitoes — as malaria. None of which is meant as an endorsement of DDT or to imply it is harmless in some sense. But you are stating wild claims as “fact” and end up making the same point as Navid, though I am certain that is not what you intend…

          • The Greatest freedom

            Lol

          • The Greatest freedom

            I gave DDT as an example of the industry.

            Neonicotinoid pesticides are causing significant damage to a wide range of beneficial species and are a key factor in the decline of bees, say scientists.

            Researchers, who have carried out a four-year review of the literature, say the evidence of damage is now “conclusive”.

          • PhilJourdan

            No, you gave DDT out of ignorance. And the “studies” of Neonicotinoid pesticides have not even gotten to the evidence stage yet. Just more alarmism from a Malthusian.

          • The Greatest freedom

            The ignorant is you

          • PhilJourdan

            So stating facts is now ignorance to you. I can see why you are still clueless.

            I suggest you do some research. That might give you some knowledge. Until then, your opinion is worthless.

          • The Greatest freedom

            That is more valid to you

          • PhilJourdan

            So you refuse to?

            And your modified version of rubber and glue is duly noted and filed next to “level of maturity” on your part.

          • Foodisgood

            you totally busted him as a moron and a fraud 😀

          • PhilJourdan

            Not because of DDT – nice non sequitur.

            Millions of kids were never born. Thanks to abortion. But that still is a non sequitur.

          • PhilJourdan

            No wonder you want more blind people. You can hoodwink them easier.

          • Gavin

            Thank you David, thank you! It’s amazing to read this story and then see comments that reflect the intelligence throughout.

          • PhilJourdan

            Proof?

            Oh, sorry I asked you for the impossible. I am sure you love blind children. And the more the merrier for you right?

          • Alan_McIntire

            Aren’t you aware that ALL our crops, wheat, corn, rice, have been bred by humans? None of them existed naturally before humans started selectively breeding plants several thousand years ago.

          • The Greatest freedom

            And let humans continue to do that, not companies.. Have you learned nothing, DDT, agent orange, HMO pesticides? .. Who’s responsible when the shiite hits the fan?

          • Alan_McIntire

            Companies are made up of HUMANS acting in concert.

          • The Greatest freedom

            Driven by greed

          • Niss Green

            More angry stupid comments with invented numbers by more people like you – you are quite obviously just angry at someone/something…

        • Niss Green

          Have you ever heard about evidence to prove a point – where is yours..?
          ..aand please don’t paste link to more nonsense with no evidence or even a shred of an argument…

          • The Greatest freedom

            Too late, EU is banning it..

        • djbethell

          Prove this whole article isn’t a hoax. You can’t, can you? Thought not!

      • djbethell

        Prove that this whole article isn’t a hoax. You can’t can you? Thought not!

    • Obvious troll is obvious.

    • Niss Green

      …is it because you understand the subject or because all your friends think like you..???

  • mikehaseler

    Dear Dustin Eirdosh,

    as someone who used to be in the Green party and eventually became a climate Skeptic, I am familiar with both those like MAM and being attacked by these types of people.

    First let me assure you that almost all those posting are quite nice people (if you meet them in person) and that their bark is worse than their bite – indeed most are quite toothless.

    Second, let me apologise for their behaviour. In my experience a lot of people seem to throw their brains away when they get on the internet.

    Third – I was rather hoping there was a means to donate something to help out.

    Yes, I’m aware it could be a double hoax (environmentalists expecting people like me to say something silly about environmentalists) … however, whatever it is … it’s a good article.

    • I would argue that these are not nice or good people. These are awful people who are simply too cowardly to attached themselves to the potential consequences of their actions. These who are willing to trick someone half a world away to go blind, lose their children to decease, or starve to death. For people like this, their identify as someone with a cause is the only thing that’s really important to them.

      • mikehaseler

        I was young once – we all did stupid things when we were young. That doesn’t make them right and it certainly doesn’t excuse people who are old enough to know better.

  • PhilJourdan

    You are what is referred to as “Collateral Damage”. But your teaching appears to be excellent as your students are very intelligent. It is a shame that the green side cannot say the same.

    Those mad at you and your student will never admit they are wrong, but the finger of fate points firmly at them for their idiots they are.

  • ClimateLearner

    Well done, Navid. You have helped expose the hollow heart, the moral and intellectual depravity of one sub-set of eco-campaigners. You have thereby surely helped more people to see what dreadful people these campaigners are. Hatred of humanity is their hallmark. I have no doubt at all that ‘humanity’ will treat their views with disdain.

  • msmassachusetts

    Please give my regards to that young man. Brave and intelligent at the same time, thank goodness there are such people. If this was 1550 the March Against Monsanto people would be burning skeptics at the stake. It is a movement that has its roots in Euro-American style religious fervor, transformed into secular crusades.

  • nickshaw

    Gee, I didn’t see any of the “fake but true” responses from the anti-GMP crowd.
    That used to be such a useful meme for these kinds.
    From the comments here, one would think the anti-GMO people are one and the same with the warmista / vegan / anti-fracking folks.
    Weird eh?

    • Niss Green

      Is spewing nonsense the topic of this article..? and aren’t all the groups you mentioned seem to to be the experts without any knowledge…

  • jobrighton

    One would hope Monsanto, with it’s $ billion plus annual profits gained by patenting crup genes in an effort increase its control over global food production, would give this young man some funding to finish his schooling, it’s the least he deserves for his PR work for them.
    Perhaps he could investigate whether a patent should be applied to crops? The green revolution that occurred in the 1970s didn’t have them.

    • Annoyed

      Straw man. This was not about the question whether patentability of GMOs is good or not.

      How about this. Maybe you could investigate why your anti-GMO buddies have this hugely disproportionate bias and don’t seem to know much about the actual science behind/and about GMOs.

    • Niss Green

      Thank you jobrighton for perfectly demonstrating Navid’s point…
      Doesn’t matter what information will come across your way you will not learn – you seem incapable of analysis due to your inability to drop your pretence that you know something about biology or anything else for that matter..
      I guess you will blame me next for working for Monsanto too…

      • richardamullens

        You should be ashamed of working for Monsanto.
        The company has only the profit motive and is happy to destroy genetic diversity and wishes to stop farmers from planting their own seeds to contribute to their impoverishment with false claims for their benefits.

        Companies like this have conspired with legislators to ban traditionally used weedkillers (Sodium Chlorate for example) so they can sell more of their product. The result of their weedkiller resistant seeds is that the earth is poisoned with more of their product, genetic resistance is transferred to native varieties and in the long run the weeds become resistant too.

        Science can be used for bad as well as for good and I’m afraid that is the case with Monsanto.

        • Good4U

          Richard, you appear to be just another neo-communist, what with all your drivel about “profit motive” and “companies”. You can’t even see past the end of your fat-cat nose long enough to realize that every tool that you use to live and carry on your life with was created by companies making profits. Your communistic system has been tried, many times throughout the course of human history, & has failed every time. We don’t need it to come around yet again. It’s ugly.

          • richardamullens

            I am no communist, in fact I studied Natural Science at Cambridge – hence my comments about genetic diversity and poisoning the planet – something that an idiot like you is, it seems, unable to appreciate.

            Companies like Monsanto are the unacceptable face of capitalism. Poisoning the planet, like killing the bees is bad for mankind, even though you may be able to line your pockets. Selfishness on a grand scale.

          • Good4U

            Very dramatic! Fortunately not prescient. The world was not destroyed by Oppenheimer’s bomb, nor will it be destroyed by “companies like Monsanto” as you put it. I’m a lot less afraid of the biotech companies that are putting forth cleaner and more efficient means of producing our food than I am of Hollywood style movie producers that disgorge bogus hit pieces against technology. Knee-jerk hatred of profitable corporations is not beneficial to anyone. Do you hold an equal degree of hatred against the BBC? Against NBC? Against CNN? Are you angry at MGM? 20th Century Fox? All of these are mega-corporations, some of them bigger than Monsanto. Do you really hate “companies”, or aren’t you just angry at selected ones because of some tripe that you were fed by the entertainment industry? Do you really believe that those Hollywood actors and producers who rail against technology, and make a lot of money doing that, are less an “unacceptable face of capitalism” than Monsanto?

            If you truly studied (and passed) “Natural Science” at Cambridge then you did learn that the means by which humans feed, clothe, and shelter themselves, and keep themselves healthy, do involve the use of technology, in the form of genetic modification of the plants, animals, and microorganisms that we have chosen to serve our needs. Those means also involved the use of chemicals. Deployment of such technology has indeed resulted in mistakes as interpreted by the 20:20 vision of present day, such as rotenone, copper (both still used on “organic” food crops today), lead arsenate, and mercurial pesticides. If you recall (from your education at Cambridge), those deployments were not considered mistakes at the times they were undertaken. They were simple exigencies that people undertook because they were hungry, cold, and suffering from disease. To retribute the use of those earlier technologies is futile and silly. Our task today is to bring better, safer technologies to bear in order to displace the older ones. The neonicotinoids have displaced some of the older insecticides, perhaps much more dangerous to bees, such as the organophosphates and pyrethroids, so they serve good purpose. People who would ban the neonics simply due to fear-mongering bogus attacks coming from fraudulent, self promoting buffoons are making a huge mistake, because agricultural production systems will certainly revert to those much more dangerous chemistries.

            Over the longer term, perhaps the neonics will some day be replaced by transgenic crops that will be less susceptible to insect attack. My hope in this regard is that biotechnology, in the form of plant and animal transgenics (GMOs), will thrive, and that public understanding will quell the atmosphere of fear that seems to be prevailing today. Senselessly blaming “companies” and “corporations” is not the answer.

            Finally, if you authentically did study at Cambridge, then you learned that calling someone an idiot is not a good way to become persuasive of your point of view. You are excused this one time.

          • richardamullens

            To accuse me of being a neo-communist is not a good way to become persuasive of your point of view either. Nor are unsubstantiated hypotheses of my opinions on companies in general – when I made a particular assertion against Monsanto.

            Many people feel as I do and reject the idea of “intellectual property”. If you use the internet then you are using open source software which is free as in speech and often as in beer.

            Likewise so it was with the human genome project against Celera corporation https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Celera_Corporation who wished to profit from knowledge and withhold this knowledge from others.

            Many scientists too are fighting against those companies that seek to profit by charging for access to scientific journals whose research finance has usually come from private funds.

            When private companies are involved in an enterprise there is a strong danger that ethics will go out of the window. Consider https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minamata_disease or https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tetraethyllead or many other industries (tobacco, asbestos …) that have ignored heath considerations to the detriment of the public and finally gone bankrupt and left the taxpayer to pick up the tab.

            Producing seeds whose offspring are infertile solely as a means to sell more seeds is inherently wrong. Large multinational companies that subvert democracy by buying the support of politicians against the public good are immoral and retard the progress of science. The opposition to GMO arises in no small part from such unethical operations.

            To suggest that my antipathy to unethical companies comes from tripe fed to me by the entertainment industry is an insult. How can one have respect for a company that seeks to profit from a “comedy” about a CIA assassination plot when that organisation has been torturing and killing innocent detainees with impunity ? It shows the depths to which America has fallen when there is more outrage about a lowbrow film being curtailed than the actual torture which has and no doubt will continue to occur.

            Ammonium Sulphamate which decays to the fertiliser Ammonium Sulphate has been banned in the EU in favour of herbicides of unknown long term effects no doubt at the behest of large agrochemical suppliers like Bayer and Monsanto. We need to take especial notice of these companies who are not above bribing our politicians to further their own aims against the public interest.

          • Good4U

            That “many people feel as I do” assertion holds no particular weight in this discussion. Many people feel as I do too, so we’re even on tit-for-tat. What’s really important, though, is what systems work and what ones don’t. Capitalistic systems work. Communistic ones never have. That’s my point. You can argue until you are blue in the face, but you can’t change reality.

            Oh, and I don’t subscribe to Wikipedia. It contains a lot of crap, which is predictable since it’s a hodgepodge of tripe put together by a bunch of anti-capitalistic, anti-technological ideologues. Note that they lack for funds, so they are reduced to begging in order to continue their campaigns. This was also predictable, and falls into line with the historical facts that I mentioned above. I haven’t responded to their pleadings.

          • richardamullens

            Sorry, but you just ignored all the examples I gave where “capitalistic” enterprises failed us and open collaborations succeeded. I don’t see any argument in your post at all.

            I always thought that science and argument were evidence based.

          • Good4U

            As for analogizing CIA plots and ammonium sulfamate, well, I can’t help you there…sorry. Sounds crazy to me.
            With regard to science and agricultural technology, the evidence that you seek is published in peer-reviewed journals. Specifically with regard to genetically modified organisms, It is also found in the published findings of the regulatory agencies that review data and form well advised decisions which protect human health and the integrity of the environment. You should check them first. With possible exception of VERY SUPERFICIAL information, you will not find much of value in Wikipedia or other highly distilled (and left-slanted) websites.

  • MrSonicAdvance

    Well done Navid. Can you do the same thing with the Feminism industry next?

    • Avery

      That’s like when the paratroopers had just fought off the Nazis to the bloody end, and they were told “good job, now go beat the Japanese”

  • Jip

    Misinformation exists throughout this debate, on both sides. You and your friends have just added to the misinformation. Your agenda remains unclear.

    • Niss Green

      I would say the author made his point by illustrating beautifully the quality of the anti GM statements and level of ignorance by the anti GM camp – it is quite obvious that the author is not actually arguing for or against GM..

    • djbethell

      Exactly, they have done nobody any favours. How do we know that this is not a hoax too?

  • Will Pratt

    Here we go with the reverse psychology BS!

    This world does not need GMO period.

    We can easily grow enough food for everyone. The hofjuden who control the supply and production of everything globally, simply refuse to allow it.

    Super Markets dump more food than they sell. £19 billion each year in Britain alone. Multiply that by all the countries in the world and we could easily feed the worlds poor many times over.

    Don’t be taken in by this reverse psychology BS, it is simply a change in tactics for Monsanto, this firm is evil, never doubt that.

    This world has no need for GMO. NONE!

    • Niss Green

      Writing stupid statements does make you right – it just shows your level of ignorance – have you ever heard about evidence or experiment. .
      The world doesn’t need more people spewing nonsense – we have enough from the religious organisation..

  • Solrac

    This PEAR and The Genetic Literacy Project have the bitter-sweet synthetic smell of ASTROTURFING at its best.

  • djbethell

    I don’t believe one word of this. Sounds just like another hoax to me. If you want to play games without sharing the rules, don’t complain when others play along but don’t have any rules either. Natch!

  • RandomBabbler

    I have read some stuff on corporations like Monsanto and Bayer, it didn’t paint a pretty picture of the industry, but hey I realise I don’t really know where that reading came from or who authored it. In line with the spirit of science I feel, I try to keep an open mind.

    I make no pretence of being an expert on the issue of genetic modification and the surrounding issues.

    I realise there must be questions unanswered and unforeseeable consequences as there invariably are when it comes to man’s endeavours.

    The nature of the corporate business world and the prospect of ‘it’s’ financial prowess being able to influence policy for it’s own aims is a concern of the age.

    It seems understandable that people will react to the implementation of anything that could have adverse effects on their environment. They will also want to recruit others for what they see as a worthy cause, you can’t blame people for trying to rouse the passions of their fellows for the cause.
    Propaganda is inflammatory lies but sadly it’s been a much used tactic of states and men as a means to an end for a long time. I’ve lost count of the amount of memes I’ve seen promoting the correct scientific stand point on this this matter or that matter… I’m sure you are aware of such phenomena since you’re interested in “psychology of science (POS)”. A look down the coments section of this page will show you a host of inflammatory ill informed dogma with little or no evidence presented to validate any of the subjective opinions being overbearingly expressed… And some of the anti GMO commenters aren’t perfect either.
    The people supporting this ‘experiment’ and slamming the dangerous Anti GMO activist in the comments section, all talk rubbish with ample misspellings. The text box has spell check for goodness sake! Where as some commenters against Monsanto on this very page seem to be very well informed/educated (Cambridge no less) and very intelligent… My motto is ‘If a commenter cannot post two paragraphs free from incoherence and spelling mistakes, then they surely cannot discern what is and is not science’.
    These arrogant bigot types who always bash anything that isn’t in keeping with the status quo are really quite irksome.

    Incidently you made this statement I picked up on: “psychology of science (POS); that is, how our brains create and relate to this thing we call science.”
    I have to pull you up on that. Psychology of science is not ‘how our brains create and relate to this thing call science’… Psychology of science is ‘how our minds create and relate to this thing called science.
    That’s an important distinction and your choice of wording is for me, telling.
    Indeed ‘how our BRAINS create and relate to this thing called science’ would be called ‘neurology of science’. Neurology studies the electro/chemical impulses and processes of the brain/nervous system. The brain is part of the nervous system. Psychology studies the workings of the mind. Psyche means mind, not brain.
    You’re a man who has been selected by somebody to teach science and yet you are not critical enough in your thought or writing to realise and state that the psyche is not the brain and the brain is not the psyche. You seem to have the two things confused, and that’s a worry.
    The second is that it’s a well known Dogma propagated by memes and even books that the accepted scientific facts are thus: There is no soul, there is no God, there is no spirit, all can be reduced down to the machinations of material under the constraints of the known laws of physics. We have no free will, no minds, we are auto matrons following environmentally adapted programing, objective science is the only truth blah, blah.
    Use of the word brain instead of mind in this instance indicates to me that you might be subject to some of these common Dogmas… it might be an innocent mistake, maybe you meant to say mind.. but I doubt it. I think you deliberately choose to say brain instead of mind and that’s frankly wrong and peculiar. Psychology is the study of the mind… Science is not a mind so technically it has no psychology of it’s own, but I will overlook that semantic technicality. Science means ‘knowledge’ basically… Is GMO known to be safe? It surely isn’t is it? If the knowledge isn’t present then the science is not substantial enough to warrant the production GMO.
    I don’t want to make any accusations, or offend you, I’m sure you mean well.. but admit it, you believe things that you do not know as a result of some orthodox scientific viewpoint or other. No matter what you say about being ‘moderate’ or what you believe about your objectiveness and impartiality, you succumb just like the MAM activists you condemn.
    You go on to say “There’s no better way to teach POS than to contrast unhealthy and healthy scientific discourse”
    But where is your healthy scientific discourse? I didn’t see much of the unhealthy discourse as the photos wouldn’t load, which is a shame, but where is this healthy discourse to serve as a contrast?
    The over all effect of your work, like it or not, is to promote support for GMO production.
    Why not go the whole hog and post links to the evidence that supports GMO production? Why not undermine any malicious anti GMO comments which are unscientific with scientific evidence?
    Your guise of non biased impartiality is not good enough. The fruits of your work is to support GMO. Though I grant you, you are also trying to encourage evidence based debate.

    My opinion is that it shouldn’t be up to the objectors to take a scientific approach, or to do the science to justify their concerns. It isn’t up to concerned and sceptical citizens to find evidence against the use of products like GMO… It should be up to the supporters or pushers of the product to prove beyond doubt using good science that their product will absolutely not adversely affect the environment for future generations, if they can do that and they agree to cover the governments expenses for carrying out further investigation of the product (as it shouldn’t be down to tax payers to cover the cost of science for what is effectively a dodgy unnatural product that people rightly have deep suspicion of). If the Governments extensive research can verify the validity of the science produced by the product promoters, and the science is full and complete, then the dissenters will go away.

    As you say some people will never change their mind… I suggest if that’s true it is because the science will never be able to show that it is harmless and without risk of unforeseen adverse effect.

    I feel the burden of proof is on the promoters/producers of the product.

    I appreciate your page and ‘experiment’ is focussed on making anti GMO ‘activists’ or supporters and multi-national corporation skeptics seem like a bunch of irrational, uneducated, ill-informed, Propaganda using fear mongering subversives who bully kids in wheelchairs and are a danger to the progress of economic growth and even science itself, thereby ‘proving’ the hypothesis that some GMO Activists will support your cause even though you provide no evidence… rather than focussing on the matter of GMO itself, which is probably why you didn’t present any science on the subject yourself.

    I think It could be that GMO activists have seen evidence, done research and have suspicions and concerns which are valid and so are willing to support any irrational crank as long as that crank has the same objective, which seems fair enough… with that in mind, what has this experiment shown exactly?

    It seems kind of inflammatory to claim that corporations are lobbying to allow production of a highly controversial product in Madagascar (of all places!).
    From what I saw all comments in support of the pseudo MAM demonstration, and against corporations such as Monsanto, were within the realms of what can be called reasonable… but then sadly I didn’t see all the posts, as they didn’t load.

    In summary I think the underlying problem is that the only people with the incentive and resources to produce scientific papers are the people with a financial interest in proving the safety of their product. They have something to gain. They, the producers/promoters are the party with by far the largest incentive and motivation to lie, to manipulate opinion and to produce biased pseudoscience. I’m not being biased of course, just stating an observable fact. The anti GMO activists do not have any financial incentive for their perceived ‘bias’, except perhaps the sustaining of a habitable diverse ecosystem, which will all stand to benefit from.
    I think it’s seems a little cynical to focus on the lack of scientific demeanour projected by some GMO activists, it seems a low blow. It doesn’t seem reasonable to expect Joe blogs to produce scientific papers.
    Obviously the anti GMO sentiment, the psychological/emotional reaction is based on a number of factors which vary from person to person. For some it might be a strong instinct that everything about the product and the people/motives behind it are dangerous, for others it might be against their personal philosophic principles, some might see it as against nature or against God, others might see it as part of a grand conspiracy to completely farm people like slaves, like farmyard animals who don’t even know they have been completely removed from nature and that they only exist to serve, for others it might be based on some concerns about the effects of this new product on nature, concerns might be based on the history of unscrupulous of just plain ignorant business people/self serving corrupted politicians… for other people the anti GMO sentiment is based on science, on what we know so far. Another concern might be that pollen flies in the air, that heritage varieties of vegetation might be effected or wiped out by the new presumably stronger varieties, that soil microbiology might be adversely effected where GMO is grown, Perhaps extra pesticide or fertiliser is required for a good yield, perhaps the GMO product will begin to cause problems with the health of people who have no option but to eat it.
    I’m more inclined to side with the people with common sense, a mistrust of big business and no real motive except the protection of a healthy and sustainable environment and ecosystem… I’m less incline to side with massive business with a tract record of doing harm to the environment and ecosystems and yet not seeming to care too much as long as they expand their already vast power.
    But hey, I don’t want to make a decision without all the facts.. so where is the evidence? and what does it tell us? Where is this scientific process which you preach will be ignored by the anti GMO brigade? I thought you were impartial? you seem to have given away that you believe the scientific process has proved GMO safe? The language of the whole web page stinks of bias towards GMO being scientifically proved safe… where is the basis for that?
    Finally, I think in the name of impartiality you need to conduct a similar experiment in order to prove the hypothesis that some supporters of GMO will support anything that supports GMO production regardless of scientific process…
    Oh wait a minute… the comments here show that there are plenty who will support GMO, and anything/body that supports GMO in spite of a complete lack of scientific process.
    Thus I declare your experiment a success is showing that people on both sides of this argument will support anybody who supports what they already think/believe regardless of scientific process.
    Hypocrisy really is rife… using the argument that some nations are poor, and using in anyway vulnerable people including the poor, young or disabled as bait to attract passionate reactions from people who care about a subject and then using those reactions to paint a picture in which everybody with similar opinions on the matter is made to look like an irrational, ignorant, biased, unscientific, bully… is inflammatory.
    My personal intuition tells me that GMO could be very harmful, is certainly far from ideal, and that the people promoting it care far more about power and profit than they care about the wellbeing of people in countries with poor economies.
    But hey, we’re all entitled to a hunch aren’t we?
    I know a bit of science myself… ‘you are what you eat’. It’s verifiable and falsifiable.
    I don’t want to be eating man made genetics. I simply don’t trust man enough to tamper with nature in this way. I think man has a history of being far too ignorant. I do however trust nature implicitly, for we have been eating natures fruits for a long time… yet we are still a long way from fathoming the glory of natures wisdom and science.
    Balls to the psychology of science… I’m going to stick to the psychology and science of nature, the psychology and science of profit only interests me to the point where I learn how to recognise it in action.
    I’m not trying to accuse anybody here of having a profit motive… some people are so clever, they get minions to do there binding when the minion doesn’t even realise. The minion has no specific profit agenda, the minion just espouses what he is taught. the profiteers sit back and capitalise on the earnest efforts of others.
    Anyway, I think I’m done… well done if you read all this, and thanks. Sorry about the rambling style, and any fundamental grammatical flaws, it’s too late at night to be reading through it all now, I just gotta post it.
    Needless to say, I enjoyed the article and found it food for thought. Thank you.
    Best wishes

  • Warren Lauzon

    And over a year later, the anti-GMO and anti-Monsanto activists have not gotten any smarter. The latest is the “dihydrogen monoxide” prank that many in the MAM movement fell for, and in some cases even promoted.