Friday, September 4, 2015

Musings: Talk About It

This is an article I wrote for the Cornell Alliance for Science newsletter after attending the 10th Transgenic Animal Research Conference at Lake Tahoe and hearing scientists express deep frustration at the United States regulatory process that is hindering their work.
It has been more than two decades since American researchers developed the first transgenic food animal — a female pig genetically engineered to produce more milk, thus reducing piglet mortality caused by starvation. Though the technology has continued to improve, and GE crops have been widely consumed, regulators have yet to allow a GE animal into the food supply.
Indeed, just one GE animal has been approved for commercial sale in the entire world: an aquarium fish that glows in the dark.
Meanwhile, international transgenic animal research remains in limbo, as other nations wait for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to take the lead in regulating an issue with global trade implications.
AquaBounty Technologies spent nearly $75 million developing and testing a GE salmon that grows faster and has better disease resistance than its farm-raised counterparts. But it's been waiting 15 years for the FDA to act on its application to deregulate the fish, with no end in sight. The slow, expensive, and unpredictable regulatory process discourages investors, whose capital is needed to support research and to move transgenic animals into the marketplace, conference participants said.
“We have real issues in agriculture and human health, but we don't have the resources to address it,” said Dr. Bruce Whitelaw, deputy director of the Roslin Institute at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland.
Dr. Matt Wheeler, the University of Illinois researcher who used a bovine alpha-lactalbumin gene to turn a pig into “a mini Holstein” that produces significantly more milk, estimates the technology could save some 2.68 million piglets that die annually from failure to thrive. But it has failed to advance due to regulatory uncertainty, as he struggles to find the funding to keep his transgenic animals alive.
“It's hard to go into the barn because I'm depressed for two or three days afterward,” Wheeler told the international audience of scientists, students and food industry representatives. “There's an economic and also a personal cost to this.”
Other scientists described projects that had potentials for similar animal welfare benefits, as well as positive applications for human and environmental health. These include transgenic mosquitoes that control dengue fever more effectively than pesticides; cattle resistant to the sleeping sickness that sickens and kills livestock in Africa and elsewhere; cattle resistant to the pneumonia that often develops during shipping; poultry resistant to avian flu, and pigs resistant to the African swine flu now spreading across Europe.
But even as scientists continue their research, it's unclear whether their work will ever proceed through the regulatory process.
“In the absence of a definable hazard, it seems irrational to require these regulatory hurdles,” said Dr. Kevin Wells, assistant professor of genetics at the University of Missouri-Columbia.
Dr. Alison Van Eenennaam, a Cooperative Extension Specialist in Animal Genomics and Biotechnology at the University of California-Davis, challenged the researchers “to develop a sensible regulatory white paper” that could set new standards for approving transgenic food animals.
“We need to talk about what it means if we don't adopt this technology” as the demand for food grows along with the world's population, Van Eenennaam said.
Meanwhile, Joni Kamiya-Rose, author of the HawaiiFarmersDaughter blog, is attending a 12-week Fellowship at Cornell aimed at improving science-based communications about biotechnology. Joni has written eloquently and prolifically about the anti-GMO movement in Hawaii and its impact on family farms, aloha and a sense of community. In her most recent post, she writes:
Several years ago when the anti-GMO issue started to surface, I realized that this is a new day and age for our local folks.  The papaya farmers and others in the agricultural communities were under full attack.  The folks that kept the lands green and productive were having their livelihoods threatened.  The once respected occupation of farming was being barraged by misinformation.  I decided to speak up on the fledgling social media outlets.  No one was speaking for our farmers and I could not stand to see these attacks continuing.

Joni and Eric Cho, another local boy, are representing Hawaii in the Fellowship program, which has participants from around the world. I suspect she'll be writing frequently about her experiences at Cornell over the next few months as the leaves turn, the temps drop and her mind expands with all the new knowledge and experiences. 

World famous scientists will be working directly with the Fellows, and I'll be at Cornell next week to broaden my own knowledge about biotech and interview some of these scientists. They include Steve Strauss, Kevin Folta and Alison Van Eenennaam, who agreed to participate with three Cornell scientists in an "Ask Me Anything About GMOs" open discussion initially planned for the GreenStar Co-op.

But anti-GMO activists geared up to kill the public debate. As the Alliance newsletter reports:

Soon, accusations and indictments came from literally all across the country, shutting down what is at the heart of democratic cooperation: the right of diverse voices to be heard.

Really? Now we can't even talk publicly about GMOs without whipping the antis into a frenzy?

Rather than cause any more pilikia for the GreenStar Co-Op, the Alliance voluntarily moved the event to the Unitarian Church, and the directors of the Co-Op and the Alliance released a joint statement:

GreenStar has always taken a strong, anti-GMO position. It is a member of the Non-GMO project, GMO products are characterized as “discouraged” in our stores, and we do not carry them if at all possible. GreenStar is concerned that the GM industry restricts access to its products by researchers and has compromised the science by doing so. The co-op supports GM labeling.

The Cornell Alliance for Science encourages evidence-based decision-making around discussions ranging from biotechnology to climate change. It promotes access to innovation to ensure that scientists have access to the tools needed to find innovative solutions to the challenges of the 21st century. The Alliance emphasizes the importance of choice—so that farmers and consumers globally can make their own decisions about what they want to grow and eat.

As organizations and as moderators, we do not agree about GMO’s and probably many other things as well, but we do both believe there is a lot that could have been gained from such a discussion promised by this event — especially in our cherished community that prides itself on tolerance, life-long learning, and on embracing diversity.

To which I will add, if we can't even talk these key issues civilly and openly, where are we as a society? If a group of misinformed, strident activists feels the need to silence and stifle a simple discussion, how, really, are they any different than the other political extremists who have caused, and continue to inflict, so much harm to society?

And that's what keeps me involved in this issue. It's too important to turn it over to the hardened ideologues who clamor for transparency from government and corporations, yet refuse to allow an open and honest debate to proceed in a college town.

62 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thank you Joan. So interesting. That debate, and all other rational discussion has to be squashed....too threatening to the baseless claims of those idealogues.

Anonymous said...

Guessing the animals themselves would oppose the Transgenic Animal Research - poor things.

Anonymous said...



Dear Friends and Colleagues

Published today (Monday, 31st August, 2015) on Independent Science News:

Growing Doubt: a Scientists' Experience of GMOs
by Jonathan Latham, PhD

http://www.independentsciencenews.org/health/growing-doubt-a-scientists-experience-of-gmos/

Synopsis: I am a scientist who once made and used GMO crops for research. Twenty years of experience has taught me important lessons about them. One concerns the lack of scientific integrity of GMO risk assessments. Careful study of the documents shows that applicants (mostly companies) are gaming the system in numerous ways; at the same time, government regulators are allowing them to do so. None of this would matter if GMOs were inherently safe, but they are not. They even have dangers that are rarely discussed, even by their critics, but which should be more widely known. These two understandings have led me to conclude that no GMO currently on the market would pass an honest risk assessment, even by the rather low standards that most national regulations and laws require.

Best wishes
Jonathan

Jonathan Latham, PhD
Executive Director
The Bioscience Resource Project
Ithaca, NY 14850 USA

Ed Coll said...

Is this worth any discussion? http://highline.huffingtonpost.com/articles/en/welcome-to-beautiful-parkersburg/

Anonymous said...

Don't be silly Ed. We don't want to disparage DuPont. That type of discussion would never be allowed on Joan's blog, let alone by the Alliance for Science Institute at Cornell. This story grows more bizarre every day. You can't make this shit up. How many bloggers does Cornell own at this point? Just the Hawaii numbers please. Must be at least a dozen.

Joan Conrow said...

Yes, but somehow you do seem to make shit up, anyway, 4:27 pm. Cornell doesn't "own" any bloggers, in Hawaii or anywhere else, and DuPont has nothing to do with the Alliance for Science. Biotech isn't just Dupont and the other agrochemical companies. There's a whole public institution side to it that the antis conveniently ignore in their attempt to make it all about corporations.

And it certainly isn't the Alliance that's trying to stifle discussion! Or didn't you actually read the post?

Anonymous said...

I am staying open to both perspectives because I believe the answer is somewhere in the middle. The questions for me that keep coming up....
1. Are the issues of the animals due to large scale production? So the "need" for the "fix" is so we can keep doing more and more? Decentralizing could be the "other" option.
2.Once we open that door of approval, there could be no stopping and no turning back. Where does it lead for the next 7 generations? The future of splitting the atom was not anticipated either...
3. Ever since I read about the GE farming in India, I have wondered...how is the bee and butterfly population there in those farms..?

Anonymous said...

I must truly applaud your efforts to educate us on these issues Joan as you really do help expose the shibai. Let's also not forget the work of the many concerned Dr.s & scientists who are also working feverishly to give us science based facts that support our serious concerns over GMO,herbicides,glyphosate, ag/bioscience,GE & the myriad of other things going on.Please check out this report from Drs.Phillip
Landrigan & Charles Penbrook on GMO,herbicides & public health. This was peer reviewed by New England Journal of Medicine. Naturally the corporate lackeys immediately tried to discredit this report , I'm asking you to be neutral please when reading this as this is not junk science. Another couple of interesting reports were made by Dr Alex Vasquez's Very Critical Thinking of Glyphosate (220 page) and Dr. Huber's Ag chemicals & crop nutrient interactions(42 pages).Again I truly appreciate your diligence & efforts to help us make sense of these issues with facts not emotions. Also to you & anyone else who reads these reports do so completely & thoroughly as every word must be analyzed in the context of each report. Similar to completely following doctors orders on treating an illness, to maximize the treatment finish the prescription thoroughly & completely no cheating.

Anonymous said...

What does it matter humans evolved with no guarantee or unlimited shelf life. We just keep trucking until the oops moment!

Anonymous said...

GMOs of mammals may bring the uncomfortable dark side of the soul.
If we make duplicates of an animal or man, is there a soul? The immortal essence of life.
“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing
and rightdoing there is a field.
I'll meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass
the world is too full to talk about.”
― Rumi

Or as St Augustine ruminated "science is eternal" and "the soul is eternal" sic.
Now there may be a few people that would benefit society with duplicates....but just imagine a dozen Da Hoos' or Bynums ranting and throwing pencils and whatnot.
Many people beleeb that all living things have a soul and even the Pontiff in Rome has alluded that animals may have souls.
Perhaps we are better off with One Body, One Soul.
Soul Food, anyone?

Anonymous said...

On another note Joan....Terry Lilly's video of Big Kealia got posted in an international Surf journal and the local boys have hit the Facebooks with many not good things to say about exposing this. Maybe Kealia is a secret. But they are P*ssed Off. They like go teach li' dat.

Anonymous said...

The pride of the east side. Big and ugly,notice the lack of riders. There were a dozen spots with better waves around the corner.



Joan Conrow said...

5:30 and 6:45 -- The transgenic research I've seen involve things like building resistance to cattle sleeping sickness and avian flu, developing sterile mosquitoes that can help wipe out dengue, developing cows without horns, pigs that release less methane in their waste, pigs that produce more milk so there is less piglet mortality, goats that produce an enzyme found in human tears and breast milk that is effective in treating inflammatory bowel disease and diarrhea and pigs that grow human organs for transplants.

6:45 am -- I agree we should contemplate the issues of soul, etc., which is why it's important to discuss things.

And 5:30 pm, from what I saw in India, the use of Bt cotton (the only GE crop approved there) has been beneficial to bees, butterflies and other helpful insects because farmers are using far fewer applications of pesticides, since the plants themselves are resistant to the primary pests that attack cotton.

Ed Coll said...

5:13 "There's a whole public institution side to it that the antis conveniently ignore in their attempt to make it all about corporations."

"public institution" does not equate with public domain and therein lies the problem. The problem is "intellectual property" (a dubious legal fiction at best) and the non-disclosure agreements between public institutions and the corporations selective funding of research which taints free inquiry which is the starting point of scientific exploration.
"The primary desideratum was the passage of Congressional legislation organizing the new infrastructure under private rather than public control, while making vast free transfers of public property into those private hands to subsidize the development."
The invisible Barbecue https://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=7875069982976812251&postID=3384730734130965464

Anonymous said...

Ed Coll: "The primary desideratum was the passage of Congressional legislation organizing the new infrastructure under private rather than public control, while making vast free transfers of public property into those private hands to subsidize the development."

Yes, a true socialist manifesto which prefers inefficient, unproductive, yet horribly expensive, failing public control over everything rather than letting the private sector handle it with the sideline of higher tax revenue and good jobs vs. government snails stalls.

Anonymous said...

GE animals so we can increase factory farming? Noooo

Joan Conrow said...

11:14 -- The GE animal work that has been done thus far is not to increase factory farming but to make animals healthier, reduce environmental impacts associated with livestock production and improve animal welfare. Btw, how do you propose feeding 9 billion people?

And Ed, the relationship between universities and industry is neither new nor limited to biotech. It's also a factor in hybrid seeds, medical research and other scientific endeavors. However, it can reduce the cost of developing technology, which then makes it cheaper for the farmer to acquire. If your concerns are intellectual property rights, then that issue can be addressed by legislative and judicial processes. They don't really have anything to do with biotechnology per se.

Anonymous said...

Here are some more examples of the longstanding connections between universities and the biotech industry:

FOOD INDUSTRY ENLISTED ACADEMICS IN G.M.O. LOBBYING WAR - NY TIMES
http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/06/us/food-industry-enlisted-academics-in-gmo-lobbying-war-emails-show.html

Anonymous said...

The county of Kauai, Hawaii state DOT and KPD is colluding in regards to the speed trap in the waipouli area from market place to the bottle neck light in front of Safeway.

Heading north the speed limit has changed to 25 MPH and heading south it's still 35 MPH on the same 1 mile stretch.

Talk about trying to fleece the public with hidden taxes.

The county and state are now in business to rip off unsuspecting individuals like how verizon in ripping its customers off by ramping up data usage and sending text messages to increase data plans so verizon can increase its profits.

Verizon customers have to start paying attention to this scheme that rip people off like how the state and county of Kauai are being creative to increase their pork like how KIUC took out an Ad in the mid week saying solar is not good for the people of Kauai.

KIUC misleads its rate payers by saying its not a good financial plan to invest in clean renewable PV energy because you aren't going to get back what you paid for. Well once again the leeches at KIUC fail to mention that last year they were crediting its PV customers 22 cents per KWhr and this year they've reduced it to 11 cents per KWhr. Reducing credits by 50% makes KIUC more profits.

Oil has gone down to $40 a barrel and gas is over $1.40 cheaper than this time last year. So with the price of gas being 3/4 the price of last year means we are saving 1/4 or 25% this year from last year so where is the same saving in KIUC?

KIUC buys less oil, has contracts with solar farms and also the green energy power plant for millions cheaper than paying for fossil fuels but the saving doesn't go to the rate payer. The profits goes back into the pockets of over paid cronies.

Ed Coll said...

11:30 AM "If your concerns are intellectual property rights, then that issue can be addressed by legislative and judicial processes. They don't really have anything to do with biotechnology per se."

"Per se" is a myopic perspective by definition and yes the relationships between corporations and universities are not new, but the number and nature of those relationships have increased dramatically resulting in even a greater transfer of public (intellectual) property into private (corporate) hands. A much greater transfer of wealth than say the federal land given away to a private, ivy league university called Cornell.

"Lands granted by the Morrill Act to universities in states without substantial federal land could be claimed in those states which had a large surplus of unclaimed land. Cornell University's endowment was a stand out success based on Ezra Cornell's judicious investment in federal land, especially timber land in Wisconsin. Unlike most land grant universities, who sold their land immediately, under Ezra's leadership Cornell managed and maintained its land for an extended period, only selling it at the most opportune time. The university was able to reap an unprecedented $5 million dollar endowment as a result." https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Ezra_Cornell&oldid=675351151

Joan Conrow said...

1:27 -- You forgot this part from the NYT article:

Companies like Monsanto are squaring off against major organic firms like Stonyfield Farm, the yogurt company, and both sides have aggressively recruited academic researchers, emails obtained through open records laws show. The use by both sides of third-party scientists, and their supposedly unbiased research, helps explain why the American public is often confused as it processes the conflicting information.

It's not just the biotech industries.

Ed Coll said...

Joan, In the article you wrote and quote from most of the scientist's you quoted point to the FDA regulatory process as responsible for hindering their work on transgenic animals, yet many of your blog entries focus not on this dysfunctional FDA regulatory process but rather on anti-gmo activists.

Do you think these activists hold sway over the FDA and other governmental bodies? Also, I agree that both sides use third-party scientists and "their supposedly unbiased research" to attempt to confuse the public, but do you believe the efforts of both sides are equally funded, executed, and effective?

Ed Coll said...

1:27 - You forgot this from the NYT article as well

"Emails and other documents obtained by The Times from Washington State, where Dr. Benbrook served until earlier this year, show how the opponents of genetically modified foods have used their own creative tactics, although their spending on lobbying and public relations amounts to a tiny fraction of that of biosciences companies."

So it appears the anti-GMO crowd spends "a tiny fraction of that of biosciences companies"

Anonymous said...

"Btw, how do you propose feeding 9 billion people?"

That really is the problem. 9 billion is too many. Had I the magic want I would cap human population. I don't have that wand, but I do know that ensuring the food supply for the 9 million remains based on factory-farmed animal meat is certainly not good news for people or animals, and more likely will increase human disease and mortality and animal suffering, while increasing revenue for agri-business. I was almost there on GE plants for but I will never get there on transgenic factory farm animals.

And if the pig farm is such that they need to modify the pigs to end their suffering, then that pig farm ought to be shut down in the first place.

Joan Conrow said...

Ed, I've focused on the anti-GMO activists because they are driving the dysfunctional regulatory process. So yes, I do believe they hold sway over the FDA. And it's quite amusing, because the activists always claim the regulators are in the pockets of the corporations, but if this were true, many more projects would have moved ahead.

No, both sides are not equally funded, executed and effective.

Which is why it really doesn't matter that "anti-GMO crowd spends 'a tiny fraction of that of biosciences companies'". Because as the NYT also reported:

"So far, the anti-G.M.O. community has been winning the public relations war."

Fomenting and feeding fear is an extremely effective tactic that can be employed with a small budget, and it's nearly impossible t to counter, especially among ideologues and the scientific illiterate.

Anonymous said...

Science 2.0 has a good essay on the hypocrisy of the anti GMO people and the use of Bt spray, today.

Anonymous said...

And New York Times has an interesting article today on how GMO industry targets academics and pays for their trips.

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/06/us/food-industry-enlisted-academics-in-gmo-lobbying-war-emails-show.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&module=first-column-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news&_r=0

Anonymous said...

"And if the pig farm is such that they need to modify the pigs to end their suffering, then that pig farm ought to be shut down in the first place."

Right on.

Joan Conrow said...

10:37. You apparently didn't notice that article had already been posted and discussed in comments, including the fact that anti-GMO groups are doing the same thing.

And 7:50 and 10:31, I'm not sure where you got the idea pigs were being modified to end their suffering.

Anonymous said...

@10:37 An example of someone who reads headlines and makes assumptions but doesn't bother to read the article.

Anonymous said...

I find the NY Times article interesting in that it illustrates the many scientists in contact with biotech, but quotes few working with the anti-GMO contingent. Could this possibly be because there are scarce, if any creditable anti-GMO studies? Science and reason losing to Facebook and Twitter, making politicians turn to Jello.

Ed Coll said...

4:01 "Ed, I've focused on the anti-GMO activists because they are driving the dysfunctional regulatory process. So yes, I do believe they hold sway over the FDA."

OK I believe you believe the FDA is a captured agency of the anti-GMO crowd. However, none of the scientists you quoted seems to have made that associational leap from a dysfunctional FDA regulatory process to blaming anti-gmo activists for that dysfunction.

4:01 "So far, the anti-G.M.O. community has been winning the public relations war."

Maybe but doubtful and that's an opinion not a fact. Even winning a public relations war is no proof that the FDA is a captured agency. Medical Marijuana advocates seem to have won the public relations war, but I don't believe the DEA is a captured agency. Other Gov agencies, FCC, EPA, US Dept of EDU, USDA, USBOP, VA etc. exhibit the same dysfunctional regulatory processes. To me, this smacks of Senator Joseph McCarthy's Second Red Scare where he vastly overestimated the number of Communists in Gov or even the First Red Scare that blamed the Industrial Workers of the World for "radical threats to American society inspired by left-wing,foreign agents provocateur."

Until you can present some proof that this side-show put on by small underfunded groups with amateurish propaganda techniques is somehow more effective than well-funded, deeply entrenched corporations in controlling the FDA regulatory process -- I am sceptical of your claim.

It is more likely that your anger at the anti-GMO crowd and their antics have compelled you to launch a myopic campaign of hostility by scapegoating these poor folk devils as the main problem and number one boogyman.

If all the anti-GMO folks evaporated from the planet today the FDA dysfunctional regulatory process would continue unabated as corporations with competing interests attempt to block each others desires in the battle for hegemony.

Joan Conrow said...

Whatever you say, Ed.

Ed Coll said...

2:53 "Whatever you say, Ed."

Ok then. I guess we are done talking about it, but I am astonished you believe anti-GMO activist hold sway over the FDA. Are you sure it is not these people?

Morgellons Research Foundation
http://www.morgellons-research.org/morgellons/

Anonymous said...

Ed Coll is a perfect example of the loud mouths that move here and want to change here. Ed-You have on island for a while. I thought you had taken a break? If you had, please go back on it.
If you think the anti-everything movement is underfunded, you have not been mingling lately. With the 1800 med-potheads, the Fistees, the Raise the Drawbridge NS dilettante farmers, Kauai is bursting at the seams with entrenched ideology.
Unfortunately, respect for the local style ain't part of these elites spouting off.
The locals and their kids are lost in the hullabaloo of global warming and Fistees.

But, if you want to see the pro-GMOs and the Deep Fistee crowd come together, watch the upcoming bid for the legal Dope Pharmacies. Capitalism at its finest.
Most of the Dopers grow their own, but with the law allowing 8 ounces per patient per month and legalization just around the corner there will be quite a contest. 8 ounces at minimum $400 per ounce times 12 months, multiply by the 1800 pot heads..add thirty to fifty percent markup...and the push to get HMSA to cover these "medical" prescriptions, Great Gawd Almighty his own self might come to Kauai and try to toke a little and swim in the profits.
The State hasn't written all of the rules yet, but if there are any political influencers out there, MAKE sure that every f*ckin' penny shown for the million plus bond and that ALL partnership, corporation TAX RETURNS are made public to show the INDIVIDUAL distributions on the K-1 or any money sent to individuals.
It is all about money and Dope selling is big money. A captured market and if the State isn't careful some unsavory types, political people and other undesirables will try to get in on the guaranteed profit...I heard that even Tim Bynum is crawling out of his lost and illegal rice cooker to get in the Doper Bidniss.
The Med Dope Pharmacy is a prelude...legalization is just around the corner. Kauai with a million tourists will see perhaps 100,000 of them take a toke or 2, that could be another 800,000 ounces per year and what they no smoke they have to leave here. My oh MY. Dopers Paradise. Just what we need.

Anonymous said...

Ed,
Your pedantry is exhausting. And, despite my effort not to care, I am embarrassed by your pseudo-intellectual blathering.

Anonymous said...

6:40. I am a patient.....not a criminal

Anonymous said...

It will be local insider political connecteds who get the pot license and keys to the public vault.

Anonymous said...

I read the NYT article. While it might say some trips were paid for, it clearly says the scientists in question were unbiased. And that was the crux. Did you read it? And who pays for Hoosiers trips?

Anonymous said...

It is OUR dispensary. These mainlanders coming here smoking our buds. Ruining our neighborhoods.
Now they want to sell our herb. What's next? Rent our our houses? Take pictures of our island? Fakas.
Don't let the mainland Haole's get the dispensary.
They are gonna run up our pot prices.
I am not going to apply, but I am sure whoever gets it will be corrupt.

Rory Flynn said...

8:59, you got that right. Folks whipped up about the money of the seed companies vs. anti-GMO NGOs should all go see the film Moneyball. In the end, it's about what your money buys you. Moneyball is about the 2002 season of the Oakland A's, who won 103 games that year with a team payroll of $41 million. The New York Yankees, by comparison, had a payroll that topped $125 million. Granted, the seed companies have more money at their disposal. But do they spend it wisely? No, they hire blundering PR firms and conduct feckless saturation media buy campaigns. The anti-GMO nonprofits -- and there are many of them (Center for Food Safety, Pesticide Action Network, Earthjustice, etc.)-- play small ball, i.e., lots of allegations, court actions, agitprop videos, marches against Monsanto, etc. It's effective organizing, though it's often reckless or worse in the fact department. There's a great story about Lyndon Johnson's first run for Congress in Texas back in the 1940s. As election day neared, the polls had Lyndon in a dead heat with his opponent. Lyndon huddled with his campaign staff. "Let's put out the word," he proposed, "that my opponent (a farmer) enjoys conjugal relations with his barnyard animals!" A shocked staffer said, "We can't do that. We can't call him a pig-f***er." Johnson replied, "I know that. I just want to hear the sonofabitch deny it."

Anonymous said...

Seems like Kevin Folta, after all these years claiming complete independence from bio-tech money influence, has been discovered to have actually received around $25,000 from Monsanto. Here are 2 links- !) http://www.gmwatch.org/news/latest-news/16340-kevin-folta-received-25-000-from-monsanto 2) http://www.nature.com/news/gm-crop-opponents-expand-probe-into-ties-between-scientists-and-industry-1.18146

Anonymous said...


Dr. Folta is a teacher, and he is teaching what is recognized as the scientific consensus.
http://kfolta.blogspot.com/2015/09/recent-events-faq.html


Anonymous said...

2:39 Should teachers receive money from large corporations and then do research which supports those same companies? Perhaps they should work directly for the corporations and not not as teachers at public or private schools? Or even, heaven forbid, refuse any money offered by such corporations? Perhaps that would be more ethical? Similar to Monsanto employees who take a leave of absence to work for the federal government which regulates Monsanto. People in such positions should have no monetary connections to the corporations they are responsible for overseeing. And by the way, there is no scientific consensus concerning GMOʻs and their safety and effect upon the environment. Thousands of scientists around the world still question their safety- consensus means a general overall agreement, not just 51%-49% majority rule. For consensus you would probably need more than 90-95% in favor of something.

Anonymous said...

Kevin Folta was doing biotech research long before he got a grant from Monsanto, and it wasn't a research grant, anyway, but to support his existing educational outreach programs. In CA, the legislature mandates some faculty work with private industry to develop things that will benefit farmers. It's not unethical at all, but a way to maximize public money through partnerships with industry, which has the capital to take inventions to fruition.
There is most definitely consensus on the safety of GMOs among academics who understand biotech. The questioners are predominantly from other disciplines -- or getting money from the organics industry.

Anonymous said...


@1:45. what a crock. NOTHING is inherently safe. why hold GMOs to that standard?

Anonymous said...

@5:57- Here is an abstract from a link ( http://www.enveurope.com/content/pdf/s12302-014-0034-1.pdf ) which explains why there is no consensus- A broad community of independent scientific researchers and scholars challenges recent claims of a consensus over the safety of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). In the following joint statement, the claimed consensus is shown to be an artificial construct that has been falsely perpetuated through diverse fora. Irrespective of
contradictory evidence in the refereed literature, as documented below, the claim that there is now a consensus on the safety of GMOs continues to be widely and often uncritically aired. For decades, the safety of GMOs has been a
hotly controversial topic that has been much debated around the world. Published results are contradictory, in part due to the range of different research methods employed, an inadequacy of available procedures, and differences
in the analysis and interpretation of data. Such a lack of consensus on safety is also evidenced by the agreement of policymakers from over 160 countries - in the UNʻs Cartagena Biosafety Protocol and the Guidelines of the Codex Alimentarius
- to authorize careful case-by-case assessment of each GMO by national authorities to determine whether the particular construct satisfies the national criteria for ‘safe’. Rigorous assessment of GMO safety has been hampered by the lack of funding independent of proprietary interests. Research for the public good has been further constrained by property rights issues, and by denial of access to research material for researchers unwilling to sign contractual agreements with the developers, which confer unacceptable control over publication to the proprietary interests. The joint statement developed and signed by over 300 independent researchers, and reproduced and published below, does not assert that GMOs are unsafe or safe. Rather, the statement concludes that the scarcity and contradictory nature of the scientific evidence published to date prevents conclusive claims of safety, or of lack of safety, of GMOs. Claims of consensus on the safety of GMOs are not supported by an objective analysis of the refereed literature.

Anonymous said...

I googled Jonathan Latham. One item was Jonathan Latham phd quack. Why would they have such a thing listed.

Anonymous said...

5:57- Here is an abstract from a link ( http://www.enveurope.com/content/pdf/s12302-014-0034-1.pdf ) which explains why there is no consensus- A broad community of independent scientific researchers and scholars challenges recent claims of a consensus over the safety of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). In the following joint statement, the claimed consensus is shown to be an artificial construct that has been falsely perpetuated through diverse fora. Irrespective of
contradictory evidence in the refereed literature, as documented below, the claim that there is now a consensus on the safety of GMOs continues to be widely and often uncritically aired. For decades, the safety of GMOs has been a
hotly controversial topic that has been much debated around the world. Published results are contradictory, in part due to the range of different research methods employed, an inadequacy of available procedures, and differences
in the analysis and interpretation of data. Such a lack of consensus on safety is also evidenced by the agreement of policymakers from over 160 countries - in the UNʻs Cartagena Biosafety Protocol and the Guidelines of the Codex Alimentarius
- to authorize careful case-by-case assessment of each GMO by national authorities to determine whether the particular construct satisfies the national criteria for ‘safe’. Rigorous assessment of GMO safety has been hampered by the lack of funding independent of proprietary interests. Research for the public good has been further constrained by property rights issues, and by denial of access to research material for researchers unwilling to sign contractual agreements with the developers, which confer unacceptable control over publication to the proprietary interests. The joint statement developed and signed by over 300 independent researchers, and reproduced and published below, does not assert that GMOs are unsafe or safe. Rather, the statement concludes that the scarcity and contradictory nature of the scientific evidence published to date prevents conclusive claims of safety, or of lack of safety, of GMOs. Claims of consensus on the safety of GMOs are not supported by an objective analysis of the refereed literature.

Anonymous said...

"Really? Now we can't even talk publicly about GMOs without whipping the antis into a frenzy?"


Yep, Anyone who defies the anti-gmo crowd is a knuckle dragging neanderthal that must be silenced, because without facts on your side, demonization is your only choice to keep up the insane hate-filled fantasies about children poisoning corporations and blood thirsty farmers that want to kill us all for a couple of bucks.

Joan Conrow said...

10:33 The abstract also includes this statement -- "Decisions on the future of our food and agriculture should not be based on misleading and misrepresentative claims by an internal circle of likeminded stakeholders" -- which is especially ironic, considering one of the authors is Vandana Shiva, the queen of misleading and misrepresentative claims made by internal circles of likeminded stakeholders.

But then, the anti-GMO movement seems totally oblivious to its own hypocrisies and ironies, which is why it's so easy to poke fun at it.

Anonymous said...

We all have choices, either / or. Some people want to force the choice selection. Either you enjoy Kauai or.... Either you eat GMO or.... Either you bruch your teeth or.... The choice is yours.... by the by two wrongs do not make a right; negative times negative = positive??? three lefts make a right.

Anonymous said...

Nobody is trying to force anyone to eat GMOs.

Anonymous said...

"Nobody is trying to force anyone to eat GMOs" - except at least 90% of corn and soy grown in the US is genetically engineered - not much choice!

Joan Conrow said...

Folks who don't want GMOs are always free to choose organic!

Speaking of choice, the folks calling for a ban on GMOs are trying to eliminate a farmer's ability to choose what seeds he/she wants to plant.

Anonymous said...

And here is another great article explaining why there is no consensus on GMO safety. [ http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/32608-growing-doubt-a-scientist-s-experience-of-gmos ]. And a short excerpt- "Some of my concerns with GMOs are "just" practical ones. I have read numerous GMO risk assessment applications. These are the documents that governments rely on to 'prove' their safety. Though these documents are quite long and quite complex, their length is misleading in that they primarily ask (and answer) trivial questions. Furthermore, the experiments described within them are often very inadequate and sloppily executed. Scientific controls are often missing, procedures and reagents are badly described, and the results are often ambiguous or uninterpretable. I do not believe that this ambiguity and apparent incompetence is accidental. It is common, for example, for multinational corporations, whose labs have the latest equipment, to use outdated methodologies. When the results show what the applicants want, nothing is said. But when the results are inconvenient, and raise red flags, they blame the limitations of the antiquated method. This bulletproof logic, in which applicants claim safety no matter what the data shows, or how badly the experiment was performed, is routine in formal GMO risk assessment.

To any honest observer, reading these applications is bound to raise profound and disturbing questions: about the trustworthiness of the applicants and equally of the regulators. They are impossible to reconcile with a functional regulatory system capable of protecting the public."

Anonymous said...

Ho hum. Another cutting edge scientific analysis from truthout.org, an unbiased organization if there ever was one. I don't understand the author's interpretation anyway- too turgid, verbose, conjectural and opinionated to follow. Mea culpa.

Anonymous said...

Truthout = total misnomer

Anonymous said...

"let freedom ring" Costco has organic labeling. It sells at a higher price. I can't differentiate any taste difference. The product looks the same. Just the labeling and the price is different. Smart. But we have the freedom of choice. To buy or not to buy! It is all up to you or your spouse.

Anonymous said...

2:44

And not one fact found that gmo corn or soy has hurt anyone.

Anonymous said...

2:44

And not one fact found that gmo corn or soy has hurt anyone.

Anonymous said...

Even if there is no taste or nutritional difference to you, there is less pesticide residue and the growing practices are better for the planet.