Taleb challenged: Investment bankers aren’t qualified to assess GMO risk

This article or excerpt is included in the GLP’s daily curated selection of ideologically diverse news, opinion and analysis of biotechnology innovation.

Here’s a hot investment tip: buy shares in Blockbuster. As many as you can afford. Put in all of Johnny’s and Jill’s college funds. A wave of nostalgia is bringing VHS back.

Are you going to do it? Do you trust me?

No, and why should you? I am a biologist; I deal in genes, not stocks.

Given that, why did the New York Times let a couple of investment bankers, Mark Spitznagel and Nassim Nicholas of Universa Investments, print an opinion piece stating scientists don’t understand GMOs?

The answer, in short, is that it’s really hard to find a scientist who finds fault with GMOs so investment pundits and environmentalists are all that is left. In fact, there are more scientists that believe GMOs are safe than there are scientists who believe climate change is caused by humans.

The authors’ main premise is to liken GMOs to the 2007 financial collapse. Banks were too big to fail back then and now, according to the authors, so are GMOs.

To “make their point” they list 5 fallacies they claim brought down the financial system that they now see in GMOs.

We can’t use GMOs because they can lead to complex unpredictable changes of our ecosystem.

My Response: Grasping for straws? If so, just reword the precautionary principle, the same argument detractors of vaccines do. It is true that any crop that is wind pollinated risks crossbreeding with neighboring crops. But again, why is this a criticism of just GMOs? Organic crops that have their genomes manipulated (see chemical mutagenesis and ionizing radiation) also wind pollinate and therefore spread their “unnatural” seeds to neighboring GMO fields. Why aren’t these organic crops vilified for spreading their seed where it isn’t wanted?

In their closing, the authors claim humans are currently the subjects of a “GMO experiment” which they describe as the “greatest case of human hubris ever.” When researching their article, they must have missed the part where GMOs were thoroughly tested for over a decade before they were made available commercially and almost two thousand studies have verified their safety, but it appears they missed a lot when doing the research for this article.

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion and analysis. Read full, original post: NYT lets investment bankers discuss GMOs, pseudoscience ensues

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