Unlikely alliance: How GMOs and Ecomodernism brought two ideologically opposite moms together

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There are three subjects you should avoid at dinner parties – religion, politics and GMOs. The latter is usually a tinderbox that can inflame even the most docile soul, regardless of political affiliation. If confronted with such a situation, carefully redirect the conversation to something less controversial, like maybe healthcare or immigration reform.

Fortunately, GMOs are not always divisive. It brought together the two of us – a conservative mom from suburban Chicago and a liberal mom from Atlantic Beach, Florida – and we’ve become passionate defenders of genetic engineering.

Julie (left); Amy (right)

Julie (left); Amy (right)

Our interest and advocacy about GMOs led us to discover a relatively new movement called ecomodernism. Ecomodernists believe modern technologies like GMOs can help mitigate some of the effects of climate change regardless of whether you believe it’s human-induced or it’s not.

We figured if GMOs and an environmental movement can unite us and make us feel hope for the future, maybe there’s a chance others could feel the same way. Here is our story:

Julie Kelly

As recently as one year ago, I never would have connected with Amy Levy. I was a proud hold-out to social media like Facebook and Twitter, confident I could lead a full, interesting life without looking at vacation photos from high school classmates I haven’t seen since 1986 or Kardashian hashtags.

That all changed a year ago when I wrote a Wall Street Journal op-ed about the politics of a certain celebrity chef (I won’t reveal his name, but it rhymes with Dom Schmoliccio). The piece set off a brief firestorm I hadn’t anticipated and compelled me to finally set up a Twitter account to respond to the criticism.

I’m glad I did. Not only is Twitter an unending source of information you can’t find anywhere else, it’s a great outlet to pick random fights with complete strangers over a glass (ok, bottle) of wine. My background is in politics, but I had started teaching cooking classes out of my home, so writing about food policy issues became a great convergence of both. The issue of GMOs — genetically modified organisms — kept popping up; I did some research and it wasn’t long before I was convinced that consumers were largely being misinformed about the issue. I decided to start writing about this technology to help tell the real story that most people – especially moms — were not being told.

Around the same time, Amy — a liberal stay-at-home mom in Florida — also took to her computer to vent about some of the same issues, including the anti-vax crusade and smear attacks on pro-GMO scientists. Despite our political differences, we found plenty of common ground and became “virtual” buddies. We are passionate advocates for complicated issues. We are completely unconnected to any entrenched interest (i.e., we work for free). We can silence a friendly neighborhood cocktail party with two words: RoundUp Ready. And our DMs on Twitter are hilarious.

Amy Levy

As recently as one year ago, I never would have connected with Julie Kelly because I was way too busy hanging out on Twitter and talking about David Cook. Yes, the one from American Idol. (I can’t be the only mom, housebound with new babies, who found weird ways to pass the time. And David Cook is great, I swear.)

When the babies started school, I regenerated a few brain cells I lost from sleep deprivation (and watching American Idol) and started paying attention to world issues again. I’ve always been a very pro-science, evidence-based person. Mystics and fairies are not for me. I’m firmly on the side of FT_Science1.GMO_science when it comes to vaccines, evolution, climate-change, etc. so when I read this Pew Research report published last January, I did a double-take at the scientific consensus on GMOs: 88 percent of scientists affiliated with the American Association for the Advancement of Science — our country’s most prestigious independent science group — scientists say GM foods are safe. That’s a stronger consensus than the 87 percent who say climate change is due mostly to human activity.

I was blown away that science considers GMOs safe because I had always assumed they were bad, mostly I guess, because of the cute little Non-GMO Project label with the butterfly (a meaningless but powerful label, I learned). I was never fanatically anti-GMO but I definitely congratulated myself for buying organic Cheddar Bunnies instead of Goldfish crackers for my kids. I’m a little ashamed at my smugness. If I had compared the nutrition labels, I would have seen that the expensive bunnies had more sugar, more fat and far fewer nutrients. I just figured that organic, non-GMO meant they were a healthy snack.

After the Pew report was released, I started digging into the GMO issue and became obsessed. Genetic engineering is a fascinating technology with incredible humanitarian potential. The more I learn about it, the more excited I get. I’m not sure I should admit this (I’ve already admitted the David Cook thing though, so what the hell), but sometimes I’ll try to come up with my own ideas for new transgenic applications. Some housewives daydream about hot gardeners; I like to think of cool things to do to corn genes (I did not mean for that to sound dirty).

By the way, Julie and I both have a talent for working GMOs into casual conversation. I don’t know about her husband, but mine is getting a teensy bit sick of it.

Julie Kelly

My entire family is fed up with GMOs. My youngest daughter asked for suggestions about a current events project and pleaded, “Don’t say GMOs!” My teen daughter must secretly eat Chipotle at a friend’s house because it’s verboten here.

But Amy, to your point, it’s easy to become obsessed with this issue. First, nearly everything we eat
today has been genetically modified. I remember one of the first graphics I saw about GMOs was how veggies like kale and broccoli originated from a wild mustard plant.

V8XnPeQEven my favorite fruit – the Ruby Red grapefruit – is the result of a weird process known as mutagenesis that uses radiation to literally blow holes in chromosomes, changing the genetic composition of plants. Oh yes: Ruby Red grapefruits (or any of the other 2500 other plants mutagenized by radiation or highly toxic chemicals over years of manipulation in laboratories) can be and frequently are marketed as “certified organic”.

The lesson here is that genetic engineering is just a modern approach to plant breeding that has been around for eons. Just like science is now unlocking some of the secrets of our own DNA, scientists are doing the same with plants. The potential benefits are nothing short of mind-blowing. GMOs are a huge benefit to farmers because those crops have higher yields, use fewer resources like water and chemicals and require less land than conventional or organic farming. They cut back on insecticide use because the crops are bred to fight off pests innately. The technology can help cut down on food waste by preventing browning/bruising in apples or spoilage in potatoes.

But where Amy and I really connected is because of our passion for how genetic engineering can potentially help people not as fortunate as we are. We’re both the mother of two (I have girls, she has boys) and — like most parents – feel deep sadness about suffering children around the world. When you have modern technology that can ease the plight of subsistence farmers who live in hostile growing climates as well as fortify staple food with micronutrients to help stave off hunger, blindness, malnutrition, and even death, no one should argue against that- least of all the rich, well-fed, sanctimonious culinary elite in this country who charge $280 for a steak at their restaurants (yes, that’s you Schmoliccio). That’s when our Tiger Mamas really come out.

Our advocacy for GMOs soon led us to ecomodernism, which is an interesting new approach to the climate change movement, a cause that I have intentionally avoided for that last two decades. I came across a tweet from Michael Shellenberger and it had something that caught my eye – a cute profile picture – so I clicked. One of the founders of ecomodernism, Shellenberger diverged from the traditional environmental movement out of frustration that is wasn’t forward-thinking enough.

I discovered that ecomodernism has a refreshing agenda to address climate change. It moves beyond the blame game that turns off so many people on the right, like me. It celebrates, not condemns, human achievement and progress. And it believes that emerging technologies like GMOs can not only help save the planet, but also save hundreds of millions of people around the world from a life of misery due to poverty, malnutrition, and lack of access to the modern world. It’s pro-growth, pro-humanity and pro-planet. Kind of like Al Gore and Milton Freidman had a baby.

It was funny because I remember having to re-read some of Michael’s stuff because I was thinking, “why is this environmentalist talking about nuclear power”? It was completely inimical to what I had always believed about environmental activists.

Amy Levy

Julie — remind me to make fun of you later about the cute profile picture thing.

Bill Gates is really the one who made me start looking at nuclear energy differently. Before that, I was reflexively anti-nuclear for no other reason than I didn’t know anything about it or maybe because Mother Jones said I should be. Gates did a fantastic TED Talk back in 2010 about what it will take to get to zero carbon emissions and the future of nuclear technology – fourth generation reactors are unbelievable. I respect Bill Gates as a humanitarian so I was willing to take a look at it after his talk.

Once I set aside emotion and looked at it rationally, nuclear started to seem like a no-brainer in combating climate change. And even if you don’t think climate change is an urgent issue, it would still make a huge difference in terms of human and environmental health to go in that direction. Millions of people die every year from conditions related to burning fossil fuel, wood, and dung. Everyone wants reliable electricity, including the developing world where energy poverty is a serious issue. I’m not opposed to wind and solar but from a practical standpoint, they don’t come close to what nuclear can deliver.

Learning about nuclear energy is a lot like learning about GMOs, you have to look for good information which is hard to find on the Internet. Greenpeace has done a great job scaring people about nuclear. They are often cited as a reputable source by the press but their information doesn’t jive with what respectable scientific bodies are reporting. Here’s just one powerful brief from NASA: Coal and Gas are Far More Harmful than Nuclear Power. The fear is understandable but if we’re serious about zero-carbon energy, we have to get past the Greenpeace hysteria and look at it rationally.

I read An Ecomodernist Manifesto back in April and it resonated with me so much, probably because I was already a fan of GMOs and had been pro-nuclear for awhile. Ecomodernism makes sense to me. It’s evidence-based, pragmatic, and above all, pro-human. I wasn’t thinking about it in terms of a movement or that I even had a role in it. I just liked it so I started sharing it with friends. It wasn’t until I noticed how loud and powerful the anti-science voices were on the Internet that I decided I had to speak up.

Julie and Amy

So now, we’re both spending our days thinking about how to get the message out about ecomodernism and science in general. We’re almost as passionate about it as the people who have spent their careers on these issues but we have the advantage of being outsiders so we can see where the communication is faltering. The scientists, environmentalists, and journalists we interact with are brilliant but sometimes they are so busy arguing with one another, they forget that most people don’t think about climate change or GMOs 24/7. We’re hoping to help translate the messages into relatable language in order to reach more eyes and ears because really – if the discussion never leaves the small circle of shouting experts, nothing big will ever be accomplished.

We joke that we’re the sorority girls who hook up (metaphorically speaking) with the smart kids at the end of Revenge of the Nerds but it could be the unlikely alliances that make the biggest difference.

Julie Kelly is a food writer and cooking teacher in Orland Park, IL. She can be reached on Twitter @Julie_kelly2

Amy Porterfield Levy is a mother and writer who accidentally became an environmental activist. You can reach her @AmysTruth

  • WeGotta

    No matter how many times you try and say it’s “unscientific” or “anti-science” to be against GMO it won’t be true.

    -GM is just one tiny part of a huge thing called science, not all of science.
    -It’s not anti-science to be against the application of a technology.
    For example, a stealth bomber is very advanced but you would be very angry if they were used to bomb your house. Does this make you anti-science? Of course not. That’s just plain stupid.

    Science is about discovering truth using our available senses, often aided by instruments.
    The truth is that most GM crops are eaten by humans as chemicals in processed food.
    The truth is that most Americans are sick from eating too much of this processed junk food.
    The truth is that GM crops are heavily dependent on oil, tax subsidies and large expensive infrastructure.

    That’s a stupid way to provide food to Americans. Advanced? Yes. But still stupid.

    • Farmer with a Dell

      So, WeGotta, you prefer to use GMOs as a whipping boy for everything you’ve been led to believe is wrong with the world (chemicals, processed food, sick Americans, oil, tax subsidies, infrastructure — did you forget the kitchen sink?). Julie and Amy consider GMOs to represent what is useful and promising about applied science. Whose is the more focused and logical viewpoint? Whose advocacy is calculated to better advance our human history of successful adaptation to an ever dynamic environment and climate? Whose tedious carping is calculated only to wallow the alarmist cesspit wider and deeper? What social advancements are appropriately credited to the Luddites, to Malthus? What is the moral of the Chicken Little story? Distrusting and misrepresenting GMOs will not resolve the myriad social boogiemen that torment you. Nor will shifting your torment onto all of us. Frankly, we don’t find much to work with in you. You’ll have to bring us something concrete and constructive, something tangible and lucid would be refreshing. Spare us the hard luck stories and conspiracy theories, if you would, please. Thanks!

      • WeGotta

        What I would prefer is some honesty. Will I get it from you? Let’s see.
        1. Am I anti science or a Luddite because I disagree with how GE as a technology is being applied?
        2. When people consume GM crops, in what form will it be and in what foods?

        Surely this would be some good common ground from which to start.
        I’ll even answer 2 from you.

        • Farmer with a Dell

          Honesty you shall have, then, WeGotta. Let’s make honesty and clarity a mutual hallmark of our dialogue, shall we? Oh, and brevity – I won’t entertain a descent into puerile hair splitting tedium.

          To your burning questions:

          1. By definition and by contemporary parlance, yes, it seems clear you might easily qualify as a Luddite or “NeoLuddite” (as those of the ilk are fond of such embellishments for themselves).

          http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/what-the-luddites-really-fought-against-264412/?no-ist

          Q: Why are you embarrassed by the obvious affiliation, does it unfairly overwrite your brand?

          2. People are now safely consuming, and have for a couple of decades now, commonplace foods enhanced by genetic modification. In some instances the food itself is enhanced, in other cases the production methods. There is nothing so outwardly remarkable about these ordinary sorts of foods that they should attract any special notice. Just the latest in a slow steady progression begun the first time a human saved seed in a selective fashion with the intention of enhancing the next season’s crop.

          https://gmoanswers.com/ask/how-long-have-genetically-modified-foods-been-used

          Q: You seem to be terribly frightened or offended by this and if it is such a vital priority for you, why aren’t you simply producing your own peculiar foods with your own peculiar methods for your own peculiar consumption? Supermarkets and restaurants are a wonderful convenience utilized by nearly all of us but you need not avail yourself if doing so conflicts with your beliefs.

          Now, WeGotta, I would request that in answering my “2” allotted questions you speak for yourself — I am not interested in what you might insist others should be thinking or doing for ourselves. Fair enough?

          • WeGotta

            Honesty, clarity, brevity, fairness; got it.
            Your question one is basically the beginning of your second so let’s start there.
            I’m not embarrassed, frightened or offended. Why would I be? Feel free to think whatever you want about me. If I actually met the criteria of a Luddite I would be proud and defend my beliefs.
            But I could never defend the point of view that all technology is bad and I would definitely not be going around trying to destroy anything out of hate or fear.
            My view of technology is like my view of anything else. What is it, how could it help, what are the dangers, what does it replace and why do we need it? Doesn’t that sound like a sane way to approach new technology? I really don’t care how advanced or clever it is. That’s lower on my list.
            I think we don’t utilize technology nearly enough actually. It feels like we are all stuck in a rut doing the same old things even though our world has drastically changed. Most of us have our whole written record literally at our finger tips. We can instantly communicate with each other in many ways. That’s amazing!!!

            To answer the rest of question 2, I am learning how to grow food (among other things). I have a lot of things now and I’m not really able to put much into it just yet. It’s pretty easy actually.
            From what I can read that answers your questions.

            Now you still haven’t answered my questions. Sort of answered number one but not with clarity.

          • Farmer with a Dell

            Well done, WeGotta. You don’t like the answers but maybe they will grow on you. Here’s how it summarizes:

            1. You are skeptical and judgmental of technology. Fair enough. However you don’t get to pick winners and losers at your whim – none of us do.

            2. When people “consume GM crops” it will be in the form of food, those foods that can practically be enhanced with GE. Food is food is food. It is a man-made phenomenon. Has been for thousands of years and hundreds of generations. GE doesn’t “replace” anything, it is merely the latest enhancement. Your standard measure of “why do we need it” is easily met here – because we need food. Always have, always will. Not just you and not just me — everyone, all 7 billion of us now, need an abundant supply of food. And we always will.

            Best of luck with your gardening! I trust you will find it very calming and very gratifying. And, as you are discovering, it is an easy way to assure your personal needs are met in every detail. It is unnecessarily frustrating to expect the rest of the world will shift direction to serve our personal orthodoxies. From the Crusades to Islamic State, terrible religious wars are waged over that sort of thing. Peace.

          • WeGotta

            1. You’re right, I don’t get to pick the answers. I actually wouldn’t want that responsibility. I’d rather it was shared among all who are affected.
            Unfortunately, there are people who are trying to force this choice on everyone else. They lie and cheat and insult others and try and claim ownership of science, righteousness, and environmental stewardship; all in a thinly veiled attempt to keep the money rolling in.
            I get tired of seeing this sort of thing.
            2. Food is not food and if for nothing else but your own health I hope you can understand this. You don’t have to admit it to me but please be very careful about the food you eat.
            There’s lots of detailed information about how GM crops get used and people should investigate before they make up their minds. That’s in line with science and education right?
            Most of the hundreds of “food” products are actually made by a surprisingly small number of companies I have learned. See link.
            These companies are very influential in our government and with the media. They make food more based upon profit than anything else. I don’t want to participate in that kind of system any longer.

            http://thumbnails.visually.netdna-cdn.com/10-corporations-control-almost-everything-you-buy_5278076859784_w1500.jpg

          • Farmer with a Dell

            OK, WeGotta. Your food is not food, but is something else entirely, whatever you say. My food IS food, I am happy with it and my health is just fine, but thank you so very much for repeating your generic warnings for the umpteenth time on GLP.

            You convinced me in your prior comment that opting out of the commercial food system by growing your own is the perfect solution for you. I was in agreement with you then, and I am in agreement with you on that point again now and will be in the future, so no need to reiterate. We are all so very proud of you, voting with your garden spade, as it were. Keep up the good work out there.

            Now, unless you have something of relevance to add to our discussion of GMOs I bid you adieu and good luck, happy trails, etc.and so forth.

          • WeGotta

            As long as I see obvious lies and distortions about this particular technology I will keep speaking up.
            Being against the application of a certain technology does not make you “anti- science” or ignorant.
            We don’t “need” this technology.
            The products currently made with most GE crops are processed sterile compounds such as starches, sweeteners and oils. They are not edible on their own but are used instead to make junk food.
            Consolidating our agriculture geographically and genetically is more risky than if we had many smaller farms growing a wide variety of things.
            The process of growing these crops is heavily oil-dependent and destructive to land. There are better methods for growing food.
            GM is not as cheap as people try and make it to be because the actual costs are hidden. We all pay whether you eat it or not.
            Those who benefit most from this technology bribe our governments and have a huge megaphone called main stream media.

          • Eric Bjerregaard

            “obvious lies and distortions” give us a few examples with your proof please.

          • WeGotta

            I suppose one of the biggest lies is that our system of farming and food production provides everyone with enough healthy food in the best way possible.
            The proof that this is a huge lie is all around us.
            Many people are dying from too much crap food and many people are dying from not enough of any kind of food. That seems obviously wrong. Who in our government is doing anything? Who is supposed to be in charge of public health? Who is stating the obvious, such as scientifically sound arguments that a sick population of people is expensive for all of us and that this reality doesn’t meet high standards of governance?

            Other lies and distortions arise from those who benefit from how things are now. So they don’t want anything changing.
            Their platform is the main stream media, their cheerleaders are the politicians that they can bribe as well as some people who claim to be experts in science.

          • Eric Bjerregaard

            There is no lie about the food. The problem is with phony marketers. For example the classless idiots that mislead by putting nongmo on something that does not have a g.,e. version. And the subsequent bad choices made by consumers. Remember this is not a system that was deliberately designed. It is the result of millions of choices by consumers, marketers, growers, and processors. No one is supposed to be in charge of public health. You are responsible for you and each individual is likewise. Why do you even consider looking to the buffoons in gov’t for anything. Those idiots have been fighting the “war on poverty” since 1964, and they are not winning.

          • WeGotta

            Yes!!! Preach brother.

            It is what it is and it pretty much sucks. Wish I knew what to do about it.

          • Farmer Sue

            I love it when other people tell us what we “need,” and better ways to farm! This idiot will not even pick up the phone to call his local farm bureau to run his ridiculous assertions by (can’t stand to be laughed at, I think).

          • Eric Bjerregaard

            Yeah, he thinks smaller farms which will not be able to use economies of scale will be the way to grow millions of acres of grains. Every argument is the same. He refuses to learn and we refute hum to death in case there are folks reading. But not commenting. At least I have the Temptations playing in the back ground this evening. I heard a rumor that you are the woman they referred to in “Just my Imagination” True?

          • Farmer Sue

            Moi? Who knows? haha
            Yeah, I really get sick and tired of yuppie activists who know zip about farming, but that doesn’t stop them from blathering. They are full of uninformed opinions and arrogance. Tied in with ignorance, it’s a heckuva combination. Too lazy to talk to a real farmer.

            Not worth refuting or arguing with, it’s like trying to teach a pig to sing. One of my pigs is trying to learn to sing “o mio babbino caro,” but she isn’t very good.

          • Eric Bjerregaard
          • Eric Bjerregaard

            My dad might be able to help. He is a good music teacher. Put Carl in front of my last name and google. I came by the music interests by requirement.

          • AZbyNM

            The problem with trying to feed 7 billion plus people, especially with an American meat based diet, is there’s only so many things that can be done before you finally start running into limits such as finite water, energy supplies, availability of good soils, etc. Among the very things even GMO based crops can only go so far as to help offset the limits towards what can be grown. Secondly, when people become wealthier, they start eating more meat, which in turn creates more demand for plant based crops, most which goes towards livestock feed, not towards human consumption, where it would be better suited for. Even when you create GMO crops that could say, take less water than conventionally produced crops, 1 has to resort to increased use of pesticides or chemicals to create the desired yields, of which those things, of course creates a lot of pollution concerns such as run-off into watersheds, depletion of top-soils, lack of genetic diversity of crops in case of ecological change. Plus with GMOs is also the possibility of so-called super-weeds, roughly the equivalent of invasive animal species, which an introduced species from another environment out competes everyone else do to having to predators to cull the population down. Technology alone will & can not be the solution to scarcity, as it is really a political problem, best solved by political solutions, not by technology alone.

          • Farmer with a Dell

            Ah, yes, no discussion of GMO is complete without we hear from a Malthusian (not that GE has even the slightest relevance to this time-honored gloom and doom prophesy).

            Of course GMO will not preclude the impending population apocalypse, as any card carrying member of the Thomas R. Malthus cult will confirm. Nothing can possibly avert this imminent disaster. These folks were certain back in 1789, just as they were in 1889 and still in 1999. Now, in 2015 surely our certain doom lurks just around the corner. Yep, nothing can save us from starvation.

            But I suppose that’s only if this horrendous plague of obesity and diabetes doesn’t kill us all first.

            Y’all say we’re doomed. Get ready, it’s coming! Could be today or maybe tomorrow, you say. Geez, I hope nobody tells my wife and kids about this ’cause they’ll want to go both days.

          • Larkin Curtis Hannah

            Just to comment on some of your points (I was born and raised on an Indiana farm and still remain active in it. I am also a professor of Plant Molecular and Cellular Biology at the Univ. Florida). Pests (bugs and weeds) evolving resistance to plant resistance genes or chemicals has been going on since man started using chemicals or selecting resistant plants. It is Darwinian evolution and certainly not unique to GMO plants. And, second point, farmers have been using pesticides long before GMO came on the market. Some pretty nasty ones have been replaced with safer ones from the use of GMO plants.

          • Eric Bjerregaard

            Please don’t forget to include how the naturally occurring sweet potato has not been known to kill anyone or destroy the soil. And there is something I read about insulin.

      • The argument against the use of chemicals in our food chain was not ambiguous nor does it require compromise with a stance that says GMO’s are okay because they result in a higher yield. A higher yield of poison is no bargain, short-sighted and part of the destruction of natural evolution. GMO’s are quite similar to the abuse and over use of antibodies.

        • Farmer with a Dell

          The argument is, indeed, ambiguous, Rex. Even what is classified as a “chemical” (as you would consider it) is rather ambiguous, as are further ambiguous classifications such as “natural”, “organic”, “local”, “free range”, “grass fed”…and on, and on the foodie ambiguous (or do you prefer ‘arbitrary’ or capricious) jargon goes.

          Genetically engineered plants often do improve realized yield, that is true, Many GE crops actually reduce the need for and use of ag chemicals, so there is a legitimate argument to be made there for anyone who is sincere in their professed concern about “chemicals”

          Improved realized crop yields due to any source is usually a good thing in the viewpoint of practically everyone, from the farmer to the consumer. And the resulting foods comprise the most abundant safe affordable food supply ever known to mankind. There is no “higher yield of poison” anywhere in the equation. You merely made that up, Rex.

          The “destruction of natural evolution” — you mean like harming the potential for plagues of insects and waves of fungal blights to develop to maximal fruition, thereby plunging us into intermittent famine? You must be referring to these natural pests, Rex, because when you say “natural evolution”, well, there’s nothing natural about the evolution of food crops — they’ve been cultured by man for thousands of years…unless you are referring to weeds, Rex, which it could be argued have also had their dominance in our agricultural ecosystem held in check. Why do you favor weeds and fungi and bugs over feeding people, Rex? Do you eat 3 square meals a day, yourself? Are your foods not infested enough with insect parts, fungal mycotoxins, weedy plant materials to suit your taste? If so, do you really think a majority of eaters would agree with you on this?

          And your parting gripe about antibiotics, Rex, what has that to do with “GMOs”? And why do you think antibiotics are being abused and over-used, and by whom? Farmers don’t like to spend money on unnecessary ag chemicals or antibiotics, but when they’re needed, they’re needed. Are you and your doctor as penurious with antibiotics and drugs, especially since your insurance company pays for the lion’s share of the cost? Could use of antibiotics in human medicine be the abuse and over-use you are referring to Rex?

        • agscienceliterate

          Please clarify your bizarre comment, that “GMO’s [sic] are quite similar to the abuse and over use of antibodies.”
          I presume you mean antibiotics, but we’ll ignore that.
          Clarify your comment and show how genetically engineered foods are anything like antibodies, and result in “…abuse…” of anything.

    • Amy Porterfield Levy

      Thanks for reading and commenting on the article. Do you include organic/non-GMO processed food in that? What chemical specifically do you think is making Americans sick? I agree that we eat too much processed food, by the way.

      Do you object to all GMOs or just the crops grown in the U.S.?

      • WeGotta

        I would include non GMO/organic, yes.
        Anything that manufactured with chemicals and extensive “processing” that benefits the bottom line more than my health and taste.
        What’s making us sick? That’s a huge question that needs to be investigated. Are we doing this now? Is this the national emergency it should be? If most Americans were dying from terrorism or bear attacks or plane crashes don’t you think we’d be doing much much more to stop those deaths?
        Why aren’t we fighting for enough healthy food for all?

        I’m not really against GM at all. But I am against a food system that produces mostly processed junk food and is so heavily influenced by greed.
        We have such stupid systems in place which are obviously failing many of us. The fact that none of you so called experts can see this, let alone admit it, makes me doubt you and what you say about anything.

        • Amy Porterfield Levy

          Thanks for replying. Just to be clear- I’m not an expert. I agree with you on some of this, believe it or not. And I’m absolutely not fighting against healthy, fresh food for all. We’re on the same page there.

          And I think obesity is a crisis. Cheap, processed food probably is a big factor. I just don’t think we can blame ge technology, other than maybe it’s made certain ingredients cheap. And I don’t think it’s the “chemicals” or the process itself making anyone gain weight. And I also don’t see evidence that Americans are sicker other than with conditions related to obesity. To me, it looks like we’re sicker because a)we’re living so long and b) we have a greater ability to diagnose.

          I’m glad you aren’t against the technology though. It sounds like you might be on board with humanitarian applications? I’m not fighting against healthy food. I’m fighting for it and I think this tech has incredible potential.

          It’s good that people as passionate as you are engaged in the conversation. I hope we can find common ground. Peace.

          • WeGotta

            Seems like we already have found much common ground. In the end we both probably just want a long healthy life for ourselves and those we love.
            Where we may differ (though I think not) is the desire that all other people get this same basic right. We are them and they are us.
            I’d take it still further and extend this space/respect/right to non human things as well.
            For example, the planet deserves such respect. Especially since all it has done for us is give and give some more. And we have taken these gifts like a child takes from her mother. More, more, more!
            I think it’s time we all grow up and have an adult relationship. If GE helps then I’m all for it. But no more lies.

            I disagree about your assessment of how sick we are. Just go to a public place and look around.
            I think it’s all cumulative. We are surrounded by novel chemicals everywhere. Most not tested and a lot we don’t even know about. It’s not healthy or smart to have so much cheap food stripped of everything but some molecular glue and sweetener, shoddy products made out of who knows what, and not nearly enough respite from the stresses of our fast paced lives.
            It’s not that I’m angry at anything or ungrateful for what we have. More like perplexed about it. We could be doing so much more and our lives could be so much richer.

            But I’m rambling again.
            Support what you want. If you think GM is great that’s fine with me. But I think it weakens your case if you buy into the lazy arguments cooked up by PR firms such as the “anti-science” thing or the “feed the world” thing.
            This makes it hard for me to take you seriously.

          • hyperzombie

            ” is the desire that all other people get this same basic right.”

            If it is a basic right they already have it?

            “For example, the planet deserves such respect. Especially since all it has done for us is give and give some more.”

            The planet doesn’t do anything for us, it is a giant rock. It has no feelings, no emotions, doesn’t care about you or any other living thing. It just is.

            “And we have taken these gifts like a child takes from her mother.”

            What? are you some kind of religious nutter? There are no gifts.

            “We are surrounded by novel chemicals everywhere.”

            Yes we are, because the entire planet is made of nothing but chemicals, water is a chemical.

          • WeGotta

            George Carlin says it best I think:

            “What makes us think we have rights? I hear people say things like, “Stand up for your rights!” or “It’s my right!” or “He has no right to do that!” and of course, “God given rights.” We all walk around thinking this way, but isn’t it a really just a false sense of security? In reality, what we actually have are privileges. Not given by God, but rather a man made illusion. That man is the federal government and they can, and do, take them from us whenever they find it useful to their cause.”

            **Our mothers don’t do anything special. They are just skin bags filled with organs. A parent’s love is just a chemical reaction.**

            **Holding my daughter in my arms for the first time was not special. It’s just hormones in my brain which is evolutionally wired for me to feel this way so our genes pass on to the next generation.**

            We can make up whatever story we want. I can’t prove my way is real and yours is not. You cannot either.
            Our own personal world is made by us every second of our lives and consists mostly of how we choose to see things.

            Gift: a thing given willingly to someone without payment.
            What “thing” in all the universe has given us (and continues to give us) the most important gifts of all?

            I’ll continue to say thank you and look for ways to repay such generosity. I don’t care what some people (or even what most people) think.

          • Science teacher

            Ha! ha! This from the guy who constantly bellyaches that he has some “right” to “know what’s in [sic] our foods.”
            Ha! ha!

          • WeGotta

            So you think that because I agree with Carlin on this, I somehow can’t utter the words “I have the right”

            I can assert any right I want. Whether or not I actually get them depends on how many people agree and how many of those people are willing to work for them and maybe get harmed in the process.

            Some things you gotta fight for and some you don’t have to fight for at all.
            If most people agree that a certain thing is in fact “a right”, we would likely be blind to them.

            For example, you feel that you have a right to urinate. You take it for granted. But some people, right now, at this moment don’t have this “right”.
            Nobody in their “right mind” would deny someone’s else’s right to urinate. If they did, you bet people would say “We have a right to urinate!”

            So yes, I do assert that I have the right to know about food.
            If for no other reason but for the fact that some people try to hide things, spend millions of dollars trying to “educate” people, spend millions of dollars paying politicians.
            I just start wondering; why?

  • agscienceliterate

    Excellent article from two smart, curious, and intellectly honest women who put aside their previous biases (or mere lack of information) to educate themselves about biotech and its immense potential. It’s exactly this kind of open-mindnedness, intellectual curiosity, and interest in science that is changing how the public views GE technology. Thanks again for a great article.

    • Julie Kelly

      Thank you! It was fun to write and we will continue to collaborate on these issues.

    • Could the “shilling” for GE be more obvious?

  • Eric Bjerregaard

    I appreciate you ladies writing this and putting differences aside. I am passing out musical awards this evening. Here is yours. Sung by a guy that most folks appreciate. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fRgWBN8yt_E

    • hyperzombie

      Speaking of songs, half my family is over celebrating, drinking 100% Non GMO hooch. Locally made by the neighbours, and listening to old time country music and this song,,I kind of liked it the first 6 times that I heard it….But listening to “Son of a B1tch, pour me a drink” over 10 times sung by 10 drunk family members gets under your skin after a while,,,but they seem to be having fun. I will recommend Ray charles, but I don’t think they will go for it…

      https://youtu.be/1iAYhQsQhSY

      • Eric Bjerregaard

        Nice to hear from you and my condolences on the country music. If Ray won’t go over try Glen Miller. Having lived just outside of Kalamazoo. I suggest you find a gal there.

        • Eric Bjerregaard

          Actually your video started to play while I was typing. Not bad. But twice will be enough.

          • hyperzombie

            Well we are up to at least a dozen times now, i think they just like yelling (they think it is singing) SOB, and all the other songs that they are playing are old time country, like Patsy Cline and Dolly Parton….I am trapped in HELL….I hate being the only sober one…..

          • Eric Bjerregaard

            Try a vacation to work on my greenhouses. The Nov. forecast only goes into the 40s at night twice. 88 at my place today. About 10 degrees above normal.

          • hyperzombie

            “About 10 degrees above normal.”

            Same here, normally at this time of year we have had a hard freeze (-10C) all day, but this year it is a freaking autumn heatwave, above freezing night and day.
            88f is way too hot for us northerners, that is thong weather.

    • Julie Kelly

      I’m laughing right now but not sure why.

      • Eric Bjerregaard

        You pictured Hyper in a thong while listening to Ray?

      • WilliamRD

        Have you ever mentioned that your husband is a lobbyist for Archer Daniels Midland??

  • Heather Selin

    “Excellent article from two smart, curious, and intellectly [sic] honest women who put aside their previous biases (or mere lack of information) to educate themselves about biotech and its immense potential.”

    If only this were true. The arguments are the standard party lines of Monsanto and the rest of the biotech industry (which fall apart with about 5 minutes of truly unbiased research).

    And this isn’t exactly a surprise, given that Julie Kelly’s husband is a lobbyist for Archer Daniels Midland, a major player in this industry.
    http://www.allcirco.com/john-j-kelly-jr
    http://www.allcirco.com/clients

    So Julie Kelly’s household income benefits directly from the biotech industry.

    I leave it to her readers to decide: Has she really put aside biases?
    Listen to the arguments, sure. But also always, always, always follow the money.

    • agscienceliterate

      Heather, I am a biotech-savvy reader who is very familiar with the writing of both of these women. And yes, I believe they are both intellectually honest, as well as extremely educated about ag biotechnology.
      If you are on a witch hunt, you may wish to focus on the Food Babe (Vani Hari), or Dr. Oz, or Dr. Mercola, or Jeffrey Smith, or Charles Benbrook. Any and all of these anti-GE activists are directly funded through the $40 Billion a year organic industry, and some of them – like Food Babe — not only trash GE foods, but directly benefit from the profits she pushes on her website. And, as you say, “If only this were true…” In their case, it is indeed true.

      You also conveniently ignore that this is about biotechnology, not about a particular corporation. Syngenta, Cargill, and Pioneer, among others, also sell biotech GE seeds, as well as conventional and organic. If you are off on a Monsanto rant, then you are using a very thin line to somehow connect all biotech supporters with this one corporation. If you are merely against all ag biotechnology, then you must have some strong opinions (and just that, opinions) along with other anti-GE activists about how farming “should” be done.

      You have already indicated your strong preconceived bias, when you state (erroneously) that “truly unbiased research” shows different conclusions about GE crops. If you believe that to be the case, against the findings of all the major science organizations in the world, then feel free to post your citations here. I’m sure people will respond accordingly. Otherwise, your rigid opinions are just that — opinions.

    • Farmer with a Dell

      Hi Heather. Great advice!

      I followed the money and it led me straight to Earth Dharma Farm, an organic hobby farm owned and operated by a pair of affluent early retirees from elite bureaucracy.

      Thus in your comment we get the standard party line of Gary Hirshberg and the rest of the organic cult — negative marketing rhetoric that falls apart with about 5 minutes of rational reflection.

      http://appliedmythology.blogspot.com/2015/03/hate-speech-for-profit-organic.html

      So standard organic marketing group-think has you convinced yours and your husband’s current income benefits directly from spuriously bashing the competition. Let’s leave it to the readers to decide — has Heather put aside her biases? We’ve followed the money and look where it led us.