Science communicators condemn Facebook’s censorship of pro-science “We Love GMOs and Vaccines”

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The Facebook page for We Love GMOs and Vaccines, which covers the most notorious anti-science movements, suffered yet another activist swarm attack in which anti-vaxxers and campaigners against GM technology coordinated a large number of complaints in order get Facebook to shut the page down. This is what you see when you go to the site:Screen Shot 2016-08-04 at 7.54.06 PM

The best way, it seems, for someone to stop dialogue and avoid facts is to silence the critics. Facebook was duped by a band of cunning zealots and needs to fix this trick in which complaints created by an activist campaign can be exploited to take any site down.

[To read We Love GMOs and Vaccines founder Stephen Neidenbach’s account of the shutdown, visit the GLP story: Facebook bows to anti-science activists, shuts down ‘We Love GMOs and Vaccines’]

NOTE: In an unprecedented move, Facebook has now restored the site, accessible here. Usually Facebook takes one month or more before even considering whether to restore a censored site.

While operatives like natural product quack salesman Joseph Mercola or Gary Ruskin, head of the US Right to Know–the organic industry financed site that seeks to malign the credibility of mainstream scientists–may feel their standing, book sales and sponsorship agreements are threatened by people who disagree with them and their narrow-minded worldview, willingly shutting down contrarian sites and social media pages is far from democratic. Do we really want to live in a world where we are all forced to listen to their views, and only them?

I have no problem with the science antis who believe in the mystical power of ginger, medieval farming practices and that the pharmaceutical industry is actively trying to cause diseases. That it is fair game for them to make innocent people share these fears and give them their money and that it is up to people who trust science and industry to therefore do a better job communicating a clear message. But I have a serious problem when these people band together to deceptively shut down tools of open dialogue like Facebook and censor others from sharing information, data and opposing positions.

Censoring other views and closing debate is fascism and does a disservice to the green/organic movement that funds and supports such activity. I know that most individuals who follow these activists are good people and would not knowingly tolerate such behavior. Something must be done to instill a more ethical approach to how the debate is conducted. The people hiding behind this latest abuse of the dialogue process are shameless–they lack any moral compass–and leaders in the organic food industry lobby must themselves speak out against them.

David Zaruk, The Risk-Monger

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What follows are some reactions from other science communicators. We stand together in declaring that this unethical behavior is intolerable.

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We see scientific information suppressed with two main tactics. First by attacking or discrediting the messenger rather than the evidence. If that fails, opponents find a way to stop the public from seeing the evidence in the first place. It is sad to see any voices silenced, but especially those that are presenting a message consistent with the scientific consensus. The voices of science and reason must never implement these tactics.

–Kevin Folta, Professor, University of Florida

We’ve all been victims of anti-science groups engaging in libel, fraud, smear campaigns and cyber-terrorism. Pro-science groups, including the corporations activists demonize, don’t engage in that kind of behavior because no one that unethical can get hired in the private sector, or in reputable non-profits.

–Hank Campbell, President of American Council on Science and Health, Founder of Science 2.0

I condemn this attitude against scientific debate and open thinking.

–Marcel Kuntz, Director of Research at CNRS (France)

If it is true that this is a deliberate attack in order to take We Love GMOs and Vaccines off Facebook, this can only have come about as a coordinated attack by those who feel threatened by Stephan’s message. It is particularly ironic because both aspects of the Facebook page will upset some of the same people: many of the loudest voices against GMOs also campaign against vaccines, such as the Organic Consumers Association, which opposes vaccines and claims that vitamin remedies can cure Ebola. The anti-science memes are proliferating on the internet, and we badly need corrective, evidence-led voices, such as from We Love GMOs and Vaccines.

–Mark Lynas, Visiting Fellow, Cornell Alliance for Science

The We Love GMOs and Vaccines page has been an important voice for science advocacy — sparking debate and rich conversation with its 70K followers. Now it seems that a group of anti-science, pro-censorship activists want to take down Stephan Neidenbach and the entire WLGV page. Facts, evidence and science are threatening to their echo chamber, so they’ve decided to target the page over and over again, effectively censoring the page’s pro-science content from Facebook. Stephan and the other contributors at We Love GMOs and Vaccines work so hard to promote science, debunk myths and support the work of scientists, science advocates and writers like me. So it’s unfair — heck, it’s just plain ridiculous that a small group of people can get a page banned from Facebook simply because they disagree with the content. It’s especially ridiculous when you consider that the “objectionable” content IS JUST SCIENCE! Science is objectionable? Science is offensive? The people who hate GMOs and vaccines are welcome to disagree with the page and shout it from the rooftops, but they shouldn’t have the power to remove content from Facebook. Facebook should have a better mechanism for dealing with these anti-science crusaders.

–Jenny Splitter, Writer, Contributor to Grounded Parents

Advocating for science is now more important than ever. Research is becoming evermore complex and the public has a right to understand what science and scientists are doing. At the same time it is part of our duty to make sure misinformation and lies are directly challenged. Advocacy groups like We love GMOs and Vaccines are increasingly coming under fire against a small minority of activists who have bought into fraudulent ideals. Ideals that give them permission to harass and endanger lives. Although in this case a flaw in Facebook’s reporting system was taken advantage of, there have been serious cases of public researchers threatened with letter bombs and their personal lives invaded. This largely stems from the same place, we as scientists and advocates need to do more to convince people of how wonderful and bright science has made our future. We should not be the enemy, the only fight science should be involved in is the fight against ignorance.

–James Gurney, Microbiologist and science advocate (The League of Nerds)

Regulation of the contents on Facebook should be based on a serious review. It should never be possible that crowds of organized attacks can silence a respected site.

–Susanne Günther, Writer

Suppression of disfavored viewpoints is one of the classic techniques of totalitarians that has no place in free and democratic societies. The kind of targeted harassment and libelous assaults to which Mr. Neidenbach has been subjected, with the heedless collusion of Facebook, is corrosive to the essential values of freedom. Facebook needs immediately to restore his pages, and sanction the accounts from which the attacks emanated. Facebook also needs to step up their game to preempt and prevent such intolerable subversion of the values of an open society. Too much is at stake for them to do any less.

–Val Giddings, Ph.D. (Genetics)

People with a scaremongering agenda – whether they are trying to sell products and cures or collect donations and votes –  don’t like evidence-based facts and are trying to evade critical questions and discussions. A long-standing social media tactic therefore has been accusing critical users of being „paid shills“ by science-based industries and by blocking them so that they cannot comment on the lobbyists’ Twitter and Facebook sites. This habit already is common for numerous Green party European parliamentarians.

However this does not remove the evidence from the web. The new tactic therefore is trying to silence researchers and groups advocating science. In the U.S., this is done via „Freedom-of-Information“ requests filed by NGOs against researchers who do not share the NGOs’ views (be it climate science, GMOs, pesticides, agriculture, animal experiments, or fishery). These requests consume a lot of time and tax money. In parallel, anti-science activists have now started using carefully orchestrated swarming tactics which exploit social media algorithms to silence social media sites viewed as dangerously interfering with the lobbyists’ agendas.

All these approaches are being justified as serving the „greater good“ of the environment, the planet, and life in general. However, it dangerously undermines freedom of speech as well as science and research; it’s censorship and dictatorship and the road towards eco-fascism. It is already costing lives, e.g. by scaring people into avoiding life-saving treatments and preventive measures such as vaccinations, and by denying Third-world farmers access to technologies that would otherwise boost their productivity and allow them to feed more people. We need to stop this development.

–Ludger Wess, Science writer

So the purple cow is once again in the activist crosshairs. Once again, the mob has managed to take the We Love GMOs and Vaccines Facebook page offline, this time possibly for good. Folks, these tactics are childish. Seriously, mobbing a Facebook page and getting it shut down? In terms of public debate, these actions are at a level comparable to sticking your fingers in your ears and yelling “nah, nah, nah, I can’t hear you!” It’s giving your opponent a wedgie to try to bully him into shutting up, instead of actually listening to his arguments and trying to counter with some of your own. Yes, we all know, cognitive dissonance is a painful thing. It’s not easy to listen to, much less consider, ideas that run counter to our cherished beliefs. But listen we must. To do otherwise is to surrender to fear. And fear, whether it be personal or societal, is a poor and dangerous ruler.

–Michael Robin, Science writer

The removal of Stephan Neidenbach’s page We Love GMOs and Vaccines (WLGV) should frighten us all. It wasn’t simply about disagreeing with his ideas on science, GMOs, and vaccines, it was about silencing his views on those ideas so no one else could hear them. Unlike other pages, my page is neither a skeptic page nor a science page. I do not “science”. Still, I appreciate science and the science community, and have the ability to recognize the futility of alkaline, gluten-free water when I see it. Stephan is one of the people I go to when I want to science. There are calls to retaliate against pseudoscience pages by reporting them off of Facebook. It’s tempting but it would be a mistake. In the battle for the vast middle of people who haven’t made up their minds about the causes for which we fight everyday, I’ve found that humor, satire, and, occasionally, mockery of extremely ludicrous positions is far more effective. There is woo everywhere and removing a Facebook page or group in retaliation isn’t going to convince anyone of anything. People will just seek woo elsewhere. The most effective thing we can do in response to WLGV being removed is to have fun, share from other science pages, and advocate for reform of the dreaded Facebook algorithm so that it isn’t so easily abused.

–Chow Babe, Food Science blogger

I am disappointed and somewhat surprised that Facebook allowed itself to be manipulated. That social media platform is a major source of disinformation sharing so it would be logical to actively protect speech that is in line with the consensus of the scientific community. I am not surprised that this sort of attack would come from those opposed to vaccinations and modern biotechnology. Fear and emotional manipulation have consistently been their tactics and their agenda is most threatened by people having access to good information, facts, perspective etc.

–Steve Savage, agricultural scientist

  • Skye

    The deliberate and malicious attacks upon pages that promote science and scientific literacy are astounding and audacious, for entirely the wrong reasons. Shutting down scientific advocacy pages shouts loud and clear that “science is bad” in a world where scientific literacy is paramount in order to succeed in modern society. The actions of those who deliberately and maliciously attacked WLGMOV and other pages only serves to illustrate the need of anti-vaxxers, snake oil salesmen, and general science deniers to have complete silence and no opposition to their will of robbing innocent people of their health, and most especially, their wealth. Facebook’s automatic system of algorithms that automatically shut down and ultimately delete any page that is complained about only serves to embolden these miscreants in their war of silencing advocates of science and scientific literacy.

    —Straight from the Science Bytes page.

    • SageThinker

      The deliberate use of rhetoric about science to promote propaganda on behalf of industry profit streams is astounding and audacious.

      • Janice Rael

        Of course, [citation needed]

        • SageThinker

          As i said elsewhere, that is the most arrogant and hackneyed fake “Skeptic” retort ever. This is a human dialog. Please participate as a human and not as a snark-slinging pseudo-Skeptic with an ideological axe to grind. Believe me, real dialog is good and fruitful. Propaganda pushing is empty and sad and destroys the potential of actual dialog.

          • Janice Rael

            It isn’t a retort, it’s a simple fact. The onus of evidence is on the one making an affirmative claim.

  • Thomas Hughson

    Is Facebook the real Villains here? In the past people have found ways to exploit search engines algorithms designed to favour popularity. What`s going on here is people have found a way of exploiting Facebooks algorithms that ban based on infamy. Yes just like before these algorithms need upgrades and that will happen. When I read all the headlines you the think that Facebook is some sort of conscious A.I. here to censor the human race for some nefarious purpose.

  • SageThinker

    This reads like a propaganda communique in an ideological war. I submit that neither “side” has the reality nailed down and are over-reaching in claims large and small. And there are indeed large vested interests at stake, such as the multi-billion-dollar agrochemical industry who love their GMOs and associated herbicides, for instance. I’ve seen this Facebook group and it’s one of many that are echo chambers for industry messaging. “GMO Skepti-forum” is another one. The whole fake “Skeptic” movement is used by the agrochemical industry to promote their messaging half-truths and to be toxic and abusive to actual skeptics who question claims.

    • Janice Rael

      [citation needed]

      • SageThinker

        Oh that’s the most arrogant and stupid pseudo-Skeptic retort possible. Got anything real to offer in a dialog with human beings?

        • Janice Rael

          Human beings who make claims are saddled with the burden of proof.

          • John C. ‘Buck’ Field

            So you claim without evidence. You don’t seem willing or able to provide what you insist be provided by those holding a different position than yours. If this appearance is mistaken, you will provide a justification for the claim “Human beings who make claims are saddled with the burden of proof.” In theory, I think we’d agree that such hypocrisy is particularly egregious when justifications can be so easily provided, but the claimant neglects or refuses. Insisting others obey a rule, we should be the first to follow it, IMO.

          • agscienceliterate
          • John C. ‘Buck’ Field

            Your citation rightfully refutes some bad arguments. It also is mistaken on a major point, (that there is no debate), which it supports with a really obvious fallacy, remaining silent relative to the assessment criteria that appear to some as most reliable. This doesn’t make their position wrong or uninformative (it is in some important ways), just insufficient to justify certainty about the main claim that there are no rational, evidence-based objections to GMO use.

            Specifics may clarify…

            Let us assume the claim that “Elle botched a story about genetically modified food” is 100% accurate. Based on this, how justified is the conclusion that “No, You Shouldn’t Fear GMO Corn”? It provides no evidence – of course this is not to say there isn’t any.

            Elle’s piece could be 100% false on every word, even criminally fraudulent, and it would have absolutely no bearing on whether or not we “Shouldn’t Fear GMO Corn”. The fact that anyone makes an bad argument does not have any proper bearing on any position in any rational debate, it just means they make a bad argument. We all do.

            The fact that this source also makes egregiously bad ones doesn’t make their position wrong, it just means they made a bad case, and suggests they are so focused on how bad the opposition is, they’re incautious advocating for their preferred position. This doesn’t necessarily make their arguments completely worthless however, I think the critiques have merit, but fail to address the opposition’s strongest case, at which point it might be said to constitute a straw man argument.

          • agscienceliterate

            Jeez. If you submitted this argument to make a case against GE food in my critical thinking class, you would get an F. Your rambling is totally unsubstantiated.
            Your fear, however, is palpable. So, I have Plan B, just for you!!
            Plan B, Bucko: Eat organic food only. Eat non-GMO certified food only. You will be perfectly safe (or, you will at least think you are, which is the defining criteria in your lexicon). Organic and non-GMO certified are labeled in BIG letters. You can’t miss ’em. Tens of thousands of products for you to eat. And you don’t even have to think! (Just like your abhorrent, rigid, and sexist thoughts about women in the marketplace.)

          • John C. ‘Buck’ Field

            Perhaps my ramblings would make more sense in the correct context. I’m not against GE food or much greater development of GE…at all. I’m certainly not making a case against it.

            GE an amazing advance in human capability born of our genius with potential beyond the limits of current imagination, which includes that of futurists who believe we could grow starships someday. However, I’m professionally concerned with risk management.

            The more powerful a technology, the more critical it is to manage its risk to avoid unacceptable costs. When human health and safety are involved, our risk tolerance is lowest.

            If you object to open, best-practice safety studies as we use for other human invented digestibles, medical implants, and procedures, please clearly state your objections.

          • John C. ‘Buck’ Field

            Because although it rightfully refutes some bad arguments, it is wrong on significant points, and supports them with obvious fallacies. This doesn’t make their position wrong, just unreliable.

            By way of clarification…

            Let us assume their claim that “Elle botched a story about genetically modified food” is 100% accurate. How justified are we to conclude “No, You Shouldn’t Fear GMO Corn” based on Elle botching a story? Obviously none…it has no bearing. This is why biological scientists should defer to information specialists on such things, just as the information specialists should take advantage of the work and expertise of genetic engineers.

          • Farmer with a Dell

            Which significant points are botched, ‘Buck’? I guess you will have to point those out to us because we aren’t “information specialists”. Thanks.

          • John C. ‘Buck’ Field

            That question is properly addressed to agscience, who cited the reference. My reply assumes his reference is valid and correct in that Elle botched the story.

          • Farmer with a Dell

            You claim some “significant points are wrong”, I asked you to describe those points in detail, you respond with some apparently hypothetical horseshit about some fictitious person named “Elle” who, in your imagination botched some unnamed story somewhere.

            WTF ‘Buck’?

            All you have done from one post to the next is dodge and feint. lurching from old wive’s tale to fairy tale across a random range of topics such as gut microflora, precautionary principle, prevented research (seriously?), best-practice testing (huh?), patents, “GMO” in the most general sense…all without imparting any specific information or useful documentation. Heh, on several occasions you’ve set out to make your point clear, only to launch on another jumble of irrelevant logorrhea. You obviously have no point, no comprehension of the issue and no defense for your incredibly naive opinions. Merely babbling on and on just to hear yourself talk. A complete waste of time!

            So with those clues I think I have figured out the riddle — you’re an agroecologist, aren’t you ‘Buck’? Or, as you term it “an information specialist” which is, as I pointed out previously, a fancy non-committal term for bullshit artist.

            No one is impressed with your schtick ‘Buck’, it is pointless and puerile.

          • John C. ‘Buck’ Field

            Elle is a magazine, which was linked to an article provided by @disqus_3OmxWMHVJL:disqus from Slate.com. The headline in Elle was “No, You Shouldn’t Fear GMO Corn – How Elle botched a story about genetically modified food.” An example of where Slate and Elle went wrong was presented and explained. I’m sorry this was not written more clearly on my part.

        • agscienceliterate

          What, that citations are needed? I know, poor thing. Awfully inconvenient, isn’t it, to be asked to back up your activist pseudoscience speculations by accepted science. Life is tough. Grow a pair.

    • Farmer with a Dell

      Ha, ha, ha, ha…”fake skeptics” being excoriated by a fake “scientist/farmer/carpenter”, scientifically illiterate internet troll, ha, ha, that is too rich!

  • John C. ‘Buck’ Field

    When GMO food health studies are allowed to be conducted according to the standards we insist on for vaccines and boner pills, (including vital data on gut flora impacts) and those studies find no risk, I’ll switch my opposition to GMO in our diets. With an evidence-based explanation for decades of massive corporate investment in preventing such research, my switch will be enthusiastic. To proponents of food GMO’s (including AAAS, et al.), if you or anyone you know can offer more reasonable and reliable criteria for GMO food portfolio risk assessment and management for public health, it would be most welcome.

    If not, an examination of assumptions seems recommended.

    • Farmer with a Dell

      Yep, we ought to insist on those careful studies on organic food, too, before that proven dangerous crap is foisted on an unsuspecting public deluded by fraudulent marketing claims for organics, don’t you agree ‘Buck’?

      BTW, ‘Buck’, nice suit. Are you one of those corporate types, ‘Buck’, who lays awake nights dreaming up ever more diabolical methods of screwing good honest salt-of-the-earth folks like me and my family?

      • John C. ‘Buck’ Field

        Yes, thanks, and no.

        • Farmer with a Dell

          So, ‘Buck”, do you have those long term human feeding safety studies for organic foods? If not, shouldn’t we be campaigning to get organic foods banned, for the good of our children, no less?

          If you’re not a corporate type, ‘Buck”, and you sure as hell don’t look or sound like a farmer, then how do you get your money if you’re not at least chiseling it away from someone who’s chiseled it away from some innocent rube like me? I mean, your outfit isn’t exactly homespun, so you must have some pretty lofty credentials for criticizing how I produce your food, eh?

          • John C. ‘Buck’ Field

            No, probably not, off topic, only compared to some.

          • Farmer with a Dell

            Well if you’re so concerned about the safety of GE technology but not concerned at all about organic food production methods that are proven to kill and maim innocent consumers by the score, isn’t that hypocritical of you, ‘Buck’? Have you always had this God complex, ‘Buck’, you know, discriminating, arbitrarily picking winners and losers, that sort of thing? Wouldn’t you need some real whiz-bang credentials to justify being all judgemental like that, ‘Buck’?

          • John C. ‘Buck’ Field

            No, no (but I have stopped beating my wife), yes.

          • Farmer with a Dell

            Well, ‘Buck’, if you can find you tongue, boy, at least fill us in on that “vital data on gut impacts” you were first outgassing about. What’s so vital about it? How do you measure it? What valid scientific research do you cite in support of any of this?

            Anyway, ‘Buck’, to your sincere request for “more reasonable and reliable criteria for GMO food portfolio risk assessment and management for public health”, I’d have to conclude that treating the safety testing of “GMO” foods exactly the same way we test safety of organic foods should be just about right. That means we’ve been way, way overdoing it on the rigorous testing of GE foods, as it is, eh ‘Buck’, you would have to agree.

          • John C. ‘Buck’ Field
          • Farmer with a Dell

            You’re more than a little conflicted there, ‘Buck’, and so you’re not very convincing. I mean, googling up a bunch of speculative investigations into microflora and magically extrapolating that hot mess into the be-all, end-all of health and disease, well that’s a stretch, ‘Buck’, a big deep stretch. One foot on the dock and one foot on the rail of an untethered canoe, son, you’re just as good as all wet.

            And you can’t even measure this microbiome stuff…”it depends”, you say, ‘Buck’. How the hell can you expect us to ever get a GE food through your arbitrary and capricious testing rigors if we can’t measure anything to your satisfaction? Seems like you’ve cleverly crafted a set of automatic moving goalposts there, ‘Buck’, good for you! Should we pretend we didn’t notice your slight of hand?

            And you’re a little too non-committal on how safety testing for GE foods should correspond to safety testing for organic foods, and why. Maybe you could google up some superfluous claptrap that you can extrapolate into a committed position on this ‘Buck’? Anything? Just your tight-lipped (and tight-assed) opinion ‘Buck’? Oh, that will never do, no, that will never do at all.

            So, ‘Buck’, did you have any defensible point to make here or did you drop by just to see if anyone was awake around here? You need to know we are interested in good thoughtful defensible viewpoints, it’s just that we hate being jerked around and having our time wasted by vacuous cranks. So, can you redeem yourself ‘Buck’? We’re counting on you boy.

          • John C. ‘Buck’ Field

            I agree 100%! Googling up a bunch of speculative investigations into microflora and
            magically extrapolating that hot mess into the be-all, end-all of health
            and disease, well that’s a stretch.

            I don’t agree traditional drug testing rigor is properly called “mine”, “capricious”, etc. The traditional goalposts are what I’m in favor of using, agreeing with Monsanto that their GMOs are unique and patentable.

          • Farmer with a Dell

            So then, the “traditional goalposts” for organic foods are ‘Katy bar the door anything goes’, and that should be good enough for “GMOs”. Organic proponents believe their schlock is “unique”, as does Monsanto so, once again we have relative equivalence. No harm, no foul, eh ‘Buck’? That’s what your proposing, or are you proposing the precautionary principle for GE and organic foods alike? Just clear up that one point, if you would. Thanks.

          • John C. ‘Buck’ Field

            I’m proposing return to the traditional standard which distinguishes between naturally occurring, non-patentable food, and another for food that is a unique human creation entitled to legal patent protection.

            Stronger research into risks of natural foods is warranted, but their risks are likely much lower due to the tremendous potential power of GMOs.

          • Farmer with a Dell

            So it all comes down to a patent, then? Is that all?

            Aw hell, ‘Buck’, lots of plant genetics have been patented over the past century, most of ’em aren’t “GMO”. Some of ’em are probably being grown by organic farmers this very season here in the U.S. Maybe even in Patagonia. So we need to lambast them with the precautionary principle, isn’t that right ‘Buck’? Just rein ’em up short and kick the snot of of ’em ’cause they are surreptitiously killing us via our delicate microflora? If we can work up an exhaustive list of every crop that’s ever been patented can we ride out as a posse and apprehend those diabolical varmints who are still propagating them? Do we get to wear food police badges?

          • Jason

            But “natural” foods have been patentable since 1930. That’s 64 years before the first GMO crop entered the marketplace.

            So, now what?

          • John C. ‘Buck’ Field

            Not familiar with that. Does it explain the apparent duplicity of Monsanto?

          • Jason

            I don’t know what “duplicity” you’re referring to and I don’t think it’s relevant to the point. You propose to return to traditional standards and the standards currently in use are quite traditional. Maybe too traditional for the crops they are meant to regulate. All of the foods we grow are “unique & human created”.

            So now what?

          • John C. ‘Buck’ Field

            The duplicity of saying a product is legally natural when it comes to health regulation, but a unique human invention when seeking patenting.

          • Farmer with a Dell

            So we’re back to many, many patented plants during the past century, most of which have not been “GMO”. Virtually all EXCEPT GE PLANTS considered natural and safe enough without any testing. An you’ve enjoyed watching rigorous testing of GE plants exclusively, often to the exclusion of these plants from the market for extended periods, even indefinitely…and still you’re not happy ‘Buck’? No demonstrated harm from GE plants but documented loss of human life and maiming of children and the elderly by organically grown food and you advocate for no precaution around organics whatsoever ‘Buck’? Dammit, we’re right back where we started. You are a hypocrite.

          • John C. ‘Buck’ Field

            My objection is to interference in how GMOs are tested, which increases risk on a powerful new technology. Not sure how this is hypocritical.

          • JP

            What interference? As has been stated before, GMOs are tested far more stringently than crops from any other plant breeding method. What’s hypocritical is wanting a return to “traditional” testing standards while suggesting that going even above and beyond those standards is insufficient.

          • Farmer with a Dell

            “interference in how GMOs are tested”

            Hmmm, you’re going to have to be specific here. There have been growers contracts around patents and intellectual property rights but “GMO” corn and soy have dominated the U.S. commodity market for many years now. No problem accessing that grain for any feeding trial. In fact, it has probably been more difficult to access verifiable non-GMO feedstocks for laboratory animals. Still, no shortage of research studies completed on “GMO” feed over the past 20 years — hundreds and hundreds have been done. Just because they demonstrate no safety issues, that’s what you are objecting to? Please specify precisely the “interference” you are so alarmed by.

          • Jason

            No one says anything is legally natural. What is said is that the system of using this crop a certain way to control a certain pest is patented. That doesn’t mean that the resulting grain is substantially different from other grain of the same crop.

            But, as I said..it’s not relevant. These products have met the testing thresholds you proposed. So what’s the problem?

          • John C. ‘Buck’ Field

            As indicated below “traditional” is the legal term I should have been using – my error. Apologies.

          • Jason

            I’m pretty sure “traditional” is not a legally binding term either. Regardless of schematics. These foods have met the thresholds you suggested. So what is the issue?

          • agscienceliterate

            Then look it up.
            Patents on food.
            Mutagenesis.
            And do not post again with such bullheaded certainty until you have learned a thing or two before you spew activist conspiracy garbage.

          • agscienceliterate

            Patents on seeds since 1930.
            No such thing as “natural” foods.

          • John C. ‘Buck’ Field

            Quite right – Thanks. For consistency with legal naming conventions, I should be using what the courts and laws call “traditional foods”, distinguished by having been “consumed over the long term duration of civilization”.

            I appreciate the correction.

          • Farmer with a Dell

            Right ‘Buck’, except certified organic foods (at least in the U.S.) have been consumed over the “long-term duration” of only 20 years, since about 1996. Where does that leave us with your precautionary principle and due diligence ‘Buck’?

          • John C. ‘Buck’ Field

            I don’t know of any changes in the makeup of organic foods by being certified, much less any which is comparable to the potential of GE. If I believed there were, I’ve no problem rating the downside risk similarly, and urge similarly stringent testing in support of the precautionary principle, yes.

          • Farmer with a Dell

            Obviously you are unfamiliar with our U.S. certified organic program. You need to read the NOP and the national list to understand how certified organic is nothing more than an arbitrary and capricious mish-mash of bizarre production restrictions, some disallowing proven modern food safety preventive measures, others requiring obsolete proven unsafe production methods, to say nothing about the reliance of organic agriculture on growing foods in manures procured indiscriminately and without safety monitoring of inputs or of product. There is little that is “traditional” or that would be either familiar or deemed desirable by prior generations of successful commercial farmers.

            Absolutely the “downside risk” of organic foods is real…

            http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2011/jun/8/dead-bodies-demand-organic-food-moratorium/

            Obviously ‘Buck’ you are not a father nor do you have elderly parents. How else could you so blithely disregard the downside risk of organic foods in order to obsess over a downside risk of “GMO” foods that has not materialized over 20 years and literally billions of meals?

          • agscienceliterate

            Look up mutagenesis. Look up organic Ruby red grapefruit.
            I’ve told you this numerous times before. Your response? Crickets. Dead-air silence.

          • John C. ‘Buck’ Field

            If you can share your expectations, I’ll try my best…I was unaware you expected a a particular response.

            As I’ve also said several times, I should have been using the term “traditional food”.

            Checking the grapefruit, I learned altering the genetic makeup of plants with gamma radiation or chemicals is considered a traditional breeding technique in the United States. I had previously known of the debate regarding GMOs should be certifiable as organic, but hadn’t followed it.

            The site states that in the U.S.: “It is not mandatory to test the possible adverse health or environmental effects of this technique, known as mutagenesis. It is allowed to use mutagenesis-derived crops in organic agriculture.

            Canadians, however, see the matter differently. In Canada, organisms shaped by mutagenesis are genetically modified organisms (GMOs) by law. In Europe, mutagenesis cannot be used in organic farming, but neither are new varieties created with this method considered GMOs.”

            Again, I respectfully ask what, if any, objection you have to drug-style safety testing?

          • agscienceliterate

            Nope. Over the past decades, many foods have been hybridized and modified significantly. You have to be much more specific than that if you want to get to a clear definition. Do not fall into the “naturalistic fallacy” trap.

          • agscienceliterate

            Courts and laws do not define “traditional foods.” There is no such thing as “traditional food.”

          • agscienceliterate

            He will not answer the question of why his beloved PP should not apply to all foods, not just GE. I have asked numerous times. He just babbles about “naturally occurring” and cannot answer the question.
            Disingenuous, dishonest, hypocritical.

          • Jason

            So…. Since “traditional goalposts” are used, and those goals have been exceeded, you agree that risks appear to be relatively low?

          • John C. ‘Buck’ Field

            Can you rephrase the question?

          • Jason

            Cetainly… You seem to be making the case that “traditional goalposts” have not been used wine making decisions ont GMO crop safety. I pointed out that, not only have they been used, they’re have been far more stringent for gm crops than for crops bred via any other method.

            So, since you earlier requirements have been met. What new requirements will you put forth? If none, then you agree that the risks are no greater than other crops?

          • John C. ‘Buck’ Field

            My position is that Monsanto is correct when they claim their GMOs are a unique human advance. GMOs have not been given centuries of experience (and some co-evolution) as has been the case with traditional food.

            It seems reasonable to test these as we would a new drug at the very least. Given its potential for uncontrolled replication, I think much more stringent testing is warranted, with drug testing protocols quite mild. What is the objection to this recommendation?

          • Farmer with a Dell

            Jumpin Jeebus, there are literally countless hybrid and recently (last 100 years) mutated varieties of crops that absolutely lacked any benefit of “centuries of experience” and “co-evolution” and no one has ever laid awake nights wringing their hands over those. I rather doubt there is any varietal of commercial crop anywhere in the developed world that can boast of “centuries of experience”. Maybe you could squeeze a century or two out of some grape vines in europe, and maybe some tree nuts in old growth forests somewhere, but that’s about all. Damn, you don’t ask much, do you ‘Buck’, just the moon and the stars and the next galaxy or two. Damn.

          • Jason

            No food has been given centuries of human experience. Foods change every year. Sometimes the changes are small, sometimes they are not. Sometimes the changes are benign. Sometimes not. GMO foods apparently poise not be additional risks beyond what any other production methods would.

            And yes, it seems (or seemed) wise to test them as we test drugs. And we have. So now what? What possible “uncontrolled replication” could there be? There are no wild crops that these could spread to. We’re talking about crops that exist only in a farmers field.

            So to answer your question, ther is no objection to your recommendation. You recommended the same protocols that “penis pills” undergo. They have met that threshold. So what is the new hurdle they must meet?

          • agscienceliterate

            “Centuries of experience” ??? Where have you been? Do you remotely believe that the food you eat today was eaten in that form centuries ago? Do you reject hybrids, including organic? Do you reject mutagenesis?
            And get off the Monsanto-bashing wagon. Your corporate conspiracy memes are tiresome.

          • John C. ‘Buck’ Field

            Where have I been? Looking up the legal definitions that have gone through the best vetting process I could find.

            Now, can you tell me what your objection is to drug-style safety testing? Are you merely arguing?

          • agscienceliterate

            You don’t need to pay any attention to Monsanto.
            The science is in.
            Patents have been around since 1930.
            https://geneticliteracyproject.org/2013/10/08/with-2000-global-studies-confirming-safety-gm-foods-among-most-analyzed-subject-in-science/

          • agscienceliterate

            None of these have anything to do with GE at all. Try again.

          • John C. ‘Buck’ Field

            If you believe gut flora research has nothing to do with assessing potential impact of GE tech designed to impact gut flora, I will simply agree to disagree.

          • JP

            What GE tech is designed to impact gut flora?

          • agscienceliterate

            I don’t think he has a clue about genetic engineering or GE farming. Or about mutagenesis or plant patents or hybridization, or impact of any food, let alone GE, on the human gut. He thinks Bt affects the human gut, which just about sez it all.

          • John C. ‘Buck’ Field

            SMEs in that field claim they know very little about the human gut. Based on their input my assessment is that it will be years before we can have a good foothold on that question. Evidence that such knowledge exists is more than welcome.

            Intended effects of Bt would be rare in humans, depending on what they’ve eaten, but I think doing science on these questions is a reasonable proposal.

          • JP

            So, why does your precaution exist for products of only some plant breeding methods? What about GMO crops do you believe would inherently cause issues with the human gut?

          • Farmer with a Dell

            Yeah, and the precautionary principle should be applied to organic food, especially since that is documented to have killed and maimed scores of unsuspecting consumers. What gives with the double standard when kid’s lives are in danger?

          • agscienceliterate

            Jeez. You are sure intellectually lazy.
            Google the following words.
            “Bt insect human gut”
            Then click.
            Then read.
            I’m not doing this anymore.

          • John C. ‘Buck’ Field

            Again, I would love to see the many claims of safety validated via traditional best practices of testing. It amazes that this is seen as a controversial requirement.

          • Farmer with a Dell

            Not controversial, ‘Buck’, when what you’re demanding is untenable or unethical…simply impractical and unreasonable. The precautionary principle, when rigidly applied to selected products to the exclusion of competing products becomes a weapon in the hands of agenda-driven crackpots. You know that all too well, ‘Buck’, that’s what you’re (awkwardly and not too effectively) engineering here, is it not? You overestimate our naivete and gullibility.

          • John C. ‘Buck’ Field

            I disagree with the view that our decisions should be driven by what agenda-driven crackpots might potentially do.

          • Farmer with a Dell

            If you are lobbying for the precautionary principle, ‘Buck’, then you are, indeed, supportive of our decisions being made by what agenda-driven crackpots intend to potentially achieve. Don’t be cute ‘Buck’, you’re not going to squirm out of your prior position so easily. Either relinquish your earlier agenda-driven stance or stand your ground.

          • John C. ‘Buck’ Field

            I think the precautionary principle is fine on its own. I’m advocating for good risk management.

            If you have a legitimate objection to applying drug testing protocols for consumable GMOs, I would like to know what it is.

          • Farmer with a Dell

            The current testing protocols for “GMO” are virtually equivalent to “drug testing” and they have been demonstrated to be adequate to date. I’m fine with continuing those but I resist needlessly raising the bar and I energetically resist putting incompetent scientifically illiterate dumbasses in control of deciding what tests must be conducted and legislating what constitutes “safety”, particularly if that is intended to be different for “GMO” from any other foods.

            When we decide upon food testing standards I think all foods, that’s ALL FOODS must comply. No favorites, no picking winners and losers, just line everyone up and let the games begin on a level playing field. That’s what’s required for the free markets to work effectively and anything less is nanny state interference (which is much, much more onerous than any of your imaginary interference in “GMO” testing). Not sure how you do things in Patagonia, but nanny statism is not accepted here in the U.S., regardless of how the vocal minority portrays us.

          • agscienceliterate

            The PP is BS. You don’t apply it to your car, your cellphone, your Starbucks, your organic food, or anything else. You just want to suddenly apply it to GE foods. The PP is activist excuses for “don’t do anything because we don’t know everything that could potentially happen, and we don’t know that X is 100% safe.” Bull.

          • John C. ‘Buck’ Field

            You don’t believe cars are extensively tested in accord with PP up to and including massive amounts of destructively *crashing* them? Or do you think such testing is not in accordance with the PP?

            Also, I believe the application of the principle is entirely appropriate for newly-developed drugs which I regard as in a very similar potential risk category as to that which Monsanto sought when seeking patent protection

          • agscienceliterate

            Of course they are tested. And GE foods are the most tested on the planet. And cars get recalled all the time. (Unlike any GE food over 2 decades).
            Cars evaluated accordance with PP? Of course not. If the PP was applied to cars, they wouldn’t even be on the streets. Certainly they do not meet your impossible fantasy unscientific standard of being “100% safe,” yet you egregiously and arrogantly dare to apply that standard to GE foods. And only GE foods.
            After all, who knows – cars COULD get in a crash some day, either because of failure of a part or by driver error, right?
            So do not try to wiggle through this and pretend that the precautionary principle applies to auto building. It certainly does not.
            And are you ever going to answer the question about why you don’t apply the PP to conventional and organic food? I am getting pretty sick and tired of asking you and having you ignore this in typical hypocritical fashion.

          • John C. ‘Buck’ Field

            Several times have I discussed application of the PP to traditional foods: there appear to be significant, qualitative differences that warrant the distinction: our duration of experience, the legal arguments presented by creators that this is a new technology, the potential of the technology for benefit, and its potential risk of harm. If GMOs were a 10k-100k year old technology, I’d be happy to waive drug-safety testing.

            This seems a modest proposal, given that it ignores the risk indicators provided by manufacturers’ actions to prevent such studies – a move that should get attention, if history is any guide.

            Regarding your PP car analogy: to my knowledge, there no expection of zero harm. Some people are going to die from getting a vaccine, but that cannot and does stop us from defending against plagues.

            When we criticize a different, (usually stronger) position than that which someone advocates, we commit the straw man fallacy.

            If you have any evidence-based objections to open, best-practice safety studies as we use for other human invented digestibles, drugs, medical implants, and procedures, please state them.

          • agscienceliterate

            GE foods are the most highly tested foods on the planet.
            So now you are prevaricating and saying there are “differences” between GE and other foods that warrant a different standard. Nonsense.
            And you are saying that you think current foods have been around for thousands of years. No food technology, from hybridization to mutagenesis, has been around from “10k – 100k” years. Your capricious and arbitrary standard is ludicrous.
            And you are confusing GE foods with drug safety testing.
            My conversation with you is done. You have been presented with safety studies, info about PP, info about modern crop breeding, info about organic and mutagenically created food, and info about GE, and you have misinterpreted, twisted, confused, and ignored all of it.
            Eat organic. Eat non-GMO certified. Labeled in BIG YUUUGE letters and you do not even have to think.

          • John C. ‘Buck’ Field

            Some may indeed think the differences are nonsense, although the law, Monsanto, and other subject matter experts do not.

            If you have any evidence-based objections to open, best-practice safety studies as we use for other human invented digestibles, drugs, medical implants, and procedures, I respectfully ask you to please state them.

          • JP

            The fact that you continue to babble on about “best practice safety studies” while completely ignoring the plain fact that GMO approval goes well beyond those best practices underscores your disingenuous approach to this discussion

            Your continued references to Monsanto as if they are the only company to create GM crops or patent plants only reinforces that.

          • John C. ‘Buck’ Field

            JP, do we agree GMO approval testing does not meet minimum standards we expect of drug approval?

          • Twan

            Drug: Therapeutic agent; any substance, other than food, used in the prevention, diagnosis, alleviation, treatment, or cure of disease (https://www.drugs.com/dict/drug.html).
            The GMO you talk about are crops used for Food. So if your GMO is not a drug, why subject it to a drug approval test?

          • John C. ‘Buck’ Field

            GE an amazing advance in human capability born of our genius with
            potential beyond the limits of current imagination, which includes that
            of futurists who believe we could grow starships someday. However, I’m
            professionally concerned with risk management.

            The more powerful a
            technology, the more critical it is to manage its risk to avoid
            unacceptable costs. When human health and safety are involved, our risk
            tolerance is lowest.

            If you object to open, best-practice safety
            studies as we use for other human invented digestibles, medical
            implants, and procedures, please clearly state your objections.

          • Twan

            By definition nothing is 100% safe but some dangers are real (drugs with side effects) while others are highly unlikely (attack by killer tomatos). Resources for safety testing should be allocated according to the likelihood and mechanisms for potential harm.
            Genetic transformation uses mechanisms found in nature so it makes sense that similar to non-GMO food the end result should be checked (remember the Zucchini Story: http://www.thedailymeal.com/heidelberg-germany-zucchini-toxin-poison/82315).
            Some groups keep decrying that GMO hold unknown dangers due to unknown components through unknown mechanisms in an unknown
            future. Theoretically possible but by that logic we should keep testing for the Invasion of the body snatchers.

          • John C. ‘Buck’ Field

            If we were eating them, I’d agree. ;)

          • JP

            Of course they dont, GMO crops are not drugs. Why should if they meet minimum standards for drug approval be at all a relevant question?

          • John C. ‘Buck’ Field

            If there’s a more appropriate safety regimen, given the extraordinary potential of ingestible GMOs, (and their risks) I’m happy to endorse that. Can you suggest a standard?

          • JP

            Given that literally any other food carries the same level of risks as GMO foods, I see absolutely no reason why the same standards shouldn’t be applied.

          • John C. ‘Buck’ Field

            Confidence that any revolutionary technology carries no more risk than the old seems like an extraordinary claim, and appears to run counter to the history of just about every technological discipline we might name…beginning with fire.

            Can you cite a case where similar confidence has proven true in the past with regard to new advances?

          • JP

            How about every other plant breeding technology developed?

          • agscienceliterate

            JP, you’re asking for consistency. And with this thread, I fear we are reflecting the old saying, “Consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds.” So inconvenient.

          • John C. ‘Buck’ Field

            AFAIK, no other plant breeding technology enabled industrial scale, human directed creation of fundamental units directing life in ways nature never could. Everything from starships to ultrabola seem possible future outcomes, if we know what we’re doing and are careful. I feel I’ve visited enough ruins and durable extant cultures to appreciate the value of cautious civilization.

            Drug-style testing is all I’m recommending for this powerful new technology we ingest.

          • agscienceliterate

            Lobby Congress to treat food like drugs, then. Change oversight from USDA to EPA. Good luck with that.

          • John C. ‘Buck’ Field

            Thanks!

          • JP

            John, which domesticated crops from any plant breeding method exist as they are in nature?

          • agscienceliterate

            …..and what does “…as they are in nature…” even mean? What nature? When? As defined by what? Added comment by me: I think he suggests that GE foods only be treated as drugs. (WTF? They are not drugs.). And that all other foods be treated differently, and overseen by other agencies for safety. A totally arbitrary and capricious distinction.
            But then if you read his other posts, you will discover that he makes equally arbitrary and capricious (and insulting) comments about his opinion about women and men in the workplace.

            Bucko is from Patagonia, and perhaps people think differently over there. He certainly does, about sexual equality, for instance. Here’s Bucko’s Neanderthal justification for treating women and men differently in the workplace, just to give you an idea how his sexist, separatist mind works, and what cognitive garbage his values are based on:
            “Solving well defined problems such as those in math, seeing in low light, or calculating rapidly spacial relations? I generally will prefer a man for the role. Anything color related like food safety, nearly anything linguistic, and identifying effective group focus in poorly-defined and complex social situations? I will tend to regard women as superior for the role.”

            A guy who thinks like that certainly has little convenient boxes in his brain for categorizing food safety, as well. Based on nothing more than speculative opinion.
            No logic, just rigid (and sometimes offensive) opinions.

          • John C. ‘Buck’ Field

            I have no idea, nor do I have any idea as to how that would help me justify not using drug test equivalent regimens, which is my primary purpose here.

            Farmer has provided an argument based on over stretch of government and what he calls the nanny state, but I can’t really use that in an advisory.

          • JP

            The simple justification for not using drug tests for foods is still that foods aren’t drugs.

          • John C. ‘Buck’ Field

            Great, thanks!

          • Farmer with a Dell

            Are you saying fire IS risky or that it IS NOT risky ‘Buck’? WTF? Why the hell can’t you commit to a position and state it clearly?

            Anyway, with fire in mind, a cascade of revolutionary technologies,each being less risky than those they eventually displaced

            fire pit

            open hearth

            Franklin stove

            wood burning kitchen range and parlor stoves

            coal burning stoves

            steam boiler central heating

            hot water and hot air central heating

            gas kitchen ranges and ovens

            electric kitchen ranges and ovens

            microwave ovens

            Each an improvement in safety, convenience and efficiency. The same could be said for most technologies, including most technologies in agriculture. Do you really think the precision of GE technology is more risky than the ham-fisted hit-and-miss technology of invokiing random genetic mutations en mass and sorting through the aftermath for improved phenotypic traits? You must be brain damaged ‘Buck”!

          • agscienceliterate

            When one is steeped in activist ideology, cogent arguments are equivalent to pissing into a fan.

          • John C. ‘Buck’ Field

            We have different perspectives. I try to avoid saying whether something like “fire IS risky or that it IS NOT” without linking it to some criteria. My apologies this is frustrating for you.

            In principle, I always try to remain open to change my mind based on new evidence.
            Good science and good thinking are not distinguished by staking out a position that turns out accurate, but by applying methods that have proven reliability.

            You raise a good point with the fire analogy: when taken in isolation and from a particular view, we could say that the advances you cite are solely beneficial advance. OTOH, if we expand our considerations to include weapons, or such as how advances enabled industrial scale cremations at Auschwitz, we see that technological power is neutral, happy to help or harm humans.

            When dealing with ingestibles, much less replicators, caution seems warranted – a position I’m happy to change based on evidence. The way to get evidence is to study and search for what would produce harm, and find none. Then, GMO critics and no valid scientific/health grounds for objection. If they want to make a lifestyle or spiritual decision to condemn GMOs, that’s their right.

          • Farmer with a Dell

            So you are not phased when it is pointed out to you, ‘Buck’ that GE technology is far, far more exacting technology than clumsy wholesale mutagenesis and sorting by trial and error? I would ask you how it could possibly be the case that you fail to acknowledge that simple reality, but now i understand you reserve the right to shift, childishly squirm and weasel around any point of fact.

            Your studied non-committal stupidity act, ‘Buck’, is frustrating…except when it’s amusing…except when it’s tedious…except when it’s boring…except when it’s just lame…and, hey, who knows, your slippery dodging could be helpful or it could be unhelpful…no, wait, I’m quite certain it is only unhelpful…yep, unhelpful is all.

          • John C. ‘Buck’ Field

            No, not phased about it at all, since precision is only a significant risk reducing factor within a narrow context – a point that is generally not very well understood. What I’m concerned about is strategic investment for risk management of GMO technology, and compiling the best arguments for and against different options. Farmer, you seem to be the only one who has really provided an argument and a justification for it.

            I appreciate your taking the time to work with me.

          • agscienceliterate

            He doesn’t understand the difference between the roles of the USDA and the FDA, but I ain’t gonna explain it to him. I’m done.

          • agscienceliterate

            YAY! Finally. So dump the agenda-driven crackpot lemonade you have been sucking down from the $60 billion organic industry.

          • JP

            But the claims of safety are validated via traditional best practices of testing for food. As a matter of fact, testing for GMO approval goes above and beyond what as seen as traditionally acceptable for food.

          • John C. ‘Buck’ Field

            In some ways and in some countries. However I agree with Monsanto’s claims about their own GMOs, they are a new, unique human invention, not a traditional food.

          • JP

            It doesn’t matter whether they are new or traditional. There is no rationale to argue that they need be tested any more than any other food, and yet, they still are, and still people like you say it isn’t sufficient.

          • agscienceliterate

            There is no such thing as “a traditional food.” Define it.

          • agscienceliterate

            Um, every damn thing you eat nowadays is a “new unique human invention.” From cattle to pigs to fruits and vegetables and grains. Hybrids, mutagenesis, and new species all the time.

          • Jason

            They have been. I’ve explained to you before, that the standard protocols of testing drugs are all used for testing GMOs crops, including Bt crops.

            Best practices are used. Happy?

          • John C. ‘Buck’ Field

            Your information appears in error. Even in the relaxed U.S. regulatory environment, not even more relaxed, traditional food tests are performed. The justification for this, according to experts is: “GM foods are not tested in humans before marketing because they are not a single chemical, nor are they intended to be ingested using specific doses and intervals, which complicate clinical study design.” Source: http://goo.gl/ceIkHz

          • Jason

            No foods, nor drugs are tested on humans, aside from efficacy testing (which I expained earlier). Human testing is both illegal and immoral because in order to determine a safe dosage, you must determine how much it takes to kill. In other words..you need to kill people. Therefore it’s not done… In drug or in foods.

            I repeat…. The protocols for toxicity testing are no different for drugs than they are for novel foods. GMO foods have surpassed this hurdle, otherwise they would not make it to store shelves.

            Edit: here is what your source says regarding GE food testing: This contrasts with the scrutiny applied to GE foods, as indicated by the 2002 U.S. General Accounting Office (GAO) report concluding that all commercial GE food products produced to date in the United States have been adequately tested for safety by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and pose no unique hazards (GAO 2002).

            Your fearmongering is unwarranted. The thresholds you ask for have been met…over and over and over….

            Now what?

          • John C. ‘Buck’ Field

            Interesting view Jason. Drug testing on humans doesn’t exist because lethal dosages determine safety…and I’m fear mongering by advocating improved research to generate trustworthy information. Not sure where to start a response… I’ll agree that fear mongering is bad.

          • Jason

            You’re advocating for a standard that has already been met. Drugs are tested for toxicity. That testing is done on animals because in order to determine an LD50, you need to kill 50% of the population. Thtas the definition of LD50 (Lethal Dose 50%). That same standard applies to testing of novel foods. They are tested to determine if any new compounds could pose a risk. In the absence of any new compounds, it’s a pretty far stretch to think that any new harm could come from consumption.

            I’m sorry if you are not familiar with testing standards. In the future, I would recommend familiarizing yourself with those standards before railing against them.

          • John C. ‘Buck’ Field

            I believe you’re mistaken.

            I believe human clinical phase I studies assess the safety of a drug or device over months, usually with paid volunteers.

            The studies’ goal: to determine the effects of the drug or device on humans including how it is absorbed, metabolized, excreted, and side effects.

            I’m uncertain how we can claim to be pro-science and against doing such studies on a new technology.

          • Jason

            Well, believe what you want. But safety testing is NOT done on humans. Efficacy testing is done on humans, but not until safety has been established in animals first.

          • John C. ‘Buck’ Field

            My post was just a paraphrase of FDA’s procedure for human trials. If you have better knowledge on what they’re doing, I will just wish you well.

          • Jason

            The FDAs procedures on human trials are not in question here because humans are not used for safety testing. They are used for efficacy testing.

          • agscienceliterate

            I’ve been eating GE foods for decades. And have not needed to be “paid” to do so.
            You totally ignore how you would rule out the effects of independent variables, such as if your “volunteers” are already unhealthy, or smokers, or healthy, or what race they are, or what else they eat, or what medical conditions or genetic susceptibilities they may have, or their age, or their sex, or whether they use cell phones, drink coffee at Starbucks, take homeopathic remedies, have children, or about 4 million other variables.
            Oh, and “paid volunteers” certainly do NOT represent a random control group representative of the general population. It is a self-selecting group, of course, and thus subject to enormous bias. (What makes you think otherwise? Have you ever taken a science class on how to set up studies?)
            Go back to the “paid volunteers” thing and be specific on how you think that should be done.
            And be specific about how you would set up a reliable control group of people, who do not eat GE foods, again controlling for all of those independent variables. Would they be “paid volunteers” too, paid to NOT eat GE foods for X period of time? If so, obviously they too are self-selected, not randomized, and highly subject to bias.
            And be specific about how you would measure results in order to arrive at a conclusion about GE foods.
            I don’t think you have thought too deeply about this at all. Please start doing so.

          • agscienceliterate

            Duhhhhh…… No, we do not do testing on humans. In cages. Double-blind studies and all that.
            They are tested for allergenecity. Which you certainly cannot say for mutagenically scrambled genes in your organic ruby red grapefruit.

          • agscienceliterate

            Your assessment is worth squat. Your hyperbolic speculations are mildly amusing, though.

          • Farmer with a Dell

            How do you “assess” this impact, how do you measure it accurately enough for scientific validity? You can’t manage what you can’t measure, It’s much too easy to fear what you can’t measure, though. So, how ’bout it, what are the metrics around impacts to the microbiota due to “GMO”?

          • John C. ‘Buck’ Field

            Management’s duty is to provide what experts need to achieve accuracy and other criteria necessary and sufficient for scientific validity.

            I would imagine these experts might want to start with good characterizations of the millions species of human gut flora, and study what happens to them in the presence of newly created GMOs. If nothing too dramatic is noted, animal and human trials would seem like a good next step – and shouldn’t take that long, IMO.

          • JP

            Why would this be applied to GMOs and not newly created varieties from any other method? Heck, with the logic th youre using, humans shouldn’t be consuming anything at all until the gut is understood better.

          • Farmer with a Dell

            And what if people take probiotics? Holy crap, those live cultures will almost certainly randomly alter the fragile devine homeostasis of the gut microflora! ;And the gut microflora, after all, is the be-all and end-all of health and immune system vigor (heh, learned that from the Daft Tinkler over on the beekeeping thread today).

            How’s come none of those probiotic products are killing folks and all “GMOs” are? Damn, this gut microflora stuff is kinda complicated. I suppose it helps a lot if one is a True Believer, then bad stuff can’t happen to ’em.

          • John C. ‘Buck’ Field

            You raise a plausible objection as did agscienceliterate earlier. I responded that:

            My current criteria include factoring in the length of human exposure
            within an evolutionary context previously well-represented in the legal
            standards for human consumables. That is now less-well reflected for
            food and drug safety. Moneyed players in the GMO industry have, for
            decades, simultaneously argued that GMO are patentably unique human
            creations on one hand, and no different than any food ever found in
            nature on the other. I agree with corporations on the first position,
            but disagree on the second. To me these seem to be mutually exclusive
            categories, but I’m happy to consider any counter-argument.

            As for
            “same criteria” question: where relevant, qualitative differences exist
            in how investment, testing, and regulations are made and applied,
            different assessment criteria are warranted. Isolated focus on budget
            (and schedule) inures risk to any project, program, or portfolio. With
            GMO’s, these appear to be largely unbounded due to general acceptance
            that gut microbiota appears to be very important, relevant research is
            in its infancy, and in cases like Bt, GM’s are designed to create lethal
            alterations in gut microbiota of pests.

          • JP

            Literally all of that applies equally to crops from other breeding methods, so that doesn’t answer my question.

            There are new varieties of crops every season, from any kind of plant breeding method. Many of these are patented, regardless of breeding method. All of these could affect gut microbiota, again regardless of breeding method. Bt is a well understood insecticide, and indeed is used often in non-GM farming and has been for decades.

          • agscienceliterate

            Jeez, you are a dense slow learner.
            Bt affects insect guts.
            Insect guts are entirely different from human guts.
            Insects are not human.
            Humans are not insects.
            Bt does not affect human guts.
            Look it up.

          • agscienceliterate

            And that is precisely how Food Babe rips off a very gullible public, and makes money from her own “gut cures.” Total snake-oil selling fraud.

          • Farmer with a Dell

            So, you’d have us catalogue and follow “the millions of species of human gut flora and study what happens”, is that it ‘Buck”? Aw hell, that doesn’t sound like much of a chore, after all there are only millions of ’em. Do all that in couple of minutes with a Ranger Rick magnifying glass, probably.

            Oh, BTW, do you have a stable starting point for the millions of species of human gut flora? You know, like a blueprint or an inventory or something? Those millions of species don’t change up much in their demographics or presentation, do they ‘Buck’? I mean, if we detect any aberration, any change whatsoever that must be due to “GMO”, right? It couldn’t possibly be more complicated than that, could it?

            I hate to be a pest but could you link us with the master blueprint ‘Buck’?

          • agscienceliterate

            We don’t do control group studies on human beings.
            Humans have been eating GE foods for over 2 decades with zero negative consequences.
            Many GE studies have been done on animals. Billions of animals have been fed GE food over the past two decades without problem.

          • agscienceliterate

            Oh, I’ll believe it, if there is compelling scientific evidence to show it. You have provided none. So, disagree all you wish. Your unsubstantiated fantasies do not compel me to agree with you.

          • John C. ‘Buck’ Field

            As is often the case with such discussions, it comes down to whether we ascribe to the Precautionary Principle, but it might first be a good idea to have some idea about how to judge good scientific evidence from bad. Astrologers have libraries full of predictions whose accuracy can be compared to that of meteorology and sociology.

            With some skill, and if we follow the Precautionary Principle, we judge GMO advocates responsible to explain evidence indicating decades of corporate legal interference in both public safety laws, private licensing restrictions on how seeds may be tested for adverse health impacts, pushing inconsistent definitions, and ongoing lobbying against free and open research.

            I would be delighted to have such evidence to justify Bt corn is perfectly safe. That evidence just hasn’t come in yet as far as I can tell, and AAAS, et al. pronouncements do not seem to address these, and one wouldn’t think this is an unreasonable request. Someone selling me a car had better explain why they’ll allow my mechanic to check everything but the brakes.

            On the other hand, if we reject the Precautionary Principle and we are unaware the evaluation system has been tampered with, we are likely place the burden of proof on those who advocate caution which we see as based on “unsubstantiated fantasies”. From this perspective, any opposition to GMO use may appear indistinguishable from radical technophobia, as in anti-vaxxers. There’s no reason for us to suspect the car brakes have any relevance, since we are unaware the seller insists on them not being examined.

            In any disagreement, and with whatever side we are on, strong emotional attachments to a position undermine the possibilities of good, productive analysis and for us to change our minds. I think learning and changing our minds based on evidence is easier when we discuss with respect to the person, if not all their positions. IMO, we should take the time to be sure we understand what, exactly, their position is before criticizing.

          • agscienceliterate

            1). The “precautionary principle” is an activist excuse for non-action, on only selected options. It is hypocritical and disingenuous to apply this mythical standard to GE foods only, and not to conventional or organic food.
            But I have said this before.

            2). Seeds have been patented since 1930.
            But I have said this before.

            3). There are NO tests that will show that Bt corn (or any other food or item in the universe) is “perfectly safe.” That is not how science works. And even if it were possible to show that any Item X is “perfectly safe” (one cannot), you are hypocritical if you would only demand that standard for GE food, and not for conventional or organic food. You have not called for testing of foods, including mutagenically created organic, to meet that ridiculous wishful thinking standard.
            But I have said this before.

            4). There have been thousands of tests on GE foods, and hundreds of academic and scientific agencies have endorsed their safety.
            But I have said this before.

            5). Your standards for treating men and women in the workplace differently, in accordance with your own ignorant biases and preconceptions, are appallingly Neanderthal. Which has nothing to do with GE safety, but everything to do with your rigid box-like thinking.
            But I have said this before.

          • Jackson

            GE tech designed to impact gut flora? What are you referring to?

          • agscienceliterate

            Naaaah, you are simply agreeing de fact to refuse to provide any compelling evidence. Disagreement? Based on your utter inability to show credible evidence. Bogus.

    • agscienceliterate

      And what wil you eat instead? Have you applied the same criteria to those foods? (Conventional, organic). If not, why not? You okay with mutagenesis as a gene-scrambling method, including with organic foods? You do know there is “…massive corporate investment…” In the $60 billion organic industry, right? You do know that GE foods are the most tested and regulated on the planet, right?

      • John C. ‘Buck’ Field

        My current criteria include factoring in the length of human exposure within an evolutionary context previously well-represented in the legal standards for human consumables. That is now less-well reflected for food and drug safety. Moneyed players in the GMO industry have, for decades, simultaneously argued that GMO are patentably unique human creations on one hand, and no different than any food ever found in nature on the other. I agree with corporations on the first position, but disagree on the second. To me these seem to be mutually exclusive categories, but I’m happy to consider any counter-argument.

        As for “same criteria” question: where relevant, qualitative differences exist in how investment, testing, and regulations are made and applied, different assessment criteria are warranted. Isolated focus on budget (and schedule) inures risk to any project, program, or portfolio. With GMO’s, these appear to be largely unbounded due to general acceptance that gut microbiota appears to be very important, relevant research is in its infancy, and in cases like Bt, GM’s are designed to create lethal alterations in gut microbiota of pests.

        • agscienceliterate

          Do you have any citations whatsoever on this gut thing you keep mentioning? Or did you get it all from Food Babe? She’s real big on gut stuff and cleansing and detox, and even sells her own products to “help” all the people she’s fearmongered It’s nonsense.
          And you have not answered my questions about other food systems, and your unreasonable criteria for GE only.
          And if you would do 30 seconds of research, you would find out that Bt affects insect guts entirely differently than human guts, which it does not affect at all. Please do your research before posting this activist unsupported nonsense.

          • John C. ‘Buck’ Field

            I’m not sure precisely to what “this gut thing” refers. The research appears complex and rapidly evolving, as suggested by those 17k recent papers from the earlier link can attest.

            I’m unaware of evidence that human and pest guts are “entirely different”, which seems like a very strong claim, especially given SMEs judgments that the human gut biome is so poorly categorized. If evidence of this exists, I’m happy to check that possible risk off the list. May I ask for your sources? Might “entirely different” be a bit overstated?

          • Farmer with a Dell

            No, not overstated at all ‘Buck’. Take a moment to compare and contrast the termite gut flora and the human gut flora. Won’t take you but a few minutes to really school yourself, for once. Hint: add the search term “cellulose” when you google the termite guts.

          • agscienceliterate

            You’re gonna have to provide a link for him. He’s all mouth and no ability to look it up for himself.

          • Farmer with a Dell

            Naw, I’ve fed him enough rope, now just let him do the rest. He’s shown with his dippy google URLs he’s familiar with the technology. Big time expert on guts, no doubt he has some of his own although he’s been suffocating his colon microflora to ignore me on this thread all day long. Guess he figures that will somehow make the science go away and stop haunting him. I expect he’s been wrong before.

          • John C. ‘Buck’ Field

            I understand “entirely different” as “no similar qualities” whereas it seems you mean “some differences”.

            Are you in favor or opposed to best-practice testing of GMOs?

          • Farmer with a Dell

            OK, so now you want to parse and litigate the nuances of “entirely different” to mitigate the obviously and entirely different purposes and microflora of termite vs human guts — one is evolved to digest and subsist upon cellulose, the other decidedly is not. Hindgut commensals are entirely different, some are unique. But fine, fine if that’s the new game ‘ Buck’, we’ll just have to agree that the human ‘tube within a tube’ gut is “entirely different” only from single celled organisms that absorb nutrients from their external environments. This sort of drives you outside your initial debate context, but WTF, you really didn’t have a point to make here, anyway.

            On to your question about “best-practice testing”, I suppose I will have to pin you down to an immutable definition of that before we continue, because otherwise you will only move the goalposts again…way, way outside the stadium again. So ‘Buck’, what’s your concept of best-practice testing for GMO and how is that different from best-practice testing for organic or anything else?

          • agscienceliterate

            Oferpete’ssakes. I have to do your stinkin’ respearch, too?
            OK, I did the research. Bt affects the insect gut. Bt does not affect the human gut.
            http://npic.orst.edu/factsheets/BTgen.pdf

            You are welcome.

          • John C. ‘Buck’ Field

            This pesticide agency claims regarding humans are that “No data were found…” and “no adverse effects are expected”. I don’t think it an especially definitive reference, but appreciate your effort in providing it.

          • JP

            That’s how conclusions would read in evaluating the safety of literally anything. You cannot prove lack of harm, you can only demonstrated that nothing that’s been tried yet has contradicted the null hypothesis.

          • John C. ‘Buck’ Field

            Safety evaluations are typically expected to read differently depending on the tests performed. Providing evidence for the level of risk is typically expected what we mean by safety evaluation. The null hypothesis in safety testing is normally expected to be something similar to “this produces harm above the safety limit”, which is then disproven by testing in a reliable regimen.

            “Nothing has been tried yet has contradicted the null hypothesis”? Exactly as we would expect when a research is structured to avoid reliable testing by claiming substantial equivalence.

            I hope we we can at least agree that such wording as “no data” does not support the stronger, overarching claim that “Bt does not affect the human gut”.

          • JP

            In much the same way as you couldn’t say “water does not affect the human gut.” In scientific specifics, there still exist conditions for either that haven’t been tested. In realistic terms, in conditions you would see in real life, the compiled evidence show that neither do.

          • agscienceliterate
    • JP

      Why would food need to be tested with the same protocols as drugs? And why the products of one arbitrary set of plant breeding methods and not others?

      • agscienceliterate

        Again, the woo-based misnomer “precautionary principle” plucked out of thin air to apply to just one gene editing procedure, and not across the board, reeks of hypocrisy and disingenuousness. And then, because Buck underscores that with corporate conspiracy theories, his arguments are pretty thin. And finally, his ridiculous expectation that any studies on anything on the planet are capable of “…finding no risk….” Indicates he was doing boner pills or whatever instead of attending his high school science class like a good boy.
        Altogether, it yields willful ignorance underpinned with a lack of science, a prevalence of good ole corporate conspiracy, and a total misunderstanding of safety assessments of food.

        Bucko is from Patagonia, and perhaps people think differently over there. He certainly does, about sexual equality, for instance. Here’s Bucko’s Neanderthal justification for treating women and men differently in the workplace, just to give you an idea how his sexist, separatist mind works, and what cognitive garbage his values are based on:

        “Solving well defined problems such as those in math, seeing in low light, or calculating rapidly spacial relations? I generally will prefer a man for the role. Anything color related like food safety, nearly anything linguistic, and identifying effective group focus in poorly-defined and complex social situations? I will tend to regard women as superior for the role.”

        A guy who thinks like that certainly has little convenient boxes in his brain for categorizing food safety, as well. Based on nothing more than speculative opinion.

      • agscienceliterate

        I think what he also means is that only GE foods would be held to a “drug” standard. Really loopy.
        But hey, if he wants to go to Congress and lobby for a change in how food is approved, and try to put food under the auspices of the FDA, let him have at it. Tilting at windmills.

    • Jason

      They are tested to the same standards. Toxicity testing protocols are not different. The only diffence is efficacy testing. Because there is no intended effect, there is no need to test if that effect happens.

      • John C. ‘Buck’ Field

        By “they”, do you mean GMOs that are defined as patentably unique human creations, or the same GMOs defined as no different than any food ever found in nature?

        Choosing the second, you are correct – but I reject that categorization as indicated to agscienceliterate with:

        My current criteria include factoring in the length of human exposure
        within an evolutionary context previously well-represented in the legal
        standards for human consumables. That is now less-well reflected for
        food and drug safety. Moneyed players in the GMO industry have, for
        decades, simultaneously argued that GMO are patentably unique human
        creations on one hand, and no different than any food ever found in
        nature on the other. I agree with corporations on the first position,
        but disagree on the second. To me these seem to be mutually exclusive
        categories, but I’m happy to consider any counter-argument.

        As for
        “same criteria” question: where relevant, qualitative differences exist
        in how investment, testing, and regulations are made and applied,
        different assessment criteria are warranted. Isolated focus on budget
        (and schedule) inures risk to any project, program, or portfolio. With
        GMO’s, these appear to be largely unbounded due to general acceptance
        that gut microbiota appears to be very important, relevant research is
        in its infancy, and in cases like Bt, GM’s are designed to create lethal
        alterations in gut microbiota of pests.

        • Farmer with a Dell

          I don’t see how spamming your unfounded opinions is helping your cause ‘Buck’. It only makes them more difficult to read. Besides, reciting them over and over certainly won’t magically make them correct (that’s magical thinking).

        • Jason

          I don’t care how you want to categorize them. You asked that they be held to the same testing standards as drugs and they are.

          So, set aside all of the double-speak you’re piling and and answer this….where would you like to move the goalposts to now?

          • John C. ‘Buck’ Field

            The claim that GMOs should be tested the same as drugs is accurate with regards to countries that have not adopted the principle of “substantial equivalence” which was invented to avoid such scrutiny. Monsanto, et al. oppose this. The US is not one of those countries.

            See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Substantial_equivalence

          • Jason

            That is incorrect. The US has adopted substantial equivalence but yet, testing protocols for our GM crops are the same as they are for drugs.

            It’s up to the developer to prove they are substantially equivalent.

            Next?

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