Nobel laureate Richard Roberts: Opposition to GMOs is an ‘indulgence of the affluent’

This summer, more than a hundred Nobel laureates sent a clear message to Greenpeace: Abandon the campaign against GMOs.

The letter, published on the site Support Precision Agriculture, asked the environmental NGO to stop efforts to hinder the adoption of Golden Rice, a genetically engineered variety developed to mitigate Vitamin-A deficiency in the developing world, a scourge leading to blindness and death in millions. The rice gets its golden color from beta-carotene, a precursor to Vitamin-A and the same stuff that pigments carrots and other colorful fruits and vegetables.

Sir Richard Roberts, who was awarded the 1993 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his discovery of split-genes, spearheaded the letter and organized the laureates to sign on.

“We urge Greenpeace and its supporters to re-examine the experience of farmers and consumers worldwide with crops and foods improved through biotechnology, recognize the findings of authoritative scientific bodies and regulatory agencies, and abandon their campaign against ‘GMOs’ in general and Golden Rice in particular,” the letter states.

The hashtag #Nobels4GMOs quickly grew across social networks in support of the laureates. With additional Nobel laureates and more than 6,000 from the general public signing on since the June 30 news conference. But, the letter and petition are only the first steps in this initiative.

For Roberts, this campaign isn’t about agribusiness or even science. It’s about justice.

“The science on this is solid,” Roberts says. He believes that communicating scientific facts to the public doesn’t necessarily have a big impact. “It’s these moral questions that are important, these actually do have an effect,” he says, adding that the GMO issue is “one of the most worthy causes for the future of humanity that I can think of.” He explains that Greenpeace has “cleverly conflated” the issues of technologies and big corporate interests. “I don’t like big corporations either,” he says, agreeing that opposition to GMOs prevents small entities from using these technologies. (Several experts and scientists assert that the anti-GMO lobby creates an overly stringent and prohibitively expensive regulatory landscape that stifles innovation.)

New York Times headline about letter
New York Times headline about letter.

The future of the Nobel laureates’ campaign isn’t only about Golden Rice, but the role genetic engineering and newer precision breeding technologies will play to help people, and Roberts plans to involve world leaders in wielding science to that end.

The president of Uganda is among many government leaders the Nobel laureate hopes to reach. One reason: Banana Xanthomonas Wilt (BXW). A bacterial disease, BXW affects all banana cultivars and is considered one of the greatest threats to banana productivity in eastern Africa.

“Traditional methods are incredibly slow, because the banana plant is essentially sterile,” says Roberts. A GMO solution is already in field trials, but legislation to allow it to reach farmers and consumers doesn’t exist, he explains. “It’s sitting in parliament and languishing there.” This is a serious and pressing need, he says, because for many Ugandans up to 30 percent of caloric intake is from bananas. They’re a staple food in Kenya, Rwanda, Ethiopia and Tanzania.

Roberts condemns the European Union’s legislation and blocking of GMO cultivation in Africa. He’ll be speaking at the European Parliament in a couple of weeks.

“I intend to make the point that you don’t see a lot of thin Europeans. They can choose not to eat GMOs, but to pretend that they’re dangerous, it’s really terrible, it rebounds around the world.” He stresses that in much of the world, just getting food is a problem. “We need to make sure that we in the developed world understand that it is an indulgence for us to be either for or against a particular food.”

Government leaders aren’t the only ones Roberts will call on. He wants to persuade Buddhist leadership, Pope Francis, and other religious heads to make positive statements about GMOs. Though Roberts identifies as atheist, he says, “I understand the appeal of religion, and I am perfectly happy to engage with figures like the Pope – especially this one who seems head and shoulders better than most.” Secular humanitarian organizations like the Rotary Club are also on his list of potential allies.

Roberts’ initiative isn’t without backlash, though. Tenuous accusations that the laureates were exploited demonstrate that anti-technology activists would rather throw tantrums than accept that GMO technologies are safe and beneficial. The accusations also confirm the well-documented trend of GMO opposition being rooted not in fact-based criticism, but in ideology and money. The burgeoning organic industry, for one, spreads frightening myths about genetic engineering, largely because organic farmers are prohibited from growing GMO crops.

960x0Consider U.S. Right to Know (USRTK). Founded with donations from anti-GMO organic industry groups, the non-profit organization boasts the tagline “pursuing truth and transparency in America’s food system.” The group is known for using public records laws to harass scientists, and for scaring people about GMOs in the name of consumer advocacy. The group’s co-founder and director Gary Ruskin quickly issued a California Public Records Act (CPRA) request for Nobel laureate Professor Randy Schekman’s emails following the National Press Club news conference where Schekman, Roberts, and Columbia University Professor Martin Chalfie, who shared the 2008 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, officially announced the initiative.

When used well, open records laws help the government stay transparent. But when a line is crossed, these checks and balances become a weapon to intimidate and create roadblocks. As the Union of Concerned Scientists said following a glut of abusive public records requests in 2015, “the harassment of scientists through open records requests is just one method of many that an expert’s antagonists use to discredit him or her.”

Roberts agrees. “The plant community has been totally abused by this,” he says. He explains that USRTK targeted Schekman for a simple reason: Of the three laureates at the press conference, he was the only one subject to an open records request because of his role at a public institution (University of California, Berkeley). Roberts calls the move a “particularly foolish” misuse of the law.

Schekman guesses that USRTK thinks the CPRA request will intimidate him and keep him from speaking out further in support of GMOs. “They’re wrong. If anything they might have encouraged me,” he tells me of his plan to use his platform to advocate for Golden Rice and agricultural biotechnology. Schekman intends to not release his emails because he isn’t paid by a public institution. While the Schekman Lab is at UC Berkeley, the laureate is an employee of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, a private, non-profit research organization. According to Schekman, HHMI rents university facilities on his behalf.

Another attack on the Nobel laureates came from Vandana Shiva, an author, environmentalist and anti-biotechnology leader known to command $40,000 per public appearance. Heralded by some as an “eco goddess,” Shiva is a front-runner in the opposition to modern agriculture, especially crops created with modern molecular genetic engineering. Anti-globalization factions tout Shiva as a hero and the voice of downtrodden people, farmers, and the environment. On the other end, her butchering of science and deceptive rhetoric have earned Shiva monikers like “Luddite,” “dangerous fabulist” and even part of the “lunatic fringe.”

Related article:  Is monoculture a bad thing? It's time to revise simplistic ideological narrative

Making light of the death of Dr. Alfred G. Gilman, one of the letter’s signatories, she writes, “How many Nobel laureates does it take to write a letter? Easily ascertained — the dead Gilman and 106 others were enlisted in ‘supporting GMOs and Golden Rice.’ Correct answer — 107, dead or alive.” Declaring that only “chosen folk” have the luxury of “getting Nobel laureates to write 1/107th of a letter,” Shiva says that Golden Rice is a “false miracle.” Ironically, in the same diatribe decrying the laureates’ letter as “luxury,” Shiva writes, “avoid ‘miracle rice,’ just eat a carrot,” advising that people in the developing world eat chutneys, mangoes, and other nutritious foods to meet the necessary daily intake of vitamin A.

It reeks of “let them eat cake”– recent research from The Lancet shows that the majority of Indians can’t afford enough fruits and vegetables. While increasing access to varied and nutritious diets for all people is a worthy objective, the laureates say opposition to this potentially lifesaving rice is unconscionable.

“It is true that Golden Rice has been slow to develop but it seems rather disingenuous for the anti-GMO people to use every strategy possible to slow its development and then accuse it of not being ready,” Roberts says. “Indeed it has been generally true that the anti-GMO activists have been constantly erecting roadblocks by spreading misinformation about dangers [of genetic engineering].” He adds that opponents are “doing everything in their power to prevent GMO products from reaching the marketplace.”

It’s important to note that, while commonly used colloquially and in the media, “GMO” is an arbitrary term not used in scientific literature. GMO (for Genetically Modified Organism) applies to diverse techniques and products, from crops engineered to prevent boring insect damage and carcinogenic mycotoxin contamination the insects can bring, to non-browning, non-bruising Arctic apples bred with a gene silencing technique. GMO technologies aren’t limited to use by large corporations, nor are GMO crops the only patented varieties (even non-GMO and organic seeds are often patented).

Many breeding techniques involve modifying plants’ genomes in the field or in a lab. GMO varieties are typically the result of scalpel-like precision, while so-called non-GMO methods are akin to whacking a piñata blindfolded. Some techniques involve using radiation and chemicals to roll the mutation dice, and developing and commercializing desired results. Yet the food products that result from these lab manipulations can be certified and sold as organic and “non-GMO.” The weight of scientific literature shows that modern techniques are no less safe than other breeding methods, including new precise methods like gene editing.

Shiva and other GMO opponents like GM Watch discredit Roberts’ efforts, claiming the laureates’ letter was an industry-backed maneuver.

“The laureates were rounded up by Val Giddings (senior fellow, Information Technology and Innovation Foundation), Jon Entine (author of Abraham’s Children: Race, Identity and the DNA of the Chosen People) and Jay Byrne (former head of corporate communications, Monsanto),” she writes, without supporting evidence for the allegations. Telling tall tales about her adversaries is a classic Shiva move. Tarnishing critics’ reputations is a clever tactic — the case for defamation, libel or slander are expensive and difficult to pursue. Tarring any party who might put a damper on her anti-technology money train, she leaves swaths of misinformation in her wake.

I spoke with Entine, Byrne, and Giddings, and all three deny involvement in rounding up the laureates.

“I had zero to do with the Nobel initiative. I didn’t even know about it until it was publicly announced,” says Jon Entine, executive director of the Genetic Literacy Project.

Jay Byrne, president of v-Fluence, a public affairs, issues, and reputation management company, left Monsanto 16 years ago. He provided public affairs guidance to Roberts over the year leading up to the #Nobels4GMOs going public, not for pay but, “because I care about this stuff, and I want to make a difference. Not everything is about making money, even though that’s the only possible answer activists have when anyone stands up for technology that they oppose.”

Val Giddings, the senior fellow at The Information and Technologies Innovation Center with three decades of experience in science and regulatory policy, calls Shiva a demagogue.

“Those, like Shiva, looking for ways to avoid acknowledging the weight of the laureates’ statement in opposition to their fear mongering, and trying to find some nefarious origin for it would do well to consider [Roberts’] history,” he urges. Giddings points out that Roberts has gathered and organized the clout of Nobel laureates before. He was instrumental in gathering over a hundred Nobel laureates in signing a 2006 letter addressed to Muammar Gaddafi denouncing the persecution of medical professionals in Libya for introducing and spreading AIDS. Roberts organized a similar initiative in 2012 calling for the release of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo. “As anybody who takes the time to consult the data can easily discover, Sir Richard Roberts has a long history of working to advance social justice,” Giddings says.

There’s no question that Sir Richard Roberts transformed biology. His discovery of split-genes was a giant leap in our understanding of the way genes work, and this knowledge is the basis for important medical and agricultural advances. But it’s Roberts’ passion for humanitarian issues that might resonate most with non-scientists. As a mother, I can relate to how fatherhood has shaped his worldview. “Being a father makes one truly cognizant of the value of human life,” he says. “I always strive to help everyone I can, but especially the most vulnerable who desperately need advocates. For too long those of us who grew up in the privileged environment of the developed world have focused on ourselves and forgotten, or worse exploited, those who faced the hardships of an impoverished existence.”

This article originally appeared in Forbes as Nobel Laureate Sir Richard Roberts To Ask Religious And Government Leaders To Support GMOs and was reposted with the permission of the author.

Kavin Senapathy is a freelance writer and co-author of The Fear Babe: Shattering Vani Hari’s Glass House. The science advocate and co-founder of March Against Myths’, her interests span the human and agricultural genomics and biotechnology realms.  Follow Kavin on her science advocacy Facebook page, and Twitter @ksenapathy

232 thoughts on “Nobel laureate Richard Roberts: Opposition to GMOs is an ‘indulgence of the affluent’”

  1. Really? Golden Rice? The biggest PR boondoggle, if not outright scam, of the entire GMO narrative? Even if they do finally get it to work, after 10 years of lying about how great it is, it’s STILL an inferior alternative to readily available, traditional crops that are lower cost and less resource intensive to provide a higher quality and quantity of the deficient vitamin. Those traditional crops have been here this entire time. If a fraction of the time, effort, and money devoted to Golden Rice had been focused on these existing crops, we would be SO much farther ahead of this problem today. It would likely be completely gone.

    It started out with good intentions, but for the last 10 years it has been nothing more than a PR scam.

    “crops and foods improved through biotechnology”

    Name them. There’s a handful, primarily in relation to resistance to fungal or bacterial threats. That’s it. The net negative of the corporate GMO attempt to gain control of and monopolize the world food and seed supply is not worth this handful.

    • Bryn, spot on reply, congrats for your excellent BS, just as the first commentator on the original article had predicted:
      “I look forward to many ad hominem attacks on [the author], many unsupported and unreferenced conspiracy theories about why all those scientists are shills and you are a sell out with blood money soaking your bank account ;-)”

        • Yeah, she did it by spouting “many unsupported and unreferenced conspiracy theories”as predicted by that commentator I quoted.
          You do the same, arguing the “bad” side was “all about money” and the “good” side would do it for altruistic reasons.
          Do yourself the favour and listen to Mark Lynas’ speech on GM at the Oxfam farming conference (readily accessible on the web)

          • i said nothing about the ‘good’ side’s altruism, though some organic farmers may avoid pesticides and artificial fertilizers because they care about the environment or health, i suppose. And, no, Bryn’s response is not an example of ad hominem argument. Were i to stoop to your level of discourse, i could suggest that you could help yourself by learning about logical, ethical and emotional fallacies.

          • Thanks for your kind suggestions:) With the ad hominem you are right. I meant to say, she did as the quoted commentator predicted, namely spouting “many unsupported and unreferenced conspiracy theories”.
            You used the “money” argument on your”baddies”, which suggests – logically – the “good” guys had other motives – which you now claim to have not argued. Well, implicitly you did, or your argument was vacuous.
            Do you suggest that the 106 nobel laureates, might not have compassionate arguments?

          • “namely spouting ‘many unsupported and unreferenced conspiracy theories’.”

            Name them. I’m all ears.

          • C’mon, there is nothing but all the well-known red herrings/conspiracy fables in your posting. Listen to that Mark Lynas’ Oxfam Conference speech and get some grips on the matter:
            “Mark Lynas at 2013 Oxford Farming Conference”

          • You can’t name any specific thing I said in that context because I didn’t. Just admit you are wrong. It’s like a band-aid. It only hurts for a second.

    • Farmers have bought more GE seeds than ever during the last 10 years. They do so because they see increased crop yields with less water and soil damage. You want to argue with them?
      If you are so anti-corporate, you need to look at the $60 Billion Big Organic industry. You also need to look up the fact that Whole Foods has about the same annual revenues as Monsanto. Are you going to start carrying a sign picketing Whole Foods? Didn’t think so.
      And your arrogant assumptions that farmers “should” stick to traditional crops is highly insulting. You are a first-world yuppie with first-world white girl privilege, and you have the audacity to say what you “think” other countries should grow? You have a lot of sanctimonious attitude there, Bryn. Cultural imperialism at its most ignorant, and its most ugly.

  2. and just how is the Arctic apple going to alleviate hunger and malnutrition in 3rd-world countries? This extremely biased article is nothing but a promotion for gmo technology, which is an economic pursuit, not a humanitarian one. The pathos-laden closing paragraph, a last-ditch attempt to sway people, borders on irresponsible journalism–editorializing at its worst.

    • “Going to alleviate hunger and malnutrition in 3rd-world countries” is something No One Said Ever about these apples.
      Your anti-science invective, attempting to diminish GE to the pursuit of money only, is not an effective argument. Look instead at the desperate anti-science arguments of the $60 Billion Big Organic industry, which IS an economic pursuit of an industry greedy to claw more of the food market share through pseudoscience and demonization of anything that isn’t organic.
      If you wish to argue with these Nobel Laureates, you have the right to do so, but you look pretty silly.

      • they say this: “the role genetic engineering and newer precision breeding technologies will play to help people,” –just how is a non-browning apple, which is a cosmetic harm only, going to help people in any meaningful way? Many gmo creations fall into this category. And your straw-man demonization of organic growers as money-grubbing, ignorant slanderers is ridiculous. The gmo industry, with its main players monsanto, bayer, dow cropscience, basf and the like, is all about money. Or are you saying that the main gmo producers are doing so for humanitarian reasons? Unbelievable.

          • alfalfa, salmon, yeast, zucchini, papaya, cotton, aspartame (made with gmo bacteria).
            Thank you for pointing out my lack of examples. i should have used at least three. My bad. Now i have 8 examples :-)

          • You have 8 examples of g.e. success. Try adding papayas.Try adding the fact that pursuing profit is a ggod thing. try admitting that the Laurelists are correct instead of trying to move the goalposts.

          • And if the idiot activists permit, the orange industry might be saved from citrus greening. We can only hope.

          • Yeah, I live in Florida. Last time I read about this. ] they wanted to use a spinach gene. Yet this idiot will try to condemn even this a attempting to profit. Stupid. Keeping folks employed is humanitarian.

          • I’ll bring you a copy of War and Peace, and lunch and dinner while you wait. And wait. And wait.

          • Really, if these guys were serious about GMOs not being effective, they would go all in with their own non-GMO seed companies. They would disrupt the market and make a killing. They know that GMO seed is a hot seller for one reason, they work.

          • One of the most popular memes from the anti GMO squad is that farmers have been duped by the evil Monsanto…in other words they are too stupid to know whats good for them.

        • I work on a project using transgenic techniques to give staple crops of developing countries resistance to viruses, and to develop them to accumulate more micronutrients which the population is deficient in. This is done at a non-profit institution, and will be given away for free to farmers making less than 10K per year.

          What is unbelievable to me is that you think this is not a humanitarian effort.

        • non-browning apples mean less apples get thrown away, which means less resources (especially land and fossil fuels) spent to get the same amount of food produced, delivered, and converted into nutrition.

        • , which is a cosmetic harm only, going to help people in any meaningful way?

          Who cares?
          How do Wheels help you in any meaningful way? You could ride a donkey to work everyday. How does natural gas and electricity help you in any meaningful way? You could burn wood and coal to accomplish the same thing. Like really , i bet you have a windmill to pump your water.

          And your straw-man demonization of organic growers as money-grubbing, ignorant slanderers is ridiculous.

          Hmmm, charging 2x more for the same thing is not greedy-money grubbing in what way? Please explain that one?

          • I wasn’t even going to bother to respond to that diatribe of silliness. You certainly have a lot more patience than I do – and some great metaphoric analogies.

          • I do believe painting organic farmers with such a broad brush is harmful to your argument. Many organic farmers I have come in contact with seriously do believe that they are saving the world. They are just too ignorant to understand the damage they are doing to our soils and habitats.

            Then again, if it wasn’t intended as a marketing tool, why is it so often used as one?

          • Why would it be harmful>? They are charging 2x more for exactly the same thing, why would it be harmful to bring up this fact?

            Belief and a nickle might buy you a gumball, I am so sick and tired of people’s beliefs and ideology.

            There is no excuse for ignorance.

            Yes it is a marketing tool, and that is why the government should have never got involved.

        • Money has to be a part of it. For example, public scientists in South Africa recently developed a GE maize that is immune to Maize Streak Virus. This is a serious pathogen that in any given year can take up to 100% of the yield in any farmer’s field in Africa. However, field testing is not proceeding because it will cost about US$120 million to complete all of the testing needed to register the plant, and that level of funding is nowhere on the horizon. So, despite having a solution available, plant breeders must continue to pursue traditional breeding practice and resistance mechanisms, all of which are polygenic and complex, and have been recalcitrant to conventional plant breeding. There are other examples of similar cases where public and non-profits have developed great GE tools that are forced to die because of lack of funding. The regulatory process is very costly, and without resources to take a GE crop through the process, it can go nowhere. Someone has to be bringing in significant funds to be able to pay the costs of getting these technologies to the growers, otherwise they are dead in the water. That’s why so much biotech has come from the big ag companies. They can afford to do it.

      • the proponents of gmos say the technology is aimed at ‘alleviating hunger and malnutrition,’ and i used the gmo non-browning apple as one example (now expanded to eight) of instances where gmo products are created solely for economic purposes, and where there is little or no gain for humanity or the environment. And thank you. As you say, no one has ever said that about apples in any form. The gmo apple was designed solely for market reasons.

        • The technology is aimed at a lot of things. Non profits and universities are certainly working on projects to help grow crops in underdeveloped nations.

          You seem to be so against one use of the technology that you’re blind to all the others.

          • “Non profits and universitirpes are certainly working on projects to help grow crops in underdeveloped nations.”

            This has been going on for over ten years with Golden Rice and it is still inferior to readily available native crops. It’s not needed. It can be done more cheaply, and efficiently with available natural resources in nearly every case.

          • Inferior? Citation, please. And it’s not needed? You certainly are an arrogant little white girl first world privileged elitist. Why don’t you just call up the governments of Bangladesh and India, and tell them what you think they should be doing? See how that goes over. Your cultural imperialism and arrogance about what other countries should be doing is not only ignorant elitism, but it is highly offensive.

          • So, why couldn’t those techniques be used in conjunction with genetic engineering? They’re not mutually exclusive.

            And why is India producing their own varieties of Bt cotton and gmo eggplant and mustard?

          • I was betting that you were relying on Vandana Shiva’s lies and anti-GE advocacy for your misinformation. She gets $40,000 a pop to speak and demonize GE crops. She is truly evil. I am not surprised that she is one of your gurus is on this subject. You have lost any of your remaining credibility, not that you had any credibility in the first place, with that one citation.

          • I see when facts aren’t to your liking you try to attack the messenger. There’s a phrase for that.

            Is this a fact?
            “A whitefly epidemic has devastated the Bt cotton crop in Punjab forcing farmers to use 10-12 sprays – each costing Rs 3200. ”

            Is this a fact?
            “organic farmers in Punjab had no whitefly attack.”

            Is this a logically and scientifically valid theory?
            “A scientific approach, to what is happening in Punjab, would draw the inference that pesticides and Bt are creating pests, while non Bt seeds and organic practices are controlling them.”

            Is this agriculturally true or false?

            “Ecological science teaches us that pests are created by industrial agriculture through the following processes.

            1) Promotion of monocultures
            2) Chemical fertilisation of crops – which makes plants more vulnerable to pests
            Emergence of resistance in pests by spraying of pesticides
            3) Killing of friendly species which control pests and disruption of pest-predator balance”

            What exactly is your logical, well-cited point?

          • You’ll believe any activist nonsense you read so long as it align some with your preconceptions.

            Good luck with all that.

          • I’m still waiting for any facts at all to back up any of your statements. Not one from any of you, Full citations, studies and ag reports from me.

            You guys really have no idea how this science and critical thinking thing works, do you?

          • Facts to show you’ll believe activist nonsense? And when do you show facts that support a single thing you’ve said? So far it’s nothing but activist news articles.

          • You put these were ridiculous assertions in quotes, with no attribution. Who said them? Vandana Shiva? And do you really think the whitefly gives a damn whether the crop is genetically modified or not? You’re saying that the whitefly would actually choose the genetically modified crops and leave the Organic cotton alone? Post a citation. If it’s Vandana Shiva, I’ll laugh my butt off

          • If you really don’t know anything of the decades of studies and documentation of monoculture factory farming producing greater and greater pest and insect problems, then you are not qualified to participate in this discussion at all.

            Just leave and come back when you have at least a rudimentary education on the subject. It will be far less embarrassing for you.

          • No citations for those ridiculous quotes, then.
            Your posts are insulting to developing countries, and to scientists and farmers. Your ignorance is vast, and your citations are less than worthless. Your arrogance is consistent with your lack of knowledge. White girl privilege has you thinking you can say any old crap, without reliable citations, and get away with it.
            Post on Food Babe’s site. She will love you and you will get lots of ignorant followers who think you have special insight into what developing countries should be growing.

          • The citations are right there. Linked directly under each statement in the article. So this is how you teach students critical thinking? To blindly dispute things they have not read and not checked the sources on?

            It sounds like there are a lot of students who are owed a tuition refund. Your “critical thinking” doesn’t even reach the laughable mark.

          • Could you please provide the reference claiming that comparable organic cotton farmers had less problems with witheflies than those who planted Br cotton? This “fact” is surprising and non trivial and since neither of us resides in Punjab, is is not easily verifiable.

          • She wouldn’t, when I asked her. I looked up one of the ridiculous assertions in quotes, and sure enough, it was from Vandana Shiva. I posted that link to Shiva’s assertion in one of my responses here…

          • Bryn is not good at citing her sources. But here is the news acocount she’s referring to. Of course, these are anecdotal reports and even then, the report didn’t say non-Bt crops were uneffected. Just less effected.

            Anyone whose ever grown a crop has seen this sort of thing before…some pests prefer some varieties over others and it’s very difficult to say why. Clearly, though, if Bt cotton is nearly 100% of your crop, then regardless of what the problem is, it’s most likely to affect the Bt crop. That sort of logic seems to be lost on the ideologues, however.


          • “So, why couldn’t those techniques be used in conjunction with genetic engineering?”

            Why fix something that is not broken? Oh, to make money selling pesticides.

          • Read the articles. Learn something. Pull yourself out of your self-imposed ignorance. The current all-time (consistent) world record setting crops for rice and potatoes used no pesticides of any kind.

            Not one drop or granule.

          • The reports are irrelevant. And if you knew anything about Ag you’d have known that. People do this kind of stuff LITERALLY all the time.

            It’s irrelevant because the methods used are not scalable and not economically feasible.

            People in the US also set world record corn yields every year, but not in a way thatsfeasible on a large scale.

            But I’m sure that feasibility is of no concern to you so long as the story forwards your narrative.

          • They have been producing these results repeatedly and others have been reproducing the same results in other regions and countries.

            If you had any interest in actual facts instead of your own pre-determined internal narrative you might actually read and learn something.

            I’m not holding my breath.

          • They have been producing these results repeatedly and others have been reproducing the same results in other regions and countries.

            According to what evidence?

            Sweetheart…I deal with real farmers dealing with real farming issues every day. My whole world is nothing but facts. Where as you seem to be relying on nothing but sources that exist solely to support one system of beliefs. Trying to claim you’re the one interested in “actual facts” is laughable.

          • Jason, the facts and evidence are well documented. All you have to do is look them up.

            I could provide them to you, but I don’t believe in just handing things to people who are too lazy to get up off their ass or do a little typing on the keyboard.

            Are you the type of person who expects things to just be handed to you while you sit around and do nothing? Your behavior seems to support this perception.

            I’ll give you a hint: What is the farming method called that produced these results?

          • Bryn, dear, Google University is worth even less than Trump University. You got “facts” on your side, link them.
            Vandana Shiva? A quack, a cynical and highly paid fearmonger.

          • The articles I linked already are full of links to sources, facts, and some studies. If your reading comprehension was even good enough to perceive a person’s obvious gender, you might have followed and read some of them.

            You can lead a horse to water…

          • If you can’t tell a fact from activist propaganda, no one can help you. As Farmer Sue has said, “Your mind is slammed shut tighter than a hog’s ass at fly time.”

          • Apparently your term of endearment “dear” must speak to you sexual orientation. I’m sure it could not be a sign of you paying no attention to the details of who you’re talking to and what you are talking about.

            It’s flattering, but I’m not interested.

          • Dearie, I have no idea, or no interest, in what sex (or lack thereof) you aspire to. You certainly come across as a petulant white affluent millenial first-world privilege effete and elitist young girl. Thus, the diminutive. What you are is irrelevant. What is relevant is your adherence to quackery and cultural imperialism, your ready adoption of activist pseudoscience and pandering, and your utter disdain for farmers and science. You appear to not be interested in that, either.

          • I’m done clearly illustrating over and over how you and your buddy here are repeatedly refuting facts you know nothing about and refuse to educate yourself on when the materials to do so are handed to you on a platter.

            You can lead a horse to water… but sometimes you realize it’s just a stubborn, ignorant jackass and will never take a drink.

          • “Clearly illustrating”… you’re hilarious. The only thing you’ve illustrated is your ignorance. You’ve presented no facts that support anything you’ve said. Even though I gave you many opportunities. But it get it….ideologues hate having their ideals challenged. After all… how could you possibly be wrong? Right?

          • Ah yes… you “could” provide them but choose not to. Well, of course.

            I think we all know what that means. Good day.

          • If you’re not willing to make the slightest effort to vet facts and information for yourself, there is no purpose in my doing so for you. You will just believe whatever the next random person on the internet comes along with.

            You can’t even answer the farming method question, can you? Because you didn’t even read the articles and facts you are disputing.

            Do you know why I asked you that question in particular?

          • Oh, I vetted your “facts,” dearie. You wouldn’t disclose the attribution of your nonsense quote above. I asked if it was Vandana Shiva and you said to look it up.
            I did.
            Vandana Shiva and her quack-woo. The poster child for fake-Indian pseudoscience, who makes money from her lies. You’re okay with that, of course.

          • I provided that link a while back, directly before the quotes. The links to support each statement are in that article. Which you just linked. You really need to.

            You should really work on your reading skills. It will help you to understand this whole “science” thing. Or maybe not.

          • The reason I know you can’t back up your claims is because I have vetted the facts. I live agriculture and have for a couple decades. I’m well aware of the positives and negatives of most farming systems and deal with them all.

            So I guess I should be making the same recommendation to you. Vet the facts.

          • And still you cannot name the agricultural method used to achieve these results in the region mentioned in the article I linked, nor in other global regions.

            Because you refuse to learn and read. That is sad and pathetic.

          • Wtf are you talking about? Who gives a shìt what the “name of the agricultural method” is? You’re deflecting because you can’t back up your bull $hlt. Don’t waste my time.

          • And thus you prove my assertion that you are refuting facts and information without actually bothering to read or know anything about them.

            ~drops mic~

          • mic drop? Really? 2006 called. They want their cliché back. If you could back up anything you’ve said you would be diflecting as much as you are. We both know it so why do you bother?

          • Not broken? Are you for real? You don’t get to decide what’s broken and what’s not, you elitist tool. This technology is available to address needs. If people want to use it, they should be able to. Priveledged whities halfway across the world don’t really have a say in the matter.

            But thanks for you opinion.

          • No kidding. People trying to pretend they know what’s best for people they know nothing about and share nothing in common is yuppie privilege at its finest.

          • And why is India producing their own varieties of Bt cotton and gmo eggplant and mustard?

            Mostly because they pirated the genes from Mon/Mahyco then invalidated the patent so that the government would make money instead of Mon.

          • Well, yah…there’s that. Obviously, if they thought there was not future in biotech, they wouldn’t be spending to develope their own.

          • Kind of destroys Ted’s (et al) argument that GM cotton was a failure in India. Who will V Shiva complain about now since her own government is the one selling it to farmers?

          • I’m sure that will be conveniently ignored and she’ll find a new villain to rail against so that the donations keep pouring in.

          • Address the citations, studies and reports, not the vehicle by which they are delivered. That is science and critical thinking 101, Go back to school and learn that, then you can come talk with the adults.

          • Dearie, I teach critical thinking classes. You would not even qualify to attend my class. You can say it is science and critical thinking all you want, but that does not make it so.

          • quite interesting claim. however the article is from 2014. If it is so simple to triple or even quadruple rice yields with proper timing of irrigation and organic ferilizer with a little bit of more manual labour, one would expect that such a system will be fairly quikly adopted by other farmers as well. So there might me some reasons not reported in the guardian article, which prevent its wide adoption. What that might be?

          • Research the technique and look it up. You will find the answers to your questions. One big component is that virtually all ag research in North America and many other regions is now almost entirely dependent on funding from multi-national corporations, by one avenue or another. Technologies and techniques that don’t allow large scale sales of patented products are criminally neglected. Even actively suppressed.

          • Whether or not you realize it, that is the truth today. That’s where the money comes from if you follow it back. Whether it comes directly from them, as the funding for most GMO related studies do, or from tax money that is allocated according to legislation they lobby for with their money, the result is the same.

          • Elitist misinformation from anti-GE elitist Vandana Shiva, who sells this misinformation for big $hill buck$. Yu’ve been duped, dearie.

          • The only GMO crop grown in India at present is cotton, and it has performed very well – better than non-GE cotton in the regions where both are grown (which is one of the reasons that the Indian government is clashing with Monsanto about fixing seed prices). GE mustard has just been approved, and GE brinjal’s registration is currently open for public comment, but it is doing exceptionally well in Bangladesh on the limited acres on which it is grown (seed propagation is limiting its spread, but growers want it as fast as the seed is available – and it wasn’t developed by a corporation). So there isn’t much comparison to be made between GE crops and non-GE crops in India yet.

            The Guardian article quotes Jaisingh Gnanadurai, joint director of agriculture in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, as saying that their goal is to double the yields and triple grower income. Unfortunately, that math doesn’t add up, and also completely ignores the impact of significantly increasing local yields on crop prices. It would be nice if that were true, but alas, it doesn’t work that way. Nevertheless, the SRI method has been effective. You can learn more about here: Perhaps the greatest problem with the SRI is the great demand for labor. In Asia and Africa, as in the Americas, more and more people are leaving the farm/village to seek opportunities in cities, diminishing the labor pool. Also, the prevalence of debilitating diseases like malaria and dengue wreak havoc on poor farming families in tropical/subtropical regions of the world by disabling critical labor. Mechanization has its advantages.

            But as one person in the Guardian article pointed out, one grower producing a massive yield once using unsustainable practices is not something to get excited about when it is in a nation with 1.25 billion mouths to feed. Outliers are interesting, but they tend to be inconsistent and anomalous. To truly feed the many people who suffer from food insecurity will require a suite of actions, such as SRI and GE crops.

          • no synthetic fertilizers,

            reading is crucial:
            “topped up the nutrient supply with inorganic fertiliser. ”

            no pesticides at all.

            Neither article says no pesticides were used

            Also of note: “This week SRI International played down the bumper yield in Tamil Nadu, saying not too much notice should be paid to statistical “outliers”. “[It is] averages that feed hungry people and raise farmers out of poverty, not records,” said Norman Uphoff, professor of international agriculture at Cornell.”

          • Golden Rice is an inferior solution and product to an existing problem and has simply served as a “Look how great this is! You must be evil for trash-talking GMOs if you want children to go blind” false flag for the commercial, pesticide producing industry for ten years.

            “The latest available trial in the Phillipines found that Golden rice strains perform systematically worse than regular rice strains, under some conditions up to forty percent.”

            “This means that feeding a child 100 grams of Golden rice would deliver 0.616 milligram of beta carotene. In comparison, eating 100 grams of carrot would deliver a child 8.285 milligram of beta carotene. Sweet potato, baked with the skin, would deliver a child 11.5 milligram of beta carotene.”


          • Who cares if golden rice fails or succeeds? Does one small use of a broad technology mean that the technology has no value?

            Your argument is really weak.

          • Yeah thats your answer…let em eat carrots. Well I’ve lived and worked in the rural barrios in the Philippines and I’d like to know how you intend to make sure that happens. Oh maybe the Guardian will tell you.

          • The carrots were used as an example to provide scale of the nutrient, not to suggest they should be growing carrots. The sweet potatoes are mentioned as a simple and immediately viable solution.

            Try engaging your brain before reading and typing. It works better that way.

          • Ok let em eat sweet pots. Do you have any idea of the exigencies of food distribution in these countries? Rice is the natural vehicle for this trait because its the staple crop. You do know what that means don’t you?

          • She really does have no idea. She is a yuppie elitist first world spoiled white girl with arrogant views about how other countries should feed their populace. Vandana Shiva is her guru, And she quotes Shiva’s well known lies. Disdain for science, distain for farmers, distain for citizens. The very definition of an ugly cultural imperialist, without the bindi.

          • Do you want to solve the problem or just keep the money flowing to play with tech toys? Even if Golden Rice worked, the crops produce ~40% less per hectare. Time to give up on a failed, long ago corrupted dream and do something simple which will work.

          • I would gladly put my trust in IRRI to resolve that issue, not you….which reminds me, IRRI is a non profit organization so I don’t know why you keep ranting about money flow.

          • Then you haven’t been reading and comprehending what I have been saying or are ignorant of the bigger picture involved over the last decade.

          • I don’t care about your paranoid view of the “bigger picture”. The fact is that Golden Rice is being developed by IRRI. Monsanto, Syngenta et al provided freedom to operate under any relevant patents gratis aka they donated intellectual property to the cause. I can’t figure out what the hell your problem is with this.

          • Awwwww, Bryn, you said you were done wasting your time on this site. You just can’t stay away from good science, can you? Keep reading. You might learn something.

          • Straight out of Vandana Shiva’s shill book of lies about biotech. You’ve been duped and punked big time, dearie.

            For curious readers: Here is a list of scholarly articles (not from Vandana Shiva, not from Google Activist University) on the benefits and efficacy of golden rice:

            Bryn, dear, go back to Starbucks, get a latte, open up your (big corporation developed) laptop, and whip up some more misinformation and lies about “corruption” in developing countries. Your arrogance about what developing countries “should” do is appalling. Your white-girl first-world privileged elitism is truly disgusting.

          • She’s gotten her answers from elitist food demagogue Vandana Shiva, and she has zero information about farming other than that, either in India or in the U .S. She is a sad misled one trick pony.

          • Quotes directly shilled from quack Vandana Shiva, well-known anti-GE activist who gets paid $40k a pop to “testify” against biotechnology.

          • “Not needed” says the well fed white person.

            And no… it can not be done more cheaply and efficiently with naturally resources. Why the hell do you think genetic engineering has taken off like it has?

          • “Not needed” is an irrelevant non-argument. Businesses do not have to be needed. Go cry about the fashion or cosmetics industries.

        • The technology is not aimed at ‘alleviating hunger and malnutrition,’, it can be used to help reach these goals. I am sure you understand the difference. Currently it is used mostly by profit making entities in crops and traits tailored to the needs of rich farmers in dveloped world. The question is how to make this woderful technology available also for humanitarian purposes. Current GMO-regulations are the major roadblock.

          • “Current GMO-regulations are the major roadblock.”

            How do regulations that allow for the introduction of new GE foods into the supermarkets without a single feeding trial or safety study of any kind provide a roadblock?

          • So is there any GM crop variety currently on the market that did not went through safety study and feeding trials? Or let me put it other way – is there any novel crop variety developed through so called conventional methods that was safety tested and went through feeding trials?

          • The Arctic Apples recently approved for sale have had no feeding trials or safety testing of any kind. Do you really not know this?

            Conventional crops have millennia of history and experience telling us what to expect. They can only involve the same species,. Neither of these things are true of GMOs.

          • Your ignorance is excusable. Your lack of interest in remedying that is not.
            Read up on genetic engineering. An excellent book that discusses GE, organic, and safety is “Tomorrow’s Table,” written by genetic researcher Pamela Ronald and her organic farmer husband Raul Adamchak.

          • Conventional crops are not as old as you think they are. Blueberries are only 100 years old. Brassicas only began to be cultivated into different varieties a few hundfred years ago. New “miracle” cures and “superfoods” regularly show up on our supermarket shelves.

            Bananas, apples, corn,and even wheat (our oldest crop) are drastically different then they were a few hundred years ago.

            And even if they were not, we know that certain foods contain certain compounds which are, over the long term, not good for us, but they were cultivated by our ancestors because these effects were not readily apparent.

            Sounds a lot like the case you are making against GMOs.

          • What do you mean not even close? You mean the blueberry hybrid that is sold in stores is not 100 years old or that it is much older? What I stated were facts. If you disagree you need to be specific, not “here’s an article, do your own research” because that is a bunch of bull.

          • What she means is, that interpretation doesn’t strengthen her stance, therefore it absolutely must be wrong in some way, facts be damned.

          • She skipped her high school science classes and now she is mad and petulant that her non-science has been exposed. Cognitive bias.

          • “do your own research is a bunch of bull.”

            Good to know you’re one of those lazy asses that expect to have everything handed to them while you just sit around. I choose not to enable your type.

          • In other words, you don’t know what you are talking about. Because if you did you could inform me. Exactly where do I begin to do my own research on made up facts and science.

            I certainly did read the article, and he gave no proof for what he said. He just wanted to sell books (and I gather from your posts, you want to sell his books as well).

            EDIT: I didn’t say doing your own research is bull, you selectively cut words form my quote, you dishonest, ignoramus.

          • Yes, you actually did say that clearly, in context. Perhaps you made a simple mistake and misspoke (typed), but that’s on you and, if so, you refuse to acknowledge that. It’s clearly visible, right above these comments, for god’s sake. Why try to pull a Trump and deny plainly visible facts??

            It’s not my job to walk you through, step by step, the various links and information sources I have already provided you. It would also be stupid of me. You clearly have an internal narrative on this subject that no amount of any source of new information will change. This is clear because you refuse to look at any sources of information that might possibly contradict elements of your internal narrative. I am through wasting my time on you.

          • Good news! Please tell us you’re through wasting your time on all of us. The article above refers to you specifically. Indulgence of the affluent. Go get yourself a manicure and a Starbucks and feel indulgent.

          • No, it is your job to tell me what is not “even close” and why. I have done research, the blueberry turned 100 years old this year.

            And no, as anyone can plainly see by reading my posts, I did not say that one should not do their own research, I said you can’t expect me to do research to back up your claim. If you can’t prove to me that you have even a preliminary understanding of why you disagree and where I can find proof of said disagreement, you may want to rethink why you disagree in the first place.

            In other words, you are the one being lazy in your reasoning. You really, really want to be right so you ignore the obviousness of your wrongness.

          • Lol “Altered Genes, Twisted Truth.”

            Because when I want to know about science, I go to a cherry-picking lawyer who’s a founding member of a TM cult institution.

            What a joke.

          • That interview is packed with links to source material of the subjects discussed. But I guess you consider any opinions that differ from yours “a joke”, regardless of the source material that forms those opinions.

            Notice I said “give you perspective.” What are you so afraid of or threatened by learning about another perspective on the issue and the information that forms it? Why do you need to resort to a straw man fallacy to avoid gathering new information?

          • Not “threatened” by another perspective, dearie, just rejecting it. It’s pseudoscience. Quackery. Bogus. Woo. Garbage.

          • I love this assumption that anyone that holds an opinion different from you just hasn’t reviewed the sources you have. Trust me, I’ve seen the referenced material.

            And please point out my straw man. You are the one that referenced the book. Responding to that reference isn’t a straw man.

            Here’s what a straw man is, direct from your article:
            “For proponents, GMOs are a magic bullet to cure world hunger. For opponents, these are ‘frankenfoods’ that will poison us. Is there any middle ground?”

            That’s never been the stance of proponents. Tool in the toolbox =/= “magic bullet.”

          • “Too many of the proponents of GMOs are not speaking as scientists, but as spin-doctors.”

            My favorite part.

          • She must get two cents for every book she sells. She sure refers to it a lot. She must have enough by now to buy a manicure. Pretty slim pickings here though, I would think.

          • Your article provides no evidence that there is any harm from growing or consuming gmo foods. Like Druckers book it does nothing but cast doubt in order to create fear in the reader. To those who are easily fooled, it looks as though it is a well referenced piece. However, read it more closely. Where is the evidence that any of the conclusions on gmo crop safety are incorrect?

          • Great question, Tomas. Don’t expect a coherent answer from her, though.
            For other readers: thousands of products created in a lab through mutagenesis, including organic ruby red grapefruit, have not been through any feeding trials, testing, regulation, or oversight. GE foods are the most highly tested foods on the market.

          • What on earth are you talking about? All transgenes must be fully characterized and if they express a protein that protein must go thru rigourous testing for toxicity and allergenicity. The regulatory protocols for the approval of transgenes are extensive and take years to complete. What exactly do you think a GMO transgene is composed of? In the absence of some specific and identifiable protein what could possibly make those sequences of nucleotides toxic?

          • The regulatory protocols are essentially written by the corporations making the products. They are just extensive enough to provide a high monetary bar to protect their market from smaller companies, but designed in a way that they can get nearly anything they want approved.

            Are you really this ignorant of this industry and who runs it?

          • Bullshit. The protocols are written by the USDA, EPA and FDA and are based on a framework clearly articulated by the WHO and FAO back in 1991, a framework which is used by all sovereign regulatory agencies in the developed world.

          • And how exactly do those protocols allow a completely untested new GE product with no independent studies of any kind directly into the food supply? Or allow a GE product that needs significant amounts of a proprietary pesticide formulation to obtain approval when the pesticide formulation has never had a single human or animal study or trial?

            Not one.

            FYI, the revolving door of Congress, lobbyists, Monsanto, EPA and FDA jobs and payoffs has been spinning since long before 1991. They’ve been mostly calling the shots on that legislation for a long time now. It started getting entrenched in the 70’s and 80’s.

            History is important. It tells us many things about our present. Educate yourself.

          • Untested? Why don’t you do some research and see what kind of tests GMO transgenes are subjected to. And what “proprietary pesticide formulation” are you talking about? Roundup? That’s only the most rigorously tested chemical in history. Get real and do some homework.

          • And glyphosate (Roundup) is now off-patent, so her big ole conspiracy theory about “proprietary” is busted.
            I’ve told her seeds have been patented since 1930, so “proprietary” is not a GE issue.
            I’ve referred her to
            I’ve referred her to books on how GE’s are created, such as “Tomorrow’s Table.”
            She’s had plenty of good science presented here, which she has totally ignored. She keeps coming back with totally unverified claims that she’s shilled directly from Vandana Shiva’s webcrap.
            I’ve asked her how she is comfortable with zero testing on foods, including organic, that scrambles genes randomly through mutagenesis, but since that isn’t covered in her activist playbook, or Vandana Shiva’s either, the response has been predictably … crickets.

          • Appears to be a or Food Babe type troll. Completely impervious to reason. Shiva is a hack, nothing more elegant than that.

          • lol. you definitely didn’t read the thread–the ‘eight’ referred to were eight examples of gmo products developed entirely for market reasons–in other words, products that will do nothing to alleviate world hunger, despite the claim in the article that “the GMO issue is “one of the most worthy causes for the future of humanity that I can think of.”

          • eight examples of gmo products developed entirely for market reasons-

            Care to enlighten me what the “market reasons” are behind – GM Mustard, Brinjal (eggplant), Papaya, Squash, Banana and Cassava – please?

          • the examples i used were: alfalfa, salmon, yeast, zucchini, papaya, cotton, aspartame (made with gmo bacteria). There is no reason to genetically modify alfalfa, salmon, or yeast, as the natural versions are very hardy. Aspartame is just plain unnecessary and toxic. Zucchini, cotton and papaya modification were done for commercial farming purposes.

          • i used were: alfalfa, salmon, yeast, zucchini, papaya, cotton, aspartame (made with gmo bacteria).

            And? It must be buried down in the thread somewhere. Hardly an exhaustive list.

            There is no reason to genetically modify alfalfa, salmon, or yeast, as the natural versions are very hardy

            They weren’t modified for hardiness, so that is a shit argument.

            Zucchini, cotton and papaya modification were done for commercial farming purposes.

            Cotton, yes. Zucchini was to control wilt without using insecticides. One would think less insecticides would be a good thing, apparently not. Papaya was to control ringspot virus which was decimating Hawaiian papaya (and is now problematic in Thailand and Brazil, but whatever). I guess Hawaiian papaya farmers don’t need to make a living.

  3. Not as much insecticide, in some cases, but the increases in herbicides overcomes that reduction many, many times over. And it keeps growing as herbicide resistant weeds proliferate. That’s not even accounting for the new D-2,4 resistant crops that have been approved that will continue to have the same amount of glyphosate sprayed on them AND have an additional ~50% D-2,4 sprayed on top of that.

    • Resistant to more herbicides, providing a greater time until the unwanted plants evolve resistances? Sounds good to me. Very similar to triple antibiotic ointments. Overall, though, organic crops use much more herbicides and more toxic ones at that.
      As people have pointed out, the techniques for those records are unfeasible for a commercial scale, and thus herbicides and pesticides must be used. After all, pulling out the weeds is much more effective, but not when there are millions of them.

      • “…organic crops use much more herbicides and more toxic ones at that.”

        Completely false narrative. Are you that ignorant of this subject, or just intentionally lying?

        • That is correct — organic farmers are stuck using more toxic chemicals, with much more water use (and more runoff), more tilling of the soil, with less effective weed and insect control.
          You should take off your stilettos and go out into the field and pick weeds for a day or a season. Of course, you’d have to put down your latte and your cellphone, and you’d wreck your manicure.

          • Your commitment to remaining willfully ignorant to so many things by avoiding any reading or information gathering is impressive. At least I can admire your dedication to consistency. :)

        • “A recent study compared the effectiveness of a rotenone-pyrethrin mixture versus a synthetic pesticide, imidan. Rotenone and pyrethrin are two common organic pesticides; imidan is considered a “soft” synthetic pesticide (i.e., designed to have a brief lifetime after application, and other traits that minimize unwanted effects). It was found that up to 7 applications of the rotenone- pyrethrin mixture were required to obtain the level of protection provided by 2 applications of imidan.

          It seems unlikely that 7 applications of rotenone and pyrethrin are really better for the environment than 2 applications of imidan, especially when rotenone is extremely toxic to fish and other aquatic life.”

  4. The bottom line is they are nearly never necessary in their current form, and simply serve to provide a revenue stream for the sale of pesticides which we all have to live with in our food supply and environment.

    All this while all-time record setting crops are being produced with zero synthetic fertilizers and zero pesticides of any kind.

  5. “The latest available trial in the Phillipines found that Golden rice strains perform systematically worse than regular rice strains, under some conditions up to forty percent.”

    “This means that feeding a child 100 grams of Golden rice would deliver 0.616 milligram of beta carotene. In comparison, eating 100 grams of carrot would deliver a child 8.285 milligram of beta carotene. Sweet potato, baked with the skin, would deliver a child 11.5 milligram of beta carotene.”

    • An interesting read for sure. The sources of information for the sweet potato facts check out, but one of the links for the Golden Rice statistics does not work. The other is behind a paywall. If you can find the true link for those trials, I’d like to read it. But until then, I can’t trust that those statistics are accurate.
      I didn’t have enough time to read the full sweet potato reports, but you might have. Did they say anything about whether the sweet potatoes could live in the third world countries’ climates and whether the sweet potato would produce enough calories?

  6. More information about Vandana Shiva and other pseudoscience anti-GE writers can be found in Kavin Senapathy’s excellent book, “Fear Babe,” which addresses the scientific evidence surrounding GE safety and sustainability, and also addresses the methods and motives of anti-GE protesters who have activist agendas.

  7. @agscienceliterate…. Hate to play the devil’s advocate here, but take umbrage with your comment “The Guardian is not a reliable source of info..” The Guardian is a well respected news organization world-wide; it has been my daily of choice since the 1980’s…. Not at all a fair or “literate” comment. How often do you take/read it?

    • For those of us who made our lives and careers in farming and agriculture I think its quite obvious that the Guardian has a pretty clear point of view on the subject, a point of view which is more aligned with HRH Charles, in other words, daft!

      • @ Agiuerre 15…. They do cover both sides, but have read many fair articles which put fourth both opponents concerns… I have many conversations w/ a close German friend who used to make her living in Ag in South America, we have friendly discourse and a healthy exchange of ideas…Sometimes we agree to disagree! Perhaps many here are too emotional and that makes sense as it is your current livliehood. I’m merely a sales rep, and not a scientist. The Guardian is trustworthy, They did not falsify the information, and think many can sift through articles, run the grist through their own mills, and decide for themselves. It’s not as if the article came out of The Daily Mail! Re: Agscienceliterate’s comment, I do not blindly follow any source for the POV, just the topics and overview; I take news and information from varied sources as most people do, and make up my own mind accordingly. Many here need to take a step or two back, take a deep breath, and refrain from being so reactionary, it’s a turn-off regardless of one’s POV…. I thoroughly enjoy this website as one of my sources, and relish the discussion too. When things are too close to home, many of us do not REALLY listen to our opponents comments, or read between the lines. Really people should be welcomed on this forum, even if they make their living in other arenas. A healthy discourse and warmer mental climate might further some education here. When I read response from those who turn rabid, it is disappointing. Maybe a bit more noblesse oblige from the scientists and Ag Pros toward those like Brynn/Bronwen…. Suggesting she/he ought to complain about cosmetics or fashion was ridiculously off-topic. The Brynn photo was of a bloke skateboarding…. Let’s pay more attention to details here, if those “female” allusions, and chauvinistic comments were not slurs toward someone whom you thought to be male, evidences my point that there is a plethora of reactionary rabid rapid responsa here! Too much assuming of others’ perspectives too…. i.e. myself: I am not anti-GE, Do not ALWAYS seek organic foods, and am no health nut; I still enjoy tobacco, adore red meat, and am quite fond of my scotch, gin martinis, and cocktails…. Love food and cooking,can be pickey about certain food/produce, but think many things are a marketing ploy, too spendy, and a hoax…. On many topics, I’ve changed my initial opinion too…. some from things I’ve gleaned from many of the great articles and abstracts here on GLP…. I do believe there are other open-minded folk reading here! Stop putting people and news sources in boxes! Let’s ALL try to raise the bar here, and strive to stick to formal refutations, attacking faulty logic, exposing psuedo-science, and try to be enlightening! One gets more bees with honey than vinegar and neonicotinoids!

        • I find your high mindedness to be interesting but i can’t tell whether it is feigned or sincere so I’ll simply say that if you have no problem with GMO’s, red meat and adult beverages you will get no argument from me. Having said that and having devoted much of my career to the development of ag technology I will most vigourously push back on fearmongers like Bryn and others who simply traffic in falsehoods and conspiracy theories.

          • @Aguirre… My high-mindedness is not feigned; I’m just a bit odd that way…prob over-educated for my station as well… freely admit to @ times guilty of a false sense of mastery of some science, compared to the professionals. This argument in particular seems easy, the usual suspects of their fears are not present here, so don’t understand why the Golden Rice cannot be tried, in combination w/ say “Vit tablets” & some other produce…I love rice as many do, but usually it gets a bad rap from a nutritionist’s POV, esp the white varieties. One should think any augmentation of its nutrition profile would be only a positive. Many types of rice in the west are sprayed w/ synthetic vitamins… Asia, not so much. The practice of washing this sort of rice negates its enrichment as well, so having the beta-carotene and Vit A intrinsic seems better for ALL rice-eaters, not just the poor, blind, and hungry!

          • In this case (Golden Rice) I will note and applaud your open mindedness…and I don’t think its feigned ;-)

    • Additionally, Nigel, you may blindly follow the Guardian, but then again you have already shown your biases in this comment, from you two years ago on another GLP topic, about the GLP:

      “This website [GLP] is just as fanatical about selling GMO’s to the public as some Green/ Organic sites are trying to prevent companies from creating these organisms.”

      So I am further doubting your ability to assess whether a news source provides accurate, reliable, scientific, and unbiased information.

      • I am not biased, as I have stated before I support the Golden Rice, even if for its traits alone.. sans altruistic MO….esp the colour… I would buy it! Think the colour makes it more visually appealing; I usually add powdered chicken broth concentrate and turmeric to my rice when I don’t have saffron on hand, or achiote… Vit A is very good for our skin too. Several of The Guardian’s other articles actually made Zac Goldsmith look to be the zealot he is, and in point of facts, the article had featured another’s cauionary opinion that the yield was impressive, but averages need to be impressive to make a real difference…i.e OUTLIER… I say feed them carrots AND the rice, as it a staple, and they need carbs for their manual labour & lifestyle… Far too many carrots may make them turn Trumpian orange to boot! The Guardian does favour a labour and LD POV…. Sorry, I am not a Tory sympathiser…. That aside, I defend The Guardian as a great newspaper, and believe it to reliable, albeit it is NOT a scientific journal or magazine, it is respected as a reliable source of info. What it may lack in thouroghness, or scientific scrutiny, it more than makes up for that with its intellectual breadth. It was stated several times in the article that the impressive yields need to be verified… Also further down in tbe blog portion, there were many fair and balanced supportive comments….Let’s try to impress and convince others of its merits, point out to them they have nothing to FEAR, and once those fears are allayed, they may be more open to learning about it’s traits…It does NOT create nor produce BT, or other intrinsic “insecticide” as they see the CRY protein, It does not have the “Round-up-Ready” capacity either…. Please correct me if I am wrong, but to my knowledge there is no transgenic DNA present. Think with a better approach, this one may be more easily won…. Re: the intensive approach, they did admit that chemical fertilizer was employed, and they did not say the approach was completely organic either…Think with any intellectual argument, name calling, condescending, and angering one’s opponent is an energy leak. I use a traditional sales approach to these GE arguments: begin with the objection (s), no matter how obtuse they may seem, then overcome them one by one. I wish someone would hire/pay me to “schill”, if I may use that as a verb. Not accusing you personally of being one to be clear, and though I do not believe everyone on here is, I probably could be more effective than many here! When I believe in something, I can argue it to the death, but think I remain unemotional and respectful in my arguments. It’s vaguely reminiscent of one of Monsanto’s former executives, admitting they could have, and probably should have gone about PR, and an educational outreach a different way. Sorry I digress, but believe Bryn or Bronwen, he/she is one in the same person, wyn being the masculine, wen being the female…. Bryn can be a nickname for Bronwyn…I found it quite ironic you accused her of being white/privileged/imperialistic…. you lost a great oppurtunity to be gracious, and e-d-u-m-a-c-a-t-e! Perhaps we should acknowledge the possible synergy of the two approaches, as rice is so central to Asian cultures, surely they have specific empirical evidence in their part of the world, since rice is their staff of life. It could easily/equally be argued that the other model alone, is imperialistic, esp from an Anglo-American perspective…. Furthermore, additional irony is to be found in your opponents name, as in Welsh, it means white, fair breasted! We cannot make enemies with those we argue with, as they shall never give us their attention when we disrespect them, no matter how trivial or silly their objections may seem. I wish people can make traction with Golden Rice, as well as other good GE technologies…. I also applaud Owen Patterson for saying those who support Goldsmith’s views are shameful in their behaviour, and misguided efforts. Also pls read the “GM” response, by Adrian Dubock in The Guardian, 4 Nov 2013… may change your opinion of the paper….

  8. Nothing like institutional condescension to add fuel to the fire, a modern-day Witch burning with a team of Nobel Science play-by-play moderators.

    Those anti-science food aristocrats who decry the high prices of pesticide-free non-GMO food options, or refuse to partake in the generally recognized as safe pesticide payload, surely are wealthy beyond avarice! Their idle time and wealth are a force to be reckoned with, especially when fighting against industrial Ag orthodoxy and the scientific societies and tenured academicians upon which everything inter-depends. It takes affluence to fight affluence, right.

      • Your worldview casts any and all opposition as pseudoscience. Only GMO science, rich with its corporate-institutional research endowment, holds your obedience and loyalties. And for your GMO science, show me all that science that proves that the human gut biome is uneffected and allergenicity is not an issue from ingesting GMO ingredients. …because it doesn’t exist.

        • Why don’t you check with the FDA, USDA and EPA.?All expressed proteins from GM sequences are required to be fully characterized and tested for allergenicity. Beyond that the mere presence of a gene sequence is completely innocuous.

          • And if you’d read the studies themselves you’d seen that allergenicity cannot be generally characterized because every individual has their own particular immune system function. And you can’t test for GM expression given all the epi-genetic outcomes. And only a GM hack would characterize the outcome of their population experiment as being “innocuous.”

          • Bullshit. High methionine soybeans utilizing a brazil nut gene, were kept off the market because of allergenicty risk and Starlink corn was kept out of the food chain and ultimately taken off the market completely on the mere suspicion it might have been allergenic. Our regulatory system knows what its doing, your incessant and childish fearmongering notwihstanding.

    • I love how the anti-science side has suddenly decided that they are the science side and the guys that do research, study, and understand biology, chemistry, genetics, etc. are the anti-science guys.

    • The internet is not needed. We can communicate and present information in other ways, it brings nothing necessary to the party.

      Cars are not needed. We can transport ourselves in other ways, they bring nothing necessary to the party.

      Stoves are not needed, we can make heat for cooking in other ways, they bring nothing necessary to the party.

      Bags are not needed, we can carry items in other ways, they bring nothing necessary to the party.

      Pens are not needed, we can create markings in other ways, they bring nothing necessary to the party.

      Processed metal is not needed, we can build structure in other ways, it brings nothing necessary to the party.

      • Your ability to misuse and misunderstand words and remain ignorant to the most basic and obvious elements of the subject you are commenting on has reached a new pinnacle with this comment. You’re done. There is nothing left to strive for.

        • No science from you. Ever. Just little girl arrogant petulance. High opinion of yourself, telling other countries what they ought to be doing. Do you have any idea how disgusting that is?
          Yeah, there is nothing left for you to strive for. You’ve gone about as far as you can go.

      • And thanks to Monsanto they can’t easily decide that. Are you unaware how Monsanto intentionally and systematically destroyed the seed sorting/saving small business industry across the USA? There are very few choices for small farmers today.

        • Your ignorance is appalling. There’s nothing illegal with seed saving. Many seeds however are patented, and have been patented since 1930. You cannot legally save and replanted patented seeds. You’re mixing all kinds of misinformation. I thought you left the site. Why are you still here? Go get yourself a manicure and think about how other countries should farm the way you think they should.

          • You are the one who is completely ignorant on this subject. And I never said anything about it being illegal to save seeds.

            Don’t you ever get tired of spouting opinions about things of which you know absolutely nothing about?

            These were not just the farmers who may have gotten some pollen drift. This 410 number includes nearly every independent seed saving business that used to drive around after harvest time and run a farmer’s seeds through their equipment for a reasonable fee. The equipment to do this for small farms was just large enough to not be cost effective for farms to own it themselves. It was a niche business of a guy in his pickup with a trailer behind him providing this service.

            Monsanto threatened all the seed separators with legal fees or dragged them into court and destroyed this entire business segment. This forced the farmers to buy their seed from vendors, who were limiting the choices more and more as Monsanto et al took over more and more of the entire seed market.


          • It is illegal to save and reuse Monsanto or Syngenta seeds. They are patented. What part of this fact do you not understand?
            Hybrid seeds have been patented since 1930. You’re not allowed to use patented seeds without permission. What part of this fact do you not understand?
            Go get a manicure and get your hair done. You’re way out of your league here.

          • This forced the farmers to buy their seed from vendors

            Oh brother.
            “Although people associate the prohibition of keeping seed and reusing it the following production year, the reality is that this practice went out the window with the advent of hybrid varieties in the 1930’s. ”
            “By the time Monsanto got into the seed business, most farmers in the U.S. and Europe were already relying on seed that they bought every year from older seed companies. This is especially true of corn farmers, who’ve been growing almost exclusively commercial hybrids for more than half a century. ”

          • Hey! I have a great idea! How about you actually ask a farmer if they’re “forced” to buy GE seeds?
            Naaaah, you wouldn’t do that. Much more fun for you to speculate wildly then to actually learn something from legit sources other than the guardian, for god’s sake.
            Ignorance does not look good on you.
            What a total joke you are.

          • Bryn….I’ve been in the seed business for over 20 years now. I can tell you all about seed cleaners. Monsanto didn’t put them out of business. Progress did. Just like what happened with corn seeds, farmers began to find value is professionally grown, patented soybean seeds. They continued to repurchase those seeds and in time, there was no need for a cleaner.

            Farmers didn’t have to keep buying patented seeds. They could have happily continued to buy unpatented varieties and the few farmers that saved their own seeds could have continued to do so. But they chose not to.

            Yes, Monsanto sued a few cleaners that facilitated farmers who wanted to cheat the system. One of the most famous, Moe Parr, happened right here in my home town. So I’m quite familiar with what happened. He was turned in by the farmers in our area who thought it was unfair that they played by the rules while he cheated them.

            It’s not the “helpless little man vs big bad company” story that you seem to want to believe.

          • Monsanto sued or threatened to sue all of the cleaners, no matter who they serviced. They intentionally and systematically drove them all out of business.

          • Bryn… that is not true. Monsanto sued or threatened to sue the people that were cleaning patented beans. Period. The farmers growing non-patented beans were few enough that it wasn’t worth staying in business if you were a cleaner.

            Bryn, I was there and I’m still in the seed business. You’re gonna have to trust me here. Your activist websites are not doing you justice.

          • Where the heck do you continue to get this outrageous information? You never post a citation. Do you make this up? Do people tell you this? Do you get this from some activist website? Vandana Shiva? Why do you believe it?
            And I thought you were tired of all of our posts. I thought you were leaving. Why are you still here? Go get a manicure.

          • My mistake. I realize that story fits your narrative much better than the one I told. I shouldn’t have tried to explain to you how this really happened. I’ll do better next time.

          • Good god, look who the Guardian sourced in this article. Its pure propaganda….Oh and BTW Bowman LOST his case, didn’t he?

        • You are so completely obtuse. You really don’t think farmers know what a grower license agreement/contract is? You think they are stupid? Your arrogance is beyond belief.

        • Wrong, the small seed guys couldn’t compete with Monsanto mainly because of regulatory reasons. They couldn’t pay for testing and Monsanto and others were able to capture market share since they had superior seeds.

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