How 2016 Transformed The GMO Debate And Paved The Way For Consumer Acceptance

David Ropeik, instructor in the Environmental Studies Program, Harvard Extension School | March 8, 2017

HIGHLIGHTS:

• 2017 may be a turning point in public acceptance of GE foods
• Federal law requiring labeling of GE foods defused opponents key issue
• Labels on many popular items unlikely to scare consumers away
• Gene editing, new scientific techniques undercut claims GE foods unsafe because they are unnatural
• Media criticism of ‘science denial’ of GE opponents likely to increase


Earlier that day, the four friends had played a round of golf. It had been baking hot for a month but the grass on the course was still green. Afterwards they had cooled off with papaya smoothies in the club house, and then headed back to Arthur and Felicia’s place for dinner. Now they were clearing the table.

“The salmon was great, hon,” said Felicia. “Firm. Fresh.”

“I got it at Bounty of the Sea,” Arthur replied. “They have the best stuff. Farmed, but so fresh.”

“The potatoes au gratin were great too,” said Phyllis, one of the guests. “Crisp, clean, almost sweet!”

“And the apple pie!?” said Latrell, Phyllis’ boyfriend. “To DIE for! So juicy. It’s not even apple season. Where’d you get such fresh stuff?”

“Whole Fruits,” Arthur replied. “They fly in fresh produce from all over the world.”

Salmon. Potatoes au gratin. Apple pie a la mode. A delicious meal. And all of it the product of genetic engineering (GE): the AquaAdvantage salmon, approved in Canada a few years ago and now in the U.S. and many countries, an Atlantic salmon genetically modified to include a growth gene from another salmon species so it will grow faster, need less food, produce less waste, and reduce the cost to consumers; the Innate potatoes, a hybrid created not by adding a gene but simply by turning one off to prevent the potatoes from bruising and turning brown when they’re dropped, and made in cheese curdled with chymosin protein taken not from a calf’s liver but by splicing the gene from the calf that produces it into bacteria that then churn out mass quantities of that same natural protein; non-bruising Arctic apples that use the same genetic modification used in the potatoes, fresh although they had to be shipped from New Zealand; served with ice cream from cows fed on “Bt” corn that had been genetically altered to carry a gene from a bacterium that produces a natural insect repellant frequently used on organic farms.

And that was after a round of golf on grass created with biotechnology by splicing genes from various types of grass into a hybrid that stays green even though it requires less water, fertilizer, and grows more slowly so it needs less mowing. Followed by smoothies made from genetically modified papayas from Hawaii, where the insertion of a gene from a virus that was threatening to wipe out the plant essentially vaccinated the plant against that virus, saving the entire papaya industry in Hawaii.

Arthur and Felicia, Phyllis and Latrell, had truly had a GE day. The interesting thing was, they neither knew, nor cared.

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Only a few years before, the whole idea of creating new hybrid plants and animals by genetic engineering had been a controversial issue. That controversy had been driven in large measure by environmentalists who worried about what tinkering with genes would do to human and environmental health and by the organic food industry that wanted to protect their approach to agriculture, and their profits. Frankenfoods, these GE products were called. Dangerous. Unnatural. Genetic engineering, opponents ominously warned, was like “playing god.” These crops, they said, were the spawn of the commercial agriculture industry, mass scale agriculture that was ruining the natural world. Mega corporations like the great industrial Satan Monsanto were threatening human and environmental health, GE opponents warned, by creating whole new species in the laboratory, not the garden, taking genes from one species and sticking them in another, producing transgenic hybrids that Mother Nature could never create.

It was a passionate campaign to stigmatize the whole concept of genetically modified foods as dangerous, in order to kill an entire technology that deeply offended strongly held values and beliefs. And the fears of this “unnatural” process resonated with a public already concerned about the damage that many modern technologies, and corporations, had done to the natural world.

The seed companies and farmers and food producers who benefited financially from GMOs—genetically modified organisms—fought the fearmongering with public relations campaigns and lobbying in Washington D.C. and state capitals, and massive spending to defeat the laws that opponents proposed to try to kill what the supporters of genetic engineering preferred to call agricultural biotechnology.

The scientists that had helped develop these powerful biotechnological tools also fought back against the fearmongering, arguing that opponents were being irrational and that their ideology distorted their view of the facts. Scientists pointed to decades of research on the effects of each individual new GE hybrid on both human health and the environment—research that consistently found no evidence of harm to people, and environmental effects that were negative in some cases, positive in others, similar to the effects of all new food crops, GM or not, and nowhere near the doom-saying catastrophe that opponents predicted.

Caught in the middle were the news media, which initially trumpeted the alarms of GMO opponents but gradually had begun to report that those fears were not supported by the evidence, and how opponents were doing just what they lamented when political conservatives refused to accept the evidence about anthropogenic climate change…they were denying the science facts, blinded by their values as to what the research actually said.

The effect of this fight was predictable. It got lots of attention, and the acronym “GMO” was stigmatized in the public mind. Opinion surveys found that a majority of the public thought genetically engineered foods were potentially risky, and wanted products containing GE ingredients to be labeled so consumers would be informed and have a choice about what to eat. This was predictable, a reflection of the fact that people inherently want choice when faced with any sort of potential risk more than it reflected deep public apprehension about GMOs. One survey taken at that time found that people also wanted food labeled if it contained DNA.

More probing research found that public fears of GE food were like many others, widespread but shallow. When more thoroughly questioned, most people didn’t know anything about the issue. Few knew what GMOs were, how they were made, or about the scientific evidence that had found no human health risk. Like many controversies, the fiercest fighting over GMOs had been between combatants with a direct stake in the issue, either because the technology offended their values, or for economic reasons. The general public didn’t know much about the matter.

That was the general state of things in 2016, after the fight had been escalating for more than a decade: a mildly concerned public only casually aware of the issue, a highly motivated core group of opponents warning that GMOs and ‘corporate agriculture’ posed a profound threat to human and environmental health, and GMO advocates fighting back to preserve an agricultural technology that they said offered broad benefits to human, animal, and environmental health, and plenty of profit.

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But that summer things started to shift, and they shifted because of a significant miscalculation by opponents of GE food. Anti-GMO activists had largely lost their fight to kill the technology on scientific grounds alone; the evidence of health and environmental harm just wasn’t there. So they had focused on fighting for labeling, believing that people would be afraid to buy products that contained GE ingredients. The opponents were encouraged by surveys and headlines suggesting that their views had caught on. They hoped that labeling—putting on packages what they saw amounted to a skull-and-crossbones danger sign—would scare buyers away, and that the technology they couldn’t kill with scientific argument would be rejected at the cash register.

This tack was understandable. It had worked in Europe, where a few early GE products were labeled and brought to market by food producers as test cases, one product at a time. That allowed opponents to focus their attacks not on the technology generally, but with high profile campaigns targeting those individual products. That worked, in no small part because environmental concerns were uniquely high in Europe, and trust in government health and safety regulators was particularly low, due to a series of events, like the Mad Cow disease outbreak in the 1990s that had put the food supply and the public at risk. As a result, many European governments were being much more precautionary about environmental issues generally, and genetically engineered agriculture specifically, than governments elsewhere. This approach also allowed those governments to damage America’s significant advantage in the global agricultural market, in which U.S. producers had been selling GE crops for years.

So in light of how labeling had helped kill GE agriculture in Europe, and having failed to make their case to regulators based on the scientific evidence, and sensing that public apprehension about GMOs was rising, opponents of the technology in the United States made labeling the centerpiece of their campaign.

And it seemed to be working. In a market where sales of organic food and anything labeled ‘natural’ had already been growing for some time, companies got thousands of their products stamped with a “Non GMO” label (as certified by an avowedly anti-GMO organization supported in part by the organic food industry). Food companies put the ‘Non GMO’ label on products from water to salt that couldn’t possibly contain GE ingredients in the first place.

In addition, some manufacturers switched the ingredients in some of their most popular products, so they could label them “GMO free” to protect sales. And many grocers that sold both conventional and organic foods promised to label all their products. There were some positive results from their campaign. Farmers who had chosen to grow GE versions of their crops, which increased productivity, reduced the use of more toxic pest control chemicals, and reduced need for soil-damaging tillage practices, begrudgingly switched out of those crops as the market for them shrank.

Buoyed by these successes, GMO opponents pressed for a national law requiring labeling of any foods containing GE ingredients, hoping that such a label would scare consumers away. Against powerful agricultural and commercial interests in Washington, they had no luck in Congress or with federal agencies. So they campaigned at the state level to establish labeling requirements, and though they failed to overcome massive spending by corporations to defeat public referenda in several states, the Vermont legislature passed GMO labeling requirements with a July 1, 2016 effective date. Food retailers were thrown into turmoil.

Many major food companies, especially those with deep enough pockets to afford to create new labels, did so, and all sorts of foods hit the shelves in Vermont with labels like “produced with genetic engineering” or “partially produced with genetic engineering”. Some labels included websites like whatsinmyfood.com that consumers could visit to find out more. Some companies stopped selling some items in Vermont, where sales of products containing GM ingredients weren’t substantial enough to warrant the re-labeling costs.

Before anyone could measure what impact this was having on sales, GE opponents finally got what they wanted in Washington: mandatory labeling. Congress, acknowledging that 50 different labeling systems in 50 different states would be unmanageable for food com- panies that sold products across the country, created a single national labeling requirement. The law allowed either printed text on the label, a symbol indicating the presence of GE ingredients or an electronic code that allowed shoppers to access more information through their smart phones.

Many of the major opponents of GE foods applauded passage of the labeling requirement, including the mainstream Organic Trade Association and the Whole Foods company. But the more strident anti-GMO critics complained that the labels weren’t clear (i.e. dramatic/scary) enough and didn’t provide real choice. Over the next two years, they fought every decision the FDA and USDA made as those agencies develop detailed rules for the labels. But having won the main battle on which they had focused, many opponents of GE food now gradually edged back from their blanket rejection of the entire idea of agricultural biotechnology. They had claimed they just wanted consumers to have a choice, and now that consumers had that choice, it was harder for GE opponents to credibly find other ways to try and kill the whole technology, which their demand for labeling had really just been a cover for all along.

They had made their stand on the battleground of labeling, and won, but with the passage of the labeling requirement they now began to lose the war.

There were several reasons for this. First, while the labeling fight had been coming to a head, more and more reputable scientific evidence confirmed that GMOs didn’t pose the risks that opponents claimed. As the evidence grew ever stronger, the news media increasingly covered the fight over GMOs as they had come to report on the issues of climate change and childhood vaccines; these were battles about values and politics, in which the basic science had been resolved and one side just didn’t want to accept what the evidence clearly indicated. GMO opponents were increasingly depicted negatively, as fearmongering science deniers.

The labeling law also weakened the opposition by bringing an important aspect of the science of genetically altering food into clearer focus. The government had to choose which among a burgeoning array of genetic engineering techniques even qualified for labeling under the new law. That helped dramatically increase awareness that the science of bioengineering food had grown much more complex. What had started 30 years earlier as a process of bringing a beneficial trait from one species into another—the transgenic approach of using “foreign genes” to create what opponents called Frankenfoods—now also included techniques like CRISPR-Cas9 that allowed scientists to turn up or down the traits already coded for in the natural genome of the plant or animal, or to transplant the genes that expressed a favorable trait in one plant or animal into the genomes of plants or animals in the same species.

The science had become more sophisticated, able to create hybrids the way they’d been created for thousands of years, mimicking what happened in nature rather than creating seemingly new chimeras. That made the whole process behind GMOs far less troubling, psychologically, to many people. The central fear had always been that GE foods were unnatural. Research in the psychology of risk perception had found that people are generally more worried about human-made risks than those which are natural. Putting a gene from a Brazil nut into a soybean or utilizing bacteria genes to create new foods was not natural. But enhancing or silencing the expression of a trait already in the soybean, or transplanting a gene that expressed a favorable trait from one soybean into seeds of the same species, was just doing in a lab what nature can do. In the debate about which technologies should be covered by the labeling law, the public learned that the technology was no longer as UNnatural as opponents claimed.

And many GE foods produced without transgenics were coming to market. Governments in several countries, even precautionary Canada, approved as safe various genetically modified foods that had been under review for years, from apples to potatoes to mushrooms. Many of these products offered a wide range of benefits, and not just to farmers or food companies, but direct benefits to consumers; lower prices, reduced spoilage, reduced allergenicity, improved animal welfare, and sometimes improved nutrition.

The third impact of labeling that weakened opponents’ efforts to resist the entire technology came from the labels themselves; not specifically from what they said or showed, but just by their proliferating presence. Surveys taken to see how people reacted to the labels confirmed what earlier research had suggested, that most consumers don’t read labels, and that many who do assume that if something is on a food label, it must have been approved as safe. A sizeable minority of shoppers did initially wonder whether the labels suggested some problem or health concern about GE foods, but as with public attitudes about the issue prior to the labels, that concern was shallow. Sales of most labeled products stayed the same. The fear of GMOs that opponents had created and banked on to scare consumes away when the labels showed up ended up taking only a small bite out of sales of a narrow range of products sold in a minority of stores and markets.

And even that hit was temporary, because as the labels proliferated and appeared on thousands of popular products, the presence of the label quickly became so familiar that it merely took its place among the “all-natural” and “organic” and the “non-GMO” labels cluttering store shelves across America. For many of the products whose sales did fall, that drop was short-lived.

These consumer reactions were consistent with the psychology of risk perception. Now people had choice, and the perception of risk is such that when we have choice, concern about any risk associated with that choice goes down. Also, the labels quickly became familiar, and psychologists have found that while a new potential threat is worrying, once we have lived with that risk for a while with no widespread or obvious negative effects, what felt scary at first feels less so. Just after the labels hit the shelves, a small percentage of shoppers logged onto websites or checked those electronic codes with their smart phones to find out more about what GMO ingredients were in their food. But within a few months the number of people doing so rapidly declined.

In short, the presence of the labels did not cause nearly as much concern, or lost sales, as opponents of GE foods had hoped and GE proponents had feared. The labels revealed that the fear activist opponents felt so deeply was never as deep in the psyche of the general public as the opponents had counted upon. Along with ever-growing scientific consensus that GMOs posed no human health risk, the media increasingly put opponents on the defensive as science deniers. With increasingly sophisticated and more ‘natural’ GE techniques producing a growing range of products with direct-to-consumer benefits, the release of the GMO labels that opponents had fought so hard for, and food companies had feared so deeply, actually began to contribute to a wider acceptance of the technology.

The controversy continued but it changed in several important ways. Some of the major opponents of GE foods who had helped lead (and fund) the battle for labeling quietly faded from the fight, ceding leadership to more adamant crusaders who were fighting a larger battle over about how technology, including large-scale commercial agriculture and its use of synthetic chemicals, had harmed human and environmental health. The fight against GE foods was just one battleground in that much larger and ongoing war.

But by the time Felicia and Arthur sat down to dinner that August evening in 2020 with Phyllis and Latrell, the GMO battle had died down significantly. The labels had been out for many months now. People were used to seeing them, and were mostly ignoring them. New GE foods were coming to market, including not only crops used as ingredients in other products but whole foods—fish and meat and fruits and vegetables—that people ate directly. There were fewer battles in legislatures, fewer controversial statewide referenda questions. The social media pages of GMO opponents still warned about the dangers of GE foods, but there were fewer stories in the general media about the supposed risks of GMOs and more about the new products being developed.

Fears about GE foods were no longer as frequently on the public’s plate. Increasingly, such foods were on actual dinner plates, including the meal the two couples enjoyed that night. Those foods had all been labeled, but no one at the dinner party had cared about what the labels on the food had said, nor about the process by which those foods had been produced. They just wanted food that was delicious, affordable, fresh and healthy, and thanks in part to developments during 2016, the foursome at dinner were like most of the public—fully comfortable that genetically engineered foods met all those criteria.

David Ropeik is an Instructor in the Environmental Studies Program at the Harvard Extension School. He is an author of two books and dozens of academic and popular articles on the psychology of risk perception. He is a consultant in risk communication and has advised dozens of academic, non-profit, professional, govern- mental and business organizations on a wide range of issues, including agricultural biotechnology. He worked previously as a broadcast journalist focusing on environmental issues, winning two DuPont Columbia Awards, several regional EMMY awards, and helped found the Society of Environmental Journalists.

The Genetic Literacy Project is a 501(c)(3) non profit dedicated to helping the public, journalists, policy makers and scientists better communicate the advances and ethical and technological challenges ushered in by the biotechnology and genetics revolution, addressing both human genetics and food and farming. We are one of two websites overseen by the Science Literacy Project; our sister site, the Epigenetics Literacy Project, addresses the challenges surrounding emerging data-rich technologies.

  • WeGotta

    Highlights:
    • 2017 may be the year the public rejects GE outright.
    • Federal law requiring labeling of GE foods shows that when people organize they can force a change, even in the face of powerful special interests.
    • Labels on many popular items unlikely to scare consumers away despite how fear mongering pro-gmo hacks screeched and cried they would.
    • Gene editing, new scientific techniques are also “unnatural”.
    • Media criticism of ‘science denial’ of GE opponents actually shows how ignorant they are since non-gmo is science based too.
    * People are confused and ambivalent about food package labels because most of it is marketing while the rest has been blessed by special interests. Marketing = confusing people.
    * Eating gmo is still more risky than avoiding it since “the scientific consensus” regarding the safety of things has been wrong many times.
    * The scientific consensus that non-gmo is safe is stronger than the consensus that gmo is safe.
    * Scientists who are working on ways to hide signs of aging in “fresh” produce and lowering the costs of chemicals in junk food are helping those who profit off our food more than are helping those that eat the food.

    • R Craven

      “Eating gmo is still more risky than avoiding it since “the scientific consensus” regarding the safety of things has been wrong many times.
      The scientific consensus that non-gmo is safe is stronger than the consensus that gmo is safe.”

      Blatant self-contradiction! Do you trust the scientific consensus or don’t you? Make up your mind!

      • WeGotta

        The consensus is stronger that non-gmo is safe than it is that gmo is safe.

        The “scientific consensus” regarding the safety of things has been wrong many times before.

        My opinion doesn’t alter these facts one way or another.

        • Jason

          The consensus is stronger that non-gmo is safe than it is that gmo is safe.

          No. This is blatantly untrue. There is a consensus that they are equally risky. Period. One consensus…not two competing.

          • WeGotta

            Q: Is eating food that orbited the earth safe?
            A: Most people think it’s safe. Some don’t.
            The consensus is that it’s safe.

            Implicit in the question:
            – food that has not orbited the earth is the standard
            – The standard is considered as safe

            If you don’t understand something so simple as this, I will have to assume one of two things.
            1. You understand and won’t admit it.
            2. You don’t understand simple things.
            Either way, everything else you have to say about way more complicated things is suspect.

          • Jason

            Implicit in the question:
            – food that has not orbited the earth is the standard
            – The standard is considered as safe

            YOU are making this assumption. Because one thing might not be safe, DOES NOT mean that something else is. That is a tactic used by deceptive marketers…you know… the very ones you complain about constantly??

            It’s exactly for reasons like this that you should rely more on what the science is telling you. The “standard” is not considered any more or less safe than the “alternatives”. Again… you are lying or simply don’t understand this topic.

          • WeGotta

            You still don’t get it.

            Q: Is food that has orbited the earth safe to eat?
            A: Most would agree that it’s the same.
            Q: WTF?
            Q: Same as what?
            A: As food that was not in orbit.
            Q: So, the others think it’s not the same then?
            A: Yes. They think it’s different.
            Q: So different than safe?
            A: Yes.
            Q: So why didn’t you just say that in the first place?

          • Jason

            No.. I get it just fine. You are making an assumption that all non-GMO food is safe. That is an incorrect assumption. The fact is that all non-GMO food carries risks. But you’ve just never stopped to question it because no one else did either.

            GMO food carries the same risks. That is the scientific consensus.

            Want a simple example? Run your little example in reverse.

            Q: Is food that has not orbited the earth safe to eat?
            A: Most would agree that it’s the same.
            Q: WTF?
            Q: Same as what?
            A: As food that was in orbit.
            Q: So, the others think it’s not the same then?
            A: Yes. They think it’s different.
            Q: So different than safe?
            A: Yes.
            Q: So why didn’t you just say that in the first place?

            See? Food that is not in orbit must not be as safe as food that was in orbit.

          • WeGotta

            No.
            That just means more people would believe that astronaut food is safe then would believe that terrestrially restrained food is safe.

          • Jason

            Ah!! So then you admit that something like this may not be accurate. Then that means that understanding the real story would help to make informed decisions. And that means explaining the reasons why (the science) one thing is no riskier than another might be important.

            Glad we could get that straightened out.

          • WeGotta

            Yes. And not only that.

            I’d be willing to state for the record that a made up story about a made up poll about food in orbit being safer than earth food is most definitely not accurate.

          • Jason

            I’m sure it’s not. But that doesn’t excuse making up your own set of facts about the situation.

          • Sally Blackmore

            Using big adjectives like “blatantly” doesn’t make it any more true. Or using “Period” for that matter. Straight out of your troll manual. I constantly wonder if you pro-GMO propaganda nut jobs have families or loved ones. If you do than I can only assume that you are card-carrying sociopaths. It really is blatantly mind-boggling. Period.

          • Jason

            Using big adjectives like “blatantly” doesn’t make it any more true. Or using “Period” for that matter.

            No $hlt, Sherlock.

            I constantly wonder if you pro-GMO propaganda nut jobs have families or loved ones.

            Of course I do. I’m trying to protect them from you nutters so they have a good world to live in. You clowns have no clue how to feed the world and protect the environment.

          • Damo

            I am glad to see you agree with the science and GMO technology is safe.

      • Sally Blackmore

        I trust the science, and I believe that the science is telling us that chronic exposure to the toxins being sprayed on and genetically engineered into our food is slowly destroying us. No one can prove to me otherwise. What is glyphosate? It was originally used a chelator to clean out industrial boilers and pipes. So now we are ingesting it and it is chelating minerals necessary to maintain a healthy biome. It’s that simple. I would love for someone to tell me that science says we don’t need minerals.

        • FarmersSon63

          Glyphosate is applied at 12-32 fluid ounces PER ACRE.
          This results in concentrations less than 2 ppm hitting the plant.
          It then breaks down very rapidly from sunlight, bacterial action and rainfall.
          Glyphosate has a half-life @ 30 days, so it does not bioaccumulate.
          Regulators were extremely excited when glyphosate was released in the 1970’s.
          It had the safest profile BY FAR of any pesticide they had ever evaluated before.
          Here we are 40+ years later and there still has not been even one confirmed illness or death from eating it’s residues on foods.
          The EPA deserves a pat on the back. Their 7 year evaluation of glyphosate BEFORE it was approved for commercial use was exactly correct. Glyphosate has proven to be safe.

        • R Craven

          It’s nice of you to trust the science, but you really don’t understand it.

    • R Craven

      “People are confused and ambivalent about food package labels because most of it is marketing while the rest has been blessed by special interests. Marketing = confusing people.”

      It was the anti-GMO lobby who wanted labelling. Now you’ve got it, and you’re saying you don’t want it. What DO you want? Make up your mind!

      • WeGotta

        Another poll I see.
        I’m not the “anti-gmo lobby”.

        What I want is for food to be labeled accurately according to science.

        If a food can be accurately defined as “junk food” by scientists, I’d like that prominently displayed on the label.

        Since most marketing is just lies, there should be no clowns, picturesque farms or gimmicks on the package.

        • Kenneth Nielsen

          You mean like Hunts labelling their tomatoes as being GMO free when there is no such thing as a GMO tomato and thus no reason for the label. This is not about information. It is about the disinformation used by the anti-GMO forces who ignore the science and use the issue of labelling as a skull and crossbones to confuse and scare consumers. This and the ‘alternative’ medicine groups are the most dishonest and dangerous to actual health outcomes movements I’m know. Just an amalgam of hard line believers willing to distort evidence and outright lie who and the billion dollar ‘natural’ businesses that profit from this nonsense.

          • WeGotta

            Like I said. Marketers will use whatever lie, fact or mix of the two in order to sell their stuff.
            If they think a no gmo label will make more than the cost of being certified, they would do it.

            We can put either “GMO JUNK FOOD” so we know it’s gmo, or “JUNK FOOD” and we know it’s not. Maybe a warning sign if eating that food was linked to our biggest health problems.

          • Kenneth Nielsen

            There is no scientific evidence of health risks from eating something that was grown using GMO techniques. All your arguments about labeling for information is just a smokescreen for an anti-GMO agenda. I don’t see any of the anti-GMO people demanding that organic foods provide information that they were grown using pesticides and fungicides? The general public is unaware of this fact, rather they think the label organic means it was just seeds in the ground, water and nothing else. If people were really interested in information then why not demand the same from things labeled organic and natural? Could it be that people might be turned off by learning their organic product was grown using pesticides and fungicides that require far more applications than conventional ones? Or that naturally derived pesticides and fungicides still use toxic ingredients, they are just derived from natural sources rather than synthesized which does not make them any less toxic ? This is information that is more relevant than whether something was grown using GMO techniques yet I don’t hear anyone on the anti-GMO side demanding this information be included on labels. The dishonesty involved in the labeling discussion as to the motive being purely for informational purposes in the consumers interest is so transparently hypocritical as to make the whole argument in it’s favor a joke.

          • WeGotta

            So your whole argument against labeling gmo is that all people are stupid and/or dishonest?
            Do you think it’s okay that marketers get to use most of the space on a food package?

            There are many more reasons to provide information to consumers other than what is and what is not a health risk.
            People can choose to not support gmo for any one of many reasons.

          • Kenneth Nielsen

            The people who are being dishonest are the ones demanding labeling for GMO’s as if it is just about information when it is all about making people think there is something wrong with GMO, hence the need to put it on the label. As to stupidity, those who willfully ignore the science in order to deliberately mislead may or may not be stupid but they are certainly dishonest. Federal law requiring labeling of GE foods shows that when special interests like the billion dollar organic and ‘natural’ industry organizes it can force their interests over that of people.

          • WeGotta

            So you are against dishonesty and stupidity. Cool!

            Now, do you think there is dishonesty and stupidity on the “pro-gmo” side or not?

          • Kenneth Nielsen

            Well the “pro GMO” people I pay attention to are scientists and researchers who use data, proof and reasoned arguments instead of ad hoc arguments and solipsistic views of data and evidence to joust for debate points in comment sections like this. As for outright dishonesty and stupidity I refer you back to those who misrepresent the data and research or just outright lie to support their anti-GMO position. There is a case to be made for the organic and ‘natural’ industry cynically manipulating facts and people yet I don’t run across those discussing the actual data and science about GMO calling people shills or proposing ridiculous ‘big’ whatever boogeyman cabal theories, so do I think one side is drowning in this kind of nonsense? Um… yeah. I’m going to get back to living my life now. Maybe someone else will have time to play with you now.

          • WeGotta

            Cool. Always fun to have a conversation with those who insist other people must do what they cannot do or will not do.
            And emotional outbursts literally in the comment where you insist we all must be rational; a nice ribbon to complete the package.

          • SageThinker

            There is immense dishonesty among the agenda pushers. There are a rare few people who are not GMO industry cheerleaders but also not wholesale against GMOs. I happen to be one but i get pigeon-holed into the so-called “anti-GMO” camp by the industry minions all the time, because i don’t echo their lies. It’s a sad situation. It’s quite reminiscent of climate change denial — with the pro-GMO and pro-agrochemical trolls being the denialists who attempt to discredit all genuine critical thinking around the topic.

            It’s sad and evil, and we need to call it what it is: propaganda.

            Propaganda does so much damage in this world. It distorts our best ability to estimate reality. Thus is prevents us from acting wisely in the world.

            They are sad and sick and toxic people.

            I know that some of the activists also say things that are exaggerated or even sometimes false or mistaken, but that is no excuse to give credit to industry propagandists. It’s more of a concern that we need to address and make sure we always speak in a grounded way and not try to exaggerate just because the industry propagandists are always doing so.

          • WeGotta

            Wise words

            Technology is neutral.
            It’s humans that are hazardous.

            “If war is holy and sex is obscene
            We’ve got it twisted in this lucid dream
            Baptized in boundaries, schooled in sin
            Divided by difference, sexuality and skin”
            -Alicia Keys

          • Maia

            The great majority of people in the USA favor labels on GMOs, or did you not realize that?
            Another point: does saying how much sugar there is on a food label mean that you should choose food with less or no sugar? No. It is information. And consumers want more of it, not less. All scientists do not agree that GMOs are harmless, btw). The GE industry is also a “special interest” group very interested…in protecting profits, and not as interested in informing us of exactly what we are choosing.

          • Kenneth Nielsen

            I’d be very interested in reading your copy of the report in which every person in the USA was asked and the majority of them favor labels on GMO’s because I definitely did not know that? Or did you mean that the majority of people in a particular survey answered such a question in a certain way? Shall we say that since the majority of people on this page disagree with you on labeling that and that alone says anything meaningful about why the organic and natural industry is in favor of labeling and others such as those here are not? You have an interesting take on how objective examination of things are done. Your comparison between sugar as an ingredient and GMO as a method of using genetics to control for certain characteristics is like comparing apples and computers. But if you are interested in including GMO’s on a label like an ingredient (not as in labeling GMO Free, that is a warning, but as something in the ingredient list which would be information) than as I sais lets list it all, what pesticides and fungicides are used (organic uses them too but since they aren’t labeled as such most people do not know this) what fertilizer, where it was grown, when it was harvested and everything about the process of growing and production from the ground to the supermarket. Surely this information would give consumers all they need to make an informed decision when buying food. And each thing is listed together with no emphasis like calling something non this or that somewhere else on the label which is not information but an implication that not having something is because that something is bad.
            I don’t know where you read me saying that ‘all’ scientists agree that GMO’s are harmless, btw. I don’t believe there is anything absolutely all scientists agree on. Which is why we say consensus as Miriam-Webster defines it, a : general agreement, b : the judgement arrived at by most of those concerned. There is a consensus on the role of human activity on climate change. There are a minority of scientists that disagree but have not produced the data or convincing evidence to change the consensus. There are a minority of scientist who do not agree on evolution. Again, they haven’t produced anything to change the scientific consensus on evolution. And there is a consensus by scientists on the safety of GMO foods based on a preponderance of the research. So until that preponderance of evidence moves the consensus the other way the current consensus is what we operate under. That is how science works.

          • Maia

            Did I say “everyone”?? I am referring to many polls done to find out what Americans think. It’s done all the time on every issue.
            Did I say sugar was the same as GM food? That was something called an analogy.
            We all have to make judgements and not be obedient robots, even if scientists mostly agree on something. Full information helps us do that. Some people are pro-GMO and anti-climate science. They are choosing according to more than JUST the current consensus, and that makes sense, even if I agree with one and disagree with the other.

          • Kenneth Nielsen

            Read what I said. You claimed that the “great majority of people in the USA”, not many polls, favor labels on GMO’s (By which you mean products with GMO ingredients not labels on GMO’s, no one is selling ‘GMO’s’. A ridiculous point I agree but one made necessary by your inability to state things clearly up to now). In order for the great majority of people in the USA to nave said something than all the people in the USA had to have been asked. Your statement set the parameters for what you were saying, not me. As for your saying that your reference to sugar was an analogy (“does saying how much sugar there is on a food label mean that you should choose food with less or no sugar? No. It is information.) it was a bad analogy as I pointed out. Sugar is an ingredient, An ingredient with certain effects. GM is a technique with no proven or known effect other than what it is intended for in growing a crop. I listed lot’s of other information that does have various effects on a product and it’s potential health effects that are also not listed. Nor is there any cry for them to be. Is it because people don’t care or are unaware? GMO is being singled out with no data to overturn the scientific consensus on it. Emotion, manipulation and misrepresentation will not change that. Properly conducted peer reviewed studies with replicated results by other such studies is what will change the consensus if the evidence warrants it. Not semantic debates and speculative emotion.

          • Maia

            Read up on how national polls are done on any subject matter.

          • SageThinker

            Exactly. Even if GMOs are not causing harm, it would still be useful to know whether a product contains GMOs and if so, which traits. I would like to know the traits specifically and agrochemicals in a product as well. I’d like to know if a product contains Roundup Ready soy meal for instance, for then it contains glyphosate. I’d like to know measures of pesticides. I know that’s not on the table currently, but a good label would contain as much as reasonably possible. Currently, labeling is heavily dominated by industry agenda needs, which is essentially profit, and which means minimal information. It took a lot of struggle to get to even what’s put on labels now as a requirement. Not even all ingredients are currently listed as some are listed as categories like “artificial flavoring” or “natural flavoring” are allowed (what does that phrasing mean anyway?)

          • Maia

            Most people don’t know “there is no such thing as a GM tomato” so for them, it is information they did not have before. Some of us know which are GE products but we are in the minority of those who want labels.

          • Kenneth Nielsen

            “Most people don’t know “there is no such thing as a GM tomato” so for them, it is information they did not have before.” Huh? Is there supposed to be some logic in that statement? What information that they didn’t have before is being supplied by Hunts labeling? Hunt’s says they don’t use GMO tomatoes. There is no such thing as a GMO tomato. So how is saying you don’t use non-existent tomatoes providing information people don’t have? It doesn’t say there is no such thing as a GMO tomato for people who don’t know that fact. It does the opposite. Hunts label only adds to their ignorance by implying there is a GMO tomato by saying they don’t use it. That is deceptive and manipulative labeling at it’s finest. You say that only a minority of people that want GMO labeling know what crops are GMO. So the majority of people who don’t know basic information about something are supposed to determine the labeling regulations for something they don’t understand? Nothing in your comment does anything other than prove my point and display your confusion.

          • Maia

            You seem to be deliberately obscuring the issue. On many food labels NOW there is information about absences. And that is what people are looking for. Simple as that. No MSG, no laureth sulphate, no added sugar, no transfats, etc And many others which, technically, would never BE present, and yet we are told because those who looking for the absence of something, for whatever reason, want to be told. And/or the manufacturer wants to assure their customers of its absence. If a corn soup label says contains no transfats, does that imply that other corn soups DO? Nope.
            It’s simple. You are trying hard to make it look complicated.

    • R Craven

      “Labels on many popular items unlikely to scare consumers away despite how fear mongering pro-gmo hacks screeched and cried they would.”

      Alternatively, the anti-GMO lobby is disappointed that labelling has failed to derail the GMO revolution.

      • WeGotta

        You’ve done a poll I see. What’s your sample size?

        • Arthur Doucette

          Monsanto stock price. $90 a year ago $113 today.

          Had you bought Monsanto a year ago, you would have made 25% on your investment.

          • WeGotta

            Had I robbed a thousand old ladies I would be rich.

            Some people care more about other things than money.

          • Arthur Doucette

            I care more about other things than money. NOT the point. You asked about a poll on if labeling has failed to derail the GMO revolution.

            The millions of investors took that poll and answered with a RESOUNDING NO.

          • WeGotta

            Hmmmm…..

            I sincerely doubt stock brokers, hedge fund managers, electronic trading machines and pension fund managers give 2 farts about the “GMO revolution” beyond how much they can capitalize on it’s growth or decline.

          • Arthur Doucette

            Don’t disagree, but what they DO know is that you and your pathetic groups have FAILED to derail the GMO revolution, which is why they are investing in the leader of that revolution.

            I get it. It sucks to be on the losing side.
            Cheer up.
            When you come to your senses (assuming you ever do) you will find you were simply on the wrong side

          • WeGotta

            Whoa whoa whoa.

            When did I ever say I was participating in your make believe games?

            Sounds intriguing though.

    • R Craven

      “Federal law requiring labeling of GE foods shows that when people organize they can force a change, even in the face of powerful special interests.”

      … but it hasn’t deterred people from buying GMO products, for which all sane people will be thankful.

      • WeGotta

        People can buy what they want.
        It’s easier to buy what you want when you define what you want and when producers give relevant information freely.

    • R Craven

      “Scientists who are working on ways to hide signs of aging in “fresh” produce and lowering the costs of chemicals in junk food are helping those who profit off our food more than are helping those that eat the food.”

      In other words, farmers, seed companies et al, are making more money from improving people’s diets, and you don’t like this. What DO you like?

      • WeGotta

        “Improving”????

        You think masking signs that produce is not fresh and junk food ingredients improve our diets?

    • Jason

      Media criticism of ‘science denial’ of GE opponents actually shows how ignorant they are since non-gmo is science based too.

      Well…that didn’t make a damn bit of sense.

      Eating gmo is still more risky than avoiding it since “the scientific consensus” regarding the safety of things has been wrong many times.

      So then that means that eating non-gmo is just as likely to be unsafe beacuse the “consensus could be wrong”.

      The scientific consensus that non-gmo is safe is stronger than the consensus that gmo is safe.

      I’m afraid that is incorrect. The consensus is that they have the same risks. There is no one consensus stronger than the other. That is just a figment of your imagination.

      Scientists who are working on ways to hide signs of aging in “fresh” produce and lowering the costs of chemicals in junk food are helping those who profit off our food more than are helping those that eat the food.

      Now that’s just an outright lie. Why do you need to resort to lies? Why is it not good enough just to make your choices without demagoguing the choices of others?

      • WeGotta

        “Well…that didn’t make a damn bit of sense.”
        Non-gm techniques for breeding plants ARE SCIENCE TOO. If one chooses non-gmo food, they can rest assured its considered “safe” and it supports science.

        “So then that means that eating non-gmo is just as likely to be unsafe beacuse the “consensus could be wrong.”
        Exactly. So the scientific consensus regarding gmo is basically useless.

        “The consensus is that they have the same risks.”
        No it’s not.
        10-20% of scientists don’t agree that gmo is safe. But all would agree that non-gmo is safe (as a generalization implied by the original question).

        “Now that’s just an outright lie.”
        Since no scientist ever asks me or anyone I know BEFORE they mess with food, I will assume they have other motives than what’s best for me or my health.

        • Jason

          Non-gm techniques for breeding plants ARE SCIENCE TOO. If one chooses non-gmo food, they can rest assured its considered “safe” and it supports science.

          No one is denying there is science involved in plant breeding. But because you accept one science doesn’t mean you can’t deny another. For example… climate deniers. if you are denying the accepted science on an issue, you are a science denier… period.

          Exactly. So the scientific consensus regarding gmo is basically useless.

          Unless you want to take an evidence based approach to understanding how something works and what the risks are. If you, alternatively, prefer to bury your head…sure. It’s useless. And probably damn inconvenient.

          No it’s not.
          10-20% of scientists don’t agree that gmo is safe. But all would agree that non-gmo is safe (as a generalization implied by the original question).

          NO. That IS NOT true. Science has never said non-GM foods are safe. There are known and accepted risks. Science has consistently said the risks are the same. THAT is the consensus and if you state anything else, you are distorting facts.

          Since no scientist ever asks me or anyone I know BEFORE they mess with food, I will assume they have other motives than what’s best for me or my health.

          No excuse for lying.

          • WeGotta

            Choosing one technology over another is not “denying” the other.

            So polls regarding the polls of hundreds of science groups is “evidence based” science?
            I think you still don’t understand science.

            So explain the 10-20% of those scientists who do not agree with the science on gmo.

          • Jason

            Choosing one technology over another is not “denying” the other.

            That’s not the statement I took issue with. As I’ve said many times, simply making a choice is of no issue. Making up nonsense about why you’ve made that choice is.

            So polls regarding the polls of hundreds of science groups is “evidence based” science?

            Seems like you’re being intentionally obtuse. This statement isn’t in any way representative of what I’ve said.

            So explain the 10-20% of those scientists who do not agree with the science on gmo.

            It’s not 10-20% that don’t agree. It’s 12% and those were predominantly people who claimed to not be knowledgeable enough on the topic to make a decision. That IS NOT the same as disagreeing.

          • Arthur Doucette

            Jason, this is off topic, but I like the way you respond, using the part of their comment in your response, but not sure how you do that.
            Care to share?

          • Jackson

            <blockquote> other persons text here</blockquote>

            You can google “html tags” to get a list of other neat formatting options that you can use.

          • Arthur Doucette

            you can google “html tags”

            Gracias

          • Jason

            That’s HTML code. I tried to explain it here but it’s very hard to do with out the browser wanting to execute the HTML commands I was trying to type. So, here’s a link that could help:

            http://html.com/tags/blockquote/

          • Arthur Doucette

            Thanks

          • SageThinker

            Polls can be so misrepresented. It depends on who is polled, of course. Taking a page from the climate change denial book, if you poll petroleum engineers and chemists, you will get a pretty high level of climate change disbelief. There is rationalization going on — both self-aware and self-deluding — and the results reflect that. Then if you’re a climate change propagandist, you will write “the ‘consensus’ about climate change is false, as 40% of scientists in this poll do not agree that AGW is real”…. meanwhile you’ll leave out the fact that the sample is in the petroleum industry.

            Similarly, if you poll plant geneticists, you’ll get a lot of bought-in answers of people saying “of course it’s all safe!” …. And you also have the large campaign to influence public perception through the media, including sited like this one and many so-called “skeptic” groups on Facebook and the like, so those people who consider themselves “science-literate” because they consume sciency-sounding memes from these sources will echo what the memes say and answer a poll with “Of course GMOs are safe!” without knowing that they’ve drunk the KoolAid.

            I’m not saying GMOs are not safe. I’m saying there is a wide variation of GMOs based on the trait and the agrochemicals used, and that the science is largely biased as well by industry as is the SciComm. It’s an across-the-board effort, a wide-berth propaganda effort. It feeds on itself. People are indoctrinated and then polled and — surprise — many of them echo what they’ve been taught. Then that’s used as more evidence that the engineered consensus is correct.

          • WeGotta

            So true.

            It starts sounding just like a religion.

          • Sally Blackmore
          • Jason

            And I’m supposed to give a $hlt about your silly propeganda websites because why?

          • Sally Blackmore

            Jason, why are you so mean? You are hurting my feelings. Maybe because the site I am listing is the truth, not propaganda. Why don’t you actually read it and develop some of your own critical thinking skills instead of worrying about your next paycheck.

          • Jason

            Maybe because the site I am listing is the truth, not propaganda.

            Well, of course it is. /sarc

      • Eric Bjerregaard

        I see you have found your favorite idiot again.

  • R Craven
  • mem_somerville

    Nice piece. Just this week I’ve seen more targeted hate campaigns by the anti-GMO folks. The labels certainly have not stopped the shouting yet. And I’m sad to see one of my favorite local products go Non-GMO Project recently. It will take a while to see if that has impact on farmers’ fields.

    I agree that people will continue to throw their Oreos into their grocery carts. But it will take a while to see what the real impact on the larger system will be.

    • Arthur Doucette

      I’ve noticed a huge decline in the anti-GMO side. Seems so many of the familiar names I used to see on these various comment sections have packed up their tents and gone away.

      • mem_somerville

        And some of the ones that are left are sockpuppets of a single person.

        But there’s still an infrastructure of professional shouters who need to raise funds with fear, and they can keep that up as long as the organic industry keeps paying them to do it.

        • Arthur Doucette

          Yes, what’s become clear is that a relatively small band of said shouters can, via dupes sharing their lies, create the impression of a far larger base of support for their views than actually exists.

      • Maia

        Not true. Just like Occupy, the arena of work being done has shifted, committment remains, if anything, stronger than before.

        • Arthur Doucette

          Not buying it. I’ve been debating this for years, and almost all of the regular names have gone bye-bye. Look at this thread, notice there is but one person (Alan2102) who is even trying to debate the issue, but doing poorly at it, such that his last post was, as it almost always devolves to, a personal attack. If you had something to offer, you would. As shown from the above, you don’t.

          • Maia

            “Not buying it” doesn’t banish the fact that Occupy is involved in several projects around the country, one of them is helping people who are threatened by banks with eviction from their homes. On the anti-GMO front, no one I know, nor any of the organizations have changed their position or feel less certain about the kind of food they want, and in fact are integrating this issue into several others and doing some amazing fund raising.
            “Debating” with the typical “pro-GMO” person is pretty pointless, this is what has declined, online debates, not the importance of the issue and others related to it.
            But nothing I say here is going to change your mind which is clearly made up. You are not inquiring but concluding…based on…disqus posts? Enough said.

          • Arthur Doucette

            None of my information comes from Disqus posts, I put out information. You know, peer reviewed information you can verify as to source and content.
            Don’t care if you have the same position, what’s clear is the band of riff-raff posting ad nauseum have dissipated.
            The point is you LOST.
            Lost big time.
            We have labeling, and it won’t do you any good.
            Consumers clearly don’t care. Why? Because not a single example of harm has ever been shown in the two decades of growing GMO crops, and they remain our largest crops.
            Vermont’s laws are in the toilet, and we won’t have silly referendums in California, Washington or Oregon again, that’s over as well.
            What’s clear is that the rules are going to be based on CONTENT not source and thus no chance of having to track and segregate things from field to manufacturer, and so no cost pressure on the farmers to not grow GMO.
            Adios.
            Hope you find meaningful work.

      • alan2102

        Maybe it is because you have nothing worthwhile to offer, Arthur. Ya think?
        It can take a good deal of time and energy to compose quality replies, and when the audience is people like you, it is mostly a waste of effort. Though, I grant, it can be a bit of fun, when taken in the right spirit.

  • Arthur Doucette

    You can see below the sea change. We have only one science denier against all the others. Still trying to raise fear, though most of his buds have moved on. Clearly this dog won’t hunt.

    • WeGotta

      Hahaha,

      More shills than real people on the shill website is proof of a sea change.

      Love it.

      • Sally Blackmore

        WeGotta – I would like to talk to you offline. Can you message me on facebook? https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100010420656354

      • Arthur Doucette

        Actually I know you hate it, because it proves many of those long time Anti-GMO posters were not real. Once the new labeling bill was passed, which dashed the organic industry’s hopes of stopping GE, the backers packed up their bags and moved on. No more support for the peanut gallery.

        • Two Americas

          There are so few critics of the biotech industry, and we are each coming from different backgrounds and experience and taking idiosyncratic approaches to the debate, that the charge that we are somehow “not real” is simply absurd.

          In addition, those of us who are actually working in agriculture cannot post 24/7 day after day, year around, as so many of the industry apologists do. The “farmers” spending all day right through the growing season posting biotech industry marketing material is a good example of what we are up against.

          Beyond that, the same talking points are repeated over, and over and over again by the biotech industry apologists, no matter how many times they are effectively and comprehensively refuted. That means that we are up against an orchestrated and powerful disinformation campaign. We cannot possibly compete against that.

          • alan2102

            “we are up against an orchestrated and powerful disinformation campaign. We cannot possibly compete against that.”

            Now, now, T.A., You might be surprised what you can compete against, within a limited context (i.e. not the whole world, but e.g. a discussion thread like this one). It is true that they have the heavy artillery and the tanks and whatnot, but guerilla fighters can make life hell for the crews. You can take out a tank with a 5-gal propane canister (strategically placed) and a deer rifle!

          • Two Americas

            Good points.

          • Arthur Doucette

            And that is all you are in this SCIENTIFIC debate, Luddites attacking with propane tanks and
            deer rifles. Yes you are a pain, but you don’t sway the populace with your fear tactics.

          • Two Americas

            I have not talked about science on this thread, but rather about you, about your dishonesty, and about the disinformation campaign you are waging.

          • Arthur Doucette

            Yeah, too bad you are losing so badly.

          • hyperzombie

            And as more and more GMOs get approved a NON GMO label will be about as worthless as a “New from Ronco” label….

          • Two Americas

            I am talking about disinformation agents promoting an industry marketing agenda. I am not talking about crops, about which you and other biotech industry promoters have nothing of interest to offer, nor about labels.

          • hyperzombie

            What industry marketing? Organic? Non GMO? Homemade?

          • Two Americas

            There we go. Accuse others of doing what you are doing.

      • SageThinker

        Not everyone is a “shill” in the sense of taking money for writing things. In fact few probably are. But many are ideologically trained minions without even knowing it, a category termed “useful idiot” in the propaganda field. They’re even worse than a push-for-money puppet. They believe what they’re writing.

        • WeGotta

          It’s very disconcerting to witness such “useful idiots” work so hard against their own best interests in support of illusionary mental abstractions.

        • alan2102

          EXACTLY. Very well put. I am going to quote you, since you made the point superbly and best of all briefly.

    • Two Americas

      It is not a popularity contest. The poster alan2102 is running circles around you. Many of us are following the exchanges, but since he is single handedly demolishing your talkling points, we feel no need to jump in.

      In addition, your assumption that Disqus displays all of the posts to you is false.

      • alan2102

        Thanks kindly. But do throw a barb or a hand-grenade in here now and then. I mean, for FUN. :-)

        • Two Americas

          Will do.

      • Arthur Doucette

        Hilarious.
        Hasn’t refuted anything.
        Which is why his last post was a personal attack.
        That means he has given up, nothing to do but shoot the messenger.

        • Two Americas

          Your posts read like Trump’s tweets.

          • Arthur Doucette

            Again, with just a personal attack, but nothing to add.

          • Two Americas

            I am talking about your post, not your person.

          • Arthur Doucette

            I make the posts, so it is about the person.
            The point is you add nothing to the debate.
            Nobody cares what you think about my posts, its what you can do to show they are right or wrong that counts.

          • Two Americas

            Ah, so none of the things you write can be criticized because that would constitute a personal attack on you. I see.

          • Arthur Doucette

            Not at all.
            You are free to refute what I post, but when you make personal claims as in, “Reads like Trump’s Tweets”, that is not doing anything to dispute what I say, just trying to denigrate the posts based on delivery.
            Stick to CONTENT not PRESENTATION.
            Is that too hard for you to understand?
            You debate the message, you don’t shoot the messenger.

  • alan2102

    https://www.consumeraffairs.com/news/united-nations-report-accuses-pesticide-seed-industry-of-human-rights-violations-030917.html
    United Nations report accuses pesticide, seed industry of human rights violations
    Industrial agriculture and pesticides will not feed the world, UN experts say.
    03/09/2017
    …snip… major cracks are emerging in [the pro-GMO, pro-pesticide, pro-industrial/corporate agriculture narrative]. The latest comes in the form of a report put out by experts from the United Nations, who say that pesticide use has actually increased, not decreased, in developing countries where genetically modified seeds are used. “… it is commonly argued that intensive industrial agriculture, which is heavily reliant on pesticide inputs, is necessary to increase yields to feed a growing world population,” the report notes. They describe this argument however as little more than a marketing tactic. “The assertion promoted by the agrochemical industry that pesticides are necessary to achieve food security is not only inaccurate, but dangerously misleading.”

    http://sustainablepulse.com/2017/03/07/un-experts-slam-global-pesticide-industry-for-human-and-environmental-damage-full-report-here/
    UN Experts Slam Global Pesticide Industry for Human and Environmental Damage
    Posted on Mar 7 2017
    Two United Nations experts are calling Tuesday for a comprehensive new global treaty to regulate and phase out the use of dangerous pesticides in farming, and move towards sustainable agricultural practices. They say: “excessive use of pesticides are very dangerous to human health, to the environment and it is misleading to claim they are vital to ensuring food security.” ….snip…. [They] pointed to research showing that pesticides were responsible for an estimated 200,000 acute poisoning deaths each year. The overwhelming number of fatalities, some 99%, occurred in developing countries where health, safety and environmental regulations were weaker. Chronic exposure to pesticides has been linked to cancer, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, hormone disruption, developmental disorders and sterility. Farmers and agricultural workers, communities living near plantations, indigenous communities and pregnant women and children are particularly vulnerable to pesticide exposure and require special protections.

    • Jason

      I can’t help but wonder…..so what? They published a paper stating things that we all already know. Misuse of pesticides is dangerous. This is problematic in developing nations where regulations, education and access to equipment are lacking.

      Seems like it might be a good idea to tackle the problems of regulations, education & equipment….doesn’t it?

      Did you read the paper? It’s full of misleading statements. For example, they state that pesticides have not reduced crop losses in the past 40 years, citing a paper documenting this. What the paper actually says is “Despite a clear increase in pesticide use, crop losses have not significantly decreased during the last 40 years. However, pesticide use has enabled farmers to modify production systems and to increase crop productivity without sustaining the higher losses likely to occur from an increased susceptibility to the damaging effect of pests.”

      Well, I’ll be darned…their citation doesn’t back up their claims after all.

      Another misleading statement is when they state “Crop rotation and usage of cover crops also help protect the soil from various pathogens, suppress weeds and increase organic content, while more resistant crop varieties can help prevent plant disease.” as an alternative to industrial Ag. But what they don’t tell you are that these practices are already relatively common in industrial agriculture. They have measured benefits and are being applied where applicable. For example, here in Indiana, we had 1.5M acres of cover crops planted this past season, up 225% in the past decade.

      These guys aren’t saying anything that isn’t already known. They also aren’t offering any viable solutions on how to change the situation. It reads like nothing more than a propaganda piece.

      • alan2102

        Jason, you’re absolutely right. So what? 200,000 acute poisoning deaths each year — so what? Increased cancer, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, hormone disruption, developmental disorders and sterility — so what? We all knew that already. Old news.

        • Jason

          Exactly. We already know those are problems. So…the question is why is it happening and what can be done about it? Clearly the problem isn’t just that pesticide are used. We use them here in the US extensively yet as the article indicated, we don’t suffer these same issues. That indicates that they are being used differently in the developing world than they are in developed nations…. right?

          So, it seems the best course wouldn’t be to throw the baby out with the bath water. Obviously, we get significant benefit from the use of these products. And I’m willing to bet if the developing world had the choice between education on how to use pesticides properly and how to use proper protection or starving…. they’d choose the proper use of pesticides.

          What do you think?

          • alan2102

            Jason, once again you’re absolutely right. We use pesticides here in the US, properly and extensively, yet we don’t suffer any significant incidence of Alzheimer’s, Parkinsons, hormone disruptions, developmental disorders, and so on. Indeed, incidence of all those diseases, and many more, are dropping rapidly. And the 200,000 acute poisoning deaths elsewhere are no doubt a simple matter of getting them the correct information about proper use. They never had the correct information because the materials are improperly labeled. Once again, I defer to your superior insight.

          • Jason

            yet we don’t suffer any significant incidence of Alzheimer’s, Parkinsons, hormone disruptions, developmental disorders, and so on. Indeed, incidence of all those diseases, and many more, are dropping rapidly.

            One wouldn’t expect them to drop if the issues were unrelated… right? And how would we know if they are related? Well, we have a pretty good source of information on this issue:

            https://aghealth.nih.gov/

            Generally speaking, this shows that Ag workers are healthier than the general public and don’t have higher rates of the diseases you’ve listed than the general public. In fact one such study shows that exposure to certain pesticides are correlated to a higher risk for Parkinsons among workers who don’t wear gloves but NOT for those that do. Which goes to show that educating people on the risk and having the right equipment can negate risks.
            https://aghealth.nih.gov/news/AHSUpdate2015.pdf#search=parkinsons

            Again… saying that we should abandon the use of pesticides because there are some that we have found higher risks associated with them is throwing out the baby with the bath water.

            And the 200,000 acute poisoning deaths elsewhere are no doubt a simple matter of getting them the correct information about proper use.

            Duh… acute poisoning happens from exposure to very high levels of a pesticide. Clearly, that only happens 1) intentionally or 2) by not using the product properly either because you don’t know how, don’t have the right equipment or do’t understand the risks. Even your own publication states that better regulation in developing areas would help to control this problem.

            Once again, I defer to your superior insight.

            You are wise.

          • Arthur Doucette

            Jason, I checked. Data on pesticide exposure were obtained from calls to poison control centers (PCCs) reported by the American Association of Poison Control Centers and deaths from pesticide poisonings reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) WONDER (Wide-ranging Online Data for Epidemiologic Research). An average of 23 deaths occur each year with pesticides as the underlying cause of death, most due to suicidal ingestions.

          • alan2102

            And, since the low incidence of acute toxicity can be directly extrapolated to sub-acute and chronic toxicity, societal risk is minimal or non-existent. What a relief to know that!

          • Arthur Doucette

            Nope. We know that from extensive testing. The toxicity of concern for consumers for any pesticide has to do with the residue on the crop at harvest. That is controlled by the Maximum Residue Level (MRL), which insures that if everything you ate had that pesticide on it (you were a vegan) and all you ate was at the MRL, you still couldn’t exceed the Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI), which is set based on the Reference Dose (RfD) which is at most 1/100th the level that when fed daily for extended periods of time shows NO observable effects (NOEL), and by observable, that’s via blood and tissue examination. Annual testing shows that over 99% of the tested crops do not exceed the MRL (and most are far from it) and that is why its not a concern. Including issues applicable to pesticide applicators is not relevant to consumer levels.

          • alan2102

            “the Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI) … is set based on the Reference
            Dose (RfD) which is at most 1/100th the level that when fed daily for
            extended periods of time shows NO observable effects (NOEL)”

            I agree. And since it has been proven that risk is non-existent, it is all the more annoying to read the nattering of paranoid luddites about transgenerational effects: https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2014/03/the-toxins-that-threaten-our-brains/284466/

          • Arthur Doucette

            ==>“What [Landrigan and Grandjean] are doing with the data is missing the key component, which is the dose,” Plunkett explained. “Many of the chemicals they talk about are well established to be neurodevelopmental toxicants in children—but it’s all about how much they’re exposed to. Just like anything else. If you don’t give people enough, or if you don’t take enough in your water or food or the air you breathe, you’re not going to have an effect.” ==> So for instance, go to the USDA DB and check the level of the ONLY pesticide in their list, Chlorpyrifos, and then see how much is on our produce compared to the RfD (which indeed multi-generational tests are used to determine), and what do we find? To start with the RfD for Chlorpyrifos is 21 μg/day and its only found on 50 of our foods. 9 of the foods averaged less than 1/10th of the RfD in a kg of produce (2.2 lbs). 23 had an average of less than 1/100th the RfD in a kg, 9 had an average of 1/1000th the RfD in a kg. Of the 9 foods with more than 1/10th the RfD in a kg, the top one was apples, which was found on 30% of the samples at an average of 12μg/kg which amounts to just 1.1 μg per serving. So if you eat the crop with the highest level of this pesticide and if you eat 6 apples in a day, you would get just 1/3rd of the RfD, which is 1/300th the level we have tested that shows no observable effects, when consumed every day for extended periods of time. Then next food would be Green peppers, For Domestic Conventional Green Peppers, it is found in but 3.1% of the samples and the average level is but 0.2μg in a serving. The margin of safety is HUGE.

          • alan2102

            What Plunkett is doing with the data is missing key components, such as the interaction of very low doses of multiple agents (completely untested), as well as study design intended to detect subtle cumulative effects over long periods. We did not know, for example, about the real neurotoxicity of extremely low doses of lead until DECADES later. We were assured “the margin of safety is HUGE.” Uh-huh.

          • Arthur Doucette

            No such assurance was EVER given for lead.
            It was NEVER set with an RfD or ever allowed at any MRL on a food source. The Govt has a goal of ZERO in our water, and water suppliers have to take action if the levels exceed 15ug.
            We were getting it into our systems from NON-FOOD sources and because of that, a half century ago we started phasing it out of gasoline (tetraethyl lead) and 40 years ago it was banned in hobby and house paint.
            Our science is FAR better today than it was a half century ago.
            Which is one of the reasons that we in fact established the RfD approach based on the lowest level with No Observable Effects when consumed for a long duration and then set ADIs at 1/100th (or less) of that level and then set MRLs based on a “worst case” model where even if everything you ate was at the MRL, you STILL couldn’t exceed the ADI. We did this
            to provide this HUGE margin of safety. Something that was NOT done in the 60s.

          • alan2102

            “No such assurance was EVER given for lead”. False. Which you would know if you had dredged deeply into the historical lead literature, as I have. Lead was never thought to be utterly non-toxic, but we were assured repeatedly that the supposedly-low levels found in children’s blood was quite safe and free from significant harm. WRONG. And it took DECADES of brave and relentless activism on the part of certain key physicians to right the wrong, against heavy resistance.

            You said nothing about xenobiotic interactions. But then, what could you say? It is a young field, you know nothing about it, and surely you don’t want to know anything about it — especially considering that it puts us very very far from being able to talk credibly about “huge margins of safety”, as you are so fond of doing. Google: “Human Toxicology of Chemical Mixtures” (book), just for starters.

            Oh, and remember the real action is with developing fetuses, infants and children, not grown adults. Fetuses are perhaps 10x to 100x more sensitive than adults. How much of that “huge margin of safety” has been established for fetuses and infants?

            Good luck! In a century or so, I’m sure we’ll have very comprehensive knowledge, sufficient to make sweeping statements. But making those statements today makes you look like a fool, or worse. Please don’t do that.

          • Maia

            Yes, we know very very little about the INTERACTIONS between xeno toxins in the environment and in the body. There are now thousands let loose into water, soil, air, food. GE advocates try to claim that all plants naturally produce equally dangerous toxins. That could not be true, since literally everyone agrees that most plant “toxins” are actually compounds beneficial to mammals (not insects) in many diferent ways. So it’s obvious that the best diet includes lots of unsprayed fruits, vegetables, legumes,, etc as little processed as possible. So why aren’t we concentrating on THAT knowledge and finding ways to help people eat this way?

          • alan2102

            “why aren’t we concentrating on THAT knowledge and finding ways to help people eat this way?”

            Maia, Maia, Maia. So naive. We aren’t concentrating on helping people eat that way because there are MUCH more important priorities. Like profit-making, maximizing shareholder value, shilling and propagandizing for Big Agra, Big Pharma, and the like, and generally defending the bourgeois capitalist order of things that is destroying ecosystems and wrecking the planet while (incidentally) endangering individual health.

            Get with the program, Maia! The business of America is BUSINESS. Do NOT listen to chicken-little tree-huggers and complainers like this character Jonathan Latham:

            http://www.independentsciencenews.org/environment/how-the-great-food-war-will-be-won/
            How the Great Food War Will Be Won
            January 12, 2015
            By Jonathan Latham, PhD
            […snip…]
            The project to fully industrialise global food production is far from complete, yet already it is responsible for most deforestation, most marine pollution, most coral reef destruction, much of greenhouse gas emissions, most habitat loss, most of the degradation of streams and rivers, most food insecurity, most immigration, most water depletion, massive human health problems, and so on (Foley et al 2005; Foley et al 2011). Therefore, it is not an exaggeration to say that if the industrialisation of food is not reversed our planet will be made unlivable for multi-cellular organisms. Our planet is becoming literally uninhabitable solely as a result of the social and ecological consequences of industrialising agriculture. All these problems are without even mentioning the trillions of dollars in annual externalised costs and subsidies (Pretty et al. 2000).

          • Jason

            Yes, we know very very little about the INTERACTIONS between xeno toxins in the environment and in the body.

            xenotoxins, huh? That’s basically a scary way to describe every toxic substance ever. ANd actually,,, we know quite a bit about many “xenotoxins” and their interactions with the body. Just like there are certainly many we don’t know a lot about. So what?

            That could not be true, since literally everyone agrees that most plant “toxins” are actually compounds beneficial to mammals (not insects) in many diferent ways.

            Uumm… No.

            So it’s obvious that the best diet includes lots of unsprayed fruits, vegetables, legumes,, etc as little processed as possible. So why aren’t we concentrating on THAT knowledge and finding ways to help people eat this way?

            Well, actually, dietary guidelines have been suggesting more fruits & veggies for quite a long time. This isn’t new. However the “unsprayed” part doesn’t really hold up under scrutiny.

          • Maia

            Um, read up on phytochemistry and get back to me.

          • Maia

            The toxins I refer to are laboratory inventions used by corporations in manufacturing, big ag, oil extraction, big pharma, etc . They are also know as “novel” toxins and there are many thousands of them that have been dumped and/or leaked into our environment, and thus into our bodies. This is NOT true of naturally occuring chemicals and you know that very well. Something that’s been around for thousands or millions of years has already been adapted to. Novel lab chemistry inventions have NOT. Some we can handles, ten thousand and growing every year, NO.

          • Jason

            This is NOT true of naturally occuring chemicals and you know that very well. Something that’s been around for thousands or millions of years has already been adapted to.

            This is utter nonsense. Natural compounds are just as likely t be toxic as are novel ones. And natural compounds are no less toxic now than they were thousands of years ago. Mercury, arsenic, lead, etc… all of these things have been around since the beginning of life and are just as toxic now as they always have been.
            You’re propagating nothing but woo.

          • Maia

            Again, if you knew anything about nutrition, you’d know that it’s choosing those foods rich in phytochemicals toxic to insects, but crucial for humans. If you know plants, you don’t eat the stems of rhubarb, only the leaves. You dry nettles to take the sting out of them. You don’t eat tomato leaves, only the fruit. Why? Because those very plants you call full of toxins equal to lab chemicals, are extremely nutritious: anti-oxidants, catehins, polyphenols, indoles, flavonoids, and more.
            You obviously don’t understand botanical biochemistry and believe that botanical “chemicals” are the same as Dupont chemicals. Your proganda is pro-industry. What I am asking is that people get to know something about phytochemistry and mammalian adaptation to same. What I am NOT saying is that there are no “natural toxins”, but they are much more eaisily avoided. Lead, arsenic, and mercury are not plant toxins, Jason. Lead is rare except when introduced by human manufacturing, same with mercury. Tiny amounts of arsenic and selenium and other potentially toxic metals are in the soil . Some plants take them up, and we do know which ones, and this knowlege has been around for hundreds of years at least. How long have Dupont multisyllabic manufacturing chemicals been around? Can they be easily avoided? No. They are now pervasive.
            Again, go study phytochemistry. I am done here.

          • Jason

            No kidding veggies are nutritious. I think we can both agree that “duh” would be appropriate there. But to say they’re not full of “toxins” is a total lie. They are loaded with them. They’re just in small enough concentrations as to not be of any health concern.
            I’m sure your story is great for selling your woo. But it’s not at all accurate.

          • alan2102

            Maia: “naturally occurring chemicals…[have] been around for thousands or millions of years [and have] already been adapted to.”

            Jason: “This is utter nonsense.”

            No it isn’t. Again, Maia is right and you are wrong. Embarrassingly wrong. What Maia said is not controversial; it is commonly known fact. The only thing that ought be added is that “adapted to” does not mean that the compounds in question are utterly non-toxic in any quantity. Everything becomes toxic at some level, typically far above a natural level of exposure (“natural” meaning by way of some reasonable diet). “Adapted to” means that we adapted to these compounds over countless millennia of plant/animal co-evolution, and our bodies have no trouble with natural (dietary) levels of exposure to them. Such low levels of exposure are said to have “hormetic” effects: stimulating cellular defense and repair pathways.

            Jason: “Natural compounds are just as likely to be toxic as are novel ones.”

            No they are not. Natural compounds are less likely to be toxic. There ARE natural toxins; rarely, quite potent ones; and all natural compounds have potential toxicity. But, as a generality, toxicity is much more a property of xenobiotics than of homobiotics (orthomolecules, metabolites). Don’t confuse the point I just made with one-sided hatred and rejection of xenobiotics. Some xenobiotics are wonderful. Humans are capable of coming up with really good novel stuff. Nevertheless, the older, naturally-occurring stuff is generally safer.

            Jason: “natural compounds are no less toxic now than they were thousands of years ago. Mercury, arsenic, lead, etc… all of these things have been around since the beginning of life and are just as toxic now as they always have been.”

            Yes, of course heavy metals have been around for all time. But you neglect to mention that high concentrations of those metals — concentrations which allow significant toxicity — are almost entirely the product of technology, starting with relatively primitive technology (e.g. the making of lead kitchenware by the Romans), and continuing to today (e.g. the belching of megatons of mercury into the atmosphere by coal-burning). The compounds themselves, and their potential toxicity, have of course not changed, but what HAS changed, dramatically, is one’s potential exposure to those compounds. Prehistoric hunter-gatherers had essentially NO contact (or extremely rare contact) with concentrated heavy metals, nor with concentrated natural compounds of any kind.Today, it is common.

            Jason, you seem to be quite ignorant. Do you read much? Or at all? I am even having trouble seeing you as an intelligent person. Maybe you are, but it is not very evident from your comments. Your comments are generally stupid and worthless, though with occasional exceptions.

          • Jason

            No it isn’t. Again, Maia is right and you are wrong.

            I’m afraid not. But thanks for your input.

            No they are not. Natural compounds are less likely to be toxic.

            Nope. But thanks, again. As someone once told me; “read the scientific literature”
            http://www.pnas.org/content/87/19/7777.full.pdf

            Jason, you seem to be quite ignorant. Do you read much?

            You strike me as someone who thinks of themself as intelligent but can’t help but prove themself wrong each time you post one of your wind-bag, say nothing posts. I really have little interest in people like you. Bu thanks for your interest in me.

          • alan2102

            Amusing that you dismiss uncontroversial, well-known facts with “I’m afraid not”. You might as well respond to the claim that the earth is round with “I’m afraid not”.

            You’re a funny guy.

            Thanks for the link to the quarter-century-old paper from Ames. I am familiar with his work. It predates an entire world of literature that has come up since, which has greatly extended our knowledge of what were thought to be “plant toxins”. Clue: they are not toxic. At least not in the classic sense, at dietary levels. I would go on, but why bother? You interpret anything going over your head (which is practically everything, apparently) as “wind-baggy”.

            Think of myself as intelligent? Not that much. Mostly just in relation to the likes of you — which is a low bar.

          • Jason

            It predates an entire world of literature that has come up since, which has greatly extended our knowledge of what were thought to be “plant toxins”.

            Sure it does. And I’m equally sure you’ll be producing these papers any moment. (Full disclosure….I’m not holding my breath)

            Clue: they are not toxic. At least not in the classic sense, at dietary levels.

            See what I mean? Nothing but a pretentious, long winded way of saying “nun-uh”. At least I had the courtesy of not waisting time.

          • alan2102

            “I’m equally sure you’ll be producing these papers any moment”

            Just go to pubmed and dial up a few, or a few hundred. Keywords like phytochemicals, toxic, toxin, evolution, hormesis, hormetic, etc. I sure as hell am not going to spend 45 minutes of my time drafting a reply with links to specific papers; such effort and high quality product would be dismissed as “long-winded”.

            “Nothing but a pretentious, long winded way of saying “nun-uh””

            Two short sentences were “long winded”?

            Jason, do you find Batman comics to be “long-winded”?

            “I had the courtesy of not waisting [sic] time”.

            Jason, did you make it through middle school?

          • Jason

            Just go to pubmed and dial up a few, or a few hundred.

            Yah… I thought not. Thanks for playing.

          • alan2102

            I sure as hell am not going to spend 45 minutes of my time drafting a
            reply with links to specific papers; such effort and high quality
            product would be dismissed as “long-winded”.

          • Jason

            Oh yes. Totally. (Insert eye roll here)

          • alan2102

            Jason: “xenotoxins, huh? That’s basically a scary way to describe every toxic substance ever.”

            “Xenobiotic” is the correct term — the technical term for “non-natural chemical” — something produced synthetically, not occurring in nature. “Xenobiotic” is used extensively in the medical/scientific literature.

            “Xenotoxin”, technically, is a toxic compound occurring outside the target (victim) organism. It is not necessarily a xenobiotic; it could be a natural compound. It is “xeno” in the sense of coming from the outside. A better descriptor would have been EXO-: exotoxin. But it does not matter, since “xenotoxin” is a rarely-used term.

            Jason: “we know quite a bit about many “xenotoxins” and their interactions with the body.”

            The word is “xenobiotic”, and yes, a fair amount is known about them. Of concern is the vast zone of things NOT known, far exceeding what is known, and perhaps unknowable in any reasonable timeframe.

            Jason, it sounds like you don’t read much scientific literature about the subjects on which you comment. You might want to give it a try. Scientific literature is a great source of info!

            Jason: “there are certainly many we don’t know a lot about. So what?”

            Are you serious? What you just said is that it is OK to release, willy-nilly, all kinds of untested or minimally-tested xenobiotics into the environment/food-chain. Your attitude toward that is “so what?”. Seriously?! Even chemical industry PR flacks would not express such a crazy sentiment.

            Maia: “everyone agrees that most plant “toxins” are actually compounds beneficial to mammals (not insects) in many diferent ways.”

            Jason: “Uumm… No.”

            Ummm… Yes. What Maia said is correct. The only debatable word would be (could be) “most”. Perhaps better to say “many”. A wide variety of phytochemicals — beneficial in many ways for humans — were apparently evolved by plants to combat infections and infestations. They are toxic to bugs that invade/attack plants, but not to humans. This is well-documented.

            Jason, it sounds like you don’t read much scientific literature about the subjects on which you comment. You might want to give it a try. Scientific literature is a great source of info!

          • Jason

            I’m not sure I’ve ever seen anyone type more but say less. Nice work.

            And you’re lecturing me about scientific literature?? You sound like you’re getting your info from Natural News.

            What a self important tool.

          • alan2102

            Ah yes, another non-response. I’m getting used to it from you (and Arthur).

            Yes, I am lecturing you about scientific literature. It seems that you don’t read much of it, or any of it. It seems that you don’t read much of anything, ever, judging from your comments. Perhaps because you have trouble reading? Hard to say. You are clearly quite ignorant, and possibly of low intelligence. Hard to say. Someone of low intelligence would be inclined to perceive a rational, intelligent person as “self important”.

            I know nothing at all about Natural News. I visit that site maybe once per year, if that. Low quality.

          • Jason

            Right..I don’t read, says the person demonstrating total chemical ignorance. Really, I haven’t seen you post anything other than long winded insults. Why would I bother?

          • alan2102

            You’re welcome to prove that I am ignorant. Go for it! But a warning: to do that, you would have to construct a series of intelligent, persuasive sentences. A tall order, no doubt.

          • Jason

            Simple to prove. You make claims such as “They are toxic to bugs that invade/attack plants, but not to humans. This is well-documented.”

            Yet, anyone familiar with toxicology knows that everything is toxic in the right dose. Sure, some compounds are more toxic to bugs than mammals. Others are just the reverse. Few are of any concern because of dose or exposure level. But anyone claiming “natural” coumpounds are any less toxic than synthetic by virtue of being “natural” is demonstrating ignorance (or deception).

          • Arthur Doucette

            Except you leave out ONE key point. Lead was NOT approved for use in our food.
            They thought lead was ok to use in paint and gasoline. Neither of which we eat.
            You can’t extrapolate the issues of lead in paint and gasoline to the testing we do on things we allow in our food, and the margins of safety we require.

            As for food testing, it is in fact multigenerational and we do make sure that these chemicals are not harmful to developing fetuses. Indeed, if they are they aren’t allowed. If we think that based on use, that children may ingest more per kg, then we lower the ADI to account for it, usually by another factor of 10.

          • alan2102

            Arthur: “Lead was NOT approved for use in our food.”

            Irrelevant.

            I’ll repeat the portion of our discussion that you are attempting to ignore; maybe you would like to reply this time:

            Arthur: “No such assurance was EVER given for lead”. False. Which you would know if you had dredged deeply into the historical lead literature, as I have. Lead was never thought to be utterly non-toxic, but we were assured repeatedly that the supposedly-low levels found in children’s blood was quite safe and free from significant harm. WRONG. And it took DECADES of brave and relentless activism on the part of certain key physicians to right the wrong, against heavy resistance.

            Did you hear me this time, Art? Yes, “such assurances” were given repeatedly. What you said was false. Perhaps you could take responsibility for your falsehoods. Yes? Or will you go hard-of-hearing again?

            Arthur: “They thought lead was ok to use in paint and gasoline. Neither of which we eat.”

            Yes we do. Paint is eaten all the time, and it is a common cause of lead intoxication.

            Why don’t you learn something about lead, rather than just spouting off ignorantly? Please stop. It makes you look bad.

          • Arthur Doucette

            NO, NO, and HELL NO.
            Lead was NEVER approved as a residue in our food.
            The testing done on things like paint and gasoline are NOT the same as the testing done on pesticides used on our food.
            You can’t compare the two.
            Secondly, the testing we did in the 1920s, to the 60s, when these were approved is not at all like the testing we do in the 21st century on items we allow in our food. Indeed the latest studies done on glyphosate are almost all more than a half century since the science on Lead showed it was toxic.

            Germany, acting as the European Union rapporteur member state (RMS) submitted their glyphosate renewal assessment report (RAR) to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) in January 2014, recommending re-approval of glyphosate for use in Europe with increase in the acceptable daily intake (ADI) from 0.3 to 0.5 mg per kg body weight per day.

            The overall findings of the RAR are that glyphosate poses no unacceptable risks. Glyphosate is not metabolized or accumulated in the body, not genotoxic, not carcinogenic, not endocrine disrupting, and not considered persistent or bioaccumulative; it has no reproductive toxicity, no toxic effects on hormone-producing or hormone-dependent organs, and no unacceptable effect on bees. Therefore any risks are within acceptable standards

            You are arguing that we can’t trust Drs today because they used to believe in “blood letting” as a cure.
            Total BS

            The only one looking bad is you.
            Bringing up non-food items and a substance that was banned a half century ago is really showing how desperate you are.

          • alan2102

            “Lead was NEVER approved as a residue in our food.”

            True, but irrelevant.

            I’ll repeat, again, the portion of our discussion that you are attempting to ignore; maybe you would like to reply this time:

            Arthur: “No such assurance was EVER given for lead”. False. Which you would know if you had dredged deeply into the historical lead literature, as I have. Lead was never thought to be utterly non-toxic, but we were assured repeatedly that the supposedly-low levels found in children’s blood was quite safe and free from significant harm. WRONG. And it took DECADES of brave and relentless activism on the part of certain key physicians to right the wrong, against heavy resistance.

            Did you hear me this time, Art? Yes, “such assurances” were given repeatedly. What you said was false. Perhaps you could take responsibility for your falsehoods. Yes? Or will you go hard-of-hearing again?

            Arthur: “They thought lead was ok to use in paint and gasoline. Neither of which we eat.”

            Yes we do. Paint is eaten all the time, and it is a common cause of lead intoxication in children. Would it be too much to ask you to take responsibility for your false statements?

            Arthur: “The testing done on things like paint and gasoline are NOT the same as the testing done on pesticides used on our food. You can’t compare the two.”

            Perhaps not. But as you know, Arthur, I did not say otherwise, so your red herring is just silly. I said that the assurances that were given regarding lead were similar in nature to the assurances we are now being given about pesticides (and GMOs, and many other things). Maybe those assurances are correct, and we have nothing to worry about. And maybe they are not correct. We learned, too late, that lead was harmful in MUCH lower concentration than was thought. We were given repeated (false) assurances of harmlessness, and not just with lead. There are many other examples of similar things, though the example of lead is particularly egregious.

            I understand that you wish to ignore pesky historical examples of the way in which the corporate/industrial assurances of harmlessness were FALSE AND MISLEADING, DISASTROUSLY SO. It must feel really bad for you to confront such historical realities. But there it is. I can’t erase history in order to make you more comfortable in your corporate/industrial shilling work. Sorry, pal. You’re on your own with that.

            And, again: why don’t you learn something about lead, rather than just spouting off ignorantly? Please stop. It makes you look bad.

          • Arthur Doucette

            No, No, and still wrong.
            We don’t eat paint as a FOOD. Yes, we found that kids ingest paint and that’s why it was banned from paint, but Paint is NOT a food, and thus not regulated the same as food is. Food is held to a much higher standard and so comparing a compound used in paint to one we allow on our food is pointless. Not the same testing is done.

            Comparing what was done as far as environmental impact back in the 60s and 70s to what we do today, is pointless, the science and testing has progressed far beyond what we did a half century ago. Indeed methods for measuring lead in biological media weren’t even developed till the late 1960s.

            But you are still making the same claim, that this is similar and yet there is nothing similar about it.

          • Jason

            You might have a good point IF this were some topic with little or no data to support decision making.

            But it’s not.

          • alan2102

            https://aghealth.nih.gov/news/AHSUpdate2015.pdf#search=parkinsons
            Parkinson’s
            Exposure to agricultural pesticides may increase a person’s risk of developing Parkinson’s disease. In 2011, AHS researchers reported that participants who used paraquat or rotenone were twice as likely to develop Parkinson’s disease as people who didn’t use these chemicals.

            https://aghealth.nih.gov/news/2016.html
            Cancer
            Women who reported using OP [organophosphate] insecticides were more likely to develop breast cancer than women who never used these insecticides. In addition, some specific OPs were associated with other cancers:
            Malathion, the most commonly used OP insecticide, was associated with an increased risk of thyroid cancer.
            Diazinon, another common OP insecticide, was associated with an increased risk of ovarian cancer.
            snip
            Direct use of a pesticide is only one way that farming women could be exposed. The study team is evaluating exposure to pesticides by other routes, such as drift from nearby fields, bystander exposure on the farm when pesticides are being applied or mixed by others, and pesticide residues in the home.

            https://aghealth.nih.gov/news/2016.html
            Kidney Disease
            snip
            Applicators who reported the highest use of the herbicides atrazine, metolachlor, alachlor, paraquat, and pendamethalin, and the insecticide permethrin, had the highest risk of developing kidney disease compared to those who did not report use of these pesticides. In addition, applicators who sought medical care more than once for reasons related to their pesticide use were twice as likely to develop end-stage kidney disease and those who were ever hospitalized for reasons related to pesticide use were three times as likely to develop end-stage kidney disease as those who had not sought such care.

            ………………………

            Credulous fools might conclude from all this that these are nasty toxins, and that their use should be discontinued, or severely limited, in favor of existing effective alternatives. Fortunately, we have Jason and the agrochemical industry PR people to steer us onto the correct path.

          • Damo

            Funny, it seemed like he was arguing the same thing. But I think the problem is your definition of “limited” and “effective alternatives”.

          • Jason

            Please read your piece. As I stated earlier, protective equipment negated the increased risk or Parkinson’s.
            “In a new AHS study, researchers found that using chemical resistant gloves and practicing good workplace hygiene, such as washing hands and changing clothes a er using pesticides, may help protect you against Parkinson’s disease.”

            Sort of restates what I said, doesn’t it? Not only that. But one of the two pesticides mentioned is an organic product. Should we ban organic farming too?

            Credulous fools might conclude from all this that these are nasty toxins, and that their use should be discontinued, or severely limited, in favor of existing effective alternatives.

            That is exactly what has taken place. Use of organophosphate isecticdes has been greatly curtailed because of risks associated with them. And more effective alternatives have been used (GMO bT crops).

            Fortunately, we have people who spend their lives studying these issue and helping us to understand the risks associated so that we can make better decisions. It might behoove you to listen to them.

          • alan2102

            “Use of organophosphate isecticdes has been greatly curtailed because of risks associated with them.”

            Do you mean to tell me that new research revealed risks where none were evident initially?! I don’t believe it.

          • Jason

            Yes. And because these specific pesticides are problematic, clearly the best course of action would be to not use any other pesticides…. ever. Who cares about feeding people… right?

          • alan2102

            “Who cares about feeding people… right?”

            Jason, I apologize. How very right you are — once again. ONLY pesticide- and fossil-fuel-drunk (and highly profitable!) agro-industrialism could possibly feed earth’s hungry masses. It is downright IMMORAL to even suggest otherwise. I must thank you yet again for setting me straight, and for compelling me to REJECT the nonsense spouted by the likes of Jonathan Latham:

            http://www.independentsciencenews.org/environment/how-the-great-food-war-will-be-won/
            How the Great Food War Will Be Won
            January 12, 2015
            By Jonathan Latham, PhD
            By conventional wisdom it is excellent news. Researchers from Iowa have shown that organic farming methods can yield almost as highly as pesticide-intensive methods. Other researchers, from Berkeley, California, have reached a similar conclusion. Indeed, both findings met with a very enthusiastic reception.
            […snip…]
            The big idea that industrial producers in the food system want you to believe is that only they can produce enough for the future population (Peekhaus 2010). Thus non-industrial systems of farming, such as all those which use agroecological methods, or SRI, or are localised and family-oriented, or which use organic methods, or non-GMO seeds, cannot feed the world.
            To be sure, agribusiness has other PR strategies. Agribusiness is “pro-science”, its opponents are “anti-science”, and so on. But the main plank has for decades been to create a cast-iron moral framing around the need to produce more food (Stone and Glover 2011).
            […snip…]
            The real food crisis is of overproduction
            Yet this strategy has a disastrous foundational weakness. There is no global or regional shortage of food. There never has been and nor is there ever likely to be. India has a superabundance of food. South America is swamped in food. The US, Australia, New Zealand and Europe are swamped in food (e.g. Billen et al 2011). In Britain, like in many wealthy countries, nearly half of all row crop food production now goes to biofuels, which at bottom are an attempt to dispose of surplus agricultural products. China isn’t quite swamped but it still exports food (see Fig 1.); and it grows 30% of the world’s cotton. No foodpocalypse there either.
            […snip…]
            Even some establishment institutions will occasionally admit that the food shortage concept — now and in any reasonably conceivable future — is bankrupt. According to experts consulted by the World Bank Institute there is already sufficient food production for 14 billion people — more food than will ever be needed. The Golden Fact of agribusiness is a lie.

          • Jason

            Latham writes a great little story. Get back to me when he joins the real world.

          • alan2102

            Thanks, Jason. I have 100% confidence that you have massive documentation proving Latham wrong about everything. Don’t bother actually presenting it; I’ll just take your word.

          • Jason

            No need to prove anyone wrong. He’s not proven himself right. He wrote a great little story. That’s it. He discounts facts in order to paint the picture he wants to paint. Textbook agenda driven activism.

          • Arthur Doucette

            There is no possible way there is food today for 14 billion people produced each year. If there were the stockpiles would be growing every year, but they are not. We typically have about a 1/3 year supply of our major commodity crops (corn, wheat, rice, soy) on hand, but that’s it.

          • alan2102

            You’re wrong, as usual, Arthur. (This gets tiring.)

            First, most of the food actually eaten (that’s right: MOST) never shows up in stockpiles at all, because it is grown informally, on a small scale — sometimes called “peasant agriculture”. It is not part of the corporate/industrial system, and therefore it is invisible to people like you. This informal cultivation is much more energy-efficient than conventional agriculture, and generates none of the harmful externalities. It is also highly elastic, since it depends not at all on the industrial inputs that limit (to some degree) conventional agriculture. It can easily scale with population growth. Though, population growth slows every year, so the scaling required going forward is not huge.

            Here is a backgrounder:
            http://www.etcgroup.org/files/ETC_Who_Will_Feed_Us.pdf
            November 2009, ETC Group
            Summing Up the Difference — Chain vs. Web

            Second, even if #1 were not true (though it is), agroecological techniques are more than capable of growing plenty for everyone, without unsustainable practices and unacceptable environmental damage (i.e. unlike the systems and institutions that you defend). There is extensive documentation on this point which you can pursue if you are interested. I won’t hold my breath.

            Third, even fossil-fuel- and toxic-chemical-intensive industrial agriculture is already growing far more than enough food, with no end in sight (with the possible exception of coming to an end if a global environmental catastrophe — partially caused by that very industrial ag system — takes everything down).

            The real food/hunger problem is rooted in the criminal rapacious destructive greed-based system that you support — the system that produces obscene poverty and resulting hunger and malnutrition — and NOT with the actual quantities of food produced, which are abundant.

            It would help greatly if you would read the scientific literature, rather than just blowing (attempting to blow) your corporate/industrial talking-point smoke up our asses.

            https://www.researchgate.net/publication/241746569
            Journal of Sustainable Agriculture, 36:595-598, 2012
            We Already Grow Enough Food for 10 Billion People… and Still Can’t End Hunger
            […snip…]
            “Hunger is caused by poverty and inequality, not scarcity. For the past two decades, the rate of global food production has increased faster than the rate of global population growth. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (2009a, 2009b) the world produces more than 1 1/2 times enough food to feed everyone on the planet. That’s already enough to feed 10 billion people, the world’s 2050 projected population peak.”

          • Arthur Doucette

            Well that is an editorial, and no actual data is given that supports that claim. The do link to the 2009 FAO report, but we can read the 2015 report, and nowhere does it support the claim that our only problem is distribution. http://www.fao.org/3/a4ef2d16-70a7-460a-a9ac-2a65a533269a/i4646e.pdf
            And I didn’t say most of the food eaten shows up in stockpiles, you implied that it did. That we grew enough food for TWICE as many people that exist. Well that means either we are stockpiling it or we are throwing it away. No evidence for either was provided. So the question is simple, if we grow twice what we eat, where is this other mass of food going? Finally I didn’t say we didn’t grow enough for everyone (if distribution wasn’t a problem) but it is a problem and its not easily overcome. We do grow more food than we need, but not much more.

            As to your claim that we could grow even more by altering our methods. FROM YOUR SOURCE: A new a study from McGill University and the University of Minnesota published in the journal Nature compared organic and conventional yields from 66 studies and 316 trials (Seufert et al. 2012). Researchers found that organic systems on average yielded 25% less than conventional.

            If we grew 25% less than we did today, we would go from 1 billion hungry to them starving.
            The idea that our methods aren’t sustainable and cause unacceptable damage is simply not supported by the facts.

            https://www.agry.purdue.edu/ext/corn/news/timeless/images/CornYieldTrend_US.gif

          • alan2102

            “we can read the 2015 report, and nowhere does it support the claim that [the main] problem is distribution.”

            Yes it does. Repeatedly. Just read the damn thing, Arthur. They don’t use the literal word “distribution”, but that’s what they are talking about. For example, from the Key Messages page: “progress [against malnutrition] has been hindered by slower and less inclusive economic growth”. “Less inclusive” = a distribution problem, rooted in money. That is one MECHANISM of distributional problem.

            Arthur: “I didn’t say most of the food eaten shows up in stockpiles”

            Yes you did. You said that 14 billion people could not possibly be fed; if they could, then the food would be showing up in stockpiles. That is false. That assumes that all the food grown shows up in stockpiles. It does not.

            Arthur: “That we grew enough food for TWICE as many people that exist.”

            I did not say that. No one said that. Why are you pulling that straw man out of your ass, when no one said it?

            Arthur: “As to your claim that we could grow even more by altering our methods.FROM YOUR SOURCE: A new a study from McGill University and the University of Minnesota published in the journal Nature compared organic and conventional yields from 66 studies and 316 trials (Seufert et al.2012). Researchers found that organic systems on average yielded 25%”

            That’s right. But you did two things:

            1. You cut the sentence off, in order to hide the important part. Here is the full sentence: “Researchers found that organic systems on average yielded 25% less than conventional, chemical-intensive systems—although THIS WAS HIGHLY VARIABLE AND CONTEXT-SPECIFIC”. Highly variable and context-specific. What that means is that organic can sometimes, in some contexts, be much better than that. It goes without saying that the technique (organic, or other) should be selected for efficacy in a particular context. No one is advocating that organic be adopted universally, without regard to the peculiarities of locale, and without being sensitive to empirical reality (i.e. is it really working, in this context, or isn’t it?).

            2. You do not mention that organic is only ONE of numerous agroecological approaches, and not necessarily the best one. Organic technique is actually rather antiquated and weak. Generally, I would not recommend it. It is amazing that something as restrictive as organic is capable of coming close to, and exceeding, conventional industrial techniques in terms of yield; goes to show the power and robustness of agroecology in general. But we have much better options, so using organic as a benchmark sets a low bar. We don’t need to use organic as our benchmark or ideal.

            You don’t know any of that, do you? And you don’t want to know, because your whole role is to act as an ideologue and advocate of the corporate/industrial system. That would be in contrast to seeking the truth, and supporting those techniques and institutions that foster not only high agricultural yields, but also enduring soil health, reduced fossil fuel burning and petrochemical usage, general environmental sanity, economic fairness, democracy, and the needs of human beings, planet-wide.

          • Arthur Doucette

            The population is 7 Billion. Your claim (from the paper you cited) was that “there is already sufficient food production for 14 billion people” That is indeed twice as much food as we need.

            So where is it?
            Where is this massive amount of EXTRA food produced EVERY year?
            You say its not going into stockpiles, so are they burning it? burying it? shooting it into space?

            Inquiring minds want to know.

            I quoted the important point, of all the field trials the AVERAGE was 25% less. Yes sometimes it wasn’t that bad, but just as many times it was worse. The point it that it can’t compete with conventional. Which is why it is so much more expensive.

            I’m all about high agricultural yields. See Graph posted above.

            Or how about this one? http://www.americanthinker.com/images/bucket/2015-02/194067_5_.jpg

          • Arthur Doucette
          • alan2102

            “Your claim (from the paper you cited) was that “there is already sufficient food production for 14 billion people””

            The title of the paper just cited is: “We Already Grow Enough Food for 10 Billion People”. Got that? TEN billion. No mention of 14 billion.

            But perhaps you’re referring to the earlier paper, by Latham, which cites EXPERTS AT THE WORLD BANK INSTITUTE to the effect that there is “already sufficient food production for 14 billion”. If you have a problem with that, then why not take it up with the experts at the world bank institute? It sounds a bit too high to me, but who knows? Maybe they are right.

            “Where is this massive amount of EXTRA food produced EVERY year?”

            Huge amounts are fed to animals — an extremely wasteful use of feedstocks. Huge amounts are converted to biofuels. Huge amounts are simply thrown away; you’re familiar with the statistics on this, aren’t you? According to the FAO, about 1/3 of all food produced is lost in various ways, including outright throwing into the trash. Surely you know all this. Don’t you?

            “I quoted the important point, of all the field trials the AVERAGE was 25% less. Yes sometimes it wasn’t that bad, but just as many times it was worse.”

            So what? The point is as I wrote to you: you base your techniques on empirical results. If organic is not performing, you do something else, or perhaps combine organic with other agroecological approaches. No one is insisting that organic technique be used if it is not working (like if yields are poor).

            Further, the best long-term studies have shown comparable yields with organic. You know this is true if you’ve read the articles I posted — which you probably didn’t. For that matter, you would have known this is true before I posted anything, if you were approaching the subject honestly — which you are not. Further, organic offers other benefits. Yield is important, but not everything. And finally, as I wrote, organic is not even all that great! It is actually one of the weaker of the techniques under the general heading of agroecological tech.

            I think I’ll quit soon, maybe now. You’re too boring.

          • Arthur Doucette

            It was the source YOU posted. 14 Billion. Then you post another one, saying 10 Billion, and I went to that and as I explained its an editorial, and it refers to an old FAO report, but worse. that editorial makes this claim “According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (2009a, 2009b) the world produces
            more than 1 1/2 times enough food to feed everyone on the planet. That’s already enough to feed 10 billion people. And NEITHER of the two references it mentions make that claim, indeed they are all about growing hunger. This is 2009a http://www.fao.org/news/story/en/item/20568/icode/ and this is 2009b ftp://ftp.fao.org/docrep/fao/012/i0876e/i0876e.pdf No such assertion is made. So I found the more recent FAO report, and even 5 years later it doesn’t make the claim that we can already grow enough for 10 million people. Any such estimate would have to include dramatic reductions in losses that are inherent in the food system (losses to harvesting, packing, processing, transporting and distribution and finally end user losses). Worse, to get most food, other than grains, from areas of abundance to areas of scarcity is simply not possible. And we stockpile grains, so tracking those stockpiles is an indication of the amount over what we need is a good metric for our excess production. So you quoting an editorial and just tossing out numbers like you do means nothing.
            The FACT is as good as we are there are nearly 1 billion people chronically hungry, and its primarily because of the low productivity of small farms representing a huge share of the food people consume. In contrast, where we have modern conventional agriculture we typically have a bountiful food supply.

          • Jason

            Further, the best long-term studies have shown comparable yields with organic.

            I think we can all agre that the “best long-term studies are the Rodale institute’s. And while they claimed comparable yields, when you look at their data, you find a somewhat different story. Rodale’s system leaves land fallow every third year to recoup nutrients. That’s 1/3 of land that is not producing a crop. So when that’s factored in, what you actually have is a system that’s yielding 1/3 less than a conventional system.

            Funny how leaving out a little fact like that can really change the story, huh?

          • Damo

            Don’t forget, Rodale is the model organic farm. Very few farms can afford to do everything Rodale does. And they don’t have to turn a profit. Trust me, it is a common complaint among organic farmers.

          • Atomsk

            Who cares about feeding people… right?

            GMOs are absolutely and clearly NOT about feeding people. They’re about consolidating big capitalist control over food production. That’s all there is to them. The rest is complete nonsense. Their effects on health, however important they may be, are secondary compared to this. A lot of advanced technology had this motive behind it, from computers to automation, but GMOs seem especially “pure” to me in this respect.

            GMOs are not about increasing yields. They’re about simplifying agricultural work to deskill workers (NOT to make hard agricultural work easier) and implementing intellectual property control that can be exploited in the long term without significant ongoing investment. They’re forced primarily on poor countries, through economic (or other) pressures.

            Any scientist working for any big agricultural corporation producing GMOs, no matter how good and useful they think their work is, is a criminal.

          • Jason

            What an utter bone-headed response. You clearly have no experience in Ag outside of reading some activist blogs.
            And besides… we weren’t talking about GMOs.

          • Atomsk

            No, you just have no response.

            Regarding the relevance to your current discussion, I know you branched off from the article, but I couldn’t help responding to the “feeding the world” idiocy. I’m Hungarian, live in Hungary, and my grandparents were peasants on both sides (kulaks, btw), and I worked with them a bit (thankfully not too much) which is probably why I have a particular and very, very special dislike towards technologists in settler countries spreading their way of agriculture all over the world.

            I absolutely despise you guys. And I may not “work in Ag” but I know I’m not alone with that here.

          • Jason

            Right. No response. You go with that. Sounds like you got it all figured out.

          • Two Americas

            You may disagree with that post, but it is certainly not “bone-headed” nor is it derived from “some activist blogs.”

            You clearly have no experience in Ag…

            I do, as you well know from past encounters, encounters that you pretend never happened, of course. That way you can continue to repeat the same deceptive talking points over and over again just as though they had never been refuted.

            I wholeheartedly agree with the other poster’s remarks. I am highly suspicious about your claims of experience in ag. You are engaged in political advocacy, in any case, on behalf of the biotech industry. That is about politics, not science nor ag.

            And besides… we weren’t talking about GMOs.

            “How 2016 Transformed The GMO Debate And Paved The Way For Consumer Acceptance” (title of the article)

          • newestbeginning

            I admire your restraint.

          • Jason

            You may disagree with that post, but it is certainly not “bone-headed” nor is it derived from “some activist blogs.”

            Actually….yes. It is.

            I wholeheartedly agree with the other poster’s remarks. I am highly suspicious about your claims of experience in ag.

            I tell ya what. Tonight, I’ll keep track of how much sleep I lose worrying about your suspicions. Sound fair?

            “How 2016 Transformed The GMO Debate And Paved The Way For Consumer Acceptance” (title of the article)

            Thanks for that, Captn Obvious.

          • Two Americas

            Is this the “you are a poopy head” rebuttal?

          • Jason

            No. It’s more like the “I really don’t care about your dumb-arse opinions” rebuttal.

          • Two Americas

            Is this you?

            Jason Stevens is an Investment Executive at Sprott Global Resource Investments Ltd. and has spent the last 11 years working with mining and petroleum engineers, influential industry executives, investment newsletter writers, and economic geologists. He has extensive experience with private placements, short selling, equity derivatives and option strategies.

          • Jason

            No. But thanks for asking.

          • Two Americas

            Right.

          • Mr. Z

            Looks like the gig is up there huh, Jason? Like so many other capitalist propagandists whose credibility goes from zero well into the deep negatives with their every utterance, your only choice now is whether to remain here with a clown ???? mask or slither away quietly…

          • Jason

            I wish. That dude he described sounds like he’s loaded!

          • Mr. Z

            Clown it is then.

          • Jason

            What ever gets you through the night.

          • Mr. Z

          • sabelmouse

            yup.

        • Arthur Doucette

          As to those estimates of 200,000 acute poisoning deaths. Not likely. Checked the US data, for which we have good data. Data on pesticide exposure were obtained from calls to poison control centers (PCCs) reported by the American Association of Poison Control Centers. Estimates of emergency department visits, hospitalizations, and health care costs were reported by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), and deaths from pesticide poisonings reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) WONDER (Wide-ranging Online Data for Epidemiologic Research). An average of 23 deaths occur each year with pesticides as the underlying cause of death, most due to suicidal ingestions. ==> That’s less than 1 per 1.4 million people. And MOST were deliberate.

      • Gene Hall

        I have a short list of folks I knew who sold ag chemicals who lost their jobs because there were less of them to sell. And I know farmers who have reduced pesticide applications dramatically over the last two decades. The decline in the use of INSECTICIDES has certainly declined.

        • Jason

          Absolutely right. The USDA has documented a 90% reduction in insecticide use in areas where bt crops have been adopted.

          • alan2102

            Yes, Absolutely right. Dramatically reduced insecticide use. Tree-hugger anti-science idiots PROVEN WRONG AGAIN.

            http://link.springer.com/article/10.1186/2190-4715-24-24
            Environmental Sciences Europe
            December 2012, 24:24
            Impacts of genetically engineered crops on pesticide use in the U.S. — the first sixteen years
            Charles M Benbrook
            […snip…]
            RESULTS: Herbicide-resistant crop technology and Bt crops:
            239 million kg INCREASE in herbicides
            183 million kg INCREASE pesticides
            56 million kg DECREASE in insecticides
            CONCLUSION: “The magnitude of increases in herbicide use on herbicide-resistant hectares has dwarfed the reduction in insecticide use on Bt crops over the past 16 years, and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.”

          • Jason

            I wonder why Benbrook has been the only person to conclude that sort of increase in pesticide use when all other analysis has not? Oh, that’s right… he’s on the payroll of the organic industry.

            And what do herbicide resistant crops have to do with whether or not Bt crops have been effective?

          • alan2102

            Thanks, Jason, for emphasizing the obvious. It goes without saying that those we disagree with are on the payroll of industries we hate. The fact that the publication in question is in a respected, peer-reviewed journal is irrelevant.

          • Arthur Doucette

            You can’t make claims based on the WEIGHT of pesticides being used.
            We increased the WEIGHT of herbicides used, not the environmental impact of them.

            Why would anyone use WEIGHT as a metric when comparing things like pesticides, when the weight of the active ingredient has NO RELATIONSHIP to its health impact?

            Because they are trying to fool you.

            And Benbrook is no fool, so he KNEW that glyphosate is a heavy salt where the herbicides it replaced weighed next to nothing.

            Why would you compare the reduction in WEIGHT of herbicides to insecticides, when most insecticides have Active Ingredients that weigh next to nothing?

            Because they are trying to fool you.

            Clearly it worked on you.

          • alan2102

            It is not credible to suggest that a massive increase — running to many millions of kgs — of applied toxic compounds represents no increase in risk.

            Your phrase “heavy salt” is meaningless; it is used nowhere in the medical literature. Also, what do you mean by insecticides that “weigh next to nothing”?

            Molecular weights of all of these compounds is in the ~100-400 range. Including glyphosate.

          • Arthur Doucette

            Weight is an INSIGNIFICANT measure of the impact of a pesticide.
            One needs to consider its environmental impact.
            For instance DDT wasn’t very toxic, but it persisted in the environment for a very long time (half life was ~16 years, and its breakdown product DDE was nearly as toxic and also persisted for a long time, that’s why we still find small amounts of DDT in our food supply even though it was banned in the mid 70s.)
            Glyphosate has a very short half life and doesn’t build up at all in the environment.
            DDT also bioaccumulated, meaning that being fat soluble, it was stored in the bodies of the things that ate it and thus you could find more and more of it as you went up the food chain, particularly in long lived predators. The amount sprayed wasn’t harmful to our raptors, but years of eating prey with small amounts of DDT caused them problems.
            Glyphosate does NOT bioaccumulate.
            Even small amounts of a pesticide can be harmful if they are genotoxic, carcinogenic or endocrine disrupting, because chemicals that screw up development or your endocrine system or cause cancer are clearly a larger threat, even at small doses.
            BUT
            Germany, acting as the European Union rapporteur member state (RMS) submitted their glyphosate renewal assessment report (RAR) to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) in January 2014, recommending re-approval of glyphosate for use in Europe with increase in the acceptable daily intake (ADI) from 0.3 to 0.5 mg per kg body weight per day. The overall findings of the RAR are that glyphosate poses no unacceptable risks. Glyphosate is not metabolized or accumulated in the body, not genotoxic, not carcinogenic, not endocrine disrupting, and not considered persistent or bioaccumulative; it has no reproductive toxicity, no toxic effects on hormone-producing or hormone-dependent organs, and no unacceptable effect on bees. Therefore any risks are within acceptable standards

            The last point is also important, glyphosate has no unacceptable effects on bees (the only negative impact is it kills weeds that the bees could have fed on).

            So the point is that the environmental impact of a Pesticide is what is important, and NONE of the above are dependent on the weight of the compound applied.

            Glyphosate is the least toxic herbicide we have ever had.

            Which is why a study based on weight ONLY, has no merit. Tells us nothing.
            Which is why that was the ONLY metric Benbrook used.

            Which is of course the point. It was the ONLY metric he could have used to INSINUATE that there was an issue with GMO crops even though none actually existed

            And yes, its a salt.

            https://toxnet.nlm.nih.gov/cgi-bin/sis/search/a?dbs+hsdb:@term+@DOCNO+3433
            .

          • alan2102

            Arthur: “So the point is that the environmental impact of a Pesticide is what is important, and NONE of the above are dependent on the weight of the compound applied.”

            You seem to be saying that the dose does NOT make the poison; i.e. that it does not matter how much is applied or ingested.

            As far as I know, if a compound has potential toxicity, then administering 800 mgs of it (say) will have MORE potential for toxicity than 100 mgs of it. Do you deny this?

            Arthur: “And yes, its a salt. https://toxnet.nlm.nih.gov/

            I did not say it was not a salt. YOU described it as “heavy salt”, suggesting that its “heaviness” (whatever you might have meant by that) was significant. I replied that “heavy salt” is not a phrase used in the medical literature, and I mean NEVER used. So, what you meant by it, I do not know, and I also do not know if it has the significance that you suggested it did.

            Continuing this discussion with you is quite tiring, because you refuse to take responsibility for what you say, you continually insert irrelevancies and red herrings, you don’t really know what you’re talking about, and generally you are as slimy as the Creature from the Black Lagoon. You’re a lightweight, and not really worth my time, but I’ll continue perhaps a little longer, for fun. Though the fun is steeply declining, now.

          • Arthur Doucette

            Dose DOES make the poison. But ONLY when comparing the SAME poison.

            You can eat a lot of salt and be fine, try eating the same amount of Arsenic.

            Which is why comparisons between DIFFERENT chemicals can’t be made by WEIGHT as Benbrook did.

            You have to consider the environmental impact, and Glyphosate has almost no negative environmental impact.

            Germany, acting as the European Union rapporteur member state (RMS) submitted their glyphosate renewal assessment report (RAR) to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) in January 2014, recommending re-approval of glyphosate for use in Europe with increase in the acceptable daily intake (ADI) from 0.3 to 0.5 mg per kg body weight per day.

            The overall findings of the RAR are that glyphosate poses no unacceptable risks. Glyphosate is not metabolized or accumulated in the body, not genotoxic, not carcinogenic, not endocrine disrupting, and not considered persistent or bioaccumulative; it has no reproductive toxicity, no toxic effects on hormone-producing or hormone-dependent organs, and no unacceptable effect on bees. Therefore any risks are within acceptable standards

          • Jason

            Except that, in this case, it’s actually true. It’s likely (my speculation) why Benbrook focuses so much time & energy on the weight of pesticides instead of the impact. It paints a scarier picture.

            And you are right… “The fact that the publication in question is in a respected, peer-reviewed journal is irrelevant.” Because, all of the contradictory evidence is also is published in respected peer reviewed journals.

          • Arthur Doucette

            Its published in a respected peer reviewed journal, but all that means is the data is accurate, not that its relevant. And because its based on weight, and not environmental impact it is not relevant.
            The USDA tracks the use of each pesticide in use from year to year. And they do it by weight, which makes sense ONLY when you are comparing the exact same pesticide. To do it between different pesticides is in fact pointless, unless you adjust for the relative weights of the Active Incredients, something that Benbrook does not do. Its just a way of lying with statistics.

  • Stuart M.

    Hmmm, I think this article is a little too quick to declare victory. The anti-GMOers seem just as vicious as ever to me, repeating the same talking points as if the GMO debate had never progressed. Fake news and fake facts in the web seem to me to be as powerful as ever to malign safe food, biotechnology and farmers. Now is not the time to drop our guard.

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