Podcast: WHO was wrong about COVID; Pandemics make women cheat? Rampant fraud threatens organic farming

3-20-2019 who
Credit: WHO

Infectious disease experts have blasted the World Health Organization for telling the public that asymptomatic patients rarely spread COVID-19. Pandemics may encourage women to cheat on their partners. A new testing method could disprove bogus claims about the presence of glyphosate in food, and rampant fraud threatens the future of organic farming.

Join geneticist Kevin Folta and GLP editor Cameron English on this episode of Science Facts and Fallacies as they break down these latest news stories:

In early June, a World Health Organization official told the media that asymptomatic transmission of COVID-19 is “rare.” The announcement sparked intense backlash from infectious disease experts, and WHO officials walked backed the statement the following day, explaining that it pertained solely to unpublished contact-tracing research. But contradictory commentary about the possibility of asymptomatic spread continues to proliferate across the internet. Who’s telling the truth?

A new study suggests pandemics can incentivize women to cheat on their partners. To ensure their children are capable of surviving exposure to infectious diseases, the study authors say, women may have sex with multiple partners in hopes of passing on genes that confer immunity. The research proposes a controversial hypothesis with potentially significant social implications. But one question remains: Is there any evidence to support it?

Anti-pesticide activists frequently claim the weedkiller glyphosate permeates our environments. It’s in the air and water, they say, as well as  food, wine and even tampons. Experts generally dismiss these concerns, pointing out that our exposure to trace amounts of glyphosate is unlikely to cause harm. A new testing method that can cheaply and quickly detect the herbicide in a variety of products may help dispel these activist-inspired stories.

Related article:  Prop. 65: California proposal to label Tylenol a carcinogen under fire amid glyphosate-cancer lawsuits

The USDA is tasked with regulating organic farming, though recent evidence indicates the agency has done a poor job of ensuring the integrity of the organic food supply. Most of the grain fed to animals raised for organic meat originates in foreign countries, where companies that certify organic farming operations can simply fabricate certifications, which they’re incentivized to do because a ship loaded with organic soy is roughly twice as valuable as the same ship carrying conventional soy.

USDA could crack down on these fraudulent imports, but that would make organic production prohibitively expensive and severely limit the supply of organic food. However, the agency could destroy consumer trust in the “organic” label if it doesn’t sufficiently regulate the industry. Is there a workable solution to this rampant fraud?

Subscribe to the Science Facts and Fallacies Podcast on iTunes and Spotify.

Kevin M. Folta is a professor in the Horticultural Sciences Department at the University of Florida. Follow Professor Folta on Twitter @kevinfolta

Cameron J. English is the GLP’s senior agricultural genetics and special projects editor. BIO. Follow him on Twitter @camjenglish

Outbreak Daily Digest
Biotech Facts & Fallacies
Talking Biotech
Genetics Unzipped
can you boost your immune system to prevent coronavirus spread x

Video: How to boost your immune system to guard against COVID and other illnesses

Scientists have recently developed ways to measure your immune age. Fortunately, it turns out your immune age can go down ...
mag insects image superjumbo v

Disaster interrupted: Which farming system better preserves insect populations: Organic or conventional?

A three-year run of fragmentary Armageddon-like studies had primed the journalism pumps and settled the media framing about the future ...
dead bee desolate city

Are we facing an ‘Insect Apocalypse’ caused by ‘intensive, industrial’ farming and agricultural chemicals? The media say yes; Science says ‘no’

The media call it the “Insect Apocalypse”. In the past three years, the phrase has become an accepted truth of ...
globalmethanebudget globalcarbonproject cropped x

Infographic: Cows cause climate change? Agriculture scientist says ‘belching bovines’ get too much blame

A recent interview by Caroline Stocks, a UK journalist who writes about food, agriculture and the environment, of air quality ...
organic hillside sweet corn x

Organic v conventional using GMOs: Which is the more sustainable farming?

Many consumers spend more for organic food to avoid genetically modified products in part because they believe that “industrial agriculture” ...
benjamin franklin x

Are most GMO safety studies funded by industry?

The assertion that biotech companies do the research and the government just signs off on it is false ...
gmo corn field x

Do GMO Bt (insect-resistant) crops pose a threat to human health or the environment?

Bt is a bacterium found organically in the soil. It is extremely effective in repelling or killing target insects but ...

Environmental Working Group: EWG challenges safety of GMOs, food pesticide residues

Known by some as the "Environmental Worrying Group," EWG lobbies for tighter GMO legislation and famously puts out annual "dirty dozen" list of fruits and ...
m hansen

Michael Hansen: Architect of Consumers Union ongoing anti-GMO campaign

Michael K. Hansen (born 1956) is thought by critics to be the prime mover behind the ongoing campaign against agricultural biotechnology at Consumer Reports. He is an ...
News on human & agricultural genetics and biotechnology delivered to your inbox.
Optional. Mail on special occasions.
Send this to a friend