The GM Labeling Law to End All Labeling Laws

By Timothy Wise, Director of the Research and Policy Program at the Global Development and Environment Institute, Tufts University. He leads the Institute’s Globalization and Sustainable Development Program. Cross posted from Triple Crisis

As the vitriol intensifies in what passes for debate over the safety of genetically modified foods, scientific inquiry, thankfully, continues. A Tufts researcher, Sheldon Krimsky, recently published his assessment of the last seven years of peer-reviewed evidence, finding 26 studies that “reported adverse effects or uncertainties of GMOs fed to animals.”

If recent history is any indication, Sheldon Krimsky should expect to be slammed as a “science denier.”
The current vehemence is the product of a well-funded campaign to “depolarize” the GMO debate through “improved agricultural biotechnology communication,” in the words of the Gates Foundation-funded Cornell Alliance for Science. And it is reaching a crescendo because of the march of the Orwellian “Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2015” (code-named “SAFE” for easy and confusing reference) through the U.S. House of Representatives on July 23 on its way to a Senate showdown in the fall.
In an April New York Times op-ed, Alliance for Science affiliate Mark Lynas follows the party line, accusing environmentalists of “undermining public understanding of science,” even more than climate deniers and vaccine opponents. Slate’s William Saletan goes further in his July feature, calling those who want GM labeling “an army of quacks and pseudo-environmentalists waging a leftist war on science.”
Who would have known that depolarization could feel so polarizing—and so stifling of scientific inquiry.

Precaution and the Public’s Right to Know What We Eat
The SAFE law sounds like it promises what polls suggest 99 percent of Americans want, accurate labeling of foods with GM ingredients. It likely guarantees that no such thing will ever happen.
Backed by biotech and food industry associations, SAFE would make it illegal for states to enact mandatory GM labeling laws. It would instead establish a “voluntary” GM labeling program that pretty well eviscerates the demand for the right to know what’s in our food. It would undercut the many state level efforts.
Vermont now has a labeling law that survived industry opposition, threats, and a court challenge, which may explain why the industry got busy in Congress. If you can’t beat democracy, change it. The Senate is expected to take up the bill after its August recess.
As written, SAFE is truly the labeling law to end all labeling laws.
The biotech industry is acting desperate for a reason. It’s seen Europe and most of the world close its regulatory doors to GM crops, for now, insisting on the same “precautionary principle” enshrined in the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety. That principle calls for a relatively high level of precaution before the introduction of a new technology, to avoid the kinds of unintended consequences that have caused such harm in the past: tobacco, thalidomide, DDT, PCBs, and other cases of industry-backed claims of safety that, in retrospect, proved deadly.
Not SAFE for Science
In a sane world that respects scientific inquiry, we would be engaged in a debate about the appropriate levels of precaution that we as a society want for a technology as novel as genetic engineering. That would be constructive, not to mention depolarizing.
Instead, we get pundits like Lynas and Saletan tarring anyone who dares call for precaution with the stain of being another science-denying zealot who ignores the scientific evidence that no one has been harmed by all the GM foods consumed in the United States.
To reinforce how duped or dumb the American public is, they point to a Pew Institute poll indicating that 88 percent of scientists think GM foods are safe, while just 37 percent of the public thinks so. The gap is repeatedly cited as a measure of how science-deniers are winning the public relations battle, and how ignorant the U.S. people are on the issue.
Maybe not. Is it really a surprise that nearly nine in ten scientists think a new invention is good for society? Not really. As Joel Achenbach explained in his otherwise good piece on science denial in National Geographic, we all suffer from “confirmation bias,” the tendency to interpret information in ways that confirm our existing beliefs. True enough, and guess what group scores high for confirmation bias in favor of new technology? Scientists. Honestly, I’m shocked that 12 percent of scientists think GM food isn’t safe.
What about that skeptical public? Are they really just ignorant and brainwashed? Or is their confirmation bias perhaps informed by their repeated experiences with big corporations telling them something is safe or good for them and finding out it’s deadly. Who in the United States has not lost a family member or friend to smoking-related disease? Given the negligence of U.S. regulatory authorities in accepting industry claims of safety, is the public really so foolish to be skeptical, of both industry and government?
Washington University’s Glenn Stone drove the scientific point home nicely about how long the process of scientific discovery of hazards can be. He documents how DDT was suspected as a cause of breast cancer but studies kept failing to find a link. This is, until 2007, when an intrepid researcher thought to ask if girls exposed to DDT during puberty had a higher risk of breast cancer. More than half a century after they were exposed, she found what no one else had: a five times greater risk in such girls, and a significant additional risk in their female children.
On GMOs and labeling, Stone asks if all the evidence is really in just 20 years into this experiment. Are there comparable studies of GM effects on pregnant or lactating women and developing infants and children? No, there are not.
No Consensus on Food Safety
For those still willing to look past the campaign slogans and slurs, science is still happening. My colleague at Tufts University, Sheldon Krimsky, examined peer-reviewed journal articles from 2008-2014. Contrary to the claims of consensus, he found 26 studies that showed significant cause for concern in animal studies, among many studies that showed no harm.
He identified clear evidence that proteins transferred into the genome of another plant species can generate allergic reactions even when the original transgene did not, a scientific finding that undermines industry claims that the transgenic process creates no instability in the genome. (Scientists even have a name for such a gene: an “intrinsically disordered protein.”)
Krimsky found eight reviews of the literature and they showed anything but consensus. Three cited cause for concern from existing animal studies. Two found inadequate evidence of harm that could affect humans, justifying the U.S. government’s principle that if GM crops are “substantially equivalent” to their non-GM counterparts, this is adequate to guarantee safety. Three reviews suggested that the evidence base is limited, the types of studies that have been done are inadequate to guarantee safety even if they show no harm, and further study and improved testing is warranted.
What about the much-cited consensus among medical and scientific associations? Krimsky found no such agreement, just the same kind of wide variation in opinion, which he usefully ascribes to differing standards, methods, and goals, not ignorance or brainwashing.
Krimsky goes out of his way, however, to document the industry-backed campaigns to discredit two scientific studies that found cause for concern, and he warns of the anti-science impact such campaigns can have. “When there is a controversy about the risk of a consumer product, instead of denying the existence of certain studies, the negative results should be replicated to see if they hold up to rigorous testing.”
That would have been a refreshing, and depolarizing, industry response to the recent World Health Organization finding that Roundup Ready herbicides are a “probable human carcinogen.” Instead of calling for further study to determine safe exposure levels, the industry called out its attack dogs to discredit the study.
Who here is really anti-science?

Originally published at Food Tank.

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  1. rfdawn

    Well, this is topical. Modifying decades-old, undocumented, mainframe software is child’s play compared to doing GM on billion-year-old, undocumented, DNA spaghetti. I try not to use the word “engineering” as that might imply that someone knows what they are doing. “Hack-and-hope” sounds fair to me :)

    1. abynormal

      I try not to use the word “engineering” as that might imply that someone knows what they are doing.…ain’t that the truth! Genetic Systematization…all we need is another GS.

      “It is always a much easier task to educate uneducated people than to re-educate the mis-educated.” Shelton

      1. Ormond Otvos

        Nope. You don’t understand genomics, so you want to make fun of it. Get an education, and then come back with an intelligent comment.

        1. abynormal

          i know a mutant carrying t r o l l suffering a chromosomal rearrangement of trisomy 21 when i see one

    2. Praedor

      I’m a scientist (molecular biologist/biochemist) who once worked on genetically engineering sugar beets to improve their fungal resistance. I am not automatically opposed to GMOs (too many are as if it is evil magic), nor am I automatically for (as if it is, by nature, good magic). I like evidence. Real, valid, tested evidence. I have no problem with the idea of golden rice, for instance. Adding beta carotene to a plant that barely had any real nutritional value before beyond carbs is not evil and no amount of beta carotene is toxic. You can pop beta carotene pills all day and all you will get is benign orange tinted skin. Rename yourself John Boehner. I had no issue with what I was originally doing (the fungal resistance improvement for sugar beets) either: the enzyme we were trying to add (chitinase from yeast) is harmless. You get it whenever you eat anything with yeast on it or in it. Grapes have it all over the surface by nature of the fact that there are yeasties all over the grape (that whitish dusting covering grapes is yeast, among other organisms, and all yeast, ALL fungi, have chitinase in them (mushrooms anyone?) because it is necessary for the fungus to grow. Fungi have chitin in their cell walls. Chitin is very similar to cellulose in plant cell walls. For fungi to be able to grow they need to be able to slice chitin temporarily and then reseal it. The idea was to add chitinase to sugar beets, driven by their stress response promoters so when the plant was getting eaten up and stressed by a fungal infection, the chitinase would be turned on and cut the fungal cell walls to pieces and kill them. Nice idea.

      Does this mean I AUTOMATICALLY want it released and used if perfected? No. I want it TESTED. I want to see it determined that it is safe for humans, safe for wildlife, and see that it actually works as intended. THEN I’m OK with it but I’m not going to go all religious anti-GMO because GMO is GMO and GMO is automatically evil. Pishposh.

      Thing is, Monsanto and others don’t just do things like add beta carotene to a plant that doesn’t have it or add some other essential vitamin or mineral to some plant that lacks it (or for use where there is a deficit in those nutrients causing disease in the populace). They do other things that are intended to maximize profits, damn the consequences. Hence, you get Roundup Ready corn, BT soybeans, along with an assumption that it’s fine and dandy. Ignoring the fact that the farmers with Roundup Ready corn SPRAY THE FUCK OUT OF THEIR CROPS with a nasty, harmful chemical (Roundup, ie, glyophosphate) that harms wildlife, humans, gets into the water, disrupts hormones, and spreads to “weeds” via horizontal transfer. The BT soy turns out to perhaps be harmful not only to pest insects feeding on the crop, but also on pollinators needed to pollinate soy and other plants. There’s no magic keeping BT genes from horizontal transfer either. I’m not too concerned about consuming a BT crop personally, as BT is added to standing water (cattle troughs, garden ponds, etc) to prevent mosquito growth (kills mosquito larva) while being harmless to humans and birds and fish and frogs, etc. But I don’t want BT genes anywhere where it will harm butterflies, bees, etc. Monsanto doesn’t care, all it sees is $ so it fights against any reports of downsides. I WANT to know the downside so an honest and legitimate decision can be made if some GMO really is worthwhile. I don’t want then banned or otherwise eliminated, just under better control than the boardroom of the corporations marketing most of them.

      1. abynormal

        a bit late for testing…when did Noah build the ark? before the rains:
        The Svalbard Global Seed Vault (Norwegian: Svalbard globale frøhvelv) is a secure seed bank on the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen near Longyearbyen in the remote Arctic Svalbard archipelago, about 1,300 kilometres (810 mi) from the North Pole.[4] Conservationist Cary Fowler, in association with the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR),[5] started the vault to preserve a wide variety of plant seeds that are duplicate samples, or “spare” copies, of seeds held in gene banks worldwide. The seed vault is an attempt to insure against the loss of seeds in other genebanks during large-scale regional or global crises. The seed vault is managed under terms spelled out in a tripartite agreement between the Norwegian government, the Global Crop Diversity Trust (GCDT) and the Nordic Genetic Resource Center (NordGen).[6]

        GMO revenue proves they are a large-scale global crises.

      2. reslez

        Rice has plenty of nutritional value. It has been a staple food for thousands of years. Golden Rice is a poster child for GMO and most of its associated evils — which includes testing on children in developing nations without informed consent. There are better, far less expensive, and less risky ways to address Vitamin A deficiency. These include encouraging people to grow and consume leafy green vegetables — they contain 3500% more beta Carotene than Golden Rice — and encouraging breast feeding. It appears that Golden Rice does not maintain its beta Carotene under normal storage conditions or after cooking. Furthermore Golden Rice is not well adapted to growing conditions in many countries where GMO proponents tell us they should be cultivated. We are already struggling to feed a growing world. Golden Rice is an expensive boondoggle, inferior to existing technologies. Its main purpose is propaganda.

      3. rfdawn

        Well I agree that adequate testing would be the ultimate criterion but doubt the practicality of that. In the analogy of computer code (more my thing), it is virtually impossible to test for all failure modes and there are usually many such that are never even envisaged at testing time. A genome in its full biological/ecological/evolutionary context must present much more complexity and opacity to human incomprehension. There is a kind of “ignorance bias” in human estimates of risk that leads to over-optimism generally. The history of the comparatively-simple fields of nuclear technology and synthetic chemistry records a steady increase in estimates of risk and we still aren’t “there” yet.

      4. quixote

        Another biologist here, and I just wanted to give a big thumbs up to Praedor’s comment. Covers the issues well. (And yes brown rice has all sorts of good stuff in it. That’s not how most people eat it.)

      5. different clue

        I am just a layman of course, but I remember reading somewhere that Golden Rice contained so little carotene that people would have to eat several pounds of it a day to get enough carotene to matter. It appeared to be a “rhetorical technology” . . . a whole technological achievement designed and fabricated totally to win a talking point. Also, the point was raised . . . beta carotene is fat soluble and must be eaten with enough some-kind-of-lipid that it can be absorbed. Are the world’s ultra-poorest able to afford the lipid-rich food needed to soluble-ize the ingested beta-carotene in the several pounds per day of golden rice they would have to eat?

        Someone suggested that making high beta-carotene sweet potatos available to the ultra-poor might be a more genuinely useful beta-carotene delivery system. Also, I have read of varieties of Philippine banana/plantains which are bright orange from all the beta-carotene they contain. So there are genuine non-rhetorical phyto-technologies already available to get beta-carotene to the neediest.

        HowEVer . . . if someone could straight-up engineer the chestnut blight immunity gene from the Chinese chestnut into the American chestnut, such that we could bring back the great chestnut forest; I would be very impressed with that if the GMO blight-free American chestnut passed all relevant safety tests. (Currently the “chestnut patriots” are trying to achieve this result the hard way, by crossing American and EuroChinese chestnuts to get the immunity into slightly Ameriform trees . . . and then backcrossing and backcrossing and backcrossing again to try an move the immunity genes into a 99% American chestnut).

          1. different clue


            I will watch your you tube video if I can get the screen time at a computer with speakers. In the meantime, I can only say . . . . it would appear that I have hit a nerve.

        1. Jack

          I’m going to return to this and make a second reply because what you’ve said is just so insane and factually wrong. Golden Rice (which is a royalty free patent, by the way) was literally developed for the sole purpose of boosting carotene levels. If the knowledge you’ve picked up is that it does the exact opposite you’re just proving my point about the opposition being made up of liars and useful idiots. And no, I’m not calling you an idiot, I’m saying wherever you picked up that ‘fact’ was written by either an utter moron or an active manipulator of the truth.

          1. Chief Bromden

            You are the only liar here. The fact is that golden rice has never been anything more than a media hoax. Since all real-world GMOs are simply poison delivery systems (they either produce insecticide inside their own tissues, and/or can withstand having herbicide sprayed upon them, which then suffuses all their tissues), the core propgagnda gambit of the GMO cartel, that GMOs are necessary to “feed the world”, seems suspicious on its face. This has actually long since been proven to be false. Since corporate agriculture has been in control of global agriculture and food systems for over fifty years, and the world now produces enough food for 10 billion people, and yet of 7 billion alive now over 1 billion go hungry, it’s a proven fact that corporate agriculture cannot feed the world and does not want to. Which stands to reason, since corporate agriculture doesn’t produce food, it produces commodities.

            When you think about it for a moment, and add the fact that GMOs do nothing but double down on every aspect of corporate industrial agriculture, it becomes obvious that “feed the world” is nothing more or less than a classical Big Lie.

            That’s the huge hurdle the pro-GMO liars have to surmount in their propaganda. How to get people not to think! The “golden rice” hoax was concocted toward this goal. It’s said to be humanitarian, it’s about vitamins rather than poison, it piggybacks on the immiseration/helplessness theme of the Green Revolution and 80s-era celebrity philanthropy, it’s allegedly being offered to the disadvantaged “Third World” as charity.

            These are all standard lies. What the global South needs is the revitalization and strengthening of its own agricultural systems in order to produce food for itself on its own land, rather than the accelerating destruction of its self-sustaining community agriculture in favor of corporate commodity plantations on stolen land.

            The epidemic of vitamin A deficiency is a direct result of this destruction of sustainable agricultural communities. Throughout agricultural history people have grown a plethora of regionally-adapted nutrient-rich crops, including the root crops and leafy vegetables which are rich in vitamin A. But all this is lost to industrialized farmers who grow not food but export commodities, and the much vaster mass of ex-farmers driven off their land and into shantytowns. Those who are driven off their land lose all ability to provide any food for themselves and their people, while those who hang on as industrial farm laborers also lose their ability to grow nutritious food, since they now grow only commodities.

          2. different clue

            “If the knowledge that you’ve picked up is that it does just the opposite” . . . . say what?

            What do you think that the knowledge I’ve picked up says Golden Rice does “just the opposite” of? Could you clarify?

            By the way, I knew that Golden Rice was a royalty free patent. That was part of the rhetorical posturing beneath and behind Golden Rice.

      6. Jack

        Anti-GMO campaigners have no evidence of negative health effects of modified food. None, zilch, nada. All the idiots have in that vein are a handful of laughably bad papers, none of which they’ve ever actually read, much less understood (I know this because by far the most referenced one isn’t even about GMO food; it’s about a weed killer). These clowns can’t even begin to hypothesis an actual mechanism for how a modified crop would hurt a person (much less give them cancer. The rat cancer study used a pathetically small sample size of rats who are already predisposed to regularly producing tumors. It’s essentially scientific fraud).

        There are a whole host of actual reasons to be suspicious of GMOs and the business practices of companies like Monsanto. It’s essentially copyrighting of food. And people should be default know what is in the things they eat. So by all means, put the labels on. But a GMO label would be as meaningless as a label for crops made with synthetic ammonia fertilizer, which is at least 50% of them, and has been for over a century. Which is just one of many facts ‘natural’ food advocates don’t understand.

        And yes, I know my choice of words above is inflammatory. And I don’t particularly care. I’m sick and tired of the utter ignorance and stupidity that is constantly peddled on this issue. Advocates either need to find some compelling evidence of the health risks (or hell, ANY evidence), or take their ‘MEDDLING IN THE AFFAIRS OF GOD’ and ‘FRANKEN-FOOD!!!11’ rhetoric and shove it. Such people are as unworthy of respect as 9/11 ‘Truthers’.

        I expect this is the part where I’m accused of being a disinformation agent on some corporate payroll. Give me evidence, or be silent.

        And abynormal, let me preempt you right now and say I have no interest in whatever copy-pasted quote you’re thinking of replying with.

          1. Jack

            Yes. I literally said that already. And out of spite I might go out of my way to buy the GMO labeled ones and then laugh when I don’t get sick and die.

            1. different clue

              Hey there, Jack. I also didn’t see where you already literally said that you believe ingestible products should be GMO labelled. So if you really did already literally say it before . . . . could you say it again for me, so that I can know that you have really truly said it?

              Say it again, Jack . . .

        1. Oregoncharles

          Did you read the article, Jack? Because it references 23 studies that showed harm or raised questions. You’re acting as if that doesn’t exist.

          Genetic engineering is a formula for unintended consequences – of which there always are some.

          One was that it turns out there’s BT in the corn POLLEN. Corn is wind-pollinated,so the stuff travels. As a result, everything downwind is toxic to lepidopterans, including all their food plants. Apparently it’s also released from the roots, soaking into the soil. Nobody knows what that does – but it’s from a soil bacterium, so it does something to the underground ecology.

          Another example, which doesn’t even have to be true to be alarming: someone very cleverly engineered both the ability to metabolize cellulose (from termite guts) AND the ability convert sugars into alcohol into a common soil bacterium. Brilliant: cellulose into liquid fuel in one fell swoop. The idea was that the residue would serve as fertilizer – just till it in.

          So a grad student looking for something to do tried it, fortunately in a lab setting. Absolutely nothing would grow in the soil it was mixed into, because the bacteria were busily converting cellulose to alcohol! It was a nearly universal soil sterilizer – Armageddon in a jar.

          The law of unintended consequences: there always are some. That’s why GMO crops aren’t the same as the crops they’re derived from. No one really knows what they’ll do until they’re out there. But Monsanto et al don’t want to spend the money on real testing.

        2. Chief Bromden

          That’s funny since evolution-denying pro-GMO hacks are unable to see how fraudulent their own corporate “science” is. I like how you’ve shifted the burden of proof from the corporate command economy version of poison agriculture to the people who never actually had any natural demand for it, and have been subjected to the purely corporate political force of GMOs … there is no “science” to GMOs.

          There is no consensus on GM food safety.

          Reviews of extant animal feeding studies find an almost perfect demarcation between those done by the corporations themselves, which have claimed to find no toxic effects, and those done independently, which have all found toxicity and other health dangers. By now there’s been roughly an equal number of such studies in both groups. That’s especially impressive when we consider the massive imbalance in available funding and access to research materials. (Since the corporations try to deny independent researchers access to proprietary material, which means all GMO material.) It’s an indictment of the system’s lack of desire to know the truth, and a tribute to the truth-seeking will of a relative handful of scientists fighting against the current.

          Not only is there thus no consensus even if we consider only the findings of peer-reviewed studies by credentialed personnel. There’s also no consensus on the legitimacy of industry studies. All industry tests have been rigged in at least one way – their length was far shorter than the normal lifespan of the animal. Ninety days is a standard length. This is meant to ensure that chronic health dangers are unlikely to manifest during the duration of the test. Most studies also didn’t compare the effects of eating the GMO to the effects of a non-GM diet based on the non-GM equivalent of the GM variety.

          Most of these industry “tests” were the most minimal kinds of feeding tests, meant to ensure that an animal fed GMOs would quickly put on weight and not immediately drop dead. These never tested for other kinds of toxicity or for chronic health effects. Picture if we organized a test which would feed human subjects nothing but large amounts of cake, pastries, ice cream, candy, etc. for 60 days (and with no exercise), with our only real goal being to test whether the subjects would gain weight and not drop dead. Then afterward we trumpet the test as having proven that such a diet is healthy over the long run. That’s what’s been going on with these corporate feeding trials. Scientists reject these as having any validity as real safety tests.

          Even many of these tests nevertheless found disturbing evidence of biological changes and toxicity. Such evidence was routinely dismissed as “insignificant”, or suppressed completely.

          The rare industry tests which weren’t rigged have all found evidence of toxic effects. (That is, rigged as far as the lack of equivalent diets. Again, all of them were rigged with intentionally insufficient durations.)

          And this is just the tip of the technocratic iceberg since we haven’t even discussed the scorched earth environmental and contamination implications. But I can tell from your programmed hostility that fragile ideological identities are what is most important to you.

  2. abynormal

    beyond me why foot-n-mouth Monsanto continues to deny their own findings:

    * Multiple peer-reviewed scientific literature documenting serious health hazards posed by glyphosate
    * Industry (including Monsanto) has known since the 1980?s that glyphosate causes malformations in experimental animals at high doses
    *Industry has known since 1993 that these effects could also occur at lower and mid doses

    The direct effect of glyphosate on early mechanisms of morphogenesis in vertebrate embryos opens concerns about the clinical findings from human offspring in populations exposed to glyphosate in agricultural fields (8)

    US National Library of Medicine (4) and the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology.

    1. jabawocky

      This is a straw man argument. If you are concerned about glyphosate use by all means oppose it, and I agree that there is cause for concern about glyphosate. Lobby for labelling of glyphosate-treated food.

      To draw a financial parallel your argument is similar to suggesting that because sub-prime mortgages might be bad, all mortgages should be banned.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        No it isn’t. You can’t readily get food without glyphosate in it. This would be like telling people “oh just eat food with no DDT” in the 1960s. You falsely assume people can choose or can afford a choice. You also act as if people can or would be given the info to make informed choices soon. Dream on.

        Organic food is pricey, and not everyone can buy it (not just money costs, also due to local availability).

        And “better information” is not a one-size all solution. Radium products were also legal for three decades until the horror of the death of Ebey Beyers, see:

        1. Jabawocky

          I take your point fully about the lack of availability of glyphosate-free food. Indeed I share these concerns. This is a good reason to oppose the use of glyphosate. But it does not justify opposing GMOs.

          1. Chief Bromden

            But there are plenty of other reasons to oppose GMOs and “coexistence” is a physical and political impossibility. System terminology calls GMO contamination an “adventitious presence”, but this is a false euphemism, meant to imply the contamination is accidental and unintended. But the cartel, USDA, and courts all admit it’s inevitable and foreseen. Therefore it’s premeditated. We can call it “collateral”, as long as it’s understood that “collateral damage” doesn’t mean an “accident”, but refers to a premeditated effect, even if the effect is not technically “intended”. Of course in this case the cartel at least certainly does intend that contamination proceed. That’s part of its avowed goal to replace all non-GM agriculture with proprietary GMO agriculture.

            All this is in addition to the malign socioeconomic and political effects of poison-based corporate agriculture. Humanity’s only path forward is the complete abolition of GMOs.

          2. different clue

            It certainly justifies rejecting those particular GMOs which are strictly designed to be “glyphosate tolerant”. The whole, sole and only purpose of “Roundup Ready” plants is to be able to sell the Roundup to use on them. Those particular GMOs should be exterminated from existence and wiped off the face of the earth.

      2. tegnost

        In your own straw man argument you state that sub prime might be bad implying that gmo’s “might be bad”. The burden of proof is on you. If it’s not bad as you claim, go drink a gallon of roundup, it might be harmless. Also, prodding people to use proper channels and lobby shows that you have an idealized vision of the current state of affairs. Corps have lobbyists, for the rest of us voting is how we lobby and citizens united means one dollar equals one vote. and corps vote a lot more often than we do. The idea is to let the horses out of the barn then say too late to change, thats the way it is, go along to get along, nothing left to be done. Also, glyphosate is a popular topic but I think the real harm here is the ownership of the planetary genome, rent seeking, indeed…

      3. abynormal

        Corporate Speak: If you are concerned about glyphosate use by all means oppose it, and I agree that there is cause for concern about glyphosate. Lobby for labelling of glyphosate-treated food.

        from 2003: Approximately 76 percent of last year’s American soybean crop was GM, as well as 32 percent of corn. (Some estimates place the corn figure closer to 50 percent.)
        Today, as much as 80% of all our food supply is bio’d. Your comment, with permission to Lobby, is suspect in the least.

        Monsanto has spent 100 Million on corn seed expansions, including Canada.
        “Led by Chairman and CEO Hugh Grant, Monsanto reported profit of $2.1 billion on sales of $13.5 billion in fiscal 2012.”

        MON has monetarily cornered the Lobby Market…verifying YOUR argument in STRAW.

        1. Jabawocky

          Ok so oppose glyphosate, oppose Monsanto, campaign for labelling of Monsanto’s food, glyphosate-treated food. All this seems logical. But why oppose GMOs more generally?

          1. abynormal

            uhhh maybe b/c its controlled, driven, exploited and deregulated by FREE MARKET CAPITALIST

            “Good God, is the man a heathen?’
            ‘Worse, a capitalist with pretensions of culture.”

          2. zapster

            Largely because of the lack of comprehensive testing, and the long-standing revolving door between the agencies and the companies. We’ve had decades of much simpler stuff than this brought to market with sheaves of “studies” showing safety, only to have people dying in droves.

            Bt doesn’t kill birds and fish when used outside. Birds and fish don’t live very long either. Have Bt-containing foods been tested specifically wrt to fetal development in humans? Children? Not to my knowledge. There *have* been tests showing that Bt can cause gastrointestinal problems in animals if fed enough of it. Humans might be eating it for decades. Have there been feeding studies to prove that that doesn’t cause harm? I haven’t encountered any yet.

            I am now allergic to soy. I never was until approximately the time GM soy became widespread in my area. At the time it was diagnosed, I was told by the allergist that it was the fastest-growing allergy in the nation. Why would an allergy be fast-growing at all unless something in the allergen itself *changed*? All of a sudden millions just magically sprout the same allergy, within a decade?

            There has been nowhere *near* enough study on this complex topic. There is new research cropping up all the time–research showing that inserting a single gene can affect many different traits–none of which are tested for. Letting a profit-oriented corporation have so much control over the research with patents is asking for disaster.

      1. abynormal

        duh aby, thanks Steve
        Q315 …$4.6B
        4/1/15 …$5.58B
        1/7/15 …$2.8B
        10/8/14 …$2.41
        6/25/14 …$4.41B
        4/2/14 …$5.18B
        1/8/14 …$3.08B
        10/2/13 …$2.24B

  3. EoinW

    Taking the food that our ancestors have eaten for centuries and genetically modifying it just for corporate profits, we are truly a sick society!

    1. tegnost

      + a million, first there’s the arrogance to assume genetic modifications are beneficial in the face of eons of evolution, then there’s the repulsive notion that altering a broccoli gene gives ownership to a corporation like monsanto. I know a few monsanto supporters, they seem to be able to believe in both euthanasia of the poors and their social responsibility to feed those same poors. They seem upset when I insist they don’t care about anyone but themselves. Message to monsanto, I don’t want your crappy food. It isn’t safe. Do us all a favor and go drink a few gallons of roundup, I swear it won’t hurt you,really, I mean it! You are a scourge on the planet. You can disappear today and no one will starve or miss you, begone vile creation!

        1. tegnost

          I’m glad you don’t like it. Please drink a gallon of roundup because i swear it’s good for you. Do you have any more substantial response? If it’s all so great you should approve of labeling so you can know which foods are GMO so you can buy them for yourself, unless maybe you’re one of those “fine for thee but not for me!” folks (arrogant, as noted above).Or maybe you believe that ownership of the genetic code is profitable and thus positive, while I believe that profits over people is repulsive. The euthanasia issue is one I have actually heard stated by someone who also says the only way to feed all those people is GMO, that’s not rant that’s a window into the thinking of a real person who claims to know “food scientists” and actually loves monsanto, but shops at whole foods of course. And I really don’t want monsanto food but they and you apparently don’t think I have that right, so you oppose labeling laws i’m guessing? What specifically is your stance on GMO foods?

          1. Jack

            If all you can say is ‘go drink weed killer’, you have no argument. Especially laughable because Roundup isn’t a GMO. You can rant all you want about how bad Roundup supposedly is. For the sake of argument, let’s say it is. Doesn’t change the fact that the actual GMO crops aren’t the weed killer that is being sprayed on them. Focusing on the weed killer shows you have no evidence of the harmful effects of the crops themselves.

            1. OIFVet

              When said GMO serves as the raison d’etre for a chemical then it most definitely does have harmful effects, even if they are indirect.

              1. Lambert Strether

                Yep. It’s the ownership issues, rather than the biological issues, that are truly dangerous (assuming those to be separate for the sake of the argument).

                The parallel between Roundup and Baron Harkonnen’s residual poison is exact.

                That representatives of the corporation that’s seeking to get a chokehold on the germ plasm that feeds all humans have the infernal gall to present themselves as altruitic life-savers is truly astounding.

                1. Jack

                  So why can’t advocates focus on that? Do they think it’s too hard for people to understand? By continuing to obsess over ‘frankenfood’ they’re only hurting their cause. People who already sympathize with them don’t need further convincing, and people who actually know anything about the science are likely to dismiss the ranting loons out of hand, when their economic argument is much more sound and could attract the support of the science literate types.

                  1. OIFVet

                    Who says we don’t? We do, it has been the topic many a times here, and elsewhere. And BTW, you are holding science in what seems to be a religious regard. Rather anti-scientific of you…

              1. Jack

                You know what? Fine. Give me a bottle right now. I reserve to right to add some flavoring though, because I bet the raw stuff takes like crap.

                1. OIFVet

                  Provide address, will mail you a gallon or a drum. Get your survivors to post the video on u-tube, that’s my only condition. In return I will nominate you for the Darwin Award.

                    1. Lambert Strether

                      Well, I don’t know whether it’s a good idea to put real names and address out on the Intertubes, but if Jack will use my contact form, I’ll facilitate and put Jack and OIFVet together.

                      We’ll need video from a trusted third party, of course. Now, I wouldn’t recommend this course of action:

                      A 1991 paper reported on 93 cases of exposure to RoundUp in China. Eighty of the 93 patients intentionally ingested RoundUp at its 41% concentration (home gardeners use a much weaker 1% concentration). Only seven of them died. But 66% had damage to their gastrointestinal tract and 43% had sore throats.In the seven cases that were fatal, the average amount of weed killer ingested was 184 milliliters (about .7 cups) with the highest dose at about 500 mL, or about 2 cups. A 2004 toxicology review says that damage usually occurs when drinking more than 85 mL – just a third of a cup. This 62-year-old man was saved using hemodialysis after drinking a whole bottle of RoundUp, and this 37-year-old died after drinking 500 mL. So again, don’t drink a quart of RoundUp, and I’m glad Moore (who is not clearly identified in the clip) didn’t.

                      Of course, Jack is free to withdraw his offer at any time. More than likely, though, we’ll hear * * * crickets * * *.

                    2. abynormal

                      i’ve got a steady hand.
                      I’LL FILM JACK.
                      it’ll be like ‘administering medicine to the dead’

                    3. OIFVet

                      My wife the JD has advised me that I would be held liable if I were to enable Jack in his self-harming behavior. So I must respectfully bow out of this experiment, even though Jack has given his misinformed consent. I got better things to do with my life than to waste it on people like that.

      1. Jack

        Sounds like someone doesn’t understand what evolution even is. It’s an ad hoc process of ‘good enough’. Further, it’s ‘good enough’ for just a specific orgasm; natural selection favors traits that allow something to survive just long enough to reproduce. Why the hell would a crop naturally evolve traits that would increase the amount of vitamins or other useful materials transferred to another lifeform that consumed the crop? If anything it would behoove a crop to be as lacking in nutrition as possible.

        The anthropomorphization of ‘Gaia’ must be reaching truly insane levels. Nature is not sapient, it doesn’t make choices, it doesn’t have a plan or ideal model.

        1. OIFVet

          Maize evolved characteristics that made it desirable to humans, who in turn helped maize spread far beyond its native region. Same applies for other crops too, after all their purpose is to propagate by way of a carrier. It’s called symbiosis and it is part of the evolutionary strategy of some organisms. So before you mansplain things to others, make sure you understand them yourself.

            1. OIFVet

              Just because it doesn’t possess “intelligence” (or more precisely your definition of it) doesn’t change the fact that your argument is bunk. Again, before you lecture others on evolution make sure that you know WTF you are talking about.

        2. Lambert Strether

          “Nature is not sapient, it doesn’t make choices, it doesn’t have a plan or ideal model.”

          You feel that humans are not part of nature, or that humans do not make choices?

          1. OIFVet

            He is a human exceptionalist. It’s a close relative of American exceptionalism, at least in form.

            1. Jack

              Hah. Not remotely. Humanities collective ‘intelligence’ has likely brought us to the brink of destruction. Still doesn’t change the fact that plants aren’t intelligent. Probably with good reason, since the long-term survival advantage of intelligence and self-awareness has yet to be demonstrated.

              Also I request the post above with my address be deleted. A moment of madness on my part, giving out personal information like that. Though if anyone still wants to send me free weed killer for some reason while the address post is still up, I have a jungle of a yard I need to murder.

              1. OIFVet

                Or, you can let loose a couple of goats. The will take care of your weed problem in a day or two, and will give you milk too. This “unintelligent” nature, we have lots to learn from it if we care to look. The most intelligent thing we can do is to strive to acquire ignorance.

                ““The unknown,” said Faxe’s soft voice in the forest, “the unforetold, the unproven, that is what life is based on. Ignorance is the ground of thought. Unproof is the ground of action.”

              2. Praedor

                Take a look here:

                Your “jungle lawn” is the likely the best thing you can do for your patch of the earth, so long as you selective remove the foreign, invasive plants/weeds.

                If I let my pasture go (mostly), I get lots of “weeds” amongst the tall grasses. Many of them are also called “wildflowers”. The birds and insects and other wildlife LOVE it. Colorful garden spiders spin fantastic webs between stalks of grass, Meadowlarks move in, quail, ground squirrels, BEES, snakes, toads, frogs…it’s a thing of beauty. In addition, wild carrot (Queen Anne’s Lace) grows, producing seeds that can be used in herbal abortion if/when your local laws get too Talibany). Forget a nice, tame, denuded lawn. Wild it up.

    2. different clue

      “We”, EoinW? Who is this “we” of which you speak? Anyone here in these comments?

      We are not a “sick” society with regard to GMOs. We are a “captive” society. It is certain Black Hat Deciders and their Black Hat Gene Engineers who are the bad actors in this affair.

    3. Jack

      The food you, your parents, your grandparents, and most likely your great-grandparents, ate, is and was not the same as that our distant ancestors consumed.

      1. OIFVet

        Yes, it was progressively crapified from the 1950’s onward. I love to buy certain kind of tomato and let it sit for a month, looking just as fresh as it did the day I bought it. Then cutting it to find that its seeds have sprouted. The unnatural wonders never end.

        1. Jack

          That’s not remotely what I’m talking about. Humans have been artificially enhancing food production since we first settled down on farms. The direct antecedent of modern genetic modification is seed hybridization, which we’ve been doing for at least several centuries. My specific reference to grandparents and great-grandparents is this:

          If you want to return to ‘natural’ farming, be my guest. But I won’t be joining you in your quest to murder hundreds of millions of human beings.

            1. Jack

              I don’t see how. The human population absolutely exploded in the 20th century, and a huge part of that is the increased crop yields via artificial means. The massive die-off is likely to happen regardless, but a push for a ‘return’ to ‘natural’ farming methods isn’t going to help.

              So yes, I stick by the literal accuracy of what I said.

              1. OIFVet

                What is so effing artificial about hybridization? It occurs in nature all the time, all our ancestors did was to speed up the process. They sure didn’t get two completely different species to breed, which is basically what GM technology is.

          1. OIFVet

            Wow, hyperbole is the hallmark of a losing argument. Hybridization and selective breeding are totally different from GM, so don’t even try to equate the two. Moreover, it is the drive toward homogeneity that has the highest potential to kill millions, if not billions. Intelligent or not, diseases and pests evolve too, and the loss of biodiversity that accompanies the GMO spread is the greatest danger to our long term well-being.

  4. bruce duff

    99% want labeling of foods with gmo’s? But the food companies that use gmo’s refuse to do so? Well why don’t those foods that don’t have gmo’s say so on a label. Then people could choose to only buy foods with a label clearing it of containing gmo’s. With 99% in favor of something like that it’d be a win/lose situation. If science can’t be used effectively then use the market.

    1. tegnost

      When faced with a labelled non gmo versus an unlabelled, I tend to purchase the non gmo. This is the reason for anti- labeling laws, they know consumers will choose something else if given the choice. Same with country of origin labeling. The problem with free marketeers is they don’t believe in a free market…

      1. flora

        Yes. From a 2008 anti-labeling article:

        In a setback to Monsanto and supporters of its genetically engineered bovine growth hormone, rBGH, Pennsylvania and Indiana refused to pass laws prohibiting dairy manufacturers from labeling their products rBGH-free, while Ohio has put restrictions on such labeling. Meanwhile, Kansas recently introduced a bill banning the labels.

        Asymmetric information?

    2. Jim Rankin

      I think the burden should be on the ones doing the genetic modification. First they’re changing something from its natural or original state, so such a change should be noted. The companies that modify tend to be much larger & already have marketing advantage, so let’s for once not bow down to their demands & let the burden be on them. Companies have been told to list other certain specific ingredients & nutrition information; why not include this, since so many people want to be informed?

      There’s really no reason not to label GMOs unless you’re speaking on behalf of companies that make them. It is certainly not consumer friendly to advocate against labeling.

      1. Jack

        Good thing they have literally thousands of papers attesting to the total safety of GMOs then. Meanwhile the opposition has nothing. Funny how this kind of ratio is used to attack global warming deniers but apparently the same doesn’t hold true for food.

        1. OIFVet

          Show me the corporations who profit on the same scale from proving that global warming exists as corporations who are in the business of “proving” that their GMO products are “safe”. Tobacco companies had many studies who “proved” the safety of tobacco too…

          1. Jack

            You’re welcome to look through any of the publicly accessible databases of scientific papers and inquire into the sources and funding of any of them. The ‘w-w-well it’s all just bogus corporate science!’ whine doesn’t hold water.

              1. Jack


                I’ll also note that scientists aren’t robots. The vast majority of them care about doing worthwhile science. When the ratio is, again, literally thousands to one of papers in favor of GMO safety, it doesn’t matter where the funding comes from. I’m reminded of the Koch brothers paid scientist who came out in favor of global warming because that was where the evidence led him.

                1. OIFVet

                  My, how quickly you change the tune: from “show me any paper funded by BigAg” to “The source of funding doesn’t matter because of the ratio”. Right. Who gets to define “worthwhile”, you and your dear corporations?

                    1. OIFVet

                      No, you just implied it. Which is the same thing. So tell me about those Phillip Morris-funded studies that proved,scientifically, the absolute harmlessness of tobacco.

        2. Lambert Strether

          My personal feeling was that the anti-GMO activists were tactically incorrect to focus on science as opposed to the issues posed by plundering the germ plasm for profit. (That’s not to say that pro-GMO science is good or bad; I don’t know whether studies not corrupted by Big Ag funding have been conducted.) But to say that they’ve “got nothing” is incorrect.

  5. ed cloonan

    capitalism cannot be reformed—-it must be replaced—they are on a roll against the common good since the collapse of the soviet union

  6. diptherio

    This needs some editing:

    …the recent World Health Organization finding that Roundup Ready herbicides are a “probable human carcinogen.”

    ‘Roundup Ready’ refers to the GM crops that have been modified for use with Roundup herbicide. This should probably read “glyphosphate herbicides like Roundup are a ‘probable human carcinogen’ ” as “Roundup Ready herbicides” is a meaningless phrase…just sayin’

    1. Praedor

      As I live smack in the middle of a bunch of GMO farmers (all Roundup Ready corn and soy) I’ve seen how much glyphosphate gets hosed onto the plants. Lots. If a plant is Roundup Ready, it is swimming in Roundup so while your point is technically correct, the fact is no farmer would pay for the GMO crop and then NOT use the Roundup on it. Beyond that, the problem is overspray and runoff and application/consumption of contaminated plants (or soil) by insects, birds, etc. Ban the Roundup fixes all the issues but renders Roundup Ready crops pointless so Big Ag and Big Chem would fight tooth-and-nail to prevent a ban. Anything that gets hosed down with glyphosphate has glyphosphate right there for you to eat. Functionally you don’t get one without the other so for practical purposes, Roundup Ready crops are carcinogenic (and an endocrine disruptor).

      1. tegnost

        Yes I think some of our urban dwellers would be shocked to see how much crap is dumped on their food, Most people wash veggies because a farm worker may have pee’d on them, but the reality is that’s the least of your worries.

        1. Praedor

          The corn here is mostly junk. It’s intended as feed corn (to feed cattle and pigs) so the glyphosphate passes up the food chain to cow and meat-eating humans. The soy is used for everything soy-ish so it goes directly into human stomachs without the middleman of cow or pig stomach first. Of course, the water table and streams are loaded with the nitrogen and glyphosphate runoff too.

          1. diptherio

            I also saw a study about 6 months ago about links between glyphosphate use depression among farmers. Turns out, poison might be a bad thing to spend your days surrounded by…go figure…

          2. Jim Rankin

            So much land is used for growing GE corn for feeding livestock & for making ethanol. If we could convert much of that land into healthier crops for human consumption or revert to wildlands, we’d be better off.

      2. diptherio

        My comment was simply a proof-reading note. It’s the crops that are “Roundup ready,” not the herbicide. Roundup is the herbicide. That’s all. Of course, farmers who buy Roundup ready seed are going to then spray with Roundup–that’s why you buy Roundup ready seed in the first place. I’m just trying to improve the clarity (and accuracy) of the writing is all.

        On a side note: I started reading the book Farmacology the other day, on the connections between agricultural practices, food, and health. Pretty good so far.

        1. Praedor

          I fully understand. Technically you are correct, the plant is Roundup Ready and not, in and of itself, cancer-causing or problematic. My point is it isn’t just “in and of itself”, it is designed and used in a system that guarantees lots of chemical application that must (does) end up in the food chain and water. The only farmers who end up with Roundup Ready crops but don’t use glyphosphate are the accidental owners of the crops – their unmodified crops get cross-pollinated by the GMO crops and they get the mixed result…including getting sued by Monsanto for patent infringement for growing their GMO crops without having paid for them!

          Don’t have the link at the moment but there was a rather scary article recently about the latest supertool of genetic engineering: CRISPR/Cas9. It is a FANTASTIC tool that allows extreme high-fidelity, precise gene editing. It promises wonderful potential in treating/curing genetic diseases and similar. It also has the inevitable dark side. It can be used to overcome evolutionary forces like negative selection and FORCE deleterious mutations into a population (of people, plants, etc) so that if terrorists got use of it they could make genetic weapons of mass destruction that destroy whole crops, livestock, wildlife, humans. You could package it to turn soil bacteria into an enemy of farming/plantlife, turning fertile soil sterile and the negative selective effects can be overcome with the correct virulant design of the CRISPR/Cas9 payload and delivery system. Monsanto, et al, see it as their Roundup Ready 2.0 setup: use the CRISPR/Cas9 setup to prevent weeds (and other plants) from taking up the glyphosphate resistance genes, in spite of selection FOR the process. Alas, even with CRISPR, nothing’s perfect. Once you set a self-replicating system free into the wild, you lose control of it and it only requires VERY small error rates to drive evolution. There would become super-resistant weeds with time so their Roundup Ready 2.0 system WOULD have negative consequences beyond the simple overuse of a carcinogen/endocrine disruptor like glyphosphate. Genetic recombination and viral infection would also guarantee recombination such that some other gene could end up with the self-editing CRISPR function attached – and spread like wildfire.

          Corporations don’t care. Monsanto will ignore this fact and go ahead, full throttle, and the FDA will approve it because it is hopelessly compromised with corporate money (and neoliberal ideology).

  7. cyclist

    The health impacts of ingesting GMO foods will likely depend on exactly what kind of modification is being done. Scientists who support this are probably over confident that only laudable changes will make it to the market.

    Of even more concern to me are the ecological impacts of releasing these organisms and the types of monocultures and other industrial farming techniques they promote (e.g. Roundup Ready). In addition, there is the monopolistic rent-seeking behavior of companies which are allowed to ‘patent’ life forms.

  8. rtr

    What are y’all so worried about? Monsanto is a valuable member of the United Corporate Citizens of America. We should all readily fawn and wonder over the latest creations from this real life Island of Dr. Moreau. We can trust that they would never “intentionally” try to harm people or the environment. They may have “accidentally” tried to poison every living thing in my hometown. And I’m sure that the settlements paid to the victims more than accounts for those who lost their lives to Monsanto induced cancer.

  9. different clue

    Many years ago I had occasion to talk with a sugar beet grower from north-of-me in Michigan. He said a reason that he and all the other sugar beet growers bought GMO sugarbeet seed was because the sugar beet mills in the area would not accept traditional ( pre-GMO/non-GMO) sugar beets for their sugar milling operations. They would only accept certain decreed GMO sugarbeet breeds. So he and the other growers had zero choice.

    Supposing the FedGov passes its SAFE-from-labelling law. What if some states were to defy Federal intent and pass Forced Labelling laws anyway? And defy someone to take them to court and step by step to the Supreme Court? Those states could then cite the 10th Ammendment and the GMO Conspiracy could cite the Interstate Commerce Clause. The Supreme Court would find for the GMO Conspiracy based on Congress’s Constitutional right to regulate Interstate Commerce.

    So . . . what then? Well, those states that wanted could pass Forced Labelling laws covering anything grown in their own state for sale ONLY in their own state. State-sized food growing and making companies which would be satisfied to sell into a market of one state could produce and sell strictly within the borders of the state with the Forced Labelling law. Since Interstate Commerce would not be an issue, it would be amusing to see how the Corporate Fascist Feds tried shutting it down.
    Now . . . it would be hard to track the GMO items from state of production to state of sale. But the attempt might be made.

  10. Jack

    I think I’m just going to stop posting because I’m a beligerent ass who doesn’t interact well with people, so I’m simply going to give up trying. But my final word on the matter is that I still feel I’m fundamentally correct on this issue. There are two sides of this debate, one of which has consisently failed to provide any compelling evidence evidence for its position, the most famous and widely referenced paper in its support having been so badly conducted that it was retracted by the journal that published it. Having completely failed to make a case with science they now spend much of their time attempting to poo-poo the robust volume of science on the other side of the debate.

    Here’s a searchable database with 400+ peer-reviewed papers attesting to the safety of GMOs, over 100 of which were independently funded. And that’s just one database. There are literally thousands of papers on this subject, and the consensus is overwhelming. Even if a large number of these are funded by parties with a financial stake in the verdict being ‘safe’, that still doesn’t automatically invalidate a papers findings. I’ve never seen someone go through a substantial number of papers like these and show fraud, goosed numbers, omitted data etc. We aren’t talking about a handful of papers manufactured by tobacco compaies, this is on an order much closer to the volume of peer-reviewed literature on climate change. If this is all a fraud or conspiracy, it’s a mighty impressive one.

    I care about facts and evidence, and the anti-GMO crowd simply doesn’t have a leg to stand on in terms of there being health risks. If compelling evidence is presented I might change my position. It would have to be a lot of evidence though, given the weight of evidence in favor of safety.

    No, I will not be drinking a bottle of weed killer. I would be a fool to drink anything with a poison control hotline number on the container. But detergent is dangerous to drink too, that doesn’t mean my clothes are poisonous. The story a few months back about Roundup being a probable carcinogen, that gives me pause. But then again, lots of things are possible and probable carcinogens, including the dye used in brown sodas.

    So I’ll just use a different brand in my yard. And Roundup is something sprayed on GMO crops, it still isn’t the crops themselves. The shift to critics focusing on the weed killer happened because there was a consistent lack of evidence that the ‘frankenfood’ crops themselves were dangerous.

    And finally, no, I am not a ‘human exceptionalist’ or a corporate fanboy. In the end GMOs are failing to deliver on promises of increased crop yields, and the idea of owning the rights to seeds is a very bad one. But at worst the entire industry amounts to just another thing for corporations to make profits off of. That’s still a far cry from the nightmare visions opponents keep trying to sell me of cancer and disease coming from my modified food. And if nothing else I think a compelling argument can be made that at least Golden Rice has helped people by giving them something more nutritionally beneficial than the alternative.

    And I’d still like the post I made with my address removed.


    1. Jack

      Actually, I retract the thing about Roundup being a carcinogen. Further research led me to this:

      Naturally occuring formaldehyde is ranked higher than glyphosate as a carcinogen in humans and it’s everywhere. The WHO listing glyphosate doesn’t actually mean a whole lot, and it’s a pretty suspect categorization to begin with that ignores some other important bits of information in the process of reaching that conclusion. Even if it was definitvely a cause of cancer and ranked in the number one category it still wouldn’t be clear how much exposure would be needed to cause cancer. As I already said, it would be foolish to be drinking whole bottles of the stuff. So it gave me pause, well now I’ve hit play again. If I buy any weed killer I’ll just get whatever is cheapest, Roundup or otherwise.

      And now I will never again darken the naked capitalism comments section with my presence.

      1. Skippy

        I’ll keep it simple Jack, trust is a form of capital.

        Skippy…. it has been squandered on executive bonuses and – all – the machinations born out in books like the Merchants of Doubt.

      2. Praedor

        It goes beyond “carcinogen” and only humans. Glyphosphate IS an endocrine disruptor that screws up fish, amphibians, wildlife AND HUMANS. That is reason enough to ban its use. The end-all, be-all of “safe” is NOT measured by mere “carcinogenic to HUMANS”. Humans are not, cannot, operate alone. The effects on ALL the other things in the environment matters, life-or-death matters, to humanity.

      3. Chief Bromden

        And there it is… “skeptical” raptor is a corporate shill blog acting as a marketing arm for the biotech and vaccine industries. That computer program has never been “skeptical” of anything other than what may be challenging the industry bottom line. SR is a true evolution denier. All GMO fanatics are as they keep doubling down in a refusal to accept that mother nature and her superbugs & superweeds will win the bio weapons arms race once and for all. Don’t feed the trolls…

        1. OIFVet

          Shocking turn of events, indeed. If nothing else he drew me out of my self-imposed period of observer-only status. I couldn’t help it, he began to spoil a thread I had been enjoying immensely.

      4. different clue

        I notice you never did answer my question way up above. But that is a fair tradeoff in return for your never darkening our comments section again.

      5. nat scientist

        History does need need testing, the history of sustainable food production is widely known and just lies there and waits to be discovered, but all the studies in the World won’t prove the lie that dies when the clapping stops.

    2. vidimi

      there are very good reasons to oppose GM products other than health and, therefore, to label them. they’re bad for biodiversity, sustainability, the IP of genetics is immoral, the companies engage in political meddling, unfair labour practices, etc…on top of it, one can oppose it on religious grounds or even by choice. making it about health, imo, is a red herring.

  11. nat scientist

    The State of Science only exists when the facts it questions are reproducible
    by anyone, anywhere, of whatever opinion and 100% is the minimum standard or it’s just rubbish.
    GM’ery is an impossible testing case and science must be denied to afford the risk that absolutely demands to be socialized by the perpetrators who present a study as if it were a science.
    Plant hybridization with sustainable seeds has been essential to our history and ONLY and until science can predict the result of any hybrid attempt in detail, GM’erers are fooling for profit$ now, with unintended consequences and impossible to human test over generations as is necessary, to rush off with quick cheap and dirty profit.
    Nature has no unintended consequences that can ever be proved, we live in wonder of what’s underfoot or overhead. ManKind’s social condition best matches termites that are content with eating moist, rotting pine and the rest of time observing others and not raw data, most often only grooming and searching for cheap labor.
    It’s the individual that discovers, the corporation that builds the moats.

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