Today I read about two individuals who decided on political defections over perceived anti-science amongst their former political allies- one due to climate change, the other for anti-GMO. From the right, we have Michael Fumento, who in Salon describes his break with the right, spurred by Heartland’s campaign comparing those who believe in climate change with the Unabomber, as well as a general atmosphere of conspiratorial crankery and incivility. And from the left, we have Stephen Sumpter of Latent Existence leaving the Greens over their support for the misguided anti-scientific campaign of “Take the Flour Back” to destroy a crop of GMO wheat at Rothamsted Research which carries a gene from another plant to make it aphid-resistant. Starting with the anti-GMO extremists (since I’ve been picking on right-wing denialism a lot lately), their movement is pretty classic anti-science and extreme. The Rothamsted Research program has been very forthright and clearly is trying to engage and communicate with the protestors, has released this video trying to engage them in a fruitful debate over their research:

and sent them a public appeal trying to explain their side and asking for dialogue rather than violence. I will quote most of it here.

We have learned that you are planning to attack our research test site on 27th May. Please read the
following in the spirit of openness and dialogue – we know we cannot stop you from taking the action you plan, nor would we wish to see force used against you. Therefore we can only appeal to your consciences, and ask you to reconsider before it is too late, and before years of work to which we have devoted our lives are destroyed forever.

We appeal to you as environmentalists. We agree that agriculture should seek to work “with nature rather than against it” (to quote from our website), and that motivation underlies our work. We have developed a variety of wheat which does not need to be sprayed with insecticides. Instead, we have identified a way of getting the plant to repel aphids, using a natural process that has evolved in mint and many other plants – and simply adding this into the wheat genome to enable it to do the samething.

So our GM wheat could, for future generations, substantially reduce the use of agricultural chemicals. Are you really against this? Or are you simply against it because it is “GMO” and you therefore think it is unnatural in some way? Remember – all plants in all types of agriculture are genetically modified to serve humanity’s needs, and the (E)-β-farnesene compound our wheat produces is already found in over 400 species of plant, many of which are consumed as food and drink on a daily basis (including the hops used in beer, to give just one example). To suggest that we have used a ‘cow gene’ and that our wheat is somehow part-cow betrays a misunderstanding which may serve to confuse people or scare them but has no basis in scientific reality.

You seem to think, even before we have had a chance to test it, that our new wheat variety is bad. How do you know this? Clearly it is not through scientific enquiry, as the tests have not yet been performed. You state on your website: “There is serious doubt that the aphid alarm pheromone as found in this GM crop would even work.” You could be right – but if you destroy our test, you and we will never know. Is that what you want? Our research is trying to shed light on questions about the safety and the usefulness of new varieties of the staple food crops on which all of us depend. As activists you might prefer never to know whether our new wheat variety would work, but we believe
you are in a minority – in a democratic society most people do value factual knowledge and understand that it is necessary for sensible decision making.

You have described genetically modified crops as “not properly tested”. Yet when tests are carried out you are planning to destroy them before any useful information can be obtained. We do not see how preventing the acquisition of knowledge is a defensible position in an age of reason – what you are planning to do is reminiscent of clearing books from a library because you wish to stop other people finding out what they contain. We remind you that such actions do not have a proud tradition.

Our work is publically funded, we have pledged that our results will not be patented and will not be owned by any private company – if our wheat proves to be beneficial we want it to be available to farmers around the world at minimum cost. If you destroy publicly funded research, you leave us in a situation where only the big corporations can afford the drastic security precautions needed to continue biotechnology research – and you therefore further promote a situation you say you are trying to avoid.

We end with a further concern. You may not know much about Rothamsted. You may not know that our institute is the site of perhaps the longest-running environmental experiment in the world, with plots testing different agricultural methods and their ecological consequences dating all the way back to 1843. Some of these plots are very close to the GM wheat test site, and we are extremely worried that anyone walking onto them would endanger a research programme that has been in operation for almost two centuries.

But we also see our newest tests as part of this unbroken line – research never ends, and technology never can nor should be frozen in time (as implied by the term ‘GM freeze’). Society didn’t stop with the horse-drawn plough because of fears that the tractor was ‘unnatural’. We didn’t refuse to develop better wheat varieties in the past – which keep us well-fed today – simply because they were different from what went before and therefore scary. The wheat that we consume today has had many genetic changes made to it – to make plants produce more grain, resist disease, avoid growing too tall and blow over in the wind, be suitable for different uses like pasta and bread, provide more nutrition and grow at the right time for farming seasons. These agricultural developments make it possible for the
same amount of food to be produced from a smaller area of land, meaning less necessity for farmers to convert wildlands to agriculture, surely we should work together in this?

When you visit us on 27 May we will be available to meet and talk to you. We would welcome the chance to show you our work and explain why we think it could benefit the environment in the future. But we must ask you to respect the need to gather knowledge unimpeded. Please do not come to damage and destroy.

As scientists we know only too well that we do not have all the answers. That is why we need to conduct experiments. And that is why you in turn must not destroy them.
Yours sincerely
J. A. PICKETT DSc, CBE, FRS (Professor)
Michael Elliott Distinguished Research Fellow and
Scientific Leader of Chemical Ecology
Toby Bruce (Scientist specialising in plant-insect interactions, Team Leader)
Gia Aradottir (Insect Biology, Postdoc )
Huw Jones (Wheat Transformation, Coinvestigator)
Lesley Smart (Field Entomology)
Janet Martin (Field Entomology)
Johnathan Napier (Plant Science, Coinvestigator)
John Pickett (Chemical Ecology, Principal Investigator)

The protestors, thinking they’re attacking some Monsanto-like evil corporation, are so consumed with their hatred of GMO that they are spreading misinformation, refusing to allow scientists to even engage in the research into GMO, and rather than engaging the scientists in dialogue are threatening to just destroy their experiment. This is the worst kind of bullying, extremist, anti-science garbage out there. At least the creationists don’t show up in our labs and start spitting in our test tubes. The climate denialists might make a lot of noise but they aren’t threatening to blow up James Hansen’s computer. Finally the “take the flour back” justifications are terrible:

Rothamsted have planted a new GM wheat trial designed to repel aphids. It contains genes for antibiotic-resistance and an artificial gene ‘most similar to a cow’.

This sentence is so stupid I have trouble understanding how they wrote it for public consumption. A gene can not be “similar to a cow”. This makes no biological sense. We could have a gene that has similar sequence to that of a gene in a cow, but even that shouldn’t necessarily be threatening. After all, if you look at our genes you’d find most of them (80 percent) have significant homology to bos taurus. This claim despite being biologically silly, is refuted by the researchers who insist the gene being studied is (E)-β-farnesene, a protein that is in many plants we already consume, that transfers natural resistance to aphids.

Wheat is wind-pollinated. In Canada similar experiments have leaked into the food-chain costing farmers millions in lost exports. There is no market for GM wheat anywhere in the world.

This is patently absurd, the absence of a market for a product that has not yet been brought to market is not an argument. Further, the evidence is that GM crops are readily adopted in the United States, and increasingly in China. The loss of millions has more to do with the unjustified panic over GM that has been created by Luddites in Europe, and finally, how is it possible to study the efficacy and safety of this technology if they’re just going to show up and destroy it? It would be better studied and the results will be more openly reported by the publicly funded Rothamsted researchers than if these experiments were done behind some fence in China by Monsanto.

This experiment is tax-payer funded, but Rothamsted hope to sell any patent it generates to an agro-chemical company.

The researchers deny this and have pledged not to patent the product. However, this might ultimately be an error that is ultimately harmful to the researchers’ attempts to distribute the technology. By patenting the product and licensing it, you will have a greater ability to convince an agricultural supplier to invest in, market and distribute the product. If you don’t patent it, and it becomes immediately public, the inability of a corporation to have exclusive use of the patent may discourage them generally from adopting the product. They’re out to make money, it’s true, and the sad thing is, even if you have the best product in the world, if they can just be copied by any competitor the appeal of investing in your product will be zero. It’s sad but true. I think they should patent it, and simply promise that licensing would require ethical provisions for its distribution to impoverished countries.

La Via Campesina, the world’s largest organisation of peasant farmers, believe GM is increasing world hunger. They have called for support resisting GM crops, and the control over agriculture that biotech gives to corporations.

The marketing practices of agri-business like Monsanto are extremely problematic, and it isn’t just peasant farmers in other countries but farmers here in the US that object to being strong-armed by big businesses, and seemingly extorted into using Monsanto seeds over reseeding their own fields. However, this is separate from the argument that GM crops are unsafe or increase world hunger. If anything, the experience of those such as Norman Borlaug and the creation of dwarf wheat varieties should demonstrate that modification of wheat can have a tremendous impact on world hunger. I have no doubt that GM technology might in the future generate similar advances in productivity as traditional methods. It’s also not the point of the research at Rothamsted which is to decrease the need for pesticide use. Yes, Monsanto sucks, what does that have to do with Rothamset? What does world hunger have to do with decreasing pesticide use? These are illogical arguments, that are a combination of appeals to consequence and straw men. Rothamsted is not Monsanto.

‘Take the Flour Back’ will be a nice day out in the country, with picnics, music from Seize the Day and a decontamination. It’s for anyone who feels able to publically [sic] help remove this threat and those who want to show their support for them.

Decontamination, what an excellent euphemism for vandalism, destruction of property, and violence. They are going to destroy the research project of publicly-funded plant researchers who are trying to answer questions about safety and efficacy of a product that could decrease pesticide use. They have justified this based on false information, biological ignorance, and a Luddite attitude towards biological technology that if anything will improve the safety of our food supply.

People have bizarre ideas about genetic modification, that somehow, transferring a gene from one species will then confer the properties of that entire species to the plant (hence the senseless cow comparison above). This is absurd. The arguments against resistant organisms don’t make a lot of sense to me either, because the alternative – pesticides – share the same flaw – at the same time represent a health threat to humans as well. The idea of transferring a gene that makes a protein that we already eat in other plants hardly seems like it should even raise an eyebrow to me. I don’t get the paranoia from the environmentalists on this issue. The need to feed ourselves and wrest resources from the pests and bacteria that we compete with on this planet is not static. It is constantly changing and our strength is our ability to use technology and science to our benefit. We don’t refuse to research antibiotics because one day bacteria might become resistant. We develop new antibiotics.

This demonstrates though that any ideology is susceptible to anti-science when it becomes extreme and that includes environmentalism. Based on shoddy understanding of biology, paranoia about Monsanto, and misinformation about publicly-funded researchers, these morons are about to go out and destroy a scientific project. If there were a better description of a modern Luddite I haven’t heard one.

Anyway. Onto Michael Fumento’s article in Salon. Fumento is irritated with the right because he sees them as exhibiting the one characteristic that he has never been able to stand in anyone – hysteria.

Gosh! When did I end up in bed with Ted Kaczynski, the Unabomber? Could it be because I did specialize in blowing things up while serving my country for four years as an airborne combat engineer? I also watched human beings blown up. I had friends and Navy SEALs I was in battle with blown up. My own intestines exploded on the first of my four combat embeds, three in Iraq and one in Afghanistan. Took seven operations to fix the plumbing. I later suffered other permanent injuries.

Yet now I find myself linked not only with the Unabomber, but also Charles Manson and Fidel Castro. Or so says the Chicago-based think tank the Heartland Institute, for which I’ve done work. Heartland erected billboards depicting the above three declaring: “I still believe in Global Warming. Do you?” Climate scientists now, evidently, share something in common with dictators and mass murderers. Reportedly bin Laden was scheduled to make such an appearance, too.

The HI and and Morano have been shrieking about how environmentalists are worse and that this was unfair targeting of what the enviros do all the time, but no, not really. Usually when they find some example of an environmentalist calling for consequences for global warming denialism it’s quoted out of context, and even if it does happen, despite being a tu quoque this was a pretty extreme campaign. Extreme enough to even turn Fumento against them. No small feat.

Now a brief interlude for Fumento to stroke his vast ego (just read his blog tagline):

This is nuts! Literally. As in “mass hysteria.” That’s a phenomenon I wrote about for a quarter-century, from the heterosexual AIDS “epidemic” to the swine flu “pandemic” that killed vastly fewer people than seasonal flu, to “runaway Toyotas.” Mass hysteria is when a large segment of society loses touch with reality, or goes bonkers, if you will, on a given issue – like believing that an incredibly mild strain of flu could kill eight times as many Americans as normal seasonal flu. (It killed about a third as many.)

I was always way ahead of the curve. And my exposés primarily appeared in right-wing publications. Back when they were interested in serious research. I also founded a conservative college newspaper, held positions in the Reagan administration and at several conservative think tanks, and published five books that conservatives applauded. I’ve written for umpteen major conservative publications – National Review, the Weekly Standard, the Wall Street Journal and Forbes, among them.

Fumento is a weird guy. He really doesn’t like it when people tell him he should be worried about something. To the point that he’ll deny things like that heterosexuals are at risk of spreading HIV, or at least diminish the heterosexual spread of the disease. This is despite the fact HIV is predominantly a heterosexual disease outside of the US. Similarly with other epidemic concerns, scientists make a big deal out of them, he usually says, “it’s no big deal”, and then by virtue of prevention programs, luck, or maybe even overestimation of the pathogenicity of the bug in question, he seems to come out on top. I don’t think it’s a good way to view the world, because when he’s wrong, he’s going to be really wrong. I tend towards to more cautious side of the spectrum based on historical events like the flu pandemic of 1918. We know it can happen, we should treat emerging diseases and severe flu strains seriously.

So now that he perceives the right is the hysterical bunch, screaming conspiracies about Obama ruining the entire capitalist western world, true to form he rejects the hysteria:

Nothing the new right does is evidently outrageous enough to receive more than a peep of indignation from the new right. Heartland pulled its billboards because of funder withdrawals, not because any conservatives spoke up and said it had crossed a line.

Last month U.S. Rep. Allen West, a Florida Republican recently considered by some as vice-president material, insisted that there are “78 to 81” Democrats in Congress who are members of the Communist Party, again with little condemnation from the new right.

Mitt Romney took a question at a town hall meeting this month from a woman who insisted President Obama be “tried for treason,” without challenging, demurring from or even commenting on her assertion.

And then there’s the late Andrew Breitbart (assassinated on the orders of Obama, natch). A video from February shows him shrieking at peaceful protesters: “You’re freaks and animals! Stop raping people! Stop raping people! You freaks! You filthy freaks! You filthy, filthy, filthy raping, murdering freaks!” He went on for a minute-and-a-half like that. Speak not ill of the dead? Sen. Ted Kennedy’s body was barely cold when Breitbart labeled him “a big ass motherf@#$er,” a “duplicitous bastard” a “prick” and “a special pile of human excrement.”

Civility and respect for order – nay, demand for order – have always been tenets of conservatism. The most prominent work of history’s most prominent conservative, Edmund Burke, was a reaction to the anger and hatred that swept France during the revolution. It would eventually rip the country apart and plunge all of Europe into decades of war. Such is the rotted fruit of mass-produced hate and rage. Burke, not incidentally, was a true Tea Party supporter, risking everything as a member of Parliament to support the rebellion in the United States.

All of today’s right-wing darlings got there by mastering what Burke feared most: screaming “J’accuse! J’accuse!” Turning people against each other. Taking seeds of fear, anger and hatred and planting them to grow a new crop.

President Obama is regularly referred to as a Marxist/Socialist, Nazi, tyrant, Muslim terrorist supporter and – let me look this up, but I’ll bet probably the antichrist, too. Yup, there it is! Over 5 million Google references. There should be a contest to see if there’s anything for which Obama hasn’t been accused. Athlete’s foot? The “killer bees”? Maybe. In any case, the very people who coined and promoted such terms as “Bush Derangement Syndrome, Cheney Derangement Syndrome and Palin Derangement Syndrome” have been promoting hysterical attitudes toward Obama since before he was even sworn in.

Well at least he’s consistent. Although he once did send me an email comparing me to Hitler. I wish I’d kept it, it was pretty funny. I tend to agree with the characterization of this as hysteria, although to be fair I think Obama is getting it worse than Bush did. After all, the accusations against Bush were often true, including the worst one. His administration did deceive us into a war in Iraq. The weapons were not there, the intelligence was inflated, and either through incompetence or irrationality we ended up in a Middle-Eastern hellhole for 10 years. The evidence against Obama, who in reality is a rather milquetoast pragmatist, being Stalin/Hitler/Marx/The Antichrist is a bit weaker.

His call is for civility, which for some reason that eludes me, is often anathema to bloggers. Civility in some sense of the word is patriarchal oppression, or censorship, or something. I don’t know about that, but my general rule is I write like my mother is reading this (and she might be), so it’s best not to be an outrageous turd to other people.

No, I’m not cherry-picking. When I say “regularly referred to,” interpret literally. Polls show that about half of voting Republican buy into the birther nonsense (one of the more prominent hysterias within the hysteria). Only about a fourth seem truly sure that Obama was actually born here. In her nationally syndicated column Michelle Malkin wrote regarding Limbaugh’s slut remarks, that “I’m sorry the civility police now have an opening to demonize the entire right based on one radio comment.” In a stroke she’s expressed her disdain for civility and declared the new right’s sins can be dispatched as an itsy-bitsy little single faux pas, “one radio comment.”

No, Michelle, incivility – nay, outright meanness and puerility – rears its ugly head daily on your blog, which as I write this on May 23 has one item referring in the headline to “Pig Maher’s boy [Bill Maher]” and another to “Jaczko the Jerk,” [former U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Gregory Jaczko]. She calls Limbaugh target Sandra Fluke a “femme-agogue” and her supporters “[George] Soros monkeys.” Pigs? Monkeys? Moonbats? It’s literal dehumanization.

And now I’m in the bizarre position of actually agreeing with Fumento. Never thought I’d say that. Somehow his protective “never panic” mantra has been protective against the panicky insanity over the Obama presidency coming from the left, and allowed him to hold onto some core of humanity. Maybe it’s an adaptive feature after all?

The new right cannot advance a conservative agenda precisely because, other than a few small holdouts like the American Conservative magazine or that battleship that refuses to become a museum, George Will, it is not itself conservative. Pod people are running the show. It has no such capability; no such desire. I find that disturbing for obvious reasons. But, based on my own conversations with liberals, I think – nay, I know – that if more of these allegedly godless, treasonous people understood real conservatism a lot would embrace many conservative positions.

And this is true. I have voted for Republicans in the past (Connie Morella was the first congresswoman I ever voted for when I was 18), and would like to be able to in the future. But I agree with Fumento (my fingers just went numb again), until they accept empiricism again, and stop pitting their ideology against science there is no way I would ever vote for one. It’s unfortunate, because in the old school/Rockefeller Republican/revenue generation isn’t anathema days they occasionally had good ideas to contribute, and a ideological view that was balanced by a tradition of civility and responsibility towards the country.

Comments

  1. #1 Kevin
    May 26, 2012

    A couple of decades ago used to refer I used to refer to myself as a P.J. O’Rourke republican because I grew up in the age of sex, drugs, and rock& roll, and happily embraced that lifestyle in those days before family,career, and homeownership, reordered my priorities. There was a time when there was an intellectual version of conservatism. That was before the takeover of the right by theocrats, denialists, and asshats.

  2. #2 yogi-one
    May 26, 2012

    You are right about either the extreme right or extreme left being hysterical and off the hook when it comes to having a reasonable conversation. They won’t give up hate because hate is the engine that powers everything they do. Do you think Limbaugh or Malkin became rich media stars by being civil? No. The moment they embrace civility their careers are effectively over and they know it.

    It’s a big problem. With the society broken down into screaming matches, the issues that have to be addressed – like safely feeding our population in ways that don’t destroy the earth, and finding ways to power our civilization that don’t either, get thrown by the wayside. The recent conference in Bonn is a perfect example. Never has the science nor the need to act been so clear as it is now with the issue of global warming – and yet, never has it been so politically off-limits for the politicians to actually do anything about it, because the public debate has been thoroughly hijacked by vested interests and extremists.

    The catastrophes the extremists predict will indeed come to pass – and that will be precisely because they used their extremism to prevent society from taking meaningful action to prevent those very same worst case scenarios.

  3. #3 Elizabeth
    California
    May 26, 2012

    How is it that no one can stop TakeTheFlourBack from pulling up Rothhamsted’s wheat? Wouldn’t that involve trespassing and vandalism? Do they have law enforcement?

  4. #4 Mary
    May 27, 2012

    @Elizabeth: The security is supposedly being beefed up for this. There’s also a counter-demonstration by some newly mobilized geeks. I’d watch the hashtags #dontdestroyresearch and #geeksinthepark tomorrow for updates.

    It should begin to transpire around 11am BST.

  5. #5 Elizabeth
    California
    May 27, 2012

    @Mary: thank you for the information. I shall wish for the best for Rothhamsted and their wheat research.

  6. #6 MikeB
    May 27, 2012

    I highly recommend the Biofortified blog which has been monitoring the Rothamsted situation:

    http://www.biofortified.org/

  7. #7 WoodwardLizzie25
    May 27, 2012

    It’s known that money can make us free. But what to do when someone has no money? The only one way is to receive the home loans and commercial loan.

  8. #8 Hillary
    United States
    May 27, 2012

    I understand there’s no reason to destroy their crops because they don’t plan on producing them commercially or having any large company own them, and I suppose it’s fine to experiment but…. personally I wish all the GMO crops were destroyed. :/ People simply /don’t/ understand what they’re fucking with, and don’t know what kind of effects eating this stuff will have on someone and the way they disregard it is disturbing to me. Plus, half of the tests on GMOs that are produced are untruthful because most are funded by large companies. Sure, these guys might not plan on doing anything bad with it, but I wish people would stop tampering with shit to begin with… There are probably much easier, more natural ways to get rid of aphids. Companion planting anyone? lmfao.

  9. #9 Dean Morrison
    Hastings UK
    May 27, 2012

    Would it be churlish to point out that Stephen Sumpter who has ‘defected from the Greens’ was a member for precisely three months, having previously defected from the Liberal Democrats? From his blog:

    ” One of the reasons that I took a long time to join the Green Party after betrayal by the Liberal Democrats in 2010 was the anti-science attitude that I saw with their policies supporting homeopathy and reacting against many things out of fear and contrary to evidence. Indeed, the Green Party knew that this was a problem and recently made an effort to make their policies evidence based. I joined about three months ago when I thought that things had changed but this fiasco over GM experiments has left me feeling that I cannot trust the party. Perhaps I have given the Greens less of a chance than I did the LibDems but after one betrayal I am not waiting around for another.
    I no longer feel that I can trust political parties. Manifesto pledges mean nothing. Promises seem to lead to the exact opposite behaviour. Politicians happily lie and mislead the public as to their true intentions. I’ve learnt my lesson. I sent in my resignation to the Green Party a few minutes ago and I will no longer support any political party.”

    So despite the Green Party taking the concerns of peoiple like Sumpter seriously, to the extent of changing official policy, after three months he decides to stomp off from politics altogether because another member of the party has a different opinion to him?

    I’m afraid that this betrays a lazy consumerist attitude to politics, in expecting political parties to dish up exactly what an individual wants, without anything not to their taste on the menu. The Green Party is a democratic organisation and it is open to any member to campaign within to change policy, and many do although you can reasonably expect it to take more than three months to do so; and you’d need to go through the process of trying to convince others by rational debate, something Sumpter obviously found too tiring a prospect.
    I actually re-joined the party after allowing my membership to lapse (for many years I was working in an NGO where for good reason we were asked to be apolitical). I did this because in terms of the bigger picture of the challenges the world faces in terms of over-population, resource consumption and depletion, biodiversity loss, pollution, and the damage caused by the increasing inequality: the Green Party has been ahead of the game in terms of bringing science to politics for a long time. The Royal Society have just released a report “People and Planet” which reads like the Green Party Manifesto from thirty years ago: http://royalsociety.org/news/Royal-Society-calls-for-a-more-equitable-future-for-humanity/

    I’ll be arguing with colleagues within the party for a more open-minded position on GM – but since the official party line is no longer against research, I’d say a lot of progress has been made on that issue already.

    As for Sumpter – well I’m sad he’s left, but I’m afraid if you are going to present the ‘defection’ of someone that’s been around for three months as something of significance, then I’m afraid you’ve lost all sense of proportion.

  10. #10 Mark
    May 28, 2012

    @Hillary

    People simply /don’t/ understand what they’re fucking with, and don’t know what kind of effects eating this stuff will have on someone and the way they disregard it is disturbing to me.

    If by “people” you mean “you” then maybe I’d buy this. I think biologists like myself do know what we’re working with, we’ve been generating transgenic plants and animals for decades, the concerns cited are based on defective understanding of biology and paranoia equivalent to the old worry that microwaves would make food radioactive.

    Fundamental ignorance of biological science on the part of the critics is not a valid reason to stop all GMO research.

  11. [...] Quiggin comments on the rarity of such moves, while Mark Hoofnagle draws a parallel with Stephen Sumpter leaving the UK Greens over their opposition to scientific experiments on GM [...]

  12. #12 Ian Kemmish
    May 28, 2012

    You don’t think it’s ironic for a site called “Scienceblogs” to publish an article claiming that two examples of something constitute proof?

    • #13 Mark
      May 28, 2012

      When did I claim that these two examples prove anything? The title of the piece asserts ideological extremism leads to anti-science and the left response to GMOs are proof that the left is susceptible too. I really only used one of the two examples to discuss this, and it’s part of an ongoing debate about the relative contribution of the left versus the right to anti-science, and how ideology in general causes rifts between partisans and empiricists. I only really talked about Fumento because I thought it was interesting that the flip-side to environmentalism got so hysterical they lost one of the more crazy-right wing types.

      So really you should be criticizing me by saying that I shouldn’t be on scienceblogs because I wrote an article showing how one example of something constitutes proof. But that would require you to ignore everything I’ve written on the conflict between ideology and science since 2007.

  13. #14 JG
    May 28, 2012

    The climate denialists might make a lot of noise but they aren’t threatening to blow up James Hansen’s computer.

    But they do issue death threats to Jim Hansen and others like him.

  14. #15 Devis
    May 28, 2012

    “I have voted for Republicans in the past”

    So you consider Romney extreme and the plurality of votes he received indicating extremism? That’s interesting. Why am I getting the feeling we’re being duped here, Mark?

  15. #16 Lord
    May 28, 2012

    There may be a difference between them though. The right denies science that applies to everyone while the left denies science that applies to themselves. Since science deals in generalities, it is much stronger against claims of the right than claims of the left, and while both may claim we don’t know enough, the right will dispute what we do know while the left focuses on what we do not.

  16. #17 Whomever1
    Long Beach, CA
    May 28, 2012

    I’m not utterly opposed to GMOs, but don’t understand why products with genetically modified ingredients can’t be labelled as such. Give people a few generations of time to change their attitudes. Look how many decades it took for tomatoes to be accepted, but now they’re everywhere.

  17. #18 Phil
    May 28, 2012

    With respect to GM crops, almost every crop eaten by humans has been genetically altered. Corn has GM sugar content. Bananas are triploid clones.
    The details are what are important. Will the aphid resistant gene be spread to wild, unrelated plants and weeds?
    Please show your reasoning and for me, at least, the major source of worry will be alleviated. Off the top of my head I recall a similar experiment (not aphid resistance) where the inserted gene cropped up in the wild…

  18. #19 Mark
    May 29, 2012

    Phil, the loss of the gene to the wild is unlikely as wheat does not wind pollinate as suggested by the anti-GMO advocates. It has a very short-lived heavy pollen than only pollinates in the immediate area. If the gene does enter into wild species – which would be a big jump between dissimilar species, the gene isn’t harmful. The worst outcome is that the loss of the gene to other plants or crops would lead to resistance from wider exposure of the aphids to the gene product. This would be unfortunate, but resistance is not a reason not to pursue GMO as resistance is a major problem with pesticides as well, and pesticides also can harm humans, especially the workers and farmers with the greatest contact. The types of farming that prevent aphids from attacking crops without pesticides are more expensive (and therefor won’t be widely adopted) and require different land use patterns that industrial farms can not or will not adopt.

  19. #20 Hank Roberts
    May 29, 2012

    Mark, a serious question. I’m pro-research, think the people trying to mess up research are ignorant at best and maybe dupes of the anti-research and anti-science nuts who would delight in pushing the left to destroy the sciences.

    But.
    Consider whatever gene is said to discourage these particular bugs.

    Do they do a shotgun assay for the gene and protein made by it for where it may be produced in other species generally?

    Do they do a shotgun assay for the receptor in other species generally, to see where else that key may fit a lock?

    By shotgun I mean — extract a sample, test it against a library of samples taken from other plants/insects, do a PCR to amplify any that matches.

    I ask because long ago when PCR was newish, I had my local native grasses tested against some commercial libraries to make the “bar code” pictures to help tell them apart, and get a feel for how much each species differed across a mountainside from others of the same species.

    The commercial libraries are mostly commercially valuable grains – mostly Old World plants originally.

    Of course there’s ample overlap to get useful information.

    But the subtext of this is that most any gene product from one plant, that happens to have one effect on one animal — may be similar in other plants and fit other receptors.

    The anti-bug-gene might not be an anti-bug-gene. It may happen to knock down those bugs — by interfering with some process more widely occurring in nature that they aren’t looking for.

    I think that’s straightforward and understood. But do we get tests done for that sort of applicability before

  20. [...] Quiggin comments on the rarity of such moves, while Mark Hoofnagle draws a parallel with Stephen Sumpter leaving the UK Greens over their opposition to scientific experiments on GM [...]

  21. #22 Russell
    May 30, 2012

    The serial crackpottery of Heartland and Doscovery Institute stalwarts like Fumento and his alter ego,Tom Bethell, havelong been objects of ridicule in some conservative journals

  22. #23 Greg
    May 31, 2012

    Does the Doscovery Institute promote the view that MS-DOS was created by an all-knowing Programmer, and that the belief that computer science is based on the work of Turing, Babbage et al is just foolish propaganda from left-leaning IT departments?

  23. #24 John Silver
    May 31, 2012

    Those are some long excerpts.

  24. #25 Neil Craig
    June 1, 2012

    This is about a regular on “scienceblogs”. Since Skip has been calling me a “Nazi” because I edit out obscenities about sheep which he has been putting on my blog he will certainly, not being a 100% hypocritical liar be publicly saying worse about each of the “scienceblogs” sites which censor this factual stuff.

    Or alternately he won’t being a 100% hypocritical liar. Lets find out.

    Skip Evans of NCSE Outed
    For some time I have had a self appointed nemesis on here who calls claims anonymity but appears on “scienceblogs” under the name “Skip” where he has claimed to be a scientist able to pontificate on climate change because

    Furthermore, the people you are debating with are real researchers. Like Mandas, Richard S., Chris, and others I too have a track record of peer reviewed publication in the finest journals in my field. They and I have a basic demonstration of competence the likes of which a fool such as yourself will never comprehend.
    That there should be, at least, some truth to his claims of validity in the field was supported by the fact that neither the site runner nor any of the named people said “who he” or that they were unable to confirm being in the same scientific club as “Skip”, though it was indeed obvious his real identity was known. If you are going to accept that a lying charlatan shares equality with you you must accept being known as a lying charlatan.

    Of course the idea that anybody at “scienceblogs” was in any way interested in truth or science took rather a knock when Greg Laden, who runs one of the sites, publicly claimed to be a “climate scientist” and I subsequently proved that he was in fact an unpaid assistant anthropology teacher. A more serious dent to “scienceblogs” credibility came when Greg kept his site and nobody whatsoever on their even suggested that being proven so wholly and completely dishonest and contemptuous of science was, in even the slightest way, reprehensible.

    Obviously such action is incompatible with any “sciencebloggers” being in any way honest or scientific.

    Anyway Skip promised me that he was going to not only come on my blog and engage, for the rest of time, on what, for him, passes as intellectual debate but also to do so on any other site I commented on (which would include the sole “scienceblog” site that allows a certain amount of free speech.. In fact he limited himself to this site since presumably making himself look like and idiot on a wider stage seemed not to be a good idea.

    Occasionally his comments have contributed what purported to be a matter of fact (for example his repeated claims that the government’s Chief Science adviser never made the ludicrous claim that by 2100 “Antarctica will be the only habitable continent” and that the papers reporting it were nonexistent/lying because they are controlled by deniers/mistaken). All his claims of fact were easily and amusingly proven false. The rest of his posts have focused on calling me a Nazi, saying that everybody in Glasgow shags the sheep which are everpresent in our city centre & that the proof that I am a Nazi is that I tend to delete his obscenities (though I specifically do not delete argument that attempts to be fact based).

    Having at least some trace of personal integrity and not being a complete hypocrite Skip has at least been equally willing to denounce all the scienceblogs sites which censor, not obscenity but rational debate.
    Being a wholly corrupt, child abusing*, animal he hasn’t.

    So who is this expert in climate science Skip. Well not entirely coincidentally, he turns out to be linked to a child abusing (*there did anybody think I was merely being discourteous when I said that earlier) organisation I have dealt with previously, NCSE (National Center for science Education more properly known as Nazi Child-abusers for the Suppression of Evidence).

    So who is he

    have a look at this account of Skip Evans, formerly of the National Center for Science Education, conversing with some of the local creationists in Madison, WI.

    Skip’s account. The idea of pretending to be a real scientist seems to be presaged by a comment he adds

    a couple of guys talking to Larry and Kevin the Creationists decided they were sociology professors doing an experiment to see how people reacted to complete nonsense presented as fact.

    Posted by: Skip
    July 27, 2010 12:43 AM
    With the NCSE connection, which I did not connection, it appears the world of know of when I the reported the lecture by their boss on CAGW (“you can’t blame her for not answering your questions – she’s not a climate expert”(. Run by the Glasgow Skeptics (with grandstanding by ecofascist Green MSP Pat Harvie, previously gay government paid youth worker though I would never match the ecofascists by saying that he had ever shagged any of the aforementioned sheep) it seems the world of anti-science spouting is even smaller and more incestuous than it previously appeared.

    From the obscene thieving Nazi Child abuser’s entry on NCSE

    Should the disgusting animal wish to apologise or feel able make any explanation, without obscenity, or indeed should any member of BCSE feel I have been in any way unfair I extend my invitation, as normal, to give them a platform and possibly a piece of rope. If not to me it might wish to apologise to the people of Glasgow and all the sheep in Sauchiehall Street.

  25. #26 Artor
    June 3, 2012

    I am very pro-science, but I tend toward anti-GMO. My issue with GMO crops is not anti-science, but that there’s not nearly enough science involved. The approval process for GMO crops is fraught with money-driven politics, and there has not been enough research to understand all the complicated outcomes of planting and consuming them. We are now discovering that Monsanto’s GM wheat has managed to breed super-bugs that are resistant or immune to our most potent pesticides. Who could have guessed? Well, an evolutionary biologist could have for one. We are also discovering that GM soy products could be contributing to serious health problems. Why didn’t we know this before they entered the market? Because they were rushed into production by the liberal use of donations, bribes, payola and legal intimidation, not science.

  26. #27 Michael
    Los Angeles
    June 3, 2012

    Artor, it’s probably a rule on the internet, but it’s a rule that I observe. As soon as someone says “I’m pro-science”, or “I believe in evolution,” or “I am not a racist,” is the moment I know they aren’t.

    You either understand the science, ask questions to understand it, or you’re hopeless. You are using the Appeal to Conspiracy, the same one used by anti-vaxxers for vaccines, by global warming denialists and others. Face it, you wouldn’t know science if it came up and slapped you about side your little mind.

    You are mere stating crap, without one tiny bit of science, without one tiny bit of evidence. You may as well tell me homeopathy works, the earth is only 6000 years old, and vaccines cause autism. Because Artor, you’re a clueless dolt.

  27. #28 Jose
    June 5, 2012

    As someone who lives in Brighton probably the most left wing town in the UK with a Green MP I feel I should point out that the traditional left/right wing divide doesn’t extend into the Deep Ecology and the hardcore antivax crowd. A lot of deep ecology “Greens” are Conservatives. They rail against GMO food, progressive taxes and immigrants in equal measure.
    Envirnomentalism has always been overrun with woo. A lot of the classic environmentalist groups were very late in accepting Climate Change as an issue.

  28. #29 mememine69
    CCCCanada Itscoldstill
    June 5, 2012

    Climate change scientists have done to science what abusive priests did for religion. Oh, and thanks science for giving us the pesticides that made environmentalism necessary in the firsts place.
    Hey Good news! I looked up consensus and look what I found:
    Every single one of the scientists and organizations has their own unique definition of CO2’s effects ranging from nothing to unstoppable warming, so consensus of climate change killing our kids certainly cannot exist. It is impossible. There is absolutely no proof anywhere in the scientific world that all of science agrees our kids lives are in danger from CO2 climate chaos. NOTHING is worse besides a comet hit and the scientific world is not say it is death for all. You can’t have a little crisis.
    And if all the millions in the global scientific community had condemned their own children as well as ours to a CO2 death, wouldn’t they be acting like it was the end of the world right about now?
    Would you say climate change isn’t “real” if you were paid to study the effects of it?

  29. #30 Al Bore
    Earth
    June 5, 2012

    How many climate scientists to change a light bulb?
    None, but they do have full consensus that it WILL change.
    The world walked away from climate change mitigation of CO2 and the world of science sat there and watched:
    –Julian Assange is as climate change “crisis” denier.
    -“Socialist” Canada voted in a climate change denying prime minister to a majority.
    -Occupy does not mention CO2 in its list of demands because of the bank-funded carbon trading stock markets run by corporations.
    -Canada killed Y2Kyoto and nobody cared, especially the millions of scientists.
    -Obama has not mentioned the crisis in the last two state of the unions.
    None of you remaining Human CO2 climate crisis fear mongers would still be shooting your mouths off like this if there were real “legal” consequences for condemning billions of children to the greenhouse gas ovens. “A threat to the planet” –IPCC………………. The exaggeration is astounding.
    It’s time you lab coats started acting like its real and march in the streets with your THE END IS NEAR signs alongside the dozens of climate change protesters we still see.

  30. #31 Wow
    June 11, 2012

    So your post here is pretty much summed up as: Extremes lead to extremes.

    Gosh.

    Thanks for that.

    Face it, there’s no pressing need for GMOs and lots of money to be made, and we KNOW from two centuries of mishap how well endeavours built on the profit motive alone go.

    No need for the upside and examples galore of the downsides appearing.

  31. #32 Wow
    June 11, 2012

    PS in Italy, an open air field trial, despite having been THREE TIMES refused as illegal under the rules of biological trials in Italy, STILL was going ahead (because of the extremists who wish to force GMO on the market) is only now being canned because of activists intent to violate and destroy the illegal test.

  32. #33 Wow
    June 11, 2012

    “With respect to GM crops, almost every crop eaten by humans has been genetically altered.”

    Then how can the GMOs be patented? You can’t patent something that happens naturally.

    Or is that merely a shibboleth, intended to disarm one problem with GMOs but NEVER to be used to disarm the wealth that GMOs enable?

  33. #34 Mark
    June 11, 2012

    Wow, I do think it is a simple but significant point to make that ideological extremity leads to anti-science no matter which end of the spectrum you occupy. In terms of trying to understand how people come to hold anti-science positions it’s useful and hopefully will lead people to engage in some evaluation of how their ideology affects their regard for scientific evidence, especially the scientific evidence they would prefer not to be true.

    As for your other points
    - There is always a pressing need for innovation in increasing our food supply and decreasing cost to produce and environmental costs of food production. As long as our population is growing, and our farmland is shrinking, technology is required to advance us, or maybe one day Malthus will end up being right after all.
    - There is nothing wrong with capitalism, and GMOs being “forced” on the market frankly makes no sense in the context of this discussion as this is a government-funded public experiment that the authors have repeatedly said they will not patent. I actually believe this is a mistake as it will make it harder to license and expand distribution of a beneficial product if you don’t have the rights to it.
    - I have no problem with wealth being generated by a new technology that may increase our food supply, decrease it’s cost, or decrease it’s need for pesticides or other damaging chemicals. Still, I realize Monsanto is a a nasty mean company, but that has no bearing on the current attacks on this government-funded experiment.

  34. #35 Wow
    June 12, 2012

    It is rather obvious and tautological, however, Mark.

    What made it egregious was going on about anti-GMO extremists and ignoring pro-GMO extremists (the companies wanting to make money off them).

    So although your point was an attempt to get you placed in the “moderate middle”, you neglected to address one side.

    As to your replies:

    - Nope, there’s no need to increase food supply. There’s a pressing need to get food transported, but no need to increase food supply. In a few decades, maybe (if we continue to screw up the environment), but that can be avoided.

    - There is a huge amount of things wrong with capitalism. Paris Hilton for example. When you have money, you can easily make money. And the more money you have, the bigger a say you get. This is why money doesn’t trickle down, because after a few million in the bank, money is no longer something to spend, it’s leverage to get your own way and someone with more money than you will be able to exert their will over you. Capitalism is what caused the Dikensian Victorian era.

    And GMOs ARE being forced on the market. I told you about Italy, right? What do you think all the lobbying about letting GMOs in is all about? Why do you think the pro-GMO lobby is so against labelling their product? So that people will be forced to buy it because it’s not possible to avoid.

    - However, as seen elsewhere, the wealth being created will go to the wealthiest at the expense of the poorer. Given that there is no need to increase food supply, there’s no benefit to increasing it to society. Just the noisy and powerful who will make out like bandits.

    And again, I point you to Italy. It was ONLY because of attacks on the government funded experiment that the THREE TIMES declared illegal test in Italy was abandoned. Your thesis that attacks on such experiments are unwarranted and counter-productive are not bourne out by reality.

    Your problem may well be that you’re involved and know many people “on the coal face” and moreover took on the job to feed the world or reduce malnutrition.

    Your employers did not employ you or your friends to make people healthy. They employed them to make more money. This is why they patent their work, as opposed to releasing royalty free.

  35. #36 Ewan R
    June 12, 2012

    Disclaimer, I’m a Monsanto employee, the views expressed herein are my own, and not those of my corporate overlords.

    Artor : –

    The approval process for GMO crops is fraught with money-driven politics, and there has not been enough research to understand all the complicated outcomes of planting and consuming them.

    How much research is enough? GMOs have been around for two decades now, there are hundreds of papers on their safety, there are no credible papers showing ill effects.

    We are now discovering that Monsanto’s GM wheat

    Monsanto’s GM what now? Monsanto only got back into wheat in the last couple of years, there are no commercialized GM wheat lines used in agriculture.

    as managed to breed super-bugs that are resistant or immune to our most potent pesticides

    So lets assume you’re talking about cotton and corn here (as they’re the ones with traits vs bugs) – there are some populations in some areas which show some resistance to some Cry proteins (which interestingly in the case of corn root worm are of no use sprayed because they have to be, y’know, by the roots) – in what world are these either “super bugs” or are these our “most potent herbicides”, at the very best you’ve pointed out a reason that GM can’t just rest on its laurels – evolution happens, what works today may no longer work as well tomorrow, strategy must be used, new products, mixes of products, cyclical use of products – a product which works for 15 years and then isn’t as great… still worked for 15 years, it’s hardly an argument against ever using it, it’s an argument against coming up with the next big thing ™ (and by all accounts Bollgard II works just fine against populations with partial resistance to Bollgard I – so, do we stop using GM altogether and just have farmers return to toxic insecticides (which have exactly the same issues of resistance) or do we figure out what Bollgard III, IV and V have to look like, and how long it might be before we can return to BG I?

    We are also discovering that GM soy products could be contributing to serious health problems.

    Citation needed, I assume by “we are” here you mean “nobody is”, because that’s the only way to parse that and retain any sort of link to the real world.

    Why didn’t we know this before they entered the market?

    Because you just made the risks up, or regurgitated some crap someone else made up – although it was probably assumed that someone would make these risks up during product development, it’s just that regulatory agencies don’t really look at made up risks in any of the risk assessments.

    Because they were rushed into production

    Rushed through a 10 year $100M+ path through testing and regulatory, you’d almost think that if everything said about how easy it is for Monsanto to get their shit approved they’d spend a bit less on the whole process, why blow $80M+ on the end stages of testing (which is progressively more costly per year) if you can just drop a few mil into Washington? Shareholders should be highly upset at the wanton waste of money going on by the entire regulatory organization at Monsanto.

    Wow -

    Then how can the GMOs be patented? You can’t patent something that happens naturally

    You pretty much can – plant variety protection amounts to practically the same thing. Transgenics doesn’t happen naturally though ( it’s a bit of a slippery argument really, because while they are incredibly similar to what goes on in nature anyway they ain’t exactly the same thing, which leads to spurious shit about patents) there is an inventive step in transgenics that one doesn’t get in traditional breeding, thus it is patentable.

    Nope, there’s no need to increase food supply. There’s a pressing need to get food transported

    Food security is better than having to rely on imports.

    And GMOs ARE being forced on the market. I told you about Italy, right?

    Because a scientist being screwed over on a major part of his lifes work is exactly GMOs being forced on the market. Exactly that.

    And again, I point you to Italy. It was ONLY because of attacks

    That’s not my reading of the situation – the researchers were denied funding as the law changed mid way through their trial – they would likely have received funding had they built greenhouses on top of their trees, or had they moved them into greenhouses, an anti-GM group took legal action to have the trials stopped, the researchers themselves have now embarked on what is probably a pretty heart wrenching task of tearing up something they’ve worked on for years (all the capitalists who want to work on GMOs move to the US, a la BASF, so the greens get left having to kick academics around, which is far easier, but not so good on the PR front)

    Still, I realize Monsanto is a a nasty mean company

    And you sir are a poopyhead, we shall be recinding your check.

  36. #37 Ewan R
    June 12, 2012

    Linky to the actual story Wow is jabbering about (which suggests my comments on funding were off the mark – an extention was applied for and denied but no demands for destruction were apparently made, the anti-GM folk spouted spurious crap about the trial and its risks, the researchers are tearing it up. Still, what’s 30 years of public money down the drain to protect us from publicly funded GMOs eh? (the self fulfilling dire prophecies of the green movement, corportations control GMOs! How can we ensure this? Destroy public research! Hurrah! More patchouli Reginald?)

  37. #38 Wow
    June 13, 2012

    No demands for destruction were made. Threats of destruction were the reason why the test was abandoned.

    then again, why would i expect honesty from a pro-GMO shrill, eh?

  38. #39 harold
    June 15, 2012

    1) Unfortunately, excessive and irrational anti-GMO attitudes are not necessarily linked to political “extremism”. The Green Party isn’t extreme on most other issues. They’re a pretty straightforward social democrat party. They do, however, ridiculously propose a ban on “genetic engineering” in agriculture.

    So, from this day forward, I will concede, there is one anti-science issue that some progressive groups are associated with (while many of us don’t agree). It’s a result of the fact that the Greens have historical roots in the “back to the earth” movement (which I am in many ways favorably disposed to). There’s nothing wrong with leading a simple, sustainable lifestyle as a substitute for frenzied consumption; I think that’s a great idea. However, sometimes Luddite-ism seems to arise in those circumstances.

    People who would engage in activities like vandalism, or parroting propaganda slogans that they don’t understand, in an effort to rile up a mob, are not progressive by definition, though. Many of them would strongly agree with me. I would personally appreciate it if people would not use political labels that lump me with those who commit unjustified violence or advocate any kind of authoritarian system.

    2) Is anti-GMO raving EXCLUSIVE to political progressives? I doubt it. Not only are the most common and aggressive science denial trends associated with the authoritarian right wing (evolution denial, AGW denial, HIV denial, cigarette/health denial), but it seems as if any hostility to science attracts them. Granted, here, it’s a conflict between “anything a corporation does for profit is always right” versus “any anti-intellectual science denial is always right”, but I strongly suspect that there are some right wingers who are terrified of GMO.

  39. #40 Wow
    June 17, 2012

    “1) Unfortunately, excessive and irrational anti-GMO attitudes are not necessarily linked to political “extremism”. The Green Party isn’t extreme on most other issues.”

    And, by “extreme” you mean “doesn’t agree with me”, right?

    What about Monsato’s extreme attitude PRO-GMO? Never mentioned, therefore you’re as EXTREME as The Green Party.

    “People who would engage in activities like vandalism”

    Vandalism (or, rather, threats of vandalism) was the ONLY way that that Italian test was getting stopped. The courts and rulings weren’t doing it.

    The invasion of Iraq was government-led vandalism.

    Sometimes vandalism is right.

    ” Is anti-GMO raving EXCLUSIVE to political progressives? I”

    Your attribution to being anti-GMO as “raving” proves your pro-GMO extremism as likewise raving.

    Take care of your assertions and look at the motivation that makes you assert them the way you do.

  40. #41 harold
    June 17, 2012

    If you reply, which you obviously will, please answer the following question –

    Could any evidence ever convince you that any direct genetic modification of any human food crop or livestock is ever beneficial?

    (Could any evidence ever convince me that any genetic modification, or corporate policy related to genetic modification, is harmful? Of course. I’m not arguing that every single genetic modification or corporate policy is beneficial, I’m arguing against dogmatic rejection of the use of genetic modification in agriculture.)

    “1) Unfortunately, excessive and irrational anti-GMO attitudes are not necessarily linked to political “extremism”. The Green Party isn’t extreme on most other issues.”

    And, by “extreme” you mean “doesn’t agree with me”, right?

    No, that isn’t what I mean by “extreme”. Why did you think it was?

    What about Monsato’s extreme attitude PRO-GMO? Never mentioned, therefore you’re as EXTREME as The Green Party.

    There is plenty about Monsanto to criticize. The topic here agricultural research which is not connected to Monsanto.

    “People who would engage in activities like vandalism”

    Vandalism (or, rather, threats of vandalism) was the ONLY way that that Italian test was getting stopped. The courts and rulings weren’t doing it.

    Yes, we all get that. “Someone else was going to engage in a legal activity, so the only way we could stop them was with threats of vandalism”.

    The invasion of Iraq was government-led vandalism.

    I may be unfair, but I take this understatement as suggesting a somewhat callous attitude. The invasion of Iraq was much worse than vandalism.

    Sometimes vandalism is right.

    Odd that this comes after a description of the Invasion of Iraq as “vandalism”.

    I don’t agree, but to some degree that’s semantic. Sometimes, sabotage may be right. I use the word “vandalism” to refer to unjustified acts.

    ” Is anti-GMO raving EXCLUSIVE to political progressives?

    Your attribution to being anti-GMO as “raving” proves your pro-GMO extremism as likewise raving.

    I didn’t say that all possible criticism of all GMO issues is raving, I made a statement about anti-GMO raving.

    YOU imply that anti-GMO speech can ever be raving.

    Would you agree that there can be anti-GMO raving?

    Take care of your assertions and look at the motivation that makes you assert them the way you do.

    I know that sounds very pious, but it doesn’t apply to the conversation here.

    I did not indulge in the logical errors which you wish I had indulged in.

  41. #42 Wow
    June 17, 2012

    “Could any evidence ever convince you that any direct genetic modification of any human food crop or livestock is ever beneficial?”

    I don’t know what you ask that for since I’ve never said there’s no benefit to GMOs. I HAVE said that there is no NEED for any of the benefits touted.

    “I’m arguing against dogmatic rejection of the use of genetic modification in agriculture.)”

    And I’m not dogmatically rejecting genetic modification. So rejoice!

    “No, that isn’t what I mean by “extreme”. Why did you think it was?”

    Because you don’t agree with the people who are against GMOs and call them extreme. Evidentiary conclusion.

    “The topic here agricultural research which is not connected to Monsanto.”

    Monsato does GMO organism sales. So they’re connected all right.

    And Monsato are the ones lobbying for GMOs because they will patent the results. This is what happens to patentable research in the USA (for example) from government tests.

    “Yes, we all get that. “Someone else was going to engage in a legal activity””

    You obviously DO NOT get it. The Italian courts had said “Get it down and F off”. It was not legal to do the test outdoors. Illegal testing. Not legal. As in NOT “going to engage in a legal activity”.

    “The invasion of Iraq was much worse than vandalism.”

    Excellent. This underscores my point even MORE. Something WORSE than vandalism is fine because Saddam was doing something WRONG by the tenets of the USA and the UK (and possibly a few other countries).

    Therefore surely vandalism (as you say, much LESS wrong) should be given the consideration as to whether it is right.

    Right?

    “I use the word “vandalism” to refer to unjustified acts.”

    And the acts of trashing the test were justified.

    Ask the people who did it: they had a justification. It’s just not one you agree with.

    “I didn’t say that all possible criticism of all GMO issues is raving,”

    You never have mentioned anti-GMO without calling it “raving” or similarly negative perjorative terms.

    If there is no evidence for your assertion above, then there is no proof your assertion is truth.

    “Would you agree that there can be anti-GMO raving?”

    There can be *raving*. And one subject that can be used to rant and rave on are dismissive statements about GMO.

    But anti-GMO stance is NOT raving.

    If you have an example of anti-GMO raving, then post that raving and say “raving like this …. is damaging to [the green party]” or whatever.

    But by making anti-GMO as the ONLY assertion of raving talk makes anti-GMO raving absolute. Don’t do it.

    “but it doesn’t apply to the conversation here.”

    It definitely does. You have not applied it, but it doesn’t mean it doesn’t apply, just that it hasn’t been applied.

    “I did not indulge in the logical errors”

    You did. If you’d applied the thought I had advised earlier, you may have noted them.

  42. #43 Wow
    June 17, 2012

    MAybe what would help is something of a tangent.

    I am entirely for Nuclear Fission. If it were run effectively and with safety as a requirement, taking into account the decommissioning.

    At this stage, though, we don’t have the ability to run a fission reactor economically and safely.

    I am entirely FOR research into new fission reactor designs, even spending billions for it, in the hope that we find something that will work with the people we currently have.

    However, I am AGAINST fission reactors being built for economic use even if it were to intend to “save” us from cAGW.

    I am for science and technology properly applied.

    I am against it applied recklessly or dangerously.

    I DO NOT accept science (despite being a physicist by training and [sort of] vocation) just because it’s science.

    But I see a lot of that being the only evidenced reaction to things like nuclear investment or GMOs.

  43. #44 Wow
    June 17, 2012

    PS if you want to see the sort of faith-based support of science, pop along to Respectful Insolence and post something asking whether an animal rights activists had something to justify their actions.

    Doesn’t even have to support them.

    You could even try just saying “I wonder if there is a justification for some of their actions here, mind.”

    Such apostasy is NOT ALLOWED.

  44. #45 Ewan R
    June 18, 2012

    “No demands for destruction were made. Threats of destruction were the reason why the test was abandoned”

    If you read the actual link, rather than making shit up, the research was carried on because no demands were made (by government) that the research be destroyed (prior to the anti-GMO folk filing suit)

    The research was subsequently ceased, not because protestors threatened to destroy it, but because they filed suit and the government then demanded such (this, in my opinion blows goats, but at least appears to be the proper way to do things – the research being carried out in this case ran foul of the law, and while it is a catastrophically stupid law in my view this matters not one jot)

    http://www.fondazionedirittigenetici.org/fondazione/en/displaynews_en.php?id=19

    links to the organization making the demands – it is noteworthy that their statement, and the nature article, are completely at odds with the version of events you are espousing here. (also noteworthy is their claim that the authorities demanded the trial be either moved or destroyed however – which is contradictory to the nature article, although given they fluff so many of their other facts I’d lean towards them just making this up – seems a common theme amongst those opposed to GMOs)
    And yet…

    why would i expect honesty from a pro-GMO shrill, eh?

    Expectations of honesty aren’t really required when the fucking source is right there and contradicts exactly what you’re saying Wow. But nice ad hominem anyway. Doubly awesome as you are quite clearly being completely dishonest about the entire affair in order to lend support to vandalism.

    Vandalism (or, rather, threats of vandalism) was the ONLY way that that Italian test was getting stopped. The courts and rulings weren’t doing it.

    Like here… which I’ll go ahead and categorize as damned lies due to the non inclusion of statistics.

  45. #46 Mark
    June 18, 2012

    I think this is an interesting example of the effect I was trying to describe. Wow, a longtime commentator, good at evidence-based refutations especially on environmental issues, has, I think, gone off the rails here. Something about GMOs makes people totally crazy.

    Generally, I’ll submit my criticisms of Wow’s arguments as:
    1. I agree with Ewan’s interpretations of these articles. These seem to indicate that Rugini was operating a decades-long experiment that suddenly became problematic. He worked within the legal system and the government to extend and protect his research project. The idea that the only way to get him to comply with the law is to be some kind of anti-GMO vigilante and personally take charge of enforcement doesn’t appear to be what occurred, nor would it be an admirable example of enforcing compliance. This sounds, if anything, like a tempest in a teapot. These plants have been out in the fields for years, with no apparent harm, regulations changed making open growing illegal and it was too expensive to transplant them.
    2. The attack on the Italian GMO experiment exposes the extreme stupidity of the GMO position as it was the rootstocks that were transgenic. There is some biologic ignorance going on here about the worry of spread of transgenic genes that does not make biological sense. When you engraft a plant onto a root that doesn’t make the whole plant genetically identical to the root! Quite the opposite, the growing, fertilizing part of hte plant really only uses it for support.
    3. Resistance is not an argument against GMOs. Resistant organisms are a problem. That is all. They are a problem for pesticides, just as they would be for the GMO. We don’t halt antibiotic research because one day a resistant organism might come into being. This is a bizarre argument to make.
    4. Continually tying this into Monsanto is unfair and absurd. The way patent law works, internationally, is that if there is prior art it can not be patented. Public publication of their results means it can not be patented. So saying that this research benefits Monsanto makes no legal sense. They could never patent any product based on the results of this research. In a way I think this is an error, because in order to distribute a product you often have to have some patent protection, or most companies will not take the risk of investing significant resources if they can just be immediately copied. The best way, for instance, to make sure a drug curing cancer would never be produced would to be to publish on it without getting a provisional patent. No one would touch it, and why would they? They’re corporations. They want profit.
    5. Technology is needed and desirable to continue to increase the amount of food generated and safety of its production for human consumption. As long as the world population is growing, we’ve had to use technology to keep ahead of the curve. GMOs are no exception, they are the next frontier.
    6. There is no evidence that GMOs are harmful. Sorry, it’s just not there. And further the concern for their potential mechanisms of harm are abiological and uninformed. They sound like the plot of bad science fiction like Godzilla. Radiation causes giant lizard to attack Japan arrrgh! GMOs will make giant ants that kill everybody oh noes! What are the harms other than this continual appeal to ignorance, “we don’t know their effects!” To which I say, so what? The bizarre scenarios of harm that people come up with as arguments against GMOs are as absurd as what they came up with 40 years ago against using recombinant DNA. To this day it pisses me off I have to treat rDNA as biohazardous, you could drink it!

    I think there is too much emotion around food and GMOs that blinds people to the absurdity of the arguments against them.

  46. #47 Wow
    June 19, 2012

    “the research was carried on because no demands were made (by government) that the research be destroyed”

    Indeed. However, this isn’t required.

    If you grow pot in contravention of law, then you are performing an illegal action. A demand to destroy your pot plantation is not required before your growing of illegal controlled substances becomes illegal.

    Please stop making shit up.

  47. #48 Wow
    June 19, 2012

    “He worked within the legal system and the government to extend and protect his research project.”

    Except that the law as stated in Italy required that this be a closed environment.

    The route that SHOULD have been taken is NOT to break the law then argue that the law should THEN be changed, but to change the law and THEN do what is now legal.

    “nor would it be an admirable example of enforcing compliance.”

    And I would not call it an admirable example, but a regrettably necessary one.

    If the government will not apply the law, then vigilante justice is the only way justice will be applied. This is NOT good. Applying the law would be the better option. But a WORSE option would be not to apply the law.

    “2. The attack on the Italian GMO experiment exposes the extreme stupidity of the GMO position as it was the rootstocks that were transgenic”

    See, this flies in the claims made that GMOs have been udnerway for 10,000 years. This flies in the counter to “but that isn’t right because you don’t get frog genes in corn, since they can’t breed” by people saying “horizontal gene transfer”. I KNOW you know about that.

    I also know you’re not thinking of it because you don’t want to: you think you HAVE the answer, therefore don’t want to look further. This is fine when you stop looking for your car keys once you’ve found them, but NOT when you’re looking for the truth.

    “3. Resistance is not an argument against GMOs”

    They are an argument against the efficacy of GMOs. When the resistance of the GMO is overcome, a new patented GMO will be necessary. I guess that will happen just about 20 years after the patent was granted.

    “4. Continually tying this into Monsanto is unfair and absurd.”

    Only if Monsato were not producing GMOs. Picking out Monsato doesn’t mean that there are no other bad companies. Tying this into Monsato is tying this to AN EXAMPLE company.

    “The way patent law works, internationally, is that if there is prior art it can not be patented”

    Ah, so naive!

    The way patent law IS WRITTEN is that way. However, for an example, the JPEG compression algorithm had already been patented by IBM but that didn’t stop Forgent getting a patent on the algorithm too.

    See also Apples “rounded corner rectanngular black shiny object” design patent. Plenty of prior art. Apple just included that and said “it’s not like that” without having to explain why.

    “So saying that this research benefits Monsanto makes no legal sense.”

    Companies get the patentable research results from government funded R&D all the time. Even if your assertion there were true, it still happens, sensible or not.

    “The best way, for instance, to make sure a drug curing cancer would never be produced would to be to publish on it without getting a provisional patent. No one would touch it,”

    Two words:

    Generic Treatments.

    Plus why would that be the result even if there were no examples where this is not true. You’re begging the question here.

    “5. Technology is needed and desirable to continue to increase the amount of food generated and safety of its production for human consumption”

    There is no need to increase the amount of food generated and the futzing about of food by corporations interested only in their bottom line for the shareholders quarterly report is damaging to the safety.

    We produce enough food.

    We don’t send it to where it’s needed. And GMOs won’t fix those political problems.

    “6. There is no evidence that GMOs are harmful.”

    Do you really want me to refute that? It is extremely trivial. Not only on a “if you eat it, you can be harmed” way but also in a “this harms the efficiency of the market to produce affordable food” and “this harms the farmers producing the food” way.

    If you want to make a blanket statement like that, please consider the fact that you’re saying “there is NO proof of ANY GMO that causes ANY harm”.

    You may then wish to rephrase and limit your statement there.

    “And further the concern for their potential mechanisms of harm are abiological and uninformed.”

    Bt is a toxin, right? And plants are being modified to produce it, right?

    Mechanisms for potential harm of feeding protein to rumunants were abiological and uninformed. We still got scrapey and BSE. We then noticed that the abiological prion errors existed.

    Again you’re begging the question here: abiological things cannot cause a biological harm.

    I KNOW you know this.

    The conclusion I make to your ignorance of this is purely your ideological stance that GMOs are good and proper because YOU intend good things from research into it.

    You’re letting your emotion and good intentions cloud yourself to the issue.

    And, while not as bad as over at Respectful Insolence, where anyone who is an eco activist MUST be wrong and CANNOT have ANY justification to their actions, you too refuse to consider that there may be justifications to the actions and responses of people against GMO developments.

    I, however, am willing to see that you have some justifications to your view on it.

    I just don’t agree that those justifications outweigh the justifications for stopping.

    You don’t see any justifications and therefore do not consider whether the balance of evidence supports or refutes GMOs being produced.

    And THAT is where I see you standing on the pro-GMO extremist side. Not just unwilling but apparently unable to see any justification to a counterpoint view.

  48. #49 Ewan R
    June 19, 2012

    Please stop making shit up.

    I didn’t make anything up though. That is the course of events as described by the nature article.

    You sir, however, did make shit up, and apparently are blithly ignoring the fact that you did so. There was no threat of vandalism in this case, yet you have claimed there were and are utterly avoiding any discussion of the matter.

    You’re the one making shit up, fess up.

    The case as outlined in both documents is pretty clear (with it being marginally muddy about whether or not explicit demands were made to destroy the trial following the denial of an extention (which even I’d say is an implicit message that the trial needs to cease) – Rugini had worked within the framework of the law, the law changed, he was granted one extension, but not a second – at this point Rugini’s research was technically illegal – the anti-GMO group spotted this, and made legal requests through government that something be done – explicit demands were then made by the government to move/cover or destroy the research. The research was (or is being) destroyed – this is sad (for me) but perfectly legal.

    At no point however did the threat of vigilante action fuel any change.

    But it’s me making shit up.

    You loon.

  49. #50 Mark
    June 19, 2012

    Except that the law as stated in Italy required that this be a closed environment.

    But only 20 years into a 30 year experiment! It’s not like he conspired to break the law, they changed it midway through his work!

    The route that SHOULD have been taken is NOT to break the law then argue that the law should THEN be changed, but to change the law and THEN do what is now legal.

    You clearly did not read the article.

    And I would not call it an admirable example, but a regrettably necessary one.

    If the government will not apply the law, then vigilante justice is the only way justice will be applied. This is NOT good. Applying the law would be the better option. But a WORSE option would be not to apply the law.

    Vigilanteism? Really? I think we’re done here. Your ideological extremity is showing.

    See, this flies in the claims made that GMOs have been udnerway for 10,000 years. This flies in the counter to “but that isn’t right because you don’t get frog genes in corn, since they can’t breed” by people saying “horizontal gene transfer”. I KNOW you know about that.

    I also know you’re not thinking of it because you don’t want to: you think you HAVE the answer, therefore don’t want to look further. This is fine when you stop looking for your car keys once you’ve found them, but NOT when you’re looking for the truth.

    I think you need to re-edit this paragraph for clarity. It makes no sense. I made a point about biology, that’s all. The GMO was the root. The root did not have the capacity to transmit its genes, so requiring it to be enclose seems foolish. To cite this as an example of a dangerous experiment out of some risk of gene spread to the environment makes absolutely no sense and exposes the biological ignorance of the GMO opponents. I guess you trying to say that some entirely new mechanism of plant reproduction might be possible with roots suddenly sprouting stamens and uprooting everything we know about biology, but if we’re going to worry about that risk, than our calibration is highly off. Have you ever worked with grafted plants? Do you understand this is a non-issue?

    They are an argument against the efficacy of GMOs. When the resistance of the GMO is overcome, a new patented GMO will be necessary. I guess that will happen just about 20 years after the patent was granted.

    A touch paranoid, but just because an innovation isn’t 100% effective isn’t a reason to generate the innovation. No need to let the perfect destroy the good. After all, this argument applied to antibiotics would have suggested we stop at penicillin. All anitbiotics generate resistance. All of them. It doesn’t mean we shouldn’t use, study, and research new antibiotics.

    “The way patent law works, internationally, is that if there is prior art it can not be patented”

    Ah, so naive!

    The way patent law IS WRITTEN is that way. However, for an example, the JPEG compression algorithm had already been patented by IBM but that didn’t stop Forgent getting a patent on the algorithm too.

    See also Apples “rounded corner rectanngular black shiny object” design patent. Plenty of prior art. Apple just included that and said “it’s not like that” without having to explain why.

    Ah yes, those technology patents are a bit fuzzier, however when it comes to scientific publications the lines are quite clear. A publication on a mechanism or innovation incontrovertibly represents prior art. Those aren’t good examples of patent law applied to science.

    Companies get the patentable research results from government funded R&D all the time. Even if your assertion there were true, it still happens, sensible or not.

    Yes! I know! I’ve done it! However, before you publish you have to generate a provisional patent. And government encourages scientists to patent and develop products of government funded research. It’s called “investing in science and technology”. Still, if you don’t file at least a provisional patent before publication you are screwed. Ask any lawyer. I was in a meeting about just this issue on Tuesday.

    “The best way, for instance, to make sure a drug curing cancer would never be produced would to be to publish on it without getting a provisional patent. No one would touch it,”

    Two words:

    Generic Treatments.

    Two words. Chronic shortages. Also, it’s not like such a drug would be discovered and immediately distributed as a treatment. First you’ll find an exploitable biological mechanism, then a drug to modify/target that mechanism. Then you file a patent. Then some company interested ni your pre-clinical research will say, “that’s interesting, how about a clinical trial.” They then dump tons of money in generating the drug, investigating saftey and efficacy, and often in collaboration with government funded investigators trials are run. Then someone needs to spend all the money to get FDA approval for the drug based on demonstration of efficacy, and for safety of the drug production. The total cost of developing a new mechanism drug has been estimated to be somewhere in the 100-150million dollar range. The drug companies themselves claim it’s about 1billion per drug, but they likely are exaggerating for sympathy.

    Now tell me, who would invest all that time and money if a generic producer could equally benefit from their efforts the second they gained FDA approval?

    Nobody.

    There is no need to increase the amount of food generated and the futzing about of food by corporations interested only in their bottom line for the shareholders quarterly report is damaging to the safety.

    We produce enough food.

    We don’t send it to where it’s needed. And GMOs won’t fix those political problems.

    Yes we have enough food now. But the world population is growing you know. I’m looking ahead 50 years here.

    “And further the concern for their potential mechanisms of harm are abiological and uninformed.”

    Bt is a toxin, right? And plants are being modified to produce it, right?

    Show me bt is harmful to humans. Antibiotics are toxins too. They’re toxic to the organisms that operate with slightly different biology than us, but we can consume them without our protein translational machinery locking up or our cells exploding. bt is bad for insects that eat crops, not so much vertebrates. We’ve had these crops implemented widely since 1996. Where is the harm?

    Mechanisms for potential harm of feeding protein to rumunants were abiological and uninformed. We still got scrapey and BSE. We then noticed that the abiological prion errors existed.

    This is a bizarre analogy and just turning into an impossible expectations/moving goalposts argument. The mechanism was unknown, not abiological and silly. And you can’t just use an appeal to the unknown to justify a freeze in technological innovation. By abiological I mean not conforming to known mechanisms of biological behaviors or plausibly consistent with things like physics and math. Worrying about a root stock causing horizontal gene transfer is kind of silly. Admit it.

    The conclusion I make to your ignorance of this is purely your ideological stance that GMOs are good and proper because YOU intend good things from research into it.

    You’re letting your emotion and good intentions cloud yourself to the issue.

    I have no intentions regarding these products and no emotional investment specifically in GMOs. I have a big personal investment in science, and the idea that people can show up, and destroy your experiment because they don’t like it is very disturbing to me. For one, because I do animal research. For another, because the reasoning of the anti-GMOs in this case is based on misinformation and ignorance. And finally, because it’s simply unacceptable in this modern world to allow extremists to burn and destroy that which they don’t like. We have governments, laws and democracy to prevent this kind of bullshit. Disagreeing with a legal, safe, government-sponsored experiment because you don’t understand biology is one thing. To say you then have the right to show up and destroy it is another. Why shouldn’t Ken Ham show up in some evo-devo lab and set fire to it? If it’s enough that you disagree with something, that you have a right to show up and destroy it, I think we’ve lowered the bar for civilized behavior.

    And, while not as bad as over at Respectful Insolence, where anyone who is an eco activist MUST be wrong and CANNOT have ANY justification to their actions, you too refuse to consider that there may be justifications to the actions and responses of people against GMO developments.

    I get the business end, but I frankly find the anti-technological arguments to be modern Luddism. They aren’t based on reasonable plausible biological processes. And they seem very uninterested in examples like this in which even the mere study is being attacked violently.

    And THAT is where I see you standing on the pro-GMO extremist side. Not just unwilling but apparently unable to see any justification to a counterpoint view.

    Again, I think the big problem people have here is with big business. But the evidence against the safety or usefulness of the technology is poor. I think they make a good argument that the business practices of companies may ultimately make the benefits of GMOs net neutral, because they behave so crappily as monopolists or exploiters of new markets. But that’s a different issue. It also has nothing to do with whether or not it’s ok to show up and destroy someone’s experiment because you don’t like corporations exploiting similar technology.

  50. #51 Wow
    June 20, 2012

    Ewan: “I didn’t make anything up though”

    Yes you did. You made a strawman when you said “no demands for destruction were apparently made”.

    As I REPEATEDLY said, nobody has said that demands for destruction were made.

    Please stop making stuff up.

  51. #52 Wow
    June 20, 2012

    Mark, you clearly did not UNDERSTAND the article. Don’t filter it through your rose-tinted glasses.

    “Two words. Chronic shortages. ”

    One antonym: WTF?

    How will GMOs make the distribution of food work??? This, right here, is your rose-tinted glasses at work. You’re not even listening to yourself, merely parroting the party line.

    STOP DOING IT.

    Since the problem with feeding humanity is NOT we have insufficient production but that we have a problem with people screwing up the distribution (for religious or political reasons), in what way will GMOs fix that problem?

    Unless you’ve got a way to genetically modify the stupid out of humans, IT WON’T.

    “It’s not like he conspired to break the law, they changed it midway through his work!”

    When smoking pot was legal, when you were found smoking pot after the law changed, you were allowed to remove the illegal substances. If years later you were found smoking pot, you were a criminal.

    Just because you like the research doesn’t mean you ignore the law.

    Hell, that’s what your problem with the vandalism is. You don’t think that they should be allowed to break the law on destruction of property.

    But the “other side” (the one you are on) are fine breaking the law.

    Maybe your unable to see the double standard you hold.

    “I have no intentions regarding these products and no emotional investment specifically in GMOs.”

    You most definitely do. Look to your blindness about the double standard.

    Dunnin Kruger has a cousin. When you’re heavily involved in something, you don’t see the problems and have an over-inflated view of the utility of your subject.

    “Now tell me, who would invest all that time and money if a generic producer could equally benefit from their efforts the second they gained FDA approval?”

    A government R&D facility.

    “…destroy your experiment because they don’t like it is very disturbing to me. For one, because I do animal research”

    This here is where your emotional investment comes from.

    Note how blind you are to it.

  52. #53 Ewan R
    June 20, 2012

    Wow, that isn’t a strawman, its a paraphrasing of the nature article, an explanation of what was actually said by the researchers themselves – while they were explaining why they didn’t destroy the research after their extension was denied.

    So no, I haven’t made anything up. You however still refuse to address the massive lie that the only reason this research was destroyed was threats of vigilantism…

    STILL was going ahead (because of the extremists who wish to force GMO on the market) is only now being canned because of activists intent to violate and destroy the illegal test.

    &

    And again, I point you to Italy. It was ONLY because of attacks on the government funded experiment that the THREE TIMES declared illegal test in Italy was abandoned. Your thesis that attacks on such experiments are unwarranted and counter-productive are not bourne out by reality.

    remember?

    So yeah, not only do you fail in your identification of a straw-man arguement (which appears only in a parenthetical aside and is tangential to anything I said anyway), you’re also getting terribly excited about me making things up (when I’m not) while at the same time…. making things up (things which far from being tangential to your case are actually central to it)

    Just because you like the research doesn’t mean you ignore the law.

    So not only are you a massive fucking liar, you’re also a massive fucking hypocrite? (Either it’s ok to ignore the law when you feel you’re doing the right thing, or it isn’t, you can’t have it both ways here)

    Awesome.

  53. #54 Wow
    June 20, 2012

    “Wow, that isn’t a strawman”

    OK, it was a lie then.

  54. #55 Mark
    June 20, 2012

    This is the last time because as a previously respected commentator I think you deserve it. However, the ad hominems and ALL CAPS is starting to come out and I frankly think you’ve lost your mind here.

    Anyway

    Mark, you clearly did not UNDERSTAND the article. Don’t filter it through your rose-tinted glasses.

    “Two words. Chronic shortages. ”

    One antonym: WTF?

    I have written previously about chronic shortages of critical generics. Further, you ignore my discussion of why no manufacturer would bring a product to market without patent protection. They still have to spend hundreds of millions for the scientific efficacy and federal approval processes.

    How will GMOs make the distribution of food work??? This, right here, is your rose-tinted glasses at work. You’re not even listening to yourself, merely parroting the party line.

    What party? What line? Why is the responsibility of the technology to have appropriate distribution and not, you know, the farm industry. Are we talking about sentient plants? You are writing more and more sentences that make no sense. GMO to you clearly means something that it doesn’t to me.

    STOP DOING IT.

    All caps? Really?

    Since the problem with feeding humanity is NOT we have insufficient production but that we have a problem with people screwing up the distribution (for religious or political reasons), in what way will GMOs fix that problem?

    Today we have supply. In the future when there are more people on the planet supply will be a challenge. Further this is again a red herring as the GMO in this case was designed to decrease pesticide use. There is more than one use for the technology and I approve of efforts to decrease the use of pesticides which also decreases the costs, health, economic and in carbon usage, of farming.

    Unless you’ve got a way to genetically modify the stupid out of humans, IT WON’T.

    What does this government-funded research experiment have to do with food distribution. You seem to be arguing the typical crank attack on science they don’t like that there is something more important or valuable to be researched, therefore anything that isn’t that line of research is worthless. Tedious. It’s not the role of GMOs to fix political and religious problems.

    “It’s not like he conspired to break the law, they changed it midway through his work!”

    When smoking pot was legal, when you were found smoking pot after the law changed, you were allowed to remove the illegal substances. If years later you were found smoking pot, you were a criminal.

    Read the articles, he went through channels, tried to get his experiment grandfathered, the government didn’t seem to care that he continued it, so he did.

    Just because you like the research doesn’t mean you ignore the law.

    Based on the articles the researcher did not ignore the law, he sought extension and protection for his experiment through government channels.

    Hell, that’s what your problem with the vandalism is. You don’t think that they should be allowed to break the law on destruction of property.

    Yes. Also there is a difference between regulatory non-compliance and violence. Guess which I think is worse.

    But the “other side” (the one you are on) are fine breaking the law.

    Maybe your unable to see the double standard you hold.

    Different kinds of laws, different kinds of actions, with different ethical implications. Not obeying a regulation (like the speed limit) I’m not that bothered by. Someone shooting a rocket launcher at my car if I’m 10 over the limit in an act of self-righteous vigilantism, that I’m more disturbed by.

    “I have no intentions regarding these products and no emotional investment specifically in GMOs.”

    You most definitely do. Look to your blindness about the double standard.

    Not a double standard, except maybe that I don’t think regulations on crops and science are equivalent to violent vigilantism. That doesn’t sound unreasonable to me though. And why are we still talking about Italy? The goddamn experiment we’re talking about was in England, was legal, and threatened with vandalism anyway. You keep changing the subject.

    Dunnin Kruger has a cousin. When you’re heavily involved in something, you don’t see the problems and have an over-inflated view of the utility of your subject.

    Plain old bias.

    “Now tell me, who would invest all that time and money if a generic producer could equally benefit from their efforts the second they gained FDA approval?”

    A government R&D facility.

    Ha! hahahahhahhahhaaahahahahhahahahahahhahahahah.

    Ok, name a drug that was researched, sponsored and approved by this government R&D facility (also imagined). That’s just not the way our world works. Yeah the NIH will help you with the clinical trial, and often fund the preclinical research but they’re not seeking FDA approval for the drugs, building the factories, generating the product, etc.

    “…destroy your experiment because they don’t like it is very disturbing to me. For one, because I do animal research”

    This here is where your emotional investment comes from.

    Partially but also I see that animal research is a critical component of biological research which I think is important for legitimate reasons. Just because I’m invested in something and that makes me protective, that doesn’t make my protectiveness unreasonable or unwarranted. Nor does it make my arguments false.

    The destruction of a legal, government approved and funded public experiment because you disagree with it is wrong. Bypassing democratic processes, due process or even dialogue with the scientists in question shows they are extremists that aren’t interested in listening to reason, or civil discourse.

  55. #56 Ewan R
    June 20, 2012

    Sorry to bore everyone but..

    OK, it was a lie then.

    How so given that the quote from the nature article is:-

    The order came as a shock to Rugini. While no extension had been given, there had been no official directive from authorities to destroy the trees either.

    while my paraphrasing is:-

    no demands for destruction were apparently made

    How is that a lie? Have you redefined the word lie to mean something different and not told anybody? Is that why you get to lie quite flagrantly about the situation (based on the old meaning of the word lie) and simply ignore the fact that you’re a dishonest shit, whereas someone accurately paraphrasing an article is somehow worthy of pouring on scorn.

  56. #57 Wow
    June 20, 2012

    “I have written previously about chronic shortages of critical generics”

    What? We’re talking about food here. Right? Food.

    We have plenty of food.

    We’re not getting them to mouths.

    I don’t care how many times you’ve “written about them” because that’s only proof you’re writing.

    We have enough food. We don’t have a chronic food shortage.

    A shortage of food we have none.

    PS why are ALL CAPS when not all caps wrong? I though a message that contained almost entirely CAPS was the wrong thing (TM).

    But back to the point: We have no food shortage. Just a shortage of transport of the food to mouths.

  57. #59 Mark
    June 20, 2012

    “I have written previously about chronic shortages of critical generics”

    What? We’re talking about food here. Right? Food.

    Well we got on a tangent about patent law and you seemed to insist prior art did not matter. I was describing why it does especially in science and science publication and why generic drug companies will not bring a NME to market, ever, or rather, why a drug without a patent is unattractive to invest in.

    Food shortage: none.

    And I don’t know how many times so far, it must be at least three, that I’ve said the absence of current shortage doesn’t mean that with an expanding world population we might one day have the Malthusian crisis. Malthus was wrong but only because technology allowed us to adapt to higher and higher populations on earth. No food shortage now, fine, how about when we have 50 billion people on the planet? Despite this entire thing being a red herring since again, the experiment in question was for pesticide reduction.

  58. #60 Wow
    June 21, 2012

    “Well we got on a tangent about patent law and you seemed to insist prior art did not matter.”

    Well you started talking about how we NEED GMO food to feed people.

    I’m trying to nail down the errors you have one by one.

    And it is a proven verifiable fact that prior art doesn’t stop a patent.

    Heck, a process that isn’t patentable still gets patented.

    Lets agree that extremism for GMOs and against GMOs exist.

    And you have one of them.

  59. #61 Wow
    June 21, 2012

    Here’s why I went “We’re talking about food”. You said:

    “I have written previously about chronic shortages of critical generics”

    You have written previously about chronic shortages of food.

    You insisted that we need GMOs because we’re short of food.

    If you previously wrote on some other paper/blog/whatever about generics (whats? drugs? Generic drugs aren’t in shortage. They’re being stymied by lobbying, but they can be made by, for example, the government, as India said they’d do if they didn’t get a cheaper deal on some bird flu (?) treatment). then how the hell am I supposed to know that?

    Or are you silently giving up without comment the meme “we need GMOs to feed the world!” that you parrot because you don’t like one side (as opposed to liking the other)?

  60. #62 Mark
    June 21, 2012

    Well you started talking about how we NEED GMO food to feed people.
    ….
    You insisted that we need GMOs because we’re short of food.

    Here’s what I actually said:

    “There is always a pressing need for innovation in increasing our food supply and decreasing cost to produce and environmental costs of food production. As long as our population is growing, and our farmland is shrinking, technology is required to advance us, or maybe one day Malthus will end up being right after all.”

    I think it’s true we need to continue to investigate technology in food production and protection to feed an ever-expanding population. If we halt because of unsubstantiated fears about a technology we will arrest the progress we’ve made and the historical inaccuracy of the Malthusians may reverse itself.

    Please stop putting words in my mouth. I’ve been very clear since the beginning why I think technology like this merits research. If you persist in making things up I’m going to just end the thread.

    And it is a proven verifiable fact that prior art doesn’t stop a patent.You have written previously about chronic shortages of food.

    I have not written previously about chronic shortages of food, have I? (I just googled “food shortage” and got like 5 articles from my blog, none of them having to do with food shortage -rather they were about obesity.)

    Wow, I get emails every day about another generic drug shortage. We wrote about it here. Generic shortages are a daily problem in the hospital. And while you may think you know something about patent law, you clearly do not. I realize that yes, some examples of some extra legal bullshit have slipped through, largely in tech. Apple, after all, probably lost the biggest prior art cases ever with windows (xerox’s damn gui wrecked their case) and the iPhone (debatable obviousness).

    However, it’s different with scientific discoveries where there is a clear citation and record in the scientific literature. If there is a clear example of prior art, you’re screwed. Now, a lot of the fuzziness comes from the need for “obviousness” from the literature, and I think that’s where they get their wiggle if the claim is based on a subjective determination of obviousness. But in an example like this it would be pretty clear cut.

    It also doesn’t challenge the point that a patent is still required to bring a profitable product to markets that require extensive pre-release approval, scientific study, and infrastructure investment. Citing India is not a valid counterpoint, as the regulatory structure of other countries is not comparable to ours (thankfully).

    Finally, as far as me being a GMO extremist, what is it that I’ve said that’s so extreme? Government funded research into GMO shouldn’t be burned by misinformed vandals. Biotech research is worthy of study. We don’t know if one day supply won’t meet demand so we should continue to research into food production including GMO.

    Hardly radical.

  61. #63 Wow
    June 21, 2012

    “There is always a pressing need for innovation in increasing our food supply ”

    And that bit is wrong.

    “I think it’s true we need to continue to investigate technology in food production”

    Now I agree here.

    “to feed an ever-expanding population”

    And now we’re back to “we’re not producing enough food!”. Wrong still.

    “Please stop putting words in my mouth”

    I’m rephrasing your words so you can see how they appear to me. If you don’t like it, then explain where the rephrasing is either wrong or not intended.

    But don’t whine about it. Do something about it.

    “Wow, I get emails every day about another generic drug shortage.”

    And I get a lot Nigerian princes who have money they need to launder. What *I* do is try to work out if they’re true.

    Now, one reason why generics can be hard to get (and here I’m assuming you’re USian) is because your doctor will not proscribe them, your healthcare plan won’t cover them and you’re illegally importing them if you get them outside the USA.

    GMOs won’t help ANY of that.

    Moreover, I don’t see how GMOs will “solve” a genuine shortage of generics.

    If here you’re talking about the need for patents, then patents won’t help since generics are unpatented for a start, and the doctors aren’t proscribing them because they’re not on the authorised list, prodcing more won’t change it.

    And on the “patents good”, governments would research drugs for cures that are necessary and won’t require patents.

    Something I’ve not noticed you admitting to when you asked “who would do this, huh?”. Maybe it got missed in the wall-o-text, hence why I want to get to knocking down or getting to the root of one meme at a time.

    “I have not written previously about chronic shortages of food, have I?”

    Yes, in this thread you say that we need patented GMOs to solve a food shortage. This was done earlier in time than the statement I said saying you had. Ergo a factual and verifiable claim.

    What’s radical is your blindness through a cognitive bias against “activists” and probably a smaller one for patents and science-no-matter-what.

    Your parroting of the memes for GMOs and your perpetual need to demonise or maginalise (at best) anti-GMO are likewise evidence of your pro-GMO extremism.

    The causes are my inference from visible evidence.

  62. #64 Mark
    June 21, 2012

    And now we’re back to “we’re not producing enough food!”. Wrong still.

    “Please stop putting words in my mouth”

    I’m rephrasing your words so you can see how they appear to me. If you don’t like it, then explain where the rephrasing is either wrong or not intended.

    I am done with this. You are being purposefully obtuse. If you can not understand words like “future” and “growth” I’m done with you.

    “Wow, I get emails every day about another generic drug shortage.”

    And I get a lot Nigerian princes who have money they need to launder. What *I* do is try to work out if they’re true.

    Now you’re just being an outrageous asshole. I get these emails from my hospital. Look at the article you linked and the FDA list of shorted drugs. This is a real problem. Instead of being a prick, why don’t you give me the benefit of the doubt that as a physician it’s my business to know this stuff.

    Now, one reason why generics can be hard to get (and here I’m assuming you’re USian) is because your doctor will not proscribe them, your healthcare plan won’t cover them and you’re illegally importing them if you get them outside the USA.

    Read the linked article, it has nothing to do with this. They are manufacturer shortages, often from foreign made components or failure to meet expected supply, and regulatory shutdowns of facilities for contaminations.

    GMOs won’t help ANY of that.

    Now I think you’re intellectually defective. This is a side discussion about patent protection. Nothing I said could be implied to have anything to do GMOs improving drug production. That is just bizarre.

    Moreover, I don’t see how GMOs will “solve” a genuine shortage of generics.

    Nor do I, no one ever suggested it. Now I realize I’m arguing with someone who can’t read.

    If here you’re talking about the need for patents, then patents won’t help since generics are unpatented for a start, and the doctors aren’t proscribing them because they’re not on the authorised list, prodcing more won’t change it.

    You are now exposed as profoundly ignorant. You have no idea what your talking about when it comes to drugs, patents or frankly anything. You are suggesting I’m making arguments that I am not. I am talking about patents being necessary for investment in drugs that are novel mechanistically. The putative cancer drug I initially suggested for example, and the role of scientific evidence required for federal regulatory approval and distribution of such drugs costing on the order of hundreds of millions of dollars.

    And on the “patents good”, governments would research drugs for cures that are necessary and won’t require patents.

    Besides being yet another fragment, this flies in the face of the entire history of science and drug discovery, patent law in our constitution and internationally, our economic system, our existing manufacturing infrastructure, and how we perform science in this country.

    Something I’ve not noticed you admitting to when you asked “who would do this, huh?”. Maybe it got missed in the wall-o-text, hence why I want to get to knocking down or getting to the root of one meme at a time.

    This sentence doesn’t have enough structure to evaluate.

    “I have not written previously about chronic shortages of food, have I?”

    Yes, in this thread you say that we need patented GMOs to solve a food shortage. This was done earlier in time than the statement I said saying you had. Ergo a factual and verifiable claim.

    An entirely fabricated and bullshit claim as I’ve demonstrated 4 times now. I’m talking about future need. Future need, future need, future need. The world population is growing. It’s that simple. Your continual refusal to understand this, and your insistence I’m saying something I’m not now just stinks of intellectual dishonesty.

    What’s radical is your blindness through a cognitive bias against “activists” and probably a smaller one for patents and science-no-matter-what.

    However, you can not say a single one of my statements is radical. I just “feel” like a GMO/Monsanto parrot to you.

    Your parroting of the memes for GMOs and your perpetual need to demonise or maginalise (at best) anti-GMO are likewise evidence of your pro-GMO extremism.

    Paranoia, foolishness, unsubstantiated nonsense. I parroted nothing. I’m criticizing the vandalism of a government research project, the demonstrable biological ignorance of the opponents, and the tendency of individuals, including yourself to abandon all reason when it comes to your ideological biases.

    What have we seen from you in this thread wow? Paranoid conspiracy theories – this is all for monsanto, patent law doesn’t matter because monsanto is all powerful. I’m just a monsanto puppett. blah blah blah. Citing articles unrelated to the situation being criticized then refusing to admit that you misread, and misrepresented them. Impossible expectations for safety issues related to GMO, suggesting prion disease as an example of how we can’t know everything, therefore we should do nothing. Finally the logical fallacies. The red herring of the italian case. The suggestion that vigilantism is needed if government regulations are not obeyed. The continual failure to understand basic concepts in biology and botany.

    You are ignorant and unaware of it, and frankly, on this issue you are a crank. I don’t argue with cranks. Thread closed.

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