Respectful Insolence

Over the years I’ve been studying science versus pseudoscience, medicine vs. quackery, reason versus crankery, I’ve noticed one thing. The cranks, pseudoscientists, and quacks of the world have a hard time dealing with legitimate criticism. Now, I know I sometimes get a bit—shall we say?—frisky with my criticisms. OK, obnoxious. I have, however, mellowed considerably since the dawn of this blog, as any reading of posts from the early days (or even not-so-early days) will confirm. Sure, I do occasionally still reach back into that reservoir of the “Insolence” that got me started, but I’d never have lasted so long as a blogger if snark and sarcasm were all I had. Over time, the snark and sarcasm remain, but at a much lower level than before. I don’t need them as much any more, but I do still find them to be useful tools.

Oddly enough, though—although it could be a bit of confirmation bias—it’s my less “colorful” posts, my more sober, straightforward analyses of quackery that tend to provoke the nastiest reactions. I could be wrong, but I think it’s because they can’t handle sober, science-based criticism. Indeed, although, sadly, it’s not a trait that’s limited to cranks, if there’s one characteristic that nearly all cranks share it’s an intolerance of criticism and a tendency to want to shut it out. I just saw a story the other day that illustrates this principle:

The event began innocently enough. A small group of Centre For Inquiry members and UBC Okanagan professors were in the Okanagan College theatre lobby handing out information sheets on the science of genetically modified organisms.

The speaker for the evening was Jeffrey Smith, a well-known anti-GMO activist who has zero scientific credentials, though you might recognize him as a practitioner of yogic flying and member of the Natural Law Party.

We talked to people as they came in and were energetic but polite. After a few minutes, the organizers approached and accused us of being disruptive, disrespectful and of having removed one of their posters.

Their rather scary leader raised her voice, told us we were trespassing and threatened to call security, causing quite a commotion. Since we were there to attend the event and it was a public space, she was unable to remove us and the poster in question was found on the floor, where it had fallen before our arrival.

As the showdown became a standoff, a fellow who had already been seated came out, complaining the organizers had forced him to leave. He said they had asked everyone in the theatre to stand if they believed in the anti-GMO movement. Those left sitting were told to leave, and he had to fight to get his money back.

No dissenters allowed.

Exactly. Where have we seen this before? Oh, yes, I remember. Antivaccinationists do the same thing. Remember the antivaccine conference Autism One a few years ago? For those of you not familiar with Autism One, it’s a yearly antivaccine autism quackfest where the quackiest of autism quack treatments are featured, treatments like homeopathy and bleach enemas. Ken Reibel and Jamie Bernstein tried to attend the quackfest back in 2011. They weren’t doing anything illegal. They weren’t disrupting things. Certainly, they weren’t going as far as this CFI group and handing out leaflets.

So what happened? Of course, someone recognized Ken, and Jamie and Ken were kicked out. It was the second time Ken had been expelled from this particular quackfest. Both times, he was escorted out, the first time by hotel security, the second time by police.

Now, at an anti-GMO rally, we see an anti-GMO activist trying to do the same sort of thing and doing his best to make sure that no one asked any “inconvenient” questions that he couldn’t answer. In case you doubt the level of Smith’s crankery, it’s worth taking a look at this post about the wild theories of Jeffrey Smith. It turns out that not only is Smith into wild anti-GMO conspiracy theories, but he is into transcendental meditation. That in and of itself isn’t necessarily cranky; lots of people are into TM. However, he’s into more than just TM. He’s into yogic flying technique, all in order to reduce crime and increase “purity and harmony” in the “collective consciousness.” In addition, he went on a major rant over Michael Taylor’s being appointed as a senior advisor to the commissioner of the FDA because he had been Monsanto’s attorney before becoming policy chief at the FDA in the 1990s.

Meanwhile, apparently his talk was full of the usual tropes. One particularly amusing one was his warning to the audience not to confuse correlation with causation. So far, so good. Then, according to Blythe Nilson, he proceeded to do exactly that by showing many graphs correlating the increase in use of GMOs with increases in all sorts of diseases, and apparently he did it rather sloppily at that. Even more amusingly:

As soon as the talk was over, before Smith even asked for questions, a woman in the front row leapt up and launched into a passionate discourse on chemtrails, another topic of one of my previous columns. She rightly pointed out the graphs Smith used were merely correlational and declared it could just as easily have been chemtrails rather than GMOs on the X axis.

A few in the audience applauded, and I clapped with them. Me – applauding a woman who is convinced jet contrails are a secret government plot! Strange bedfellows, indeed.

Ultimately, a lone skeptic asking a question was shouted down, so much so that one of the skeptics was frightened about returning to the cars. As was the case with Autism One, the behavior of the organizers of Jeffery Smith’s talk was, above all else, indicative of fear, fear of criticism, fear of science that he can’t answer. Scientific meetings are not like this. Skeptical meetings are not like this either; indeed, at The Amazing Meeting (TAM) in 2010, a moon hoax believer managed to get to the front of the line to challenge Adam Savage about the Mythbusters episode on moon hoaxers. He was not expelled; in fact, Savage respectfully answered him and he was later seen at various other events at TAM. At the Lorne Trottier Symposium later that year, a believer in Royal Rife quackery asked about it. The panel (and I) only started to ask him to leave after the man had worn out his welcome by dominating and monopolizing the question and answer session to the point where people waiting in line behind him were denied an opportunity to ask their questions due to time constraints. In other words, he got his say and was not asked to leave until he had reached the point of showing an extreme lack of consideration for his fellow audience members waiting to ask questions of the panel. Nothing I see in this account suggests that this is what was going on here.

Blythe Nilson compares the anti-GMO movement to a “cult,” but the same could be said about just about any crank movement. Such a description is especially appropriate for the antivaccine movement, as I’ve described many times. Another example that comes to mind are defenders of Stanislaw Burzynski, who go out of their way to shut out disconfirming information and arguments, while attacking enemies of the Great Man. Perusing the comments of Nilson’s post is an exercise that reminds me very much of when Anne Dachel sends her flying monkeys to a post about vaccines to dive bomb the comments with the poo of their arguments, except in this case it’s mainly one person doing it with anti-GMO rhetoric.

The more I see events like this, the more obvious the traits shared by antivaccine activists and anti-GMO activists become.

Comments

  1. #1 Dangerous Bacon
    July 8, 2014

    I’ve actually “debated” (online) an anti-GMO crank who also believes in chemtrails (in addition to other crankery).

    It takes a cultish state of mind to applaud (or excuse) the destruction of GM crop test fields, while simultaneously complaining that GM crops aren’t tested sufficiently.

    I’m glad to see Orac addressing the issues surrounding anti-GMO activism. The consequences potentially could be even more severe than what will happen if antivaxers get their way.

  2. #2 Robby
    July 8, 2014

    I have noticed similar tendencies from the quackery proponents. They lash out, in an incredibly irrational manner, to even the most basic of criticisms. They remind me in many respects of “foam at the mouth” political hacks, who similairly lash out in furious retort to criticisms of their demagogue of choice.

    I did want to point out one variation however. By and large, the woo pushers lack scientific credentials, so argument from ignorance is the expected bill of fare. However, some cranks out there have shockingly managed to complete a rigorous course of study from an accredited institution. These are the individuals that are far more dangerous, since the lay public may grant them undue credibility.

    In my dealing with credentialed cranks (the one’s who do not have degrees from diploma mills anyway), I find that, while they typically understand how scientific consensus and the peer review system works, they simply ignore or manipulate it. They hail an obscure PubMed reference from 1982 as testimony to their brilliance, yet ignore the 25,000 others which contradict their BS.

  3. #3 T.
    July 8, 2014

    I have some curiosity about GMOs. They aren’t about science, or safety. The ones that come to the market are reasonably safe.
    My curiosity is about the Macroeconomic effect of GMOs and the relative wisdom of putting a country food source in the hands of multinational corporations. But I suppose we will learn about them in due time, and since it is unlikely to be something that concern me (or my country) I’ll wait and see.

  4. #4 Helianthus
    July 8, 2014

    The Genetic Literacy Project website echoed a few articles last week about the bizarre worldview of some vocal anti-GMOs.
    And yeah, we can make a drinking game with the similarities with the antivax people.

    A little study on 6 japanese people who developed diabetes type 1 after taking insulin to control their diabetes type 2 was suddenly touted as proof that GMO insulin causes diabetes, through some strange hypothetical immune reaction.
    Never mind that the study didn’t do any comparison between bacteria-produced insulin and pork-harvested insulin.

    Another article was on vitamin A enriched banana. The Bill & Melinda Gates foundation is paying for a feeding trial on human in US. Big outcry.
    As the reporter wrote it, anti-GMO people complain that GMO have not been tested as part of the human diet, and then complain when such a trial is organized. You just cannot please some people.

    I made it short and didn’t mention a few other biological facts about diabetis or vitamin A supplementation which slightly contradict the anti-GMO nice stories.

    I could understand the concerns around pesticide overuse or intensive monoculture, but life-saving hormonal treatments, or nutrient-enriched fruits and veggies? And Monsatan isn’t even in it? Now they are just being d!cks.
    Anti-GMO people are deep into the naturalistic fallacy and keep swimming deeper.

  5. #5 KayMarie
    July 8, 2014

    @T.
    I don’t see those concerns as unique to GMO. I have those concerns with pre-GMO industrialized farming. Does it matter if the patented seed which must be bought each and every year is conventionally bred or modified in a lab?

    I do think many people are much more aware of the industrialization of farming since the GMO controversy, but lack of genetic diversity, having to buy all your seeds from one of a few companies and not being able to sustain crops without the industry have been issues for quite some time.

  6. #6 Helianthus
    July 8, 2014

    @ T

    My curiosity is about the Macroeconomic effect of GMOs and the relative wisdom of putting a country food source in the hands of multinational corporations.

    That’s a different kettle of fish and I would also admit concerns.
    Although Syngenta has been talking about making their genetic change open-sourced. If we could encourage this, that could mitigate the big corporation issue.

    Also, I love to point out that Monsanto getting a hold on the GMO market is in part because of anti-GMO activists. In my country, scientists are not exactly encouraged by the public to develop our own brands of GMOs. Everytime you try, you can expect a mob to come and tear out the plants in your test field. Sometimes, it’s not even GMOs, but who cares about facts?

  7. #7 palindrom
    July 8, 2014

    Charles Mann’s book 1493 explores the ramifications of the Columbian Exchange, and in doing so spins out lengthy tales of the history of agriculture over the last half-millenium or so. It’d be difficult to read that and maintain the impression that modern agriculture is anything except an almost entirely artificial construct, even without GMOs. It’s a remarkable book, though not for the impatient.

  8. #8 Eric Lund
    July 8, 2014

    My curiosity is about the Macroeconomic effect of GMOs and the relative wisdom of putting a country food source in the hands of multinational corporations.

    At least in the US, this has already happened. Family farms still exist, but most of the agricultural land is in the hand of big-time corporations, and they produce most of the food you see in the supermarket. The small time people are priced out; I can buy produce at my local farmers’ market, but I pay a premium for it, and I can only buy stuff in season.

    I believe I have mentioned before that my grandfather owned a cattle ranch in South Dakota. One of my cousins runs the ranch now, but he can’t make a living at it–he has kept his day job in Sioux Falls, and he commutes to the ranch on weekends. Similar things happened to many family farms throughout the US: they couldn’t make a living at it, so they sold out either to Big Ag or (for those close enough to major cities) real estate developers.

  9. #9 Mary M
    July 8, 2014

    There’s an even more virulent wing forming–they have stated they will publicly harass folks:

    The biotech industry has successfully managed to make its voice heard at events in cities worldwide through speakers such as Mark Lynas and Kevin Folta. The GGFC will aim to create a top quality opposition to these speakers by allowing, until now poorly funded experts, to both inform and educate.

    http://www.gmofreeglobal.org/en/advocacy

    And you know who’s “steering” this clown car? Sayer Ji (I know you know) and the woman who does all the PR for the Seralini BS–Claire Robinson.

  10. #10 Denice Walter
    July 8, 2014

    @ Eric Lund:

    Oddly enough, the folks I survey are telling their thralls to do EXACTLY the opposite, i.e. to buy up land and start organic farming instead of living in cities and suburbs and working for corporations.

    Medical technology? IT? Experience in education or finance? Toss it and go back to the land!

    For anyone with 80 minutes to kill- (waiting for a plane or an appointment or just bored) google up “Seeds of Death”- it’s a free film by Gary Null which features Smith and boils down anti-GMO to its essential snake oil. Complete with music that hints at threat, malfeasance and destruction.

  11. #11 Denice Walter
    July 8, 2014

    @ Orac:

    In your descriptions above of sceptics’ reactions to scoffers, you leave out one perfect example::
    Jake and you, which you have on tape yet.

  12. #12 Eric Lund
    July 8, 2014

    Medical technology? IT? Experience in education or finance? Toss it and go back to the land!

    It’s a tempting idea, but of those who actually attempt it, how many stick with it for more than a few years? And of those who do stick with it, how many do so because they have financially foreclosed their other options?

    The US and the UK have a tradition of gentleman farmers, but in most of the world–and most places in the US that aren’t close enough to big cities–rural means poor. People like Gary Null and Mike Adams who are advocating back-to-the-land either don’t understand this, or pretend for the benefit of the rubes not to understand this.

  13. #13 Denice Walter
    July 8, 2014

    @ Eric:

    There’s another US/UK tradiition that hearkens back to the 1960s/1970s (although there much earler earlier precursors) of a countercultural return to rural life by people with money ( rockstars, early retired execs etc) which I think they’re also trying to manipulate.

    One of the woos even says that if you don’t have enough resources form a community (commune).
    I’m sure that will work out SO WELL. Right, When half of marriages fail, a group of 6 or 10 individuals will manage to get on together fabulously.

  14. #14 Kyle Fenner
    Indianapolis
    July 8, 2014

    “Toss it and go back to the land!” This is pretty big problem, at least here in Indiana. I don’t know if true elsewhere, but a lot of children of farmers don’t want to farm, so they sell of the land to urbanites who want to start an organic farm. These folks who want a small farm and know absolutely nothing about farming sell off large portions of land to housing developments. The problem is that they don’t know the difference between good farmable land and not so good land. This drastically decreases the amount of land that can be used to cultivate food. If by chance they manage to hold on to the good land they tend to ruin it. If some wants to do this, they really should take some agriculture classes, some biology, probably some chemistry and physics too.

  15. #15 Mike
    July 8, 2014

    Most of the farms and farmland is still owned by family farms. I thought the majority of farm gate sales still go to family farms as well.

    One of the bad aspects about the gmo quackery is that it is enshrined by the federal government. The USDA enforces organic standards which prohibit all “excluded methods” which catches GMO. It is so bad that they want to keep all vaccines which have bioengineered from being given to livestock.

    It is one thing for people to be quacks, it is much worse when the federal government not only endorses the quackery but also enforces it.

  16. #16 Mike
    July 8, 2014

    Purchasing seeds every year:
    Hybrids are the result of crossing two very distinct lines, whether in animals or plants. This results in hybrid vigor where the traits of the offspring are greater than the average of the traits of the parent lines. This technique results in a dramatically improved production of the crop. But this technique also requires that the farmer purchase new seeds each year. In a functioning society with a large market, this practice is fine.

    In addition, I think the biggest use of hybrids is in field corn. If suddenly no hybrid seeds were available, farmers would likely switch to soybeans which are less likely to be hybrids. Animal based food product prices would soar due to this, but other food prices would not change much.

  17. #17 lilady
    July 8, 2014

    Right on Schedule.

    AoA has an article about Sharyl Attkisson, along with a huge ad up for EnvioShield…to protect yourself from chemtrail toxins.

    http://www.ageofautism.com/2014/07/npr-interviews-sharyl-attkisson-on-changes-in-media-coverage-of-government.html#more

  18. #18 Dorit
    July 8, 2014

    @Denice Walter #11: can you link to the Orac/Mr. Crosby interaction (or give pointers)? I’m curious.

  19. #19 Eric Lund
    July 8, 2014

    I’m sure that will work out SO WELL.

    We’ve run that experiment at least a few thousand times in this country already–they’re called homeowners’ associations. I’ve been fortunate not to have to deal with one, but my mother lives in a condo and therefore must. Groups like that tend to be outlets for petty tyrants.

  20. #20 lilady
    July 8, 2014

    @ Dorit: Here’s the video, posted by Orac’s “friend”. Fast forward to the last three minutes to catch the exchange:

    http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/more-shameless-self-promotion-that-is-i-hope-at-least-entertaining/

  21. #21 Narad
    July 8, 2014

    And you know who’s “steering” this clown car? Sayer Ji (I know you know) and the woman who does all the PR for the Seralini BS–Claire Robinson.

    There’s an unpromising flavor combination if ever there was one.

  22. #22 Politicalguineapig
    July 8, 2014

    I think chemtrails is about the only conspiracy Ms. Atkinsson hasn’t bought into..yet.

  23. #23 Denice Walter
    July 8, 2014

    Home at last, out of the humidity…

    @ Dorit:

    Orac posted that video- and a few choice comments- soon thereafter @ RI :see “Funny how you never see Orac and this person…”
    Jake has persued several other SBM supporters. Dr Godlee was also quite tolerant of his nonsense.

    @ Kyle:

    Despite figures about opposing trends, they DO go on and on about ditching the city life.
    Also- studying in colleges/ universities is straight OUT because these dudes can do ALL of the instruction themselves and it’s part of their business plan ( videos, seminars, products)

    @ Eric:

    Oh, I don’t think that he means a *home-owners’ *association – I think it’s more like a home-sharing set-up.
    Think 3 couples in an old farmhouse.

    -btw-

    the most recent news to is that Null is setting up a woo-village in Mineola Texas which will include:

    -an anti-aging/ lifestyle change spa/resort/ medical service
    -a vegan cooking school
    -instruction in homesteading (organic farming, hydroponics)
    -a charity that gives pseudo-medical care to veterans
    -a charity that teaches ‘nutrition’
    -a place for artists/ craftspeople to work and sell
    -more woo in one place than you can possibly imagine

    He tried this out through one week “retreats” the patrons of which he acquired via his radio shows; he plans to enlist enabling metro area doctors to prescribe life style change/ dietary change through his facilities.
    He already has assembled a team of yoga instructors, fitness coaches, meditation teachers, skin care workers and artist “therapists” ( not accredited kind) and his own esoteric healing/ educational/ prophetic services as well as those of his woo-nurse and vegan chef daughter.

    Interestingly enough, there are at least a few speculators in old farm land and homes about 100 miles north of NYC ( including Geral Celente).

  24. #24 Loren Eaton
    July 8, 2014

    @ Mary M– Weren’t both Seralini and Smith supposed to “engage” Kevin Folta and others in a debate last year? And didn’t they beg off instead of taking that opportunity to “inform and educate”. Tsk, tsk!! A good minister preaches to the unsaved, not just his own choir.

  25. #25 Eric Lund
    July 8, 2014

    I think it’s more like a home-sharing set-up.

    That’s likely to speed up the timescales on which the political dynamics of groups of families moving into some shared space (neighborhood, building, etc.) play out, compared to when the families have separate dwelling units. And while it’s harder for outsiders to move into this situation, it’s also harder for people to move out if it isn’t working out for them.

    The human race invented a social structure, the village, which did (and still does, in most countries) a reasonable job of dealing with the pressures of a farming lifestyle. But it usually takes decades, if not centuries, for a village to become stable. It also has significant costs–distrust of outsiders, enforced conformity for residents. Nonetheless, I’m not aware of a better solution to the problem. Are the sort of people who follow woo-meisters like Gary Null et al. willing to put up with the demands that village life will put on them? If you are talking about people who regard their children as special snowflakes, color me skeptical.

    FWIW, I agree with their conclusion (but not their reasoning) that American suburbia is not a lifestyle to emulate. You get all of the enforced conformity of village life, without the mutual support networks that you find in a village. And I find the dependence on driving to accomplish almost everything to be particularly soul-crushing; the so-called freedom of the automobile is an illusion. Not to mention that many if not most of us will reach a point in our lives where we cannot or should not drive. But “going back to the land” is not a viable option for everyone.

  26. #26 Denice Walter
    July 8, 2014

    But Eric, these people are ENLIGHTENED.

    Right. And I’m Queen of the frickin’ Elves.

  27. #27 herr doktor bimler
    July 8, 2014

    There’s another US/UK tradiition that hearkens back to the 1960s/1970s (although there much earler earlier precursors) of a countercultural return to rural life by people with money

    I endorse this tradition as long as they all look like Felicity Kendal.

  28. #28 Yvette
    July 8, 2014

    The woo-heads agree that there is a shared link between GMOs and vaccines. Orac, you missed a golden opportunity to include this article in your post.

    “GMOs and Vaccines: Shared Paths”
    http://kellybroganmd.com/article/gmos-and-vaccines/

  29. #29 Heidi
    BC
    July 8, 2014

    You can watch some of what happened in the Okanagan. They put it on YouTube. It’s almost like they were kind of proud of how they acted. :( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cmKA5dLjRIg

  30. #30 quetzalmom
    July 8, 2014

    I own and operate a small farm and sell meat, eggs, produce, and flowers at farmers’ markets. I make some money and eat really well. I am retired and could not live on the income from the farm without my husband being employed. It is also rather hard work, often in brutal heat and humidity. It’s definitely not for everyone.

  31. #31 J
    July 8, 2014

    @Denise

    I had quite a bit of fun last fall watching seeds of death, then transcribing all the claims and refuting them one by one. You can see it at http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Seeds_of_Death. Some of the claims in the movie were amazingly stupid. Like the “Monsanto is sterilizing everyone with GMO crops” claim.

  32. #32 Narad
    July 8, 2014

    I endorse this tradition as long as they all look like Felicity Kendal.

    That wasn’t exactly “rural life,” unless something happens in the episodes I haven’t gotten to yet. And they were kinda broke.

  33. #33 AdamG
    July 8, 2014

    Thanks so much for the video link Heidi! Relevant bits start at 6:45 for others interested in watching (you really should). These people scare me.

  34. #34 Shay
    A PH conference in wonderful downtown Schaumburg
    July 8, 2014

    Herr Doktor: I would adopt the back to the land lifestyle if it made ME look like Felicity Kendall.

    (Felicity Kendall then. Not Felicity Kendall now).

  35. #35 Denice Walter
    July 8, 2014

    @ J:

    That”s terrific work.

    I feel that it’s important to illustrate how these people lie, mis-represent and distort information.

    Here’s another thing:
    alt media creatures like to portray SBM supporters/ doctors as being wealthy thus getting their thralls angry through perception of their own relative deprivation as they realise that doctors “get rich” off of patients.
    HOWEVER the woo-meisters themselves live in luxury on estates, own corporations and are un-troubed by the unstable vicissitudes of everyday middle ( or below) class life.

    I think that we should publicise those estates, net worths, annual earnings and multiple companies. Most of this is public information and already on the net.

    Exactly how did they get enough money to afford those estates?
    Hard work? Studying medicine for 12 years? Or having the right business plan.

  36. #36 palindrom
    July 8, 2014

    You know, I find myself ambivalent about the phrase, “special snowflakes”.

    It’s a put-down, of course, for people who think their children can do no wrong, or who think their kids are superior to other children. In this context it’s entirely appropriate.

    But at some level, it’s more than a bit dismissive of the amazing richness of the human personality, and the degree to which we are all, actually, individuals. (“I’m not!”) A friend of mine is a pediatrician, and he’s dealt with thousands of mothers — he reports that pretty much every mother he’s ever dealt with (with more than one child) says that each of their children had a distinct personality from the moment they were born.

    When my daughter was small, my older sister, with much older children, told me that her children never ceased to surprise, and — mostly — delight her as they grew. And indeed, so has my daughter, who went off in a completely unexpected, and quite wonderful, direction, and I am the proudest papa in the known universe.

    Each child really is a “special snowflake”. That doesn’t mean that your kid is any better than anyone else, or that their transgressions don’t matter — it means that they are multi-faceted human beings in nascent form. The trick of being a good parent, I think, is to see your children with clear eyes, and hold them to the high standards they deserve and (perhaps secretly) crave, while leaving them no doubt that they are unconditionally loved.

  37. #37 J
    July 8, 2014

    @Denice

    Thanks. Mercola is probably one of the best examples of hypocrisy among altmed quacks — he bashes pharma companies, then offers to sell you his latest miracle supplement (or cooking pot, or tanning bed, or exercise machine)… He bashes the FDA in Seeds of Death (and on his site) for regulating altmed too much (probably due to the three or so warnings he’s received, and in spite of the hilariously lax laws on dietary supplements), then bashes the FDA on his site for approving vaccines, pharmaceuticals, and GMOs without “enough research”. He says there hasn’t been enough research into GMOs and that it’s all biased industry studies (which it’s not), then makes huge claims about altmed snake oil based on anecdotes and the rare study funded by a company selling the snake oil.

    And you can see the same thing happening with Jeffrey Smith and his cultist buddies (not to mention his ties to Genetic ID), or Mike Adams (who is almost as bad as Mercola – just slightly more insane).

    Unfortunately, far too many people refuse to think critically and to be skeptical of wild claims. It’s sad that people prefer to believe swing dance teachers (Jeffrey Smith) and snake oil salesmen over scientists and doctors.

  38. #38 Denice Walter
    July 8, 2014

    A swing dance teacher?

  39. #39 janerella
    July 8, 2014

    But thats just it palindrom. The term snowflake already defines each child as being individual.

  40. #40 ann
    July 8, 2014

    It turns out that not only is Smith into wild anti-GMO conspiracy theories, but he is into transcendental meditation. That in and of itself isn’t necessarily cranky; lots of people are into TM.

    I think of being into TM — as opposed simply to being into some form of vaguely mantra-ish meditation for the purposes of transcending stress, etc. — as signifying followership of the late Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. (Sexy Sadie, doncha know.)

    There are degrees of involvement, no doubt. But that’s pretty cranky, by my lights.

  41. #41 ChrisP
    July 8, 2014

    Denice Walter,

    Jeffrey Smith has had a career as a swing dance teacher, but that should not be held against him. His cherry-picking of data, manufacturing of conspiracies and outright inaccuracies should be what he is known for.

  42. #42 Denice Walter
    July 8, 2014

    @ Chris P:

    I’m not holding swing dance teaching against him- actually I find it amazing, it just doesn’t seem to ‘fit” the rest of what he does – it’s too normal.

    -btw- I go to a ‘latina’ dance slass myself.

  43. #43 Denice Walter
    July 8, 2014

    CLASS

  44. #44 David N. Brown
    July 9, 2014

    My thinking on the subject of GMO’s has long been on the lines raised by “T”: The potential economic impact of genetically engineered crops in the hands of agribusiness mega-companies is reason enough at least to be concerned. I think there is also significant danger that genetic engineering specifically for fast-growing crops will simply accelerate the already serious ecological problem of soil depletion. Unfortunately, there seems to be little chance of anyone addressing these issues seriously as long as the opposition is falling back on paranoia about what’s safe to eat.

  45. #45 Lurker
    July 9, 2014

    Dangerous Bacon @ 1: Interesting comparison, but on balance I think antivaxxism is more dangerous. GMOs can improve agricultural efficiency and the nutritional content of food, but there are other ways to achieve those ends. There is not another way, aside from vaccines, to prevent epidemics of deadly diseases.

    Antibiotic resistance is a comparable danger, and there the cause isn’t the usual bucket of quacks, but otherwise-rational agribusiness. That situation can presumably be remedied by simply passing the needed regulations, at which point agribusiness will of necessity adapt.

    T @ 3 and Hellanthus @ 8: Agreed, good points. Oligopoly control of core resources such as water and food, is a bad thing regardless of all else. The cure for it would be wider research and more companies in the game, something that the anti-GMO nuts make more difficult by their very own actions.

    This might be a useful strategy to adopt: reach out to those whose primary issue is Monsanto and monopolisation, and get them to speak up more vociferously in favor of more companies getting into the field. Whenever a new company pops up, they could stand up and support them by saying ‘so-and-so isn’t Monsatan..’ and framing the debate accordingly.

    Re. the generic cranks who complain no matter what: The root cause of this is purely psychological, in that some people are hard-wired as complainers. I suspect it has something to do with a deficit of endogenous pleasure-neurochemicals, and it might even be treatable with marijuana. But in any case, what we ought to do about these types is expose their emotional narrative and emotional agenda, to immunise the public against it.

    The key to this is getting the public to learn to separate out the ‘lyrics’ (verbal content of the arguement) from the ‘music’ (emotional tone and emotional narrative). When people learn to do that, they can spot all manner of demagoguery and BS, refuse to be seduced by it.

  46. #46 Dorit
    July 9, 2014

    Thank you, Lilady and Denice Walter. That was quite the exchange. Superbly handled, I thought.

  47. #47 Narad
    July 9, 2014

    I think of being into TM — as opposed simply to being into some form of vaguely mantra-ish meditation for the purposes of transcending stress, etc….

    I willing to go with mantras as being as intrinsically screwball as mudras. You haven’t “transcended” anything if you’re dependent on a semisecret magic spell. If you have to “meditate,” it seems as though some immanental flavor might be more helpful for what ails you.

    Oh, and screw off, Laruelle.

  48. #48 Narad
    July 9, 2014

    ^ “I’m willing”

  49. #49 Helianthus
    July 9, 2014

    @ quetzalmom #30

    I make some money and eat really well. I am retired and could not live on the income from the farm without my husband being employed. It is also rather hard work, often in brutal heat and humidity. It’s definitely not for everyone.

    That would confirm my family’s experience.
    My parents are retired and have a not-that-small garden and orchard. Big enough to provide them with almost all their veggies and fruits year long (let’s say 9/10th of it), and while they spend a lot of time tending it, they still have time for other hobbies.

    But generating enough revenue from it to live by (eh, beef doesn’t grow in a garden), or doing it on top of a job? Forget it.
    Our neighbor was having a few chickens and a pig in the garden next to us. Because of his job, he barely had time to tend to them correctly, even after press-ganging his family and his drinking pals into helping him . After 2 years, his attempt at animal husbandry has been terminated.

  50. #50 Lawrence
    July 9, 2014

    Well, anti-GMO & anti-vax are merely gateway delusions to even grander wacko conspiracies……just see how AoA is now advertising for anti-Chemtrail treatments.

    It was only a matter of time before they completely lost touch with reality…..

  51. #51 Eric Lund
    July 9, 2014

    It was only a matter of time before they completely lost touch with reality

    Assumes facts not in evidence.

  52. #52 Denice Walter
    July 9, 2014

    @ Lawrence:

    Similarly, TMR is sponsoring an energy healing web event ( Heather Fraser, one of its stars today explains her speciality).

    Fortunately ( heh!) Mikey is entirely down to earth, ranting and railing about immigrants since a Latino youngster fell asleep at the wheel and hit his truck. He squawks loudly about how these people harm “hard working” Americans like him.

    So he’s only anti-science, he’s also a bigoted f@ckwit.
    But you knew that.

  53. #53 Helianthus
    July 9, 2014

    So [Mike is not] only anti-science, he’s also a bigoted f@ckwit.

    A privileged white guy promoting his idea of healthy lifestyle, and cashing on it, both in money and power; promotes re-founding society around his ideas of core social values, sees rich people conspiring to corrupt said values everywhere, and blames foreign poor people for everyday ills.

    Mike is really a non-conformist, isn’t he? We hardly have seen this type of false prophet before.

  54. #54 Denice Walter
    July 9, 2014

    @ Helianthus:

    Not only that but he has also promoted healing herbs and superfoods from ancient, tribal cultures which come from uh… Central and South America.
    Right, those *Indios* have nothing at all to do with immigrant working folk.

  55. #55 lilady
    July 9, 2014

    Heather Fraser? That’s one of CIA Parker’s favorite gurus…along with Suzanne Humphries and her Vitamin C cures everything shtick.

    The bot posted some Spam about vaccination rates on a local newspaper’s blog and she got a royal drubbing for her efforts:

    http://www.mercurynews.com/opinion/ci_26103926/mercury-news-editorial-california-must-improve-vaccination-rate

  56. #56 palindrom
    July 9, 2014

    Denice @52 — If Adams is such a hard-working guy, perhaps he’d like to sort watermelons in Georgia. All you have to do it pick up a watermelon, grade it according to quality, and rifle it underhand to the appropriate stacker, all in a couple of seconds, without bruising or dropping any of the fruit.

    Most “hard-working” Americans would last about 2 minutes.

  57. #57 Denice Walter
    July 9, 2014

    @ palindrom:

    I couldn’t find it but I do recall reading that a television host ( a chef perhaps?) went to California and tried to pick grapes with the migrant workers…
    he wasn’t very successful.

  58. #58 Narad
    July 9, 2014

    The bot posted some Spam about vaccination rates on a local newspaper’s blog and she got a royal drubbing for her efforts

    Oddly, this is her version of events:

    “There is no mention in this story about the fact that neither the doctor nor the vaccine makers has any responsibility if a child is injured by a vaccine. My comment was removed.”

  59. #59 Calli Arcale
    http://fractalwonder.wordpress.com
    July 9, 2014

    With all this talk of “back to the land”, I’m thinking it’s time for re-runs of “Good Neighbors” (a British sitcom which was called “The Good Life” over there; it was retitled in the US to avoid confusion with a book of the same name and a similar topic). It’s very funny, but it tells the story of a couple, the Goods, in London surburbia who decided to quite corporate life and become subsistence farmers. They’re always operating on the thinnest of shoestrings, while their conventionally-funded neighbors have fancy dinner parties and so forth, providing obvious situational comedy opportunities. It’s got an excellent cast (the best thing about British television, IMHO, is that it tends to feed from the same talent pool as their extraordinary theater scene), and in the end, their grand experiment fails and he ends up going back to the company where he used to work to ask for his job back. The Goods are played by Richard Briers and Felicity Kendal; if you’re at all interested in 1970s BBC shows, this is a must, and I’m sure a certain blinky box would enjoy it if he hasn’t seen it already. ;-)

  60. #60 Calli Arcale
    http://fractalwonder.wordpress.com
    July 9, 2014

    Eric:

    At least in the US, this has already happened. Family farms still exist, but most of the agricultural land is in the hand of big-time corporations, and they produce most of the food you see in the supermarket.

    Are you sure? That’s not the impression I get driving around rural Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, or the Dakotas. The farms are usually family farms. They may work in conjunction with corporations or cooperatives to sell the results, but most of the farms are still owned and operated by individuals or families out here.

  61. #61 Krebiozen
    July 9, 2014

    Re: Adams. I can’t help observing that the sleeping kamikaze immigrant in question was probably working 3 jobs at minimum wage in an attempt to feed his family. A moving vehicle seems an unlikely choice for a lazy good-for-nothing bum to take a nap.

  62. #62 Denice Walter
    July 9, 2014

    I don’t know about Mikey’s area but if you’ve ever travelled in California**, you’ll notice that Mexican/ Central American immigrants tend farms, orchards and gardens, clean homes, hotels and public places, cook, care for children, work in construction, do repairs on homes and automobiles, maintain luxuriant landscapes etc etc etc keeping costs low for middle class and above people who then complain about their presence.

    This is the same Mike Adams who bragged about how cheaply the native people worked on his hacienda in Ecuador which he later sold for mucho dinero.

    ** I made sure I know how to interact a little in Spanish when I visit these places.

  63. #63 Denice Walter
    July 9, 2014

    -btw- I’m NOTsaying that all Anglos compalin about them..
    oh, you know what I mean.

  64. #64 Eric Lund
    July 9, 2014

    Denice @62: AFAICT that’s true of most major urban areas in the US (there are some where these workers may come from a different part of the world–e.g., in Minneapolis they might be Somali–but they’re still immigrants from places that aren’t Europe). If Mike is in Texas, as I understand from previous posts to be the case, he would definitely have access to immigrant (legal or otherwise) labor for these things, and even if he doesn’t hire immigrant labor, his neighbors (some of whom may well share his opinions about immigration) almost certainly do. Some cities, including Washington, even have informal marketplaces for day labor.

  65. #65 KayMarie
    July 9, 2014

    @Calli Arcale

    Yes, often part of the farming is still handled by family farmers, but that “in conjunction with” is often not as voluntary or equally beneficial as one might tend to think. At least here in NC with the animal side of the ag business things are “vertically integrated” which means the corporation really runs the whole process from birth to death even if a good percentage of the individual farmland the animals spend time on is owned by family farms rather than directly owned by the corporations (and the family farmer of course own the pigs that die too soon and owns the hog waste and the expense of dealing with that so the corporation doesn’t waste any corporate profits on those things)

    It is very difficult for independent farmers to do big scale farming around here. Probably why farmers here are either part of big agriculture, or doing the small organic farm with a CSA, farmers market stints, a few goat’s milk products sold at the co-op groceries and supply the restaurants that advertise they serve only locally produced food.

    Now different parts of the farming system may be more or less vertically integrated and more or less industrialized, so your mileage may vary.

  66. #66 Denice Walter
    July 9, 2014

    @ Eric Lund:

    Mike is in Austin. He talks about how he raises free range chickens and has an organic garden. He had a “food forest” in Ecuador. Similarly, the other woo-meister raises organic vegetables on his estate in Naples, Florida and at his new place in Mineola, Texas ( which he feeds to his marks at health retreats: see photos at his eponymous website). I wonder who does the farm work?

  67. #67 Rob
    Mt Laurel
    July 9, 2014

    I prefer not to eat GMO. I am not a fanatic, but I think that we should have the right to know what we are eating and what we are eating is eating. No reason not to label. The long term data is not available, yet. My opinion, the food industry is the next big tabacco.

  68. #68 JustaTech
    July 9, 2014

    When I was a kid the neighbors behind us decided that they would have a “model farm”, for field trips and the like. But farming doens’t pay well (and there were plenty of bigger frams still in the area for field trips). So then they started a resturant supply business, and a resturant (and three children under the age of 5). In the end it meant that they never really had enough time to farm throughtly, and so on one occasion I looked into the backyard to see three cows eating our grape vines. (My parents wanted to run a vineyard. That didn’t work, but it was less of a mess when it didn’t.) The neightbors just never had time to do all the little things like fence repairs, and we had to lure those dumb cows home more than once.

    So, homesteading and living off the land in 2014? Yeah, probably not going to work out the way some folks think.

  69. #69 ann
    July 9, 2014

    I['m] willing to go with mantras as being as intrinsically screwball as mudras. You haven’t “transcended” anything if you’re dependent on a semisecret magic spell. If you have to “meditate,” it seems as though some immanental flavor might be more helpful for what ails you.

    It does to me, too.

    I’m not so sure I’m willing to toss all mantra-users onto a common screwball heap, though. It might not be understood as a magic spell by everyone in every circumstance, for example. Plus de gustibus and what-have-you. So I just don’t know.

    Oh, and screw off, Laruelle.

    I’ve never read his work. But still, the mere thought of him makes me want to accidentally knock a glass of red wine into his lap.

  70. #70 Narad
    July 9, 2014

    With all this talk of “back to the land”, I’m thinking it’s time for re-runs of “Good Neighbors” (a British sitcom which was called “The Good Life” over there

    I thought that’s what we’d (TINW) been referring to all along.

  71. #71 Jeremy
    July 9, 2014

    If anti-GMO is a religion, then Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, Petco (They rely on naturalistic fallacies to sell overpriced pet food), and all the co-ops, health food stores, and farmers’ markets in America are churches. The professional/political anti-GMO’ers such as Vandana Shiva, Crazy Joe Mercola, Mike “NaturalNoise” Adams, Vani Hari, Mehmet Oz, Jeffrey Smith, and other cranks are the gastronomic equivalent of Pat Robertson, Joyce Meyer, Ray “Bananaman” Comfort, Kirk “Crocoduck” Cameron, Kent Hovind, and other evangelical Christian leaders. The only difference is that these people worship food instead of a 3,500-year-old book of jumbled and inconsistent fables, parables, and song lyrics–a book written by people who believed snakes and donkeys could talk and in parlor tricks (e.g., rods turning into snakes, water turning into wine), incantations, talismans, astrology, and the five elements of witchcraft. People who believed that if you used a magic wand to sprinkle blood on someone, it would cure them of leprosy; that a pregnant cow would bear striped calves if you showed it striped patterns; that the world was flat and covered by a giant crystal dome with windows to let in rain; and in racism, sexism (Gen. 3:16, 1 Timothy 2:11-12), homophobia, spousal abuse, slavery (Exodus 21-23 and 27:3-7, Leviticus 25:44-46, Ephesians 6:5, Colossians 3:22, 1 Peter 2:18), abuse of slaves (Luke 12:46-47), pedophilia (Numbers 31:18), rape (Deut. 22:28-29, Judges 19), genocide (Num. 31:17), incest (Gen. 4:17 and 19:30-38, Ex. 6:20), adultery (2 Samuel 11), polygamy (1 Kings 11:1-3), and treating one’s parents like crap (Luke 14:26).

  72. #72 Narad
    July 9, 2014

    I’ve never read his work.

    Fortunately, just like “praxeology,” it’s theorem-based system! (PDF)

  73. #73 Bluebird
    July 9, 2014
  74. #74 Antaeus Feldspar
    July 10, 2014

    I prefer not to eat GMO. I am not a fanatic, but I think that we should have the right to know what we are eating and what we are eating is eating. No reason not to label. The long term data is not available, yet. My opinion, the food industry is the next big tabacco.

    If humans were more rational, then labelling would have no downside.

    But humans are instead humans.

    Have you seen the recent TV commercials for the candy bar Twix? The bar is actually packaged as two small conjoined bars; the running gag of the commercials is the notion that they are produced by two separate factories, each of which is zealously convinced that their product, “left Twix” or “right Twix”, is far superior to the competition.

    If you didn’t know that was the gag, and people talked very seriously about “oh, yes, I enjoy left Twix, but I won’t touch right Twix. Where’s the safety data for right Twix? We need labelling so everyone can be assured they won’t get right Twix by mistake!” then you’d probably think “oh gosh, there must BE a big huge difference, otherwise they wouldn’t take such pains to separate it!”

    Except that when it comes to GMO-vs.-non-GMO, the basis of separation makes little sense. The designation is far too broad to be meaningful; it’s like classifying everyone who isn’t a native-born citizen as a “foreigner”, setting policies on “foreigners”, and expecting that to result in intelligible policy.

  75. #75 herr doktor bimler
    July 10, 2014

    Fortunately, just like “praxeology,” it’s theorem-based system! (PDF)
    The PDF of Laruelle’s unphilosophical neologasm closes with the words

    Translated by Alexander R. Galloway
    . Alas, he did not translate it into English.

  76. #76 Dangerous Bacon
    July 10, 2014

    “I prefer not to eat GMO. I am not a fanatic, but I think that we should have the right to know what we are eating and what we are eating is eating. No reason not to label.”

    Plenty of food suppliers have started labeling their products “non-GMO” (even in situations where no GMO alternatives exist or are even possible, like the company selling “non-GMO” Himalayan rock salt), If you stick to those companies and avoid processed foods you should be able to avoid GMOs fairly easily.

    The overriding reason behind most of the anti-GM push for labeling is to create fear and suspicion in the public mind with a scary-looking label, not to inform.

    A compromise solution would be to barcode foods, making it possible for anyone with a smartphone to quickly check on products in the supermarket to see what their ingredients are. That would provide information without scaremongering “warning” labels, so I wouldn’t expect anti-GMOers to support the idea.

    I didn’t used to care much about these issues, but the blatant dishonesty and hypocrisy of anti-GMOers (and their horrendously sloppy “science”) has converted me to a pro-science (i.e. pro-responsible GM crop development) viewpoint.

  77. #77 First Officer
    July 10, 2014

    There once was a mom from Fresno,
    who declared, “Nature is my manifesto!”
    Vaccines, her child she denied,
    till it caught Whooping cough, and died.
    She must’ve been totally schizo !

  78. […] The cult of anti-GMO: A lot like the cult of antivaccine – Respectful Insolence. […]

  79. #79 Calli Arcale
    http://fractalwonder.wordpress.com
    July 10, 2014

    Kay:

    Now different parts of the farming system may be more or less vertically integrated and more or less industrialized, so your mileage may vary.

    It’s probably a regional thing. In NC, your land is probably worth more due to having been owned by somebody for longer. I’m in Minnesota; my in-laws are in South Dakota and still have farmers in the family. The population is more spread out here, which is probably a factor. Also, the main crops out here are grains and feed crops, which are very amenable to mechanized harvesting which reduces your labor needs.

  80. #80 Lurker
    July 11, 2014

    Re. Jeremy: ‘If anti-GMO is a religion, then Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, Petco (They rely on naturalistic fallacies to sell overpriced pet food), and all the co-ops, health food stores, and farmers’ markets in America are churches. ‘

    Sorry, but _that_ is _dogmatic horse stuff_. Various friends and I shop in places that are or would be on your list, and we most assuredly don’t do it in search of ‘non-GMO’ foods or homeopathic ‘remedies.’ We also shop in places you’d wholeheartedly approve, including for things that would make a cardiologist wince. As for co-ops, the structure of the corporation (member-ownership) is irrelevant to whether the products on the shelves are good, bad, or indifferent. As for farmers’ markets, tell it to the French and be prepared to be written off as a philistine.

    Really: we shoot ourselves in both feet when we draw boundaries that exclude a large plurality of the population. The way to draw boundaries effectively is to include the largest possible majority, and exclude & isolate the smallest possible minority. That’s how to win virtually any public policy debate.

    As far as I’m concerned, as long as someone’s got their jabs, washes their hands when they use the WC, and doesn’t come into work when they’re sick (‘sharing’, ugh), I could care less if they eat their organic peas porridge hot, cold, or in a pot, but preferably not nine days old.

  81. #81 Dorothy
    Oz
    July 13, 2014

    @#6

    “…in my country…”

    It’s not just you, but why are people so cryptic about where they come from? If you’re going to comment at some length about the specifics of a topic in your country, kindly state what the heck country you are referring to.

  82. #82 Krebiozen
    July 13, 2014

    Dorothy,

    Most regulars here know where Helianthus lives. I think it’s more a matter of avoiding repetition rather than being cryptic.

  83. #83 Krebiozen
    July 13, 2014

    BTW Dorothy, I initially assumed your location was a reference to the Wizard of Oz, until the content of one of your comments made it clear you meant Australia.

  84. #84 Kultakutri
    July 14, 2014

    Speaking of GMO, labelling is mandatory here in EU. I guess the reason is not that GMO will kill us but the ecology aspects. I can quite understand that the roundup resistant crops can and do lead to roundup abuse and while I’m unable to find a reference, I vaguely remember that there were roundup resistant weeds spotted already. And that’s what I call a damn problem, especially when people are happily using total herbicides for no good reason – the city councils are inudating the sidewalks with some stuff that makes living plants into dead plant carcasses which are not any prettier than actual weeds and catch dirt just about the same. I wonder whether actually employing someone to pull the stuff would be more expensive.

    I guess that people are generally concentrating on the wrong end of the issue – organic farming or GMO resistance are not primarily about making healthier or more nutritious food (organic produce may indeed taste better, though) but about protecting the environment. While it’s not perfect and there may be some ideology entangled, I think that the general idea is good.

  85. #85 Narad
    July 14, 2014

    And that’s what I call a damn problem

    Resistance to a proprietary herbicide?

  86. #86 Helianthus
    July 14, 2014

    @ Dorothy 81

    In my case, it’s currently France. You can tell by my haphazard grasp of English grammar :-)

    Ah, Krebiozen already answered more succinctly. Thanks.
    *delete unnecessary lengthy answer*

    Judging from reactions to previous posts of mine (and also from real-life conversations), where people missed the point I was trying to make, I’m afraid I appear cryptic because I could do a better job at providing the relevant details.
    Rather than cryptic, maybe the right word is woozy.

    Maybe it’s a side effect of communicating through a computer. After a while, you overlook small details because you already told them a zillion times to your computer.
    Some people do look like they are arguing with their computer, not with you.

  87. #87 Helianthus
    July 14, 2014

    @

    there were roundup resistant weeds spotted already.

    That they are, and some reports are quite alarmist about it.

    I have to admit my first reaction, a few years ago, upon learning about herbicide resistant plants, was similar to yours.
    I’m a microbiologist by training and the rise of antibiotic resistance among pathogenic bacteria is priming me to be worried about similar effects in weeds.

    However, a bit of reading I did these past years made me uncertain.

    1 – about antibiotic resistance, a microbiologist (cannot remember who; maybe on Science-based medecine blog) was explaining how, when Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin, we already had lost the first battle on antibiotic resistance, because bacteria had a few millenia of a head start. There already were bacteria with penicillin resistance. We tweaked the existing molecules to bypass it.
    If we had adopted worldwide a more careful politic in antibiotic use, we could have delayed the present situation by a few decades, but we would not have avoided it.
    In short, whatever we use against pests, weeds or bugs, some of them are going to develop a resistance to it.

    2 – other herbicides were being used before round-up, notably in corn culture. See this relatively recent post on Biofortified about a study comparing pesticides in 1995 and 2007.
    These pesticides were nastier, and I’m sure plants were learning to resist them.

  88. #88 Antaeus Feldspar
    July 14, 2014

    I guess that people are generally concentrating on the wrong end of the issue – organic farming or GMO resistance are not primarily about making healthier or more nutritious food (organic produce may indeed taste better, though) but about protecting the environment. While it’s not perfect and there may be some ideology entangled, I think that the general idea is good.

    There may be real issues which result from the use of certain GMOs.

    However, not a damn one of them has anything to do with the “GM” part of it. Whatever an organism actually does that is bad – whether that’s “encourages the overuse of such-and-such herbicide” or “puts control of a dangerously large portion of worldwide agriculture under corporate control” or “gives us all cooties”, we need to talk about that.

  89. #89 Helianthus
    July 14, 2014

    Ah! Speaking of having my head stuffed with cotton.

    Post #87 was in reply @ Kultakutri #84

    And by using the word “alarmist”, I didn’t mean that reports of an invasion of resistant weeds are to be rejected. Just that some reports imply a situation close to getting out of control.
    Now, I’m just an amateur on this topic, and thus have no idea how dire the situation really is. I just suspect that round-up ready plants may just be a part of the issue. Remove GMOs and keep current practices of agriculture, you may have the same issues cropping up.
    Not that organic farming practices are necessary better or risk-free. They are certainly not chemistry-free.

  90. #90 Dangerous Bacon
    July 14, 2014

    “Speaking of GMO, labelling is mandatory here in EU. I guess the reason is not that GMO will kill us but the ecology aspects.”

    Labeling campaigns here have never centered on “ecology”, but on purported (and nonexistent) health risks. If environmental worries were that important to consumers, we’d need to avoid commercial agriculture altogether, since with or without GMOs it depends on heavy inputs of fertilizers and pesticides (which escape into the environment with damaging consequences). Even organic farming, since it requires more land to produce the same output, destroys habitat.

    And yes, pesticide/herbicide resistance was noted long before GM crops ever came on the market (just look up atrazine and 2,4-D under herbicides, for instance). The popularity of glyphosate-resistant crops has accelerated weed resistance to glyphosate (thanks in part to bad agricultural practices), but to hear anti-GMOers talk, resistance is a wholly new phenomenon to be blamed on the evil GMOs.

    As for the EU, it is on the verge of allowing member states to permit/ban GMO crops as they see fit, rather than having a one-size-fits-all ban at the behest of ignorant “activists”.

  91. #91 ChrisP
    July 14, 2014

    There are indeed quite a few glyphosate resistant weed species. It is a problem because it makes weed control more expensive and hence will push up prices or reduce profits.

    However, this is all about the use of the herbicide. The first glyphosate resistant weed was reported from Australia well before any glyphosate tolerant crops were grown there. In Australia glyphosate resistant weeds are a problem for grape growers, in irrigation channels and on roadsides, as well as in crop fields.

    Weeds will become resistant to any control tactic continuously used, so management is all about how the control tactics are mixed and matched.

  92. #92 Denice Walter
    July 14, 2014

    OT but are wailing, b!tching and moaning submitted to PLOS by anti-vaccinationists EVER truly OT @ RI?

    Today Jake ( @ Autism Investigated) presents his rejected “guest submission” to PLOS as a response to Seth Mnookin’s “libelous post” ( @ PLOS blogs) which not only contained “false jabbing and crashing allegations” but also “violated community standards”.

    He continues: “Wah!!!!”

    I wonder if his dissertaion will make a nuanced comparison of the intrigue, manipulations and slights to his person delivered by advocates of SBM and/or scepticism as opposed to those emanating from his own camp:
    I can imagine the arcane statistical analyses now.
    Yiiiiiiii!

  93. #93 Krebiozen
    July 14, 2014

    It’s worth noting just how much less toxic Roundup is than other herbicides. Safety tests found that the detergent added to the herbicide is more toxic than the glyphosate itself. That has surely got to be a good thing, even if resistance is appearing. As others have pointed out, all herbicides result in resistant strains, unless they are so toxic they kill pretty much anything.

    Organic, sustainable farming and maintaining crop diversity are laudable things, and I wholeheartedly support them. On the other hand I don’t believe we can feed 8 billion people without GM technology. Monsanto are doing a lot to support sustainable farming, and I think we should support this, instead of demonizing them and other biotech companies.

  94. #94 Calli Arcale
    http://fractalwonder.wordpress.com
    July 14, 2014

    The main problem with using “GMO” labeling, or even “organic” labeling, as a proxy for “good husbandry practice” when you’re shopping for produce and trying to encourage the good guys is that the label doesn’t actually tell you boo about that. Organic practices are not inherently less damaging to the environment. They *can* be, but the label doesn’t give you enough information to know if the particular farm that produced that tomato was using environmentally sound practices. Slash-and-burn agriculture in the Amazon can be organic, and that’s incredibly destructive. Same with GMO. We all immediately think of Roundup and herbicide resistance, or Bt toxin killing beneficial bugs (though logically, Bt corn should result in less killing of bugs, since the toxin is restricted to the plants and not sprayed over an entire field), but there are way more GMO organisms than that, and “this product may contain GMO organisms in it somewhere” is not going to tell you which you’ve got or whether they’re really an ecological problem. It’s a sledgehammer, and it’s not useful as a proxy for good farming practices.

  95. #95 squirrelelite
    July 14, 2014

    I did a little poking around and found this reference from Colorado State University:
    http://www.colostate.edu/dept/sjbrc/owm/Organic%20herbicides.pdf
    So, caffeine, aspirin and salt are all more toxic than Roundup!

    And the approved organic herbicide list is interesting.
    One uses cinnamon bark and another uses clove oil.
    I wonder where those are grown?

    And the National Organic Program’s list is quite informative.
    http://www.colostate.edu/dept/sjbrc/owm/Organic%20herbicides.pdf

    So, streptomycin and tetracycline are still OK for controlling fire blight in apples and pears at least till October of this year.

    And, those organic sprouts probably have some calcium or sodium hypochlorite in them. Yum!

  96. #96 Calli Arcale
    http://fractalwonder.wordpress.com
    July 14, 2014

    Tetracycline???? They get to spray antibiotics on their crops? That’s kinda shocking to me. Then again, I don’t know what conventional farmer use for that either. But wouldn’t that tend to contribute to antibiotic resistance? I find that a lot scarier than pesticide resistance.

  97. #97 Krebiozen
    July 14, 2014

    I wondered, idly, if nicotine is permitted in organic farming, which of course it is, if only as a sort of tobacco tea. Nicotine is, of course, highly toxic to anything with a nervous system, including bees, amphibians and mammals. This led me to this article that draws attention to the ludicrous situation with regard to ‘organic’ pesticides. This cult of the ‘natural’ has made things worse, with vast quantities of supposedly ‘organic’ chemicals, like nicotine, splashed liberally about, while thoroughly tested synthetic chemicals like glyphosate are considered anathema.

  98. #99 Krebiozen
    July 14, 2014

    Sorry. The two links above work, but my closing tag lacked a forward-stroke.

  99. #100 Calli Arcale
    http://fractalwonder.wordpress.com
    July 14, 2014

    Well, nicotine certainly is an effective insecticide. A recent study revealed that raptors in New York City seem to have picked up on that fact; a few have started lining their nests partly with discarded cigarette butts, and are seeing remarkably higher chick survival rates, which researchers speculate is due to fewer parasites. Birds are already known to seek out anti-parasitic substances; maybe there’s a scent or flavor that they pick up on to help them select nest materials that will repel vermin.

  100. #101 Dangerous Bacon
    July 14, 2014

    Nicotine sulfate (which was sold as Black Leaf 40) was a permitted organic insecticide, but fell out of favor due to its very high toxicity to humans. I found the label warnings (including risk of death from inhalation) rather disturbing.

    “A recent study revealed that raptors in New York City seem to have picked up on that fact; a few have started lining their nests partly with discarded cigarette butts, and are seeing remarkably higher chick survival rates, which researchers speculate is due to fewer parasites.”

    So will future bird extinctions ultimately be blamed on the popularity of vaping overtaking smoking? Time will tell.

  101. #102 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    July 14, 2014

    I must reconcile myself to the thought that people who smoke and toss their butts on the ground are not just stinking up the place, littering, and possibly setting off a grass fire which could destroy entire neighborhoods – they’re providing an invaluable resource to avian wildlife. Yes, these smokers now have the ecological moral high ground.

  102. #103 Krebiozen
    July 14, 2014

    It seems tobacco/nicotine dust is prohibited but “Aquatic plant extracts” (which must include a solution of nicotine) are allowed in organic farming. I would feel a great deal safer ingesting glyphosate than some of the permitted ‘organic’ chemicals.

  103. #104 Krebiozen
    July 14, 2014

    Yes, these smokers now have the ecological moral high ground.

    I know you’re being sarcastic, but cigarette butts are a serious environmental hazard to wildlife (other than raptors, it seems). I have heard of squirrels becoming addicted to cigarette butts (crack cocaine too, in Brixton, as I recall, but that’s another story).

  104. #105 Narad
    July 14, 2014

    I know you’re being sarcastic, but cigarette butts are a serious environmental hazard to wildlife (other than raptors, it seems).

    “There are only anecdotal reports of wild animals (sea turtles) ingesting cigarettes butts.[29] No reports of cigarette butt ingestion were found on a review of the San Diego Zoo Necropsy Database (C Witte, personal communication 1 December 2010)…. Only 14 responses were received from the SurveyMonkey procedure. Of these, none reported finding cigarette butt ingestion in a sick or dying animal. When asked ‘Do you see cigarette butt waste as a major environmental concern, and if so, why or why not,’ only four responded affirmatively.”

  105. #106 Militant Agnostic
    July 15, 2014

    Callie

    We all immediately think of Roundup and herbicide resistance, or Bt toxin killing beneficial bugs (though logically, Bt corn should result in less killing of bugs, since the toxin is restricted to the plants and not sprayed over an entire field),

    Organic farmers can spray Bt on their crops.

  106. #107 Krebiozen
    July 15, 2014

    Narad,
    I agree the evidence base isn’t great, but just because there is little evidence of cigarette butt ingestion in wild animals doesn’t mean they are not an environmental hazard. The fact that 4 out of 14 groups the study’s authors contacted saw cigarette butt waste as a major environmental concern suggests to me that they are. As the study points out, we know that domestic animals and birds can be killed by ingesting cigarette butts, and since an estimated 4.5 trillion cigarette butts are thrown away every year worldwide it would be astonishing if wild animals were not similarly affected.

    That’s just ingestion of butts; as little as one cigarette butt per liter can affect some fish.

    As BMJ report notes:

    Cigarette butts contain all the carcinogenic chemicals, pesticides, and nicotine that make tobacco use the leading cause of preventable death worldwide, yet they are commonly, unconsciously and inexcusably dumped by the trillions (5.6 trillions and counting) into the global environment each year.

    In this issue, Moerman and Potts demonstrate the presence of heavy metals in cigarette butt leachates—the toxic soup produced when butts are soaked in water; [...]

    And as the study I cited in my last comment concluded:

    There is substantial and growing evidence about the toxicity of cigarette butt leachates in aquatic environments, but more research is needed to ascertain specific toxic substances in cigarette butt leachates, their bioaccumulation potential and chemical markers of cigarette butt waste in natural settings.

    The fact that cellulose acetate decomposes so slowly is also of concern.

  107. #108 Krebiozen
    July 15, 2014

    Good grief, I seem to be incapable of closing a link tag recently. I blame my failing eyesight, my keyboard and haste.

  108. #109 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    July 15, 2014

    Squirrels On Crack would be a good name for a band.

  109. #110 Sarah A
    July 15, 2014

    Completely OT, but an entire building of the apartment complex I live in (not mine, fortunately) burned down recently because someone tossed a cigarette butt into the mulch along the side of the building.

  110. #111 Denice Walter
    July 15, 2014

    What’s the world coming to?
    East London foxes, squirrels on crack and miserable, dirty, environmentally protected raptors making nests crowding out the views on high rises and thereby lowering their real estate value. Plus they create other messes.

  111. #112 Shay
    July 15, 2014

    Squirrels on crack would scare the heck out of me.

    Apparently I misled a co-worker several years ago, completely unintentionally. Like me he had a vegetable garden, unlike me he was a strict Jain and was not allowed to take any life, including bugs. I gave him a recipe that a neighbor of mine in North Carolina used to use to keep the critters off his tomatoes, which involved soaking a plug of chewing tobacco in water and then adding liquid dish soap and spraying the plants with the result.

    It wasn’t supposed to kill the little monsters, just taste bad.

  112. #113 Calli Arcale
    July 15, 2014

    Militant Agnostic:

    Organic farmers can spray Bt on their crops.

    Yeah, but I was referring to the GMO corn that makes its own. Of course, this means an organic cornfield may well have *more* Bt in it than a field of Bt corn…..but that’s of course precisely the problem we’re illustrating here. People think of organic as better for the environment or better for health, but the label really doesn’t tell you that. And that’s what makes me angry about the label. It is, in my opinion, deceptive.

  113. #114 lilady
    July 15, 2014

    If Sarah can go O/T…so can I.

    From a comment on AoA about mother’s milk for adults:

    http://www.womanthouartgod.com/mothersmilk01.php

  114. #115 Chris,
    July 15, 2014

    Shay: “Squirrels on crack would scare the heck out of me.”

    The humans are bad enough. I just spent two hours waiting for a stolen car to be removed from my driveway. Not just blocking my driveway, but actually parked right outside my garage. And, yes, it had drug paraphernalia in the back seat.

  115. #116 Narad
    July 15, 2014

    I agree the evidence base isn’t great, but just because there is little evidence of cigarette butt ingestion in wild animals doesn’t mean they are not an environmental hazard.

    OK, but the initial assertion was “environmental hazard to wildlife,” which PMC 3088460 doesn’t seem to demonstrate.

    The fact that 4 out of 14 groups the study’s authors contacted saw cigarette butt waste as a major environmental concern suggests to me that they are.

    I believe that the SurveyMonkey attempt represented CBPP individuals.

    As the study points out, we know that domestic animals and birds can be killed by ingesting cigarette butts, and since an estimated 4.5 trillion cigarette butts are thrown away every year worldwide it would be astonishing if wild animals were not similarly affected.

    The only use of the word “death” is footnoted with PMIDs 2264269 (chewing tobacco) and 5188475 (no abstract). The “curious birds” “died as a result” link is broken, but presumably should lead here, which amounts to basically nothing.

    I can’t go through the other two entries from the Tobacco Control* special issue (PMCs 3088407 and 3088438) and right at the moment. The hypothesis strikes me as extremely plausible, but PMC 3088460 didn’t cut it for me.

    * And let’s be certain that there’s no more point mentioning BMJ than there is mentioning Oxford as regards CID/JID.

  116. #117 Narad
    July 15, 2014

    ^ “and right at the moment”

  117. #118 herr doktor bimler
    July 15, 2014

    “Squirrels on crack would scare the heck out of me.”
    The tourist-spoiled ones in St James Park are bad enough. “Hand over the peanuts and no-one needs to get hurt!”

  118. #119 Denice Walter
    July 15, 2014

    FYI:
    Many squirrels in NYC are black- which means that they fit right in with the fashionistas, hipsters and punk rockers who prefer no other shade.

  119. #120 ann
    July 15, 2014

    http://www.womanthouartgod.com

    Oh my word. That site’s kinda:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gj9xsSuczes

    ^^Gender-adjusted, though, of course..

  120. #121 lilady
    July 15, 2014

    @ Ann: The zaftig woman wearing the girdle and the bra, has a striking resemblance to the blogger:

    http://www.womanthouartgod.com/rasa.php

  121. #122 Shay
    July 16, 2014

    The tourist-spoiled ones in St James Park are bad enough.

    If they ever figure out how to cross-breed with the pigeons in Picadilly Square, humanity is doomed.

  122. #123 Krebiozen
    July 16, 2014

    OK, but the initial assertion was “environmental hazard to wildlife,” which PMC 3088460 doesn’t seem to demonstrate.

    Point taken. I shall endeavor to be less sloppy in my citations in future.

  123. #124 David Ropeik
    Concord, MA
    July 16, 2014

    The premise of the blog, that people with extreme views band together and fight to protect those views, is well explained by rich scientific investigation. “Motivated” reasoning anbd perceptions based on how we FEEL about the facts, not just the facts alone, is by far the most common way all human cognition works. Then, once we form our views, we band together with others who whore them, into the tribe that gives us protection, and which as a group gives us power and a sense of control that we don’t feel as mere individuals. (Dan Kahan’s Cultural Cognition, based on Mary Douglas’ Cultural Theory of Risk). This is all driven by the instinct for safety and survival, a DEEP and powerful imperative. So while one can share your frustration at closed minds, as a science blogger may I voice a bit of frustration that your lament overlooks a LOT of science that explains WHY this occurs, and how innate it is to human cognition.

  124. #125 Chris,
    July 16, 2014

    “So while one can share your frustration at closed minds, as a science blogger may I voice a bit of frustration that your lament overlooks a LOT of science that explains WHY this occurs, and how innate it is to human cognition.”

    So where is your blog post on this facet of human psychology? I mean if you are going to tell another blogger the deficits of his article, you should have the decency to link to your already written views on the subject.

    Or perhaps just not tell other bloggers what to write.

  125. #126 Calli Arcale
    http://fractalwonder.wordpress.com
    July 16, 2014

    Actually, Cracked has a piece up on that subject right now:

    http://www.cracked.com/article_21341_5-ways-every-conspiracy-theory-makes-world-worse.html

  126. #127 Julian Frost
    Gauteng East Rand
    July 16, 2014

    Calli, I think you meant to put that on a different post.

  127. #128 Calli Arcale
    July 16, 2014

    No, I’m replying specifically to what David Ropeik was saying, musing on how the widespread nature of whacko beliefs reveals something innate in human cognition. The Cracked piece is silly, but does also touch on why these beliefs are so common.

  128. #129 ann
    July 16, 2014

    @124 —

    It seems to me that a cultural phenomenon is not — and by definition cannot be — innate, although the impulses that underlie it (and/or the need it meets) etc. might be.

    Not that newborn infants are really cognitively capable of premising their self-serving beliefs on a biased view of the facts anyway, as such. Of course.

  129. #130 ann
    July 16, 2014

    Or maybe I should say that it can’t be innate at that level of cultural specificity.

    Because you could arguably say that it’s human nature for people to tell themselves stories in order to make sense of experience, and hence innate. Or something along those lines.

  130. #131 Calli Arcale
    July 16, 2014

    The specific conspiracy theories are not innate, no. But the cognitive functions that give rise to them and which make them appealing to so many people, those I believe *are* innate. And people have known that for a long time; the scientific method was designed specifically to combat this tendency to seek affirmation rather than truth.

  131. #132 Denice Walter
    July 16, 2014

    What probably is innate is grouping objects/ people which are similar in appearance and over-generalising and creating what cognitive psychologists call ‘prototypes’ ( like stereotypes).
    There also is probably innate activities like executive finctioning as well in most adults wherein we *self-critique* our perfromance. So there is hope.

  132. #133 Denice Walter
    July 16, 2014

    edit:
    Theree also ARE probably innate activities like executive FUNCTIONING….. PERFORMANCE

    The edit illustrates my point.

  133. #134 Denice Walter
    July 16, 2014

    THERE ARE

    I rest my case.

  134. #135 Chris,
    July 16, 2014

    Also it is not culturally “innate” to limit attendance to just true believers. The reason that the group in British Columbia had the CFI and university folks removed was that they, just like the Autism One bunch in Chicago, do not like questions that are counter to their world view.

    If anything it is a realization that their world view cannot stand up to honest questions or evidence. It is a very fragile cognitive dissonance.

    By the way, there is an interesting connection between “Natural Law” folks and anti-vaccine sentiments. The Natural Law Party has its origins to the yogi Maharishi and his transcendental meditation stuff. These are the same guys who claim to do “yogic flying”, which essentially cross legged hopping on mattresses (as noted in the quotes in the above article).

    They were the same folks that sparked a measles outbreak in Iowa many years ago:

    Postexposure Prophylaxis, Isolation, and Quarantine To Control an Import-Associated Measles Outbreak — Iowa, 2004

    and

    Brief Report: Imported Measles Case Associated with Nonmedical Vaccine Exemption — Iowa, March 2004

    The Iowa college where the students were from and where there was subsequent transmission to one other person was the then called “Maharishi University” near Fairfield, Iowa.

  135. #136 Narad
    July 16, 2014

    The tourist-spoiled ones in St James Park are bad enough. “Hand over the peanuts and no-one needs to get hurt!”

    I had a college friend* who took it into his head to cluck at a squirrel one afternoon. Squirrel takes notice. Cluckcluck. Squirrel approaches. Cluckcluckcluck. Squirrel runs up his leg, bites his chest and leaps away.

    * There was a decent “crescant sciuri” or some such variant floating around at one point.

  136. #137 ann
    July 16, 2014

    The specific conspiracy theories are not innate, no. But the cognitive functions that give rise to them and which make them appealing to so many people, those I believe *are* innate. And people have known that for a long time; the scientific method was designed specifically to combat this tendency to seek affirmation rather than truth.

    There’s nothing wrong with affirmation-seeking tendencies — or, ftm, experience-storifying tendences — in some contexts, though. They can be a beautiful things as well as productive of same, They’re just incompatible with science.

  137. #138 Krebiozen
    July 17, 2014

    I filmed a squirrel in my local park a while ago – it was chewing on a bone, hopefully a part of a discarded takeaway, and not something it had killed itself.

  138. #139 ann
    July 17, 2014

    We got some blog-appropriate intertextuality going on here.

  139. #140 Rob
    July 20, 2014

    Really the answer is “humans are humans” so we shouldn’t have the right to know what we re eating? Just label the food appropriately and let us humans make our own decisions what we want to put in our body and our children’s bodies. Screw the finatics, I am a scientist and I want to know what I am eating. There is not reason not to label a GMO.

  140. #141 Chris,
    July 20, 2014

    Rob, if you are a scientist you are perfectly capable of reading the scientific papers on each GMO. Unfortunately most cannot.

    Also, it is interesting that the folks who most want to label GMOs are stores like Whole Foods, etc. who want to sell even more high priced food. Oh, and then there is Eden Foods that wants to also not let women in their company get contraceptives. What a fun bunch.

  141. #142 Raj E
    canada
    July 21, 2014

    hey If i don’t want doctors doing experimental medical treatments because they have not been scientifically proven to be effective or relatively safe then i would have to be a hypocrite to deny the idea that gmo foods should be labeled.

    We don’t know for sure what if anything the long term affects on health are so if some people are worried they should have the option to opt out of eating it and it should be the companies responsibility to inform the consumer that their product has been genetically modified.

  142. #143 Antaeus Feldspar
    July 21, 2014

    hey If i don’t want doctors doing experimental medical treatments because they have not been scientifically proven to be effective or relatively safe then i would have to be a hypocrite to deny the idea that gmo foods should be labeled.

    The situations aren’t analogous. At some point an experimental medical treatment stops being an experimental medical treatment and becomes a standard medical treatment. But a GMO never stops being a GMO no matter how tried and true and trusted it is.

    A more accurate analogy would be if we insisted that every medical treatment of Canadian origin be clearly labelled as Canadian, so that people who don’t think Canadian medicine is real medicine can avoid it.

  143. #144 Gordon Wagner
    Suburbia
    July 24, 2014

    Why would Monsanto and the Grocer’s Association spend tens of millions of dollars to keep GMO foods from being labeled as such? What are they afraid of? Is a white lab coat and a patented Marcus Welby M.D. chuckle supposed to placate people? I think it’s a matter of basic trust. And I don’t trust Monsanto in the slightest, nor should you or anyone else. GMOs? No. Period.

  144. #145 Shay
    July 24, 2014

    Why would Monsanto and the Grocer’s Association spend tens of millions of dollars to keep GMO foods from being labeled as such?

    Because they know that the average consumer is too dumb to know there is no substance to the anti-GMO hogwash and they have a reasonable concern over their bottom line?

  145. #146 Narad
    July 24, 2014

    Why would Monsanto and the Grocer’s Association spend tens of millions of dollars to keep GMO foods from being labeled as such?

    Have you noticed that there’s nothing whatever preventing people from labeling foods as “GMO free“?

  146. #147 Chris,
    July 24, 2014

    Shay: “Because they know that the average consumer is too dumb to know there is no substance to the anti-GMO hogwash and they have a reasonable concern over their bottom line?”

    Like the person who is suing a company because she thought she was getting something healthier than sugar with “evaporated cane syrup”?

    Why would someone who does not know sugar comes from sugar cane know anything about GMO safety?

    Plus companies like Whole Foods and Eden Foods pay to push mandatory labeling about GMOs because it drives more clueless shoppers to their high priced food. Of course neither of those companies have stellar societal reputations. The head of Eden Foods wants to force his religious beliefs on contraceptives on employees.

  147. #148 Shay
    July 25, 2014

    Chris — a suit was tossed out in California few years back by someone who thought that a cereal labeled Crunchberries should have actual Crunchberries in it.

  148. #149 Mark Scott
    Rochester MInnesota
    September 29, 2014

    Hi Kay Marie, I farm in Southeast Minnesota. Non GMO Seed from small companies is readily available. Example, public varieties of soybeans developed by the Ag universities are available and you can save seed because of no patent. Within modern soybean corn genetics the diversity is huge. I grew these old genetics (giving away my age). The yields were terrible and many problems with lodging and we had to spray mutiple time for instects like corn borer. We would have many more starving in the world with old genetics and am so thankfull for our plant researchers.

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